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"Origin of Qur'an according to Tradition"Edit

I fail to see why the traditional mythology is in the forefront of the article, when it should be the factual basis for how the Qur'an was written and compiled? The article on the authorship of the Christian Bible takes a scientific approach to how the Bible was created, so why must we rely on Wahy, which is merely mythology?

Obviously, the Qur'an had to be written by someone or some group of people, or else it wouldn't be here...Or are we really going to let this article give off the insinuation that it was revealed by Allah?

Stevo D (talk) 20:43, 16 March 2017 (UTC)

Parallels with Christian (and Jewish) scriptures are not very illuminating in this context; although disputed, the standard scholarly understanding of the history of the Qur'an is exactly that those who wrote it down thought themselves as recording a series of orally-delivered divine revelations. There is no contrary evidence; which has not stopped a wide range of alternative speculations. But - while the article should take note of these speculation - the scholarly and critical mainstream opinion coheres quite closely with that maintained in traditional Islamic accounts. And the most recent scientific investigations - e.g. carbon dating - tends more to support the mainstream and traditional versions;and less the alternatives. TomHennell (talk) 11:47, 17 March 2017 (UTC)

the standard scholarly understanding of the history of the Qur'an is exactly that those who wrote it down thought themselves as recording a series of orally-delivered divine revelations.

That still doesn't answer the question as to who first authored the Qur'an, and how it came to be the document that it is today over the years. I think it's very important to this article to offer a scientific POV on the creation of the Qur'an, one in which it wasn't handed down from Heaven to Muhammad, because let's be honest, that's an inherently Islamic bias.

"the scholarly and critical mainstream opinion coheres quite closely with that maintained in traditional Islamic accounts."

The scholars and 'critical mainstream opinion' believe that this is the word of God as revealed to Muhammad as his Prophet? I have a hard time accepting or believing this. Stevo D (talk) 11:54, 17 March 2017 (UTC)

"Science" isn't central to the discussion; all that can be determined scientifically is that the oldest dateable islamic artefacts are fully consistent with the traditional (and mainstream accounts). More significant is that critical textual scholarship is similarly almost wholly unilluminating. Old quranic texts differ greatly, but none of these differences appear to be capable of being fitted within a systematic critical theory of textual evolution. Very different this from critical New Testament scholarship. There are of course traditional accounts of textual evolution; but we have no surviving written texts transmitting those (or any other) 'earlier' forms of recited revelation.
So the traditional Muslim account is that the Prophet delivered a series of utterances that his companions committed to memory at the time, and subsequently set down in writing. Those companions believed those utterances to transmit direct divine revelations, and sometime after the Prophet's death they were edited into a standard content, order and format; both recited and written. Hence the traditional account considers the Quran as simultaneously a recitation and a written text - but written originally in forms of sriptio defectiva; such that a single written text could support a limited range of vocal recitations, and that a single recitation could be represented in a limited range of written script forms. Hence the transmission within the tradition of a range of recognised 'readings' of equal validity
Essentially the mainstream critical account differs only in not asserting that the Prophet himself received the utterances as divine revelation. But from the point onwards from when the utterances were delivered to the companions there is no essential distinction. Paticia Crone states; "Most importantly, we can be reasonably sure that the Qur'an is a collection of utterances that he made in the belief that they had been revealed to him by God. The book may not preserve all the messages he claimed to have received, and he is not responsible for the arrangement in which we have them. They were collected after his death – how long after is controversial. But that he uttered all or most of them is difficult to doubt." https://www.opendemocracy.net/faith-europe_islam/mohammed_3866.jsp TomHennell (talk) 15:56, 17 March 2017 (UTC)
"Science" isn't central to the discussion; all that can be determined scientifically is that the oldest dateable islamic artefacts are fully consistent with the traditional (and mainstream accounts). 

I mean we should approach the Qur'an with a scientific analysis and critique, not relying on traditional narratives or Islamic theologians, but through skeptical, critical historical empiricism

Obviously the authorship of the Qur'an are important to many readers (esp. those who use wiki as a classroom source), as it's intellectually dishonest to suggest or insinuate that the Qur'an might have been the result of divine revelation.

"There are of course traditional accounts of textual evolution; but we have no surviving written texts transmitting those (or any other) 'earlier' forms of recited revelation."

This is indeed a problem as per Puin et. al have discussed when attempting to use the comparative method on the the manuscripts found in Sana'a, but that nonetheless doesn't mean we should leave the origins of the Qur'an as ambiguous, or appear to suggest that the Qur'an may have possibly been handed down from God.

It very obviously has a human author (as per Tom Holland).

 "Old quranic texts differ greatly, but none of these differences appear to be capable of being fitted within a systematic critical theory of textual evolution."

This is not factually correct, as the earliest known Qur'an, the Sana'a manuscript, differs in many ways that change entire meanings from the modern Uthmanic Qur'an of today, and I'll be sure to incorporate that fact into the article upon doing a little bit more primary reading.

"Those companions believed those utterances to transmit direct divine revelations,"

What the Sahaba believed or didn't believe is completely irrelevant to the factual origins of the Qur'an, nor does it give any clues as to authorship, which I think is very important to include on an article about the history of the Qur'an, and understanding that this document didn't materialise out of thin air.

Essentially the mainstream critical account differs only in not asserting that the Prophet himself received the utterances as divine revelation.


I've read a number of accounts--from Tom Holland and those compiled by Ibn Warraq--and from what I gather the mainstream (non-Islamic) criticism of the Uthmanic hypothesis is divided into two accounts: Those who believe that the Qur'an was compiled by Muhammad himself, and those (such as Gerd Puin, John Wainsborough and Christoph Luxenberg ) who believe the Qur'an was authored by Nabataeans at a much earlier period pre-dating Muhammad, heavily influenced by Jewish messianism and Near Eastern mysticism, and that it was possibly even written in a tribal language of the Arab Peninsula (as per Luxenberg).

Neither group of academics or archaeologists seriously consider the idea of wahy, and there are almost no mainstream, scientific analyses that believe the Qur'an was a divine revelation from Allah.

Anyway, It'll probably be a day or two, but I have a number of books (at least three sit on my shelf at the moment) that take a historically empirical/critical approach of early Islamic history, and I'll be certainly incorporating them into the article; They just have never really been collected into one place before, so it may be time to break new ground.

Stevo D (talk) 02:05, 18 March 2017 (UTC)

I would be wary of relying too much on Tom Holland; as he is far from an authority in this field. The views of the other authors you present should certainly be in the article; but you should note that they are far from representing mainstream scholarly opionion on the subject; which rather tends to spring from the perspective I quoted from Particia Crone (who once held similar views to Wansborough et al; but renounced them as they became increasingly inconsistent with more recent scholarship, and textual discoveries).
But by all means improve the article. I would hope that your reading includes François Déroche - especially his "Qurans of the Umayyads" - as he is probably the leading authority in the field currently; and it is the job of Wikipedia to give most prominence to the published opinions of most authoritative scholars. What is not Wikipedia's job is to take a prejudicial view for, or against, the claim that the utterances that eventually were incorported into the Qur'an originated as divine revelation. There are those who believe that scientific discourse is incompatible with belief in divine revelation; and equally those who beleive that no scientific discourse is possible except by divine revelation. But while this academice debate is properly dealt with in Wikipedia in articles on the philosophies of science and religion, it has no place here. Wikipedia records the opinions of leading scholars in the field; and inevitably many of those scholars in this field will aslo be believing Muslims (just as in the counterpart field of bibilical history, many leading scholars will be believing Jews and Christians). Which is why your suggestion that the article should avoid "traditional narratives" cannot be supported; traditional narratives are historical evidence as much as any other; and in this field they represent most of the evidence we have. So the article cannot rule out the proposition the Qur'an is without a human author; and certainly cannot exclude the possibility that all those involved in its compiling (including the Prophet) believed it to be without a human author. Wikipedia goes where the scholarship goes, not where we think it ought to have gone.
Finally, on the Sana'a Palimpsest, may I suggest you read Asma Hilali's book "The Sanaa Palimpsest: The Transmission of the Qur'an in the First Centuries AH", which expands on her article in "The Yemeni manuscript tradition". In my view she comprehensively demolishes all earlier studies in the lower text of the palimpsest by virtue of access to much better recent images; in so doing demonstrating that many of the particualr variant readings formerly claimed by Elizabeth Puin derived from an unsubstantiated expectation that that text might correspond with a known 'variant' tradition. It doesn't; and as Asma argues, may be better understood as a shcoolroom textual exercise than as a full Qur'an. The Birmingham/Paris manuscript BNF Arabe 328(c)(which certainly was a full Qur'an and likely predates any Uthmanic collection) has curently far the best claim to be the earliest known Qur'an. TomHennell (talk) 02:31, 19 March 2017 (UTC)
I second Tom's concern about relying on Tom Holland. He's an author of pop history books rather than a specialist in this field. We should rely even less on editorial choices of Ibn Warraq, who not only lacks the academic credentials but also has an axe to grind. However, I'm also uncomfortable with Tom's suggestion of looking directly at scholarly monographs. This is a fluid field with different revisionist currents. Trying to sort it out ourselves (as this article is already doing too much of) would be a form of WP:OR.
A more policy-compliant approach would be to base the article on specialist tertiary sources. The Cambridge Companion to the Qur'an has a section with three chapters devoted to this topic. The Quran in its historical context (ed. , Routledge) has two overview essays: Qur’anic studies and its controversies by Reynolds himself and The Qur'an in Recent Scholarship by Fred Donner (who's something of a go-to guy for doing these kinds of overviews, having also contributed them to the above-mentioned Cambridge Companion and The New Cambridge History of Islam; I just noticed that the introduction to The Quran in Context - Historical and Literary Investigations from Brill opens by citing his verdict that the field of Qur'anic studies is "in a state of disarray"). Finally, here's a brief overview from the Qur'an article at Oxford Bibliographies (by Andrew Rippin):
 How the Qurʾan came into being and why it looks the way it does has proven to be a continual focus of attention for scholarship. Most accounts accept the basic framework of the Muslim memory, with the role of Muhammad as the recipient of revelation and the role subsequent caliphs in bringing the text together clearly separated. Some scholarship has wanted to challenge the originality and source of the text itself, tracing it to other religious communities (especially Christian: Lüling 2003; Luxenberg 2007). Others have tried to refine the Muslim accounts of revelation and collection. Burton 1977 argues for a central role of Muhammad himself; Wansbrough 2004 argues for the late emergence of the text; and Motzki 2001 argues for the reliability of historical information that supports an emergence earlier than Wansbrough suggested. Neuwirth 2000, 2003 has paid particular attention to the role of canonization, seeing that as going on during the lifetime of Muhammad and traceable within the Qurʾan itself.
I should also note that the emphasis on the traditional account is consistent with current academic practice, as illustrated by this entry from The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Islamic World [1], which is a premier academic reference intended for a general audience.
Eperoton (talk) 04:02, 19 March 2017 (UTC)

The reason why I mentioned Ibn Warraq, Tom Holland, et. al. is because they're some of the only authors to talk about provenance within the context of authorship; That is to say, even the passage you quoted from Oxford Bibliography doesn't talk about authorship itself, just where the text originated from, despite both being of equal importance (because I'm sure many are wondering who really wrote the Qur'an, since the idea that it was given down by Allah is purely mythology).

However, it is a great improvement, and should nonetheless be incorporated into the article to give a more clear picture how the Qur'an came to be, not that it was divinely revealed (wahy) in a cave in Arabia, which is pseudo-scientific. Stevo D (talk) 06:41, 19 March 2017 (UTC)

We should be careful to mirror the phraseology used in recent scholarship. It's common to find statements like "Muhammad wrote the Qur'an" in 19th century books, but much less so in the work of the last few generations of scholars. We all agree that the article is in need of improvement. Personally, I'm interested in the subject and I'd like to help, but I have some backlog I need to address first. This academic field also happens to be rather difficult to summarize because of lacking consensus and I'm not as well versed in it as Tom seems to be. I'll leave you with the opening of Donner's above-mentioned chapter:
 Qur’anic studies, as a field of academic research, appears today to be in a state of disarray. Those of us who study Islam’s origins have to admit collectively that we simply do not know some very basic things about the Qur’an – things so basic that the knowledge of them is usually taken for granted by scholars dealing with other texts. They include such questions as: How did the Qur’an originate? Where did it come from, and when did it first appear? How was it first written? In what kind of language was – is – it written? What form did it first take? Who constituted its first audience? How was it transmitted from one generation to another, especially in its early years? When, how, and by whom was it codified? Those familiar with the Qur’an and the scholarship on it will know that to ask even one of these questions immediately plunges us into realms of grave uncertainty and has the potential to spark intense debate. To put it another way, on these basic issues there is little consensus even among the well-trained scholars who work on them.
Eperoton (talk) 14:58, 19 March 2017 (UTC)
P.S. Upon further thought, I've added these summaries to the start of the section, as they should help the reader place the details of particular proposals in context. Eperoton (talk) 16:06, 19 March 2017 (UTC)
That's much better Eperoton; and I fully agree with your proposal that this 'high level' article is best citing secondary/tertiary studies and authoritative reference works. I would only caution that Gabriel Said Reynolds and his various associates also represent a self-acknowledged 'revisionist' perspective, that probably needs supplementing with other views. I would not at all propose that this article takes explicit note of Asma Hilali's work on the Sana'a Palipmsest; I was rather proposing caution against building all-embracing speculative theories on the initial published readings of a single manuscript; when those readings have now been superseded in subsequent scientific examination of the text in question.
Clearly Stevo D continues to be unhappy that the article is not discussing 'authorship' explicitly; since as you say, such language has largely dropped out in current scholarly discourse in the field. But as a contingent observation, not every text has an author - an obvious example of such an exception would be the Highway Code. (I suppose you could argue that the UK Parliament is the author, as the Code is incorporated into a statutory instrument, but that does not tell us anything about how its text came to be as it is). But the Highway Code is a highly controlled text, and consequently has a very explicit body of redactors. I suggest that the history of the Qur'an as best understood in similar terms. It is clearly a highly controlled text; and the most recent textual discoveries and scholarship confirm such control to have been fully developed at a very early date (quite what that date may have been being still uncertain). In that context, the history of the Qur'an is concerned primarily with how (and by whom) the utterances transmitted within it have be redacted, and continue to be redacted. On that current scholarship has a great deal of evidence; alike in the form of identified surviving early physical manuscripts, contemporary inscriptions, reported traditional accounts, and a wide range of critical studies by medieval Islamic scholarship. While on the subject of 'authorship' we have only recent speculation and hypothetical reconstruction. Good critical scholarship needs evidence to work on. TomHennell (talk) 11:36, 20 March 2017 (UTC)
I'm all for reflecting different perspectives. The material I added combines the somewhat divergent summaries by Rippin and Donner; or more precisely it concatenates them, which is about as much as policy allows us to do. I wouldn't characterize Donner's chapter as a revisionist perspective -- because (from a policy standpoint) he's been commissioned to write similar overviews for mainstream publications like the Cambridge Companion to the Qur'an and The New Cambridge History of Islam, and also because (by my personal assessment) he takes Islamic sources more seriously than hardcore revisionists do, even while taking revisionist criticisms of them more seriously than hardcore "non-revisionists" (for lack of better terms). Eperoton (talk) 13:53, 21 March 2017 (UTC)
I think I would consider Donner a country or occasional member of the Revisionist club. He did contribute to Reynolds 2005 symposium on "the Qur'an in its Historical Context"; which was explicitly presented as taking forwards a Revisionist perspective. As too did Andrew Rippin. https://www.yumpu.com/en/document/view/3640266/the-quran-in-its-historical-context-pdf-islam-and-christian-muslim- Donner's assessment that Qura'nic Studies were in a state of disarray, comes from that symposium - so it may now be time-expired. His chapter in the Cambridge Companion of 2006 is more measured.
What is definitely in dissaray now is the Revisionist perspective itself; substantially due to the unexpectedly early radiocarbon dating of the Birmingham leaves of BNF Arabe 328(c). On this see Reynolds article in the Times Literary Supplement. http://www.the-tls.co.uk/tag/gabriel-said-reynolds/ Some Revisionists have responded by proposing rather desperate arguments for that dating to have been wrong http://www.kunstkamera.ru/images/news/2015/efimrezvan-lecture.pdf; but as Reynolds admits, Birmingham is in line with plenty of other early radiocarbon dates. My impression from the article is that Reynolds has altogether abandoned the theory of a 'late' canonisation of the Qur'an (which was once the touchstone of varieties of Revisionism) in favour of arguing that a largely fixed and controlled Qur'an might predate Muhammad. Which is not required by any of the radiocarbon dates (other than some oddities from Lyon), but I suppose avoids admitting that the utterances in the Qur'an might date from the period when Islamic tradition has tended to locate them. Where Reynolds may be right is in underlining the inconsistency of the Birmingham dates with the traditional location of the canonical redaction of the Qur'an with Uthman. But that is scarcely a new view, plenty of mainstream scholars have considered that the ubiquitious and monolithic quality of the Qur'an text can only be explained if the canonical redaction preceded Islam's explosive expansion after 640 CE. TomHennell (talk) 15:58, 21 March 2017 (UTC)
Interesting, thanks. It's been awhile since I read Donner's chapter in the Companion, and if there's a systematic change of perspective between the two, we should consider updating our text. Otherwise, this sounds like a potentially tricky task of reflecting recent developments which have not yet been assessed in tertiary sources. I'm not familiar with the subject well enough to comment in detail. Eperoton (talk) 00:40, 22 March 2017 (UTC)
The scholarly consensus on this issue (debated ad nauseum) is that the Quran was "compiled" in the generation of Muhammad, and the most recent empirical evidence indicates that it may have been compiled in its final codified version during Muhammad's own lifetime. This is as scientific a view as can be expressed, because it agrees with the evidence we have, without taking any leap one way or another. I have never seen a non-fringe challenge to this standard view.cӨde1+6TP 01:59, 22 March 2017 (UTC)

Relevant to this, F.E. Peters, Professor Emeritus of History, Religion and Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies at NYU, states that modern historians are convinced of the authenticity of the Quran primarily for two reasons:

  • 1) No significant variations have been discovered in the partial fragments of the Quran from the pre-Uthmanic compilation.
  • 2) All the arguments which claim the Quran has been altered in any way, are “so patently tendentious and the evidence adduced for the fact so exiguous that few have failed to be convinced that what is in our copy of the Quran is in fact what Muhammad taught, and expressed in his own words.” (Source: Francis E. Peters (1994). Muhammad and the Origins of Islam. SUNY Press. pp. 257–. ISBN 978-0-7914-1875-8 )

cӨde1+6TP 02:07, 22 March 2017 (UTC)

Thanks for the cite cӨde1+6TP ; but 1994 is a bit ago for a summary of current consensus. I would not disagree with your basic point; but it would be useful to have a citation to a recent published summary of the field by an acknowledged authority. Can you suggest one? I don't think that the Revisionist tendency represented by Reynolds and colleagues can simply be dismissed as 'fringe'; even though they clearly are not articulating a consensus view. The proposition that the Qur'an may have been codified during Muhammad's own lifetime is clearly problematic, as it would controvert the possibility of further revealed utterances being delivered. So the compilation would be expected, in Islamic tradition, to have followed the Prophet's death. The scientific findings cannot differentiate this point.
Another substantial issue arising from the identification of early Qura'an manuscripts is that - if the dates are correct - they point to a much more highly developed, sophisticated and literate cultural context for the early years after the Prophet's death than either the Revisionists, or the classic Islamic traditional accounts, are able to accommodate. This does not now appear to be a context of sheep bones and palm leaves; so much as contracts, petitions, treaties and tax receipts. What we now find are almost all examples of a highly controlled text; but that implies that production of such manuscripts must have been confined to practiced scribes. But where were those scribes to be found in the early 7th century CE, how did they train their successors and what did they practice on? The consensus used to be that Arabic writing started with the Qur'an, because before then there was nothing to write; that view now looks unsustainable. But is there an academic discussion of the issue? TomHennell (talk) 10:37, 22 March 2017 (UTC)
I'm not aware of any major shift in scholarly consensus on this issue since 1994 (that the Quran was compiled within Muhammad's own generation)... If such a strong consensus shifted, I think we would've all known about it and there would've been a ton of new research and publications. But if Stevo D or anyone thinks this consensus has changed, let them please present their source. Secondly, just because a proposition is 'problematic' for an orthodox position, does not mean it is any less likely. On such issues, I think the 'scholarly consensus' of historians, is actually secondary to the empirical evidence collected by scientists, which should always be given more weight. I side with Proff Cook on this issue: "Carbon dating is backed by scientific rigour, repeatable and verifiable. If someone said analysis of writing or decoration gave a different date, I would ask what backs up that analysis?" (Prof Gordon Cook, head of the SUERC Radiocarbon Dating Laboratory, BBC.) A lot of historians have been disturbed by the early dating of the Birmingham manuscript, but they are kidding themselves if they actually think their concerns should be given more weight then the carbon dating results. cӨde1+6TP 16:35, 22 March 2017 (UTC)
Thanks cӨde1+6TP ; but it does stretch credulity a tad, that there was a settled scholarly consensus in 1994, a consensus in disaray in 2005, but then the 1994 consensus still there in 2017. I do think we need a more recent cite; especially as I do not find from my own reading (of François Déroche for instance) that your expressed confidence in carbon dating vis-a-vis paleography, which is also mine, is as widely shared as we both might hope. Not helped by Déroche, Reynolds and a number of others plainly failing to grasp the principles of probability as they apply to ranges of carbon dates, and consequently falling foul of Zeno's Paradox. TomHennell (talk) 01:29, 23 March 2017 (UTC)
Understood, I'll look and ask around for more recent sources. cӨde1+6TP 22:36, 23 March 2017 (UTC)

"Origin according to tradition" should likely be before going into criticism of it. The reason for that is not cause one is more reliable than the other. But because one depends on the other. The Origin according to Academics either supports or critiques the traditional narrative. So we expect the reader to know about it before we go on and debate it.VR talk 20:18, 3 April 2017 (UTC)

Harald Motzki: 'The Collection of the Qur'an; A Reconsideration of Western Views in the Light of Recent Methdological Devleopmments'Edit

This article - from 'Der Islam' (2001) - is accessible on line, but does not appear to feature in the Wikipedia article.

https://www.scribd.com/doc/97592549/The-Collection-of-the-Qur-an-a-Reconsideration-of-Western-Views-in-Light-of-Recent-Methodological-Developments

May I suggest it provides a framework for a much better analysis of traditional accounts of the creation of a collected Qur'an? Motzki critiques the historiography of Western 'revsionist' narratives - those that assume that the accounts in Islamic tradition are late fictions - and claims to find serious methodological flaws. He then undertakes a text-critical analysis of those Islamic traditions in order to find a terminus post quem. He maintains that respective accounts of the collections of Abu Bakr and Uthman are independent; and that both can be sourced to the end of the second century AH utilising recent discoveries. He then proposes that, if the isnads recorded for each of these lines of tradition may be taken as partially historic (he notes that the revisionists all regard isnads as fabricated, but that this assumption has been increasingly shown to be untenable). He shows that the isnads for both accounts intersect at Ibn Shihab al-Zahri, who died in 124/742. He concludes that both traditional accounts can be securely dated to the first quarter of the second century AH.

Although Motzki is commonly classed as a leading proponent the anti-revisionist approach, I note that François Déroche quotes this paper as definitively establishing the historicity of the two accounts in the 2nd century AH; I propose that his opinions are proper for sourcing a rewrite in this section of article. TomHennell (talk) 11:49, 5 April 2017 (UTC)

Are you saying that instead of using the Donner's summary for the range of viewpoints on the Quran collection we should use Motzki instead? I've seen Donner being cited more frequently, never even heard of Motzki till now. Or are you saying that Motzki provides an interesting alternate theory. Then he should certainly be cited, but of course as just another author whose added his two cents on the issue.VR talk 03:15, 6 April 2017 (UTC)
I certainly don't think that Donner's survey (as currently quoted in the article) can stand; it is a bit old now to represent current scholarship, and it is directed primarily to a particular sub-set of perspectives - essentially those originating in the work of Wansbrough. We need a more up to date assessment of the full range current scholarship. In which respect, I propose that François Déroche stands as the most suitable representative of the current scholarly mainstream; unfortunately I have not been able to find a counterpart assessment from Déroche to that of Donner (at least not in English); but 'The Qur'ans of the Umayyads' is both recent, and establishes what seems to be the mainstreasm position emerging with the increasing confidence, that several fragmentary Qur'ans from the first/second century AH can now be securely identified. Hence I tracked from Déroche back to the authorities he quotes in respect of the 'traditional account' of the collection of the Qur'an, and found the article by Motzki.
Motzki is not primarily an authority in the field of Quranic history; but rather in the history of hadith; especially as related to Islamic Jurisprudence. In that field he is currently the major figure, representing a reaction to the previous dominance of the views of Joseph Schacht. It is fair to say that Schacht's theories are now considered largely wrong in detail; but his general claim that hadiths are universally subsequent to legal debates one or two centuries subsequent to the life of the Prophet is the essential underpinning of Wansbrough (and hence the whole revisionist enterprise), and is still maintained by many scholars. Motzki proposes that if the hadith are examined using text critical methods, applied both to their content and claimed chain of transmission; it is possible to reconstruct their earlier forms, without accepting later assessements of 'authenticity' uncritically, or otherwise simply rejecting 'authenticity' out of hand. In the article cited, he applies this method to the hadiths recording the collection of the Qura'an. But, although that article does survey scholarly views at the time of writing; it is not yet the current summary that we need now. In my view.
One other issue with Motzki's article - which is also a criticism addressed to Motzki's work on hadiths in general - is that while he demonstrates that a rigorous text-critical application of Schacht's approach shows the traditional account to have circulated much earlier than Schacht allowed, and within a century of the Prophet's death (and within 70 years of the death of Uthman); nevertheless he does not engage with the elements of the tradition. Motzki shows that the respective narratives of Qur'anic compilation under Abu Bakr and Uthman are independent, partially duplicated, and partially contradictory; but he does not evaluate whether one of the other account may be preferred. Which is a missed opportunity, as from his account the earlier date of compilation looks to have the stronger evidence in the tradition. TomHennell (talk) 10:20, 6 April 2017 (UTC)
On what page does Harold do this? Because what I found was Harold dealing with individual writes, but didn't find anything on him categorizing people (e.g. "revisionists").VR talk 06:24, 8 April 2017 (UTC)
On page 12 Motzki presents 'in condensed form' a recent history of western scholarly research on the traditional narrative of the collection of the Qur'an. He picks out four scholars as representing the major recent tendencies of western scholarship on the subject, TomHennell (talk) 00:18, 9 April 2017 (UTC)
Motzki is certainly a prominent scholar, particularly in the field of hadith studies, as Tom points out. Donner's summary of research may deserve more weight because he's been commissioned to write similar surveys by the editors of The Cambridge History of Islam and The Cambridge Companion to the Qur'an. Donner's currently quoted essay may or may not be superseded by these other efforts of his, which are more recent and directed at a more general audience (I haven't had a chance to compare them side by side). They're all of a later date than Motzki's article, but reflecting multiple perspectives would be an improvement, and I can help summarizing material in French, if needed. Eperoton (talk) 09:37, 8 April 2017 (UTC)

Birmingham manuscriptEdit

Last segment about Birmingham manuscript in paragraph "Origin according to academic historians":

The latest in History of Quran is the discovery of parchments found by university of Birmingham which have been radio carbon dated. Radiocarbon analysis has dated the parchment on which the text is written to the period between AD 568 and 645 with 95.4% accuracy. The test was carried out in a laboratory at the University of Oxford. The result places the leaves close to the time of the Prophet Muhammad, who is generally thought to have lived between AD 570 and 632. Researchers conclude that the Qur'an manuscript is among the earliest written textual evidence of the Islamic holy book known to survive. Such scientific discovery leaves little to debate about the authenticity of Quran as a Book compiled sometimes during or immediately after the death of Prophet Muhammad.[1]

I noticed this text is mostly copy-paste, except last concluding claim which don't seem to exist in referenced article in any form (looks like misreading of article or original research). Maybe someone with better English than me can fix the problems. --Minnekon (talk) 17:14, 14 June 2018 (UTC)

Was Muhammad "illiterate" or "unlettered" and what does it matter?Edit

Recently reverted an edit that looked more like a zealous attempt to soften the reality that Muhammad is attested to being unable to read or write... and the term defining this inability is "illiterate" (unable to read or write). Please resist the temptation to add dissimilitude to Wiki articles, where clear and direct words are best in describing any subject matter. Of course, if unlettered (poorly educated or illiterate) is preferred, consider that word's definition. -- HafizHanif (talk) 19:29, 7 August 2018 (UTC)

latest on the history of the quranEdit

I have attempted to rework the paragraph referred to above as requiring an edit, it now reads:

The latest in origin of the Quran is the discovery of parchments of the Quranic text discovered by University of Birmingham, the parchment (the material) has been radiocarbon dated to the period between AD 568 and 645 with 95.4% accuracy. The test was carried out in a laboratory at the University of Oxford. The result places the parchment close to the time of Muhammad, who is generally thought to have lived between AD 570 and 632. Researchers conclude that the parchment is among the earliest written textual evidence of the Quran in existence.[62]


Separately, this whole article needs reworking so it is balanced. We need clear delineation between what islamic scholars may behold as true and what the historical evidence shows and also any textual studies on the variances that exist (or there lack). — Preceding unsigned comment added by Rtype909 (talkcontribs) 10:42, 27 August 2018 (UTC)

Consider this: finding the age of parchment is one thing, while finding the date of something being written on parchment is another matter. Parchment, or an animal's hide, could be dated to within a certain time period. However, a hundred or several hundred years may pass before whatever is written upon it is done, or changed. So, the dating effort via radiocarbon isn't always an accurate method to date writings, but only a close measure dating the material being written on. I think this point is mentioned in the article, and if not it should be. In other words: only the parchments are datable, not the writings themselves. -- HafizHanif (talk) 20:34, 28 August 2018 (UTC)

April 29th edits?Edit

  • First
    • "Islamic scholarly accounts" suggests actual intellectual, critical work done in order to reach the present conclusions. The work is present in the Hadith which is scholarly work based on historical criticism rather than just completely unsupported beliefs based solely on scripture. Additionally, the words "based on historical findings" are added by the same user in another edit.
  • Second
    • Citation to Hira location appears redundant as the Wikipedia article for Hira is already linked.
    • "... appeared to Muhammad said to be in the cave Hira which is now said to be near Mecca..." - The sentence begins with "According to Muslim belief", what's the need to include "said to be"? Isn't it redundant?
Regarding, "... there is no source for suggesting it is definitely the 'hira' now located near mecca...", in addition to the Hira article, even the newly added citation mentions it as the "Mountain near Mecca". Either provide a reference that suggests otherwise or keep the content as it is.
  • Third and Fifth
    • What's the reason for replacing "book format" with written form? The article itself mentions the existence of previous written manuscripts. Compilation into a formal book format is the relevant incident here.
  • Fourth

--AhmadF.Cheema (talk) 15:42, 29 April 2019 (UTC)

Comparison with pages dealing with the historicity of other faithsEdit

The point raised at the head of this page 'I fail to see why the traditional mythology is in the forefront of the article, when it should be the factual basis for how the Qur'an was written and compiled?' remains the issue today, in 2019. Attempts to revise, revisit, in some way mediate are curtailed and one most assume that religious sensibilities are at play. For comparison's sake take the beginning of the topic on the 'Historicity of the Bible'

  • 'The historicity of the Bible is the question of the Bible's "acceptability as a history".[1] This can be extended to the question of the Christian New Testament as an accurate record of the historical Jesus and the Apostolic Age.'

Instead this article, on the history of the quran, starts with belief avoiding the usual approaches of analysing what exists by way of discernible evidence.

There is no mention at the top of the article that the earliest Qurans, complete (or close too) date from the 8th Century and therefore long after Mohammed purportedly received his revelations. Attempts to even introduce this 'fact' are curtailed by reference to there being sufficient mention later in the article.

The point, however, remains that the article at the very forefront should tackle this issue with rational not 'belief' but it fails to do this.

Consider this excerpt from the British Museum dealing with early Quran's in it's possession :

  • 'The earliest Qur’ān manuscripts were produced in the mid-to-late seventh century, and ancient copies from this period have not survived intact and exist only in fragments. Or.2165 contains three series of consecutive leaves (Sūrah 7:40 – Sūrah 9:96; Sūrah 10:9 – Sūrah 39:48; Sūrah 40:63 – Sūrah 43:71) from the so-called mā’il Qur’ān, which is about two-thirds of the Qur’ān text and is one of the oldest Qur’āns in the world. It probably dates from the eighth century, and as far as can be ascertained, was produced in the Hijaz region of the Arabian Peninsula.
  • The Arabic word mā’il (by which this Qur’ān is known) means ‘sloping’ and refers to the sloping style of the script – one of a number of early Arabic scripts collectively named ‘Hijazi’ after the region in which they were developed. The main characteristic of mā’il is its pronounced slant to the right. It can also be recognised by the distinctive traits of some of its letters, for example, the letter alif does not curve at the bottom but is rigid, and the letter yā’, occurring at the end of a word, turns and extends backwards frequently underlying the preceding words.


Nothing within this article, at the outset, begins to deal with this. Instead we are left with the belief that there was a recitation in the 7th century and it was compiled into 'book format' by scribes under the 3rd caliph - no source, no citation and certainly no proof. The implication is that we are today looking at an undiluted quran; from revelation to today.

Regarding including "traditional mythology" in the lead, a reader looking up the history of a religious text would want to know concisly the traditional narrative related to the beliefs surrounding that text. Using just two sentences for this doesn't appear to be problematic.
I would argue that history of a particular text and its historicity are focused primarily on quite different things. Historicity specifically deals with the critical examination regarding the historical reliability of a text while "history" is focused on whatever is known about the subject. Whether that knowledge is reliable or not, takes a secondary nature - unless the vast majority of a scholarly community believes that history to be untrue. Such is not the case with the Qur'an, the unreliability of the traditional narrative is not widely accepted.
If the article was titled historicity of the text, then criticisms of the traditional narrative should definitely be included in the lead. Keeping in mind, the present focus of the article, declared in its first paragraph, I'm not sure. Not saying it shouldn't be there, just that I'm uncertain. However, what I can say is that if the criticisms are raised, for balance purposes brief responses like other things through which the traditional narrative is supported such as the tradition of Qur'an memorization will also need to be be mentioned.
-- AhmadF.Cheema (talk) 11:09, 1 May 2019 (UTC)

Section: "Influence of heretical Christian sects"Edit

Edit link.

I believe the included information is mostly, if not entirely, irrelevant to the History of the Quran. At most, this information deserves a couple of sentences under the #Similarities with the Bible section, and definitely not to have ~8 paragraphs dedicated on the subject. This, especially since entire articles on Biblical and Quranic narratives and Islamic views on Jesus' death already exist.

Furthemore, the new content is written in a POV manner and apparently the exact same information is further included by the same user in two articles: Historical reliability of the Quran and Sources for the Quran. Also, what was the need to have four paragraphs of quotations if they are supposed to be supporting the same idea? Wouldn't one have had been enough, with references for others?

Unless someone counter-argues, I plan to remove the added content, with possibly including a 1-2 sentence summary of it under #Similarities with the Bible.

--AhmadF.Cheema (talk) 16:37, 10 June 2019 (UTC)

I would also note that deeming a particular sect Heretical is not exactly a neutral point of view. It is also as you pointed out excessively long. --Erp (talk) 04:12, 11 June 2019 (UTC)
OK, I'll give a couple of days for the original author to respond before removing/summarizing the added content (unless somone one else wants to take the initiative). -- AhmadF.Cheema (talk) 05:29, 11 June 2019 (UTC)
Return to "History of the Quran" page.