The Koran/al'Quran is unchanged through time?

This strikes me as a topic that could easily get bogged down so I’ll drop it into GD.

Has the Koran/al’Quran truly remained unchanged through the centuries? Have there been no revisions? Is there no evidence of other books/scrolls acting as a basis for it? Have there been no translation errors due to the inevitable changes in language and usage?

The typical story that I’ve seen is that Mohammed dictated the message given to him by Gabriel to various scribes and from there the text has never changed. Over the course of centuries, I find that hard to believe.

Well, I don’t think there is any evidence that it has changed (I could be wrong), but yes, translations in languages other than Arabic do differ. The Yusuf Ali English translation is said to have an apologetic slant to it.

As far as it having a basis from other books, sure, it is supposedly supposed to correct earlier Judeo/Christian books that have been tampered with by man over the years. Christians Jews, Jesus, Moses, Abraham, etc. are all mentioned in the Qur’an.

It seems that the words may not have changed. But is there any evidence the the meaning of the words used has not changed over time, and has the meaning of words written in the Qur’an been influenced by the very fact that they are used in the Qur’an?

People familiar with the English language are used to rapidly changing word meanings, has the language of the Qur’an somehow avoided similar changes?

No, I realize that there were Christian and Jewish minorities in the area, but those books seem to be tacked onto the front of the Quran, in much the same way that the Torah is tacked onto the front of the Christian bible.

So the current language, script and interpretation of the al’Quran is exactly the same now as back in the 8th century?

Sure, the meaninig of vague writings in any supposedly divine book change all the time. I bet if you asked a Muslim livng in the desert 600 years ago what Allah meant when he said, “The Earth is spread out like a carpet”, your answer would have been that the Earth is flat. I’m sure you’ll get a different answer now.

A New York Times article about scholarship concerning the origins of the Koran:

I could be wrong about this, but my understanding was that the Quran usually does not get translated, if only to avoid what the OP is talking about. No cite, just from having talked to a Muslim guy a while back.

Its been translated to every major language in the world Lord Ashtar.

I think it’s part of the Moslem belief that the Koran has remained unchanged, the perfect word of God. However modern scholars think otherwise. Some early manuscripts (Islamic Dead Sea Scrolls) have been unearthed in Yemen that apparently can put the Koran in a historical perspective.

It has been translated. But if you want to read the real Koran, you have to read it in arabic.

Yeah, well that shows what I know, doesn’t it? :wink:

Well, only the orginal Arabic text is actually considered to be the ‘al Qur’an’ whereas translations (and there exist many) are not considered to be so.

There is new evidence contary to Islamic doctrine that the Qur’an has changed from it’s very earliest form.


According to one of my favorite books, Karen Armstrong’s *A History of God*, Muhammad was illiterate and did not have the Koran written down for a coupla years. So I guess it is possible Muhammad fooled with it then.

it doesn’t seem that crazy to me that the Koran should be well preserved, since it is only, what, 1400 years old?

Speaking of its age, Muslims believe the Koran, like the Christian Logos, dwelled (dwelt?) with Allah throughout eternity before it was bestowed unto man. So, in an absolute theological sense, a devout Muslim will say, yes, it is unchanging through time- even before it existed! (‘heavy, man’)

If you read Armstrong’s book, it’s evident that a great deal of Islam is based on later interpretation, and misinterpretation of interpretations, just as the US Gov is based on interpretation and reinterpretation of interpretations of the Constitution, Christianity is based on reinterpretations and mistranslations of mistranslations, etc.

Just to give one example, the Hijab was originally intended to be a special mark for Muhammad’s wives, and women were originally ~equal to men in Islam. But that went out the window.

There was a Newsweek article about a new german study of the Koran and they said there were some nasty misinterpretations and bad translations… was about 2 months ago.

From the Guardian link above

So there’s only 1 German Orientalist. Seems like far too small a number to allow us to disregard centuries of belief in the unchanging nature of the Koran/al Q’uran.

The Bible was thoroughly deconstructed by Christians, has there been no similar movement within Islam?

I would have sworn there was a thread on this exact topic in the last couple of years. Anyone else having better memory on this one than me? Started by some recent convert, as I recall, but darned if I can find it.

Well I remember a thread on “Who wrote the bible” or “Who killed Jesus” that lightly touched the topic. Damned if I can find it now of course.

It’s my understanding that the Qur’an is not organized in that manner, but rather that, for the most part, its Surahs are arranged by length and not date.

This is an interesting topic to debte on.

And to correct already some interpretation given here:

No there is not “only one” German orientalist.
Puin happened to be the person who first examined the Saana findings.

In fact: the most famous orientalists in this field (Al Qur’an as text) are still Régis Blachère (Régis Blachère Introduction au Coran) and Theodor Nöldeke (Theodor Nöldeke Geschichte des Qorans, now mostly availably in the editing by Friedrich Schwally).

Both works are standard works; you shall almost inevitably find reference to them in publications that touch this studyfield.

I did a thesis on this issue. If you want I can give you some short overview of the history of Al Qur’an as text, the findings about parallel editions, the reasons why Muslims claim that the text came to us “unaltered” and the critiques on this claim.

But take in mind that it takes for me time to “translate myself” in English and that this sotry in its historical context isn’t told in a few lines.
So it would maybe be easier to answer specific questions you may have.

Salaam. A

Aldie: Why’d you use those spelling for Qur’an?