Quranic Variant that Changes the Meaning – Hafs and Warsh

One of the claims of the Muslim for the perfect preservation of the Qur’an is that, since its revelation and down to the compilation, the Qur’an has maintained it pristine position, and that not a word, letter or even jot had changed! In order to validate this, Muslim apologist are quick to verse 9 of the 15th chapter of the Qur’an, which states;

We have, without doubt, sent down the Message; and We will assuredly guard it (from corruption). – Yusuf Ali

Muslim Apologist and exegetes, had in the time past and currently used this verse as an evidence of Allah’s promise to protect the Qur’an from changes (corruption), in form of addition and omission. One of Islam’s most popular and respected tafsir, the tafsir of the Al Jalalayn has this to say on the verse in question;

Verily it is We nahnu emphasises the subject of inna or functions as a separating pronoun Who have revealed the Remembrance the Qur’ān and assuredly We will preserve it against substitution distortion additions and omissions. – Tafsir al-Jalalayn

Interestingly, only few Muslim Apologist makes the claim again due to the manuscripts evidence that are now being discovered from recent examinations and analysis. A good example is the recent publication of Dr. Dan Brubaker on the , you might want to see the book promo here if you haven’t, you might also want to see Dr. Jay Smith’s debate with Mansur Ahmed on this at the speaker’s corner here as well. Finally, if you haven’t bought the book, you could get it on Amazon by clicking on this link.

With that said, we want take a look at another interesting aspect of this subject, namely the readings of the Qur’an. Many Muslims today are faced with the dilemma presented by the various readings of the Qur’an available today, many are even reluctant to call them variant readings, they prefer to call them just readings of the Qur’an. Out of the multiple readings of the Qur’an that exist today, we will only examine and compare that of Hafs and Warsh, the reason being that, these two are the widely used in the Muslim ummah today.

Even though the Hafs is widely used in 90% of the Muslim world today, and the Warsh reading with about 10%, we shall examine a few textual variant between these two readings and see if they change the meaning of not. Many Muslims and Muslim Apologist claim that these readings do not really change the meaning, but are merely complementing to one another, and that the message are exactly these same, the truth is, this claim is completely false.

So, below are a few textual variant between the Hafs readings and the Warsh reading that clearly changes the meaning, this kind of variants in textual criticism are called meaningful variant.  For the most part, these variant are reference from a Muslim website called Muslim Prophet, just in case a Muslim want to doubt them, they can check out the website themselves.

 

Hafs

Warsh

وَلا تُسْأَلُ

Indeed, We have sent you, [O Muhammad], with the truth as a bringer of good tidings and a warner, and you will not be asked about the companions of Hellfire.

Qur’an 2:119

ولا تَسْئَلْ

Indeed, We have sent you, [O Muhammad], with the truth as a bringer of good tidings and a warner, and do not ask about the companions of Hellfire.

Qur’an 2:119

مِسْكِينٍ

[Fasting for] a limited number of days. So whoever among you is ill or on a journey [during them] – then an equal number of days [are to be made up]. And upon those who are able [to fast, but with hardship] – a ransom [as substitute] of feeding a poor person [each day]. And whoever volunteers excess – it is better for him. But to fast is best for you, if you only knew.

Qur’an 2:184

مَسَٰكِينَ

[Fasting for] a limited number of days. So whoever among you is ill or on a journey [during them] – then an equal number of days [are to be made up]. And upon those who are able [to fast, but with hardship] – a ransom [as substitute] of feeding poor people [each day]. And whoever volunteers excess – it is better for him. But to fast is best for you, if you only knew.

Qur’an 2:184

نَّبِيٍّ قَاتَلَ

And how many a prophet [fought and] with him fought many religious scholars. But they never lost assurance due to what afflicted them in the cause of Allah , nor did they weaken or submit. And Allah loves the steadfast.

Qur’an 3:146

نَّبِيٍّ قٌَتِلَ

And how many a prophet [were killed and] with him fought many religious scholars. But they never lost assurance due to what afflicted them in the cause of Allah , nor did they weaken or submit. And Allah loves the steadfast.

Qur’an 3:146

رِسَالَتَهُ

O Messenger, announce that which has been revealed to you from your Lord, and if you do not, then you have not conveyed His message. And Allah will protect you from the people. Indeed, Allah does not guide the disbelieving people.

Qur’an 5:67

رِسَالَٰتِهِ

O Messenger, announce that which has been revealed to you from your Lord, and if you do not, then you have not conveyed His messages. And Allah will protect you from the people. Indeed, Allah does not guide the disbelieving people.

Qur’an 5:67

And it is He who sends the winds as good tidings before His mercy until, when they have carried heavy rainclouds, We drive them to a dead land and We send down rain therein and bring forth thereby [some] of all the fruits. Thus will We bring forth the dead; perhaps you may be reminded.

Qur’an 7:57

And it is He who sends the winds to disperse before His mercy until, when they have carried heavy rainclouds, We drive them to a dead land and We send down rain therein and bring forth thereby [some] of all the fruits. Thus will We bring forth the dead; perhaps you may be reminded.

Qur’an 7:57

قَالَ

He [the Prophet] said, “My Lord knows whatever is said throughout the heaven and earth, and He is the Hearing, the Knowing.”

Qur’an 21:4

قُل

Say [O Muhammad], “My Lord knows whatever is said throughout the heaven and earth, and He is the Hearing, the Knowing.”

Qur’an 21:4