These are the 6 earliest Manuscripts claimed by Muslim and Secular Scholars

Nine Codices sent to Nine Cities

Codices sent to: Basra, Baghdad, Damascus, Jerusalem, Cairo, Alexandria, Aden, Herat and Nishapur

They were sophisticated literate cities, where Qur’ans would be protected and preserved

Four Metropolitan Codices

By 650 Different Versions in Different Cities

Earliest compiled Qur’ans were written by four early scribes. Yet no uniform Qur’an in the early years of Islam

Length and contents within the earliest Qur’ans differ



Six Earliest Qur’ans


What do the Scholars Say?

Their conclusions concerning the Six Earliest Qur’ans

Two Turkish Muslim Scholars

The 2002-2007 ‘al Mushaf al Sharif’ Investigation

Prof. Dr. Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu

•            Founding Director General of IRCICA (1980-2004)

•            Secretary General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference Research Centre

Dr. Tayyar Altıkulaç

•            Leading scholar in Qur’anic studies

•            Ex-president of Turkish religious affairs

•            Deputy in the Turkish parliament

A Brave Confession

Prof. Dr. Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu

“We have none of Uthman’s Mushafs”

“Nor do we have any copies from those Mushafs”

“These Mushafs date from the later “Umayyad period”

Topkapı Muṣḥaf

A Brave Confession

Dr. Tayyar Altıkulaç

“No serious scholarly work has been done on them”

“These Mushafs date from the early – mid-8th century.”

“They are not Uthmanic, nor copies sent by him”

Topkapı Muṣḥaf



Topkapı Mushaf: early-Mid 8th century

Investigative book on Topkapı (out of print, but in some libraries, including Pfander)

Fragment of the Topkapı

Example of later diacritical marks & vowelization

Conclusions of Muslim Scholars

Dr. Tayyar Altıkulaç: Topkapı

Dated to “the second half of the first century A.H. and the first half of the second Century A.H. [due to] “voweling and dotting.” (I.e. early – mid 8th century) (Altıkulaç, ‘Al-Mushaf al-Sharif’ 2007:81)

“Even though we would like to publish this sacred text as the Muṣḥaf of Caliph ‘Uthmān, our research indicated that it was neither the private Muṣḥaf of Caliph ‘Uthmān, nor one of the Muṣḥafs he sent to various centers.” (Altıkulaç, ‘Al-Mushaf al-Sharif’ 2007:23)

Conclusions of Muslim Scholars

Dr. Tayyar Altıkulaç

“There are deviations from grammatical rules (Laḥn) and spelling mistakes in the Muṣḥafs attributed to Caliph ‘Uthmān” (Altıkulaç, ‘Al-Mushaf al-Sharif’ 2007:41f)

He concludes: “2,270 instances where there is a difference from the [consonantal skeleton] of the Fahd Muṣḥaf” (Altıkulaç, ‘Al-Mushaf al-Sharif’ 2007:81)

Differences between Texts

Topkapı (mid-8th century)

Surah 14:38

“You know what we conceal and what he revealed”

(Keith Small p 74)

Cairene Text (1924 Canon)

Surah 14:38

“You know what we conceal and what we reveal”

Differences between Texts

Topkapı (mid-8th century)

Surah 3:158

“If you should die or be slain, you shall not be gathered”

(Keith Small p87-89)

Cairene Text (1924 Canon)

Surah 3:158

“If you should die or be slain, before Him you shall undoubtedly be gathered”



Samarkand Muṣḥaf: early-Mid 8th century

Monumental Codex


Script helps to date it

Conclusions of Muslim Scholars

Dr. Tayyar Altıkulaç: Samarkand ‘It is not Uthmanic, as it dates from the 8th century.’

Six Reasons to discredit this Muṣḥaf:

Undisciplined spelling

Different writing styles

Scribal mistakes

Copyist mistakes

Written by someone with little experience

With later additions (only goes to Sura 43)

(Altıkulaç, ‘Al-Mushaf al-Sharif’ 2007:65,71-72)

What is preserved in the Samarkand?

Samarkand only has 43 Surahs

Yet, within those 43 Surahs:

•            1 surah = Complete (surah 6)

•            24 surahs = Partial

•            18 surahs = Do not Exist

(Altıkulaç, ‘Al-Mushaf al-Sharif’ 2007:65,71-72)



Ma’il Muṣḥaf: in London

Style of writing helps to date it

See rudimentary script

British Library catalogue

Conclusions of Muslim Scholars

Ma’il: In the British Library (Ridblatt Gallery)

•            Written in the Hijazi Script

•            Only up to Sura 43

•            Includes only 53% of the Qur’an

•            Date: early 8th c. (Altıkulaç) or late 8th century (Dr. Martin Lings)


Al Husseini


Al Husseini Cairo Mushaf: early to Mid-8th century

Monumental Codex

A caliph’s Qur’an?

Script and versification date it

Conclusions of Muslim Scholars

Dr. Tayyar Altıkulaç: on the al-Husseini manuscript

•            “This is not Uthmanic”

•            “It is dated from early to mid-8th century.”

•            It was stated that the Cairo copy ... might have been written on the order of ‘Abd al-’Aziz b. Marwan (d.704), the governor of Egypt. However, the reason for reaching this conclusion has not been explained. We share the view that this copy is not one of the Mushafs attributed to Caliph ‘Uthman.” (Altıkulaç, ‘Al-Mushaf al-Sharif’ 2007:36-footnote 14a)

Al Husseini Muṣḥaf (mid-8thcentury)

Francois Deroche

•            “Monumental manuscripts are later... the bigger the later”

Note the coverings over the text (see the blue arrows), signifying hiding, or censoring the original written text.



Parisino-Petropolitanus: early 8th century

Rudimentary script

A different script

Script helps to date it

Conclusions of Muslim Scholars

Francois Deroche on the Petropolitanus Text

•            There are corrections to the text

•            It disagrees with the 1924 Caireen Mushaf in 93 places

•            “Five different copyists”

•            “Later modified with erasures and additions”

•            Arabe 328 = 26% of the Qur’an

•            Arabe 330g = 15% of the Qur’an

•            Arabe 614a = 4.2% of the Qur’an

(Deroche 2009:172-177)

Differences between Texts


Surah 14:37

“Our lord, l have settled some of my descendants in an uncultivated valley near Your sacred House, our Lord, that they may establish prayer, and make hearts among the people incline towards them”

(Keith Small p 80)

Cairene Text (1924 Canon)

Surah 14:37

“Our lord, I have settled some of my descendants in an uncultivated valley near Your sacred House, our Lord, that they may establish prayer. So make hearts among the people incline towards them”

(Keith Small p 80)

Significance of Differences

Muslims respond: “It is no big difference”

•                It is significant if the Qur’an is perfect and unchanged

•                The difference is subtle, but it is different... because the repentance of the people is no longer a result of Abraham’s settling people near God’s sacred house (as in the Petropolitanus manuscript), but instead, their repentance is something Abraham is requesting of God as a result of his actions: i.e. “so” (according to the standard 1924 Hafs edition used today)



Sana’a Muṣḥaf: 705AD...

Two different scripts

Orange highlights = variants

Conclusions of the Scholars

Karl-Heinz Ohlig on the Sana’a (1981-present)

“The Qur’an began to be compiled in the last two decades of the 7th century, with other versions continuing until the 9th century”

Conclusions of the Scholars

Dr. Gerd Puin on the Sana’a (1981-present)

•            “Oldest parchments & papers of any Qur’anic Manuscripts”

•            “Yet, more than half of the text is ambiguous letters which need diacritical marks for understanding. Adding vowels helped correct mistakes. Changes in orthography [conventional spelling system of a language] are found in geographical tradition schools”

•            But this Sana’a manuscript is more interesting than the others, because it turns out it is a Palimpsest!

•            Let us take a look at the lower layer of this Palimpsest.

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