Why verses in the Quran can’t get lost or go missing

Some critics of Islam allege that the Quran has not been perfectly preserved and that there are verses missing from the Quran, verses that have supposedly been ‘lost’.

One of the great things about the Quran and its reliability is in the way it was preserved by the Muslims. Unlike most books, the Quran doesn’t rely on textual transmission, in other words, even if every copy of the Quran were lost tomorrow the Quran would still exist.

The reason for this is because the Muslims have always memorized the Quran, and this started with the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and the early Muslims, and this continues all the way to the present day.

In fact it’s very well known for Muslims to make Quranic memorization competitions, and you will find children who have memorized the entire Quran. This is not only limited to children, you will find that even blind people can read the entire Quran, because they don’t need a text on paper to read it from.

In essence, the oral transmission of the Quran is its greatest asset and greatest protection, because let’s say something does get lost in the text, the oral transmission will ensure the verse does not actually get lost and it remains preserved.

So in that way, it’s virtually impossible for any verse in the Quran to simply go ‘missing’ or to get ‘lost’, because the Muslims who have memorized the entire Quran would realize this, and they would always be reciting the Quran, hence nothing can ever get lost.

The Quran has been memorized by millions of Muslims, so it is impossible for a verse to go missing, because everybody will notice it.

Similarly in the early days of Islam, thousands of Muslims memorized the Quran, so let’s say someone had some ulterior motives and they wanted to tamper with the Quran, the rest of the community would automatically recognize this because they have all memorized the Quran.

So not only does the Quran remain preserved and protected through oral memorization, the oral memorization also protects the Quran from anyone who has bad intentions of changing the Quran to suit their own purposes or agenda.

3 replies »

  1. Wouldn’t memorization just be another form of recording? I ask because it seems that we can only know for certain if extant recitations reflect the original if we have the original to compare it to. That which is memorized is a recording of a given reading (recorded in the minds of men), and does not preclude the possibility of alternative readings.

    For an easy example, some from the Shee3atu 3Alee, today, recite Soorat al-Maa’ida 5:67 in such a way that the phrase “fee 3Alee” appears therein. Now, you might say they added that. Those who hold to that recitation might object that, on the contrary, their recitation is the original for that verse. How, exactly, do we check who is right? It would seem we would have to leave the paradigm of recitations and look elsewhere (e.g. extant manuscripts).

    Permit me to share one other example worth meditating on. Regardless of what one thinks about the traditions about the so-called ayatur-rajm, it is nonetheless the case that there have been serious Muslims scholars in history (e.g. Ibn 7ajar al-3Asqalaanee) who took such traditions seriously, and held that the /tilaawa(t)/ of the verse had been “abrogated,” but the ruling remained. This would imply that even serious Muslim scholars seriously entertained the idea that a recitation popular in their time was not necessarily a perfect reflection of the original recitation. Ergo, it is far from a foregone conclusion that memorization precludes the possibility of lost verses.

    • Denis…. you are trying too hard to find issues where none exist. You simply cannot accept the fact that the Quran was perfectly preserved unlike for example the bible. Quran was both memorized and recorded in writing and recited daily. There is no other divine book that can claim such qualities.

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