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History of the Qur’an and Vedas

History of the Qur’an and Vedas

By Editorial Staff

A Copy of Qur’an by the Companion `Uthman `Affan preserved in the mosque Husain, Cairo, Egypt.

Muslims believe that the Qur’an is the last and final divine revelation revealed by Allah the Almighty through the Angel Jibreel (peace be upon him) to the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing be upon him) for the guidance of entire mankind and Jinn.
The text of the Qur’an has been transmitted by such a huge number of Muslims in every period that is impossible to agree upon false or lies. Such as the truth in the existence of a mountain in the borders of India named Himalaya, many of us never saw it and never travelled to it by himself, but everyone of us believe in its existence without any doubt because a large number of people from various countries who collectively cannot be liars have informed us of its presence. And the same is in the case of transmission of the Glorious Qur’an.

Transmission of the Qur’an over Centuries

The text of the Glorious Qur’an has been preserved since its first revelation during 610 A.D. in two important traditional forms; 1- by memorizing every verse and 2- by writing them on the available objects, like: skins of the goats, pieces of the stones, saddle woods, bone tablets, leaves, branches and trunks etc..
After the revelation was complete and the last verses were revealed near the death of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) nine or eighty days before his death in 632 A.D. the all written objects were collected and combined under the supervision of four divinely guided Caliphs of Islam beside the other companions who writers of the revelation.

Originality of Religious Scriptures

It is not an exaggeration to say that Islam is distinguished among the religions of the world with preserving the text of the Glorious Qur’an in its original form without changing or altering even a single letter, word, sentence or its structure. This characteristic is unique and matchless when compared with the text of other major religions of the world: Jainism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism and Christianity, or any religion in the world; as none of their original manuscripts are preserved till now except the Glorious Qur’an.
It is not an exaggeration to say that no major religions of the world posses copies of their holy scriptures that were written at their beginning, or in the lifetime of its founder or initiator. There is another manuscript of the Glorious preserved in the Mosque of Hussain in Cairo, Egypt. The manuscript was drafted by the companion, the son in law of the Prophet (peace be upon him), the third rightly guided of the caliphs of Islam `Uthman ibn `Affan (may Allah be pleased with him) (579—656 A.D.)

One of the Oldest Manuscripts of Qur’an

The portions of Qur’an could be from the very first complete version of the Qur’an, compiled and combined by the order of the first Caliph of Islam, Abu Bakr As-Siddiq (573 – 634 A.D.), a companion of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).
The pieces in Birmingham date back at least to 1,370 years and were once held in Egypt’s oldest mosque, the Mosque of `Amr ibn Al-`As in Cairo.
What was really surprising about the Birmingham discovery was its early date, with radiocarbon testing putting it between 568 A.D. and 645 A.D..
The latest date in the range is 13 years after the death of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) in 632 A.D..

Similarities between Vedas and Qur’an

Muslims believe that the Glorious Qur’an is word of Allah the Almighty, received by the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), sometimes, the angel Jibreel (peace be upon him) was a mediator in conveying the divine words to the Prophet and sometimes it was revealed to the heart of the Prophet (peace be upon him) directly, and then the Prophet (peace be upon him) asked one of the writers to record them and write down and after that and before they leave, he asked to read them and correct them if there was any mistake.
On the other hand, the Hindus believe that the texts were received directly from God by some ancient Hindu spiritual guides who are called Rishis and Munees and passed it on to the next generations by word of mouth.
Vedic texts are sometimes called shruti, which means hearing. For hundreds, maybe even thousands of years, the texts were passed on orally.
In light of the above-mentioned information, both religions are similar in believing that Vedas and Qur’an are from God and that both are words of God. However, the Qur’an is distinct from Vedas that the Qur’an has been recorded and written down and was memorized by the Prophet Muhammad and his companions whilst Vedas were transmitted only orally.

Transmission of Ancient Hindu Scriptures

The Hindu scriptures are of two kinds: Shruti (the heard ones) that have been passed in oral form from previous generations to later generations.
The four Vedas fall under the section of Shruti. However, authentic and reliable ancient manuscripts of Vedas are absent.
According to the historians, Rigveda was not recorded until the Gupta period (4th to 6th centuries A.D.). And the oral transmission was the only way for its continuation to the next generation.

Are Vedas Eternal?

Some Hindus claim that their Sanatana Dharma is eternal and divine, therefore, in Hinduism; Vedas do not have a beginning. The Vedas are considered beginning-less.
However, this opinion cannot be logically true, and no matter how long it is but everything must have a beginning, there is nothing timeless and eternal. The only being that is beyond the time and space is Allah the Almighty who is only one eternal and ageless and everything else has a beginning and an end.
Vedas have been transmitted through oral traditions. So, the written manuscripts probably date to 14th-15th century. Maximum would be around the 11th-12th century probably, and it is very hard to find readable ancient manuscripts in general, let alone the manuscripts of Vedas.

The Manuscripts of Vedas

One of the existing dogmas, that existed earlier too, was that Vedas should not be written down; it has to be orally passed down. That might be also one of the reasons that you won’t find a written manuscript and most of the Vedas are lost.
Some Hindus believe that Vedas were not composed. They were given by Vyasa avatar of God to three disciples; one part to each.

What are Shruti and Smriti?

Smṛiti literally means the text that is remembered, referring to a specific body of Hindu religious scripture and is a codified component of Hindu customary law. Smṛiti also denotes non-Shruti texts and is generally seen as secondary in authority to Shruti.
Apart from terminology, there is a similar classification in Islamic theology. There is a group of Islamic issues that depends on the evidence from Qur’an; the words of Allah the Almighty and the saying of His Messenger (peace be upon him) such as the Paradise and Hellfire and their detailed disruptions.
In Islamic literature, there are two types of sciences, the heard and narrated like the Qur’an and Sunnah and mental science like the Islamic jurisprudence that refers to those Islamic rulings that have been derived from the Qur’an and Hadith. Thus, the Qur’an and Sunnah are like Shruti and Fiqh is like Smirti.

Conclusion

After acknowledging that Vedas and other Hindu sacred scriptures in general were based solely on oral transmission and verbal tradition without writing and recording them, it must be recognized that such transmission is surely subject to loss, subtraction, addition and alteration by each narrator to his next, making it difficult to purify and refine the addition from the original. This conclusion is based on the following observations:
First: Oral transmission even nowadays is not free from error and mistake; we see when the poems of poets in Hindi and Urdu are quoted or referred, a lot of changes happen. Sometimes, a word is altered with another word having the similar meaning. And sometimes, a word is changed with another word that changes the meaning and idea.
Second: Sometimes, if the narrator or reporter is a poet and composes some of his own poems in the same subject and content and on the same poetic meter and rhyme and read with the sacred divine poem, in this case, it is impossible for the later transmitters to differentiate between the original and addition. Surely, the addition will become a part of its original over time.
It is not a matter of one decade or two, one century or two, rather, it is the matter of tens of centuries and you can imagine the possibility of additions and omissions in the light of these circumstances.
Third: I am not sure if the Vedas were memorized entirely, from the beginning to the end by the Hindu priests or they just memorized what they needed in prayers and special occasions.
The case with the Glorious Qur’an is totally different where all Muslims participate in memorizing some of the short chapters of the Qur’an for their prayers and supplications.
However, there are a large number of memorizers all over the world who have memorized the entire Qur’an, from its beginning to end. And this characteristic is not available in the Vedas.
Fourth: It is also noteworthy that the recitation and understanding of Vedas were not allowed to all Indians, but there was severe punishment to anyone who tries to read, recite or listen to the Holy Scripture. And this is also one of the most important factors of distortion and alteration and reduction and addition in Vedas over the time. This is unlike the Glorious Qur’an, as it never was specific with caste, group, society or nation, rather, it was shared by everyone, and the recitation of the Qur’an was and is the right of every human-being on the globe and this can be clearly seen in the month of Ramadan, fasting month for Muslims in Taraweeh.

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