The stage of collecting the Koran into a book was one of the most serious stages the Koranic text ever was subjected to. The Koran was revealed in seven ways (or dialects). Muslims sanctioned reciting it by the meaning and not necessarily verbatim.
"Companions" at first were opposed to the idea of collecting the Koran in one book, which they regarded as a heresy, which the Messenger did not do while he was still alive. But as soon as the idea was brought into existence, many copies were in circulation and each Companion had his own Mus-haf (copy of the Koran), for which he would not accept a substitute!
Ikrima reported that Ali Ibn Abi Taalib stayed at his home after the election of Abu Bakr, and it was told Abu Bakr that he resented his election! Therefore he sent for Ali saying, "Do you resent my election?" For which he answered, "No, by God!" Abu Bakr asked him, "What caused you to stay away from me?" He answered, "I saw the Book of God being added to, so I said to myself, 'I shall not wear my mantle, except (to go) to pray, till I have collected it.'" Abu Bakr said, "Such is a most wonderful thought."
As for the copy of Ubayy Ibn Ka'b, it was widespread in Syria. It differs from the copy of Othman in that it has two more Suras - Al-hafd and Al-Khal'. Al-Baihaqi reported that Omar Ibn Al-Khattaab prayed them, that Ali taught them to the people, and that people used to recite them before king Al-Malik Ibn Marwaan!! (That is till the Ommiad era.)
Also Ubayy's copy differs from other copies in that it combines Sura 105 and Sura 104, as well as Sura 93 and Sura 94, in one Sura. While in Othman's copy they are two separate Suras.
There is another copy named after Ibn Mas'uud, who was one of the leading reciters of the Koran recommended by Muhammad himself. Al-Suyuti reported, on the strength of Jaabir, that the prophet said, "Receive the Koran from four: Abdullaah Ibn Mas'uud, Mu'aaz Ibn Jabal, Saalim, and Ka'b."
The difference between Ibn Mas'uud's copy and the others' is that it does not contain Suras 1, 113, 114. It was also reported that he said, "The two charm-Suras (namely Suras 113, 114) are not of the Book of God."!
Zaid's copy, however, was collected and written down by an order from caliph Abu Bakr, after Omar Ibn Al-Khattaab's advice to him. Zaid collected it from what the Companions memorized, and from bones, tree-leaves, tree-bark, and palm-leaves!!
Othman between unification and distortion!
The stage of collecting the Koran had evident effects on the history of the written Koran. Many different and variant texts of the Koran were in evidence. Muslims were divided among themselves and each group held to a certain text. The disagreement came to the crunch when they started killing one another and claiming one another to be infidel. They exchanged different accusations, on top of which came the accusation of distortion.
Seeing what befell the Muslims, caliph Othman Ibn Affaan resolved to unify the dialects of the Koran into one dialect. Anas Ibn Maalik reported that the people disagreed concerning the Koran at the time of Othman, so that disciples and teachers killed one another. Othman heard about it and said, "Do you lie about it and commit solecisms in it (speaking of the Koran) in my presence? What about those who are far away from me? They surely tell more lies and commit more solecisms! Companions of Muhammad, gather yourselves and write a leader (i.e. the Koran) for the people."
After forming a committee to supervise the writing of the Koran, Othman commanded oil to be boiled and had the other copies that differed from his cast into it. This should arouse suspicion among the researchers about the creditability of the text, which we have in our hands. For Ali Ibn Abi Taalib bears witness that the Koran was added to! They say that Ali wrote in his copy of the Koran the abrogating and the abrogated verses, while Othman omitted the abrogated ones from his. Yet the copy we now have still has several abrogating and abrogated verses!
One of the historical facts, which will continue to arouse suspicion about the history of the written copy of the Koran, is the difference of Ibn Mas'uud's copy from those of the other Companions. He denies Sura 1, Sura 113, and Sura 114, and even declared anyone who considers them as belonging to the Book of God as infidels!! It's noteworthy that Ibn Mas'uud was one of the four people Muhammad recommended as trustworthy reciters of the Koran. It was reported that he claimed to know everything in the Koran, whether big or small. When Zaid was assigned to collect the Koran, and he was left out, he was so sullen and angry at the assignment of someone less than twenty years of age to such a mission, for which he was more qualified than anyone else. He repudiated the assignment of Zaid to collect the Koran and said, "By God, I have converted to Islam while he was yet in the groins of an infidel!" As for Ubayy's copy, it contains verses and Suras that are not in Othman's copy.
Why was there difference and disagreement, even though the people were still closely related to their leader's life?! We again wonder, why did those responsible for the collection of the Koran ignore the significant Companions, such as Ali Ibn Abi Taalib, Ubayy Ibn Abi Ka'b, Ibn Mas'uud, and Ibn Abbaas? We also have the right to ask, "why did Othman form a committee to collect and arrange the Koran, and removed the abrogated verses from it? Why didn't he or those with him accept the copy of Zaid, although Abu Bakr, Omar, Ali, and the senior Companions accepted it under Abu Bakr and Omar?
What Othman did to the Koran will always be under suspicion and accusation, since he burnt all the other copies that were existent at the time. Why were the copies prior to Othman's copy, which included Zaid's copy, destroyed, if they were consistent with the unified text of Othman? And if it was at variance with it and ought to be burnt, how can we trust Othman's copy, while he himself did not trust the work of Abu Bakr, Omar, and Ali?
The Shiites and the distortion of the Koran
All that we said previously represent the sayings and opinions of the reliable Sunni scholars, which call the impeccability of the Koran in question and accuse it, explicitly and implicitely, of being added to, taken from, changed, and substituted. The Shiite scholars, likewise, hold that the Koran has been added to and taken from. Their scholars of the Tradition and exposition, such as Ali Ibn Ibrahim, his disciple Al-Kalleeni, Al-Ayyaashi, and Al-Tubrusi, are of one opinion that the Koran circulated now between the hands of the Muslims is not the whole Koran!
Imam Muhammad Ibn Ja'far emphasized in his book "Al-Imamah" that God never said in the Koran, "The second of two, when the two were in the Cave, when he said to his companion, 'Sorrow not; surely God is with us.'" (Sura 9:40)!
There are many books written by the most significant leaders of the Shiite sect that confirm the fact that the Koranic texts were distorted. The most famous among them is "THE ABRIDGMENT ON THE DISTORTION OF THE BOOK OF THE LORD OF LORDS" by Imam Al-Nuri. The writer said in the preface, "This is a kind book and a creditable treatise, which proves the distortion of the Koran and brings to light the shameful deeds of the injurious and the unjust." The book consists of three introductions and two parts.
In his first introduction, the writer emphasizes the need to discard all that took place during the collection of the Koran, its collector, and the reason for collecting it. He touched upon the incompleteness and the differences in the Koran in relation to the way it was collected, supporting his argument by the reports of many Imams, among whom were Al-Saduuq, Al-Tubrusi, Al-Sighaar, Al-Kalleeni, Ibn Shahr Ashuub, Al-Ayyaashi, Al-Majlisi, and Al-Nu'maani. Here is a synopsis of these reports: Ali collected the Koran with neither adding a letter to it nor taking a letter from it, but he was refused and spurned. The three caliphs assigned the compilation and the composition of the Koran to whomever was in agreement with them against the holy men of God. So they omitted everything that implied eulogy to the Imams, as well as the manifest text concerning the office of the prince of the believers. Hence none, except the prince of the believers Ali Ibn Abi Taalib, can claim he collected the whole Koran. Imam Al-Nuri adds that "There were different collectors; the prince of the believers was the first among them, whose collection was at variance with all the other collectors. There are other three copies of the Koran collected by the caliphs, beside the copies of Ibn Ka'b, Ibn Mas'uud, which are four copies by themselves."
He then sums up what said by the following: "When these general and particular accounts are considered closely, we learn, from both their literal or suggested meaning, that the Koran now existing between the hands of the Muslims in the east and the west as it is bound by two jackets, and according to its collection and arrangement, was not so during the life of the Messenger."!
As for the second introduction of Imam Al-Nuri's book, it's written for the purpose of pointing out the groups of differences and changes that may have happened to the Koran. The examples of addition and reduction are numerous; the addition has been pointed out previously, and the reduction includes the Suras of Al-Hafd and Al-Khal'. As for the substitution, it includes that of words, letters, and vowels."
Imam Al-Nuri confirmed his argument by quotations from sayings of the Shiite scholars proving that the Koran was distorted and changed. He reported the sayings of more than twelve fundamentalist scholars who admit the distortion of the Koran, such as Al-Kalleeni and Al-Majlisi, in his book "THE MIRROR OF MINDS", Muhammad Ibn Hasan Al-Sairafi in his book "DISTORTION AND SUBSTITUTION", and Ahmad Ibn Muhammad in his book "THE DISTORTION".
In the first part of his book, Al-Nuri furnishes evidences indicating the occurrence of such changing and reduction in the Koran, supporting his evidences by reports and accounts:
1- There are accounts that denote the omission of many verses, such as the verse of Al-Rajm (stoning), as well as many Suras. For Sura 33 was as long as Sura 2, and Sura 98 once listed seventy persons from Kuraish, by their names and their fathers' names. It was also as long as Sura 2!
2- Ali Ibn Abi Taalib had a copy of the Koran, which he himself collected. This copy differs from that of Othman. It has verses not in Othman's copy, and vice versa. Among the verses it has, which are not in Othman's copy:
"Am I not your Lord, and Muhammad is My Messenger, and Ali the prince of the believers?"
"... and his parents were believers, while he was an unbeliever."
"... and We have sent before thee, neither a Messenger, nor a Prophet, nor a speech-carrier."
"... and their mothers' husbands, and he is a father unto them ..."
"Surely man is in a loss, and in it he shall remain till the end of the age ..."
3- There is a copy of the Koran named after Abdullaah Ibn Mas'uud that does not agree with the present copy. It is at variance also with the copy of Ali. Al-Nuri listed some of the verses that were found in Ibn Mas'uud's copy only:
"For surely God chose Adam, Noah, the house of Abraham, and the house of Muhammad above all beings."
"Did We not expand thy breast for thee and lifted from thee thy burden? Did We not exalt thy fame by Ali thy son-in-law?"
Here are some of the sixty places the Shiites believe have been distorted, according to the studies of Professor Muhammad Mallallaah. The phrases they consider as authentic, though not existent in the copies we have now, are enclosed between two parentheses.
Abi Baseer reported, on the strength of Ubayy Abdillaah: "Whosoever obeys God and His Messenger (in the rule of the Imams) has won a mighty triumph." (Sura 33:71). The Shiites believes that Muhammad's Companions omitted "in the rule of the Imams."
Abu Baseer reported, on the strength of Ubayy Ibn Abdillaah: "So We shall let the unbelievers (who forsook the rule of the prince of the believers) taste a terrible chastisement, and recompense them with the worst of what they were working." (41:27).
Al-Husain Ibn Mubaah reported that a man recited in the presence of Ubayy Ibn Abdillaah "Say: 'Work; and God will surely see your work, and His Messenger, and the believers.'" (9:105). For which Ubayy answered, "It is not so. it is rather "... and the trusted ones," which we are.
Abi Hamza reported, on the strength of Abi Ja'far: Gabriel, peace be upon him, revealed this verse after this manner - "Surely the unbelievers, who have done evil (by depriving the house of Muhammad from their right), God will not forgive them, neither guide them on any road but the road to Gehenna, therein dwelling for ever and ever." (Sura 4:168).
Abu Hamza also reported: "Yet most men refuse (the rule of Ali) all but unbelief." (Sura 17:89).
They also reported that Sura 2:106: "And for whatever verse We abrogate or cast into oblivion, We bring a better or the like of it" did not originally have "or the like of it."
What does the reader think about all what we have presented here?
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