Samarqand & Topkapi Qurans:-

       Manuscript evidence is a major problem for Islam and its claims for the Qur'an. Aside from some of the manuscripts discovered in the loft of the Great Mosque in Sanaa in 1972, no manuscript fragment of the Qur'an can be dated earlier than first quarter of the 8th century A.D. - nearly 100 years after Muhammad.
(Calligraphy and Islamic Culture, Annemarie Schimmel, 1984, p.4)

       Muslims attempt to get around this problem by claiming that there are two
"Uthmanic recensions", or original copies of 'Uthman's Codex of the Qur'an :
the Samarkand Manuscript, in the Tashkent library, Uzbekistan and
the Topkapi Manuscript,      in the Topkapi Museum, in Istanbul, Turkey.

       The flaw in this claim is that these documents are written in the Kufic Script which, according to Qur'an scholars Martin Lings and Yasin Hamid Safadi, did not appear until the late eighth century (Lings & Safadi 1976:12-13,17; Gilchrist 1989:145-146; 152-153).

       Therefore, both the Samarkand and Topkapi Codices could not have been written earlier than 150 years after the 'Uthmanic Recension was [supposedly] compiled - at the earliest during the late 700's or early 800's since both are written in the Kufic script (Gilchrist 1989:144-147). This is a serious problem because we have a period of 150 years between the death of Muhammad and the earliest Qur'an. Could there have been changes, or even an evolution of the text of the Qur'an prior to the Umayyad period?

       Nevertheless, the Samarkand Codex is one of the oldest extant manuscripts of the Qur'an. This fact makes it valuable for comparison with the today commonly printed texts. There are several very interesting textual differences between the "modern Qur'an" and the Samarkand Codex which can be compared at this site:


Related Articles-

A `Perfect' Qur'an, or `so it was made to appear to them'?
The Orthography of the Samarqand Codex

Extensive Textual Comparison

       Von Denffer shows us copies of Pages #1 (Q2:7-10), and #375 (Q7:86-87). But that is little evidence after assuring us it indicates: 

"In other words: two of the copies of the Qur’an which were originally prepared in the time of Caliph `Uthman, are still available to us today and their text and arrangement can be compared, by anyone who cares to, with any other copy of the Qur’an be it in print or handwriting, from any place or period of time. They will be found to be identical." (Ulum, p.64)

       Indeed, what assurance can 4 verses provide when there are more than 6000 in the Qur’an and his claim about it being the ‘Imam’ was also wrong!
       Had Von Denffer been willing to show us Page 3, we would have found an extra ya in the modern 1924 Egyptian Arabic EDITION. 


-In the last line of Page #373 the ‘original’ of Q7:82 is quite different. Is it from ‘original’ scribal ignorance? 
Page #370:
-In line #1 the ‘original’ Q7:73 contains the letters lam-alif which someone has stroked out and which are absent from the modern version. 

Page #369:
-In line #8 the letter alif is in the ‘original’ of Q7:73 while the modern version has the letter ‘h’.

Page #367:
-In line #1 the word in Q7:68 contains the letter sin in the ‘original’ whereas in the modern versions the word has mim & ya. 

Page #90:
-In line #1 there is no word present in the Samarqand ‘original’ of Q2:283 where the modern Arabic version has the word Allah.

-In line #8 we find the pronoun huwa [he] is present in the Samarqand ‘original’ of Q2:284, whereas the modern Arabic version has the word Allah.

Page #92: 
-In line #10 the ‘original’ of Q3:37 is not in agreement with the modern version which has more words - including the word Allah. 

Page #108:
-In line #9 someone has tried to add’ extra words to the ‘original’ -including the word Allah. Today they all appear in the modern Arabic version of Q3:78. 

Page #118:
-In line #4 the ‘original’ is without the word Allah in Q3:109! It is in the modern version. 

-Also in line #4 the letter dal occurs, but is omitted in the modern version. 

Page #252:
-In line #1 the ‘original’ of Q5:119 the word Allah is absent, yet has been introduced into the modern version. 

Page #320:
-In line #1 the waw is absent in the ‘original’ of Q6:140 but present in the modern version. 

-In line #7 words are  absent in the ‘original’ of Q6:141 but present in the  modern version.

Page #321:
-In line #10 several words are absent in the ‘original’ of Q6:144 [although the attempt has been made to ‘introduce’ them in the margin] but are present in the modern version. 

Page #365:
-In line #2 a ya is present in the ‘original’ of Q7:63whereas the modern version has two consonants.

Page #323: -The modern version of Q6:146 contains many more words than are found in line #2 of the ‘original’ [although again we see words ‘added’ in the margin]. 
-In line #7 in the ‘original’ of Q6:147 we note that an alif is present - but not in the modern version. 

Page #15: -In the modern version of Q2:57 a word appears which is not in line #5 of the ‘original’ but a small portion remains in the margin where it was sought to ‘add’ it. 

        The truth is that these are but a few of the many variations found between the modern versions of the Arabic texts and that which is found in the Samarqand ‘original’.

A large number of them can be viewed in Appendix A. 
Further reading-

The Orthography of the Samarqand Codex by Arthur Jeffery A. and I. MENDELSOHN


  Early Debates on the Integrity of the Quran (Part I)

[ This article is written by Professor Hossein Modarresi from Princeton
University, NJ ]

Textual Variants of the Qur'an

       Most Muslims claim that the text of the Qur'an is identical to that received by Muhammad. This is a convenient thing to believe, but is it the truth? There is overwhelming evidence that it is not:

1. Evidence of Change Before 'Uthman

Why did 'Uthman feel the need to destroy other copies of the Qur'an, unless they contained variants?

Why did Ibn Ma'sud refuse to hand over his copy for destruction? How do we know that 'Uthman's copy was better than any of the others?

Jam' Al-Qur'an Chapter 1 - The Initial Collection of the Qur'an Text
Jam' Al-Qur'an Chapter 2 - The Uthmanic Recension of the Qur'an
Jam' Al-Qur'an Chapter 3 - The Codices of ibn Mas`ud and Ubayy ibn Ka`b

from the Hadiths part 2 - the first collection of the Qur'an
from the Hadiths part 3 - Differences before the 'Uthmanic collection
from the Hadiths part 4 - the 'Uthmanic collection

Relation of Shi'a Theology to the Qur'an

A variant from Ubayy's Codex (as documented by Yusuf Ali)

Distortion in the Qur'an

A Contribution of Uthman to the Qur'an

Uthman's standardising of the Qur'an
'Uthman and the Recension of the Koran

2. Evidence of Change After 'Uthman

There is evidence that changes to the Qur'an continued after the time of 'Uthman:

Jam' Al-Qur'an Chapter 5 - The Seven Different Readings
Jam' Al-Qur'an Chapter 6 - The Compilation of the Qur'an in Perspective

Al-Hajjaj changed Uthman's Qur'an text and a response(?): Part 1, Part 2

3. Hadiths which say the Qur'an is incomplete

Both the Qur'an and the Sunna give evidence that some of the Qur'an was lost, forgotten, or abrogated:

Jam' Al-Qur'an Chapter 4 - The Missing Passages of the Qur'an
Variant Readings of the Quran

Islam and Stoning: A Case Study Into the Textual Corruption Of the Quran
from the Hadiths part 6 - The status of the mushaf

Sura 2:238 is not complete according to Aisha

Some Muslims are of the conviction spurious verses have been added:

The controversy about Sura 9:128-129 - Hence these verses are removed in this Qur'an

4. Hadiths which refer to lost suras

There are Hadiths which refer to suras which are not in the modern Qur'an. Surely this indicates that the Qur'an has changed since the time of these Hadiths.

Jam' Al-Qur'an Chapter 4 - The Missing Passages of the Qur'an

from the Hadiths part 5.1 - Missing Verses

On the Integrity of the Qur'an (2) Describes Hadiths concerning the sura about 'The Valley of Riches'

The Verse on Suckling

The Verse on Stoning

'Verse' in the "Comparative Index to Islam" describes several missing verses.

5. Variants which exist in present-day manuscripts

By simply comparing existing manuscripts, it can be shown that not all Qur'an manuscripts are the same. Therefore, the Qur'an has not been perfectly preserved.

About some recent manuscript findings (in the loft of the old Great Mosque of Sana'a, in Yemen)
The Different Arabic Versions of the Qur'an

Text Unchanged, Texts Unchanging? discusses the work of Arthur Jeffery (offsite).

Relation of Shi'a Theology to the Qur'an

A Variant Text of the Fatiha

The Orthography of the Samarqand Codex

On the Integrity of the Qur'an (1) - Muslim writers admit there exist variants in the Qur'an.

Differences in the Hafs and Warsh texts

Some textual variants in Sura 19

Jam' Al-Qur'an Chapter 7 - The Early Surviving Qur'an Manuscripts
from the Hadiths part 5.2 - Variant Verses

Are the "Shia" suras al-Nurain and al-Wilaya genuine?
Variant Readings in the Qur'an and the Bible

Leaves from two ancient MSS. of the Coran

6. What is there to hide?

If the Qur'an truly is uncorrupted, why does the Muslim world not publish the oldest Qur'an manuscripts? What is there to hide?

Textual criticism of Bible and Qur'an

7. Objections

How could John Burton say the Qur'an was perfectly preserved?

8. Other

The Claim of Muhammad's Perfect Memory

Scribal and Grammatical Errors in the Qur'an

Different verse numbering systems in the Qur'an

9. Articles or books which cover the whole topic

A Perfect Qur'an? (impressive, comprehensive)
Is the Qur'an the Word of God?
Jam' Al-Qur'an, an excellent book which covers most of the material presented here.
The Qur'an in Islam (short booklet)
The Textual History of the Qur'an, an article by Arthur Jeffery
Materials for the History of the Text of the Qur'an (standard reference work by Arthur Jeffery)
Textual Variations of the Koran by D. S. Margoliouth
The Collection of the Qur'an - from the Hadiths; direct quotes from the Hadiths, on the collection and alteration of the Qur'an.

10. Implications for our dialogue

The Compilation of the Text of the Qur'an and the Sunni-Shia Dispute seeks to "show how the different Muslim hypotheses about the compilation of the Qur'an, and the Sunni-Shia dispute therein, help to explain the attitudes of Muslims to the Christian concept of inspiration, text and canon."

                       Preservation does not imply truth

       This subject is so IMMENSE, that it is impossible for any ONE chapter on this web-site, to ever do it justice.

       It is imperative that the reader who wants to REALLY understand the actual COMPILATION, COLLECTION and EVOLUTION of the Quran to its PRESENT status, should research the books that were written by the Muslim exegetes as well as the investigations made on this extremely CONTROVERSIAL subject by modern Arabists.

       Only after such a research, can any reader come to some INTELLIGENT conclusions based on KNOWLEDGE and not on BELIEF, HEAR-SAY or PERCEPTIONS.