Inaccuracy exposed : Ali Dashti and Abdullah b. Sa'd b. Abi Sarh (RA)

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Pen1418hj

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Feb 16, 1999, 3:00:00 AM2/16/99
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In The Name of Allah--The Beneficent, The Merciful.


Recently, I took it upon myself to investigate a statement of the writer Ali
Dashti. It is written as follows:

>From Ali Dashti's "23 Years, A study of the prophetic career of Muhammad", page
98.

"The last man named [in the list of people to be killed] had been one of the
scribes employed at Medina to write down the 'revelations'. On a number of
occasions, with Muhammad's consent, he changed the closing words of verses. For
example, when Muhammad said "And God is mighty and wise", Abdullah Sarh
suggested 'knowing and wise', and the prophet answered that there was no
objection. Having observed a succession of changes of this type, Abdullah
renounced Islam on the ground that the revelations, if from God, could not be
changed at the prompting of a scribe such as himself. After his apostasy, he
went to Mecca and joined the Qorayshites."

The passage concerns one Abdullah b. Sa'd b. Abi Sarh (RA), who, according to
the biographers Ibn Ishak, Ibn Hisham, Vaqidi and Belazuri (RA) once recorded
Qur'anic verses for the Prophet Muhammed (SAW).

I would like to examine the following sentence of Dashti's:

"Having observed a succession of changes of this type, Abdullah renounced Islam
on the ground that the revelations, if from God, could not be changed at the
prompting of a scribe such as himself."

This statement would have us believe that Abdullah once renounced Islam
because, according to him, there was no apparent reason underlying The Prophet
Muhammed (SAW)'s allowance of the abovementioned variation. As such, Dashti
would have have us believe that Abdullah once considered the variation to an
arbitrary one.

On page 124 of the 5th volume of Ahmad b. Hanbal (RA)'s "Musnad," we read the
following Hadith:

>>It was related unto Ubayy b. Ka'b of the Companions of Kurra' that The
Prophet Muhammed (SAW) said:

"Permission has been given via The Angel (Gabriel (pbuh)) for The Qur'an to be
read in up to seven 'ahruf.'*"

and thereafter, The Prophet Muhammed (SAW) went on to say:

"Whether you say (He (Allah) is) 'The Forgiving, The Compassionate,' or (He is)
'The Hearing, The Knowing,' or (He is) 'The Knowing, The Hearing,' each one is
permissible."<<

*The ahruf are the seven aspects in which the reciting of the Qur'an differs.
These aspects govern differences in the noun gender and number, verbal tense
and mood, inflection, adding or dropping of the words, difference in word
order, substitution, and what are called dialectical differences, such as
pronunciation of a', assimilation and pharyngealization. [The Art of Reciting
The Qur'an, Kristina Nelson, 1985, University of Texas Press, Austin. ISBN
0-292-70367-8, pp. 200.]

{For a more thorough understanding of the meaning of "ahruf," I suggest
visiting http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Olympus/5603/hafs.html#1}

Thus, The Prophet Muhammed (SAW) stated that the reading of variant "ahruf" in
relation to particular, ubiquitous pairings of The Names of Allah had been
permitted.

We shall return to this matter in a moment...

Biographers such as Ahmad b. Yahya al-Belazuri, Abu Jafar Muhammed b. Jarir
al-Tabari, Ibn Abi tayyi Yahya b. Halabi, and Muhammed b. Omar al-Waqidi (RA)
have helped us to acquire a more comprehensive view of the worldly life and
times of The Prophet Muhammed (SAW) and his Companions (RA).

Here is what the collective reports of these renowned biographers have had to
say concerning Abdullah b. Sa'd b. Abi Sarh prior to his becoming a sincere
Muslim:

>>Upon recording a Qur'anic Revelation, Abdullah b. Sa'd wrote "Al-Zalimin"
(The Oppressors) in place of "Al-Kafirin" (The Disbelievers). In place of
writing "Aziz un Hakim un," (The Mighty, The Wise), he wrote "Alim un Hakim un"
(The Knowing, The Wise), claiming:

"I can speak like Muhammed (SAW) does! Something similar to that which is
given to Muhammed (SAW) is also given to me! If Muhammed (SAW) is a Prophet of
Allah unto whom Divine Revelation is given, I am also a Prophet. Divine
Revelation is also given to me!"

Having escaped from Medina to the Meccan Quraysh, he told them:

"Whenever I wanted to change that which was in The Qur'an, I changed it! Once,
while he (The Prophet Muhammed (SAW)) was telling me to write, he said >The
Mighty, The Wise.< I said, 'Could it be >The Knowing, The Wise?<' He said,
'Indeed! Both are correct!'"

{Ansab al-Ashraf, v. 1, p. 358, Belazuri, Dar al-Maarif Publishers, Cairo,
1959; Insan al-Uyun, v. 3, p. 36, Halabi, Musitafa Babi Publishers, 1964;
Tafseer, v. 7, p. 273, Tabari, Egypt, 1373 AH; Maghazi, v. 2, p. 855, Waqidi,
Dar al-Maarif Publishers, Cairo, 1965.}

Having understood that alternate "ahruf" where Abdullah had suggested them was
permissible, it is clear that he had no real reason to cast aspersions upon the
authenticity of Qur'anic revelation in the manner that Mr. Dashti suggests.
The portrait of Abdullah that is given by the abovementioned sources of
Islamic history, therefore, is one of an individual attempting to use an
insubstantial pretext by which to abandon Islam. Bear in mind that Islamic
history informs us of several others who were quite jealous of the fact that
words as eloquent as those of The Qur'an had been given to The Prophet Muhammed
(SAW) and not themselves.

All Praise to Allah, in spite of the fact that Abdullah was clearly guilty of
apostasy and came *extremely close* to having been justifiably sentenced, he
was ultimately pardoned, exhibited extreme remorse for what he had previously
said and done and went on to establish a peaceful relationship with The Prophet
Muhammed (SAW) until his worldly death.

May Allah be pleased with him.


pen1418hj


Mohammad Ghoniem

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Feb 19, 1999, 3:00:00 AM2/19/99
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Assalaamu 3alaykom wa raHmatollaahi wa barakaatoh.

Pen1418hj wrote:
>From Ali Dashti's "23 Years, A study of the prophetic career of Muhammad", page 98.

> [ snip]


> The passage concerns one Abdullah b. Sa'd b. Abi Sarh (RA), who, according to
> the biographers Ibn Ishak, Ibn Hisham, Vaqidi and Belazuri (RA) once recorded
> Qur'anic verses for the Prophet Muhammed (SAW).

I would like to point you to the article of "Islamic Awareness" site concerning
Abdullah b. Sa'd b. Abi Sarh:

http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Olympus/5603/sarh.html

I hope it will be profitable to all the brothers and sisters who wish to know more
about that case.

wassalaamu 'alaykom wa raHmatollaahi wa barakaatoh.

Mohammad


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