The fable of Holey Quran Preservation

Today we’re taking a look at another Quran variant found in Surah 18:86. Our Muslim friends continuously tell us, the Quran has been perfectly preserved from any error. Every word, dot, letter and sound is the same throughout the whole world. One of Islam’s most highly esteemed scholars said in an interview with Muhammad Hijab in regards to the preservation of the Quran:

“The standard narrative has holes in it” — Dr. Sheikh Yasir Qadhi

Currently there’s been 40 Arabic Quran’s found which are being observed by textual critics and these critics have found more than 90,000 textual variants. These variants a lot of times will change the meaning of a verse which is in direct conflict with the other Quranic version.

For our purposes today we’re going to compare the Hafs Quran against the Ibn Jamaz Quran, reading from Yusuf Ali it says:

Yusuf Ali: Until, when he reached the setting of the sun, he found it set in a spring of murky water: Near it he found a People: We said: “O Zul-qarnain! (thou hast authority,) either to punish them, or to treat them with kindness.”

Surah 18:86

Let’s look at the differences between the 2 versions, in the Hafs it says “a spring of murky water” the word in Arabic for murky is hami’atin. The same verse in Ibn Jamaz reads “a spring of extremely hot water” the word there for extremely hot is haameiyatin. We’ve established these are 2 different words with different meanings.

Viewing the 2 verses together it becomes more apparent that the two meanings are completely different:

Hafs Quran: hami’atin “murky”
Ayat: Until, when he reached the setting of the sun, he found it set in a spring of murky water: Near it he found a People: We said: “O Zul-qarnain! (thou hast authority,) either to punish them, or to treat them with kindness.”

Ibn Jamaz Quran: haameiyatin “Extremely hot”
Ayat: Until, when he reached the setting of the sun, he found it set in a spring of extremely hot water: Near it he found a People: We said: “O Zul-qarnain! (thou hast authority,) either to punish them, or to treat them with kindness.”

The question must be asked: Does the sun set in murky, or extrememly hot water? There’s quite a difference between dark and gloomy, and extremely hot water.

If it’s not clear that these are different to our Muslim friends, it would seem that they need to perform mental gymnastics for them to believe that the Quran has been “perfectly preserved”. Time and time again Muslims are being lied to by there Islamic scholars and Imam’s.

We Christians don’t have this problem, while there are different English translations of the Bible this in no way affects the underlining text. Muslims consistently claim the Bible has been changed, they don’t understand that our Bibles are translated from the original Hebrew and Greek manuscripts.

Therefore, the English rendering is no problem whether one version says And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.” or Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.” doesn’t change the doctrine/meaning of the verse in view. The Quran on the other hand has a huge dilemma, because the issue lies within its original Arabic text.

Muslims come to Jesus Christ and leave Islam, there’s no hope in Islam but with Christ Jesus there’s everlasting life awaiting. The Lord Jesus said:

John 5:39-40 Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.

Notice Jesus Christ says to come to Him for eternal life, only a person saves and that’s the Son of God Jesus Christ. Muslims listen to the conflicting statements from Dr. Sheikh Yasir Qadhi on the following video.

2 thoughts on “The fable of Holey Quran Preservation

  1. John Scott

    Hi, I really enjoyed you piece here – I’ve used it to help Muslims not presume too much.
    You claim that you, as Christians, do not have the same problem – but it is similar.

    1) The New Testament didn’t just pop into existence – it was selected over time. Athanasius ended up clearly defining the books in the late 4th century in an encyclical. Until then, there was no New Testament. It would have surprised the early christians that such a thing even existed.
    2) Many of the letters are forgeries – at least 6 of letters claimed to be from Paul were written by others in his name, to ensure people took the seriously. Often they were written after his death.
    3) 1 John – 3 John are forged in his name
    4) Hebrews wants you to believe it is from Paul (without saying so explicitly), but it was nearly not included in the New Testament, and the same with Revelations (which is not from John the apostle – much too late)
    5) the book of Daniel is clearly not from him – it is written in the 2nd century BCE.
    6) The Gospels are not claimed to be from the people whose names now are attached to them. This was only done in the late 2nd century (nearly in the Muratorian fragment).
    7) Many later insertions are in there, e.g. the woman being stoned and Jesus writing in the sand and the longer ending to Mark.

    You’re in a similar boat.


    1. Incorrect we’re not in the same boat. Muslims say there’s only 1 Quran in the Arabic text, yet we have multiple Arabic Qurans which disagree with one another. In the case of the Bible our English Bibles are derived from the Hebrew and Greek Manuscripts. Can you provide references to prove we’re in the same boat?

      We have internal and external evidence for who the writers are:

      The Gospel of Matthew: External evidence Matthew was a tax collector also called Levi, wrote the 1st Gospel. Since he was not a prominent member of the apostolic band it would be strange to attribute the 1st Gospel to him if indeed he had nothing to do with it.

      Besides the ancient document known as the Didache (teaching of the 12 apostles), Justin Martyr, Dionysius of Corinth, Theophilus of Antioch and Athenagoras, the Athenian quote the Gospel as authentic.

      Eusebius the church historian quotes Papias as saying that Matthew composed the Logia in the Hebrew language.

      Internal evidence the 1st Gospel does fit well with a devout Jew who loved the OT and was gifted as a careful writer and editor. As a civil servant of Rome, Matthew would have to be proficient in both the language of his people (Aramaic) and the ruling authorities (The Romans used Greek, not Latin in the East).

      Tax collectors were hated by the Jews because they saw them as traitors (Matthew 9:9). The numerical details, parables regarding money all fit in with a tax collector.

      The Gospel of Mark: The 2nd Gospel was written by John Mark. He was the son of Mary of Jerusalem, who owned a house which Christians used as a meeting place.

      External evidence for this early, strong, and from various parts of the empire. Papias (about AD 110) quotes John the Elder (prob the Apostle John) as saying that Mark, the associate of Peter wrote it. Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Clement of Alexandra, Origen all concur it was Mark.

      Internal evidence Marcan authorship while not extensive does dovetail with this universal tradition of early Christianity.

      The writer knew Palestine well, especially Jerusalem (the accounts of the upper room are more detailed than in the other Gospels not surprising if it was in his boyhood home).

      The Gospel shows some Aramaic background (the language of Palestine), Jewish customs are understood, and the vividness of the narrative suggest close ties with an eyewitness. The outline of the book parallels Peter’s sermon in Acts 10.

      Ten times in the NT the author is mentioned by his Gentile (Latin) name, Mark and 3 times by his combined Jewish/Gentile name John Mark.

      The Gospel of Luke: External evidence Eusebius, Irenaeus quotes the 3rd Gospel as by Luke. Other early supporters of Lucan authorship include Justin Martyr, Hegesippus, Clement of Alexandria and Tertullian.

      Luke is the only evangelist to write a sequel to his Gospel, and it’s from that book, the Acts, that the Lucan authorship is clearly shown. The so-called “we” sections of Acts are passages in which the writer was personally involved (16:10; 20:5, 6; 21:15; 27:1; 28:16; cf 2 Tim 4:11). Only Luke fits all these periods.

      Internal evidence strengthens the external documentation. The vocabulary (often more precise in medical terms than the other NT writers), along with the educated Greek style, supports authorship by a cultured Gentile Christian doctor, but one thoroughly conversant with Jewish themes. Luke’s fondness for dates and exact research (1:1—4; 3:1) make him the very first church historian.

      The Gospel of John: External evidence Theophilus of Antioch (about AD 70) is first known writer to specifically name John as the author. However, there are earlier quotations from the 4th Gospel in Ignatius, Justin Martyr, Tatian, the Muratorian Canon. Irenaeus completes a chain of unbroken discipleship from the Lord Jesus Himself to John, from John to Polycarp and from Polycarp to himself (Irenaeus).

      In the 2nd century, Irenaeus widely quotes the Gospel as by the apostle, and as already firmly established in the church. From Irenaeus on the Gospel is very widely attested, including witnesses as Clement of Alexandra and Tertullian.

      Internal evidence In the late 19th-century Anglican scholar Bishop Westcott, argued for Johannine authorship and condensed as follows. (1) The author was a Jew, the style of writing, the vocabulary, the familiarity with Jewish customs and characteristics, and the background of the OT reflected in this Gospel all strongly support this. (2) He was a Jew who lived in Palestine (1:28; 2:1, 11; 4:46; 11:18, 54; 21:1, 2). He knew Jerusalem and the temple intimately (5:2; 9:7; 18:1; 19:13, 17, 20, 41; also see 2:14—16; 8:20; 10:22). (3) He was an eyewitness of what he narrates. There are numerous details of places, persons, time, manner (4:46; 5:14; 6:59; 12:21; 13:1; 14:5, 8; 18:6; 19:31). (4) He was an apostle and shows an intimate knowledge of the inner circle of the disciples and of the Lord Himself (6:19, 60, 61; 12:16; 13:22, 28; 16:19.) (5) Since the author is precise in naming the other disciples and does not name himself, it is presumed that the unnamed person of 13:23; 19:26; 20:2; 21:7, 20 is the apostle John. Three important passages for further consideration of the eyewitness character of the author are 1:14, 19:35 and 21:24.


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