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Nabeel Quershi died September 16, 2017, at age 34. He was born into an American Muslim family of Pakistani descent, his father a faithful Muslim from the Ahmadiyya sect of Islam and a patriotic officer in the US Navy. Nabeel Quershi was highly educated; BA in interpersonal communications (Old Dominion U.), an MD (Eastern Virginia Medical School), MA in religion (Duke U.), and Master of Philosophy (Oxford, England).
His auto-biography reverently details Islam’s sacred text. Muslims believe every word of the Quran was dictated verbatim by Allah via the archangel Gabriel to Muhammad. The Quran is therefore divinely inspired not only in what it teaches, but also the words themselves. This explains why Islam insists the Quran be authoritatively read only in Arabic—the language in which it was dictated.

“The preservation of the Quran undergirds the unparalleled confidence of the modern Muslim
zeitgeist,” wrote Mr Quershi. For most Muslims it is not even a remote possibility that the Quran of today could be different than the Quran of Muhammad’s day. But most Muslims have not read the hadith, Islam’s sacred record of Muhammad’s words and actions. Nabeel Quershi carefully studied the hadith. His research shook his faith.

Vol 6 of
Sahih Bukhari details the Quran’s origins. Muhammad dictated the Quran orally, only a few verses at a time—and would relay the same verse differently to different followers. Because of this, early Muslims recited the Quran disparately during Muhammad’s lifetime. While he lived Muhammad would say, “Both of you are reciting in a correct way, so carry on reciting.” He admonished his followers not to argue over the differences.

After Muhammad’s death a Muslim scholar named Said ibn Thabit was given the task of collecting and compiling the Quran. He relied upon the memories of Muhammad’s closest followers and written fragments. Later the
khalifa Uthman had the Quran edited, standardized and distributed to each Muslim province. He also ordered that all other Quranic materials be destroyed by fire.

The Sahih Bukhari records that a Muslim named Bay ibn Ka’b used to recite different Quranic verses, and refused to stop because he had personally heard them from Muhammad. His version of Quran had 116 surahs, two more than today’s Quran. Muhammad himself identified four disciples as the best teachers of Quran. Yet the earliest Muslim sources claim these four disciples did not agree with the version of Quran that has been passed down as today’s version. They did not even agree with each other.

The hadith
Sahih Muslim documents that an entire surah (chapter) is no longer found in the Quran. The first Muslims reference the differences between the many early Qurans, but it was thought that the early variations had all been destroyed. Then the Kitab al masahif surfaced in the early 20th century.

Nabeel Quershi asked, “How could we defend the Quran as perfectly preserved?”

Muslim scholarship answered that Allah intended the lost sections to be lost and the variants destroyed. Allah intended Zaid’s edition to be the final Quran. As a result Muslim scholars were not really claiming the Quran had remained unchanged, but that Allah directed its editing.

“I was forced to conclude that early Islamic sources challenged what modern Islam taught me. The doctrine of the Quran’s perfect preservation, far from defending the faith, needed to be defended by faith,” concluded Nabeel Quershi. “The keystone of my Muslim faith crumbled. Its entire structure was ungrounded, poised to collapse at the slightest burden.” ~

Dan Nygaard