Ibn Abbas said: I do not know whether it is from the Qur’an or not …

May 18 2014

I have just finished a new leaflet for Christians to give to their Muslim friends about the preservation of the Qur’an (see next post) and while writing it I considering the following familiar hadith:

Abu Harb b. Abu al-Aswad reported on the authority of his father that Abu Musa al-Ash’ari sent for the reciters of Basra. They came to him and they were three hundred in number. They recited the Qur’an and he said: You are the best among the inhabitants of Basra, for you are the reciters among them. So continue to recite it. (But bear in mind) that your reciting for a long time may not harden your hearts as were hardened the hearts of those before you. We used to recite a surah which resembled in length and severity to (Surah) Bara’at (sura 9). I have, however, forgotten it with the exception of this which I remember out of it:” If there were two valleys full of riches, for the son of Adam, he would long for a third valley, and nothing would fill the stomach of the son of Adam but dust.” And we used so recite a slirah which resembled one of the surahs of Musabbihat, and I have forgotten it, but remember (this much) out of it:” Oh people who believe, why do you say that which you do not practise” (lxi 2.) and” that is recorded in your necks as a witness (against you) and you would be asked about it on the Day of Resurrection” (xvii. 13). (Sahih Muslim: bk. 5, no. 2286)

This hadith mentions suras that were once recited but are now not part of the Qur’an. However, what I had not noticed before were the surrounding hadiths to the above hadith:

Anas b. Malik reported: I heard the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) as saying this, but I do not know whether this thing was revealed to him or not, but he said to. (Sahih Muslim: bk. 5, no. 2283)

Ibn Abbas reported Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: If there were for the son of Adam a valley full of riches, he would long to possess another one like it. and Ibn Adam does not feel satiated but with dust. 1413 And Allah returns to him who returns (to HiM). 1414 Ibn Abbas said: I do not know whether it is from the Qur’an or not; and in the narration transmitted by Zuhair it was said: I do not know whether it is from the Qur’an, and he made no mention of Ibn Abbas. (Sahih Muslim: bk. 5, no. 2285)

What struck me with these hadiths is the open way in which they say that major companions like Anas b. Malik and Ibn Abbas did not know whether this was part of the Qur’an. These hadiths lend support to the other hadiths which say the Qur’an was gathered together from different sources; it was not that the major companions had memorized the entire Qur’an and simply wrote it out.

A point of application for this is that sometimes Muslims attack the Bible by saying there were some books in the New Testament that the early Christians discussed as whether or not they were authentic while all of the Qur’an was universally accepted by all Muslims. Most of the New Testament was homologoumena, that is, accepted by all the churches without exception. However there were a few documents that were antilegomena, that is, spoken against by some but received by the majority. However, these hadiths show that Islam too had its homologoumena and antilegomena material.


  • Carlos

    @Bro Green

    Sorry if I might ‘overcrowd’ u’r site with my explanations, but since I’ve noticed u seemingly have some interest with ‘The Myth’ of Quran Preservation, so then I’d like to share what I’ve learned this far. Hopefully u might able to make it perfect.

    Another questionable dilemma in the method of collecting the Quran is the Mutawatir Principal

    This Principal has no real & explicit base in Quran or Sunah of the prophet. In other words this method is purely “New Invention” or “Bidaah” in Islamic term.

    “Every newly-invented thing is a bid’ah (innovation), every bid’ah is a going astray, and every going astray will be in the Fire.” (Reported by al-Nisaa’i in al-Sunan, Salaat al-‘Eedayn, Baab kayfa al-Khutbah). Reports with the same meaning were narrated via Jaabir (may Allaah be pleased with him) by Ahmad, via al-‘Irbaad ibn Saariyah by Abu Dawud and via Ibn Mas’ood (may Allaah be pleased with him) by Ibn Maajah.

    The worst of things are those which are newly-invented, and every innovation is a going astray…” (reported by Muslim, no. 867)

    Islam (Salafis especially) believes bida’ah can’t be implemented in matter of ‘deen’ / theological (reference http://islamqa.info/en/864)

    On the matter of confirming the right reading of Quran , the prophet had specifically ordered his sect to learn from 4 Men :

    “I heard the Messenger of Allah say, ‘Learn the Quran from (any of these) four individuals: Abdullah ibn Mas`ud, Salim the freed slave of Abu Hudhayfah, Ubbay ibn Ka’ab, and Mu’adh ibn Jabal ( Sahih Bukhari)

    Muslims usually like to counter this by referring to another hadith about 4 different men(except Ubay) who acted as compiler/writer of Quran in time of Muhamad. One of those men is Zayd ibn Thabit who presumably compiled the Uthman’ Quran.

    However the former hadith above is stronger since it contains the specific & explicit order from Muhamad , compares to the later which only tells a narration from someone other than Muhamad himself.

    The stronger hadith champions Ibn Mas’ud as the foremost reference in validating Quranic reading.

    This ordinance is also strengthened by another hadiths;
    The Prophet saw stood and listened to him, then turned to us and said, “Whoever wants to read the Qur’an as fresh as when it was revealed, then let him read according to the recitation of Ibn Umm Abd.
    [Mustadrak al-Haakim (2/246) No. 2893, ad-Dhahabee Classified it Sahih on the conditions of Bukhari and Muslim]

    Whatever ‘Abdullah Ibn Mas’ud narrates to you, accept it.” (Sunan al-Tirmidhi) [Authenticated by Shaikh al-Albaanee in Sunan al-Tirmidzi (3805) and Saheeh al-Jaami` (1143, 1144)

    From this has occurred several contradictions :
    1. Uthman had deliberately violated the prophet’ ordinance for rejecting Mas’ud reading on Sura 92:3(Sahih Bukhari)

    2.Mas’ud didn’t include Chapters of Fatiha , al Falaq & an-Nas within his Quran. (al-Qurtubi, al-Jami al-Ahkam al-Qur’an. Dar al-Kutab al-Misriyah, Cairo, 1964 vol.1 p.115 and Musnad Ahmad, No. 21189) All chapters have been included by Uthman , meaning another ‘violations’

    3. According to Al Muhazhirat, Volume 3 page 433 Abdullah Ibn Masud had this in his mushaf: “Should a son of Adam own two valleys full of wealth, he should seek a third valley and nothing would fill Ibn Adam’s abdomen but the soil” .
    ( this particular point should be given little emphasis since Al Muhazirat is minor tafsir and usually dismissed by muslims)

    4. Ubbay narrates that two additional Surahs (al Hafd & al Khul’a) are the surahs from the Quran and written in the mushaf of Ibn Masud”
    Tafseer Dur al Manthur, Volume 8 page 696 [this should also be given little emphasis considering its status as minor tafsir]

    FYI Ubbay is the second candidate for best reference especially since he’s not only being specifically referred from the mouth of the prophet himself but also mentioned in ahadith as among the 4 Quran compilers in time of Muhamad along Zayd ibn Thabit.

    So if being seen from Ubbay’ position the authenticity of the two additonal surahs as part of Authentic & Original Quran is strong.

    That’s why Al Suyuti in his book Al-Nasikh wal-Mansukh considered them as part of Quran that was abrogated(without clearly explained why & how they were abrogated)

    So, the conclusion is the Caliphs & Uthman in particular had made two major violations:

    1. Create a New Invention of Principal of Mutawatir which is certainly a Bida’ah and base a crucial action in Islam religion (compiling the Quran) upon that bida’ah.

    2. Disregard their own prophet specific Sunnah to learn Quran from Mas’ud and Ubbay.