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andres

Is the infancy of Christianity better documented than that of Islam?

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There are very many documents concerning early christianity. Have a look at:

www.earlychristianwritings.com 

I have not been able to find something similar on early Islam. Except for the Quran, that gives very little info on Muhammed and history of his life and community, written Islamic history seem to start very late in comparison with Christian. Does this not mean less credibility?

 

 

Edited by andres

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10 minutes ago, andres said:

There are very many documents concerning early christianity. Have a look at:

www.earlychristianwritings.com 

I have not been able to find something similar on early Islam. Except for the Quran, that gives very little info on Muhammed and history of his life and community, written Islamic history seem to start very late in comparison with Christian. Does this not mean less credibility?

I don't think it means less credibility, although the events may not be as detailed. Anyway our Quran has not been altered unlike Bible (which clearly has). Doesn't prove anything, really.

Are you after credibility or the details of the events? 

Edited by ali_fatheroforphans

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12 minutes ago, ali_fatheroforphans said:

I don't think it means less credibility, although the events may not be as detailed. Anyway our Quran has not been altered unlike Bible (which clearly has). Doesn't prove anything, really.

Are you after credibility or the details of the events? 

I am after written sources. Shia, Sunni, non Muslim. Early ones. Is there anything from Muhammeds century? 

(I have seen no proof the first compiled Quranic edithion has not been altered. If it has, I am convinced it made no real change to its mesage)

Edited by andres

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52 minutes ago, ali_fatheroforphans said:

I'm not too sure, although I don't think there is any major history books. 

So we do know much more about the history of the Christian books than we know about the history of the Quran. And if no sensational finds occur, this will remain so. 

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20 minutes ago, andres said:

So we do know much more about the history of the Christian books than we know about the history of the Quran. And if no sensational finds occur, this will remain so. 

Hi ,this is because rulers of that time specially Umayyad dynasty forbidden any writing about prophet Mohammad (pbu)  to erase his name from memory of people but shia Imams hold his name alive by transferring through Shias & when Sunnis after100 years tried to write their memories they had many flaws in their writings beside that all shia sources was forbidden to access for everyone during Ummayd & Abbasids era.

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53 minutes ago, Ashvazdanghe said:

Hi ,this is because rulers of that time specially Umayyad dynasty forbidden any writing about prophet Mohammad (pbu)  to erase his name from memory of people but shia Imams hold his name alive by transferring through Shias & when Sunnis after100 years tried to write their memories they had many flaws in their writings beside that all shia sources was forbidden to access for everyone during Ummayd & Abbasids era.

So 100 years after Muhammeds death, the history of Islam and Muhammed began to be written. Sunnies had a bad oral traditio whereas Shias had preserved the history correct. Hmm....I guess Sunnis dont agree with you. Oral tradition is not as reliable as written, less reliable the more time passes no matter if you are Christian, Sunni or Shia.

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1 hour ago, andres said:

I guess Sunnis dont agree with you. Oral tradition is not as reliable as written, less reliable the more time passes no matter if you are Christian, Sunni or Sh

This is confirmed by Sunnis too but they don’t care too much history because if they read history many Sunnis become shia & this is not what Wahhabists want ,unfortunately their oral tradition causes current misunderstandings of Islam for new generation & westerners .

Edited by Ashvazdanghe

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5 hours ago, andres said:

There are very many documents concerning early christianity.

They have a lot that was written with a level of creative/artistic license as well as fictionalization also.

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1 hour ago, Qa'im said:

Here are some of Islam's earliest books with their dates:

 

Kitab `Ali b. Abi Talib (c. 630s CE, the Imam's personal notebook, which included sayings of the Messenger and fiqh; parts of it have been narrated by the Imams and compiled in various books)

Mus`haf `Ali (c. 630s CE, the Imam's personal compilation of the Noble Qur'an)

Thank you. I did not know about these. Still it is not much written early material in comparison with Christianity.  Mus haf Ali obviously is a now lost version of the Quran, rejected by the Uthman canon comitee. But what about Alis personal notebook? Can it give information on the history of the Quran and Muhammed? Or is it also lost?

 

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1 hour ago, Akbar673 said:

They have a lot that was written with a level of creative/artistic license as well as fictionalization also.

Undoubtably there were many myths about Jesus circulating, not all true, and as time went by, new were created. Therefore the Church decided to use the oldest scriptures possible. 

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On 7/10/2018 at 2:31 PM, Qa'im said:

There is no extant copy of the book, but [some of] its contents were preserved in various compilations of hadith, like many of these early scrolls that were later lost. A reconstruction of Kitab `Ali has some sayings of Prophet Muhammad (s), mostly on ethics and law, but it is fairly short.

The dearth of early written documents is due to a number of reasons. First, in Arabia, before 140 AH, people wrote on bones (shoulders of camels), animal skins, leaves, and rocks. The durability of some of these materials is limited. The pre-140 AH books were all fairly short, with the Quran being the longest. There is however some recent discoveries in Jordan, Egypt, and Arabia of more rock inscriptions and epigraphs from the pre-Islamic and early-Islamic period, some of which mention Muhammad (s) or his companions by name or mention verses of the Quran. The earliest texts and inscriptions mainly echo what is found in the Quran and hadith compilations with surprisingly few discrepancies. Quran manuscripts are certainly much more alike than the Gospel manuscripts.

By 140-150, the Muslims co-opted papermaking from the Chinese and established the first papermills. Almost immediately after this point, there was an explosion of literature, thousands of books were produced. Some still exist, others were incorporated into the hadith compilations, and others were lost totally.

Many early texts were destroyed by the Mongol invasion. The Mongols threw the books from Baghdad's libraries into the Tigris until the river was black with ink. Many other books were gathered and burned. The Muslim scholastic culture still hasn't recovered from this incident. We have some of the names of these books, and some of their contents are quoted in other books, but a lot of content is simply lost forever.

Excavation will probably find more texts in the coming decades in Iraq, Iran, Syria, Arabia, Egypt, and North West Africa.

Is it OK for you to give us the reference to how you got this information? Because I've never heard about The Mongol Invasion being so destructive within The Muslim Ummah from South Asia to The Middle East (to some extent) that the earliest books documenting the Pre-Islamic Arabian Lifestyle to Islamic Arabian Lifestyle were destroyed by them.

Damn Chinggis Khan and his subordinate Amir Timur to Hell. Damn them and their Mongol Army.

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Hi Qa'im

Mongols are not the only ones destroing documents, Muslims, Christians and many other cultures did the same thing. Somerhing like 25 Gospels were known to have existed because they were mentioned in documents having survived, sometimes with quotes. Many of them were found in Egypt 70 years ago. This could also happen to early Islamic documents. In fact it does happen, old Qirans have been found, but what do we know about old "heretic" islamic works? The many erroneous Qurans that Uthman burned for example.

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7 hours ago, Ibn Al-Ja'abi said:

Salams,

One thing to note is that aside from the Gospels, the Q and the Passion Narrative are hypothetical texts and any material from them are reconstructions, not to say that they didn't exist, but just that the link you gave doesn't give any certain account of what they might have looked like, a hypothetical reconstruction. There's also quite a margin for some of these books (one of seventy years!).

In regards to Islamic documentation, there are two schools of thought writing of books prior to the major compilations, the more classical orientalist view was that there wasn't really any writing or it was very limited. However, I'd argue this view is problematic and the correct view being that there were stages of development in the recording of religious material, with the earliest being compilations and greater organization appearing later on. Nabia Abbot in her seminal Arabic Literary Papyri has shown physical evidence of an established literary tradition encompassing hadith, tafsir, and history by at least the 8th and 9th centuries, which requires a reassessment of this classical position. Furthermore, when history books, biographical dictionaries, and catalogues are consulted, we find evidence of writing of historical material beginning much earlier with companions having works attributed to them. There was obviously less of a need to preserve earlier works when later ones extracted all the "useful" material from them and other works and combined them into a larger compilation.

A useful reference people only started realizing the importance of in the last century was the non-Muslim documentation of early Islamic history in chronicles and marginalia. The best book compiling interesting accounts found in Syriac, Greek, Middle Persian, Armenian, and even Chinese sources is the eminent historian Robert Hoyland's Seeing Islam as Others Saw It (you can download this from library genesis, it's incredibly massive but an absolute page-turner).

 

The hypothetical Gospels are constructed and a part of the theological discussion. But most of the documents are genuine, many not complete of course, dating sometimes difficult therefore a large rate, but the text is there (or what is left of it) together with very informative links to each document. 

I found info on Hoylands book on wikipedia, is there no online collection like that of christian writings? 

Edited by andres

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8 hours ago, andres said:

Hi Qa'im

Mongols are not the only ones destroing documents, Muslims, Christians and many other cultures did the same thing. Somerhing like 25 Gospels were known to have existed because they were mentioned in documents having survived, sometimes with quotes. Many of them were found in Egypt 70 years ago. This could also happen to early Islamic documents. In fact it does happen, old Qirans have been found, but what do we know about old "heretic" islamic works? The many erroneous Qurans that Uthman burned for example.

The Mongols were mentioned because, within a week, they destroyed all of the libraries (and killed a few hundred thousand people). The Baghdad House of Wisdom was unlike anything in history up to that point. The early Abbasid caliphs used it to house some rare texts. Yes the Mongols are not the only ones who have destroyed texts, but don't know of any group in history that destroyed texts on the same scale as the Mongols.

Ibn Jaabi also brings up some good points: many of the early Islamic texts were probably considered obsolete by the 4th Islamic century because they were preserved in hadith compilations and Tabari's history. The hadith books were better organized for both scholarly and lay readers. To give an example, al-Kafi was a compilation of 300 or so usul (notebooks) dating from around 90 AH to 300 AH. The contents of the notebooks were reproduced in al-Kafi and organized into chapters. Most of the 300 usul thereafter did not survive in their original form, not for nefarious reasons, but because it was easier to maintain 1 organized compendium than to have 300 disjointed booklets.

So going back to the Early Christian Writings website: since so many of the texts dated to the first century are reconstructions from later texts, if we were to employ the same level of skepticism on these books that you do over the hadith compilations, then we could eliminate much of the list. Yes, the only extant independent texts from the first Islamic century that survive (besides epigraphs) are the Quran, Sahifa Hammam bin Munabbah, Kitab Sulaym b. Qays, Ibn Is`haq's biography and Sahifa Sajjadiyya - all of which also underwent edits. However, so much of the material from the 2nd and 3rd centuries can be reliably dated back to the 1st century through their meticulous vetting processes.

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Hi Qa'im

The earlychristianwriting site is very critical on the texts they present. There is a lot of different theories. Bible research has developed much more than Quran research. The latter rather new and both sciences mainly practiced in Christian countries. It seems to me that most early testimonies about the beginning of Islam was from non-arab sources. Arabs were surrounded by litterate civilisations, but maybe they were not themselves yet. 

Dont know which was the largest destruction of books. Muslims also did when conquering Egypt 642. Hitler was not too nice either and this was only 70 years ago.

Edited by andres

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On ‎7‎/‎10‎/‎2018 at 5:31 AM, andres said:

I have not been able to find something similar on early Islam.

Sahih Hadith which you can find online.

Which "early chr!stian" are you referring to?

Birth-magicians-flight into Egypt, or

Birth-Simone-Temple-Anna, or

Jesus was born in a cave. (Yes that is a version. l first heard it in grade school as one of the local churches had this dogma and later found it in college.)

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Another factor is the length of these early texts. The gospels and epistles are all understandably very short in comparison to the Quran or Ibn Ishaq's biography. So more texts does not mean better documentation.

1 hour ago, andres said:

There is a lot of different theories. Bible research has developed much more than Quran research. The latter rather new and both sciences mainly practiced in Christian countries.

Maybe in modern Western academia, but that discounts everything Muslims have written on the subject in the past millennium. Not saying that secular academics can't produce valuable research from an outside perspective, but our tradition has a very rich account of the Quran's language, history, exegesis, and philosophy. Seyyed Hossein Nasr's Study Quran for example is just a cursory glance at the history of Quranic research and it's 2,000 pages long.

1 hour ago, andres said:

Dont know which was the largest destruction of books. Muslims also did when conquering Egypt 642. Hitler was not too nice either and this was only 70 years ago.

You are probably aware that many historians consider the Muslim destruction of the Library of Alexandria to be a myth, or at the very least heavily embellished. Much of the library was destroyed in the 3rd and 4th centuries CE. The earliest account of the Muslim destruction of the library is from the 13th century CE, and earlier Coptic accounts of the Muslim conquest contradict the Muslim destruction thesis.

I'm not sure if your mentioning of Hitler beside the Muslim conquest was supposed to be a tongue-in-cheek comment or just simply off topic.

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I should have also added the destruction of Shiite libraries aside from any done by the Mongols is definitely another factor for why more early Shiite works are not extant anymore. Shaykh al-Tusi's library was burnt down during an anti-Shia riot led by the Seljuk ruler Tughrul Beg in the Karkh district of Baghdad (this incident is detailed in al-Dhari'ah of Aga Buzurg Tehrani among other places). Other works simply became unaccounted for over the passage of time (famously Madinatu 'l-'Ilm by al-Saduq, the last known copy of it was in Yemen during the late Safavid period, Allama Majlisi tried to procure it to use in Bihar al-Anwar but was unable to raise sufficient funds in order to buy it).

12 hours ago, andres said:

I found info on Hoylands book on wikipedia

You can download it too off of library genesis (google it if you don't already know about that site). The earliest non-Muslim reference to the Muslims was a gloss in the margin of a gospel (I believe, or some other liturgical or Biblical text) during the Islamicate expansions, it was written by a Syriac speaking monk or priest. Something else I should have mentioned was epigraphic evidence that was largely ignored till now. One interesting epigraphic inscription I read about a month ago was made by a pre-Islamic pagan called Abd al-Shams (he was possibly the father of a companion of the Prophet Muhammad), attestations made by companions and their descendants have been found among others made by early Muslims in the form of inscriptions on stones and rock faces.

12 hours ago, andres said:

is there no online collection like that of christian writings? 

I'm sorry, I didn't quite understand. Did you mean is there a collection of early documentation on Christians like this collection of early documentation on Muslims? Or did you mean is there a collection of solely Christian writings documenting early Muslims?

Edited by Ibn Al-Ja'abi

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42 minutes ago, Ibn Al-Ja'abi said:

One interesting epigraphic inscription I read about a month ago was made by a pre-Islamic pagan called Abd al-Shams (he was possibly the father of a companion of the Prophet Muhammad)

Refer to the twitter thread which posted a transcription of the pictures (these individuals are a part of teams, sometimes made of academics and sometimes made of amateurs, which go into the deserrt and share their findings online, this account has posted some great finds). Here's a link to the discussion Sean Anthony (historian of early Islam and Shiism) had about these photos with other experts on early Islam and the Arabic language:

The Arabic account which transcribed these photos also wrote (in the reply to their post which you can see):

ابنه الوليد بن عبدشمس بن المغيرة بن عبدالله بن عمر القرشي المخزومي رضي الله عنه كان من أشراف قريش وزوج أسماء بنت ابي جهل أسلم يوم الفتح واستشهد هو وأخيه حبيب يوم اليمامة تحت لواء ابن عمهما خالد بن الوليد رضي الله عنهم أجمعين .
والله تعالى أعلم

"[if he is Abd Shams b. al-Mughira b. Abdullah b. Umar al-Makhzumi al-Qurashi] His son was al-Walid b. Abd Shams b. al-Mughira b. Abdullah b. Umar al-Qurashi al-Makhzumi -- may God be pleased with him. He was from the nobility of Quraysh and married Asma bt. Abu Jahl. He became Muslim during the conquest of Mecca, and, alongside his brother, Habib, was martyred fighting on the day of the Battle of Yamamah under the banner of their cousin, Khalid b. al-Walid -- may God be pleased with him. And God almighty is most knowledgeable."

 

An epigraph detailed in the following link was written by Salma b. Muhammad, the grandson of the famous companion Ammar b. Yasir who was killed fighting alongside Imam Ali against Mu'awiya on the day of Siffin and whose parents were the first martyrs of Islam:

http://alsahra.org/?p=17532

IMG_3590-001.jpgIMG_3590-001.jpg

اللّهمّ اغفر لسلمة بن محمّد بن عمّار بن ياسر.

"O' God, forgive Salma b. Muhammad b. Ammar b. Yasir."

(ctrl+f the Arabic to find the larger rock face this was found on along with other texts as well as a small discussion about him)

 

There are other fascinating discoveries as well, but this should show that there is a good deal of material historians have to work with, and that there is a lot of work yet to be done on the history of early Islam, there've been several paradigm shifts in the past century and it'll be fascinating to see where it goes in the near future. With such discoveries happening nowadays it makes you wonder what else will be found in the desert or in the pages of old Syriac books, or on the forgotten shelves of Arabic libraries for that matter. It's also very troubling to see the situation in Yemen since there's a large repository of Arabic manuscripts, probably most of which haven't been catalogued, and are now at risk of being destroyed or stolen. On top of the horrible humanitarian crisis there's the additional crisis these historical items face. 

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3 hours ago, Qa'im said:

I'm not sure if your mentioning of Hitler beside the Muslim conquest was supposed to be a tongue-in-cheek comment or just simply off topic.

Dont know what a toung-in cheek means, but it may have been. What I meant was that one should think that we ought to have a better understanding today of the value of preserving books than our forefathers had long ago. 

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3 hours ago, Qa'im said:

You are probably aware that many historians consider the Muslim destruction of the Library of Alexandria to be a myth, or at the very least heavily embellished. Much of the library was destroyed in the 3rd and 4th centuries CE. The earliest account of the Muslim destruction of the library is from the 13th century CE, and earlier Coptic accounts of the Muslim conquest contradict the Muslim destruction thesis.

May be. If my memory does not fail, Muslim sources claim that Umar ordered all books that were not consistent with Islam destroied. Maybe this was only boasting. 

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3 hours ago, Ibn Al-Ja'abi said:

 

I'm sorry, I didn't quite understand. Did you mean is there a collection of early documentation on Christians like this collection of early documentation on Muslims? Or did you mean is there a collection of solely Christian writings documenting early Muslims?

I answered in my former post. Forgot to quote.

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If this topic is going to delve into Great Libraries that were destroyed by some Muslims, then why stop at The Great Library of Alexandria. Let the intelligent users of Quora answer that for you @andres. Each user coming with their own sources to back it up.

https://www.quora.com/Did-Caliph-Omar-Bin-Khattab-ordered-burning-the-Library-of-Alexandria-and-Sassanid-literature

And the answer is a lying machine for Non-Muslims since by your rationale, Muslims are divided into branches: Sunni and Shia.

Since Sunnis were the dominant Muslim majority it may make sense to Non-Muslims declaring Islam being a loot-pillaging, barbaric, and knowledge-destroying Religion in the same light as Atilla The Hun and Genghis Khan indeed.

But, this is a fallacy (A Majority Fallacy). Islamic Golden Age never existed, if Muslims oppress and divide themselves from amongst each other out of sheer spite and pettiness. What was The Islamic Golden Age for Shia Muslims? I doubt it was peaceful for them compared to the Sunnis. After all, the dominant dynasties of The so-called Islamic Golden Age Empire were both The Ommayads and The Abbassids whom the majority were about as "Muslims" as Donald Trump being Christian.

Too easy, ignorant, and jumping to conclusions to blame Religion being the problem altogetherSo, why not blame followers of that Religion instead? Islam didn't destroy The Great Library of Nalanda. It was a select Muslim group along with their Turkish Leader Bakhtiyar Khilji responsible for this tyrannical act.

 

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2 hours ago, andres said:

If my memory does not fail, Muslim sources claim that Umar ordered all books that were not consistent with Islam destroied

This appears first in the chronicle of Bar Hebraeus, the famous Syriac Christian polymath, far removed from the event by five centuries and without any sources it can cite, so is dubious to say the least. It also was heavily embellished with exaggerations which are impossible from what I remember, saying something along the lines that all the bath houses of Alexandria used the books as fuel for six months or something along these lines. Then it was quoted from Bar Hebraeus by Ibn al-Qifti, who was attached to the court of Saladin, and it is well known that Saladin had conquered Fatimid Egypt, such a report could have had the probation motive of acting as precedent to destroy any Ismaili libraries. It also contradicts earlier accounts of there not being any library of Alexandria by the 4th and 5th centuries AD and a remnant of it existed in the offshoot library of the Serapeum of Alexandria. This was destroyed during the end of the fourth century in religious riots. Alternatively this was already destroyed prior to this point in history. In any case despite the confusion it is safe to say that by the fifth century there was no library of Alexandria and the Arab conquests happened two centuries after. What we have then is a dubious report cited from an unknown source which contains fantastical embellishments, with possibly political motives for why it is popularized, contradicting earlier more reliable accounts from people who had visited Alexandria centuries before the Prophet Muhammad was born, and quoted for the first time five hundred years after the event from seemingly nowhere. It seems reasonable to be sceptical of this report.

2 hours ago, andres said:

A collection of old documents related to the development of Islam and the Quran. Not necessarily from Arabic sources. (My impression is there are more info to be found from non Arabic sources.)

I don't think any talk about the formation of the Quran and besides, I don't think the non-Muslims of the age were much concerned with that, more with attacking its content and beliefs about it as a polemic.

Hoyland's book is the best place to get as many sources in one place for the reactions of non-Muslims to Muslims and their records of what they were doing. Another book is When Christians First Met Muslims by Michael Philip Penn, however this is more limited dealing with one Syriac sources. And there are interesting tidbits in these sources, like according to one chronicle (the Maronite Chronicle I believe which is contemporaneous to the events that are being described) it's stated that Mu'awiya prayed in Gethsemane after entering the city of Jerusalem and details what he did the city. As far as I'm aware this isn't in Muslim works. However, I haven't found these to be narrative changing.

There probably is a lot more to be discovered in old libraries and monasteries, but unfortunately so many of these books are being destroyed in the wars in the Middle East and so few people actually know Syriac that these works might not see the light of day (along with the other works in Syriac like philosophy, liturgical material, commentaries, etc.).

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On 7/10/2018 at 2:31 PM, Qa'im said:

First, in Arabia, before 140 AH, people wrote on bones (shoulders of camels), animal skins, leaves, and rocks. The durability of some of these materials is limited. 

Salams,

Additionally papyrus was also used, some of the earliest surviving written material are scraps of papyri. Until the paper making process became very cheap, papyrus was being used into the Abbasid period.

On 7/10/2018 at 2:31 PM, Qa'im said:

The earliest texts and inscriptions mainly echo what is found in the Quran and hadith compilations with surprisingly few discrepancies. Quran manuscripts are certainly much more alike than the Gospel manuscripts.

One very interesting thing was pointed out by an Arabist which demonstrates point and is found in the Quranic text itself. It seems to be the case that multiple scribes worked together copying the master copy of the Quran from which further copies were made. This is also before a standard spelling as we can tell by orthographic choices the Quran makes. What's interesting is that all the various spelling choices it uses are preserved in the places you find them. "Rahmah" has been spelled both رحمه and رحمت and you'll find the places where the variant spellings are used preserved in manuscripts throughout the world. Evidently great care was given to copying the Quran, even its spelling.

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4 hours ago, ZethaPonderer said:

If this topic is going to delve into Great Libraries that were destroyed by some Muslims, then why stop at The Great Library of Alexandria. Let the intelligent users of Quora answer that for you @andres. Each user coming with their own sources to back it up.

https://www.quora.com/Did-Caliph-Omar-Bin-Khattab-ordered-burning-the-Library-of-Alexandria-and-Sassanid-literature

And the answer is a lying machine for Non-Muslims since by your rationale, Muslims are divided into branches: Sunni and Shia.

Since Sunnis were the dominant Muslim majority it may make sense to Non-Muslims declaring Islam being a loot-pillaging, barbaric, and knowledge-destroying Religion in the same light as Atilla The Hun and Genghis Khan indeed.

But, this is a fallacy (A Majority Fallacy). Islamic Golden Age never existed, if Muslims oppress and divide themselves from amongst each other out of sheer spite and pettiness. What was The Islamic Golden Age for Shia Muslims? I doubt it was peaceful for them compared to the Sunnis. After all, the dominant dynasties of The so-called Islamic Golden Age Empire were both The Ommayads and The Abbassids whom the majority were about as "Muslims" as Donald Trump being Christian.

Too easy, ignorant, and jumping to conclusions to blame Religion being the problem altogetherSo, why not blame followers of that Religion instead? Islam didn't destroy The Great Library of Nalanda. It was a select Muslim group along with their Turkish Leader Bakhtiyar Khilji responsible for this tyrannical act.

 

The destruction by Mongols happened long after the Muslim golden age began. Did any early writings (other than the Quran) at all exist from the first 50 years or so? If I am not mistaken Arabs in general were illiterate and no pre-islamic  written documents exist. Very few first generation Muslims could have produced writings. Or am I wrong?

People burn books. Books dont burn people.

 

Edited by andres

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11 hours ago, andres said:

The destruction by Mongols happened long after the Muslim golden age began. Did any early writings (other than the Quran) at all exist from the first 50 years or so? If I am not mistaken Arabs in general were illiterate and no pre-islamic  written documents exist. Very few first generation Muslims could have produced writings. Or am I wrong?

People burn books. Books dont burn people.

 

I see.

You're saying if Pagan Arab sources about their history/culture written by Pagans exists other than Islamic sources explaining the history/culture of Pagan Arabia and The Quran.

I guess if you put it that way, then it would seem to appear as a resounding NO since the majority of them were illiterate... FOR NOW. However, I would wager that such sources you imply have yet to be discovered.

 

Personally, I think that such sources you're implying have yet to be discovered at Saudi Arabia (most notably at Mecca and Madinah), but of course the Wahabbi Kings there would never allow the land they oppressed the majority of Muslims to excavate any potential Pagan Arab sources buried deep beneath the soils of Mecca.

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It would be fantastic if such finds show up. And who knows, they might. But is it likely? When the many Gospels were found 70 years ago in Nag Hammadi, most were known by having been mentioned in other known writings, sometimes even quoted in debate against ther theology. Do we know of any early Arabic Islamic documents that now are lost? What was it Uthman ordered burnt? 

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