Ṣan‘ā’ 1 and the Origins of the Qur’ān
3It is convenient to call the adherents of this account “traditionalists.”
The narrative continues to be fairly popular among the specialists in theMuslim world, in part because most of them have not come to entertainradical doubt about the broad outlines of early Islamic history. By con-trast, scholars located in Europe and North America generally do not ac-cept this account (which is not to say that they reject it). This is due to aprevailing distrust in the literary sources on which it is founded. Thesesources were compiled long after the events they describe, and the extent towhich they preserve truly early reports has been the subject of an evolvingacademic debate. This Euro-American majority falls into two main groups.The first group, a minority, consists of the “revisionists,”that is, thosewho consider the traditional narrative as wrong. They reject the ideathat ‘Uthmān attempted to fix the text, or they hold that there contin-ued to be major changes in the standard text after ‘Uthmān, or, in thecase of
, they think it may be anachronistic to speak of the Qur’ān at the time of ‘Uthmān in the first place, since the text coa-lesced long after. Notable revisionists include John
, Alfred-Louis de
, and David
Thedegree of textual stability that according to the traditional account hadbeen reached by
AD 650 was according to John
at-tained no earlier than the ninth century AD. Most revisionists are moreconservative in their dating, focusing on the reign of the Umayyad caliph‘Abd al-Malik, that is, AH 65–86/ AD 685–705 as the date of textual final-ity and/or canonization. Revisionists tend to support their views byciting documentary evidence, Christian sources, and Muslim traditions.Their use of the Muslim reports constitutes what they regard as judi-cious reading between the lines, but what their opponents view as mar-shaling cherry-picked, decontextualized, and misinterpreted reports.The second group of scholars, the “skeptics,”is by far larger. Itsmembers likewise do not accept the traditional account, considering itunreliable along with nearly every report in the Muslim literary sources
only if it changes
the skeleton and the word, that is, if the change is skeletal
morphemic. All of this has been well-understood for many centuries and issimply taken for granted in the way most Muslim Qur’ān specialists have writ-ten about the different readings (
). (We are setting aside a caveat concern-ing cases in which nonetheless the original ‘Uthmānic spelling or pointing isknowable.)
) For their contributions, see the Bibliography. P.
approach in her1994 essay is different from the others we list (or from her 1977 work) in thatshe provisionally suggests the late canonization of a largely stable text ratherthan a late date for the attainment of textual stability.