It is not possible to give detail of all the verses, sentences and phrases which allegedly were lost at the time the Qur'an was collected. A few glaring examples are as follows:
1. The thirty-third chapter of the Qur'an, al-Ahzab, is alleged to have contained 200 or nearly 300 verses, all of which except 73 are said to have been lost. The claim of 200 verses is attributed to Ummu 'l-mu'minin, 'A'ishah. "It has been narrated by Abu 'Ubayd in al-Fada'il and by Ibn al-Anbari and Ibn Mardawayh from Aishah that she said, 'The surah al-Ahzab was recited in the days of the Prophet two hundred verses, but when 'Uthman wrote the Qur'an, he was unable to find more than what is there at present." 1 Now there are only 73 verses in this surah.
Hudhayfah is said to claim that 70 verses of this chapter were lost.2 But Ubayy ibn Ka'b is made to say that this surah was equal to, or even bigger than the second chapter al-Baqarah.3 Also, 'Ikrimah (a tabi'i, disciple of the companions) has reportedly said the same.4 Now the chapter al-Baqarah contains 286 verses. It means accordingly that 213 or even more verses were lost, including the verse of stoning.
2. The ninth chapter, at-Tawbah: It is alleged that two-thirds or three-fourths of this surah has been lost. This report is attributed to Hudhayfah al-Yamani.5 Imam Malik ibn Anas was asked as to why there is no "Bismillah" in this surah. He said, "It was lost with its earlier parts, because it is confirmed that it was equal to surah al-Baqarah in length."6
But there are only 129 verses in this surah of the Qur'an.
3. Then come the putetic surahs of al-Hafd and al-Khal' which were recorded by such famous companions as Ubayy ibn Ka'b and Abu Musa al-Ash'ari7 and which the caliph Umar ibn al-Khattab used to recite in his qunut.8 The surahs were as follows:
This English booklet is not the place to show the absurdity of the sentences in these alleged surahs. Some grammatical mistakes in them clearly show that the people who fabricated them did not know Arabic well. And these incorrect sentences have been attributed to such Arab companions as Hazrat Umar, Ubayy ibn Ka'b and Abu Musa al-Ash'ari!
Anyone interested to see the mistakes and absurdities of these supposed surahs, is advised to see my Arabic booklet Nazaratun Musta'jilah fi mas'alati Tahrifi 'l-Qur'an or better still, Shaykh Muhammad Jawad al-Balaghi's Ala'u 'r-Rahman fi Tafsiri 'l-Qur'an (vol. 1 [Beirut], pp. 23-24).
4. A surah equal to the ninth chapter al-Bara'ah: Abu Musa al-Ash'ari, a companion of the Prophet, is reported to say, 'We used to recite a surah which we likened to al-Bara'ah in length and severity; but I forgot it, and now remember only this verse:
(If a son of Adam had two valleys full of wealth he would still covet a third; and nothing can fill the stomach of a man except dust.)9
5. Yet another Surah: The same companion is reported to say, "We used to recite a surah which we likened to one of the musabbihat; 10 but I forgot it; yet I remember this 'verse' from it:
(O you who believe! Why do you say what you do not do? As it would be recorded as an evidence against you and then you shall be asked about it on the day of resurrection.)11
6. Loss of the major part of the Qur'an: There are a lot of traditions in Sunni books which show that the Qur'an was much much more than what the Muslims have in their hands. "At-Tabarani has narrated with trustworthy chain of narrators from 'Umar ibn al-Khattab that he said, 'The Qur'an is one million and twenty seven thousand letters..."12 But the total of the letters in the whole Qur'an is not more than 267,053 as is recorded at the end of many editions of the Qur'an. In other words, three-fourth of the Qur'an was lost!
And the companion 'Abdullah ibn 'Umar is reported as saying, "None of you should ever say, 'I have got the whole Qur'an.' And what would make you know what the whole Qur'an was. Certainly a lot of Qur'an has gone. One should rather say, 'I have got what has appeared from it." 13
Unfortunately the 'ahadith' of major or minor deletions are attributed to many famous personalities of Islam, like Ummu 'l-mu'minin 'A'ishah, Ummu 'l-mu'minin Hafsah, Ummu 'l-mu'minin Umm Salimah, 'Umar ibn al-Khattab, 'Abdullah ibn 'Abbas, 'Abdullah ibn Mas'ud, Abdu'r-Rahman ibn 'Awf, 'Abdullah ibn 'Umar, Zayd ibn Arqam, Jabir ibn 'Abdullah, Buraydah, Maslamah ibn Makhlad, Abu Waqid al-Laythi, and the aunt of Abu Amamah ibn Sahl, in addition to the tabi'in (disciples of the companions) 'Ikrimah and Imam Malik ibn Anas.
These traditions are found in all well-known Sunni books of traditions, including as-Sihahas-Sittah (the six correct books of traditions): Sahih al-Bukhari, Sahih Muslim, Sunan Abi Dawud, Sahih at-Tirmidhi, Sunan an-Nasa'i, Sunan al-Bayhaqi, Musnad of Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Muwatta' of Imam Malik, Ta'rikh of al-Bukhari, Fathu 'l-Ba'ri (Sharh Sahih al-Bukhari) of Ibn Hajar al-'Asqalani, Kanzu 'l-'Ummal of Mulla 'Ali al-Muttaqi, Tafsir ad-Durru'l-Manthur and al-Itqan of As-Suyuti, Jami'u 'l-Usul, al-Muhadarat of Imam ar-Raghib al-Isfihani, Jami 'u 'l-Jawami, Hilyatu 'l-awliya' of Hafiz Abu Nu'aym and al-Mustadrak 'alas-Sahihayn of Imam al-Hakim an-Nishapuri.14
Also 'ahadith' were attributed to the Imams of Ahlul Bayt too, and they found their way into Shi'a books of traditions. In short the Sunni and Shi'a books of ahadith contain a lot of such traditions. But there is a basic difference between the two sects' respective attitude towards such traditions.
- 1. As-Suyuti, ad-Durru 'l-Manthur, vol. 5, pp. 179-180; As-Suyuti, al-Itqan, vol. 2. p. 25.
- 2. Al-Bukhari, at-Ta'rikh, as quoted by as-Suyuti in the above books.
- 3. Az-Zamakhshari, Tafsir al-Kashshaf, vol. 2 (Calcutta: Lees. 1856) p. 1117: Mulla Ali al-Muttaqi, Kanzu 'l-Ummal.
- 4. As-Suyuti, ad-Durru 'l-Manthur, vol. 5. p. 179.
- 5. As-Suyuti, ad-Durru 'l-Manthur, vol. 3. p. 208: al-Itqan, vol. 2. p. 26: al-Hakim an-Nishapuri, al-Mustadrak alas-Sahihan, vol. 2 (Hyderabad: Dairatul-Ma'arif. 1340 AH) p. 331.
- 6. As-Suyuti, al-Itqan, vol. 1, p. 65.
- 7. As-Suyuti, al-Itqan, vol. 1, p. 65.
- 8. Ibid, pp. 25-26.
- 9. As-Suyuti, ad-Durru 'l-Manthur, vol 1 p 105: Ibn al-Athir. Jami 'u 'l-Usul, vol 3 (Egypt: 1370 AH) p. 8 hadith no. 904.
- 10. Musabbihat: those surahs which begin with the words. yusabbihu or sabbih.
- 11. Jami 'u 'l-usul, vol. 3. p. 8.
- 12. As-Suyuti, al-Itqan, vol. 2. p 70.
- 13. As-Suyuti, al-Itqan, vol 2. p. 25: As-Suyuti, ad-Durru 'l-Manthur, vol 1. p. 106.
- 14. For details, see Mir Hamid Husayn al-Musawi al-Hindi, Istiqsa'u 'l-Ifham, vol. 2 (Lucknow) the section on tahrif of the Qur'an.