Answering Missionaries

May 25, 2006



Shabir Ally

May 21, 2006

Dr. James White in his opening presentation during his recent debate with me said that Ibn Masud had refused to hand over his copy of the Quran as demanded by the caliph Uthman, and that on this account he was beaten, as a result of which he died. During the Q & A I remarked that James was wrong about this. I explained that according to the traditional reports Ibn Masud had overcome his initial hesitation after some reflection. Contradicting me, James read the following citation:

    “The most serious opponent of ‘Uthman’s text was ibn Mas’ud, a companion of the Prophet and a great theologian. Ibn Mas’ud refused to give up his copy of the Qur’an to the President of the Revision Committee and thus incurred the anger of the Khalifa, by whom he was publicly chastised. He died a few days after from the effects of the beating he had received …”

He said that this was from the book by Abu Ammaar Yasir Qadhi, An Introduction to the Sciences of the Quran.1

Subsequent to the debate, being unable to locate this citation in Qadhi’s book, I have asked James to provide the page number. But due to his own publishing deadlines and a variety of other problems he has not been able to look it up for me.

Meanwhile, I have written to the author of the cited book, and he replied: “The paragraph that you quoted is not written by me, and it is the first time I am even reading it.”2

Hence it is clear that James has made an incorrect citation. It seems that James was relying on a polemicist who was in turn relying on sectarian sources hostile to the caliph Uthman.

What Yasir Qadhi actually wrote about Ibn Masud in this regard is as follows:

“Although there are some reports that initially Abdullah ibn Masud did not agree with Uthman’s decision, it is also reported that he later changed his mind; cf. Ibn Abi Daud pp. 13-18. According to the famous historian, Ibn Kathir, Uthman wrote to Ibn Masud advising him to follow the consensus of the other Companions, which he agreed to do; cf. Al-Bidayaah wa an-Nihaayah, v. 7, p. 207.”3

In the light of this actual citation from Qadhi, the reported incident about the beating of Ibn Masud appears to be unreliable.


1. Abu Ammaar Yasir Qadhi, An Introduction to the Sciences of the Quran (Birmingham: Al-Hidaayah, 1999).

2. Yasir Qadhi in personal correspondence with me on May 15, 2006, cited here with his permission.

3. Qadhi, Introduction, p. 137, n. 165.


1 Comment »

  1. As Salaamu Alaikum Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakatuhu

    The reference to Journal Asiatique needs to be checked; we have an incomplete run at the university here.

    According to his dividing line, his citation of Sell was not even completely accurate. One would expect and exact rendition of the text after failing to provide even the proper reference in the first place. Once again, the missionaries using references without proper verification is hardly surprising.

    Do not be confused regarding his tenacity argument regards the text of the new testament. He is quoting Kurt and Barbara Aland TNT second (English) revised enlarged edition p. 296. Read p. 297 and you will see the stuff he conveniently left out.

    Furthermore as they themselves have indicated, Barbara and Kurt Aland are speaking in hindsight with the currently available textual data. According to their own Institut für neutestamentliche Textforschung INTF: []

    “Between the text of the author and the initial text there may be developments that have left no traces in any of the surviving manuscripts. Thus the initial text of the tradition is not necessarily identical to the text of the author. However, as along as no substantial reasons argue against it, it is the simplest working hypothesis that the initial text corresponds largely to the text of the author, apart from small variants that are to be reckoned with during the act of copying.”

    “Simplest working hypothesis” is a phrase worthy of note.

    Although he sounds convincing, White has said quite a few strange things regards biblical manuscripts and textual criticism. One should check all his references cited to verify what he says, assuming we are given the proper references in the first place that is.


    Comment by Abdullah — May 26, 2006 @ 9:04 am | Reply

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