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Islamic scholars claim that Quran's preservation is the one of the most miraculous aspects of Quran. In fact, a major reason for muslims to believe in the Quran was the preservation of Quran, which is a promise from God.

For example:

It is an incontrovertible historical truth that the text of the Glorious Qur’an extant today is, syllable for syllable, exactly the same as the Prophet (p) had offered to the world as the Word of God.

Wikipedia describes the oldest surviving copies of the Quran.

  1. Is the current Quran the same as the oldest surviving copy? (I accept script style difference and vowel marking difference, for the vowel markings were added later for pronunciation. Therefore I would consider them to be the same if every letter is unchanged.)

  2. If so, what evidence is there that they are the same as it was at Muhammad's time?

Please try to stick to the history side rather than the religion side.

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    Which version of the Quran are you asking about (oops! did I just answer the question?)? – Konrad Rudolph Jul 27 '13 at 18:24
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    Unfortunately, the only people who could have observed the original Quran are all Muslims, and thus highly biased sources. Anyone who claims otherwise was likely not in Muhammad's inner circle. – Muz Jul 29 '13 at 4:51
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    Given that it was not written down for centuries after he died, and then in a different dialect (probably even a different language), it's extremely unlikely every single syllable will have been preserved identically to what was originally uttered. – jwenting Jul 29 '13 at 5:20
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    @jwenting First everything was written down at Muhammad's time, just because it is not compiled in a whole does not mean it was never written down. Second the compilation happened 20 year after his death, not centuries. So please check your reference and in case you disagree please provide reference. – user14754 Jul 29 '13 at 8:36
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    I'd also point out that one of the big rules in it goes, essentially, "This is the literal word of God and you MUST transcribe it exactly; any attempt at creative interpretation is an affront to God". If you happen to be a devout believer of that particular religion, that's a hell of a motivation to do your absolute best to get it exactly right. No real miracle needed, though - just belief. – Shadur Aug 9 '13 at 14:16
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No; during the life of Muhammad, there was no single text, as it was more about understanding the message than how it was told:

This page cites hadiths that mention seven different ways of teaching:

The Seven Ahruf (modes of recitation) are part of Islamic doctrine and a Muslim MUST ACCEPT IT...

Saheeh Bukhari

Volume 6, Book 61, Number 513: Narrated 'Abdullah bin 'Abbas:

Allah's Apostle said, "Gabriel recited the Qur'an to me in one way. Then I requested him (to read it in another way), and continued asking him to recite it in other ways, and he recited it in several ways till he ultimately recited it in seven different ways."

Volume 6, Book 61, Number 514:

Narrated 'Umar bin Al-Khattab:

I heard Hisham bin Hakim reciting Surat Al-Furqan during the lifetime of Allah's Apostle and I listened to his recitation and noticed that he recited in several different ways which Allah's Apostle had not taught me. I was about to jump over him during his prayer, but I controlled my temper, and when he had completed his prayer, I put his upper garment around his neck and seized him by it and said, "Who taught you this Sura which I heard you reciting?" He replied, "Allah's Apostle taught it to me." I said, "You have told a lie, for Allah's Apostle has taught it to me in a different way from yours." So I dragged him to Allah's Apostle and said (to Allah's Apostle),

"I heard this person reciting Surat Al-Furqan in a way which you haven't taught me!" On that Allah's Apostle said, "Release him, (O 'Umar!) Recite, O Hisham!" Then he recited in the same way as I heard him reciting. Then Allah's Apostle said, "It was revealed in this way," and added, "Recite, O 'Umar!" I recited it as he had taught me. Allah's Apostle then said, "It was revealed in this way. This Qur'an has been revealed to be recited in seven different ways, so recite of it whichever (way) is easier for you (or read as much of it as may be easy for you)."

Volume 006, Book 061, Hadith Number 582.

Narated By Abdullah : That he heard a man reciting a Qur'anic Verse which he had heard the Prophet reciting in a different way. So he took that man to the Prophet (and told him the story). The Prophet said, "Both of you are reciting in a correct way, so carry on reciting." The Prophet further added, "The nations which were before you were destroyed (by Allah) because they differed."

[...]

Scholars still have not come to a consensus regarding what these Seven Ahruf are. Some said that the Quran was revealed in seven different ways (not all the verses, only some) with synonyms replacing certain words. For example, besides saying "ehdina al sirat al mustaqeem" in one harf it would read "arshudna al sirat al mustaqeem" in another and they would both mean the same thing, which is "Guide us unto the right path". It seems to me that this is the strongest opinion as to what the seven ahruf are.

Also the ten Qira'at are the different ways of reciting the Quran, which (according to the strongest opinion of the scholars) contain parts of the seven ahruf in them.

So there were lots of ways to talk about the lessons of Muhammad, and people were already arguing about which was correct.

Zaid bin Thabit started collecting verses after many people who had memorized them died:

Abu Bakr sent for me owing to the large number of casualties in the battle of Al-Yamama, while 'Umar was sitting with him. Abu Bakr said (to me), 'Umar has come to my and said, 'A great number of Qaris of the Holy Qur'an were killed on the day of the battle of Al-Yamama, and I am afraid that the casualties among the Qaris of the Qur'an may increase on other battle-fields whereby a large part of the Qur'an may be lost. Therefore I consider it advisable that you (Abu Bakr) should have the Qur'an collected.' I said, 'How dare I do something which Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) did not do?' 'Umar said, By Allah, it is something beneficial.'

[...]

So I started compiling the Qur'an by collecting it from the leafless stalks of the date-palm tree and from the pieces of leather and hides and from the stones, and from the chests of men (who had memorized the Qur'an). I found the last verses of Sirat-at-Tauba: ("Verily there has come unto you an Apostle (Muhammad) from amongst yourselves--' (9.128-129) ) from Khuza`ima or Abi Khuza'ima and I added to it the rest of the Sura. The manuscripts of the Qur'an remained with Abu Bakr till Allah took him unto Him. Then it remained with 'Umar till Allah took him unto Him, and then with Hafsa bint 'Umar.

The collection of the Qur'an:

Hudhaifa bin Al-Yaman came to Uthman at the time when the people of Sham and the people of Iraq were Waging war to conquer Arminya and Adharbijan. Hudhaifa was afraid of their (the people of Sham and Iraq) differences in the recitation of the Qur'an, so he said to Uthman, "O chief of the Believers! Save this nation before they differ about the Book (Qur'an) as Jews and the Christians did before." So Uthman sent a message to Hafsa saying, "Send us the manuscripts of the Qur'an so that we may compile the Qur'anic materials in perfect copies and return the manuscripts to you." Hafsa sent it to Uthman. Uthman then ordered Zaid bin Thabit, Abdullah bin AzZubair, Said bin Al-As and AbdurRahman bin Harith bin Hisham to rewrite the manuscripts in perfect copies. Uthman said to the three Quraishi men, "In case you disagree with Zaid bin Thabit on any point in the Qur'an, then write it in the dialect of Quraish, the Qur'an was revealed in their tongue." They did so, and when they had written many copies, Uthman returned the original manuscripts to Hafsa. Uthman sent to every Muslim province one copy of what they had copied, and ordered that all the other Qur'anic materials, whether written in fragmentary manuscripts or whole copies, be burnt.

Not everyone was happy with the canonical version, though:

Dialects and Readings of the Qur'an (Kitab Al-Huruf Wa Al-Qira'at):

Ibn Mas'ud said read the verse: "Now come, thou" (haita laka). Then Shariq said: We read it, "hi'tu laka" (I am prepared for thee). Ibn Mas'ud said: I read it as I have been taught ; it is dearer to me.

Personally, this hadith makes me doubt whether everything came from Gabriel:

Volume 6, Book 61, Number 512: Narrated Al-Bara:

There was revealed: 'Not equal are those believers who sit (at home) and those who strive and fight in the Cause of Allah.' (4.95)

The Prophet said, "Call Zaid for me and let him bring the board, the inkpot and the scapula bone (or the scapula bone and the ink pot)."' Then he said, "Write: 'Not equal are those Believers who sit..", and at that time 'Amr bin Um Maktum, the blind man was sitting behind the Prophet . He said, "O Allah's Apostle! What is your order For me (as regards the above Verse) as I am a blind man?" So, instead of the above Verse, the following Verse was revealed:

'Not equal are those believers who sit (at home) except those who are disabled (by injury or are blind or lame etc.) and those who strive and fight in the cause of Allah.' (4.95)

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The evidence can be found here. You just need to translate the article if you do not understand dutch. In vers 9 of this soera Allah made the promise that the quran will remain the same for ever! In vers 41 and 42 of soera 41 you can find the same message. Allah was/is aware that people will ask these questions thats why he did gave answers! You can not edit the quran because it has always been memorized, during the time of the prophet (p.b.u.h) and all the time till today. In the future it will be memorized as well by the will of Allah.

Your question refers to the period 'since Muhammad (p.b.u.h)' but I can tell you that the quran was there way before the prophet was born! This has been mentioned in vers 22 of this soera 85 You can find some explanation of this vers over here.

Maybe this will help:

The Prophet, peace be upon him, recited and memorized the verses after each revelation and then presented the verses to his companions. They also memorized it and at the same time they learned the verses to their families who in turn learned the verses by heart. In addition to the memorization of the Quran the verses were secured by writing the verses and adding them to the correct chapter directly after a revelation by the literate companions. The writings, however, were not yet bundled together, because the Quran was still in the making, so that the existing chapters became longer and sometimes new chapters were added to the whole. In the end, 6,236 verses were revealed between the year 609 and 632 and the final Quran has 114 chapters. To ensure that the verses remained authentic, Allah ordered the Gabriel to repeat all revealed verses every year during the month of Ramadan. During the Ramadan of the year 632 the whole Quran was recited again but in a different setting. Gabriel first began by reciting all the verses to the Prophet, peace be upon him, then it was the Prophet's turn, peace be upon him, to recite the entire Qur'an in the presence of the archangel Gabriel.

The Prophet, peace be upon him, died in 632 and in the same year Abu Bakr as-Siddiq was appointed as the first caliph. During his caliphate, the entire quran was written down for the first time and collected in a single book. This first version was based on the memorization of different individuals and on the texts written by the companions at an earlier stage. The companions used a very strict authentication and verification process to compile the first quran. After being convinced of the authenticity of the bundled copy, the first written quran was kept in the house of Abu Bakr. This caliph however died in the year 634 after which the book was transferred to the house of the second caliph, Omar ibn al-Chattab. He stayed there until he died. Then in the year 644 the original quran was transferred to the house of the daughter of Omar, Ḥafsa bint Omar. This was kept by her until the third Caliph, Uthman ibn Affan, requested the original copy.

During the Caliphate of Uthman, the Muslim community grew explosively. Converts to Islam were not only found on the Arabian Peninsula but also beyond. Although this was a positive development, Uthman began to worry about the translations of the quran in the various Arabic dialects. The companions traveled throughout the Arab Empire and noticed that in some parts of Iraq, for example, the Quran verses were recited differently than they had learned. At the time the caliph was informed about this, he realized that this was not a good development. He was of the opinion that the authenticity of the quran was at stake. To stop this development, he ordered the destruction of all translations of the quran, written in another Arabic dialect. At the same time copies of the original quran, which was kept by Ḥafsa bint Omar, were distributed among the Muslims. Since then nothing has been changed to the quran.

some more info:

Those that have memorized the quran very well, have learned it on the traditional way (like in the days of phorphet p.b.u.h.). They write the quran on a wooden tablet with a handmade pen and ink. I have done it as well! You start with writing a part of the soera learn it and then you will be heard by the imam/master. After finising the complete quran, you start from the beginning again by writing, learing and hearing by imam (the imam is also checking the spelling during the first time!). You need to repeat this at least 5 times and there are also those that have repeated it more then 20 times. When you have done this you can say that you have memorized the quran, because when you start reciting the quran its like you see a mirror in front of you with the texts. This is the reason the quran version has not been changed. I do not think one can prove that the quran of today is the same as the first one with literature or other kind of evidence. But when you understand how the quran is being memorized then I think you will start accepting that there is only one version. If one is reciting quran incorrectly next to a person that has memorized it, he/she will correct him/her at the same time! Conclusion is that the quran has been perserved by those that have memorized it!

http://lostislamichistory.com/how-do-we-know-the-quran-is-unchanged/

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    The text seems to be an apologist arguing that the Quran is perfectly preserved because modern ones match the Birmingham Quran, but doesn't show that this premise is true.] – Oddthinking Nov 18 '17 at 15:15
  • I did add some explanation. Hope this help to answer your qustion – Bellied Nov 19 '17 at 16:04
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    Referring directly to chapters of the Quran to show that the Quran has not been altered is not evidence. You need to show that there is only one extant version of the Quran (here is some counter evidence) and that they all match the original one. – Oddthinking Nov 20 '17 at 6:37
  • One of the pilars of the islam is the Hadj, All muslims go 1 time in their life to Mekka. The quran thats being recited here is the quran version in which all muslims believe. I think that this is the second best evidence you can find! The best evidence can be found in the quran. After the mother soera you can find soera 2 which starts with: "This is the Book about which there is no doubt". – Bellied Nov 20 '17 at 9:00
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    Remember you are writing for skeptics, not believers. If I write on a piece of paper "This is an original document that hasn't changed for hundreds of years. There is no doubt it is true." that doesn't make it true. You can't use the words of the Quran to confirm the words of Quran. We need to look for corroborating evidence. You haven't provided any. You also need a reference to show that all Muslims believe in the same Quran version (and which version you are referring to) – Oddthinking Nov 20 '17 at 9:07

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