Christianity in the West held it’s breath, when in 1972 a manuscript of Qur’an al Kerim was found in Yemen, Sana’a’s main mosque. German scholars Gerhard Puin and H.C. Graf von Bothmer, working for Saarland University, Universität des Saarlandes, were assigned to cleanse and conserve the paper. Would at last a deviant copy of Islam’s Holy Book have been found; the book that is forbidden to question according to orthodoxy, as also many Westerners say?
For decades, both men did their job, as low key as possible, with the aid of several other experts. No sooner than 1999, Gerhard Puin opened up on the contends of the texts found, via magazine The Atlantic.com. However, Mr Puin doesn’t go beyond minor textual variations, different spelling, and text categorization: ‘Some of these fragments revealed small but intriguing aberrations from the standard Koranic text. Such aberrations, though not surprising to textual historians, are troublingly at odds with the orthodox Muslim belief that the Koran as it has reached us today is quite simply the perfect, timeless, and unchanging Word of God’. No differences, however, that would keep a Muslim awake at night; The Atlantic.com has presented the differences as more important than that they truly are. Gerhard Puin admitted this, too. Unesco apparently sells a cd of this Yemenite manuscript.
By the way, Yemeni history has known a ‘false prophet’ in the era when Islam reached Yemen, a certain Al Aswad al ‘Anzi. He claimed to have received a revelation, but he was discarded by Yemenite Muslims. As far as we know, no truly deviant Qur’anic texts have been found, and it seems unlikely that this will happen. Nevertheless, one must keep an open mind to anything at all.
Let me reiterate this: Non-Muslims have EVERY right to criticize Islamic texts. However, truth finding, proof, should be part of the effort, if they want it to move past hypothesis.