In Search of Ali ibn Abi Talib’s Codex: History and Traditions of the Earliest Copy of the Qur’an

Author: Seyfeddin Kara, Hartford Seminary
Berlin & London: Gerlach Press, 2018

The history of the text of the Qur’an has been a longstanding subject of interest within the field of Islamic Studies, but the debate has so far been focused on the Sunni traditions about the codices of Caliphs AbūBakr andʿUthmān b.ʿAffān. Little to no attention has been given to the traditions onʿAlī b. Abī Ṭālib’s collection of the Qur’an. This book examines both Shiʿi and Sunni traditions on the issue, aiming to date them back to the earliest possible date and, if possible, verify their authenticity. To achieve this, the traditions are examined using Harald Motzki’sisnād-cum-matn method, which is recognized as an efficient tool in dating the early Islamic traditions and involves the analysis of both text and isnād(chain of transmission) with an emphasis on finding a correlation between the two. “Kara’s application of hadith criticism to Shi‘i sources is innovative as well as constructive. Respectful of others’ contributions, he nonetheless subverts conventional skeptical and starkly sectarianized approaches to  scriptural textual history.”

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