Sanā 1 and the origins of the Qurān

Behnam Sadeghi, Mohsen Goudarzi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


The lower text of Sanā is at present the most important document for the history of the Qurān. As the only known extant copy from a textual tradition beside the standard 'Uthmanic one, it has the greatest potential of any known manuscript to shed light on the early history of the scripture. Comparing it with parallel textual traditions provides a unique window onto the initial state of the text from which the different traditions emerged. The comparison settles a perennial controversy about the date at which existing passages were joined together to form the suras (chapters). Some ancient reports and modern scholars assign this event to the reign of the third caliph and link it with his standardizing the text of the Qur'an around AD 650. However, the analysis shows that the suras were formed earlier. Furthermore, the manuscript sheds light on the manner in which the text was transmitted. The inception of at least some Qur'anic textual traditions must have involved semi-oral transmission, most likely via hearers who wrote down a text that was recited by the Prophet. This essay argues for these conclusions by considering the broad features of the text. The essay also presents the edited text of the folios in the Dar̄al-Makhuāt̄an̄a, Yemen, in addition to four folios that were auctioned abroad. A systematic analysis of all the variants is postponed to future publications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-129
Number of pages129
JournalIslam - Zeitschrift fur Geschichte und Kultur des Islamischen Orients
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Mar 2012
Externally publishedYes


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