You say that Seven Words mean the difference in accent. How it was possible for Uthman to remove the accent when it is not in the control of any human being. How can an English say exactly in the same accent an Arab does. This was not possible then, and it is not possible even today.
Furthermore, if God and Prophet (SAW) both saw it useful for the benefit and easiness for the Ummah and these Seven Words were sent down by WAHY (i.e. revelation) how can a follower like Uthman (ra) could have abolished them?
You asked me [in an email message] to read Jama`ul Qur’an by Tamanna Aamadi and I did so, but his opinion is quite different from your. He rejected all these fairy tales and claim that these Hadith are not correct. How would you like to react to his opinion?
I, unfortunately, do not remember writing that the “Seven Words” mean the “difference in accent”. I may be mistaken, please forgive me.
As far as the narrative regarding the seven different ways of reading the Qur’an are concerned, I am in agreement with the opinion expressed by Tamanna `emaadi. The content of this narrative does not allow to take it in the meaning of differences in accent only. Moreover, there are a number of flaws in the content of the narrative, due to which it is not possible to satisfactorily hold it to be an accurate account of the actual events.
Let us first take a brief look at the narrative in question. According to the reporting of Imaam Maalik ibn Anas, in his “Mu’atta“, Umar ibn al-Khattaab (ra) says:
I heard Hishaam ibn Hakeem ibn Hezaam reciting Surah Al-Furqaan [while leading prayers] in a manner different from the way I recited it, and the way the Prophet (pbuh) himself had taught me to recite it. I was about to grab him immediately, and then I decided to give him some time to complete his prayers. At that time I grabbed him by his stole/shawl and pulled him to the Prophet (pbuh). I said to the Prophet (pbuh): O Prophet I heard him recite Surah Al-Furqaan in a different manner than the one that you taught me. The Prophet (pbuh) directed me to let go of him, and then directed Hishaam to recite the Surah. Hishaam recited it in the same way he was reciting it during his prayers. The Prophet (pbuh) [, at the end of his recital,] said: This is how it was revealed. Then the Prophet (pbuh) directed me to recite the Surah. Then I recited the Surah [as I knew it]. The Prophet (pbuh) [, at the end of my recital,] said: This is how it was revealed. Then added: The Qur’an was revealed in ‘sab`ah ahruf‘ you can read it according to the one which is suitable for you.
The above narrative has indeed been reported by the most accepted compilations of narratives ascribed to the Prophet (pbuh), however the fact remains that its exact implication has always been a mystery for the Muslim scholars. Imaam Suyuti, in his “Al-Ittiqaan fi `uloom al-Qur’an” has narrated more or less forty different sayings trying to explain the implication of this narrative but has finally conceded in his commentary of the Mu’atta “Tanvir al-Hawaalik” that none of these (forty) explanations is completely acceptable and therefore the correct opinion seems to be of those who hold that the narrative is quite inexplicable and should therefore be considered a ‘Mutashaabeh‘.
An acceptable explanation might have been that the different recitations of Surah Al-Furqaan mentioned in the narrative actually refer to the different dialects of the various tribes of the Arabs. However, this explanation also becomes redundant in view of the fact that the two persons involved in this incident (Umar and Hishaam) are from the same tribe of Qureish, and no inter-tribe variation of dialect could have existed between these two persons. Moreover, the Qur’an has clearly stated that it was revealed in the dialect of the Qureish. Thus, even if the two persons had belonged to different tribes, the words “the Qur’an was revealed in ‘sab`ah ahruf‘ would have remained in contradiction to the Qur’an.
Furthermore, it is well known that Hishaam ibn Hakeem ibn Hezaam accepted Islam after the conquest of Mekkah. Thus, accepting this narrative to be true would imply accepting that even till the time of the conquest of Mekkah, important companions of the Prophet (pbuh) – people like Umar ibn al-Khattaab (ra) – remained unaware of the fact that the Prophet (pbuh) was secretly teaching the Qur’an in a number of different ways than the one in which these companions were being taught.
Finally, a number of historical narratives tell us that the Prophet (pbuh) not only used to dictate the verses that were revealed to him to quite a few of his companions as a step toward the preservation of these revelations, but also used to explain the placement of the new revelations with reference to the written or memorized record that already existed. Nevertheless, there is not a single narrative that tells us that while informing about and dictating the new revelations, the Prophet (pbuh) told his scribes about the variation in the words of the new revelation.
In view of the above noted reservations, the narrative is absolutely unacceptable. This explanation should also clarify our stance regarding all three of your noted questions.
29th December 1999