The Transmission of the Quran by Hafs bin Sulayman – Debunking the Distortions of the YouTube Video “100% Proof the Quran is False!”

Compiled, Translated and Annotated

Abu Khuzaimah Ansari


One month ago ‘Ishmail/ ismail’ posted a video on youTube titled, “100% Proof the Quran is False”

This is the response to the distortions he presented.

He also used the kunyah of Abu Adam in the past, for his reality also watch this video HERE

The video in question is,

This person has attempted to assert that Hafs bin Sulayman al-Asadi, Abu Umar al-Bazzaz al-Kufi, the reciter and transmitter from Asim was weak and thus the transmission of the Quran is also weak as it is the most widespread transmission of the Qir’ah of the Qur’an.

This is, without any doubt poor understanding of the science of hadith and riwayah, a lack of comprehension as well as sheer ignorance in understanding the difference between narrating ahadith and transmitting a qir’ah of the Quran.

We do not aim to spend too much time explaining this as the point itself is poorly constructed, with deliberate distortions, however, here are some points to consider.

Hafs bin Sulayman (90H – 180H)

There is no doubt that some of scholars of hadith and critical analysts did issue statements weakening Hafs in hadith transmission and hadith in general, however this does not apply to the transmission of the Qur’an and specifically to the Asim mode of transmission of the Quran.

Hafs was raised by Asim in his house as his stepson and thus spent a long time with him. Imam al-Dhahabi mentioned,

“Hafs was reliable in his reading (of the Qur’an), he was accurate and consistent, but not as much in the transmission of hadith.” (Imam Dhahabi, Tabaqat al-Qurra (1:140-141)

Hafs himself said,

“I did not depart from Asim (in his transmission of the mode of the Qur’an) except in ONE WORD..” (Imam Dhahabi, Tabaqat al-Qurra (1:140-141)

Imam al-Dhahabi repeated this point that Hafs was accurate and consistent in his transmission of the Qur’an. It was the norm of the latter day hadith specialists to summarise the view of the earlier scholars, and this is what Imam al-Dhahabi did. (Imam al-Dhahabi, al-Kashif (1:240)

Imam al-Dhahabi also said,

 “Hafs was a trustworthy reciter of the Quran and weak in reporting of Hadith because he was not grounded in Hadith like he became very proficient in Quran recitation. Otherwise, he was upright and truthful(Imam al-Dhahabi, Mizan al-Ei’tidal Fi Naqd al-Rijal (2:319 no.2124)

Furthermore, Shu’bah-Abu Bakr ibn A’yaash also transmitted the mode of the Qur’an transmission from Asim, and thus was a support for this mode of transmission. So, if for arguments sake even if Hafs had some weakness in his transmission of the Qur’an, which of course he did not, he would still be supported by the transmission of Shu’bah.

The scholars have differed as to who was more precise in transmission of the Quran from Asim, whether Shu’bah or Hafs. However, yet still despite this difference they still supported each other.

Imam Ibn Adiyy transmit from Saji, from Ahmad bin Muhammad al-Baghdadi from Yahya ibn Ma’in who said,

“Hafs bin Suleiman and Abu Bakr bin Ayyash were the most knowledgeable amongst anyone in the mode of transmission from Asim, Hafs was more accurate in his transmission of the mode of the Quran transmission but a liar but Abu Bakr ibn Ayyash was truthful.” (Imam Ibn Adiyy, al-Kamil Fi Du’afa al-Rijal (2:275), Hafiz al-Mizzi, Tahdhib al-Kamal Fi Asma al-Rijal (7:15 no.1390), Hafiz Ibn Hajr, Tahdhib al-Tahdhib (2:361).

Imam Abu Bakr Khatib al-Baghdadi said, 

“The earlier scholars of the Quran declared Hafs to be more precise and accurate than Abu Bakr bin Ayyash (ie Shu’bah) in terms of memorisation (ie transmission) of the Quran..” (Khatib al-Baghdadi, Tarikh Madinah al-Baghdad (8:186-188), see also his Muwdeh al-Awham al-Jam’a (2:47-48). Abu Shamah has also transmitted this in his Sharh al-Shatibiyyah)

The detractors, who are ignorant of the sciences of hadith, say Hafs was declared to be a liar. The significance of this is that a narrator being being weak is different from being called a liar as the latter is a severe form of criticism. A narrator being weak in hadith transmission is addressed based on the sciences of hadith but being accused of lying carries a greater sin as well as far reaching implications in the science of narration.

What is further strange and also amusing at the same time, is that the detractor who presents this youtube video (Ishmail, or whatever his name is) inadvertently preserves the sciences of Islam, ie the tajwid or Arabic, and in this way he contributes to the preservation of the Islamic sciences.

Furthermore, whatever religion he follows, will most certainly not have any specialty or special characteristics like Islam does, ie Jarh Wat Ta’dil, Mustalah Hadith, Tarikh, biographical sketch of narrators and so on. Praise be to Allah, The Mighty and Majestic who sent men of standing to contribute and aid the preservation of Islam.

So, the detractors resonate with the words of Imam Yahya ibn Ma’in that he declared Hafs to be a liar, as the guy raves in the youtube video. However, we find that other people who narrate the view of Imam Yahya ibn Ma’in on Hafs do not mention the word liar, and thus is seems it was Imam Yahya ibn Ma’ins earlier or lone view. We have the report of Ali bin al-Hussain bin Hibban who said that Imam Yahya ibn Ma’in said,

“Abu Umar al-Bazzaz’s (ie Hafs) recitation (ie transmission) is more accurate and authentic than Abu Bakr bin Ayyash’s but Abu Bakr is more trustworthy than Abu Umar.” (Hafiz al-Mizzi, Tahdhib al-Kamal Fi Asma al-Rijal (7:13), Hafiz Ibn Hajr, Tahdhib al-Tahdhib (2:360 no.1478), Imam al-Dhahabi, Mizan al-Ei’tidal Fi Naqd al-Rijal (2:320)

So, here there is no mention of Hafs being a liar. In another report from Yahya ibn Ma’in via Layth bin al-Ubaid, he said

Abu ʻUmar Al-Bazzaaz (i.e. Hafs), the Quran reciter, is not trustworthy; however, his recitation is more accurate and correct than that of Abu Bakr ibn ʻAyyaash, and Abu Bakr is more trustworthy than him…” (Imam Ibn Adiyy, al-Kamil Fi Du’afa al-Rijal (2:275)

No mention of liar, furthermore, there is yet another report from Imam Uthman al-Darimi who also asked Imam Yahya ibn Ma’in about Hafs and he said,

He is not trustworthy. (Imam Uthman al-Darimi, Tarikh Ibn Ma’in (no.269), Imam al-Dhahabi, Mizan al-Ei’tidal (2:320), Hafiz Ibn Hajr, Tahdhib al-Tahdhib (2:360).

Abu Qudamah al-Sarkhasi also transmitted the same from Imam Yahya ibn Ma’in. (Imam Ibn Abi Hatim, al-Jarh wa’l Ta’dil (no.744)

Imam al-Dhahabi in the Mizan transmits from Ahmad bin Muhammad al-Hadhrami, who said,

“I asked Yahya ibn Ma’in about Hafs bin Sulayman-Abi Umar al-Bazzaz, he said, “He is nothing.” (Imam al-Dhahabi, Mizan al-Ei’tidal (2:320)

This shows the view of Imam Yahya ibn Ma’in in Hafs being a liar was not consistent. Furthermore, even if this held to be true it was in relation and specific to hadith transmission.

Another angle to this argument which they put forward is the view of Abdul Rahman bin Yusuf bin Khirash, who also said Hafs was a liar. (Imam Khatib al-Baghdadi, Tarikh Madinah al-Baghdad (8:188), Hafiz al-Mizzi, Tahdhib al-Kamal Fi Asma al-Rijal (7:15), Hafiz Ibn Hajr, Tahdhib al-Tahdhib (2:361).

Again, there are a number of responses, the first being as mentioned earlier, this criticism is specific and restricted to the science of hadith and its transmission, it cannot be applied unrestrictedly to the transmission of the mode of the Quran from Asim.

The criticism of Khirash needs to be reviewed, again for two reasons, no one has accused Hafs of being a liar except an odd report from Imam Yahya ibn Ma’in, which we have explained and secondly the criticism of Khirash is unacceptable because of his Shia roots and thus being biased in it. Any biased criticism is unacceptable especially if they belong to an ardently extreme sect due to the lack of fairness. Although Khirash was a scholar of hadith, any criticism levied against someone based on sectarianism in not accepted unless it is supported by other critical analysts.

Hafiz Ibn Hajr al-Asqalani said,

Criticism levied against someone as a result of animosity, based on difference in creedal matters must be treated with reservation and one must abstain….. This is the affair with Abdur Rahman bin Yusuf bin Khirash, the scholar of hadith and a Hafiz, for he was from the Ghulatish-Shi’ah (extreme shi’a), rather he had attribution to al-Rafdh (ie Rafidah Shi’a)..” (Hafiz Ibn Hajr, Lisan ul-Mizan (1:108-109).

The statement of these scholars of hadith regarding Hafs were specific to hadith transmission and not the transmission of the Quran. Even if Hafs was considered to be a liar, it is to be restricted and limited to hadith. The same applies to the criticism of Khirash.

An evidence for this is what Imam Abdur Rahman ibn Abi Hatim asked his father, Imam Abu Hatim al-Razi, Ibn Abi Hatim said,

“I asked my father concerning him, he said, “Do not write his HADITH as he is weak in HADITH, he is not truthful (in hadith) and matruk al-Hadith. So I said to him, “What is his affair in the al-Haruf (ie mode of transmission of the Quran).?” He replied, “Abu Bakr bin Ayyash is more grounded than him.” (al-Jarh wa’l Ta’dil (no.744), Hafiz al-Mizzi, Tahdhib al-Kamal Fi Asma al-Rijal (7:14-15), Hafiz Ibn Hajr, Tahdhib al-Tahdhib (2:361).

Let us assume for arguments sake that Hafs was weak in transmitting the Quran, we say this is not problematic at all because Abu Bakr bin Ayyash ie Shu’bah followed up Hafs’s transmission of the Quran and thus acts as a supporting narrator. What must be duly noted and understood well is that, the transmission of the Quran was not like the transmission of hadith. With the ahadith varying with so many different chains and narrators etc, the transmission of the Quran was exact, it was the transmission of oft repeated words. Unlike the hadith, the wording of the Quran was fixed, permanent and universal.

The chains of Hafs and Shu’bah both went back to the Messenger of Allah ﷺ through the companions and hence both transmission of the same mode support each other. Moreover, the core transmission of the different modes of the Quran was similar except where they differed and even for that Hafs had support, Hafs himself said that Asim told him,

“The reading which I have taught you is the one I learned from Abu Abdur Rahman al-Sulami who transmitted it from Ali (bin abi Talib). And the reading that I taught Abu Bakr bin Ayyash is the one that I presented to Dharr bin Hubaysh, which is the transmission he received from Abdullah ibn Mas’ud.” (Imam al-Dhahabi, Tabaqat al-Qurra (1:88,92)

Let us now look at Shu’bah, who supported the transmission of Hafs from Asim. Shu’bah-Abu Bakr bin Ayyash, he was born in 95H and died around 193-194H. had recited the transmission to Asim three times, also to A’ta bin Sa’ib and Aslam al-Manqari. He continued to recite and teach until 7 years before his death, ie around until 186H-187H. He had recited the Quran 18,000 times. Imam al-Dhahabi, Tabaqat al-Qurra (1:138)

What we find from this is that based on simple maths it is apparent that Shu’bah completed the recitation of the Quran every 2-3 days. For over 90 years. With this level of recitation, there is only but precision, accuracy and meticulousness. It is not like some bible missionary book that is read a few times and the bible basher thinks he has reached the epitome of memorization, one must apply his common sense.

Both reciters supported each others transmission from Asim, with the time, effort and decades they devoted to the Quran, the experts they had become in every aspect of precision and accuracy was perhaps second to none based on approximately 185 years of dedication to the Quran. Shu’bah lived longer and hence continued teaching the mode of the transmission even after Hafs had passed away.

How is it then, that the likes of Ishmail, the self styled detractor, in his clumpy presentation of this video glossed over these facts and research. When a person is filled and fuelled by hate and enmity, the human mind will resent and reject all truth and reality based on academic research, do not push yourselves away by watching ponzy, poorly researched and deliberately distorted video’s.

Let us show you a few examples in how the presenter of this video, deliberately distorts and manipulates the facts to suit his whims and desires in order to prove his dejected argument.

Remember dear readers, the clumsy presenter says the reliability, trustworthiness and honesty of Hafs is the most important question and then digresses into his points, but dear readers we will show you how he himself has been deceptive, dishonest and deliberately distorted the facts in the video.

Point 1 (Time stamp 4:02)

He presets and reads from English translation of the Musnad Ahmad, hadith no.1268 and says the respective hadith is Da’if Jiddan ie very weak and then goes onto disturbingly deceptively lie by saying the weakness is due to Hafs. However, in the comments it clearly says the chain is weak due to the weakness of Amr bin Uthman, Hafs bin Abu Umar al-Qari and that Kathir bin Zadhan is majhul ie unknown. So he lies and presents his arguments as if the hadith is very weak only due to the presence of Hafs, when there are other problems with the chain, with the more problematic one being that of Kathir, as he was unknown.

Point 2 (time stamp 4:36)

The clumsy dude reads from the Arabic notes to the hadith and questions and reads the words Matruk al-Hadith ie he is rejected in HADITH, while this dude is presenting his flimsy argument about Hafs’s Quran transmission. How does that even make sense?

Then he goes onto mention the charge that Hafs would borrow books to copy them without returning them. He, for whatever reasons, does not mention the charge is by Shu’bah, so that the non Arabic listeners are none the wiser. The charge was levied by Shu’bah, who was from his Mu’assirin, Ie his contemporary, and we know from hadith sciences that criticism levied by contemporaries is not accepted without evidence and neither is this considered detailed criticism. (Refer to the general books of hadith sciences).

The point by Muhammad Mustafa al-A’zami is the same point, that Hafs would borrow books from other people and add them to his own books. This is nothing strange and most certainly not plagiarism because this was the norm. Everyone would borrow books from each other and copy them into their books ie ahadith and so on. If one was to read the biographical notes on well known and powerful narrators, they will see that this was the norm. How can this clumsy chap even claim this was plagiarism? Such levels of immature, desperate and frantic deductions are laughable and outright shoddy, to be quite frank.

It is possible only Shu’bahs book was not returned, for whatever reason, and the charge was changed to the notion that he would borrow books from people (plural) and never return them, when in actual reality the charge was an isolated incident. Dear readers, furthermore, if a friend borrows a book from you and they forget to return it for whatever reason, or they posted it via normal post, or sent it via courier and you don’t receive it, you don’t start labelling that person etc.

This is why when contemporaries have personal differences, their points against each other need to be objectively reviewed. There are many examples like this in the biographical notes of the narrators and the scholars of Islam have alluded to them in their respective books.

This is the reality of this debunked and flimsy youtube video, that the criticism levied against Hafs is specific to Hadith transmission and not his transmission of the Quran. Perhaps the chap can, in the future, keep his ground breaking research private and not embarrass himself.

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  1. Good effort. Ishmail’s – a murtad – videos need to be tracked and refuted methodically. Shaytaan has indeed led him astray big time.

  2. can this be done as a video for large exposure. his 100k views vs 100 people reading this article may not be the best use of this analysis

  3. Thank you, you reveal the attempt of the zindiq effort to distort Islam..i.e quran..May Allah swt save us..

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