Ulum al Qur'an
CONTENTS ONLINE LIBRARY
The Samarkand Manuscript [Makhdum, op. cit., p.22ff.]
This is the copy now kept in Tashkent (Uzbekistan). It may be the Imam manuscript or one of the other copies made at the time of 'Uthman.
It came to Samarkand in 890 Hijra (1485) and remained there till 1868. Then it was taken to St. Petersburg by the Russians in 1869. It remained there till 1917. A Russian orientalist gave a detailed description of it, saying that many pages were damaged and some were missing. A facsimile, some 50 copies, of this mushaf was produced by S. Pisareff in 1905. A copy was sent to the Ottoman Sultan 'Abdul Hamid, to the Shah of Iran, to the Amir of Bukhara, to Afghanistan, to Fas and some important Muslim personalities. One copy is now in the Columbia University Library (U.S.A.). [The Muslim World, Vol . 30 ( 1940), pp.357-8.]
The manuscript was afterwards returned to its former place and reached Tashkent in 1924, where it has remained since. Apparently the Soviet authorities have made further copies, which are presented from time to time to visiting Muslim heads of state and other important personalities. In 1980, photocopies of such a facsimile were produced in the United States, with a two-page foreword by M. Hamidullah.
The writer of the History of the Mushaf of 'Uthmtln in Tashkent gives a number of reasons for the authenticity of the manuscript. They are, excluding the various historical reports which suggest this, as follows:
The fact that the mushaf is written in a script used in the first half of the first century Hijra.
The fact that it is written on parchment from a gazelle, while later Qur'ans are written on paper-like sheets.
The fact that it does not have any diacritical marks which were introduced around the eighth decade of the first century; hence the manuscript must have been written before that.
The fact that it does not have the vowelling symbols introduced by Du'ali, who died in 68 Hijra; hence it is earlier than this.
In other words: two of the copies of the Qur'an which were originally prepared in the time of Caliph 'Uthman, are still available to us today and their text and arrangement can be compared, by anyone who cares to, with any other copy of the Qur'an, be it in print or handwriting, from any place or period of time. They will be found identical.