Uthman’s Quranic Text wasn’t just about differences in dialect

Attempts have been made to (claim) that all that ‘Uthman did (in burning the other Quranic MSS) was to remove dialectal peculiarities that had crept into the pronunciation of the Qur’an as it was recited, and have a standardized type of text written out in the pure dialect of the Quraish. This matter of Quraish dialect is indeed mentioned in the traditions referring to this Recension, but to pretend that it was merely a matter of dialectal variations is to run counter to the whole purport of the accounts. The vast majority of dialectal variations would not have been represented in the written form at all, and so would not have necessitated a new text (my emph.).  The stories of Zaid and his colleagues working on the text make it perfectly clear that they were regarded as recording a text de novo, for we read that at times when there was only one witness available for a certain passage they would wait till another witness who knew that passage had come back from the wars, or wherever he had been, and recite it to them; and there were discussions among them as to where certain passages belonged in the collection. Finally, the mass of variant readings that has survived to us from the Codices of Ubai and Ibn Mas’ud, shows that they were real textual variants and not mere dialectal peculiarities.

The Textual History of the Qur’an, Arthur Jeffery


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