34) It was at the council of Nicea in 325 C.E. that it was decided to burn all the other Christian writings apart from those scriptures that were accepted as canonical. Usman (r) gave the order to burn all the other existing copies of the Qur’an apart from the version which was compiled upon his instructions. What is the difference between the action of the Nicea Council and that of Usman?

In both the incidents that have been mentioned here, except for the act of burning to which each party had resorted, every other occurrence is vastly different. The differences between the two eventsmay be summarised as follows.

1. The Synod at the council of Nicea had burnt more than forty books on the life and message of Jesus that had been written by many within the first three centuries after Jesus.

2. The Aprocryphal Books were ordered to be burnt primarly because they gave an account of Jesus that was almost totally different and even contradictory to the picture of Jesus as portrayed in the four gospels that were accepted as canonical at the council of Nicea had reported, in the acts of the Apostles, the twenty one articles, and in the most accounts of the Book of Revelations. On the other hand, it was the well-founded and genuine apprehension on the part of Usman (r) that the versions of the Qur’an, that were written in the dialects of the various regions, might in all probability, transpire that serious alternatives of the original will replace the original among the succeeding generations, which ultimately led him to adopt an official version and to burn out all the other existing, accepted versions.

3. The ideas enshrined within the burnt Apocryphal books have, forever, disappeared with their being burnt. The verses of the Qur’an, as recorded in the private scrolls, were the same as was to be found in the official versions. Even though the private versions were burnt to do away with the differences in pronunciation, the verses which they contained are, nevertheless, to be found in the same form in the copies of the Qur’an that exists today.

4. Although rejected by the Nicea Council many of the Apocryphal books lingered on in the minds of the Christians even much later. Indeed, some of the stories that were narrated in them were passed on from one generation to the next. The final word on the matter was made by the Tentrose Synod held in the sixteenth century. It was through a decree entitled On the Canonical Books that the fourth council of the Synod, held on the eighth of April, 1540 C.E, declared that the Old Testament contained 45 books while the New Testament has only 27. This was the last word on the canonical books as far as the council was concerned. On the other hand, ever since Usman (r) first collected the official versions of the Qur’an and burnt the private ones, the Mushaf continues to be reproduced from those copies to the present day. Nobody has ventured to make any changes what so ever.

5. The person who presided over the Nicea Council which ordered the burning of all the books that were written on the Gospels apart from the canonical ones, was the emperor Constantine who, up to that day, had not entertained any faith in Jesus whatsoever. As for Usman (r), who had ordered the destruction of the private versions of the Qur’an as well as the recitation of the Qur’an to be based only on the official versions, he was, besides being a faithful worshipper of God, the closest companion of Muhammad () and was the one who had participated alongside him in many a battle that was waged for the protection of the faith.

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