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The Mysterious Letters of the Koran: Old Abbreviations of the Basmalah

James A. Bellamy
Journal of the American Oriental Society
Vol. 93, No. 3 (Jul. - Sep., 1973), pp. 267-285
DOI: 10.2307/599460
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/599460
Page Count: 19
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The Mysterious Letters of the Koran: Old Abbreviations of the Basmalah
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Abstract

The problem posed by the disconnected letters that appear before 29 surahs of the Koran has never been solved; though many solutions have been proposed, none has found general acceptance among scholars. In this article a new answer to the problem is proposed, which is that all the letters and groups of letters were originally abbreviations of the basmalah, some of which became corrupt early in the course of transmission. The problem is conceived of as purely textual in character-not part of the revelation itself-and is dealt with in the context of the early textual history of the Koran. Emendations of the corrupt abbreviations are suggested.

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