".....Within Muslim thought, it is widely accepted that the Quran was revealed in seven variants* (ahruf - singular harf) and that of seven recitations (qiraat).
This belief is solely based on the testimonies of the Islamic secondary sources. They have no basis in the Quran.
These assertions were not canonised into the Islamic secondary source literature until centuries after the death of the Prophet.
* Throughout Islamic history, the actual definition of 'ahruf' in this context has been the subject of much academic debate. Some scholars have been left baffled as to its actual meaning in the context it has been cited. Some refer to 'ahruf' as dialects, others as synonyms, different types of teachings (wa'd, muhkam, mutashabih, halal, haram, wa'id, imthal), different pronunciations, variant readings, different manuscript codices etc.
For the purpose of this article, the generic English term 'variants' will be used to indicate a difference of some nature that the phrase 'seven ahruf' implies. It is interesting to note that the Quranic use of the word 'harf' appears in different forms. In its noun form, it means a margin or an edge (22:11) and its verb form can mean to alter, pervert, or to tamper with. (2:75, 4:46, 5:13, 5:41).
A brief introduction will be given after which the matter will be assessed through a Quranic perspective..."