Instead of keeping their research to myself, I'm adding one of Daniel Brubaker's articles to my blog. Be sure to follow their work if you are interested in Quranic variants! The original article can be found here: http://iqsaweb.wordpress.com/2013/07/01/kalala/
Also, read Keith Small's groundbreaking work here:
Textual Criticism and Qur'an Manuscripts
Partial taping on kalāla in one early muṣḥaf
The monumental and early Cairo muṣḥaf al-sharīf (recently published in facsimile by IRCICA, ISBN 9789290631972, 2vol.) contains in places what appears to be tape covering lines or portions of text. The purpose of this tape is unclear; one possibility related to me recently is that it may have been applied to strengthen the pages at points where overly-acidic ink had eaten through the page.
On page 147 (verso), there is a single instance: the last word of line 7, kalāla of Q4:176, has been taped over in this way. There is no damage to the page evident from the facsimile on the reverse side of the page.
This particular taping has left exposed the tops of the upward-extending letters, namely, the two presumed lams and the upper tip of the presumed ta’ marbuta. This codex is written with formal and evenly spaced letter forms most similar to those of Déroche’s B.II category.
An interesting feature here is that the space between what appear to be the first and second lam is at least ten times the standard spacing between consecutive lams throughout the pages of this manuscript written by this scribe. There are two other instances of consecutive lams on this page; both are consistent with the standard spacing, which maintains a distance between consecutive lams of about one-third to one-half the width of the nib.
The kalāla of 4:176 is one of two instances of the word kalāla in the Qur’ān; the other is at verse 12 of the same sura. The word kalāla at 4:12 of this muṣḥaf (page 102 verso, possibly the work of a different scribe) is intact and original. The distance between its lams is slightly more than one nib-width.
The overwriting of kalāla at Q4:12 in BNF 328a has been noted by David Powers and forms a basis for his theory concerning the development of the doctrines of inheritance and adoption. The possibility exists that what is under this tape could shed further light on Powers’ theory.
This type of taping is rare in Qur’ān manuscripts. I have encountered it so far in only one other codex, the Sana‘ā’ muṣḥaf al-sharīf, also available in a quality facsimile edition from IRCICA (ISBN 9789290632351). The taping, unlike most scribal corrections found in the earliest Qur’ān manuscripts, appears to be a relatively modern phenomenon, perhaps within the last two-three centuries.
I was received warmly and hospitably at IRCICA in Istanbul by its Director, Dr. Halit Eren in November 2011. Dr. Eren was gracious and pleased to see scholarly interest in these early Qur’āns. In the days following my visit, I noted with curiosity the existence of these taped portions throughout this facsimile, which I had obtained from IRCICA on that trip, but did not have the opportunity to look more closely at that time. More recently, I have inquired of IRCICA about the taping in this muṣḥaf; whether the experts there know when it may have occurred or by whom, as well as whether the text underneath is known to be intact.
In addition to the two maṣāḥif mentioned above, two other early monumental Qur’ān codices have recently been published in facsimile editions by IRCICA and ISAM:
Topkapi muṣḥaf al-sharīf (ISBN 9789290631675)
Istanbul muṣḥaf al-sharīf, (ISBN 9789753895231)
These manuscripts are treasures and scholars working in early history of the written Qur’ān will want to be aware of them.
DANIEL A. BRUBAKER, RICE UNIVERSITY