Integrity of the Holy Qur'an
|Tawhid (Monotheism)||Tawhid of Essence • Tawhid in Attributes • Tawhid in Actions • Tawhid in Worship|
|Other Beliefs||Tawassul • Shafa'a • Tabarruk|
|Bada' • Amr Bayn al-Amrayn|
|Infallibility • 'Ilm al-ghayb • Mu'jiza • Integrity of the Holy Qur'an|
|Infallibility • Wilaya • 'Ilm al-ghayb • Occultation of Imam al-Mahdi (a) (Minor Occultation,Major Occultation) • Reappearance of Imam al-Mahdi (a) • Raj'a|
|Akhira • Barzakh • Embodiment of Actions •Bodily Resurrection • Sirat • Tatayur al-Kutub • Mizan • Hashr|
|Other Outstanding Beliefs|
|Ahl al-Bayt (a) • The Fourteen Infallibles • Taqiyya • Marja'iyya • Tawalli • Tabarri|
The integrity of the holy Qur'an (Arabic: سلامة القرآن من التحريف) is one of the muslim thoughts. Muslims unanimously agree that the Qur'an is unaltered and undistorted. Theologians and experts in exegetical sciences have cited some verses and narrations to reject any kind of possible omission from the Qur'an. According to mainstream Shi'a scholars, Mufassirun(commentators), faqihs (jurists), and experts in Qur'anic sciences, the present Qur'an, with all its orders and structures, was written and documented during the life of the Prophet (s).
Some Sunni theologians, like Khayyat al- Mu'tazila and Abu 'Ali al-Juba'i (Mu'tazili theologians) have accused Shi'a of believing in Tahrif (distortion) of the Qur'an. After the publication of Fasl al-khitab by al-Muhaddith al-Nuri, this accusation entered a new phase. In many works, Shi'a scholars have criticized the book of al-Muhaddith al-Nuri.
Hadith of Thaqalayn, narrations promising rewards for recitation of each Sura, accountability of present Qur'an in different theological and jurisprudential disputes, and challenge for similar verses, are among the most substantial arguments for the fact that the Qur'an is undistorted.
- 1 Lexicology and Terminology
- 2 Qur'an Based Arguments
- 3 Narration-Based Arguments
- 4 Great Reception and Preservation by Muslims
- 5 Accusing Shi'as of the Belief in Tahrif
- 6 Criticizing the Arguments for the Distortion of Holy Qur'an
- 7 Notes
- 8 References
- 9 Further Reading
Lexicology and Terminology
Lexically, Tahrif (تحريف) means displacement and distortion. Tahrif in exegetical sciences refers mainly to possible later addition or omission of the Holy Text. Nobody holds the opinion of addition in the Qur'an and it is a consensual belief among Muslims, therefore discussion about Tahrif and distortion in the Qur'an usually pertains to the possible omission.
Qur'an Based Arguments
The Ninth Verse of Sura al-Hijr
إِنّا نَحنُ نَزَّلنَا الذِّكرَ وَإِنّا لَهُ لَحافِظونَ
Indeed We have sent down the Reminder, and indeed We will preserve it.
|— Quran 15:9|
According to exegetes, the word "Reminder" (al-Zikr) in the verse, refers to the Qur'an, and being so, Allah has stressed and promised full protection of the Qur'an against any addition or omission. Nearly all of Mufassirun from both schools of thought, including Fadl b. Hasan al-Tabrisi and al-Zamakhshari hold the same opinion in this regard.
Objection and Answer
Former argument has been rejected on the basis of the apparent circular reasoning. Since the validity of this argument is dependent on the authenticity of the verse at hand, thus the integrity of the Qur'an. The reply to this objection, however, is that this argument is presented to convince Muslims who believe in a possible omission from the Qur'an. Since the discussion about Qur'an's integrity in Muslim circles only refers to possible omission, not addition; the present verses of the Qur'an are believed to contain no false addition, thus authentic.
41st and 42nd Verses of Sura Fussilat
In these verses of Sura Fussilat, al-Batil (falsehood, state of being void), has been denied from Qur'an.
وَإِنَّهُ لَكِتابٌ عَزيزٌ (41) لا يَأتيهِ الباطِلُ مِن بَينِ يَدَيهِ وَلا مِن خَلفِهِ تَنزيلٌ مِن حَكيمٍ حَميدٍ
...Indeed it is an august Book: (41) falsehood cannot approach it, from before it nor from behind it, a [gradually] sent down [revelation] from One all-wise, all-laudable.
|— Quran 41:41, 42|
As omission is an instance of al-Batil (being void), according to this verse, any omission has been denied from the Holy Qur'an. Even pro-Tahrif individuals accept that the word: al-Btil signifies any kind of unwanted change in the original version. Hence, it can be argued against them that, omission is clearly a change in the original text and, according to the verse, is rejected. Generally, Mufassirun hold similar views in this regard.
- "Compare what has been narrated from us, with what is stated in the holy Qur'an, whatever of the narrations are inconsistent with the holy book, we haven't said it and it is a false report."
It's been argued that: had not the present Qur'an been authentic and complete, presenting it as a criterion for reliable narrations would have been a false address from the Ahl al-Bayt (a); or as al-Muhaqqiq al-Thani puts: demanding Shi'as to refer to a different Qur'an rather than the present Qur'an, is to impose upon them an unbearable obligation (Taklif ma la yutaq) , so what is meant and has been authenticated in these narrations of the Ahl al-Bayt (a), is the present Qur'an.
Hadith of Thaqalayn
One of very important narrations in proving Qur'an's integrity, is the Hadith of Thaqalayn. This Mutiwatir Hadith has been taken as refuting the alleged Tahrif (distortion) narrations. In this Hadith, the necessity of referring to the Qur'an and the Ahl al-Bayt (a) in every era is emphasized. Now if anyone believes in omissions from the Holy Qur'an, the Holy Qur'an is not authentic for such a person any longer, since it is possible for supposedly omitted parts to have a decisive role in understanding the surviving part. Therefore, such a person must decide whether to accept the Mutiwatir Hadith of Thaqalayn that authenticates the Qur'an for every era, or to accept the alleged Tahrif narrations.
Narrations Concerning Practical Laws
Some jurisprudential narrations have been taken as demonstrating Qur'an's Integrity. For example, there are narrations that indicate: In each prayer, it is obligatory to recite a cpomlete Sura after Sura al-Hamd. This ruling is consensual among Shi'a scholars. It's been argued against Tahrif that, with probable textual omission from the Qur'an, this ruling remains impractical, as no one can be certain about instances of a complete Sura. This ruling cannot be based on Taqiyya because; many Sunni jurisprudential schools do not obligate recitation of a complete Sura after al-Hamd.
Narrations Promising Rewards
There are many narrations from the Prophet (s) and the Ahl al-Bayt (a) that explain the merits or promise certain rewards for recitation of certain Suras or the whole Qur'an. Al-Shaykh al-Saduq explicitly denies Tahrif from Shi'a beliefs. He regards the accusation of Tahrif against Shi'a as "pure lie" and writes:
- there is a proof for what we have just said (regarding Qur'an's integrity) in narrations that promise rewards for recitation of certain Suras, and in narrations that allow the recitation of two Suras in one Rak'a of Nafila prayer , and in narrations that promise rewards for the recitation of the whole Qur'an, and in the narration that disliked the recitation of the whole Qur'an over a night or less than three days.
(In all of these cases, the integrity of the Qur'an has been postulated by the Ahl al-Bayt (a); otherwise these are either unattainable rewards or impractical orders.)
Decisive in Disputed Matters
In the narrations from the Ahl al-Bayt (a), Qur'an is cited as an authoritative source, upon which disputes can be settled. For example, in a response to Mu'awiya, who claimed that a proportionate part of the Qur'an had been perished, Imam al-Hasan (a) is reported to have said: "by Allah, this claim is pure lie." Also, in an opposition to misapplication of the Qur'an, Imam al-Baqir (a) emphasizes the textual consistency of the Holy Qur'an, however, the ruling party, according to the Imam, was misusing its application for social and political interests.
Great Reception and Preservation by Muslims
Since early days of Islam's emergence, the Qur'an met a great reception both by the Holy Prophet (s) himself and his companions. After being revealed by Jibra'il, each part of the Holy Qur'an was recited and dictated by the Prophet (s), and the writers of the Qur'an, specially the Commander of the Faithful (a), would write it down. In addition to writing, shortly after its revelation, each verse was circulated among Muslims, and through this oral circulation, collective memory of the Muslim community preserved unshakably every single verse of the Holy Qur'an.
Sensitivity of Muslims to preserve the textual consistency of the Holy Qur'an is reflected in many historical reports. As an instance, when 'uthman b. 'Affan wanted to omit one conjunction, namely the first "and" from this phrase of the Holy Qur'an: "And as for those who hoard up gold and silver and do not spend it in Allah's Way…."(Q, 9:34); then Ubbay b. Ka'b warned him that should 'Uthman not place the conjunction back, he (Ubbay) would take out his sword.
In another case, this time regarding the recitation of the verse 100th of Sura al-Tawba, the second caliph wanted to change the case of the word: "al-ansar-i" from being majrur (roughly: dative) to nominative case, to be recited: "al-ansar-u". In this way, Emigrants (al-Muhajirun) would have been introduced by the Qur'an as leaders for Helpers (al-Ansar). This, clearly, was to the interest of Emigrants. Again a group of Muslims, including Ubbay b. Ka'b, protested against this move and said that the original recitation of the verse had been different than what 'Umar b. Khattab tried to pretend. Also, 'Umar believed there had been a verse in the original Qur'an in which the ruling of stoning was mentioned, but he hid this opinion from public, as he had the fear that Muslims would accuse him of addition to the Book of Allah.
It's been narrated from Ibn Zubayr that 'Uthman b. 'Affan, in a response to this question: "why don't you omit the verse 240 of Sura al-Baqara? because the ruling in this verse had been expired by another verse, Said "I'll never change nor omit what is in the Qur'an." Now it becomes clearer that all Muslims and companions were fully aware of the detailed conditions of preservation and even the slightest difference in the recitation of the Holy Qur'an would cause them to protest and stand against any possible change either in the text or the recitation of the Holy Qur'an.
Accusing Shi'as of the Belief in Tahrif
Perhaps, Khayyat al-Mu'tazili (d. 300/913) was the first to attribute such a belief to Shi'a. The sophistry, however, is that he accuses Shi'a of believing in additional Tahrif; that is, Shi'a believe the present Qur'an contains later additions and fabricated verses. But no Shi'a is reported to have such an opinion. According to an account by Sayyid b. Tawus, Abu 'Ali Jubayi (d. 303/916), another Mu'atazili theologian, labeled al-Rawafid with the belief in Tahrif in its broadest sense; including omission, addition and change in the text of The Holy Qur'an. In Maqalat al-islamiyyin, Abu l-Hasan al-Ash'ari distinguishes between those Shi'as who believe in Tahrif and those who don't. Qadi 'abd al-Jabbar holds the same opinion and writes: within Rawafid, Imamiyyah believe that Sura Al-'Ahzab had weighed a camel load (but now it is much lesser, thus they believe in omissions from the Qur'an). Contrarily and somewhat surprisingly, the historical report about Sura al-'Ahzab has no Shi'a narrator at all, all its transmitters, including different chains of narration, were Sunnis.
In another account, the difference between Shi'a and al-Rawafid, has been drawn by Baqilani (d. 403/1013) in Nukat al-Intisar. After positively attributing the belief of Tahrif to al-Rawafid, Baqilani writes: most of Shi'as, however, follow the Infallible's word in rejecting Tahrif and believing in the Integrity of The Qur'an. Along the line of these accusations, Ibn Hazm (d.456/1064) writes in his book, al-Fisal: from early days, Imamiyyah believed in changes in the Qur'an, that is: certain parts have been omitted or falsely added.Muhaddith Nuri
Lately, these accusations have soared as Muhaddith Nuri published his controversial work, Fasl al-khitab. Shi'a scholars have protested against this book in many works. In an honest move and along the stance made by major Shi'a scholars, some Sunni scholars too, have recognized Shi'a's firm belief in Qur'an's integrity.
Shi'a Scholars' Stance
According to most of Shi'a scholars, Qur'an's commentators and jurists, the present Holy Qur'an was formed and consolidated, with the same order and sequence, during the life of the Prophet (s). some of Shi'a scholars who hold this view are as follows: Abu l-Qasim 'Abd al-Hay b. Ahmid al-Balkhi al-Khurasani (d. 390/1000), Abu Bakr al-Anbari (d. 328/940), al-Sharif al-Murtada (d.436/1045) , Hakim Jishumi (d. 494/1101) Maumud b. Hamza Kirmani (d. circa505/1112), Fadl b. Hasan al-Tabrisi (d. 548/1153) Sayyid b. Tawus (b. 664/1266) Sayyid 'Abd al-Husayn Sharf al-Din (d. 1377/1958), Ayatollah Burujirdi (d. 1380/1961), and Ayatollah Khoei (d. 1412/1992).
Shi'a Scholars' Arguments for Authenticity of the Qur'an
Shi'a Muslim scholars have argued that: it is not rationally acceptable for the final Prophet (s) to neglect the formation of his miraculous book, which was to be the source for personal and social conducts within Islamic tradition. Some of these scholars, like Ayatollah Khoei, have regarded the reports about "the post-Prophet formation of the Qur'an" as unreliable and believe such reports where fabricated by different individuals with complex motivations. These scholars believe the present text and order of the Qur'an was, undoubtedly, given to it during the time of the Prophet (s). Whether accepted or not, there are historical evidences of textual collection and formal consolidation of the Holy Qur'an during the life of the Prophet (s), thus the myth of "scattered Qur'an" during the life of the Prophet (s) is severely challenged and holds no ground to disprove Qur'an's integrity.Ayatollah Burujirdi
Ayatollah Burujirdi believes that by considering the circumstances of the Islamic society, having a proper picture of the Islamic history and understanding Muslims' efforts to preserve the text of Qur'an, it is rationally impossible for anyone to believe in Tahrif.Imam Khomeini
Ayatollah Khomeini rejects the idea of Tahrif and argues: in addition to supportive evidences for Shi'a belief in present Qur'an, had any of supposedly omitted part of the Qur'anic text been in favor of Shi'a, it must have been used and reported in the defensive debates of Imam 'Ali (a), Lady Fatima al-Zahra (a), other Imams (a) or their true companions like: Salman, Miqdad and Abu Dhar.
Naming of the Imams in the Qur'an
According to pro-Tahrif individuals, most of textual omissions have taken place in the verses where, assumingly, the names of the Imams were explicitly stated. It's been claimed that their names had been mentioned in several parts of the original text, but later these phrases were omitted. Contrary to this, according to a Sahih narration, Imam al-Sadiq (a) has refuted the universality of such conception by citing verses where merely the generalities of practical laws were mentioned and the details were left to the Sunna of the Prophet (s).
Criticizing the Arguments for the Distortion of Holy Qur'an
On the opposite side, pro-Tahrif individuals support their claim with certain narrations. Authenticity and demonstrability of these seemingly several narrations, have been scrutinized and rejected by Shi'a scholars. According to Ayatollah Burujirdi, proportionate number of these narrations, were narrated by Ahmid b. Muhammad Sayyari, whose narrations are to be rejected; for early Rijal and Hadith experts have explicitly stated the falsehood and deviation in his school of thought.
According to Mahdi Burujirdi, all of Fasl al-Khitab's (Muhaddith Nuri's book) narrations fit in twelve categories which by analytic studies, show no relevance to the idea of Tahrif, rather these narrations address the differences in recitation, interpretation and application of the verses of the Qur'an; yet with the existence of Ghali, lier, and fabricator narrators in the chains of transmission, the reliability of these narrations is highly questionable.
There are narrations in Sunni and Shi'a collections that explicitly consider certain omissions from the Qur'an, but they are mostly rejected on the basis of their weak chain of transmission; the rest, however, include phrases about interpretation and commentary of the Qur'an, not its textual consistency.
the Narration in al-Kafi
Among such narrations, is a narration from al-Kafi, which indicates that the Qur'an had seventeen thousand verses. (nearly tripled of its current size). This narration has been dually rejected and justified:
- According to his report, in Fayd al-Kashani's copy of al-Kafi, the number had been recorded: seven thousand, in this case, this narration is pointing to the numerousness of Qur'anic verses, not the exact number.
- In a grave matter like this, a single report cannot be trusted, especially a single narration that is in conflict with many other authentic narrations that prove Qur'an's integrity and encourage the recitation and reliance of the present Qur'an.
Mushaf of Imam Ali (a) and the Idea of Tahrif
In recent years, some Sunni scholars tend to accuse Shi'a of the belief in Tahrif, by misreporting the accounts about Mushaf Imam Ali (a). but from earliest days, Shi'a scholars have stated with great care and sensitivity, that the additional parts of Mushaf Imam Ali (a) are a kind of explanative revelation, not Qur'anic; therefor, they are more relevant to areas of interpretation, explanation, Muhkam/Mutishabih and historical coincidences. According to al-Shaykh al-Mufid, whatever record which was in the Mushaf Imam Ali (a) and is not in the present Qur'an, was merely the interpretation, true examples and applications of the present Qur'anic verses, not original parts of the Miraculous Qur'an. According to Ayatollah Khoei, the existence of additions in the Mushaf Imam Ali (a) is unquestionable; however, these parts were not, most certainly, Qur'anic verses.
Fustat narrations and the idea of Tahrif
Some narrations, known as Fustat (tent) have been taken as supportive for the Idea of Tahrif. In these narrations, it's been prophesized that when the twelfth Imam (a) reappears, he will put up Fustat(tents) in which he will teach the Qur'an according to its [original] revelation and this will be unbearable for some people, for they will find it in contrast with the order of the present Qur'an. Similar indications have been expressed in some other narrations, and some individuals have tried to support the idea of Tahrif by such reports, to which Shi'a scholars have replied. These narrations, if to be accepted, address the order of the chapters, not textual consistency of the Qur'an.
The idea of unintentional Tahrif is associated mostly with the process of documentation and formation of the Holy Qur'an. According to this viewpoint, during the life of the Prophet (s) Qur'an was written in scattered pieces of paper, animal skins etc. and no certain type of order nor did sequence exist in it. So the probability of accidental negligence of certain verses during the final documentation of the Qur'an remains high. Aside from the fact that the belief in post-Prophet formation of the Qur'an does not necessarily results in Tahrif or omission from the Qur'an; furthermore, in recent studies and based on historical evidences and reports, researchers have been convinced of the formation of the Qur'an during the life of the Prophet (s). Upon Prophet's lead and encouragement, every verse was written, documented and each chapter was decisively defined.
Although some narrations indicate post-Prophet formation of the Qur'an, but after detailed textual and historical analyses, these narrations seem to be fabricated upon theological and political motivations.
- Farahidi, Khalil b. Ahmad. Kitab al-'ayn
- Khoei, Abu l-Qasim. al-Bayan fi tafsir al-Qur'an. p. 197-198; Ma'rifat, Muhammad Hadi. Siyanat al-Qur'an min al-tahrif. p. 13-16
- Khoei, Abu l-Qasim. al-Bayan fi tafsir al-Qur'an. p. 200
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- Tabarsi, Fadl b. Hasan. Majma' al-Bayan fi Tafsir al-Qur'an. Under the verse; Fayd Kashani, Muhsin. Kitab al-safi fi tafsir al-Qur'an. vol. 3. p. 102; Tabataba'i, Muhammad Husayn. al-Mizan fi tafsir al-Qur'an. vol. 12. p. 101
- Khoei, Abu l-Qasim. al-Bayan fi tafsir al-Qur'an. p. 207; Ma'rifat, Muhammad Hadi. Siyanat al-Qur'an min al-tahrif. p. 47
- Khoei, Abu l-Qasim. al-Bayan fi tafsir al-Qur'an. p. 210
- Khoei, Abu l-Qasim. al-Bayan fi tafsir al-Qur'an. p. 210; Ma'rifat, Muhammad Hadi. Siyanat al-Qur'an min al-tahrif. p. 49-50
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