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Qur’an: the non-distorted Divine Document

Written by: M. J. Fazel Lankarani

Translated and edited by: Ali H. Al-Hakim


We are grateful to Almighty God who bestowed His blessings upon us to such a degree as to render us worthy to uphold the noble object entrusted (amānah) to creation; the unique miracle of the last Prophet (s), the ever-flowing fountain brimming with pearls of truths for all eternity that is the Holy Qur’an upon whose revelation from the Absolute Generous depends the dignity of human beings. This boundless sea that holds, within its large and small waves, hidden mysteries of guidance and optimal paths to joy has, at the same time, always been, and remains so to be, a beacon of guidance for mankind and his communities. It is a book that will show the direction to every lost and misguided person till the Day of Resurrection. It is a book that is brilliantly incandescent for all eternity; that leads the way at every step; is remembrance in all states; and is the definite clear statement in all dimensions relating to man and the universe. It is a book whose protector, according to divine promise, is God, the Exalted; and the divine promise will be kept (God’s promise is true).

What are propounded as important points in this article include the most significant points in the debate that the Qur’an has not been distorted. This is counted among the basic discussions in the Qur’anic sciences. It is the duty of researchers and commentators of this divine book to read up on all aspects of this discussion and explain all of its different dimensions. It can truly be said that gross distortion has been created regarding the ascription of the idea that the Qur’an has been distorted by different Islamic sects and branches to the point that an Islamic branch whose doctrine is based on the very idea that the Qur’an has not been distorted, has, itself, been accused of possessing the idea of distortion of the Qur’an!

In the course of these points, other than investigating different aspects of this discussion, we will prove that the Shia, in general, and the Twelver Shia in particular, not only do not believe in distortion regarding the Qur’an, but also cannot basically accept such an opinion; for the belief in distortion will destroy the very doctrine of the Twelver Shia.

So let us make a crucial decision, within this esteemed group of high ranking Islamic scholars and distinguished religious figures, to declare an international manifesto which emphasizes that the Qur’an - since its revelation to the Holy Prophet (saws) - is the undistorted Divine document that can never be distorted.

It is not as if we consider the challenge an actual proposition and state that the Qur’an has not been distorted; rather our claim, as a factual proposition, is in the form that the assured custom (sunnah) of God, the Exalted, regarding this glorious book is that distorting this book is impossible, so that no individual or group can launch an offensive to these divine verses, and that this book is an eternal miracle that through challenge, in all times and places, has safeguarded itself from the illusion of distortion.

In this article we do not intend to elaborately state all points related to this important discussion; for such a task requires many volumes of books. What we intend to do is to concisely investigate some important points so that clarification of an angle of important dimension, relevant to this discussion, will become apparent, God willing.

Point One

The term taḥrīf (distortion)

This word is the infinitive from bāb taf`īl and is derived from the root ḥarf. The word ḥarf literally means the side of a thing; therefore, taḥrīf means to push aside an object and to alter its sides and peripheral.

God, the Exalted, in the Qur’an says, “And among the people are those who worship Allah on the [very] fringe (ḥarf)…” [2] meaning that there are those who have anxiety in their religion, such as he who lingers at the edge of a war zone to ascertain whether the army is about to become victorious so that he may collect some of the bounties; whereas, if the outcome is otherwise, he flees. [3]

This term lexically indicates movement and changing, so we can claim that the term taḥrīf is apparent in verbal distortion, and has gained semantic distortion in the Qur’an and is due to context as secondary manifestation where, reproaching Jewish scholars, Allah Almighty says, “Among the Jews are those who pervert words from their meanings” [4]; that is they alter and distort the word of truth in the Torah from its divine place, meaning, and purpose, and therefore do not attribute it to its obvious meanings. The existence of the phrase ‘from their meanings’ is a clear case of evidence that semantic distortion is intended. It is from here that we observe that, explaining the word taḥrīf al-kalām (and not the word taīrīf), Rāghib Isfahānī says, “Distortion of a discourse is making it one probability that can be attributed with two possibilities.” [5]

Evidently Rāghib does not intend to define the literal meaning of the word taḥrīf but rather wishes to state the conceptual distortion that has been mentioned in the verse.

Regarding the purpose of the holy verse, Fakhr Rāzī has propounded probabilities, some of which confirm the subject of verbal distortion; however, he concludes that the correct view regarding the interpretation of the verse is conceptual distortion. He says, “What is intended by the term distortion is to cast false doubts and invalid interpretations, and to divert the word from its correct meaning to an invalid one by using literal tricks to which followers of heresy are accustomed.” [6]

Point Two

Usages and kinds of distortion

Some great scholars, including Ayatollah Khoei, have claimed that the term taḥrīf has been used in six meanings as homonyms. It is with unanimity that Muslims accept that some of them have been used in the Qur’an while others have not. A third group of the meaning is disputable. Here it is preferable to quote Ayatollah Khoei’s statements regarding the meanings of distortion, subsequently to analyze them.

1.taḥrīf means to transfer and alter an object from its position and meaning. The following verse indicates this meaning:

“Among the Jews are those who pervert words from their meanings” [7]

This kind of taḥrīf is called ‘interpreting the Qur’an according to subjective opinion’ and semantic distortion. It is with unanimous agreement among Muslims that, upon the occurrence of such distortion in the Qur’an in the case of those who have interpreted the Qur’an in a way other than its reality and attribute to it a meaning other than its real meaning, they have distorted the verses according to their lower desires. Such distortion has been reproached in the hadiths quoted from the Infallible Imams (as).

In his letter to Sa`d al-Khayr, Imam Baqir (s) wrote, “Regarding the Book, they preserved its letters while they distorted its rules; therefore, they narrate the Book but do not understand it.” [8]

2.Distortion in the process of which a letter or a diacritic mark has been missed or added while the Qur’an itself has remained intact. Such can also be acceptable as distortion for it has been proved elsewhere [9] that none of the available recitations has been related successively. As a result, only one of them conforms to the real Qur’an and the others are either the Qur’an with addition or with demolishment.

3.Distortion in the process of which one or more words has been added or demolished from the Qur’an while the Glorious Qur’an itself has remained intact. Such distortion certainly happened in the early period of Islam during the era of the companions but has been opposed and disputed. The evidence for this is the unanimity of the Muslims. Uthman collected some copies of the Qur’an and burnt them. He also ordered his men to burn whatever they found which was other than the Qur’an. As a result, other copies of the Qur’an differed with that of `Uthman (a group of the scholars has mentioned the differences among them as Abu Dawoud Sajistānī in his book Kitāb al-Maṣāḥif). It can briefly be concluded that distortion did exist in the copies of the Qur’an burnt by`Uthman, but that the Qur’an that `Uthman collected and made to prevail was the very same one known among the Muslims and received from the Prophet (s) from hand to hand. So, such distortion was available in the copies of the Qur’an prevalent before the era of `Uthman while this does not exist in the Qur’an existing in our possession which is based on `Uthman’s copy.

4.Distortion in the process of which one or more verses has been added to the Qur’an or demolished from it while the revealed Qur’an itself has remained intact. Except for the holy verse basmalah (i.e. In the Name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful) which, by unanimous agreement among Muslims, the Prophet (s) used to recite preceding any surah, such distortion has not taken place in any part of the Qur’an. It is disputed by the Sunni Muslims as to whether or not the basmalah is a fragment of the Qur’an. But the Twelver Shia believe that it is most assuredly a part of the Qur’an and they unanimously agree that it is a fragment of every surah except for the ninth one.

5.Distortion in the process of which some verses have been added to the Qur’an so that some of the verses of the Qur’an in our possession are in excess of the original Qur’an which was revealed to the Prophet (s). There are two groups among the Muslims that hold that there exists addition to the Qur’an. A: The followers of `Abd al-Karīm b. `Ajrad, who was an important personality among the Khawārijs, hold that Surah XII is not part of the Qur’an. B: It was ascribed to Ibn Mas`ūd that he believed that the last two surahs of the Qur’an were not genuine and are, therefore, not part of the Book. Other than these two groups, the rest of the Muslims have unanimously disapproved of the occurrence of this kind of distortion.

6.Distortion with the meaning of demolishment, namely that some of the verses revealed to the Prophet (s) are missing in the Qur’an to which we have access today. Such distortion is seriously disputed.

It is concluded that distortion according to the first four meanings has certainly taken place, the fifth meaning has not taken place according to consensus, and the sixth meaning is disputable.

We have two objections regarding the statements of this great scholar (i.e. Ayatollah Khoei):

First: Research necessitates that the above meanings are not those in which the term distortion is used. Distortion has no meaning other than what was explained in the first instance which was “moving an object from its position.” In other words, the concept of “moving an object from its position” exists in all the above meanings but such moving is either available in the meaning referred to as semantic distortion or is available in the word and in this state is either detailed or slight.

In other words, an addition definitely takes place, or a demolishment definitely takes place, or some addition or demolishment occurs. Therefore, what has been mentioned in the statements of this respected scholar are cases of distortion, and not different meanings in which distortion can be referred to as a homonym.

Second: Such classification necessitates that all types of distortion do not bear the attribute “falsehood”; otherwise, it would oppose the absoluteness of the holy verse “falsehood does not come before it” for it indicates that no falsehood can come into this holy book.

So in the cases unanimously agreed upon by the Muslims, distortion should not be possible although such a matter seems problematical in the case of semantic distortion.

Now that different meanings of distortion have been studied, we will deal with its different kinds. As understood from the comments of the experts, distortion is divided into six types:

1.Verbal distortion: this is concerned with demolishment, addition, change, and movement in the words.

2.Semantic distortion: this means to interpret a sentence incorrectly so that the words no longer have their apparent meanings. This type is called “subjective interpretation of the Qur’an” which has been severely reproached in the hadiths. The Prophet (s) was quoted as saying, “He who interprets the Qur’an according to his subjective opinions, will be placed into hellfire.” [10]

3.Positional distortion: this means to register a verse or surah in a position contrary to its revelation sequence. Such kind of distortion is absolutely wrong. In this type of distortion all surahs are ordered and registered on the basis of their revelation but, concerning the surah, itself, it can be claimed that all surahs of the Qur’an have been registered in the Prophet’s order but contrary to their revelation order.

4.Recitation distortion: this means to recite a certain word in a way that contradicts the manner used by all other Muslims; for example, most of the independent reasoning of the reciters regarding their recitations.

5.Dialectical distortion: the existence of different dialects among the tribes causes various recitations so that each tribe recites the verses according to its dialect.

6.Conversional distortion: It refers to the case of changing a word to another whether it is a synonym or not. Ibn Mas`ūd has prescribed in the synonyms and has said that `alīm (omniscient, all-knowing) can be replaced with ḥakīm (wise, sage, sapient)

Point 3

Brief and Detailed Distortion

As mentioned before, distortion is either brief or detailed. What is under discussion and dispute is detailed distortion so that any addition or demolishment that definitely occurs is included in the meaning of distortion under discussion, but brief distortion, meaning that something has been added or demolished from the Qur’an briefly is out of the dispute.

For instance, the differences in recitation or the difference in the claim of whether or not the basmalah is a fragment of the Qur’an, and the subject that was mentioned as brief distortion are out of the dispute, for the criteria of the distortion in the question of dispute as to whether it is an addition or a demolishment are, in both cases, against the reality of the Word of Allah, but there exists no doubt that, in the issue of difference of recitations, one of them conforms to the real Qur’an.

As concerns the basmalah, undoubtedly the Prophet (s) recited it preceding each surah. The difference is whether or not it is a fragment of the Book. Those who hold it to be a fragment of the Qur’an claim that this is the original Qur’an, and those who do not have such a belief hold that the original Qur’an does not include this verse, consequently, none of the two parties presume their statement contradictory to the reality. Both parties have compound consensus that the human word has merged into this Divine Word; the same is true for the issues of the difference between the reciters.

So in the cases of brief distortion, although the reality of the real statement and/or the real recitation is not concerned, this kind of distortion is out of controversy. The controversy refers to a distortion in which something is demolished from or added to the real Qur’an.

Point Four

A single individual narration (khabar al-Wāḥid) is not enough to prove distortion.

As proving the (authenticity of the) Qur’an requires definite and scientific proofs, so that by merely depending on a single individual narration one cannot prove that a certain sentence is a Qur’anic verse, it follows that proving distortion in the Qur’an also requires definite and scientific evidence. In other words, considering the fact that, in the field of beliefs, a single individual narration or other speculative evidence is not sufficient, with regards to the Qur’an, this is the most important evidential proof that such a narration can by no means stand as proof for a fragment of the Qur’an.

That is why Shaykh Ṭūsī has written in his introduction to al-Tibyān, “The narrations that suggest that distortion took place in the Qur’an, are all single individual narrations, and since such a narration does not bear certain knowledge, it cannot be used in the issue of distortion.”

His viewed objective is that such a problem is among those problems which necessitate certain knowledge.

Point Five

Opinions of the great Twelver Shia scholars denoting that the Qur’an was not distorted.

The great Twelver Shia scholars believe that the Holy Qur’an was revealed to the blessed heart of the Prophet (s), and so has remained intact (no addition and no demolishment).

Here we quote, in brief, the statements of the great Twelver Shia scholars whose writings are the pivot of the scientific and theological viewpoints of the Shia branch.

Two points should be taken into consideration in advance:

A.Some of the books compiled in the field of Qur’anic sciences attribute the standpoint of distortion to a group of specialists in narration (akhbārī) among the Twelver Shia. The Trash Collectors (Ḥashwiyyah) among the Sunnis have maintained distortion of the Qur’an. It is remarkable that among the specialists in narration some of the great scholars, like Shaykh al-Ḥurr al-Āmilī, the compiler of Wasā’il al-Shī`ah, believes that the Qur’an was not distorted; he has even written a treatise in this regard. Therefore, being the follower of the school of the Akhbārīs does not necessarily suggest believing that the Qur’an was distorted.

B.Undoubtedly, the Twelver Shia scholars have consensus that no addition took place to the Qur’an. Regarding the non-existence of demolishment from the Qur’an, some of the great personalities like Muqaddas Baghdādī in his book, Sharḥ al-Wāfiyah [11], and the great Shia authority Shaykh Ja`far Kāshif al-Ghiṭā’ in his book Kashf al-Ghiṭā’ have claimed consensus. So it can be said that the Shia scholars unanimously agreed that the Qur’an has remained intact and that no distortion, whether addition or demolishment, has taken place in it.

Here are the comments of the great Twelver Shia scholars:

1.In his book Īḍāḥ, Faḍl b. Shādhān, a Shia compiler living in the 3rd century AH, after rejecting the kind of distortion that suggests demolishment, ascribes the narrating of distortion to other branches of Islam.

2.In his book Risāla-ye I`tiqādāt (the treatise of beliefs) Abū Ja`far Muhammad b. Bābawayh Qummī, known as Shayk Ṣadūq writes, “Our beliefs regarding the Qur’an are these: The Qur’an revealed to the Prophet (s) is the very same existing Qur’an to which nothing has been added. He who accuses us of maintaining demolishment in the Qur’an is a liar.” So Ṣadūq, one of the greatest Twelver Shia scholars and a remarkable expert in hadith and history denies the ascription of distortion to the Twelver Shia.

3.In his book, Jawāb Masāi’l Ṭirāblusiyyāt (the answers to the questions asked in Trippoli), Ali b. Husayn Mūsawī, known as `Alam al-Hudā, one of the greatest jurisprudents and theoreticians in religious law (uṣūlī) says, “Knowledge pertaining to the authenticity of transmission of the Qur’an is like the knowledge concerning cities and great events. As we have definite knowledge regarding these things, we also have such knowledge about the Qur’an, for the efforts of the Muslims and their different motivations to safeguard the Qur’an has been extensive. At the time of the Prophet (s), the Qur’an was collected and was an arranged collection so that he appointed a group to memorize the Qur’an. A group including `Abdullah b. Mas`ūd and Ubayy b. Ka`b recited the Qur’an many times in his presence.”

Sayyid Murtaḍā adds, “A group of the Twelver Shia Muslims who, together with the Trash Collectors (Ḥashwiyyah) from the Sunni Muslims, oppose this view are not worth paying attention to for their opposition is based on weak hadiths which they assume are authenticated, while they are not.” [12]

4.In this regard Shaykh al-Ṭā’ifah, Abu Ja`far Muhammad b. Hasan Ṭūsī has said, “Speaking of addition and subtraction from the Qur’an is not befitting this Holy Book because consensus indicates that addition is false, and the exoteric meaning understood from the Muslim sects suggests that distortion in the sense of demolishment is also false and this very matter is the valid standpoint of Twelver Shia scholars who agree with the authentic hadiths. As for hadiths narrated in Sunni and Shia sources suggesting demolishment in some Qur’anic verses, these should be disregarded for they are received through single individual narration and do not bring about knowledge.” [13]

5.In the introduction of Majma` al-Bayān, his compiler, the great interpreter of the Qur’an, Abu Ali Faḍl b Hasan Ṭabrisī writes, “According to the consensus of the Twelver Shia, the statement of addition of a verse to the Qur’anic verses is invalid; the statement of demolishment was narrated by a group of the Twelver Shia and a group of Ḥashwiyyah from the Sunnis, but the validated viewpoint of the Twelver Shia opposes this.” [14]

6.Sayyid b. Ṭāwūs has said, “The standpoint of the Twelver Shia is that the Qur’an was not distorted.” [15]

He has written elsewhere, “I am surprised with those who believe that the present Qur’an is the same Qur’an that was revealed to the Prophet (s), and that he was the collector of the Qur’an, yet at the same time they narrate the difference between the reciters in Medina, Mecca, Kufah, and Basra, and as a conclusion they believe that the Basmalah is not a fragment of the Qur’an and of the surah. It is surprising how, if the Qur’an is immune from addition or demolishment – the view that is supported by wisdom and the Revealed Law - they could maintain such a belief.” [16]

7.Mullah Muḥsin Fayḍ Kāshānī has said, “The hadiths that indicate distortion contradict the Book of Allah, and necessarily should be either rejected or allegorically interpreted. [17]

8.Regarding the Glorious Qur’an, Muhamma Bahā’ al-Dīn Āmilī, known as Shaykh Bahīā’ī says, “The valid statement is that the Holy Qur’an has remained immune from distortion whether addition or demolishment. What has become famous among the populace denoting that the blessed name of the Commander of the Faithful had been wiped out of some verses like, “O Apostle! Communicate that which has been sent down to you from your Lord”; such a view is not valid among the Twelver Shia scholars.” [18]

9.In a treatise proving that the Qur’an was not distorted, Shaykh Muhammad b. Ḥasan al-Ḥurr al-Āmilī, the compiler of  the significant narrative book Wasā’il al Shī`ah has written, “Those who investigate the history and hadiths transmitted from the Infallible Imams (a.s.) will know with certainty that the Qur’an has been proved by an impeccable plurality of narrators (tawātur) to a remarkable level and by the narration of thousands of the companions, and that the Qur’an was a book collected during the era of the Prophet (s).” [19]

10.In his valued book Kashf al-Ghiṭā’, Shaykh Ja`far Kāshif al-Ghiṭā’ who was one of the exceptional Shia jurisprudents has written, “According to the consensus of the Muslims and what the religion and religious creeds indicate, nothing has been added to the Qur’an. Also, according to the explicit statement of the very Qur’an and the consensus of the scholars in all ages, nothing has been demolished from the Qur’an; therefore, the view of those rare individuals who have opposed this view is disregarded.” [20]

These are examples of the views and standpoints of great Twelver Shia scholars both the theoreticians in religious laws (uṣūlī) and specialists in narrations (akhbārī). It is concluded from these statements that belief in distortion is among those superstitions, the falsehood of which is evident; thus those few individuals who have mentioned some weak hadiths in their books or who have shown inclination toward them are disregarded by the Twelver Shia. Now, how can one ascribe the view of distortion to the Twelver Shia scholars? Is this not an evident case of defamation, the like of which is certainly prohibited? How can one ascribe distortion to a group that considers their doctrinal firmness and the duration of their thoughts dependent on the Holy Qur’an?

Point Six

The Qur’an is different from other revealed books

One of the basic questions is the difference between the Qur’an and other revealed books. Why is it claimed that the Qur’an was distorted while it is certain that other revealed books have been distorted, so that some people who try to prove distortion in the Qur’an argue that on the one hand it is certain that distortion took place in the previous books, while on the other hand, according to widely transmitted hadiths narrated by both the Shia and the Sunnis, whatever has taken place in the previous communities will certainly happen in this community too. For instance, the Prophet (s) was quoted as saying, “Whatever had been in the previous communities will similarly be in this community, patterning after it completely.” [21] So distortion must also have taken place in the Qur’an.

Investigating these types of hadiths and answering such a question will be dealt with later on while discussing the doubts of those who maintain that the Holy Qur’an was distorted. [22]

What we pursue under this point is that there exists a fundamental difference between the Qur’an and other revealed books. Some people have said, “The distortion that has taken place in the previous books is semantic distortion, and also subjective interpretation of the revealed texts. The Qur’an suggests that such a distortion has taken place in the books of previous communities, but does not suggest any additions or demolishment. [23]

In addition, there are no proofs in the narrations and in the scholars indicating that distortion with the meaning of addition or demolishment has taken place. The Qur’an explicitly declares that the Torah, the Gospel, and other revealed books have been kept by the scholars of previous communities. The Qur’an says, “Had they observed the Torah and the Evangel, and what was sent down to them from their Lord, they would surely have drawn nourishment from above them and from beneath their feet.”

The basic point is that this Holy Book is considered as a permanent and eternal miracle, so it inevitably must be immune to distortion and change; contrary to other revealed books that had not been considered as permanent miracles. 

Point Seven

Stages and Stations of the Qur’an

One of the important points is which Qur’an or in other words which stage among the available stages of the Qur’an is being discussed? As it is evident and is also understood from the Holy Qur’an, this Holy Book has stages and stations.

First Station: The Preserved Tablet (Lawḥ Maḥfūẓ)

It is clear that this station cannot be distorted for it is not accessible to human beings. This stage is before Allah and is immune from any harm.

Second Station: The revelation of the Qur’an through the Angel Gabriel (Jabra’īl) to the Prophet (s)

This stage is, also, not distortable for the Angel Gabriel is infallible.

Third Station: The presentation of the Qur’an by the Prophet (s) to the public

The Prophet (s) has stated to the people the very same thing that Gabriel revealed to the Prophet’s blessed heart, and the Prophet (s) expressed it to the people without any addition or demolishment.

Evidently the Qur’an has not been subject to distortion in this station. It was collected in its entirety during the Prophet’s lifetime, and as an ordered book it was gathered and arranged; many individuals learnt it by heart, and in the next era the Qur’an was widely transmitted from generation to generation.

Fourth Station: The copies of the Qur’an that represent the widely transmitted Qur’an, in other words the written copies of the Qur’an whether manuscripts or printed, represent the revealed truth that is called the Qur’an.

It is clear that distortion with the meaning of difference in recitation and the like is probable in this fourth type. Also, the possibility of distortion – whether it be addition or demolishment – seems probable in this station. What is disputed is that the Qur’an is a widely transmitted revelation that has existed in all times as a single reality, a single object, and as the revealed word of truth.

In the holy verse “Indeed We have sent down the Reminder, and indeed We will preserve it.” The pronoun ‘it’ refers to the revealed Qur’an which is nothing but one Qur’an and one reality; other copies of the Qur’an represent it and can, undoubtedly, not be distorted.

It, therefore, becomes clear that the claim of one of the traditionalists [24] concerning the meaning of preservation, “ḥifẓ”, namely that God will preserve His Book in the same situation whereon He revealed it, as it is preserved in the lofty place before revelation, and that the meaning of “ḥifẓ” does not refer to preservation on paper and notebooks, is an invalid statement unsupported by evidence. Rather, the miracle of the Qur’an refutes it, for the durability of the Qur’an in such an assumedly protected station in which distortion cannot take place is not miraculous.

Point Eight

Rationally the Qur’an may be distorted but in actuality it was not

It is understood from the holy verse (the Qur’an, XV, 9) that rationally the Qur’an can be distorted but God, the Exalted, has saved it from this danger. In the case that it could not rationally ever be distorted, then it would be needless of being saved by God. However, God, the Exalted, has disproved this merely rational probability by His certain promise to save it.

Point Nine

Does the argumentation of the Qur’an to prove it was not distorted necessitate circularity in proof (dawr)?

Many great scholars have discussed a number of verses of the Qur’an in order to prove that this Holy Book has not been distorted. Here we want to investigate whether or not this argument necessitates circularity in proof.

Some people believe that argument of the holy verses necessitates circularity in proof. They state two arguments and expositions for this:

Exposition 1: The negation of the distortion of the Book depends on the validity of these verses, whereas the validity of these verses depends on the fact that the Book was not distorted, negation of distortion is dependent on negation of distortion!

Exposition 2: Validity of the verses used in the argument is dependent upon the negation of distortion, whereas negation of distortion is dependent upon the validity of these verses; as a result, the validity of the holy verses is dependent upon the validity of the very verses, and this is the very impossible circularity in proof of causality.

Different answers have been given to this doubt which we will investigate in this part of the article.

1.In his valued book “al-Bayān” Ayatollah Khoei has written, “Those who do not maintain the vicegerency of the Infallible Imams (a.s.) are unable to solve this doubt, but those who have such a belief and consider them as peers to the Book can solve this doubt for the Infallible Imams argued concerning the present Qur’an and approved and confirmed the argument of their companions regarding the Book. Therefore, the present Qur’an – even if it has been distorted – because of the fact that it was argued by the Imams, has validity for resorting and arguing.

There exists an objection to this answer because, firstly, this answer is useful for the believers in the vicegerency of the Imams, while the answer should be given in such a way that the followers of all branches can accept it.

Secondly, this answer in fact means the acceptance of  doubt for, on its basis, arguing that the Qur’an was not distorted no longer exists, rather it is arguing regarding the verses associated with the confirmation of the Infallible Imams, a matter that is not only contrary to the claim, but is also against the outward aspect of the holy hadith of Thaqlayn (Two Weighty Things) from which it is well understood that the Qur’an is regarded as al-Thiql al-Akbar (the greater weighty thing), and as an independent proof.

2.Those who claim that the Qur’an was distorted limit the range of this distortion to certain verses that were indicated in some hadiths. They say that those verses, by which it is argued that the Qur’an was not distorted, are not included in the distorted verses. In other words, those who state distortion simultaneously believe that these verses have not been distorted.

This answer, too, is not void of objection, for there are two opinions regarding distortion:

a.Some people believe that according to some hadiths distortion has taken place in the holy Qur’anic verses in certain cases. This opinion is valid.

b.Regardless of the hadiths, there exists non-detailed knowledge (`ilm ijmālī) to the incidence of distortion in the book, and the range of this non-detailed knowledge includes such verses by which it is argued to the non-existence of distortion in the Qur’an. Therefore, this opinion is not valid.

3.To answer this problem it is claimed that these verses have not been distorted. [25] This answer is also disputable. Because those who believe in distortion, and who, in the case of which, claim that they have non-detailed knowledge that the Book was distorted, will not be able to remove these verses from the scope of the non-detailed knowledge. In other words, they cannot be included in those who arrived at consensus; otherwise, non-existence would become necessary from the existence of their opinion.

4.This answer has been presented by my father (the late Grand Ayatollah Shaikh M. Fazel Lankarani (May the Almighty’s peace rest upon him). [26] He believed that it should be considered that the argument by the holy verses to non-existence opposes the group. If the argument opposes a group that claims distortion in certain cases implied by the hadiths, then there will not remain any opportunity for the dispute of circularity in proof, for these verses are not included among them. And if the argument opposes those who claim non-detailed knowledge that the Book was distorted, then two assumptions will exist:

· He who maintains distortion believes in the validity of the outward meaning of the Book (ẓāhir) – even if it was distorted. In this case, no opportunity will be able to exist for the dispute of circularity in proof, for the outward meaning of the verses will continue to remain valid. So the incidence of distortion is not an obstacle to the validity of the outward meaning, and as a result the argument for the verses is free from dispute.

· He who maintains distortion considers this as an obstacle to the validity of the outward meanings of the Book. In this case, he either claims non-detailed knowledge to the incidence of distortion in the Book, or claims the probability (and not knowledge) of distortion. In the first case, the verses cannot be argued even if they remain valid in the assumption of distortion, for it has been proved in the “Principles of Jurisprudence” that the outward meanings that are among the legal speculative evidences which lead to speculative reasoning (imārāt shar`iyyah ẓanniyyah) are valid provided that knowledge contradicting them does not exist. So in this assumption one cannot argue by the holy verses.

In the second case, the mere probability of distortion, while the knowledge is missing, does not prevent the validity of the verses therefore arguing with these verses is free from dispute.

In this answer, too, in case non-detailed knowledge to the distortion exists, arguing with the verses is not balanced.

5.It seems that distortion, like many other things, requires motivation, and since the motivation to distort the Qur’an has been very great, these verses – in case we accept that they were distorted – must have been distorted in such a way that demolishment takes place in them so that one cannot argue by them to the non-incidence of distortion in the Book. For instance, the phrase “and indeed We will preserve it” from the holy verse (the Qur’an, XV, 9) should have been removed, or at least the word “it”, that can effectively be used to prove the non-incidence of distortion, should have been omitted. Therefore, the existence of these words and phrases is a clear indication for the non-existence of distortion, and brings about knowledge and certainty that the verses were not distorted. As for the cases in which non-detailed knowledge about distortion exists, since ordinary knowledge contradicting them exists, these cases will be excluded from the scope of non-detailed knowledge.

Point Ten

Two Types of Claims in Distortion

It has become clear from the previous point that there are two claims regarding distortion.

First: Some people have imagined that the scope of distortion includes only those certain verses whose limits have been determined by the transmitted hadiths. So the rest of the verses are out of the scope of distortion and alteration, and have remained intact, and can consequently be used in argument, their outward meanings being valid.

This type of claim is usually made by those people whose source and proof regarding distortion are certain traditions available in some hadith books.

Second: Some people maintain that the Holy Qur’an has briefly been distorted. In other words they have non-detailed knowledge regarding the distortion of the Holy Book. The reason and proof of those who have accepted this claim is the convention (i`tibār) and the like. [27]

Point Eleven

Investigating the reasonable/rational reason for the non-existence of distortion

It is understood from some of the words of the experts that they have resorted to rational indication and also to the agreements of the wise to refute distortion (in the Qur’an).

In his book “Sa`d al-Su`ūd” Sayyid b. Ṭāwūs has explicitly stated that the invalidity of distortion is what reason necessitated; however, some of the scholars have argued by the convention of the wise.” [28]

As for rational indication, there are two ways to express this indication:

First way: This way has not been mentioned in Ayatollah Khoei’s statements [29] as an independent rational indication; however, it is mentioned briefly here:

The probability of distortion is exclusively in three forms as below:

Form 1: Incidence of distortion by Abu Bakr and `Umar before the caliphate of `Uthman

This form is certainly invalid for it is not beyond the three probabilities below:

        P1: Distortion was made unintentionally, as, after the demise of the Prophet (s), these two individuals had been in charge of collecting the Qur’an. Due to the shortage of information and the fact that the entire Qur’an was not received by these two, and also, due to a certain amount of recklessness and lack of proficiency, certain verses were not accessed; consequently, the Qur’an was distorted.

        P2: The distortion was made by them intentionally, even the verses that had no harm for their caliphate and leadership.

        P3: The distortion was made intentionally, but regarding those verses that were harmful for their leadership.

This probability has been emphasized by those who maintain distortion.

All of these probabilities are invalid and consequently are rejected.

The first probability is invalid from the two aspects below:

a.There is no doubt that the Prophet (s) encouraged the Muslims to memorize and recite; and the companions were highly endeavored in these tasks; it is, therefore, certain that the entire Qur’an was available at the time of these two companions, either collectedly or dispersedly (available in the hearts or on parchments). At that time, the Arabs strangely endeavored to memorize even the poems of the Age of Ignorance (`asr al-jāhiliyyah); therefore, it cannot be accepted that they had not endeavored to such an extent regarding the Qur’an.

b.The invalidity of this probability becomes clear from the Hadith of Thaqalayn. Because this tradition indicates that the Prophet (s) ordered the people to hold on to the Book in his time. Evidently, resorting to the Qur’an as a collected book is not possible unless the Book has not been distorted.

P2. Evidently, intentional distortion needs motivation; and since such a motivation regarding the verses that have no harm for the leadership of Abu Bakr and `Umar did not exist, distortion on account of this reason is negated. In addition, if such distortion had been made, those personalities who did not recognize the caliphate of Abu Bakr and `Umar – whose most important figures were the Commander  of the Faithful (i.e. Imam Ali), Ḥaḍrat Faṭimah (the Prophet’s daughter), and twelve figures from the Emigrants (muhājirīn) and the Helpers (anṣār) – who have mentioned this issue as their defects and problems would have referred to it in their argumentation, and such things do not exist in their statements and arguments.

Form 2: The incidence of distortion was in the reign of `Uthman

This form is less probable than the previous one because, firstly, in the reign of `Uthman, Islam had been disseminated to such an extent that the caliph did not possess the relevant power to demolish any slightest thing from the Qur’an. Secondly, in case distortion in the reign of `Uthman occurred concerning verses that were not related to the divine leadership of the Ahl al-Bayt (a.s.), then no cause for distortion existed.

Regarding the verses related to divine leadership, it must be said that they have certainly not been distorted for, if the Qur’an has had included verses that explicitly state the caliphate and vicegerency of the Commander of the Faithful (a.s.), they would have been disseminated among the people and the caliphate would not have been possessed by `Uthman.

Thirdly, if `Uthman had distorted the Qur’an, this would have been the ideal pretext for his opponents to justify their revolution and uprising against him, while they did not mention it in their arguments.

Fourthly, if the Qur’an had been distorted by `Uthman, it would have been obligatory for the Commander of the Faithful to return the Qur’an to its original form prevalent in the time of the Prophet (s) as soon as he undertook the responsibility of leadership of the Muslims; while such a thing did not happen. Therefore, the idea of a second format is rejected and is invalid.

Form 3: Incidence of distortion after the caliphate of `Uthman and by the Umayyids and their men

This is a probability that none of the scholars and historians has claimed.

Whereas no fourth form is probable, it is concluded that the incidence of distortion is extravagant and is rejected rationally and historically.

It should be noted that this proof is not considered as an independent rational judgment or predicate but rather that it is associated with historical analysis.

Second way: In this way, two introductions are necessary: a. the Holy religion of Islam is the last and the most perfect revealed religion for mankind up to the Day of Resurrection; b. such a religion should have an eternal document forming the basis of interrelation of its laws and commandments.

By attaching these two introductions, it can be inferred that the Divine Lawmaker would have certainly kept this Book immune from being infected or polluted by distortion. So, rationally, it is necessary for the Divine Lawmaker to keep this book immune from the darkness of distortion.

This rational indication is disputable from the aspect that, as a suspended proposition, reason and intellect dictate that, if the Qur’an wants to guide people in all their affairs until the Day of Resurrection, it has to be immune from distortion; however, this perspective has no use in the place of dispute, for here one is concerned with the incidence or non-incidence of distortion, where wisdom, in itself, cannot independently interfere.

As for using rational convention and lifestyle to prove that the Qur’an was not distorted, one of the scholars has written, “Distorting the words of an author and altering the matters of a book is an unnatural process and an imposed and uncommon phenomenon; therefore, the lifestyle and convention of the wise indicate disregarding the concept of distortion. So the immunity of the Qur’an from distortion is a natural thing and is what primitive rule necessitates.” [30]

But this proof holds true about books where no motivation or aims have existed to cause distortion, while in the case of such a book as the Qur’an, the motivation of the pagans and polytheists to cause distortion was extensive, and the observation may thus not be included in this proof.

Point Twelve

The Most Explicit Verse of the Qur’an Proving that the Book has not been Distorted

A group of researchers have claimed that the most explicit verse of the Qur’an proving that the Book has not been distorted is the following verse:

“Indeed it is an august book * Falsehood cannot approach from before it nor from behind it, a [gradual] sending down [revelation] from One all-wise, all-laudable” [31]

It has even been claimed that the Qur’an interpreters have unanimously agreed that this verse is the most explicit one denoting the non-incidence of distortion in the Qur’an. [32]

Through the ways below, it can be argued by referring to this verse that the Qur’an was not distorted:

Way 1: Allah, the Exalted, has described the Holy Book as an august (`azīz) one.

Lexically it is clear that being august is true in the case that the book remains immune from change and demolishment. [33]

Way 2: In this holy verse, the nature and genus of falsehood was negated according to the rules in such cases that it conveys generality. In other words the holy verse negates all kinds and types of falsehood from this Holy Book.

Falsehood lexically means the thing which is corrupt. Evidently, distortion is among its outstanding and clear cases.

Way 3: In this verse, to give reasons for the judgment, Allah mentions the fact that since it is sent down by the One all-Wise, all-Laudable, falsehood cannot approach from before it nor from behind it.

This explanation of the causes by itself clearly indicates that distortion and change are not analogous with such a book that has been revealed from the All-knowing God.

Mirzā Husayn Nūrī [34], the traditionalist, has written, “Although change in the Qur’an is a case of falsehood, falsehood in this verse bears a particular meaning; that is falsehood brought about from the contradiction between the ordinances and the traditions.

Nūrī’s claim was commented in the following:

“To intend contradiction and to lie to another does not correspond to the Book described as being sent down by the “One all-Wise.” [35]

In other words this description necessitates that all kinds of falsehood are absent from this Book.

This answer requires a supplementary explanation:

The outward meaning of this holy verse is that this book is absolutely full of wisdom (`azīz), and absolute superiority (`izzah) necessitates that it is not limited to mere contradiction, for, if the Book is immune from this aspect, superiority will become limited to this very aspect.

The most important objection propounded to the argument to this verse is that this argument contradicts the commentary stated by great Sunni and Shia scholars regarding it.

In other words, the commentary of the holy verse in such a case that indicates the non-incidence of distortion has not been considered probable by any interpreter.

For instance, in his book al-Tibyān, Shaykh Ṭūsī has considered five probabilities in interpreting the verse:

· The meaning of “no falsehood can approach” is that no doubts can approach it, and that no contradiction occurs in it. That is, the Qur’an is the pure truth.

· Qutādah and Suddī have said, “The meaning is that the devil does not have the power to demolish a truth from it or add a falsehood to it.”

· It means that there is not anything before the Qur’an or after it that can refute the Qur’an.

· Ḥasan has said, “The meaning is that falsehood cannot occur at its beginning or its end.

· Falsehood cannot occur in what the Qur’an narrates from the past or what it foretells.

Sayyid Murtaḍā has said, “The best commentary that can be mentioned for this verse is that the Qur’an is matchless; no word exists which is similar to it; no similarity exists between the Qur’an and the books after it; this Book is not related to previous ones nor are ensuing books related to it; that it is an independent word, lives by itself, is unparalleled in itself; and is superior to any words that it is compared with.”

To answer this doubt it is said, firstly, that some of these interpretations, like the one that was quoted from Qutādah and Suddī, correspond to the interpretation of the verse as distortion.

Secondly, suppose that none of the interpretations have interpreted the verse as the issue of distortion, but it has been proved in its place that one of the principles of interpretation is the outward meaning of the verses of the Holy book; and the outward meaning of the holy verse does not indicate this matter.

As for the opinion of the interpreters, no proofs exist indicating its validity and reliability in interpreting the Qur’an, unless their words had been based on the statements of the Infallible Figures.

Thirdly, traditions interpreting this verse that have stated some matters explaining the meaning of falsehood do not intend to limit the meaning, rather they merely set about to mention the cases.

Point Thirteen.

Does maintaining the idea of distortion necessitate spoiling the validity of the outward meaning of the book?

Does maintaining distortion necessitate spoiling the validity of the outward meaning of the book and the non-permissibility of using it in argument?

The question is reasonable provided that he, who claims distortion, has non-detailed knowledge related to the incidence of distortion.

Some people have said that, in such an assumption, one can resort to the important rational principle: lack of pretext, and argue to the outward meaning of the verse for any verse about which distortion is considered probable.

In other words, to prove the validity of the distorted book, the tacit approval of the Infallible Figures is not required, rather one can argue with the outward meaning of it.

This statement is reasonable in case of the wise being allowed to resort to this principle regarding the probability of the existence of attached indication, while, according to research, the wise allow resorting to this principle in cases where the addressee considers the existence of a separate indication probable, but regarding the attached indication one cannot resort to this principle.

In the issue of distortion, what is considered probable, after non-detailed knowledge, is the existence of an attached indication that has been removed due to distortion.

It is concluded that in the assumption of non-detailed knowledge regarding distortion, there is no way to resort to the outward meaning of the Holy Book except through the tacit approval of the Infallible Figures; and this is a matter that contradicts the outward meaning of the Hadith of Thaqalayn.

Point Fourteen

The Hadith of Thaqalayn indicates that the Qur’an was not distorted

Among the traditions, the one that indicates the non-incidence of distortion in the Qur’an is the frequently transmitted Hadith of Thaqalayn which has been narrated by some 33 thousand people among the great companions of the prophet (s) such as Ali, the Commander of the Faithful, Abu Dhar, Abdullah b. Abbas, Abdullah b. Umar, Hudhayfah, Abū Ayyūb Anṣārī [36] and has been mentioned by some 200 great Sunni scholars in their books.

The text of this hadith, according to one of its chain of hadith transmitters it as follows:

The Prophet (s) said, “Verily, I am leaving among you two weighty things, the Book of Allah, and my Household; in it (i.e. the Book) exist guidance and light, so hold on to the book of Allah and follow it and follow my Household; I remind you about my Household by Allah” (and he repeated it three times). [37]

First method: To argue using this hadith regarding the non-incidence of distortion of the book one can select two ways:

The first way becomes clear considering the six points below

1.The holy hadith indicates that it is possible to resort to this hadith until the day of Resurrection.

2.Distortion in the book necessitates the impossibility of resorting to it.

3.Resorting to the Qur’an means to resort to all affairs that the Qur’an has propounded. So resorting to certain cases like Āyāt al-Aḥkām (verses dealing with the ordinances/laws) is not meant.

In other words the Qur’an’s aim is not merely explaining the rules and practical laws; rather its aim is to guide people and to bring them out from darkness to light.

4.The aim of distortion is to conceal some of the truths, and to tone down some fractions of the light of the Holy Book from all aspects and this cannot be an exhaustive light, while the final goal that the Qur’an mentions for itself is to remove people from darkness to light and to help them reach out from human darkness to light and assist them to attain human perfection, lofty material and spiritual degrees; an aim that is achieved through resorting to the Qur’an.

5.Contrary to resorting to the Prophet’s Household (al-`Itrah, Ahl al-Bayt), resorting to the Qur’an is an issue the actualization or realization of which is possible merely through approaching the Qur’an itself; that is the Qur’an that is at the disposal of the people, not the Qur’an that exists before the Infallible and Pure Household and is kept by them, and is out of public access.

6.It is inferred from the Hadith that resorting to the Book is not only possible but is also obligatory. The affirmative sentence in the hadith is to issue a verdict.

It has been made clear in the discussions of Principles of Jurisprudence that it is necessary in religious duties that the subject (muta`allaq) is within the capability of the persons responsible for religious duties.

If the Qur’an had been distorted, it follows that it could not be resorted to.

Second Method

It is understood from this holy hadith that either of these two Weighty Things is an independent proof and a perfect reason that locates besides the other reason.

That the validity of none of them is dependent for approval on the other.

Of course this does not mean that each of them is sufficient to make man reach his satisfactory level of perfection and to stop him from going astray and to eradicate darkness; rather these consensuses are the result of these two weighty things. So, if any distortion had taken place in the Book, its outward meanings would have become invalid. Therefore, those who maintain distortion should believe that referring to a distorted book requires the approval of the Infallible Figures, and this contradicts the outward meaning of the hadith.

The reason is that the outward meaning of the Book indicates the independence of any of these two proofs. Basically, how can the validity of the Greater Weighty Thing be dependent on the Minor Weighty Thing?

It is concluded from these two methods that, firstly, resorting to the Holy Book (i.e. the Qur’an) is not only possible but is also a binding duty. Secondly, the Holy Book is considered as independent proof and reason.

Obviously, the opinion of distortion contradicts each of these two matters.

Point Fifteen

Abrogation of recitation and causing to forget

The terms Naskh al-Tilāwah (abrogation of recitation) and Insā’ (to cause one to forget) can be traced among the statements of the Sunni scholars. Some of them [38] maintain that the permissibility of Naskh al-Tilāwah is a non-detailed issue regarding whose incidence exist rational and transmitted indications.

Here we intend to investigate whether these two terms contradict distortion or whether the acceptance of the permissibility of abrogation necessitates the permissibility of distortion.

In the traditional books hadiths exist that made the great Sunni scholars justify them as the abrogation of recitation. Among them is the tradition in which the discussion of stoning has been mentioned.

Ibn `Abbās quoted from `Umar that he said, “The verse of stoning is among the verses revealed to the Prophet (s) which says: ‘Old men and old women in the case that they have committed adultery, stone them.’ The Prophet (s) acted upon it in his time, and we too acted upon it after the Prophet’s demise.” [39]

Zayd b. Thābit said that he had heard the Prophet (s) saying, “If a married man or woman commits adultery, he or she must be stoned.”

Zayd has not claimed that this statement of the Prophet (s) is a revealed one (i.e. a Qur’anic verse); however, `Umar asked the Prophet (s) to write it in the Book. The Prophet (s) did not answer him. [40]

The Sunni Muslims assumed that this verdict of statement of the Prophet (s) was propounded as a Qur’anic verse but has been abrogated in recitation; its verdict however remaining.

Some important objections mentioned below have been raised to this belief:

1.Abrogation – in all its kinds – requires an abrogating agent, but in these cases we have no such an agent.

2.As has been proved in its place, the abrogation takes places only in the scope of religious ordinances, while recitation is not a case of such ordinances. This has been solved. [41] What was meant by recitation is not its external existence, rather that permission of recitation was meant that is considered as one of the religious ordinances.

3.What is the use of this kind of abrogation in which recitation was abrogated but the mere ordinance that is what was meant by the verse has remained?

4.The most important objection was raised by Ayatollah Khoei. He said, “If this abrogation of recitation has taken place in the time of the Prophet (s) and by his order – although it does not necessitate the abrogation – since the tradition that indicates this matter is attributed to this assumption, they are called “single individual narrations”; therefore, they are not enough to be trusted; in addition it has been mentioned in some traditions that this kind of tradition took place after the time of the Prophet (s). In case this abrogation was made by the scholars after the demise of the Prophet (s), then this is exactly belief in distortion, and acceptance of its incidence. [42]

As for what was mentioned in the issue of ‘stoning’, its refutation is very clear for the Prophet (s) was meticulous in recording the Qur’anic verses, and emphatically ordered the revelation scribes to likewise be equally careful; so if stoning is among the Qur’anic verses, how is it that the Prophet (s) did not order the scribes to write it, and why didn’t he answer `Umar?

So the issue of abrogation of recitation is an issue the refutation of which is very clear and evident.

Even one of the contemporary Sunni scholars [43] has said, “Although it is rationally allowed, such abrogation did not occur in the Book of Allah.”

Having primarily accepted abrogation in recitation, Ibn Ḥazm Andulusī has justified the issue at the end of his statement in such a way that cannot be related to the Divine Revelation. [44]

Point 16

The Shia cannot believe in distortion

The Shia not only do not maintain that the Qur’an was distorted, but also cannot basically hold such a belief for the most important evidence forming the foundation of the Shia belief is the holy verse of Purification (The Qur’an, XXXIII, 33):

“Indeed Allah desires to repel all impurity from you, O People of the Household, and purify you with a thorough purification.”

 It has been proved in its place that this verse has a clear significant implication to the infallibility of the Ahl al-Bayt (a.s.), an infallibility that is the most important qualification for the leadership and caliphate of the Muslims. In the case that a person believes in distortion within the Qur’an, he cannot resort to this verse to prove infallibility. The main aim of this holy verse becomes clear when we accept that the Qur’an is an arranged book beginning with the Surah al-Hamd, and that its compilation was completed during the time of the Prophet (s), and has not been harmed in any subsequent events, and that each verse is situated in its appropriate position so that if any verse is moved to another place, Allah’s goal will not be achieved. In this holy verse, after explaining the duties of the Prophet’s wives, Allah, the Exalted, has mentioned certain duties for the Infallible Household (a.s.) and points out that they have duties peculiar to themselves. In any case, if distortion is considered probable in these kinds of verses, no foundation for the Twelver Shia doctrine would remain. [45]

Point 17

Studying the traditions denoting distortion

The most important evidence for those who maintain distortion are specific traditions mentioned by the Shia and the Sunnis in their books. As calculated by a researcher, the number of these traditions amount to 1122 hadiths. One of the great scholars has been convinced that these hadiths have somehow been widely transmitted (mutawātir); meaning that although many of these hadiths are considered weak in their chain of narrators, their multiplicity is to such an extent that brings about certainty that some of them are authentic and that one cannot claim them all to be false. Those who maintain distortion have inferred from these traditions that in some cases of the Holy Book distortions and demolishment occurred.

Distrusting these traditions, some great scholars have raised objections from two aspects:

· From the aspect of the chain of narrators; and also the books from which these traditions were cited

· From the aspect of denotation

Now we must explain each of these aspects.

First aspect: In a remarkable number of these traditions, one of the narrators in the chain of narrators is Aḥmad b. Muhammad al-Sayyārī who was described as “having a corrupt religion” and “weak in narrating the hadiths” by the experts in the study of narrators. (`Ilm al-Rijāl) Najāshī [46] accuses him of being an extremist (ghālī); Ibn Ghaḍā’irī introduced him as a pervert. [47]
Another narrator in the chain of narrators in these traditions is Yūnus b. Ẓibyān about whom one comment is that he is very weak (i.e. unreliable), and that a mixture (of truth and falsehood) exists in all of his books. Ibn Ghaḍā’irī introduced him as an extremist, a liar, and a hadith forger. [48]

The third narrator in the chain of narrators of these traditions is Ali b. Aḥmad Kūfī who was introduced, by the experts in the study of narrators, as weak, corrupt in narrating, and even from among the perverted extremists. [49]

So it becomes clear that those who narrate and explain these traditions are among weak narrators whose narrations are invalid and unreliable.

In addition, it should be noted that the books in which these traditions are contained are mostly unreliable and void of validity.

a.Some of these traditions have been cited from a treatise ascribed to Sa`d b. `Abdullah Ash`arī, which has at the same time been ascribed to Nu`mānī and Sayyid Murtaḍā; therefore, the identity of its forger or compiler is not clear and consequently none of the experts in the study of narrators has recognized it as a reliable source.

b.Some of these traditions have been cited from the Book of Sulaym b. Qays al-Hilālī about which Shaykh Mufīd has commented, “This is a book that cannot be relied upon; it is not permissible to follow the suggestions in many cases in this book; confusion and deceit have occurred in this book; the pious must avoid referring to this book.” [50]

c.The third book among the sources of these kind of traditions is “Kitāb al-Tanazzī wa al-Taḥrīf”, also known as “Kitāb al-Qarā’āt” compiled by Aḥmad b. Muhammad al-Sayyāfrī, who – as mentioned before – was described as weak and unreliable by many experts of the study of narrators.

d.Some of these traditions have been cited from the Literary Commentary by Abi al-Jārūd, who was cursed by Imam Ja`far Ṣādiq (a.s.); in addition, Kathīr b. `Ayyash, a weak narrator, is contained among the chain of narrators of this book.

e.Some of these traditions have been cited from “Tafsīr Ali b. Ibrāhīm Qummī”, a commentary ascribed to him which is in fact a collection of his dictations to his disciple Abu al-Faḍl b. `Abbās b. Muhammad al-`Alawī, which, additionally, is mixed with the commentary of Abi al-Jārūd.

f. One of the sources of these traditions is “Kitāb al-Istighāthah” by Ali b. Aḥmad al-Kūfī who was described as a liar and accused of being an extremist by Ibn Ghaḍā’irī.

g.Some of these traditions have been cited from “al-Iḥtijāj” by Ṭabrisī, and as most of the traditions in this book are void of chains of narrators, this book cannot be referred to as a book of hadith.

h.Many of these traditions have been mentioned in the book “al-Kāfī”, but the mere existence of a tradition in this book does not authenticate it nor mean that it can be approached accordingly.

It has been claimed that among the 16199 hadiths available in the book al-Kāfī” 5172 hadiths are authentic (ṣaḥīḥ), 144 hadiths are good (ḥasan), 2128 hadiths are reliable (muwaththaq), 302 hadiths are strong, and the rest 7480 hadiths are weak (ḍa`īf). [51]

Explanation on the second aspect:

As far as denotation is concerned, these traditions do not have the same content, and are divided in many groups:

a.Some of these traditions deal with semantic distortion which is irrelevant to our discussion.

b.Some of these traditions are related to difference in recitation which is irrelevant to our discussion.

c.Some of these traditions deal with explanation and commentary pertaining to a certain verse; some people have wrongly considered the interpretative texts as part of the Holy Qur’an. For instance, regarding the commentary of the verse “They are the ones whom Allah knows as to what is in their hearts. So let them alone, and advise them, and speak to them concerning themselves far-reaching words.” Through his chain of narrators Shaykh al-Kulaynī has narrated that Imam Mūsā b. Ja`far recited the verse up to the phrase “So let them alone” and added “Indeed to whom there has gone beforehand the promise of cure, and the promise of punishment” and then recited the rest of the verse. [52]

The traditionalist, Nūrī, has commented, “The appearance of the traditions indicates that this addition is of the Qur’an, and not the commentary.” [53]

However, Allamah Majlisī and other scholars have explicitly stated that this sentence in an interpretative one.

d.Traditions that denote that the blessed names of the Commander of the Faithful, Imam Ali, and other Infallible Imams were mentioned in some verses of the Book are in fact dealing with the explanation and interpretation of the verses and do not denote that the names of the Imams were part of the Qur’an nor that they have been removed.

e.Some traditions indicate that the names of some of the individuals of the tribe of Quraysh had been mentioned and were probably omitted by distorters with the exception of the name of Abu Lahab.

Two objections exist with regard to these kinds of traditions:

First: There is contradiction between these traditions, for some of them state the number of the demolished verses to be seventy, whereas others, claim there are seven.

Second: The contents of these traditions testify to their own falsehood. Basically, how can the existence of the name of Abū Lahab be justified?

f.Some traditions denote that after the demise of the Prophet (s) some of the words became altered and replaced with others; in other words, these traditions denote the incidence of distortion, both addition and demolishment.

This group opposes consensus, for the Muslims have unanimously agreed that even a single letter has not been added to the Qur’an.

g.Some traditions dealing with the affairs of Imam Mahdi (may Allah hasten his advent) denote that after his reappearance the Imam will oblige the people to recite the Muṣḥaf of Imam Ali that is before him.

These traditions indicate that a difference exists between Imam Ali’s Muṣḥaf and the present Qur’an; however, any difference is not quantitative but is rather in the sequence of the surahs and verses and in the existence of some explanations.

h.Some traditions denote the incidence of demolishment in the Holy Book, and are divided into the three groups below:

One: Traditions indicating that the real number of the Qur’anic verses is in excess of the current number

Two: Traditions indicating that the number of the verses of some surahs is smaller than the real amount

Three: Traditions indicating the demolishment of a word or verse

To resolve these doubts it must be said:

Firstly, these traditions contradict the Qur’an and must be disregarded.

Secondly, there exist within these groups traditions that reject such content.

Thirdly, in the case that an authentic hadith exists among these traditions, it is considered as a single individual narration (khabar al-wāḥid) to which, in such cases, it cannot be resorted to, according to the rules.

Fourthly, some of these traditions suggest omission and removal of the blessed names of the Imams; as was previously mentioned, these kinds of traditions must be considered interpretative ones or ones that state cases.

All praise belongs to Allah, Lord of all the worlds


1.This article was first presented for a group of Islamic Studies researchers. Here the author is referring to them.
2.The Qur’an, XXII, 11
3.Al-Kashshāf, vol. 2, p. 146
4.The Qur’an, IV, 46
5.Mufradāt Gharī al-Qur’an, p. 112
6.Al-Tafsīr al-Kbīr, vol. 6, p. 117 (Old Print)
7.Al-Bayān, p. 215
8.The Qur’an, IV, 46
9.Al-Kāfī, vol. 8, p. 53; and al-Wāfī, at the end of Kitāb al-Ṣalāh
10.`Awālī al-La’ālī, vol. 4, p. 104
11.Ālā’ al-Raḥmān, by Balāghī, p. 15
12.Majma` al-Bayān, vol. 1, p. 15
13.Al-Tibyān fī Tafsīr al-Qur’an, the Introduction
14.Majma` al-Bayān, vol. 1, p. 15
15.Sa`d al-Su`ūd, p. 144
16.Ibid, p. 193
17.Tafsīr al-Ṣāfī, vol. 1, p. 51
18.Ālā’ al-Raḥmān, p. 26
19.Iẓhār al-Ḥaqq, vol. 2, p. 129
20.Kashf al-Ghiṭā’, p. 299
21.Biḥār al-Anwār, (Bāb iftirāq al-Ummah Ba`d al-Nabiyy) vol. 8, p. 4
22.See al-Bayān, p. 221
23.Ṣiyānat al-Qur’ān `an al-Taḥrīf, p. 94
24.Faṣl al-Khiṭāb, p. 360
25.Ukdhūbat Taḥrīf al-Qur’an, p. 4
26.Madkhal At-Tafsir, p. 202
27.For further explanation see: Madkhal At-Tafsir, p. 292
28.Goftār-e Āsān dar Nafy-e Taḥrīf-e Qur’an
29.Al-Bayān, p. 215
30.Goftār-e Āsān dar Nafy-e Taḥrīf-e Qur’an, p. 12
31.The Qur’an, ?, 41-42
32.Ṣiyānat al-Qur’ān `an al-Taḥrīf, p. 33
33.Al-Bayān, p. 211
34.Faṣl al-Khiṭāb, p. 361
35.Al-Bayān, p. 211
36.Ālā’ al-Raḥmān, p. 44
37.Al-Sunan, by Dārimī, vol. 2, p. 431
38.Al-Iḥkām fī Uṣūl al-Aḥkām, by Amudī vol. 3, p. 154
39.Musnad Aḥmad b. Ḥanbal, vol. 1, p. 47
40.Muḥallā, by Ibn Ḥazm, vol. 1, p. 235
41.Al-Iḥkām fī Uṣūl al-Aḥkām, by Amudī vol. 3, p. 155
42.Al-Bayān, p. 206
43.Fatḥ al-Mannān fī Naskh al-Qur’an, p. 224
44.Muḥallā, by Ibn Ḥazm, vol. 10, p. 58
45.For further explanation see: Ahl al-Bayt yā Chehre-ha-ye Derakhshān
46.Rijāl al-Najāshī, p. 58
47.Qāmūs al-Rijāl, vol. 1, p. 403
48.Khulaṣat al-Rijāl, p. 266
49.Dirāsāt fī al-Ḥadīth wa al-Muḥaddithīn, p. 198
50.Taṣḥīḥ al-I`tiqād, p. 72
51.Dirāsāt fī al-Ḥadīth wa al-Muḥaddithīn, p. 137
52.Al-Kāfī (Al-Rawḍah), vol. 8, p. 184
53.Faṣl al-Khiṭāb, p. 275