Has the Quran Been Altered?

Has the Quran Been Altered?

The popular opinion amongst the Shi'ite and Sunni scholars is that no alteration has taken place in the Quran, and the Quran that is in our hands today is the very same Quran that had been revealed to the Noble Prophet (s.a.w) - to the extent that not even a single letter or a word has been added to it or deleted from it.

Some distinguished Shi'ite scholars - ancient and recent - who have explicitly attested to this reality, are:

1. Sheikh Tusi, renowned as Sheikh al-Taifah, who has presented a lucid, explicit and conclusive discussion on this matter at the beginning of his famed commentary, al-Tibyan.

2. Sayyid Murtaza, one of the most celebrated 4th century (Hijri) scholars of the Twelve-Imam sect.

3. The Chief of the Traditionists, Muhammad b. 'Ali b. Babwaih al-Ssaduq, while mentioning the beliefs of the Twelve-Imam sect, states: “Our belief is that no alteration has taken place in the Noble Quran.”

4. The distinguished commentator al-Tabrisi too, in the introduction of his commentary, has presented a vocal discussion in connection with this issue.

5. Kashif al-Ghita, one of the eminent later-generation scholars.

6. Muhaqqiq Yazdi, in his book al-'Urwatul Wuthqa, has reported the opinions of a great number of Shi'ite jurists regarding non-alteration of the Quran.

7. It has been reported that numerous other great scholars like Sheikh Mufid, Sheikh Baha`i, Qadhi Nurullah and other Shia scholars also harbored this belief and opinion.

Preponderantly, great and celebrated Sunni scholars too hold this belief. It should be pointed out that some Shia and Sunni scholars of Hadith, whose knowledge with respect to the Noble Quran was deficient, have reported the occurrence of alteration in the Quran. Nevertheless, by means of explanations on the part of great scholars of both the sects, this false belief has been discarded.

Sayyid Murtazha, replying to the book al-Masail al-Tarablasiyat, says: “The veracity of the Quran is so evident that (the certainty of) it is similar to (the certainty of) the knowledge that we possess with respect to the well-known cities of the world, great historical events and popular books.”

In the aforesaid example, can a person ever harbor doubts about the existence of cities like Mecca, Medina, London or Paris, even though he may have never travelled to these cities?  Can one ever deny the Mongol invasion of Iran, or the French Revolution, or for that matter World Wars I and II?

Why can one not deny the above? It is because all these have reached us as a result of successive transmissions and narrations. Similarly the case is similar with the verses of the Noble Quran and we shall discuss this topic further a little later.

If biased individuals have attributed this belief to the Shia with the intention of sowing discord amongst the Shia and Ahlus Sunnah, the books of great and celebrated Shia scholars are sufficient to prove false their claims.

It is not strange that a person like Fakhr Razi, who is known to us as a person displaying a particular bias and partiality with issues relating to the Shia, under the discussion pertaining, says: 

اِنَّا نَحْنُ نَزَّلْناَ الذِّكْرَ وَ اِنَّا لَهُ لَحَافِظُوْن؛

“Indeed We have sent down the Reminder, and indeed We will preserve it.”(1)

is evidence to prove false the claims of the Shia that there has occurred alteration and addition and deletion in the Noble Quran! It ought to be expressly stated that if his allusion is towards the great and renowned Shia scholars and researchers, then it should be known that none of them have ever possessed such a belief and opinion; and if his allusion is towards a weak and an unauthentic view existing amongst the Shia, a similar view is prevalent amongst the Ahlus Sunnah too - one, which is neither recognized by them nor by us. The renowned researcher Kashif al-Ghita in his book Kashf al-Ghita declares:

لاَ رَيْبَ اَنَّهُ (اَيِ الْقُرْآن) مَحْفُوْظٌ مِنَ النُّقْصَانِ بِحِفْظِ الْمَلِكِ الدَّيَّانِ كَماَ دَلَّ عَلَيْهِ صَرِيْحُ الْقُرْآنِ وَ إِجْماَعُ الْعُلَماَءِ فِي كُلِّ زَماَنٍ وَ لاَ عِبْرَةَ بِناَدِرٍ.

“There is no doubt that the Quran has been protected from any reduction (and alteration) as a result of Allah's protection - as is indicated by the explicit statements of the Quran and the consensus of the scholars in every era; and any opposition (to this belief) by a handful of individuals carried no significance and authenticity.”(2)

The history of Islam has seen numerous such inappropriate attributions, which only originate as a result of prejudice. We do know that the cause of some of these misunderstandings have been due to the enemies, who used to create such issues in an effort to ensure that no unity is established within the ranks of the Muslims.

The state of affairs reached such a stage that the renowned author from the Hijaz, 'Abdullah 'Ali al-Qasimi, in his book al-Sira', while criticizing the Shia, says:

الشيعة هم أبدا أعداء المساجد و لهذا يقل أن يشاهد الضارب في طول بلادهم و غرضها مسجداً.

“The Shia have always been the enemies of mosques and for that reason if a person were to travel the length and breadth of Shia cities, he would come across very few mosques!”

Reflect hard! For here in the Shia inhabited cities we tire ourselves counting the mosques which are found in the streets, bazaars, lanes and even by-lanes and at times there are so many mosques in one place that some people clamor out: Enough! Let us focus on other things too. Despite this we find this renowned author asserting things, which, for those of us residing in these regions, only serve to evoke laughter, and so what Fakhr Razi has ascribed to us should not cause too great an astonishment. (3)

NOTES:

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1. The Quran 15:9

2. The commentary A'la al-Rahman, pg. 25

3. Tafsir-e-Namunah, vol. 11, pg. 18