Muʿjam al-Aḥādīth al-Muʿtabara > Essay on the Question of Tahrif
Hadith #1

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* Difference between Tanzil and Qur’an Know - may Allah assist you with His assistance - that the totality of the Qur’an is a divine revelation sent down (by Allah), considered to be so by all Muslims as per necessity (bil Dharura), and not on the basis of arguments set forth by the ancient philosophers and natural scientists to demonstrate its divine origin which are all insufficient without any doubt. However, not everything that was revealed or sent down is part of the Qur’an, for Allah the Elevated revealed and sent down to his final Messenger some matters, relayed by the Muslims (from him) on separate occasions, of which there is no trace in the Qur’an. For example, there is in al-Bukhari in the chapter on the merit of the Qur’an a report on the authority of Safwan from his father Ya’la who witnessed a man inquiring from the prophet: O Messenger of Allah, what do you say about a man who assumes the Ihram (for Umra) in a cloak after he has applied perfume (on himself)? So the prophet waited for a while and revelation came … then he regained his composure and said: Where is the one who asked me about the Umra a short while ago? The man was sought out and brought to the prophet - who said: As for the perfume that is on you then wash it thrice, and as for the cloak then take it off, and do in your Umra the way you do in your Hajj It is evident that this ruling is not to be found in the Qur’an, and there are many similar examples both in the Hadith and history. Based on this, the reports which have come down concerning certain verses which say that a phrase ‘came down in this way’, that is, with an addition beyond what is available in the Qur’an today, do not necessarily indicate deficiency in the Qur’an and its Tahrif (alteration) as has been assumed by some, either because of limited thinking or rebellious opposition. For the ‘general’ does not indicate the ‘specific’ (i.e. since revelation is wider than what is Qur’an-proper then such reports should not be taken as limited to the latter). * Different Kinds of Tahrif In addition, the word Tahrif is used with different meanings in mind: 1. Moving something from its original location and transferring it to someplace else “among those who have become Jews are some who displace words from their (rightful) places” (4:46), and there is no doubt in the occurrence of this type of Tahrif in the Qur’an, for whoever interprets the Qur’an with other than its actual meaning and by making use of his opinion and desires then he has made Tahrif in it. 2. Omission or addition at the level of letters or in vocalization while acknowledging the preservation of the Qur’an without anything being lost. Tahrif with this meaning has also occurred without any doubt since the different Qira’at are not Mutawatir (consecutively transmitted back to the prophet), thus the Qur’an that came down may align with one of the Qira’at and the other Qira’at (where they differ) are instances of addition or omission. 3. Tahrif in addition or omission at the level of a verse or a chapter while acknowledging the preservation of the Qur’an without anything being lost. This has also occurred, like in the Basmala, wherein all the Muslims admit that the prophet recited it before every chapter except al-Bara’a but there has occurred difference about whether it is part of the Qur’an or not? Thus the Shia and a large number of the Sunnis hold the former (it is part of the Qur’an) while another group of the Sunnis hold the latter (i.e. it is not) 4. Tahrif of addition, in the sense that a part of the Mushaf that is between our hands (available to us today) is not Divine revelation. This is something that not a single one from among the Muslims upholds. In fact, it has been said that the invalidity of this position is known by necessity (bil Dharura) 5. Tahrif of omission, in the sense that the Mushaf that is between our hands does not include the whole Qur’an, rather a part of it has become lost to the Umma (community). And this is subject to dispute. The famous and well-recognized position among the Shia is to also negate this, in opposition to a group among them (i.e. the Shia) and a group of the Sunnis (who uphold it). Our teacher Sayyid al-Khoei has addressed the question in an in-depth and convincing manner in his book al-Bayan, whoever wishes to acquaint himself with the truth of the matter should make reference to it from Pg. 225 to Pg. 254, the latest edition printed in Kuwait. * A Second Glance at the Reports of the Previous Section Reports with reliable chains that indicate omission in the Qur’an from the paths of the Shia are very few as you have seen in the previous section. A researcher may perhaps also find a few other instances in this book (i.e. all 8 vols. of Mu’jam) not included in the previous section. I do not think there are 10 reliable-in-chain reports which can be used as evidence in some way for the Tahrif of the Qur’an in the sense that is disputed (i.e. No. 5 above). So how far from correctness is the claim of the one who claims the presence of 2000 reports in this regard! Even worse is when a group of those who harbor enmity, the Nussab (haters) and the people of falsehood cite this claim as a means to revile and attack the Shia of the family of Muhammad “so leave them toying away in their vain talk” (6:91). As for reports in this regard by paths of the Ahl al-Sunna then they are plentiful, found in their authentic compilations, in fact, some of them assert the loss of two full chapters from the Qur’an, and a full discussion of these reports is left for its appropriate place. Having said this, the famous and widely accepted position, both among them and us, is the preservation of the Qur’an from any omission, so it is not permitted to stir up controversy in the matter, nor is a contrary position brought up except by provocateurs who are hired to weaken Islam or bigoted fools who seek position in the eyes of the crowds “and Allah does not support the work of the corruptors” (10:81) It should not be said that the Qur’an which was recorded by the Commander of the Faithful has not reached us, and that whoever studies the accounts of the writing down of the Qur’an by the companions in the rule of Abu Bakr and Uthman with the attendant lack of resources in those times may attain strong conjecture or even confidence concerning the deficiency of that which was collected by the companions - so how do you reject this? I (i.e. Muhsini) say: Yes (this would be true) if it weren’t for the fact that the Muslims preserved the Qur’an on the surface (of their hearts). Thus the reliance of the compilers and gatherers was not merely on tablets and written inscriptions but upon what they had memorized in their hearts, a fulfillment of His words the Exalted “And We will certainly preserve it” (15:9) - so understand the point.