Has the Qur’an been altered?
The popular and well-known opinion amongst the Shiite and Sunnite scholars is that no alteration has taken place in the Qur’an, and the Qur"an that is in our hands today is the very same Qur"an that had been revealed to the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his holy progeny) - to the extent that not even a single letter or a word has been added to it or deleted from it.
Some of the distinguished Shiite scholars - ancient and recent - who have explicitly attested to this reality, are:
1. Sheikh Tusi, renowned as Sheikh al-Taifah, in the beginning of his famed commentary (Al-Tibyan), has presented a lucid, explicit and conclusive discussion in this regard.
2. Sayyid Murtadha,
one of the most celebrated 4th century (Hijri) scholars of the Twelve-Imam sect.
3. The Chief of the Traditionists, Muhammad Ibn A"li Ibn Babwaih, al-Saduq, while mentioning the beliefs of the Twelve-Imam sect, avers: Our belief is that no alteration has taken place in the holy Qur’an.
4. The distinguished commentator Tabrisi too, in the introduction of his commentary, has presented a vocal discussion in connection with this issue.
5. Kashif al-Ghitaa, one of the eminent later-generation scholars.
6. Muhaqqiq Yazdi, in his book Al-U’rwah al-Wuthqa, has reported the opinions of a great number of Shiite jurists regarding non-alteration of the Qur’an.
7. It has been reported that numerous other great scholars like Sheikh Mufid, Sheikh Bahaai, Qadhi Nurullah and other Shiite scholars also harboured this belief and opinion.
Preponderantly, great and celebrated Sunnite scholars too possess this belief.
Although some of the Shiite and Sunnite scholars of hadith, whose knowledge with respect to the holy Qur’an had been deficient, have reported the occurrence of alteration in the Qur’an. Nevertheless, by means of explanations on the part of great scholars of both the sects, this false belief has been shoved into forgetfulness and oblivion.
Sayyid Murtadha, replying to the book al-Masaail al-Tarablasiyaat, says: The veracity of the Qur’an is so evident that (the certainty with respect to) 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 harbour doubts about the existence of cities like Mecca, Medinah, London or Paris, even though he may have never traveled 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? This is because all these have reached us as a result of successive transmissions and narrations. Similarly so is the case with the verses of the holy Qur’an and we shall elucidate this aspect a little later.
And if biased individuals have attributed this belief to the Shiites with the intention of sowing discord amongst the Shiites and Sunnites, the books of great and celebrated Shiite 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 possessing a particular bias and partiality with issues relating to the Shiites, under the discussion pertaining to verse 9 of the chapter al-Hijr, says:
The verse اِنَّا نَحْنُ نَزَّلْناَ الذِّكْرَ وَ اِنَّا لَهُ لَحاَفِظُوْن (Surely, We have sent down the Reminder (the Qur’an) and surely, We (Ourselves) shall be its Guardian) is evidence to prove false the claims of the Shiites that there has occurred alteration and addition and deletion in the holy Qur’an!
It ought to be expressly stated that if his allusion is towards the great and renowned Shiite scholars and researchers, then it should be known that none one them have ever possessed and nor possess such a belief and opinion; and if his allusion is towards a weak and an unauthentic view existing amongst the Shiites, well a similar view is prevalent amongst the Sunnites too - one, which is neither recognized by them and nor by us.
The renowned researcher Kaashif al-Ghitaa in his book Kashf al-Ghitaa declares:
لاَ رَيْبَ اَنَّهُ (اَيِ الْقُرْآن) مَحْفُوْظٌ مِنَ النُّقْصاَنِ بِحِفْظِ الْمَلِكِ الدَّيَّانِ كَماَ دَلَّ عَلَيْهِ صَرِيْحُ الْقُرْآنِ وَ اِجْماَعُ الْعُلَماَءِ فِي كُلِّ زَماَنٍ وَ لاَ عِبْرَةَ بِناَدِرٍ
(There is no doubt that the Qur’an has been protected from any reduction (and alteration) as a result of God’s protection – as is indicated by the explicit statements of the Qur’an and the consensus of the scholars in every era; and any opposition (to this belief) by a handful of individuals possesses no significance and authenticity.) (1)
The history of Islam has seen numerous such inappropriate attributions, which only originate as a result of bias and prejudice. We do know that the cause of some of these misunderstandings have been the enemies, who used to foment 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 Hejaz, Abdullah A"li al-Qaseemi, in his book Al-Siraa’, while criticizing the Shiites, says: The Shiites have always been the enemies of mosques and this is the reason that if a person were to travel the length and breadth of Shiite cities, he would come across very few mosques! (2)
Reflect hard! For here in the Shiite 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)
Other useful links:
The Quran on Mountains
The Great Challenge
1. The commentary Aalaa al-Rahman, pg. 25.
2. الشيعة هم ابدا اعداء المساجد و لهذا يقل ان يشاهد الضارب في طول بلادهم و غرضها مسحدا;
Al-Siraa’, vol. 2, pg. 23 – as reported by A'llamah Amini in the book al-Ghadeed, vol. 3, pg. 300.
3. Tafseer-e-Namunah, vol. 11, pg. 18.