Is the Qur’an Corrupted?
by Hesham Azmy
This article is a translated adaptation from Dr. Muhammad Habash,
Published March, 30th, 2003
Much have been said about Shi’ites’ attitude toward the lie of Qur’anic corruption and the authenticity of the Qur’an. Some Sunnis have emotionally discussed this issue and taken it as an opportunity to discredit the Shi’ites’ beliefs and accuse them of disbelief (kufr). However, I find it necessary - out of scientific honesty and as a Sunni Muslim - to display these people’s belief concerning the issue of corruption of the Qur’an according to their own sources of utmost acceptance and authority and more importantly according to their understanding and interpretation to what is mentioned in these sources.
To tell the truth, accusations against textual authenticity of the Qur’an were reported on authority of some Shi’ite scholars and even mentioned in some of their authoritative references which actually complicate the matter. For example, it is mentioned in “Al-Kafi” by Al-Kellini1, which is the most authoritative reference of traditions, the following reports:
On authority of Ja’far Ibn Muhammad that he said: the Qur’an was compiled by none but the Imam and the Qur’an whom (Archangel) Gabriel revealed to Muhammad (peace be upon him) was of 17000 verses2.It is also reported in “Al-Kafi” about the interpretation of “Bring me a Book (Revealed) before this, or any remnant of knowledge (ye may have)” (Holy Qur’an 64:4) that …
On authority of Abul-Hasan Ibn Madai that he said: Commander of Believers recited “O Messenger! proclaim the (Message) which hath been sent to thee from thy Lord concerning the Caliphate of Ali. If thou didst not, thou wouldst not have fulfilled and proclaimed His Mission.” (Holy Qur’an 5:67), I said: is it revealed? He said: yes!3
When Allah the Most High captured the soul of His Prophet (peace be upon him) and Fatima disputed about her heritage from God’s Messenger (peace be upon him), she deserted people for 75 days to write her Mushaf, so God sent her (Archangel) Gabriel until she wrote a Mushaf that includes the knowledge of what did, does and will take place till the Day of Resurrection4.These reports led to severe criticism of Shi’ites and their beliefs. Some Sunni extremists have issued verdicts (fatawa) that they are unbelievers7.
On authority of Muhammad Ibn Jahm Al-Hilali that Abu Abdullah said: “lest one party (ummah) should be more numerous than another (ummah)” (Holy Qur’an 16:92) in Surat-un-Nahl is not so; it is “lest Imams (a’immah) should be more pious than your Imams (a’immah)”5.
On authority of Imam Muhammad Al-Baqir that he said: none claims that he has compiled the whole Qur’an as revealed but a liar. None has compiled and memorized it as revealed but Ali Ibn Abi Talib and the Imams after him6.
In fact, whosoever claims that the Qur’an has been corrupted is an unbeliever according to the consensus of Muslim scholars and must be dissociated from the Ummah. But we should not hurry in accusing people because mere presence of these traditions does not mean it is a belief of theirs, also we should know their methodology concerning the interpretation of what they narrate.
Shi’ite scholars do not authenticate whatever is mentioned in “Al-Kafi” by Al-Kellini nor do they elevate it to the position of “Sahih-ul-Bukhari” before Sunnis as lay people think. On the contrary, they say it contains so many traditions with weak and interrupted chains of transmitters. Sheikh Al-Muttaqi Al-Kellini authored his book in 20 years writing on authority of whoever transmits traditions, so it all depends on isnad (i.e., chain of transmitters) as Imam At-Tabari did when he mentioned his isnad and said: this is my isnad and whoever provides isnad cannot be blamed if he errs.
In a recent research by the Shi’ite researcher Hashem Al-Husseini, he asserts that,
All early scholars never agreed upon all traditions of Al-Kellini wholly or in details8.Traditions of “Al-Kafi” that are 16199 in number including 5027 vigorously authentic (Sahih) ones, 144 well authentic (Hasan) ones, 1128 authenticated (Muwathaq) ones, 302 strong (Qawi) ones and 9480 weak (Da’eef) ones9.
Authenticated tradition (Al-Muwathaq) is that which is transmitted by someone authenticated by Shi’ite specialists in spite of his flawed beliefs and no falsehood is related by him. Strong tradition (Al-Qawi) is that which has continuous chain of non-Shi’ite transmitters who are neither authenticated nor criticized by Shi’ite Imams10.
Shi’ite critics has examined the traditions of corruption of the Qur’an in “Al-Kafi” and found them to be 300 ones transmitted by four reporters: Abu ‘Ubaidullah As-Sayari, Yunis Ibn Zhubian, Mankhal Ibn Gamil Al-Kufi and Muhammad Ibn Hasan Ibn Jahour11. The credibility of these four is null according to Shi’ite traditionists.
Al-Ghada’ri12 says about As-Sayari:
He is weak, extremist and eccentric13.Sheikh An-Najashi14 says about him:
He is weak in hadith and corrupted in belief15.Sheikh An-Najashi says about Yunis Ibn Zhubian:
He is very weak, all that he relates is not to be considered, all his books are but corruption16.Al-Ghada’ri says about him:
He is Kufi, extremist, liar and fabricator of hadith17.As for Mankhal Ibn Gamil, Hashem Al-Huseini has related on authority of specialists in hadith transmitters that he is an eccentric extremist18. Lastly, the eminent scholar Ibn-ul-Muttahir Al-Helli19 says about Muhammad Ibn Hasan Ibn Jahour:
He is weak in hadith, extremist in belief and corrupted in narration, his traditions are neither considered nor reliable20.So, their agreement on unreliability of these reporters indicates their innocence from this awful charge and presence of these reports in “Al-Kafi” is conditioned with their authenticity which is not established as we have demonstrated.
It is reported on authority of so many Shi’ite Imams that they have refuted the lie of corruption of the Qur’an, so we quote them here:
The eminent theologian Abu Ja’far Muhammad Ibn ‘Ali Ibn Babwai Al-Qammi known as the truthful (As-Sadouq) (died 381 A.H.)21 states:
Our belief is that the Qur’an is what is between the two covers and it is what is in people’s hands, nothing more. Whosoever attributes to us that we say rather than this is a liar22.As-Sayyed Al-Murtada ‘Ali Ibn Al-Hussein Al-Mosawi Al-‘Elwi (died 436 A.H.)23 states:
The knowledge of authentic transmission of the Qur’an is like the knowledge of great countries and events, prominent accidents, famous books and written Arabic poetry for care is intensified and causes are available to properly transmit and guard it, and it reached such an extent that nothing else has ever reached.Sheikh Abu ‘Ali At-Tabarasi25, the author of the famous Tafsir known as “Majma’-ul-Bayan”, states:
The Qur’an was, during the lifetime of Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him), compiled and arranged until the Prophet (peace be upon him) assigned a group of Companions (Sahaba) to memorize it. It was displayed and recited before the Prophet (peace be upon him) and some Companions as Abdullah Ibn Mas’ood and Ubai Ibn Ka’b recited the whole Qur’an many times before the Prophet (peace be upon him). All this indicates that it was compiled and arranged, neither amputated nor scattered …….
Who disagreed among the Imamiyyah and Al-Hashawiyyah (two Shi’ite sects) are not to be considered for disagreement is attributed to some traditionists who related weak reports whom they believed to be true. However, such reports cannot refute what is already known and agreed upon its authenticity24.
Concerning the talk about the Qur’an being increased and decreased, increasing is agreed upon its falsehood. As for decreasing, it was reported on authority of some of our folks and some of Al-Hashawiyyah that the Qur’an involves change and decrease. But the opposite is true and this is affirmed by Al-Murtada, may Allah bless his soul26.Now we leave the last word in this to Sheikh-ut-Ta’fa (i.e., Authority of the Sect) Abu Ja’far Muhammad Ibn Al-Hasan At-Tusi (died 461 A.H.)27, he summarizes the Shi’ite belief in textual authenticity of the Qur’an and the reason why that rumor was said about them, he states:
Talking about it being increased or decreased is unacceptable because increasing is agreed upon its falsehood. As for decreasing, different Muslim sects are apparently against it and this matches the authentic belief of our sect and was affirmed by Al-Murtada (may Allah be pleased with him). This is explicit in various reports, however, some reports were related about decreasing parts of it and moving parts from place to place, but they are loner reports and do not indicate decisive knowledge. So, it prior to ignore them and quit being preoccupied with them because they cannot be interpreted. Even if they were authentic, it would not be against what is between the two covers for its authenticity is well known and none among the Ummah objects to or rejects it. Our reports agree upon reading it, holding by it and displaying any disagreement in branches before it, whatever agrees with it is accepted and whatever disagrees is rejected. An irrefutable tradition is reported on authority of the Prophet (peace be upon him) that he says: “I’m leaving in you the two weights (Ath-Thuqlain) by whom if you hold by, you will never be lost: Allah’s Book and my family, the inhabitants of my house. They will never separate till they join me in the Hawd”. This indicates that it is present every time because he cannot command us to hold by it if it is corrupted28.The author of “Kashf-ul-Irtiyab fe Radd Fasl-el-Khitab” (i.e., Exposing Suspicion in Answering the Decisive Speech) has transmitted a group of quotations by eminent Shi’ite Imams concerning the textual authenticity of the Qur’an, he quotes the following Imams:
Well, we may also add that the Shi’ites recite the Qur’an according to the Qira’t of Hafs on authority of ‘Asim which is the prevalent Qira’t in the Islamic world. They disagree with the Muslim Ummah in nothing concerning the Mushaf neither in a vowel, a pause, an ayah number, a Sura number, parsing nor rasm. Their scholars say that feet are to be rubbed during ablution although they recite according to the Qira’t of Hafs that commands with washing feet (Qur’an 5:6) in agreement with what the majority of Muslims recite despite their disagreement in Fiqh branches.
So, one can safely conclude that all Muslims of all sects agree upon the belief that the Holy Qur’an written between the two covers is exactly what the Prophet (peace be upon him) has received by inspiration and that Mutawatir recitations are in no disagreement with what ‘Uthman (may God be pleased with him) has established in the Mushaf for God has promised to guard it from being increased or decreased (Qur’an 15:9).
And to God is the decision in all affairs.
1) Abu Ja'far Muhammad Ibn Ya'qoub Ibn Ishaq Al-Kellini
Ar-Razi (died 329 A.H.), an eminent Shi'ite theologian, traditionist and
historian, considered the most significance Shi'ite compiler of Hadith
and famous for his book
"Al-Kafi" which is a compilation
of 16199 hadiths and hundreds of commentaries are written about it.
2) Al-Kellini, "Al-Kafi", Chapter 471, Number 28 in Volume 4, page 446.
3) ibid., Volume 1, page 412.
4) ibid., Chapter of "Mention of the Manuscript" in Volume 1, page 240. Also Chapter 89, Numbers 1, 2, 3 and 4 in Volume 1, page 344.
5) ibid., Chapter 92, Number 7.
6) ibid., Book of "Virtues of the Qur'an".
7) Read for example "Al-Khutout-ul-'Arida lel-Usoul Allati Qam 'Alaiha Din-ush-Shi'ah Al-Imamiyyah" by Muhib-ud-Din Al-Khatib. Also Ihsan Ilahi Zhahir, "Ash-Shi'ah wa Al-Qur'an", pages 92 and 133.
8) Hashem Ma'rouf Al-Husseini, "Drasat fe Al-Hadith wa Al-Muhadithin", pages 132-134.
9) ibid., page 137.
10) Muhyy-d-Din Al-Mosawi Al-Gharifi, "Qawa'ed-ul-Hadith", page 24.
11) Sheikh Rasoul Ja'farian, "Ukthoubat Tahrif Al-Qur'an bain As-Sunnah wa Ash-Shi'ah", page 46.
12) Al-Hussein Ibn 'Ubaidullah Ibn Ibrahim Al-Ghada'iri (died 441 A.H.); he was the authority of Imamiyyah Shi'ites in his time and there are many books written by him.
13) "Qamous-ur-Rigal", Volume 1, page 403.
14) Ahmad Ibn Ali Ibn Ahmad Ibn Al-'Abbas An-Najashi Al-Asadi (373-450 A.H.), he is an Imamiyyah Shi'ite historian and was known as Ibn-ul-Kufi.
15) "Mu'jam Rigal-el-Hadith", Volume 3, page 290.
16) "Rigal-un-Najashi", page 838.
17) Al-Helli, "Khulasat-ur-Rigal", page 266.
18) Hashem Al-Husseini, "Drasat fe Al-Hadith wa Al-Muhaddithin", page 198.
19) Al-Hassan Ibn Yusuf Ibn Ali Ibn Al-Muttahir Al-Helli Jamal-ud-Din (648-726 A.H.), he is one of the most eminent Shi'ite scholars and his books are uncountable.
20) Al-Helli, "Khulasat-ur-Rigal", page 251.
21) Abul-Hassan Ali Ibn Al-Hussein Ibn Musa Ibn Babwai Al-Qammi (died 329 A.H.), he was the authority of Imamiyyah Shi'ites in his time and has books in monotheism, Imamship, Tafsir and others.
22) Sheikh As-Sadouq, "Al-I'tiqadat", Volume 1, page 57.
23) Abul-Qasim Ali Ibn Al-Hussein Ibn Musa Ibn Muhammad Ibn Ibrahim known as Ash-Sharif Al-Murtada (355-436 A.H.), he is one of the most prominent Shi'ite Imams, lived and died in Baghdad and has so many books discussing various topics.
24) At-Tabarasi, "Majma'-ul-Bayan", Volume 1, page 15.
25) Amin-ud-Din Abu Ali Al-Fadl Ibn Al-Hassan Ibn Al-Fadl At-Tabarasi (died 548 A.H), he is a Shi'ite critical scholar, exegete and grammarian, he is one of eminent Imamiyyah Shi'ite scholars and belongs to Tabaristan.
26) At-Tabarasi, "Majma'-ul-Bayan", Volume 1, page 15.
27) Abu Ja'far Muhammad Ibn Al-Hassan Ibn Ali At-Tusi known as Authority of the Sect (Sheikh-ut-Ta'ifa) (385-460 A.H.), one of Shi'ite theologians and exegetes and has many writings.
28) "Tafsir-us-Safi", Volume 1, page 55.
29) “Kashf-ul-Irtiyab fe Radd Fasl-el-Khitab”, page 57.
30) Rasoul Ja'farian, "Ukthoubat Tahrif Al-Qur'an", page 60.
Back to Noorullah main page