Chapter Three : Shia evidences against the possibility of distortion in Quran


In the previous chapter we presented the views of some of the prominent ulema of Shia Athna Ashari Ulema who submitted various arguments and evidences to refute the notion of that the Quran has been distorted. When we have the testimonies of these grand Ulema then any traditions that infer distortion lose their value, irrespective of their number and authenticity. The evidences presented by the Shia Ulema debunk any statement about distortion in the Quran thus making it false. We shall seek to summarize all those arguments and evidences in this chapter.

Evidence one: Verses of the Holy Quran reject any possibility of distortion in it

As a Muslim we all believe that every vital thing is present in the Holy Quran. Since it talks about everything then it also talks about itself as well. There exist many verses in the Holy Quran which clearly reject any possibility of distortion in the Quran and and refute any suggestion of external interference in it. These verses prove that nothing until the day of judgment shall alter its authority or honor and become the reason of failure in its reverence. Those verses are as follows:

. . . And if it had been from any other than Allah, they would surely have found in it much discrepancy. (Quran, 4 :82)

Surely We have revealed the Reminder and We will most surely be its guardian. (Quran, 15:9)

According to Sahih reports the “Reminder” in the cited verse means the Quran which Allah (swt) revealed to his beloved Apostle and took the responsibility of its protection from its first revelation until Qiyamah.

Do not move your tongue with it to make haste with it, Surely on Us (devolves) the collecting of it and the reciting of it. Therefore when We have recited it, follow its recitation. Again on Us (devolves) the explaining of it. (Quran 75: 16-19)

According to Ibn Abbas (ra):

“Surely on Us (devolves) the collecting of it” means: “its collection is incumbent on us while reading it is incumbent on you so that it should remain protected so that its recitation becomes possible. Thus do not be doubtful in it and do not think that any of its words have been dead or lost”
Majma al Bayan, Volume 5 page 297 by Tabarsi

Evidence two: Hadiths from the Holy Prophet (s) and Imams (as)

After the Quran, the Sunnah is the second source of guidance for Muslims that form the basis for our beliefs and instructions that have reached us from different Sahih sources. It is therefore incumbent on Muslims to find those things in the Sunnah that cannot be found clearly in the Quran and should get the tafseer of all those verses from Sunnah that may seem to be difficult to understand with doubts over their actual meanings. We should accordingly adhere to the path of the Sunnah, whilst the Quran also instructs us to do likewise. We read in the Glorious Quran:

..and whatever the Messenger gives you, accept it, and from whatever he forbids you, keep back… (Quran 59:7)

“Obey Allah and Obey his Prophet and worry, and be warned that the Prophet’s duty is only to deliver the message clearly” (Surah al Maidah verse 92)

Following the instructions of these verses when turn to the Sunnah, we find a plethora of hadiths that evidence that the present Quran without any additions and deletions is the same that was revealed by Allah (swt) to his Prophet Muhammad (s). Such Hadiths fall under seven categories.

Type One: Hadiths that require the Quran to judge the Hadith itself

There are numerous Hadiths that tell us when we find two contradictory Hadiths the correct method should be to measure such Hadith against the Quran and determine whether they either contradict or conform with the Quran. Those Hadith that contradict the Quran should be rejected; the Hadith that conform it should be accepted. Had any distortion taken place in the verses or Surahs of the Quran, the Imams (as) would have never narrated this method from their forefather the Holy Prophet (s). We would like to present such hadith.

“Imam Raza (as) stated: When you find two contradictory reports about same matter then present both of them before the Quran since it contains instruction of every Halal and Haram [matter]. Therefore whichever is in accordance to the Quran adhere to it while present the one before Sunnah of Prophet (s) which is not present in Quran”
Ayoon Akhbar Raza, Volume 2 page 20 by Sheikh Saduq

Imam Jafar (as) narrates from his father who from narrates from his father who narrates from Ameer al Momineen (as): Verily every Haq is a reality and every Thawab is Noor. Thus take whatever is in accordance to the Quran and leave whatever is against it”
Amali, page 368 by Sheikh Saduq

“Imam Muhammad Taqi (as) states: Whenever Haqaiq are mentioned, their evidences should be sought from the Quran. Thus, if there are arguments about those evidences then it is incumbent to adhere to them and no one save people of arrogance would disagree about them”
Tauhfa al Aqool, page 343 by Behrani

Imam Jafar Sadiq (as) stated: When two different hadiths reach you then present both of them before book of Allah, if it is in accordance then take it, if it contradict it, then abandon it”
Arasail, page 446 by Sheikh al Ansari

These and similar traditions prove that there is no distortion to the Book of Allah (swt) and it is in same manner as it was revealed to our Holy Prophet [a] due to the fact that had any distortion taken place it would not have acted as the sole / final authority to check every hadith, including those inferring distortions to the Quran and to accept those that are in accordance to the Book of Allah and reject those that conflict with it.

Type Two: Hadith Thaqlain

As we all know that Holy Prophet (s) clearly instructed us to follow the book of Allah and his Ahlulbayt (as).

Prophet said: Verily, I am leaving behind two precious things (thaqalayn) among you: the Book of God and my kindred (`itrah), my household (Ahl alBayt), for indeed, the two will never separate until they come back to me by the Pond (of alKawthar on the Judgement’s Day).

This hadith demonstrates that all the Quranic verses had already been complied during the era of the Holy Prophet (s) since this enables us to understand the usage of “kitab” [book] here. This is because the word “Kitab” has been used in many Quranic verses. Moreover and most importantly this hadith also demands that until Qayamah, the Quran would remain in the same manner as it was during the time of our Holy Prophet (s) so that all Muslims, nay all mankind attain guidance from these two combined elements i.e. the Quran and Ahlulbayt (as) since the words and authenticity of this hadith prove such an aim. If the Quran did not remain in its actual form then this would mean that the Holy Prophet (s) (God forbid) did not know what would happen to his Ummah after him or that the Quran would be incapable of providing correct guidance to the entire Ummah. Verily no Muslim could even think let alone entertain either of these notions.

Type Three: Traditions about earning rewards for reciting the complete Surah in prayers

There are some traditions that evidence rewards for reciting particular complete Surahs during prayers or the complete Quran during the Holy month of Ramadan. Had any distortion taken place in the Quran such hadith would carry no value and be meaningless, afterall what be the sense in memorizing Surah that were distorted? Hereunder are some of the hadiths on the topic.

Imam Baqar(as) narrates from his father who from his father who narrates from the Holy Prophet (s): Whoever recites ten verses in a night shall not be counted amongst the heedless ones and whoever recites fifty verse shall be counted among Daakireen [speakers]. Whoever recites a hundred verses shall be counted amongst the grateful ones. Whoever recites two hundred verses shall be counted amongst those who fear Allah. Whoever recites three hundred shall be counted amongst the successful ones. Whoever recited five hundred verses shall be counted amongst the Mujtahideen. Whoever recites one thousand verses shall receive many rewards”
1. Al Kafi, Volume 2 page 448
2. Amali, page 59-60 by Sheikh Saduq

Imam Muhammad Baqar (as) states: When someone performs Witr and recites Mauzatain and Surah Ikhlas, it is said to him: O man of Allah ! Your Witr has been accepted by Allah”.
1. Amali, page 60 by Sheikh Saduq
2. Thawab al A’maal, page 157 by Sheikh Saduq

Note: Mauzatain refers to two Surahs of the Quran i.e. Surah Falaq & Surah Naas.

Imam Jafar Sadiq (as) states: The recitation of the Quran is incumbent on you because the ranks of Paradise will be based on the number of verses of Quran. Thus on the day of Qayamah it will be said to the Qari of the Quran: Keep reciting and keep ascending”. The number of ranks that he is granted shall correspond to the number of verses he recites”
1. Amali, page 359 by Sheikh Saduq
2. Thawab al A’maal, page 157 by Sheikh Saduq

Imam Jafar Sadiq (as) states: It is incumbent for those from our Shia that the believer [Momin] recite on the preceding Friday night Surah Jum`a and Surah ( Smai Isma Rabakal A`ala..). Verily this was the act of the Prophet (s) it is what he used to, its reward is with Allah, whether He grants him paradise”
Thawab al A’maal, page 146

Imam Muhammad Baqar (as) states: Whoever in Makkah completes the Quran during two Fridays or around this period of time or mainly completes it on a Friday then Allah will give him reward, so that all of his time during the two Fridays will be counted in recitation. If he completes it on any other day than Friday even then his entire time shall be counted as if he was reciting all the time”.
Thawab al A’maal, page 125

There are also several other traditions recorded by to Fuqha as to which Surah is Mustahib to recite in prayers. See Jawahir al Kalam, Volume 9 pages 400-419.

Sheikh Saduq has recorded traditions from the Imams (as) regarding the reward of particular Surahs. [see Thawab al A`maal, from page 130 to 158] and Sheikh Saduq has argued about the completeness of Quran on the basis of similar Hadiths. [see Al Eiteqad, page 93].

Type Four: Hadith instructing us to refer to the Quran

There are many Hadith that concur with the above. For the sake of brevity we shall cite the sermons and letters of Imam Ali bin Abi Talib (as).

“The Prophet came with (a Book containing) testifying to the previous (books) which were already there and also with a light to be followed. It is the Qur’an. If you ask it to speak it won’t do so; but I will tell you about it. Know that it contains knowledge of what is to come about, stories of the past, cure for your ills and regulation for whatever faces you.”
Nahjul balagha Sermon 158

And in a detailed sermon he said:

“And know that this Qur’an is an adviser who never deceives, a leader who never misleads and a narrator who never speaks a lie. No one will sit beside this Qur’an but that when he rises he will achieve one addition or one diminution – addition in his guidance or elimination in his (spiritual) blindness. You should also know that no one will need anything after (guidance from) the Qur’an and no one will be free from want before (guidance from) the Qur’an. Therefore, seek cure from it for your ailments and seek its assistance in your distresses. It contains a cure for the biggest diseases, namely unbelief, hypocrisy, revolt and misguidance. Pray to Allah through it and turn to Allah with its love. Do not ask the people through it. There is nothing like it through which the people should turn to Allah, the Sublime.
Know that it is an interceder and its intercession will be accepted. It is a speaker who is testified. For whoever the Qur’an intercedes on the Day of Judgment, its intercession for him would be accepted. He about whom the Qur’an speaks ill on the Day of Judgement shall testify to it. On the Day of Judgement an announcer will announce, “Beware. every sower of a crop is in distress except the sowers of the Qur’an.” Therefore, you should be among the sowers of the Qur’an and its followers. Make it your guide towards Allah.
Seek its advice for yourselves, do not trust your views against it. and regard your desires in the matter of the Qur’an as deceitful.”

Nahjul balagha sermon 176

Ameer al Momineen in his letter to Harith Hamdani (ra) wrote:

“Never forsake the orders, instructions and advice given by the Holy Qur’an. So far as presumptions of actions and things, lawful, legitimate and allowable or unlawful, forbidden and prohibited are concerned, accept the rulings of the Holy Book.”
Nahjul Balagha

At another place he said:

“The Book of Allah is among you. It speaks and its tongue does not falter. It is a house whose pillars do not fall down, and a power whose supporters are never routed.”
Nahjul balagha Sermon 133

“Rayan bin Salat narrates that he asked Imam Raza (as) : “O descendant of Prophet (S), what are your views on the Qur’an? He replied: This is book of Allah, do not leave it behind and do not attain guidance from non-Quran for you will go astray”
1. Aiwan Akhbar al Raza, Volume 2 page 57 by Sheikh Saduq
2. Amali, page 546 by Sheikh Saduq

“Then, Allah sent to him the Book as a light whose flames cannot be extinguished, a lamp whose gleam does not die, a sea whose depth cannot be sounded, a way whose direction does not mislead, a ray whose light does not darken, a separator (of good from evil) whose arguments do not weaken, a clarifier whose foundations cannot be dismantled, a cure which leaves no apprehension for disease, an honour whose supporters are not defeated, and a truth whose helpers are not abandoned. Therefore, it is the mine of belief and its centre, the source of knowledge and its oceans, the plantation of justice and its pools, the foundation stone of Islam and its construction, the valleys of truth and its plains, an ocean which those who draw water cannot empty, springs which those who draw water cannot dry up, a watering place which those who come to take water cannot exhaust, a staging place in moving towards which travellers do not get lost, signs which no treader fails to see and a highland which those who approach it cannot surpass it.
Allah has made it a quencher of the thirst of the learned, a bloom for the hearts of religious jurists, a highway for the ways of the righteous, a cure after which there is no ailment, an effulgence with which there is no darkness, a rope whose grip is strong, a stronghold whose top is invulnerable, an honour for him who loves it, a peace for him who enters it, a guidance for him who follows it, an excuse for him who adopts it, an argument for him who argues with it, a witness for him who quarrels with it, a success for him who argues with it, a carrier of burden for him who seeks the way, a shield for him who arms himself (against misguidance), a knowledge for him who listens carefully, worthy story for him who relates it and a final verdict of him who passes judgements.”

Nahjul balagha Sermon 198

“The Qur’an orders as well as refrains, remains silent and also speaks. It is the proof of Allah before His creation. He has taken from them a pledge (to act) upon it. He has perfected its effulgence, and completed through it His religion. He let the Prophet leave this world when he had conveyed to the people all His commands of guidance through the Qur’an. You should therefore regard Allah great as he has held Himself great, because He has not concealed anything of His religion from you, nor has He left out anything which He likes or which He dislikes, but He made for it a clear emblem (of guidance) and a definite sign which either refrains from it or calls towards it…”
Nahjul balagha Sermon 183

Type Five: Referring to different verses of the Holy Quran

Different Shia Muhaddaitheen have recorded hadiths wherein we read that the Imams of Ahlulbait (as) would refer and recite different verses of the Holy Quran during debates and discussions whether debates and discussions were about beliefs or Holy instructions and whether they contained wisdom or examples etc. The Imams (as) would cite the Quranic verses that are present in the Quran today, and would cite Quranic verses to negate single chain narrations (Ahaad) about distortions in the Quran. This is evidence in chief proving that those traditions that have been narrated from the Imams (as) about Tahreef are actually tafseers according the revelation and not the additions or deletions. [See Al Mizan fi Tafseer al Quran, Volume 12 page 111].

Type Six: Hadiths that conform that the present Quran is correct

There are various traditions narrated from our Imams (as) that affirm their belief that the present Quran was the same as that which was revealed to the Holy Prophet (s). Here are some of them:

“But the Prophet left amongst you the same which other Prophets left among their peoples, because Prophets do not leave them untended (in dark) without a clear path and a standing ensign, namely the Book of your Creator clarifying its permission and prohibitions, its obligations and discretion, its repealing injunctions and the repealed ones, its permissible matters and compulsory ones, its particulars and the general ones, its lessons and illustrations, its long and short ones, its clear and obscure ones, detailing its abbreviations and clarifying its obscurities.
In it there are some verses whose knowledge is obligatory and others whose ignorance by the people is permissible. It also contains what appears to be obligatory according to the Book but its repeal is signified by the Prophet’s action (sunnah) or that which appears compulsory according to the Prophet’s action but the Book allows not following it. Or there are those which are obligatory in a given time but not so after that time. Its prohibitions also differ. Some are major regarding which there exists the threat of fire (Hell), and others are minor for which there are prospects of forgiveness. There are also those of which a small portion is also acceptable (to Allah) but they are capable of being expanded.”

Nahjul Balagha, Sermon 1

At another place Ameer al Momineen (as) says:

“..The fact is that Allah the Glorified says:
. . . We have not neglected anything in the Book . . . [Qur'an, 6:38]
And says that one part of the Qur’an verifies another part and that there is no divergence in it as He says:
. . . And if it had been from any other than Allah, they would surely have found in it much discrepancy. [Qur'an, 4 :82]

Certainly the outside of the Qur’an is wonderful and its inside is deep (in meaning). Its wonders will never disappear, its amazements will never pass away and its intricacies cannot be cleared except through itself.”
Nahjul Balagha, Sermon 18

We also read the statement of Imam Jafar Sadiq (as):

“Ali bin Salam narrates from his father who asked Imam Jafer Sadiq (as) “O descendant of the Prophet (S). What are your views on the Qur’an? Imam Jafer (as) replied ‘the Qur’an is Allah’s book and his revelation. This is a Book which Baatil hasn’t even gone close to, neither will there be anyone who would call it Baatil nor has this happened before and this has been revealed by the Hakeem and Majeed God”
Amali by Shaykh Saduq, Page 545

Type Seven: Hadiths demonstrating that the Quran was compiled during lifetime of the Prophet (s)

There exist those hadiths that suggest that the Quran had already been collected during the lifetime of the Holy Prophet (s) and the version that Imam Mahdi (as) possesses will be the same as we have today except that its sequence differs. According to the traditions found in the texts of the Shia Imamia, the Quran had already been compiled during the time of the Holy Prophet (s) who tasked Imam Ali bin Abi Talib with its compilation. We read in our texts that the Quran possessed by Imam Mahdi (as) will be the same as that of Imam Ali (as) and will only differ from the present version in terms of the sequence of Surahs. We also read in such texts that there has been no tehrif in the Quran and that even if there was any possibility of tehrif it would be ‘Tahreef bil Maini’ i.e. the words of the Quran are in same manner as they were revealed however there might be changes in the meanings (if its really the case) or it is only the sequence that has been changed.

The report which says that Quran had already been compiled during the time of Holy Prophet (s) is narrated by Ali ibn Ibrahim Qummi in his tafseer whilst those reports point to changes in the sequence of Surahs are reported by Qataal Nishapuri.

Type Eight: Tradition “the Book of Allah is sufficient for us”

Arguably the most tragic, painful incident that occurred during the last days of the of Holy Prophet (s) that divided the Muslims and deprived the majority from attaining the clear instructions of the Prophet (s) of Islam relates to the orders he issued on his last Thursday on this earth. We read in different texts as follows:

When the time of the death of the Prophet approached while there were some men in the house, and among them was ‘Umar Ibn al-Khattab, the Prophet said: “Come near let me write for you a writing after which you will never go astray.” ‘Umar said: “The Prophet is seriously ill, and you have the Qur’an, so Allah’s Book is sufficient for us.” The people in the house differed and disputed. Some of them said, “Come near so that Allah’s Apostle may write for you a writing after which you will not go astray,” while the others said what ‘Umar said. When they made much noise and quarreled greatly in front of the Prophet, he said to them, “Go away and leave me.” Ibn ‘Abbas used to say, “It was a great disaster that their quarrel and noise prevented Allah’s Apostle from writing a statement for them.
Sahih Bukhari Arabic-English Volume 9 hadith number 468 and Volume 7 hadith 573

For the purpose of this article we are submitting the statement of Umar & Co. as evidence that the Quran was held by the people in a tangible book form. No one neither those who were in favor of obeying the instruction of the Prophet (s) not those opposed to it, advanced the notion that the surahs and verses of the Quran were scattered.

We have until now presented all those evidences from the Quran and Sunnah which demonstrate that there has been no distortion with Quran. Now shall now present further evidence.

Evidence Three: Ijma

Evidence which clarifies that the Quran is unchanged can be gauged from the Ijma of all the scholars of Islam. [see Kashaf al Ghata etc]. Everyone is aware that Ijma commands authority over all Muslims.

Evidence Four: The Salat (Prayer) of the Shia Ithna Ashari

The prayer of the Shia Ithna Ashari is itself the biggest proof that there has been no change to the Quran because it is Wajib to recite any surah from the Quran after reciting Surah Al Hamd during the first two Rakat. In the light of this rule the Shia prayer is based on their firm belief that all the verses present in the Quran we have in our possession are the same as those revealed to the Holy Prophet (s), had this not been the case, then the rule of reciting a complete Surah after Surah Al Hamd would been completely useless.

Evidence Five: The special treatment afforded to the Quran by the Prophet (s) and his companions

Is it possible for any Muslim to reject the special treatment afforded to the Holy Quran by our Holy Prophet (s)? Whenever a verse of the Quran was revealed, he (s) quickly cascade it amongst the Muslims and would instruct them to teach it to others, encouraging rewards associated with such dissemination in this world and hereafter. Therefore no one except an ignorant can deny the fact the Prophet (s) would make the people learn the verses and encourage them to protect the verses in their hearts or on parchment.

At that time there existed many reasons to memorize the Quran by heart, as the companions had a higher status due to this quality. In such conditions how is it possible that a large or say any part of Quran was lost or changed?


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