Some people accuse the Shia of having a different Quran or of believing that some of the verses of the Quran that is available today are different than the Quran at the time of the Prophet (S). This is a very dangerous accusation because it affects the validity of any argument or belief which relies on the Quran as a source of evidence. As we will show in this article, the school of AhlulBayt (A) believes that the Quran today is the same one that was revealed to the Prophet (S) and there are no words or verses added to it or missing from it.
What Types of Changes are in Question
Before we tackle the question of whether the Quran has been changed we need to figure out what are the type of changes that are in question and what the Muslims have said about each one. The scholars have listed 6 types of changes to the Quran as follows:
Alteration of the Meaning: “Some of the Jews distort (yuharrifuna) words from their meaning” (4.46). This verse speaks of a type of alteration which happens at the stage of interpretation in order to give a different meaning than intended. This type of alteration happens with the Quran by the agreement of all Muslims. Every time someone who does not have the knowledge and expertise to interpret the Quran and give the meaning of a verse, they are altering the Quran in a way because they are giving a different meaning.
Addition or Omission of Letters or Accent Marks: This type is also present in the Quran by the agreement of all Muslims. Because of it we have the different readings of the Quran and those readings have differences in accent marks and the way some words are read. However, the overall integrity and body of the Quran including verses and chapters is protected.
Addition or Omission of a Few Words: There were different copies of the Quran in the early days of Islam which had differences in some words, however, the main Quran which the people were using at the time of the Prophet (S) was among the people as well. Othman ordered for all the other versions to be burned and so we are left with the copy that was the main one used at the time of the Prophet (S).
Alteration via Addition or Omission of the Verses in the Chapters While Agreeing It is From the Quran: This goes to the conflict of the Basmalah “Bismi Allahi Alrahmani Alraheem” and whether it’s a part of every surah (as most Shia scholars believe) or it is not a part of each surah and only put there for blessing.
Alteration via the Addition of Entire Verses or Chapters: It is agreed upon by all Muslims that this never happened. In fact the Quran itself challenges those who are non-believers to come up with a single verse or chapter like the Quran and they could not.
Alteration via Omission: The Quran we have today is not complete: This type of alteration means that some of the verses or other parts of the Quran which Allah (SWT) revealed did not make it to us today and were lost. This is the type which we will focus on because it is the source of some conflict. Any time that refer to alteration in this article we mean this type of alteration.
The Opinions of the Muslims Regarding Alteration of the Quran
The majority of Muslim scholars (Shia and Sunni) believe that the Quran has not been altered and that the Quran that we have today is a complete copy of the one that was revealed to the Prophet (S) and read by him. To show that this opinion is the one taken by Shia scholars we list a few of the most famous Shia narrators and scholars over the years:
The Master of Narrators Shaikh Alsadooq (Died in 991 AD:( In his book of I’tiqadat he states that the Quran which the Shia believe in is the one used by the people and what is between the covers and nothing more. (I’tiqadat, 93).
Alshaikh Almofeed (Died in 1022:( Asserts the same in his book. (Awa’il Almaqalat, 55)
Alshareef Almortadha (Died 1044:( States that anyone who says the Quran that we have is missing parts is not to be listened to and they do not represent the Shia belief. (Majma’ Albayan, 1:83).
The Leader of the Shia Shaikh Altoosi (Died 1067:( In his book interpreting the Quran he states that it is beneath the level of the Quran to talk about it being added to or subtracted from. He also states that even though we have numerous Hadeeths from both Sunni and Shia sources which may suggest alteration those Hadeeths are either weak and not to be taken seriously, or they mean a different type of alteration than the one at hand. (Tibyan, 3:1)
Shaikh Altabarsi (Died 1163:( In his book interpreting the Quran he states that the belief of the Shia is that the Quran is not altered. (Majma’ Albayan, 1:83)
Shaikh Kashif Alghita’ (Died 1813:( He states the same belief and adds that if there was a portion of the Quran missing, we would have had many Hadeeths which are consistent on the topic. (Kashf Alghita’, 229).
Sayyid Mohammad Altabataba’i (Died 1826:( States that the Quran is mutawatar (certain) as a whole and in its parts. In order for anything doubting the Quran to be taken seriously, it would have to have the same level of authenticity according to both Shia and Sunni schools. No one has ever made such a claim, therefore the Quran is complete. (Alburhan By Albrojardi, 120)
Shaikh Mohammad Jawad Albalaghi (Died 1933:( Discredits the Hadeeths attacking the completeness of the Quran. (Ala’ Alrahman, 1:18)
Sayyid Abdulhussain Sharafaldeen (Died 1957:( States that believing in the non-alteration of the Quran and the evidence of its verses is a necessary belief of the Shia school of thought. (Ajwibat As’ilat Jar Allah, 28-37)
Sayyid Roohuallah Alkhomaini (Died 1989:( He says that the level of care the Muslims and the Prophet (S) gave the Quran and its collection assures us of the completeness of the Quran. He also states that the Hadeeths going against that are either weak, made up or are describing a different type of alteration.
Sayyid Abulqassim Alkhoei (Died 1993:( He states that the idea of the Quran being altered (as in incomplete) is a myth and only believed by those who are weak in their knowledge or who have not studied the matter closely. (Tafseer Albayn, 259)
Proving That the Quran Has Not Been Altered
As we have shown the idea of the Quran being altered is dismissed by Shia scholars. However, for further support we will mention a few of the ways which they use to prove that it was not.
First Proof: Rational Proof
The proof relies on the following premises:
It is established through reason and agreed upon all Abrahamic Religions that Prophethood is necessary for establishing Justice on earth and guiding the people to God.
Any prophethood is not believed by the people unless there is a miracle supporting the claim of connection with God.
The prophethood of our Prophet (S) is the last prophethood and it is for all time. It must have a miracle that accompanies it for the rest of time as well.
In his infinite wisdom, Allah (SWT) has chosen to end the line of Prophets with our Prophet (S). Thus, He made his prophethood worldwide and for all time. He also accompanied it and supported with a lasting miracle which is the Quran. It is not plausible that Allah (SWT) would allow anyone to alter the Quran and deprive the people of the miracle which guides them to the true path and the prophethood of Mohammad (S).
If you say that other Holy Books were altered: then we say that those books were related to messages which were limited in both scope and time. Each of the previous prophets had a time for his message. The only truly unlimited message is that which is the message of Islam, therefore, its miracle must be timeless as well.
If you say that even though the Quran is missing pieces, it is still miraculous: we say that the Quran itself says: “So do they not ponder about the Qur’an? And had it been from anyone besides Allah, they would certainly find much contradiction in it” (Nisa, 82), this is an invitation from the Quran to find inconsistencies in it. If parts of the Quran are missing, then maybe those parts are inconsistent. How can Allah (SWT) invite us to find contradictions in the Quran then not give us the chance to examine it all.
Given all these points, it should be clear that the Quran is protected from alterations and is complete in the form that we have today.
Second Proof: Verses of the Quran
“Verily, those who disbelieved in the Reminder when it came to them. And verily, it is an honorable well-fortified respected Book. ,41:42 Falsehood cannot come to it from before it or behind it, (it is) sent down by the All-Wise, Worthy of all praise. “ (Sajdah, 42-44) :These verses describe the Quran as “Azees” and having a sort of invincibility against falsehood and against alteration.
“Indeed We have sent down the Qur’an, and indeed We Ourselves surely are its Guardians” (Hijr, 9:( This is a promise from Allah (SWT) to protect the Quran.
Objection and Answer:
How can you rely on the Quran to prove that the Quran is not altered? I can write a document and say it is not altered then come back later and alter it.The Quran has described itself in different ways as listed above. Some of them are verifiable such as there being no inconsistencies within it and the challenge to the people to bring anything like it (Isra, 88). If these descriptions which are verifiable turns out to be true, then the Quran is a miracle. If the Quran is a miracle then the one who said it is not Human. If Allah (SWT) said the Quran then whatever he says is true including his promise to protect it.
Other Proofs: There are other proofs such as more verses of the Quran as well as many Hadeeths from both sides. However, this should be sufficient to establish the point.
Hadeeths Claiming Alterations
There are many Hadeeths in Sunni and Shia books which talk about the Quran being altered. However, our scholars break these Hadeeths down to four groups:
Ones which have a weak chain of narration and their authenticity is questioned or rejected.
Ones which have a good chain of narration but only narrated once. Those are not enough to establish any sort of belief. In discussions regarding beliefs, a Hadeeth must have a higher level of authenticity.
Ones which are clearly talking about a different type of alterations. An example of this is what is narrated from Imam Alkhadhem (A:( “They were trusted with the book of Allah (S) and they changed it and altered it” (Alkafi, 8:125) as well as the speech of Imam Hussain (A) on the day of Ashoora describing his enemies as “the changers of the book” (Bihar Alanwar, 8:45). These Hadeeths are talking about the first type of alteration listed above which is changing the meanings of it. The Imams are saying that the people went away from the true meaning of the book, not that they changed the words of it or omitted parts of it.
Ones which are describing the meaning of the verse, not actual missing words of the verse: We have Hadeeths which talk about the Imam adding a word or a companion adding a word to a verse or the names of AhlulBayt being added. Also the Hadeeths which discuss that Imam Ali had his own version of the Quran which had more than the rest of the people. These additions are meant to be only interpretations and meanings of the original text of the Quran, and not part of it. We give a couple of examples of this:
Narrated from Imam Alsadiq (A:( the Imam read the verse in this way “and whoever obeys Allah and His Messenger – in the authority (wilayah) of Ali and the rest of the Imams -, he indeed achieves a mighty success.” The Imam added “That is how it came down.” (Alkafi, 1:417)
Narrated from Imam Albaqir (A) that he said: “Gabreal brought down the verse to the Prophet like this: “And if ye are in doubt concerning that which We reveal unto Our slave (Muhammad) – about Ali -, then produce a surah of the like” (Baqarah, 23)
The same person in the first Hadeeth asked Imam Alsadiq (A) about the verse “ O you who have believed, obey Allah and obey the Messenger and those in authority among you. “ (Nisa, 59). The Imam said “It came down about Ali, Hassan and Hussain” So the person asked: “the people ask us: why did he not mention Ali and his Ahlulbayt by name?” The Imam said: “Tell them prayer was ordered in the book and it was not specified to be 3 or 4 rak’a. They needed the Prophet to clarify it for them”.
It is clear from the third Hadeeth that when the Imam is talking about the “coming down” of the verse he means the meaning that was coming down not the actual wording. Any Hadeeth which does not fall under the catagories above would directly contradicting the Quran. Any Hadeeth which contradicts the Quran is thrown away.
It is also important to note that Hadeeths claiming alteration or incompleteness of the Quran are present in Sunni books as well. However, Sunni scholars have dismissed them and they believe that the Quran today is complete. Examples of these narrations are:
From Aisha, she said “The Chapter of Ahzab was 200 verses at the time of the Prophet (S) but we were only able to keep what we have today” (Aldur Almanthoor 6:560)
From Omar Ibn Alkhattab “The chapter of Ahzab was close to the length of the chapter of Baqara or even longer”. (Almustadrak 4:359)
From Omar “The Quran was 10027000 letters” but today’s Quran is not even a third of that. (Itqad, 1:242)
Several other narration which talk about specific verses being included in the original Quran but now missing.
The major Shia Scholars throughout the years have stated that the belief of the Shia is that the Quran as it is today is not altered and is complete. They have given many proofs for that and we mentioned some of them. They also have responded to all the objections which have been put forth questioning the authenticity of the Quran or claiming alterations within it.