Shiite Islam and the Corruption of the Quranic Text, a post by Sam Shamoun from

In a previous post, we quoted from the Blackwell’s Companion to the Quran, pp. 165-171, edited by Andrew Rippin, in regards to the textual transmission and corruption of the Muslim scripture. In this installment we are once again going to cite from pp. 378-379 of this reference work, this time in respect to the Shiite view of the Quran’s compilation and distortion. All capital and underline emphasis will be ours.

Early Debates on the Qur’an

This section gives a short survey on the origins of Sunnı-Shı’ı controversies on the integrity of the Qur’anic text. The development of these debates in the first Islamic centuries represents an interesting example of how ideas evolved in the early period through disputes, as well as contacts between various schools of thought (Modarressi 1993). The major issue in these debates was whether the ‘Uthmanic text comprehended all the Qur’anic verses revealed to Muhammad, or whether there had been further verses which are now missing from the text.

At the end of the reign of the third caliph ‘Uthman (d. 35/656), it became evident to some members of the community that there were TOO MANY VARIATIONS in the memorized texts. In 12/634, many of the memorizers (qurra’) of the Quran lost their lives in a battle against a rival community at Yamama in Arabia (al-Ya’qubı 1960: II, 15; al-Tabarı 1960: III, 296; Ibn Kathır 1966: VII, 439). Fearing that the complete Qur’an would be lost, the first caliph Abu Bakr asked ‘Umar and Zayd b. Thabit to record any verse or part of the revelation that at least two witnesses testified at the entrance of the mosque in Medina. All of the material gathered was recorded on sheets of paper (al-Ya’qubı 1960: II, 135; al-Suyutı 1967: I, 185, 207, 208), but was not yet compiled as a volume. These sheets were transmitted from Abu Bakr and ‘Umar to ‘Umar’s daughter Hafsa who gave them to ‘Uthman who had them put together in the form of a volume. ‘Uthman sent several copies of his compilation to different parts of the Muslim world and he then ordered that any other collections or verses of the Qur’an found anywhere else be burned (al-Bukharı 1862–1908: III, 393–4; al-Tirmidhı 1964: IV 347–8; al-Bayhaqı 1985: VII, 150–1).

According to MANY EARLY TRANSMITTED REPORTS, ‘Alı wrote his own compilation of the Qur’an (Ibn Sa’d 1904–15: II, 338; al-Ya’qubı 1960: II, 135; Ibn al-Nadım 1971: 30; al-Suyutı 1967: I, 204, 248; al-Kulaynı 1957–9: VIII, 18) and presented it to the companions; BUT THEY REJECTED IT, so he took it back home (Sulaym n.d.: 72, 108; al-Kulaynı 1957–9: II, 633; al-Ya’qubı 1960: II, 135–6). These reports also pointed out that THERE WERE SUBSTANTIAL DIFFERENCES between the various compilations of the Qur’an. The only copy of the complete Qur’an with verses proclaiming the exalted status of ‘Alı and the future Imams, was in ‘Alı’s possession. ‘Alı, known for his vast knowledge of the Qur’an (Ibn Sa’d 1904–15: I, 204), preserved this original copy and passed it on his successors.

In his codex of the Qur’an he had reportedly indicated the verses which were abrogated, and those which abrogated them (al-Suyutı 1967: I, 204). The Shı’ı community learned early on that to express their beliefs openly was fruitless. This only caused their community to be persecuted. Hence they started to practice taqiyya (religious dissimulation), which allows a Shı’ite to deny his or her faith under dangerous conditions. In doing so, believers retain their allegiance to Shı’ism while presenting an orthodox face to the oppressors. THIS APPLIES TO QUR’ANIC INTERPRETATIONS AS WELL. The Shı’ites were practicing taqiyya to prevent revealing esoteric interpretations to Sunnı Muslims who do not accept them. Thus taqiyya also means keeping the batin secret.

The ‘Uthmanic Qur’an did not put an end to any future variations in reading. Since the science of Arabic orthography was still primitive, variations remained possible. The ‘Uthmanic text contained limited vowel markings or none at all, and the shapes of several consonants were similar, both of which allowed for a great variety of readings. These readings could lead to different interpretations. For example, the Arabic word ‘alı, could be taken either to be a simple adjective signifying “exalted,” OR REFER TO THE PERSON OF ‘Ali and his special role as successor of the prophet. Later in the fourth/tenth century, a limited number of variations were selected and canonized.

Unfortunately, it seems that what the variant texts were and how much they varied will most probably never be discovered. This ambiguity gave space to the most heated debate about the Shı’ı Qur’an, both by Muslim scholars and by Western scholars. In May 1842, Garcin de Tassy edited in the Journal Asiatiquethe text and translation of an unknown chapter of the Qur’an entitled “Sura of the two lights” (surat al-nurayn), the “two lights” referring respectively to Muhammad and ‘Ali. Most scholars who commented on this sura were uncertain of its origins (Eliash 1966: 125; 1969: 17). However this concept of “two lights” is developed by Shı’ites who distinguished between the “light of the imama” and the “light of prophecy.”

St. Clair Tisdall discovered a manuscript of the Qur’an in India in 1912 that appeared to be about three hundred years old (Tisdall 1913: 228). In this manuscript he found a previously unknown sura that was not part of the ‘Uthmanic Qur’an, as well as a few verses which were unique to this manuscript. The “Sura of divine friendship” (surat al-walaya) contained seven verses which mentioned ‘Alı as walı (“friend”) of God as well as the spiritual heir of the prophet, which Tisdall translated along with few “new” verses, in The Moslem World in 1913. Tisdall could not prove the authenticity of any of these additional chapters, and nor could von Grunebaum (1961: 80) who examined them later.

Meir M. Bar-Asher gave a complete overview of the topic in an article published in 1993 entitled “Variant Readings and Additions of the Imamı-Shı’ı’ to the Qur’an.” Arthur Jeffrey had already catalogued many of variant readings in his Materials for the History of the Text of the Qur’an (1937). Thus Bar-Asher decided to catalogue all of those that Jeffrey did not list and then selected only those variants that were relevant to Shıi’sm (Bar-Asher 1993: 80). He examined the Shı’ı variant readings of the Quran, the nature of the variations, and their difference from the Uthmanic compilation. Bar-Asher divided the variants into four types. First are minor alterations of words by exchanging or adding letters or vowel markings. This is the most common type of variant. Second is the exchange of one word for another, such as imam for umma (community). Third is the rearrangement of word order; this type of variant is the one most commonly accepted by Shı’ites. The Shı’ites of the first four Muslim centuries believed that Uthman excised significant segments from the original Quran and thus the fourth type of variant concerns some words that were omitted intentionally by Uthman such as references to ‘Alı and the imama (Bar-Asher 1993: 47). Today, the majority of Twelver Shı’ites affirm that the ‘Uthmanic edition preserves the entire text, but in the wrong order. This, to them, explains why the narrative of the Quran does not always flow smoothly.

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14 Responses to Shiite Islam and the Corruption of the Quranic Text, a post by Sam Shamoun from

  1. θ says:

    Shi’ite claim is too ridiculous and very moot, only for the foolish unintelligent folks.

    When Ali becomes the 4th caliph – even after defeating Aisha in the Camel War – certainly he gets a great chance to do whatever he wants, including to have invalidated the Uthmanic codex at once, or possibly replaced it with an alleged Shi’ite’s version secretly, or purged other Sunni’s sources, but Ali just didn’t do that.

    Myth of two alleged suras “Nurayn” and “Walaya” is a simple proof that the Shi’ites can’t afford to even claim the Imamhood of Ali’s lineage from their version of Qur’an. Shi’ah’s Imamhood is not divinely appointed.

  2. A new Mideast escalation or just a mark for new Ramadan?

    Iranian Group Offers $100,000 to Blow Up New U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem
    BY: Adam Kredo
    May 14, 2018 2:04 pm
    A hardline Iranian organization is reportedly offering a $100,000 reward to any person who bombs the newly opened U.S. embassy in Jerusalem, according to a translation of Farsi language reports.

    A group known as the Iranian Justice Seeker Student Movement is reported to have disseminated posters calling for an attack on the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem, which has been opposed by Palestinian and Iranian officials as an affront to the holy city.

    “The Student Justice Movement will support anybody who destroy the illegal American embassy in Jerusalem,” the poster states in Farsi, Arabic, and English, according to an independent translation of the propaganda poster provided to the Free Beacon.

    There will be a “$100,000 dollar prize for the person who destroys the illegal American embassy in Jerusalem,” the poster states.

    Iran poster

    The call for an attack on the new embassy is just the latest escalation by hostile Islamic states and leaders who have lashed out at the United States and President Donald Trump for making good on a campaign promise to relocate the embassy from Tel Aviv to Israel’s declared capital city of Jerusalem.

    News of the bomb threat was first reported by the University Student News Network, a regional Farsi-language site that aggregates relevant news briefs.

    “The Student Movement for Justice declared, ‘Whoever bombs the embassy’s building will receive a $100,000 award,'” the report states. “It is necessary to mention that the steps by Trump to transfer the US Embassy to Holy Qods [Jerusalem] has led to the anger and hatred of Muslims and liberators throughout the world.'”

    Michael Rubin, a former Pentagon adviser and expert on rogue regimes, told the Washington Free Beacon that terrorism of this nature is embedded in the Iranian regime’s hardline stance.

    “Unfortunately, terrorism directed toward diplomats and embassies has become a central pillar of the Islamic Republic’s culture,” Rubin said. “Terrorism is lionized in Iranian schools. This bounty is more the rule than the exception. To blame Washington or Jerusalem is to blame the victim and give terrorists a veto over U.S. policy.”

    Behnam Ben Taleblu, an research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, described the poster as repulsive and blamed the Iranian ruling regime for fostering such an attitude.

    “This is nothing short of an invitation to a heinous act of an international terror by a student group that looks up to the world’s foremost state sponsor of terror—the Islamic Republic of Iran,” he said.

  3. Anonymous says:

    “martha_layton says: A new Mideast escalation or just a mark for new Ramadan?
    Iranian Group Offers $100,000 to Blow Up New U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem
    BY: Adam Kredo
    May 14, 2018 2:04 pm
    A hardline Iranian organization is reportedly offering a $100,000 reward to any person who bombs the newly opened U.S. embassy in Jerusalem, according to a translation of Farsi language reports.”

    What if it is also “fulfillment of prophesy” in the Bible just as the Pro-Zionists oftentimes boasted of?
    Biblical Bounty hunters fulfilled?
    Jer 16:16
    Behold, I will send for many fishers, saith the LORD, and they shall fish them; and after will I send for many hunters, and they shall hunt them from every mountain, and from every hill, and out of the holes of the rocks.

  4. Israel has the right to defend itself

  5. Anonymous says:

    Palestinians also have the right to have a recognised Palestine State, and to liberate these portions of 1947 Partition:
    (i) the West Bank
    (ii) Haifa
    (iii) Auja-Rafah
    (iv) Gaza
    from Israeli illegal occupation.

    Syria has the right to defend and liberate Golan Height from Israeli illegal occupation.

    Actually Israel de-facto fully recognises 1947 Partition by withdrawing itself unilatreally from Sinai, Jordan, and South Lebanon.

  6. θ says:

    Great response.
    Indeed, what the civilised world has known of “Israel” is just a tiny areal inside of 1947 Partition.

    Palestine also has the right to defend itself (its statehood and sovereignty) by having a recognised Palestine State in West Bank, Haifa, Auja-Rafah and Gaza.

  7. θ says:

    Defend itself?
    Is it not available for Palestine State, heh?

    “Right to defend itself” is supposed to be a main mantra of Palestine, so does Israel steal it?
    Is there anything that Israel has not stolen yet from Palestine State?

    Actually Palestine has the civilised world as the loyal strong backer at behind, but sadly it still lacked the strong commitment of enforcement to “defend” itself.

  8. Hey, just blame those rug head Arabs.
    Just look at statistics how many Nobel Prize winners Israel has? Compare with Nobel Prize winners the Arabs have.
    The stupid is the servant of the smart.

  9. If you Arabs can’t defend what you claim,you don’t deserve it at the first place.

  10. Israel won’t give the world on silver plate to you Palestine and Syria. Israel earns what it claims. You don’t.

  11. Remember this Arabs, neither the world, not even that Balfour bastard, gave Israel the state. Israel fights for it, Israel earns its own land, and defends it, claims it, so Israel deserves it. You keep whining and blaming the world that feeds you, Arabs. Otherwise, Just go f_ yourself.

  12. Israel defends what it gets because it deserves it. It gets it with fighting tooth and nail. There is no a scot-free here.

  13. Israel just needed 30 years from declaration of that Balfour bastard – though some Israelis worship him like Cyrus the Great – but you Arabs have lamented for 100 years to blame him for nothing, zero, null, zilch. Why? because you say you invent zero.

  14. Zero you give, zero you get. Deal with that.
    Keep blaming everyone else but yourself.

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