Shia view of the Quran

The Shia view of the Qur'an differs from the Sunni view, but the majority of both groups believe that the text is identical. While some Shia disputed the canonical validity of the Uthmanic codex,[1] the Shia Imams always rejected the idea of alteration of Qur'an's text. Only seven Shia scholars have believed in omissions in the Uthmanic codex.[2]


The Shī‘ah use the same Qur'an as Sunni Muslims, however they do not believe that it was first compiled by Uthman ibn Affan.[3] The Shī‘ah believe that the Qur'an was gathered and compiled by Muhammad during his lifetime.[4][5][6] This completed version of the Qur'an was kept next to the pulpit of Muhammad within the Mosque of Madinah, where scholars would come to transcribe more copies.[3] Furthermore, Grand Ayatollah Abu al-Qasim al-Khoei believed that Ali possessed a Quran (Tafseer) of his own, which included the divinely revealed commentary of the Quran.[7]

However, Shia have been accused since at least the 10th century by anti-Shia Sunni Muslims of espousing a theory that the contemporary Quran differs from what was revealed to Muhammad because it was (allegedly) edited to remove mention of the importance of Ali — the Shia icon and first Shia Imam. The idea that the Quran was distorted is regard by these Sunnis as one of the most blatant examples of Shia "heresy".[8] (An example of a denunciation of tabdil — the belief that the Quran was altered — can be found in the work of the 11th century Muslim scholar Ibn Hazm replying to Christian debating point "that the Rawafid [a derogatory name for Shia] maintain that the Companions of your Prophet altered the Koran by way of omissions and additions".)[9]

According to the western Islamic scholar Etan Kohlberg, Twelver Shia did at one time believe in the distortion of the Quran — and it was common among Shia during the early Islamic centuries,[10] but waned during the era of the Buyid dynasty (934–1062). Kohlberg claims that Ibn Babawayh was the first major Twelver author "to adopt a position identical to that of the Sunnis".[11] This change in belief was primarily a result of the Shia "rise to power at the centre of the Sunni 'Abbasid caliphate," whence belief in the corruption of the Quran became untenable vis-a-vis the position of Sunni “orthodoxy”.[12] Among other reasons, the distortion was alleged to have been carried out to remove any references to the rights of Ali and the Imams,[13] the approval of their supporters and the disapproval of their enemies, such as specific Umayyads and Abbasids.[14] According to William St. Clair Tisdall, if such content had existed in the Quran then "Of course the Sunnite Khalifahs had very great reason to endeavour to suppress any such passages".[15]

Shia scholars who supported Qur'anic distortion

Some Shia scholars who supported the view that the Qur'anic text had been distorted were:

Many other Shia scholars have held ambiguous attitudes towards corruption of the Quran, such as Muhammad Baqir Majlisi (d. 1698), Mulla Ahmad Naraqi (d. 1829), Morteza Ansari (d. 1864), Mohammad-Kazem Khorasani (d. 1911) and Ruhollah Khomeini (d. 1989).[19]


The Shī‘ah tafsīr on several verses are different from the traditional Sunni view either through a totally different interpretation or by giving the same interpretation, but giving that interpretation a larger impact on their jurisprudence. Shia also tend to interpret the Quran more allegorically (Batin) and less literally than Sunnis.[20] For example, Shia writers, including Ali Ibn Ibrahim Qomi, usually allegorically interpret the term Bani Isra'il (sons/tribe of Israel) as a code word for the Ahlul Bayt.[21]


Hadith of The Cloak


4:24, or an-Nisa, 24, also called as "the verse of Mut‘ah", is the Qur'anic verse that some Shī'ites use to prove the legality of temporary marriages (Arabic: Nikah Mut'ah).




There are some common disputed misconceptions and accusations about the Shī‘ah regarding their beliefs.

While Sunnis and the Shī‘ah accept the same text of the Qur'an, some, such as Muhibb-ud-Deen Al-Khatib, claim that Shī‘ah dispute the current version, including that they add two additional sūratayn, an-Nūrayn and al-Wilāya.[22] This accusation of tahrīf "tampering" is antithetical to scholars and is considered polemical.[23][24]

Shī‘ah Muslims consider the accusation that they are using a different Qur'an as one of the misconceptions about the Shi'a. The Shī‘ah 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.[25]

The issue of Tahreef [tampering] has been a matter of disagreement between many classical Shia scholars. It has been mentioned that the likes of Muhammad Baqir Majlisi (author of Bihar al-Anwar), Muhammad ibn Ya'qub al-Kulayni (author of Kitab al-Kafi), Ni'matullah Al Jazaa'iri (author of Anwar Al Nu'maniyyah, d. 1701[26]) and Al Ayyaashi (author of Tafsir Ayyashi) among others were of the view that the present Qur'an is not the same as was revealed to Muhammad ibn Abdullah and omission/corruption has taken place. Overall, it is claimed that the Shia have more than 1,000 hadiths ascribed to the Shia Imams which indicate the distortion of the Quran.[27]

According to Muhammad Baqir Majlisi, the difference of opinion among the scholars and jurists was as follows:

No one from the people claimed…’: meaning, those other than the Imāms (as). What is meant by ‘the entire Qur’ān’ is all its words and letters, and what is meant by ‘as it was revealed’ is its arrangement, declensions, vowellike and vowelless diacritics, and the length of verses and chapters.

This is a refutation of the faction that claims that the Qur’ān is what is in the known copies and as read by the reciters of the seven variant readings and their likes.

Our associates differed concerning that; al-Şadūq ibn Bābawayh and a group opined that the Qur’ān did not alter from how it was revealed and nothing was deleted from it, while al-Kulaynī and al-Shaykh al-Mufīd—may Allāh sanctify both of their souls!—and a group opined that the whole Qur’ān is with the Imāms and what is in the copies is some of it. And the Commander of the Believers [`Alī] (as) compiled it as it was revealed after the Messenger, and went out to the hypocritical Companions, but they did not accept it from him and rather approached its compilation during the reigns of `Umar and `Uthmān, as it will soon be detailed in Kitāb al-Qur’ān.[28]

Some accused Shī‘ah of alleging that Fatimah had her own Mus'haf (Qur'an), the Mushaf of Fatimah, which was allegedly three times larger than the current Qur'an. Again, Shī‘ahs reject this as a misrepresentation of facts aimed at discrediting them. According to Momen Shiite Imams had certain books (including of Fatimah (Mashafe Fatimah) a book revealed by Gabriel to Fatimah to console her on the death of her father) in their possession, none of them were Quran.[29]

See also


  1. "Shīʿism and the Qurʾān". Encyclopaedia of the Qur'an. Leiden: Brill Publishers. 2004.
  2. Modarressi, Hossein (1993). "Early Debates on the Integrity of the Qur'ān: A Brief Survey". Studia Islamica (77): 5–39. doi:10.2307/1595789. JSTOR 1595789.
  3. Shirazi, Muhammad (2004). The Qur'an made simple. Vol. 10. London,UK: Fountain Books. pp. xxiv.
  4. Shirazi, Muhammad (2001). The Qur'an - When was it compiled?. London,UK: Fountain Books. pp. 5, 7.
  5. Shirazi, Muhammad (2004). The Qur'an made simple. Vol. 10. London,UK: Fountain Books. pp. xxi, xxiv, xxv.
  6. Shirazi, Muhammad (2008). The Shi'a and their Beliefs. London,UK: Fountain Books. p. 29.
  7. Brunner, Rainer; Ende, Werner, eds. (1 January 2001). The Twelver Shia in Modern Times: Religious Culture and Political History (illustrated ed.). BRILL. p. 187. ISBN 9789004118034.
  8. Kohlberg & Amir-Moezzi 2009, p.24
  9. Israel Friedlaender (1908). "The Heterodoxies of the Shiites in the Presentation of Ibn Hazm" (PDF). Journal of the American Oriental Society. American Oriental Society. 29: 61–2. Retrieved 11 April 2015. As for their argument regarding the Rawafid and their contention that the Koran readings were interpolated, the Rawafid do not belong to the Muslims. They consist of a number of sects, the first of which arose twenty-five years after the Prophet's death. It was originally the response of some people abandoned by Allah to the call of those who beguiled Islam, a party which followed the course of the Jews and Christians as regards falsehood and heresy. They are divided into various sections. The most extravagant of them assume the divinity of Ali b. Abi Talib and of a number of people besides him. The least extravagant of them believe that the sun was twice turned backwards for Ali.' How can one be indignant over lies coming from people whose lowest rank in lying is such (as described)?" He then proceeds elaborately to refute this charge. He cleverly beats the Rawafid with their own weapons by pointing to the fact that Ali himself, "who according to most of them is a god, a creator, and, according to some of them, a prophet endowed with speech, while in the opinion of the rest he is an infallible Imam, the obedience to whom is a religious command imposed by Law," did not object to the Koran in its present shape and, while Caliph, did not fight the interpolators, which would have been his sacred duty. "Thus the mendacity of the Rawafid becomes evident, and praise be unto Allah, the Lord of (all) Created Beings!" A brief reference to the same subject is contained Ed. IV, 14615: "unless the Rawafid fall back on ignoring the Koran and (assuming) omissions and additions in it. This is something whereby becomes evident their impudence, ignorance and stupidity.
  10. Ahmad ibn Muhammad al-Sayyari (2009). Kohlberg, Etan; Amir-Moezzi, Mohammad Ali (eds.). "Revelation and Falsification: The Kitab al-qira'at of Ahmad b. Muhammad al-Sayyari: Critical Edition with an Introduction and Notes by Etan Kohlberg and Mohammad Ali Amir-Moezzi". Texts and Studies on the Qurʼān. BRILL. 4: vii. ISSN 1567-2808.
  11. Kohlberg & Amir-Moezzi 2009, p.27
  12. Kohlberg & Amir-Moezzi 2009, p.26
  13. Kohlberg & Amir-Moezzi 2009, p.vii
  14. Kohlberg & Amir-Moezzi 2009, pp.20, 24
  15. William St. Clair Tisdall (1913). Zwemer, Samuel Marinus (ed.). "Shi'ah Additions To The Koran" (PDF). The Moslem World. 3 (3): 229.
  16. Abdolkarim Soroush (2009). The Expansion of Prophetic Experience: Essays on Historicity, Contingency and Plurality in Religion. BRILL. p. 145. ISBN 9789047424369.
  17. Robert Gleave (2000). Inevitable Doubt: Two Theories of Shīʻī Jurisprudence. BRILL. pp. 64–5. ISBN 9789004115958.
  18. Rainer Brünner (2004). Islamic Ecumenism In The 20th Century: The Azhar And Shiism Between Rapprochement And Restraint (revised ed.). BRILL. p. 336. ISBN 9789004125483. The Sunni reproach that the Shiites believe in another, i.e. falsified, Koran was already encountered in the heresiographic literature of the twentieth century and was emphatically denied by the Shia, whereas the Shiite defenders of a tahrif theory such as al-Tabrisi or his student Agha Bozorg al-Tehrani always remained in the minority.
  19. Kohlberg & Amir-Moezzi 2009, pp.28–9
  20. Diane Morgan (2010). Essential Islam: A Comprehensive Guide to Belief and Practice. ABC-CLIO. p. 34. ISBN 9780313360251.
  21. David Cook (2008). Contemporary Muslim Apocalyptic Literature (reprint ed.). Syracuse University Press. pp. 103–5. ISBN 9780815631958.
  22. "Shi'i Qur'an".
  23. "". Archived from the original on 28 March 2003.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  24. "". Archived from the original on 25 April 2003.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  25. "Noorullah Website - Is the Qur'an Corrupted? Shi'ites View". 27 October 2009. Archived from the original on 27 October 2009.
  26. Sajjad H. Rizvi (2010). "Sayyid Niʿmat Allāh al-Jazāʾirī and his Anthologies: Anti-Sufism, Shiʿism and Jokes in the Safavid World". Die Welt des Islams. BRILL. 50: 224–242. doi:10.1163/157006010x514497. Retrieved 5 April 2015.
  28. "مرآة العقول في شرح أخبار آل الرسول، ج3، ص: 1".
  29. Momen, Moojan (1985). An Introduction to Shi'i Islam. Yale University Press. pp. 39, 183. ISBN 978-0-300-03531-5.
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