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Question text

What is the meaning of distortion in lexicon and term?


Distortion lexically means the misinterpretation of a speech, it means to change the real meaning of a speech. The same meaning is obtained from distortion in this verse:﴿يُحَرِّفُونَ الْكَلِمَ عَن مَّوَاضِعِهِ﴾
[1]“They alter words from their places”
Departed Tabarsi says in commentary of the verse that: “it means that they interpret the Quran in opposition to what has been revealed and “مواضع” means the meanings and the aims.
Distortion has several idiomatic meanings:
1- Changing the meaning of a speech, it means to interpret it in a way that it confirms what the commentator has in mind, whether it is in accord with truth or not. Such an interpretation has made about the Quran but it does not harm the majesty of it at all. All Islamic sects document their opinions with the Quran and anyone who has an idea or a purpose, pretends that he has gotten it from the Quran, but he changes the real meaning of the verse to his desirable meaning. [2]
2- Adding and omitting the words and movements while the basis of the Quran will be protected, such as: “يطهرن” (purify) which is recited both with stress and without stress. The Quran is also immune from this type of distortion, because the common recitation of each age is the recitation of Asim from Hafs which is related to Ali (a.s.) and widely transmitted, every recitation except that is a new independent reasoning which has not existed at the time of the Prophet (s.a.w.) and because of that they have been abandoned, they are just available in the books related to recitation and sometimes are used by some readers for showing their skill of recitation.
Kulaini quotes from Imam Baqir (a.s.) that he said: “the Quran is single and has been revealed by the Unique Allah, narrators are difference makers [3], so we do not allow reciting an unpopular recitation in the prayer”.
3- Using the synonym of the word instead of it: for example: we put the word “اسرعوا” (go fast) instead of the word “امضوا” (go fast) in the verse [4], this action has been attributed to Ibn Masud and he has said that: “it would not be wrong, if we recite “حکيم” (all-wise) instead of “عليم” (all-knowing). But it is just an accusation against this great Companion, and what is the logical aim of changing it?”
4- Changing in accent: the accents of different tribes were different in pronouncing a letter, a word and their movements. This is also a popular matter of other languages, for example: people pronounce “ق” (Qaf) in four different ways in Iran, this same matter shows different pronunciations of the words and their movements in this country. According to those accents, some of readers pronounce the word “سعي” different in this verse:﴿وَمَنْ أَرَادَ الآخِرَةَ وَسَعَى لَهَا سَعْيَهَا﴾
[5]“And whoever desires the hereafter and strives for it as he ought to strive”
This type of distortion has not penetrated into the Quran, because at the time of the third caliph, Muslims saw some differences in pronouncing words or in changing of some words without changing their meaning, so they decided to unify all recitations and Quranic texts and to destroy other ones. As a result of it, this type of distortion disappeared and all agreed with the accent of Quraysh.
5- Adding to the verses of the Holy Quran, this is contrary to general agreement. Of course it has been attributed to Ibn Masud that he said: “معوذتين” (the last two Surahs of the Quran, Al- Nas Surah and Al-Falaq Surah) are not from it, but they are amulets. [6] It has also been attributed to Khawarij (Rebels) that they said that Yusuf Surah is not a Surah of the Quran and they considered it as a loving story which is not suitable for being revealed. [7] But both accusations have not been proved. If saying of Ibn Masud be true, challenging people to bring a Surah like those of the Quran will be invalid, because a human to whom nothing has been revealed, has brought two Surahs like short Surahs of the Quran.
6- Omitting intentionally or unintentionally in the Quran, including omitting a letter, a word, a sentence, a verse, or a Surah.
There is not such a distortion in the Quran, because since Muslims believed in the Quran, they took it into consideration as their first source and endeavored to read, memorize, keep and record it. No distortion can enter it, unless a power plays with the Quran and omits something from it by force. Neither Umayyides nor Abbassides had such a power, because the Quran had been spread among readers and memorizers, even transmitting one version of it in large numbers would be enough to frustrate this evil attempt. [8]

resources and references

[1] - Quran, al- Nisa, verse no. 46.
[2] - Quran, al- Ankabut, verse no. 45; al- Mawaqif, vol. 8, p. 390.
[3] - Kafi, vol. 2, p. 630, tradition no. 12.
[4] - Quran, al- Hijr, verse no. 65. (و لا يلتفت منکم احد و امضوا حيث تومرون) “and let not any one of you turn round, and go forth whither you are commanded.”
[5] - Quran, al- Isra, verse no. 19.
[6] - Fath al- Bari dar Sharh Bukhari, vol. 8, p. 571.
[7] - Milal wa Nihal, Shahristani, vol. 1, p. 128.
[8] - The Aspect of Shia Creed, p. 151.
Ref: www.makarem.ir

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