Memorizing the Qur'an

Among the blessings of Allah on mankind is that He, Himself, has guaranteed to guard this everlasting Divine Message against any form of distortion, forgery and disfigurement, in such a way that falsehood cannot approach it from any direction. Remarkably, the Qur'an, today, is the same text which was revealed fourteen centuries ago to the Prophet, and is free from any additions or deletions.

The religious scholars (ulama) and researchers, in the school of Ahlul-Bait, certify this great fact. We mention only what Sheikh Tabarasi (one of the prominent interpreters and great Shi'ite scholars of the sixth century A.H.) (may Allah bless him) said: "What is known among the Shi'a scholars and researchers, or what they even positively take for granted, is the rejection of the idea of any falsification."(31) He also said:

"...of such (baseless) talk about additions and deletions, in the Qur'an, is unbecoming of any interpretation. As to the additions, it is unanimously regarded to be a false assumption; and concerning deletions, a group of our people think of some alterations and deletions in the Qur'an, while the true belief of our people is to the contrary. This has been supported by (Sherif) Murtadha (may Allah bless his soul), who, extensively discoursed on it..."(32)

Sheikh al-Balaghi (may Allah glorify his status) said: The Qur'an continues to enjoy great veneration among the Muslims, generation after generation. Everywhere you would encounter thousands of copies of the Book and thousands of those who learn it by heart. They studiously copy from one another and the Muslims recite it to one another for verification. Thousands of its copies stand as sentinels over the learners, and thousands of learners stand as sentries over the copies of the Qur'an, and thousands of them both stand as guardian over the new copies. We say thousands, while actually they are hundreds of thousands. Nay! Thousands of thousands, because no historical event received such a kind of perpetuity and unquestionable eternity as the Qur'an did, as promised by Allah, the Exalted:

"Surely We have revealed the Reminder and We will most surely be its guardians." Holy Qur'an (15:9)

"Surely on Us (devolves) the collecting of it and the reciting of it." Holy Qur'an (75:17)

"Therefore, if you happen to hear dubious narratives that something of the Qur'an was distorted and some of it was lost, do not heed such talk, as scholarly researches have proved how disordered, shaky and weak their narraters are, and how contradictory they are to the Muslims..."(33) In a chapter titled 'The Imamiya's opinion rejecting deletions in the Qur'an', Balaghi further states in his 'Tafsir'. "It is no secret that Saduq (may Allah bless him) who is known for the great care he took in what he narrated, says in his book 'Iqtiqad'. Our belief in the Qur'an, which was sent down by Allah to His Prophet, Muhammad (s.a.w.), is that it consists of all that is in between its two covers, and it is what is in circulation among the people, no more...Whoever ascribes to us that we say it was more than that, is but a liar."

Another great Shi'iti scholar, Sheikh Mufid, writes in his book 'Maqalat' that:

"A group of the Imamiya say that nothing was deleted from it (the Qur'an) not even a single word, verse, chapter, but what was omitted were the notes, explanations and interpretations concerning the meanings and the truth of its revelation, which had been written by the Commander of the Faithful Ali (a.s.) on his own compilation of the Book" In 'Kashf al-Ghita fi kittab al-Qur'an', chapter eight, concerning the deletion, it is said:

"No doubt that it is protected against any alteration by the Sovereign, the Almighty, as is proved by the evidence of the Qur'an and the scholars' unanimity of opinion."

Sheikh Bahauddin Amili says:

"...they also differed concerning additions and deletions in it, but the truth is that the Glorious Qur'an is protected against all that, be it addition or deletion. This is proved by Allah's saying: "We surely are its guardians." Muqaddas Baghdadi, in 'Sharh al-Wafiya' says:

"...the talk about deletion which is in circulation among our companions, is in contrast to the unanimous talk of non-interference in is said that Sheikh Ali bin Abdul-Aali had written an exclusive book refuting the deletion theory', quoting the aforementioned speech of Saduq."(34) The late contemporary scholar, Sheikh Muhammad Husein Aal Kashif al-Ghita', in his book 'Asl al-Shi'a wa Usuliha', says: "The Book which is (in circulation) among the Muslims is the Book which Allah had sent down to His Prophet - a miracle and challenge - and there is no deletion, distortion, nor additions in it."

Tas his is the position of the Shi'ati scholars, regarding the Qur'an now in the hands of the Muslims. It is, it was revealed to the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.), and it will remain pure and unadulterated, as long as man remains on the face of the earth, guiding humanity towards virtue and happiness. Certain dubious narrations which allegedly speak about deletions in the holy text, and, sometimes, claim of a Qur'an other than this, have been exploited by purposeful offenders and have obviously misled some people. These simple-minded souls cite the following narration from Imam Ja'far bin Muhammad al-Sadiq to support their misconstrued views:

"...but by Allah (pointing to his chest) we have the weapon of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.), his sword and his armour. By Allah we have Fatima's 'Mashaf' (book), wherein are not any of the verses of Allah's Book. It is a dictation of the Messenger of Allah, written by Ali with his hand."(35)

They have misunderstood the Imam, and without going into the lexical meaning of the word Mashaf thought that he was indicating a Qur'an other than the one in circulation. It was a grave mistake on the part of these people. However, a careful scrutiny of the narrative, will help reveal the actual meaning of the word Mashaf: "By Allah we have Fatima's 'Mashaf' (book),"

By looking up the word Mashaf in Arabic lexicons, we discover what Imam al-Sadiq (a.s.) actually meant. Raghib Isfahani says: "(Al-Sahifa means any flat thing such a s the flatness of the check, a leaf a page, or a sheet which is used for writing. Its plural is Saha'if or Suhuf as the Almighty says; "'Suhuf' of Abraham and Moses, and also...receiving pure 'Suhuf' (pages) wherein are all the correct books." Holy Qur'an (87:19)

It is said that it means the Qur'an and that by using the plural Suhuf in which are 'Books', it is meant to say that they include more than what is in Allah's Books. Hence, a Mashaf is a collection of written Suhuf, and its plural form is Masahif.(36) Therefore, the word Mashaf means any book and is not a special term for "the Book of Allah". It can mean any collection of Suhuf (leaves of paper or skin), and only in this context can the Qur'an also be called Mashaf because it is a collection of Suhuf.

The exclusive names for the Book of Allah are: Al-Qur'an, al-Dhikr, al-Furqan and al-Kitab(37), as mentioned in the holy text, itself. Allah did not call it "Mashaf", but, it were the later Muslims who named it so, after having compiled it on leaves or sheets. Thus, it is clear that the mistake arose from the linguistic use of the word during the early days of Islam, when people did not take 'Mashaf' to mean Qur'an, as it may imply in present day usage.

A closer look at Imam al-Sadiq's narration, itself, will help clarify the misconception. He says that: "In Fatima's Mashaf there are none of the verses of Allah's Book" It obviously means that it is neither the Qur'an nor any part of it. Nor is it a divine revelation, but it is a dictation of the Messenger of Allah written in Imam Ali's handwriting.

According to some scholars 'the Mashaf Fatima' was a collection of supplications and instructions which Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) dictated for the benefit of his beloved daughter Fatima (ass.).