The Second Debate and the Triumph of the Truth
I performed fajr salah and went to work. I came back after zuhr salah and slept until the time of ‘asr salah. As I was extremelly tired on account of the lack of sleep of the last night. I performed ‘asr salah and slept again until the maghrib salah. I then performed the maghrib salah and ‘isha salah, and waited for my friend who failed to turn up. I concluded that they had decided to cancel the debate.
On the following night after coming back from ‘isha salah, my friend arrived and informed me that the Shia were waiting for me.
I got up and went with him to their gathering. When we arrived there, I realised that those who were present were almost the same people who were there two nights before. When I noticed that their leader was not there, I inquired about him and I was told that he asked to be excused and requested them to go on with the debate promising that he would meet me soon. So we started the debate.
I said: All praise is due to Allah, Rabb of all the worlds. Peace and blessings be upon the Prophet, and upon members of his household and his Companions.
To proceed, the last discussion was characterised by you asking while I answered the questions. I would like you to allow me in this session to ask questions while you answer. I hope that the answers you are going to give will be frank and clear and not based on taqiyyah, so that the debate can be fruitful.
One of them: We have been frank with you from the beginning in order to let the truth manifest.
I said: What is your belief concerning the Qur’an?
One of them: It is the Book of Allah.
I said: I know that. Do you believe that there are alterations in the Qur’an?
The speaker: The Qur’an is divinely protected against any alteration.
I said: Is there any addition or omission in the Qur’an.
The speaker: There is no any addition or omission in the Qur’an.
I said: Is this the standard belief of all the Ithna ‘Ashariyyah (Twelvers)?
The speaker: Yes, that is the consensus among us.
I said: What then is the rule concerning a person who claims that there is alteration in the Qur’an, or that there are additions or omissions in it or that a verse thereof is written in contradiction to what was revealed?
The speaker: Such a person is a disbeliever.
I said (pointing to all those who were there): Do you all concur with the brother in what he said?
The audience: Yes, we and all the Ithna ‘Ashariyyah (Twelvers) concur with him. All that is attributed to us that we believe that the Qur’an is altered is untrue and false.
I said: Then, let us keep this testimony in our minds, as we will need it later. Now tell me, what is your view about a Shia scholar who authored a book in which he quoted hundreds of narrations that support a claim the Qur’an was altered. The book’s name is Fasl al Khitab fi Ithbat Tahrif Kitab Rabb al Arbab (the definitive conclusion in proving the distortion of the book of the absolute Lord of the lords). What is your view about this book and its author?
The speaker: The book is fake. It was rejected by the scholars of the Imami Shia.
I said: What about the author?
The speaker: I do not know that. You can ask the Sayyid (their leader) when you meet him.
I said: The matter is clear! The man claims that the Qur’an is altered. And to support this claim, he wrote a book in which he tried – albeit unsuccessfully- to establish this claim. Moments earlier, all of you agreed that whoever claims that the Qur’an is altered or that there is an addition or omission in it is a kafir. Therefore, this man must be a disbeliever.
The speaker and the entire audience: This question can only be answered by the Sayyid.
I said: Do you know who this scholar is? He is Mirza Hussain ibn Muhammad al Nuri al Tabrasi. Do you know the reward he got for authoring this book? He got buried in your holiest site on the earth; Najaf.
This deed clearly indicates that the belief that the Qur’an was altered is inherently rooted in your religion. If not, you would have declared him an apostate who should be executed and who did not deserve to be buried in Muslim cemeteries.
A man from the audience: We told you in no uncertain terms that the Qur’an is protected against any alteration. This should be sufficient for you. The man died a long time ago and was buried. We do not need to revive issues that are not in the interest of the Muslims.
I said: We are not talking about political matters. We are rather seeking the truth within the framework of the Shari’ah, and as long as all of us adhere to the truth, our search will definitely be fruitful.
I would therefore return to the issue of the Qur’an and say: the problem is not in a book that Tabrasi authored. It lies in the fact that the book contains narrations directly quoted from your most authentic books such as al Kafi by al Kulayni, which is your best, most ancient, and most authentic book – whose author you greatly revere and call Thiqat al Islam and whom you regard as the reformer of the Imamiyyah Ithnaa ‘Ashariyyah in the third century.
This al Kulayni filled his above-mentioned book with narrations that claim that alterations, additions and omissions had occurred in the Qur’an, that the Companions radiya Llahu ‘anhum removed a third of the Qur’an revealed in reference to members of the Prophet’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam family, that there is what is called a Mushaf Fatimah and that the real Qur’an – which does not include even a single word from the present Qur’an – will be brought by the ‘Absent Imam’.
It is very clear that al Kulayni would not quote narrations he did not believe in. Can you then reject al Kulayni’s book, al Kafi, which is your most essential reference book, as you have rejected Fasl al Khitab by Tabrasi? Would you dare to call him an apostate in line with your claim that whoever says that the Qur’an is altered is an apostate?
Someone from the audience (angrily): All these narrations are weak and unreliable. We are here in front of you declaring that the Qur’an is not altered. What then is the problem?
I said: We who are present here are not the problem. We are here searching for the truth. I am going to show you the stand of the scholars of the Ithna ‘Ashariyyah (Twelvers) regarding the Qur’an. The opinion of a sect is represented only by the declarations of its leaders and recognised scholars, and not by the view of ordinary members like me and you.
Let us leave aside al Kulayni and his book, al Kafi which is the greatest Shia work. Let us rather look at al Qummi (who is ‘Ali ibn Ibrahim al Qummi) and his famous tafsir (Tafsir al Qummi).
Al Qummi does not need any introduction. He was your most prominent sheikh in Tafsir and hadith, and his Tafsir is the most recognised Shia tafsir. In the introduction of this Tafsir, he claims that the Qur’an was altered. He said: “There are in the Qur’an things that are contrary to what Allah had revealed.”
He then filled the book with narrations that claim that the Qur’an was altered. An example of this -though there are many others- is when he commented on verse: 110 of Surah Al ‘Imran where Allah says:
كُنْتُمْ خَیْرَ اُمَّةٍ اُخْرِجَتْ لِلنَّاسِ
You are the best of nations ever raised for mankind.
Al Qummi quoted some of your ‘infallible’ Imams saying: “How could they be the best people since they had killed the leader of the faithful ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu and his son Hussain radiya Llahu ‘anhu? The correct version of the verse rather is: “You are the best Imams – referring to the twelve Imams of the Ithna ‘Ashariyyah (Twelvers) – ever raised up for mankind.” Therefore, the verse is one of the verses altered in the Qur’an.
Would you then reject al Qummi and his Tafsir, as you have rejected Fasl al Khitab by Tabrasi? And if you reject al Kafi and you reject al Qummi and his Tafsir, you will then not have any book to cite as your authority, for these are the men who are the authorities in the Ithna ‘Ashariyyah (Twelvers) school.
Hence, you have two options: to follow these scholars in their opinion and agree with them that the Qur’an has been altered or to renounce the entire Ithna ‘Ashariyyah (Twelvers) system of belief, because their scholars claim that the Qur’an had been altered.
One of them: Look, debate is not done in this manner! We are telling you that our belief is that the Qur’an is not altered and you are insisting that our belief is the opposite. I will bring you a book that will clarify our belief to you.
(He then asked the youngest person in the gathering to bring a book from the library. When the book was brought, he turned to me and said). This is the book of Creeds by Ibn Babuwayh al Qummi. It confirms our opinion that the Qur’an was not altered.
(He then opened a page and started reading) “Our belief is that the Qur’an which Allah revealed to our Prophet Muhammad salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and which is in the hands of the people is as it was revealed… Whoever claims that we have a belief that is contrary to this is a liar.”
This is the belief of all of us. Why then do we need to stir up controversies and arguments that are detrimental to Islam?
I responded: No! These arguments are detrimental to the Imami Shia alone as they are the ones who claim that there are alterations, omissions and additions in the Qur’an.
Another person from the audience: After we have read our belief to you, you are still saying this? You are definitely interested only in argument and not in the truth.
I said: The matter is not that simple. The belief that the Qur’an was altered is the fundamental principle according to the Ithna ‘Ashariyyah (Twelvers). All your scholars of tafsir quote sayings from your ‘infallible Imams’ that the Qur’an was indeed altered. Your erudite scholar, al Jaza’iri also affirmed this in his book, Al Anwar, that there are abundant and successive reports that there are alterations in the Qur’an.
Do you know what “successive” and “abundant” mean? It means: beyond any doubt. Al Jazairi claimed that there are more than two thousand narrations and authentic reports indicating that there are alterations in the Qur’an. Another of your eminent scholars, al Majlisi also made the same claim, asserting that rejection of these narrations would necessitate the rejection of all narrations about Imamah.
And it is quite clear to everyone that rejection of all narrations about Imamah is tantamount to rejection of the Shia religion in its entirety, especially the Ithna ‘Ashariyyah (Twelvers). I am not cooking all this up. It is there in your books. I can show it to you if you like.
Now tell me, is it possible to reject all these – more than two thousand ‘successive’ and ‘abundant’ – narrations reported by your reliable and infallible Imams?
Is it possible to abandon these narrations for the opinion of some ‘fallible’ scholar such as Ibn Babuwayh? Indeed, what Ibn Babuwayh wrote is nothing more than another method of taqiyyah invented to deceive the Ahlus Sunnah. And according to your belief, taqiyyah is a principle that represents nine-tenth of your religion.
Therefore, you can never abandon the saying of your ‘infallible Imams’ for the opinion of a scholar who is vulnerable to errors. This word is not from me. It is rather from the seal of your erudite scholars, buried in your holiest Najaf: al Nuri al Tabrasi.
Al Tabrasi had rejected Ibn Babuwayh’s claim and asserted that rejection of his opinion is easier than the rejection of the sayings of the ‘infallible Imams’. He then added that Ibn Babuwayh and others made this claim as a way of practicing taqiyyah to deceive the common people. Al Jaza’iri also concurred with al Tabrasi.
By Allah, I wish I could believe that you do not claim that the Qur’an was altered. Since doubting the authenticity of a single word from the Qur’an removes one from the fold of Islam.
But, believe me, there are many factors that convince our scholars that you – the Imamiyyah Shia – certainly believe that there are alterations in the Qur’an, however much you try to hide this belief. Some of these factors are:
The many texts from your books that clearly state that there are alterations in the Qur’an.
Your ill opinion of the Prophet’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam Companions radiya Llahu ‘anhum though they are the ones who compiled the Qur’an and whom Allah praised in the Qur’an. How could you then claim that you believe the Qur’an to be intact and still assert that the Companions radiya Llahu ‘anhum who compiled the Qur’an and conveyed it to us had apostatised?
You must either believe in the trustworthiness and praiseworthiness of the Companions. radiya Llahu ‘anhum and the intactness of the Qur’an or disbelieve in both. For, it is unacceptable to distinguish between the two intertwined issues.
(There was a loud uproar in the gathering, and most of those present disagreed with this statement.)
One of them volunteered to speak: We (the Shia) are not the only ones to claim that the Qur’an was altered, there are also some among you (the Ahlus Sunnah) who believe that there are alterations in the Qur’an. Your books confirm this.
I said: Subhan Allah! At the beginning of this debate, all of you unanimously claimed that you did not believe that the Qur’an was altered, but after I showed you quotations from your books that contradict your claim, you are now alleging that we also believe in the alteration?
For your information, you will never find in the books of Ahlus Sunnah, in their vast multitude, the least indication that there is any alteration in the Qur’an. This is because, the Ahlus Sunnah are the custodians of the Qur’an. They harmonise with the Qur’an and the Qur’an also harmonises with them. The Qur’an praises the Companions. radiya Llahu ‘anhum and they also praise them; the Qur’an commands them to love the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and the members of his household and they carry out this commandment; the Qur’an praises the mothers of the faithful and they also ask Allah to be pleased with them. So they are with the Qur’an wherever they are.
The speaker: There are reports in your authorised books that ‘Umar, used to erase Surah al Falaq and Surah al Nas from the Qur’an saying that they were not part of the Qur’an.
(The audience applauded and breathed a sigh of relief.)
A pretentious speaker among them: We have earlier on warned you that we should not delve into this matter that is harmful to you and us and detrimental to Islam. But you insisted on delving into it.
(He then ostentatiously said): I suggest that we close this chapter completely and take up more important issues that can benefit us all.
I said: No, by Allah, I am not going to leave this issue until it is clarified completely. When you failed to free yourselves from the belief that the Qur’an was altered – a belief that most of your scholars hold – you now intend to attribute the same belief to us so that we could have a share in that insult. How preposterous!
All the Muslims who are the followers of the Sunnah unanimously agree that all that is in the Qur’an is Allah’s word with no addition or omission. They hold that anyone – whoever he or she may be – who claims that there is any alteration, addition or omission in the Qur’an, even if it is a single letter, is an apostate who has removed himself or herself from the fold of Islam.
You have access to books of belief written by our unique and sagacious scholars that do not in any way contradict this belief.
What then would make us claim that the Qur’an is altered?! It was our Khalifah Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu, who compiled the Qur’an in consultation with ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu. It was our Khalifah ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu who produced copies therefrom (and sent them to the regions). All these men are our guides and the rightly guided leaders. What would then make us claim that there are alterations in the Qur’an?
As for you, you have every reason to hold a belief that there are alterations in the Qur’an because you regard Abu Bakr, ‘Umar and ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhum, who compiled the Qur’an as apostates; and your religion is based upon cursing and denouncing them.
We – the Ahlus Sunnah – on the other hand, regard the Qur’an as ours. It is our Book. So it is impossible for us to claim that there is any alteration in it.
Let me go back to the claim of the brother that ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu would erase Surah al Falaq and Surah al Nas from the Qur’an script. I would like to give him correct information in this regard. The narration he referred to did not mention ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu, for ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu is too knowledgeable not to know that the two Surahs were part of the Qur’an. It is rather narrated from Ibn Mas’ud radiya Llahu ‘anhu, and this refutation from him was an individual judgment that no other companion concurred with him in.
The reason for this is that the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam used to recite supplications for protection against evil eye and other harmful things, but when the two Surahs were revealed, he abandoned all other supplications and recited them only. So ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ud radiya Llahu ‘anhu thought that the two Surahs were part of those supplications and not part of the Qur’an.
This assumption was strengthened by the fact that he did not have an opportunity to hear the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam recite any of these two Surahs in prayer.
Above all, there are authentic reports that ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ud radiya Llahu ‘anhu later abandoned his opinion for that of the rest of the Companions radiya Llahu ‘anhum.
Therefore, it is the consensus of all the Muslims – with the exception of the Imamiyyah Shia – that the entire Qur’an, including Surah al Falaq and Surah al Nas, is intact, and that it is divinely protected against any alteration, addition or omission. ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ud radiya Llahu ‘anhu only disputed it being part of the Qur’an for the reasons given above, and he had abandoned his previous opinion when the truth became clear to him. There are occasions in which a companion would act contrary to the Prophet’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam injunction because he was unaware of that injunction but when informed of it, would immediately abide by it.
(At this point, members of the audience started talking among themselves, then one of them addressed me): Doctor, engaging in debate with you is fruitless. You are not seeking the truth. You only came here to impose your opinion. Therefore, we need to bring this discussion to end. Thank you for your visit. We ask Allah to guide us all to the truth and to the love of and respect for members of the Prophet’s household.
I responded: You are rather the ones who do not want to accept the truth. Engaging in debate with you is fruitless. For, you do not want the truth. You only want people to embrace your wrong belief blindly.
As for me, I praise Allah for guiding me to the love of the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and the entire members of his household starting with his pure wives, mothers of the faithful, and ending with families of ‘Abbas, ‘Aqil, Jafar and ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu.
I ask Allah to guide us and you to the love of the Prophet’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam Companions radiya Llahu ‘anhum starting with the four rightly guided caliphs, the ten who were given glad tiding of Paradise, veterans of the Battle of Badr, participants in the Pledge of Ridwan (Bay’at al Ridwan), all the Muhajirin and Ansar radiya Llahu ‘anhum, and all those who follow them in righteousness till the Day of Resurrection.
I thought you were looking for the truth, and I had many truths to tell you but you do not want to listen.
My friend who came with me: No, by Allah! You cannot go until after saying all that you want to say. They are obliged to listen to you as you had listened to them and they have right to criticise you if they have knowledge. If not, they should admit their ignorance and leave the religion alone for those who are knowledgeable.
I said: They are not interested in debate.
One of them: It is not that we do not want debate. The problem is that we keep telling you that we believe in the intactness of the Qur’an but you insist on forcing a contradicting view on us.
I responded: No, I am not forcing any view on you. I am only showing you the sayings of your scholars, who are your indisputable authority whom you trust. Anyway, I am not going to attribute to you what you reject. Allah knows all that is concealed, and your reckoning is with Him.
One of them: Since we have reached this agreement, we can now go on with the debate.
Another one (attempting to calm the tense atmosphere): My brother, issues concerning the Qur’an are very expansive and the scholars have many opinions about that. You can only discuss these sensitive matters with the Sayyid because he alone has the knowledge and he certainly has responses that we do not have.
(After we had decided to continue with the debate) I said: All praise is due to Allah. Peace and blessings be upon the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, members of his family and his Companions radiya Llahu ‘anhum.
One of them: You had better not add “and his Companions”. By the way, where did you get this addition from?
I said: This is what we are going to discuss now. But before we start, I would like to mention the result of our discussion concerning the Qur’an in summary.
One of them: Concerning the Qur’an again?
I responded: In line with our agreement, I will not go back to the topic. However, there is something in my mind that I must say, and it is going to be brief, Allah willing.
We concluded that many – if not most – of the Shia scholars, the earlier and the latter ones, are of the opinion that there are alterations in the Qur’an and there are thousands of texts from your authorised books that support this belief. There are however some of your scholars who rejected these texts and affirmed that the Qur’an is intact, though we do not know whether they did so in line with your principle of taqiyyah.
Nevertheless, my personal view is that your claim that there is no alteration in the Qur’an disagrees with the fundamental principle of the Imami Shia. As according to this fundamental principle, the Prophet’s Companions who compiled the Qur’an were apostates. The implication is: how could apostates be trusted in any matter, let alone in compilation of the Qur’an?
Anyway, all of us here agreed that there is no alteration, addition or omission in the Qur’an and that anyone who makes any contrary claim is a disbeliever and apostate. Is there any opposition to this conclusion?
The audience: No opposition,
I continued: Allah says in His glorious Book:
كُنْتُمْ خَیْرَ اُمَّةٍ اُخْرِجَتْ لِلنَّاسِ
You are the best of nations ever raised for mankind.
Concerning the above verse, al Qummi quoted one of your ‘infallible’ Imams as saying: “How could they be the best people since they had killed the leader of the faithful ‘Ali and his son, Hussain? The correct version of the verse rather is: “You are the best Imams – meaning the twelve Imams of the Ithna ‘Ashariyyah (Twelvers) – ever raised up for mankind.
Since you do not concur with him in the authenticity of this narration, what then is your view?
One of them: But we have told you that only the Sayyid could answer this question. By Allah, engaging in debate with you is useless!
I said: I do not want to go back to the issue of the Qur’an. We all agreed on its intactness. Therefore, we should reject all those fake narrations. Do we all agree on this?
(There was silence)
I said: We all agreed that the verse: 3 of Surah Al ‘Imran is intact as it was revealed?
I continued: Have we not agreed on the intactness of the Qur’an without any alteration, addition or omission?
One of them: Yes. We said that!
I said: All praise belongs to Allah! Then is this verse not the greatest proof of the merit of the Companions radiya Llahu ‘anhum and Allah’s praise for them, describing them as the best people ever raised up for the entire mankind?
Is it reasonable to believe that a people praised in such glowing terms would, all of a sudden, apostatise with the exception of only some ten persons, according to the best estimate?
Is it reasonable to believe that an entire community that numbered one hundred thousand during the farewell pilgrimage and among whom were more than two thousand eminent Companions from among the Muhajirin and Ansar, would discard the truth except for only a few men who could be counted on fingers? Does a community such as this then deserve to be called:
The best people ever raised up for mankind?
Therefore, dear brothers, you should either agree with al Qummi in his interpretation of the above verse, in which case we will be upon a religion and you upon another and not share the religion of Islam that is based upon the Qur’an with us. Or in accordance with your claim that the Qur’an is free from any alteration, agree with the verse as it is: “You are the best of all people”, which refers to the Prophet’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam noble Companions radiya Llahu ‘anhum unto whom he recited the verse when it was revealed to him.
The Companions radiya Llahu ‘anhum are rightly and deservedly called the best of all people; for all those who came after them are indebted to them. Allah says:
وَ الَّذِیْنَ جَآءُوْ مِنْۢ بَعْدِهِمْ یَقُوْلُوْنَ رَبَّنَا اغْفِرْلَنَا وَ لِاِخْوَانِنَا الَّذِیْنَ سَبَقُوْنَا بِالْاِیْمَانِ وَ لَا تَجْعَلْ فِیْ قُلُوْبِنَا غِلًّا لِّلَّذِیْنَ اٰمَنُوْا رَبَّنَآ اِنَّكَ رَءُوْفٌ رَّحِیْمٌ
And those who came after them say: “O our Rabb! Forgive us and our brethren who have preceded us in iman, and put not in our hearts any hatred against those who have believed. Our Rabb! You are indeed full of kindness, Most Merciful.”
The Companions radiya Llahu ‘anhum indeed were the foremost in righteousness, intelligence and faith. They are the best of the best in the light of Allah’s word:
كُنْتُمْ خَیْرَ اُمَّةٍ اُخْرِجَتْ لِلنَّاسِ
You are the best of nations ever raised for mankind.
Therefore, you should either agree with al Qummi and become disbelievers or agree with me that the verse is intact and refers to the Prophet’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam Companions radiya Llahu ‘anhum and be saved.
 Surah Al ‘Imran: 110
 This Qummi is different from the Qummi mentioned earlier, this is Abu Jafar Muhammad ibn ‘Ali ibn Babuwayh al Qummi.
 Fasl al Khitab by Tabrasi and al Anwar al Nu’maniyyah by al Jaza’iri vol. 2 pg. 357,358
 Surah Al ‘Imran: 110
 Surah al Hashr: 10
 Surah Al ‘Imran: 110Back to top