One of the most complex and misunderstood concepts in the Quran is Tahrif. The term Tahrif does not appear in the Quran, but there are four verses claiming that some people tampered with other people’s pre-Quran scriptures (Qur’an 2:75; 4:46; 5:13; 5:41 ).
The term Tahrif is also used to refer to the Shia accusation that parts of the Quran in which Ali’s authority is divinely sanctioned have been suppressed.
Al-Raghib al-‘Isfahani, in his Mufradat al-Qur’an, also defines `tahrif as a way of interpreting a certain speech or writing so that it seems to denote two different meanings.’ According to this definition, tahrif is not an alteration of the actual words and phrases of another sacred text, but the alteration of its meanings. It is in this sense that tahrif has been used in the following Quranic verse: “Some of the Jews pervert the words (yuharrifuna) of their meaning…(4:46)
The verse indicates that many Jews used to alter the meaning of the scripture while keeping its actual words (what the Jews call Midrash).
Since the Quran states that its message is to confirm the scriptures of God’s previous prophets, one might think that the Quran offers nothing new; but that’s not right.
As the last of the Abrahamic revelations, the Quran offers important avenues for monotheistic religions in general, such as the non-Abrahamic Sabian religions that became Hanif; and the specific religions of the People of the Book [based on Torah, Zabur and Gospel] to bridge the divisions between Judaism and Christianity that have arisen over the centuries.
Bridging these religious divisions by honoring them, not despising them, is at the heart of the message of the Quran. “He has prescribed for you the religion which he prescribed for Noah and that which we have revealed to you, [O Muhammad], and what We commanded Abraham, Moses and Jesus – to establish religion and not be divided in it. Difficult for those who associate others with Allah is that [monotheism] to which you invite them. Allah chooses for Himself whom He wills and guides to Him whoever turns away [to Him]. (42:13)
From the generations of the Crusaders, no generation in the past has needed the guidance of the Quran on the importance of respecting each other’s religions and seeking harmony, than those who now live in a 21st century of intolerance. growing religious. Believers who have different understandings of various verses in the sacred scriptures are not engaged in Tahrif; they are committed to the Midrash (expanding the meaning of the text) but not to making it more and more strict as the Orthodox rabbis did for the Jewish laws on food and family purity. As Quran 5:87 “O you who believe, do not forbid the good things which Allah has made lawful for you and do not transgress. Surely Allah does not love transgressors.”
And as the Quran 5:4 says: “They ask you, [O Muhammad], which was made lawful for them. Say, “Legal for you are [all] good food and [game caught by] what you have trained to hunt animals that you train as Allah has taught you. So eat what they catch for you, and mention the name of Allah on it, and fear Allah. Surely Allah is quick to give an account. »
First, the Quran informs us that all monotheistic religions and their believers will be rewarded by Allah: do good, they will have their reward from their Lord, and there is no fear [of the fire] for them, and they will not grieve. (2:62)
Religious pluralism as well as racial and linguistic differences will always be the will of Allah:
“If your Lord had willed, He could have made mankind one people: but they will never cease to be diverse.” (11:118)
This has been true from the beginning: “Among the signs of Allah are the creation of the heavens and the earth, the difference of your languages and the variation of your colors.” (30:22)
Second, Allah judges each monotheistic believer according to his righteousness, which includes the quality of his knowledge and love for foreigners from other nations and tribes: “O mankind! We created you male and female [Adam and Eve] and make you nations and tribes, that you may know one another (and not despise one another). Verily, is the most honored among you with Allah [or she] who is the fairest of you. And Allah is All-Knowing and Knowing. (49:13)
The Quran’s respect for the diversity of tribal, ethnic, national, and religious differences is a positive statement that parallels the Bible’s negative portrayal of the Tower of Babel, in which God heals mankind of termite-like conformity. [“having only one language with only a few words’ Genesis 11:1] and the arrogance of skyscrapers to make a name for themselves [Genesis 11:4]. So, God is scattering mankind all over the world into different groups with different languages.
No human being will ever know who is right about religious differences between and within different monotheistic religions, as the Quran states: “For each community We have established a whole system of worship which they must observe. So don’t let them drag you into disputes about it, but keep calling people to your Lord.,…God will judge between (all) you on the Day of Resurrection on what you used to differ” . (22:67&69)
And our discussions of religious differences should never be arrogant and self-righteous. They should be mutually humble and respectful: “And argue with the people of the scripture only in the best way, except for those who do injustice among them, and say, ‘We believe in what has been revealed to us. and revealed to you. And our God and your God are one; and we are muslims [in submission] to him.” (29:46)
Third, the Quran opposes the tendency of humans to create differences and divisions that separate monotheistic religions from each other; and even create divisions within each religion that lead to disrespect for other believers; and even accusations of heresy and treason.
Whereas religious, national and linguistic differences and divisions are the will of Allah and must be respected; exaggerating them in order to smugly claim greater truth than others, or greater closeness to God than others, is condemned by the Quran.
For different religions: “We have revealed to you, [O Muhammad], the Book in truth, confirming the one which preceded it of the Scripture and as a standard upon it. So judge between them by what Allah has sent down and do not follow their inclinations by turning away from what has come to you from the truth. To each of you We have prescribed a law and a method. If Allah had willed, He would have made you one nation [united in religion]but [He intended] to test you in what He has given you; so compete for [do] good. To Allah you all return together and He [then] let you know what you disagreed about. (5:48)
And for the different sects within each religion: “Hold on to the rope of Allah all together and be not divided. [into sects]. And remember Allah’s blessing upon you when you were enemies [of each other], then He united your hearts, so you became brothers with His blessing. And you was on the edge of a pit of Fire when He saved you from it. This is how Allah clarifies His signs for you so that you may be guided. (3:103)
Finally, there is an example that points to an important hidden cause of religious complacency: “Surely We have settled the Children of Israel in a worthy colony [the Land of Israel} and We provided them with all the good things, and they did not differ until [after] knowledge had come to them. Your Lord will truly judge between them on the Day of Resurrection on what they differed on. (10:93)
What is this knowledge that came to them after the time of the Hebrew Bible prophets? What is this knowledge that is also mentioned in other situations like: “…and those to whom the Book was given did not differ until after the knowledge had come to them, through transgression against one another…” (3: 19)
“…Maintain the religion and do not divide yourselves in it…They did not divide [into sects] except after knowledge [theology] had come to them in transgression against one another…” (42:13-14)
I believe knowledge is Greek philosophy; which has influenced the thinking and understanding of most religious scholars of many verses of their sacred scriptures. Greek philosophy completely lacked the advantage of divine revelations. Greek philosophy was based on human reasoning which is often only a rationalization of our desires and our ego.
Religious truth in Europe, then in the Middle East, became a zero-sum game: anything positive said about another religion was seen as weakening your own side. The goal was not to modestly try to harmonize various religious perspectives of the one and only God; but to exaggerate the religious differences, far beyond any reasonable comprehension on both sides.
In a zero-sum game, any value or true spiritual insight I place on another scripture somehow diminishes mine. This view was the result of the specific influence of Aristotle and the general emphasis in Greek philosophy on the logic of the excluded middle. Something is right or wrong. There is no other option. If two statements contradict each other, one or both must be false. They can’t both be true.
If we believe that there is only one God who is revealed by many different inspired prophets, then we should be able to learn more about God’s will by gaining insight into our own unique revelation, from other revelations of this unique God. Since all monotheistic scripture comes from the one and only God, we should view other scripture as potentially enriching for our understanding and appreciation of our own scripture.
But in the Middle Ages almost all readers viewed revelation as a zero-sum sport like tennis; rather than a multi-win cooperative sport like mountaineering. It would mean that if my religion is true, yours must be false.
This philosophical logic has influenced all monotheistic religions and has overcome most of the Quran’s clear statements to the contrary. It still remains in many medieval scriptural commentaries to this day.
My view is that the prophets and the scriptures cannot actually oppose each other because they all come from one source. The prophets are all brothers; they have the same “father” (God) and different “mothers” (homelands, mother tongues, nations, cultures and historical epochs).
All of these factors produce different rituals and legal systems, but their monotheistic theology can only differ in minute and non-essential details. Religions differ because the circumstances of each nation that receives them differ. Where the Holy Scriptures differ, they do not cancel or abrogate each other; they only illuminate each other more.