Allama Majlisi Revived My People, Part 5: Nuqsan al-Quran

Allama Majlisi Revived My People Part 5: Nuqsan al-Quran


In Part 1 of my Allama Majlisi Revived My People series, I had linked Allama Majlisi noting the tawatur (mass transmission) of ‘nuqsan’ in the Quran to the Qiraat. And also what these Qiraat entail of ta’wil (esoteric interpretation, which can take the form of verses). 

‘Nuqsan’ is the idea that the Quran we have today is missing in someway. Does this indicate the content is corrupted, or is what’s missing within the confines of what us permitted?

In this post, I will clarify the concept of ‘Nuqsan’ in Quran more - and show the way in which part 1 of my article reflects the views of Allama Majlisi, inshallah.

A portion of what I discuss below, I take from a discussion I’ve had on Twitter.


I begin by sharing this hadith in which the Imam warns us from reciting the Quran with our own personal interpretation, our own ta’wil that differs from that from the Ahlulbayt. 

From al-Mahasin by al-Barqi (1), narrated by Imam al-Sadiq:

Be wary of reciting the Quran with your own personal interpretation, as the people are not unified in its knowledge like they are unified in other matters like it. 

Nor are they capable of it, nor of its ta’wil except from the door Allah made to it [i.e, Ahlulbayt], so understand - by the will of Allah. And ask for the matter [recitation of Quran] from its place [by interpretation of Ahlulbayt], you will find it - by the will of Allah. 

وإياك وتلاوة القرآن (1) برأيك فان الناس غير مشتركين في علمه كاشتراكهم فيما سواه من الأمور، ولا قادرين عليه ولا على تأويله إلا منحده وبابه الذي جعله الله له فافهم إنشاء الله، واطلب الامر من مكانه تجده إنشاء الله 

Thus, we learn two things from the hadith:

  • One’s personal interpretation can take form in their تلاوة (recitation) of the Quran
  • One must not recite the Quran from a ta’wil, other than that of the Ahlulbayt (as). It must be noted however, this hadith is to warn those who impose their own interpretations into Quranic recitations. It does not mean we cannot recite the Qira’a of the Mukhalifeen - in fact, narrations of our Imams obligate us to do so.


  • How can you recite the Quran with a ta’wil? 

Let us first take a look at this hadith, in Tafsir al-Safi by al-Faydh al-Kashani:

“Al-Fudhayl ibn Yasar said: 

I asked Abi Jafar [al-Baqir] about this narration: 

‘There is no verse in the Quran, except that it has a dhahr and batn. And there is no harf, except that it has a limit. And to every limit there is a beginning.’ 

What does he mean by ‘dhahr and batn’? 

He [al-Baqir] said: Its dhahr [is so and so], and its batn is its ta’wil - it includes what had passed, and what has not yet happened. It travels with precision, like the Sun and Moon..’

عن الفضيل بن يسار قالسئلت أبا جعفر عليه السلام عن هذه الرواية " ما في القرآن آية الا ولها ظهر وبطن، وما فيه حرف الا وله حد ولكلحد مطلع " (5) ما يعنى بقوله لها ظهر وبطن؟ قالظهره وبطنه تأويله، منه ما مضى ومنه ما لم يكن بعد، يجرى كما يجرى الشمس والقمر،كلما جاء منه شئ وقع قال الله تعالى " وما يعلم تأويله الا الله والراسخون في العلم

It thus becomes clear that the ta’wil of the Quran is part of the Quran’s batn (aka, its batin.

  • What does al-Faydh al-Kashani view this hadith? 

Al-Faydh al-Kashani was one of the foremost Akhbari scholars contemporary of Allama Majlisi). 

He also narrated many ahadith about nuqsan in the Quran and believed in tahrif, however, how did he define tahrif? 

And what they [Imams] meant by tahrif, change, and removals (from the Quran) - it is in the meaning, not the speech. 

Meaning, they corrupted it and changed in its tafsir and ta’wil. 

Meaning, they took upon [the Quran] in the opposite of what it is.

So what they [Imams] meant by “It was revealed like this” [i.e, a verse was revealed different to how it is today] 

The meaning of that report should not by understood by people by the surface of it [i.e, that it does not indicate tahrif] 

Rather, the Imams did not mean the verse was revealed differently in speech. [Rather, it is the ta’wil] which was removed is hiding the truth and extinguishing the Light of Allah

أنّ مرادهم عليهم السلام بالتحريف والتغيير والحذف إنّما هو من حيث المعنى دون اللّفظأيحرّفوه وغيّروه في تفسيره وتأويله، أيحملوهعلى خلاف ما هو عليه في نفس الأمر، فمعنى قولهم عليهم السلام، كذا أُنزلت، أنّ المراد به ذلك، لا ما يفهمه الناس من ظاهره، وليس مرادهمأنّها نزلت كذلك في اللّفظ، فحذف ذلك إخفاءً للحق، وإطفاءً لنور اللّه.

  • What implications does this have? 

It shows that the way the Imams recited a verse (i.e, their Qiraa) - could be a form of ta’wil. 

Batin interpretations are a form of ta’wil, and are a way to recite the verses. As I show in the Mahasin hadith in the beginning of the post, it is possible for people to recite the Quran with their personal interpretations. 

Similarly, al-Kashani’s words show that the Imams recited the Quran with their batin ta’wil (interpretation). 

Additionally, show in part 1 of my Allama Majlisi series how when the Imams mention the way a verse was originally revealed, it indicates a ta’wil in the form of a verse. 

Also, on page 53 of his Tafsir al-Safi, al-Faydh al-Kashani adopts the stance of rationalist al-Sharif al-Murtada on affirming the Shi’a do not believe in literal tahrif of the content of the Quran. 

Similarly, Allama Majlisi also took the stance of Shaykh al-Mufid, whose stance included substantial rationalism as well (the usage of aqli [logical evidence]) in forming his judgement on the Ghulat. (5)

Why, thus, does Allama Majlisi reporting Naqs  necessarily indicate he believed the content of the Quran was corrupted? Why is his stance necessarily 100% textual? And why does he necessarily believe in tahrif, even if he affirms all those narrations? 

Al-Faydh al-Kashani affirmed all those narrations that some may suspect to be tahrif. Yet, his idea of ‘tahrif’ was entirely unrelated to actual corruption of the concept of the Quran. 

To simply put it through, there is not a single piece of evidence showing Allama Majlisi believed in corruption of the content of the Quran. Him affirming those narrations does not mean he beliefs in tahrif. 


  • What are the types of ‘Nuqsan’ in the Quran? 

Al-Muhadith al-Nuri, perhaps the one of the most extreme among the post-Astrabadi Akhbari theologians in the concept of tahrif. His opinion will thus help give us a better understanding of Allama Majlisi’s own beliefs - even if they do not match. 

 In his book defending tahrif, Fasl al-Khitab fi Tahrif Kitab Rab al-Arbab (4) places nuqsan in the Quran, in four categories: 

1) Naqs in surah. He mentions 2 surahs from the sources of Mukhalifeen which they say are Abrogated or were mere duas. And a fictional surah (surat al-wilaya), given to him by an Indian mukhalif. 

Because these three have no basis in our scripture, I do not believe Allama Majlisi believed in them. Which leaves us with the three remaining forms of naqs

  1. Naqs such as Surat al-Asr ending with وانه فيه الى اخر الدهر

This part of Surat al-Asr is reported in both Shi’i & Sunni sources as the qiraa of Imam Ali regarding this Surah. 

Sunni: عن عمرو ذي مر قالسمعت علياً يقرأ "والعصر ونوائب الدهر، إن الإنسان لفي خسر وإنه فيه إلى آخر الدهر" (المستدرك للحاكم2/534،

Shia: 4 - عن أبان بن تغلب عن أبي إبراهيم موسى بن جعفر (ععن أمير المؤمنين (عكان يقرأ: {والعصر ونوائب الدهر}(36).

In both instances, it is a mere qiraa of Amir al-Mu’mineen. Not a distortion of the Quran. And there aren’t many instances of this.

Yes, there is a part of the Qiraa of Amir al-Mu’mineen which is not present in our recitation of Surat al-Asr.

Similarly, there are qiraat which do not include the Basmala as part of Surat al-Fatiha. And this opinion is held by numerous schools of Ahl al-Sunnah, which do not recite the Basmala out loud because they do not believe it is part of Surat al-Fatiha. 

The difference is based on Qiraa (a valid form of difference), not distortion of the Quran. 

  1. Third type of Naqs: 

THIS is the type of Naqs which Al-Nuri says are “many” وهو كثير

Examples including adding Imam Ali’s name in verses, or

Adding the word محدث in 22:52 (qiraa of Ibn Abbas in Sunni sources & Imam al-Sadiq in Shi’i sources)

Or صلاة العصر in 2:238 (a qiraa mentioned in both Sahih Muslim & Shi’i sources). 

My point is that: 

The biggest amount of narrations - Akhbari scholars describe as Naqs is ones mentioning the Imam’s names, wilayah, merits, etc within verses. 

Because this was the Imam’s (batin) qiraa which they told their Shi’a to abstain from. And to recite in the recitation of the Mukhalifeen. Something also evident in al-Faydh al-Kashani’s statement. 

It does *not* refer to missing verses, nor indicate corruption.

The whole Quran would be having all these batin-verses, yet we only have access to around 6000 dhahir verses. Not 17,000 verses - which include the batin interpretation verses.

  1. Naqs, such as letters missing



There is much more to this this discussion, which I had mentioned in my discussion of this topic on Twitter. And more to be mentioned. Yet, I have omitted a number of points for purpose of brevity. 

  1. If al-Faydh al-Kashani, an Akhbari contemporary of Majlisi, reported many ahadith some suspect to be tahrif - without believing they are tahrif. There is no pretext necessitating that Allama Majlisi is different from this - if there is no direct evidence implicating him in believing in literal corruption of the content of the Quran.

  1. All forms of Nuqsan of the Quran in our ahadith are forms of Qiraat. Them being Qiraat, means while Allama Majlisi could recognize them as a form of ‘nuqsan’ - it does not mean he believes they depict corruption in content of the Quran. 

  1. One can recite the Quran through a batin interpretation. This (batin interpretation) is the most common form of Nuqsan the ahadith report, and whose tawatur Allama Majlisi was commenting on. 

May Allah bless you all



(1) Al-Mahasin, volume 1, page 324الكتب/1115_المحاسن-أحمد-بن-محمد-بن-خالد-البرقي-ج-١/الصفحة_324

(2) Tafsir al-Safi, volume 1, page 29الكتب/2382_التفسير-الصافي-الفيض-الكاشاني-ج-١/الصفحة_32

(3) Tafsir al-Safi, volume 1, page 52

(4) Fasl al-Khitab, page 38