The Preservation of the Qur’an and the Preservation of the Tawrah: Imam al-Shinqitee

Allah says in surah al-Maa’idah:

إِنَّا أَنزَلْنَا التَّوْرَ‌اةَ فِيهَا هُدًى وَنُورٌ‌ ۚ يَحْكُمُ بِهَا النَّبِيُّونَ الَّذِينَ أَسْلَمُوا لِلَّذِينَ هَادُوا وَالرَّ‌بَّانِيُّونَ وَالْأَحْبَارُ‌ بِمَا اسْتُحْفِظُوا مِن كِتَابِ اللَّـهِ وَكَانُوا عَلَيْهِ شُهَدَاءَ ۚ فَلَا تَخْشَوُا النَّاسَ وَاخْشَوْنِ وَلَا تَشْتَرُ‌وا بِآيَاتِي ثَمَنًا قَلِيلًا ۚ وَمَن لَّمْ يَحْكُم بِمَا أَنزَلَ اللَّـهُ فَأُولَـٰئِكَ هُمُ الْكَافِرُ‌ونَ

Indeed, We sent down the Torah, in which was guidance and light. The prophets who submitted [to Allah] judged by it for the Jews, as did the rabbis and scholars by that with which they were entrusted of the Scripture of Allah, and they were witnesses thereto. So do not fear the people but fear Me, and do not exchange My verses for a small price. And whoever does not judge by what Allah has revealed – then it is those who are the disbelievers. [5:44]

Commenting on part of this ayah in his book of tafsir, Imam al-Shinqitee clarified an important issue by writing:

قوله تعالى : بما استحفظوا من كتاب الله وكانوا عليه شهداء الآية .ـ

Allah’s statement, “by that with which they were entrusted of the Scripture of Allah” until the end of the ayah.

أخبر تعالى في هذه الآية الكريمة أن الأحبار والرهبان استحفظوا كتاب الله يعني استودعوه ، وطلب منهم حفظه ، ولم يبين هنا هل امتثلوا الأمر في ذلك وحفظوه ، أو لم يمتثلوا الأمر في ذلك وضيعوه ؟ ولكنه بين في مواضع أخر أنهم لم يمتثلوا الأمر ، ولم يحفظوا ما استحفظوه ، بل حرفوه وبدلوه عمدا كقوله : يحرفون الكلم عن مواضعه . الآية [ 4 \ 46 ] . ـ

Allah informed us in this noble ayah that the rabbis and the scholars were entrusted with the scripture of Allah – meaning they were given charge of its safekeeping and He sought for them to preserve it. And He did not clarify here whether they complied with the command in this matter and preserved it or whether they did not comply with the command in this matter and caused it to perish. However He did clarify elsewhere that they did not comply with the command and that they did not preserve what they were entrusted with – rather they distorted it and changed it intentionally, such as in His statement,

يُحَرِّ‌فُونَ الْكَلِمَ عَن مَّوَاضِعِهِ

they distort words from their [proper] usages

until the end of the ayah [4:46].

وقوله : يحرفون الكلم من بعد مواضعه ، وقوله : تجعلونه قراطيس تبدونها وتخفون كثيرا [ 6 \ 91 ] ، وقوله : فويل للذين يكتبون الكتاب بأيديهم ثم يقولون هذا من عند الله الآية [ 2 \ 79 ] ، وقوله جل وعلا : وإن منهم لفريقا يلوون ألسنتهم بالكتاب لتحسبوه من الكتاب وما هو من الكتاب الآية [ 3 \ 78 ] ، [ ص: 405 ] إلى غير ذلك من الآيات . ـ

And His statement,

يُحَرِّ‌فُونَ الْكَلِمَ مِن بَعْدِ مَوَاضِعِهِ

They distort words beyond their [proper] usages” [5:41],

and His statement,

تَجْعَلُونَهُ قَرَ‌اطِيسَ تُبْدُونَهَا وَتُخْفُونَ كَثِيرً‌ا

You [Jews] make it into pages, disclosing [some of] it and concealing much” [6:91],

and His statement,

فَوَيْلٌ لِّلَّذِينَ يَكْتُبُونَ الْكِتَابَ بِأَيْدِيهِمْ ثُمَّ يَقُولُونَ هَـٰذَا مِنْ عِندِ اللَّـهِ

So woe to those who write the ‘scripture’ with their own hands, then say, ‘This is from Allah’

until the end of the ayah [2:79], and His statement,

وَإِنَّ مِنْهُمْ لَفَرِ‌يقًا يَلْوُونَ أَلْسِنَتَهُم بِالْكِتَابِ لِتَحْسَبُوهُ مِنَ الْكِتَابِ وَمَا هُوَ مِنَ الْكِتَابِ وَيَقُولُونَ هُوَ مِنْ عِندِ اللَّـهِ وَمَا هُوَ مِنْ عِندِ اللَّـهِ

And indeed, there is among them a party who alter the Scripture with their tongues so you may think it is from the Scripture, but it is not from the Scripture,

until the end of the ayah [3:78], and other ayaat as well.

تنبيه : إن قيل ما الفرق بين التوراة والقرآن ؟ فإن كلا منهما كلام الله أنزله على رسول من رسله – صلوات الله وسلامه عليهم – والتوراة حرفت ، وبدلت كما بيناه آنفا ، والقرآن محفوظ من التحريف والتبديل ، لو حرف منه أحد حرفا واحدا فأبدله بغيره ، أو زاد فيه حرفا أو نقص فيه آخر لرد عليه آلاف الأطفال من صغار المسلمين فضلا عن كبارهم . ـ

An issue of importance: if it is asked, ‘what is the difference between the Tawrah and the Qur’an?’, then verily both of them are the speech of Allah which He revealed to a messenger from amongst His messengers (peace and blessings of Allah be upon them), but the Tawrah was distorted and altered, as was clarified above, while the Qur’an is protected from distortion and alteration. Even if someone were to change a single letter and replace it without another or add a letter to it or take another away, then thousands of children from the youths of the Muslims would reject this – not to mention their elders!

فالجواب أن الله استحفظهم التوراة ، واستودعهم إياها ، فخانوا الأمانة ولم يحفظوها ، بل ضيعوها عمدا ، والقرآن العظيم لم يكل الله حفظه إلى أحد حتى يمكنه تضييعه ، بل تولى حفظه جل وعلا بنفسه الكريمة المقدسة ، كما أوضحه بقوله : إنا نحن نزلنا الذكر وإنا له لحافظون [ 15 \ 9 ] ، وقوله : لا يأتيه الباطل من بين يديه ولا من خلفه الآية [ 41 \ 42 ] ، إلى غير ذلك من الآيات ، ـ

So the answer is that Allah entrusted them [the rabbis and scholars of the Jews] with the Tawrah and charged them exclusively with safeguarding it, and then they betrayed the trust and did not preserve it – rather they intentionally caused it to perish. But Allah did not entrust the preservation of the Glorious Qur’an to anyone such that they would be able to cause it to perish – rather He turned its preservation over to His Noble and Holy Self, just as He made it clear in His statement,

إِنَّا نَحْنُ نَزَّلْنَا الذِّكْرَ‌ وَإِنَّا لَهُ لَحَافِظُونَ

Indeed, it is We who sent down the Qur’an and indeed, We will be its guardian. ” [15:9],

and His statement,

لَّا يَأْتِيهِ الْبَاطِلُ مِن بَيْنِ يَدَيْهِ وَلَا مِنْ خَلْفِهِ ۖ تَنزِيلٌ مِّنْ حَكِيمٍ حَمِيدٍ

Falsehood cannot approach it [i.e. the Qur’an] from before it or from behind it; [it is] a revelation from a [Lord who is] Wise and Praiseworthy,” [41:42]

as well as in other ayaat.

[Adhwaa’ al-Bayaan 1/405-406]

See also: “Indeed, We will be its Guardian”: Tafsir al-Shinqitee

See also: A Brief History of the Preservation of the Qur’an: Sheikh ‘Abd al-Muhsin al-‘Abbaad

See also: The Sharee’ah of Moosaa and the Sharee’ah of Muhammad

See also: Imam al-Shawkani on the Gospels

See also: Forbidding the permissible to prevent the forbidden: Tafsir al-Sa’di

See also: The Qur’an, the Tawrah and the Injeel: Tafsir ibn Kathir

See also: We Revealed the Qur’an as a Muhaymin over the previous scriptures: Tafsir ibn Kathir

See also: A Note on the Different Qiraa’aat: Sheikh bin Baaz

See also: Preservation of the Wordings and Meanings of the Qur’an among the Salaf: Tafsir ibn Kathir

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15 thoughts on “The Preservation of the Qur’an and the Preservation of the Tawrah: Imam al-Shinqitee

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