Ask A Question About Islam And Muslims
I understand that Arabic is complex and words with different diacritic points can change the reading. So is the text we read today the full and complete and only version of the Quran?
There are several surviving recitations (qira'at) of the Qur'an with very minor differences (mostly related to pronunciation such as a vowel sound or dots). Most of them are unused.
The differences typically have little impact on the meaning, although may be considered in jurisprudence or tafsir.
This is not considered to be tahrif (alteration) of the Qur'an, especially since it is nearly inconsequential.
In Sunni hadith, the Qur'an is said to have been revealed in seven dialects (ahruf).
The Shi'i view is that there is only one original correct revelation and recitation, even if, in reality, there exist multiple qira'at.
I was told that some early Shia scholars believed that the Quran was distorted which I now know not to be true. However, is it Kufr to believe in Tahrif of the Quran?
Although belief in tahrif of the Qur'an is non-standard, it is better to reserve the word kufr for the things that Allah directly uses it for.
The Qur'an does not directly say that belief in tahrif is kufr. (Rather, some people assert this based on a deduction/interpretation of a verse, not a direct statement.)
The word kufr tends to be thrown around quite casually these days. There is rarely any benefit to accusing people of kufr or labelling Muslims as kafir just because one thinks they are incorrect in their belief. It is quite sad that this intolerance has developed today. The classical Islamic era seems to have been much more tolerant and open to discussing differences of opinion regarding theology. This is not to say that every view was always right, but it is better to be able to discuss things rationally rather than to shut down dissenting views by just labelling and attacking (verbally or sometimes physically).
I have heard that Sheikh Yusuf Bahrani was an Akhbari scholar who believed in alterations in the Qur'an. Is it true that he and some Akhbari scholars held such a view?
Some Shi'i scholars have accepted the idea of deletion or rearrangement of material from the Qur'an based on narrations.
Some Sunni narrations also discuss deletions of material in the Qur'an, so it is not a Shi'i-only subject.
Most Shi'i scholars today reject those narrations and reject the idea of tahrif in the Qur'an. You can find a good argument and overview of the narrations and the subject in https://www.al-islam.org/al-bayan-fi-tafsir-al-quran-prolegomena-quran-s...
This can be a very sensitive and taboo subject because it is generally taken as a primary pillar and fundamental belief of Islam that nothing in the Qur'an has ever been changed (apart from the minor variations in qira'at).
Shi'is are also particularly sensitive because they feel defensive because they feel they have to "prove" to Sunnis that they have the same Qur'an. (And, in fact, Shi'is do use the same Qur'an and same recitations as Sunnis.)
However perhaps it's good to step down from the ideologically and sectarianly charged nature of this discussion and just take it as it is. If some people held this view, it was their view, and that is that.
Are there traditions in Shia books such as Bihar Al Anwar that suggest that the Quran is distorted? If so, how can their presence in those books be explained?
There are some hadith along those lines. It has been suggested that these are forged hadith. In some cases, when the ayah is presented differently, with insertions, it has been suggested that this may have been an explanation or gloss by the speaker which was later misunderstood as a quotation of the entire ayah.
It is true that there are a few hadith along these lines both in Sunni and Shi'i texts.