Tahrif - Corruption


TahrifTahrif levels a serious charge against the accuracy of the Bible. Tahrif, which means "corruption," is the charge that the Bible contains corrupted passages.

Tahrif was first leveled against the Bible in the 11th century by a Muslim named Ibn Khazem. According to Ibn Khazem's tahrif, when passages in the Quran contradict passages in the Bible, it is the Bible passages that have been corrupted, apparently by the Jews and the Christians.

There are at least two problems with tahrif.

First, by the time Ibn Khazem claimed tahrif against the Bible, the Bible had been around for a thousand years and hundreds of manuscripts of the Bible across the Middle East, Europe and North Africa attested to its accuracy. Any claim of textual corruption needs to present the texts before and after their supposed corruption. Neither Ibn Khazen nor anyone since him has produced any such evidence of tahrif.

Second, tahrif of the Bible contradicts Muhammad and his Quran, which attest to the accuracy of the Bible. For example, Muhammad declared in the Quran:

"No change is there in the Words of [God]. That is what is the great attainment." - Quran 10:64

"So if you are in doubt about that which We have revealed to you, then ask those who have been reading the Scripture before you. The truth has certainly come to you from your Lord, so never be among the doubters." - Quran 10:94

Most Muslims who claim tahrif fall silent when confronted with the above. The few who try to counter typically rely the following passage from the Quran as their proof text for tahrif:

"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." - Quran 3:78

But this passage claims oral alteration of the Scripture - "with their tongues" - and not alteration of the Scripture itself. This was made clear by Muhammad's own cousin, Abdullah ibn Abbas, who explained tahrif as the charge of misinterpretation, not the alteration, of God's word:

"The word Tahrif signifies to change a thing from its original nature; and that there is no man who could corrupt a single word of what proceeded from God, so that the Jews and Christians could corrupt only by misrepresenting the meaning of the words of God." - Al-Bukhari p.1127, line 7

So what really happened?

Muhammad was illiterate, had a vague and often incorrect knowledge of the Bible, and said many things that were incorrect and contradictory to the Bible but thought that he was being consistent with it.

For three centuries after Muhammad, Muslims who actually read and studied the Bible noticed the glaring Bible vs Quran contradictions but were caught between a rock and a hard place. They obviously could not say that the Quran was wrong, but neither could they say the Bible was wrong since Muhammad had declared the Bible's accuracy in the Quran.

So they quietly brushed the matter under the rug until Ibn Khazem lifted and aired it out in the 11th century. Since then, Muslim "scholars" have been engaging in heroic acrobatics in logic to try to justify tahrif against the Bible.