Journal of the American Oriental Society 133.2 (2013)

An argument can be made, I believe, that much of the Qurʾan’s discourse about signs, about scripture, about recitation, though it has come to be read particularly within the believing community as being self-referential, can also be construed quite fruitfully as having a referent beyond the text itself. In his closing exhortation to the study of the Qurʾan in the light of its biblical subtext, Reynolds claims that with this method “it emerges that Qurʾān and Bible, far from being incompatible or in opposition, are very much in harmony.” It may be just that the hortatory mood of the peroration has got the better of him, but such a claim would risk undercutting his other affirmations about the distinctiveness of the Qurʾan’s voice in preaching the biblical tradition, and the challenge it poses to other communities and their readings. This is a significant contribution to contemporary Qurʾanic studies. In the breadth of its reading and the linguistic skills on which it calls, it models the virtues and abilities it recommends for all students of the Qurʾan. Daniel A. Madigan Georgetown University

Revelation and Falsification: The Kitāb al-qirāʾāt of Aḥmad b. Muḥammad al-Sayyārī. Edited by Etan Kohlberg and Mohammad Ali Amir-Moezzi. Texts and Studies on the Qurʾān, vol. 4. Leiden: Brill, 2009. Pp. viii + 363 + 201 (Arabic). $259. The author or compiler, or better, the name to which this beautifully edited collection of traditions is traced, is ʿAbd Allāh Aḥmad b. Muḥammad b. Sayyār, known chiefly in the literature as al-Sayyārī after his grandfather, or, by turns, as al-Iṣfahānī, al-Baṣrī, al-Qummī, and al-Kātib. He was active during the imamate of the eleventh Twelver leader al-Ḥasan al-ʿAskarī (254–260/868–873) and is thought to have lived and worked as a scribe for the Ṭāhirids in Nīshāpūr. He had important and strong connections with the ninth- and tenth-century proto-Twelver center in Qumm. We have no precise birth or death dates. Some authorities claim that he did not live into the fourth/tenth century (e.g., Āghā Buzurg Ṭihrānī), though this is clearly debatable. It is pointed out that he was held to be part of a diverse group of “extremists” (ghulāt), so designated by later Twelver Shiʿite authorities in particular historical circumstances (about which more below). The editors of this text are to be congratulated. They have provided a valuable resource and a model of textual scholarship. Through their painstaking efforts they have also supplied in the process a luster of credibility to this collection of the author’s troublesome views, or rather, the views of those hadiths that the author collects, which until now have been accessible directly only in rare post-Ṣafavid transcriptions of a ninth-century work. It must be added, however, that identical (if not even more pronounced) views about the corruption of the ʿUthmānic muṣḥaf have been widely available since the time of the Ṣafavids in those well-known compendious and encyclopedic works of Twelver doctrinal consolidation, including hadith collections and Qurʾan commentaries. This book consists of several parts. The section of most interest to readers of this journal is probably the edition itself. Printed in a beautiful Arabic font with exemplary care, intelligence, and unparalleled knowledge of the pertinent sources, the edition runs to 201 pages. The apparatus could not be more valuable, keyed to four manuscripts fully described in the English introduction (pp. 46–50), together with a tree serenely postulating the transmission of the text, their dates 1076/1666 (M), unknown (L), 1311/1893–4 (T), and 1319/1901 (B). Two of these manuscripts are connected with the notorious al-Nūrī al-Ṭabarsī (d. 1902), author of the incendiary Faṣl al-khiṭāb fī taḥrīf kitāb rabb al-arbāb and the slightly more moderate Mustadrak al-waṣāʾil. The first title is in fact an extended indictment of the ʿUthmānic muṣḥaf and was the topic of an important article written by Kohlberg over thirty-five years ago. The edited text is a collection of 725 separate akhbār or hadiths, complete with asānīd. Each report is given its own numbered paragraph and this number is keyed to further invaluable and exhaustive information—bibliographical and otherwise—offered in “Notes,” the other major section

The longest chapter. All this combines to give an impression of the very opposite of the marginal. ١٧–٢٩. terms of Imāmī law. . One can hear al-Sayyārī chuckling to himself in barzakh. either by its author or by those sympathetic to its author’s views. this book would have been lost forever. rather it begins with the first chapter (bāb) which is on the basmala (pp. however. Then numerous reports are presented that argue that Q 17:46 is actually referring to the basmala as the verse that upon recitation causes the unbelievers to “turn their backs upon Thee in aversion. The edition is preceded by a title page and a table of contents. . The text preserves a number of variant readings (qirāʾāt) of the ʿUthmānic muṣḥaf. . 53–289).” This section closes with two reports found widely distributed in the tafsīr literature regardless of sectarian orientation although not always on the same authority: al-Bāqir was asked for a tafsīr of the basmala and he responded. . Given the dates of these manuscripts. . As regards their content. that the Qurʾan does have four distinct subject categories: “One-fourth concerning our enemies. in which one of the following is mentioned: ʿAlī (by his name or by one of his epithets . . As Kohlberg himself allows (p.g. (II) neutral readings. . 735). “the bāʾ represents the luminous beauty of God . one may also postulate that had it not been for the Ṣafavids. onefourth concerning us [the Imams]. leaving only the name of Abū Lahab (pp. . . (5) a combination of elements from categories (1) to (4). Kohlberg (pp. The text opens with a refutation of the tradition that the Qurʾan was sent down in seven different readings. The table of contents does not take into account the brief introductory matter (pp.. Readings from category (Ia) are almost never cited outside Imāmī literature (except for polemical purposes).] with no [discernible] explicit or implicit Imāmī message. These . al-jumuʿa (Q 62). ١٠–١٢) followed by a chapter on the Fātiḥa (pp. 41–42) characterizes these variants as including five distinct types: (1) a change in vocalization. and that the basmala is the noblest verse in the Qurʾan (this is part of a wider intramural argument in exegesis about whether or not the basmala should be counted as a separate verse). . but the Quraysh removed six of them. the Prophet’s family. (3) a change in the order of the words. the Imams.). readings from category (II) and sometimes from category (Ib) are also found in non-Imāmī works. maintaining that it was revealed in one. chapter 54 (pp. (b) implicitly pro-Imāmī readings . doctrine. “if it were not for the fact that the Qurʾan has been both amplified and diminished [by our enemies]. . the exquisite irony of this derives from the fact that we have here a highly marginalized and rare work presented to the scholarly public in a format that simply could never have been imagined. while several chapters combine in one or two pages a treatment of several suras. and al-munāfiqūn (Q 63).” adding.000 plus in the ʿUthmānic recension) and that originally there were seven separate names [of miscreants] mentioned in the text. ٦–٩). it is extremely unlikely that these corrections to the putatively corrupt ʿUthmānic recension were ever meant to be read in liturgy. (2) a substitution of one or more words by another word or words.” The compiler then adds that the originally revealed Qurʾan comprised 17. covers pp. on al-baqara. (4) an addition of one or more words. our right (ḥaqqunā) would not be hidden from anyone. one-fourth made up of lessons. ١٥٧–٥٩) treats al-ṣaff (Q 61). e. etc. . ١٤–١٦) after which the rest of the chapters of the ʿUthmānic Qurʾan are presented. This section closes with the equally well-known statement from the fifth Imam Muḥammad al-Bāqir (d. This opening salvo is followed by the section on the basmala in which it is asserted that all divine books have been revealed with a basmala opening them. some more dramatic in their implications than others. the readings may be divided into two main categories: (I) readings carrying an Imāmī message. . (a) explicit . . enemies of the Prophet’s family (by their name or by a pejorative appellation).” are further divided into two kinds . 45). “from the One to one prophet. readings whose Imāmī character appears only in the interpretation given to them by the Shīʿī exegetes.Reviews of Books 391 (pp. . termed “pro-Imāmī. But here we have the book presented through the efforts of the two leading scholars of Twelver (or what is unfailingly referred to here as “Imāmī”) Shiʿism in a series on Qurʾanic Studies edited by Gerhard Böwering and Jane Dammen McAuliffe. When our qāʾim arises he will recite the Qurʾan as it was really revealed. [.000 verses (instead of the 6. ٦–٩). the walāya. and one-fourth composed of laws and ordinances” (a report also familiar to scholars of Ṣafavid Shiʿism).

Gabriel is said to have originally come down with. the world of the seen and the unseen. the next verse to be addressed is 2:255.” also belonging to God are “what is under the ground.” This is cited on the authority of Jaʿfar al-Ṣādiq. which should replace the ʿUthmānic istakbartum. But this is also found in a wide variety of exegesis. it should be ṣirāṭ man anʿamta ʿalayhim. with what your souls did not desire. instead of ṣirāṭ al-ladhīna anʿamta ʿalayhim in verse 7. .” For emphasis the compiler inserts here an exegetical verse (20:115) demonstrating that the family of Muḥammad was originally mentioned in such specific words elsewhere in the Qurʾan: “And indeed we made a covenant of old with specific words concerning Muḥammad and ʿAlī and al-Ḥasan and all the Imams from their descendants (dhurriyyatihim) but they forgot. the Merciful the Compassionate is the originator (badīʿ) of the heavens and the earth.” At 2:102 we find a similar report: the ʿUthmānic “And they followed [instead] what the devils had recited during the reign of Solomon” was originally read as “And they followed [instead] what the devils had recited about the walāya of the devils during the reign of Solomon. it should read ihdinā ṣirāṭ al-mustaqīm. however. reports assert that the original revelation read wa-ghayri al-ḍāllīn. .” However. A brief look at the chapter on al-baqara will give a better picture of the nature of this hadith collection.392 Journal of the American Oriental Society 133. the corrections offered for the Fātiḥa proper—are three: instead of ihdinā al-ṣirāṭ al-mustaqīm in verse 6. at 2:59.” The “variant” here is identified as fa-stakbartum. “Indeed. Yet the strong implication is that this verse can only be understood as referring directly to the ahl al-bayt. Thus this verse is presented in its pristine form by al-Bāqir as. the walāya of ʿAlī.” Several other reports speak to changes in the Throne verse.” The editors have warned us that the order of verses within the tafsīr is sometimes anomalous (as we saw above in the jump from 2:1 to 2:255). Accordingly the careful edition indicates in rubrics only a single word. the sīn represents the splendor of God (sanāʾ Allāh). Believe in what Allah has revealed concerning ʿAlī. “And when it is said to them.” At 2:87 it is not clear whether al-Bāqir is identifying an instance of taḥrīf or is merely providing tafsīr. Here the text leaps backwards from 2:90 to 2:6 without apology or comment. in the next verse we are returned to the problem of a specifically Shiʿite agenda in a question to al-Ṣādiq about the “middle prayer” (al-ṣalāt al-wusṭā) mentioned in 2:238—the . owner of glorious and noble might. At 2:1. “Those who substituted a word that had been told them for another did wrong against the family of Muḥammad and we sent down upon them the family of Muḥammad as their condign punishment. it is clearly claimed that the verse was originally revealed as. In this. upon him peace!” An example of an apparently neutral restoration is found in the comment on 2:214 where a believer relates that he actually heard al-Ṣādiq recite “They were touched by poverty and hardship and were shaken then shaken again until [even their] messenger and those who believed with him said. dhālika l-kitāb is corrected to tanzīl al-kitāb. He is al-raḥmān to His entire creation and al-raḥīm exclusively to the believers. the glory [majd] of God). the name of ʿAlī was expunged from the verse.” At 2:90.” A few other reports wish to identify the Fātiḥa with the cryptic reference to the sabʿa min al-mathānī (Q 15:87) for the purpose of asserting once again that the basmala is the noblest verse of that sura. lord of the mighty throne. the mīm represents the dominion/ kingdom (mulk) (or in a variant mentioned here. which Gabriel actually brought to Muḥammad as follows (nazala Jabrāʾīl bi-hādhihi l-āya hākadhā): “Evil is that for which they sold themselves—that they would disbelieve in what Allah has revealed about ʿAlī so grudgingly (baghiyan).3. did it descend to Muḥammad. they say.” Next. ‘When is the help of God? Unquestionably the help of God is near’. one adding that the proper end of the verse is “may God bless Muḥammad and the people of his house. Then in a characteristic violation of the standard order of the āyāt of a given sura. by God. A long clause is said to have been removed from the celebrated verse in its ʿUthmānic recension stating that in addition to “whatever is in the heavens and the earth. who adds immediately after the verse: “Thus. There is complete lack of any possible ambiguity in the next paragraph. Here. and you waxed proud—a party of the family of Muḥammad (āl Muḥammad) you denied and another party you killed. and instead of wa-lā ḍāllīn in verse 7. We believe [only] in what was revealed to us. verily God is the god of all created things. at 2:91. There are no variants offered for the basmala. the Throne verse. those who disbelieve in the walāya of ʿAlī it is all the same to them whether you warn them or do not warn them—they will not believe. . The Imam is presented as saying “Muḥammad came to you. there is no indication that the commentary is suggesting that 2:255 actually follows 2:1 in the original revelation. namely. The variants—or better put.2 (2013) (bahāʾ Allāh).

(Leuven: Peeters. ed. .” Skipping to 2:132 we encounter a substantial “correction. . 2009) and the new print of an abridgement of the above-mentioned Faṣl al-khiṭāb (Cairo. one of the “three Muḥammads” recognized as founding Twelver “orthodoxy” and who himself preserves copious evidence for this same charge in his foundational al-Kāfī.” Similarly 2:159 is said by al-Ṣādiq to have been originally revealed as. so do not die except as musallimūn [instead of muslimūn] to the walāya of ʿAlī ibn Abī Ṭālib.” Whether or not this is to be connected to the well-known tradition about the eschatological significance of “the declining day” (ʿaṣr) as a time for the advent of the twelfth Imam is not indicated by the editors. devoutly obedient. Leder et al. but going ahead to 2:23.” Then he said. At 2:269 the ulū l-albāb ‘those who understand’ are identified as the shīʿa of ʿAlī. Kohlberg’s section of the introduction (pp. . written by Amir-Moezzi. namely. Both movements may be referred to as Imāmī Shiʿism. “. . the structure and contents of the book at hand. tanzīl wa-taʾwīl) that Shiʿite voices against Shiʿite charges of taḥrīf were not raised until well after Kulaynī (oddly always referred to here by the rarer vowelling “Kulīnī”). At 2:275 it is said that the words “Day of Resurrection” were left out of the ʿUthmãnic text. 2002). radiating throughout the lands of Islam to finally achieve an impressive victory (qāhira) in Egypt from where “Sunni” Islam was to feel threatened to its core. Halle 1998. a survey of the treatment of similar problems in Islamic sources. al-Bāqir tells us that Gabriel originally came down with the verse as. Baghdadi Sunni Islam and its power structure. 2010) were obviously unavailable when the book was in production. and technical information pertinent to the editing of the present work. and religious orientations. those whom God does curse. It is surely no accident in the history of . and the ʿaṣr prayer. this is the way Muḥammad recited it. Union Européenne des Arabisants et Islamisants. The first was the efflorescence of the Ismāʿīlī daʿwa. The next verse is 2:106 where the correction is simply to be read “one better than it like it” rather than “one better than it or like it. despite a couple of omissions: the recently published al-Durr al-thamīn fī khamsmiʾat āya nazalat fī mawlānā amīr al-muʾminīn bi-ittifāq akthar al-mufassirīn min ahl al-dīn by the fifteenth-century Arab Shiʿite scholar Rajab al-Bursī (Beirut: Muʾassasat al-Aʿlamī li-l-Maṭbūʿāt. 2:234. pp. There is also a useful (if not always consistent in its choice of entries) general index (pp. . 355–63). and stand before God. hermeneutical. “Verily those who hide what has been revealed and explained about ʿAlī after We have explained this to people in the Book . then produce a sura the like thereof. The more recently published work by al-Bursī. leading Twelver scholars condemned their ancestors for such heresies. “the middle prayer is the noon prayer. There is some repetition in the next few reports.Reviews of Books 393 answer comes when the sixth Imam recites the verse. . . The first part (pp. are cited upholding this identification of the middle prayer as the ʿaṣr prayer. The chapter closes by revisiting a verse already discussed repeatedly. S. 30–53) deals with the life and works of al-Sayyārī. provides a survey of Western scholarship on the question of the textual corruption of the Qurʾan. and the English notes. Mashāriq al-amān wa-lubāb ḥaqāʾiq al-īmān (Beirut. 325–54) and an index of Qurʾanic verses (pp.” The comment on 2:97 and 2:98 simply serves to supply the original vowelling for the name of the angel: Jabraʾīl. 1–30). Along with the edition.” At 2:177 an exegetical comment from the Imam simply clarifies that ḥubbihi means ḥubb ʿAlī. “The Dispute about the Falsification of the Qurʾān between Sunnīs and Shīʿīs in the 20th Century.  437–46. “Maintain with care the prayers and the middle prayer. A very full bibliography will also serve the reader well. 2003) and an important if brief article by Rainer Brunner. we are also given a very interesting and valuable introduction. . The second was the disappearance of the twelfth Imam recognized by the later theoreticians of Twelver Shiʿism to usher in precisely the opposite: the accommodation to central. . indeed God has chosen for you this religion. “And if you are in doubt about what We have sent down upon Our Servant about ʿAlī. its apparatus. . including one ascribed to al-Bāqir and one traced to none other than Ibn ʿAbbās himself. scriptural. It is of some interest to this story and the story of tanzīl wa-taḥrīf (cf. and a focus on specifically Twelver views on the question. may God bless him.” in Studies in Arabic and Islam: Proceedings of the 19th Congress. In 873-4 two events of lasting impact were afoot in the heartlands of Islam and especially Shiʿite Islam.” Where the ʿUthmānic text reads. and ʿAlī is the gate (al-bāb). but such a terminological coincidence disguises profoundly distinct pietistic. In the later part of the tenth through the thirteenth centuries. Five hadith in succession. The concern with it here is to demonstrate beyond doubt that it actually precedes 2:240 and its present position is thus an example of taḥrīf.

303) as it had evolved by that point in history. and the merits of the Qurʾan. clandestine source for malcontents and other marginaux is now widely available through a publisher of central importance to mainstream Islamic scholarship. Finally.muneerfareed. al-Suyūṭī’s system of analysis as represented by the categories of information he provides underpins much of nineteenth. says Arkoun. How else do we account for the rather oxymoronic formula “mainstream Shiʿism”? In any event. 728/1327) and Ibn Kathīr (d. 2001]). Further. UK: Garnett Publishing. 1. 911/1505) provides a detailed reference summary of the subject commonly known as “the sciences of the Qurʾan. I could compose a long list of “regrets” about this translation.and twentieth-century scholarship on the Qurʾan. prosody. 774/1373). ed. A. Criticizing a book for what it is not is obviously a pointless exercise. semantics. style. summarizes al-Suyūṭī’s accomplishment: “The appearance of being exhaustive. by Imām Jalāl-al-Dīn ʿAbd al-Raḥmān al-Suyūṭī. When it comes to translations of classical texts. The Great Books of Islamic Civilization.com/itqan/. the modes of revelation. it could almost be imagined that al-Sayyārī had been invented in order that the “true Twelvers” could emerge ever more Sunni-friendly in such troubled times. and the taxonomy give the feeling of a confident erudition that is complete.. Pp. that being the first part of the fourpart. and Ayman Abdel Ḥaleem. tr. convenient of access. 2011. in The Qur’an: Style and Contents. a point to which Arkoun also draws attention. Todd Lawson University of Toronto The Perfect Guide to the Sciences of the Qurʾān (al-Itqān fī ʿUlūm al-Qurʾān). Certainly. Mohammed Arkoun’s classic article.2 (2013) this doctrinal development that the Fāṭimids did finally occupy Baghdad for over a year during the lifetime of the renowned Twelver anti-taḥrīfī scholar Abū Jaʿfar al-Ṭūsī (d. the collection and transmission of the text.394 Journal of the American Oriental Society 133. al-Bīlī. two-volume edition of Muḥammad Abū Faḍl Ibrāhīm (Cairo. al-Suyūṭī’s bibliographical records are of immense importance in understanding the scholastic world and the educational system of the time. Eng.” in his Lectures du Coran (Paris. xxxiii + 301. All this is to say that in al-Suyūṭī’s work we have a monument that is foundational and well deserving of translation. the casuistry. it is undoubtedly the most famous work of its type. In such a context. 1967). Rippin [Aldershot. Al-Itqān fī ʿulūm al-Qurʾān by Jalāl al-Dīn al-Suyūṭī (d. 1067). in al-Itqān we have a record of a fifteenth-century library of Qurʾanic sciences. “Introduction: Bilan et perspectives des études coraniques. politics was involved and just as surely it was not only the politics of the seventh century that has left its imprint on this problem. detailing the . the care for detail. the very appearance of the work must always be acknowledged and welcomed. The translation under review covers the first thirty-five nawʿs. As well. and the Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought (altafsir. That said. A. The translation of excerpts from the first twenty nawʿs can be found at www. with this edition what was once a secret. It was one of the first books to be announced when the Great Books of Islamic Civilization series was launched many years ago. and couched in contemporary usage” (trans. lexicology. other attempts to translate the work have been commenced and planned.com) has announced its intention to produce a translation as volume eight of its “Great Commentaries on the Holy Qurʾān” series. vol. Ismaʿīl A. reviewed by Osman S. exegesis. we see the impact of ḥadīth modes of transmission and the valorizing of the epistemology that came to the fore with Ibn Taymiyya (d. That this translation will allow more readers to have access to the medieval world of Qurʾanic interpretation in its broadest sense is to be celebrated. nawʿ) that include the chronology of the Qurʾan’s revelation. syntax. The material ranges through eighty categories/chapters (sg. In the meantime. p. the work is “the orthodoxy and orthopraxy in connection with the Qurʾān” (p. Reading. 1982. In sum. 302). Michael Schub. Each “category” is a scholastic subject in itself and often did result in an additional stand-alone work in the hands of al-Suyūṭī. Translated by Ḥamid Algar.” which stands at the foundation of Muslim understanding of scripture. £60. This particular translation of al-Itqān has been planned for many years.

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