Islamic Tahrif began with the Samaritans – OpEd – Eurasia Review
Tahrif’s religious accusations of corrupting other people’s scriptures did not start with Islam; they started with Judaism and Christianity. Rabbi Elazar ben Yossi HaGelili, who lived in the first half of the 2nd century CE, said: “I said to the Cuthite scribes: you have falsified the Torah and gained nothing from it. For you wrote “near the terebinths of Moreh near Shechem”, [“near Shechem” being an addition by the Cuthites to the Samaritan Torah]. (Sifre on Deuteronomy piska 56)
The Samaritan Pentateuch is the sacred scripture of the Samaritan community whose sacred writings include only the Torah, the Five Books of Moses-Pentateuch, from the second century BCE until today. The full text of the Samaritan Pentateuch, like the Masoretic rabbinic text, is known from medieval manuscripts dating to the 9th century CE and undoubtedly dates back to ancient pre-Quranic Jewish texts.
Rabbis describe the Samaritan Pentateuch as a falsification of the Jewish Torah (Jerusalem Talmud Sotah 7.3; Babylonian Talmud Sotah 33b; and Sanhedrin 90b) and its text has never been cited in rabbinic literature.
The Samaritan Israelites, as they call themselves, are closely related to the Jews, but they do not identify as Jews and therefore their Samaritan Pentateuch is no longer considered a Jewish text.
Yet the Dead Sea Scrolls contain texts very similar to the Samaritan Pentateuch, demonstrating that this type of text was also considered an authoritative Jewish text in the generations before the birth of the Prophet Jesus.
These predecessors of the Samaritan Pentateuch found at Qumran share all major features with the Samaritan Pentateuch which was created probably in the second century BCE by slightly rewriting one of these pre-Samaritan texts to reflect the significance of Mount Gerizim.
Organized Judaism from the rabbinical period has always considered the Masoretic text to be the only (kosher) text of the Bible, and thus by implication the “original text” of the Hebrew Bible. Rabbis describe the Samaritan Pentateuch as a falsification (Tahrif) of the Jewish Torah (Jerusalem Talmud Sotah 7.3; Babylonian Talmud Sotah 33b; and Sanhedrin 90b) and its text has never been cited in rabbinic literature.
Regardless, Mani. who lived in Persia from 216 to 274 CE and was the founding prophet of the Manichaean religion, charged all other sacred scriptures then in existence with tahrif.
The Manichaean version of Genesis is not simply a derivative distortion of the orthodox scriptures. It is close to some older traditions from earlier stages of the biblical narrative tradition which were later removed from their original setting by the final Genesis writers, and which are now found in texts like the Jubilees and parts of 1 Enoch.
A main criticism that Mani directs at some of his prophetic predecessors is that they failed to ensure the accurate recording and preservation of their writings, and therefore these writings; which eventually evolve into the canonical scriptures associated with religions like Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, Judaism, and Christianity; have been corrupted and falsified by later generations of disciples and followers.
Ibn al-Nadīm reports that ‘Mānī disparaged the other prophets in his writings. He criticized them and accused them of lies, and maintained that demons had taken hold of them and had spoken using their tongues.
Christian polemicists have used the assertions of the tahrif since the time of Justin Martyr (c. 100-165 CE), born of pagan parents. By 132 CE he had become a Christian, and in the 140s he began to accuse the Jews of altering parts of the Jewish Scriptures which allegedly predicted the coming of the Messiah Jesus and the Christian Church.
Justin Martyr relied on Paul’s New Testament scripture (2 Corinthians 3:14), “But their (Jewish) minds were closed. To this day the same veil remains over their reading of the Old Will [and] has not been taken away, for only in Christ is it done away with.
Similar accusations would appear in Islam under the label of tahrif (tampering) particularly with regard to the falsification of Jewish and Christian scriptures (Qur’an 3:78; 4:46; and 5:15).
All of these influential pre-Quranic religious thinkers were themselves influenced by a non-religious pagan Greek philosopher named Aristotle (384-322 BC) who believed that the truth should be what is known today: a zero-sum game.
Greek philosophy, with its requirement that truth must be unchangeable and universal, influenced most early medieval scripture teachers to believe that religion itself was a zero-sum game; the more truth I find in your writing, the less there is in mine.
Instead of understanding different texts as complementary, the polemicists made them contradictory and declared the sacred text of the other religion to be false.
If religion is to promote peace in our pluralistic world, we must reject the zero-sum game ideology and develop the pluralistic teachings that already exist in our own sacred scriptures, and especially in the Quran.
After all, “all prophets are brothers. They have the same father (God) but different mothers (mother tongues, homelands, and unique historical circumstances that account for all the differences in their scriptures).
Religions differ because the circumstances of each nation that receives them differ. Where the Holy Scriptures differ, they do not cancel each other out; they only illuminate each other more.
The Qur’an states, in opposition to the Greek truth theory of the zero-sum game, that: “If Allah had willed, He would have made you one people, but (God’s plan is) to test you in what He gave. you: compete therefore in all the virtues as in a race. The purpose of all of you is to (please Allah who will show you on the Day of Judgment) the truth of the matters over which you argue. (Quran 5:48)
So, until the day of judgment, humans here on earth are limited to the particular truth of their own specific religion.
My own belief is based on an important Hadith of Prophet Muhammad. Abu Huraira says: “The People of the Book used to read the Torah in Hebrew and then explain it in Arabic to the Muslims. Allah’s Apostle said (to the Muslims). “Do not believe the People of the Book, do not disbelieve them, but say: ‘We believe in Allah, in all that is revealed to us and in all that is revealed to you.’
Following the teaching of Muhammad, I neither believe nor believe in the Quran. If I believed in the Koran, I would be a member of the Muslim ummah (community). But I cannot disbelieve in the Quran because I believe that the Prophet Muhammad was indeed a non-Jewish Abrahamic prophet; and I respect the Quran as a revelation to a kindred people, in a kindred language.
In fact, the people, the language and the theology are closer to my people, my language and my theology than to any other religion on earth.
Unlike those in the past who have played the zero-sum game, I am not looking for a verse from the Quran that I can dispute or challenge. Indeed, this is what the Quran itself teaches. “For each community We have established a whole system of worship which they must observe. So do not let them drag you into disputes about it. (22:67)
And the Quran clearly states: “Those who believe (Muslims), those who advocate Judaism, Christians, Sabians, whoever truly believes in God and the last day and does good righteous deeds, surely their reward is with their Lord. , they will not be afraid, nor will they grieve.(2:62)
Thank God, in 21st century America, the majority of most religious groups now believe in the teachings of the Quran quoted above. A 2008 survey of more than 35,000 Americans found that most Americans agree with the statement that many religions – not just their own – can lead to eternal life. Among those who are affiliated with a religious tradition, seven in ten say that many religions can lead to eternal life.
This view is shared by a majority of adherents in almost all religious traditions, including 82% Jews, 79% Catholics, 57% Evangelical Protestants and 56% Muslims. (From the US Religious Landscape Survey, Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, 2008, Pew Research Center.)
Thus, in the United States of the 21st century, most Christians, Jews and Muslims have rejected the zero-sum mindset and believe in the teachings of pluralism of the Quran. Only those who reject God out of unbelief or through unrepentant evil activities will be the losers when the Day of Judgment comes.
Although many, perhaps most theologians will learn that they may not be as smart as they thought.
It is also very important to understand that “religious pluralism is the will of God” is different from religious, moral or cultural relativism. Relativism teaches that all values and standards are subjective and therefore there is no higher spiritual authority available to set ethical standards or make moral judgments.
Thus, questions of justice, truth or human rights are, like beauty, right in the eye of the beholder. Most people, especially those who believe that one God created us all, refuse to believe that ethics and human rights are just a matter of taste. Religious pluralism as the will of God is opposed to cultural or philosophical relativism.
The fundamental idea that supports religious pluralism is that religious people should embrace humility in many areas of religion. All religions have always taught a traditional type of humility against self-centered personal selfishness.
Religious pluralism also opposes a religious, philosophical and selfish intellectual selfishness that promotes a tendency to transform our legitimate love for our own prophet and divine revelation into universal truths that we fully understand and know how to apply.
Religious pluralism teaches that finite humans, even the most intelligent and pious among them, cannot fully comprehend everything as the Infinite One does.
This is true for every human being, even for the messengers of God themselves. When the prophet Moses, “to whom God spoke face to face, as one speaks to a friend” (Exodus 33:11) asks to see God face to face, he is told: “You cannot see my face, for no one can see my face and live. (33:20)
Likewise, in the Quran, the prophet Jesus admits before God: “You know all that is in me, while I do not know what is in you”. (7:116) And when the prophet Jesus was asked, privately, by his disciples, “What will be the sign of your return and the end times?” (Matthew 24:3) Jesus warns his disciples of the upheavals and false messiahs that will come. So Jesus concluded by saying, “But about this day and this hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, not even the son: only the Father.” (24:36)
A similar statement was made by the Prophet Muhammad when asked: “Tell me about the hour”. He said, “He that’s asked about it doesn’t know any better than he that asks the question.” (Muslim Book 1 Hadith 1 & 4)
God taught the general principle of epistemological humility through his Prophet who taught his followers: “I am not new among the messengers. I don’t know what will be done to me or to you. (Quran 46:9)
In truth, the only universal truth should be the humility to admit: “Only God knows”