Aqa Buzurg al-Tihrani and Tahreef

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Aqa Buzurg al-Tihrani (or Agha Bozorg Tehrani) who died in 1389 AH is one of the major Shia scholars in knowledge and popularity. He is also a student of al-Mirza al-Nuri who believes in the distortion of the Qur’an as previously explained here.

In the previous article, we saw how al-Nuri -the teacher- insisted on his belief in Tahrif even after another Shia scholar called Shaykh Mahmud tried refuting him in a treatise called “Kashf-ul-Irtiyab”. Al-Nuri went on to author another treatise (in Persian) to refute Shaykh Mahmud, that treatise was not published nor translated but we only know of its contents because al-Nuri’s student Aqa Buzurg quoted it several times in his encyclopedia “al-Thari`ah ila Tasanif al-Shi`ah.”

In this article we will reveal the shocking truth and true beliefs of Aqa Buzurg al-Tihrani the student of al-Nuri al-Tabrasi. What you will read below will make things much clearer so have patience may God preserve you.

A- What’s the position of the student on his teacher who believes in Tahrif?

Grand scholar Muhammad al-Husayn al-Husayni says:

[His eminence, the lecturer and teacher Aqa Buzurg -his secret be sanctified- is a man of great piety, high morals, discipline, joyful expression and a generous self. He never permitted anyone to dare and attack his teacher, the traditionalist al-Mirza Husayn al-Nuri -son of Shaykh Muhammad Taqi al-Nuri- author of “Fasl-ul-Khitab”. He used to defend him in all humbleness and noble character.]

Source: Ma`rifat-ul-Imam 14/121

From this text, it seems that al-Tihrani was very fond of his teacher al-Nuri and often defended him. However, what will be his position when faced with the dilemma of his teacher’s writings concerning the distortion of the Qur’an? Let us investigate further.

B- How did the student present the conflict between his teacher and Shaykh Mahmud?

We quote from Aqa Buzurg’s book the section where he discusses this conflict:

[The first doubt cast by the author of “Kashf-ul-Irtiyab” is if the Qur’anic distortion is proven, then the Jews are justified in saying that both our Books are essentially useless.

Our teacher al-Nuri responded to him: This is a verbal fallacy, what I intended by the word “distortion” in my book is other than the literal meaning of that word. Distortion encompasses alteration, change, addition and subtraction, all of which have taken place in the Jewish books. On the other hand, what I intended by distortion, is specifically general deletion of verses that certainly do not contain rulings. As for additions, all Muslim groups have consensus that nothing was added to what is between the two covers, not even  a verse with the shortest eloquent words. Rather, there is an agreement between the people of Qiblah that not a word was added whose location we do not know. So how then can you compare the general deletions we talked about with the apparent meaning of the term? Is this anything other than a verbal fallacy? – End of the summarized answer to the first doubt.]

Source: al-Thari`ah 10/221

The first thing we notice is, he seems to be biased towards his teacher. In the sense that he quotes what Shaykh Mahmud says very briefly then gives a lengthy response from his teacher al-Nuri. He makes it so that al-Nuri is the one who has the last word and thus appears to be victorious. Secondly, he refers to the arguments of Shaykh Mahmud in defense of the Qur’an as “Shubuhat” or “doubts” which implies that Mahmud’s stance is incorrect and nothing more than mere doubts whereas the truth lies in the answers of al-Nuri (who insists on Tahrif).

C- Did the student author a book to refute his deviant teacher?

Aqa Buzurg authored a book on the subject and named it “al-Naqd-ul-Latif fi Nafi al-Tahif `an al-Qur’an al-Sharif” which translates to “The subtle criticism in denying the distortion of the holy Qur’an.”

The title of this book clearly implies that it is a refutation of those deviants who believe the Qur’an is distorted. However, let us look more into this important book to find out the finer details.

Al-Tihrani explains the purpose of his book:

[And I have written “al-Naqd-ul-Latif fi Nafi al-Tahrif” in support of al-Nuri. I responded in it to the accusations of the author of “Kashf-ul-Irtiyab” among others.]

Source: Al-Thari`ah 11/188

[(1433: Al-Naqd-ul-Latif fi Nafi al-Tahrif `an al-Qur’an al-Sharif) By the author of al-Thari`ah, Aqa Buzurg al-Tihrani. We wrote it to defend our teacher al-Nuri author of “Fasl-ul-Khitab” (16:231-232) and to further elaborate on the refutation written by al-Nuri (10:220) against “Kashf-ul-Irtiyab fi `adam Tahrif al-Kitab.”]

Source: Al-Thari`ah 24/278

How confusing…

The title of al-Tihrani’s book implies that it is written to refute the likes of al-Nuri, yet the way he describes it above clearly suggests the opposite!

D- How-come his book’s title conflicts with its contents?

The title says “denying the distortion of the Qur’an” yet the book is in defense of al-Nuri and an attack on his opponents. To understand this, we refer to the explanation of Muhammad al-Husayn al-Husayni al-Tihrani who says:

[He (i.e Aqa Buzurg) says: What they accuse him of is related to all forms of distortion, yet he is innocent of this; For he only spoke of the presence of omissions in Fasl-ul-Khitab. He also disproved the presence of any other distortions such as alterations, change and addition.]

Source: Ma`rifat-ul-Imam 14/121

Shaykh Yasin al-Musawi says:

[Others have tried to support him in various ways, such as his loyal student who strives to defend his teacher and prove his innocence from the accusation of distortion in several locations within his books. Later on he authored a treatise to defend him called “Al-Naqd-ul-Latif fi Nafi al-Tahrif.”]

Source: Al-Najm-ul-Thaqib, words of the researcher pg.68

The truth is becoming clearer now, it is as if al-Tihrani agrees with his teacher’s beliefs and aims to support him in claiming that omissions do not constitute a form of distortion or corruption.

E- What does al-Tihrani state in his treatise?

This book by al-Tihrani has not been published as expected to avoid some serious scandals. However, we can learn what it contains by checking the words of Shia scholars who had access to it and read it.

A detailed description of this manuscript is provided by al-Muhaqqiq Muhammad Husayn al-Husayni al-Jalali:

[Al-Naqd-ul-Latif fi Nafi al-Tahrif: I copied it from the handwriting of the author in 1350 AH at his public library in Najaf #1-2 and it was 150 pages, he had written it on 19th Dhul-Hijjah 1384 AH. He begins it with “Praise be to God who revealed this Qur’an as an Imam for humanity …” and ends it with (…) He did not include titles to some chapters so I chose to label all of them “Chapter” along with enumerations (…) This book is a comprehensive study regarding the issue of the Qur’an’s corruption wherein the author concludes that there are no additions but deletions still took place.]

Source: Fahras-ul-Turath 2/495

Finally, the truth reveals itself. Aqa Buzurg does a comprehensive study in 150 pages and reaches the same conclusion as his teacher, that the Qur’an suffered from omissions when it was compiled by the Companions (ra).

The publisher of the 20th volume of al-Thari`ah writes in the author’s bio:

[Al-Naqd-ul-Latif fi Nafi al-Tahrif: In this book, the author defends his teacher al-Nuri and his book Fasl-ul-Khitab. He declared his innocence from the accusation of distortion, alteration and change. He even accepted that the Qur’an suffered deletions.]

Source: Al-Thari`ah, publisher’s introduction 20/11

Again, this further confirms that Aqa Buzurg himself is a believer in Qur’anic corruption.

F- Shia scholars hiding the truth.

Ayatullah Kashif-ul-Ghata’ says:

[The leader Shaykh Kashif al-Ghata’ wrote a commentary on it and said: “What I see is … This treatise must remain a preserved gem and should not be published – nay, we can maybe say it is impermissible to do so…”]

Source: Fahras-ul-Turath 2/495

The researcher of al-Thari`ah says regarding al-Naqd-ul-Latif:

[The text of the commentary on this book which was written by al-Shaykh Muhammad al-Husayn Aal Kashif al-Ghata’ in which he tipped the scale in favor of not publicizing it.]

Source: Al-Thari`ah, 24/278 footnote #1

In fact, the author himself didn’t care much for publishing it, he says:

[Al-Sayyid Mahdi bin al-Sayyid Ahmad al-Damawandi who is my brother in law from my wife Mariyam copied from this book. As for my son, he had translated it to Persian (4:143) However we chose to disregard publishing it.]

Source: Al-Thari`ah 24/278

G-Further evidence that this was a book on Tahrif.

Aqa Buzurg usually groups books into categories and an additional evidence that his own book “al-Naqd-ul-Latif” is a book proving corruption is that he inserts it among other books that speak of this subject in the following locations of al-Thari`ah: 24/361 – 24/370 – 24/278

The other two books he mentions alongside it are:

A- “Tafsir Nur al-Anwar wa Misbah al-Asrar” meaning “Light of lights and the lamp of secrets” (No.1951) he describes it as: Its fourth introduction is to prove the omissions from the Qur’an by the hand of the three individuals especially `Uthman (…) The author is al-Sayyid Muhammad bin Muhammad Taqi also known as Rida-ul-Din al-Husayni.

B- “Tafsir Nur al-Diya’ al-Kashif `an al-Khiyanah wal-Ikhfa'” meaning “Glowing light revealing treachery and concealment” (No.1988) he describes it as: It proves the distortion of the Book by the hand of `Uthman by al-Mirza abu al-Qasim Muhammad Taqi bin Muhammad Qasim al-Ardubadi.

And peace be upon Muhammad and his household and companions.

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