The Concept of Tahrif and Its Types

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Pinterest


Taḥrīf, which appears in lexicon to mean to floss out, distort and change a word or speech from its original condition, shape or state,[1] is a deliberate and volitional activity done by the proponents of falsehood against those of the truth. It is done in two ways, viz. taḥrīf in the structure of speech (verbal taḥrīf) and taḥrīf in the content of speech (substantial taḥrīf).

  1. Taḥrīf in the Structure of Speech or Verbal Taḥrīf. This has three forms, viz. distortion in the form of shortcoming or deficiency, distortion in the form of exaggeration, and distortion of the structure of words.

a. Distortion in the form of shortcoming or deficiency in the sense that some words to which the desired meaning of the Speaker depend are omitted. The omission of the glad tidings of the previous prophets in relation to the coming of the Holy Prophet ()[2] done with the Torah and the Evangel is of this sort.

b. Distortion in the form of exaggeration in the sense that a word or a group of words is added to a speech such that the speech has lost its original meaning. The claim of addition of some undue subjects including the attribution of major sins to the prophets in the Old and New Testaments are amongst the examples of this kind of distortion.

c. Distortion of the structure of words such that a word would give a meaning other than that which is originally intended by the speaker. The changing of the word peraclotus into peracletus[3] is an example of this kind of distortion.

2. Distortion in the content of the speech (conceptual distortion). This means that although the distortionist does not interfere into the structure of the speech, he inserts his own meaning which is far from the intended meaning of the speaker. Mu‘āwiyah’s distortion of the famous statement of the Holy Prophet () to ‘Ammār ibn Yāsir – “You shall be killed by a bunch of rebels (al-fi’at al-bāghiyah) – by referring it to the army of the Commander of the Faithful (Imām ‘Alī) (‘a)[4] is an example of conceptual distortion.

It is obvious that any concoction or coinage such as verbal distortion (taḥrif lafẓī) and conjectural interpretation (tafsīr bi ’-r-rayy) can be considered a type of conceptual distortion.

Taḥrīf, as defined above, is a conventional and known method constantly used by the party of falsehood against the party of truth, thus having a long precedence.

As can be inferred from verses of the Holy Qur’an, the Jews are the foremost community throughout their history in distorting the Word of God. The Jewish notoriety in distorting the Divine precepts and the Word of truth in opposing the Muslims has been shown in the Qur’an.


[1] Muḥammad Mu‘īn, Farhang-i Fārsī, vol. 1, p. 1037.

[2] The abbreviation, “”, stands for the Arabic invocative phrase, ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa ālihi wa sallam (may God’s blessings and peace be upon him and his progeny), which is mentioned after the name of the Holy Prophet Muḥammad (). [Trans.]

[3] Peraclotus means the ‘praised’ which is synonymous with the names Aḥmad and Muḥammad while peracletus means ‘comforter’. Since the former word in the original text of the Evangel gives glad tidings to the coming of the Holy Prophet (), Christian distortionists have changed it into the latter. For further explanation, see the chapter on the distortion to the Old and New Testaments in this book.

[4] The abbreviation, “‘a” stands for the Arabic invocative phrase, ‘alayhi’s-salām, ‘alayhim’us-salām, or ‘alayhā’s-salām (may peace be upon him/them/her), which is mentioned after the names of the prophets, angels, Imāms from the Prophet’s progeny, and saints (‘a). [Trans.]

Source: “The Qur’an and Immunity from Distortion, pp. 5-7,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *