Revelation and Falsification

The Kitāb al-qirā'āt of Aḥmad b. Muḥammad al-Sayyārī


For all Muslims the Qurʾan is the word of God. In the first centuries of Islam, however, many individuals and groups, and some Shiʿis, believed that the generally accepted text of the Qurʾan is corrupt. The Shiʿis asserted that redactors had altered or deleted among other things all passages that supported the rights of ʿAli and his successors or that condemned his enemies. One of the fullest lists of these alleged changes and of other variant readings is to be found in the work of al-Sayyārī (3rd/9th century), which is indeed among the earliest Shiʿi books to have survived. In many cases the alternative readings that al-Sayyārī presents substantially contribute to our understanding of early Shiʿi doctrine and of the early and numerous debates about the Qurʾan in general.
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Biographical Note

Etan Kohlberg, D.Phil. (1971) in Oriental Studies, Oxford University, is Emeritus Professor of Arabic Language and Literature at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He has published extensively on Imami Shiʿi history, doctrine and literature including A Medieval Muslim Scholar at Work (Brill, 1992). Mohammad Ali Amir-Moezzi D.Phil. (1991) in Oriental and Religious Studies, Sorbonne (Paris), is Professor of Classical Islamic Theology at the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, Sorbonne. He has published mainly on Imami Shiʿi Islam, including La religion discrete : croyances et pratiques spirituelles en islam shiʿite (Vrin, 2006).

Review Quote

“The introduction of Revelation and Falsification is to be commended for the vast research and diversity of the sources consulted therein. It especially provides a good historical survey of the study of the Qurʿan by Western scholars. […] In the notes the authors have shown their full command and outstanding expertise on Shiʿa and Sunni sources of tafsir (exegesis) together with their meticulous research. […] All in all, Revelation and Falsification is a valuable contribution to the study of the Qurʿan and to creating a deeper understanding of the Shiʿa creed.” Mohammad Saeed Bahmanpour, in Journal of Shiʿa Islamic Studies, Spring 2010, Vol. III, No. 2. “This is a formidable work, erudite as much as it is meticulous. Moreover, it is a real advancement in knowledge for it is a critical edition of a rare and early work of Shiite religious literature. […] …what matters is the quality of the edition – with its critical apparatus and the indexes – that will become an exemplar for critical editions in the field for years to come.” Walid A. Saleh, in The Muslim World Book Review, 30:3, 2010. "Magistralement éditée par E. Kohlberg […] et M.A. Amir-Moezzi […], imprimée avec tous les soins qu’une grande maison d’édition peut apporter, cette édition critique du Kitȃb al-qirȃʾȃt […] représente une importante contribution à la connaissance des controverses entre shȋʿites et sunnites à l’époque médiévale." J. Dean in Revue D’Histoire et de Philosophie Religieuses 2011, 91.1, p. 104. “This work […] is of remarkable quality. The critical edition is extremely well cared for. […] such a work is not simply useful but indeed necessary for any person who is interested in Qurʾānic exegesis.” Michel Lagarde in Islamochristiana 37 (2011), p.327-328.


Students of Islamic religion and literature and the history of religion.