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Revisiting the Charge of Taḥrīf: The Question of Supersessionism in Early Islam and the Qurʾān

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Chapter Summary

In its developed form, taḥrif is the Islamic teaching that the scriptures of other monotheists and/or their interpretations have been corrupted, and thus obscure the message that had been previously sent by God. The implication of taḥrif is that the Qur'an comes both to confirm and to correct errors in the teachings of the Jews and Christians, making Islam not simply another monotheistic religion, but rather, the final and most pure revelation by which all others are measured. In this chapter, the author argues the formulation of the doctrine of taḥrif gives a strong indication that Islam was from its inception supersessionist, the view that the new revelations sent by God would replace the corrupted scriptures possessed by other communities. The Qur'an and the earliest teachings of Muḥammad display a clear theology of revelation that is concerned with establishing the credibility of the nascent community.

Keywords: Christians; Islam; Muḥammad; Qur'an; revelation; taḥrif



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