The Meaning Of Tahreef (Change) And Its various Types


Tahreef linguistically means ‘changing’.

In Islamic terminology it means ‘changing a text in wording or meaning’. Changing the word of a text may or may not also change the meaning along with it.

The Different Types Of Tahreef:

Tahreef is of three types:

1) Tahreef that changes the wording and the meaning.

An example of this is where the innovators change the wording of Allaah’s statement:

And Allaah (Ar. Allaahu) spoke to Moosaa with (direct) speech.” [4:146]

They change the word ‘Allaahu’ (ending with a damma) to ‘Allaaha’ (ending with a kasha). Thus making Allaah the direct object to mean that it was Moosaa who was the one soaking to Allaah, rather than Allaah spooking to Moosaa.

Here the wording has been changed, and as a result of which, the meaning is also changed.

2) Tahreef that changes the wording only (and not the meaning).

An example of the wording changing but the meaning staying the same is (for example) the statement of Allaah:

All praise (Ar. Alhumdu lillaahi) is due to Allaah, the Lord of all the worlds.” [1:2]

If this is recited as “Alhumda lillaahi” then the wording is changed but meaning is not changed (1).

3) Tahreef that changes the meaning only (and not the wording).

Such as changing the meaning of a word from its apparent meaning with no proof. An example of this is changing the meaning of the Two Hands of Allaah to mean “strength” or “blessing” and whatever is similar to this (as is done by the Mu’tazilah, Jahmiyyah and the Ash’aree.

And it is ironic how the Ash’arees change the meaning of the Names and Attributes of Allaah to something else which may contradict their apparent meanings. One of the consequences of this is to claim that the Qur’aan contains verses, the apparent meaning of which is kufr!


(1) Most of the time, this occurs only from someone who is unaware of the correct pronunciation or by mistake if he does not have a certain intention for doing so.

[Taken from Ibn Uthaymeens explanation of ‘Al-‘Aqeedah Al-Hamawiyyah, Pp. 24-25]


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