Salam. In one of your answers to a question about the validity of Islam as being the final message you said Allah Almighty will protect the Qur’an and the Islamic deen (religion) from any diversion and change.

How do you explain the splinter groups of the original message of the deen, such as the Shiites and others? They certainly contribute to a weaker image of Islam. Jazakum Allahu khayran for your answer and for the service you offer on this Web site!

consultant:   Jasser Auda

Wa `alaykum as-salam, Nefeesa.

Thank you for your question.

You are referring to the Qur’anic verse that says what means:
*{We have, without doubt, sent down the Reminder [i.e., the Qur’an]; and We will assuredly guard it [from corruption].}* (Al-Hijr 15:9)

This promise from Allah Almighty to protect the Qur’an is very important for us as Muslims in order to have confidence in the source of all our knowledge about Islam, the Qur’an. As you know, people before Islam had received messages from Allah, which they eventually corrupted with changes, additions, and deletions.

The difference between Islam and the religions before Islam, including heavenly religions, is in who was assigned with the protection of the message. In Islam, Allah entrusted Himself with the protection of the Qur’an; whereas, before, only humans were entrusted to the protection of the divine Scriptures.

The Qur’an says what means:
*{It was We who revealed the law [to Moses]: therein was guidance and light. By its standard have been judged the Jews, by the prophets who bowed [as in Islam] to Allah's will, by the rabbis and the doctors of law: for to them was entrusted the protection of Allah's book, and they were witnesses thereto: therefore fear not men, but fear Me, and sell not My signs for a miserable price. If any do fail to judge by [the light of] what Allah hath revealed, they are [no better than] unbelievers.}* (Al-Ma’idah 5:44)

So, because Allah is the Trustee of the Qur’an, He protected it from any corruption, and because humans were the trustees over the other books, they corrupted them by additions and deletions. We Muslims had a similar painful experience with the hadiths of the Prophet (peace be upon him), which were similarly entrusted to humans to preserve.

However, many liars, out of various political and materialistic interests, added many false narrations to the collections of Hadith. We all know how the scholars of Hadith (may Allah reward them greatly) worked diligently in order to find out liars and succeeded —due to the academic approach they used— in rejecting tons of false narrations that would have otherwise corrupted the Hadith of the Prophet (peace be upon him).

But the Qur’an is different. Allah made it easy for millions of Muslims, since the time of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and until now, to memorize the Qur’an by heart. These people were guardians for the message of the Qur’an, correcting any person who errs in one letter of it at any time. Allah protected the Qur’an through making it easy to remember, for it says what means:
*{And in truth We have made the Qur'an easy to remember; but is there any that remembereth?}* (Al-Qamar 54:17)

Allah also protected the text of the Qur’an through the Companions who collected the whole collection of verses, soon after Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), and made copies for all parts of the Muslim Ummah (nation). Since then, millions (if not billions) of identical copies were made, which guarantee —in sha’ Allah— the protection of the script of the Qur’an.

However, protecting the script of the Qur’an does not mean that the world will be an ideal place, or even that many Muslims will not diverge from the straight path and form what you called “splinter groups.” I would prefer, though, to classify people according to their deeds, rather than labeling them “Sunni” or “Shiite.”

The story of the Sunni and Shiite division is a long and sorrowful story that marks a dark part of our Islamic history. Recently, al-hamdu lillah, scholars from both sides are opening dialogues in order to correct mistakes, reach common understandings, and forget about our old political conflicts in light of the crises that we are all facing as a Muslim Ummah, given that whoever witnesses that there is no god but Allah and Muhammad is His messenger, is simply a Muslim.

I hope this answer is satisfactory. Thank you and please keep in touch.