Quranism

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Quranism (Arabic: قرآنيونQurʾāniyūn, Quraniyoon) is an Islamic movement that holds the Qur'an to be the only authentic source of Islamic faith. Quranists generally reject, therefore, the religious authority of hadith, Sunnah, and reject traditional Sharia Law. This is in contrast to the Sunni, Shia and Ibadi doctrines, which consider hadith essential for Islamic faith.[1]

Terminology[edit]

Quranists are referred to in various ways, such as Qurʾāniyūn (Arabic: قرآنيونQurʾāniyyūn) and ʾAhl al-Qurʾān (أهل القرآن) / Ahle Qur'an, both translated as "Quranites" or Submitters; and – usually by their opponents – munkirū al-ḥadīṯ (منكروا الحديث), meaning "negators of hadith" or "hadith rejectors". Other terms used include "Quran-aloners" and "Quranic movement".[2]

Quranists generally refer to themselves simply as "Muslims", a term taken directly from the Quran.[3] Some adherents refer to themselves as "Quranists" or Ahle Quran. As they do not accept any source besides the Qur'an, they do not consider themselves members of a sect.[3][4]

As many Quranists have a very individualistic interpretation of the Qur'an, rejecting sectarianism and organised religion as a general rule, it is difficult to gather an accurate estimate of the number of Quranists in the world today by doing a study of the Quranist organisations that exist. Another difficulty in determining their prevalence is the possible fear of persecution due to being regarded as apostates and therefore deserving of the death penalty by many traditional scholars like Yousef Elbadry,[5] Mahmoud Ashour, Mohammed Ra'fat Othman and Mustafa Al-Shak'a.[6]

Liberal movements within Islam include Quranists who interpret Islam as "a belief system committed to the liberal values of a democratic world".[7] Quranism is similar to movements in other religions such as the Karaite movement of Judaism and the Sola scriptura view of Christianity.[8] Similarly, the Mu'tazila were also described as hadith rejectors and comparisons have been drawn.[9] Hadith rejection has also been associated with Muslim modernists.[10] A minority of Quranists use tafsir commentaries to understand the context of a Quran verse.[11]

Doctrine[edit]

Quranists reject the authority of hadith on theological grounds, pointing to verses in the Quran which they believe supports their view that all necessary instruction can be found within the Quran, without reference to the Hadith:[12]

Nothing have we omitted from the Book, and they (all) shall be gathered to their Lord in the end. [Quran 6:38].[13]

We have cited in this Quran every example for the people. But the human being is always most argumentative. [Quran 18:54][12]

"Shall I seek other than God as a judge when He has sent down to you this book sufficiently detailed?" Those to whom We have given the book know it is sent down from your Lord with truth; so do not be of those who have doubt. The word of your Lord has been completed with truth and justice; there is no changing His words. He is the Hearer, the Knower. [Quran 6:114-115][12]

The revelation of the book is from God, the Noble, the Wise. . . . These are God's signs that We recite to you with truth. So, in which hadith, after God and His signs, do they acknowledge? [Quran 45:2-6][12]

It is an honorable Quran. In a protected record. None can grasp it except those pure. A revelation from the Lord of the worlds. Are you disregarding this hadith? [Quran 56:77-81][12]

So in what hadith after it will they acknowledge? [Quran 77:50][12]

The extent to which Quranists reject the authenticity of the Sunnah varies,[14] but the more established groups have thoroughly criticised the authenticity of the hadith and refused it for many reasons, the most prevalent being the Quranist claim that hadith is not mentioned in the Quran as a source of Islamic theology and practice, was not recorded in written form until more than two centuries after the death of the prophet Muhammed, and contain perceived internal errors and contradictions.[14][15]

There are roughly three main groups in Quranism:

  1. Quranists who are strict in their teachings and claim the Quran should be the only source for religion, rejecting every other source and Hadith (most of them calling themselves Quran Alone muslims) and claiming that reading other sources about Islam is equal to setting up partners with God.
  2. Quranists that are more openminded and do not reject every source or Hadith besides the Quran (like spiritual teachings of Rumi, Shams Tabrizi, Haji Bektash Veli, etc.), but are very critical with Hadith and reject everything that contradicts the Quran. An example is Turkish theologian Yasar Nuri Ozturk.
  3. Quranists that consider themselves followers of Rashad Khalifa, a self proclaimed messenger of God and a group that is said to reject 2 verses of the Quran. Other Quranists do not agree with this group and claims Rashad's teachings contain a lot of errors and contradict verses 2:85 and 3:7 of the Quran.[16][17][18]

Examples[edit]

Article of faith Sunni or Shia doctrine Quranism
Prayer
(salat)
Sunni pray five obligatory prayers a day, optional prayers such as those prayed by Prophet Muhammad know as sunnah salat or extra prayers known as nafl salat may be offered. Sunni Muslims touch their heads directly to the floor in contrast to Shias in prostration and fold their arms while standing in prayer. Shia Muslims pray five times a day while they can join two prayers such as the evening prayer (Maghrib) and the night prayer (Isha) salat together. Shia Muslims use a hard tablet made of clay - turbah , to rest their heads during prostration. Shia and Sunni Islam says menstruating women should not pray.[citation needed] Regarding prayer Quranists fall into a few categories.[19] There is a group who combine the five prayers into three prayers like Shias.[20] There are those who pray five times a day like Sunnis.[citation needed] There are those who pray three times a day (dawn and dusk to include the times of night closest to these) because the Quran only mentions three prayers in the Quran by name (the morning prayer, middle prayer and evening prayer after sunset).[21] There are also the fringe groups who redefine the Arabic term used for prayer (salat) as something other than prayer.[22] Quranists who follow Sunni forms of prayer cite the ayah 3:96 and its call for a Meccan guidance. Night prayer, often referred to as tahajjud is encouraged in the Quran but not in a specific formula as with the Sunni salat in general. Menstruating women can pray according to many Quranists.[citation needed]
Charity
(zakat)
Sunni Muslims provide 2.5% of their wealth in a prescribed manner with formulas based on the sayings of prophet Muhammad.[citation needed] Quranists give the "excess" that they have according to what the Quran states.[23]
Pilgrimage to Mecca
(Hajj)
Pilgrimage to Mecca is performed from the 8th to 12th day of Dhu al-Hijjah, the 12th and last month of the Islamic calendar.[citation needed] Many Quranists object to touching the black stone of the kaaba during hajj or umrah, however all Quranists agree that it is not to be accorded any sort of special veneration or respect apart from the rest of the Ka'bah. Hajj according to some Quranists is a four month long season. This idea is held mostly by the submitters group.[citation needed]
Friday congregational Prayer
(Jumu'ah)
Sunni Muslims attach special importance to the Friday congregational prayers and consider it to be obligatory on every healthy Muslim male.[citation needed] Not all Quranists attend the Friday prayer or believe it to be obligatory, even if they may not object to the practice. The modern Arabic term for Friday among Quranists is commonly understood as Day of gathering, and not just 'Friday.'[citation needed]
Women as Imams Sunni scholars believe a woman cannot lead a mixed gender congregation.[citation needed] Quranist scholars believe a woman can lead a mixed gender congregation.[24]
Domestic violence Some Sunni and Shia scholars interpret and translate the Quran 4:34 to allow men to beat their wives.[25][26][27][28] Quranist scholars reject this interpretation and translation.[25]
Tribute
(jizya)
Sunni scholars believe a tribute can be taken from non-Muslims living in Muslim lands.[citation needed] Qur'anist scholars believe this practice has no support from the Quran.[29]
"Holy War"
(jihad)
Some Sunni scholars believe jihad can be understood as an offensive "holy war" against non-Muslims.[30] Some Quranist scholars believe jihad is defensive warfare.[31][32][33][34][35]
Slavery Some Sunni and Shia scholars believe that slavery is permissible if the slaves are non-Muslim and they are treated kindly. Other Sunni and Shia scholars believe that slavery was permissible during Muhammad's lifetime, but that now it should be gradually abolished where it exists.[36][37][38][39] Quranists believe that slavery is never permissible and that it should be immediately abolished where it exists. They believe that the abolition of slavery where it exists is not a mere suggestion (as some Sunni and Shia believe), but a divine imperative. They believe the master-slave relationship is a form of polytheism and violates Islam's strict monotheism. For example, one Quranist scholar felt that his original name, Qazi Ghulam Nabi (Ghulam Nabi means slave, or servant, of the Prophet), was polytheistic so he changed it to Abdullah Chakralawi (Abdullah means slave, or servant, of God) .[40]

The Quranist scholar, Edip Yuksel, asserts that Sunni and Shia scholars mistranslated the phrase ma malakat aymanukum in order to justify slavery and concubinage (see footnote for 4:3 in Quran: A Reformist Translation). Ghulam Ahmed Pervez also asserted that Sunni and Shia scholars mistranslated the Quran in order to justify slavery. He argued for the abolition of slavery.[41]

Stoning
(rajm)
Some Sunni and Shia scholars believe that married adulterers should be stoned to death.[citation needed] Some Quranists scholars believe that Quran 24:2 prescribes a punishment of 100 lashes for adultery. Additionally, they point out that, in the Quran, rajm was a pagan practice that Muslims were often threatened with (see 11:91, 18:20, 19:46, 26:116, and 36:18).[42]
Abrogation
(naskh)
Sunnis believe that there a few certain verses in the Quran that abrogate certain other verses in the Quran.[citation needed] Quranist scholars disagree. They point to verses that say that the Quran can't be abrogated:[42][43]
Evolution Some Sunni scholars like Adnan Oktar, Fethullah Gülen, and Yasir Qadhi have argued against evolution.[44] Modern Quranist scholars like Ghulam Ahmed Pervez,[45] T.O. Shanavas,[46] Caner Taslaman,[47] and Edip Yuksel have argued in favor of evolution.[48][49]
Calendar Sunni and Shia follow a lunar calendar.[citation needed] Some Quranists interpret the Quran to instruct Muslims to follow a lunar calender while others interpret it to follow a luni-solar calendar.[50][51]
Circumcision
(khitan)
Some Sunni scholars do not consider circumcision to be necessary to be a Muslim but it is highly recommended as part of Fitra, other Sunni scholars consider it obligatory. Most Shia traditions regard the practice obligatory.[citation needed] Circumcision, either male or female, plays no role in Quranist theology, per ayahs 95:4 and 4:119.
Dress Sunni Muslims are encouraged to dress in the way of the prophet Muhammad or his wives. Some Sunni scholars emphasize covering of all body including the face in public whereas some scholars exclude the face from hijab. Shias believe that the hijab must cover around the perimeter of the face and up to the chin.[citation needed] Clothing rules plays no part in Quranist theology other than that the person dress modestly as surah 24:30–31 says. For example hijabs or beards are not necessary.[52]
Emergence of the Anti-Christ (Dajjal) and Mahdi Sunni Muslims believe that when the world has widespread corruption, the Mahdi will come and fight the Anti-Christ. Shias also believe in the emergence of the Mahdi, but unlike the Sunni doctrine, they claim that the Mahdi has already been born. Shia Muslims believe that the Mahdi is hiding for a period known as the occultation, and will emerge and fight the Anti-Christ (Dajjal) at a time prescribed by God.[citation needed] Quranists generally do not believe in the emergence of the Imam Mahdi or dajjal, since they're not mentioned in the Quran.[53]
Food Sunni Muslims consider food slaughtered by the Christians and Jews to be religiously consumable. The Quran forbids that animals die by a blow, so techniques for animal slaughter common in Western countries are regarded by Sunni Muslims as unlawful. Some Sunni Muslims forbid using the left hand when eating. This is because the right hand is considered cleaner due to the tradition of using the left hand in order to clean oneself after having used the toilet.[citation needed] Quranists can eat food produced by Christians and Jews, as instructed in ayah 5:5. Some believe that animals produced by them still must be slaughtered with a blessing, prayer or praise to God alone before being slaughtered as is shown in ayah 6:138. Some Quranists consider Western animal slaughter methods to be unlawful. Quranists can consume food with both hands, as there are no prohibitions on eating with the left hand in the Quran.[citation needed]
Inter-religious marriages Sunni and Shia Muslims generally consider marriages between a Muslim man and a Christian or Jewish woman acceptable but discouraged, and completely forbid Muslim women to marry Christian or Jewish men. Other Sunnis consider marriages between Muslims and non-Muslims, regardless of gender, totally unacceptable. Quranists give both Muslim men and women the right to marry Christian or Jewish people.

Criticism[edit]

Contemporary scholars such as Gibril Haddad have commented on the apostatic nature of a wholesale denial of the probativeness of the Sunnah according to the Sunni sect: "it cannot be imagined that one reject the entire probativeness of the Sunna and remain a Muslim".[54] In his essay, "The Probativeness of the Sunna", Haddad explains that the foundation of Islam is the Qur'an, which cannot be described as God's word when one unconditionally rejects the probativeness of the Sunna (since the fact that the Qur'an is God's Word was not established by other than Muhammad's explicit statement that this was God's Word and His Book). As this statement is part of the Sunna/Hadith literature, to say that the Sunna is no proof is no different than a denial of an integral part of the religion according to Haddad. He also quotes from Yusuf ibn abd al-Barr, Ibn Hazm as well as other renowned early traditional scholars such as al-Shafi'i, al-Nawawi, Qadi Ayyad and Ibn Hajar.

History[edit]

Quran manuscript from the 7th century CE, written on vellum in the Hijazi script.

Quranists believe, based on numerous historical accounts, that the Quranist sentiment dates back to the time of Muhammad.[55] According to one account, Muhammad said:

Do not write anything from me except the Qur'an and [if] someone writes anything from me other than the Qur'an, destroy it.[56]

Another account says:

It was reported to the Prophet that some individuals had put his traditions into writing. He mounted the pulpit and after praising God he said, 'What are these books that you are writing as reported to me? I am only a human being. Anyone who keeps such traditions must destroy them.' We collected those traditions and asked, 'O Messenger of Allah! shall we narrate hadith from you?' The Prophet said, 'Sometimes, you narrate hadith from me; there is nothing wrong with it. Anyone who intentionally attributes a lie to me has certainly prepared for himself a place in the hellfire.[56]

This prohibition of hadith is claimed to have been continued by Muhammad's successor, Abu Bakr. According to one account, Aisha said:

My father compiled 500 sayings of the Prophet. One night he was sleeping but he was not at ease. I was sad and I asked him about the reason behind his uneasiness. As the sun rose up, he said, 'My daughter, bring out the traditions in your possessions. I brought them. He asked for fire and burned them.[56]

According to another account, Abu Bakr said:

You report certain statements from the Messenger of Allah and on which you differ among yourselves. After you the differences will multiply. Do not narrate anything from the Messenger of Allah and if someone asks you, tell them, 'There is the Book of Allah between you and us; let us take as lawful (halal) whatever it permits and unlawful (haram) whatever it prohibits.[56]

Quranists claim that this prohibition of hadith was continued by Abu Bakr's successor, Umar. According to one account:

'Umar ibn al-Khattab wanted to record the traditions (sunan) and for this purpose he consulted the Prophet's Companions who also encouraged him to do so. 'Umar reflected on this work for a month, asking for guidance from God until his resolve became stronger and said, 'I wanted to put the sunan into writing but I remember that communities (aqwam) before you compiled a book [regarding the sunnah of their respective prophets] and focused their attention to it while disregarding the Book of God. By God! Indeed I will never mix the Book of God with anything else![56]

According to another account:

It was reported to 'Umar ibn al-Khattab that there were written traditions and collections of traditions among the people. He considered it unfavorable and said, 'O people! It was reported to me that book [of hadiths] exist in your midst. [Be it known that] the firmest of them is the most beloved in the sight of God. When they brought the books to me so that I could express my opinion about them, the people thought that I would review and modify them according to textual differences and variations. However, as soon as the books were brought to me, I put all of them on fire.[56]

According to another account, Muhammad's companion Zayd ibn Thabit said:

The Prophet commanded us not to write down hadith.[56]

Quranist scholars believe the prohibition of hadith is permanent; however, some Sunni scholars believe it was only temporary.[56] According to them, the prohibition was so that people wouldn't confuse the Quran with the hadith during the compilation of the Quran.[56] They believe that once the compilation of the Quran was completed, the prohibition of hadith was abrogated.[56] Other Sunni scholars don't find this explanation for the prohibition of hadith convincing. Muhmud Abu Rayyah said concerning this explanation:

This justification cannot convince any scholar or man of intellect, nor is it acceptable to any inquisitive researcher unless we regard the traditions as of equal elegance with the Qur'an and believe that the hadith's mode of inimitability (a'jaz) is the same as that of the Qur'an – a claim which will be unacceptable even to the proponents of this theory because this is tantamount to the invalidity of the Qur'an's inimitability and the breaking down of the foundation of the Qur'an's miracles.[56]

During the Abassid Caliphate, the poet, theologian, and jurist, Ibrahim an-Nazzam founded a madhhab called the Nazzamiyya that rejected the authority of hadiths and relied on the Quran alone.[57][58] His famous student, al-Jahiz, was also critical of those who followed hadith, referring to his traditionalist opponents as al-nabita (the contemptible).[59] But unlike his teacher, he didn't completely reject the authority of hadith. A contemporary of an-Nazzam, al-Shafi'i, tried to refute the arguments of the Quranists and establish the authority of hadiths in his book kitab jima'al-'ilm.[60] And Ibn Qutaybah tried to refute an-Nazzam's arguments against hadith in his book ta'wil mukhtalif al-hadith.[61]

In South Asia during the 19th century, the Ahle Quran movement formed partially in reaction to the Ahle Hadith whom they considered to be placing too much emphasis on hadith.[62] Many Ahle Quran adherents were formerly adherents of Ahle Hadith but found themselves incapable of accepting certain hadiths.[62] In Egypt during the early 20th century, the ideas of Quranists like Muhammad Tawfiq Sidqi grew out of Salafism - i.e. a rejection of taqlid.[62]

Organisations and branches[edit]

Ahle Qur'an[edit]

"Ahle Qur’an" is an organisation formed by Abdullah Chakralawi,[63][64] who described the Quran as "ahsan hadith", meaning most perfect hadith and consequently claimed it does not need any addition.[65] His movement rely entirely on the chapters and verses of the Qur’an. Chakralawi's position was that the Qur’an itself was the most perfect source of tradition and could be exclusively followed. According to Chakralawi, Muhammad could receive only one form of revelation (wahy), and that was the Qur'an. He argues that the Qur'an was the only record of divine wisdom, the only source of Muhammad's teachings, and that it superseded the entire corpus of hadith, which came later.[66] Ahle Quran scholars may use Tafsir when pursuing the interpretations of the Quran.[67]

Tolu-e-Islam[edit]

Main article: Tolu-e-Islam

Tolu-e-Islam ("Resurgence of Islam") is an organization based in Pakistan, with followers throughout the world.[68] The movement was initiated by Ghulam Ahmed Pervez, a Qur'anic scholar. In his writings and speeches, he re-interpreted Qur'anic verses with little or no emphasis on hadith.[69] Tolu-e-Islam followers do not reject all hadiths; however, they only accept hadiths which "are in accordance with the Quran or do not stain the character of the Prophet or his companions".[68] The organization is loosely controlled. The organization publishes and distributes books, pamphlets, and recordings of Pervez's teachings.[68]

Submitters[edit]

In the United States it was associated with Rashad Khalifa, founder of the United Submitters International. The group popularized the phrase: The Qur'an, the whole Qur'an, and nothing but the Qur'an.[15] After Khalifa declared himself the Messenger of the Covenant, he was rejected by other Muslim scholars as an apostate of Islam. Later, he was assassinated in 1990 by a terrorist group. His followers believe that there is a mathematical structure in the Qur'an, based on the number 19. A group of Submitters in Nigeria was started by Isa Othman.

Others[edit]

Quranists in Nigeria are sometimes referred to as Kalo Kato, which means "a mere man said it" in the Hausa language (referring to the hadith attributed to Muhammad).[70] They're sometimes mistaken for an unrelated militant group founded by Muhammadu Marwa (also known as Maitatsine) called Yan Tatsine. One of the most well-known Quranist leaders in Nigeria is an Islamic scholar Malam Isiyaka Salisu.[71] Other notable Nigerian Quranists include High Court judge Isa Othman[72][73] and Islamic scholar Mallam Saleh Idris Bello.[74]

Prominent Quranists[edit]

  • Rashad Khalifa (1935–1990), an Egyptian-American biochemist and Islamic reformer. In his book Quran, Hadith and Islam and his English translation of the Quran, he argued that the Quran alone is the source of Islamic belief and practice. He was also the initial discoverer of the numerical structure of the Quran.
  • Ahmed Subhy Mansour (born 1949), an Egyptian American Islamic scholar.[75] He founded a small group of Quranists, but was exiled from Egypt and is now living in the United States as a political refugee.[76] One of his followers, Egyptian blogger Reda Abdel-Rahman, was freed on January 2009 after being detained for a year. Abdel-Rahman was imprisoned for writing blogs that reject the sunnah and hadith and claimed he was tortured in order to reveal the password to his e-mail. Mansour was dismissed by Al-Azhar University after expressing his rejection of hadith.
  • Chekannur Maulavi (born 1936; disappeared July 29, 1993), a progressive Islamic cleric who lived in Edappal in Malappuram district of Kerala, India. He was noted for his controversial and unconventional interpretation of Islam based on Quran alone. He disappeared on 29 July 1993 under mysterious circumstances and is now widely believed to be dead.[77][78][79]
  • Ibrahim an-Nazzam (775–845), an Afro-Iraqi philosopher, theologian, jurist, historian and poet who founded a madhhab called "Nazzamiyya". He was a nephew of the Mu'tazilite theologian Abu al-Hudhayl al-'Allaf. One of his students was al-Jahiz.[80]
  • Mohammed Shahrour (born 1938), a Syrian reformer and Emeritus Professor of Civil Engineering at the University of Damascus who writes extensively about Islam. Shahrour was trained as an engineer in Syria, the former Soviet Union and Ireland. Like other Quraniyoon Muslims, he does not consider hadith as authoritative.
  • Edip Yuksel (born 1957), a Kurdish American philosopher, lawyer, Qurʾāniyūn advocate, author of NINETEEN: God's Signature in Nature and Scripture, Manifesto for Islamic Reform and a co-author of Quran: A Reformist Translation. Currently[when?] teaches philosophy and logic at Pima Community College and medical ethics and criminal law courses at Brown Mackie College.[83][84][85][86]

Notable Quranist translations of the Qur'an[edit]

  • Edip Yüksel, Layth Saleh Al-Shaiban, Martha Schulte-Nafeh, Quran: A Reformist Translation, Brainbow Press, 2007.
  • Rashad Khalifa, Qur'an: The Final Testament, Islamic Productions, 1989.
  • Shabbir Ahmed, Qur'an As It Explains Itself, [publisher?], 2003.
  • Monotheist Group, The Qur'an: A Pure and Literal Translation, [self-published?], 2008.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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Further reading[edit]

  • Aisha Y. Musa, Hadith as Scripture: Discussions on the Authority of Prophetic Traditions in Islam, New York: Palgrave, 2008. ISBN 0-230-60535-4.
  • Ali Usman Qasmi, Questioning the Authority of the Past: The Ahl al-Qur'an Movements in the Punjab, Oxford University Press, 2012. ISBN 0-195-47348-5.
  • Daniel Brown, Rethinking Tradition in Modern Islamic Thought, Cambridge University Press, 1996. ISBN 0-521-65394-0.

External links[edit]