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Quranism (Arabic: القرآنية‎; al-Qur'āniyyat) is an Islamic view that holds the Qur'an to be the most authentic criterion in Islam. Qur'anists reject the religious authority of the Hadith. This is in contrast to the Shia, Sunni, and Ibadi forms of Islam, which view the Hadith as essential to religious practice.[1]

Liberal movements within Islam include Quranists who interpret Islam as "a belief system committed to the liberal values of a democratic world".[2] Quranism is similar to movements in other religions such as the Karaite movement of Judaism and the Sola scriptura view of Christianity.[3] Hadith rejection has also been associated with Muslim modernists.[4]


Adherents of Quranism are referred to as Quranists (Arabic: قرآنيّون‎, Qur’āniyyūn), or Quranic people (Arabic: أهل القرآن‎, ’Ahl al-Qur’ān).[5][6] This should not be confused with Ahle-e-Quran, which is an organisation formed by Abdullah Chakralawi. Quranists may also refer to themselves simply as Muslims, Submitters, or reformists.[6] Opponents sometimes use the term hadith rejectors.[7]


The extent to which Quranists reject the authenticity of the Sunnah varies,[8] 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 Muhammed, and contain perceived internal errors and contradictions.[8][9]


Quranists believe, based on numerous historical accounts, that the Quranist sentiment dates back to the time of Muhammad.[10]:9 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.[11][12] His famous student, al-Jahiz, was also critical of those who followed hadith, referring to his traditionalist opponents as al-nabita (the contemptible).[13] 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.[10]:19 And Ibn Qutaybah tried to refute an-Nazzam's arguments against hadith in his book ta'wil mukhtalif al-hadith.[14]

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.[15] Many Ahle Quran adherents were formerly adherents of Ahle Hadith but found themselves incapable of accepting certain hadiths.[15] 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.[15]


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,[16]

Organizations and branches[edit]

Ahle Qur'an[edit]

"Ahle Qur’an" is an organisation formed by Abdullah Chakralawi,[17][18] who described the Quran as "ahsan hadith", meaning most perfect hadith and consequently claimed it does not need any addition.[19] His movement relies 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.[20] Ahle Quran scholars may use Tafsir when pursuing the interpretations of the Quran.[21]


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.[9] 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 popularised by high court judge Isa Othman.[22]

Kalo Kato[edit]

Main article: Kalo Kato

Kalo Kato ("A mere man said it") is a Quranistic movement in northern Nigeria.[23] They are sometimes mistaken for an unrelated militant group founded by Muhammadu Marwa (also known as Maitatsine) called Yan Tatsine.[citation needed] One of the most well-known Quranist leaders in Nigeria is an Islamic scholar Malam Isiyaka Salisu.[24]

Notable Quranists[edit]

  • Ahmed Subhy Mansour (born 1949), an Egyptian American Islamic scholar.[25] He founded a small group of Quranists, but was exiled from Egypt and is now living in the United States as a political refugee.[26]
  • 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.[27][28][29]
  • Edip Yüksel (born 1957), a Kurdish American philosopher, lawyer, Quranist 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.[10][30]
  • 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.[31]
  • Nasir Subhani (1951-1990), an Iranian Kurdish Sunni scholar and reformer. In his teachings, mainly private classes, he argued that Quran itself is enough for source of interpretation and extreme scrutiny is required against Hadith which contract verses in the Quran. ‌He established a Quran Academy in the town of Paveh in Iran.[32]
  • 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 attributed numerologic significance to the structure of the Quran.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Al-Hadith, Analysis and an Overview". http://www.al-islam.org/. Retrieved 24 July 2015. 
  2. ^ "About Us". ahl-alquran.com. 
  3. ^ Ahmad, Aziz, Islamic Modernism in India and Pakistan 1857-1964, Oxford University Press, 1967, pp 14-15
  4. ^ Hanif, N. (1997). Islam And Modernity. Sarup & Sons. p. 72. 
  5. ^ "IQC as the Center for the Quranic People". International Quranic Center. Retrieved 13 August 2015. 
  6. ^ a b Yvonne Y. Haddad; Jane I. Smith (3 November 2014). The Oxford Handbook of American Islam. Oxford University Press. pp. 150–153. ISBN 978-0-19-986264-1. 
  7. ^ http://www.scribd.com/doc/18027174/The-Quraniyoon-of-the-Twentieth-Century
  8. ^ a b Richard Stephen Voss, Identifying Assumptions in the Hadith/Sunnah Debate, 19.org, Accessed December 5, 2013
  9. ^ a b c Musa, Aisha Y. (2010). "The Qur'anists". Religion Compass (John Wiley & Sons) 4 (1): 12–21. doi:10.1111/j.1749-8171.2009.00189.x. Retrieved 26 September 2015. 
  10. ^ a b c Musa, Aisha Y. (2008). Hadith as Scripture: Discussions on The Authority Of Prophetic Traditions in Islam. Palgrave. ISBN 978-0-230-60535-0. 
  11. ^ I. M. Al-Jubouri, Islamic Thought: From Mohammed to September 11, Xlibris, 2010, pp. 150-152
  12. ^ Hussein Abdul-Raof, Theological Approaches to Qur'anic Exegesis: A Practical Comparative-Contrastive Analysis, Routledge, 2012, pp. 33-34
  13. ^ Muhammad Qasim Zaman, Religion and Politics Under the Early ʻAbbasids: The Emrgence of the Proto-Sunni Elite, Brill, 1997, pg. 55
  14. ^ G. H. A. Juynboll, The Authenticity of the Tradition Literature: Discussions in Modern Egypt, E. J. Brill, 1969, pg. 77-80
  15. ^ a b c Daniel W. Brown, Rethinking Tradition in Modern Islamic Thought, Cambridge University Press, 1996, pp. 38-41
  16. ^ "Sheikhs of Alazhar: Quranists are Apostates; and the Evidence from the Holey Book Proves Their Guilt". ahl-alquran.com. 
  17. ^ Khalid Baig. "A Look at Hadith Rejecters' Claims". Retrieved 22 March 2015. 
  18. ^ "Aboutquran.com". Retrieved 22 March 2015. 
  19. ^ Islamic modernism in India and Pakistan, 1857-1964 - Page 120, Azīz Aḥmad, ʻAzīz Aḥmad, Royal Institute of International Affairs - 1967
  20. ^ Ahmad, Aziz, Islamic Modernism in India and Pakistan 1857-1964, Oxford University Press, 1967, pp 120-121
  21. ^ http://www.quranists.com/pillars.html
  22. ^ Muhammad Nur Alkali; Abubakar Kawu Monguno; Ballama Shettima Mustafa (January 2012). Overview of Islamic actors in northern Nigeria (pdf) (Report). Nigeria Research Network. p. 16. Retrieved 1 November 2015. 
  23. ^ Islamic actors and interfaith relations in northern Nigeria (pdf) (Report). Nigeria Research Network. March 2013. p. 8. Retrieved 1 March 2013. 
  24. ^ Abiodun Alao, Islamic Radicalisation and Violence in Nigeria,[dead link] accessed March 1, 2013
  25. ^ "About Us". Ahl-alquran.com. Retrieved 6 February 2010. 
  26. ^ "Muslims' Unheralded Messenger; Antiterrorism Group Founder Hopes To Rally a Crowd". Retrieved 6 February 2010. 
  27. ^ Girja Kumar, The Book on Trial: Fundamentalism and Censorship in India, Har Anand Publications, 1997, pp. 34-35
  28. ^ M Sathyavathi, Kerala’s Islamic fundamentalists could not tolerate progressive Chekannur Maulavi, newageislam.com, accessed October 7, 2013
  29. ^ S I L E N C E D . . . .? ( The case of Moulavi Chekanoor ), chekanoormolavi.com, accessed October 7, 2013
  30. ^ Kenney, Jeffrey T.; Moosa, Ebrahim (2013). Islam in the Modern World. Routledge. p. 21. 
  31. ^ I. M. Al-Jubouri, Islamic Thought: From Mohammed to September 11, Xlibris, 2010, pg. 147
  32. ^ Subhani official website (in Kurdish Sorani), article of inauguration

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]