apostateofhadith.blogspot: a response


Jinn has written an interesting article on apostateofhadith.blogspot in response to the article on quranists.net, The Deceptive ‘Just Muslim Label’ by quranists. In honour of the quranic way, I thought I might express a few of my thoughts on his views.

“To say that Sunnis are an accurate representation of orthodox or traditional Islam is, to put it bluntly, an uneducated statement. […] You claim not to represent orthodox Islam while others, such as myself, will astutely counter that you in fact do represent orthodox Islam the moment you put serious doubt in the hadith.”

“If you wish to converse with me,” said Voltaire, “define your terms.” How Jinn defines the term “orthodox/traditional Islam” is clearly different to how it is defined in the article he criticises, such that the two are talking past each other. Whether Jinn chooses to acknowledge it or not, the word “gay” is mostly used to refer to homosexuals and is no longer used to mean what it may have originally referred to: extreme happiness. He may insist and argue that the word “gay” should not be used to refer to homosexuals and may go on to write articles rebuking people who do. And he would have every right to do this. However, I believe he would be wasting much energy in fighting the natural evolution of language. Sunni islam is based on adherence of traditions and promotes both orthodoxy and orthopraxy. When people say “orthodox/traditional Islam” they are usually referring to the Sunni flavour. So when a quranist says, I do not represent orthodox Islam, he is dissociating himself from what people would normally understand as the Sunni/Shia Islam. And we are all bound by the framework of ideas and language we live in. People who are concerned with social change see the value of having a label which accurately conveys their stance, allowing them to get to work without expending energy clarifying what it is they represent.

“the Qur’an openly refutes the entire blasted thing:
Surely they who divided their religion into parts and became sects, you have no concern with them; their affair is only with Allah, then He will inform them of what they did. ~Qur’an 6:159”

It’s a shame Jinn didn’t provide his understanding of this verse, as it is one we’ve discussed on Quranology Discussions in the past. The verse doesn’t say sects come from labels, it says sects come from “farraqū dīn”. What is dīn? Does Jinn think the label “quranist” divides the dīn? From my understanding, “dīn” means that which is obligatory upon us as upright beings, thus dividing and dropping parts of this obligatory system leads to sectarianism. It’s not clear to me how this verse refutes having a new label.

“That, and apart from the fact that God Himself has decreed only ONE title for us”

The assumption is that “muslim” is a title. The prefix “mu” before a word denotes an agent/doer of the noun/verb that follows. There are many examples of this in the quran: the one that enacts īmān (belief) is a mu’min (believer), the one that enacts ḥasanan (good) is a muḥ’sinun (good-doer), the ones who aflaḥa (succeed) are called al-muf’liḥūna (the successful ones) etc. “Muslim” must refer to the one who enacts something, or is an agent of an act, and not merely a title one wears through affiliation. That something, whatever you may believe it to be, is defined throughout the quran. This is not to say the word muslim is not also a label, as it clearly does refer to one who follows the Islamic cultural civilisation, but I would argue that this is not the way the quran uses the word.

“To say that these “quranists” are being deceptive by not waving a proverbial sign in a newcomer’s face that reads “I HATE HADITH I AM NOT A REPRESENTATIVE OF ORTHODOX ISLAM” is giving the hadith more attention than it deserves.”

But it’s not just hadith though, is it? Quranists reject many things from Sunni’ism, in particular the authority of the scholars, the legitimacy of consensus and the right to derive divine rulings. Yes, hadith is central to Sunni’ism, and a major point of contention for quranists, but to disassociate yourself from Sunni Islam is far more than just rejecting hadith. The deceptive nature of using the “just Muslim” label is that you can not claim to have an objective definition of a muslim, so you end up hiding the relevant information necessary for your audience to determine where you stand.

Remember, the quran demands that you speak plainly:

4/9 […] So let them take as a shield Allah, and let them speak words appropriate.

“Sure, he can ask questions about it, but to make it a central point of discussion is akin to telling Protestant Christians that they should be discussing the Papacy.”

Did you spot it? Deliciously ironic! No one would ask Protestant Christians to discuss the Papacy because their audience will already know they reject it. They would know this because of the word “Protestant”. If Christians who reject the Papacy were to use the “just Christians” label, they may find themselves spending much time explaining why the Bibles they carry are missing several books and other things that they would rather not waste time talking about. Including the Papacy.

Furthermore, it is clear that the author does not know the correct definition of “orthodox” in light of the Qur’an.  The Qur’an is the ONLY uncorrupted source of orthodox Islam on the planet.  To assert that “mainstream” Islam is orthodox is to confirm that their teachings are genuine when in fact, true traditional Islam is nothing like Sunni or Shia practices.

I would argue that rather than being ignorant of the quran’s attitude to orthodoxy, the author of the article is submitting to the language of the day, and seeing no point in being stubborn with labels. Mainstream Islam, regardless of what you think of it, has become what is considered in the minds of people, orthodox. And it is these people who we are having to communicate with, who we are trying to convince, and who we hope will come on board. To be stubborn in our approach to words simply leads to confusion. If someone said the words “orthodox Islam” to me, I would immediately think they were speaking of Sunni Islam, even though I’m a quranist.

Although I do sympathise with quran students who wish to “reclaim” Islamic words, jealously trying to guard the word Muslim is a fruitless endeavour. No one owns this word, and no one can, with sure confidence, say that their beliefs and actions are a correct and accurate representation of the quranic definition of a muslim. We can only try our best and express our personal interpretation of what it means to be muslim. The quran most certainly promotes freedom of thought and pluralism, so labels become a necessity if we are to have a meaningful and beneficial exchange of ideas.

“Islam is not a hat one wears. It’s an element one affects by acting in a sound manner.” – Farouk A. Peru

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About joshim
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6 Responses to apostateofhadith.blogspot: a response

  1. Couldn’t have said it any better, Mushu.

  2. My response in his blog

    ThomasAnderson/Sura72/Jinn wrote:

    I feel nothing but shame for the author and anyone who was gullible to accept this article. I am a Muslim. I follow the true Orthodox Islam as stated in the Qur’an. God did not tell me to be a Qur’anist, He told me to be a MUSLIM.

    My response:
    You follow the TRUE Orthodox Islam? Last time you were in our forum, you read 5/3 out of context and we had to correct you. You don’t even read the original Arabic, for Gods sake! So you have to CHOOSE a translation. How on earth do you know you have ‘true orthodox islam’ then?

    Sorry Thomas, you’re just like the rest of us, a subjective reader, no matter how much you try to deny it.

    On btw, ‘He told me to be a MUSLIM’ is incorrect. Following the command form of what we are to ‘be’, God told us through the Prophet to BE ‘rabbaniyoon’ (kunoo rabbaniyoon). So much for your ‘true orthodox islam’

  3. Jinnisnot72 says:

    Jinn is not Thomas Anderson or Surah72. Jinn is Ryan, I know it’s confusing though.

    • Okay, I’m getting off track. Farouk, the blog (http://apostateofhadith.blogspot.com/) is owned by the author Jinn (http://www.blogger.com/profile/11312830698232231223). I wouldn’t post names really. It’s the blogging world, so these people are hiding their names for a good (or lame) reason. I know who the author is, but it’s not Thomas. Let’s just call him/her “Jinn”.

  4. Fair enough. My apologies if im wrong.

    Jinn, may I ask you, how do you know you have ‘true orthodox islam’ ?

  5. Jinn says:

    Peace,

    I guess a reply is in order.

    I do indeed use a different definition of “Orthodox” and “Traditional” because, when pertaining to Islam, the Qur’an defines what is “Orthodox” and “Traditional” many times over. It is the claim of all our circles that upholders of hadith are deviants and we prove it over an over with conflicting hadiths and incongruities between the Qur’an and said books of hadith. By very definition, hadith supporting communities are not orthodox, since they follow distinct interpolations, the first of which was “authorized” around 200 years after Prophet Muhammad’s death. I believe this is a very important point to make and I apologize if I did not make it apparent enough. Furthermore, my only issue with attribution of those terms to the Sunnis is that “mainstream” would be a more appropriate definition.

    I do not disagree that language can and will evolve. Even I use the word “gay” to describe a male homosexual, yet the definitions of “orthodox” and “traditional” have not evolved to be attributed with the popular crowd. Their definitions still take root in the act of compliance with the original doctrine and thus in this case, the true orthodoxy is those who uphold the Qur’an as an unchallengeable authority over Islam. This is confirmed in 5:48 where the Qur’an takes precedence over all past Scripture. Therefore, to find out what orthodox Islam is, we turn to the Qur’an. It is in that regard that I profess that hadith supporting communities are not practicing orthodox/traditional Islam, but have deviated from any attribution of the definitions.

    I will disagree to the claim that I do not have an objective definition of a Muslim: The Qur’an defines what a Muslim believes many times over in various verses, a few of which I quoted. To paraphrase, a Muslim is a person who believes in God, His Revelations, His Messengers, makes no distinction between said Messengers, and believes in the Last Day. This is the core definition of a Muslim which is repeated over and over in the Qur’an.

    I absolutely agree that hadith skepticism is only one part of the statement, but since it was the only point discussed in the article I wrote about, it was the only point I included. I could have put an exhaustive list of the things wrong with mainstream beliefs, buy that would be quite irrelevant to the central argument.

    As to the reference to Christians and the papacy, I was clearly alluding to the definition of “orthodox” presented in the article I addressed, my main point being that if the author wishes to define “Sunni” Islam as orthodox, then I will then attribute Catholicism as the “orthodox” version of Christianity by drawing parallels between the popular crowds, thus creating a rather appropriate comparison. I will go out on a limb and assume you did not grow up as a Christian like I did. I apologize if this is not the case. Nobody ever describes themselves as a Protestant. They either tell you they’re Christian, or they’ll denote which sect they belong to (e.g. Methodist). In a normal query on faith, the blanket term of Christian precedes the sect classification. but I digress, I would rather see my central point refuted with appropriate supporting ayats rather than an offhand example as to why hadith should not be a central topic among new Muslims. When I embraced Islam, I was only given hadith AFTER my shahadah, not before. If we truly doubt the hadith, it should be a minimal issue at most, and a non-issue at the very least. I see no reason to discuss hadith unless somebody asks about it.

    I will agree that to the layman, hadith-supported Islam is considered orthodox, but that does not validate the usage of the applied term. To understand what orthodox Islam truly is, we must turn to the Qur’an, which is my only argument against the misapplication of the word. As I stated above, “mainstream” is a more appropriate description. However, I do not agree that using the word “Muslim” is confusing to those who inquire about our faith. As I described above, the definition of “Muslim” is a very simple one. When personally asked about my beliefs, I do not linger on discussing hadith, because they are simply invalid; the valid hadith are ones that align perfectly with the Qur’an and therefore do not need to be discussed, since we can study them in a linear sense by reading the Qur’an. I don’t propose anything more than to recognize the dogma of the Qur’an as the true orthodoxy, regardless of what popular trends tend to dictate. Justin Bieber is incredibly popular. It doesn’t mean that he’s actually talented… do you understand what I’m getting at?

    I am not attempting to guard the word “Muslim,” to the contrary I am attempting to make the point that it is a perfectly acceptable definition and needs absolutely no supplement. If God wanted to supplement the term, He would have told us in the Qur’an, yet He specifically calls us Muslims in 22:78 among other places. To me, that honor is more than enough to define who I am and what I believe.

    The term “Quranist” to me closes more doors than it opens. The majority of Muslims already lump us into that very term and label us a cult. They even combine us with the Submitters and incorrectly attribute all of us to being followers of Dr. Khalifa. When I tell somebody I’m a Muslim, yet am skeptical of the hadith, they start to ask questions, which is exactly what a Muslim should do. It’s better than being immediately written off as a fanatical cultist, which is the current propaganda floating around.

    In short, excessive labels are not Qur’anically supported. We are Muslims as God has decreed. I am not one to argue with Him.

    @ Farouk. Peace Brother,

    I don’t really care if people choose to reveal my identity. It’s not like I go to great lengths to hide it. I post my blogs on one channel under my real name, and it spreads from there. As one poster pointed out, my first name is indeed Ryan. I’m sure you could do some internet sleuthing and find me on Facebook. As to your question on how I know “true orthodox Islam” the answer is simple: The Qur’an defines it. In my blog I have posted numerous ayats as to what the Qur’an defines as a Muslim and I do admit I have omitted a majority of them to save space and time, but the fact still remains that the Qur’an clearly defines what a Muslim is, and what a Muslim is not. There is not one mention of further classification that is necessary or proposed.

    As I proposed in my blog commentary, I completely support the notion that we are all in the same boat, the only difference is that we are on different sides of the deck.

    ~Jinn

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