Sectarian Schmectarian

A point put forward by a keen contributor to our discussions said “By definition, a sect, *is* in point of fact “a group regarded as heretical or as deviating from a generally accepted religious tradition. ” It IS what it is. But, of course, the intention is to return to the truth, the word, as revealed in the Quran, which is why you deny the formation of a sect. But, the moment you “branch off” or “break with tradition”, you do, like it or not, form a sect. Of course, the “tradition” perceived by people who want to rely on Quran as the sole moral and spiritual guidance is not the original tradition. But the “tradition” that people identify most with TODAY is what you seek to separate from (not criticizing, just pointing out what seems very obvious 🙂  ”

I am grateful for these comments as it is an opportunity for me to hopefully put forward my contribution to clearing up the  misconceptions about Quranism being a sect once and for all.

The sect argument is quite flabbergasting to me really. I realise this came from a fellow quranist and it was not meant as criticism, rather voicing a real and valid concern, that Quranism appears as first glace to be just another sect… and therefore automatically is here to divide the “deen” and make its own dogma and articles of faith and have exclusive membership. I thought the same myself once upon a time just from hearing that a word could be used to describe the term – the belief that the Quran is the sole divine source of islam! This name game and the pointing of fingers as to who is a sectarian is one of those mindsets that is not easy to change. I was a quranist by definition before I knew the term even existed, and I was also very stubborn and insistent that I was not to be labelled anything – “I’m not a Sunni I’m not a shia I’m not Quranyoon or a Sufi – Just a Muslim Alhamdulillah.”

To my mind, looking back, it was almost like I was saying it’s okay to believe that the Quran is the sole divine source of islam as long as we don’t admit it! It’s like accepting that the popular traditions, superstitions and culturally inherited beliefs may take precedence to God’s Word and we bow to their presence on centre stage, just so we can avoid accusations of being a sect for actually trying to do what the Quran is telling us. It’s like the school bully syndrome – if you don’t do as the bully says, the bully will make things difficult for you. The thing about bullies is once they are exposed, the bullying tactics can no longer work. No one asked the school bully to become a bully, and when you signed your kid up to enrol in the school, you didn’t agree to allowing a bully to take your kid’s dinner money and give him wedgies. Question! If you complain to the school about the bully, are you “rejecting” part of the “school’s benefits and services” or simply acknowledging that the bully is not even part of the “School’s benefits and services”? You didn’t ask for the bully to be there in the first place! If you complain to the School, there is no way the school can say that you are breaking terms and conditions of the school agreement just because you want to fix a situation that should never have happened in the first place as the bully is not mentioned in the “School Benefits and Services” small print, in fact when you do look at the small print it says bullying will not be tolerated!

I like to think about things by way of analogy. 🙂 try this:

Imagine you buy a house. You have signed the contract, you think you know what you bought, because you inspected the house and saw the legal documents. When you move in to the house however, the basement is full of someone else’s junk, old books, household waste etc.  It was not there when you looked at the house when you agreed to buy it. The previous owners are long gone. You agreed to buy the house. You did NOT agree to buy the the trash. You do not legally own the trash. Here’s the dilemma:  Do you accept ownership of the trash and then find a way to get rid of it? Or do you acknowledge that it is not your property to reject because you cannot reject something you do not own and never agreed to take responsibility for?

You still have to live in the house. You can just ignore the festering pit down there but time is ticking by and it’s starting to become a health hazard. If you decide to do something about the mess in the basement, does that mean the contract you signed to start with changes in any way? Does that mean you are going back on what you agreed to? Where is the fairness? In reality you can’t do right for doing wrong because if you leave the trash where it is and refuse to do anything about it, then the whole neighbourhood will suffer from the stench and the pollution and the pest infestation. If you take the bull by the horns and decide to take on responsibility to put things to rights by removing the offending items, then you could be accused of destroying someone else’s property. Either way something has to be done. You could just bury your head in the sand and hope it magically disappears but you have to accept the reality that a decision needs to be made one way or the other.

I think if we were supposed to leave traditions unbroken, the story in the Quran about Ibrahim smashing the idols would have to be edited out. And Musa’s job just got a whole lot easier. He could have just left Pharaoh to his tradition of murdering the men and shaming the women and had an easy life. Astaghfirullah.  But the stories in the Quran teach us the Prophetic Examples which show that they were not afraid to break away from the accepted norms, customs and traditions, DESPITE being called “kafireen” themselves (see 26:19) If “breaking away from Tradition” is the definition of a sect then essentially we are calling our prophets “sectarians” . Aoodoobillah.

Were the prophets in “sects”? Musa had “sheeAAatihi” in 28:15. Noah had “sheeAAatihi” in 37:79-83 see for more. Maybe our understanding of what a sect is needs to be defined from the quranic perspective, without forgetting there are other names too for parties, groups and factions too.

Questions to ponder…

Would you mind being in a Fariqa?34:20 Satan has been successful in his suggestions to them, for they followed him, except for a group farīqan of those who acknowledge.

8:5 As your Lord made you go out from your home with the truth, but a party farīqan from among those who acknowledge opposed this.

Which Fariqa do you want to be in?
7:30 A group Fareeqan He has guided and a group wafarīqan has deserved misguidance; that is because they have taken the devils as allies besides God; and they think they are guided!

Is it ok to be in a “fi’atun”? 3:13 There was a sign for you in the two groups “fi-atayni” that met. One “fi-atun” was fighting in the cause of God, and the other was ingrate. They thus saw them as twice their number with their eyes. God supports with His victory whomever He wills. In this is a lesson for those with vision.

2:249 So when Saul set out with the soldiers, he said, “God will test you with a river, whoever drinks from it is not with me, and whoever does not taste from it except one scoop with his hand is with me.” They all drank from it, except a few of them. So when he and those who acknowledged with him crossed it, they said, “We have no power today against Goliath and his soldiers!” But the ones who understood that they would meet God said, “How many a time has a small group fi-atin  qalīlatin beaten a large group fi-atan kathīratan by God’s leave, and God is with the patient ones!”72


Would you be more comfortable being in a “Hizba”?
5:56 Whoever allies God, His messenger and those who acknowledge; then the ḥiz’ba of God is the ones who will be victorious.

58:22 You will not find any people who acknowledge God and the Last day befriending those who oppose God and His messenger, even if they were their parents, or their children, or their siblings, or their tribe. For these, He decrees trust into their hearts, and supports them with a Spirit from Him, and He admits them into paradises with rivers flowing beneath, wherein they will abide. God is pleased with them, and they are pleased with Him. These are the ḥiz’bu of God . Most assuredly, the party ḥiz’ba of God are the winners.

Which Hizba do you want to be in? The Hizba of God (58:22) or the Hizba of the devil? (58:19)

58:19 The devil has overtaken them, and has caused them to forget the remembrance of God. These are the ḥiz’bu of the devil. Absolutely, the ḥiz’ba of the devil are the losers.

Was Abraham in a “Sh’ia”?
37:83 From among his shīʿatihi was Abraham.

Was Musa in a Sh’ia?

28:15 He entered the city unexpectedly, without being noticed by the people. He found in it two men who were fighting, one was from his own shīʿatihi, and the other was from his enemy’s. So the one who was from his own shīʿatihicalled on him for help against his enemy, whereby Moses punched him, killing him. He said, “This is from the work of the devil; he is an enemy that clearly misleads.”

Did Nuh have Sh’ia? (Read from verse 37:79)

37:83 From among his shīʿatihi was Abraham.

Further reading

1. Quranists and the term ‘Quranists’ by Farouk A. Peru

2. An Analysis of Quranist Fundamentalism by Farouk A. Peru

3. Quranism: The Metaphor of the House by Farouk A. Peru

4. Quranists: Between Reading and Interpretation by Farouk A. Peru

5. Submitters and Quranists by Asfora

6. Quranism is not a Sect ! Here is Why by Farouk A. Peru

7. Justifying the Quranism / Quranist labels by Asfora

8. Quranism and Traditionalism: Not Mutually Exclusive! by Farouk A. Peru

9. Who are the Real Sectarians? by Farouk A. Peru

10. A Quranist’s Response to the term “Hadith Rejector” by Asfora

11. “Quran Alone-ism” and Quranism by Asfora

12. Multiple Paths to Salvation by Darcus

13. The Deceptive “Just Muslim” Label by Farouk A. Peru

14. Who is a Kaafir? by Kashif Shahzada


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