Aisha Imaan’s Essay on Quranists

This month, we are honoured to present the essay by Aisha Imaan on the subject of Quranists. Aisha has been most understanding in her treatment of Quranism and this gives us a good start to a meaningful dialogue.

Aisha: The sect that i have chosen for this report is the Quranist movement or hadith rejectors while this isn’t necessarily a “new sect” its rise is very new.

Farouk: Indeed, Quranism isn’t a new sect or even a sect at all. A ‘sect’ cconnotes a religious grouping promoting exclusivism or religious authority. Quranist Islam resists this. We are in fact a space. We promote an area wherein people can find a variety of views for themselves.

Also, we are not new. Prophet Muhammad himself was a human reader of Quran and did not know it’s full meanings (in Quran 20/114, he was told to seek more knowledge in order to understand). He was not allowed to interject extra-Quranic teachings into his reading either (69/40-47). In effect, he was a quranist himself.

Furthermore, the early caliphs Abu Bakr and Umar were recorded to have burnt hadith collections for fear the Ummah may be distracted. The thinkers who came after them, the Mu’tazilites were very suspicious of hadith were called ‘ahl al-kalam’ which may be inferred to mean ‘quranists’ (since al-kalam refers to the Quran in usual parlance).

This is a much more liberal sect of islam that rejects all the Sunnah (oral traditions and ways of the Prophet Muhammad sallalahu allayhie wa sallem) and hadith as not need man made inventions, and they choose to follow only the Quran. Despite the differences that Sunnis and Shiites have one common factor is that largely Quranists are looked at as Kaffair and apostates and completely outside the fold of Islam.

The ‘liberal’ moniker is usually given by conservatives and fundamentalists in order to tarnish the image of Quranists. In fact, Quranists are trying to follow the values set out by the Quran itself. It is not our doing that the Quran gives full freedom of belief (something which Sharia law does not, seeking to murder apostates). If this makes us ‘liberal’, then so be it.

There is also no statistic to show that Quranists are largely seen to be kuffar. In fact, Sunnis may even consider their fellow Sunnis to be kafir if they belong to a different subject. The Barelwis and Salafees for example. Of course Sunnis also can consider the Shia to be kuffar and vice versa. This whole takfeer (hereticisation) thing is not uncommon at all.

I am not here to berate of antagonize anyone within this group. From a certain angle i do see where they are coming from however, i do believe as a Sunni (fundamentalist) that they are misguided.  This will of course be from my point of view as a new muslim who follows the more fundamental view on Islam, and i wish to make clear i am no scholar of Islam and i am not giving any sort of Fatwa (Islamic ruling) or anything of the sort.

Unlike the the Sunni and Shia communities there is a much more free mixing community of the Quranists, the notions of separation of men and women are totally lost upon the Quranists even going as far as to let women lead congregational prayer with men amongst them.In essence a women under Quranist Islam is fully able to be an Imam. Within Sunni and Shia Islam this is not the case at all, one of the primary reasons for this that a women ALL of a women excites men, if a women as a beautiful voice it excites men which would distract from their prayers. Furthermore an Imam is at the front when leading prayer if a women led prayer men would be not only listening to a women but also looking at a women bending over in front of them etcetera. Now many Quranists believe that men can control themselves and this shouldn’t be a problem and that it is not in the Quran, and reject all of the separation of men and women that occurred during the time of the Prophet saws and  is throughout the hadiths.

Without any offence, it seems you perceive Quranists to be ‘changing’ what is already Islamically set in stone. You have not given any consideration to the possibility that the practice of the first community of Muslimeen (if indeded was perhaps coloured by their own cultural propensities. What if it was? What if they practiced what they understood with a cultural bias. We can see it even today. People do all sorts of things (child marrying, honour killing) in the name of Islam. This is simply culture and politics masking as religion, nothing more.

There is only one way to tell – the Quran. It is the criteria and it does not mention any gender segregation at all. It does not prevent anyone from leading ritual prayers either.

However if one examines modern society it is plain to see that men can indeed not control themselves and is the sole reason that women are used for everything. Also on womens issues is that of covering, Sunnis believe that ALL of a women is Awrah (parts that should be covered) but it is premissible to leave hands and face uncovered, Shias say everything except hands and face from the jaw, many Quranists and liberal Muslims believe that a women dressed modestly is enough and Hijab is not mandatory, Surah An-Nur is often used for this justification in the 31 ayat (verse) Hijab is described. Q(24:31) And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what (must ordinarily) appear thereof; that they should draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty except to their husbands, their fathers, their husband’s fathers, their sons, their husbands’ sons, their brothers or their brothers’ sons, or their sisters’ sons, or their women, or the slaves whom their right hands possess, or male servants free of physical needs, or small children who have no sense of the shame of sex; and that they should not strike their feet in order to draw attention to their hidden ornaments. And O ye Believers! turn ye all together towards Allah, that ye may attain Bliss. Because the the veil is said to only cover a woman’s bosoms they feel that covering of the hair is not mandatory. Even in Surah Al-Ahzab the Quran says to cover oneself completely when abroad Q(33;59) O Prophet! Tell thy wives and daughters, and the believing women, that they should cast their outer garments over their persons (when abroad): that is most convenient, that they should be known (as such) and not molested. And Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. Yet because it is not expressly explained many of the Quranists have taken to coming up with their own translations of what these surahs and ayats mean. Without hadith an argument can be made that as long as a woman covers herself modestly there is no exact definition of Hijab even though many Quranists do wear Hijab many even the ones wearing it feel it is not at all in any way shape or form mandatory.

Observe your initial statement in this paragraph. You stated that Sunnis have a certain view and so the Shia. Not only that, there are also differing views between the Sunnis and Shia. Some Sunnis do not believe the voice is awrah, others do. Some Sunnis believe the face veil is a must, others dont (long and tedious books have been written about this!). There is even video on youtube called ‘this is not niqab’ in which it suggests the only real niqab is where even the eyes are covered!

So it seems you don’t have agreement on the issue. Reason is, you’re in the same position as the quranists. You are trying to interpret certain texts to formulate your dress code. Quranists are doing the same thing, only that they give authority only to the Quran. If the Quran doesn’t have the command ‘cover your hair’, they will not infer that it does because the Prophet added to it (as they believe he cannot do so).

 The list of what makes the Hadith rejectors different from the rest of mainstream Islam goes on and on and it boils down to what their creed is. The Creed of not following any of the Sunnah and Hadith that the Quranists feel is man made innovations to islam stems heavily from Surah Al- An am Ayat 114 which reads Q(6:114) Say: “Shall I seek for judge other than Allah? – when He it is Who hath sent unto you the Book, explained in detail.” They know full well, to whom We have given the Book, that it hath been sent down from thy Lord in truth. Never be then of those who doubt Many of the Quranists scholars hold this up to be the verse that justifies the rejection of everything that the Prophet Muhammad (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), has taught. Surah Al-Mursalat Ayat 50 is also regularly taken out of context as a defense of Quranist Islam as it says Q(77:50) Then what Message(or hadith), after that, will they believe in? however the entire surah if read in context is talking about those who reject the signs of God (nearly every ayat in the Surah refers to the rejecters of truth) which on a counterpoint could be used as an argument against the Quranists themselves. The last Ayat that i will list that they use to define their Creed of rejection of the Hadith is from Surah Al- Waqi’ah Ayats 77-78 which read Q(56:77) This is the Quran,most honorable, Q(56:78) In a book well guided(or complete) this they also believe this along with other verses which do pronounce the completeness of the Quran such as Q(45:2-6) are the hand selected Ayats (verses) that are given to justify their movement. In contrast to their argument are Ayats where Allah tells us to Obey and follow the messenger of Allah (pbuh) Surah Al-Nisa ayat 64 reads Q(4:64)We sent not a messenger, but to be obeyed, in accordance with the will of Allah. If they had only, when they were unjust to themselves, come unto thee and asked Allah’s forgiveness, and the Messenger had asked forgiveness for them, they would have found Allah indeed Oft-returning, Most Merciful. Again in the same Surah but different Ayat numbers 79 and 80 to be exact says Q(4:79) Whatever good, (O man!) happens to thee, is from Allah; but whatever evil happens to thee, is from thy (own) soul. and We have sent thee as a messenger to (instruct) mankind. And enough is Allah for a witness. Q(4:80) Whoever obeys the messenger, obeys Allah: But if any turn away we have not sent thee to watch over their (evil deeds). The problem of the Creed of the Quranists is that Allah has sent Muhammad (pbuh) to guide Muslims in proper worship of Allah and to not only deliver the book he was given but to elaborate upon it. Especially since many of the time including himself were illiterate and even those who can read the Quran need explaining on some of the ayats and what they mean. For instance Al-Nisa also has a very popular misinterpreted quote in that of Q(4:34)  Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allah has given the one more (strength) than the other, and because they support them from their means. Therefore the righteous women are devoutly obedient, and guard in (the husband’s) absence what Allah would have them guard. As to those women on whose part ye fear disloyalty and ill-conduct, admonish them (first), (Next), refuse to share their beds, (And last) beat them (lightly); but if they return to obedience, seek not against them Means (of annoyance): For Allah is Most High, great (above you all).  Now this Ayat very clearly says it is ok for one to justify beating of ones wife, and one would think many Quranists would justify it as such.  But one must read into the text of it and actually get full meaning, yes it could mean to be rough with ones wife. However on the other foot it could also mean emotionally, there are MANY hadith that point out that a man should be good to ones wife, and it is Sunnah to never hit one’s wife, as the prophet (pbuh) never laid a finger on any of his wives. The fact of the matter is, that much of the glorification of women within Islam comes from the hadith. The creed and code of the Quranist however says to not follow ANY of the Hadith and to completely disregard them as Bidah (man made innovations to Islam). This basically ranks the Prophet Muhammad(pbuh) as a mailman and nothing more, just simply to deliver the Quran and nothing more. A comparison that would be accurate would be to also say that the New Testament of the Bible should be disregarded as they are literally stories of Jesus and teachings of Jesus.

You have got it right on the various ayat you quoted which justifies the Quranist position. You then make two inferences:

1. Prophet Muhammad was sent to teach details of worship.
Again with due respect, you have taken a very simplistic approach to the situation. If Muhammad was sent for this purpose, why then are there variations in the various worship practices. Why are Sunnis still arguing among themselves as to the details of practice? Why do the details of practice sometimes go against the details of the Quran (like breaking the fast at Maghrib when the Quran clearly says ‘fast till the night’ in 2/187).

2. Prophet Muhammad was there to explain the Quran.
This is again a very simplistic analysis. Please open any Sunni tafseer collection and you will see a myriad of opinions about certain verses. These contradictions did not come from the Prophet although they are in his name.

Furthermore, you will find that some verses simply lack explanation. An example is the muqata’at  (mystical letters) which the scholars claimed ‘only Allah knows’. If ‘only Allah knows’, why is it in a book of guidance for humankind?

The fact is, we are in the same boat – we are trying to understand God’s will. Quranists have dealt with the fact that we are human interpreters of a divine text and therefore cannot levy any authority.

 The difference in the cultural approach that does actually give many of the Quranists and invatage is the fact they do not like the Arab culture to dictate or infiltrate islam (which a strong argument can be made that it indeed has) however, because of the liberal leanings of the Quranists they tend to let modern society dictate and infiltrate islam. Again going against Hijab, the free mixing of men and women, the listening of music, etcetera all things that go against traditional Islam but are popular and in line with mainstream liberal views are allowed under Quranist islam. Also a refutation of scholars and opinions and Fatwas of these scholars is common place with Quranists and a “go about your islam as you please” mentality is very prevalent. This is another reason why many refer to the Quranist as an apostate, because many of their views are in direct contradiction to a lot of Islamic teaching, as well as the fact that the reinterpretation of many Quranic Ayats to fit a more modernistic view point.

I am most indignant at this ‘go about your islam as you please’ mentality. It is most unfair and accusatory. We did not decide what Allah chose to put in the Quran. We did not ask Allah to say that it is detailed and nor did we ask Allah not to name another source. We accept the Quran in total and interpret it as best we can. Please consider that Sunnis actually ABROGATE verses of the Quran when it doesn’t suit them.

Perhaps it would also be good if you asked yourself if you are following Islam as you please? Perhaps you have already preconceived views about how Islam should be and then hadith and sunnah met your needs?

And ‘reinterpretation’ is only true if we accept that what Traditionalists did was an interpretation to begin with. What if it was subversion, plain and simple? After all, can the interpretation of ‘no compulsion in deen’ (Quran 2/256) be ‘those who change their religion, kill them’ (Bukhari). This isn’t interpretation but subversion. We don’t need to fit a modernist viewpoint, modernity is itself a construct. Islam was always liberal and just if it was according to the Quran.


Now further research can always be done on the issue, however the problem lies within sifting through the super polar opposites and bias that is going to fill the search window no matter how it is worded. Quranists and Sunnis and Shias can all agree that They themselves are following the TRUE Islam and the others are Apostates and not even in any way Muslims. Of course their are moderates in all three that just think the other two are in someway misguided. Even myself am guilty of this and think that non Sunni Muslims are indeed misguided and, many are close to if not already out of the fold of Islam. However the only way that one can formulate these opinions are by thoroughly doing one’s homework and talking to members of the other sides to gather all available information on the subject.

it is my personal belief that True Islam is Sunni (fundamental) islam no matter the Madhhab that is followed, however i feel that Most if not all Shia(sect,or party) Quranists, Suffis Bahmiins and other sects of Islam are true deviations from the straight path, however do not feel that they are all fully out of the realm of Islam while many are. It is my full believe that a Quranist is no different to many of the Christian friends that i have that believe in Muhammad(pbuh) and the Quran as sent from God. However just like Christians follow the ways of Christ, i feel that is is our duty to follow the ways of ALL the prophets and that includes the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) the problem that i have with many of the Sunni and a definite problem i have with the Shia and many Christians is the worship of men. Many Sunnis get into a feverish worship of the Prophet, in some cases and many of the Shia not only Worship Muhammad but more so Worship Imam Ali. and the Christians worship Christ. I do believe this is why many Quranists are on the path they are on, because they do not want to fall into this Shirk (attribution of partners to Allah) the only sin which is unforgivable if one dies upon it. I believe we will all be judged by Allah and only then will we know who was truely right and who was wrong.

Thank you for trying to understand our position 🙂