My thoughts on “What is Quranism?”

I think Quranism is an approach. All Traditionalist Muslims believe the Quran is the Word of God and so do Quranist Muslims. Everyone has some kind of approach. Either they get seek guidance from imams in the mosque or parents / friends / relatives / sheikhs on TV or self study using religious texts / asking online scholars / reading academic books on Fiqh etc or even for some, literally “the Quran Alone”. I am not a Traditionalist Muslim or a (literal) “Quran Alone Muslim” . I am a Quranist Muslim in that I believe the Quran is the sole divine source of islam/deen/guidance. So although I believe there is nothing wrong with asking other people for their views (in fact I do this a lot) I believe the only real guidance comes directly from Allah through His words in the Quran. The problem is that I believe the meanings of some of the Arabic words and the meanings may have become distorted over time. So trying to uncover the real, original meaning is what I’m hoping to get closer to, inshaaAllah. I like to think that others with the same goal can share info and notes by having a central point to exchange various research and collaborations. That is for the more detailed aspects but overall the general overall message seems fairly obvious without needing to complicate matters especially not with having hadiths, fatwas and man made shariah laws some of which undermine the real message. Quranism may also be considered by reverts and converts to Islam who are genuinely puzzled/confused/struggling with the pressure of the culture shock of the cultural Traditional Islam imposed in areas where their mosques are teaching strict sectarian opinions without even allowing room for choice of school of thought – the “My Way or the Highway” attitude. I see Quranism as the answer to islamofascism.

QRAC on FaceBook – Quranists Reverts and Converts Support Network

Meaning vs Metaphor

As Quranists, many of us were often accused of taking the Quran to an excessive, over-metaphorical level. You would think this accusation came from anti-Quranic (and NOT Sunni, Shitte of other) parties, yet instead it came from fellow Quranists who first refused the name at the time Farouk was launching the website and forum (!

I can hardly say I’m religious in the terms of organized religion. My belief in God is still natural rather than based on a sacred text, which is safe for now. I figured that before reading the Quran again, I had to establish a mechanism, a way, a more appropriate language than the currently dealt-with Arabic, and a new (yes! brand new) mentality… and probably more age since I doubt my brain is developed enough for all this.

Many things in organized religion never appealed to me. The constant call for rituals that I did not understand (although I don’t deny the beauty of rituals), the unnecessary-seeming Quranic details (for example, why it was so important to say that Abraham offered his Angelic guests roasted beef, or why Moses was traveling with a Whale, he lost for some reason etc), and the constant call for fundamentalism – all these seemed of no value whatsoever.

So, many Quranists began to question these details. They were NOT questioning Allah SWT, and NOT questioning the validity of the Quran, but they were questioning the Quranist-Traditional (which Farouk might like to call QFists) understanding of Quranic verse.

Based on many Quranists challenging the current “silly” (oh, yes it is silly!) understanding of many well-known Quranic verses, other fellow Quranists accused them of exaggerating in extracting a metaphorical, symbolic, “wider” meaning, and by that “drifting away” from God, trying to “make our life easier by eliminating rituals”.

What is worse that all this is that these Quranists deny the title and study approach “Quranist”, prefer to be called on Muslims AND call any those who have tried to think harder, dig deeper and find another way “Quranists”, and by that refusing us, dividing the ummah on a mini-scale on the internet. I have absolutely no issue with people calling themselves “Muslims”. That is simply beautiful and up to them, but to entirely separate themselves from those who seek a wider Quranic meaning (which doesn’t include all Quranists) in the name of God? Why, any 17-year-old can spot the intolerance there!

In response, many Quranists stood up to say, “Yes, we do take the Quran metaphorically and we believe many verses were meant to be understood metaphorically!”

Here is where I highly disagree. There is no “metaphorical” meaning, but the words are deeper and have more angles than we assume. We’re not trying to find a metaphorical meaning in the Quran, but we’re trying to find the actual meaning!

Once you reach the point of realizing Salaat cannot be a ritual, you start wondering what ablution is for. Then you follow a trace, and you discover that “ablution” has much greater angles. Later on, you discover that the “whale/hoot” means something “unstable” and that this instability would visit The People of the Sabbath on the Day of “Sabbath” – the Day of “Rest” when they are under-equipped and unprepared for trouble.

I doubt the Quran is a life schedule, but it’s a grand philosophy by which Allah teaches those who seek guidance the means to patience, balance, “prayer” and life.

Traditional Islam created a whole new language called “al-mustalahat ash-sharia”, where (ironically) every Arabic word connected or found in the Quran has a “sharia” meaning and an “actual” meaning. For example, “safira” is a word Islamists use to describe an “exposed” hijabless woman, but they don’t tell you how it’s from the same root as the word “safar” which is found in the Quran,  roughly translated as “traveling”. Now, everything has a twisted sharia meaning to fit into a religion that aims to drown you in sunnah details of eating with your right hand and entering the bathroom with your left foot.

I highly disrespect those who say Quranists joggle with root words (as if it’s a sin to brush up on our Arabic!). They would tell me the Quran is easy to understand which to them means that words have a limited range of meanings as long as the majority of translators agree to deliver to us, (good enough for any mediocre thinking style), EVEN if these words were based on hadith, historical sources and other things they themselves consider to be “dogmas”. Due to this faulty understanding of the Quran, they themselves end up relying on outside sources to complete their religion, such as using a calendar to know when Ramadaan is, although we made that calendar with our own hands.

God’s word is clear. Sure, but do your eyes know clarity? Are you not looking through the eyes of traditional, intolerant, “ban-thinking” people?
– Take the word “nisa'” for example, which, root-wise, has nothing to do with women! Can you find anyone who ever translated “nisa'” as anything beside “women”?

– Take the word “rajeem” (a word used in the Quran to describe the Devil) that everyone flipped from “the oft-banishing” to “the banished one”.

– Take how “fatayat” and “banat” are both translated as “daughters”, or how both “zawj” and “imra’a” are both translated as “wife”.

– Take how Satan is The Devil although the two concepts are different and featured separately in the story of Adam.

– Take how “jald” could mean many other things beside flogging and whipping.

– Take how Sujjud (prostrating) does not fit as “physical prostration” in many verses and means “submission” at the same time. Do you see how many people are afraid to give up the meaning stuck in their head (that sujjud is about kneeling and lowering your forehead to the ground) although it doesn’t always fit?

Understanding God’s word cannot and will not happen overnight. It’s a life-long journey of giving and taking.

The difference between Ritual and Routine

It seems to me, rituals can be time consuming and dogmatic. There is pressure to conform. Guilt and depression can follow, if not maintained. Due to the strict requirements of the rituals, they are not sustainable for a lengthened period of time. The mind plays tricks with excuses to justify why the ritual could not be fulfilled. The extremes of “all of nothing” show when you make a new attempt to start the rituals after having abandoned them and then give up when 1 ritual is missed. Like starting a low fat diet and doing really well for 2 weeks until someone brings cakes into work and then the whole regime is destroyed, and you end up pigging out on everything you missed for the last 2 weeks. This is Crash and Burn. This is Perfectionism at its most dangerous. Perfectionism is a killer, it is soul-destroying and can strike anywhere. Perfectionism is for example when you want to keep your house not just tidy and clean but “perfect”. I’m talking about every last crumb and every last splash of juice, every last sticky finger mark on the walls (if you have kids you will know!). Trying to achieve the impossible is usually a waste of time; it’s demoralising and makes us beat ourselves up for being failures when things do not end up “perfect”. It is like some kind of psychological illness in my own honest opinion. The problem with Perfectionism is that sometimes the task seems so big, you do not know where to start so you never get started for fear of the failure of not being able to do it “perfectly” or not having the time to do it “properly” – (properly according to whom, we have to ask?).   Rituals, like Perfectionism inhibit productivity, require concentration and are stressful. While-ever the ritual is being maintained, there is a danger of arrogance too – the ones who don’t do it the same as you may be considered lazy or not devoted enough. This leads to “poor me” syndrome – the feeling that you are doing all the work and no-one else is. This leads to tension and does not create a good atmosphere. The “One Size fits All” principle from the “ritual” point of view does not really seem to be the case.

Routines on the other hand are flexible. They come from habits established into daily life. They are adaptable. New habits replace old habits or attach onto good habits already established. Habits can become automatic too. It is said that to learn a new habit takes somewhere between 21-30 days. Routines aid organisation and productivity. By setting goals and establishing routines designed to work towards these goals, one has direction and purpose. Routines are not perfect, but they are positive. Routines consist of “Baby Steps” which are continuous, evolving, progressing and are maintainable and sustainable, logical and reasonable. It is probably fair to say that productive people contribute considerably to their families, communities and society at large, by having adaptable routines, schedules, goals and aspirations and a positive attitude.

Without routines, one upside is that we can be spontaneous, and variety is the proverbial spice of life!  However without routines for a long period of time, there will inevitably be randomness, and this can lead to chaos. General disorganisation; the mind is less clear, thoughts are scattered. Productivity comes in peaks and troughs, fits and starts. This also leads to “Crash and Burn” seeing as it is another form of the extremes – “All or Nothing” , or having the passion and drive to start projects but not getting them finished due to lack of focus or discipline or indeed motivation.

Conclusion :

Having routines is a middle path between the 2 extremes of Ritual and Random Chaos

I see a sliding scale between the 2 extremes and routines can even be towards the Ritualistic side of the scale or towards the Random Chaos side. Different routines throughout the day may require different levels of Routine Intensity. For example, my Morning Routine works best if it is performed more towards the ritual end of the scale, seeing as I have a list of tasks that really need to be done in order for the day to run smoothly. Other routines I have are less stringent as tasks can be shuffled and adapted to suit requirements (and the weather)  🙂

The Concept of God in the Quran (intro)

People have endlessly questioned this. I do not mean atheists, historians, writers or philosophers, but people I knew. Friends, “family”, random debaters… and so on.

One of the most interesting beliefs I shared with few of them was that atheists (or those who deny the existence of a higher source or its need for our worship, in some way or the other) were more believers than religious or even spiritual individuals.

As they had no god or gods to follow, no laws to rule by (laws that do not always meet with logic), and no rituals beside personal ones, some of them decided to adopt a moral code. They spread less “mischief” than believers, and they commit less “sin” than any religious person. Why?

Well, religious individuals forbid all sorts of things – especially every-day requirements. There is no way to follow all these laws without a major heartbreaking sacrifice: the sacrifice of oneself. Everything becomes a sin. Small issues become major sins. The wars, the slavery, the patriarchy system. All these are things that can easily be justified in the name of God. People’s love for Allah can be used. It’s what my Mushu calls “Emotional Blackmail”.

True it is, love and devotion are powerful tools, especially if a person decides to make that sacrifice after all. Any religious leader can blackmail the human conscience and insist upon some malady or the other in service to the Heavens.

Most atheists I met or spoke to were ethical. They were clean, and I mean morally clean. They hold no grudge for what religious people may irrationally hate, such as homosexuality. They are willing to debate at any time. They are willing to make records and discoveries. I am quite certain a great number of them would still be “religious” if the world’s religions made sense and did not impose harsh expectations for each “religious” individual.

Even among fellow Quranists, I find quite a few biased rules. Perhaps they are biased in my point of view only, for they are godly ideas to others.

“Religio-logically” speaking, religion “is equal to” morals. Quite a dangerous formula! Many religious people would assume that once someone becomes godless, he loses all morals; the “who is godless is evil”. It’s difficult to observe this on real ground! All those godless people (for any person may be an atheist according to some religion or the other) live in development, although the believe in evolution, and live in happiness, although they may favour Jesus, Achamán, Shiva or nothing. It’s a fact that those who lived most happily or “moved on” where people least concerned about religion, but more concerned about practical life.

 This is why I am eager to write on the subject. I want to discover how my Maker describes Himself, and how He orders us to behold Him using the Quran. I wish to know if “dhikr” is to pay God lip-service, or whether it is to bring Him out into life (which would depend on the definition of god according to my view point of the Quran). In other words, it’s time to put Quran in the light of nourishing life instead of a theory residing in books. It’s important for me to know if my image of God will judge all people by how they believed, or who they believed in instead, or even when and where this judgment will take place.

I want to say “peace” instead of “goodbye” and actually mean it!