Birt saw it coming


I found an interesting article written by Yahya Birt, where he speaks about how the Internet has changed the way Muslims access information and what he sees as the future for Islamic material online:

A study by Nature magazine surveyed forty two corresponding articles in both and found 162 factual errors in Wikipedia and 123 in Britannica, so the difference is less than we might think. Yet Wikipedia, with greater resources of peer review, has been shown to correct itself more quickly. And it is – unlike Britannica – making the inheritance of human learning available to the world for free.

So rather than Sheikh Google, Wiki-Islam provides a better possible future for Islam online, amenable to its unchurched nature. Creative collaboration between scholars, experts, intellectuals and Muslim publics would allow for the social and intellectual process of ijma and ijtihad to become dynamic, relevant and infinitely refinable. The internet is no panacea: real-world conditions of authoritarianism in the Muslim world, the war on terror and intellectual conservatism may stymie unlocking the true potential of Wiki-Islam. But a crucial first step nonetheless to unlocking that potential is to recognize the collaborative creativity the digital age offers to the Muslim.

Our very own Quranist Matrix is an attempt at doing exactly what Yahya Birt envisaged back in 2008 🙂

Are 19er submitters Quranists?


A discussion about the term Quranists and how the term is used – thread on QRAC

Considering the Quran Alone and Quranism terms


I saw the awkward term “Quran-Alone-ism” used the other day, followed by “(for lack of a better term)”.

When I need to use the term “Quran Alone-ism” or “Quran Alone-ness”, I simply use the term Quranism. It is pretty much the same thing.

Quranism is the belief that the Quran is the sole divine source of islam. Quranists are muslims who follow Quranism.

I pondered though, due to my over-active mind, whether there is any difference between being a Quran Alone muslim and a Quranist muslim.

The term “Quran Alone” can be taken to varying degrees of pedantry.

Red Carpet example
If you interpret it to mean purely Quran Alone then what you will have is a belief system where ALL outside origins of guidance are abandoned and taken to be unfactual. For example if I tell you my carpet is red but you do not find it stated specifically in the Quran, then this could be turned down as bogus pursuant to the belief that the only genuine data comes directly from the Quran.

Now of course this is a unreasonable example of taking the meaning of words to their extreme and absolute limit.

The following are some of the different types of Quran Alone-ness (Quranism)

A. Some who claim to follow the Quran Alone for their set of beliefs tend to follow what is in reality “Translations of the Quran Alone”

This could be one certain translation by a favored translator or a more fair attitude where a variety of Quran translations are studied side by side.

B. Some who declare to follow the Quran alone don’t “label” themselves as “Quran Alone muslims” or “Quranist muslims”, choosing to point out that they are simply muslims. This may be either due to concerns that giving a descriptive term to their belief that the Quran has the sole authority might insinuate they had become part of a sect OR due to present day Sunni Islam (usually referred to by those Muslims as “Mainstream” Islam*) critical of the Quranist view, leading usually to excommunication of those who convert from the Mainstream view to the Quranist view. Some of these Quran Alone muslims do not assert to ignore all Hadiths, merely those that oppose the Quran. This can enable more integration into the “cultural” aspect of Islam, where some translations of Quranic verses can be employed to justify some of the cultural or traditional interpretations of Islam. For a convert to Islam who does not have any experience of the cultural/traditional associations of Islam it can be a challenging job to try to make these associations using the Quran alone.

* Quranists refer to Mainstream muslims as “Traditionalists” due to “Mainstream” being defined as such only due to majority numbers. If Quranism (the belief that the Quran is the sole source of islam) became the belief held by the majority of Muslims then the term “Mainstream” would become confusable.

C. Some Quran Alone muslims – typically self proclaimed Quranists, (the ones who do accept the usage of the term as a functional aid to communication) usually fixate on trying to discover the true meanings of the original Arabic with a view to understanding the Quran as a whole by not taking ayats out of context. Some operate a methodology of investigating the Quran into detail, considering the words used with the belief that “the Quran explains the Quran”. Their belief is that every single word of the original Arabic Quran is there to educate, give examples and parables and make the Quran clear; THE Divine Guidance. Usually for this way of thinking, a very open mind unhampered by all previous pre-conceptions or projections from the Traditionalist view is necessary. Context, Arabic vocabulary and grammar all have a huge role in attempting this kind of study which consequently results in “evolving beliefs” as the student takes on his individual journey of enlightenment with a deeply personal engagement with the text. This kind of investigation is done by some Quranists using literally the Quran alone or with the assistance of study tools such as Classical Arabic dictionaries, Quran Concordances and online Quran databases. It could be argued whether these so-called tools are classed as Non-Quranic Sources (NQS) or simply tools or study aids.

Usually, all “Quran Aloners”, “Quran Alone muslims”, “Quranic muslims” and “Quranists” are labelled indiscriminately as “Hadith Rejectors” (see Quranist’s response to this term) by the ones who dispute the concept that the Quran can be comprehended without the acceptance of the Sahih Hadith compilations. Rejection of Hadith can mean rejecting the Authority of the Hadith or the Authenticity of it. In Quranist terms, to reject the Authority of a hadith means to acknowledge that the Quran has not mentioned this piece of information. To reject the Authenticity of a hadith means a belief that the information is simply not true.

Read more / see the original article at http://www.quranists.net/2011/05/16/quran-alone-ism-and-quranism/

 

Quran Based Islam on Quranists.net

Questioning the Quranist Vision


I was recently asked whether it was really necessary for Quranism to be recognised as a valid form of Islam (from the Quranist Vision on Quranists.net). It is great to have people interested and taking the time to think about these things and question everything! I applaud this attitude. Please keep the questions coming! Thanks for sending in this question.

“Salaam Alaykum Asfora Safarina. There is something awkward sounding (to me) in this paragraph:

“Our secondary vision is to have Quranism recognised as a legitimate form of Islam. At present, Quranism is seen as either heretical or worse still, totally irrelevant to Islamic discourse. ”

Is it necessary, truthfully, that one be “recognized” as a “form” of something, outside of the knowledge one already has about his/her beliefs? Does it matter, in *truth,* what others think of you or anyone else, if what you do is honest and sincere, and harming no one? Why would you seek validation (because it *sounds* like that is the “vision”) from people who would be so far removed from your belief system as to accuse you of being heretical–because you follow the Qur’an (solely)? Is it not also, in some way, taking steps forward on that slippery slope of establishing a ‘sect’, simply by hoping/wishing/envisaging that someone or group or entity outside legitimizes what you believe? Does it make you (or anyone for that matter) stronger in your belief/faith by gaining their “acceptance.”? “

My response: Walaikum salam – for me it makes no difference whether ppl accept my beliefs as heretical or not. Alhamdulillah I don’t live in a country ruled by man made “Shariah” law. I believe everyone should have the same privilege or should I say the same RIGHT. I believe if there are ppl who are living in fear that they must say they believe something out of force / oppression in order to spare their lives, then this is tantamount the to situation that Firawn had with his people. See 7:123 and 10:83. The prophetic example of Musa shows that he was sent to abolish this practice. I believe we were given those examples in the Quran for a reason – to learn, to acknowledge and understand and then put the wisdom into action, not to let such valuable guidance fall by the wayside. If, from the work we are doing at Quranists.net we can encourage people, whatever their approach is, to have respect for other people’s beliefs and interpretations and to discourage fundmentalist or extremist views, and promote a more quranic attitude of pluralisticism, acceptance and tolerance, then I would consider it a contribution to the betterment of society, inshaaAllah.

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 http://blog.quranaddict.co.uk/2011/03/justifying-quranist-quranism-labels.html 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

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

Yahoo Answers: If quranists were more common would there be even worse division?


An interesting phrasing of this question, I must say. My answer (which wasn’t the best, Asfora’s was and quite rightly so) is as follows:

Dear N,

I am a quranist and like any other quranist, my views are uniquely mine. In other words, I do not share 100 percent similar views with anyone. No quranist does. But you know what, no Muslim (of ANY variety) has 100 percent similar views with each other either. Do you think by simply subscribing to a group (like Sunni or Shia or Sufi) and/or by claiming allegiance to a school of law, this makes you a non-thinking entity? Absolutely not! All Muslims, all HUMAN BEINGS think. Quranist are simply more vocal about it.

Does it mean if all Muslims became quranists, we would have 1 billion odd sects? No way! You are simply carrying a Wahabi mindset about religion. Sectarianism is for those who seek to exploit others. We are notesharers, not dispensers of religious thought.

Quranist Islam is an approach to Islam. We think Islam for ourselves under the guidance of our sole divine source, the Quran. We are an association of people who share notes. We are not a sect. Sects are born from a mindset of exclusivism. Quranists recognise multiplicities in the path to God.

Why are you so worried about uniformity of thinking? Are you not secure in the fact that what YOU believe in born from a sincere search? Build your own relationship with Allah, dont ride on someone elses. You are a person in your own right.