Define scholar. Usually when someone says “scholar” to me in this field, they usually mean the one who has been taught Traditional Islam and has studied at a name brand academy and has a certificate to prove it. I don’t believe there are “official” scholars in Quranism – sure, there are those who have studied Quran more than others and who have read the works of others who have studied the Quran in great depth but that does not mean they have the all the answers or that the ones who have studied less don’t have a very good understanding of the overall message of islam as described by the Quran. But anyway the ones who talk against one another will usually have the attitude of “My school of thought is right (or my opinion is right) and the others are wrong” which doesn’t seem very quranic to me (considering how the Quran talks of multiple paths). To me the Quran is shareware, public domain. No-one has a monopoly on it and no-one can say they know more about the meaning of it than anyone else, as we are all in the same boat. What I do think is encouraging is that there are projects that people can get involved in without having to prove your academic ability – in the Quranists Network there are no limits on who can contribute to theological, ideological and philosophical discussions about the Quran and islam!

Back to scholars – There is a difference between being able to reference facts and words and knowing where to find the themes, concepts and subjects in the Quran, and even then there will be verses that are subjective. When you adopt the premise that the Quran is to be read and understood on a personal basis, anyone else’s interpretation can either assist or cloud your OWN judgement about what the text is saying to YOU the reader. What I like is when people who have learned and studied and have tried to be unbiased and open minded without shutting out the possibility that the meanings are layered, share their views and knowledge and pass it on with the unwritten understanding that what they are saying is also just their own understanding and is of no more or less importance and correctness than anyone else’s take on things.

That is not to say that if you consider yourself to be a scholar (however you define it), that it is a negative thing, of course not – Reading, studying, learning, gathering knowledge, processing and reflecting are encouraged by the Quran afaics so there is no reason why each quranist could not be considered a scholar in their own right, if they want, but never that one is more entitled to be a scholar than the other nor that knowledge is power or control over others.

Intellectual equality is not the same as spiritual equality. By that I mean you could know everything there is to know about The Quran, and everything about Traditionalism and Quranism and all the other religions, doctrines, history, facts and theories etc. But if it is purely knowledge in the sense of facts committed to memory without a connection of how it affects you spiritually and being able to apply that knowledge and nourish your soul from it, and be motivated from within your heart to help others and benefit society with it, then it will all just be superficial. I imagine that there are people do become “scholars” (in the Trad. sense) for the fame and status and the power and the money (not always because I am equally certain that there are genuine people out there in the Trad. field who don’t desire the money/power/fame combo) and others who either claim to be a scholar or even do NOT claim to be a scholar but have become knowledgeable solely due to their own natural journey of curiosity, thirst for knowledge and hunger for the Truth.