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

The ‘Bad’ Side of Quranist Islam.

My reply in our Quranists Support Group:

Quranist Islam is a space where we remove all obstacles to free thought. That’s why you will never see anyone getting ‘kafir’ed’ there and not see any kind of imam you need to adhere to. The ‘downside’ , if you wanna call it that, …to this freedom is the existence of all sorts of views we may find outlandish. My humble suggestion is, just take it a day at a time. Always practice what you feel is right and if you feel you want to, discuss what you want.

Good discussion on Yahoo Answers!

This guy, USA 4 Life is becoming a Quranist. Watch people’s response here. UPDATE sorry Yahoo removed it.

Definition of a Sect

Here is my reply to a thread on FB seeing as it is too long to put on the group.

Salaam Aleykum

It sounds like your understanding of what the definition of a sect is, and my understanding of it is different. As a Quranist, I welcome differing understandings and am motivated to learn more, especially in terms of what the Quran’s definition of a sect is. In fact I did do some research on the different words used in the Qur’an for sect, party, faction, group etc (more on this can be found in “justifying the Quranist / Quranism terms”  and on this word study which I think you might find to be of interest.

I do believe there is a difference between what a sect is defined as in English and what the “arabic word that is translated as sect” is from the Quran. I think the most important thing is to find out what the Quran says.

I will comment on your comments (not to argue, just to give my reply) 🙂

//1. A sect is a group with distinctive religious beliefs.

Quranists believe the Quran is the book of God, that it’s the perfect words and laws sent down to man. In addition to this they reject the historical recordings and doctrines that the other sects within islam follow. This is a very distinctive belief.//

What Quranists reject can be seen here: http://www.quranists.net/2011/05/11/the-term-hadith-rejector/

//2. It can refer to any organization (not necessarily religious) that breaks away from a larger one to follow a different set of rules and principles.

– This is exactly what the quranists do.//

It’s all relative. At some point the majority were technically quranists following the Quran because the Bukhari’s Hadiths hadn’t come along yet. So the ones who “broke away” (or started using a different approach!) to start with have now become the majority. If that is used then as a definition of “breaking away” even though the intent is to go back to the original method, then it seems like an improper use of saying they are a sect. Maybe it’s just because the word “sect” has negative connotations. It’s a bit like telling the bird whose eggs were thrown out of the nest by a cuckoo that she has no right to claim her nest back because it means she will become labelled as a “sectarian” for being the one who creates a fuss to stand up for her rights. But in the case of the Quranist bird, the view is that there’s room in the nest to share peacefully. It seems that at every twist and turn and every opportunity there will be some way to justify that upholding the truth and turning away from falsehood means you are in sect.

//3. It can be described as newly formed religious groups that form to protest elements of their parent religion.

– Also, exactly what quranists do.//

Parent religion – not sure I agree with this term seeing as I converted to islam based on the Quran not based on Sunni doctrine. I don’t believe Traditional Islam to be the parent religion. It is however the more well known, and is recognised as the face of Islam. However I can see the analogy of Sunni islam being seen as the Parent Religion due to its centre stage presence. I like to think that the Grandparent religion takes precedence though!

Of course if it were not for Traditional Islam, Quranism would not exist – it would simply be called islam, as defined by the Quran. Traditional Islam has taken centre stage and that means that by calling myself a Muslim it will be understood that I am a Traditionalist who follows Quran AND extra-Quranic sources eg Hadiths and that I agree with the Man made Sharia laws whereas I am not and I do not. I am a Quranist. I could just carry on saying “I am not in any sect, I am just a muslim” and conceal my approach and end up confusing and misleading people. But I prefer honesty. A couple of articles about the “Just Muslim term”  and Upfront and Honest  

//4. Their motivation tends to be situated in accusations of apostasy or heresy in the parent denomination.

– This is also what many quranists do. Maybe not condemning the sunnis and shi’ites but they most certainly say they are the “wrong path” and in this manner claims they are on the “right” path.//

I agree that not all attitudes are representative of the ideology. I guess the best answer would be to not judge Quranism by quranists! 🙂 Certainly this attitude you described is discussed in this article: An Analysis of Quranic Fundamentalism 

If my understanding of what the Quran says led me to believe that the Quran is not the sole source of Divine guidance, then I would agree that it would be an indication that being a Quranist is not the correct way, due to the definition of a Quranist being one who does believe that the Quran IS the sole source of divine guidance.

However it would be hypocritical of me to believe that the Quran says it is not the sole source and then still carry on using only the Scripture to judge by.

So from my own understanding, the Quran DOES lead me to believe there are no second or third sources. And that’s why I am a Quranist. Just because I believe what I believe does not make someone else’s belief any less valid or any better.

There are a couple of good articles about variation : Multiple paths to salvation  and On the name Quranism

I am not saying I’m right and you are wrong or anyone else is right or wrong. I just acknowledge my beliefs and understandings may differ from others. Not just in my understanding of the Quran but in my understanding of the best way to (for example) be a parent, the best way manage one’s time, the best way to chop onions etc etc – I think these are all approaches based on thinking and reasoning and using logic. If semantics have their way and by the English dictionary definition of a sect it can be proven without a doubt that I am a sectarian because I believe the Quran is the sole source of divine guidance, then I can either accept it or refute it. To me it seems that whether I accept it or not doesn’t really make that much difference to be honest, for the following reasons:

There are enough verses in the Qur’an which justify making choices (judging) according to what the scripture says 5:45 wamanlam yahkum bima anzala Allahu faola-ikahumu alththalimoona (not quoted the full verse – please check all the refs and see the whole verse and context to verify – don’t take my word for it!) and enough verses pertaining to the groups who obey God 34:20 fareeqan mina almu/mineena and the groups who are the party of God 5:56 and 58:22 hizba Allahi and the one about Musa coming back down the mountain and his brother begging him not to seize him by his beard for not getting involved and telling the bani israel to stop worshipping the calf 20:94 khasheetu an taqoolafarraqta bayna banee isra-eela  and Musa’s own “shīʿatihi” (28:15 ) Also 37:79 – 83 is referring to Nuh, in a positive way – that peace is to be upon him and the good doers are to be rewarded, – he was of the believing slaves/servants and the others were drowned and indeed from among his shīʿatihi was Ibrahim.

Negative uses of the word shiya’an :
30:32 – do not divide the deen (farraqoo deen) and become shiya’an. My understanding is that if I hold fast to the Scripture (like John was instructed to do in 19:12) then that seems a good way to not break away. (61:9 – He is the One who sent His Messenger with the Huda and the deen l-haqq… so I understand this to be that the deen is in the Message that the Messenger brought which is the Quran. So again by saying I am a Quranist who holds fast to the Quran then this is not dividing the deen. My understanding of “dividing the deen ” is to accept parts of the Quran and reject parts of it or say that a second divine source abrogates part of the Quran or adds to it. Just my understanding. I could be wrong. (Farraqoo al-deen is discussed in depth here: Farraqoo al-deen)

28:4 Firawn exalted himself in the land and made his people into shiyaʿan. So Firawn gave each people a different set of religious beliefs? I don’t see it as that given the context so the English definition of sect does not fit here. He actually divided up the people into ones who would be slaughtered and ones who would be spared/let live.

54:51 ashyāʿakum – this is addressing the ones who disbelieved and the criminals. So again a sect with a set of religious beliefs doesn’t seem (to me) to apply here for the definition of ashyāʿakum.

Just my understanding, which could be incorrect. InshaaAllah we will all be guided and increased in knowledge. Allah knows best and it is He who I fear. If Allah does not want me to be in a sect then of course I will hope that I will not be judged to have been in one. If Allah wants me to be in the Party of God, then by doing what I’m doing I hope I will be judged to have done the best I can to be in it. We are all in the same boat trying to get it right, the only way we know how. InshaaAllah (God Willing) there are enough SUBUL (paths) along the Siratal Mustaqim (Straight way) that we can all be right. I have faith in God’s Words from 2:112.

Salaam Aleykum

Concerns and precautions

Today I read this statement: “when was the last time an American or a Frenchman tried to disassociate themselves from their fellow citizens by calling themselves other than An American or French because they didn’t agree with them or were afraid they will be painted in the same colors. If anything those who are not in the sect scene has to set an example of how a Muslim ought to be and let the sect members have a go and try to justify that they are true Muslims. ”

I don’t think anyone is saying Quranists are not muslims, are they? I am muslim. I am a muslim. I am a Muslim(?) not sure about capital letters – they confuse me. But I am a Quranist. By now I think we are getting a feel for what a Quranist is… I’m thinking: “Quran alone” mentality, meaning Quran is the one divine source, and a rejection of any other sources claiming to be divine. I just honestly don’t see Quranism as a sect, because the Quran claims it is the one divine source, afaics. I think it’s just a communication thing.

Concerns to be aware of:

I do have concerns that the term Quranism is not safeguarded from being undermined. For example

A. if “Quranism” becomes associated with misperceptions/doubts, such as

  1.  misperception of being a sect,
  2.  misperception of being disobedient to / not heeding the Messengers,
  3.  misperception that the name is not mentioned in the Qur’an therefore we can’t use it,
  4.  misperception of exclusivism, clubs / groups / cliques

More on Misperceptions here in this article


B. if the ones with money and power feel threatened enough by the Truth that they launch an effective campaign to brand Quranists as heretics, apostates, rejecters of the truth and liars and disbelievers.

Pre-emptive precautions 

If Quranism were to be undermined, God Forbid, (when I say undermined, I mean that by popular usage the true meaning of Quranism were to become obscured, confused or associated with negativity, as has already happened to the term “muslim”), then it is a real possibility that a new defining term would be required. Until the same happens again, and again.  I think that’s why it’s very important to get the term Quranists into popular usage in a positive way as a synonym for the Quranic meaning of muslim, and nip such misperceptions in the bud from the outset.

I also think it is not incorrect to say Quranism is a man-made term. The English term Quranism is not in the Quran. That is not in dispute. One might say Utopia is not in either but it is still described. Furthermore lots of things are man-made; that doesn’t automatically mean they are not useful or conducive to establishing good, or useful for effective communication. Quranism is a term that is one word. One word to summarise it’s meaning.  The term Quranism is also being used to propogate Truth vs Falsehood.  Quranism as a term can help open the channels of communication, accurately and honesty. The term is a practicality, a facilitator. The only way Quranism could ever be a sect is if it listed a set of stipulated beliefs, from other than what is described in Noble Qur’an, where the ones who stipulate the belief set refused to include those who disagreed with any part of the belief set and excommunicated them or labelled them. Even that which is stipulated in the Quran, I think we can all agree is subject to any number of interpretations, which is what makes QuranistVoices blog so very openly diverse and accepting of all opinions / viewpoints / thoughts and feelings, especially if they are backed up by Quranic proof/evidence. In the end, we will be judged on our own individual actions so we have to be able to conclude that for every action we take, there is a real justification for it, based on our own reasoning, pondering and reflection / our own interpretation of the Divine Message, not just because someone else told us so. Just thinking out loud 🙂 Peace