Qur'an Only Islam: Why it is Not Possible
Qur'an only Islam
Within Islam the two largest sects are the Sunnis (up to 90%) and Shi'ites (approx 10-20%). Together they make up almost the entirety of Islam. However, there is a small heretical group who are collectively known as "Qur'anists" (also referred to as Quraniyoon, Ahle Quran, or hadith rejectors). They reject the Hadith (oral traditions) and the Sunnah (example) of Muhammad, an integral part of Islam, and are viewed by mainstream Islam in much the same way as the Jehovah's Witnesses are viewed by mainstream Christianity (i.e. Catholics, Protestants, Orthodox etc).
Rejected as Apostates
According to Sunni and Shi'ite orthodoxy, the hadith literature is an integral part of the Muslim faith. The 11th century Andalusian Maliki theologian and scholar Yusuf ibn abd al-Barr wrote in his Jami' Bayan al-'Ilm wa Fadlihi (Compendium Exposing the Nature of Knowledge and Its Immense Merit):
According to many high-ranking figures at Al-Azhar University, the most respected authority in Islam (and who also accept Shi'ite fiqh as a fifth school of Islamic thought), Qur'anists are not Muslims:
. . .
Dr. Mohamed Said Tantawy, the Sheikh of AL-Azhar replied saying that those who call for relying only on the wholly Quran are ignorant, lairs, and do not know religious rules because the ideas in the Sunna came from God, but it was put into words by the prophet (Peace be upon him). Moreover, Sunna explains and clarify the rules mention as in the wholly Quran.
. . .
Dr. Mahmoud Ashour, a member of the Committee of Islamic Research, that the Sunna is indeed a source of the Islamic Sharia, and that those who deny it are illogical because it is impossible to understand Islam with the Sunna. Dr. Ashour stresses that denying the Sunna costs the Quranists to lose their faith. He then called to protect Islam against those Quranists who plan to destroy Islam and pose the greatest threat on Islam and Muslims. He finally accused the Quranists to be spies and agents for other forces to aim at destroying Islam from Inside, but God will protect his religion as he promised.
. . .
Contemporary scholars such as Gibril Haddad have commented on the apostatic nature of a wholesale denial of the probativeness of the Sunnah according to Sunni Orthodoxy, writing "it cannot be imagined that one reject the entire probativeness of the Sunna and remain a Muslim".
The Grand Mufti of Pakistan Muhammad Rafi Usmani has also criticised Qur'anists in his lecture Munkareen Hadith (refuters of Hadith); he states:
Why it is not possible
The Qur'anists have a major dilemma on their hands. Indeed, it is one of the reasons why reforms to Islam are an impossibility. The Qur'an alleges that it is entirely composed of Allah’s commands, not Muhammad’s, yet the Qur'an itself orders Muslims to obey the Messenger.
If you do not know what the Messenger had ordered, then this is impossible. The Qur’an also commands Muslims to follow the Messenger’s example, yet the only place this example is established is in the Sunnah. Without the Hadith, you cannot know Muhammad. Without knowing Muhammad, there is no Uswa Hasana. If you doubt the Hadith you are doubting the entirety of Islam. If you reject the hadiths, then you are in-turn rejecting Islam by going against the orders of the Qur'an and are therefore apostate/murtad/kafir (whichever may apply). Ultimately, to remain faithful to Allah and the Qur'an, the hadiths cannot be rejected.
Islam means submission (contrary to popular belief that it means peace), and more specifically it means submission to the will of Allah. What is the will of Allah, one may ask. Qur'an-only Muslims would have us believe that the Qur'an clearly defines what exactly Allah's will is. But this is not the case.
For one thing, the Qur'an is full of contradictory verses and commands; sometimes commanding believers to seek out and kill pagans (Quran 9:5), other times commanding Muslims to leave pagans to practice their polytheistic religions in peace (Quran 109:1-6). Without the Hadith there would be no Abrogation, the Qur'an can then be interpreted in multiple ways. The pacifist can decide to take from it a peaceful message by deliberately ignoring or twisting violent verses whereas the sadist can easily interpret a violent message by focusing on such verses as are found in Surah 9. Both Muslims could be selectively justified by the Qur'an because of its contradictory messages from Muhammad-in-Mecca versus Muhammad-in-Medina.
To be a Qur'anist requires a good deal of faith and a considerable lack of theological common sense. If one rejects the Hadith (ie. Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawud), the Tafsir (ie. Ibn Kathir, Ibn Abbas, al-Jalalayn, Maududi), and the History (ie. al-Tabari, Ibn Sa'd, al-Waqidi, Ibn Ishaq), then the entire historical context of the Qur'an, along with any proof of Muhammad's existence, is lost. It simply becomes an ancient Arabic document of rambling, repetitive, and often-times confusing, statements and commands. The reader is left with such questions as "Who wrote this and why?" and "Who is Abu Lahab, and why are he and his wife going to be tortured?" and "Why don't these stories match the ones found in the Bible?" and "Who is 'Isa?" The Qur'anist is ultimately a monotheist who creates their own religion based on a 1400-year-old nonsensical Arabic document.
The often-leveled charge by the obscure Qur'an-only sects that "Sunni's and Shi'ite's are following a deviant form of Islam by introducing these man-made books," is laughable and the epitome of hypocrisy, considering most of the narrators of hadith are the very same people who passed down the Qur'an itself. The first Muslims (Sahabah- companions of Muhammad, which include all four Rightly Guided Caliphs) who partook in the Hijra to Medina, were not Qur'an-only Muslims. The generation of Muslims that followed the death of Muhammad (the Tabi'un) were not Qur'an-only Muslims. And the generation of Muslims that followed them (Tabi' al-Tabi'un) were not Qur'an-only Muslims. Recording and sorting through these narrations in written form was little more than codifying and clarifying already existing beliefs. To suggest that adhering to Muhammad's sunnah constitutes a deviation from pure Islam is ludicrous.
These Qur'an only "Muslims" reject the Hadith, a fundamental aspect of Islam, simply due to it highlighting the immoral truths of Muhammad, early Islam and its numerous laws. They may deny this as the reason behind their rejection of Hadith, but this fact is proven by many Qur'anists who alternatively accept Hadith as a historical source but dismiss it as a religious one. Furthermore they reject anything about Muhammad which they claim "contradicts the Qur'anic description of him". This approach is intellectually dishonest and logically unfeasible. Either the Hadith are a valid source of information for Muslims or they are worthless. You cannot pick and choose which bits you want to keep and which bits you want to throw out when the good and the bad all originate from the same sources.
The message (Qur'an) is explained and elaborated upon by the Prophet. Preserving the message (Qur'an) also requires preserving the Sunnah which explains the message, as the previous verse states.
This verse asks Muslims to follow everything Mohammad gives them, and abstain from everything he forbids. That means they are commanded by Allah to follow the Sunnah.
Five Pillars of Islam
The concept "5 pillars in Islam" is practiced and preached widely in the Muslim world and is a crucial part of the Muslim way of life. Yet this concept is not described or defined in the Qur'an in any way. It is only found in the hadith. Looking at the pillars individually, four out of five of Islam’s Pillars would not make any sense without the Hadith, therefore making Islam impossible to practice.
1. To testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and Muhammad is Allah’s Apostle.”
These are Muhammad's words and are not found within the Qur'an. Therefore, Islam’s First Pillar is utterly meaningless, and impossible to implement, without the work of Muslim historians Ibn Ishaq (704-770 AD) and al-Tabari (838-923 AD). If there is no definition as to what the Shahadah should be, it can be any arbitrary phrase in any language. In fact there are at-least three different shahadahs used by various Qur'anist sects.
Once again, this is not feasible. The “compulsory congregational prayer” is not described in the Qur’an at all. In fact, the Qur’an says that there should be three prayers, none of which it depicts, and the Hadith demands five. The only explanation of the obligatory prostration is found in the Sunnah, and even then it is never described by Muhammad himself. Muslims are performing a ritual without Qur’anic precedence. As such, the Second Pillar is rubble. Qur'anists do not even agree upon the number of daily prayers that should be offered. The various number of prayers should be offered are 0, 2, 3 or 5. Also in the prayer itself, certain Arabic recitations and verses are recited. The Qur'an does not give specifications for these recitations so unless one follows hadiths and traditions, the recitations can be anything for a Qur'anist.
How is that possible when the terms of the Zakat are omitted from the Qur’an? The first to commit them to paper was Ishaq. A century later, Tabari referenced Ishaq’s Hadith. The only reason Muslims can pay the Zakat is because Ishaq explained it to them.
This is also impossible. The only explanations of the Hajj are found in the Sunnah. No aspect of the pilgrimage can be performed without referencing the Hadith. Muslims would be lost without it.
Sawm, the final pillar of Islam is also not described in the Qur'an, the “perfect, detailed, and final revelation to mankind”. Though the Qur'an describes the fast, without the Hadith, Muslims wouldn’t know why Ramadan was so special to them. The accounts of the meaning of Ramadan are in the Traditions, initially chronicled by Ishaq and then copied by Bukhari, Muslim, and Tabari.
Strangely, the one pillar that is actually described in the Qur'an, is actually a borrowed pagan ritual Qusayy invented pre-dating Muhammad's Islam. Qusayy's family took a cut on merchandise sold during the “truce of the gods” fairs of Ramadhan.
Islam without the Hadith and Sunnah of Muhammad is like Buddhism without the Buddha or Christianity without the Christ; it is not possible. Therefore, all of the controversial hadiths mentioned here have to be accepted by Muslims as a part of the history of Islam, just like the Qur'an. Moreover, even if this Qur'an-only approach were to be somehow accepted by the mainstream, we are still left with the problem that the Qur'an itself permits:
- Uswa Hasana
- Beat your Wives or "Separate from Them"? (Qur'an 4:34) - One example of Qur'anist deception in translating the Qur'an
- Debate - Edip Yuksel vs. Ali Sina - Dr. Edip Yuksel, is a prominent member of the submitters (Qur'an-Only Muslims).
Links from Muslims
- Issues Concerning Ḥadīth - collection of articles dealing with hadith criticism, from the Muslim site Islamic Awareness
- A Look at Hadith Rejecters' Claims - from the Muslim site TheModernReligion, filed under "Pseudo-Islam Cults"
- Combat Kit To Use Against the "Quran Only" Muslims (article by a Muslim)
- The Importance of Hadith in Islam - by Professor Shahul Hameed, consultant for IslamOnline.net
- Various Issues About Hadiths - by Shaykh Gibril Fouad Haddad
- Comparison of Sunni and Shia Islam - ReligionFacts
- Islām - Encyclopædia Britannica (2010)
- Sunnite - Encyclopædia Britannica (2010)
- Mapping the Global Muslim Population: A Report on the Size and Distribution of the World’s Muslim Population - Pew Research Center, October 7, 2009
- Tracy Miller - Mapping the Global Muslim Population: A Report on the Size and Distribution of the World's Muslim Population - Pew Research Center, October 2009
- Shīʿite - Encyclopædia Britannica Online (2010)
- al-Azhar Verdict on the Shia - Shi'ite Encyclopedia v2.0, Al-islam
- Gibril Haddad - The Sunna as Evidence: The Probativeness of the Sunna - Living Islam, August, 1999