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Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Part 1 - The number of groups and individuals who may be called ‘Qur’anists’ appears to be increasing - Aisha Musa, PhD Harvard University.

Aisha Musa, PhD Harvard University.

My comments : 
i. The larger font size is upon the request of a friend (on behalf of the older generation) to make for easier reading.
ii. This is an article written by Prof. Aisha Musa who holds a PhD in Arabic and Islamic Studies from the Department of Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations at Harvard University. She is currently an  assistant professor of Islamic Studies in the Religious Studies Department at Florida Inter-national University, in Miami. 
Dr Musa’s training at Harvard focused on early Islamic scriptural history, specifically the relative authority of the Qur’an and Prophetic Tradi-tions (Hadith). 
Her book,  Hadith as Scripture: Discussions on the Authority of Prophetic Tradi-tions in Islam (Palgrave, 2008), explores the development of the doctrine of duality of revelation and issues surrounding the relative authority of the Qur’an and the Prophetic Traditions (Hadith).
iii. To all the village idiots and their brethren I did not write this. This is just to tell you what other people (much cleverer than you of course) may be discussing. This is slightly beyond anti-hysteria kits, flying off to the moon, kahwin misyar, two coconuts and a ghost and stuff like that.)

iv. This is quite lengthy. I have broken it into parts. I have some comments at the end.  Remember I did not write this. It is in the Internet, which is brought inside our houses by the gomen of Malaysia. So go and blame the gomen for bringing this to us.
The Qur’anists
Aisha Y. Musa*
Florida International University 
Stories relating the words and deeds of the Prophet Muhammad, known as Hadith in Arabic, have long been esteemed by the vast majority of Muslims as a source of law and guidance second only to the Qur’an in authority. 
In recent years, an increasingly vocal Muslim opposition to Hadith insists that the Qur’an alone should be the sole source of religious law and guidance in Islam.  Rashad Khalifa, Kassim Ahmad, Edip Yuksel, and Ahmad Subhy Mansour are among the most important rejecters of the Hadith, whose arguments influence a wide variety of groups popularly labeled Ahl al-Qur’an, Qur’niyyun or Qur’anists.
Qur’anists: Contemporary Muslim Opposition to the Use and Authority of the Hadith. 
Hadith : stories of the words and deeds of the Prophet Muhammad are the second scrip-tural source of law and guidance after the Qur’an for most Muslims. 
They are the only vehicle through which, according to the majority of Muslims, we can access what Muhammad said and did and that of which he tacitly approved. These stories have played an important role in shaping the development of Islam as we know it today. 
Recently, however, an increasingly vocal Muslim opposition to the use and authority of the Hadith has emerged. Insistence on the Qur’an alone as the sole source of religious law and guid-ance in Islam has earned those who oppose the Hadith the epithet ‘Qur’anists.’ 
This arti-cle will introduce the most prominent trends and thinkers among the various groups referred to by this title. 
There are two strains of opposition to the authority of the Hadith. The first is opposi-tion to an extra-Qur’anic source of scriptural authority and the second is to the problem-atic content of some of the Hadith that make the religion an object of ridicule.  Authenticity is also a concern, and opponents of the Hadith often argue that the Hadith have nothing to do with the Prophet. 
However, the overriding concern is about granting scriptural authority to something other than the Qur’an. The number of groups and individuals who may be called ‘Qur’anists’ appears to be increasing. 
The Internet has opened the discussion to a broad array of participants and  observers. At the time of this is being written, Wikipedia’s entry entitled ‘Qur’an alone’  contains links to more than a dozen websites dedicated to interpreting Islam without  using Hadith.  While some opponents of the Hadith express themselves openly, using their own names, others publish their views anonymously or under pseudonyms for fear of reprisals. 
Arrest, detention, and imprisonment of  Qur’anists in Egypt has gained increasing attention in the Muslim world since at least early 2003, when the London based, Arabic language daily,  al-Sharq al-Awsat, reported that eight Egyptians were sentenced by Egypt’s Supreme State Security Court to terms ranging from 6 months to 3 years for ‘contempt of religion  for rejecting Prophetic Traditions, interpreting the Qur’an for themselves in ways differ dramatically from mainstream understanding of Islamic beliefs and practices (al-Sharqal-Awsat
More arrests and detentions in 2007 sparked intense debated in the Egyp-tian press, and scholars of al-Azhar declared theQur’anists apostates who are attempting to ‘destroy Islam.’ Former Deputy Rector of al-Azhar and member of the Islamic Studies Committee, Mahmoud Ashour, was quoted in  al-Sharq al-Awsat  as saying they are ‘more dangerous to Islam than any other group.’ (Khalil 2007). 
The situation of Egypt’s  Qur’anists illustrates the gravity of the issue for Muslims. An important aspect of the modern debates over the Hadith is that they involve edu-cated ordinary Muslims. 
In his 1999 article ‘The Coming Transformation of the Muslim World,’ Dale Eickelman discusses the effect that ‘unprecedented access that ordinary peo-ple now have to information and knowledge about religion and other aspects of their society’ is having on religious authority in the Muslim world:    
What distinguishes the present era from prior ones is the large number of believers engaged in the ‘reconstruction’ of religion, community, and society. 
In an earlier era, political or religious leaders would prescribe, and others were supposed to follow. Today, the major impetus for change in religious and political values comes from below. (Eickelman 1999)
The contemporary challengers of the Hadith illustrate Eickelman’s point – they are educated, ordinary Muslims rather than religious scholars or clergy. 
As Daniel Brown’s analysis of the early 20th century "Qur’an alonemovements" shows they made use of the popular press and self-published books and journals (Brown 1996). This continues today.  The Internet has contributed to the spread and development of a variety of Qur’anist movements throughout the world. 
Besides the discussions in Egypt, opposition to the Hadith was and is taking place throughout the Muslim world, in countries such as Malaysia, Kuwait, and South Africa (Tolu-e-Islam 2009). 
Among the leading opponents of the Hadith are Rashad Khalifa and Ahmad Subhy Mansour, Egyptians who settled in the United States,  Kassim Ahmed of Malaysia, and Edip Yuksel, a Turkish religious activist who immigrated to the United States to escape  persecution in his homeland. Their works are available both in traditional print media  and on the Internet. 
Each of them was born and raised in a traditional Sunni family in a Muslim country. While some may have lived and studied in Western countries, they came to the West as adults with their respective cultural, social, ethnic, and religious backgrounds. They are not ‘Westerners’ who are seeking to ‘Westernize’ Islam to fit their ‘Western’ culture. 
This is significant because one of the most frequent criticisms of the modern-day opposition to the authoritative status of the Hadith is that it is an essentially Western-influenced assault on Islam (Hashim 2007).
Rashad Khalifa
The Qur’anic arguments leveled against the use of Hadith were most strongly articulated by Rashad Khalifa, in his 1982 book  "Quran, Hadith, and Islam". The book is less than 90 pages, but from beginning to end it is a vehement indictment of traditional Islam as idol-atry that violates the teachings delivered by Muhammad.
Born in Egypt in 1935, Khalifa came to the United States in 1959, where he obtained a PhD in Biochemistry. He settled in the United States and was active in the local Mus-lim community.  Dissatisfied with English translations of the Qur’an,  Khalifa set out to do a translation of his own (Submission.org 2009). 
In working on the translation, he scruti-nized the Arabic initials that preface certain chapters of the Qur’an. A computer analysis  of the text revealed numerical patterns related to the initials that according to Khalifa proved the divine origin of the Qur’an. This brought Khalifa popular acclaim throughout the Muslim world and even a congratulatory letter from the director of the Department of Research and Publications at al-Azhar University’s Academy of Islamic Research (al-Fuqa 1976; Unpublished letter). Ahmed Deedat also promoted Khalifa’s work in a booklet entitled "Al-Quran, the Ultimate Miracle"  (Deedat 1986).
However, numerical patterns in the Qur’an were not the only discovery Khalifa claimed to have made. In the preface to Quran, Hadith, and Islam he writes:
The continued research unveiled a startling fact: that the extremely popular ‘Hadith & Sunna’ have nothing to do with the prophet Muhammadand that the adherence there to represents flagrant disobedience of God and His final prophet (Quran 6:112 & 25:31). This finding contra-dicts the beliefs of Muslim masses everywhere. 
Consequently, my personal popularity, and even the popularity of the Quran’s miracle, plunged to the point of endangering my life and reputa-tion. As it turned out, telling Muslims that ‘Hadith and Sunna’ are Satanic inventions is the same as telling Christians that Jesus is not the son of God (Khalifa 1982).

Khalifa’s declaration that the Hadith and Sunna were ‘Satanic inventions’ angered Muslims around the world (Bay  an min al-Azhar 1985). 
In the book prefaced by that bold declaration, Khalifa uses Qur’anic verses, a few Biblical verses, and even Hadith to sup-port his conclusions. 
My comments  for Part 1.
I have just two points.
Point 1. The rejection of the hadith has been part and parcel of Islamic history since day 1.  For example there are already about 100 million 'hadith rejectors' in the world today. These are the 100 million Shiahs in the world who do not accept the hadith collections of the Sunnis. Granted the shiahs have their own collections of what they believe are the extra Quranic teachings of the prophet (which the shiahs call 'khabar') it is NOT the same as the hadith collections of the sunnis.
Therefore from Day 1, the shiahs have been rejecting the hadith collections of the sunnis and vice versa. So the rejection of the sunni collections of hadith is a very, very old phenomena. It goes back maybe 1100 years.

Point 2.  The Quran says 'huwa samma kumu muslimoon' (Surah 22:78  ) which means 'He (Allah) has named you Muslims'.
This is a great honour granted upon Muslims by Allah swt - Allah swt has named us Muslims.
So why do you go around calling yourselves by other names? Just call yourselves Muslims. There are no such things as Quranists, ahlul Quran, Quraniyyun etc. 
The Quran says further, 'falaa tamootunna illa wa antum muslimoon' (Surah 2:132) which means 'therefore do not die except as muslims'.
Allah swt has named us 'Muslims' and we should not die except as Muslims. 
There is no need to call ourselves by any other names.
Continued Part 2.

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