Friday 14 October 2011

Reviewing the Quran Alone and Quranism terms

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

When I feel like using the term “Quran Alone-ism” or “Quran Alone-ness”, I just 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 wondered though, due to my over-active mind, whether there is a difference between being a Quran Alone muslim and a Quranist muslim.

The term “Quran Alone” can be taken very literally, or not.

Red Carpet example
If you take it to mean nothing but Quran Alone then what you will have is a set of beliefs where ALL other sources of guidance are discarded and taken to be not right. For example if I tell you my carpet is red but you do not see it stated explicitly in the Quran, then this could be rejected as incorrect according to the belief that the only legitimate facts comes directly from the Quran.

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

What follows is some of the different types of Quran Alone-ness (Quranism)

A. Some who claim to follow the Quran Alone for their religion usually follow what is in fact “Translations of the Quran Alone”

This could be one particular translation by a preferred translator or a more un-biased attitude where a number of Quran translations are compared 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 state 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 imply 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 viewpoint, leading usually to excommunication of those who turn from the Mainstream view to the Quranist view. Some of these Quran Alone muslims do not profess to deny all Hadiths, merely the ones that go counter to the Quran. This can allow more integration into the “cultural” aspect of Islam, where some translations of Quranic verses can be utilized to justify some of the cultural or traditional understandings of Islam. For a convert to Islam who does not have any familiarity of the cultural/traditional associations of Islam it can be a daunting mission 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 less clear.

C. Some Quran Alone muslims – typically self proclaimed Quranists, (the ones who do welcome the usage of the term as a no-nonsense tool to assist communication) tend to concentrate on trying to weed out the true meanings of the original Arabic with the intention of understanding the Quran as a whole by not taking verses out of context. Some use a methodology of investigating the Quran thoroughly, investigating the words used with the belief that "the Quran explains the Quran". Their belief is that every solitary word of the original Arabic Quran is there to enlighten, give examples and parables and make the Quran clear; THE Divine Guidance. Usually for this type of approach, a very open mind free of all previous pre-conceptions or projections from the Traditionalist view is required. Context, Arabic vocabulary and grammar all have a huge role in proceeding with 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 those who disagree with the principle that the Quran can be c without the recognition of the Authentic 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.

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