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Quranism (Arabic: القرآنية‎; al-Qur'āniyya) describes any form of Islam that accepts the Quran as revelation but rejects the religious authority, and/or authenticity of, the Hadith collections. Quranists follow the Quran alone; they believe that its message is clear and complete, and that it can therefore be fully understood without referencing the Hadith. They say that the Hadith literature was forged,[citation needed] as it had been written 250+ years after the death of the prophet Muhammad.

There are significant differences between Quranists in their interpretation of Islam.[citation needed]

Quranism is similar to movements in other religions such as the Karaite movement of Judaism and the Sola scriptura view of Protestant Christianity.[1] Hadith rejection has also been associated with Muslim modernists.[2]


Adherents of Quranism are referred to as Quranists (Arabic: قرآنيّون‎, Qur’āniyyūn), or people of the Quran (Arabic: أهل القرآن‎, ’Ahl al-Qur’ān).[3] This should not be confused with Ahle-e-Quran, which is an organisation formed by Abdullah Chakralawi. Quranists may also refer to themselves simply as Muslims, Submitters, or reformists.[3]


The extent to which Quranists reject the authenticity of the Sunnah varies,[4] but the more established groups have thoroughly criticised the authenticity of the hadith and refused it for many reasons, the most prevalent being the Quranist say that hadith is not mentioned in the Quran as a source of Islamic theology and practice, was not recorded in written form until more than two centuries after the death of Muhammed, and contain perceived internal errors and contradictions.[4][5]


Quranists believe, based on numerous historical accounts, that the Quranist sentiment dates back to the time of Muhammad.[6]:9 During the Abassid Caliphate, the poet, theologian, and jurist, Ibrahim an-Nazzam founded a madhhab called the Nazzamiyya that rejected the authority of hadiths and relied on the Quran alone.[7] His famous student, al-Jahiz, was also critical of those who followed hadith, referring to his traditionalist opponents as al-nabita (the contemptible).[8] A contemporary of an-Nazzam, al-Shafi'i, tried to refute the arguments of the Quranists and establish the authority of hadiths in his book kitab jima'al-'ilm.[6]:19 And Ibn Qutaybah tried to refute an-Nazzam's arguments against hadith in his book Ta'wil Mukhtalif al-Hadith.[9]

In South Asia during the 19th century, the Ahle Quran movement formed partially in reaction to the Ahle Hadith whom they considered to be placing too much emphasis on hadith.[10] Many Ahle Quran adherents were formerly adherents of Ahle Hadith but found themselves incapable of accepting certain hadiths.[10] In Egypt during the early 20th century, the ideas of Quranists like Muhammad Tawfiq Sidqi grew out of Salafism i.e. a rejection of taqlid.[10]


As many Quranists have a very individualistic interpretation of the Qur'an, rejecting sectarianism and organised religion as a general rule, it is difficult to gather an accurate estimate of the number of Quranists in the world today by doing a study of the Quranist organisations that exist. Another difficulty in determining their prevalence is the possible fear of persecution due to being regarded as apostates and therefore deserving of the death penalty.[citation needed]


Ahle Qur'an

Ahle Qur'an is an organisation formed by Abdullah Chakralawi, who described the Quran as "ahsan hadith", meaning most perfect hadith and consequently claimed it does not need any addition.[11] His movement relies entirely on the chapters and verses of the Qur'an. Chakralawi's position was that the Qur'an itself was the most perfect source of tradition and could be exclusively followed. According to Chakralawi, Muhammad could receive only one form of revelation (wahy), and that was the Qur'an. He argues that the Qur'an was the only record of divine wisdom, the only source of Muhammad's teachings, and that it superseded the entire corpus of hadith, which came later.[11]


In the United States it was associated with Rashad Khalifa, founder of the United Submitters International. The group popularized the phrase: The Qur'an, the whole Qur'an, and nothing but the Qur'an.[5] After Khalifa declared himself the Messenger of the Covenant, he was rejected by other Muslim scholars as an apostate of Islam. Later, he was assassinated in 1990 by a terrorist group. Those interested in his work believe that there is a mathematical structure in the Qur'an, based on the number 19. A group of Submitters in Nigeria was popularised by high court judge Isa Othman.[12]

Kala Kato

Kala Kato ("A mere man said it") is a Quranistic movement in northern Nigeria.[13] One of the most well-known Quranist leaders in Nigeria is an Islamic scholar Malam Isiyaka Salisu.[14]

Qur'an Sunnat Society

The Qur'an Sunnat Society is a Quranist movement in India. The movement was behind the first ever woman to lead a Friday congregation prayer in the country of India. It also maintains an office and headquarters within Kerala.[15] There is a large community of Quranists in Kerala.[16]

Malaysian Quranic Society

The Malaysian Quranic Society was founded by Kassim Ahmad. The movement holds several positions distinguishing it from more mainstream and orthodox Muslims such as a condemnation of veneration for the prophet Muhammad and a rejection of the status of hair as being part of the awrah; therefore exhibiting a relaxation on the observance of the hijab.[17]


In 2015, 27 Quranists were arrested in Sudan after reportedly making their religious beliefs public.[18] In 2011, 150 Sudanese people were arrested for being Quranists.[19]

Notable Quranists

  • Ahmed Subhy Mansour (born 1949), an Egyptian American Islamic scholar.[20] He founded a small group of Quranists, but was exiled from Egypt and is now living in the United States as a political refugee.[21]
  • Chekannur Maulavi (born 1936; disappeared July 29, 1993), a progressive Islamic cleric who lived in Edappal in Malappuram district of Kerala, India. He was noted for his controversial and unconventional interpretation of Islam based on Quran alone. He disappeared on 29 July 1993 under mysterious circumstances and is now widely believed to be dead.[22]
  • Edip Yüksel (born 1957), a Kurdish American philosopher, lawyer, Quranist advocate, author of NINETEEN: God's Signature in Nature and Scripture, Manifesto for Islamic Reform and a co-author of Quran: A Reformist Translation. Currently[when?] teaches philosophy and logic at Pima Community College and medical ethics and criminal law courses at Brown Mackie College.[6][23]
  • Rashad Khalifa (1935–1990), an Egyptian-American biochemist and Islamic reformer. In his book Quran, Hadith and Islam and his English translation of the Quran, Khalifa argued that the Quran alone is the sole source of Islamic belief and practice. He further declared that the Hadith and Sunna were 'Satanic inventions' under 'Satan's schemes'.[5] In the face of widespread anger and hostility by the Muslim world,[5] Khalifa was stabbed to death on January 31, 1990 by Glen Cusford Francis,[24] a member of the terrorist organization, Jamaat ul-Fuqra.

See also


  1. ^ Ahmad, Aziz, Islamic Modernism in India and Pakistan 1857-1964, Oxford University Press, 1967, pp 14-15
  2. ^ Hanif, N. (1997). Islam And Modernity. Sarup & Sons. p. 72. 
  3. ^ a b Yvonne Y. Haddad; Jane I. Smith (3 November 2014). The Oxford Handbook of American Islam. Oxford University Press. pp. 150–153. ISBN 978-0-19-986264-1. 
  4. ^ a b Richard Stephen Voss, Identifying Assumptions in the Hadith/Sunnah Debate, 19.org, Accessed December 5, 2013
  5. ^ a b c d Musa, Aisha Y. (2010). "The Qur'anists". Religion Compass. John Wiley & Sons. 4 (1): 12–21. doi:10.1111/j.1749-8171.2009.00189.x. Retrieved 26 September 2015. 
  6. ^ a b c Musa, Aisha Y. (2008). Hadith as Scripture: Discussions on The Authority Of Prophetic Traditions in Islam. Palgrave. ISBN 978-0-230-60535-0. 
  7. ^ Hussein Abdul-Raof, Theological Approaches to Qur'anic Exegesis: A Practical Comparative-Contrastive Analysis, Routledge, 2012, pp. 33-34
  8. ^ Muhammad Qasim Zaman, Religion and Politics Under the Early ʻAbbasids: The Emergence of the Proto-Sunni Elite, Brill, 1997, pg. 55
  9. ^ G. H. A. Juynboll, The Authenticity of the Tradition Literature: Discussions in Modern Egypt, E. J. Brill, 1969, pg. 77-80
  10. ^ a b c Daniel W. Brown, Rethinking Tradition in Modern Islamic Thought, Cambridge University Press, 1996, pp. 38-41
  11. ^ a b Azīz Aḥmad, Islamic modernism in India and Pakistan, 1857-1964, p. 120-1, at Google Books. Royal Institute of International Affairs / Oxford University Press, 1967.
  12. ^ Muhammad Nur Alkali; Abubakar Kawu Monguno; Ballama Shettima Mustafa (January 2012). Overview of Islamic actors in northern Nigeria (pdf) (Report). Nigeria Research Network. p. 16. Retrieved 1 November 2015. 
  13. ^ Islamic actors and interfaith relations in northern Nigeria (pdf) (Report). Nigeria Research Network. March 2013. p. 8. Retrieved 1 March 2013. 
  14. ^ Abiodun Alao, Islamic Radicalisation and Violence in Nigeria, accessed March 1, 2013[dead link]
  15. ^ https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jan/30/muslim-woman-receives-death-threats-leading-prayers-kerala-india
  16. ^ Khan, Aftab Ahmad. "Islamic Culture and the Modern World-2." Defence Journal 20.4 (2016): 49
  17. ^ https://www.themalaysianinsight.com/s/17894/
  18. ^ "Not the right type of Islam: 27 Muslims are on trial in Sudan for apostasy". 6 December 2015. 
  19. ^ "The dilemma of freedom of religion in Sudan - Sudan Tribune: Plural news and views on Sudan". 
  20. ^ "About Us". Ahl-alquran.com. Retrieved 6 February 2010. 
  21. ^ "Muslims' Unheralded Messenger; Antiterrorism Group Founder Hopes To Rally a Crowd". Retrieved 6 February 2010. 
  22. ^ Girja Kumar, The Book on Trial: Fundamentalism and Censorship in India, Har Anand Publications, 1997, pp. 34-35
  23. ^ Kenney, Jeffrey T.; Moosa, Ebrahim (2013). Islam in the Modern World. Routledge. p. 21. 
  24. ^ "State of Arizona v. Francis, Glen Cusford :: The Investigative Project on Terrorism". The Investigative Project on Terrorism. Retrieved 2015-12-14. 

Further reading

  • Aisha Y. Musa, Hadith as Scripture: Discussions on the Authority of Prophetic Traditions in Islam, New York: Palgrave, 2008. ISBN 0-230-60535-4.
  • Ali Usman Qasmi, Questioning the Authority of the Past: The Ahl al-Qur'an Movements in the Punjab, Oxford University Press, 2012. ISBN 0-195-47348-5.
  • Daniel Brown, Rethinking Tradition in Modern Islamic Thought, Cambridge University Press, 1996. ISBN 0-521-65394-0.
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