Fifteen Great Reasons We Should Embrace
and Follow the Quran-only Islam
21 July 2009
Islam that we should follow is the one guided strictly by the Quran’s tenets. The Hadith, the alleged second source of Islam, is unacceptable as religious guidance as it has given rise to spurious, untenable and ludicrous ideas that have corrupted practiced Islam (See: Chapters 10 and 11 of the author’s recently published book Exploring Islam in a New Light: An Understanding from the Quranic Perspective). The Quran-only Islam seeks to replace the most widely held notions of Islam that have led to sectarian divisions among Muslims, and given rise to the violence, strife, inequality and fanaticism seen so often in western portrayals of Islam. The Hadith believers think that the Quran is not sufficient or easy for us as guidance. The Quran, however, is emphatic on the points that it is detailed and self-explained (6:114; 12:111; 16:89), and straightforward, clear and sufficiently easy to follow (39:28; 43:2; 44:2, 58; 54:17, 22, 32, 40). There are at least fifteen great reasons why one should embrace and follow this Quran-only Islam:
1. The Quran provides to date the most reliable comprehensive religious guidance to humankind.
Confirming and upholding earlier divine messages, the Quran embodies the latest genuine and most comprehensive divine guidance to humankind. It is the latest divinely inspired book in Arabic, which is empirically found to remain intact in its original version, unaltered and undiluted since its compilation by the Prophet Muhammad’s trustworthy companions. The Quran excels in eloquence as well as in profundity, universal appeal, logical coherence and scientific orientation of its message. (For more illumination, see Chapter 1 of my book Exploring Islam in a New Light: An Understanding from the Quranic Perspective.)
2. The Quran gives not a new religion but the purest of all monotheistic religions.
The roots of Islam are traceable to earlier monotheistic religions such as Christianity, Judaism, Zoroastrianism and Vedic Hinduism. However, the pure monotheism that the Quran reestablishes has unfortunately been lost or diluted in earlier religions (e.g., the Trinity introduced in Christianity and polytheism and idolatry in Hinduism). The Quran corrects the errors that crept into earlier religious books and their associated religions, and at the same time upholds the original religions brought by the Prophets Abraham, Moses, Jesus and others. All earlier prophets of God are respected prophets of Islam, who are excellent examples to emulate for all Muslims. Our Prophet Muhammad was specifically urged to follow Abraham as an excellent example and follow his religion (60:4-6; 3:95; 2:135; 4:125; 16:123).
3. This religion is spiritual. The Quran calls for a religious practice that is essentially and fundamentally spiritual in nature.
The Quran urges humankind to embark on a journey of spiritual evolution, as distinguished from material wellbeing, for self-purification and to attain spiritual wisdom to lead an enriched, progressive and blissful life. For this it prescribes religious practices such as prayer and noble and humanitarian deeds along with strict moral and ethical uprightness. The Quran inspires us to envision and build a human society where peace, security, justice and compassion and an environment conducive to the uplifting of all humankind prevail.
4. This religion is humane. The Quran emphasizes mercy, compassion and service to humanity.
God wants us to be as good and kind to others as we are to ourselves (2:267). God wants us to save a man rather than kill him, and saving a man is like saving the whole of humankind (5:32). In accordance with this spirit, we need to serve humanity to save them from any danger and disadvantage—from death, disease, injury, deprivation, ignorance, misery, poverty and hunger. To be good and generous to fellow human beings, especially to those who are poor and disadvantaged, is a great virtue in the sight of God (90:12–18; 2:261, 265; 70:24–25). Serving God amounts to serving humanity in the same way as God serves them through His agents.
5. This Islam advocates social egalitarianism.
Though it sanctifies private ownership and enterprise, the Quran has a strong socialistic overtone. It urges the more wealthy sections of people in society to share their wealth and income with their poor and disadvantaged fellow beings (2:177; 76:8-9; 92:20-21; 107:1-7; etc.). The Quran states there is no piety without giving (92:18; 9:103; 3:92; 107:1–7). (For more illumination on this, see the discussion on spending in God’s Way in the author’s above-cited book.)
6. This religion advocates application of a rational approach to religion.
Typical of all practiced religions, practiced Islam is found to often distract from what are dictated by scientific knowledge and reason. The Quran, on the other hand, rather encourages us to apply reason and a scientific approach to faith. It encourages us to look throughout the universe and see how things happen:
“Say: Travel through the earth, and see how God hath brought forth all creation.” (29:20).
Creation or change points to causal relation. The Quranic religion is one that makes man conscious of how he can change both his lot and the lot of his society. The Quran makes it amply clear that He does not change the condition of man unless he himself takes the initiative and changes it:
“Verily God changeth not the condition of a people until they themselves change their own condition” (13:11).
Other statements in the Quran such as that one’s reward is proportionate to one’s work, that none shoulders the burden of others, that the universe with its planetary system follows a perfect logical order underscore Islam’s rational foundation. It is only with sincere effort that man can achieve progress and success. God does not do anything on His own to reward or punish man or any creature.
7. This religion has no room for religious fanaticism or “fundamentalism”.
The Quran does not encourage a fatalistic belief in God. He has given us free will to choose between good and evil (13:11; 18:29; 76:3; 91:7–10). We are rewarded or punished according to what we do (2: 286; 20:15; 28:84; 53:31, 39; 42:30; 6:132; 46:19; 17:19; 5:35; etc.). There should be no such thing as predestination by God or fatalism, i.e., the belief that God preordains all events. The fatalistic idea espoused by the Hadith is that God knows in advance all events, He predetermines all events, and He wills all events and, therefore, all events take place in accordance with what God knew, planned and willed. But if this idea is true, the Quranic verse that “Man hath only that for which he maketh effort” (20:15; 53:39) cannot have any meaning. For, if God decides beforehand what man will do, He cannot legitimately make him responsible for anything he does and the whole system of rewarding for good work and punishing for bad work completely breaks down, there remaining no role for religion to play for man. Fatalism or fatalistic attitude belies God’s Laws or the logical system. Fatalism or blind dependence on God, which negates the relevance of man’s own efforts is, therefore, not only a real obstacle for one’s spiritual progress, but a great impediment to overall human progress, and should therefore be shunned.
At the same time we need to note that belief in God’s Laws or the logical system also implies that we need to be mentally ready to accept, and readily accept what cannot be escaped or avoided. This is what really means accepting the given set of facts or factors, that have already been predetermined by factors, and which man must live with. The given set of predetermined facts or factors is so to say God-given or God-willed. One needs to believe in this kind of taqdir or predetermined fate or destiny, and this is not fatalism or predestination.
This Islam also rejects many other fanatic beliefs held by Muslims that are encouraged mostly by the Hadith literature (e.g., reciting Quranic verses without understanding is a virtue (thawab) or reciting such and such verses of the Quran gives such and such virtues).
8. This “Quran-only” Islam rejects sects and madhabs.
When Islam came – during the Prophet’s lifetime, there was only one Muslim group. Muslims later became divided into sects such as Shiites, Sunnis and Kharijites (who were distinct from Shiites and Sunnis), and Sunnis in turn formed four madhabs (schools of thought) – Shafi, Hanafi, Maliki and Hanbali. Subsequently, there emerged another much conservative Sunni group called Wahhabis. Such divisions among Muslims are unacceptable under the “Quran-only” Islam (3:103, 105; 6:159). The Quran urges Muslims to remain steadfast and united on the path of God (3:103, 105). The Quran states:
“Verily thou (O Muhammad) hast no concern with those who have divided their religion and became sects. Their affair is only with God who will inform them of what they did.” (6:159)
9. This Islam guarantees human freedom – freedom of religion and freedom of speech.
The Quran explicitly allows free human will (13:11; 18:29; 76:3; 91:7–10), which is really the basic foundation of religion, since without free will human beings could not be made accountable for their deeds. It allows freedom to choose between religions, which is implicit in the very statement that there must not be any coercion in religion (2:256). The Prophet was asked to not force anyone to his religion (10:99). Also the statement “To you your religion, to me my religion” (109:6) signifies full religious freedom and tolerance. The Prophet was asked to not revile others’ gods lest others wrongfully revile God through ignorance (6:108). Also the statement “Bear with what they say, and part from them in a nice manner” (73:10) guarantees freedom and tolerance of speech.
10. This Islam is truly a religion of peace and tolerance.
The “Quran-only” Islam is peaceful by definition. The expression “Islam” is derived from “salama”, which means “peace”. It also means submission (to God or godly values). The Quran supports only defensive wars. It strongly condemns aggressive wars and persecution and torture, and asks believers to cease hostility, if the enemy inclines to peace (2:190-193; 4:90; 8:61-62).
“Fight in the way of God against those who fight against you, but initiate not aggression. Verily God loveth not aggressors. And slay them wherever ye find them, and drive them out of the places wherefrom they drove you out, for persecution is worse than slaughter. And fight not with them at the Sacred Mosque until they first attack you there, but if they attack you (there), then slay them. Such is the reward of disbelievers. But if they desist, then verily God is Ever Forgiving, Most Merciful. And fight them until there is no more persecution, and religion is for God. But if they desist, let there be no hostility except against the wrongdoers.” (2:190–193)
The Quranic religion is a most tolerant religion, a misunderstood faith because of the influence from the widely revered Hadith literature that has perpetuated the harsh, extremist version of Islam. By historical standards also, notwithstanding the fact that Muslims often deviated from the Quran-dictated path, “Islam has a long record of tolerance” according to noted scholar on comparative religion John Esposito. The Quran strongly condemns the intolerance, violence and terrorism that are currently being orchestrated by Muslim extremists in various parts of the world. In the Quran, God has clearly and strongly warned humankind against any act of wrongdoing, murder, corruption or mischief in the land (5:32; 7:56, 74; 13:25; 26:151–152, 183; 27:48–49; 47:22–23).
Another aspect of tolerance espoused by the Quran is a forgiving attitude believers are urged to exhibit towards those who commit excesses. It recommends forgiveness in place of retaliation to the extent possible without encouraging persistence of injustice in society.
(For more on tolerance, the reader may visit the free-minds.org website link: http://www.free-minds.org/tolerance, or read the relevant section in Chapter VI of the author’s book Exploring Islam in a New Light, or Edip Yuksel’s article “Violence and Peace” in Quran: A Reformist Translation, republished in just published Critical Thinkers for Islamic Reform.)
11. This Islam is for human dignity and equality, and respectful of genuine human rights.
The Quran has full respect for human dignity and advocates equal treatment of all human beings irrespective of race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other similar status. All men and women are equal in the eyes of God; only virtuousness determines who is nearer to Him (3:195; 4:124; 16:97; 33:35). The best in God’s sight is one who is best in righteous conduct (49:13). All the children of Adam—all men and women—deserve the same dignity:
“And verily We have bestowed honor on the children of Adam; provided them with transport on land and sea; given them for sustenance things good and pure; and conferred on them special favors, above a great part of Our creation.” (17:70)
There is no room for racial discrimination in this Islam. Likewise, even though women are treated as inferior to men in traditional Islam, the Quran does not approve of such discrimination. Nor is there any rationale for discrimination on the basis of any religion in name (2:62; 5:69). For that matter, no other reason, e.g., wealth or property, strength in manpower, or status or power in society, is of any value to God (9:55, 69; 10:58, 88–89; 28:76–81; 30:39; 34:37; 43:32–35; 111:2).
The Quran guarantees private initiative and enterprise, and the right to private ownership of property (2:188). It puts a very high premium on human life, which implies a very high regard for an individual (5:32). It requires us to stand and fight for human rights and against human oppression (4:75). It forbids us to deprive others of their legitimate rights:
“And wrong not men of their things (or rights), and act not corruptly in the earth, making mischief.” (26:183).
Thus human rights abuses that are being committed from time to time by governments or ethnic groups are things that deserve strong condemnation from Islam.
12. This Islam rejects misogyny.
The Hadith-dominated traditional Islam treats women as inferior to men. The degrading way in which women are being treated in Muslim societies has been a major stumbling block not only to their development but also to overall development of Muslim countries. It is ironic that Muslim fundamentalists or puritans display a particularly demeaning attitude toward women, treating them “as a constant source of danger, and vulnerability for Islam,” and going “as far as branding women as the main source of corruption and evil” (Khaled Abou El Fadl). The Quran rejects this misogynistic treatment of women. The ideal vision of relationship between husband and wife that the Quran depicts is that of mutual love and respect, mutual comfort, kindness and support, and equality and complementarity (30:21; 4:19; 7:189; 25:74; 2:228). The Quran grants women rights over men similar to those of men over women (2:228). Virtuous persons see their spouses and children as comfort for them (25:74). The Quran, of course, grants some edge to men over women, but that is because of the sociological situation where men share a greater financial responsibility than women. If, however, financial responsibility is shared equally by them, men and women should be treated equally as well in matters of inheritance, for example, where discrimination between men and women is being maintained. (For a fuller discussion of these and other relevant points, the reader is referred to Chapter 8 of my book Exploring Islam in a New Light.)
13. This Islam strongly advocates doing justice to all, even to enemies.
The Quran strongly exhorts us to uphold the cause of justice, if necessary by testifying against ourselves, parents and relatives (4:135), and not to let the hatred (by implication, enmity or injustice) of others make us commit any injustice or stray from doing justice (5: 8), which implies ensuring justice to all without parochial or partisan considerations, or regardless of religious or ethnic affiliations. The Quran urges us to not bribe judges to immorally grab others’ property, or to distort justice (2:188). God urges us to give right measure and not to deprive others of their rights. He urges us to maintain proper criminal justice in society – to punish people proportionately to their crimes, and where appropriate to forgive them without jeopardizing the cause of justice.
14. This Islam rejects sharia-prescribed harsh (hudud) punishments.
This Islam rejects the cruel shariah-prescribed punishments such as the punishment by death for apostates, the punishment by stoning to death for adulterers and adulteresses; cutting limbs of thieves; etc. It is the Hadith, not the Quran that prescribes the first two punishments. The cutting of limbs is an extreme or exemplary form of punishments for thieves, and that needs to be understood in a historical context. When society moves toward a more civilized way of life, the need for harsher punishments fades away. From that standpoint, limb cutting is a crude form of punishment that can be avoided without encouraging the crime. Some Muslim scholars think, the relevant word is not limb-cutting but limb-marking so that the culprits are well marked and humiliated in society (See Quran: A Reformist Translation by Edip Yuksel et. al.)
15. This Islam categorically condemns slavery and slavery-like practices.
This Islam is unequivocally against slavery and slavery-like practices, and human domination of one group over another group, and chauvinism and imperialism. Slavery is a most dehumanizing institution. A good Muslim will never enslave a person, but will rather free him or her, or keep him or her as an equal member of his family. Social egalitarianism is a major hallmark of Islam. This is the only way we evolve and elevate all men and help develop their latent talents and bring about all round progress in society. Ironically, slavery and slavery-like practices have long continued in Muslim societies, much longer than in Western societies (For example, the British government abolished slavery long ago.) because of ambiguous influence from the Hadith literature. The Hadith recommends emancipation from slavery, and at the same time permits it.