Quranism (or the Quranites) is a religious movement in Islam, the followers of which claim the Quran as the only canonical scripture of Islam.
The Quranites deny the authority of the traditions of the Prophet Muhammad so-called Hadiths. The systematization and recording of Hadiths led to the emergence of various versions of the Sunnah (sacred tradition of Muslims) among Shiites, Ibadis and Sunnis.
The Quranites call themselves “Muslims” and their opponents refer to them as “Quranites”. Some Muslims call them “Hadith deniers”.
Differences from traditional Islam
Although the Quranites in their teachings try to base only on the Quran, there are differences among them in the conducting of rituals. This applies to the interpretation of the Suras and daily prayers. There are many different groups in Quranism itself. Therefore, the differences between them and orthodox Islam may vary, additionally Quranites may be traditional or liberal:
During the reign of the Abbasids, Ibrāhīm an-Naẓẓām, a lawyer, philosopher and representative of the Mu’tazili school of Kalama, criticized the influence of hadith and denied the “unanimity” (Ijma) of his contemporary theologians.
Aslam Jairajpuri, a professor of Arabic from India, was the first modern scholar of Quranism. He strongly influenced Ghulam Ahmed Perwez the famous scientist from Pakistan, who considered himself a follower and companion of Aslam. In the 19th century, they both played an important role in the “Ahl al-Quran” (People of the Quran) movement, which stated that the Quran is the only sacred scripture of Islam. Ahmed Perwez was the first modern Quranite to criticize Hadith in his theological works, especially those related to the age of Aisha, the third and youngest wife of the Prophet Muhammad. He preached Quranic doctrines. For him, many of the Hadiths, written by the upper classes of Islamic states, were forgeries aimed to distort and undermine the rebellious Islamic spirit which was dangerous for the authorities. Ahmed Perwez criticized the mullahs and called them the servants of the rich.
Ahmad Mansour, a former lecturer at Al-Azhar University, is a representative of modern Quranism. In 1985, he lost his job at the university due to “deviation from the basic norms of Islam and the observance of the Sunnah”. Both in 1987 and 1988, he was imprisoned for humiliating the theologians. In 1996, with the help of Dr Saad ad-Din Ibrahim, the discussion club of Ahmad Mansour was opened. His activities were focused on issues of Muslim dogma and the problems of religious extremism. In 2000, the club was closed by the Egyptian authorities.
Ahmad Mansour applied for political asylum from the US government in 2002, and protection was immediately provided to him. Most recently, he was a lecturer on the National Contribution to Democracy program at Harvard School.
Ahmad Mansour has written over 500 articles and 24 books in Arabic. To promote Quranism, he founded the International Quranic Center in Virginia and the English-Arabic website www.ahl-alquran.com. On this site, among other information, fatwas are published (decisions of the mufti on various issues). For example, one of these fatwas allows Muslims to trade in drugs and use them since there is no direct prohibition on this in the Koran. Therefore, theologians of al-Azhar accepted a fatwa in which Ahmad Mansur and his eight companions are sentenced to death.
Some theologians are not absolute Quranites, but, like them, consider the Quran to be the main Holy Scripture and criticize Hadith. Many followers of Jadidism were also critical of Hadith. Zyya Kamali founded the Galia madrasah in 1906 and, while teaching there, “discarded various legends and superstitions and showed that the religion of Islam should be based only on the Quran”.
The public association “Izgi Amal” (literally “a good deed”), founded in 2007, is the main organization of the Quranites in Kazakhstan. Aslbek Musin, the son of the famous politician Aslan Musin, is the head of this association. According to Aslbek, between seventy and eighty thousand people are members of this organization. The association owns the newspaper Nash Mir.
“Izgi Amal” is constantly criticized by the supreme clergy of Kazakhstan (SAMK). The Deputy Supreme Mufti of Kazakhstan, Muhammad Hussein Alsabekov, considers Quranism a sect sponsored by the United Kingdom and the United States.
In general, traditional Muslims perceive the Quranites as erring sectarians who claim that everyone can interpret the Quran, regardless of the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad.