“It is He Who has sent down to thee the Book: In it are Verses that are entirely clear; they are the foundation of the Book: others are not entirely clear. But those in whose hearts is perversity follow the part thereof that is not entirely clear, seeking discord, and searching for its hidden meanings, but no one knows its hidden meanings except Allah. And those who are firmly grounded in knowledge say: “We believe in the Book; the whole of it is from our Lord:” and none will grasp the Message except men of understanding.” (Qur’an 3:7)
It is my humble opinion that the verse above in the Qur’an is a very wise and beautiful criterion for establishing when someone or some group is trying to create dissension among the ranks of the Muslims. Namely when they are trying to create sectarianism.
It has been my experience time and again that every time I run into some group of Muslims that want me to join their particular theological, juristic or spiritual understanding of Islam, they will more often than not quote those verses that are not entirely clear. They will attempt to give fixed meanings to verses that are not entirely clear. Rather what they should do is fear Allah and be humble.
These people should say rather, ‘This is what it could mean.’ ‘This is a possible meaning or an interpretation of the verse.’
One such group is the ‘submitters’. As they have also split into several groups over the years, or there has arisen dissension in their ranks I will give you links to their web sites so that you can read from their perspectives and form your own conclusion. Ultimately Allah alone is the source of guidance.
I have included two additional web sites that are ‘spin-off’ from the submitters -splinter groups. Those that over the course of time ended up having some differences among each other.
These to my limited knowledge are the more prominent websites that espouse the view of taking the Qur’an alone.
What is interesting is that submission.org claims that the Qur’an is divinely protected and safeguarded by an interlocking mathematical code based upon the number 19.
Over it are Nineteen. And We have not made the keepers of the Fire except angels. And We have not made their number except as a trial for those who disbelieve – that those who were given the Scripture will be convinced and those who have believed will increase in faith and those who were given the Scripture and the believers will not doubt and that those in whose hearts is hypocrisy and the disbelievers will say, “What does Allah intend by this as an example?” Thus does Allah leave astray whom He wills and guides whom He wills. And none knows the soldiers of your Lord except Him. And mention of the Fire is not but a reminder to humanity. (Qur’an 74:30-31)
What the submission.org people advocate is that this verse above refers to the phrase ‘bismillah ir rahman ir raheem‘ which is translated as ‘with the name of Allah the Most Gracious the Most Merciful’. That this phrase is key to the interlocking mathematical code that the Qur’an is based upon.
To me, the number nineteen above in context refers to the angels, or ‘soldiers’ who are guarding the hellfire. However, if it is unclear what the number nineteen is a reference to. This is exactly what Allah warned us about in the (Qur’an 3:7) “But those in whose hearts is perversity follow the part thereof that is not entirely clear, seeking discord, and searching for its hidden meanings…”
The submission.org people also make an issue of the letters that will often appear at the beginning of many chapters of the Qur’an.
Alif Laam Meem Raa (Qur’an 13:1)
Alif Laam Meen (Qur’an 3:1)
Alif Laam Meem (Qur’an 2:1)
These letters standing alone at the beginning of chapters have puzzled many Muslim scholars. However, submission.org attempts to give fixed meaning to that which is not entirely clear.
Rashad Khalifa (chief architect) of submission.org also completely ignored what Allah said by taking two verses out of the Qur’an! That is correct, in spite of the many sectarian differences among Muslims all Muslims have been in agreement upon the text of the Qur’an
He took them out because the letters in the verses did not tally with his number nineteen interlocking mathematical code.
“We have, without doubt, sent down the Message; and We will assuredly guard it.” (Qur’an 15:9)
So for 1400 years, the Qur’an had these ‘two extra verses’ and no one noticed that until Rashad Khalifa came with his interlocking mathematical code based upon the number nineteen?
The number 19 interlocking mathematical code has not been shown to work with other ahruf/qira’at*of the Qur’an.
*Note. ahruf/qira’at refer to different transmissions of the Qur’an and ways of recitation. Allah willing I will have some entries about this in the future as well.
To me, these facts alone make the claims of Rashad Khilafa very dubious.
Here is a glaring inconsistency for anyone to investigate for themselves.
If you go to the following links:
You will see them give their take on the prayer. Now notice something very interesting when it comes to the call to prayer (azaan)
This is what they have written:
Azaan is not a part of the Contact Prayers, nor is it required. But it has become a tradition in the Muslim communities to summon the people to prayer through a loud announcement. The original Azaan used to conform with the Quran’s teachings and became corrupted with time.
Originally, the call to prayer consisted of:
(1) Allahu Akbar (God is Great), 4 times.
(2) Laa Elaaha Ellah Allah (There is no other god beside God), once.
Many years later, some people added Muhammad’s name to the Azaan. This violates God’s commandments in 2:136, 2:285, 3:84, 4:150, and 72:18. Later, other groups of Muslims added the names of Ali and his family. Today, the Azaan is severely corrupted throughout the Muslim world and constitutes idol worship, not Submission to God ALONE.
#1 Notice that there is no problem with the call to prayer being accepted as a handed-down tradition or practice in the Muslim community?
#2. “The original Azaam used to conform with the Quran’s teachings, and became corrupted with time.” Notice that they do not even furnish any evidence or proof for this.
#3. “Originally, the call to prayer consisted of.” Again noticed that no proof is furnished of how the call to prayer was ‘originally’.
#4. When Muslims say in the call to prayer that Muhammed is the Messenger of God, submission takes things to far by declaring it idol worship.
Now since the (Qur’an alone) people are pretty relentless with the Para-Qur’an (taking sources alongside the Qur’an ) people let me continue. If you go to the links above on the ‘Contact Prayers’ it gets worse.
Under the section:
What Nullifies Ablution
“Digestive excretions through the intestines, including gas, solids, or urine nullify ablution. Sleeping also nullifies ablution, since one becomes unaware. Thus one may observe a number of Contact Prayers with one ablution, provided he or she does not go to the bathroom, pass gas, or fall asleep.” Notice absolutely no reference from the Qur’an.
2. The Intention
“In your own language, secretly or audibly, state your intention that you are about to observe the Contact Prayer. Remember to state the time (Dawn, Noon, Afternoon, Sunset, or Night).” Notice absolutely no reference from the Holy Qur’an. Why would I have to say my intention? Isn’t God aware of what I am about to do?
3. Raise your hands to the sides of your face:
Your thumbs touch your ears, and the palms of your hands face forward. Notice absolutely no reference from the Qur’an.
5. The Standing Position:
You are now standing with your arms resting naturally at your side. Some people place the left hand on the stomach, and the right hand on top of the left hand. Either position is correct – you may place your hands on your stomach while standing, or you may let your arms hang down by your sides. Notice absolutely no reference from the Qur’an. How does he know that ‘either position is correct’. The Qur’an does not say anything on the matter!
The Contact Prayers and The Quran’s Mathematical Code
As noted above, the Dawn, Noon, Afternoon, Sunset, and Night Prayers consist of 2, 4, 4, 3, & 4 units, respectively. When we put these 5 numbers next to each other we get 24434, and this number is a multiple of 19 (24434 = 19 x 1286). The common denominator of the Quran’s code is 19. This phenomenon confirms that the number of units for each Contact Prayer has been preserved intact, but the sequence 2, 4, 4, 3, and 4 is also confirmed.
Now notice how contrived this is! He claims that the sequence of 2, 4, 4, 3, and 4 is confirmed. Where is it confirmed? Well, accordingly you can place 24434 divides by 19 and get 1286! Hmm well, o.k! So what is so special about 1286? Also notice I could shift the number of units around. For example, I could say the night prayer is 2 units, the dawn prayer is 3 units, the sunset prayer is 4 units, the afternoon prayer is 4 units, the noon prayer is 4 units and I would get 23444. In fact, you could shift it around a number of ways.
This is completely contrived! If you don’t believe that just read on and see what he says concerning the Friday Prayer.
The Friday Prayer
The Friday Congregational Prayer (Salat Al-Jum`ah) is so important, a whole sura is entitled “Friday” and a commandment is decreed in Verse 62:9 to observe this prayer. Every Submitter – man, woman, and child – is commanded by God to observe the Friday Congregational Prayer.
The Friday Prayer replaces the Noon Prayer every Friday. Instead of 4 units, the Friday Prayer consists of listening to two sermons delivered by the Imam, and two units of prayer. Where does he get this from? The Qur’an does not say that. Let us see if we use his formula of 19. 22434/19 =1180.7368. Hmm well o.k What is so special about 1180.7368?
I have given the links above to their web sites. There is no censorship. As far as I am concerned this whole idea of the Qur’an is based upon the number 19 is more arbitrary than anything else.
However, not all of the Sola-Qur’an (Qur’an only) groups that broke away from Islam to form their own religion direct their anti-tradition stance simply based upon the number 19. Many of the Qur’an only groups also have broken off from Rashad Khilafa. They do not buy into the number 19 claim. Many of them simply refer to verses contained within the Qur’an itself.
“Shall I then seek a judge other than Allah? When it is He Who has revealed to you the Book fully detailed?” (Qur’an 6:114)
“Should We treat the ones who have surrendered the same as those who are criminals? What is wrong with you, how do you judge? Or do you have another book which you study? In it, you find whatever you wish to find?” (Qur’an 68:36-38)
“Have you considered those who were asked to accept judgement from Allah’s Book? When they are asked to accept judgement from Allah’s Book, some of them turn their backs and walk away!” (Qur’an 3:23)
“These are the verses of Allah which we rehearse to you with the truth. Then in what Hadith will they believe in after Allah and His verses? (Qur’an45:6).”
Now I want to say that since my position is Prima-Qur’an (The Qur’an first and foremost) I agree with all of the verses cited above. Here at Prima-Qur’an, we do not take any source (Hadith, ‘Ijma, Qiyas, Ijtihad, etc) that clearly clashes with a command in the Qur’an. This is the way it should be. However, where we differ from Sola-Qur’an (Qur’an only) religion that broke away from Islam is that we do take from the rich tradition of Islam.
Here are some reasons why I feel it is not practical to take from the Qur’an alone. I will also present some reasons why it can be problematic to take from the Holy Qur’an alone.
#1) The position of Sola-Qur’an simply divorces the Qur’an from history. The Qur’an becomes devoid of any context. There are many verses in the Qur’an that address the Noble Messenger (saw) and his community. Anyone who even has a cursory reading of the Qur’an will see this is the case. There is no doubt that there is an intimate relationship between the Qur’an and the Noble Messenger (saw); as well as his community. The Qur’an was revealed in ‘real-time’ to address the needs and concerns of the community.
Allah never says in the Qur’an that we cannot look outside of the Qur’an for guidance and elucidation. Allah simply reminds us that the Qur’an is the final criterion for this.
“And they say: “None will enter Paradise unless he is a Jew or a Christian.” Those are their desires. Say: “Produce your proof if you are truthful.” (Qur’an 2:111)
Now can you imagine Allah commanding us to tell the Jews and Christians to produce their proof/evidence and we do not have people who are qualified to do that? It doesn’t make any sense. You can imagine that the Jews and Christians will indeed produce their proof/evidence. If the claim to produce your proof is a sincere claim than we have to examine what they produce.
“Say, “I do not find within that which was revealed to me] forbidden to one who would eat it unless it is a dead animal or blood spilled out or the flesh of swine – for indeed, it is impure – or it is disobedience, dedicated to other than Allah. But whoever is forced, neither desiring nor transgressing, then indeed, your Lord is Forgiving and Merciful.” (Qur’an 6:145)
So I understand from this verse that it is perfectly fine for me to cook food with bone marrow from swine and I could also consume swine fat. I could technically cook with pig lard. The command in the Qur’an is very clear that the prohibition is only against the flesh of swine. Believe it or not, this is the opinion of the great scholar Ibn Hazm (May Allah have mercy on him). He rejected Qiyas (analogy) though he later modified some of his positions. Ibn Hazm was a follower of Dawud Az-Zahiri and promoted a literal interpretation of the Qur’an.
“Permitted to you, on the night of the fasts, is the approach to your wives. They are your garments and ye are their garments. Allah knoweth what you used to do secretly among yourselves, but He turned to you and forgave you; so now associate with them, and seek what Allah Has ordained for you, and eat and drink, until the white thread of dawn appear to you distinct from its black thread; then complete your fast Till the night appears; (Qur’an 2:187)
How am I to obey this ruling of the Qur’an if I were to live in parts of Alaska, Finland, Norway, and Sweden when there are 6 months of darkness and 6 months of light? If I live in that region do I just not fast at all?
“And establish prayer and give zakah and bow with those who bow [in worship and obedience].” (Qur’an 2:43)
How much am I to pay for the zakah?
“O you who have believed, when you rise to perform the prayer, wash your faces and your forearms to the elbows and wipe over your heads and wash your feet to the ankles. And if you are in a state of janabah, then purify yourselves. But if you are ill or on a journey or one of you comes from the place of relieving himself or you have contacted women and do not find water, then seek clean earth and wipe over your faces and hands with it. Allah does not intend to make difficulty for you, but He intends to purify you and complete His favor upon you that you may be grateful.” (Qur’an 5:6)
Those who are familiar with the Shafi school of jurisprudence know that they understand ‘have contacted women’ to mean simply touching a woman. That by simply touching a woman a person would need to perform their ablutions. This is due to an ambiguity in the Arabic word for ‘touch’ or ‘contacted’. So does the phrase above ‘you have contacted women’ mean sexual intimacy or simply touching them?
“As to the thief, Male or female, cut off his or her hands: a punishment by way of example, from Allah, for their crime: and Allah is Exalted in power.” (Qur’an 5:38)
Would this verse mean a child who steals ice cream from a shop? Would it mean any theft regardless of the monetary value? What happens if the person has one hand, does that also get lobbed off? What happens if the person has no hands, but simply is an assistant thief? For example, I help the person to steal by filling his or her pockets with items. In this case, we are both stealing something. This person has no hands so what is the punishment here?
One could go on and on with this.
It is clear from the Qu’ran itself that it does not explicitly prohibit Muslims from taking other sources of guidance. There is no such verse in the Qur’an that would not allow me to quote the hadith. There is not a single prohibition in the Qur’an. The Qur’an only warns me to be on guard against false teachings. The Qur’an teaches me that it is the filter for any source of guidance. That ultimately the Qur’an is the source of guidance. To take the Qur’an alone presents many problems, simply because the Arabic language lends itself to an array of interpretations or understandings. If I were to take a literal approach to the Qu’ran without recourse to customs, analogy, logic, deduction, inference, etc it would present me with many conundrums.
For further reading please see my entry: “Is the Qur’an Clear?” for further arguments on why I do not follow the breakaway religion of Qur’an ‘only’ Islam. Or what I would term: ‘Sola-Qur’an‘.