“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?” (Holy 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!” (Holy Qur’an 3:23)
“These are the verses of Allah which we rehearse to you with truth. Then in what Hadith will they believe in after Allah and His verses? (Holy 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 Holy Qur’an. This is the way it should be. However, where we differ from Sola-Qur’an (Qur’an only) in 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 Holy 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 Holy Qur’an from history. The Holy Qur’an becomes devoid of any context. There are many verses in the Holy Qur’an that address the Noble Messenger (saw) and his community. Anyone who even has a cursory reading of the Holy Qur’an will see this is the case. There is no doubt that there is an intimate relation between the Holy Qur’an and the Noble Messenger (saw); as well as his community. The Holy Qur’an was revealed in ‘real time’ to address the needs and concerns of the community.
Allah never says in the Holy Qur’an that we cannot look outside of the Holy Qur’an for guidance and elucidation. Allah simply reminds us that the Holy Qur’an is the final criteria for this.
“And they say: “None will enter Paradise unless he be a Jew or a Christian.” Those are their desires. Say: “Produce your proof if you are truthful.” (Holy 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 be a dead animal or blood spilled out or the flesh of swine – for indeed, it is impure – or it be disobedience, dedicated to other than Allah . But whoever is forced, neither desiring nor transgressing, then indeed, your Lord is Forgiving and Merciful.” (Holy 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 Holy 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 latter modified some of his positions. Ibn Hazm was a follower of Dawud Az-Zahiri and promoted literal interpretation of the Holy 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; (Holy Qur’an 2:187)
How am I to obey this ruling of the Holy 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].” (Holy Qur’an 2:43)
How much am I to pay for the zakah?
“O you who have believed, when you rise to perform 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.” (Holy Qur’an 5:6)
Those who are familiar with the Shaf’i 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.” (Holy Qur’an 5:38)
Would this verse mean a child who steals a lollipop from J.C Penny’s? 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. This person has no hands so what is the punishment here?
One could go on and on with this.
It is clear from the Holy Qur’an itself that it does not explicitly prohibit Muslims from taking other sources of guidance. There is no such verse in the Holy Qur’an that would not allow me to quote or appreciate the beautiful teachings of say Gandhi or Jesus. The Holy Qur’an only warns me to be on guard against false teachings. The Holy Qur’an teaches me that it is the filter for any source of guidance. That ultimately the Holy Qur’an is the source of guidance. To take the Holy 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 Holy Qur’an 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 am not a Qur’an ‘only’ Muslim. Or what I would term: ‘Sola-Qur’an‘.