When debating with many Muslims a common argument some of them make is that the average Muslim is incapable of understanding the Quran and therefore it is necessary to rely on the interpretation of the Ulama, the Muslim scholars and imams who study these matters, to understand the Quran.
If we follow the Ulama we come to learn many critical aspects of the religion that completely contradict the Quran.
- Homosexuals should be killed (2:190-193, 17:33)
- Apostates should be killed (2:256, 2:190-193, 109:1-6)
- Adulterers should be stoned to death (24:2)
- Women must be covered from head to toe and wear a head covering (24:31, 33:59)
- Dogs are prohibited and unclean (5:4, 18:18)
- Cutting off the hands of the thief (12:31)
- Forbidding women from reading the Quran or doing their Salat when they are menstruating (2:222)
- Idolizing the prophet against his will (3:18, 3:79)
- Propagating that the prophet was illiterate and couldn’t read or write (96:1-5, 68:1)
- Prohibiting gold and silk for men (6:150, 5:87, 7:32)
- Prohibiting music and the arts (6:150, 5:87, 7:32)
- Believing that the world is flat that sits on top of a giant whale (21:30, 79:30, 39:5)
Based on this information alone is reason enough to disavow the ulama as they have done nothing except send the vast majority of people astray, but at a minimum people need to investigate any claims they make as they have a reputation of corruption and spreading of falsehood.
[49:6] O you who believe, if a wicked person brings any news to you, you shall first investigate, lest you commit injustice towards some people, out of ignorance, then become sorry and remorseful for what you have done.
يَاأَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِنْ جَاءَكُمْ فَاسِقٌ بِنَبَإٍ فَتَبَيَّنُوا أَنْ تُصِيبُوا قَوْمًا بِجَهَالَةٍ فَتُصْبِحُوا عَلَىٰ مَا فَعَلْتُمْ نَادِمِينَ
If someone genuinely believes in the Day of Resurrection and that their decisions in this life will affect them for the rest of eternity then why would they put such a crucial decision in the hands of anyone other than themselves? Would they not want to educate themselves to make sure that they are not following blindly the interpretation of someone who may be astray?
Our eternity is too important to be left to others. This is something each and every person needs to dedicate a substantial amount of time and research into in order to make sure that they are following the truth.
[17:36] You shall not accept any information, unless you verify it for yourself. I have given you the hearing, the eyesight, and the brain, and you are responsible for using them.
وَلَا تَقْفُ مَا لَيْسَ لَكَ بِهِ عِلْمٌ إِنَّ السَّمْعَ وَالْبَصَرَ وَالْفُؤَادَ كُلُّ أُولَٰئِكَ كَانَ عَنْهُ مَسْئُولًا
Don’t Make The Same Mistakes As Previous Communities
This is the same mistake that the Jews and the Christians have made in the past by setting up intermidiaries between the people and God, they have set up their religious leaders as idols next to God. The Jews with their Rabbis and the Talmund, and the Christians with their preists, scholars, and Pope.
[9:31] They have set up their religious leaders and scholars as lords, instead of GOD. Others deified the Messiah, son of Mary. They were all commanded to worship only one god. There is no god except He. Be He glorified, high above having any partners.
اتَّخَذُوا أَحْبَارَهُمْ وَرُهْبَانَهُمْ أَرْبَابًا مِنْ دُونِ اللَّهِ وَالْمَسِيحَ ابْنَ مَرْيَمَ وَمَا أُمِرُوا إِلَّا لِيَعْبُدُوا إِلَٰهًا وَاحِدًا لَا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ سُبْحَانَهُ عَمَّا يُشْرِكُونَ
[28:41] We made them imams who led their people to Hell. Furthermore, on the Day of Resurrection, they will have no help.
وَجَعَلْنَاهُمْ أَئِمَّةً يَدْعُونَ إِلَى النَّارِ وَيَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ لَا يُنْصَرُونَ
Warning What To Expect If We Do Not Take Heed
God informs us that on the Day of Judgment that those who followed their leaders blindly will have no excuse and will have no one to blame except themselves.
[34:31] Those who disbelieve have said, “We will not believe in this Quran, nor in the previous scriptures.” If you could only envision these transgressors when they stand before their Lord! They will argue with one another back and forth. The followers will tell their leaders, “If it were not for you, we would have been believers.”
وَقَالَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا لَنْ نُؤْمِنَ بِهَٰذَا الْقُرْآنِ وَلَا بِالَّذِي بَيْنَ يَدَيْهِ وَلَوْ تَرَىٰ إِذِ الظَّالِمُونَ مَوْقُوفُونَ عِنْدَ رَبِّهِمْ يَرْجِعُ بَعْضُهُمْ إِلَىٰ بَعْضٍ الْقَوْلَ يَقُولُ الَّذِينَ اسْتُضْعِفُوا لِلَّذِينَ اسْتَكْبَرُوا لَوْلَا أَنْتُمْ لَكُنَّا مُؤْمِنِينَ
[34:32] The leaders will say to those who followed them, “Are we the ones who diverted you from the guidance after it came to you? No; it is you who were wicked.”
قَالَ الَّذِينَ اسْتَكْبَرُوا لِلَّذِينَ اسْتُضْعِفُوا أَنَحْنُ صَدَدْنَاكُمْ عَنِ الْهُدَىٰ بَعْدَ إِذْ جَاءَكُمْ بَلْ كُنْتُمْ مُجْرِمِينَ
[34:33] The followers will say to their leaders, “It was you who schemed night and day, then commanded us to be unappreciative of GOD, and to set up idols to rank with Him.” They will be ridden with remorse, when they see the retribution, for we will place shackles around the necks of those who disbelieved. Are they not justly requited for what they did?
وَقَالَ الَّذِينَ اسْتُضْعِفُوا لِلَّذِينَ اسْتَكْبَرُوا بَلْ مَكْرُ الَّيْلِ وَالنَّهَارِ إِذْ تَأْمُرُونَنَا أَنْ نَكْفُرَ بِاللَّهِ وَنَجْعَلَ لَهُ أَنْدَادًا وَأَسَرُّوا النَّدَامَةَ لَمَّا رَأَوُا الْعَذَابَ وَجَعَلْنَا الْأَغْلَالَ فِي أَعْنَاقِ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا هَلْ يُجْزَوْنَ إِلَّا مَا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ
Every person is responsible for their own neck, and we can’t defer to our leaders on the Day of Judgment as an excuse to our own carelessness for choosing to follow such wicked people.
[40:47] As they argue in Hell, the followers will say to their leaders, “We used to be your followers, can you spare us any part of this Hell?”
وَإِذْ يَتَحَاجُّونَ فِي النَّارِ فَيَقُولُ الضُّعَفَاءُ لِلَّذِينَ اسْتَكْبَرُوا إِنَّا كُنَّا لَكُمْ تَبَعًا فَهَلْ أَنْتُمْ مُغْنُونَ عَنَّا نَصِيبًا مِنَ النَّارِ
[40:48] The leaders will say, “We are all in this together. GOD has judged among the people.”
قَالَ الَّذِينَ اسْتَكْبَرُوا إِنَّا كُلٌّ فِيهَا إِنَّ اللَّهَ قَدْ حَكَمَ بَيْنَ الْعِبَادِ
[14:21] When they all stand before GOD, the followers will say to the leaders, “We used to follow you. Can you spare us even a little bit of GOD’s retribution?” They will say, “Had GOD guided us, we would have guided you. Now it is too late, whether we grieve or resort to patience, there is no exit for us.”
وَبَرَزُوا لِلَّهِ جَمِيعًا فَقَالَ الضُّعَفَاءُ لِلَّذِينَ اسْتَكْبَرُوا إِنَّا كُنَّا لَكُمْ تَبَعًا فَهَلْ أَنْتُمْ مُغْنُونَ عَنَّا مِنْ عَذَابِ اللَّهِ مِنْ شَيْءٍ قَالُوا لَوْ هَدَانَا اللَّهُ لَهَدَيْنَاكُمْ سَوَاءٌ عَلَيْنَا أَجَزِعْنَا أَمْ صَبَرْنَا مَا لَنَا مِنْ مَحِيصٍ
[14:22] And the devil will say, after the judgment had been issued, “GOD has promised you the truthful promise, and I promised you, but I broke my promise. I had no power over you; I simply invited you, and you accepted my invitation. Therefore, do not blame me, and blame only yourselves. My complaining cannot help you, nor can your complaining help me. I have disbelieved in your idolizing me. The transgressors have incurred a painful retribution.”
وَقَالَ الشَّيْطَانُ لَمَّا قُضِيَ الْأَمْرُ إِنَّ اللَّهَ وَعَدَكُمْ وَعْدَ الْحَقِّ وَوَعَدْتُكُمْ فَأَخْلَفْتُكُمْ وَمَا كَانَ لِيَ عَلَيْكُمْ مِنْ سُلْطَانٍ إِلَّا أَنْ دَعَوْتُكُمْ فَاسْتَجَبْتُمْ لِي فَلَا تَلُومُونِي وَلُومُوا أَنْفُسَكُمْ مَا أَنَا بِمُصْرِخِكُمْ وَمَا أَنْتُمْ بِمُصْرِخِيَّ إِنِّي كَفَرْتُ بِمَا أَشْرَكْتُمُونِ مِنْ قَبْلُ إِنَّ الظَّالِمِينَ لَهُمْ عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌ
Arabic Is Not A Prerequisite
Some people believe in order to understand the Quran, one needs to be an expert in Classical Arabic, but this is not the case.
[41:44] If we made it a non-Arabic Quran they would have said, “Why did it come down in that language?” Whether it is Arabic or non-Arabic, say, “For those who believe, it is a guide and healing. As for those who disbelieve, they will be deaf and blind to it, as if they are being addressed from faraway.”
وَلَوْ جَعَلْنَاهُ قُرْآنًا أَعْجَمِيًّا لَقَالُوا لَوْلَا فُصِّلَتْ آيَاتُهُ أَأَعْجَمِيٌّ وَعَرَبِيٌّ قُلْ هُوَ لِلَّذِينَ آمَنُوا هُدًى وَشِفَاءٌ وَالَّذِينَ لَا يُؤْمِنُونَ فِي آذَانِهِمْ وَقْرٌ وَهُوَ عَلَيْهِمْ عَمًى أُولَٰئِكَ يُنَادَوْنَ مِنْ مَكَانٍ بَعِيدٍ
The Only Requirement
There is only a single criteria that is required in order to understand the Quran, and that is sincerity.
[56:75] I swear by the positions of the stars.
[56:76] This is an oath, if you only knew, that is awesome.
[56:77] This is an honorable Quran.
[56:78] In a protected book.
[56:79] None can grasp it except the sincere.
فَلَا أُقْسِمُ بِمَوَاقِعِ النُّجُومِ
إِنَّهُ لَقَسَمٌ لَوْ تَعْلَمُونَ عَظِيمٌ
إِنَّهُ لَقُرْآنٌ كَرِيمٌ
فِي كِتَابٍ مَكْنُونٍ
لَا يَمَسُّهُ إِلَّا الْمُطَهَّرُونَ
If a person possess sincerity God will allow them to access His sacred book. If the person is not sincere, they will be blocked out from being able to understand any of it irrespective of how smart and knowledge able they are.
[45:23] Have you noted the one whose god is his ego? Consequently, GOD sends him astray, despite his knowledge, seals his hearing and his mind, and places a veil on his eyes. Who then can guide him, after such a decision by GOD? Would you not take heed?
أَفَرَأَيْتَ مَنِ اتَّخَذَ إِلَٰهَهُ هَوَاهُ وَأَضَلَّهُ اللَّهُ عَلَىٰ عِلْمٍ وَخَتَمَ عَلَىٰ سَمْعِهِ وَقَلْبِهِ وَجَعَلَ عَلَىٰ بَصَرِهِ غِشَاوَةً فَمَنْ يَهْدِيهِ مِنْ بَعْدِ اللَّهِ أَفَلَا تَذَكَّرُونَ
Following The Opinions of Others Is Idol Worship
[6:121] Do not eat from that upon which the name of GOD has not been mentioned, for it is an abomination. The devils inspire their allies to argue with you; if you obey them, you will be idol worshipers.
وَلَا تَأْكُلُوا مِمَّا لَمْ يُذْكَرِ اسْمُ اللَّهِ عَلَيْهِ وَإِنَّهُ لَفِسْقٌ وَإِنَّ الشَّيَاطِينَ لَيُوحُونَ إِلَىٰ أَوْلِيَائِهِمْ لِيُجَادِلُوكُمْ وَإِنْ أَطَعْتُمُوهُمْ إِنَّكُمْ لَمُشْرِكُونَ
[6:19] Say, “Whose testimony is the greatest?” Say, “GOD’s. He is the witness between me and you that this Quran has been inspired to me, to preach it to you and whomever it reaches. Indeed, you bear witness that there are other gods beside GOD.” Say, “I do not testify as you do; there is only one god, and I disown your idolatry.”
قُلْ أَيُّ شَيْءٍ أَكْبَرُ شَهَادَةً قُلِ اللَّهُ شَهِيدٌ بَيْنِي وَبَيْنَكُمْ وَأُوحِيَ إِلَيَّ هَٰذَا الْقُرْآنُ لِأُنْذِرَكُمْ بِهِ وَمَنْ بَلَغَ أَئِنَّكُمْ لَتَشْهَدُونَ أَنَّ مَعَ اللَّهِ آلِهَةً أُخْرَىٰ قُلْ لَا أَشْهَدُ قُلْ إِنَّمَا هُوَ إِلَٰهٌ وَاحِدٌ وَإِنَّنِي بَرِيءٌ مِمَّا تُشْرِكُونَ
[6:20] Those to whom we have given the scripture recognize this as they recognize their own children. The ones who lose their souls are those who do not believe.
الَّذِينَ آتَيْنَاهُمُ الْكِتَابَ يَعْرِفُونَهُ كَمَا يَعْرِفُونَ أَبْنَاءَهُمُ الَّذِينَ خَسِرُوا أَنْفُسَهُمْ فَهُمْ لَا يُؤْمِنُونَ
God is the Teacher of the Quran
In the Quran, God informs us that He is the Teacher of the Quran.
[55:1] The Most Gracious.
[55:2] Teacher of the Quran.
God Made The Quran Easy To Learn
God also informs us that He made the Quran easy to learn.
[54:17, 22, 32, 40] We made the Quran easy to learn. Does any of you wish to learn?
وَلَقَدْ يَسَّرْنَا الْقُرْآنَ لِلذِّكْرِ فَهَلْ مِنْ مُدَّكِرٍ
Some people translate this verse to say that God made the Quran easy to remember, but the word Zikr is multi-meaning. One meaning is to remember, but it also means to take heed or understand. While the Arabic Quran is easy to memorize, I believe the intent of this verse is to understand because in the following verse God indicates that in order to believe one needs to be able to understand.
[26:198] If we revealed this to people who do not know Arabic.
[26:199] And had him recite it (in Arabic), they could not possibly believe in it.
وَلَوْ نَزَّلْنَاهُ عَلَىٰ بَعْضِ الْأَعْجَمِينَ
فَقَرَأَهُ عَلَيْهِمْ مَا كَانُوا بِهِ مُؤْمِنِينَ
So if we trust in God and believe in His words in the Quran then we know that we do not need to rely on someone else to come to the truth.
- God has given us the hearing, eyesight, and brains and we are responsible for using them to verify any information
- The only requirement for understanding the Quran is sincerity
- God is the Teacher of the Quran
- God made the Quran easy to learn
- If we trust in God and His word in the Quran then He will open our hearts to the right understanding.
- If we choose to follow other sources, then we will be prevented from understanding the Quran
[17:45] When you read the Quran, we place between you and those who do not believe in the Hereafter an invisible barrier.
وَإِذَا قَرَأْتَ الْقُرْآنَ جَعَلْنَا بَيْنَكَ وَبَيْنَ الَّذِينَ لَا يُؤْمِنُونَ بِالْآخِرَةِ حِجَابًا مَسْتُورًا
[17:46] We place shields around their minds, to prevent them from understanding it, and deafness in their ears. And when you preach your Lord, using the Quran alone, they run away in aversion.
وَجَعَلْنَا عَلَىٰ قُلُوبِهِمْ أَكِنَّةً أَنْ يَفْقَهُوهُ وَفِي آذَانِهِمْ وَقْرًا وَإِذَا ذَكَرْتَ رَبَّكَ فِي الْقُرْآنِ وَحْدَهُ وَلَّوْا عَلَىٰ أَدْبَارِهِمْ نُفُورًا
Consultation & Study
This does not mean that there isn’t a place for religious studies and sharing of information. God informs us of the importance of this in the following verse.
[9:122] When the believers mobilize, not all of them shall do so. A few from each group shall mobilize by devoting their time to studying the religion. Thus, they can pass the knowledge on to their people when they return, that they may remain religiously informed.
وَمَا كَانَ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ لِيَنْفِرُوا كَافَّةً فَلَوْلَا نَفَرَ مِنْ كُلِّ فِرْقَةٍ مِنْهُمْ طَائِفَةٌ لِيَتَفَقَّهُوا فِي الدِّينِ وَلِيُنْذِرُوا قَوْمَهُمْ إِذَا رَجَعُوا إِلَيْهِمْ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَحْذَرُونَ
Additionally, a trait of a believer is that they seek consultation from others.
[42:38] They respond to their Lord by observing the Contact Prayers (Salat). Their affairs are decided after due consultation among themselves, and from our provisions to them they give (to charity).
وَالَّذِينَ اسْتَجَابُوا لِرَبِّهِمْ وَأَقَامُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَأَمْرُهُمْ شُورَىٰ بَيْنَهُمْ وَمِمَّا رَزَقْنَاهُمْ يُنْفِقُونَ
But ultimately, we are each responsible for our own necks, and cannot deflect the decisions we make in this world due to the individuals we chose to follow.
[39:18] They are the ones who examine all words, then follow the best. These are the ones whom GOD has guided; these are the ones who possess intelligence.
الَّذِينَ يَسْتَمِعُونَ الْقَوْلَ فَيَتَّبِعُونَ أَحْسَنَهُ أُولَٰئِكَ الَّذِينَ هَدَاهُمُ اللَّهُ وَأُولَٰئِكَ هُمْ أُولُو الْأَلْبَابِ