Council of Nicaea
For over one thousand years the Roman Catholic Church was the only major form of Christianity practiced throughout the entire world. It was founded by the beliefs that were established during The First Council of Nicaea convened by the Roman Emperor Constantine I in the year 325. This council was orchestrated for the church to establish the divinity of Jesus under what is known as the Nicene Creed.
The Nicene Creed of 325 explicitly affirms the Father as the “one God” and as the “Almighty,” and Jesus Christ as “the Son of God”, as “begotten of … the essence of the Father,” and therefore as “consubstantial with the Father,” meaning, “of the same substance” as the Father; “very God of very God.” The Creed of 325 does mention the Holy Spirit but not as “God” or as “consubstantial with the Father.” The 381 revision of the creed at Constantinople, speaks of the Holy Spirit as worshipped and glorified with the Father and the Son. It is from this creed that we get the concept of a trinity.
Not only did they corrupt the religion that Jesus preached, but more so they also destroyed the very foundation of the worship of God alone which was the foundation of all Abrahamic faiths, and instead adopted the ideology of paganism which they spread to their multitude of followers.
[5:72] Pagans indeed are those who say that GOD is the Messiah, son of Mary. The Messiah himself said, “O Children of Israel, you shall worship GOD; my Lord and your Lord.” Anyone who sets up any idol beside GOD, GOD has forbidden Paradise for him, and his destiny is Hell. The wicked have no helpers. [5:73] Pagans indeed are those who say that GOD is a third in a trinity. There is no god except the one god. Unless they refrain from saying this, those who disbelieve among them will incur a painful retribution. [5:74] Would they not repent to GOD, and ask His forgiveness? GOD is Forgiver, Most Merciful. [5:75] The Messiah, son of Mary, is no more than a messenger like the messengers before him, and his mother was a saint. Both of them used to eat the food. Note how we explain the revelations for them, and note how they still deviate! [5:76] Say, “Would you worship beside GOD powerless idols who can neither harm you, nor benefit you? GOD is Hearer, Omniscient.”
And for the next thousand plus years, this was just about the sole branch of Christianity throughout the world. Part of the way that they were able to keep their monopoly on their religion was by maintaining a rigid hierarchy, keeping their followers ignorant, and creating endless amounts of Church doctrine that they required their clergy to study and learn rather than the pure word of the scripture alone. Additionally, the Roman Catholic Church prohibited anyone outside of the clergy to interpret the Bible which was only read in Latin, which few individuals outside of the clergy even understood.
Around the turn of the millennium, the Catholic Church adopted another particularly blasphemous concept known as indulgences. These were church-certified documentation that individuals could obtain or purchase to have their sins forgiven or even the sins of those who already passed. This concept was so egregious to certain members of the Roman Catholic Church that it caused a major rift in the faith that eventually caused the Church’s monopoly on Christianity to come to an end.
The particular event that triggered this occurred on October 31, 1517, when a priest named Martin Luther published a document entitled Disputation on the Power of Indulgences, or 95 Theses. This document consisted of 95 points against the Catholic Church’s sale of indulgences which Martin Luther was deeply against and viewed as a blasphemy against the direct teachings of the Bible. The ideas that Martin Luther proposed were particularly controversial because they directly contradicted the Catholic Church’s teachings and challenged the Churches authority in these kinds of matters. This event spawned what is now known as the Protestant Reformation.
To further help strengthen his case to his reasonings, Luther also did something else that appeared sacrilegious to the Romand Catholic Church, he translated the Bible from Latin to the German vernacular people spoke at that time. Now the common person was not dependent on the interpretations of the Roman Catholic Church to understand the Bible but could read and understand matters for themselves. Martin Luther assumed that if everyone can access the scripture in their own language and come to hear the truth for themselves then they will all come to the same conclusion he made.
Ironically, the opposite happened. Since everyone had access to the scripture many individuals came up with their own interpretations. This spawned off hundreds of sects: Protestants, Calvinism, Zwinglians, Anabaptists, Anglicanism, Puritanism, Pietism, Quakers, Baptists…
Islam – Sunnis and Shias
For years one of the fastest-growing faiths in the world has been Islam, and for over the last thousand years, it was predominately monopolized by two sects: Sunnis and Shias. The mechanism that these two sects utilized to maintain a grip on the masses for so many years was not much different than the tactics used by the Roman Catholics. Firstly, they established a very rigid hierarchy with the ideology that the average Muslim must rely on the interpretation of the scholars, known as the ulama, for the proper interpretation of the religion for the masses. Secondly, they frowned upon the study and translation of the Quran from Classical Arabic to people’s modern tongue by convincing people that God’s words can not be translated and that people were better to memorize the Quran in a language they didn’t understand rather than trying to understand the meaning of what is being stated. Thirdly, they introduced an endless amount of supplementary religious material in addition to the Quran by means of Hadith and Sunnah that they required their followers to abide by rather than the meaning of the Quran alone. Ironically while they suppressed much of the study of the meaning of the Quran, they openly promoted the translations, study, and understanding of the Hadith.
Additionally, just like the Nicean Creed contradicted the teachings of Jesus and the Bible these practices that the Sunnis and Shias enforced also completely contradicted the Quran.
[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
[6:114] Shall I seek other than GOD as a source of law, when He has revealed to you this book fully detailed? Those who received the scripture recognize that it has been revealed from your Lord, truthfully. You shall not harbor any doubt.
أَفَغَيْرَ اللَّهِ أَبْتَغِي حَكَمًا وَهُوَ الَّذِي أَنْزَلَ إِلَيْكُمُ الْكِتَابَ مُفَصَّلًا وَالَّذِينَ آتَيْنَاهُمُ الْكِتَابَ يَعْلَمُونَ أَنَّهُ مُنَزَّلٌ مِنْ رَبِّكَ بِالْحَقِّ فَلَا تَكُونَنَّ مِنَ الْمُمْتَرِينَ
[6:115] The word of your Lord is complete, in truth and justice. Nothing shall abrogate His words. He is the Hearer, the Omniscient.
وَتَمَّتْ كَلِمَتُ رَبِّكَ صِدْقًا وَعَدْلًا لَا مُبَدِّلَ لِكَلِمَاتِهِ وَهُوَ السَّمِيعُ الْعَلِيمُ
[6:116] If you obey the majority of people on earth, they will divert you from the path of GOD. They follow only conjecture; they only guess.
وَإِنْ تُطِعْ أَكْثَرَ مَنْ فِي الْأَرْضِ يُضِلُّوكَ عَنْ سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ إِنْ يَتَّبِعُونَ إِلَّا الظَّنَّ وَإِنْ هُمْ إِلَّا يَخْرُصُونَ
[34:44] We did not give them any other books to study, nor did we send to them before you another warner.
(٤٤) وَمَا آتَيْنَاهُمْ مِنْ كُتُبٍ يَدْرُسُونَهَا وَمَا أَرْسَلْنَا إِلَيْهِمْ قَبْلَكَ مِنْ نَذِيرٍ
But in addition to these innovations, the Sunnis and Shias added another major blasphemy to the religion, by setting up the prophet Muhammad as an entity next to God, by including his name in their Shahdaha (declaration of faith), their Salat (Contact Prayer), and their perpetual praising of him via salawat.
[39:3] Absolutely, the religion shall be devoted to GOD alone. Those who set up idols beside Him say, “We idolize them only to bring us closer to GOD; for they are in a better position!” GOD will judge them regarding their disputes. GOD does not guide such liars, disbelievers.
أَلَا لِلَّهِ الدِّينُ الْخَالِصُ وَالَّذِينَ اتَّخَذُوا مِنْ دُونِهِ أَوْلِيَاءَ مَا نَعْبُدُهُمْ إِلَّا لِيُقَرِّبُونَا إِلَى اللَّهِ زُلْفَىٰ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَحْكُمُ بَيْنَهُمْ فِي مَا هُمْ فِيهِ يَخْتَلِفُونَ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يَهْدِي مَنْ هُوَ كَاذِبٌ كَفَّارٌ
[39:45] When GOD ALONE is mentioned, the hearts of those who do not believe in the Hereafter shrink with aversion. But when others are mentioned beside Him, they become satisfied.
وَإِذَا ذُكِرَ اللَّهُ وَحْدَهُ اشْمَأَزَّتْ قُلُوبُ الَّذِينَ لَا يُؤْمِنُونَ بِالْآخِرَةِ وَإِذَا ذُكِرَ الَّذِينَ مِنْ دُونِهِ إِذَا هُمْ يَسْتَبْشِرُونَ
[72:18] The places of worship belong to GOD; do not call on anyone else beside GOD.
وَأَنَّ الْمَسَاجِدَ لِلَّهِ فَلَا تَدْعُوا مَعَ اللَّهِ أَحَدًا
Then in 1974 an Egyptian biochemist living in Tucson, Arizona by the name of Dr. Rashad Khalifa published his findings regarding the mathematical structure of the Quran based on the number 19. In a nutshell, Dr. Khalifa showed that one of the mechanisms that God utilized in preserving the Quranic text from distortion for the last 1400 years was by means of a form of encryption based on the number 19. This revelation was based on the findings of the Quran, predominately Sura 74 of the Quran entitled The Hidden Secret (Al-Muddath-thir). Al-Muddath-thir means something hidden in plain sight, or as we read the Sura we see that this is a form of encryption that proves that this Quran is from God and not man-made.
[74:11] Let Me deal with one I created as an individual. [74:12] I provided him with lots of money. [74:13] And children to behold. [74:14] I made everything easy for him. [74:15] Yet, he is greedy for more. [74:16] He stubbornly refused to accept these proofs. [74:17] I will increasingly punish him. [74:18] For he reflected, then decided. [74:19] Miserable is what he decided. [74:20] Miserable indeed is what he decided. [74:21] He looked. [74:22] He frowned and whined. [74:23] Then he turned away arrogantly. [74:24] He said, “This is but clever magic! [74:25] “This is human made.”
[74:30] Over it is nineteen.
[74:31] We appointed angels to be guardians of Hell, and we assigned their number (19)
(1) to disturb the disbelievers,
(2) to convince the Christians and Jews (that this is a divine scripture),
(3) to strengthen the faith of the faithful,
(4) to remove all traces of doubt from the hearts of Christians, Jews, as well as the believers, and
(5) to expose those who harbor doubt in their hearts,
and the disbelievers; they will say, “What did GOD mean by this allegory?” GOD thus sends astray whomever He wills, and guides whomever He wills. None knows the soldiers of your Lord except He. This is a reminder for the people.
[74:32] Absolutely, (I swear) by the moon. [74:33] And the night as it passes. [74:34] And the morning as it shines. [74:35] This is one of the great miracles. [74:36] A warning to the human race.
At the time of this finding, the Muslim world heavily adored Dr. Khalifa’s work, but then things started going south between the Muslim ulama and Dr. Kahlifa particularly after a book he published in 1981 entitled: “Quran, Hadith, and Islam” where he dismantled the foundations of Hadith and Sunnah as a source of religious law and instead showed how as a follower of the Quran we are to follow the Quran alone.
This infuriated the Mulsim Ulama, such that when the famous Lebanese publisher Dr Al-`Ilm Lil-Malyn (Knowledge for the Millions) published the Arabic version of “The Miracle of the Quran” in March 1983, The government of Saudi Arabia bought all the copies and destroyed them.
[8:36] Those who disbelieve spend their money to repel others from the way of God. They will spend it, then it will turn into sorrow and remorse for them. Ultimately, they will be defeated, and all disbelievers will be summoned to Hell.
Additionally, in 1981 Dr. Khalifa published his first fully compiled translation of the Quran in modern English. This translation was the 19th English translation to be published in the world and the first English translation to be done by a native Arabic speaker. And unlike previous English translations that were written in some strange form of Old English, Dr. Khalifa’s translation was written in modern, easy-to-understand English.
The intention of Dr. Khalifa was to make the Quran accessible to all people in a language that they could easily understand. This included not only translating the Quran into modern English, but even many terms that are commonplace in English to go back to their original meanings. Most notably translating Islam as Submission, Muslim as Submitter, Salat as Contact Prayer, and Zakat as Obligatory Charity. He constantly hammered home the point that a person’s salvation should be strictly between the individual and their Creator without the need of an intermediary, like that of the misguided scholars who offer a sure-fire way for an individual to be led astray. Backed with the message of God Alone and Quran Alone, and the mathematical proof that the Quran we are reading today is the same Quran that was originally revealed to prophet Muhammad 1400 years ago, Dr. Rashad Khalifa announced to the world in 1988 that he was God’s Messenger of the Covenant as prophesized in 3:81 of the Quran.
[3:81] GOD took a covenant from the prophets, saying, “I will give you the scripture and wisdom. Afterwards, a messenger will come to confirm all existing scriptures. You shall believe in him and support him.” He said, “Do you agree with this, and pledge to fulfill this covenant?” They said, “We agree.” He said, “You have thus borne witness, and I bear witness along with you.”
وَإِذْ أَخَذَ اللَّهُ مِيثَاقَ النَّبِيِّينَ لَمَا آتَيْتُكُمْ مِنْ كِتَابٍ وَحِكْمَةٍ ثُمَّ جَاءَكُمْ رَسُولٌ مُصَدِّقٌ لِمَا مَعَكُمْ لَتُؤْمِنُنَّ بِهِ وَلَتَنْصُرُنَّهُ قَالَ أَأَقْرَرْتُمْ وَأَخَذْتُمْ عَلَىٰ ذَٰلِكُمْ إِصْرِي قَالُوا أَقْرَرْنَا قَالَ فَاشْهَدُوا وَأَنَا مَعَكُمْ مِنَ الشَّاهِدِينَ
Needless to say, this infuriated the Muslim Ulama even more, such that on January 31th, 1990, Rashad was assassinated inside his Masjid in Tucson, Arizona by the terrorist group, Jamaat ul-Fuqra, which was believed to have ties with al-Qaida, the organization founded by Saudi militant Osama Bin Laden. From then on, the Muslima Ulama desperately tried to bury the work of Dr. Khalifa but his arguments, translations, and findings spawned an entire movement.
Islam for years has been the fastest-growing religion. But within Islam, the ideology of Quranism, the understanding that the Quran alone should be the only source of religious law, is by far the most popular ideology for new converts to Islam. While the original modern-day Quran alone movement started with Dr. Rashad Khalifa, this newer rendition began with individuals who co-opted and repackaged his original work only to claim it as their own, but with their own spin on the religion. These spinoffs are most notably seen in the Reformist translation and the Monotheist translations of the Quran and their supplementary work.
And just like the hundreds of sects that appeared after the Protestant Reformation, we are now seeing hundreds if not thousands of different sects of Quranist Muslims. As more and more people came to study the Quran for themselves they created more and more varied understandings of the Quranic verses, and these variations severely impact the foundations of the religion including the Salat, Zakat, fasting during Ramadan, and Hajj.
So today, among the Quranist there are those who uphold five daily Contact Prayers (Salat), while others uphold three, and others who mock the idea that the Salat is a ritualistic prayer. Even amongst the Quranist who uphold the Salat, how any one of them performs their Salat is wildly varying with different forms, times, and words to be recited.
And the further down this rabbit hole one gets in Quranism the more outlandish the various claims of Quranists become. There are those who claim that homosexuality, consuming intoxicants, or eating pork is not a sin. There are those who claim that Zakat is just a matter of maintaining purity, that Salat is just following closely, Sayem (fasting) is just abstaining oneself, or that even the month of Ramadan should be based on a lunisolar calendar. I have even seen someone argue that we should not use the term Allah because it is too similar to the name of pagan god Allat.
The predominant mistake that I see Quranist making in their understanding of the Quran is that they try to understand the Quran as if it was revealed in a vacuum. Almost as if the Quran had fallen from the sky and has no context, history, or functions beyond what is explicitly described and stated in the text. Then based on this underlying premise they attempt to utilize Classical Arabic dictionaries, like Lanes Lexicon, and arbitrarily select interpretations from any of the list of derivative meanings that can be found for the triliteral root of a word. The end result of such an approach is obviously chaos as any root can have a multitude of derivate meanings, but the bigger question is how is the word used in the Quran itself. Some even go so far as to say that any of the Arabic letters that contain dots can be substituted for the equivalent other letters if this will help them extricate a certain meaning they were hoping to obtain since the oldest manuscripts of the Quran don’t possess any dots or vowels. This flawed approach causes Quranists to differ widely on every topic.
What I find particularly interesting about practitioners of this ideology is to date I have yet to find a genuine congregation of Quranists. This is because in order to form a congregation the members need to agree on the common practices, but since no two Quranists seem to ever agree then this poses a major problem. This causes self-identified Quranists to be consistently inconsistent as well as some of the most contentious individuals I have ever come across since many of them consider they are the only ones with the absolute truth and anyone who doesn’t believe the same as they do must be upholding some other source other than the Quran and therefore a hypocrite. So since none of them believe the same, practice the religion the same, and think anyone who has a different understanding than them is a heretic it makes it very difficult to form a sustainable congregation.
Submitter (Muslim) vs. Quranist
As a Submitter (Muslim), we understand that the religious rites, e.g. Salat (Contact Prayer), Zakat (Obligatory Charity), Sayem (Fasting), Hajj (Pilgrimage) were all practices established and passed down by Abraham. Such that, God in the Quran repeatedly commands the prophet Muhammad to follow the religion of Abraham, Milat Ibrahim.
[16:123] Then we inspired you (Muhammad) to follow the religion of Abraham, the monotheist; he never was an idol worshiper.
ثُمَّ أَوْحَيْنَا إِلَيْكَ أَنِ اتَّبِعْ مِلَّةَ إِبْرَاهِيمَ حَنِيفًا وَمَا كَانَ مِنَ الْمُشْرِكِينَ
So when opening the Quran and immediately reading in the third verse of the second chapter that the believers are those who observe the Contact Prayer (Salat), then we must acknowledge that this must be a practice that God expects us to already know or easily be able to find out how to observe otherwise the details would have been specified in the Quran.
[2:2] This scripture is infallible; a beacon for the righteous; [2:3] who believe in the unseen, observe the Contact Prayers (Salat), and from our provisions to them, they give to charity. [2:4] And they believe in what was revealed to you, and in what was revealed before you, and with regard to the Hereafter, they are absolutely certain. [2:5] These are guided by their Lord; these are the winners.
This is typically counter to the understanding of those who self-identify as Quranists, who typically fall into one of two camps. The first camp is those who are trying to somehow extract all the steps to perform the Salat from the verses of the Quran. In the most extreme cases, this ends with some individuals producing nine-hour videos and complicated theories to how the Salat must be performed. While the other camp, says the Salat just means to think about God or to recite the Quran with no particular form or design.
Both these interpretations are wrong because trying to understand how to perform the Salat from the Quran alone is not possible, yet this does not mean that the Quran is incomplete or missing any details we need for our salvation. In the following verse, God tells us that He is not short on words and could have created a Quran that is volumes and volumes long with endless details, yet He limited it to these 6,346 verses.
[18:109] Say, “If the ocean were ink for the words of my Lord, the ocean would run out, before the words of my Lord run out, even if we double the ink supply.”
قُلْ لَوْ كَانَ الْبَحْرُ مِدَادًا لِكَلِمَاتِ رَبِّي لَنَفِدَ الْبَحْرُ قَبْلَ أَنْ تَنْفَدَ كَلِمَاتُ رَبِّي وَلَوْ جِئْنَا بِمِثْلِهِ مَدَدًا
Talk to a traditionalist Sunni or Shia, and they typically try to use this argument for the justification of upholding Hadith and Sunnah, yet there is no single Hadith that details how to perform the Salat from start to finish. Even the Hadith that supposedly describe the Salat frequently contradict one another.
So how is this reconciled? We see from the Quran, that the purpose of the Quran is to clarify matters that have been previously disputed.
[16:64] We have revealed this scripture to you, to point out for them what they dispute, and to provide guidance and mercy for people who believe.
وَمَا أَنْزَلْنَا عَلَيْكَ الْكِتَابَ إِلَّا لِتُبَيِّنَ لَهُمُ الَّذِي اخْتَلَفُوا فِيهِ وَهُدًى وَرَحْمَةً لِقَوْمٍ يُؤْمِنُونَ
Therefore we can use the Quran to filter all our existing religious practices to pull out any impurities. After such a process we are left with the pure form of the practice. We can do this with our Salat, which we discover according to the Quran must be dedicated and only mention God alone. We can do this with our Zakat and determine that Zakat must be paid whenever we earn income and not only once a year. We can do this with Ramadan and see that Ramadan starts with the start of the new moon month, irrespective of whether someone saw the moon with their eyes or not. We can do this with Hajj and determine that the Sacred Months are consecutive and that it would be blasphemous to visit the prophet’s tomb during such a sacred rite for God.
That said if I was to make a prediction my guess is that the Quranist movement and the general idea that people are going to continue to attempt to understand the Quran for themselves will continue gaining traction and fracturing the stronghold that Sunnis and Shias have historically had on the religion. Also, despite my disagreements with many Quranists, or even more generally with people’s of difference of understandings, I am not dismissing them as long as their worship and devotion is dedicated to God alone. The Quran warns us that if we do this then we will be considered transgressors.
[6:52] And do not dismiss those who implore their Lord day and night, devoting themselves to Him alone. You are not responsible for their reckoning, nor are they responsible for your reckoning. If you dismiss them, you will be a transgressor.
وَلَا تَطْرُدِ الَّذِينَ يَدْعُونَ رَبَّهُمْ بِالْغَدَاةِ وَالْعَشِيِّ يُرِيدُونَ وَجْهَهُ مَا عَلَيْكَ مِنْ حِسَابِهِمْ مِنْ شَيْءٍ وَمَا مِنْ حِسَابِكَ عَلَيْهِمْ مِنْ شَيْءٍ فَتَطْرُدَهُمْ فَتَكُونَ مِنَ الظَّالِمِينَ
In the Introduction to Rashad Khalifa’s translation of the Quran, he made the following point.
“As expected from the Creator’s final message, one of the prominent themes in the Quran is the call for unity among all believers, and the repeated prohibition of making any distinction among God’s messengers. If the object of worship is one and the same, there will be absolute unity among all believers. It is the human factor, i.e., devotion and prejudice to such powerless humans as Jesus, Muhammad, and the saints that causes division, hatred, and bitter wars among the misguided believers. A guided believer is devoted to God ALONE, and rejoices in seeing any other believer who is devoted to God ALONE, regardless of the name such a believer calls his or her religion.”
[2:62] Surely, those who believe, those who are Jewish, the Christians, and the converts; anyone who (1) believes in GOD, and (2) believes in the Last Day, and (3) leads a righteous life, will receive their recompense from their Lord. They have nothing to fear, nor will they grieve.
إِنَّ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَالَّذِينَ هَادُوا وَالنَّصَارَىٰ وَالصَّابِئِينَ مَنْ آمَنَ بِاللَّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ وَعَمِلَ صَالِحًا فَلَهُمْ أَجْرُهُمْ عِنْدَ رَبِّهِمْ وَلَا خَوْفٌ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلَا هُمْ يَحْزَنُونَ