When the devil asked God for a respite, and it was granted to him, he vowed that he would come to the people from all directions.
[7:17] “I will come to them from before them, and from behind them, and from their right, and from their left, and You will find that most of them are unappreciative.”
(١٧) ثُمَّ لَآتِيَنَّهُمْ مِنْ بَيْنِ أَيْدِيهِمْ وَمِنْ خَلْفِهِمْ وَعَنْ أَيْمَانِهِمْ وَعَنْ شَمَائِلِهِمْ وَلَا تَجِدُ أَكْثَرَهُمْ شَاكِرِينَ
The devil has one objective, which is to turn people into transgressors. He can do this in one of two ways. The more obvious approach is through the allure of vices, which he can utilize to turn the masses away from God. But this approach will not be as effective on those who are among the believers. For these, he has to apply another strategy to push them to the other extreme.
God sets the limits of the religion, and all the devil needs to do is to push people beyond the limits that God has defined in order to turn them into transgressors. For instance, God commands people to give to charity, but the devil will push people to be extravagant. God commands people to meditate on God (17:79), and the devil will push them to hermetism and monotacism (57:27). God commands people to not eat certain foods (6:145), and the devil will find justifications to prohibit additional foods (6:146). God commands people to perform four steps for their ablution (5:6), and the devil will convince them that if they did more steps it would be more righteous. God tells people to uphold the Quran alone (6:114), and the devil did not sit idle.
The Devil’s Version of Quran Alone
Today the devil has pushed many to another extreme ideology based on the premise of Quran alone as well. Individuals who have taken the devil’s bait believe that anything outside of the Arabic Quran is a source besides the Quran. This includes any Classical Arabic dictionaries, any translation of the Quran, any books of science, physics, biology, history, or even the direct authorized teachings from God’s messenger. These people who often self-identify as Quranists, believe that the Quran should be understood on its own, as a kind of Rosetta Stone.
On the surface level, their arguments for such a stance are the exact same arguments many submitter brothers and sisters utilize when arguing against traditionalists. They say God is the Teacher of the Quran (55:1-2), that God will explain the Quran (75:19), that the Quran is complete and fully detailed (6:114), that God did not give us any other book to study (34:44). But their fatal flaw is that they are pushing the term Quran alone to an extreme that is beyond the limits that God set in the Quran.
Here is how a typical interaction goes between a submitter and an extreme Quranist.
Quranist: Do you follow the Quran alone?
Submitter: Yes, of course.
Quranist: Do you read the Arabic Quran?
Submitter: No, I read an English translation.
Quranist: Then you are not reading the Quran, and not following Quran alone.
Quranist: How do you know if your translation is correct?
Submitter: I compare it against other translations and Arabic dictionaries.
Quranist: Then you are following a translator and the author of dictionaries and not the Quran alone.
Quranist: Do you know what Salat and Zakat are?
Submitter: Yes, the Contact Prayer and the Obligatory Charity.
Quranist: Where did you get that understanding?
Submitter: It was passed down from Abraham.
Quranist: Then you are following the sunnah of men and not Quran Alone.
Many submitters are oblivious to this latest trick of the devil and have not advanced their arguments accordingly. And the ones who are committed to their stale arguments don’t realize that their definition of the Quran is only carrying the water for the Quranist movement.
Many submitters who have not woken up to this ruse of the devil, when asked how they define Quran, will tell you that it is limited to “the mathematically authenticated 6346 Arabic verses” or some variation of this. What they fail to realize is that this definition is not complete. this is the same definition that the Quranists use to justify their stance, and if we blindly echo this same definition of the Quran, then this only validates the Quranist position, like in the simulated dialogue above. Because based on this definition, anything else outside of “the mathematically authenticated 6346 Arabic verses” would constitute a source besides the Quran.
The Correct “Understanding” of Quran
So let’s understand what is lacking in defining the Quran as only the “the mathematically authenticated 6346 Arabic verses.”
The Quran is a message from God. A message always has two parts. The first part is what can be transcribed, transmitted, or quantified. This is the data part of the message. The second part of a message is the meaning. This is the information part of the message.
Consider the question, “did you get the message?” This phrase can be interpreted in one of two ways. The first understanding is a question to check if the recipient received the message. The second meaning is to check if the recipient understood the message.
When submitters limit the Quran to only the mathematically authenticated Arabic verses, they are only focusing on the physical part of the Quran. This has two major implications (1) anything outside of the authenticated Arabic verses of the Quran should be considered another source (2) there is no objective truth to the correct understanding of the Quran because any word, phrase, or verse can be defined however someone likes as long as they can show they derived their understanding from the verses of the Arabic Quran regardless of the mental gymnastics one has to take to reach their conclusions. This makes the Quran a subjective book of possible contradictory understandings rather than an objective and consistent book of law.
The Quran is More than just the Text
God repeatedly informs the believers of individuals who read and recite the Quran yet lack understanding. This shows that the Quran is more than just the Arabic verses; but constitutes a proper understanding.
[2:171] The example of such disbelievers is that of parrots who repeat what they hear of sounds and calls, without understanding. Deaf, dumb, and blind; they cannot understand.
(١٧١) وَمَثَلُ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا كَمَثَلِ الَّذِي يَنْعِقُ بِمَا لَا يَسْمَعُ إِلَّا دُعَاءً وَنِدَاءً صُمٌّ بُكْمٌ عُمْيٌ فَهُمْ لَا يَعْقِلُونَ
This is particularly true because the only barrier in understanding the Quran is not even language but sincerity (56:79). Ironically, if we are to say that the Quran is limited to its physical properties, then technically, sincerity would have to be considered another source according to this definition. The following verse even tells us that the Quran is not limited to language. This means someone who doesn’t know any Arabic may grasp the Quran better than someone with a Ph.D. in Classical Arabic.
[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
All this shows that the Quran is more than its physical parameters it is also the proper meaning that God grants to those who deserve it. This is why two people may both agree to follow the Quran alone and define the Quran as “the 6436 verses of the mathematically authenticated Arabic verses” yet one may be following the Truth while the other may be following falsehood. This is because the definition of the Quran is not just “the 6436 verses of the mathematically authenticated Arabic verses” but also the correct understanding of these verses as well. Such that without these two components, we are left with only our own opinions.
[6:56] Say, “I am forbidden from worshiping what you worship besides GOD.” Say, “I will not follow your opinions. Otherwise, I will go astray, and not be guided.”
قُلْ إِنِّي نُهِيتُ أَنْ أَعْبُدَ الَّذِينَ تَدْعُونَ مِنْ دُونِ اللَّهِ قُلْ لَا أَتَّبِعُ أَهْوَاءَكُمْ قَدْ ضَلَلْتُ إِذًا وَمَا أَنَا مِنَ الْمُهْتَدِينَ
[30:29] Indeed, the transgressors have followed their own opinions, without knowledge. Who then can guide those who have been sent astray by GOD? No one can ever help them.
بَلِ اتَّبَعَ الَّذِينَ ظَلَمُوا أَهْوَاءَهُمْ بِغَيْرِ عِلْمٍ فَمَنْ يَهْدِي مَنْ أَضَلَّ اللَّهُ وَمَا لَهُمْ مِنْ نَاصِرِينَ
[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