Friday, November 27, 2015

Islam without Hadith


As Quran predicted, religion is divided into many sects [1] where each sect claims to represent the true religion. You, the reader of this article, are following one of these sects and probably very certain that the rituals taught in your sect are genuine. Probably the Elders of your sect have taught you that only the followers of your sect--who essentially follow the Elders’ commands--will be awarded with redemption, and the others will be barbecued in a dreadful fire called Hell. They first have you scared of hell, and then tell you that the way of salvation is worshiping the God, and that they are the only trustful reference for how to worship--like the God would have privately whispered into their ears all the details of rituals. Probably the Elders of your branch have prepared a full stack of arguments for why you need to refer only to them for every single detail of rituals; why the rituals are so complicated and beyond comprehension of the ordinary worshipers; and why only the people who have spent years in studying these complex details and have already become one of the Elders could tell how to be a servant of the God.

The intention of this article is neither questioning the validity of your particular sect nor creating yet another one. The audience of this article is a muslim who loves her religion, is afraid of the fire, but is also fed up with blindly following the Elders of her sect. In this article, we explain a view of Islam that is simple enough to be understood by all the muslims. Each muslim will be both the commander for her deeds and the one responsible for them. There is no place for Elders nor their complicated package of how to become one.

In the rest, we first introduce Simple Islam, which is based solely on Quran (and not Hadith). We then present the supporting arguments for Simple Islam. We then explain the pros and cons of eliminating Hadith from the religious practice. It is eventually the reader's call that whether the benefits of the Simple Islam outweigh its disadvantages or not.

1. Simple Islam

Simple Islam is based on three axioms: belief in the God, the judgment day, and the holy Quran that is revealed to Muhammad (pbuh). Muslim is a person who believes in these three axioms, studies Quran to improve her understanding of righteous deeds, and makes her life decisions accordingly.

2. Why Simple?

As much as Simple Islam emphasizes on Quran, it ignores Hadith. The primary reason is that Quran is the miracle of the God and its text is reliable. To believe that the book we are reading now is a divine book, we need not to trust our ancestors from whom we inherited the text: each muslim in any century can read the text and decide whether she finds it miraculous or not. Hadith, on the other hand, is just a collection of sentences attributed to the prophet and is hence essentially part of the history; and the reliability of the details of the history is always questionable. To trust Hadith, we have to trust the honesty of the people who have carried them through the past centuries, and also to trust the skills of the Hadith historians, also known as religious Elders or scholars. A muslim in Simple Islam needs to read only a book (Quran) which is an effort affordable by every muslim. On the other hand, in the current Islamic sects learning Hadith and its dependent skills requires years of studying, a heavy undertaking not affordable by ordinary muslims. This in practice leaves Islam in the hands of a small group of Hadith experts called religious Elders, unreachable to the general public. The public thus has no choice but blindly following the Elders under the cover of worshipping the God!

3. Advantages of Simple Islam

The main advantage of Simple Islam is its simplicity. A simple religion (i) is less susceptible to deviation along the history, (ii) is reachable by the general public, and (iii) is less likely to be abused by the opportunists who would confuse the public and trick them into following their commands in the name of worshipping the God.

Second, with ignoring Hadith, Islam remains separated from the history of Islam--or in better words the history of muslims. It then becomes possible to firmly defend Islam in the 21st century without needing to defend even a moment of history of muslims and what they did in the past: from neglecting women rights to attacking the other countries with the excuse of spreading Islam. Most of the current criticisms of Islam are actually criticisms of the way of muslims in the past centuries, and not of the axioms of Islam themselves.

Third, the muslims practicing Simple Islam get free from unreasonable Sharia laws that originally come from Hadith and are later wrongfully attributed to Islam. For example, if not all, most of the Elders believe in Apostasy: killing the unfortunate person who converts from Islam. This rule has been leveraged by the Elders in the history to threaten or eliminate the free thinkers such as Avicenna. For any person of understanding, this rule sounds ridiculous since if other religions also apply the same rule then nobody could ever convert to Islam either. Nothing is more cheerful for a muslim practicing Simple Islam than the fact that this rule as well as rules similar to it are inconsistent with Quran and have roots in nothing but the unreliable, shaky sands of Hadith.

Forth, the Elders can no more abuse the fear of the fire to trick people to follow their--sometimes hilarious--commands. Currently there are muslims that being afraid of hell do not allow their pictures to be taken because an Elder has issued a fatwa that taking pictures is sinful. As another example, not long time ago some Elders issued a fatwa that using Videocassette recorder device is sinful, which was later taken back quietly.

4. Disadvantages of Simple Islam

The first criticism of Simple Islam is that it is overly simple. Simple Islam does not get into the complicated details of how to establish prayers, nor into the many associated rules such as (i) what to do if while praying you forget how much you have prayed already (yeah it does sound funny) and (ii) the many rules about approved body cleanness for praying. This is in sharp contrast to the current practiced Islam, where these details are the majority. In the current sects of Islam, an ideal human is described as a person who learns the details of the rituals as taught by the Elders, and performs them exactly. However, it is not explained that how such level of details would help the religious person to gain spirituality and reach redemption. In fact, this question is never raised in the first place because the Elders consider even the smallest detail of their prescribed rituals as the direct command from the God.

In Simple Islam, the only reference for the patterns of the ideal human is Quran. Quran's guidance is used to find what leads people towards the ideal human and thus redemption. The fact that Quran emphasizes for hundreds of times on establishing the prayers and not on its details leads to the fact that the important thing in Quran's view is establishing prayer itself, and its details are left to be implemented by the people of different eras and cultures. There is no doubt that consistency of the established prayer with the prayer of the surrounding muslims as well as its similarity to the prayer of the pioneers of perfection such as Muhammad (pbuh) is an adornment for the prayer. However its details are not the key to redemption and is left to be implemented based on the requirements of the time and the place.

The approval of this method comes from Quran itself when it commands the muslims who are living at the time of Quran's descent not to ask for the details that are not revealed [2]. When people disobeyed this command and did ask for details [3,4,5,6], we witness the most boring details about inheritance, etc. The Simple Islam's understanding, which is consistent with Quran, is that the God has descended Quran as the general guidelines in the religion and the details are left to the people of each time and place to be implemented based on their own specific culture and their specific understanding of the world.

The other criticism to Simple Islam is that by leaving the details to individuals, there will be an opportunity for inciting self (i.e., the devil inside) to interfere. In this way, the inciting self leads the muslim to implementing details that are more convenient or are fulfilling the evil desires. In response, it is worth reminding that the inciting self has thousands of ways to surface, and for interference with a person's judgment it could make use of the many existing tiniest peepholes. Opening or closing a gate does not affect the very existence of the inciting self. Even though, a muslim could express her understanding of righteous deeds and share it with the peers, whose feedback can help revealing the level of interference of the inciting self. Needless to mention that the more diverse the peers the more likely their feedback to reveal mistakes.


In this article, we introduced Simple Islam, which is based on Quran instead of Hadith. We showed that eliminating Hadith leads to eliminating the Elders from the religious practice and frees muslims from the serfdom of their local Elders. Many of the unreasonable rules that are hanging from the wounded body of Islam (such as Apostasy) will automatically disappear since such irrational interpretations are stemmed either from Hadith or the not-so-much-defensible history of muslims.

Investigating the Quran-based arguments in support of Hadith

More articles ...

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  1. مِنَ الَّذِينَ فَرَّ‌قُوا دِينَهُمْ وَكَانُوا شِيَعًا ۖ كُلُّ حِزْبٍ بِمَا لَدَيْهِمْ فَرِ‌حُونَ ﴿٣٢
  2. يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا تَسْأَلُوا عَنْ أَشْيَاءَ إِن تُبْدَ لَكُمْ تَسُؤْكُمْ وَإِن تَسْأَلُوا عَنْهَا حِينَ يُنَزَّلُ الْقُرْ‌آنُ تُبْدَ لَكُمْ عَفَا اللَّـهُ عَنْهَا ۗ وَاللَّـهُ غَفُورٌ‌ حَلِيمٌ ﴿١٠١
  3. وَيَسْتَفْتُونَكَ فِي النِّسَاءِ ۖ قُلِ اللَّـهُ يُفْتِيكُمْ فِيهِنَّ وَمَا يُتْلَىٰ عَلَيْكُمْ فِي الْكِتَابِ فِي يَتَامَى النِّسَاءِ اللَّاتِي لَا تُؤْتُونَهُنَّ مَا كُتِبَ لَهُنَّ وَتَرْ‌غَبُونَ أَن تَنكِحُوهُنَّ وَالْمُسْتَضْعَفِينَ مِنَ الْوِلْدَانِ وَأَن تَقُومُوا لِلْيَتَامَىٰ بِالْقِسْطِ ۚ وَمَا تَفْعَلُوا مِنْ خَيْرٍ‌ فَإِنَّ اللَّـهَ كَانَ بِهِ عَلِيمًا ﴿١٢٧
  4. يَسْتَفْتُونَكَ قُلِ اللَّـهُ يُفْتِيكُمْ فِي الْكَلَالَةِ ۚ ... ﴿١٧٦
  5. يَسْأَلُونَكَ عَنِ الْأَهِلَّةِ ۖ قُلْ ... ﴿١٨٩
  6. يَسْأَلُونَكَ عَنِ الشَّهْرِ‌ الْحَرَ‌امِ قِتَالٍ فِيهِ ۖ قُلْ ... ﴿٢١٧

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