Quranism describes any form of Islam that accepts the Quran as revelation but rejects the religious authority, and/or authenticity of, the Hadith collections. -- Wikipedia

Frequently, non-Quranists use ahadith to better understand the Qur'an. Likewise, they use tafsir to better understand the Qur'an.

A Quranic tafsir will often explain content and provide places and times, not contained in Quranic verses, as well as give the different views and opinions of scholars on the verse. -- Wikipedia

This motivates my question:

Question: Do Quranists also reject tafsir?

The Wikipedia page for Quranism also writes:

Ahle Quran scholars may use Tafsir when pursuing the interpretations of the Quran.[citation needed]

While an unreferenced snippet, this suggests it's possible that different Quranists have different attitudes towards tafsir. The Wikipedia page for tafsir currently also writes used to write:

Wahid Al-Qur'an, or "The Qur'an Alone" (a.k.a. Quranism [قرآنيون Qurʾāniyūn]) is the school of tafsir first used by Muslims during the first two centuries of Islamic history[Source needed].

This indicates that Quranists have a different kind of relationship with tafsir.

  • AFAIK they would reject any hadith based tafsir, this means most classical tafsir books there are a few tafsir books that refer to Arabic language and other verses of the Quran which might not fall in this category. – Medi1Saif Jan 25 '17 at 6:37
  • 1
    That's because I deleted it from the Wikipedia page, along with an argumentative section on Quranism which was irrelevant to tafsir. – Rebecca J. Stones Jan 25 '17 at 7:58
  • sorry even if i had noticed that you edited the text I was not aware that the phrase "used to write" was added!! – Medi1Saif Jan 25 '17 at 8:03
  • The issue with Quranists is that they seem to hold different positions and one could say different sects, so basically it is hard to answer a question on this topic, because of these differences. As some reject any classical tafsir, while others would only reject hadiths quoted in them others would reject any tafsir by a "non-Quranist" etc. some base their Arabic understanding on orientalist dictionaries and interprete the Quran based on this... – Medi1Saif Jan 25 '17 at 8:08

Essentially, Qur'an-only Muslims tend to be diverse; some outright reject anything outside of the Qur'an, while others allow outside material to varying degrees.

Ahmed Subhi Mansour, for example, writes (sourced from here):

So long as God is sufficient enough for the Believer as a lord, then so too is the Book of God sufficient enough for guidance and legislation ...

In this way, Qur'an-only Muslims may insist on interpreting the Qur'an themselves. A user of the Qur'an-only free-minds.org forum explains the situation as:

Some of us might accept the tafsir of Rashad, but not all. I think there's more of us that prefers to study by ourselves and develop our own tafsir.

(While a forum post is not a reliable reference, it's difficult to find authoritative Qur'an-only sources on the topic, and thus this may be the best available source.)

The post is referring to a translation of the Qur'an (pdf) by Qur'an-only proponent Rashad Khalifa. In this translation, there are extensive footnotes which can be considered to as tafsir.

A paradox arises in Qur'an-only Islam if tafsir weren't rejected; the Qur'an is simultaneously assumed to be possible to interpret by oneself, while at the same time tafsir is needed in some way.

(This paradox likewise comes up in Salafism; see the paper J. A. C. Brown, Is Islam Easy to Understand or Not?: Salafis, the Democratization of Interpretation and the Need for the Ulema, J. Islamic Studies (2015) 26 (2): 117-144 (doi).)

| improve this answer | |
  • Thank you for pointing out the paradox in Quranists' not rejecting tafsir. But this problem is more extensive: first, Quranists believe in re-interpreting the Quran using the Quran alone as a reference, but these interpretations are themselves tafsir, and vary wildly from person to person. Ahmed Mansour is more well-educated and reasonable, yet he would welcome other opinions and possibly not dismiss them out of hand. The "paradox" may really be a need for leadership and scholarship to rein in the anything goes attitude which undermines faith in basic truths and respect for knowledge. – S Karami Sep 29 '17 at 5:56
  • On the other hand, allowing for individuals to "interpret for themselves" should not be prohibited provided there are standards for this. Part of the problem for Quranists may be a lack of tafsir that does not use hadeeths as a source in some way or rely on interpretations based on perhaps indirect correlation with hadeeths.They are a relatively small group, and have not developed a set of guidelines based on their own scholars as far as I know. But I do believe the Quranic injunction to use our minds/ have understanding is valid as a guide for both Quranists and "traditional" Muslims. – S Karami Sep 29 '17 at 6:05

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.