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
    Commented Jan 25, 2017 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. Commented Jan 25, 2017 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
    Commented Jan 25, 2017 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
    Commented Jan 25, 2017 at 8:08

1 Answer 1


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).)

  • 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
    Commented Sep 29, 2017 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
    Commented Sep 29, 2017 at 6:05

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