What does it mean to “reject”?
[v. ri-jekt; n. ree-jekt] –verb (used with object)
1. to refuse to have, take, recognize, etc.: to reject the offer of a better job.
2. to refuse to grant (a request, demand, etc.).
3. to refuse to accept (someone or something); rebuff: The other children rejected him. The publisher rejected the author’s latest novel.
What does it mean to “Reject Hadith” or to be labelled as a “Hadith Rejector”?
Quranists are often labelled as “Rejectors of Hadith”. It has a derogatory connotation that to “Reject Hadith” is to be a “kafir” or a non-believer in God’s commands and to be non-supportive of the Messenger of God. Calling someone a “Hadith Rejector” seems to imply that they are somehow “disobedient” to the Messenger and to God. Sadly, quite often, the term “Hadith Rejector” is used as a synonym for non-muslim.
This piece will hopefully show InshaaAllah why the terms “Hadith Rejection” and “Hadith Rejector” need to be clarified. The terms do not necessarily have to imply negative connotations. It is however important to clarify what it is that Quranists DO reject.
Quranists believe that the Quran is the sole source of Divine Guidance. Quranists believe that upholding the Quran is the best way to obey the Messenger and obey God. Some people think that obeying God is adhering to the Quran whereas obeying the Messenger is following Ahadith collections. Upon closer inspection, 73:16 shows that fa’aṣā fir’’awnu l-rasūla – Firawn disobeyed the Messenger. It stands to reason that obeying the Messenger and obeying God are one in the same. It is clear that obeying/disobeying the Messenger is nothing to do with Ahadith collections which came centuries after the Quran. For a comprehensive understanding of the Quran as the Sole Authority, please see The Authority of the Quran by Kashif Ahmed Shehzada and further reading on “Obeying the Messenger” in this article.
Anything other than the Quran – anything: Ahadith collections, man’s own words, scholarly texts, books, essays, articles, opinions of other Quran students, hearsay, old wives tales, traditional understandings, cultural beliefs, societal norms and customs, manners and behaviour can be investigated, pondered and compared with what the Quran says, and we are encouraged by the Quran to use logic and reason to analyse anything and everything. What we might find is that some of these extra-Quranic sources DO correspond with our understanding of the Quran OR they might be good advice or good practices in general day to day life OR they may be detrimental; detrimental to society and our own spiritual growth.
To reject or not to reject?
It is not logical to say that if some good advice, wherever it is from – an Ahadith collection or teachers, friends, family or strangers – is to be automatically rejected, purely because it is not from the Quran. Its claim to have the authority of Divine Guidance is rejected of course by Quranists, as we believe only God’s Words in the Quran have such a status. BUT if there is merit in the good advice and it corresponds to achieving the goals of what we are trying to achieve in life in the way of God, then there is no reason or logic to reject purely for the sake of rejection.
The detrimental “advice” or customs and practices which have little to no benefit in society or for ones own soul or spiritual development, and which directly contradict the teachings of the Quran, then it is these that Quranists may be found scrutinising and wholeheartedly rejecting.
No extra-Quranic prohibition
The Quran tells us what is forbidden. What is not specifically mentioned as forbidden is lawful. The Quran emphasises that we must not say things are forbidden if Allah has not forbidden them. Therefore if a “Hadith” says something is forbidden where the Qur’an does not back this up, then that is a good example of rejection of the authority of the prohibition. This in no way means that we reject the Messenger’s authority. It is the claim that the hadith has its origin with God that is rejected.
I think it is a noble gesture to urge fellow believers to the path of God. There are undoubtedly some “hadiths” which are very good advice and give us food for thought and suggestions on how to become better muslims, especially ones that have their basis in the Quran anyway. Suggestions of how to be kind to parents and family and to benefit one’s community, and to fight against injustice and oppression are welcomed as part of achieving the goals. The question is: do these suggestions of how to achieve the goals have any divine authority? No. Allah provides the best examples in the Quran through His prophets and messengers. See Prophetic Examples in the Quran.
What it boils down to
In light of all this this, “Hadith Rejector” as a synonym for Quranist does not really do justice to what it is that Quranists actually DO reject. We reject the concept of a second source of Divine Guidance. We reject the notion of any Religious Authority. Mullahs, Sheikhs, Scholars, Priests and Imams cannot act as “middle-men” between the reader of the Quran and God. The Qur’an says to judge by the Scripture. If people want to give advice, and there is wisdom in the advice…great! If it contradicts the Quran it’s not good advice.
Rejecting what’s right is wrong. Rejecting what’s wrong is right! There are many immoral practices we reject: dogma, oppression, injustice, inequality, unfairness, distorting the words of the Scripture, corruption, falsehood, lying about Allah, the Quran rejects these and so do we.
Traits shown to be disliked by Allah such as self-conceit, boastfulness, corruption, exultation, betrayal, ingratitude, treachery, transgression, evil and wickedness, aggression, bad manners: we reject all these (as I am sure most people including other Muslims do too) and the Quran specifically mentions them. The Quran references are listed on the post entitled Personality Traits disliked
The deeds and behaviour of the Firawn detailed in the Quran has shown what is not acceptable: Killing, shaming, corruption, murder, arrogance, criminal, wickedness, prejudice, dispicable behavior, rejecting / disbelieving the Prophets and Messengers, oppression, building Kingdoms, persecution, tyranny, misguiding others from the path, hatred, transgression, wrong-doings, false accusations, slander, defaming, calling the Prophet a liar, evil, scheming, bad treatment of family / wife, disobedience to Allah and His Prophets / Messengers The Quran references are listed here on the Firawn study
Rejection is only negative if we are rejecting the good when we should be rejecting the bad.
InshaaAllah, We reject what the Quran tells us to reject. We uphold what the Quran tells us to uphold. And we urge others to do the same. InshaaAllah.
Further reading: Who is a Kaafir? by Kashif Shehzada