The answers on are based on the research of Ikram Hawramani in the Quran, hadith, scholarly works and respected fatwa sources. You can view Ikram Hawramani's credentials on the about page. Please note that we do not issue fatwas, we only compile the opinions of respected scholars (even when a fatwa is not explicitly cited) to make their opinions accessible to English-speaking Muslims. If an answer does not cite fatwas, please feel free to leave a comment asking for a fatwa citation and we will update the answer as soon as possible to include fatwas.

IslamQA: The Problem with Quranism

What do you think about Quranism? (The idea that we should rely on the Quran, augmented by reason and experience, for our spiritual and ethical lives, and not the Hadith? It makes a lot of sense to me that God would want us to follow his message, with the aid of the gifts of feeling reason and sensation that he has given us, and that if he had wanted us to follow the Hadith (e.g including Muhammad in the Shahada) he would have included them in the Quran. But I appreciate this is controversial!❤️

I used to somewhat lean toward that, though I never liked complete Quranism where all hadiths are rejected. I realized that almost everything that is problematic in Islam is caused by hadith, so I supposed that if we take most of our religion from the Quran rather than hadith then that would be better for everyone. But as I learned more I realized that the traditional view of the Quran and hadith is mostly correct. 

Quranism is based on a few dishonest arguments, such as the saying that the Prophet’s traditions were merely his personal attempts at applying the Quran, meaning that we have the right to make our own attempts. This is the “channels of revelation” problem; some claim that the Quran was the only channel of revelation that the Prophet had, so that all of his own interpretations were personal interpretation attempts. But hadith tells us this is false; we have a hadith where a person asks the Prophet about a technical issue related to the pilgrimage and the Prophet receives non-Quranic revelation at that time that allows him to answer the question. This shows us that the Prophet was not merely an interpreter of the Quran; he was an *additional* source of guidance besides the Quran who received information that is not in the Quran (such as how to perform the formal prayers).

If we believe that God is all-powerful and all-knowing, then we should ask why God failed to tell us that we should only follow the Quran and that the Prophet is merely an interpreter. The reality is the opposite; the Quran tells us to follow the Prophet and to bow to his judgments.

As I have greatly increased my knowledge over the past few years, I have realized that an honest look at the situation shows us that we are required to consider the Quran our main source of guidance, supplemented by hadith wherever necessary. The Quran is perfect, hadith is imperfect. The Quran is fully reliable, hadith is only partiality reliable and very few hadiths reach the level of authenticity of the Quran.

So the honest conclusion is that we should hold onto the Quran very strongly. In this I differ from many scholars who believe that the Quran and hadith are equal. They think that the Quran and the hadith collections stand side-by-side as equal sources of guidance. My view is that the Quran stands above everything else; it should be the criterion by which we judge hadith. But the honest conclusion is also that we are required to love and abide by hadith; hadith is indispensable and irreplaceable.

Quranism is attempt to simplify the life of the Muslims by giving them a single clear source of guidance. But simplification can be bad if it is over-simplification; and that is what Quranism is. It throws out an essential part of Islam by thinking that it knows better. So I am with the traditionalist scholars in believing in holding onto the Quran and hadith, while I disagree with many of them (but not most of them, recent Azhar university scholars like Shaykh Muhammad Abdullah Draz have my view) on the importance of the Quran, since I believe the Quran is much more important than hadith.

I invite you to take an honest look at the situation. You can never be fully sure that Quranism is the right way because the “channels of revelation” question at the very least puts it in a gray area, since there is always the possibility that hadith contains additional material that we are required to have as Muslims. One can never be sure if throwing out this material is the right choice, and the justification for it (that it simplifies life, or that the Quran is the only fully reliable source) is not a good enough justification.

We should start by thinking of the fact that God is all-powerful and that He could have prevented the present situation from coming about if He had wanted, and He could have given us clear guidance that we should only follow the Quran. But He didn’t do that. So we should reflect on this choice that God has made in not telling us to follow the Quran only. By leaving the matter vague, the honest conclusion is that we required to follow both the Quran and hadith and to struggle with hadith despite its complexity and problematic aspects. This is what almost all scholars have agreed on. They too were honest and sincere humans doing their best to make sense of an imperfect situation. The struggle is not easy, but we should conclude that we are meant to have this struggle. It is a test; do we choose to throw away hadith because it is problematic and break away from the Muslim community and the scholars out of our personal desires, or do we overcome our desires, and for the sake of unity and love remain within the traditional Muslim community and go through with the struggle and prevent it from being a cause for division and hatred.

I used to have a very negative view of the intelligence of past scholars because of some their ridiculous statements that I knew about. But as my knowledge has increased, as I have benefited from dozens of Western non-Muslim sources that studied the lives and works of these scholars, my love and admiration for them has only increased.

I recommend that you humble yourself before God and admit the fact that He has put you in this imperfect situation in order to struggle with it without giving up your honesty and your principles. We have the choice to be arrogant, proud and to think that we know better than others. We also have the choice to be humble and to treat the scholars and the Prophet’s hadiths with love and appreciation. I have chosen the path of love.

And God knows best.
Asking questions is temporarily unavailable. Sorry for the inconvenience.
Learn Quranic Arabic with my book!
Available in both paperback and Kindle formats.
Commenting rules: Politeness is the only rule. We respect your right to disagree with anything we say. But comments with profanity and insults will be deleted.
Notify of
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
3 years ago

Bukhari is the man that was born 200 years after prophet Muhammed PBUH. His collections are corrupted as evidence of his couple of hundred thousandth hadiths he collected he kept approximately seven thousand or so in his collection. If we had any product with such failure rate in any study, the production would never go on. Think of a car company that had such high rate of failure. The hadiths are hearsay ” I heard it from such and such” this not accurate enough to base religious law that impacts so many lives. Some of the problems in Islamic world today are based looking from religious stand point come from hadiths as you said. In some of the hadiths messenger of GOD is portrayed in most negative way. This is why enemies of Islam call him “pedophile” because of general belief that Aisha was 9 at the time of marriage. In fact she was most likely 19 y/o at the time, but this has justified child bride marriage in Muslim world. Not to mention things like views on dogs, women rights or do not wear gold or silk and the list goes on and on. I understand that to expect that hadiths can simply be kicked out will not happen so easy. To many power structures in Islamic world depend on them to maintain power over Muslim minds. I believe as a start they have to be placed in historical context and what ever goes against spirit of Quran should be discarded. Change is coming and this is the beginning where muslim take their faith back form wahabbis and coservatives. We have to join the modern world and we can not sit on the sides anymore.

3 years ago

First let me thank you for this blog.
Lets say you are right. Also I want to say that we should not abandon hadiths it because one has to be realistic about it. Islamic world would not accept that. I also like the idea that history is being preserved. My question is how to reform it, I know its a dirty word because Muslims fear Islam will change or be corrupted. But just look at nightly news and you will see that our house is on fire. Shia vs suni, Dictators vs people. Religious establishment directly supporting the strong man. Saudi genocide against Yemen, kurdish persecutions in the countries they live in . Muslim youth joining cult, like isis. Men literally blowing them self up by the thousands thinking they dine with the prophets. Yet someone draws stupid cartoons about our prophet and we are all up in arms mostly destroying our own cities in these riots. I some countries half of population cant live their lives freely ( meaning women, other minorities). This ideology finds its legitimacy backing in these hadiths. this how wahhabis were able to corrupt suni muslims. Lets not forget they rose with the British to fight against Ottomans the last Muslim caliphate. Our lands are slaves to the masters in Washington DC and other western states. Just look at the pressure on the Palestinians to accept this current peace plan from UAE and Saudi Arabia. I could go on with these examples but to what point when we all know this truth.
So my question is how do we reform ( can we?). How to give new meaning to these hadiths and its interpretations in a modern age.
I believe we should no be afraid of the future. Reformist are wahabbis and literalist who fight against traditional peaceful Islam with every breath they take. Selam

3 years ago

I agree it’s more political then religious. Muslim live their faith secular or more religious and reconcile it every day. It is the leadership whether religious or non religious that needs catching up with times. Throughout 19/20th century ruling class in Arab world tried to fast to change societies and failed ( example Arab nationalism). So with such mega disappointment clergy filled the void and went too far with extremism, but still gave no answer to issues of modernity, in most cases they went against it. Not surprising failed it’s failing as witnessed on daily basis. So we got now double failures, hopefully we can learn from out mistakes and build more stable societies. This is a nice article that talks about it, who ever wants to look at it.