Do you know who are the real Modernists in Islam?

By ‘modernist’, I’m not referring to those who uphold ‘progressive’ liberal values, those kind of people are in every community. You may want to watch this video first:

It may not work on mobile. Please, let me know your thoughts.

I watched the video. I’m not sure a Catholic forum is the place to discuss this, but there are probably not many Muslim forums that allow free expression of speech on topics like this.

I personally see two issues or problems:

  1. As the video pointed out, Wahhabis and/or Saudis don’t see any value in graves, historical sites (esp. if they are Shi’i or Sufi, etc.) , or anything that doesn’t fit in with their religious values. As far as I know, they have felt this way since the 18th c., and I don’t see them changing any time soon.

  2. The second issue is much broader–the entire Muslim world. For example, look at photographs of mosques and historic buildings in Cairo in the 19th c., and even up to WW I. Most were buried in garbage (al-Hakim) or accumulated garbage and dirt (the Citadel). And of course anything pre-Islamic has little or no value (of course there are notable exceptions–famous Muslim archaeologists, etc. But note that they focus only on their own countries–Egyptians study ancient Egypt, Iraqis Mesopotamia, etc. Egyptians don’t show any interest in Morocco, for example, nor do Moroccans show any interest in Egypt.

It wasn’t until the French and British arrived that there was a systematic attempt to preserve and restore older Islamic buildings. Today the organizations the British and French founded are run by Arabs, which is a good thing, but their values are European rather than Arab.

So who are the real modernists in Islam? I think that’s up to Muslims to decide. But from an outsider’s point of view, modernists should be interested in all historic buildings, graves, monuments, etc. even those celebrating opposing religious viewpoints. Modernists would also be tolerant of everyone’s beliefs.

My point is that outsiders (as you put it) often see Wahhabis as the Traditionalists, and see everyone else as somehow unorthodox to Islam (of course, the Wahhabis, and other charlatans like Idries Shah helped to paint that image). This video however, shows how the Wahhabis are adverse to the traditions and customs of Muslims that are centuries, even over a millennia old.

I think fundamentalists (including Wahhabis / Saudis) of any religion are dangerous. So to the extent that they are fundamentalists (literal reading of the Qur’an and hadith), they are traditionalists as well. And it’s not like they invented this in the 18th c.–there were Ibn Taymiyya, Ibn Hanbal, and others who had similar beliefs. So to the extent that they are following this particular school of thought, I think they can claim to represent a tradition going back to Muhammad. Not the only tradition, but “a” tradition.

As I’m sure you know, Islam can include a large range of beliefs. There was an excellent book that came out last year, “What Is Islam? The Importance of Being Islamic” by Shahab Ahmed. Shahab was a prof. at Harvard, and sadly he died a couple years ago–I think he was about 45. But the point of his book is that Islam–historically at least–included a wide variety of beliefs and practices. If you are interested in this topic, you should have a look at the book.

Ibn Taymiyya yes, but not Ibn Hanbal, many of his followers may have been extreme, but it wasn’t really until Ibn Taymiyya where traditional practices such as the visitation of graves and asking for intercession were questioned or rejected.

I’d say those types who say they just listen to Qur’an and not the Hadith.

I’m referring to those who are still considered within the boundaries of Islam, whereas the modern Quranists deny the validity of the five pillars, which would take one out of the fold of Islam, since these obligations are clearly mentioned in mutawatir (mass transmitted) evidence (the Qur’an and also some Hadith are mutawatir).

It sounds like they are willing to raze the old to develop the new. This isn’t a sustainable approach. There’s already been too much destruction of historical sites in the Middle East.

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There is a movement to reform Mohammedanism and many of these persons have become Qur’an onlyists and have ditched the ahadith, sirah, tafsir. Sheikh Mohammad Tawhidi is one of these … he is a Shia. However there is in reality no actual movement that is viable at the moment unless one throws out the Qur’an. This merely addressing the issue of Reforming.

Now as to philosophical modernism. The answer is an emphatic no, though there are a few here and there. The issue is that the Qur’an is read with the tafsir, and then there is the ahadith and sirah which figure heavily in fiq and daily life. Anyone who attempts to subject the Qur’an to the same rules of criticism as the Bible would soon find themselves not among the living. Bart Erhman himself was asked that same question and his answer was no and that he valued his life.

However, the Qur’an has changed. There are many versions of the Qur’an out there but only one is greenlighted by the Saudis (hafs). Remember the Qur’an was only standardized in 1926 (Cairo - hafs). Morocco and Tunisia use a different transmitors and receivers for the Qur’an so do not use the Asim Bakr -Hafs version.

Funny thing is that all the Hafs ahadith are all mawdu (fabricated) and is classified as a fabricator and a thief. The Qur’an itself is a ahadith (really). So the Qur’an itself is mawdu like Hafs lol lol The current official Qur’an is by a guy who was a fabricator and a theif whose ahadith are considered mawdu YET his they use his Qur’an … go figure. Next time a Mohammedan claims daif… let him know the Qur’an is Mawdu! Besides daif is good enough for fiq …

Hmm…but in Catholicism, the modernists are considered heretics…

In Islam, there’s a difference between someone who is heretical, and someone who’s a full blown heretic/apostate.

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In Islam, who has the authority to declare one an apostate?

Really, Muslims are discouraged from declaring another Muslim to be an unbeliever, since a wrong judgement incurs automatic excommunication upon oneself, i.e. if a Muslim accuses another Muslim of disbelief, the accusation is true of one of them, not necessarily the accused. But technically, one who possesses the evidence and knowledge to enforce their accusation, has the authority to declare someone an apostate. There have been at least four groups who have been declared as disbelievers by consensus (`ijma):

  1. The Ismailis
  2. The Druze
  3. The Alawis/Nusayris
  4. The Ahmadis/Qadianis

See also:

That would require some sort of overall authority figure (like a Pope), and such a figure does not exist in Islam. Any local authority figure can issue a fatwa declaring so-and-so to be an apostate, but the rest of the Islamic world can simply ignore him. Where there is no hierarchy, there is no authority.


No single group has the ability to declare anyone an apostate. This is left to the ulema, which a councils of scholars who will issue a fiq in that regard. Currently there are about 50 fatwas against Zakir Naik claiming that he is a kafir (unbeliever) because he has misrepresented Islam. All Naik was doing was a little bit of taqiyya (Islamic lying) to get Western persons to convert to Islam by making Islam more palatable to people in the West. but this has not sat well with many imams. In fact the Darool Uloom which is one of the most prestigious ulma in hanafi school and sunni in general issued a fiq which acknowledged that Naik has brought many to Islam but that if you are Muslim you should not pay any heed to his opinion as he is not a scholar and has no authority in Islam, cannot read arabic and had no knowledge of the ahadith, sirah or the tafsir.

If anyone hears of the miracle of #19 and the guy who came up with it… It is considered a miracle of the Qur’an according to Muslims. That guy got his got himself executed for manupliating the Qur’an to fit the 19 number. Some Mohammednas not liking that he had to tamper with the Qur’an killed him. Many Mohammedans practice taqiyya in the west to get converts and for dawah (proselytization). As one Imam has said it is OK to lie to the bring in converts and once they say the Shahada (creed, declaration of faith) then you can tell them what Mohammedanism is really about and if they try and go back chop off their heads. This is what Mohammedanism is about.

Whilst I agree that Zakir Naik is a dishonest individual, you lost me when you spouted the ‘Taqiyya’ myth.

What I find especially interesting about the Qur’an only types is that it is somewhat similar (not at all identical, but similar) to our protestants.
Hadith provides tradition in the sense it gives extra information and context of Qur’an, yet because it is not believed to be the “word of Allah”, they say it doesn’t not count, even the most Sahih of hadith. And it’s been about 1400 years, about the same when the seeds of the Protestant revolt were planted.
Of course, if you don’t have the 5 pillars, since those are in the hadith, many do not consider them real Muslims. But if you only believe in Qur’an, Qur’an does not say 5 pillars is necessary, so to them it is fine. There are a couple reasons for doing this:
It eliminates the context for the worrisome and difficult texts of the Qur’an, and gets rid of some rather problematic histories of Mohammed. Hence you can have people who believe jihad is purely about warring within yourself, as opposed to actual warfare, which it often refers to.

Only time shall tell how this will go, and if it will be similar to the protestants.

On another note, my dad would tell me a story about Mohammed, that when he was hot in the sun and needed shade, a cobra opened up really wide and provided him shade. Have you ever heard of such a story?

The Qur’an onlyists, claim that only holding onto an infallible source is both necessary and sufficient. Yet, they gloss over the fact that it was ‘fallible’ men who preserved the recitation, writing, and language of the Qur’an, with their ‘fallible’ memory, transmission, etc. The Qur’an onlyists are also of course, completely ignorant of the ahruf (modes of recitation), and would probably be unable to answer which ahruf is infallible (all ahruf are considered valid by Muslims). The transmission of the writing and recitation of the Qur’an, is what Muslims call mutawatir (mass transmitted), which leaves no doubt that what we have of the Qur’an, is indeed the same Qur’an that Prophet Muhammad (S) transmitted to his companions. What the Qur’an onlyists are especially unaware of, is that some Hadith are mutawatir, and such Hadith which are mutawatir in wording, are actually considered to be on the same level as the Qur’an.

To know the ahkam (derivation of rules and laws) would require having an extensive knowledge of the Qur’anic Arabic, its meanings, morphology, grammar, asbab al nuzul (occasions of revelation), nashk (occasions of abrogation), etc. which they don’t possess (neither do I).

Salah (prayer) and its different timings are indeed mentioned several times in the Qur’an (Surahs 2:238, 11:114, 17:78, 50:39).

So is Sawn (fasting) in the month of Ramadhan (Surah 2:183-185).

So too is Zakat (almsgiving) obligatory (Surahs 9:11, 73:20, 98:5).

And Hajj (the greater pilgrimage) too (Surahs 2:197, 3:96-97).

Here are a few more general verses which are relevant to this discussion- Surah 5:3, Surah 3:85, Surah 5:48, Surah 4:59, Surah 9:122, Surah 16:43 (this has a contrasted meaning when compared to Surah 21:7).

I have not heard that story.

I do believe that is one objective of ISIS and such.
To establish themselves as an authority, the caliphate, yadda yadda

I don’t like the idea of things being determined via consensus. Imagine if Catholicism was so, then at some point we’d be Arians quite possibly, and if it were to extend to dogma and doctrine, now we wouldn’t believe in Transubstantiation, etc.
It’s also too remiscient of argumentum ad populum.
Mohammed died too soon for the purposes of Islam, which brought about a split in Shia and Sunni, yadda yadda.

Yes, I agree they are terribly misguided and such was never the purpose or intent of Islam.

When one hears modernist, he thinks of an aberration. I just find it weird you don’t include such an odd group that has only recently come about due to postmodern interpretations of texts, as modernists.

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