Yes! they are, indeed worse -- they are the most shameless hypocrites and liars amongst Muslims, who contradict, oppose and break all of the central claims of their own and of Islam without any compunction.

Recently I received an email, inquiring about the following:

I want to know: Are Quranist Muslims moderate or just charlatans?

They support interfaith marriages and other reforms.

Can you explain: What is truth? Can we trust them?

It's hard to define what the Quranist or Quran-only Muslims are! Before I explain that, let me discuss briefly about how these Quran-only Muslims came about.

Rise of the Quran-only Muslims

To pious and devout Muslims, the Quran and the Sahih (authentic) Hadiths (Prophet Muhammad’s sayings and deeds) forms the foundation of Islam. Neither of them is questionable. But the Quran-only Muslims – a rather modern brand of Muslims – who constitute only a minuscule proportion of the global Muslim population, claim to accept only the Quran as the foundation of Islam. To them, Hadiths have no relevance to Islam and should not be consulted in defining Islamic theology.

These Quran-only Muslims started appearing in the 19th-century colonial age and more in the last couple of decades. After the Western powers – having suffered the scourge of Islamic Jihadi aggression and violence for a millennium – hit back and gradually spread their colonial rule over the Muslim world, they faced a couple of serious challenges from the Muslim populations of those lands.

  1. Jihad: The first serious problem the Western powers faced in their formerly Muslim-ruled colonies was strong violent resistance from Muslims, which they waged in the name of Jihad.
  2. Sharia law: European colonists also collided with Muslims in instituting laws in those formerly Muslim-ruled territories. When religion had been separated from governance in Europe, European colonists generally tried to institute Europe's secular law in those territories – which was rather more essential, because these lands had also a considerable proportion of non-Muslim people, often the majority, who had been ruled by the Islam’s brutal, discriminatory and oppressive Sharia law over the centuries. The colonists had no problem with the large segment of the non-Muslim subjects in those colonies or in the non-Muslim colonies of Americas as far as instituting secular laws are concerned. But Muslims offered serious resistance against instituting secular laws, to the extent that the colonial rulers had to give in to Sharia in certain aspects of the Muslim society, such as family, marriage, inheritance law etc.

Europeans, in the face of persistent Islam-inspired Jihadi aggression on Europe, had been studying Islam for many centuries, but the above-mentioned two issues they faced in their Islamic colonies prodded them into taking a close look at Islam again. And this time, they had unfettered access to all the sacred Islamic texts and other literature, and historical documents to make a more appropriate judgment on Islam.

As a result, for the first time, the weak points of Islam – its command for unrestrained Jihad aggression against the infidels and to oppress the dhimmi subjects, its oppression of women, its polygamy and slavery etc. – came in for criticism like never before. Previously, critical literature had been produced in Europe, often not so accurate and detailed because of limited access to sacred Islamic texts, and their circulation was limited amongst Christian readers in European territories only. In the colonial age, this new and more research-oriented and scholarly critical literature were also freely distributed in Islamic lands.

So, Muslims, for the first time, were faced with literature, critical of their religion, which showed Islam as a violent, oppressive, and even barbaric religion. And these aspects of Islam are most clearly evident in the Hadith, not so much in the Quran – because in Hadiths, Prophet Muhammad’s actions and deeds are vividly described, while the language of the Quranic verses is often vague, and also there are verses in the Quran that says opposite things on certain issues.

In other words, the Hadith (and Sira) description of the events of the Islamic prophet's life and actions are undeniably transparent, which present Islam as an irrefutably violent, oppressive, and barbaric religion. At least, its prophet is depicted as such. No Muslim can deny or refute that. But, since the Quranic verses are often vague and also say opposite things on certain issues, Muslims could interpret the vagueness of the Quranic verses or use only the favorable set of verses (ignoring the other set that says opposite things) to their advantage and try to show Islam differently from what the Hadiths present it as.

In sum: 1) Hadiths present Islam as irrefutably violent, oppressive, and barbaric; 2) the Quran is vague and contradictory, which allows Muslims to interpret its verses to a meaning that helps them to show Islam as not violent, oppressive, and barbaric.

Rashad Khalifa: Leading 20th-century Quranist,
who was assassinated by enraged Islamic
zealots for distorting Islam

And there arose the Quran-only Muslims for the first time after nearly 1,000 years of Islam. And in the age of globalization today, when Islam is under most intense scrutiny, their ranks are growing faster than ever. They take only the Quran as the sole foundation of Islam. Since Hadiths present Islam as violent, oppressive, and barbaric – they want to discount them or dissociate them from Islam.

Distortion of the Quran’s messages by Quranists

To be added that the Quran itself is not sufficient to show Islam as a civilized and peaceful religion. The Quran is cluttered with verses, inciting violence, oppression and discrimination, which portray Islam as a violent, oppressive, and barbaric religion. So, what these Quranist Muslims do about those verses. They take recourse of lies and deception to translate those verses or interpret them deceptively so as to make them appear to mean what they don't, often exactly the opposite.

The leading Quranist of the 20th-century was Egyptian Islamist Rashad Khalifa, based in the USA, who obtained a Master's Degree in Biochemistry from Arizona State University and a PhD from University of California. (see his website, He translated the Quran into English and wrote many articles to justify every civilized things Islam disagree with. His messages distorted Islam so badly that it enraged devout Muslims to the extent that they shot him to death in 1990.

Quran-only or semi-Quran-only?

This brand of Muslims, who proudly claim to be Quranist, or Quran-only, are not Quran-only at all. For example, how Islamic rituals, such as how prayers, fasting, hajj etc., must be performed cannot be deduced from the Quran. The Quran even does not say that prayers should be five times a day. According to Quranic description, prayers should be, at best, 3 times a day. Muslims pay 2.5% of their excess income as zakaat, but the Quran does not specify zakaat as 2.5%. If Muslims have to depend on the Quran alone to practice Islam, they have to discard all these foundational rituals of Islam. And without these rituals, Islam would be nothing. The Quran-only Muslims perform these rituals by referring to extra-Quranic texts only, which, they claim, have no relevance to Islam. So, they are obviously not Quran-only Muslims. In their practice of Islam, they shamelessly use extra-Quranic texts, such as the Hadith, which they try hard to discredit.

Apart from these foundational rituals of Islam, they also use Hadiths, whenever a saying or action of the prophet described in them present him as a good, generous and noble person. For example, they will often say, "The Prophet Said: Go even to China for gaining knowledge" – which itself is a lie and forgery, as this so-called Hadith is not found in any Sahih Hadith collections.

They only disagree to those references in the Hadith that show Prophet Muhammad and Islam in a bad light.

Quran-only or Quran-opponent?

To the Quranists, i.e. Quran-only Muslims, only the words of Allah in divine verses of the Quran are inviolable and sacred to Muslims. Islam should be defined in reference to Allah words, i.e. in reference to verses of the Quran only. To them, Prophet Muhammad was only a human being, appointed to transmit Allah’s words to mankind for guiding their life. So, Prophet Muhammad’s personal actions and sayings have no relevance to Islam. In other words, Prophet Muhammad’s sayings and deeds have no place in defining Islam.

But if Muslims have to agree to Allah’s words, i.e. if they agree that what the Quran’s verses command forms the inviolable foundation of Islam, they cannot dissociate reference to Prophet Muhammad’s personal sayings and deeds from the foundation of Islam. For example, many verses of the Quran command Muslims to follow Allah (i.e. Allah’s words in the Quran) and His Messenger (i.e. Prophet Muhammad). I quote below a few such verses:

  1. Quran 3.32: "Say: "Obey Allah and His Messenger": But if they turn back, Allah loveth not those who reject Faith.
  2. Quran 4.13: "Those are limits set by Allah: those who obey Allah and His Messenger will be admitted to Gardens with rivers flowing beneath…
  3. Quran 4.59: "O ye who believe! Obey Allah, and obey the Messenger
  4. Quran 8.20: "O ye who believe! Obey Allah and His Messenger

There are many more verses (see 3:32; 4:14,59,69; 5:92; 8:1,46; 9:71; 24:47,51–52,54,56; 33:33; 47:33; 49:14; 58:13; 64:12), in which Allah commands Muslims to obey Allah and His Messenger Muhammad. So, obeying what Prophet Muhammad said, recommended and commanded has the same importance in forming the foundation of Islam as obeying Allah’s commands in verses of the Quran. So, if Muslims think that what Allah’s words in the Quran say forms inviolable foundation of Islam, then they must obey Prophet Muhammad’s personal recommendations and commands too. And Prophet Muhammad's recommendations and commands are found in the Hadiths (and Prophet’s biographies) only. So, by rejecting the Hadiths, the Quran-only Muslims discard one-half of Islam.

In sum, the Quran repeatedly says: "Obey His (Allah’s) Messenger" – i.e. Prophet Muhammad. But the allegedly Quranist Muslims say: "Do not obey Allah's Messenger". In other words, Quran-only Muslims’ central idea goes against a central idea of the Quran. In other words, the so-called Quran-only Muslims are actually Quran-opponent in their most important claim about Islam that Prophet Muhammad’s personal sayings, commands and deeds have no relevance to Islam, but the Quran (aka Allah) says that Prophet Muhammad’s personal sayings, commands and deeds are integral to Islam.

Quran-only Muslims: Moderate or Charlatans?

The above description defines the so-called Quran-only Muslims in accurate terms. Are they moderate or charlatan Muslims? The best description would: they are "hypocrite" Muslims, because 1) they claim that they are Quran-only, but liberally use non-Quranic texts in their practice of Islam; 2) they claim to be Quran-only, but they reject the Quran’s repeated command to “Obey Allah’s Messenger”.

Are they moderate Muslims? It's a very hard to define. These Muslims are highly educated, are fully aware and inspired by the modern humanistic ideals, and are not at all strict in following Islamic rituals, such as praying five times a day. They will also audaciously disregard the Quran’s command of not taking infidels as friends; in blatant defiance of Allah verdict that "infidels are the worst beast" (8:55), they will believe that infidels could be excellent human beings, even better than Muslims.

One may call these brands of Muslims moderate. And they are likely to be involved in interfaith dialogue etc. But the accurate description of them is: they are the most shameless hypocrites and liars amongst Muslims, who contradict, oppose and break all of the central claims of their own and of Islam without any compunction.

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