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January 22, 2016

The Accommodation and Promotion of Blasphemy: Why The Study Qur’an is not for public consumption according to Sunni Principles

A guest post by Brother Abu Nur al-Mizzi

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
الحمد لله رب العالمين والصلاة والسلام على سيدنا محمد أفضل الأنبياء والمرسلين وعلى آله وصحبه ومن تبعه بإحسان إلى يوم الدين




Much attention has been brought towards the new publication, The Study Qur’an, by Dr. Seyyed Hossein Nasr and his editorial staff, with accolades and endorsements from prominent Muslim leaders/scholars to coverage in media outlets in the West.  It has also been noticed that a very small number of scholars spoke out against the book on account of its passages that violate issues pertaining to the essentials of the religion, and in turn, they received much resentment.  What was more disconcerting was to see certain Sunni authorities in North America labeling any form of opposition as uncivil, arrogant, impatient, prejudicial, bigoted, and unintelligent. This is in spite of their knowledge that The Study Qur’an proffers the idea of the validity of certain religions outside of Islam leading to Truth and/or salvation even after one hears its pristine message today.[1]  Such a notion has interrelated and overlapping meanings with other terms that are known by some as “soteriological pluralism”, “covenantal pluralism”, “soteriological inclusivism”, “universality of religions”, “salvific inclusivity”, or “Perennialism”.  Although in a strict, philosophical sense each of these may carry a certain defined meaning, but for the sake of clarity we will simply refer to this aforementioned notion as “Perennialism” since this is what the common man tends to immediately understand from this.  The intention here is to present a short article that seeks to show by way of proofs that the stance of these few scholars who have criticized The Study Qur’an on account of its Perennialist passages is not only deeply rooted in the deen (religion) but in fact is stronger and has always been the practice of scholars from the time of the Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam).  There are those that might see this attempt as divisive in nature, or worse, as “fitnah-mongering”.  However, when the Sunni authorities of the land have not clarified the matter in a lucid and unambiguous manner that resembles the traditional and principled ways of Ahl al-Sunnah wa al-Jama`ah, then those able are obliged to do so for the sake of the common Sunni who still holds such principles dear to his or her heart.  And success is from Allah ta`ala Alone.

As per the directive of Allah ta`ala,

وَذَكِّرْ فَإِنَّ الذِّكْرَىٰ تَنفَعُ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ

“And remind!  For indeed the reminder benefits the Believers” (51:55).  We pray that the below serves as a form of sincere counsel.

One of the striking aspects concerning the character of the Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) that stick out in the Qur’an is that Allah ta`ala has referred to him as “rahmah lil-`alamin” “mercy for the worlds” (21:107), but at the same time Heta`ala orders him to be “harsh upon them (disbelievers and hypocrites)” (66:9), and yet again, he’s still referred to as one possessing a “tremendous character” (68:4) or having a “beautiful conduct” (33:21).  

This apparent contrast highlights the concept of al-Hubb fillah, "love for the sake of Allah", as well as the concept of al-bughd fillah, "abhorrence for the sake of Allah", about which the Prophet (salla Allahu 'alayhi wa sallam) said as narrated in Sahih Muslim:


أفضل الحب الحب في الله وأفضل البغض البغض في الله

"The greatest love is the Love for the sake of Allah while the greatest abhorrence is Abhorrence for the sake of Allah."


It is remarkable that the Prophet Muhammad's (salla Allahu 'alayhi wa sallam) "abhorring" something deemed despicable to Allahta'ala never detracted from the former's "rahmah for the worlds" or his "tremendous character", a character we've been told to imitate in countless verses of the Qur'an. Rather, even when he showed harshness there was still mercy and exemplary character found therein. The concept of abhorrence for the sake of Allah ta'ala goes hand in hand with the concept of al-Hubb fillah, "loving for the sake of Allah", that we should love all of that which has been deemed beloved to Allah ta'ala and we see this in countless examples in the life of the Messenger of Allah (salla Allah 'alayhi wa sallam). The happy balance between the two, the know-how of when to exhibit each concept in its proper time and place, can only be achieved by way of knowledge. The scope of this discussion will revolve around how the concept of al-bughd fillah, "abhorrence for the sake of Allah", is applicable in matters that clearly contravene what we know concerning the religion of Allah, such as Perennialism. It is noteworthy to mention that bughd is not a personal matter as it only concerns the very act or belief of disobedience itself. We abhor such disobedience but pray for the disobedient to mend his ways through sincere counsel. For anyone making allegations of "fitnah-mongering" or "bigotry" towards those that sincerely seek to uphold this concept (al-bughd fillah), it only exposes their own lack of knowledge in this matter. We turn to our illustrious scholars for aid in this regard:


Regarding those matters that clearly contravene the teachings of the religion, Allah ta'ala says:


وما كان لمؤمن ولا مؤمنة اذا قضى الله ورسوله امراً ان يكون لهم الخيرة من أمرهم ومن يعص الله ورسوله فقد ضل ضلالا مبينا

"It is not open for a believing man or a believing woman , once Allah and His Messenger have decided a matter, that they should have a choice about their matter; and whoever disobeys Allah and His Messenger, he indeed gets off the track, falling into an open error." (33:36)


The great Hanafi exegete of the Qur'an, Abu Su'ud (d.982 h), writes concerning this verse in his Irshad al-'Aql as-Salaam ila Mazaya al-Kitab al-Kareem:

و من يعص الله ورسوله في أمر من الأمور ويعمل فيه برأيه فقد ضل طريق الحق ضلالا مبينا

"{And whoever disobeys Allah and His Messenger} in an issue and practices it with his own opinion {he indeed gets off} the path of Truth."


Likewise, Allah ta'ala says in the Qur'an:

ان الذين يحادون الله ورسوله أولئك في الأذلين

"Indeed, those who oppose Allah and His Messenger, they are among the lowest." (58:20)


The great Maliki exegete, al-Qurtubi (d.671 h), writes in his al-Jami' li Ahkam al-Qur'an that Imam Malik (d.179 h) used this verse for censuring the Qadariyyah sect and foregoing their gatherings.


It has been narrated that the Prophet (salla Allahi 'alayhi wa sallam) said:

من وقر صاحب بدعة فقد أعان على هدم الإسلام  

“Whoever honors a person of innovation then indeed he has aided in the destruction of Islam”. – Narrated by ibn `Asakir (d. 571 h) in his Taareekh Dimashq with an isnad that doesn’t contain discredited narrators.

At this juncture, it is imperative upon us to explain that the scholars have categorized bid`ah “innovation” upon two different degrees: 

a.) bid`ah which reaches the degree of fisq (sin) and

b.) bid`ah which reaches the degree of kufr (disbelief). 

Our concern here is with the latter (reasons coming later) so we will define it as that which would include rejecting a mass-transmitted (mutawatir) matter in the Revealed Law (shar`) that is clearly known to be from the religion of Islam by necessity.[2] Bearing this definition in mind, let us proceed to explain the application of all of the above nusus (textual evidences) by relaying the statements of the fuqaha’ (jurists).  It will soon become patently evident that the fuqaha’ did `amal (practice) of these verses and narrations as opposed to those in our day who have deemed it inapplicable.

One of the rejuvenators (mujaddid) of the religion in the past century, Yusuf al-Nabahani (d. 1350 h), wrote an entire work on this subject of ours called “Sabeel al-Najat fi al-Hubb fi Allah wa al-Bughd fi Allah” (“The Path to Salvation in Loving for the sake of Allah and Abhorrence for the sake of Allah”).  In this book, he cites the following, which elucidates the application of the aforementioned hadith:

الثاني المبتدع الذي يدعو إلى بدعته

فإن كانت البدعة بحيث يكفر بها فأمره أشد من الذمي لأنه لا يقر بجزية ولا يسامح بعقد ذمة وإن كان ممن لا يكفر به فأمره بينه وبين الله أخف من أمر الكافر لا محالة ولكن الأمر في الإنكار عليه أشد منه على الكافر لأن شر الكافر غير متعد فإن المسلمين اعتقدوا كفره فلا يلتفتون إلى قوله إذ لا يدعي لنفسه الإسلام واعتقاد الحق

“The second type is the innovator who calls towards his heresy:  If the innovation (bid`ah) is such that it takes him outside the fold of Islam then his affair is even more severe than the dhimmi (non-Muslim resident under the Shari`ah) because his affair is not established by the jizyah (tax paid by a dhimmi) and he is not pardoned by this contract;  and if his innovation is from that which does not take him out of the fold of Islam then his affair is between him and Allah and is lighter than that of a disbeliever. However, the matter of his (repudiation) is more severe than that of a disbeliever because the evil of a disbeliever is intransitive due to the fact that the Muslims are convinced of his disbelief and thus they do not pay any attention to his statements because he does not claim for himself Islam and the true Islamic creed.”

The great Hanbali mujaddid of his time, Al-Saffarini (d. 1188 h), further asserts the understanding and application of abandoning suchbid`ah in his Ghidha’ al-Lubab:

وَالْحَاصِلُ أَنَّهُ يَجِبُ هَجْرُ مَنْ كُفِّرَ أَوْ فُسِّقَ بِبِدْعَةٍ أَوْ دَعَا إلَى بِدْعَةٍ مُضِلَّةٍ أَوْ مُفَسِّقَةٍ وَهُمْ أَهْلُ الْأَهْوَاءِ وَالْبِدَعِ الْمُخَالِفُونَ فِيمَا لَا يَسُوغُ فِيهِ الْخِلَافُ، كَالْقَائِلِينَ بِخَلْقِ الْقُرْآنِ، وَنَفْيِ الْقَدَرِ، وَنَفْيِ رُؤْيَةِ الْبَارِي فِي الْجَنَّةِ وَالْمُشَبِّهَةُ وَالْمُجَسِّمَةُ، وَالْمُرْجِئَةُ الَّذِينَ يَعْتَقِدُونَ أَنَّ الْإِيمَانَ قَوْلٌ بِلَا عَمَلٍ، وَالْجَهْمِيَّةُ وَالْإِبَاضِيَّةُ وَالْحَرُورِيَّةُ وَالْوَاقِفِيَّةُ، وَاللَّفْظِيَّةُ، وَالرَّافِضَةُ، وَالْخَوَارِجُ، وَأَمْثَالُهُمْ

“The upshot of this is that it’s mandatory to abandon the one whose bid`ah reaches disbelief or (just) sinfulness as well as the one who calls towards the bid`ah that reaches this disbelief or sinfulness.  These are the people of vain desires and innovation; those that oppose matters in which disagreement is not warranted,  such as like the asserters of the creation of the Qur’an, deniers of divine decree/destiny, deniers of Seeing the Creator in Paradise, those that liken Allah to His creation, the anthropomorphists, those that believe Islam is limited to mere word and not deed, the Jahmiyyah sect, the Ibadiyyah sect, the Hururiyyah sect, the Waqifiyyahsect, the Lafziyyah sect, the extreme Shi`ah sects, the Khawarij, and those like them.”

Furthermore, al-Saffarini mentions:

فَظَاهِرُهُ أَنَّهُ مَتَى كَانَ يَقْدِرُ عَلَى الرَّدِّ عَلَيْهِ لَا يَجِبُ هَجْرُهُ بَلْ عَلَيْهِ رَدُّ قَوْلِهِ

“It’s apparent that when one is able to refute, then abandoning (such people of innovation) is not obligatory; rather refuting their words becomes obligatory.”

From this we understand that it is not befitting for the scholarly class to sit by the sideline idly, or worse, be accommodating towards such innovation.

The great Maliki scholar of Usul al-Fiqh, Al-Shatibi (d. 790 h), elucidates further the dangers of accommodating such innovation in his al-I`tisam:

 من قوله عليه الصلاة والسلام : من أحدث حدثا أو آوى محدثا فعليه لعنة الله والملائكة والناس أجمعين. فإن الإيواء يجامع التوقير  وقد علمنا أن الشرع يأمر بزجره وإهانته وإذلاله فصار توقيره صدودا عن العمل بشرع الإسلام ، وإقبالا على ما يضاده وينافيه ، والإسلام لا ينهدم إلا بترك العمل به ، والعمل بما ينافيه .

“From his (upon him peace and blessings) words are:  ‘Whoever invents an innovation or accommodates an innovator, then upon him is the curse of Allah, His Angels, and mankind all-together.’  For indeed accommodation encompasses honoring (such innovation)…We already know that the Revealed Law commands the prevention of it (such innovation) and (further) the insulting and debasement of it…(because) honoring of it leads to the eventual turning away from the practice of the Sacred Law of Islam and leads to the eventual acceptance of what goes against and negates Islam.  Islam is only destroyed by leaving acting upon it and acting upon that which negates it.”

The grandmaster of hadithfiqhsirah, and `aqidah, al-Bayhaqi (d. 458 h), has an entire chapter in his book of doctrine, al-I`tiqad, entitled “The Prohibition against Gathering with the People of Innovation”.

The “Proof of Islam”, the grandmaster of fiqhusul al-fiqh`aqidahtasawwuf, and all of the rational sciences, al-Ghazali (d. 505 h), says quite bluntly in his famed al-Mustasfa:

وَاتِّفَاقِ سَلَفِ الْأُمَّةِ عَلَى ذَمِّ الْمُبْتَدِعَةِ وَمُهَاجَرَتِهِمْ وَقَطْعِ الصُّحْبَةِمَعَهُمْ وَتَشْدِيدِ الْإِنْكَارِعَلَيْهِمْ 

“And the Salaf (predecessors from the first three generations of the Muslim Community) are in complete agreement upon censuring the innovators, abandoning them, disassociating with them and severely rejecting them.”

What is noteworthy to mention here is in what context or discussion al-Ghazali brings in this quote of his.  Coincidentally enough, it is a direct response against a couple of individuals before his time that put forth a concept that had strong elements of Perennialism.  Al-Ghazali, after stating their alleged “proofs”, refutes them and then states the abovementioned quote on how one should deal with them.  Quotes similar to the above against innovators can also be found in his Ihya’ `Ulum al-Deen with approving commentary provided by its most famous commentator, the grandmaster of hadithfiqhlughah, and tasawwuf, al-Zabidi (d. 1205 h).  There are those today that hail al-Ghazali and the Ihya’ yet simultaneously neglect the application of this chapter and only restrict it to theoretical discussions in their classrooms.  Specifically within the context of this belief of theirs, i.e. those that lead to Perennialism, al-Ghazali states:

فَهُوَ بَاطِلٌ بِأَدِلَّةٍ سَمْعِيَّةٍ ضَرُورِيَّةٍ، فَإِنَّا كَمَا نَعْرِفُ أَنَّالنَّبِيَّ - صَلَّى الله عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ -أَمَرَ بِالصَّلَاةِ وَالزَّكَاةِ ضَرُورَةً فَيُعْلَمُ أَيْضًا ضَرُورَةً أَنَّهُ أَمَرَ الْيَهُودَ وَالنَّصَارَى بِالْإِيمَانِ بِهِ وَاتِّبَاعِهِ وَذَمَّهُمْعَلى إصْرَارِهِمْ عَلَى عَقَائِدِهِمْ

“Therefore it is falsehood due to the transmitted proofs (Qur’an and mass-transmitted hadiths) by way of necessity.  For indeed we know by necessity that the Prophet, Sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam, ordered SalahZakat, as well as ordering the Jews and Christians to have faith in him and to follow him while censuring their persistence upon their own doctrine.”

In this vein, the grandmaster of usul al-fiqhfiqh and hadith, al-Nawawi (d. 676 h) asserts in his Rawdat al-Talibin:

وَأَنَّ مَنْ لَمْ يُكَفِّرْ مَنْ دَانَ بِغَيْرِ الْإِسْلَامِ كَالنَّصَارَى، أَوْ شَكَّ فِي تَكْفِيرِهِمْ، أَوْ صَحَّحَ مَذْهَبَهُمْ، فَهُوَ كَافِرٌ، وَإِنْ أَظْهَرَ مَعَ ذَلِكَ الْإِسْلَامَ وَاعْتَقَدَهُ

“Someone who does not believe that whoever follows another religion besides Islam is a disbeliever, like the Christians, or doubts in declaring them to be an disbeliever, or considers their way to be correct, is himself a kafir even if with that he manifests Islam (i.e. says he’s a Muslim) and believes in it.”

Similar to al-Ghazali above, the renowned Hanafi jurist, `Ala al-Din al-Bukhari (d. 730 h), in his Kashf al-Asrar, the most famous commentary on the famous Usul of al-Bazdawi (d. 482 h), refutes the same individuals that expressed elements of Perennialism and ends the discussion by stating:

وَالْحَاصِلُ أَنَّ أَدِلَّةَ التَّوْحِيدِ وَالرِّسَالَةِ وَكُلَّ مَا كَانَ مِنْ أُصُولِ الدِّينِ ظَاهِرَةٌ مُتَوَافِرَةٌ فَلَا يُعْذَرُ أَحَدٌ فِيهَا بِالْجَهْلِ وَالْغَفْلَةِ

 “The upshot being that the proofs of Tawhid, Messengership (of the Prophet Muhammad Sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam), and all that which is abundantly apparent to be from the fundamentals of the religion (of Islam), no one is excused from them on account of pleading ignorance or heedlessness.”

What’s interesting to note is that `Ala al-Din al-Bukhari mentions this entire discussion under the heading of the “Ruling concerningIjtihad” to show that there is no such thing as ijtihad in the clear fundamentals of the religion, which are mass-transmitted and known by necessity; this is a belief expressed by virtually every advanced Sunni book of Usul al-Fiqh.  In other words, because there is noijtihad in such matters there can never be any change in them.  Hence, the famous scholar of `Ulum al-Qur’an, al-Zurqani (d. 1367 h) writes in his Manahil al-`Irfan, that there is no naskh (abrogation), taghyeer (alteration), or tabdeel (substitution) in matters of doctrine (`aqidah).

Thus far, we can learn the following points from the above statements of the fuqaha’:

·         Perennialism falls under the category of that innovation which reaches the degree of disbelief[3] due to rejecting that which is clearly mass-transmitted and known to be part and parcel of the religion of Islam by necessity, to one and all.

·         It is mandatory for all those who cannot defend themselves from this innovation by way of proofs to abandon such innovation entirely.

·         It is a communal obligation to refute it.

·         It is not permissible to publicly accommodate for such beliefs.

In defense of Perennialism and other errors contravening the teachings of Ahl al-Sunnah found in The Study Qur’an, many people have put forth a number of excuses on why this book should still be promoted.  For example, some have said that the work is the best translation to date in the English language, or that it provides a clear understanding of misquoted verses on Jihad, answers to modernism, atheism, etc.  While all of these are undoubtedly praiseworthy aspects that any translation or study of the Qur’an should have in today’s world, there is still a need not to overlook a glaring fact that somehow has gotten lost in the midst of all these noteworthy strengths.  And that is to bear in mind that the Qur’an is not the original work of any mortal man; rather it is the kalam of the Supreme Most High:  Allah.  No matter how many advantages a given study of the Qur’an may bring about in its commentary, it still has to do justice to the original intent or objective of the Speaker Himself.  No one has a right to shift the attention away from the primary focus of the Qur’an and de-emphasize it or worse, oppose it.  Any shortcoming in the essential and most fundamental purpose of the Qur’an, as per the intent of Allah ta`ala, is a fatal flaw, indeed a failure at its very root, that simply cannot be overlooked.  The greatest maqsid (purpose) of the Qur’an, and indeed of Islam itself, is that it is a guidance for all of mankind by way of believing in the Tawhid of Allah ta`ala.  This is why the vast majority of scholars have said that the greatest maqsid (objective) of the Shari`ah is none other than safeguarding the fundamentals of the religion itself, as opined by the likes of al-Ghazali, al-Amidi (d. 712 h), al-Isnawi (d. 772 h), ibn al-Subki (d. 771 h), al-Suyuti (d. 911 h), ibn Amir al-Hajj (d. 879 h), al-Shatibi, etc. in their respective works in Usul al-Fiqh.  What is more fundamental to the religion of Islam than its doctrine and the safeguarding of it?  Those that base their fiqh by continuously looking into the “maqasid” (end-objectives) should ask themselves why they’ve neglected this maqsid(objective) in relation to The Study Qur’an.

There are those that have said that the bulk of The Study Qur’an is authoritative while only a select few passages bring about Perennialism and other errors and therefore we should not refrain from promoting it.  What needs to be understood is that Perennialism accommodates and makes space for even that which can be shirk (polytheism).  For those who have taken this opinion of still promoting it, how then do they reconcile this with the following words of the Qur’an:

ٱلَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ وَلَمْ يَلْبِسُوۤاْ إِيمَانَهُمْ بِظُلْمٍ أُوْلَـٰئِكَ لَهُمُ ٱلأَمْنُ وَهُمْ مُّهْتَدُونَ 

“Those who have believed and have not mixed their Iman with Zulm (oppression) are the ones who deserve peace and it is they who are on the right path” - (6:82).

The grandmaster of `aqidah and tafsir, al-Baydawi (d. 685 h), writes in his Anwar al-Tanzil, arguably the most popular book of tafsirutilized by scholars, that “Zulm” here refers to Shirk as per a known hadith.  It must then be asked:  Is there “guidance” (huda) and “safety” (amn) in mixing “Iman” with “shirk”?  A book that interprets the Qur’an to make room for shirk has indeed mixed Iman withZulm.  The shirk being referred to in this verse need not be any specific form either since the use of the indefinite noun (nakirah) for the word “Zulm” shows generality and would therefore include all forms of shirk, wa al-`iyadhubillah.

How can one endorse a book that believes in some of the Qur’an and then through interpretation (read:  takdhib/tahreef) rejects what is necessarily known about other parts of it?  The following verses need to be explained away by those taking such a position:

يَـٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ ٱدۡخُلُواْ فِى ٱلسِّلۡمِ ڪَآفَّةً۬

“O you who believe, enter Islam completely.” – (2:208).

 أَفَتُؤۡمِنُونَ بِبَعۡضِ ٱلۡكِتَـٰبِ وَتَكۡفُرُونَ بِبَعۡضٍ۬

“Do you, then, believe in some parts of the Book, and disbelieve in others?” – (2:85)

`Abd al-Razzaq narrates in his Musannaf that Ibn Mas`ud (radiya Allahu `anhu) said:

ما اجتمع حلال وحرام إلا غلب الحرام على الحلال

“A permissible (Halal) thing and an impermissible (Haram) thing do not come together except that the impermissible thing dominates over the permissible thing.”

The fuqaha’, such as the Hanafi faqih (jurist) ibn Nujaym (d. 970 h) in his al-Ashbah wa al-Naza’ir, used this narration to formulate a principle of fiqh (al-qa`idah al-fiqhhiyyah) that if the permissible matter is one that is not necessary to do (i.e. not a “Wajib”) according to the Revealed Law (Shari`ah) but merely acceptable (mubah) to do, and it happens to mix with something that is outright impermissible (Haram) then consideration will be given to avoid the impermissible (Haram) over practicing the merely permissible (mubah) act.  The reading by Muslim laymen of passages that do not concern Perennialism found in The Study Qur’an would not be necessary (i.e. not a “wajib”) from the standpoint of the Revealed Law but merely permissible (mubah).  On the other hand, as indicated above by the words of numerous fuqaha’, for laymen to indulge themselves with innovation (such as the reading of passages that promote and defend Perennialism in The Study Qur’an) would be impermissible (“Haram”).  Thus, from the standpoint of thisfiqhi principle, avoiding the reading of The Study Qur’an by the laymen will be given consideration over the reading of it.

There are those that have put forth the defense that there is no book save the Qur’an that doesn’t have errors so we should be willing to overlook it and for example, many a Muslim has recommended and relied upon the famous Mu`tazili tafsir of al-Zamakhshari (d. 538 h).  We’re unaware of a single responsible scholar that has recommended the reading of al-Zamakhshari to laymen.  Those who have done studies on al-Zamakhshari’s tafsir have said that well over a hundred refutations were written on it by Sunni scholars. Moreover, the scholars strove to produce works that were on equal standing with it in regards to its lexical mastery but with a proper Sunni understanding, such as the tafsir of al-Baydawi.  Others have used the excuse that even the Ihya’ `Ulum al-Deen of al-Ghazali was known to have been publicly burnt in al-Andalus before it reached its high rank.  However, the burning of the Ihya’ was more of a politically-motivated event led by the then qadi (judge) of al-Andalus, ibn Hamdayn, who refuted the Ihya’ mainly based on al-Ghazali’s use of mukashafah (spiritual unveilings) in his book.  See al-Dhahabi’s (d. 748 h) historical account of this event in hisSiyar A`lam al-Nubala’.  In short, the backlash the Ihya’ received was at the hands of a few political leaders who misunderstood al-Ghazali’s Sufic terminology and it had little to do with al-Ghazali making any explicit statements in violation of the essential matters of the religion known by one and all.  Thus, the alleged correlation between the criticisms geared towards The Study Qur’an and the backlash of Ihya’ is non-analogous.  Nevertheless, this excuse goes against all of the above verses, narrations, and explanations we’ve quoted above that clearly show that the general public should never be encouraged towards innovation that reaches the degree of disbelief.

There are those that have said that our scholars have stated that one can rely upon a person of innovation so long as we don’t rely upon that which specifically promotes his innovation.  This is a well-known principle in the sciences of al-Jarh wa al-Ta`deel (a science relating to judging the narrators of the chains of hadiths).  However, this is a rule that is a dispensation for hadith scholars because in it is the preservation of the very words of the Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam).  Anyone familiar with works on the methodology of hadith-criticism (manhaj naqd `inda al-muhaddithin) will immediately recognize this point.  A dispensation can never become the normative or general rule.  How can it be expected for a layman to be able to decipher right from wrong when so many Muslim leaders/scholars have promoted this book without any warnings whatsoever?  It is utterly irresponsible and naive to believe that a commoner will be able to know where an innovator is promoting his beliefs when our Sunni scholars are refusing to openly point them out.  However, for the sake of addressing this opinion, even this reasoning would not hold any weight due to the fact that the scholars of hadith have said that the one whose bid`ah reaches the degree of disbelief is rejected.  The foremost latter-day hadith scholar, the peerless master of the hadith sciences, Ibn Hajar al-`Asqalani (d. 852 h) explains:

فالمعتمد أن الذي تُرَدُّ روايته مَن أَنكر أَمراً مُتواتِراً مِن الشَّرعِ معلوماً مِن الدِّينِ بالضَّرورةِ، وكذا مَن اعتقدَ عكسَهُ

“The relied-upon position is that the narration of one who opposes a mass-transmitted matter in the Revealed Law that is known by necessity to be a part of the religion is rejected.  Likewise the one who (moreover) believes in the (exact) opposite (of what the text calls for)”.

Perennialism not only opposes such essential matters but in reality it indeed believes and calls for the exact opposite.  Therefore, theriwayah (narrating) of Perennialists is rejected.  Even from a standpoint of Usul al-Tafsir (The Principles of Explicating the Qur’an),The Study Qur’an does not meet the well known standard outlined by the notable mufassirun (exegetes).  For example, al-Tabari (d. 310 h) mentions in his famous tafsir:

اعلم أن من شرطه صحة الاعتقاد أولا

“Know that from the conditions for him (i.e. the exegete) is first having correct doctrine.”

There are those that have said that the Study Qur’an is a great da`wah for non-Muslims.  We need to ask: a “da`wah” to what? Certainly a book that de-emphasizes Tawhid and rather gives the impression that “you’re fine where you’re at too” is not a da`wah to Islam alone.

There are those that have said that it should be promoted because it’s the clearest English translation to date.  But the sheer reason of being the clearest translation does not make it the most authoritative nor does it then render other translations unreliable.  If a proper English translation was really lacking all along then those who felt that way should’ve used that as an impetus for commissioning a proper translation and study of it.  We can only blame ourselves for not doing so.  But such regret should not lead us to promoting others that could potentially cause us to shoot ourselves in the foot later.  Why should translations of the Qur’an done by Abdal Hakim Murad, Aisha Bewley, Ahmad Zaki Hammad, and Muhammad Taqi `Uthmani all be deemed as irrelevant now that The Study Qur’an is here despite its major problems?  Some have said that The Study Qur’an was worked on for over a decade and has over 2000 pages.  We’re not sure why that would be a factor in its acceptance but for those who believe it is then they should know that Ahmad Zaki Hammad spent two decades working on his translation and he is a classically-trained Sunni scholar from the prestigious al-Azhar university who is thoroughly grounded in the English language as is evident from his translation.  Aisha Bewley is a renowned translator of Arabic into English with numerous published translations of classical Arabic far greater in amount than the entire team of The Study Qur’an put together and she is also a Sunni scholar.  The same can be said for the likes of Abdal Hakim Murad and Muhammad Taqi `Uthmani.

There are those that have said that `Abdullah Yusuf `Ali’s translation of the Qur’an contains doctrinal issues yet not only have many Muslims been using it for decades but no one seems to warning the masses about it.  We’re not sure what such an assertion seems to insinuate.  Should we then just continue this irresponsible behavior because there’s a past precedent for it?  Or should we try to strive for a higher standard and make amends for our previous slips?

There are those who have said that they don’t know of anyone amongst their friends or fellow colleagues who they fear would fall into Perennialism after reading the passages from The Study Qur’an.  To this we ask:  Based on what can one make such a determination besides mere conjecture?  In the case that one of his associates or friends does make this abominable leap towards Perennialism, then what?  What will he or any other promoter of this book say if he/she were to hear that someone became a Perennialist after their endorsement?  Will they feel responsible?  The Shari`ah looks to avoid such regrettable scenarios by advising people to turn their backs towards innovation, not advising people to open their hearts, minds, and wallets towards it.  Let them heed the words of the grandmaster of fiqhhadithtafsir, and `aqidah, Abu `Uthman al-Sabuni (d. 449 h), in his `Aqidat al-Salaf As-hab al-Hadith:

ولا يسمعون كلامهم ولا يجالسونهم...ويرون صون آذانهم عن سماع أباطيلهم التي إذا مرت بالآذان وقرت في القلوب ضرت وجرت إليها الوساوس والخطرات الفاسدة. وفيه أنزل الله عز وجل قوله "وإذا رأيت الذين يخوضون في ءايٰتنا فأعرض عنهم حتى يخوضوا في حديث غيره

“They do not listen to the speech of innovators nor do they gather with them…and they see to it that their ears are safeguarded from hearing their falsehoods, which if passed by ears and settled in hearts would cause harm and the whisperings of the accursed and the foul dangers that flow to them.  Concerning this, Allah revealed His words:  ‘When you see those who indulge in (blaspheming) Our verses, turn away from them until they become occupied with some other discourse.’” (6:68).

When the consensus of the Ummah (Muslim Community) against such beliefs is mentioned, there are those that have said that the Editor in-Chief and those on the editorial board who believe in Perennialism are not alone and many “authorities” have expressed similar beliefs from within the Muslim Community throughout the ages and thus the so-called “consensus” is not valid.  To this we ask: who are these “authorities”?  Even if, in the 1400+ years of this Ummah, it can be shown that a few have held this belief does that then negate the consensus of the Ummah?  Al-Ghazali writes in his al-Mustasfa:

أَمَّا إذَا كَفَرَ بِبِدْعَتِهِ فَعِنْدَ ذَلِكَ لَا يُعْتَبَرُ خِلَافُهُ إنْ كَانَ يُصَلِّي إلَى الْقِبْلَةِ وَيَعْتَقِدُ نَفْسَهُ مُسْلِمًا لِأَنَّ الْأُمَّةَ لَيْسَتْ عِبَارَةً عَنْ الْمُصَلِّينَ إلَى الْقِبْلَةِ بَلْ عَنْ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ وَهُوَ كَافِرٌ وَإِنْ كَانَ لَا يَدْرِي أَنَّهُ كَافِرٌ

“If he commits disbelief by his innovation then according to that, his disagreement is not taken into consideration (i.e. with regards to negating consensus, ijma`) even if he prays towards the Qiblah and believes himself to be a Muslim.  Because the Ummah doesn’t comprise those who merely pray towards the Qiblah; rather, it comprises the Believers.  And he is a disbeliever even if he doesn’t know himself to be a disbeliever.”

There are those that have said that this is a matter of ijtihad, and that those passages in The Study Qur’an that express Perennialist views are the opinions derived by way of independent reasoning (ijtihad) by the writers and therefore they are entitled to their ijtihad, much like that of previous scholars.  A lot can be said against this, but suffice it to say that it is a well-settled matter, as alluded to earlier, that there is no ijtihad in matters known to be from the essentials of the religion.  Authorities in Usul, such as the Maliki jurist, al-Qarafi (d. 684 h), in his rebuttal of an individual who held Perennialist views, clearly states in his Sharh Tanqeeh al-Fusul:

واتفق سائر العلماء على فساده

“All of the scholars agreed upon its (i.e. ijtihad in the essential matters of the religion) incorrectness.”

Among the promoters of Perennialists are those that hold a good opinion of them and continuously state that “we need to open our hearts and have adab (etiquette)” and intend by this that everything should be observed by the intention of the heart.  They often quote authorities such as Yusuf al-Nabhani for his lovely heart-wrenching poetry in praise of the Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam).  Al-Nabahani, in his famous poem, al-Raa’iyyah al-Sughra, vehemently yet ever so eloquently attacks the types of individuals who claim for themselves the rank of ijtihad and labels them as “Shayaateen” (Devils) who cause by their so-called “ijtihad” nothing but corruption amongst the masses.  He quotes the following verse as being directly applicable to them:

وَإِذَا قِيلَ لهَمُ لاَ تفُسِدُواْ فِي الأَرْضِ قَالُواْ إِنَّمَا نَحْنُ مُصْلِحُونَ أَلا إِنهَّمْ هُمُ الْمُفْسِدُونَ وَلكَنِ لا يشَعْرُوُن

“When it is said to them, “Do not spread corruption on the earth”, they say, “We are but reformers.”  Beware, it is, in fact, they who spread disorder, but they do not perceive.” - (2:11).

There are those that have said that many authorities have opined that those who didn’t hear the pristine message of Islam after its advent will be saved on the Day of Judgment.  To this we say:  All the more reason for you to present the pristine message of Islam; not a distorted, mixed cocktail of opinions for the sake of “academia”.  Reality is that this excuse has nothing to do with Perennialism and those who have used this explanation are clutching at mere straws.  The opinion of Divine amnesty for those unreached by the *pristine* message of Islam *after* its advent was expressed by al-Ghazali in his Faysal al-Tafriqah Bayn al-Islam wa al-Zandaqah. However, many scholars have expressed that this statement of al-Ghazali may not even be authentic.  No less than one of the greatest authorities in the entire latter-day Shafi`i school of jurisprudence, Ibn Hajar al-Haytami (d. 974 h), an amazing scholar of hadith and`aqidah too, expressed in his al-I`lam bi Qawati` al-Islam, that the statement of al-Ghazali contradicts what is found in the latter’sal-Iqtisad and therefore Faysal al-Tafriqah may have been tampered with.  Therefore, we should exercise caution before taking what could be a misattribution to al-Ghazali and in-turn running with it.  Moreover, there is a world of a difference between hearing a distorted image of Islam and not being held liable versus hearing the pristine message of Islam yet continuing to remain on other than it.  The two cannot be conflated. 

There are those who have asked if we deem ourselves more knowledgeable than the author of The Study Qur’an, its editors, and its many endorsers[4].  If asking such a question is considered a proof according to them, then we too would like to ask if the aforementioned are more knowledgeable than Sunni scholars from amongst the SahabahSalaf, and Khalaf?  But alas for names, what matters is what has been clearly relayed in the Revealed Law. 

There are those who have stated that The Study Qur’an is an academic work and the author, editors, and endorsers are all members of academia.  This is not an excuse for promoting an amalgam of views including heterodoxies and blasphemies that reach the degree of disbelief for the common public’s consumption.  One’s day job in academia is not a valid reason that serves as a license for such actions in the Shari`ah.  Where is their proof that endorsing such a work with no condemnation of its Perennialist views is acceptable?  According to our knowledge, not a single Muslim academic who endorsed the book has publicly come on the record to clarify their endorsement or even warn the blatant heresies being proposed in The Study Qur’an.  Rather, some Sunni scholars have even strove in promoting and propagating this work without a single, public warning and have even sought to silence any dissent on it.  One such American scholar[5], publicly praised The Study Qur’an as “a gift of God” and expressed that we can now finally give copies of it to our non-Muslim neighbors so that they know that “this is what the verse meant” and say to them that “this is Our Book, read it!”  Although it must be asked:  Why would they ever convert upon reading an interpretation that tells them belief in Islam is merely optional?  Additionally, he declared that he hopes Our Community will “take a civil and intelligent position on the book (i.e.The Study Qur’an), not one based on bigotry, not one based on prejudice, but based on careful study…”  Another American scholar called it "perhaps the most important work done on the Islamic faith in the English language to date”.[6]  Neither one of these two American scholars released any public warning regarding the Perennialism found in The Study Qur’an.  Scholars such as them should read the following verse:

لَوۡلَا يَنۡہَٮٰهُمُ ٱلرَّبَّـٰنِيُّونَ وَٱلۡأَحۡبَارُ عَن قَوۡلِهِمُ ٱلۡإِثۡمَ

“Why do the People of the Lord and the Knowledgeable not forbid them from saying what is sinful…” (5:63).

Al-Tabari mentions in his Tafsir that al-Dahhaak (d. 106 h) called this the most frightening verse in the Qur’an directed towards scholars.  In light of this verse, every endorser must ask himself or herself where they stand by not publicly warning the masses aboutThe Study Qur’an’s heresies.  To plead “academia” as an excuse will not bypass this verse as a proof against them. 

There are those that have labeled Perennialism as being “non-mainstream”.  In fact, even when questioned by Muslims from the common public as to what exactly “non-mainstream” means, one such Canadian scholar gave unclear answers that essentially evaded in telling the whole truth.[7]  It is not permissible for a scholar to waver or circumvent stating the explicit truth in matters such as these with ambiguous words.  It is an obligation for a scholar to speak in the most clearest of terms when publicly asked by a commoner about that which is in complete violation of the necessities of the religion.  

وَلَا تَلۡبِسُواْ ٱلۡحَقَّ بِٱلۡبَـٰطِلِ وَتَكۡتُمُواْ ٱلۡحَقَّ وَأَنتُمۡ تَعۡلَمُونَ

“And do not confound truth with falsehood, and do not hide the truth when you know (it).” – (2:42).

In the English language and even more so when heard by a commoner, the term “non-mainstream” does not properly define the gravity of the issue at hand.  Rather it paints a picture that such a belief is a minority-viewpoint and at worse may fall under the category of “bid`ah sughra/mufassiqah” i.e. the lesser innovation that does not reach the degree of disbelief.  Furthermore, on top of being misleading in his words, he also said that this belief is “not like Qadiyaniism”.  What picture has he then painted for this poor soul who was looking for clarification/guidance and what he received was an answer that is in complete opposition to the truth regarding Perennialism?  If Qadiyaniism is an obvious kufr, then what would he say about a belief system that seemingly would say that Qadiyaniism has validity, that Truth can be found therein, and it can even lead to salvation in the Hereafter even after one hears about the pristine message of Islam?  Again, re-read al-Nawawi’s quote mentioned above.  Moreover, the validity of all religions is a logical fail due to it resulting in a reduction to absurdity (reductio ad absurtum)[8].  Therefore, to further deny or defend it is nothing but failure on top of failure.  If he doesn’t believe Perennialism to comprise kufr, akin to the kufr of Qadiyaniism, then:

هَاتُواْ بُرۡهَـٰنَكُمۡ إِن كُنتُمۡ صَـٰدِقِينَ

“Bring your proof if you are true.” – (27:64).

There is one “scholar” who co-authored a letter with a Perennialist calling for “respecting” our “differences” as a “mercy” for the sake of “diversity”, “unity”, being “accommodative”, and that the Prophet (Sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) never said that we “would never disagree on truth(s)”.[9]  The falsehood of such a message needs no explanation. 

As stated earlier, an American scholar quoted above has said that he hopes the “turmoil” over The Study Qur’an will end and that the opposition will take a civil, intelligent, and patient position instead of one of bigotry and prejudice.[10]  To this we repeat the words of Sayyiduna Abu Bakr al-Siddiq (radiya Allahu `anhu) when he was faced with the decision to fight those who claimed to be Muslim yet denied the continued obligation of paying Zakah:

أينقص الدين وأنا حي؟

“Will the religion diminish while I’m alive?”

By Allah ta`ala, not on our clock.

These endorsers were remiss in their own responsibility in clarifying the Truth and now they wish to characterize any dissent as “bigotry” and “prejudice”.  One can see a stark difference between these same individuals’ behavior and of recent giants who spoke theHaqq in the face of Batil.  The likes of Mustafa Sabri, al-Kawthari, al-Nabahani, and the late al-Buti, rahimahumullah.  If you wish to label our approach with such words then don’t just restrict yourself with us since our approach is nothing novel, but rather start with the Sahabah like al-Siddiq (radiya Allahu `anhu), followed by Ahmad bin Hanbal and numerous others from the Salaf al-Salihin, then make your way into the Khalaf al-Rashidin with the likes of al-Ghazali, Salah al-Din al-Ayyubi, and many others like them, down to our own century with those mentioned above already.  The honest and sincere reader will quickly realize through this exercise in history that the one who has adopted an innovative path in dealing with heresies is not us. 

In sharp contrast, we see those in positions of leadership amongst Muslims today inviting and honoring all sorts of individuals to teach the Islamic sciences to the general Sunni public without any hesitation or caution whatsoever.  They have not maintained any standard or regard, *in practice*[11], for the classical principles of Ahl al-Sunnah of what constitutes proper interpretation and what doesn’t.  They carelessly label that which is nothing but takdheeb (belying) and tahreef (distortion) of the primary sources (Qur’an and Sunnah) as merely ta’weel (valid interpretation), a matter of ijtihad, “non-mainsteam”, etc.  Every time someone violates iron-clad, time immemorial ijma` (consensus), some of them ask in defense of them if there was ever really any consensus to begin with?  Each time someone deliberately opposes an authentic hadith, they are quick to point out “but it’s not mutawatir”.  Every time someone arrives at an erroneous conclusion, they say “but that’s his ijtihad”.  On what grounds can they possibly blame ISIS or al-Qaeda when they too claim to be exercising their own ijtihad?  When the only standard to abide by is that an individual identifies himself as “a Muslim” and whatever he/she says is in accordance with what is en vogue in the West, then what you will get are gross and illogical inconsistencies.  For the sake of illustration, let us assume that instead of Dr. Nasr and his editorial staff, the “Ameer” of ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, commissioned his followers to produce the exact same book with all of its strengths in its exact wording EXCEPT for two differences:  i.)  There is no passage containing Perennialism and ii.) The verses pertaining to Jihad have been misconstrued in the way that we know “Jihadists” usually do.  Now, on what principled and logical basis can those who have openly promoted The Study Qur’an reject this would-be “Study Qur’an” of al-Baghdadi?  They simply cannot because their public endorsement is not based on deep-rooted Sunni precepts of Usul al-DeenUsul al-FiqhUsul al-TafsirUsul al-HadithUsul al-Mantiq, and Usul al-Lughah.  If it was, then they would be able to soundly reject both al-Baghdadi’s and Dr. Nasr’s publications by the fact that neither one meets the standards of these Usuls (principles) and each one has explicitly violated consensus and essential matters known to be part and parcel of the religion.

All of these unprincipled practices lead to the distortion and corruption of the religion from within and an open dereliction of duty. They will knowingly invite the unlearned, the open sinner, the Perennialist, those who believe that the character of the Prophet (Sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) is incomplete, those that openly believe and publicly defend the stance that Sayyiduna Adam (`alayhi al-salam) had parents, those that have publicly written and defend that Allah ta`ala ascends, descends, and sits with His Holy Essence (dhaat), those that reject mass-transmitted beliefs, those that reject consensuses, those that deny matters known to be from the essentials of the religion, etc.  Many a spokesperson for Islam in the West may complain that this article is nothing but a divisive diatribe and perhaps they are entitled to their opinion, but this does not absolve them from answering the simple question: Where is the precedent and proof for blurring the lines of what constitutes heresy versus orthodoxy in the eyes of the general Sunni Muslim public? 

In closing, let every Sunni scholar, editor, endorser, chaplain, and leader of any group of Sunni Muslims who have propagated this new publication without a clear condemnation of its heresies be warned of the above.  Let them ask themselves in the depths of their homes where no one is around:  Would the Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) be proud of my recommending a work that makes light of his most essential goal, the one for which he risked his very life time after time? And this is not just any life, this is the “life” that Allah ta`ala takes oath by in the Qur’an (15:72).  He (Sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) saw his Sahabah (radiya Allahu `anhum) sacrifice their very souls for none other than the propagation of Tawhid while The Study Qur’an propagates and seeks to validate extra-Tawhid.  Let them ask themselves if the Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) will welcome them at The Pond with a pat on the back for endorsing such a work or will the Angels tell him (Sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) to turn them away due to them changing the religion after him (Sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam), as mentioned in an authentic hadith.  Do they not recall the story of the old woman who publicly rebuked Sayyiduna `Umar (radiya Allahu `anhu) which led him to publicly recant his stance?  Who amongst them will recant their stance publicly?

Let every scholar, chaplain, imam, teacher of Islam, and leader of Muslims ask themselves if their actions and beliefs reflect fear of falling into the group that the Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) described (narrated in Musnad Ahmad) as his biggest fear for this Ummah second only to the Dajjal:

أَئِمَّةً مُضِلِّينَ

“The misguiding Imams”




والله أعلم بالصواب

الحمد لله رب العالمين

والصلاة والسلام على سيدنا محمد

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A Guide to the Book of Allah
A Guide for New Believers

[1] On Pg. 187 of The Study Qur’an under the verse 3:199 it states:  “There may be a third possibility often left unexplored by Muslims until recently:  that one can remain a Christian while affirming the veracity of the Prophet Muhammad and of what was revealed to him…Some commentators note that this may refer to Christians in general, not only those who became Muslims, and would include those who accepted the prophethood of Muhammad, but continued to live according to the “shari`ah of Jesus””. Furthermore, on Pg. 301 under the verses 5:41-48:  “Although verses 41‐47, taken together, suggest the validity of Jews and Christians judging by their own scriptures, and thus the continuing spiritual guidance to be found in those scriptures, this verse goes further by asserting the providential nature of different religious communities and their distinct laws and practices.  Indeed, the verse does not pertain only to Jews and Christians, but rather makes a universal statement about all religions.  “For each among you We have appointed a law and a way” indicates that different religious communities may have different ritual and legal formulations specifically ‘appointed’ for them by God, and that each religious community is independent of the laws of other such communities, even if the essential truths and principles of the religions are the same…These more exclusivist readings, however, seem inconsistent with the verse’s clear implication that it is the Divine Will that there be multiple religious communities, as expressed in the next line of the verse “had God willed, He would have made you one community.””  Also, on Pg. 1367 under the verse 61:9:  “But as the Quran attests to the veracity and salvific efficacy of other religions, ‘The Religion of Truth’, can be more broadly understood to mean all revealed religions.  From this perspective, the disbelievers’ aversion to the completion of God’s Light in verse 8 can be understood as a reference to the idolaters who ‘desire to extinguish the light’ of all revelation and to the People of the Book, most of whom reject the completion of revelation in the Prophet Muhammad.  Verse 9 would then only refer only to the idolaters, as they are opposed to all truthful religion, whereas the People of the Book still seek ‘The Religion of Truth’ in one form or another.”  Many more examples of the above can be found in other passages of The Study Qur’an in the Introduction and under verses 1:7, 2:62, 2:79, 2:137, 3:19, 3:84-85, 4:136, 4:171, 5:73, 48:28, and 98:5 but have been left out here for the sake of brevity.

[2] Hashiyat al-`Attar `ala Sharh al-Jalal al-Mahalli `ala Jam` al-Jawami`

[3] This is entirely different than actually passing the judgment of someone being a “kafir” (disbeliever).  The scope of this paper has nothing to do with labeling any individual as such.


[5] Listen from 112th minute onwards:



[8] Since the universal truth of all religions implies, for example, the divinity of Jesus (as held by Christians), as well as the non-divinity of Jesus (as held by Muslims), to be both equally true; which simply cannot be.  Thus, the universal truth of all religions is illogical.  This was mentioned by authorities in Kalam.  This is based on the principle of non-contradiction:  If x implies both y and not-y, then not x.

[9] See post on Nov. 28th and its respective comments:

[10] Listen from 112th minute onwards:

[11] They will be quick to point out that they teach properly within the confines of their classrooms.  What good is there in teaching one thing in the classroom only to violate it in practice outside in the “real world”?


Mahdi Lock at 10:21





Abu Nur al-Mizzi19 January 2016 at 19:30

Someone remarked: That’s what you don’t get, it’s NOT meant to be a book based on ‘Sunni Principles’. Rather, it draws from so many different tafsirs that incorporate Salafi, Shi`i, Sunni, and yes, Perennialist thoughts. It’s based on “The Study Bible” method.
Our comment: So “The Study Bible” is your standard then? Ma sha’ Allah. That in itself speaks volumes. Anyway, to address this point, let us ask why you stopped at Salafi, Shi`i, Sunni, and Perennialist “tafsirs”? Based on what guiding principle did you stop at these and not include the tafsirs of the “Jihadis”, Isma`ilis, Zaydis, `Alawis, Qadiyanis, Nation of Islam, Qur’an-only Hadith rejecters, Mu`tazilah, Batiniyyah, Mushabbihah, Mujassimah, and all of the other 70+ sects who all identify themselves as “Muslim”? You have no legitimate principle. Whereas, we on the other hand, we'll say that we only stick by the tafsir that is in accordance with Ahl al-Sunnah wa al-Jama`ah. Al-Suyuti (d. 911 h) writes the following relevant statement in his masterpiece, al-Itqan fi `Ulum al-Qur’an, about how a proper tafsir should be based on Sunni principles, not “The Study Bible”:

فإن الصحابة والتابعين والأئمة إذا كان لهم في الآية تفسير وجاء قوم فسروا الآية بقول آخر لأجل مذهب اعتقدوه وذلك المذهب ليس من مذاهب الصحابة والتابعين صار مشاركا للمعتزلة وغيرهم من أهل البدعفي مثل هذا

"If there is an explanation for a given verse from the Companions, the Followers and the Imams and then a group comes along who explain the verse with another opinion because it's the doctrine they believe in and that doctrine is not from the doctrines of the Companions or the Followers, it is thus one and the same with the Mu'tazilah and others from the People of Innovation in this regard.."



mujahid7ia19 January 2016 at 20:13

Excellent article. Jazakum Allahu khayra.
Imran Ahmed



Abu Nur al-Mizzi19 January 2016 at 20:42

Remark: The endorsers of The Study Qur’an are KNOWN scholars who are predominantly ALL SUNNI, while you’re an UNKNOWN moniker.

Response: If a “known” Sunni scholar does something against Sunni-principles without giving any support for it from Sunni sources, does it then automatically make it “Sunni”? On the other hand, if an “unknown moniker” says something in-line with Sunni-principles with detailed support from Sunni sources, does it then make it “not Sunni”?



Abu Nur al-Mizzi19 January 2016 at 21:00

One of the American endorsers said: “Many of our great scholars have maintained positions based upon their idiosyncratic views and conclusions that extended beyond the boundaries of mainstream orthodoxy, but this did not prevent the Community of Believers from recognizing their excellence and benefiting from their knowledge…”

Response: As shown in great detail in the article above, this is misplaced “husn al-Zann”. One does not recognize an innovator’s “excellence” and “knowledge” by circulating and promoting their innovation amongst the masses and especially not when it comes to something as important as conveying the Kalam of Allah ta`ala. Again, we turn to our illustrious scholars to show why the above statement is incorrect and completely careless. Keeping in line with Sunni principles, al-Suyuti mentions in his al-Itqan fi `Ulum al-Qur’an a group of exegetes from the People of Innovation (ahl al-bid`ah):
ومن هؤلاء من يكون حسن العبارة يدس البدع في كلامه وأكثر الناس لا يعلمون كصاحب الكشاف ونحوه حتى إنه يروج على خلق كثير من أهل السنة كثير من تفاسيرهم الباطلة 

"From amongst them are those who insert innovation into the text (i.e. commentary) and the majority of people are not aware of it, such as the author of al-Kashshaaf (i.e. Al-Zamakhshari) and (those) like him, to the point that a lot of their false exegesis spreads among many of the people of Ahl al-Sunnah."



Anonymous20 January 2016 at 02:57

al-salamu `alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu

This is a much-needed article. There are places, though, there it needs to be reformatted. This is especially noticeable at the beginning where lines have odd breaks because spaces exist where they shouldn't. While it is possible to read around these typographical mistakes, it will be off-putting to many readers and reduces its value for sharing with others.

An Anonymous Coward



Abu Nur al-Mizzi20 January 2016 at 16:17

Remark: The Study Qur’an is being endorsed and promoted by scholars and leaders due to a matter of Maslahah (public-good/interest/welfare) which is a known principle in Usul al-Fiqh.

Reply: “Maslahah” is yet another catch-word often just thrown out in the open-air without any understanding of what it entails; much like the following use of phrases in our times: “Alhamdulillah, this is based on the ijtihad of Dr. X”, “Dr. Y has many ijazahs, thus A is the Haqq”, “this new fatwa of Dr. Z is due to him looking into the actual maqasid of this ruling”. 
What is this “Maslahah” in promoting The Study Qur’an to the Muslim masses to the extent that the endorsers have promoted it, i.e. with absolutely no mention of any of its problematic passages? We analyzed some of these “public interests” and we even praised its beautiful rendition in English as well as its other strengths in responding to misinterpreted verses by terrorists and answers to modernism, etc. Yet, we also pointed out that none of these strengths outweigh the preservation of the doctrinal tenets of the religion of Islam itself. First, we must understand what “Maslahah” means. 
Al-Ghazali states in his al-Mustasfa:
أَمَّا الْمَصْلَحَةُ فَهِيَ عِبَارَةٌ فِي الْأَصْلِ عَنْ جَلْبِ مَنْفَعَةٍ أَوْ دَفْعِ مَضَرَّةٍ، وَلَسْنَا نَعْنِي بِهِ ذَلِكَ، فَإِنَّ جَلْبَ الْمَنْفَعَةِ وَدَفْعَ الْمَضَرَّةِ مَقَاصِدُ الْخَلْقِ وَصَلَاحُ الْخَلْقِ فِي تَحْصِيلِ مَقَاصِدِهِمْ، لَكِنَّا نَعْنِي بِالْمَصْلَحَةِ الْمُحَافَظَةَ عَلَى مَقْصُودِ الشَّرْعِ وَمَقْصُودُ الشَّرْعِ مِنْ الْخَلْقِ خَمْسَةٌ: وَهُوَ أَنْ يَحْفَظَ عَلَيْهِمْ دِينَهُمْ وَنَفْسَهُمْ وَعَقْلَهُمْ وَنَسْلَهُمْ وَمَالَهُمْ، فَكُلُّ مَا يَتَضَمَّنُ حِفْظَ هَذِهِ الْأُصُولِ الْخَمْسَةِ فَهُوَ مَصْلَحَةٌ، وَكُلُّ مَا يُفَوِّتُ هَذِهِ الْأُصُولَ فَهُوَ مَفْسَدَةٌ وَدَفْعُهَا مَصْلَحَةٌ
“As for Maslahah, it’s an expression concerning the bringing of benefit or the removal of harm. We do not intend by this that the ‘bringing of benefit or removal of harm’ is with respect to the objectives of Creation (i.e. the people) or their interest in obtaining their own objectives. Rather, we mean by “Maslahah” the preservation of the purposes of the Shari`ah. And the purposes of the Shari`ah are the preservation/protection of their (i.e. the people’s): i.) religion, ii.) lives, iii.) intellects, iv.) lineages, and v.) wealth. So all of which includes in preserving these five is a “Maslahah”, while all of which misses these five is a Mafsadah (public-harm/corruption) and (moreover) the removal of it (a Mafsadah) is (itself) a Maslahah”. 

Given this definition, ask yourself what are the “Maslahahs” in promoting The Study Qur’an that preserves these five purposes? Are any of the English-reading Muslims’ lives, intellects, lineages, or wealth at stake by the reading or non-reading of this publication? The only one the endorsers will likely argue is that it’s a preservation of the “religion”. But we have already clarified in the article above why this is batil in light of Sunni principles. Truth be told, as per al-Ghazali’s quote above, clarifying the Mafsadah in this publication is the real Maslahah. Therefore, anyone who brings forth a “Maslahah” for endorsing The Study Qur’an for the Muslim masses without any explicit condemnation, that allegedly supplants the greatest purpose (maqsid) – the preservation of its doctrine – it will be cast away as a “Maslahah Mulghah” (the rejected maslahah), as is known from books of Usul al-Fiqh. And Allah ta`ala Knows best.



Anonymous20 January 2016 at 17:12

Masha Allah what a great article and source of truth in these confusing times. JazakAllah for it. Impossible here in North America to know which scholar can be trusted. One day they are saying great things and the next day they are sacrificing the truth in the name on "unity." 

May Allah reward you



Waj20 January 2016 at 22:33

Masha Allah excellent article! May Allah bless the author. It's unbelievable that those 
"big name" shuyukh can't have the courage to publicly dissociate from this book or at least partly from the perennialist passages at a minimum.

The confidence with which this book has been promoted and the tendency to label dissenters as bigots smells of American exceptionalism, i.e. My way or the highway. May Allah guide our scholars to speak the truth. Ameen.

JazakAllah khayr!



Anonymous21 January 2016 at 05:52

Excellent article. It is a relief to see that there are people with knowledge that are steadfast on the truth. And on the other hand, it's sad to see our shuyukh promoting this book which is essentially promoting perennialism. Sad state of our imams. May Allah swt bless the author and let the author continue to speak the truth.


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