Qur’an vs. Hadith

HadithThe arrest of a dozen men in the UK last week allegedly plotting to “blow up Manchester,” serves to highlight, if true, the continued danger posed to the west by militant Islam.

It’s a depressing story. A few moderate Muslim voices give hope, however. One such voice belongs to Taj Hargey, chair of the Muslim Educational Centre of Oxford and the Imam of the Summertown Islamic Congregration. Writing in the Times, he offers a cause for the poison in British Islam and suggests a cure.

The cause is simple: there is actually no British Islam. Instead, fundamentalist Muslims in Britain imbibe the milk of exported Saudi wahhabism, wetnursed by imams from Pakistan.

Unfortunately, Islam in Britain has been taken over by the followers of a warped manifestation of the faith. The Muslim Council of Britain, the main Muslim newspapers and many of the big mosques are dominated by men who subscribe to a virulent and backward-looking brand of Islam that has been exported from the Middle East and the Indian sub-continent.

According to Hargey, this is an Islam which fetishises the hadith to the exclusion of the Qur’an. The cure, then, is also simple: downgrade the hadith and return to the Qur’an.

We need a reformation that saves Islam from foreign-inspired zealots. That reformation is already under way, with Muslims going back to the pristine teaching of the transcendent Koran, not taking on trust the hadith (a compilation of sayings of the Prophet Muhammad recorded some 250 years after his death by non-Arabs) or the corpus of medieval man-made Sharia (religious law).

Hargey believes that this extra-Qur’anic layer of authority is responsible for many of the ills that plague Islam, offering to fundamentalist imams religious support for many of the extreme Arabian mores which many Muslims believe come from God. For example:

The rampant oppression of women in Muslim society does not stem from the Koran but is chiefly the product of misogynistic hadith. For example, a famous “authentic” hadith declares that there will be a preponderance of women in Hell. But the facts here on earth suggest otherwise – male criminality far exceeds that of females.

Hargey seems to imply that many of the hadith are fabricated justifications for post-Muhammadan practices given the sheen of authority by being ascribed to the Prophet. They should not be treated as a sacrosanct source for Islamic jurisprudence and should be rejected whenever they contradict the Qur’an.

Whether this call for a return to the foundational text will make Hargey a latter-day Muslim Martin Luther remains to be seen. (I am skeptical and also a little worried: religious reformations are rarely bloodless affairs.)

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N.B. The website Islamophobia Watch is suspicious of the media’s love affair with Hargey. FWIW.

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4 thoughts on “Qur’an vs. Hadith

  1. I have been wondering why British authorities are tolerating extremist foreign agitators masquerading as clergy. Immigration is a privilege, not a right.

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  2. The Islam of the Koran versus the Islam of the hadith that dominates the Sunni and Shia sects are 2 different Islams. The Islam of the hadith believe Islam is a theocracy with rigid rules and rituals and a concept of supremacy and violence and control over the masses. The Koran islam believes in feedom for everybody and believes in flexibility and equality and is not theocratic.

    I believe its only a matter of time since hadith has been only known to Muslim masses recently due to the availability of literature. All this time Sufism hid many of the ills of Sunni Islam but the mask is falling fast.

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  3. Infact it’s no deffernce between th e Quran an d Hadeeth both I mean in priciples are a like, but the deffernce is that quran is Allahs words and hadeeth is Prophets word under sight and hearing from Allah and according to his Instructions But infact we need to under to learn from Muslims that know well About Islam just like “Mohamed Hassan” in Egypt we Can’t talk about islam like that And we even don’t know arabian language and We don’t understand the deffernce between meanings when we read quran or Hadeeth,
    forgive me for my bad englis I wish we talk as much as we know, words arn’t cheap or un useful

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  4. The Koran is the only book people should be reading. It is the only book that should be followed. The Hadith is an account of Mohammeds (PBUH) life and doings.

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