In Quran verse 15:9, Allah says “Indeed, it is We who revealed the Quran and indeed, We will be Its guardian.” What exactly does this mean? If He guarded the Quran why do Muslims go to hadith (tradition) for explanation? Surely it cannot mean He only guarded the words, as the status quo suggests.
A closer look at the word hafiz, guardian, will show both the original words and the original meaning have been preserved. Our understanding of the word hafiz has been tainted by the practice of rote memorization.
Why would Allah reveal a message for all people, for all times, and not guard the message itself? All the while, admonishing the use of sources (hadith) outside of His Book for explanation, and reiterating that Quran, Itself, is clear and distinct (verses cited below).
Muslims take pride in saying they possess the unaltered Word of God, the Quran. A thorough study, however, will show that, while the original words are intact, the original message has been altered through secondary hadith literature.
The hadith are sayings of Prophet Mohammed and his sunnah, derived from hadith, are his practices. The hadith were compiled and written in Persia 200 years after the prophet’s death https://www.wdl.org/. Sahih al-Bokhari, considered by Islamic sunni clerics, to be the most authentic of the hadith books, is based on a 200 year old chain of oral transmissions. Sharia Law is based on Quran and the sunnah of the prophet. While the Shia clerics regard the Nahj al-Balagha as the sayings and practices of the prophet, as narrated through his cousin Ali. https://www.wdl.org.
Muslims recite the Quran in its original arabic, and refer to hadith, available in numerous languages, for explanations, interpretations, and further embellishments. Millions of muslims around the world memorize the entire Holy Book, they are called hafiz of Quran (guardian of Quran). They pay particular attention to pronunciation and the rhythmical recitation, as opposed to any meaning. The majority have no knowledge what they are reciting. This practice of rote memorization is encouraged by hadith which claim that the hafiz will be guaranteed Paradise. http://www.thepenmagazine.net Muslims believe that the mere utterance of the Quran is a blessing.
The root of hafiz (حفظ) is defined in Lane’s Lexicon as: To guard, preserve and prevent from being lost and he was or became careful, mindful, attentive, heedful in affairs and speech to avoid a slip or fault as though he was cautious, careful, fearful of falling.
This definition sheds light on 15:9, it is much more than a simple preservation of the words. The Quran is carefully and attentively structured to preserve Its original message from falling. Hence, no need to go to outside sources for explanations. And this is precisely what Quran is saying: 6:114 “Then is it other than Allah I should seek as judge while it is He who has revealed to you the Book explained in detail?”
Allah keeps His word and It is preserved and guarded. I will show how I learned to study Quran, with the main and original source itself, The Quran. As the Quran’s narrative unravels, it will prove to be very different from the traditional Islam we know today. Its message of human rights, social coherence, justice, and a universal law embedded in reason can be seen clearly instead of instruction for personal salvation.
The first step towards understanding the Quran’s message is clearing the mind of preconceived notions. The biggest disadvantage people have is that they already know the stories. Eliminate all hadith, stories, and Islamic history, then begin to study with a blank slate, a clear mind.
The root word for hadith (حدث) means narration. It appears in the Quran around 36 times and not a single time does it say to follow any hadith except The Hadith of Allah, The Quran. The following are verses from the Sahih International translation, about Allah’s hadith versus other hadith, Quran’s claims of clarity, and the blind following of forefathers.
Mention of hadith in Quran: Allah’s hadith verses other hadith
39:23 Allah has sent down The Best Hadith a consistent Book wherein is reiteration…
4:87 …and who is more truthful than Allah’s hadith
12:111 …this (Quran) is not a fabricated hadith, but an authentication of what is with you, a detailed explanation of all things and a guidance and mercy for a people who seek security.
31:6-7 And of the people is he who trades in baseless hadith to mislead others from the path of Allah without knowledge and he does it as a mockery...
68:37 …or do you have a book in which you learn/ are studying: (referring to books other than Quran, ie hadith books)
77:50 Then in what hadith besides It (Quran) do they believe?
68:44 So leave Me with whoever denies The Hadith. We will progressively lead them from where they do not know. (note translations will substitute The Hadith for The Quran.. see Sahih International)
7:185 Or do they not look at the realm of the heavens and the earth and everything Allah has created and perhaps their time may be drawing near? So in what hadith after This (Quran) will they believe?
53:59 Then at this Hadith (Quran) do you wonder?
45:6 These are the verse of Allah which we recite to you in truth. Then in which other hadith after Allah and His verses do they believe?
6:68 And when you see those who engage in vain discourse about Our verses then turn away from them until they engage in another hadith…
4:140 And it has already come down to you in The Book that when you hear the verses of Allah, they are denied and ridiculed; so do not sit with them until they enter into another hadith indeed, you would then be like them. Indeed Allah will gather the hypocrites and deniers…
33:53 O you who have believed, do not enter the houses of the prophet except when you are permitted for a meal, without awaiting its readiness. But when you are invited, then enter; and when you have eaten, disperse without seeking to remain for a hadith. Indeed that (behavior) was troubling the prophet…
52:33-34 ... or do they say he made It up? Nay not they believe. Then let them produce a hadith like It (Quran), if they should be truthful.
56:81 then is it to this hadith (Quran) that you are indifferent?
66:3 And (remember) when the prophet confided to one of his wives a hadith and when she informed (another) of the it and Allah showed it to him, he made know part of it and ignored a part. And when he informed her about it, she said, “who told you this?” he said, “I was informed by the Knowing, the Acquainted.”
- These verses are saying that other hadith are being circulated and none are to be regarded except the hadith of Allah, The Quran. (39:23, 4:87, 68:44, 53:59, 56:81)
- And they are saying not to take any hadith from the prophet’s wives, yet there a many narrated by Aisha. (33:53, 66:3)
- Furthermore, saying some hadith serve as ridicule and mockery. Just a few examples are the story of the prophet’s night journey, the 72 virgins in heaven, the prophet’s nine year old bride, and female circumcision. These are not only a basis for ridicule, they promulgate a dangerous ideology. (31:6-7)
The Quran is clear, distinct, and detailed
12:1 These are verses of the clear Book
12:111 …this (Quran) is not a fabricated hadith, but an authentication of what is with you, a detailed explanation of all things and a guidance and mercy for a people who believe.
26:2, 27:1, 28:2 these are the verses of the clear Book
43:2, 44:2 by the clear Book
15:1 these are verse of The Book and a clear Quran
22:2 that is The Book there is no doubt in it, it is a guide to those who are God conscious
36:69 This is no less than a reminder and a clear Quran
24:46 We have certainly revealed verses that make things clear
65:11 a messenger reciting to you the distinct verses of Allah…
16:89 and We have revealed The Book to you, a clarification/ explanation of all things, and a Guidance and mercy and good news to all those who submit.
6:114 “shall I seek a ruler other than Allah? When it is He who has revealed to you The Book distinctly detailed.”
7:52 and certainly we have brought them a Book, which We have detailed with knowledge…
11:1 A book whose verses are perfected and presented in detail from One Who is Wise and Well-acquainted.
41:3 A Book of which the verses are distinctly detailed…
3:103 and hold firmly to the rope of Allah all together… Thus does Allah make clear to you His verses that you may be guided.
- These verses speak for themselves. The Quran speaks for Itself. A clear, distinct, and detailed Book.
No blind following of forefathers
2:170 And when it is said to them, “follow what Allah has revealed:, they say, “rather we will follow that which we found our fathers doing”. Even though their fathers understood nothing, nor were they guided?
5:104 And when it is said to them, “come to what Allah has revealed and to the messenger: they say, ” sufficient for us is that upon which we found our fathers.” even though their fathers knew nothing, nor where they guided?
- The Quran relates many verses of the prophets fighting the ideology and blind following of forefathers.
- Yet, today, the majority of Muslims continue to blindy follow hadith, tafseer, scholars, clerics, customs, and ideologies passed down from generations.
I conclude with a warning from Quran’s verse 2:79: “So woe to those who write The Book with their own hands, then say, “this is from Allah”, in order to exchange it for a small price. Woe to them for what their hands have written and woe to them for what they earn.” The verse is chastising anyone who writes a narrative and attributes it to Allah for personal gain.
Now the question is: Can the Word of God be a source of profit or oppression for man? Surely, the One who calls Himself The Most Just (95:8) would endorse justice. Misogyny, slavery, blasphemy, and apostasy, are all causes of injustice, yet are justified through Quran and hadith, the Shariah Laws. The hijab industry, halal industry, and religious tourism are very profitable businesses and growing, all in the name of Islam. Are these concepts embedded in the Quran? Or are they implanted by man through hadith. To answer this question, one should go directly to the source, the Quran.
I encourage a deep reflection of the verses mentioned above to get an understanding of what Quran is truly saying about hadith, Its clarity, and blind following. In my next post, I will show how the original unaltered message is preserved and guarded through root word definitions and a horizontal reading (a comparative reading) of the Quran’s verses.