The absolute dominion of the Qur’an Books on Islam must be binoculars through which we examine the Qur’an


Hold fast all together to the rope of God, and never be divided (6:103).

Alif-Lam-Mim. This is the Book, there is no doubt in and about it guidance for the God-revering, pious (2:1–2).


In my judgment, the most important reason for the negligence and carelessness of the Muslim community in the observation of Islamic commands is as follows:

The pillars of the Religion and the essential, explicit commands, which form ninety percent of the Religion, belong to the Qur’an and to the Sunna, which interprets the Qur’an. The controversial matters which are referred to the legal procedures of the scholars who are qualified to exercise ijtihad constitute only the remaining ten percent. There is a great difference in value between the pillars and essential commands of the Religion and its controversial matters which are referred to the discretion of the scholars. If the latter are gold, the former are diamonds. Is it reasonable or religiously permissible to leave ninety diamond pillars to the protection of ten pieces of gold?

Rather than rational and religious arguments, the sacredness of the source of the Religion urges the common people to observe it. The books of the eminent scholars should be like glass – they should display the Qur’an, not overshadow it.

It has been logically established that the mind moves from something necessary to that which makes it necessary, or its conditioning precedent. It does not naturally move from a conditioning precedent to that which is the source of this precedent. Even if it does move in that direction, it does so with a new intention and attention. This is not natural.

For example, the books on the Shari‘a from which we learn the commands of the Shari‘a are necessary (to study and follow). The Qur’an, which is their basic source, is what makes them necessary to follow. The sacredness of the Qur’an and its Author, which moves human conscience, is the primary, basic motive for the observation of the commands of the Shari‘a. However, since the views of common people are concentrated on the books of the Shari‘a, they only maintain a vague view of the Qur’an. They rarely give the sacredness of the Qur’an and its Author the attention due. It is because of this that conscience is accustomed to a solidified indifference.

If attention had been made to concentrate on the Qur’an itself in the books on the essentials and basic commands of the Religion, minds would automatically have turned to the sacredness of the Source – the Revealer – of the Qur’an, which encourages adherence to Him, and awakens conscience, and which is an essential aspect of it. This would also have caused the heart to develop sensitivity and have prevented it from remaining deaf to the warnings and encouragements of belief.

This means that, while the books on the Shari‘a should have been like pieces of glass through which the Qur’an could be read, over time, they have rusted due to the errors of imitative and quoting writers, and veiled the Qur’an. The books which should have been exponents of the Qur’an are rather separate, independent works.

The Qur’an is the eternal Divine Address and is always new and fresh due to its miraculousness and it is hallowed by its All-Sacred Origin; it always moves the conscience through belief. There are three ways to attract the attention of the common people to it:


  • Destroying through criticism the renown, respect, and trustworthiness which the authors of the books on Shari‘a have deservedly gained. This is dangerous, unfair, and unjust.
  • Transforming the books on the Shari‘a through gradual, particular education into transparent exponents of the Qur’an, through which the Qur’an can be seen and read. The books written by the mujtahids among the early generations of Islam, such as al-Muwatta’ by Imam Malik,65 and al-Fiqhu’l-Akbar, written by Imam Abu Hanifa66 are of this kind.

For example, when a person applies to Ibn Hajar,67 they should apply to him in order to understand the Qur’an and learn what it says, not in order to understand what Ibn Hajar says. This second way requires time.

  • In the same way that some great guides of the Islamic spiritual way have done, the attention of the common people should be drawn from the veils of the Qur’an to the Qur’an itself and the pure property of the Qur’an should be requested from the Qur’an itself; secondary commands deduced by the mujtahids should be sought from the mujtahids themselves or from the relevant books. It is due to this that the sermons of spiritual guides are usually more attractive and effective than those of the scholars of the Shari‘a.

It is a social fact that the reward, demand, and attention which public esteem assigns to something is not due to its essential value, but to the common people’s need for it. A watchmaker’s earning more than a great scholar proves this. If, therefore, the essential religious needs of the Muslim community had been directed toward the Qur’an, if Muslim peoples had understood that they needed the Qur’an more than anything else and sought the satisfaction of their needs in the Qur’an, that Book, clear in itself and clearly showing the truth, would have been much more in demand than the demand distributed among millions of other books, and as a result of such a need the Qur’an would have received much more attention. Thus, it would have been absolutely dominant and influential among people. It would not have remained as a blessed book whose blessing is sought merely in the recitation of it.

It is another great fault to combine the essentials and basic commands of the Religion with secondary, controversial matters of the Shari‘a and to make the former dependent on the latter. There are two approaches to the differences of view on those secondary matters. The first is Musawwiba, which holds that there can be more than one truth concerning secondary, controversial matters, and therefore all of the four basic schools of law are true in their conclusions. The other is Mukhattia, the school which claims that all of the schools may be wrong in their conclusions. The Musawwiba says: “I maintain that our way is correct, but it is possible that it is wrong. Other ways are wrong, but it is equally possible that they are correct.” The common people cannot distinguish between the basic, explicit commands of the Religion, which are also included in the conclusions of the schools of law, and the secondary, controversial matters, all of which they may consider – the basic, explicit commands and the schools of law’s judgments concerning the secondary matters – as possibly wrong. This is an extremely grave and dangerous error. Those who maintain that all the schools of law may be wrong in their conclusions concerning the secondary, controversial matters are suffering from the disease of holding a monopoly on thinking and truths, which arises from self-love. They are also responsible for heedlessness to the comprehensiveness of the Qur’an and its accessibility to all levels of understanding of all classes of people at all times.

Since the approach of the Mukhattia is also the origin of suspicion, ill-opinion of others, and partiality, it has caused great injury to the solidarity of spirits, unity of hearts, and mutual love and assistance, which are essential to Islam and the life of Muslims – indeed, we are commanded to hold a good opinion of one another, to love one another, and to be united.

(From Sunuhat [“Occurrences to the Heart”])


Bediuzzaman Said Nursi

65 Imam Malik ibn Anas (711–795): He has born, lived, and died in Medina. He was one of the most highly respected scholars of fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) and the Maliki School of Law was named after him. (Tr.)

66 Imam A‘zam Abu Hanifa, Nu‘man ibn Thabit (d. 768): He founded the Hanafi School of Law and was one of the greatest Muslim scholars of jurisprudence and deducer of new laws from the Qur’an and Sunnah. He also was well-versed in theology. (Tr.)

67 Al-Hafiz Shihabuddin Abu’l-Fadl Ahmad ibn Ali, known as Ibn Hajari’l-Asqalani, 1372–1448) was a medieval Shafi‘i Sunni scholar of Islam. He was one of the greatest scholars of Hadith and also a renowned expert in Shafi‘i jurisprudence. Ibn Hajar authored more than fifty works on Hadith, Hadith terminology, history, biography, Qur’anic interpretation, poetry and Shafi‘i jurisprudence. (Tr.)