Introduction To Literal Approach of Salafi in Understanding Qur'an

Salafis believe that the entire Qur'an is literal and that it is aloof of Mujaz (figurative Expressions). As a result, we witness them interpreting Verses of Qur'an literally. Examples of their literal approach are:Giving Physical attributes to Allah - Believing that He (swt) has feet, arms, fingers, eyes etc.

Taking the Throne of Allah in a literal sense. They therefore conclude that there exists a big throne upon which Allah (swt) sits.

Taking the literal meaning of Bidah instead of it's Shari meaning (Detailed articles on Bidah, Physical Body of Allah and His Throne are coming soon Insha-Allah) They believe that the dead can not hear. Please see our article: Can the dead hear?

And many more issues where they use a totally literalist approach. This disease of literalism is causing immense Fitna amongst the Muslim Ummah and is the main reason why differences between the Salafi and other Sects. We shall seek to highlight that the disease has damaged the Muslim Ummah in the following ways: It has made Salafism a composition of only 3 things i.e. Shirk, Bidah and Haram.

It has made them take only those that parts of the Qur'an and Sunnah, that suits their Literal Interpretations and Beliefs, that results in them instinctively Neglecting and Hiding the other part of Qur'an and Sunnah, which contradict their beliefs. In the later chapters, the Salafi attitude of neglecting / hiding / avoiding / discouraging other parts of Qur'an and Sunnah (that contradicts their ideas) shall be discussed in detail, Insha-Allah.

A preview of Salafi claim that whole Qur'an is literal

Can Rasool Allah [saww] Help and Benefit us?

Salafi response to above question is "NO". They say that Rasool Allah [saww] has died and has no connection with this world. And if someone seeks help or benefit from Rasool Allah saww then he will become Mushrik. For example, they deduce from the following verse that Help can only be sought from Allah:

إِيَّاكَ نَع'بُدُ وإِيَّاكَ نَس'تَعِينُ

[Yusufali 1:5] Thee do we worship, and Thine aid (help) we seek.

قُل' أَنَد'عُو مِن دُونِ اللّهِ مَا لاَ يَنفَعُنَا وَلاَ يَضُرُّنَا

[Yusufali 6:71] Say: Shall we call on that besides Allah, which does not benefit us nor harm us.

The problem with Salafi interpretation is this that:

Firstly, they take into consideration only that part of Qur'an and Sunnah, which accommodates their beliefs, turning their backs on other parts of Qur'an and Sunnah. In fact, there are other verses of Qur'an and many Ahadith of Rasool Allah saww. which clearly show that Help and benefit can also be sought from pious Awliya of Allah and also from those who are known as the Signs of Allah (Sha'air Allah)).

Secondly, they believe that whole Qur'an is literal and there is no Majaz (figurative expression) in it. The reality is that there are both literal and figurative expressions in the Qur'an and it hence the Words of Allah (swt) must be interpreted accordingly. If we fail to differentiate between these two, then several contradictions shall arise in the Qur'an.

It is very important to understand the above two facts. Let us seek some more guidance from Qur'an in this matter. Who takes the Souls out at the time of Death?

In verse 39:42, Allah is saying that it is He who takes the souls out at death.

اللَّهُ يَتَوَفَّى ال'أَنفُسَ حِينَ مَو'تِهَا

[Yusufali 39:42] It is Allah that takes the souls (of men) at death;

But in verse 4:97, Allah says that Angels take the souls of men out at the time of death.

إِنَّ الَّذِينَ تَوَفَّاهُمُ ال'مَلآئِكَةُ ظَالِمِي أَن'فُسِهِم'

[Yusufali 4:97] When angels take the souls of those who die in sin against their souls Is it shirk to say that angels take the souls out? Or should we believe that there is a Contradiction in Qur'an? Of course not.

Rule: It is neither Shirk nor Contradiction, but when Allah says that He takes the souls out, then Angels are already included in it allegorically, who take the souls out with the permission of Allah.

It is the case with Help and benefit too. There are verses in which Allah says that He is the only and sufficient Helper in absolute terms. The Salafi ONLY quote these verses. They interpret them absolutely literally and claim that it is shirk to seek help and benefit from Rasool Allah [saww].

Unfortunately they forget the other verses and Ahadith, which clearly show that Awliya Allah can also help and benefit us. The Salafi neglection of these verses of Qur'an and Ahadith are intentional, since such tactical amnesia is the safety mechanism via which they can avoid the Contradictions in their Beliefs.

Is Allah the only and sufficient Wali (Protector / Guardian)?

In verses 4:123 and 4:45 Allah says that He is the Only and Sufficient Protector (Guardian).

لَّي'سَ بِأَمَانِيِّكُم' وَلا أَمَانِيِّ أَه'لِ ال'كِتَابِ مَن يَع'مَل' سُوءًا يُج'زَ بِهِ وَلاَ يَجِد' لَهُ مِن دُونِ اللّهِ وَلِيًّا

[Yusufali 4:123] whoever works evil, will be requited accordingly. Nor will he find, besides Allah, any protector (Waliyan)

وَاللّهُ أَع'لَمُ بِأَع'دَائِكُم' وَكَفَى بِاللّهِ وَلِيًّا

[Yusufali 4:45] But Allah hath full knowledge of your enemies: Allah is enough for a protector (Waliyan),

But in verses 5:55 and 66:4, Allah says that He is Wali and along with Him, His messenger saww, true believers who establish prayers and pay Zakaat when they bow down (this refers to Imam Ali [as] who gave his ring to a beggar in state of bowing) are also the protectors/guardians.

إِنَّمَا وَلِيُّكُمُ اللّهُ وَرَسُولُهُ وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُوا' الَّذِينَ يُقِيمُونَ الصَّلاَةَ وَيُؤ'تُونَ الزَّكَاةَ وَهُم' رَاكِعُونَ

[Pickthal 5:55] Your guardian (Waliukum) can be only Allah; and His messenger and those who believe, who establish worship and pay the poor due, and bow down (in prayer).

وَمَن يَتَوَلَّ اللّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُوا' فَإِنَّ حِز'بَ اللّهِ هُمُ ال'غَالِبُونَ

[Pickthal 5:56] And whoso taketh Allah and His messenger and those who believe for guardian (will know that), lo! the party of Allah, they are the victorious.

Is it associating partners to Allah, when we say that Rasool Allah (saww) and some believers are also our Waliys along with Allah? And if we accept that Rasool Allah saww. and some believers are also our Waliys, does it mean that Allah is not the Only Wali (i.e. beside Him there are other Waliys too)? And does it mean that He is not enough as Wali?

The simple answer to above question is, contrary to Salafi claim that whole Qur'an is Literal, there are figurative expressions in Qur'an, which must be interpreted accordingly.

Rule: When Allah says that He is the ONLY and SUFFICIENT Wali, then Rasool Allah [saww] and some believers are already included in it allegorically. (Allah has used the term Wali 43 times in the Qur'an in a sense that He is the only Guardian, or take no guardian beside him, and He is enough as Guardian and on four occasions, Allah has said that Rasool Allah [saww], some Momineen, Gabriel (as) and angels are also our guardians). Salafi Tactics: You will find them ONLY quoting those verses in which Allah says that He is the Only and Sufficient Wali.

And by quoting only these verses (and avoiding the other verses), Salafi try to create an impression that it is Shirk to believe that Rasool Allah [saww] can also be a Wali. Unfortunately, normal Muslim brother and sisters, who don't have enough and in-depth knowledge of Qur'an, are all too easily deceived by these Salafi Tactics and they also start thinking that the Wali can be only Allah and that fellow Muslims, who also deem Rasool Allah [saww] as a Wali, are committing shirk.