Yusuf Estes: The Quran is ONLY the Recitation When it is Recited

Yusuf Estes explains his belief that the Quran is only the recitation when it is recited, and it is not a book.  He says:

As a matter of fact, as we discussed in other programs, “Quran” is not really meaning a book, in the sense that it’s this book here [pointing to a mus-haf], but rather the book that’s with Allah, and when it’s recited it’s considered “Quran” – that which is being recited.

Source: “Preservation of Islamic Resources,” part 1 of 4, produced by Huda TV (2008) from the series called, “Beauties of Islam.”  On YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-pqy_R7AVj4 at precisely 6:35 to 6:50 (uploaded on July 16, 2009).

Yusuf Estes has also said:

The word “Quran” in Arabic does not mean a book. The word for book in Arabic is kitab. Although we refer to the kitab of Allah, meaning the Book of Allah. When we speak of “Quran” it actually means that which is being recited. You can not hold Quran in your hand because you can not hold a recitation. This is in your throat, or in your heart, or in your mind. You can hold the book that represents it, but in Arabic that’s called fus-haf, or the mus-haf. This is the scripture of Islam.

Source:  “Miracles of Muhammad” produced by Islam-1.net (2006).  On YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CzYgjC44dhA at precisely 3:30 to 4:10 (uploaded on March 1, 2012).

Important Commentary

Yusuf Estes clearly states here that the Quran is only the recitation, and that what is written in our mushafs is not the Quran.   He goes so far as to say we are unable to hold the Quran in our hands!  This is a drastic violation of the basic Islamic belief that Ahlus-Sunnah hold by consensus, based on the clear understanding of the Prophet (may Allah raise his rank and grant him peace) and his honorable Companions.

The Prophet (may Allah raise his rank and grant him peace) said, what means:

(( Do not travel with the Quran, since I can not guarantee that the enemies would not get a hold of it. )) [Saheeh Muslim #1869]

Quite obviously, the Messenger of Allah (may Allah raise his rank and grant him peace) was not referring to the Quran memorized in their hearts or the Quran in al-Lowh al-Mahfooth (the Preserved Tablet)! He was referring to the mus-haf, the written Quran, and he explicitly called it “the Quran”.

Aboo Bakr As-Siddeeq, the first Caliph, placed Zayd ibn Thaabit (may Allah be pleased with them both) in charge of compiling the scattered writings of the Quran into one mus-haf, as the era of Divine Revelation had just ended, and the Quran could not have been compiled into one book while it was still coming down. Zayd said about the gravity of this task:

“I swear by Allah, had they placed me in charge of moving a mountain, it would not have been more heavy than the task he ordered me with of compiling the Quran (into one mus-haf)!” [Al-Bukhaaree #4986]

During that time and ever since, this event is referred to by the Muslim scholars as Jam’ al-Quran, or the compilation of the Quran (into one mus-haf).

‘Alee ibn Abee Taalib, the fourth Caliph (may Allah be pleased with him), said:

“May Allah have Mercy on Aboo Bakr, for he was the first one to gather the Quran between two book covers (i.e. in one mus-haf).” [Fadhaa’il as-Sahaabah]

‘Abdullaah ibn Mas’ood (may Allah be pleased with him), was reported to have said:

“Verily, this Quran in front of you is about to be snatched away from you!”

His student asked, “How could it be snatched away from us while Allah has made it firm in our hearts and we have recorded it precisely in our mus-hafs?! He replied:

“It (the Quran) shall be taken up in one night, and everything in the hearts shall be snatched away, and everything in the mus-hafs shall go, and the people shall become needy from it (the event). Then he recited, ( And if We wanted we could take away that which We revealed to you ).” [Al-Mustadrak, 4/504]

Aboo Haneefah (d.150), the first of the four widely-followed imams (may Allah have Mercy on him), said:

The Quran is written in the mus-hafs, memorized in the hearts, and recited on the tongues.” [Al-Fiqh al-Akbar]

Another of the great imams, Ash-Shaafi’ee (d.204), said:

“What we recite from the Quran on our tongues, listen to with our ears, and write in our mus-hafs is all called the Speech of Allah.” [Ali-tiqaad of al-Bayhaqee]

Ahmad ibn Hanbal (d.246), the fourth of the widely-followed imams (may Allah have mercy on him), was reported to have said:

“You interact with the Quran in five ways: [1] memorizing it by heart, [2] reciting it on the tongue, [3] listening to it with the ear, [4] viewing it with the eye, and [5] writing it by hand.”

He went on to explain this patiently and methodically, saying:

“A heart is something created, yet what is memorized by it (the Quran) is not created. A tongue is something created, yet what is recited with it (the Quran) is not created. An ear is something created, yet what is heard with it (the Quran) is not created. An eye is something created, yet what is viewed with it (the Quran) is not created.” [Al-Ebaanah of Ibn Battah]

Aside from entitling one of his chapters, “The Compilation of the Quran (into one Mus-haf), Imaam Al-Bukhaaree (d.256), the famous author of the authentic Hadeeth compilation (may Allah have Mercy on him), said:

“As for the Quran that is recited, written in the mus-hafs, written down and recorded (therein), understood in the hearts, then it is the Speech of Allah the Most High, not something created.” [Khalq Af’aal al-‘Ebaad]

Imam Ibn Jareer at-Tabaree (d.310) said:

The Speech of Allah, the Mighty and Honored, is not created, no matter how it is written, no matter how it is recited, no matter where it is recited, whether it is found in the heavens or on earth, wherever it is memorized, whether it is written in al-Lowh al-Mahfooth (Preserved Tablet) or drawn on the boards in children’s classrooms, whether it is engraved on a stone, written on a paper, memorized by heart, or recited verbally. Whoever says otherwise, or claims that a Quran on earth or in the heavens is not the same Quran we recite with our tongues and write in our mus-hafs, or believes otherwise, whether he hides it or speaks openly with it as his Religion, such a person is a disbeliever in Allah, subject to capital punishment. He is free from Allah, and Allah is free from him… [Sareeh as-Sunnah, p.18]

This concept propagated by Yusuf Estes is a very serious error, considered by our early scholars as a statement of apostasy.

For more information on this important topic, and what the Muslims of Ahlus-Sunnah have always believed, refer to this free e-book:

The Teachings of Yusuf Estes About the Quran (PDF)

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