Are Hadith rejectors (Quranists) Kafir?

Quran

Hadith

Islamic Text

بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَنِ الرَّحِيمِ

In the Name of Allah Most Merciful Most Kind

Short Answer

Yes, Hadith rejectors (Quranists) are Kafir. People who reject the entirety of the Sunnah are Kafir. As opposed to those who reject individual Sahih Hadith. People who reject all Hadith have clearly opposed Quran, Hadith and the consensus of credible Muslim scholars (Ijma).

Explanation
وَمَا آتَاكُمُ الرَّسُولُ فَخُذُوهُ وَمَا نَهَاكُمْ عَنْهُ فَانْتَهُوا وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ إِنَّ اللَّهَ شَدِيدُ الْعِقَابِ

And that which the Messenger gives you, take it. And that which he prohibits for you, desist from it. Fear Allah. Indeed, Allah is severe in punishment. (Surah al-Hashr, 7).

In the Holy Verse above, we are commanded to take that which the Messenger of Allah gives us. Meaning we must act upon everything the Prophet ﷺ instructs. If someone denies the Hadith tradition, then he or she is essentially denying that our Prophet ﷺ gave us anything. Therefore, it is correct to consider Hadith rejectors (Quranists) Kafir (disbelievers). Since they have denied something explicit in the Holy Quran.

This is just one of an incredibly long list of proofs to establish the Kufr of those who reject Hadith. For the sake of brevity, I will not mention all of them here. Ultimately, it is an absurd notion. Rejecting Hadith renders the religion impractical and confusing.

Practical difficulties

Even beyond the direct scriptural proof, there is the issue of absolute incoherence on the part of the Hadith rejectors. When they reject Hadith, they cannot act upon Quranic imperatives and prohibitions. The Quran obliges Salah, Zakah and Hajj. However, most of the practical details are found in the Sunnah. So how can you carry out these actions without looking at the Sunnah.

Similarly, refraining from Quranic prohibitions is not possible without returning to the Sunnah. How can you refrain from Riba (usuary/interest) if you do not understand which transactions fall into its definition and which do not. There are numerous such examples. This is why denying Hadith ultimately leads to denying the Holy Quran, since you would render it bereft of meaning.

Prophetic prediction
عَنْ المِقْدَامِ بْنِ مَعْدِي كَرِبَ، قَالَ: قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ: أَلَا هَلْ عَسَى رَجُلٌ يَبْلُغُهُ الحَدِيثُ عَنِّي وَهُوَ مُتَّكِئٌ عَلَى أَرِيكَتِهِ، فَيَقُولُ: بَيْنَنَا وَبَيْنَكُمْ كِتَابُ اللَّهِ، فَمَا وَجَدْنَا فِيهِ حَلَالًا اسْتَحْلَلْنَاهُ. وَمَا وَجَدْنَا فِيهِ حَرَامًا حَرَّمْنَاهُ، وَإِنَّ مَا حَرَّمَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ كَمَا حَرَّمَ اللَّهُ. هَذَا حَدِيثٌ حَسَنٌ غَرِيبٌ مِنْ هَذَا الوَجْهِ

(Sayidina) al-Miqdam bin Ma’dikarib narrated that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: Indeed, it may be that a Hadith from me will be conveyed to a man, while he is reclining on his couch, and he says, ‘Between us and you is the Book of Allah. So whatever we find lawful (Halal) in it, we consider lawful. And whatever we find unlawful (Haram) in it, we consider it unlawful.’ Indeed whatever the Messenger of Allah ﷺ made unlawful, Allah (Most High) made unlawful. (Sunan al-Tirmidhi 2664, Hasan).

In the above Hadith we see that our beloved Prophet ﷺ predicted the appearance of Hadith deniers. Although the Hadith rejectors will not accept this as proof themselves, it is important for mainstream Muslims to be aware of it. For us, this narration adds to the list of proofs against them and justifies our considering Hadith rejectors (Quranists) Kafir.

Classical scholars
فاعلموا رحمكم الله أَن من أنكر كَون حَدِيث النَّبِي صلى الله عَلَيْهِ وَسلم قولا كَانَ أَو فعلا بِشَرْطِهِ الْمَعْرُوف فِي الْأُصُول حجَّة، كفر وَخرج عَن دَائِرَة الْإِسْلَام وَحشر مَعَ الْيَهُود وَالنَّصَارَى، أَو مَعَ من شَاءَ الله من فرق الْكَفَرَة. (مفتاح الجنة في الاحتجاج بالسنة)

So know, may God have mercy on you, that whoever denies that the Hadith of the Prophet ﷺ whether in word or deed is evidence, according to its known condition in the sources, has disbelieved and left the realm of Islam. He will be gathered with the Jews and Christians. And with whomever of the infidels Allah (Most High) wills. (Imam Jalal al-Deen al-Sayuti, Miftah al-Jannah)

In the Nass above, Imam al-Sayuti asserts that Hadith rejectors (Quranists) are Kafir. This comes as no surprise. Since, numerous Imams of Hadith have said that rejecting a Mutawatir (Mass transmitted) Hadith is Kufr. So, rejecting all Mutawatir Hadith is certainly Kufr. That is what a Hadith denier does. He or she rejects all Mutawatir Hadith.

أَن مَا يكون مُوجبا علم الْيَقِين فَإِنَّهُ يكفر جاحده كَمَا فِي الْمُتَوَاتر الَّذِي يُوجب الْعلم ضَرُورَة وبالاتفاق لَا يكفر جَاحد الْمَشْهُور من الْأَخْبَار. (أصول السرخسي) 

A person who rejects something which dictates certain knowledge, like a Mutawatir Hadith which leads to necessary knowledge by agreement, has fallen into Kufr (disbelief). However, a person who rejects a Mashoor narration is not considered Kafir. (Imam Muhammad bin Ahmad al-Sarakhsi, Usool al-Sarakhsi).

Sinister motivations

People who reject authentic Hadith or all Hadith, often seek to decrease prohibitions. This has been a trend throughout History. Those rejecting Hadith tend not to end up with greater prohibitions rather they decrease them. They also tend to decrease obligations. This alludes to desire being at the core of such movements. Rather than a genuine endeavor to follow the truth.

Conclusion

It is correct to consider Hadith rejectors (Quranists) Kafir because they oppose the Holy Quran and undermine the fundamentals of Islam. They also, reject all Mutawatir Hadith narrations. Whereas rejecting one Mutawatir Hadith is Kufr. It is important to clarify this point since such people exist in many Muslim communities.

And Allah Most High Knows Best.

Answered by Shaykh Noorud-deen Rashid (22.04.24)