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When a man wishes to unfetter himself from the restrictions of the Shari'ah and the Sunnah in the present day, the solution for him is to become a so-called salafi.
Once he joins the salafi deviant sect, he is free to find expression for his nafsaani opinions. In order to draw unwary and ignorant Muslims into its fold of dhalaal and baatil, the modernists salafis employ deception on a large scale.
A salient feature of this sect of baatil is their rejection of the Madahabs of the Salaf-e-Saalihoon. In spite of their rejection of the Madhhaaib of Haqq espoused by the Salaf-e-Saalihoon, these mudhilleen (deviates who lead others astray) seek to bamboozle the unwary and the ignorant by making ostentatious claims for their "Love" and "respect" for the 'ulema and fuqaha. The masses are ignorant. They lack the knowledge to distinguish between right and left; they do not possess the ability to verify and understand the statements of the fuqaha which these salafi deviates selectively quote to bolster their corruptive arguments. Let us examine one example of the deception they employ to hoodwink the unwary and the ignorant.
While they decry Taqleed, jeer at it, speak mockingly of it and vilify the muqallideen who follow the 'ulema and fuqaha and the Salaf with epithets such as "cows" and "dogs", blindly following rulings of others, these salafis cite the very great fuqaha of the Salaf to support their baatil contentions of 'ad mut-taqleed" or the renunciation of Taqleed or their blind following of their opinions of desire. In substantiation of their claim, they present the well-known statements of the fuqaha and Ainuhah Mujtahideen of the Salaf-e-Saalihoon such as:
"When you find in my kitaab anything contradicting the Sunnah of Rasulullah (s.a.s.) then say (i.e. command) the Sunnah of Rasulullah (s.a.s.) and leave aside my statement." (Imam ash-Shaafi)
"When the Hadith is established as authentic in opposition to my statement, then act according to the Hadith and abandon my statement." (Imam ash-Shaafi)
"When the authenticity of the Hadith is established, then that is my Mathhab." (Imam ash-Shaafi)
Similar statements have been attributed to Imam Abu Hanifa by Ibn Abdul Barr. Imam Sha'raani too attributes to similar statements to Imam Abu Hanifa. In Raddul Mukhtaar, Allaamah Beeri, narrating from Sharah Hidaayah of Ibn Shuhnah says:
"When the Hadith is authentic, then that is my mathhab." (Imam Abu Hanifa)
The authenticity of these statements is not contested. However, neither do these salafis understand the meaning of these statements nor do their audiences. The audience being unschooled in the higher knowledge of the Shari'ah, simply take in what is gorged out by the devious speakers of this sect. The salafis claim to be the followers of the Salaf. In their definition of the Salaf, they quite rightly include the fuqaha and the 'Ulema of Quroon-e-Thalaathah (the first three glorious epochs of Islam) - the age of Sahaba, Tabi'een, and Tab-a-Tabi'een. The Aimma mujtahideen which include the four illustrious Imams of the Four Madhhabs of the Ahl as-Sunnah Wal-Jama'ah are all part of the Salaf.
While these salafis seek to eke out unbridled rejection of Taqleed for every man in the street on the basis of the aforementioned statements attributed the great Imams, the great 'ulema who follow these Aimmah mujtahideen aver otherwise. Commenting on these statements, Imam an-Nawawi (rahmatullah alayh) says:
"This which Imam ash-Shaafi has said does not mean that everyone who sees a sahih Hadith should say "This is the mathhab of ash-Shaafi," thus practicing on the zaahir (text/external or apparent meaning) of the Haditli.
This most certainly applies to only such a person who has the rank of ijtihad in the madhhab. It is a condition that he overwhelmingly believes that Imam ash-Shaafi was unaware of this Hadith or he was unaware of its authenticity. And this is possible only after having made a research of all the books of ash-Shaafi and similar other books of the Ashaab of ash-Shaafi, those who take (knowledge) from him and others similar to these (books). This is indeed a difficult condition (to fulfill). Few are there who measure up to this (standard).
br> What we have explained has been made conditional because Imam ash-Shaafi had abandoned acting on the zaahir (text) of many Ahadith, which he say and knew. However, by him was established proof for criticism in the Hadith or its abrogation or it's specific circumstance or its interpretation, etc. Hence, he was constrained to leave aside the hadith." (Ilaaus Sunan, Vol. 2, page 225)
Shaykh Abu Amr (rahmatullah alayh) said:
"It is not easy to act according to the aparrent (zahir) text of what Imam ash-Shaafi said. It is not lawful for (even) every Faqeeh (qualified Aalim who has deep insight) to act indepently with that which opines to be proof from the Hadith." (Ilaus Sunan, Vol. 2, page 225)
It also appears in Ilaaus Sunan of Muhaddith Zafar Ahmad Uthmani (rahmatullah alayh):
"Imam Sha'raani has also narrated it (i.e. the statement "When the authenticity of a Hadith is established, it is my mathhab."), attributing it to the four Imams. It is not hidden (from understanding) that this is for the one who has the ability (insight and qualifications) in the Nusoos and the knowledge of its clear laws and abrogations." Volume 2, page 226.
Discussing this statement in his treatise, Shaykh Yusuf bin Ismaail Nibhaani says:
"Verily, the statement: "When the Hadith has been authenticated, then it is my mathhab" has been narrated from each of these four Imams who were free from personal opinion. The audience to whom this statement ("When the Hadith is Sahih, it is my mathhab.") was directed, is on his (the imam's) Ashaab (the Fuqaha of his Mathhab) who were the great and illustrious Aimmah among the great 'Ulama of his mathhab, those who where the Ahl at-Tarjeeh (a high category of 'Ulama). All of them who were the haafizeen of the Hadith of Rasulullah (s.a.s.) were fully aware of the daleels (proofs) of all the mathhabs These are the ones whom the Imam (of the mathhab) had directed his statement: "When the Hadith is Sahih, it is my mathhab" Verily, they (these great Fuqaha) are able to reconcile between the Hadith from which the Imam had derived proof, and the latest Hadith which was established as authentic after the Imam. They (these illustrious Fuqaha) can see which of the two Hadiths is more authentic, stronger and which of the two Hadiths is the later one so that the later one can be the Naasikh (abrogator) for the earlier one." (Hujjatullah alal Aalameen)
It should now be crystal clear to every unbiased person possessing the least degree of Aql (intelligence) that the statement: "When the Hadith is Sahih, it is my madhhab," is directed to an audience of illustrious fuqaha who were masters and experts in ijtihad; who had embraced all sciences of the Shar'i Uoom; who were the Muqallideen of their Imams, who were the Huffaz of Hadith; who were experts of both narrational and rational (Manqool and Uqool) branches of knowledge; in short, who were 'ulema and fuqaha of the highest category, whose likes did not again appear on earth after them nor will appear again on earth until the Day of Qiyaaman because those illustrious fuqaha were a band of Muhaqqiqeen whom Allah Ta'ala had specially created to formulate and systematize the Shari'ah for posterity in such a manner that no mudhil (deviate who leads astray) can never hope to escape with his baatil interpolations and nafsaaniyat.
While the Illustrious Aimmah-e-Mujtahideen directed their command to their students (fuqaha and 'ulema of the highest category), these half-baked and raw Salafi deviates direct the Aimma's statements to an audience of juhala-people who have yet to become adept in the basics of Tahaarat, Salaat, Sawm, etc.
Even the greatest Aalim alive today cannot avail himself of the statement of the Aimmah-e-Mujtahideen, leave alone the myriads of half-baked 'ulema. The masses cannot even be considered in this regard. Here in this context, when we say "half-baked" we are referring to even the present day 'Ulema-e-Haqq whose duty is to safeguard the Shari'ah. Even these highly qualified 'ulema of the present age are 'half-baked' and grossly under baked in relation to the giants and stars of the Shari'Uloom who strode the firmament of Islamic Knowledge and piety during the Quroon-e-Thalathah.
The age for weighing the verdicts of the Aimmah-e-Mujtahideen against the Ahadith has long passed. It is downright silly and stupid for anyone in this age to run away with the puerile notion of having the ability to rectify, amend or refute any of the rulings of the Aimma-e-Mujtahideen. Any such amendment to any of the rulings of the Aimmah-e-Arba-ah was affected many centuries ago - a thousand years ago - by their great students and Ashaab. Indeed the deviate Salafis are suffering from the disease of self-conceit and pride in their belief that "erroneous" fataawa of the Aimmah had remained undetected for the past thousand years and that it was only now in this age that a deviate like al-Albani acquired the "honor" to correct the "mistakes" of the great Imams of the madhhab.
It needs no deep wisdom to understand the reason for the Aimmah's directive to their Ashaab/Students to review their rulings on the standard of the Sahih Hadith. The Shari'ah of Islam is the product of the Wahi (revelation). It is not the product of anyone's opinion, be he the greatest faqeeh. In that early age of Islam, the Shari'ah had not yet been fully codified in chapter form and systemically reduced to writing and all the Ahadith had not been compiled. The age of Hadith compilation came much later. It was therefore likely that an Imam was not aware of all the Ahadith on a specific subject. He would issue his fatwa on the basis of all available Nusoos (Qur'anic ayat and Ahadith). However, when later he was apprised of a Sahih Hadith which contradicted his fatwa, he would immediately review his ruling and if the authenticity and other relevant aspects of the Hadith were established, he would revoke his fatwa and issue a new fatwa.
Similarly, if the Sahih Hadith came to the attention of the Imam's Ashaab after the death of the Imam or in his absence, they would adopt the same process of review and amend their Imam's ruling in obedience to his command to do so. Thus the statement -"When the Hadith is Sahih, it is my madhhab," and similar other statements attributed to the Aimmah-e-Arba-ah, had their application during the age of ijtihad when the process of the formulation, codification and systemization of the Shari'ah was in progress. The authorities of the Shari'ah, viz., the Fuqaha-e-Mujtahideen, to whom the directive was issued by the Aimmah of the mathaa-hib, had already given expression to this command.
Thus these statements have outlived their utility and are no longer applicable for the simple reason that all the Sahih Ahadith have already been compiled 1250 years ago. Any reviewing which had to be done which completed 1250 years ago. The statements of the Aimmah in this regard have only historical importance, and cannot be considered any longer for practical expression. It is indeed ludicrous to run away with the assumption that for 1200 years any errors of the Aimmah Arbah remained undetected and a man like al-Albani of this age came to rectify such "errors."
While the masses lack higher Islamic Knowledge, they do possess a degree of natural intelligence by means of which they may discern truth. The discernment for distinguishing between truth and falsehood is inborn in the Muslim. He only has to be sincere and unbiased when hearing naseehat. He will then, with the aid of Allah Ta'ala, arrive at the avenue of guidance.
It should not be difficult for an unbiased Muslim to understand that it is not possible for thousands and thousands of 'ulema and fuqaha to submit to the Aimmah of the four madhhabs for the past 1250 years if they were in error. If Taqleed was in conflict with the Qur'an and Sunnah, how could it have been possible for such a vast multitude of 'ulema and fuqaha to uphold this concept for all these centuries? Can it be possible that the entire Ummah was in darkness from the three early ages of goodness (Quroon-e-Thalaatha) and a man like al-Albani of this present age be on the path of rectitude in his denunciation of the Taqleed of the four Imams? Are the multitude of the fuqaha who lived in the every age of Islam right or is the modernist Salafi sect of this age right? Consult your intelligence with sincerity and you will not fail to see the light of hidaayah.
The four Imams
The salafi sect make a great play of their supposed following of the Salaf-e-Saalihoon. on close examination it will be discovered that while they call themselves salafis, they are not the followers of the Salaf-e-Saalihoon. In their own definition of the Salaf, they include the Fuqaha and Ulama of Khairul Quroon (the Noblest Ages) which according to Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) were the ages of the Sahaabah, Taabi-oon and Tab-e-Taabi-oon. on this score there is consensus. If these salafis do have love and respect for the Salaf-e-Saalihoon as they vociferously claim in their talks to unwary audiences, why do they condemn the Taqleed of the Salf-e-Saalihoon? If they honour and love the Salaf-e-Saalihoon, why do they hurl vile epithets at those Muslims who follow the Salaf-e-Saalihoon? It should be noted that all the Aimmah-e-Mujtahideen (the Four Imaams and other Mujtahideen) belonged to the Quroon-e-Thalaathah. They are the Salaf-e-Saalihoon. Ibn Taimiyyah and Ibn Qayyim who are in actual fact the Imaams of the salafi sect (but they do not overtly proclaim this) are not among the Salaf-e-Saalihoon. The following dates of birth of these personalities will indicate who the Salaf actually are:
Imaam Abu Hanifah 80 Hijri
Imaam Maalik 94 Hijri
Imaam Shaafi 150 Hijri
Imaam Hambal 164 Hijri.
All four illustrious Imaams of the Mathaahib belonged to the initial noble epoch of Islam, hence all are among the Salaf-e-Salihoon whose obedience is commanded by the Qur'aan and Hadith.
But Ibn Taimiyyah was born in 661 Hijri, almost six centuries after Imaam Abu Hanifah. Ibn Qayyim was born in 691 Hijri, more than 600 years after Imaam Abu Hanifah. Thus, these two Imaams of the salafi sect are separated from the age of the Salaf-e-Saalihoon by six centuries. Inspite of this great gap between the Salaf-e-Saalihoon and the Imaams of the salafi sect, the latter heeds the propagations of these two individuals who appear on the scene in a belated age, distanced far and wide from the Salaf-e-Saalihoon.
While licking up every opinion of their miscreant Imaams, these salafis have volumes of criticism for the followers of the Aimmah-e-Mujtahideen who were truly the Salaf-e-Saalihoon for whom submission by the Ummah is a divine decree. The Qur'aan commands:
"O People of Imaan! Obey Allah, obey the Rasool and the Ulool Amr among you."
The Ulool Amr (the Leaders) mentioned in this Qur'aanic verse apply in the first instance to the Sahaabah, next to the Taabioon and then to the Tab-e-Taabioon. These are the three illustrious groups of the Sunnah singled out for obedience by Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam). He, therefore said:
"The best of ages is my age, then the next age and then the age following."
These are the ages of the Sahaabah, Taabi-oon and Tab-e-Taabioon. These are the ages of the Salaf accepted by even the modernist salafi sect.
Speaking glowingly of the Salaf-e-Saalihoon, the Qur'aan Majeed says:
"Those who went ahead first (the Sahaabah) among the Muhaajireen and Ansaar, and those who followed them with goodness, Allah is pleased with them and they are pleased with Him...." (Aayat 100, Surah Taubah)
Allah Ta'ala expresses His pleasure with these Salaf-e-Saalihoon, yet the salafis of this age deem it appropriate to condemn the Ummah and brand them as 'cows' and 'dogs' for making Taqleed of the Salaf-e-Saalihoon.
Who are the followers of the Salaf?
In the exercise to denigrate Taqleed of the Salaf, the salafi sect takes its cue from Ibn Taimiyyah and mainly from Ibn Qayyim, the student of Ibn Taimiyyah, both of whom were not part of the Salaf-e-Saalihoon. While these salafis adopted the uninhibited blind following of Ibn Qayyim, they have the rude audacity of vilifying those who follow the Salaf-e-Saalihoon - the Aimmah-e-Mujtahideen. Every unbiased Muslim can judge for himself and ascertain who the followers of the Salaf are. The Muqallidoon who follow the Aimmah-e-Mujtahideen or those who follow Ibn Taimiyyah and Ibn Qayyim? While the Shariah commands the following of the Salaf-e-Saalihoon, there is no such command to obey Ibn Taimiyyah and Ibn Qayyim. Thus, those who are making Taqleed of the Aimmah Arba-ah are the true followers of the Salaf.
It is indeed very surprising to note that the salafis do not have any vile epithets for those who follow Ibn Taimiyyah and Ibn Qayyim, but for the Ummah following the Salaf-e-Saalihoon whose obedience has been commanded by Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) they have a large armoury of scornful epithets.
In this article we have dealt with only one aspect of the claims made by this deviant sect calling themselves, salafis. That aspect is their misinterpretation of the Aimmah's statement:
"When the Hadith is Saheeh, it is my Math-hab."
Insha'Allah, in future articles all the other baatil aspects of modern-day salafi'ism will be dealt with and exposed for their falsity.