Sunday, 7 July 2013

Status of Maẓāhib

Question sent via text message:

Salaam, what is the hadeeth regarding the different imams. I got 1 cake idiot arguing that theys [sic] no sects like hanafi shafi… n nabi saw neva [sic] talk of that.


It’s difficult to answer this question without knowing exactly what the person is objecting to. Is he objecting to following an Imām, or the fact that Maahib differ? Be that as it may, I’ll mention certain points which might be of benefit.

Mujtahid Mulaq

There is no specific adīth mentioning following the Four A’immah (Imāms). Allāh however says:

فاسألوا أهل الذكر إن كنتم لا تعلمون
Ask those of knowledge if you do not know.
[al-Ambiyā: 7]

Thus there are two groups amongst the Ummah – those who have dedicated themselves to knowledge and those who should refer to the knowledgeable if they do not know. Of course, nothing prevents the second group from attaining further knowledge and becoming the learned themselves.

Now, let alone the common people, great giants amongst the ‘Ulama, felt the need to follow a Mazab. Those were ‘Ulamā’ who can never be equalled today. The entire Muslim world reads the Tafsīr of al-Ḥāfi Ismāīl Ibn Kathīr and acknowledges the works of the Muaddith al-afi Ibn ajar al-‘Asqalānī. Both these titans were Shāfi‘ī. Almost every great scholar for over a thousand years followed one Maẓhab or the other.

The Ḥadīth refers to one who has memorised the Qurān as, “Ḥāmilul Qurān,” not, “Ḥāfiẓ.” Ḥāfiz meant someone who memorised at least 100,000 Aḥādīth – text and chain of narrators. You will note that both personalities mentioned here are titled, “al-Ḥāfiẓ,” in the original sense of the word. Yet neither felt qualified enough to proclaim himself Mujtahid Muṭlaq, one qualified in all Islāmic sciences and able to issue his own rulings without referring to the ruling of an Imām.

If one possesses the qualifications to be a Mujtahid Muṭlaq, then by all means proceed, nobody is forcing such a luminary to follow a Maẓhab.

Let’s list a few basic sciences required to be a Mujtahid Muṭlaq, not daring to approach the myriad fields actually required:

·         Is your friend a proficient Arabic speaker?
·         Is he qualified to give tafsīr of the entire Qurān?
·         Is he an expert in the biography of Rasūlullāh صلى الله عليه وسلم  and hence capable of contextualising various Aḥādīth?
·         Can he understand any Hadīth in Arabic, let alone memorise 100,000 Aadīth?

Those who were qualified in all of the above and much more, felt compelled to follow a Mahab. My knowledge is not a speck compared to theirs. How can I have the audacity to follow my own way instead of obeying…

واتبع سبيل من اناب الي
Follow the path of those who turn to Me
[Luqmān: 15]


The abaqāt books list the great ‘Ulamā’ of the past according the Mahab they followed. This encompasses almost all the ‘Ulamā’ of the past. Even those who reject Maẓāhib intently study the books of these ‘Ulamā’ who followed Maẓhabs. How is it possible to try and obtain the knowledge of these ‘Ulamā when the foundation of their knowledge was some Maẓhab, but the student denies Maẓāhib? The following are standard books in the land of the Ḥaramayn amongst those who reject Maẓāhib:
1.       The Tafsīr of Ibn Kathīr – Tafsīr al-Qurān al-‘Azhīm.
2.       The commentary on Bukhārī by Ibn ajar - Fatul Bārī
3.       The Fiqh of al-Imām an-Nawawīal-Majmū‘ Sharul Muhaẓẓab

All three were followers of al-Imām ash-Shāfi‘ī. They followed the path of one who turned to Allāh despite their own lofty status.

Maẓāhib existed amongst the aḥābah رضى الله عنهم

There were several aḥābah رضى الله عنهم who distinguished themselves above the rest in terms of their knowledge. Other aḥābah referred to them to the extent that when the people of al-Madīnah were told a ajj ruling by the ‘Ulamā’ of Makkah, they politely declined until referring the matter to Zayd bin Thābit رضى الله عنه, the Muftī of al-Madīnah. Thus they accepted him as their Imām, without disrespect to other ‘Ulamā’.  

If Maẓāhib are true, why do they differ?

This is a common objection made by people who do not understand differences of opinion in Islām. For a detailed discussion on this topic, please refer to my article, Differences of opinion in Islām. The following incident however can be mentioned:
During the siege of al-Madinah during the Battle of Khandaq (5 Hijrī) the Jews of Banu Qurayzhah who were bound by treaty to the Muslims, betrayed the Muslims. After the siege was lifted, Jibreel alayhis salaam ordered Rasūlullāh صلى الله عليه وسلم  to punish the traitors.

Rasūlullāh صلى الله عليه وسلم  therefore announced:

لا يصلين أحدكم العصر إلا فى بنى قريظة
None of you should pray ‘Ar except at Banū Qurayzhah!

One group of Muslims took long to reach Qurayzhah. It was nearing sunset, and they had not yet prayed ‘Ar. Some insisted on following the command literally, even it meant praying Asr at Qurayzhah only when the stars had appeared. Others opined that the command meant to hurry, but ‘Ar had to be prayed before sunset, which meant not at Qurayzhah in their case.

Rasūlullāh صلى الله عليه وسلم  did not rebuke either group, even though their actions were opposite.
This is but a brief discussion, but inshāallāh it may assist in answering your question.

سليمان الكندي

Tamarrud – Satanic Rebellion

English speakers understand, “fury,” and “rage,” to be synonyms – the same general meaning. Similar are “Nā rāz,” and “Ghuṣṣah,” in the subcontinent. Not so Arabic. Each Arabic word, however similar the English translation might be, has a very specific import. For example, whilst an English speaker might translate both يعلم  (ya‘lamu)and يعرف (ya‘rifu) as, “He knows,” the first verb is general and the second implies knowing something which was not known before. So who cares? Well a Muslim does. A Muslim declares, “الله اعلم Allāhu a‘lam – Allāh knows best,” to admit his ignorance and the perfection of Allāh’s knowledge. The second verb can never be used in reference to Allāh. His knowledge is perfect. Never can He be said to know something that He did not know before. He always knew everything

Egypt is an Arab land. It is a land where aḥābah and great ‘Ulamā’ are buried. It is a land known for the Qurān. The principle explained above would be imbued into an Egyptian with his mother’s milk, Muslim or not. 

The overthrow of Mursī has shocked many. Of course good and bad rulers come and go, but what pains me beyond the actual events, is the choice of name of the rebels, Tamarrud

Traditionally those seeking a change in government in Muslim lands have always presented their movements as something on the lines of Ilāḥ (rectification), tarīr (liberation), etc. Connotations of rebellion were avoided when the ruler was Muslim due to rulings that Muslim blood may not be spilt, as long as the ruler implements Sharī‘ah and is a Muslim. 

To give an understanding of the diversity of verbs which can mean rebel/refuse/disobey; on the one side of the scale is a word which Allāh applies to both Himself and Satan, whilst on the other end, there is an exclusively satanic rebellion against Allāh. 

يريدون أن يطفئوا نور الله بأفواههم ويأبى الله إلا أن يتم نوره ولو كره الكافرون
They desire to extinguish Allāh’s light with their mouths, but Allāh refuses except that He will complete His light even if the disbelievers dislike it.
 [at-Tawbah: 32] 

The very same verb (in the past tense) is used for Satan:

وإذ قلنا للملائكة اسجدوا لآدم فسجدوا إلا إبليس أبى واستكبر وكان من الكافرين
Recall when we said, “Prostrate,” to the angels, they prostrated but not Satan. He refused. He was arrogant and was amongst the disbelievers. 
 [al-Baqarah: 34]

Of all possible choices, the rebels have chosen to name themselves loudly and proudly as devilish rebels. The Qurānic usage of tamarrud is exclusively for rebels against Allāh, trouble seekers and devils:

 إن يدعون من دونه إلا إناثا وإن يدعون إلا شيطانا مريدا
Instead of Allāh, they call unto goddesses and the rebel Satan.
  [an-Nisā: 117]

ومن الناس من يجادل في الله بغير علم ويتبع كل شيطان مريد
Amongst people are those who dispute concerning Allāh without any knowledge and follow every rebellious devil.
 [al-ajj: 3]

Concerning the last verse, Ibn Kathīr commented:

يقول تعالى ذاما لمن كذب بالبعث ، وأنكر قدرة الله على إحياء الموتى ، معرضا عما أنزل الله على أنبيائه ، متبعا في قوله وإنكاره وكفره كل شيطان مريد ، من الإنس والجن ، وهذا حال أهل الضلال والبدع ، المعرضين عن الحق ، المتبعين للباطل ، يتركون ما أنزله الله على رسوله من الحق المبين ، ويتبعون أقوال رءوس الضلالة ، الدعاة إلى البدع بالأهواء والآراء
The Most High rebukes those who do not believe in resurrection and deny Allāh’s power to revive the dead. They turn from what Allāh revealed to His Prophets. Such people in word, denial and disbelief are in fact following every rebellious devil, human or jinni. Such is the state of the people of misguidance and innovation. They turn away from the truth and follow falsehood. They abandon the clear truth that Allāh revealed to His Messenger. Instead, they follow the words of the leaders of misguidance, the inviters towards innovation, personal desires and opinions….

  •  If the rebellion was merely against Mursī as a man, it would have been sad, but not the worst calamity this Ummah has faced. 
  •  If the rebellion had been against having an Islāmic government, it would be bitter and unsanctionable, but still understandable. After all, how many “pious” Muslims are truly ready for the full rigours of a true Islāmic state?
  • The leaders of Tamarrud, cognisant of Arabic and living in a land of the Qurān, have gone way beyond the above. One hopes the masses are innocent, but the leadership are rebels against Allāh, for at the very least they reject Allāh’s laws. To quote Ibn Kathīr, “They abandon the clear truth that Allāh revealed to His Messenger. Instead, they follow the words of the leaders of misguidance, the inviters towards innovation, personal desires and opinions….”
Allāh knows best when exactly ad-Dajjāl will appear, yet the schemes of his followers have been obvious throughout the world for years, if not decades. What is totally unexpected, at least to me, is the sudden and brazen declaration of masses of people, born in Muslim homes, that they are devilish rebels. 

Clearly the speed of events is escalating. Every Muslim should earnestly escalate his/her preparation and safeguard his Īmān.

سليمان الكندي