The Practices of Saudi Arabia Are Not Proof Of Islam – Here’s Why You Should Desist From Imposing Them On Others

[Mufti Ibadur Rahman (hafidhahullah), Ashraful Uloom, Hyderabad, India]

السّلام عليكم و رحمة الله و بركاته

Some people, owing to their narrow mindedness, want to impose every act practiced in Saudi Arabia on the entire world and narrow the vast nature of Islam. But they should take a lesson from the broad mindedness of Imam Malik (rahimahullah). Caliph Harun al Rashid (rahimahullah) wished to enforce Muwatta of Imam Malik throughout the world as a primary book of law. But Imam Malik suggested to him not to do that, because the Companions had spread in every region. They narrated ahadith in every place. Thus, the people of every region had acquired knowledge from those Companions, while Imam Malik had collected the knowledge of only Madinah. (Majmu’ al Fatawa: V. 2, p. 311, Faid al-Qadir. V. 1, p. 209)

Islam is a global as well as eternal faith. It has not been confined to any specific race, color, region or period. Islam revolves around truth, wherever it goes. Therefore, no specific place has been taken as the cradle of truth, for places go through continuous changes. Places always accept every sort of good and bad change. The truth was, therefore, not confined to any specific place; even the blessed cities of Makkah and Madinah, although birth place of Islam and, therefore, worthy of every reverence from us, are not hujjat (solid base for action) for us like Allah ta’ala, Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam), the Holy Qur’an and the Ahadith do. Despite the fact that the Holy Qur’an was revealed and the Ahadith were stated in these two cities, they did not remain limited to them; they crossed the boundaries to dominate all over the world.

Sanctity is one thing, while being hujjat is something else. Every Sacred thing does not necessarily qualify for being hujjat.

The blessed Companions of the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) spread throughout the world with the Holy Qur’an and they made lslam a global faith and purified the entire world with the blissful teachings of the Quran and Ahadith, as though creating a new Makkah and Madinah in the very place they visited. They built the castles of Islam in every city and left the message for us “Stay with truth wherever it is found.”

A group of people nowadays is making effort to establish that the practice in Saudi Arabia is hujjat for us and we are bound to follow the norms practiced over there. Everything against them is avoidable. This trend is badly affecting the people who do not have deeper knowledge of the faith. People are often heard saving that it happens in Saudi this way and in Makkah this way, as the truth was found only in Saudi Arabia and Makkah. Apart from that, every place of the world is void of this quality. This mentality is synonymous to narrowing the global face of Islam, not to speak of the harms it causes to the belief of common masses.

Spreading this mentality is surely not a service to the faith, or any positive and constructive task. It reflects a negative process and destructive mindset. We do not believe that truth is found only in Saudi Arabia; instead we believe that it is also found in it, apart from many other parts of the world. We do not accept the confinement of the truth in Saudi Arabia and everything that is practiced in it as hujjat. Our purpose is no way to degrade the sanctity of the holy city, nor to hurt the sentiments of its residents. The Makkah and Madinah are, in fact, the centre place for our love and qiblah for our soul. It is our primary duty to honor and protect the Holy cities. We consider it as our privilege and responsibility to sacrifice our lives for their security. At the same time, we are also neither ready to endure the travesty of the Haramayn and conspiracy against the spirit of Islam, nor will let anyone do it. We cannot remain silent if someone creates dissention amongst the Muslim community in the name of the Haramayn, charge people for infidelity from there and presents a distorted face of Islam. We will fight against them with both, the life and letters and will present Islam with all its vastness to the humanity, as the pious elders have done.

I will substantiate this view in the light of evidences from the writings of the pious elders, so that the truth stands apart and the falsehood gets disclosed.

Below are some evidences.

Allamah Ibn al-Qayyim (rahimahullah) discusses an issueprimarily based on practices in the holy city of Madinah in details. He just abhors with due evidences the view that the practices of thepeople in the holy city serve as hujjah or authority for Muslims. He emphasizes the it is the sunnah (of the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasllam)) and the truth that primarily make basis for action. It is the hadith that will serve as criterion to judge the deeds. The practices of no specific place, may it be the city of Madinah, will be taken as the criteria.

He writes in I’lam al-Muwaqqi’een:

Ending (salaah) with one salaam is a common practice in Madinah. It has been traditionally practiced by the People of Madinah for long ago. This is such an act with which argument can be made for practice in every city, as it cannot remain hidden due to repeatedly being practiced so many times a day.

I say (Ibn al-Qayyim rejects this view). This basis (the practice of people in Madinah) is opposed by the majority of scholars. They say that the practice of the people in Madinah is similar to that of people in other cities. There is no difference between the practice of people in Madinah and that of the people in Hijaz, Iraq and Syria. The practices of only those who have sunnah (hadith) in support make a base for action. It is the sunnah that judges an act, and not vice versa. No specific city, barring other ones, ever guarantees accuracy of action for us. The walls, houses and the regions do not play a role in preferring any of the different opinions. It is the residents that play a role. It is known to all that the Companions of the Prophet (saws) witnessed the revelation of the Qur’an, learnt its meaning and acquired the knowledge that the latter generations could not. Thus, they have superiority over others in regards with knowledge, as they have in regards with the religion and virtue. Their practices are such that cannot be disputed with. Most of them shifted from Madinah to other cities. Most of the scholars among the Companions (radhiyallahu anhum) stayed in Kufa, Basra and Syria, like Ali ibn Abi Talib (radhiyallahu anhu), Abu Musa (radhiyallahu anhu), Abdullah ibn Masood (radhiyallahu anhu), Ubadah ibn al-Samit (radhiyallahu anhu), Abu Darda (radhiyallahu anhu), Amr ibn al-Aas (radhiyallahu anhu), Mu’awiya ibn Abi Sufiyan (radhiyallahu anhu) and Mu’adh ibn Jabal (radhiyallahu anhu).

Almost over three hundred Companions migrated to Kufah and Basra, and almost the same number to Egypt and Syria. So, how can their practices while living in Madinah will be reliable and the practices of their opponents not? It is not possible that their actions remain reliable as long as they stay in Madinah, but when they migrate from there, the practice of only those who remain there even after them be reliable (meaning those who remain back in Madinah – blog author). (I’lam al-Muwaqqi’een v. 2, p. 380-381, Beirut, Maktabah Dar al-Jabal). The author has further written in this regard which has been left for fear of excessive length.

In Zad al-Ma’ad also, Allamah Ibn al-Qayyim discloses the fact that unreliability of the practices of people of Madinah is also caused by the fact that the officials appointed by the Umayyad government had innovated many new things in Madinah. (See, Zad al-Ma’ad. v. 1, p. 99, Maktabha al-Maurid)

Layth ibn Sa’d, a celebrated mujtahid and hadith scholar, once wrote a long letter to Imam Malik. Apart from pointing out to many things, he also wrote in the letter that the early Companions spread in numerous regions for the purpose of jihad. They stayed in various places and people joined them. They taught people the Holy Qur’an and Ahadith which was not concealed from the Rashidun caliphs. They used to guide them through letters in many small affairs, so that Islam could remain Safe. The early Companions lived in other places and also they received guidelines for work from the Rashidun caliphs. So how can it be said that Islam did not remain pure in other cities except Madinah?

Layth ibn Sa’d writes:

Many of those early Companions got out in jihad seeking the pleasure of Allah. They recruited people in the army and people continued to gather around them. The Companions promoted the Holy Qur’an and Sunnah of the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasllam) among them. They deduced rulings about the issues on which the Holy Qur’an and the Ahadith did not make a clear view. At the forefront among them were Abu Bakr, Umar and Uthman (radiyallahu anhum) whom the Companions had chosen for themselves. These three caliphs were neither to make the lives of the soldiers meaningless, nor were they neglectful about them. They instead guided them with letters in small issues to establish the faith and avoid differences from the Holy Qur’an and Sunnah. Thus, they did not leave anything that the Holy Qur’an clearly presents, or the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) practiced or the Companions (radhiyallahu anhum) unanimously decided after him (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam), but these caliphs taught them everything. (Talam al-Muwaqqieen. v. 3, p. 83, Maktabah Dar al-Jabal)

Layth ibn Sa’d also establishes with sufficient evidences that the practices of the people in Madinah was totally different from the practices of the early knowledgeable Companions in other cities, while the sunnah also supported them. This long interesting letter is known as ‘Risalah al-Laith Ila Malik’ and can be seen in I’lam al-Muwaqqi’een.

A narration related in Sahih Bukhari speaks of a disputed issue of the Hajj. The people of Madinah asked Abdullah Ibn Abbas (radhiyallahu anhu), a Makkah based scholar, about a woman who has menses after performing the Tawaf Ifadah. He said, “She could depart (from Mecca). They said, “We will not act on your verdict and ignore the verdict of Zaid.” (Sahih Bukhari 1785).

Allamah Aini also quotes from the Musnad Abu Da’ud al Tayalisi in his commentary on Sahih Bukhari that the Ansar said: “We will not obey you, o ibn Abbas, if you dispute with Zaid (Umdat al-Qari, v7, pg. 386, Dar Al Fikr, Lebanon).

The noteworthy point here is that a celebrated scholar of Makkah issues a verdict, but the people of Madinah directly refused to accept it. They only wanted to act upon the verdict of the imam Zaid ibn Thabit (radhiyallahu anhu). What happened later is another story, but the narration suggests that people from outside Makkah were not ready to accept a verdict passed by ibn Abbas (radhiyallahu anhu) even in that period.

Even the Ulama of Madinah themselves have not accepted the practice of people in Madinah as a basis for action. They disputed with Imam Malik (rahmatullah alayh) in the issue of Khiyar al-Majlis, while he did not act upon the hadith “the deal is optional until the two parties depart”, because the people of Madinah did not act according to this hadith, yet Sa’id ibn al-Musayyib and ibn Shihab Zuhri, both scholars of Madinah, act according to this hadith, Imam Ibn Abi Dhiab, a contemporary scholar of Imam Malik (rahmatullah alayh) highly criticized the latter for his view in this issue, see Asbab al Ikhtilaaf al-Fuqaha, pg. 60, Cairo, Dar al-Fikr al-Arabi).

One of the most respected Syrian hadith scholars and researchers, Abdul Fattah Abu Ghuddah (rahimahullah), edited a book “Arba Rasa’il fi Ulum al-Hadith”. In the footnote, he also writes about the criticism of ibn Abi Dhi’ab on Imam Malik for not acting on the hadith “the deal is optional until the two parties depart”, (Arba Rasa’il fi Ulum al-Hadith p. 24, Maktabah al Matbuat al-Islamia Halab).

Thus, even the residents of Madinah do not accept the practices in their city as a base for action. So, those who present the practices in Saudi Arabia or Haramain as solid base for action in this evil times have no words to refute it. In the best period of Islam, even the Madinah based Ulama and Fuqaha abhorred the practiced accustomed in the city.

Some hadith scholars of Hijaz including Imam Malik viewed that the ahadith with Iraq or Syria based chain of narrators were not reliable as long as they do not find a root in Hijaz.

It simply means that all the Hijazi ahadith were reliable, as opposed to the Iraqi and Syrian ahadith, they cannot be reliable as long as they do not have any narrator from Hijaz. But the majority of scholars have rejected this view. Imam Sha’fi also held the same view before, but later on he took it back. Most of the scholars opine that the hadith is reliable, if its chain of narrators is solid, no matter the chain is from Hijaz, Syria, Iraq or Kufa.

Imam Abu Da’ud al-Sijistani wrote a book in which he collected ahadith with the chain ofnarrators based in different cities. The book covers only the ahadith which are narrated from the narrators of only one city (for details, read Allamah Ibn Taimiyyah, Rafa al-Malaiman Aimmah al-‘Alam: p. 21, Majmu’al-Fatawa: v. 20. p. 317).

Some people, owing to their narrow mindedness, want to impose every act practiced in Saudi Arabia on the entire world and narrow the vast nature of Islam. But they should take a lesson from the broad mindedness of Imam Malik. Caliph Harun al Rashid wished to enforce Muwatta of Imam Malik throughout the word as a primary book of law. But Imam Malik suggested to him not to do that, because the Companions had spread in every region. They narrated ahadith in every place. Thus, the people of every region had acquired knowledge from those Companions, while Imam Malik had collected the knowledge of only Madinah. (Majmu’ al Fatawa: V. 2, p. 311, Faid al-Qadir. V.1, p. 209)

In short, Imam Malik who was the greatest scholar of his time in Hijaz did not like his book to be enforced in every city even in that period. Thus, no one has the right today to enforce the practices of Saudi Arabia on the entire world.

These are the seven evidences which just suffice to prove the view. The number seven is a unique number that covers the implications of all numbers, as Imam Ibn Qayyim al-Jawzi writes in his book. (Zad al-Ma’ad; v. 3, p. 46, Maktabah al-Maurid). In view of the unique nature of the number seven, we can say that not only seven evidences, but many more which suffice to establish the actual view, remove the dispute and satisfy the mind.

At last, I would like to present a logical point.

Some irrational authors lavishly of the virtues of Saudi Arabia today and therefore try to impose the practice of the holy city on the whole. Following in the same footsteps, if the people of Syria too begin to speak of their virtues, consider every act of their country to be a solid base for actions and invite the entire world to follow them, will it be accepted from them? Never, because a virtue is one thing, while being hujjat or solid base for action is a totally different thing. For example, a hadith says: Ibn Hawalah (radhiyallahu anhu). narrates that the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) said: “It will turn out that you will be armed troops, one in Syria, one in Yemen and one in Iraq” Ibn Hawalah said: “Choose for me, Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam), if I reach that time” He (saws) replied “Go to Syria, for it is Allah’s chosen land, to which his best servants will be gathered.” (Sunan Abi Da’ud and Musnad Ahmad) (Note that this has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with Islamic State – blog author)

The land of Syria is described as the ‘Sacred Land’ and whose environs we have blessed in the Holy Qur’an, and as “Allah’s chosen land” in this hadith. Muslims are directed to take shelter in Syria to avoid the fitnas. A hadith says: “So, what do you order us, O Messenger of Allah? He said: Go to Syria.” Sunan Tirmidhi # 2217)

In a yet another hadith, those who migrated to Syria are called ‘the best of people’. Abdullah Ibn Amr ibn al-As says: I heard the Apostle of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) say “There will be emigration after emigration and the people who are best will be those who cleave most closely to places which Abraham migrated. (Sunan Abi Da’ud # 2482)

Many more virtues have been narrated about Syria. The greatest virtue is that it accommodates Bait al-Maqdis whose virtue is known to all. So, keeping all these virtues in eyes, can anyone accept every act practiced in the country to be a solid base for action? The reply one gives about Syria will be given about Saudi Arabia too. At last, I would like to reiterate that the purpose of this article is not to disrespect Makkah or Madinah. It is also not intended that every act that is practiced over there is wrong. The only thing I would like to say is that the solid base for action is not confined only to the acts of the people residing in those cities. The truth and sunnah are found in other cities too and the actions of people residing in any region too are reliable. May Allah ta’ala grant us all the right wisdom and put us on the right path!

وعليكم السلام و رحمة الله و بركاته

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