Category Archives: Ahlus Sunnah

The Basic Principle of the Ahlus Sunnah wal Jama’at 

By Moulana Manzur Numani (Rahimahullah)

The defining mark of the Ahlus Sunnah wal Jama’at is that, together with accepting the Holy Qur’an as the foundation of religion, they understand the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam), that is to say his statements and his practice, to be its exposition and the elaboration of what it sets out in principle, and that whatever has not been explained in the Holy Qur’an itself is then to be found in the Sunnah. They therefore regard the Sunnah as also being an intrinsic part of religion and something that has to be followed.

Then, together with accepting the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of the Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) in this way, they also regard the Sahabah (Radhiyallahu Anhum) as the measure by which these things are to be understood. That is to say, whatever they understood to be the intent of anything in the Book of Allah or the Sunnah, and whatever rulings they were all agreed on also have to be followed, and no Muslim has the right to hold any contrary opinion on the rulings and decisions on which they were all in agreement.

In the view of the Ahlus Sunnah wal Jama’at the ijma(consensus) of the Sahabah (Radhiyallahu Anhum) on any matter of religion means that the matter becomes definitive, and to disagree with it is then error, because without any doubt the Sahabah (Radhiyallahu Anhum) knew better than anyone else the environment, the atmosphere, the conditions, and the language in which the Din came.

Then, they acquired the Din direct from the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam), and had the benefit of his company and his training. Thus, no one can have a better knowledge of religion and understanding of the spirit and the intent of the teaching of the Messenger of Allah than them. So religion is whatever they understood it to be.

In short, the Ahlus Sunnah wal Jama’at regard the consensus of the Sahabah (Radhiyallahu Anhum) on any question of religion as being decisive, and in their view there is no room for disagreement with it. So, this is the guiding principle of the Ahlus Sunnah wal Jama’at, and indeed the reason for being called the Ahlus Sunnah wal Jama’at is that, after the Book of Allah, they have attached so much importance in religion to the sunnah and the jama’at of the Sahabah (Radhiyallahu Anhum) and have bound themselves by them.

(From Din and Shariat by Moulana Manzur Numani Rahimahullah)

AHLUS SUNNAH WAL JAMA’AH – A MISUNDERSTANDING

By Mujlisul Ulama

There exists a huge misunderstanding among Muslims, even among the Ulama, regarding the predication of the Ahlus Sunnah designation. Due to this misunderstanding, it is generally said that the Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jama’ah constitutes mainstream Islam.

In terms of this conception, Shi’ism is surreptitiously promoted onto the pedestal of Islam when in reality Shi’ism has no room in Islam. Shi’ism is alien to Islam just as Judaism, Christianity and Hinduism are alien.The designation, Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jama’ah is mentioned with reference to some deviant sects whom the Fuqaha have not excommunicated (made takfeer). In our current age, we have the deviant sects of the Salafis, the Barelwi Qabar Pujaari (Grave worshippers), Jamat-e-Islami, etc. Whilst these sects remain within the fold of Islam, they are beyond the confines of the Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jama’ah.

Although during the Khairul Quroon era of the Salafus Saaliheen, there existed many authentic Math-habs of the Ahlus Sunnah, in our time the Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jama’ah is confined to the followers of the Four Math–habs (Hanafi, Shaafi, Maaliki and Hambali). Salafis,etc are not of the Ahlus Sunnah. Therefore, the term Ahlus Sunnah should not be juxtaposed with Shi’ism/Shiahs. In reference to Shiahs it should be said MUSLIMS and SHIAHS, NOT Ahlus Sunnah or Sunnis and Shiahs. This phraseology implies that Shiahs are Muslims. Just as Qadianism, Bahaiism, Bilalians etc. are not of Islam, so too, are Shiahs not of Islam.

The profession of Islam’s Kalimah by some Kuffaar religionists is satanically deceptive. A glaring example is the belief of the Bilalians (the followers of Elijah Muhammad of the U.S.A) that Allah Ta’ala appeared on earth in the form and body of Elijah Muhammad – Nauthubillah!  Recitation of the Kalimah does not in any way whatsoever bestow Imaan to such mushrikeen. Similar is the status of the Shiahs.

Piecemeal acceptance of Islamic doctrines does not confer the title of Muslim to the partial accepter. He remains a Kaafir. About partial acceptance, the Qur’aan Majeed States: “What! Do you believe in part of the Kitaab and commit Kufr with part? What then is the punishment for the one who commits so (commits Kufr), except disgrace in this world. And, on the Day of Qiyaamah he will be assigned to severest punishment”.  [Al-Baqarah, Aayat 85]

The Falsity of the “Hanafi-Shafi’i Disputes” mentioned in Mu’jam al-Buldan

The lâ-madhhabî people like Rashîd Ridâ and Zubair Ali Zai, in order to attack the four Madhhabs of Ahl as-Sunnah, choose a tricky way. For doing this, first they write about the assaults of the seventy-two groups [for whom the Hadîth says will go to Hell] against the Ahl as-Sunnah, and about the bloody events which they caused, and then they basely lie by adding that the four madhhabs of Ahl as-Sunnah fought one another. The fact, however, is that not a single fight has ever taken place between the Shâfi’îs and the Hanafîs at any place at any time. How could they ever fight despite the fact that both belong to the Ahl as-Sunnah! They hold the same belief. They have always loved one another and lived brotherly. Let us see if the lâ-madhhabî people, who say that those people fought, can give us an example after all! They cannot. They write, as examples, the jihads which the four madhhabs of Ahl as-Sunna co-operatively made against the lâ-madhhabî. They try to deceive Muslims with such lies. Because the name “Shâfi’î” of the Ahl as-Sunnah and the word “Shî’a” sound alike, they narrate the combats between the Hanafîs and the lâ-madhhabî as if they had taken place between the Hanafîs and the Shâfi’îs. In order to blemish the Muslims who follow the Madhhabs, those who reject the four Madhhabs slander them by misinterpreting some special terms. For example, referring to the dictionary  Al-munjid written by Christian priests, they define the word ‘ta’assub’ as ‘holding a view under the influence of non-scientific, non-religious and irrational reasons’, in order to give the impression that the teachings of Madhhabs as ta’assub, and say that ta’assub, has caused conflicts between Madhhabs. However, according to the scholars of Islam, ‘ta’assub’  means ‘enmity that cannot be justified.’ Then, attaching oneself to a Madhhab or defending that this Madhhab is based on the Sunnah and on the sunnahs of al-Khulafâ’ ar-râshidîn (radiy-Allâhu ’anhum) is never ta’assub. Speaking ill of another Madhhab is ta’assub, and the followers of the four madhhabs have never done such ta’assub. There has been no ta’assub amongst the madhhabs throughout Islamic history.

The lâ-madhhabî, who are the followers of one of the seventy-two heretical groups, endeavoured much to sidetrack the Umayyad and Abbasid caliphs from the Ahl as-Sunnah. Those who achieved it caused bloody events. It is a base slander against the scholars of Islam to accuse them of ta’assub because they, to prevent the harm of the lâ-madhhabî, counselled these caliphs and invited them to follow one of the four Madhhabs of Ahl as-Sunnah. A newly developed method for attacking the four madhhabs is: first pick up a smattering of Arabic, then scan a few history books in a haphazard manner and with a narrow-minded personal sentiment, then evaluate the various past events fortuitously encountered, and finally piece them together as the evidences for the harms of ta’assub, which you somehow attribute to the Sunni Muslims. To find justification, some of those who are against the madhhabs say that they are against not the madhhabs but the ta’assub in madhhabs. However, by misinterpreting ‘ta’assub,’ they attack the fiqh scholars defending their madhhabs and claim that these scholars caused the bloody events in the Islamic history. Thereby they try to alienate the younger generations from the Madhhabs.

As it is written in Qâmûs al-a’lâm,  Amîd al-Mulk Muhammad al-Kundurî, the vizier of Seljuqî Sultan Tughrul Beg, issued a rescript stating that the lâ-madhhabî should be cursed at mimbars and, therefore, most of the ’ulamâ’ in Khurasan emigrated to other places during the time of Alb Arslân. Lâ-madhhabî people like Ibn Taymiyya distorted this event as “The Hanafîs, and the Shâfi’îs fought each other, and the Ash’arîs were cursed at mimbars.” They spread these lies and their own false translations from as-Suyûtî’s books among young people to deceive them and to destroy the four Ahl as-Sunna Madhhabs and to replace it with lâ-Madhhabism.

The following story is one of those related to ta’assub as it is unjustly attributed to the madhhabs and is claimed to have caused fights between brothers in Muslim history: Yâqût al-Hamawî visited Rayy in 617 A.H. and, seeing that the city was in ruins, asked the people whom he met how it happened; he was told that there had arisen ta’assub between the Hanafîs and the Shâfi’îs, that they had fought, and that the Shâfi’îs had won and the city had been ruined. This story is referred to in Yâqût’s book Mu’jam al-Buldan. However, Yâqût was not a historian. As he was a Byzantine boy, he was captured and sold to a merchant in Baghdad. He travelled through many cities to do the business of his boss, after whose death he began selling books. Mu’jam al-Buldan is his geographical dictionary in which he wrote what he had seen and heard wherever he had been. He profited much from this book. Rayy is 5 km south of Tehran and is in ruins now. This city was conquered by Urwah ibn Zaid at-Tâ’î with the command of Hadhrat ’Umar (radiyallâhu ’anhu) in 20 A.H. It was improved during the time of Abû Ja’far Mansûr, and it became a home of great scholars and a centre of civilization. In 616 A.H., the non-Muslim Mongol ruler Chenghiz, too, destroyed this Muslim city and martyred its male inhabitants and captured the women and children. The ruins seen by Yâqût had been caused by the Mongol army a year before. The lâ-madhhabî asked by Yâqût imputed this destruction to the Sunnîs, and Yâqût believed them. This shows that he was not a historian but an ignorant tourist. The lâ-madhhabî, when they cannot find a rational or historical support to blemish the followers of Madhhabs and the honourable fiqh scholars, make their attacks with the writings and words based on Persian tales. Such tales do not harm the superiority and excellence of the scholars of Ahl as-sunnah; on the contrary, they display the lâ-madhhabî men of religious post are not authorities of Islam but ignorant heretics who are enemies of Islam. It is understood that they have been endeavouring to deceive Muslims and thus to demolish the four Madhhabs from the inside by pretending to be men of religious post. To demolish the four Madhhabs means to demolish Ahl as-Sunnah, for Ahl as-Sunnah is composed of the four Madhhabs with regard to practices (a’mâl, fiqh). There is no Ahl as-Sunnah outside these four Madhhabs. And to demolish Ahl as-Sunnah means to demolish the right religion, Islam, which Hadhrat Muhammad (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) brought from Allâh Ta’âlâ, for, the Ahl as-Sunnah are those Muslims who walk on the path of as-Sahâbah al-kirâm (radiyAllâhu ’anhum). The path of as-Sahâba al-kirâm is the path of Hadrat Muhammad (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam), who, in the hadîth, “My Companions are like the stars in the sky. If you follow any one of them you will find the right way,” orders us to follow as-Sahâbah al-kirâm.

Taqlîd (following, adapting oneself to) is done in two respects. First is the following in respect of belief (’itiqâd, îmân). Second is the following in respect of actions to be done (a’mâl). To follow as-Sahâbah al-kirâm means to follow them in respect of the facts to be believed. In other words, it is to believe as they did. Those Muslims who believe as as-Sahâbah al-kirâm did are called Ahl as-Sunnah. In respect of practices, that is, in each of those actions that are to be done or avoided, it is not necessary to follow all as-Sahâbah al-kirâm since it is impossible. It cannot be known how as-Sahâbah al-kirâm did every action. Moreover, many matters did not exist in their time and appeared afterwards. The father of Ahl as-Sunnah was Hadrat al-Imâm al-a’zam Abû Hanîfah (rahmatullâhi ’alaih). All the four Madhhabs have believed what he had explained and what he had learned from as-Sahâbah al-kirâm. Al-Imâm al-a’zam was a contemporary of some Sahâbîs. He learned much from them. And he learned further through his other teachers. That al-Imâm ash-Shâfi’î and Imâm Mâlik had different comments on a few matters concerning belief does not mean that they disagreed with al-Imâm al-a’zam. It was because each of them expressed what they themselves understood from al-Imâm al-a’zam’s word. The essence of their words is the same. Their ways of explaning are different. We believe and love all the four A’immat al-Madhâhib.

A snide trick which the lâ-madhhabî people often have resort to is to write about the badness of the difference in those subjects concerning belief and try to smear this badness on to the difference among the four Madhhabs. It is very bad to be broken into groups concerning îmân. He who dissents from Ahl as-Sunnah in îmân becomes either a kâfir (disbeliever) or a heretic (a man of  bid’a in belief). It is stated in the hadîths of the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) that both kinds of people will go to Hell. A kâfir will remain in Hell eternally while a heretic will later go to Paradise.

Some of those who have dissented from the Ahl as-Sunnah have become disbelievers, but they pass themselves off as Muslims. They are of two kinds. Those of the first kind have depended upon their mind and points of view in interpreting the Qur’ân al-karîm and the Hadîth ash-Sharîf so much so that their errors have driven them to kufr (disbelief). They think of themselves as followers of the right path and believe that they are true Muslims. They cannot understand that their îmân has gone away. They are called  “mulhids.” Those of the second kind have already disbelieved Islam and are hostile to Islam. In order to demolish Islam from within by deceiving Muslims, they pretend to be Muslims. In order to mix their lies and slanders with the religion, they give wrong, corrupt meanings to âyats, hadîths and scientific teachings. These insidious unbelievers are called “zindîqs.” The freemasons occupying religious posts in Egypt and the so-called Socialist Muslims, who have appeared recently, are zindîqs. They are also called “bigots of science” or “religion reformers.”

The Qur’ân al-karîm and the Hadîth ash-sharîf declare that it is bad to be broken into groups in respect of îmân and prohibit this faction strictly. They command Muslims to be united in one single îmân. The faction prohibited in the Qur’ân al-karîm and the Hadîth ash-sharîf is the faction in respect of îmân. As a matter of fact, all prophets (’alaihimus-salâm) taught the same îmân. From Âdam (’alaihis-salâm), the first prophet, to the last man, the îmân of all Believers is the same. Zindîqs and mulhids say that those âyats and hadîths which condemn and prohibit breaking in îmân refer to the four Madhhabs of Ahl as-Sunna. However, the Qur’ân al-kerîm commands the differentiation of the four Madhhabs. The Hadîth ash-sharîf states that this difference is Allâhu Ta’âlâ’s compassion upon Muslims.

It is an utterly loathsome, very base lie and slander to twist the Mongolian invasion of the Muslim countries and the destruction of and bloodshed in Baghdad into the “Hanafî-Shâfi’î disputes,” which never took place in the past and which will never take place in future. These two madhhabs have the same îmân and love each other. They believe that they are brothers and know the insignificant difference between them concerning a’mâl (acts) or ’ibâdât (practices) is Allâh Ta’âlâ’s compassion. They believe that this difference is a facility. If a Muslim belonging to a Madhhab encounters a difficulty in doing an act in his Madhhab, he does it in accordance with one of the other three Madhhabs and thus avoids the quandary. Books of the four Madhhabs unanimously recommend this facility and note some occasions. Scholars of the four Madhhabs explained and wrote the evidences and documents of their own Madhhabs not in order to attack or –Allah forfend– to slander one another, but with a view to defending the Ahl as-Sunnah against the lâ-madhhabî people and preserve the confidence of their followers. They wrote so and said that one could follow another madhhab when in difficulty. The lâ-madhhabî, that is, the mulhids and zindîqs, finding no other grounds fhor attacking the Ahl as-Sunna, have been meddling with and misinterpreting these writngs which are right and correct.

As for the Tatars’ and Mongols’ invading Muslim countries, history books write its causes clearly. For example, Ahmad Jawdad Pasha wrote:

“Musta’sim, the last ’Abbâsid Caliph, was a very pious Sunnî. But his vizier, Ibn Alqamî was lâ-madhhabî and disloyal to him. The administration of the State was in his hands. His sheer ideal was to overthrow the ’Abbâsid state and establish another state. He wished for Baghdad to be captured by the Mongol ruler Hulago, and he himself become his vizier. He provoked him into coming to Iraq. Writing a harsh reply to a letter from Hulago, he incited him. Nasîr ad-dîn Tusî, another lâ-madhhabî heretic, was Hulago’s counsellor. He, too, incited him to capture Baghdad. The intrigues were played in the hands of these two heretics. Hulago was made to advance towards Baghdad. The Caliph’s army of about twenty thousand could not stand against the arrows of two hundred thousand Tatars. Hulago assaulted Baghdad with naphtha fires and catapult stones. After a fifty-day siege, Ibn Alqamî, under the pretext of making peace, went to Hulago and made an agreement with him. Then, coming back to the Caliph he said that if they surrendered they would be set free. The Caliph believed him and surrendered to Hulago on the twentieth of Muharram in 656 A.H. (1258). He was executed together with those who were with him. More than four hundred thousand Muslims were put to the sword. Millions of Islamic books were thrown into the Tigris. The lovely city turned into a ruin. The Khirkat as-Sa’âda  (the mantle of the Prophet) and the  ’Asâ an-Nabawî  (the short stick the Prophet usually had with him) were burned and the ashes were thrown into the Tigris. The five-hundred-and-twenty-four-year-old ’Abbâsid State was annihilated. Ibn Alqamî was not given any position and died in abasement the same year. That year, ’Uthmân Ghâzî, founder of the Ottoman Empire, was born in the town of Söghüt.”As it is seen, the Mongols’ ruining the Muslim countries was caused by a lâ-madhhabî’s treachery against Ahl as-Sunnah. There has been no dispute between the Hanafîs and the Shâfi’îs; Muslims belonging to the four Madhhabs have loved one another as brothers.

The Creed of Ahl al-Sunnah wa’l-Jama’ah

By Darul al-Ifta al-Misriyyah

Creed
The word for creed in Arabic is ‘aqida. Linguistically, it means to bind firmly and tightly. And in the terminology of the sciences, it is a belief held strongly and with conviction in the hearts of humans, whether it be true or false. This strong belief is a motivator to action, such as is the case with the belief of a Muslim in the existence of God and the veracity of the Prophet.

History attests to the fact that all peoples at all times have had an ideology or religious creed to which they assent, which moves them to action and which has an impact on their behavior and conduct.

The Islamic creed consists of a firm belief that God, Lord of the Worlds, is the Creator of the Heavens and the Earth; that there is only one God Who can be characterized by all perfections, Who transcends all deficiencies, and Who is unlike any other being; that Muhammad is his Prophet and Messenger to the Worlds, and that he fulfilled this mission in the most perfect and complete manner; that the Qur’an is His Book, truthful and untouched by any falsity; and that what it conveys of matters unseen – for example, angels, other prophets, paradise, and hell – is all true.

This set of beliefs moves he who possesses them to hold fast to the rules of the shari’ah and the commands and prohibitions of the Qur’an and the Sunnah.

Monotheism
Monotheism (tawhid) is to believe in the Oneness of God, worshipping Him alone, and affirming this belief of His Essence, His Qualities, and His Actions. It is also to affirm that there is no entity which resembles His Indivisible Essence; that no qualities which resemble the Divine Qualities, in which plurality is not possible such that one can say that God has two Wills or Knowledges, for example; and that His Actions do not admit of any association – there is, that is to say, no action other than His, and any action of another is to be regarded as acquisitive (kasb).

What has been said by the theologians with regards to monotheism can be simplified as follows:
1. It is the belief that God is other than anything that can be conceived by the imagination
2. It is the belief that His Essence in no way resembles other entities, nor does It compromise his Qualities
Tawhid is in fact a developed science derived from certain and definitive proofs. It enables one to establish religious beliefs via argumentation and repelling doubts.

It is concerned with the Essence of God, and what is necessary, impossible, or permissible to affirm of It. It is also concerned with the messengers, what they brought affirming the existence of a Creator. Finally, it treats revelatory data, and the necessity to belive in it.

The benefit of the science of tawhid is that it leads to a knowledge of God through definitive proofs, and the attainment of eternal happiness as a result. Because it is connected to the knowledge of God and His prophets, it is the most noble of sciences. As the Arabic saying goes, things are ennobled by that which they are connected to.

Learning this science is an individual obligation for every person, male or female, as established by the verse which directs all to “Know that there is no god but Allah” (Surah Muhammad, 19). Technically, the obligation is to know the creed in a general way; while knowledge of the particulars and details is a communal obligation.

The science of tawhid discusses three matters:
1. Divinity – that which has to do with God
2. Prophecy – that which has to do with prophets and messengers
3. Revelation – that which treats matters which cannot be proven except through revelatory reports
Types of Proofs

There are two types of proofs:
1. Purely rational, such as that which establishes the existence of a Creator through the creation of the Heavens, the Earth and ourselves.
2. Revelatory, which is in fact a combination of rational and revelatory premises, because the veracity of a report can be established only by reason. These proofs may establish definitive certainty in shari’ah matters when they are mass-transmitted or accompanied by empirical evidence. However, in cases where they do not accord with a reason-based proof, the latter is given priority, for to disregard reason would be to disregard both types of proofs (since the latter is a hybrid).

Epistemology and Ontology
The philosophers say that that which may be known are either non-existent, existent in the mind, or existent in the world. And that which has extra-mental (i.e., worldly) existence is either necessarily existent, i.e., it is impossible that it does not exist, or it is contingently existent.
The theologians say that the existent is that which has a reality in the world, and it is either eternal or created. The created is further divided into two: the substance and the accident

The ‘contingent’ (al-mumkin) is that which is necessarily in need of a cause. It may be either existent or non-existent, in equal probability. The ‘contingent’ is always created, never eternal.

The ‘necessary’: The essentially necessary is God, Who is Simple, not compound. This is because to be compound means to be contingent, created and admitting divisibility. This also means he does not admit association because that would entail being compound. God transcends comparison and resemblance. His Qualities include Life, Knowledge and Power. These Qualities are eternal, and do not compromise his necessity of being, nor do they render him needy of anything, for His Qualities are not other than Him.

The createdness of the world
To be created (huduth) means to be preceded by non-existence (‘adum). The world is everything other than God, the Exalted. The world is made of substances (jawahir) and accidents (a’raad). Substances are those entities that are independent of place. Accidents are those qualities that are “connected” to substance, such as color, taste, smell, life, death, will, power, and knowledge.

The createdness of the world is proven as follows: All existents can be classified as either eternal (qadim) or created. 

The eternal is that which is preceded by nothing else. It is necessary of existence. It is impossible for the eternal to not be, for eternality contradicts non-existence.

The created is that existent which is preceded by another. It may both exist and not exist. So, when it is distinguished by existence rather than non-existence, it is in need of something that performs that distinguishing for it. This entity is a creator characterized by volition and power.

All that is not void of created entities is created. No body in the world is void of created accidents and changeable states. The qualities of the bodies change, and they move from one state to another. The reality of changeable entities is that in fact one state is annihilated and another is created. This is known in the case of the new state by observation, and in the case of the old state because, if it were eternal it would not have become non-existent.

Therefore, it is necessary to believe firmly that the world, all its bodies, including all sorts of vegetation and animals; all actions; all utterances; and all beliefs are created. They came to exist after non-existence.

The existence of the Creator
Belief in the existence of the Creator is the first pillar of Islamic doctrine. All other doctrinal principles are built upon it. And believing in this existence is the only path to attaining a correct understanding of creation, and the meaning of existence in this world.

The world that we see is contingently existent (mumkin al-wujud), which means that the mind precludes neither its existence nor non-existence. Therefore, there must be some external cause which made it existence, and distanced it from non-existence. In its default mode, the world and its entities are possible of both states. And the Cause that made it existent (and not non-existent) is what we call God, the Exalted.

Every rational person, through observation, knows necessarily that creation came into existence after non-existence, i.e., they were created. That which is created is in need of a Creator. An infinite regression of such creators is impossible, as all rational people agree. Infinite regression means that a created entity has a creator, and that creator has its own creator, and on and on with no end. This infinite regression, on whose impossibility all rational people agree, cannot be avoided except by positing an Eternal Creator, Who is in need of no other. His Existence needs No Originator. This is God, the Necessarily Existent. The Necessary, i.e. God, is not a compound being, nor multiple. It is truly One.

If all existences were simply contingent, and none of them were necessary, this set of contingently existent entities – which encompasses all existent entities – would be in need of an originator. This is because the set is itself contingent, a compound entity made of a set of contingent entities. However, the Necessary of Existence (God) is independent in His Existence. He does not need any other entity for his existence. And He is outside of this set. So He is the Creator.

The first obligation
Contemplating (al-nazar) knowing God is an obligation by consensus, whether it is by revelatory means as the Ash’aris say, or by rational ones as the Mu’tazilis say.
The primary obligation is to know God, and the means to achieving it is speculation (al-nazar), so it is also an obligation. But speculation is not possible without intent to engage in it. Therefore, the intention is also an obligation, indeed the first obligation.

By al-nazar is meant the tools and methodologies by which knowledge is organized so as to lead from one piece of information to another. Alternatively, it is defined as abstracting the mind away from insignificant matters and orienting it to the objects of reason. When this is done properly, what results is necessary knowledge.

This is an obligation, because in matters of doctrine, following another based on his or her authority is a sin for someone who is capable of engaging in theoretical and rational thought. If he is not capable of this, it is not a sin. Abu Mansur al-Maturidi says, “Our companions are agreed that the masses believers and knowers of God, and they will populate Heaven, as we are informed in reports and as is agreed on by scholars. For their natural state leads them to monotheism and belief in the Creator’s eternality and the createdness of all else, even if they are unable to articulate this in the terminology of the theologians.” Al-Amidi reported agreement that those who attest to the correct doctrine based on authority are not disbelievers.

The difference of opinion obtains when we turn to the judgement in the Hereafter. In matters of this world, there is no disagreement that we are to judge based on apparent attestations alone. So, he who attests to the doctrine of Islam is to be treated as a Muslim, and not pronounced a disbeliever. So, he may marry other Muslims; he may lead the prayer; his slaughtered meat may be consumed; Muslims may inherit from him, and he from them; and he is to be buried in their cemeteries.

Belief (Iman)

Belief (iman) is to attest to all that is brought by the Prophet (peace be upon him) and is known necessarily to be of the religion, both in generalities and particulars. “That which the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) brought” is al-Islam, outside of which there is no salvation. As Allah says, “Say: ‘Truly, my prayer and my service of sacrifice, my life and my death, are (all) for God, the Cherisher of the Worlds. No partner hath He: this am I commanded, and I am the first of those who submit (muslimin).” [al-An’am: 162-163].

It is necessary that one submit to this, for there is no salvation in the eyes of God except by entering into Islam: “Say: ‘We believe in God, and in what has been revealed to us and what was revealed to Abraham, Isma’il, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes, and in (the Books) given to Moses, Jesus, and the prophets, from their Lord: We make no distinction between one and another among them, and to God do we bow our will (in Islam).’ If anyone desires a religion other than Islam (submission to God), never will it be accepted of him; and in the Hereafter He will be in the ranks of those who have lost (All spiritual good).” [Aal Imran: 84-85].

Islam is the religion of God with which all other messengers had been sent: “Ibrahim was neither a Jew nor a Christian but he was (an) upright (man), a Muslim, and he was not one of the polytheists.” [Aal Imran: 67]

The formula of testification is: “I bear witness that there is no one worthy of worship but Allah, and I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.” For one who is capable of uttering it, it is obligatory for the validity of his faith. Simply uttering the words is not sufficient if the speaker does not understand the meaning of what he is reciting.

Articulating the formula of testification is a condition of one being considered a Muslim in legal matters, such as inheritance, marriage, leading prayer, being eligible for the funeral prayer, burial in Muslim cemeteries, and being subject to the demand to pray and pay the zakat. This is because silent affirmation in one’s heart, though it constitutes belief, is hidden, and we are in need of a visible sign of one’s Islam.

He who attests with his tongue, but not his heart, is a hypocrite. Though he is not a Muslim in the eyes of God, he is to be regarded as a Muslim in this world, provided he does not betray any visible indication of his disbelief, such as prostrating to an idol or abusing a copy of the Qur’an.
The “rejecter” is one who refuses to utter the formula of testification. He is a disbeliever both in the eyes of God and in the consideration of people in this world. An affirmation of the heart is of no consequence.

He who is confronted by doubts must seek to dispel them either through rational speculation or by asking someone of knowledge. He who is confronted by temptations should seek refuge in Allah, and say “I believe in God and His Messenger.” The children of Muslims are considered believers, and are to be treated as such in this world even if they never articulate the formula of testification their whole lives.

Divine Attributes

What may not be attributed to God: There are some things that cannot be affirmed of God. In short, He is transcendent, and free of anything that indicates createdness or deficiency of any sort. Therefore, one may not attribute to Him accidental attributes like taste, color, smell, or pain. Nor is he restricted to directionality. Nor can we ascribe to him adjacency, for he is not bound by area. Neither the earth nor the heavens surround Him. He has neither limits nor measure.

Anything that is distinguished by directionality is restricted in a space, and therefore is capable of being joined to substances and separate from them. Anything that admits such a joining and separation with substance is connected to substance, and not void of it. Anything that is not void of substance is created like the substance it is connected to. In contrast, God transcends space, and connection to bodies.

We believe that the Creator of the world cannot be restricted by space, nor can He have an end. For a thing may not be so restricted except by something else, nor can he have an endpoint except by imposing a limitation on him by another entity. But the Creator is neither created, nor restricted, nor limited in any way. As Allah says, “Do you not see that Allah knows whatever is in the heavens and whatever is in the earth? Nowhere is there a secret counsel between three persons but He is the fourth of them, nor (between) five but He is the sixth of them, nor less than that nor more but He is with them wheresoever they are; then He will inform them of what they did on the day of resurrection: surely Allah is Cognizant of all things.” [al-Mujadala: 7].

It is impermissible to attribute to God movement or rest, going and coming, being in a place, connectedness and disconnectedness, physical proximity and distance, size, body, form, measure, directions, or sides.

The Attributes of the Divine Essence: These are the attributes which subsist in the Divine Essence. They number seven or eight, the difference in number being due to scholarly disagreement.

These attributes are eternal like His Names. If they had been created, this would mean affirming something created of the Divine Essence. It would also mean that God was once without them, i.e., before their creation. Finally, it would indicate the need for something to endow the Divine Essence with this quality, which contradicts His Absolute Self-Sufficiency, i.e., His lack of need of anything other than Him.
These are in contrast to “the attributes of action” which are not eternal according to the Ash’aris.

The attributes of the Divine Essence are of neither the essence, nor of other than it. The former is obvious, for it is well known that the reality of the essence is not the same as that of its attributes, otherwise they would be identical. As for the latter, what is meant is that they are not of a separable other. For these attributes are not separable from the essence, even though their reality is not that of the essence itself.

Whoever directs his worship to the attributes alone has committed disbelief. And whoever connects his worship to the Essence alone has sinned. The correct path is to worship the Divine Essence characterized by Its Attributes.

These attributes are:
1. Existence: This means the existence of His Essence, uncaused by any other. It is impossible that He did not exist. This sort of perfect existence is affirmed only of God. All others partake in a subordinate mode of existence, both preceded and succeeded by non-existence. This is an affirmative attribute, affirmed of the Essence itself.

2. Eternality: This is a negative attribute, which is to say that it negates that which is not worthy of God – in this case, createdness, and so previous non-existence. What is meant is the eternality of the Essence – that It never “came into” existence. For if It were not eternal, It would be created, and thus in need of a creator, which creator would itself be in need of a creator. This would regress infinitely. As such, He must be Eternal. We believe that God has always been. A report in the Sahih of Ibn Hibban has it that, “There was Allah, and there was none other than Him.”

3. Everlastingness: This is also a negative attribute intended to exclude non-existence from His Essence. Just as we may not contemplate a cause for the generation of the Necessary Existent, we may not admit a cause for Its destruction. If we were to admit such a cause, there would be no Necessary Existent. The proof that God’s existence has no end is that It would then not be Eternal, because eternality contradicts non-existence. The existence of all other creation has both a beginning and end, except for Paradise and Hell, which had a beginning but no end. We know this through revelation and not reason.

4. Opposition to all Created Things: This is also a negative attribute indicating a lack of resemblance between God and creation. For He is neither a body nor an accident, neither a universal nor a particular. He similarly transcends all states and attributions that, for example, can be said of humans and other entities, such as sleep, heedlessness, hunger, thirst, and need. The proof of this attribute is that if God were not opposed to all created things in all qualities, He would resemble them in their createdness, or they would resemble Him in His eternality. That is impossible.

We believe that God cannot be characterized by those qualities which characterize creation. These latter is the essence of createdness, such as being restricted to a place or time, having bodily or mental needs, or weakness or incapacity. God is completely Transcendent. Nothing even remotely resembles Him. He has neither ancestors nor descendants. Nor does He have friends and enemies in the manner commonly spoken of, though we may use these words to mean sincere devotees, on the one hand, and those who transgress his commands, on the other.

However, it is true that we may describe humanity by some qualities we attribute to God, such as knowledge, power, will, and perception. But we distinguish by saying that these are essential attributes of God, but not essential attributes of humans. In the case of the latter, they are divine blessings.

5. Subsistence in Himself: This means that he has no need for other. We believe that God subsists in Himself. He has no need for an entity to generate Him, nor for a space to encompass him. He has been God since before the generation of anything else, and before the generation of time and space itself. Nor does he have directionality, though some anthropomorphists have said that He is characterized by “aboveness.” This is invalid. As Qadi ‘Iyad has said, “There is no disagreement among the Muslim jurists, hadith scholars, theologians, thinkers, and lay people that the apparent meaning of verses that mention God being in the Heavens, such as ‘Do ye feel secure that He Who is in heaven will not cause you to be swallowed up by the earth when it shakes (as in an earthquake)?’   are not to be taken literally, but rather are to be interpreted.”

6. Oneness: This is also a negative attribute in that it denies something that is not appropriate to attribute to God, that is, multiplicity or quantity. God is neither composed of parts, nor made up of particulars (subsumed under a universal). He does not have two knowledges or wills that complement one another, nor does He have a knowledge or will that partakes in the knowledge or will of others.

7. Power: This is an eternal attribute of the Divine Essence, through which all things come to be and come to an end in accordance with His Will. What is necessary for every Muslim to know and believe is that God is capable of all things. The proof that God is characterized by power is that if He were not All-Powerful, He would be characterized by incapacity. This is impossible.

8. Will: This is also an eternal attribute of the Divine Essence, which has to do with realizing some of the potentialities of contingent beings. God’s Will is one. It originates and annihilates some things. 

Other Eternal Attributes: There are also other attributes. These include Knowledge, Life, Speech, Hearing, and Sight.

The Beautiful Names of God: Allah says, “The most beautiful names belong to God: so call on Him by them” [al-A’raaf: 180].

The names of God are eternal like His essential attributes. This eternality is taken to mean that either that they were suitable of God from pre-eternality, or that they always indicated the meaning of those names. Some like Ibn ‘Arabi took them to be equal in that they all pertain to one essence (God’s), even though they may differ in the world. Others took them to be of varying degrees of importance.

“Allah” is itself the Greatest Name, above all others. Ninety-nine have been enumerated in a hadith in Tirmidhi on the authority of Abu Hurayra, but al-Nawawi has said that the scholars have agreed that the names listed there do not exhaust the names of God. The position of ahl al-sunna is that His Names and Attributes are taught to us, for this is what indicates God’s permission. This may take the form of either being in the Qur’an and sunna, or it may be established by consensus of use, such as the Fabricator, the Existent, the Necessary, the Eternal.

Prophecy

In Arabic, the word “prophet” (nabi) is taken from the word for “news, or report” for he reports about God. He is also the one who is reported to, in the first instance, since Gabriel brings him news.

Terminologically, the word “prophet” refers to a pure human who is inspired by a revelatory code of conduct on which he himself acts, even though he may not be called on to propagate it. If he is in fact called upon to propagate, he is a “messenger” (rasul). All messengers are prophets, but not all prophets are messengers. The sending of messengers is a great bounty from God. It is a rational possibility, but He is under no obligation to send messengers.

Allah has named 25 prophets in the Qur’an. Their prophethood must be believed in. It is not permissible for a Muslim to be ignorant of them. There are yet others not mentioned by name or in detail in the Qur’an. We know of them only generally, and so must believe in them in that general manner. That is to say, we must believe that God sent many prophets and messengers, to every nation and group, in a variety of places and times. It is ignorant to think that God specified only the Arabian peninsula and its surrounding areas for prophecy.

There are five necessary requirements for prophethood:

1. Prophets only arise among humans, not among jinns or angels.

2. Prophets must be characterized by trustworthiness and honesty, and innocence from sin. This is so that their testimony may be believed, and held to a high standard.

3. Prophets must be characterized by a perfect rationality, precision, and uprightness.

4. They must have propagated to the people everything they had been ordered to propagate. They did not conceal anything.

5. There is disagreement on whether a prophet must be male. Those who said he must be a male rely on the verse, “And We did not send before you any but men to whom We sent revelation, so ask the followers of the reminder if you do not” (al-Anbiya: 7). Those who say it is not a condition that a prophet be made point to verses which say that the mother of Moses was “inspired” (al-Qasas: 7) and that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was listed in a context where many other prophets were listed (Maryam : 58). 

The greatest of Prophets is the final Prophet, Muhammad (peace be upon him). Muslims are duty bound to love him, as we learn from a number of hadith.

Miracles

Miracles are actions of God in which the conventional laws of nature are broken at the hands of His messengers, so that the messenger’s truthfulness, and the veracity of his message, may be affirmed. It may be speech, like the Qur’an; or an action, such as the gushing forth of water between his fingers; or an absence, such as the inability of the fire to burn Abraham.

The conditions for a miracle are that:
1. It be from God himself.
2. It be a breaking of the conventional laws of nature
3. It be inexplicable
4. It be at the hands of someone who claims prophecy, so that his prophethood may be established.
5. It be in accordance with what is being claimed
6. What is claimed not be disproven by the miracle itself.
7. It not precede the claim, but be made in conjunction with it
Therefore, Prophet Jesus’s speech in his infancy, wet dates falling on lady Mary from a dry palm tree, cutting the chest of Prophet Muhammad and washing his heart, clouds forming a shadow over him to protect him from the sun along with the peace greetings that he used to hear from stones before his prophecy are considered miracles.

The Prophet’s greatest miracle was the Qur’an itself. He also had material sensible miracles, such as the splitting of the moon, the greetings offered to him by stones, trees speaking to him, the gushing forth of water between his noble fingers, and others.

Causality and Intermediaries

It is obligatory for a Muslim to believe firmly that there is no Cause in the world other than God, and that all the apparent causes we see in the world of phenomena are deputized by God Himself. There is however no harm in using language that indicates causality of things other than God if one’s beliefs are sound on this matter. For example, one might say, “This medicine was of benefit to me,” or “This doctor cured me,” or “The rain this year caused there to be a good crop.”

This is why there is no harm in a Muslim seeking intercession with God via the relics of prophets, as long as he believes that the only Cause is Allah. This fits with the language used with respect to the apparent causality of the world. The most obvious instance of such is the Qur’anic verse, “We have not sent you (O Messenger) except as a mercy to the worlds.”   If Allah has said of the Prophet (peace be upon him) that he is the cause of mercy to his servants, there is no harm in invoking this honor He has granted the Prophet.

Revelation

The word used here, sam’iyyat, refers to all that which can be known only through reports that partake in certainty. One may not be a believer in Allah in his heart, mind and soul without believing in both the seen and the unseen. The unseen we believe in is that which is not visible, which may not be perceived purely through rationality.

Believing in the unseen is the first pillar of piety. This means believing in God; the reality of angels; divine scriptures and messengers, and that they are from God; the Last Day, and that it will undoubtedly come; in Fate, good and bad; and that there is nothing in the world except it was willed by God.

The unseen includes also

1. jinns, whose existence is proven by definitive texts. God says in the Quran “And He created the jinn from a smokeless flame of fire”. 55:15. So the jinns are created from fire and are asked to worship God Almighty and follow the prophets and messengers as God says “And I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me”. 51:56. Also the jinns are divided into believers and non believers as God says in the Quran “And among us are Muslims [in submission to Allah], and among us are the unjust. And whoever has become Muslim – those have sought out the right course.”   72:41 Satan is one of the jinns but was expelled away from God’s mercy and earned God’s wrath on him because of his disobedience of God’s direct command to prostrate to Adam as was narrated in the Quran “And [mention] when We said to the angels, “Prostrate to Adam,” and they prostrated, except for Iblees. He was of the jinn and departed from the command of his Lord. …” 18:50. God’s eternal wrath on Satan deems him to enter hellfire but his punishment is postponed till Judgment Day where he will be sentenced to excruciating pain along with those who were seduced by Satan and followed his path of evil. The jinns are inhabitants of earth and are able to see humans unlike humans who are unable to see jinn as God explained in the Quran saying “Indeed, he sees you, he and his tribe, from where you do not see them..” 7:27

2. The Throne, which is the greatest of creation, and where Allah will present Himself on the Day of Judgment. This throne will be carried by eight angels in the Day of Judgment but we are unable to attribute any sort of a defined or detailed description of this throne due to a lack of knowledge about it. We also believe in the divine Seat but similarly we have no available date describing it. What we know for sure though is that neither the throne nor the Seat are dwellings of God. In other words, God did not create the throne out of need for elevation or superiority and did not create the Seat out of a need for sitting down. Same goes for creating the pen, He did not create it for writing a non previously known knowledge nor asked angels to write down and document the deeds of humans out of fear of forgetfulness.

3. Paradise and Hell, which are two created entities, the first an eternal abode of reward, and the latter an eternal abode of punishment and fire. They are of levels, and each person will occupy the level in accordance with his deeds. Some people might assume that the eternality of heaven and hell comes in opposition to God’s saying in the Quran “Everything will be destroyed except His Face. His is the judgement, and to Him you will be returned”. 28:88 but the correct interpretation of this verse is that everything in its own right amounts to nothingness (‘adum) because of its inability of independent self existence.

4. The reservoir from which the Prophet will serve the believers of his nation in the hereafter and we believe that whoever drinks from it will not be subjected to thirst.

5. The Hour and its signs: there are some obvious signs like the appearance of Gog and Magog, the emergence of the Beast, the rising of the sun from the west and the appearance of smoke. These signs- especially the ones that are backed by definitive proofs from the Quran- whoever denies its veracity deemed to be a liar and a disbeliever. These signs are part of revelation which the mind does not have much say in as they are believed in through revelatory reports. For example, God says in the Quran “Until when [the dam of] Gog and Magog has been opened and they, from every elevation, descend 21:96.

6. The questioning in the grave is authenticated by numerous prophetic reports. It is believed that the soul returns back to the body with all its five senses intact and its intellectual ability persevered to be questioned in the grave and receives its due punishment or enjoys its grace. After the burial of the dead and the dismissal of people attending his or her funeral, two angels called Munkar and Nakir are responsible for asking the deceased three questions with the language that is comprehendible to the deceased.

The angels ask the dead about the two parts of the testimony of faith namely the oneness of God and the prophecy of Prophet Muhammad. Prophets are exempted from these questions as well as martyrs who died for the sake of God along with children because they were not eligible to understand commands and prohibitions ordained by God. God the Almighty has the power to gather back the scattered particles and atoms of the body resided in a grave or spread in a desert or kept in the belly of an animal and form the human body again to be asked about his or her life on earth. The scholars of the Ash’arite theology reached a consensus that both the body and the soul combined either suffer from the ailments or enjoy the grace in the grave.

7. The return of the body to the spirit on the Day of Judgment is believed in as all the particles of the body is gathered again to return it to its original state to form the full human body. God Almight possesses the ability to reorganize these particles because of his unlimited power and divine knowledge.

8. The resurrection of the dead and taking them out of their graves for the Reckoning. In this day all human beings, jinns, angels are resurrected along with beasts and animals.

9. The Reckoning

10. The Intercession of the Prophet. The belief in the intercession of Prophet Muhammad to all people in the day of Judgement is obligatory and this noble status of waseelah is the supplication or prayer which the Prophet saved for his people until Dooms Day. The meaning of intercession entails forgiveness for whoever attested to the Oneness of God and the prophecy of Prophet Muhammad even if this person committed grave sins.

Prophets as well have an intercession in the Day of Judgement along with the angels, the Gnostics and the martyrs. The first intercessor among all these is Prophet Muhammad. As for the intercession of others, it occurs only after reckoning and punishment over small and grave sins which were not forgiven by God. The importance of intercession lies in honouring the intercessor in this day and showing his great position in the sight of God. Therefore, the forgiveness of sins other than polytheism is possible both through logic and revelation as intercession deems forgiveness possible. As for polytheism is it deemed impossible through revelation for a polytheist to be forgiven.

The Ash’arite creed refuses to make a judgement of disbelief on any sinful believer in this world and it is similarly impermissible to pass a verdict of his or her eternal stay in hellfire for sins whether minor or major. The correct approach is to delegate the whole issue to God.

11. The Judgment of all the deeds of people’s lives

12. The crossing of the path that stretches over Hell. All will have to pass over it as a test and among the passers are the prophets, the Gnostics and those who enter paradise without previous subjection to reckoning and judgement over their deeds. The description of the path is that it is thinner than a hair and sharper than a blade. Whoever is deemed to enter paradise will succeed in crossing his way over to heaven and whoever is deemed to enter Hell will fall over the bridge straight down to Hell.

The Ahle-Sunnah

by Huseyn Hilmi Isik of Turkey (Extract from: The Sunni Path)

THE Ahl as-Sunna ‘ulama’ differed slightly from one another in understanding some pieces of knowledge pertaining to ‘Ibadat. Hence various madhhabs arose. Each sahabi had a madhhab, too. Only four of all madhhabs are known today. Others were forgotten before being committed to books. The I’tiqad or Iman of these four real and correct madhhabs are the same. There is no difference among them. All of them are of the Ahl as-Sunna I’tiqad. Those who do not believe the Ahl as-Sunna I’tiqad are called the “non-madhhabite”. They call themselves “members of the fifth madhhab”. They lie; there is not anything called the “fifth madhhab”.

Today there is no way other than learning the knowledge pertaining to ibadat from the books of one of these four madhhabs. Everyone chooses the madhhab that is easy for him to follow. He reads its books and learns it. He does everything compatibly with it and becomes a member of it. Because it is easy for a per­son to learn what he hears and sees from his parents, a Moslem usually belongs to the madhhab of his parents. The madhhabs’ being not one but four is a facility for Moslems. It is permissible to leave one madhhab and join another, yet it will take years to study and learn the new one, and the work done to learn the former one will be of no help and may even cause confusion. It is by no means permissible to leave one madhhab because one dislikes it, for Islamic scholars said that it will be kufr to dislike the Salaf as­-salihin or to say that they were ignorant.

Recently some people like Maudoodi of Pakistan and Sayyid Qutb of Egypt have appeared, who say that the four madhhabs should be un­ited and that Islam should be made easily practicable by selecting and gathering- the rukhsas of the four madhhabs. They defend this idea with their short minds and deficient knowledge. A glance over their books will show at once the fact that they know nothing about taf­sir, hadith, usul (‘ilm al-fiqh and ‘ilm al-kalam) and fiqh and that they reveal their ignorance through their unsound logic and false writings; because:

1. The ‘ulama’ of the four madhhabs say, “The mulfiq’s decisions are in­correct,” that is, an ‘ibada performed by following more than one madhhab at the same time will not be sahih when this perfor­mance is not sahih in one of these madhhabs. A person who does not obey this unanimity of the ‘ulama’ of the four madhhabs will not be in any madhhab. Deeds of such a non­-madhhabite person will not be compatible with the Sharia. They will be false. He will have made game of Islam.

2. Uniting the madhhabs will be confining Moslems to a single way and making the ‘Ibadat more difficult. Allah and His Prophet would have declared everything clearly if they wished it so and everything would be done by following only that one way. But, pitying human creatures, Allah and His Messenger did not declare everything clearly. Various madhhabs came out as a result of different in­terpretations of the Ahl-as-Sunna ‘ulama’. When a person en­counters a difficulty, he chooses the easy way in his own madhhab. In case of a greater difficulty, he follows another madhhab and does that action easily. There will be no such facility in the case of a single madhhab. The non-madhhabite peo­ple who think that they are collecting the rukhsas to establish a single system of easy ways are, in actual fact, raising difficulties for Moslems, probably unaware of what they are doing. 

3. An attempt to do one part of an lbada according to one madhhab and another part to another madhhab will mean to disrespect the knowledge of the imam of the former madhhab. As it is already written above, it will be kufr to say that the Salaf as-salihin were ignorant.

History has witnessed many people who wanted to make changes in lbadat and who insulted the Ahl as­-Sunna ‘ulama’. It is obvious that the people who say it is necessary to select the rukhsas of the four madhhabs and to abolish the four madhhabs cannot even correctly read and unders­tand one page of the a’immat al-madhahib’s books. To un­derstand the madhhabs and the superiority of the a’im­ma, it is necessary to be deeply learned. The one who is, profoundly learned will not lead people to ruin by open­ing an ignorant, stupid path. Those who believed in the ig­norant, deviated people, who have appeared in the course of history, have rolled down into great loss. Those who followed the Ahl as-Sunna ‘ulama’ who have come in every century for thirteen hundred years and who have been praised in the Hadith have attained happiness. We, too, should hold fast to the right path of our ancestors, of those pious, pure Moslems, of those martyrs who have sacrificed their lives for the sake of Allah and for the spread of Islam. And we should not believe the poisonous, harmful ar­ticles of upstart reformers!

Unfortunately, the poisonous ideas of `Abduh, chief of the Cairo Masonic Lodge, have recently spread in Jami’ al-Azhar in Egypt, thus in Egypt there have appeared the religion reformers such as Rashid Rida, Mustafa al-Marfighi, rector of the Jami’ al-Azhar, ‘Abd al-Majid as-Salim, muf­ti of Cairo, Mahmtid ash­-Shaltut, Tantawi al-Jawhari, ‘Abd ar-Raziq Pasha, Zaki al-Mubarak, Farid al-Wajdi, ‘Abbas ‘Aqqad, Ahmad Amin, Doctor Taha Husain Pasha and Qasim Amin; more unfortunately, as done to their master ‘Abduh, these were regarded as “modern Moslem scholars” and their books were translated into many languages. They caused many religious men to slip out of the right path.

Great Moslem scholar Sayyid ‘Abdul hakim-i Arwasi, the mujaddid of the fourteenth century of the Hegira, said: “‘Abduh, Mufti of Cairo, could not unders­tand the greatness of the ‘ulama’ of Islam but sold himself to the enemies of Islam and at last became a freemason, one of the ferocious disbelievers who have been demolishing Islam insidiously.”

Those who rolled down into disbelief or deviation like ‘Abduh sort of competed with one another in leading astray also those young religious men who succeeded them. They pioneered those disasters which were prophesied in the hadith, 

“Ruination of my umma will come through fajir (deviated) men of religious authority.”

‘Abduh’s novices who were trained in Egypt did not stay idle; they published numerous harmful books which caused the manifesta­tion of Divine Curse and Wrath. One of them is the book Muhawarat by Rashid Rida. In this book, like his master, he  attacked the four madhhabs of the Ahl as­-Sunna and, thinking of the madhhabs as idealistic differences and misrepresen­ting the methods and con­ditions of ijtihad as reac­tionary controversies, went so far into deviation as to say that they had broken Islamic unity. He sort of made fun of millions of true Moslems who have been following one of the four madhhabs for a thousand years. He walked away from Islam as far as to search for meeting the con­temporary needs in changing Islam. It is common among religion reformers that each of them introduces himself as an Islamic scholar of exten­sive culture who has com­prehended real Islam and modern needs, while saying “imitators -who think vulgarly” about those real, pious Moslems who have read and understood Islamic books and who have been walking in the footsteps of the Ahl as-Sunna ‘ulama’ who were given the good news that they were Rasiilullah’s inheritors and who were praised in the hadith. 

“Their time is the best of times.” 

The reformers’ speeches and articles show clearly that they know nothing of the rules of the Sharia and of the teachings of fiqh, that is, they are devoid of religious knowledge and that they are vulgarly ignorant. In the hadiths, 

“The highest human beings are the scholars who have Iman,”

“The ‘ulama’ of the religion are the prophets’ inheritors,” 

“The Aalim’s sleep is worship,”

“Revere the ‘ulama’ of my umma! They are the stars on the earth,”

“The ‘ulama’ will intercede on the Day of Judgement,”

“The fuqaha are estimable. It is ‘ibada to be in company of them.” 

and

“An ‘alim among his disciples is like a prophet among his umma,” 
does our Prophet praise the Ahl as­-Sunna ‘ulama’ of thirteen hundred years or ‘Abduh and his novices of the last hun­dred years? The question is answered by our master Rasulullah, again: 

“Each cen­tury will be worse than the cen­tury previous to it. Thus they will go on worsening till Doomsday!” and 

“As Dooms­day draws near men of religious post will be more rotten, more putrid than putrefied donkey flesh.” 

These hadiths are written in Mukhtasaru Tadhkirat al-­Qurtubi. All Islamic scholars and thousands of awliya’ whom Rasulullah praised and lauded, unanimously say that the path which has been given the good news of being saved from Hell is the path of those ‘ulama’ who are called Ahl as–Sunnat wa‘I–Jama’a, and that those who are not Ahl as-Sunna will go to Hell. They also say unanimously that talfiq (unification), that is, selecting and gathering the rukhsas of the four madhhabs and making up a single false madhhab, is wrong and absurd.

Will a reasonable person follow the Ahl as-Sunna path, which has been praised unanimously by the ‘ulama’ of Islam who have come dur­ing the period of a millennium or will he believe the so-called “culture, progressive” people who are ignorant of Islam and who have sprung up during the last hundred years?

The outstanding talkative ones of the seventy-two heretical groups, about whom it was told in the Hadith that they will go to Hell, have always attacked the Ahl as-Sunna ‘ulama’ and attempted to blemish these blessed Moslems, yet they have disgraced with answers documented with ayats and hadiths. Seeing that they are unsuccessful through knowledge against the Ahl as-Sunnah, they have begun brigandage and violence and caused bloodshed of thousands of Moslems in every century. But the four madhhabs of the Ahl as­-Sunna have always loved one another and lived brotherly. Rasulullah declared,

“Disagreement (on the ‘amal, practices) among my umma is (Allah’s)compassion.” 

But such religion reformers as Rashid Rida, who was born in 1282 A.H. (1865) and died suddenly in Cairo in 1354 (1935), said that they would establish Islamic unity by un­iting the four madhhabs.

Whereas, our Prophet com­manded all Moslems over the world to unite in one single iman path, in the right path of his four caliphs. By working together, the ‘ulama’ of Islam searched and studied the iman path of the four caliphs and transferred it into books. They named this path, which our Prophet had showed, Ahl as–Sunnat wal –Jama‘a. Moslems all over the world have to unite in this single path of Ahl as–Sunna. Those who wish for unity in Islam, if they are sincere in their words, should join this union. But unfortunately, freemasons and zindiqs, who have been trying to demolish Islam insidiously, have always deceived Moslems with such false words as ‘uni­ty’ and, under the mask of their slogan, “We shall bring cooperation,” have broken the “unity of iman” into pieces.

Following Isolated Opinions of Scholars

The following are some great advices of top Syrian Shaykh, Al Muhaddith Shaykh Muhammad Awwamah (damat barakatuhum) given to students who wish to follow isolated opinions of scholars. 

The following advices have been extracted from a lecture titled: ‘Golden Guidelines in The Path of Knowledge’ translated by Maulana Ibn Maulana Haroon Abasoomar titled ‘The Eight Guideline’.

The Eighth Guideline:

The eighth guideline is that a student should ensure that he sticks to the view of the overwhelming majority of ‘ulama and that he distances himself from the isolated or uncommon views, forsaking them totally just as our ‘ulama used to do. I do not mean that we should be searching for those issues on which the majority are unanimous. It is very rare for them all to concur on one view only.

The motive here is that, for instance, on a particular issue there may be a different view by each of the four imams. Each of these four is backed by other scholars of the past who concur with them in their respective viewpoints. There may also exist one or two scholars who have a fifth viewpoint which is in contrast to what all the others have said. In such a situation, it is binding upon a student that he keeps to the view point of the four imams, and those that backed them, and that he abandons the fifth view which goes against the majority.

This is a huge mistake that is often committed by students of our era. Rather, as a result of the present academic disarray, this practice actually appeals to many of them!

Listen to the words of the great imam and mujtahid who lived in the early period of Islam, Imam Awzai (rahmatullah alayh):

“One who accepts the isolated views of the scholars will eventually leave Islam !!”

Imam Awzai passed away in 157 A.H.  – An era which was filled with great personalities and many tabi’un, of which some might have had certain isolated views. Despite their position, this is the effect he foresaw in following such remote views.

Imam Sulayman At-Taymi (rahmatullah alayh) who lived in an era earlier than Imam Awzai. He says:

“If you accept the (isolated) concessions of every scholar, in you would be every evil !!”

After quoting this statement, the great muhaddith of Spain, Imam ibn ‘Abdil Barr (rahmatullah alayh) writes:

“This is a unanimous and accepted fact regarding which I am unaware of any difference of opinion.”

In the book, Tabaqatush Shafi’iyyatul Kubra, after citing some isolated views that were held by certain illustrious scholars, the author, Tajuddin As-Subki (rahimahullah) then quotes a statement of a great imam of Hadith and Fiqh, Imam Abu Ali Karabisi (rahimahullah) who said:

“If somebody claims that the proponents of such isolated views are sometimes respected scholars, he will be told, the only real cause of the destruction of Islam would be the mistake of a respected aalim whereas a thousand mistakes of a jahil (non-aalim) would not affect Islam in the least. Historically there have been several people of knowledge who propounded views that were impermissible in Islam. For example, The famous Judge, Qadi Shurayh, passed certain verdicts which were not acceptable to anyone, which have no basis whatsoever, neither in the noble Quran, the hadith, or the views of the Sahabah or Tabi’in.”

If somebody studied the biography of Qadi Shurayh, he would understand him to be Islam’s second best judge of all times. (The first being Sayyiduna Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) who received the title of being the best judge amongst the Sahabah from none other than the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) himself). Despite the position of Qadi Shurayh, see what Imam Al-Karabisi said regarding some of his verdicts.

Therefore, it is not permissible for one who clings to a weak, isolated view to justify his stance against us by saying that this is the view of such and such a scholar who is an imam, hujjah (proof) and a mujtahid etc, for our response would be that such and such an imam and tens or hundreds like him have opposed him by forsaking his view all together!

Since a student should beware of adopting the view of one or two people which is in contrary with the vast majority of Islam, it is even more important that he guards himself against another even more drastic and grave offence. That is to appoint one or two scholars as arbitrators over the vast majority of Islam, thereby habitually adopting the view of these one or two whilst abandoning as well as insulting everyone besides them.

So, the first precaution should be against resorting to the view of one or two scholars which oppose the majority for the sole purpose of suiting one’s worldly needs at the expense of one’s Din, or for no other reason but to create concessions for one’s self or anybody else… The second precaution should be against one surrendering the steering of his knowledge to one or two scholars whose every view he adopts and defends, thereby forsaking the view of the vast majority of the ulama of the ummah who may even number up to several hundreds or even thousands.

The gist of the post is that Muslims who cling to isolated opinions of scholars have a lot of evil in them and are more likely to die without imaan, meaning they will be a burden upon the earth while they live and after they die will be the fuel of hell-fire, and if they also happen to prefer social isolation, not only are they going to be a burden upon themselves, they will also be a burden upon the state and are also more likely to die earlier, which is not a bad thing after all, is it?

Stick with the Jama’ah.

The Roots of Sunni-Shi’i Differences in Fiqh

[Abu Muhammad al-Afriqui]

It is often alleged by the protagonists of Sunni-Shi‘i unity that differences between the two schools are not more grave or serious than the differences that exist within the four Sunni schools of jurisprudence. Sunni-Shi‘i differences should therefore be treated with the same tolerance and acceptance as Hanafi – Shafi‘i differences, and it is in the spirit of this proposed “mutual tolerance” that the advocates of unity speak of the Shi‘i Ja‘fari school of jurisprudence as nothing more than a “fifth madh-hab“.

It is therefore only normal for the average Sunni lay person who has come into contact with advocates of Sunni-Shi‘i unity to wonder about, or even be taken in, by such a claim. How serious are the differences between the Ahl as-Sunnah and the Shi‘ah really? Could they ever be reconciled? If not, could there at least be an amicable agreement to disagree, just like the Hanafis disagree with the Shafi‘is, or the Malikis with the Hanbalis? It is these questions that this article sets out to answer.

Full reconciliation between the Ahl as-Sunnah and the Ithna ‘Ashari Ja‘fari Shi‘ah is not merely elusive, it is simply an impossibility. Anyone who knows the reality of the issues that separate the Shi’ah from the Ahl as-Sunnah is bound to agree. Nothing sums up the truth of the situation better than the words of Hamid Algar—an ardent admirer of Khomeini and the revolution—, who describes Sunnism and Shi‘ism as “two parallel lines that cannot meet”. The endeavour to bring about reconciliation between the Ahl as-Sunnah and the Shi‘ah is therefore a wasted effort. The next best option is thus mutual tolerance and acceptance.

In order to test the viability of tolerance and acceptance between the Ahl as-Sunnah and the Shi‘ah we will have to look more closely at the issues that separate the one from the other. These issues can be categorised into two groups:

 

1. fundamental differences,

which include articles of faith, and all such issues that could be termed “differences in principle”, that by their nature give rise to differences in secondary matters;

2. secondary differences,

i.e. difference in matters of jurisprudence, like the way salah is performed, or that marriage and divorce take place, etc..

Each of the fundamental issues of difference would require a separate study to see how they affect compatibility between the Ahl as-Sunnah and the Shi‘ah. In this article it is our intention to look more closely at the type of difference that is usually dismissed as “secondary”, and thus “unimportant”. Are differences in fiqh between the Ahl as-Sunnah and the Shi‘ah really so insignificant that we can jusitifiably turn a blind eye when we encounter them?

There can be no doubt that this question is anathema to the propagators of Shi‘ism amongst the Ahl as-Sunnah, as well as to those who have fallen prey to their propaganda. Yet, if it is truth we seek, we cannot allow the preferences of such obviously biased persons to deter us. The “unity” such people strive to achieve, and which they accuse others of trying to destroy, is a unity forged in ignorance. How much do we really know about the Shi‘ah? We have taken them on face value, and on grounds of what we have thus learnt about them we proceed to create unity. The naivety of such a position in a matter of far reaching religious implications is far too obvious. A unity founded upon ignorance is a very precarious unity indeed. Like a mirage, it seems very real when seen from afar, but as soon as you approach it, it slips out of existence.

There are two levels at which one can look at the differences in jurisprudence between the Ahl as-Sunnah and the Shi‘ah. The first is the level of external appearance. When the differences in fiqh are inspected at this level they do not seem any more alien than the differences that exist between the various schools of Sunni jurisprudence. In fact, in many, or even most cases one will find the Shi‘i position to be conformity with at least one of the four Sunni madhahib. This is illustrated in the following three examples:

In the salah, the jalsat al-istirahah is held to be sunnah by the Shi‘ah. In this they concur with the view of the Shafi‘i madhhab. [Yahya ibn Sa‘id al-Hilli: al-Jami‘ lish-Sharai’ p.75 (Mu’assasat Sayyid ash-Shuhada’, Qum 1405)]

In marriage the majority of Shi‘i jurists hold the view that khalwah, i.e. valid seclusion, has no effect on the mahr (dowry) nor upon any other aspect of the marital contract. In this they are once again agreement with the Shafi‘is, but differ from the other three schools. [Muhammad Jawad Maghniyyah: The Five Schools of Islamic Law p. 319 (Ansariyan Publications, Qum 1995)] If the husband is unable to pay the mahr the wife is not entitled to divorce according to the Shi‘i and the Hanafi schools. The Malikis, the Shafi‘is and the Hanbalis all have different views. [ibid]

It is on this level that most people view the differences that exist between the Ahl as-Sunnah and the Shi‘ah. Even certain `ulama of the Ahl as-Sunnah, looking at the matter on this level, have been known to express the view that “differences between the Ahl as- Sunnah and the Shi‘ah are no more serious than the differences that exist between the various schools of Sunni jurisprudence”.

However, when we confine ourselves to viewing the problem of Sunni-Shi‘i differences on this level we are in effect closing our eyes to the most important aspect of those differences: THE ROOT. The true nature of Sunni-Shi‘i differences can never be appreciated or understood in full without comprehending the reasons for their existence. It is only when the problem has been viewed and grasped on the level of the reasons for difference, and not merely the external appearance of difference, that one is justified to take further steps.

When the Shi‘ah differ from the Ahl as-Sunnah, it is not the same as when one Sunni school differs from the other. This is because the various Sunni schools all trace their roots back to the same legacy. They share a common heritage in the Sunnah of the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam). When differences do occur, they occur not because one madhhab bases itself on a legacy other than the legacy of the other. Both believe in and hold on to the same legacy. Their differences are caused by secondary factors, like whether certain categories of hadith possess binding authority or not, or the divergence in the methods they regard as valid to interpret the legacy and extrapolate from it. The following two examples illustrate how such differences occur:

The mursal hadith (a hadith with an interruption in its chain of narrators between the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam and the Tabi‘i), for example, is deemed to possess binding authority by the Hanafis, while the Shafi‘is do not accept it except if it is supported by any one of a number of external factors. If we imagine a mursal hadith that is not supported by any of the factors the Shafi‘is stipulate, it is only logical to expect that the Shafi‘i ruling on the issue the hadith pertains to will differ from the Hanafi ruling.

Spoken words are sometimes accompanied by implied meanings. For example, when it is said, “Stay awake,” this also means “Don’t sleep”. This unspoken opposite meaning is termed mafhum al-mukhalafah. The Shafi‘is accept it as a valid means of extracting meaning from a text, while the Hanafis do not. If the former extract such meaning from a text and base a ruling upon the meaning inferred by this method, and the latter base their ruling upon some other grounds, there is bound to be a measure of difference in the outcome of their respective views.

Sunni-Shi‘i differences, on the other hand, are fundamentally distinct from inter-Sunni differences. While it may rightly be claimed that the Shi‘ah, too, have their particular principles of extrapolation, it would be incorrect to describe those principles as the root cause of difference between them and the Ahl as-Sunnah, the reason for that being that while the Sunni schools each have methods of extrapolation particular to themselves, they all apply their respective methods to the same legacy. The Shi‘ah, on the other hand, have not only their own set of principles, but also a legacy distinct from the legacy of the Ahl as-Sunnah. When there are differences between the Ahl as-Sunnah and the Shi‘ah, they arise not on account of differences in interpretation or methods of extrapolation, but because the source from which the Shi‘ah draw their law is a source other than the source of the Ahl as-Sunnah.

What is this “legacy”, the reader may well ask. It is embodied in the Sunnah of the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam). As far as the Qur’an is concerned, although history is witness to alot of Shi‘ite calumny against the inviolability of the Qur’an, most contemporary Shi‘i scholars, and even many of their classical ‘ulama who staunchly believe in its interpolation, will admit the Qur’an’s status as the prime source of legislation. (A Shi‘i scholar of the present century, Muhammad ‘Ali Tabataba’i, reconciles belief in the interpolation of the Qur’an with acceptance of the Qur’an as a source of legislation by saying that “interpolation occured specifically in those verses relating to Imamah.” [Tafsir al-Qummi] Verses with a legal purport are thus left uncorrupted.) Since the Qur’an is thus “agreed upon” between the Ahl as-Sunnah and the Shi‘ah, there remains only the other part of the legacy we inherited from the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam): the Sunnah.

Essentially, the difference lies in the concepts each have of what constitutes the Sunnah. According to the Ahl as-Sunnah the Sunnah is everything narrated from the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wasallam), as long as the transmitters are trustworthy. The Shi‘ah, on the other hand, will only accept as the Sunnah that which is transmitted by ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) and the rest of the twelve Imams, and that which is narrated from these Imams by their Shi‘ah followers. Forget what the rest of the Sahabah narrate, not even the narrations of other members of the household of the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam), his daughters besides Fatimah (radiyallahu ‘anha), his wives, his cousins or uncles, are considered part of the Sunnah by the Shi‘ah. That is the first observation.

The second is the way the Shi‘ah regard the legacy upon which the foundations of Sunni fiqh rests. Since the days of the Sahabah (radhiyallahu ‘anhum) the Sunnah of the Prophet was handed down from generation to generation. The Sahabah narrated it to the Tabi‘in, they to the generation after them, and so on, until it came to be compiled in what we know today as the hadith literature. To the Shi‘ah, when this legacy is found to be in contradiction to what is supposedly narrated from their Imams, the reason behind it is that the Sahabah (radhiyallahu ‘anhum) were guilty of wilfully distorting and corrupting the Din of Muhammad (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam). Thus, where inter-Sunni differences amount to nothing more than technicalities, Sunni-Shi‘i differences are differences in historical perspective.

To use an example: In salah, the Malikis let their hands hang by their sides, while the Hanafis, Shafi‘is and Hanbalis fold their hands. The Shi‘ah too, let their hands hang by their sides. In this single issue of fiqh we thus have an inter-Sunni difference as well as a Sunni-Shi‘i difference. Between the Malikis and the other three madhahib the difference is a mere technicality. The Malikis accept the validity of folding the hands in salah (after all, Imam Malik (rahmatullah alayh) himself in the Muwatta’ narrates a hadith that supports the folding of the hands), but prefer letting the hands hang for the reason that in Imam Malik’s day this was the practice of the community in Madinah. The other madhahib take into consideration that the Companions of the Nabi (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) who narrate his Sunnah were not exclusively settled in Madinah. Many of them resided in the Makkah, ‘Iraq, Syria and Egypt. Ahadith to the effect that it is sunnah to fold the hands have been authentically narrated from a number of Sahabah (amongst whom ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib (radiyallahu ‘anhu), and therefore this, and not the practice of the people of one particular city, takes precedence. Between the Sunni schools this difference is a technical one, one that amounts to giving preference to one view over another. But between the Shi‘ah and the Ahl as-Sunnah the issue assumes much more serious proportions. From a question of mere technical preference it turns into an acrimonious indictment of the Sahabah (radiyallahu ‘anhum). Traditions in the book Tahdhib al-Ahkam, one of the four major collections of Shi‘i hadith, describe the folding of the hands in salah as “an act of kufr” and “something that is only done by the fire-worshippers”. Here one would have to ask: How could an alien practice like this creep into Islam? The answer is given by Ayatullah Khomeini himself, in his treatise at-Ta‘adul wat-Tarjih, wherein he quotes the following tradition from the book ‘Ilal ash-Shara’i‘ by Ibn Babawayh al-Qummi:

(Ja‘far as-Sadiq) asked: Do you know why you are commanded to act contrary to the`Àimmah (the Ahl as-Sunnah)?

I replied: I do not know.

He said: Verily, the Ummah contradicted ‘Ali in each and every aspect of his religion, intending thereby to destroy his cause. They used to ask him about things they did not know, and when he gave a ruling they would invent an opposite verdict from their own side to mislead the people.  [at-Ta‘adul wat-Tarjih by Ayatullah Khomeini, p. 82, cited in Dr. Zayd al-‘Is:al-Khomeini wal-Wajh al-Àkhar p. 131]

In the Shi‘i perspective of Islamic legislative history the fact that the Sahabah deliberately corrupted and distorted the teachings of the Nabi (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) is such a fundamental truth, that is came to be looked upon as a criterion of truth in itself. This position is reflected in the way they deal with the phenomenon of Shi’i narrations that contradict one another. Abu Ja‘far al-Kulayni, in the introduction to al-Kafi, the most important of their four canonical hadith collections, expresses it in the following terms:

Know… that no one can distinguish narrations of the Possessors of Knowledge (the Imams) by his opinion; except according to the words of the Possessor of Knowledge: ‘Compare them to the Qur’an. Accept that which is in accordance with it, and reject that which contradicts it,’ and his words: ‘Abandon that which is in accordance with the people (the Ahl as- Sunnah), for truly, guidance lies in being different to them’. [al-Kafi  vol. 1 pp. 55-56 (Dar al-Adwa’, Beirut 1992)]

This particular perspective has persisted in the Shi‘i psyche over the centuries since Kulayni and his teacher Qummi, until it became, in the opinion of Khomeini and all other Shi‘i jurists, one of the two principal methods of juridical preference in cases of conflicting narrations. In light of the alarming frequency with which contradictions occur in the ahadith of the Shi‘ah (one of their four major hadith sources, al-Istibsar, is devoted to the phenomenon of contradiction) the importance of a principle of this nature is evident. We reproduce here from Khomeini’s works various Shi‘i narrations in which he and other Shi‘i mujtahids find justification for their view:

1. Hasan ibn Abil Jahm asked: If something is narrated from Abu ‘Abdillah (Imam Ja‘far), and something contrary to it is also narrated from him, which should we accept?

The Imam answered: Accept that which is in contradiction to the people, and avoid that which is accordance with them. [at-Ta‘adul wat-Tarjih p.80]

2. Abu ‘Abdillah said: Our Shi‘ah are those who submit to our command, who accept our words, and who act contrary to our enemies. Whoever is not like that is not of us. [Tahrir al-Wasilah p. 83, from al-Fusul al-Muhimmah by al-Hurr al-‘Amili p. 225]

3. ‘Ali ibn Asbat narrates that he asked Imam Rida: (What should I do in case) an incident occurs for which I am need of a juridical opinion, but nowhere in the city do I find anyone of your partisans (the Shi‘ah) whom I can ask?

He replied: Go to the (Sunni) faqih of the city and refer your case to him. Then take the opposite of whatever answer he gives you, for verily, therein lies the truth. [at-Ta‘adul wat-Tarjih p.82, from ‘Uyun Akhbar ar-Rida by Ibn Babawayh al-Qummi, vol. 1 p. 275]

It is on account of these and other similar narrations which the Shi‘ah claim to emanatefrom their infallible Imams that the mujtahids of the Ja‘fari madhhab were led to formulate the principle Khomeini expresses in these terms:

In cases of conflicting reports, contradiction of the Ahl as-Sunnah is a factor of preference … In fact, it is the most common and widespread factor of preference in all chapters of fiqh and upon the tongues of the fuqaha. [at-Ta‘adul wat-Tarjih p. 83]

There is no ambiguity with regard to the issue of contradicting the Ahl as- Sunnah being a factor of preference in the case of conflicting narrations. [at-Ta‘adul wat-Tarjih p. 84]

The factors of tarjih (preference) are limited to two: conforming to the Qur’an and the Sunnah, and contradicting the Ahl as-Sunnah. [at-Ta‘adul wat-Tarjih p. 84]

All of these quotations show a definite obsession with being different from the Ahl as- Sunnah. We therefore ask: If so much importance is attached to being different, to the point of it being regarded as the criterion of truth, why should there be such a noise and clamour for unity? Why should the Shi‘ah seek unity with people whose version of Islam they regard as the corruption of the Din of Muhammad (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) wrought by the hands of his Companions? And even if the Shi‘ah do manage to create a semblance of such unity, how much goodwill and sincerity can be expected of them if one considers their particular perspective of the legacy which forms the basis of our faith and practice?

We have chosen Khomeini’s views as representative of Shi‘i opinion for a very special reason, and that is the fact that in the contemporary world it is he and his successors who are the most vociferous proponents of Sunni-Shi‘i unity, and who dismiss Sunni-Shi‘i differences as negligible. In more than one of his public addresses he takes to task those who attempt to create mischief amongst the Muslims by “misleading” them into believing that there are substantial differences between the Ahl as-Sunnah and the Shi‘ah. However, closer scrutiny of his jurisprudential works reveal that such condemnations are nothing but political rhetoric. When we remove the image he projects as Leader of the Revolution, we are left with merely another Shi‘i scholar imprisoned by the fundamentals of his faith. In his eyes, and likewise in the eyes of generations of Shi‘i scholars before him, the legacy of the Sunnah upon which their Sunni “brothers” base their practice of Islam is the product of the envious mischief and the disbelief of the Sahabah, who in the hope of destroying the cause of the Ahl al-Bayt distorted every teaching of the Nabi (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) they could lay their hands upon. If this is how they regard the very basis upon which the foundations of our Deen rests, what remains to be said for unity?