Muslims in Spain from 1492-1568

With the Treaty of Garnata in place, Muslims were given a multitude of promises that their Deen shall not be interfered with and that all freedom of religion should be preserved, (not unlike the modern western liberal democracies such as America, Britain, Canada). In fact the day after the agreement was signed, “…Ferdinand and Isabella made a solemn declaration in which they swore by God that all Moors should have full liberty to work on their lands…and to maintain their religious observances and mosques heretofore, while those who preferred could sell their property and go to Barbary, (Lea, 2001, 21).” Thus in the beginning, western historians argue that the capitulations were made in good faith by the Spanish sovereigns and that they intended to carry them in good faith as well. It must be remembered that under the Capitulations, Garnata and only Garnata, was given a certain degree of autonomy, (albeit technically and in fact being part of the Spanish crown as its territory), to govern their religious and social affairs. In regards to the Muslims of Spain, (inclusive of Garnata), located mostly in Valencia, Castille and Garnata, they were now all Ahl Al-Dajn or Mudajaneen . In the hectic times that followed, the people that were afraid for their Deen and of the permissibility of remaining under the rule of the Kuffaar, fled mostly to the Maghreb States, (modern-day Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Libya), Mali, Egypt and Sham[1] . The Spanish had arranged transport and logistics to allow for the exit of these Muslims, and they left unhindered by Spanish forces either on the path to the port or after departure.

As for those that stayed behind, the capitulations were respected and implemented. Ferdinand and Isabella appointed Inigo Lopez De Mendoza as their Captain General, (e.g. governor), of Garnata and he certainly intended to follow the letter of the law in regard to his Spanish-Muslim subjects. Abu Abdullah, the ousted Emir of Garnata, was suspicious of the Christians, (Ibid, 23), and rightfully so, as he had originally requested papal approval of the Treaty of Garnata, ( as Maqari mentions in his account of the Garnatan capitulations, that Papal approval was demanded by the Muslims), but after realizing the futility of the endeavour, he dropped this point during Treaty negotiations. As per the capitulations, Muslims were left relatively unhindered in their religious affairs and traffic back and forth between the Maghrib and Andalus was not restricted.

Furthermore, Al Bayyazin’s [2] wall was monitored to avoid Christians climbing upon it to peer down at Muslim houses. However, taxes were made more burdensome on Muslims by, “…farming the revenues to Moorish almojarifes or tax speculators… (Ibid, 24).”

Furthermore, (inspite of the fact that Spanish Crown did not charge a toll to exit Spain or hindered the path of emigrants), private ship owners began speculating, (increasing), on the prices of the trip and freight to the Maghrib, (Ibid). This burdened many of the people that wanted to leave, and in fact stopped many people from leaving since they did not have the funds to do so.

The Spanish, had begun to renege on some of their non-religious promises of the Garnata Capitulations but had for the time kept their end of the bargain, (with a few exceptions), on religious matters, (Ibid). It was only when, in 1499, Cardinal Ximenes was appointed to assist Talavera in Garnata that matters began to devolve. However, let me state clearly that even if Ximenes was not present in Garnata, the forced conversions, the inquisition courts, massacres and the expulsions of the Muslims would have happend anyway (due to many reasons, not the least of which was the nature of the reconquista, in that it was a religious crusade against the ‘infidel’ and ‘heretic’ Muslim occupier). Ximenez’s appointment only accelerated affairs.

In any case, as a sign of the charitable stance of the Spanish sovereigns, they appointed Hernando De Talavera to be the Archbishop of Garnata in 1493.

Talavera was known to be a man that was gentle and a man of “…Charity and loving kindness, (Lea, 2001, 26).” In addition he instructed “…his missionaries to learn Arabic but he himself in his old age acquired it sufficiently for his purposes and composed an elementary grammar and vocabulary, (Ibid).” Talavera certainly wasn’t an opponent of the reconquista and of destroying the Muslim faith, but he certainly didn’t adopt the inhumane measures adopted later by his assistant Ximenes. Therefore Talavera was successful in making quite a few Muslims either feign apostasy, (out of fear, and rightfully so, of punishment and torture, since the Spanish inquisition had, at this time, already been operating since 1476), or truly apostatize and become Christians. An example of this would be the Muslims of Caspe, (a town in the province of Aragon or Arghun), announcing the desire to be baptized and become Christians in 1499 or that in the district of Teruel and Albarracin [Al Birazeen] a masjid was converted into a church by the residents in 1493.

In terms of global events, the Uthmanis were preoccupied had, since 1453 CE gone from strength to strength, with the conquest of Constantinople and the defeat of the Byzantines, to the gradual acquisition of Eastern European territory between 1456 to 1461, (including Bosnia, Serbia and Albania), while defeating the Shia’ Safawiyya (Safawids), in 1473. During this period the Uthmanis had also attempted to invade Italy in 1480, (which ended in failure).

Truly the Uthmanis were a superpower of their time and European powers trembled at their power whether on land or sea. A special emphasis should be placed of Uthmani sea power as it was the equivalent of American Air power today, and in military terms is a decisive factor in contemporary warfare and strategic planning.

Without doubt, the Uthmanis possessed one of the strongest navys in the world, at the time, with active patrols across the Mediterranean, Indian Ocean and even the Pacific. That is to say nothing of the Uthmani naval
ghazis , (such as Khair Al Deen), who used to venture even further out to sea up to even the shores of Iceland and America to raid kafir ships and obtain ghaneema . As it applies to Andalus, the naval power of the Uthmanis was applied when they sent Kamal Reis, an Uthmani naval commander, who was sent to Bijaya, (in the Mediterranean ocean), presumably after the fall of Garnata to maintain contact with the Muslims of Andalus to collect intelligence and assess their situation by which to judge what course of action should be taken, (Harvey, 2005. 335). Kemal Reis was recalled in 1495 back to port in Turkey for unknown reasons, (perhaps he completed his mission?). In light of increasingly successful of Portuguese attacks on Muslim cities on the eastern coast of Africa, and the taking of the island of Hormuz, (on their way to strengthen the Portuguese forces already present in Gujurat), the Mamlukes decided to respond to this Christian aggression. In 1507, on the way to defend the Sultan of Gujrat against the Portuguese, the Mamluke navy fortified the port city of Jeddah against any possible Portuguese aggression. The very real fear was that the Portuguese would sail up the Red Sea and, in the words of Joao de Barros, a 16 century Portuguese historian:

“…take the city of Jeddah, a port very near by, by which we could go to Mecca and thence to Medina to steal the body of their Prophet and hold it in our possession in the same way as they hold Jeruslam, which is the home of our faith…(Peters, 189)”

This certainly was the aim of one of the commanders of the Portuguese naval reinforcement group on its way to Gujrat, Alfonso De Albuquerque. He would go onto replace Francisco de Almeida as the Portuguese governor of the Portuguese territories of India. On arrival in the area, the Mamluke navies, under the command of Hussein Al Kurdi, engaged the Portuguese forces in 1508 in the Battle of Chaul and defeated the Portuguese in the engagement while killing their commander, Lourenco de Almeida, (son of Francisco de Almeida).



[1] Historically it usually refers to the region bordering the eastern Mediterranean, which includes modern-day Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Palestine, Jordan

[2] This is known in Spanish as Albaycin and was one of the three quarters in the city of Garnata, (Al Bayyazin, Al Hamra’ and the Christian quarter). In Arabic, the full name of the quarter was Ribad Al Bayyazin, which means ‘Quarter of the Falconer,’ but there is dispute over this meaning.


Hanafi Stance on Not Reciting Behind an Imam Explained

[By Maulana Abdur-Rahman Ibn Yusuf]

WHETHER OR NOT ONE SHOULD RECITE Surat al-Fatiha behind the Imam has been a topic of great controversy and dispute since early times. The controversy is not just regarding which is superior and more virtuous, but rather it is a debate concerning the actual permissibility of reciting Surah Al-Fatiha when praying behind the Imam. For this reason, it holds a very important position among the various issues of prayer, and scholars have written lengthy discussions on the subject.

The issue differs from that of raf ‘al-yadain, which is only about determining whether or not it is more superior to raise the hands at the time of ruku’. The issue of qira’a khalf al-imam or “reciting behind the imam” is far more serious. It is about whether the recitation is wajib [necessary] or totally forbidden.

The following study deals with the verses and hadiths on this issue, and the rulings of reciting Fatiha for the muqtadi or “one following an imam” in the silent [sirri] and audible [jahri] prayers.


Firstly, there is no difference of opinion concerning whether or not the Imam or the person praying by himself [munfarid] have to recite Surat al-Fatiha. All scholars agree that it is obligatory on both of them to recite Surat al-Fatiha. They also agree that the muqtadi is exempted from reciting anything beyond Surat al-Fatiha, whereas, the Imam and the munfarid have to recite atleast a few short verses or a small chapter in the first two rak’ats [units] of the fard [obligatory] prayer and in all rak’ats of non-fard prayers.

The difference is regarding whether or not the muqtadi should recite Surat al-Fatiha when praying behind the Imam.

Imam Malik and Imam Ahmad [rahimahumullah] are of the view that the follower is not required to recite Surat al-Fatiha in the audible prayer, but is required to do so in the silent. Imam Malik [rahmatullah alayh] has said that it is undesirable [makruh] for the follower to recite in the audible prayers. (Fath al-Mulhim 2:20)

Imam Shafi’i’s [rahmatullah alayh] popular view is that it is necessary for the follower to recite Surat al-Fatiha in both types of prayers-audible as well as silent. This view, although being the popular one, is not necessarily his final opinion. A careful study of his works reveals this opinion to be his former view, as Ibn Qudama states in his book al-Mughni (1:601): The words of Imam Shafi’i [rahmatullah alayh], as relayed in his book al-Umm, inform us that it is not necessary for the muqtadi to recite Surat al-Fatiha in the audible prayers; however, it should be recited in the silent prayers. He writes:

And we say that the follower should recite in every prayer performed behind an imam in which the imam recites in a non-audible tone (Kitab al-Umm 7: 153U)

Al-Umm is one of Imam Shafi’i’s [rahmatullah alayh] later works, as affirmed by Hafiz Ibn Kathir [rahimahullah] in his al-Bidaya wa’l nihaya (10: 252) and ‘Allama Suyuti [rahmatullah alayh] in his Husn al-muhadhara. This indicates that what is understood from al-Umm is his later opinion, which in most cases is the more correct one.

There is another group of people who claim it is fard [obligatory] for the muqtadi to recite the Fatiha even in the audible prayers, This is a very isolated and unique position, since even Dawud al-Zahiri and Ibn Taymiyyah (rahimahumullah) were of the view that the Fatiha should not be recited in the audible prayers.

Imam Abu Hanifa, Imam Abu Yusuf and Imam Muhammad (rahimahumullah) are unanimous in their opinions regarding this issue. They state that it is forbidden [haraam] (though it does not nullify the prayer) for the follower to recite any portion of the Qur’an, whether it be the Fatiha or any other verse, in both the silent and audible prayers behind the Imam. Whatever has been related about the Imam Muhammad saying it is more preferable for the follower to recite in the silent prayers is a weak report, Ibn al-Humam states this opinion to be erroneously attributed to Imam Muhammad. He says,

The truth is that Imam Muhammad’s opinion is the same as that of Imam Abu Hanifa ans Imam Abu Yusuf (rahmatullah alayhim), Imam Muhammad (rahimahullah) has clearly stated his view to be the same as that of Imam Abu Hanifa and Imam Abu Yusuf in his Muwatta and kutab al-athar (Fath al-Mulhim 2:20)

A few points are derived from the above review of opinions concerning the recital of the muqtadi:

1) No Imam considers the reciting of Fatiha to be fard, or necessary, for him in the audible prayers.

2) Some say it is necessary for him only in the silent prayers.

3) The opinion of the Hanafi school is simple, and that is no recitation should be undertaken by the follower, as his imam’s recitation is sufficient for him.

Now we will look at the various verses and hadiths on this issue, and determine the closeness of the Hanafi opinion to the Holy Qur’an and Sunnah.


1. Allah says in the Qur’an:

“So, when the Qur’an is recited, listen to it, and remain silent, that you may receive mercy” [i.e during the compulsory congregational prayers when the imam is reciting] (al-Qur’an 7:204)

This verse is sufficient proof that no recitation whatsoever should be undertaken by the follower, and that it is obligatory for him to remain silent and listen attentively while the imam is reciting.

It is stated in Tanzim al-ashtat, a commentary of Mishkat al-Masabih, that this verse issues two commands to the follower: the first, to remain completely silent- which relates to both the silent and audible prayers – and the second, to listen with concentration- which relates only to the audible prayers. This means that the follower should maintain total silence in order to listen attentively to the recitation of his imam during the audible prayers; and he should remain silent in the silent prayers because of the command in the above verse to remain silent, even though he is unable to hear the recitation.

The above-mentioned Qur’anic verse is very general and encompassing in its command. It states that one must remain silent ans, if possible, also listen “When the Qur’an is recited,” i.e whether audibly or silently. It does not confine it to any particular state such as “remain silent when you hear the Qur’an is recited,” or “…when the Qur’an is being recited aloud.” Hence, it becomes clear from this verse that it is necessary for the muqtadi to remain silent in the silent and audible prayers while the imam is reciting. The muqtadi should also listen attentively in the audible prayers.

Some claim that this verse was revealed concerning the Friday sermon [khutba] only, and not concerning maintaining silence in prayer. This is an incorrect claim since a number of factors prove otherwise. Hafiz Ibn Taymiyya writes in his fatwa:

It comes to be understood from the pious predecessors [salaf as salih] that the verse was revealed concerning reciting in prayer, and some have said [it was revealed] concerning the sermon. Imam Ahmad (rahmatullah alayh) has  reported a consensus [among the scholars] that it was revealed concerning prayer. (Majmu al- fatawa 23:269)

Ibn Qudama writes in his book al-Mughni:

Imam Ahmad [rahmatullah alayh] states after a report of Abu Dawud, “The people are unanimous that this verse was revealed concerning the prayer” (1:601)

Ibn Taymiyyah (rahimahullah) writes:

Imam Ahmad (rahmatullah alayh) has reported a consensus that reciting is not necessary for the muqtadi when the imam is reciting audibly (Majmu’al-Fatawa 23:269)

It is reported in al-Mughni that Imam Ahmad (rahmatullah alayh) explicitly said:

We have never heard any Muslim scholar state that if a follower observes silence when his imam recites aloud, his prayers will not be valid. He further states, “This was [the practice of] the Messenger of Allah Sallallaahu Alaihi wasallam, the Companions [Sahaba], and the Followers [Tabi’in] . This is [the opinion of] Malik from Hijaz, Thawri from Iraq, Awza’i from Syria and Layth from Egypt. None of them have said that a muqtadi’s prayer will be invalid if he does not recite while his imam is reciting” (al-Mughni 1:602)

Both Ibn Jarir and Ibn Abi Hatim in their commentaries [tafasir], and Imam Bayhaqi [rahmatullah alayh] in his Kitab al-qira’a have related a hadith from the great exegete Mujahid:

This verse was revealed concerning some Companions of the Messenger (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) reciting behind the imam.

Although this report is mursal (i.e one in which a follower reports directly from the Messenger of Allah sallallaahu alaihi wasallam, without mentioning a Companion in between), it will still stand as strong evidence since it is reported by Mujahid, who is known as one of the greatest exegetes of the Holy Qur’an [a’lam al-nas bi’l-tafsir]. Hence, his mursal reports are accepted by the scholars.

Ibn Jarir al-Tabari relates another hadith from Yasir Ibn Jarir regarding Ibn Mas’ud (radhiyallahu anhu) was performing prayer when he heard a few people reciting with the imam. Upon completing his prayer he remarked. “Has the time not come for you to understand?? Has the time not come for you to realize that when the Qur’an is being recited, you must listen to it attentively and remain silent just as Allah has ordered you to??” (I’la al-sunan 4:43, Tafsir al-Tabari 11: 378)

Hence, all the aforementioned points and starements justify that the verse was indeed revealed concerning prayer in general and not just for the friday sermon.
It is also worth knowing that this is a Makkan verse, whereas the Friday prayer (during which the sermon is deluvered) only became obligatory later on in Madinah.

2. Allah says,

“So recite as much [“ma”] of the Qur’an as may be easy [for you]” (al-Qur’an 73:20)

This verse commands that some portion of the Qur’an, regardless of its length, should be recited during the prayer. It does not confine the obligation to Surat al-Fatiha but rather indicates that any portion of the Qur’an can be recited to meet the obligation [fardiyya].

However, those who hold the view that it is obligatory to recite Surat al-Fatiha in prayer have used this verse with the hadith: “There is no prayer except with Surat al-Fatiha,”  as proof to substantiate their claim.

They state that the article “ma” in the above verse is an “unexplained” or mujmal term and that the above hadith serves as its explanation.

Hence, according to them, the Qur’anic verses means: “So recite Surat al-Fatiha from the Qur’an [during prayer].”

The problem with this explanation is that the article “ma” is not an “unexplained” or mujmal term as they purpose, but a “general” or ‘aam’ term. According to the principles of jurisprudence [usul al-fiqh], the article “ma” is normally used in this context, and the verse should read, “Recite whatever is possible for you to recite from the Qur’an.” This means that any portion of the Qur’an could be recited to fulfill the obligation laid down by this verse, since its general tone encompasses the whole Qur’an. By confining it to Surat al-Fatiha only, it would abrogate the general nature of the verse.

This does not mean that the Hanafis  have disregarded the hadith altogether. Through the hadith, they have rendered the recitation of Surat al-Fatiha to be wajib [necessary]. According to Hanafi jurisprudence, there is a difference between wajib and fard. Fard  is an obligation that is established through decisive proof [dalil qat’i], and wajib is an obligation that is established through speculative proof [dalil zanni]. Although it is important and necessary to fulfill both types of obligations, there is a difference in the ruling of one who does not fulfill them. For instance, neglecting a fard act in the salat will render the entire prayer invalid, whereas neglecting a wajib will render it deficient but not entirely invalid, A wajib act that is neglected can be compensated through the “prostrations of forgetfulness” [sajdat al-sahw]; however, neglecting a fard act cannot be compensated in this manner. There are many other rulings concerning these two types of obligations that can be found in other works of jurisprudence [fiqh].

The Hanafis thus conclude that reciting any portion of the Qur’an in prayer is fard based on the above-mentioned verse. And based on the above-mentioned hadith, they conclude that the recital of Surat al-Fatiha in prayer is wajib.

In summary, the imam and the person praying alone have to recite Surat al-Fatiha along with some other verses, but the muqtadi does not have to recite at all because he has been commanded to remain silent and because his imam’s recitation is sufficient for him (as will be further discussed under hadith 5)

3. Allah says,

“And say your prayer neither aloud nor in a low voice, but follow a way between” (al-Qur’an 17:110)

Ibn ‘Abbas (radhiyallahu anhu) relates the circumstances of revelation for this verse:

This verse was revealed when the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) was still in the stage of discreetly inviting [mutawarin] people to Islam in Makkah. He wpuld lead the Companions in prayer and would lead the Companions in prayer and would recite aloud. When the polytheists [mushrikeen] would hear his recitation, they would revile the Holy Qur’an, the One Who revealed it [Allah], and the one who conveyed it [Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam)]. Thus, Allah instructed His Messenger (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam), “And say your prayer neither aloud” that the polytheist hear your  recitation, “nor in too low a tone,” but make it so that the believers can hear you (al-ta’liq al-sabih 1:366, Sahih Muslim).

In this verse, Allah commanded His Prophet (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) to recite loud enough for his Companions behind him to hear, which would only be possible if they remained silent during the prayer. Hence, this proves that the muqtadi needs to remain silent, and that the recitation is the responsibility of the imam only.


Abu Sa’id al-Khudri (radhiyallahu anhu) relates:

1. “The Messenger (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) delivered a sermon in which he outlined our Way [Sunna] for us and taught us our prayer. He instructed, “When you prepare for prayer, straighten your rows; then one of you [should become the imam to] lead the others in prayer. He instructed , “When you prepare for prayer , straighten your rows; then one of you [should become the imam to] lead others in prayer. When he proclaims the takbir you also proclaim it; when he recites remain silent; and when he reaches “ghayr al-maghdubi ‘alayhim wala’l-dallin,” say “amin,” and Allah will answer your prayer” (Sahih Muslim 1:174)

2. Abu Hurayra (radhiyallahu anhu) narrates that the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) said:

The imam has been assigned to be followed. When he proclaims the takbir you also proclaim it; and when he says “sami Allahu liman hamidah,” say “Rabbana laka’l-hamd” (Sahih Abi Dawud 1:96, Sunan al-Nasa’i 46)

These two hadiths give a better explanation of the verse 1 above. They clearly distinguish between the duty of the imam and the follower. Where the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) commanded the follower to follow the imam in proclaiming the takbir and other prayers, he did not command him to recite Surat al-Fatiha with the imam, but rather instructed him to remain silent. This proves that if reciting the Fatiha had been necessary for the follower, the Messenger (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) would never have ordered the contrary. Therefore, it becomes clear that the imam’s duty is to recite and the follower’s duty is to remain silent and listen to the imam’s recitation.

It is also understood for hadith 1 that the only time the follower is permitted to say anything is when the imam reaches “wala’l-dalleen,” when he should say amin. The reason why the follower says amin– which means “O Allah, accept”- is to strengthen and endorse the du’a [invocation] the imam made to Allah in the Fatiha.

Surat al-Fatiha begins with praises to Allah, then follows up with a du’a to Him, in which the servant humbly asks:

Guide us to the straight path, the path of those on whom You have bestowed Your grace, not [the path] of those who earned Your anger, nor of those who went astray (al-Qur’an 1:5-7)

If it had been necessary for every follower to recite Surat al-Fatiha, they would have been ordered to say amin at the end of their own recitations; which is not the case since the Messenger (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) ordered it to be said collectively upon completion of the imam’s recital of the Fatiha.

Another important point, which is derived from hadith 2, is in the statement, “The imam has been assigned to be followed.” Here the Messenger (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) explains that the main reason for the muqtadi to remain silent during the prayer is so that he can follow his imam by listening to his recitation. It would be very rude for the follower to begin reciting on his own while the imam is reciting, as it is virtually impossible to listen attentively to someone else while absorbed in one’s own recitation.

3. The next hadith further explain why the muqtadi has been exempted from reciting and how his obligation stands absolved by the imam:

Jabir (radhiyallahu anhu) narrates that whoever prays behind an imam, his imam’s recitation is sufficient for him (al-jawhar al-naqi 2:159, I’la’ al-sunan 4:61, Musannaf Ibn Abi Shayba 1:377)

4. The Messenger (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) said:

Whoever prays behind the imam, his imam’s recitation is sufficient for him (‘Umdat al-qari 3:12, Muwatta Imam Muhammad 96, I’la al-sunan 4:61)

5. The following hadith of ‘Abdullah ibn Shaddad explains this in more detail:

The Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) led the ‘Asr prayer. A person began reciting behind him, so the person next to him gave him a nudge. After finishing his prayer the person asked, “Why did you nudge me?” The person replied, “The Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) was in front of you, and I did not approve of you reciting behind him.” The Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) heard thos and said, “Whoever has an imam, the recitation of the imam is sufficient for him” (Muwatta Imam Muhammad 98, I’la al-sunan)

6. Someone asked the Messenger (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam):

O Messenger of Allah! Is there recitation in every prayer? The Messenger (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) said yes. Somebody from amongst the people asked, “[Does that mean] it is necessary?” The Messenger (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) replied, I consider the imam’s recitation to be sufficient [for the muqtadi]” (Majma’al-zawa’id 2:110)

The above hadiths have made it clear that “the imam’s recitation is sufficient for the follower,” and that the follower does not have to recite behind the imam. If he were to recite, how would he fulfill the obligation of listening and remaining silent? Ibn Taymiya (rahimahullah) writes in his Fatawa:

The recitation of the imam is sufficient for the muqtadi. The consensus of the Companions and the Followers proves this. The hadiths from which this [rule] is established are narrated without any companion being omitted from the transmission [mursalan]. The legal rulings [fatawa] among the Followers were also that the [imam’s] recitation is sufficient. Above all, it is in total accordance with the Qur’an and Sunnah (Majmu al-fatawa 23:271)

7. The Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) even expressed disapproval at a person who recited behind him, as indicated in the following narration of Abu Hurayra (radhiyallahu anhu):

The Messenger (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) turned towards [us] after completing a salat in which he had recited aloud and asked, “Did one of you recite with me??” A person replied, “Yes, O Messenger of Allah.” The Messenger (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) remarked, “I was wondering why I felt as if the words of the Qur’an were being taken from my tongue”

Abu Hurayra (radhiyallaahu anhu) relates that when the people heard him say this, they discontinued reciting behind him during the audible prayers (Sunan al-Tirmidhi 1:71, Muwatta Imam Malik 51, Sunan al-Nasa’i 1:146, Sunan Abi Dawud 1:146, Sunan Ibn Majah 61, Sunan al-Bayhaqi 2:157)

8. There is yet another similar narration from ‘Imran ibn Husayn (radhiyallahu anhu):

The Messenger (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) was performing the zuhr prayer when a person behind him began to recite “Sabbih isma rabbikal- a’la… [Surat al-A’la]. Upon completing his prayers, the Messenger (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) asked who it had been. The person identified himself, so the Messenger (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) remarked, “I thought one of you was taking it [the verses] from my tongue” [Sahih Muslim 1:172, I’la al-sunan 4:56]

9. There is yet another hadith of this nature in which ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ud (radhiyallahu anhu) says,

The Companions would recite behind the Messenger (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam). [Once] he said to them, “You have caused me confusion in my recitation of the Qur’an” (Majma’ al-zawa’id 2:110, al-jawhar al- naqi 1:162)

These hadiths are concrete evidence that the Messenger (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) was not too pleased with people reciting behind him. It is also clear that the Companions would not have been reciting very loudly either, as that would constitute gross disrespect on their behalf, which is unthinkable regarding the Companions. Therefore, even though they were reciting in subdued tones, the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) admonished them, as it was disturbing his recitation.

The same type of disturbance can occur if the muqtadi recites Surat al-Fatiha or some other verses with it while praying behind the imam. In either case, it is possible that the imam may be led confusion. This proves that the command of the Qur’an, for the muqtadi to remain silent, is indeed concerning both silent and audible prayers.


‘Allama ‘Ayni writes in his commentary on Sahih al-Bukhari, ‘Umdat al-qari, that it was the opinion of approximately eighty Companions that the muqtadi should not recite behind the imam. Some of them very strictly implemented and enforced their opinion l. A few of their reports and comments are mentioned here so as to gauge the swriousness of this issue.

1. ‘Ata ibn Yasar enquired from Zayd ibn Thabit (radhiyallahu anhu) regarding recitation behind the imam. He said,

There is no recitation behind the imam (Sahih Muslim 1:215)

2. Malik (rahimahullah) reports from Nafi’ that,

‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar (radhiyallahu anhu) was asked whether anything should be recited behind the imam. He replied, whenever one of you prays behind the imam, the recitation of the imam is sufficient for him; but when you pray alone, you should recite for yourself.”

The narrator  reports that ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar (radhiyallahu anhu) would not recite behind the imam (Muwatta Imam Malik 51, I’la al-sunan 4:76)

3. ‘Ubaydullah ibn Muqsim narrates that

he enquired from ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ud, Zayd ibn Thabit and Jabir ibn Abdullah (radhiyallahu anhum) [concerning this issue]. They informed him that there should be no recitation behind the imam in any prayer (Athar al-sunan 1:116, I’la’ al-sunan 4:81)

4. In the following report, ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ud (radhiyallahu anhu) expresses great disapproval at reciting behind the imam. He says,

Would that the mouth of the person reciting behind the imam be filled with dust (Athar al-sunan 1:116, I’la’ al-sunan 4:81)

5. Abu Jamra reports:

I asked ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas (radhiyallahu anhu), “Should I recite when the imam is in front of me?” He said no (Athar al-sunan 1:116, I’la’ al-sunan 4:81)

6. Ibn ‘Abbas (radhiyallahu anhu) narrates from the Messenger (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) that the recitation of the imam is sufficient for the muqtadi, whether he recites silently or aloud. (Daraqtuni 1:331, I’la’ al sunan 4:82)

7. Musa ibn ‘Uqba reports that the Messenger (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam), Abu Bakr, ‘Umar and ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu ‘anhum) would forbid [people from] reciting behind the imam (‘Umdat al-qari 3:67U, I’la al-sunan 4:84)

8. Musa ibn Sa’d ibn Zayd ivn Thabit narrates from his grandfather [Zayd bin Thabit (radhiyallahu anhu)]:

Whoever recites behind the imam, there is no prayer for him (Muwatta Imam Muhammad 100, I’la ‘al-sunan 4:87).

9. Ibrahim al-Nakh’ay (rahimahullah) states:

The first thing the people innovated [in religion] was recitation behind the imam- the Companions did not recite behind the imam (al-jawhar al-naqi 4:169)

10. This statement is further strengthened by the following one, in which he states:

The first person to recite behind the imam was a person accused [of innovation] (Muwatta imam Muhammad 100, I’la al-sunan)

11. Muhammad ibn Sirin informs us:

I do not consider reciting behind the imam to be from the Sunna (Musannaf Ibn Abi Shayba 1:377, I’la’ al-sunan 4:90).

12.’Abdullah ibn Zayd ibn Aslam reports from. His father that

ten Companions of the Messenger (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) strongly prohibited reciting behind the imam: Abu Bakr al-Siddiq, ‘Umar al-faruq, ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan, ‘Ali ibn Talib, ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn ‘Awf, Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqas, ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ud, Zayd ibn Thabit, ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar and ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas (radhiyallahu anhum) (Qala’id al-azhar 2:42U)

13. ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib (radhiyallahu anhu) said:

Whoever recites behind behind the imam, his prayer is not valid,

And in another narration he said:

[…] such a person has deviated from the natural path [fitra] (al-Jawhar al-naqi 2:218, Musannaf ibn Abi Shayba 1:376).

14. Sa’d (radhiyallahu anhu) says,

I desire a burning ember be placed  in the mouth of the one who recites behind the imam (Musannaf ‘Abd al-Razzaq 2:138, Musannaf ibn Abi Shayba 2:376)

15. A similar statement has been related from ‘Umar (radhiyallahu anhu),

Would that there be a stone in the mouth of one who recites behind the imam (Musannaf ‘Abd al-Razzaq 2:128)

It becomes very clear from the above reports that the Hanafis are not isolated in their position, since it was the view of many of the Companions and Followers.


(1) The imam has been ordered to recite aloud in the audible prayers so that the followers can listen to him. In order for that to happen, they have to remain silent. If the follower is commanded to recite as well, he will not be able to concentrate on his imam’s recitation. This in turn would mean that the imam has been ordered to recite aloud to a congregation which does not need to pay attention to his recitation. It is quite clear that the Shari’a would not encourage such a practice.

(2) As mentioned earlier, part of Surat al-Fatiha constitutes a du’a’ [invocation] for guidance to Allah; and all those who recite this sura [chapter] make the du’a‘ for themselves. In the case of the follower, his du’a’ is made by the imam’s recitation is sufficient for the entire congregation.

In a typical everyday situation, a group of people intebd to submit a proposal or make a request to someone of authority, would normally not do so on an individual basis; rather, they would appoint someone to represent them. The representative would then act in the interest of the group and would do so without any interference from other group members. Anyone who does not adhere to this arrangement would be frowned upon.

The same is the situation with the imam in prayer. He beseeches Allah on behalf of the whole congregation, while they stand by in ab orderly manner listening to him. Once he completes his du’a’, they endorse it by proclaiming amin. Just as the aforementioned group would do so with their signatures. Hence, the hadiths clarify this by stating that the recitation of the imam is sufficient for all the members of the congregation.

(3) If a person arrives late for the congregational prayer and finds the imam in the bowing posture [ruku’], the correct procedure gor him to follow would be to first raise his hands and say “Allahu Akbar” [takbir] while standing; and then to join the imam in ruku’. Although this musalli has missed the standing posture [qiyam], he is still considered to have acquired that whole rak’a with the imam, and therefore does not have to make up that rak’a later on.

Everyone agrees that if the person did not say the takbir while standing, but went directly into the bowing posture instead, his rak’a is not valid since he has missed the takbir and the standing posture. However, no scholar has stated that his rak’a will be invalid because he was not able to recite the Fatiha. This not only proves that Surat al-Fatiha is not fard on the muqtadi, as the opening takbir and standing posture are; but it also proves that his imam’s recitation is sufficient for him.

(4) When the imam makes a mistake in his prayer, the whole congregation is obligated to perform the “prostrations of forgetfullness” [Sujud al-sahw] with him; and when he recites a “verse of prostration” [ayat al-sajda], the whole congregation is also obliged to perform the “prostration of Qur’an recital” [sajdat al-tilawa] with him, even if the imam recited it silently. Likewise, a single barrier [sutra] in front of the imam is sufficient for the whole congregation. In light of these commonalities, would it be a stretch of the imagination to take the imam’s recitation as being sufficient for the entire congregation?


There are a number of hadiths, authentic as well as weak, which apparently conteadict the verses and hadiths that were mentioned
earlier in this chapter. These seemingly contradictory hadiths have been used to establish the claim that it is obligatory to recite behind the imam. However, in reality, there is no contradiction between these hadiths and those previously mentioned proofs texts, as the scholars have reconciled the apparent contradictions and have brought their meanings to be in complete harmony with one another. We will now take a look at some of these hadiths.

1. ‘Ubada ibn al-Samit (radhiyallahu anhu) narrates that the Messenger (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) narrates that the Messenger (sallallaahu alaigi wasallam) said:

There is no prayer for the one who does not recite Surat al-Fatiha (Sahih Muslim),

and in another narration he says:

There is no prayer for the one who does not recite Surat al-Fatiha and [some] more [verses]. [Sahih Muslim]

This hadith has been classified as rigorously authenticated [sahih] and is normally presented as evidence for the recitation of Surat al-Fatiha being fard on the muqtadi. It seems to be in apparent conflict with the Hanafi opinion. However, the scholars have provided many explanations to remove the conflict between it and the previously quoted proof texts of the Hanafis. The following are some explanations which should assist in understanding the true implications of the Hadith:

(a) The imam and the muqtadi are both obligated to recite Surat al-Fatiha according to this hadith, as it seems to entail a general command that also includes the muqtadi. The Hanafis do not reject this, but instead state that the obligation upon the follower to recite the Fatiha will be fulfilled through his imam’s recitation. This is because the Messenger (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) has said that the imam’s recitation is sufficient for the muqtadi.

(b) This hadith will be interpreted as concerning the imam and the person praying by himself only and will not relate tp the follower, since he has been commanded in the Holy Qur’an to remain silent and listen. Hence, the follower is excluded from the obligation of this hadith

(c) There are rigorously authenticated hadiths (as presented above) that totally prohibit the follower from reciting behind the imam. Hence, in purview of those hadiths, he is exempt from the obligation of this hadith, and it becomes clear that this hadith is actually directed at the imam and the person praying by himself only.

(d) The first narration only mentions Surat al-Fatiha as being necessary; whereas the second narrationalso includes the words “fasa’idan” which means “and more” what is difficult to understand here is that even though the second narration mentions both the Surat al-Fatiha and “some more verses” as being necessary, only reciting the Fatiha has been considered to be fard and not reciting anything beyond it. Hence, whatever explanation is offered for not considering the extra verses as being obligatory upon the follower, will also be our explanation for not making even the Fatiha obligatory upon him. The only difference will be that we would have considered the full hadith by declaring the same ruling for both Surat al- Fatiha and the extra verses – that they are both absolved by the imam’s recitation- and according to the other view, only one half of the hadith would have been considered (i.e by making only the recital of the Fatiha necessary and not the extra verses).

On the other hand, if the explanation is that the imam’s recitation of the extra verses is sufficient for rhe follower, as it sometimes suggested by the proponents of the other view, then that is exactly what the Hanafis state about the Fatiha also.

(c) The obligation of Surat al-Fatiha, as understood from this hadith, is not directed at muqtadi but rather is directed at the imam and the person praying alone only. Imam Tirmidhi (rahimahullah) has narrated the following statement of Jabir  (radhiyallahu anhu) with a reliable transmission:

Whoever performed a rak’a’ in which he did not recite Surat al-Fatiha, it is as though he has npt performed it, unless he was [praying] behind the imam (Sunan al-Tirmidhi 1:71)

This clearly proves that the command in the above hadith is not for the follower. Imam Tirmidhi (rahimahullah) further mentions the comments of Imam Ahmad (rahimahullah)  concerning the above statement:

This [Jabir radhiyallahu anhu] is a Companion of the Messenger (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam), “There is no prayer for the one who did not recite Surat al-Fatiha,” to mean that this is the case only when the person is praying  by himself” (I’la al-sunan 4:75)

We ask: Who can explain the meaning of a hadith better than a close Companion of the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam)?

2. ‘Ubada ibn al-Samit (radhiyallahu anhu) narrates:

We were performing the Fajr prayer behind the Messenger if Allah (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam). He began reciting but experienced difficulty in doing so. Upon finishing he said, “Perhaps you were reciting behind your imam??” We replied, “Yes, O Messenger of Allah,” So he said, “Do not recite anything besides Surat al-Fatiha, for there is  no prayer for the one who does not recite it”

Imam Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi and Nasa’i have transmitted similar reports to this one in their Sunans. A narration from Sunan Abi Dawud states:

The Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) exclaimed “I was wondering why the words of the Qur’an were being taken from my tongu. Do not recite any portion of the Qur’an while I am reciting aloud, except Surat al-Fatiha” (Mishkat al-Masabih 1:81 from Sunan Abi Dawud, al-Tirmidhi, al-Nasa’i)

In another narration from Sunan al-Tirmidhi, ‘Ubada ibn al-Samit (radhiyallahu anhu) reports:

The Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) performed the Fajr prayer but experienced difficulty in reciting, so upon finishing he remarked, “I noticed you reciting behind your imam!” We said, “Yes, by Allah.” So he instructed, “Do not recite anything besides the Umm al-Qur’an [Surat al-Fatiha], for there is no prayer for the one who does not recite it.”

The apparent wording of the above narration in its various forms that a muqtadi is obligated to recite Surat al-Fatiha. The scholars have mentioned a number of reasons why this hadith cannot be taken for its literal meaning. They have either interpreted it in light of the above mentioned hadiths, or they have completely waived it due to its weakness. Some of these interpretations are presented below.

(a) First, present in the chain [isnad] is a Muhammad ibn Ishaq. Although some have called him a trustworthy narrator, most hadith scholars have criticized him in a veru harsh terms. Sulayman al-Taymi and Hisham have called him a “flagrant Liar” [Kadhdhab], and Imam Malik (rahimahullah) has labelled him a “flagrant liar from among the flagrant liars” [dajjalun min dajajila]. Ibn Zahir, Wahb ibn Khalid, Jarir ibn ‘Abd al-Hamid, Daraqutni and others also have made grave statements about him. Therefore, it will be completely unfair to accept such a transmission as evidence.

(b) Second, its transmission is full of confusion. Makhul sometimes relates the hadith from Muhammad ibn Rabi’, sometimes from Nafi’ ibn Mahmud and sometimes from others. With regards to Nafi’ ibn Mahmud, hadith experts, such as Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr, Tahawi and Ibn Qudama, state that he is ”unknown” [mahjul]. Since there is a multitude of other rigorously authenticated hadiths regarding this issue, to employ such hadiths (like the one under discussion), especially when it contradicts the other rigorously authenticated ones.

(c) Third, some hadiths experts have classified this hadith as being defective [ma’lul] since its transmission has been said to have only reached ‘Ubada ibn al-Samit (radhiyallahu anhu) [marfu’]. Ibn Taymiya explains in more detail:

This hadith is defective [mu’allal], for a number of reasons. Imam Ahmad (rahimahullah) and others have judged it to be weak. A discussion on its weaknesses has already been detailed at another place, where it was clarified that the actual authenticated [sahih] narration of the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) [in this regard] is, ”There is no prayer without the Umm al-Qur’an.” This hadith has been transmitted by Imam Bukhari and Muslim in their collections [sahihayn], and Zuhri has related it from ‘Ubada (radhiyallahu anhu) through Muhammad ibn Rabi’. As for this hadith, some narrators of Sham [the Levant] have erred in its transmission. The reality of this is that ‘Ubada ibn al-Samit (radhiyallahu anhu) was the imam of Bayt al-Maqdis [Jerusalem] when he related this hadith. They confused his narration, which was meant to end with him [mawquf], as having been related directly from the Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) [marfu’]” (Sunan al-Tirmidhi 1:71).

Hence, this hadith is inadmissible as evidence as it is not a direct report from the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam).

(d) Fourth, if we were for a moment to accept the hadith as rigorously authenticated and unblemished, even then, statements like, ”Perhaps you were reciting behind you imam.” Indicate that the Messenger (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) had not instructed them to recite anything. He would not have asked such a question otherwise.

3. Abu Hurayra (radhiyallahu anhu) narrates

that the Messenger (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) said: ”Whoever performs a prayer in which he does not recite the Umm al-Qur’an, his prayer is incomplete and deficient.” A narrator of the Hadith enquired from Abu Hurayra (ra), ”I am sometimes behind the imam [so what am I to do]?” Abu Hurayra (ra) instructed, ”Recite it in your mind” [fi nafsik] (Majmu’ al-fatawa 23:187).

If we look at this narration carefully, we find that it actually consists of two segments: the first is the portion in which Allah’s Messenger (sallallaahu alaihi wadallam) himself emphasizes the importance of Surat al-Fatiha (hence, marfu’); and the second is a statement of Abu Hurayra (radhiyallahu anhu) (hence, mawquf) and not of Allah’s Messenger (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam). It is from the second segment that some attempt to attribute the obligation of reciting Surat al-Fatiha to the muqtadi, by taking it to mean, “recite it yourself,” and not “recite it in your mind.”

Since the first segment of this narration is quote similar to the first hadith analyzed in this section, the explanations mentioned there will be also in effect here, The conclusion is ”The recitation of the imam is sufficient for the follower.” And hence, the follower will be automatically have hos obligation of reciting Surat al-Fatiha fulfilled by his imam.

The second segment of the hadith is explained as follows:

(a) It is a mawquf narration, which in this case is the statement of Abu Hurayra (radhiyallahu anhu), not related directly from the Messenger (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam). Since the second portion (if taken as some intrepret it) also contradicts many other rigorously authenticated hadiths that are naratted directly from the Messenger (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) [marfu’], it cannot be used as an evidence.

(b) As mentioned earlier, the Hanafis have taken the words, ”iqra’ha fi nafsik,” in the narration to mean: ”recite it in your mind and ponder over it, and do not utter it with your tongue.” No doubt, if the muqtadi concentrates on his imam’s recitation, he would be fulfilling this requirement. The Hanafis have not interpreted these words to mean that the muqtadi is obligated to recite Surat al-Fatiha.

(c) The words, ”iqra’ha fi nafsik,” could also be translated as, ”Recite it when you are performing prayer individually.” The following  hadith, which the Messenger (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) narrated directly from Allah [hadith qudsi], contains a similar expression and supports this translation. Allah says,

If the servant remembers Me while he is alone [fi nafsihi], I remember him similarly [fi nafsi]; and if he remembers Me in a gathering, then I remember him in a gathering more superior to his.

The opposite of being in a gathering with a group of people is being alone. Hence, the meaning of Abu Hurayra’s statement will be, ”Recite Surat al-Fatiha when you are performing prayer alone,” i.e. When not in congregation.


After reaching the end of this discussion, one can quite easily conclude that there is overwhelming evidence in favor of the Hanafi opinion on whether or not one should recite behind the imam. The understanding acquired from the verses of the Holy Qur’an and the many hadiths is that the muqtadi has two obligations to fulfill: one is to remain silent, and the other is to listen carefully. According to Hadiths, the imam’s recitation is considered sufficient for the follower. The recitation undertaken by the imam is considered by the hadiths to be totally sufficient for the muqtadi. Since the Qur’an actually prohibits that any word be uttered while the recitation of the Qur’an is taking place, it will be accepted as such; and the muqtadi will be required to maintain perfect silence, in both silent and audible prayers.

There should now remain no doubt as to why the follower should remain silent when praying behind the imam, even in a silent prayer when he is unable to hear his imam’s recitation. It has been explained that the verse 1 above contains two commands: one of them being the observerance of silence, which relates to the silent prayers, and the other of listening attentively, which relates to the audible prayers.

The Hanafis have taken all of these points into consideration and formed an opinion that encompasses all the various aspects of the hadiths. Hence, it could be concluded that their opinion is probably the closest to the Qur’an and Sunna.


Related Articles:

The Distance to be kept between the feet during Salaat [Hanafi view]

The Position of the Hands in Salaat [Hanafi view]

Hobbes’ Folly: The Creation of Secularism and a new Intolerance


[By Abdullah al Andalusi]

Thomas Hobbes (1588 – 1679 AD) is renowned in Western history as being the father of modern Western Political Philosophy. His seminal book ‘Leviathan’ established the foundational ideas and concepts for what would later be called Secularism and Liberalism. Hobbes argues that the purpose of government is exclusively material, namely, the prevention of in-fighting and disorder between people.

Government was required because, according to Hobbes, ‘the time that men live without a common power to keep them all in awe, they are in that condition which is called war, and such a war as is of every man against every man’ (‘Leviathan’).

In Hobbes’ time, Christianity was heavily dominant in politics, with wars between kingdoms fought over different interpretations of Christianity – mainly on the question of whether or not the Catholic Church and Pope should have spiritual authority over Christians, and Christian kings.

Hobbes sought to find a solution to this by creating a philosophy derived from what he thought was universal observations of human nature, to establish politics upon a non-religious, material basis.

Thomas Hobbes, argued pragmatically that fallible priests can bring a bad reputation to religion, and basing a state on religion (or priests) would cause instability. People, he argued, would over time become disillusioned with Catholicism due to instances of corruption amongst priests, as well people falling into differences of interpretation, heresies and splinter factions. Hobbes argued that religion changes over time, but the state always stays the same, and so for the interest of maintaining the stability of the state, government should not be founded or justified by religion.

Hobbes argued that since religion causes controversies in society, the state should be founded on civil authority justified only by the material purpose of preventing fighting between people and disorder (this is called the ‘Argument from controversy’).

Therefore Hobbes basis is: if a ruler has power, he has authority and the right to obedience from his subjects, whether he is religious, Christian or not.

The Four Arguments of Thomas Hobbes

To effect his goal of giving Christians a purely material basis for obedience to government, Hobbes invoked the Bible claiming that only the Jews could have a ‘Kingdom of God’ ruled by religion.

But since the advent of Jesus, and his ascension to heaven, Christians were to wait for Jesus to return to establish a ‘Kingdom of God’ with him being the ruler of all Christians. In the meantime, before Jesus’ re-appearance, Hobbes argued that Christianity was merely ‘good counsel’ (advice), and should only be limited to persuading people to do good and be saved, not governing them (this is called ‘the Kingdom of God argument’).

Hobbes also argued that belief cannot be forced, and that people have no control over their own opinions, and must be convinced first through argument. Hobbes argued that forcing people to do good, would make many act hypocritically, and therefore be pointless as it still could not ‘save’ their souls. He argued it was better to not rule by religion, and therefore only the sincere of heart would answer the call to faith (this is called ‘The Argument from Hypocrisy’).

For the final main argument for Secularism, Hobbes invoked the fact that early Christians were commanded by Paul (who was not a companion of Jesus! ‘Eesa alaihissalaam) to obey their leaders and kings – who at the time of early Christianity would have been the non-Christian Pagan Roman kings (this is called the ‘Give unto Caesar argument’).


Consequently, based upon those four arguments, Hobbes claimed Christianity does not have a special right to government, nor does a government need to be Christian to be justified, but rather the material purpose of government, to prevent in-fighting and disorder, is the only purpose and justification for it.

That being said, Hobbes never prohibited government from implementing Christian laws, but rather he argued that the implementation of Christian law was at the discretion of the ruler and optional. Whether the ruler ruled with Christian law or not, or was himself a Christian or not, did not invalidate his right to rule – which is established his power, and the purpose of preventing in-fighting and chaos between the people.

Hobbes and the argument from Controversy

Hobbes was clearly a product of his time, and unfortunately based his conclusions on generalising the particular circumstances of his time e.g. English Civil War etc. He argued for the absolute authority of the ruler to enforce, by use of iron fist if necessary, people to live peacefully with each other.

Unfortunately, this does not take account of all factors which cause conflict.

Hobbes considered only what causes conflict between humans in a state before a society comes into existence (i.e. in a state of anarchy), and how differences in religion may cause wars. Hobbes, however, did not adequately address the other much more common causes of conflict within society. Factors which cause conflict include mostly materialistic-oriented things like pride, competition, greed, lust, desire for power, unjust economic system, corrupt government, oppression, factionalism, racism, fascism etc. Hobbes’ solution did not provide any means to regulate, restrain or replace this problems.

Strangely, Hobbes does not consider any way to prevent inter-state wars between countries. Most of the religious wars that occurred in Hobbes’ time were not civil wars excited by religion, but wars between kingdoms. In essence, Hobbes picked the fly and ignored the elephant.

Hobbes’ argument that religion changes, but the state does not, is not accurate. The state changes too, rulers change, culture changes, power and fortune changes, and people may split off into differing political factions and fight each other in civil wars for purely non-religious motives.

Unfortunately, since Hobbes was surrounded by religious wars, this really affected his thinking. Kind of like if a man has a bad experience in a relationship, he might be foolish to think that all women are bad.


Hobbes’ conclusions really don’t apply outside of Christianity (which he admitted). In Islam, the political leader, the Caliph, is viewed as a fallible human, and no one ever connected a Caliph to a manifestation of Islam, except where the Caliphs actions were in accordance with Islam. In Islam, the Caliph is not an intercessor between man and God, nor is the post divinely guided or sinless.

The wisdom of Islam, is that it does not give authority to one group of scholars or Imams over another to dictate and enforce doctrine (like Catholicism does). There is no established Church. This means that no one can ‘own’ Islam, for Islam is (to use a computer programming term) ‘open-source’, accessible and interpretable to anyone educated enough to do so.

This meant that the Ummah (Muslim community) always looked towards scholars who were not in the pay of the government, as being the most trusted ones to protect the intellectual continuation of Islam.

Scholars who were in the pay of government were never trusted as much as independents.


Islamic thought and jurisprudence is separated from any monopolised control by government, and the government is not under obligation to follow one particular Islamic school of thought over another. This means that Islamic government focuses only on the implementation of Islamic law, not enforcement of a particular doctrine (which leads to religious wars). It is free to adopt any interpretation of Islamic law on only political or social issues, or another, without requiring the Muslim community to believe in it – leaving the Caliphate’s policies open to public debate, constructive criticism and revision.

Of course, there were three Caliphs of the Mutazilah sect which tried to force their doctrines on people – but they were the exception (their sect was heavily influenced by European-Greek thought – enough said).

In conclusion, because Islam does not consider Caliphs, Islamic scholars as infallible, or intercessors between man and God, no one can harm the idea of Islam, but people can only harm their own reputation by failing to live up to Islamic ideals.

Thus, Islam demonstrates that Hobbes contentions are not universally true, which therefore render void his conclusions about religion in general.

Historically speaking, the longest running states and civilizations based upon some form of religious tradition, philosophy or belief, whether the Ottoman Caliphate, the Chinese civilization, the Persian civilisation have never faced the kind of schisms and wars, emanating from religion that europe experienced – but rather have always experienced political causes for strife. This fundamental fact, renders Hobbes’ generalisations – based upon his experience of the peculiar circumstances of renaissance Europe’s religious wars, a clear error.

Hobbes and his ‘Argument from Hypocrisy’

Although Hobbes admits that (his interpretation of) Christianity is the most suitable religion for the detachment of religious authority from government, it follows that his conclusions could not apply to other religions. For example, Islam isn’t merely ‘good counsel’ but also a ‘mercy to mankind’ by providing solutions for the causes of conflict within a society as well.

Islam aims to create an environment that appeals to the higher nature in man, and does not leave society free to appeal, encourage and reward man’s lesser natures – i.e. hypocrisy.

Islam actively aims to remove public corruption, not by focusing only on hypocrites, but by helping the majority of people who are not hypocrites, who desire to be good, but fail due to human weakness, and inadvertently affecting others.

A society organised to liberate the virtuous, is a society based on virtue. A society organised to liberate hypocrites, is a society based on hypocrisy.

What Hobbes misunderstood in his observations, is that revelation came not to guide hypocrites, but help good and sincere people.

Therefore, it does not compel hypocrites to become sincere, nor does it force non-Muslims to become Muslim, instead Islam creates an environment conducive to, and encouraging of virtue, while preventing hypocrites corrupting others in the society [i.e. the public sphere].

‘They [the Hypocrites] wish that you reject (Faith), and thus that you all become equal (like them). So, take not Auliya (protectors or friends) from them’ [Quran 4:89]

Islam’s solution, permits hypocrites to do what they like only in the private sphere of their homes (the penal system does not punish sins done in private), but in public, the environment is conditioned to help and encourage the majority who sincerely believe and desire to do good but are weak humans beings, prone to mistakes and temptations.

‘Allah desires that He should make light your burdens, [for] man is created weak ’ [Quran 4:28]


Lastly, Hobbes assumed that sincere people wouldn’t exist in a religious state, as they would in a materialistic-based state. The reality is that sincere people and hypocrites would exist in both states – however, while a religious based state would be more likely to promote excellence in sincere people, the materialistic-based state would reward people who have the least scruples and the most self-centered ambition (i.e. hypocrites), and force sincere people to compromise some of their virtues in order to compete.

Hobbes’ and his ‘Kingdom of God argument’

Hobbes argues that Jesus did not intend to rule the world during his lifetime, nor urge Christians to do the same. Christians, according to Hobbes, are to wait for the return of Jesus where he will establish his direct rule of the world. In the meantime Christians are merely meant to convert people to the faith and increase their numbers, and preach to fellow Christians, to become righteous. For this reason, Hobbes argued, Christianity does not have a right to rule, or obligation to attain government.

This argument misrepresents the New Testament, and Catholic doctrine. The term ‘Kingdom of God’ (or ‘Kingdom of Heaven’) has many meanings and uses in the Bible, from an earthly kingdom, to a state of mind, to Jesus himself, or a state of existence for a Christian community. The Catholic Church has always viewed itself as aiming at fully realising the Kingdom of God, which doesn’t need Jesus to actively be present to rule (since the ‘Holy Spirit’ was claimed to be guiding the Church). The Catholic Church’s aim was to prepare the way of his return to ‘active leadership’.

‘When…appeared as the one constituted as Lord, Christ and eternal Priest, and He poured out on His disciples the Spirit promised by the Father. From this source the [Catholic] Church, equipped with the gifts of its Founder and faithfully guarding His precepts of charity, humility and self-sacrifice, receives the mission to proclaim and to spread among all peoples the Kingdom of Christ and of God and to be, on earth, the initial budding forth of that kingdom. While it slowly grows, the Church strains toward the completed Kingdom and, with all its strength, hopes and desires to be united in glory with its King’. [Dogmatic Constitution of the Church, article 5]

The Catholic Church based this points quite credibly on a number of verses of the Bible, such as the command for Christians to actively seek the Kingdom of God:

‘But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you’. [Matthew 6:33]

Other verses of the Bible say the ‘Kingdom of God’ as an era, has already arrived!

‘If I cast out devils by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you’. [Luke 11:20]


                 Temple Priest leads the faithful in worship in the Ancient Kingdom of Israel

Furthermore, Hobbes’ argument that the Kingdom of God is only for when Jesus returns, cannot apply to Islam (or Judaism of which does not consider the right to rule of the laws of Moses (Musa alaihissalaam), abrogated), since the Islamic concept of Caliphate (Arabic: Khilafah, lit. Vice-regency or Successorship) is a Kingdom of God, where God holds the position of king over the believers, and through his expressed Will (contained in the Qur’an and hadith), Muslims enact the laws and directly govern on his behalf as his vicegerents (khulafah).

‘Just think when your Lord said to the angels: Lo! I am about to place a vicegerent [i.e. man] on earth…’ [Quran 2:30]

‘The sovereignty of the skies and the earth belongs to Him [God] alone’ [Quran 9:116]

‘Verily, His [God’s] is the Creation and the Command’ [Quran 7:54]

The nature of Islam, Judaism and Catholic Christianity, runs contrary to premises of Hobbes’ arguments, which were based upon his protestant (anti-catholic) opinions.

As such, Islam, Judaism and Catholicism (in its original form) believe in a continuing and present need for a kingdom of God, and do not take away God’s sovereign right to govern government, society and individuals for the betterment of man in this life and the next.

Hobbes and his ‘Give unto Caesar argument’

Hobbes argues in his book ‘De Cive’ [‘On the citizen’] Chapter 11, that because Jesus told the Jews who asked him about paying roman taxes, that they should ‘give to Caesar what is Caesars, and to God what is God’s’ – that this means that Christians are subject to non-Christian authorities, as they are subject to Christian ones. Thereby arguing that religion has no justification to the ruler, and by implication no special right to rule.

This is easily refuted by a consideration that God’s owns the heavens and the earth, and the pagan Caesar has no authority over a Christian, that ever can be greater than God’s authority over him. So whatever a Christian owes a pagan leader, then he can give it to him, but only as long as he does not give what is God’s right alone.

Christians have argued that ‘give unto Caesar…’ is merely a clever answer by Jesus to speak the truth while avoiding the Roman occupation force from arresting him for rebellion. Either way, it is not an argument for Secularism – for the Jews at the time of Jesus lived under the revealed Law of Moses.

The Romans permitted this, because they were just interested in taxes, not spreading or imposing roman beliefs. And Rome wasn’t a secular state either – their pagan religion was part of their culture and informed their laws.

Hobbes argues that because Paul commanded Christians in the Christian New Testament to obey their rulers (who were pagan roman emperors), this means that Christianity does not have a special right to govern. Hobbes used this conclusion to argue that all Christians must obey the ruler, no matter what his doctrines, or what law he commands them with.

‘Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves’. [Paul’s letter to the Romans, chapter 13]

However, Hobbes didn’t consider that Peter, which the New Testament describes as an actual companion of Jesus, disobeyed the Jewish ruling authorities who had prohibited him from preaching, and preached in public against their orders, justifying it by saying:
“We must obey God rather than men” [Acts 5:29]

The mainstream Christian understanding (which is still Catholic) was that Christians are to be obedient to all rulers – unless they command Christians to go against God’s command. However, even then, Christians are never commanded to rise up and depose the leaders, but merely to not obey specific unjust commands.

That Christians can be non-violent under pagan rule, does not negate a ruler who converts to Christianity, having the
obligation to rule with the laws, values and principles found in the Bible. This is because, according to the New Testament, everything a Christian does must be for God, and based upon divine guidance.

Therefore Hobbes is incorrect to argue that Christianity has no right to government according to Christian teaching.

Suffice to say, due to it being based upon the Christian New Testament, the ‘give unto Caesar argument’ is meaningless outside of Christianity (and especially meaningless to Jews, who repeatedly rebelled against the Romans, to liberate their lands).

Hobbes’ and making religion conform to a new material world order (or The Origin of Secular Intolerance)


In Hobbes’ detachment of religion’s right to government, he left a problem which still haunts secular government and states till this day.

The problem was that for Hobbes’ secularism to work, religious people had to agree with Hobbes’ new role for religion, that the government derives its authority only from ruling, not implementing divine law.

But what if a sizeable population believed that God’s law should continue to be active in government? What if people disagreed with Hobbes’ arguments? How could they be ruled by a materialistic-based political authority who may not find divine law in their interest?

Hobbes answer was simple, the government in the interests of the ‘public good’, could control and restrict the beliefs and doctrines of its people:


‘It is annexed to the sovereignty to be judge of what opinions and doctrines are averse, and what conducing to peace; and consequently, on what occasions, how far, and what men are to be trusted withal in speaking to multitudes of people; and who shall examine the doctrines of all books before they be published’ [Leviathan, Chapter 18]

He continues with a justification:

‘For the actions of men proceed from their opinions, and in the well governing of opinions consists [in] the well governing of men’s actions in order to their peace and concord. And though in matter of doctrine nothing to be regarded but the truth, yet this is not repugnant to regulating of the same [in the interests of] peace…It belonged therefore to him that hath the sovereign power to be judge, or constitute all judges of opinions and doctrines, as a thing necessary to peace; thereby to prevent discord and civil war’ [Leviathan, Chapter 18]

At first glance, Hobbes’ arguments seem sensible – some doctrines can be controversial – however who can really judge that? What peace is being protected? Say if a religious doctrine runs rejects the practices of an unjust ruler, or rejects the policy of invading and attacking other countries for materialistic gain, or what if the ruler believes that ‘religion is poison’ (like Chairman Mao), or that a religious doctrine is a ‘threats’ because it undermines the Secular and Liberal culture? All religions that have doctrines contradicting these positions could be deemed a threat to ‘peace’ – Secular peace that is. Lastly, how is this different to the medieval Catholic Church’s approach to heretics, who by dint of their heresy, were also deemed ‘threats to the peace’ or ‘threats to the public good’, and needed to be controlled?

Catholicism’s heretics have now become Secularism’s ‘extremists’.

In Chapter 18 of Hobbes’ book, he considers that doctrines, even true ones, need to be regulated by the sovereign, if the sovereign deems that these doctrines are not conducive to civil peace. Of course, civil peace is defined by the ruler, and consequently, even if beliefs do not incite war, but merely hold the potential to cause community tensions, or run against the commonly accepted values underpinning a state, they can be viewed as a ‘threat’ by a secular ruler, and suppressed.

Hobbes’ was concerned that religions which may object to the rules and values of materialistic-based government, may disobey rules they deem unjust, which in Hobbes’ viewed, constituted a ‘threat’ to the state. He proposed that rulers are in effect the ultimate spiritual authority for all their citizens, since the citizens must accept the values of the ruler or ruling system – and it is the ruler, according to Hobbes, who authorises which beliefs and which doctrines are acceptable, and which are not [1] . The irony (again) of this is, while Hobbes’ advocates government to be detached from religious authority, he then re-attaches it again, but in the other direction, with religious given to government authority!

Hobbes’ insistence on the ruler controlling doctrines and beliefs, led to the problem that this would mean many religious believers would be forced to profess in public doctrines and beliefs they do not believe in or do things that go against what they believe in, or force them to hide their beliefs and keep them secret. To this Hobbes’ posited that there is no problem with that, as the ruler can’t force people to change the ideas in their heads – and doesn’t have to, as long as they keep those ideas only in their heads [2] . This ends up with the ironic position where Hobbes’ forces (sincere) people to become hypocrites! The very thing he argued that his solution (Secularism) would eliminate! As can be seen from history of Secularism since Hobbes, many religious communities and minorities have had to hide their beliefs in secret, or express their interests hiding the true reasons for them.

It is no wonder, that in the modern day, most Secular governments around the world have various means of controlling the doctrines and beliefs of its citizens. These can include creating a regional Church, like the Catholic Church of China, limiting platforms for religious speakers, restricting religious charities, arrests, fines, to funding religious organisations promoting state-approved interpretations of religion in many european countries, and middle-eastern countries.

People reading Hobbes may wonder if an alternative exists to controlling people’s doctrines and beliefs. The answer is that there have existed alternatives for thousands of years. In the Islamic Caliphate, the Islamic system granted autonomy to non-Muslims, and permitted non-Muslims to live under their own law systems, and be free from having any duty to obedience to the Caliph (whose authority is only over Muslims).

The only requirement from non-Muslims was abstaining from violence against Muslims, and for males to pay a tax to fund the border-military for their protection (which could be waived if they volunteered as a reservists).


The problem the Catholic Church faced with heretics, was the issue of the independent challenge to their authority. If someone could differ with established Church doctrines, then they were outside its authority, and therefore outside their political authority. This led the Catholic Church to expunge heresy where it could, in order to preserve their spiritual authority and therefore their political authority.

The Islamic Caliphate is not a spiritual authority for Muslims, but rather more of an obliged institution for the implementation of Islamic law. It cannot enforce opinions or doctrines beyond the commonly-agreed minimum required to be a Muslim (e.g. belief in God, Qur’an and in Muhammed (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam as the final Prophet of God).

As such, the Caliphate were not allowed by Islam to interfere with or oppress heretical sects merely for their beliefs – it was left up to Islamic scholars to refute heresies amongst themselves by force of argument.

The problem that the Catholic Church faced was that there were no explicit texts in Christian scripture granting the Church political authority over Christians.

This caused power struggles when it was challenged by the Protestants (and some irritated Catholic kings), as Christians could legitimately deny the Catholic Church’s political authority, without need to reject any explicit texts of scripture.

Although the question of which particular candidate could be Caliph had been contested at times throughout history, the institution of Caliphate has not, as it is a fundamental doctrine of Islam, of which all sects and schools of thought acknowledge as having legitimate political authority (only) over the Muslim community. Thus there was no need for the Caliphs to determine what doctrines were taught, and give permission to them, since whatever any Muslim believed, heretic or not, political obedience to the Caliph has always been an uncontested doctrine of Islam, being enunciated clearly in the teachings of the Muhammed (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) [3]

The ancient Kingdom of Israel which ruled by Mosaic law, is in Judaism, similar in nature to the institution of a Caliphate, and also held as a fundamental doctrine of Judaism.

In summary while Islam and Judaism permitted citizens to believe and practice without government interference, Hobbes’ secular government does not.

                        In Summary

As we have seen, Thomas Hobbes is a product of his time, and his idea to found ruling on a purely material basis was borne out his scepticism of religious institutions and an attempted pragmatic solution to religious wars – which didn’t stop wars from continuing.

These formative ideas of Hobbes would later be known as Secularism, and provide the basis for the development of Liberalism.

However as has been shown, the conclusions of Hobbes are based upon a multitude of observational errors and inaccurate prejudices. The errors of Hobbes’ thinking are:

1. Hobbes’ argument assumes a purely material purpose for the state, i.e. material security, and neglects its other purposes. Whereas virtually all religions and Eastern and Greek philosophers argued that the purposes of government were also the protection and encouragement of virtue.

Historically, most religions and ancient philosophies do not coerce non-believers to embrace their beliefs. However, amongst a community of fellow believers, religion did successfully create a legal, social and political environment conducive to the attainment of its goals.

2. Hobbes’ belief that material-based authority of the ruler should be the basis for state because it is stable – is false. Consequently he neglects solving the most common cause of wars and strife, which historically have not been religion. The most common causes of wars have been greed, prejudice, access to resources, poverty, tyranny, international relations, political factionalism, political rivalry etc. Hobbes’ argument that states based upon religion, or a religious culture are unstable, belies history, where such states or civilisations have endured for hundreds or even thousands of years.

3. Much of Hobbes’ Biblical interpretation is a kind of Protestantism, and would consequently only be accepted by a section of protestant Christians. This means that Hobbes’ arguments are only applicable to some strands of Protestant Christianity, not Catholics or the other Abrahamic religions like Islam – or most other religions and ancient philosophies for that matter.

4. Hobbes’ use of the bible is a unstable basis to use as an authority for Christians to accept material government. There are so many ways to interpret the New Testament’s approach to political authority, which means Hobbes’ arguments are highly subjective and that it would not a stable enough basis to expect all Christians to agree with Hobbes. Hobbes argues that religion is not a stable basis for a state, because it can be interpreted in different ways and is prone to change, yet he too then uses his interpretation of a religion to justify to its adherents his new political order! The question is, what does Hobbes’ do if people don’t agree with his interpretations?

5. Hobbes’ arguments would (and have) still caused wars and civil wars as religious believers resisting his new world order would face oppression. As a consequence of 3) and 4), civil wars and civil strife would still occur as Hobbes grants permission to the ruler to control doctrines and beliefs he feels are not conducive to the ‘public good’ or that would challenge his authority or interests (even if the challenge was not a political threat). This again leads to oppression of minorities (or majorities) who do not embrace Hobbes’ newly assigned place for religion. This also leads to the wars between states that are religious and ones that are materialist.

6. Hobbes’ makes sincere people into hypocrites and hypocrisy open to influence the people. As mentioned, a state with a religious community that holds beliefs and doctrines which are deemed to challenge the values or authority of the secular state (even if the religious community are non-violent), have to hide their beliefs for fear of persecution, or seek their interests pretending it is for some other reason than their religious morality.

All the while those who are not hindered by the same morality, or are moved only to pursue self-centred may freely display their activities and beliefs – as long as they accept the ruler’s rule over them (which they would happily do). This flaw in Hobbes’ thought, actually refutes on the very reasons he put forward for a Secular state – namely the elimination of hypocrisy!


Hobbes’ resentment at the Catholic churches wars and suppression of Christian heretical factions, led to him trying to find a material basis for politics. As a result, he merely replaced religious-based authority with a materialistic-based political authority – which would war against and suppress religious adherents who refuse to accept Hobbes’ new role for religion. In essence, Hobbes’ merely swapped the position of the Catholic Church and elevated in its place, materialist political authorities. And so with great irony, the suppression of non-Catholic Christians was replaced with a broader suppression of virtually all religious communities who reject Hobbes’ materialistic political system (Secularism), and dare to preserve the political aspects of their religions.

Coming after Hobbes’, it is no surprise to find that the founders of the doctrine of ‘Free Speech’ and Secular Liberalism like John Milton [4] and John Locke [5] , and American founding fathers, John Jay [6] , and John Adams
[7] who are all famous for their advocacy of tolerance, would only permit toleration of protestant sects, but would outright declare the necessity the intolerance towards Catholics, or some discrimination against them.

In the end, Hobbes created a new classification of heretics to be oppressed and warred against. And today, it is no surprise that many Secular states exert some control, regulation and restriction over which beliefs and doctrines are taught within religious communities residing in Secular states. Secular authorities typically label those who hold opinions contrary to Secular Liberal morality as being ‘extremists’, which usually is a prelude for implementing a variety of suppressing measures. It is fair to say, the persecution of Medieval Catholicism’s ‘heretics’ has now moved on to the modern-day persecution of Secularism’s ‘extremists’.


And so Hobbes’ folly would go down in history, as not just the origin of Secularism’s totalitarian monopoly over politics, nor as the full unfettering of hypocrisy in society, but also as the birth of a new intolerance.


[1] ‘And first, we are to remember that the right of judging what doctrines are fit for peace, and to be taught the subjects, is in all Commonwealths [i.e. states] inseparably annexed…to the sovereign power civil, whether it be in one man [Autocracy] or in one assembly of men [Democracy]. For it is evident to the commonest capacity that men’s actions are derived from the opinions they have of the good or evil which from those actions redound unto themselves; and consequently, men that are once possessed of an opinion that their obedience to the sovereign power will be more hurtful to them than their disobedience will disobey the laws, and thereby overthrow the Commonwealth [i.e. state], and introduce confusion and civil war; for the avoiding whereof, all civil government was ordained. And therefore in all Commonwealths of the heathen [pagan/non-Christian], the sovereigns have had the name of pastors [spiritual leaders] of the people, because there was no subject that could lawfully teach the people, but by their permission and authority. This right of the heathen kings cannot be thought taken from them by their conversion to the faith of Christ..or…be deprived of the power necessary for the conservation of peace amongst their subjects and for their defence against foreign enemies. And therefore Christian kings are still the supreme pastors [spiritual leaders] of their people, and have power to ordain what pastors they please, to teach the[ir] Church, that is, to teach the people committed to their charge’. [Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, Chapter 18]

[2] ‘ But what, may some object, if a king, or a senate, or other sovereign person forbid us to believe in Christ? To this I answer that such forbidding is of no effect; because belief and unbelief never follow men’s commands. Faith is a gift of God which man can neither give nor take away by promise of rewards or menaces of torture. And, if it be further asked, what if we be commanded by our lawful prince to say with our tongue we believe not; must we obey such command? Profession with the tongue is but an external thing, and no more than any other gesture whereby we signify our obedience; and wherein a Christian, holding firmly in his heart the faith of Christ, hath the same liberty which the prophet Elisha allowed to Naaman the Syrian. Naaman was converted in his heart to the God of Israel, for he saith, “Thy servant will henceforth offer neither burnt offering nor sacrifice unto other gods, but unto the Lord. In this thing the Lord pardon thy servant, that when my master goeth into the house of Rimmon to worship there, and he leaneth on my hand, and I bow myself in the house of Rimmon; when I bow myself in the house of Rimmon, the Lord pardon thy servant in this thing.” [II Kings, 5. 17, 18] This the Prophet approved, and bid him “Go in peace.” Here Naaman believed in his heart; but by bowing before the idol Rimmon, he denied the true God in effect as much as if he had done it with his lips. But then what shall we answer to our Saviour’s saying, “Whosoever denieth me before men, I will deny him before my Father which is in heaven?” [Matthew, 10. 33] This we may say, that whatsoever a subject, as Naaman was, is compelled to in obedience to his sovereign, and doth it not in order to his own mind, but in order to the laws of his country, that action is not his, but his sovereign’s; nor is it he that in this case denieth Christ before men, but his governor, and the law of his country. If any man shall accuse this doctrine as repugnant to true and unfeigned Christianity, I ask him, in case there should be a subject in any Christian Commonwealth that should be inwardly in his heart of the Mahomedan religion, whether if his sovereign command him to be present at the divine service of the Christian church, and that on pain of death, he think that Mahomedan obliged in conscience to suffer death for that cause, rather than to obey that command of his lawful prince. If he say he ought rather to [defy the prince and] suffer death, then he authorizeth all private men to disobey their princes in maintenance of their religion, true or false: if he say he ought to be obedient, then he alloweth to himself that which he denieth to another, contrary to the words of our Saviour, “Whatsoever you would that men should do unto you, that do ye unto them” [Luke, 6. 31] and contrary to the law of nature (which is the indubitable everlasting law of God), “Do not to another that which thou wouldest not he should do unto thee.’ [Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, Chapter 42]

[3] Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) said, ‘The tribe of Israel used to be ruled and guided by prophets: Whenever a prophet died, another would take over his place. There will be no prophet after me, but there will be Caliphs who will increase in number.’ The people asked, ‘O Allah’s Apostle! What do you order us (to do)?’ He said, ‘Obey the one who will be given the pledge of allegiance first. Fulfil their (i.e. the Caliphs) rights, for Allah will ask them about (any shortcoming) in ruling those Allah has put under their guardianship.’ (Sahih Bukhari, Virtues and Merits of the Prophet (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) and his Companions, Volume 4, Book 56, Number 661)”

It should be noted that the Prophet (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) requested that Muslims give a pledge of allegiance, not belief in the Caliph, or that the Caliph is infallible.

[4] ‘ Yet if all cannot be of one mind, as who looks they should be? To this doubtless is more wholesome, more prudent, and more Christian that many be tolerated rather than all compelled. I mean not tolerated popery, and open superstition, which as it extirpates all religions eeeand civil supremacies, so itself should be extirpate, provided first that all charitable and compassionate means be used to win and regain the weak and the misled: that also which is impious or evil absolutely either against faith or manners no law can possibly permit, that intends not to unlaw itself’ [John Milton, Areopagitica]

Note, in this work he urges no toleration to Catholicism, but while making no specific comments about Islam, does equate Islam and Catholicism being the same.
‘nay it was first establisht and put in practice by Antichristian malice and mystery [i.e. Catholicism] on set purpose to extinguish, if it were possible, the light of [Protestant] Reformation, and to settle falshood; little differing from that policie wherewith the Turk upholds his Alcoran’ [John Milton, Areopagitica]

He was makes a passing remark about look at ancient Athenian society, which he remarked, had a government which was intolerant to Atheists.

‘But lest I should be condemn’d of introducing licence, while I oppose Licencing, I refuse not the paines to be so much Historicall, as will serve to shew what hath been done by ancient and famous Commonwealths, against this disorder, till the very time that this project of licencing crept out of the Inquisition, was catcht up by our Prelates, and hath caught some of our Presbyters. In Athens where Books and Wits were ever busier then in any other part of Greece, I finde but only two sorts of writings which the Magistrate car’d to take notice of; those either blasphemous and Atheisticall, or Libellous’ . [John Milton, Areopagitica]

[5] ‘That Church [e.g.. Catholicism] can have no right to be tolerated by the magistrate which is constituted upon such a foundation that all those who enter into it do thereby ipso facto deliver themselves up to the protection and service of another prince [e.g. the Pope]. For by this means the magistrate would give way to the settling of a foreign jurisdiction in his own country and suffer his own people to be listed, as it were, for soldiers against his own Government. Nor does the frivolous and fallacious distinction between the Court and the Church afford any remedy to this inconvenience; especially when both the one and the other are equally subject to the absolute authority of the same person, who has not only power to persuade the members of his Church to whatsoever he lists, either as purely religious, or in order thereunto, but can also enjoin it them on pain of eternal fire. It is ridiculous for any one to profess himself to be a Mahometan only in his religion, but in everything else a faithful subject to a Christian magistrate, whilst at the same time he acknowledges himself bound to yield blind obedience to the Mufti of Constantinople, who himself is entirely obedient to the Ottoman Emperor and frames the feigned oracles of that religion according to his pleasure. But this Mahometan living amongst Christians would yet more apparently renounce their government if he acknowledged the same person to be head of his Church who is the supreme magistrate in the state.

Lastly, those are not at all to be tolerated who deny the being of a God. Promises, covenants, and oaths, which are the bonds of human society, can have no hold upon an atheist. The taking away of God, though but even in thought, dissolves all; besides also, those that by their atheism undermine and destroy all religion, can have no pretence of religion whereupon to challenge the privilege of a toleration [John Locke, Letter Concerning Toleration]

[6] ‘Except the professors of the religion of the church of Rome, who ought not to hold lands in, or be admitted to a participation of the civil rights enjoyed by the members of this State, until such a time as the said professors shall appear in the supreme court of this State, and there most solemnly swear, that they verily believe in their consciences, that no pope, priest or foreign authority on earth, hath power to absolve the subjects of this State from their allegiance to the same. And further, that they renounce and believe to be false and wicked, the dangerous and damnable doctrine, that the pope, or any other earthly authority, have power to absolve men from sins, described in, and prohibited by the Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ; and particularly, that no pope, priest or foreign authority on earth, hath power to absolve them from the obligation of this oath’. [John Jay, Proposal for amendment of the New York Constitution, 1777]

[7] The famous founding father John Adams, although tolerating Catholics, made the requirement of Catholics to say an oath before taking any government position:
‘no foreign prince, person, prelate, state, or potentiate hath, or ought to have any jurisdiction, superiority, pre-eminence, authority, dispensing, or other power, in any matter civil, ecclesiastical, or spiritual, with this commonwealth: except the authority and power which is, or may be, vested by their constituents in the congress of the United States’ [Constitution of Massachusetts, 1780]

[8] After the fall of many Catholic countries to Secular Liberalism and Secular Fascism, the Catholic Church later reined back their political influence, and grudgingly accepted the Secular world order – eventually allowing Catholics to be fully tolerated in Secular countries.

The Only Qur’anic Aayah that was Revealed Inside The Holy Ka’abah

Do you know which is the only Aayah in the Qur’an that was revealed inside Ka’abah, that is Masjid al Haraam, the Sacred Mosque or Baitullah, the House of Allah??

Today let us learn about this Aayah, understand the amazing reason for which it was revealed, and also appreciate the miracle that exists to this day!!

In pre-Islamic times (that is, before Allah conferred Nubuw’wah, Prophethood, on Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam), the Arabs used to regard the sanctity of Ka’abah but in their own way. During the days of Hajj, the services of providing water to the pilgrims was entrusted to Abbas (radhiyallahu anhu), the uncle of the Prophet (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam).

The custodial duty of keeping the keys to the House of Allah and, of opening and closing it during fixed days had been given to ‘Uthman ibn Talhah.

After the conquest of Makkah, when Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) took the keys of the door of Ka’abah from Uthman ibn Talhah, opened its door and entered Ka’abah, Allah revealed this aayah instructing His beloved Messenger to return the trust (in this case, the Key) to its rightful trustee:


“Indeed, Allah commands you to render trusts to whom they are due and when you judge between people to judge with justice. Excellent is that which Allah instructs you. Indeed, Allah is ever Hearing and Seeing.” (Surah An-Nisaa 4: 58)

Let us first understand the historical background:

According to a personal statement of ‘Uthman ibn Talhah, the Ka’abah was opened every Monday and Thursday during the period of Jahilliyah and people would use the occasion to have the honour of entering the sacred House.

Once before Hijrah, the Holy Prophet (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) came with some of his Companions in order to enter the Ka’abah. ‘Uthman ibn Talhah had not embraced Islam until that time. He stopped the Holy Prophet (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) from going in, displaying an attitude which was very rude. The Holy Prophet (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) showed great restraint, tolerated his harsh words, then said: ‘O ‘Uthman, a day will come when you would perhaps see this key to the Baitullah in my hands when I shall have the power and choice to give it to anyone I choose.’

‘Uthman ibn Talhah said: ‘If this happens, the Quraysh will then be all uprooted and disgraced.’

He (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) said: ‘No, the Quraysh will then be all established and very honourable indeed.’ Saying this, he went into the Baytullah.

After that, says Talhah, when I did a little soul-searching, I became convinced that whatever he has said is bound to happen. I made up my mind that I am going to embrace Islam then and there. But, my own people around me vehemently opposed the idea and everybody joined in to chide me on my decision. So, I was unable to convert to Islam. When came the conquest of Makkah, the Holy Prophet (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) called for me and asked for the key to Baitullah, which I presented to him.’


The area in white (in the above image) is the spot inside the Ka’abah where the Prophet (sallallaahu alaihi wasallal) is believed to have prayed after entering it

So he went into the Baitullah, offered his prayers there, and when he came out, he returned the key to Talhah saying: ‘Here, take it. Now this key will always remain with your family right through the Last Day. Anyone who will take this key from you will be a tyrant.’ (By this he meant that nobody has the right to take back this key from Talhah)

He also instructed him to use whatever money or things he may get in return for this service to Baitullah in accordance with the rules set by the Shari’ah of Islam.


              The key of the Ka’abah

‘Uthman ibn Talhah says: ‘When I, with the key in my hand, started walking off all delighted, he called me again, and said: “Remember ‘Uthman, did I not tell you something way back? Has it come to pass, or has it not?’ Now, I remembered what he had said before Hijrah when he had said: ‘A day will come when you will see this key in my hand.’

I submitted: ‘Yes, there is no doubt about it. Your word has come true.’ And that was the time when I recited the Kalimah and entered the fold of Islam.’ (Mazhari, from Ibn Sa’d).

Sayyidna ‘Umar ibn Al-Khattab (radhiyallaahu anhu) says: ‘That day, when the Holy Prophet sallallaahu alaihi wasallam came out of the Baitullah, he was reciting, this very verse …… ﺇِﻥَّ ﺍﻟﻠَّـﻪَ ﻳَﺄْﻣُﺮُﻛُﻢْ ﺃَﻥ ﺗُﺆَﺩُّﻭﺍ ﺍﻟْﺄَﻣَﺎﻧَﺎﺕِ ﺇِﻟَﻰٰ ﺃَﻫْﻠِﻬَﺎ I had never heard him recite this verse before this.’

Obviously, this verse was revealed to him inside the Ka’abah exactly at that time. Obeying the Divine command in the verse, Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) called ‘Uthman ibn Talhah again and made him the trustee of the key. This was the background in which this verse was revealed.

At this point let us bear in mind an important rule on which there is consensus. The rule is that even if a Qur’anic verse is revealed in a particular background, the rule laid down by it in general terms must be taken as of universal application and must not be restricted to that particular event.
(The above explanation is taken from the commentary, Maa’riful Qur’an, by Mufti Muhammad Shafi)

The key of the door of Ka’abah is still in the possession of the family of the original Key-Bearer, Uthman ibn Talhah (radhiyallahu anhu).

Even the king of Saudi Arabia needs permission from this blessed family to have the key to enter Ka’abah. Subhanallah!

Another point we learn from this aayah is that apart from commanding us to fulfill our trusts, we are also instructed to judge between people with justice.

The ayah concludes by reminding us that Allah Hears all that we say and Sees all of our actions, and that nothing is hidden is from Him.

May Peace, Mercy and Blessings of Allah be upon Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam), his family and companions.


Shattering the Myth that Shah Isma’il Shaheed rahimahullah was a Wahhabi

[By Saad Khan]

A salient feature of the innovators of this age is to hurl charges of “Wahhabism” against the great scholar, muhaddith[1], sufi, reformer and mujahid, ‘Allamah Shah Muhammad Isma’il Shaheed Dehlwi (rahmatullah alayh). It is interesting to note that when in 1821 Shah Isma’il Shaheed and Sayyid Ahmad Shaheed (rahimahumullah) left for Hajj[2] along with 757 of their followers, the Holy Lands were under Ottoman rule and the followers of Shaykh Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab had already been driven out. They had managed to control the Holy Lands for only a short amount of time. It would be contrary to logic and analogy to argue that Shah Isma’il Shaheed and Sayyid Ahmad Shaheed (rahimahumullah) were influenced by a movement whose influence did not prevail in the Hijaz and the Holy Lands. Rather, the followers of Shaykh Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab were vilified and defeated.

It is unlikely therefore that in such an atmosphere the two respected shaykhs were influenced by an ideology which not only lacked influence in the region but was at the same time ostracized and demonized.

To show the fallacy of this claim, it would be beneficial to list those issues over which there is difference between Shah Muhammad Isma’il Shaheed and what the followers of Shaykh Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab generally believe. It will become clear to the readers that these charges of Wahhabism have no basis.


In Taqwiyat al-Iman, Shah Isma’il Shaheed (rahimahullah) strongly condemned practices prevalent amongst the laymen where they would seek help from the saints by uttering statements such as “O Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir Jaylani! Give me something for the sake of Allah” – this is istighathah and completely impermissible.

Regarding such a practice he writes, “one should refrain from such statements which reek of shirk and are disrespectful towards Allah Most High” (Taqwiyat al-Iman, p.123).

However, regarding tawassul Shah Isma’il Shaheed (rahimahullah) states: “But if it is said, ‘O Allah, give me for the sake [i.e., for the sake of his close relationship to You and his virtuous deeds] of Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir’, then this is allowed” (Taqwiyat al-Iman, p.123). He has also discussed the permissibility of tawassul in his book, Mansab Imamat.[3] Shaykh Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab and most of his followers are, however, against this type of tawassul through the pious servants of Allah.

Sufi Orders

Shah Isma’il Shaheed (rahimahullah) was bay’ah in the Naqshbandi tariqah whereas many followers of Shaykh Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab are against tariqah-based tasawwuf. He gave bay’ah to Sayyid Ahmad Shaheed (rahimahullah) at the advice of his uncle Imam Shah ‘Abd al-’Aziz Dehlwi (rahimahullah).

The Kitab al-Tawhid Myth

An unsubstantiated claim, by the likes of Maulvi Fadl Rasul Badayuni[4], is that Taqwiyat al-Iman is a commentary of Shaykh Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab’s Kitab al-Tawhid. Maulana Muhammad Manzur Nu’mani (rahimahullah) mentions that only a person who has not read Kitab al-Tawhid can make such a bold and baseless claim. He adds that Taqwiyat al-Iman was written for the laymen of the subcontinent in a very simple and easy language but with Faruqi[5] grandeur; whereas the readership of Kitab al-Tawhid were those scholarly men from Najd, Hijaz, the Levant, Iraq, etc. whose minds were not clear regarding tawhid and shirk or they were supporters of some polytheistic or seemingly polytheistic practices.

Kitab al-Tawhid is an academic work unlike Taqwiyat al-Iman, which is aimed at laymen. The approach of Taqwiyat al-Iman is to list some verses of the Qur’an, few hadiths from Mishkat al-Masabih with an easy translation and a brief commentary. On the other hand, the commentary of the Qur’anic verses and hadiths in Kitab al-Tawhid is academic and much more detailed. Maulana Nu’mani mentions that keeping this in mind, a commentary of Kitab al-Tawhid in the language of Taqwiyat al-Iman would have exceeded more than 10 volumes ( Shaykh Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab aur Hindustan kay ‘Ulama Haq, p.65-68).

While some, like Maulwi Ahmad Rida Khan, have claimed even more preposterously that Taqwiyat al-Iman is a translation of Kitab al-Tawhid! Any serious scholar can easily glean from reading the above two books that Molwi Ahmad Rida Khan had only heard the name of Kitab al-Tawhid but had not read it.

The issue of Wahdat al-Wujud

Al-‘Abaqat (Diffusions of Perfume), by Shah Isma’il Shaheed (rahimahullah), is one of the most comprehensive works on tasawwuf. ‘Allamah Shabbir Ahmad ‘Uthmani writes, “We have not found an elaboration of the laws of tajalli (divine manifestation – in Sufi terminology) and a realization of its essence in a manner the heart finds rest and by which the chest expands, in spite of an extreme search and intense investigation in the books of the Folk (i.e. Sufis), except what the magnificent ‘Allamah, the noble Gnostic, the incomparable [scholar] of his time and amongst his contemporaries, my master and my support, Muhammad Isma’il al-Shahid al-Dahlawi (Allah sanctify his soul) verified in his book Al-’Abaqat… an extremely rare book that has no equal.” (Fath al-Mulhim, 2:315) In this work, Shah Isma’il Shaheed (rahimahullah) discusses at length one of the most burning issues of tasawwuf, namely Wahdat al-Wujud and Wahdat al-Shuhud.

In this book Shah Isma’il Shaheed (rahimahullah) has reconciled the two views, and has shown that the difference is one of perception, arising from the difference in spiritual stations (maqamat). He has also differentiated between those Wujudiyyah Sufis who are orthodox Sunnis and those false Wujudiyyah who say, “there is actually nothing except this sensible universe characterized by existence”. He refers to them as “infidels, mischievous, heretics and the dirt of all the atheists”.

Good opinion of Shaykh al-Akbar

Shah Isma’il Shaheed (rahomahullah) refers to Muhyi al-Din ibn al-’Arabi (rahimahullah) as Shaykh al-Akbar and exonerates him from the view that he believed in the real unity between the Creator and the created. He writes in Al-’Abaqat, “They are the chiefs of the sufis and the leaders of the saints. At first sight, some utterances of the followers of the Shaykh seem to bear resemblance to the utterances of those who believe in the real unity (between the Creator and the created, ‘ainiyyah), but when all their utterances are examined thoroughly such resemblance vanishes.” On the other hand, followers of Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab did not have a good opinion of the Shaykh al-Akbar and go as far as declaring him a heretic.

Baseless charges of Anthropomorphism

Certain vile persons accuse Shah Isma’il Shaheed (rahimahullah) of anthropomorphism (tajsim) in the same way they accuse the followers of Shaykh Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab. This is indeed a great slander against the Shaykh who was martyred in the path of Allah.

He states about Allah Most High, “By the perfection of His attributes, He is Independent of the praise of the praisers, and by the dignity of His essence (dhat), is above the description of the describers. The deep thoughts are burnt by the majesty of His Essence and the hard speculations are vanished under the dominion of His eminence. None is His partner in the attribute of Being and nothing is His co-sharer in the state of establishment (thubut).
The most eloquent failed to cover the field of His attributes and the master grammarians went astray in traversing the extensive regions of His essence. By the vastness of His essence He transcends both space (ihatah) and limitedness (taqyid)”. (Al-’Abaqat, XIV)

He writes in another place, “It has also been proven that the Necessary in relation to the possibilities cannot be characterized by attributes, such as, direction, the nearness and farness of place, conjunction and disjunction. It is also confirmed that there is no distance whatsoever finite or infinite between the Necessary and the possible” (Al-’Abaqat, p.43). He writes further, “By this tajalli (manifestation), it is proven, for the Divinity that it (Divinity) exists in the external, is neither confined to any direction (jihah) nor to any place. He is neither connected with anything nor is separate from it. He transcends the change in attributes, such as, the new knowledge and the will” (Al-’Abaqat, p.152). In other words, He is free from change in His attributes, because change occurs in relation to time and He is free of time.

Ash’aris and Maturidis are the people of truth

Shah Isma’il Shaheed (rahimahullah) referred to the Ash’aris and Maturidis as the people of truth. He writes, “It is also worth remembering that the learned in every science became divided and differed among themselves. That happened in two ways. One way was that the difference took place between the adherents of falsehood and the followers of truth. This difference is similar to the one found between the jurists of the Shi’ah and those of the Sunnis. Or it is like the difference seen between the Mu’tazilah and the Ash’aris. Or it is like the one observed between the atheists, who have identified Allah with [as] the Universe (Wujudiyyah Malahidah), and those wise ones [i.e., people of truth] who believe that Allah transcends the universe and the being (wujud) which is common to all existing things, [and that created beings are] simply a shadow of the real being (Wujudiyyah ‘Ufara’).

” … the other kind (second kind) of difference is one which is seen between the followers of truth themselves, such as, between the four Imams, or is found between the Ash’aris and Maturidis. … or is like the difference seen among the mystics of different paths. The decision in such cases is that each one of these groups is on the right path in many of the problems. ‘For everyone there is a direction to which he turns his face. Strive, then, to excel each other in good deeds.’ (Qur’an 2:148). He who followed any one of them succeeded in attaining his object.” (Al-’Abaqat, p.252-253)

Love of the Auliyah

Shah Isma’il Shaheed (rahimahullah) acknowledged different categories of the pious and the saints. He writes regarding these virtuous men, “But you all are, however, well aware that all the believers know for certain, that there are some persons who are named as the faithful witnesses of the truth (siddiqiyun) and the substitutes (abdal) in spite of the fact that, the Lawgiver has not formed any rule for the acquisition of the ranks of such persons, and has not invited the people to acquire them nor had held out any promise to the effect that by doing this action of by observing that litany, that rank will be achieved. It is believable that there are some other forms of perfection, the existence of which is supported by the mystical unveilings of the learned. Thus, to acknowledge them is a virtue and a sign of beauty…” (Al-’Abaqat, p.275) He has also discussed the existence of abdal, awtad, aqtab, nujaba‘ and ruqaba‘ in Mansab Imamat.

‘Allamah Anwar Shah Kashmiri’s (rahimahullah) defense of Shah Isma’il Shahid (rahimahullah)

Lastly, it would be beneficial to quote the statement of Imam Sayyid Anwar Shah Kashmiri (rahimahullah) regarding the lofty status of Shah Isma’il Shaheed and his works.

A Barelwi scholar wrote Izalat al-Khifa’ regarding the ‘ilm al-ghayb (knowledge of the unseen) of Allah’s Messenger (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam). Imam Anwar Shah Kashmiri(rahimahullah) penned a refutation titled Sahm al-Ghayb fi Kabd Ahl al-Rayb (The Arrow of the Unseen in the Heart of the People of Doubt)[6]. He writes in the prelude directly addressing the author of Izalat al-Khifa’, “Know that you cannot eliminate anything through which Allah guided the people at the hands of the Shaykh, the ascetic, the pious, the martyr, Mawlana Shah Isma’il. Do you think you can eradicate the mention of the one whose great life was certified by Allah? (indicating to the verse that the martyrs are alive) … Do you think anyone would abandon Taqwiyat al-Iman and Sirat Mustaqim[7] and follow an opinion whose stench returns to you like flatulence?”(Sahm al-Ghayb, p.2)

It should be obvious that the main cause behind these allegations of Wahhabism was Shah Isma’il Shaheed’s (rahimahullah) efforts to stamp out polytheistic practices and other innovations that had become widespread among the Muslim community. The innovators of the age described them as Wahhabis to tarnish their image among the Muslim community and halt the reformative work they were carrying out.



Al-’Abaqat (Diffusions of Perfume) – Shah Isma’il Shahid

Karwan Imam wa ‘Azimat – Abul Hassan ‘Ali Nadwi

Majmu’ah Rasa’il Chandpuri – Sayyid Murtada Hassan Chandpuri

Mawlana Muhammad Isma‘il Shahid aur un kay Naqid – Ikhlaq Husayn Qasimi Dahlawi

Sayyid Ahmad – Muhammad Hedayetullah

Sayyid Ahmad Shaheed say Hajji Imdadullah Muhajir Makki kay Ruhani Rishtay- Sayyid Nafis Shah al-Husayni

Shaykh Muhammad bin ‘Abd al-Wahhab aur Hindustan kay ‘Ulama Haq – Muhammad Manzur Nu’mani

Taqwiyat al-Iman – Shah Isma’il Shaheed


[1] During their two year stay in Hijaz, many scholars were granted khilafah by Sayyid Ahmad Shaheed (rahimahullah). Some of them include, (1) Shaykh Muhammad ‘Umar – ustadh of Shaykh ‘Abdullah Siraj, (2) Shaykh Sayyid ‘Aqil, (3) Shaykh Sayyid Hamza, (4) Shaykh Mustafa al-Hanafi, (5) Shaykh Shams al-Din al-Misri, (6) Shaykh Muhammad ‘Ali Hindi, (7) Khawaja Almas – a great saint from Madina, and (8) Shaykh Ahmad ibn Idris of Maghrib who had memorized whole of Sahih al-Bukhari with sharh of Al-Qastallani by heart. During their stay in Makkah, Shah Isma’il (rahimahullah) would give dars of Hujjat Allah al-Balighah and Mawlana ‘Abd al-Hayy al-Lakhnawi, khalifah of Sayyid Ahmad Saheed and son in law of Shah ‘Abd al-’Aziz al-Dahlawi (rahimahumullah), would give dars of Mishkat al-Masabih.

[2] The author of Nuzhat al-Khawatir , Hakim Sayyid ‘Abd al-Hayy Lukhnawi al-Hussaini (rahimahullah), writes, “One of his [Shah Isma’ils’] books is Mansab Imamat in which he has discussed the post of prophethood and imamah ; this book is unparalleled of its kind.”

[3] Mawlana Hakim Sayyid ‘Abd al-Hayy Hussaini (rahimahullah) writes regarding Molwi Fazl Rasul Badayuni, “He was a faqih who was argumentative and very biased in his beliefs, he was in constant opposition of the ‘ ulama , most far away from the Sunnah and an aid to bid’ah, he encountered the people of
haqq with his lies and innovations and was a lover of the world. He made takfir of Shaykh Shah Isma’il ibn ‘Abd al-Ghani Dahlawi and he accused Shaykh Shah Waliullah al-Muhaddith Dahlawi of being a Nasibi Khariji. And he accused and spoke ill of Shaykh Ahmad ibn ‘Abd al-Ahad al-Sirhindi [Mujaddid al-Alf al-Thani] who was the imam of the Mujaddidiyyah and he [Fazl Rasul] would say, ‘All of them are deviated and are leading others astray’.” (Nuzhat al-Khawatir , p.1065

[4] Shah Isma’il Shaheed (rahimahullah) inherited this from Imam Shah Waliullah Dehlwi (rahimahullah). The Imam’s lineage traces back to Sayyiduna ‘Umar (radhiyallahu anhu) from his father’s side and to Sayyiduna ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) from his mother’s side.

[5] Shaykh ‘Abd al-Fattah Abu Ghuddah also talks about this booklet of Imam Kashmiri (rahimahullah). He specifically mentions that it was written in refutation of Barelwi ‘ aqidah that the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) has the knowledge of ‘what was and what shall be’ (ma kana wa ma yakun ). (See Majmu’ah Rasa’il al-Kashmiri, p.24)

[6] Sirat Mustaqim is a record of the sayings of Sayyid Ahmad Shaheed (rahimahullah), compiled by Shah Isma’il Shaheed (rahimahullah) and Mawlana ‘Abd al-Hayy (rahimahullah). The book was originally compiled in Persian and first published in 1823; it was later translated into Urdu. It was translated into Arabic by Mawlana ‘Abd al-Hayy (rahimahullah), at the request Shaykh Hassan Efindi, the deputy sultan of Egypt, during their two year stay in Makkah and widely circulated among the ‘ ulama of Hijaz.

Did Haji Imdadullah Al-Makki (rahimahullah) Create a “Deobandi Recipe On How To Become Allah”??

QUESTION: Some Salafi websites are accusing Hadhrat Haji Imdaadullah Muhaajir Makki (rahmatullah alayh) of shirk. They say that Haji Imdadullah advised his mureeds of a ‘recipe to become Allah” – Nauthubillah. Levelling their accusation, they say:

“And what these (deobandis) interested in? To make Allah!!! He, Imdaadullah says: And after this he should be engrossed in Dhikr “Hoo Hoo” so much so that the one doing Dhikr becomes the Mazkoor i.e. Allah himself.” (End of verbatim translation of the Salafi atrocity of stupidity).

Please explain this conundrum.

ANSWER: Let us momentarily forget what Hadhrat Haji Imdadullah (rahmatullah alayh) wrote in his kitaab, kulliyat e imdadia. Let us see what Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) himself said about the Thaakir (the one who makes thikr) and Mathkoor (the One whose thikr is made, i.e. Allah Azza Wa Jal).

The concept of the Thaakir ‘becoming Mathkoor’, is fully within the confines of the Qur’aan and Sunnah. It is endorsed in the following Hadith-e-Qudsi.

Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam), reporting a Hadith Qudsi, said that Allah Ta’ala said:

“Whoever bears animosity for My Wali, verily, I issue to him an ultimatum of war. There is nothing more beloved to Me for a servant gaining My proximity than that which I have made obligatory on him. The servant incrementally gains My proximity with Nawaafil until I love him. Then when I love him, I become his ears with which he hears; his eyes with which he sees; his hands with which he touches, and his feet with which he walks.” (Bukhaari)

In another narration, reported by Abdul Waahid, it also appears: “And (I become) his heart with which he thinks and his tongue with which he speaks.”

Another Hadith also affirming the correctness of the Sufiya’s concept is the following Hadith:
Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said: “Verily, on the Day of Qiyaamah Allah Ta’ala will say to a man: ‘O son of Aadam! I was sick, but you did not visit Me.’ The man will say: ‘O my Rabb! How could I visit you whilst you are Rabbul Aalameen?’ Allah Ta’ala will say:

‘Don’t you know that My certain friend was sick and you did not visit him? Don’t you know that if you had visited him, you would have found Me by him?’

‘O son of Aadam! I asked food from you, but you did not feed Me.’ The man will say: ‘O my Rabb! How can I feed You whilst You are Rabbul Aalameen?’ Allah Ta’ala will say: ‘Did you not know that a certain friend of Mine had asked you for food, but you did not feed him? Did you not know that if you had fed him, you would have found Me by him?’

‘O son of Aadam! I had asked you for water to drink, but you did not give it to Me.’ The man will say: ‘O my Rabb! How can I give You water to drink when You are Rabbul Aalameen?’ Allah Ta’ala will say: ‘A certain friend of Mine asked you for water, but you did not give it to him. If you had given him water to drink, you would have found that by Me.” (Muslim)

Similarly, as Hadhrat Thaanvi (rahimahullah) has elucidated, in the second Hadith (above) Allah Ta’ala explicitly states that He becomes the ears, eyes, heart, hands and feet of His devotee, and that it is He who is doing all the actions emanating from His devotee. Despite this unification expressed in the Hadith, there is no real or actual unification or hulool of Allah Ta’ala into the person or into any of His creation. The extreme and lofty level of Divine Proximity which the devotee is bestowed with by virtue of his love and obedience for Allah Ta’ala, is in fact the meaning of Hajji Imdaadullah’s (rahimahullah) statement which the moron Salafis fail to understand due to their spiritual barrenness and moral depravity. It means nothing else other than to signify obliviousness of self and permeation with Allah’s Remembrance. The true thaakir becomes an embodiment of Divine Remembrance, and that is all what Haaji Imdaadullah’s (rahmatullah alayh) statement means, but which morons and deviates distort and kick up a lot of stinking dust. It does not refer to the kufr concept of hulool or incarnation or of Allah’s pervasion in insaan or in any aspect of His creation.

Likewise, in the third Hadith, Allah Ta’ala attributes the devotee’s sickness to Himself, saying that He was sick, and He was hungry and He was thirsty. Any Muslim in possession of some brains not deranged by stupidity and Salafi deviation, will understand that these are metaphorical expressions denoting the lofty state of Divine Proximity (Qurb-e-Ilaahi) and Divine Acceptance (Maqbooliyat) which the devotee enjoys. It is this metaphorical ‘unity’ which is termed Wahdatul Wujood of the Sufiya-e-Kiraam, which the spiritually barren baboons of crass materialism have interpreted to mean divine hulool/incarnation/pervasion, but such conception of kufr did not dawn in the pure Souls of the Auliya of Allah Azza Wa Jal.

It is a technical term having a methaphorical connotation. Never did the Sufiya intend thereby hulool ( i.e. the pervasion/incarnation of Allah Ta’ala physically into the being of the devotee) Nauthubillaah!

Now the deviate moron Salafis are free to accuse Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) of having uttered ‘shirk’ since he ‘equated’ Allah Ta’ala with created man. He said that Allah Ta’ala becomes the heart, mind, eyes, ears and limbs of created man. In otherwords, man has become Allah – Nauthubillaah! But in terms of Salafi moronic logic, this is the logical conclusion of applying literal connotations to figurative expressions.

The thaakir becoming Mathkoor is a figurative expression to convey total absorption in Divine Remembrance resulting in the state of self-obliviousness. It means nothing else.

By Maulana Ahmad Sadiq Desai D.B

The End Of Islamic Garnata

After a series of negotiations and assurances that the Christians would safeguard the agreement that was about to be signed, the Garnata Capitulations were signed in 1491, (otherwise known as The Treaty of Garnata), and in 1492 the Christian forces took over the city, and thus Islamic rule of Andalus ended after almost 780 years of continuous rule. Albeit this did not mean that 1492 marked the end of the Muslim presence in Andalus, as they remained for another hundred or more years or so. As for Abu Abdullah he ended up dying in obscurity fleeing from Andalus to Morocco.

Islam flourished in Andalus, but due to our disunity and worldy desires, we lost Andalus in a mere 780 years, wherein not even a trace of it exists in modern day Spain. The rulers then were not unlike the rulers now and likewise the people of those lands not unlike us. However, the history of Andalus that we’re interested in, in this project is not the above history. Nay, it is actually what happened after the Treaty of Garnata that is of interest to us, in that it applies to many a situation of Muslims today, be it the first, (or second), generation western Muslim who are living in Dar Al Kufr , by virtue of birth or immigration due to economic reasons, (and even political asylum seekers), and of those Muslims in ‘Muslim’ countries, and their thoughts in relation to their rulers and their view of the Kuffaar.

The Muslims of Andalus were assured by the Christian Kings that all treaty capitulations shall be upheld and Muslims could continue to practice as they wish, run their Shariah courts and in general have freedoms that, by today’s standards, would seem magnanimous on the part of Christian conquerors.

However, within ten years they broke the treaty by creating their own pretext and thus began forcefully converting Muslims, destroying Arabic books, (including the Quran), banning the Arabic language and finally killing or imprisoning people that violated any of their bans on Islam by way of the Inquisition and its Inquisitorial courts which bear an uncanny resemblance to the CIA created ‘Extraordinary Rendition’ program and its protocols, (wherein people would disappear all of a sudden, taken to an unknown location , without habeas corpus rights being granted to the families of the detainee, and were detained for extended periods of time while subjected to psychological and physical torture for alleged acts of ‘terrorism’). Muslims had to increasingly use
Aljamiado (Al Ajamiyya), to communicate instead of Arabic and lie to Christians about their faith while secretly maintaining their Salat, fasting, Zakat and even Hajj during these trying times.

At this juncture, it would be fitting to discuss Al Ajamiyya or Aljamiado. In our context, Aljamiado refers to writings which utilizes the Arabic script for transcribing Romance languages such as Spanish. The most common reason for its increasing popularity in the 16 century is thought to be due to the restrictions placed upon the use of Arabic from the mid 16 centuries, Muslims had to adapt to these restrictions by using Castillian.

However, this explanation by itself would be inaccurate. It cannot be stressed enough that Ajamiyya had been in use since the 14 and 15 , (perhaps even earlier), century due to the fact that Muslims that were living anywhere other than Garnata, (such as Arghun (Aragon), Valencia and Castile), started forgetting their Arabic and acclimatizing gradually, but increasingly, to Spanish. Some of the works that have been unearthed in Spain and elsewhere in Ajamiyya are for the most part meant for the common people and serve an educational role to educate the Muslims of Spain about Islam, usually in a summarized format, (therefore making these books easy to hide from the prying eyes of the Inquisitors). Some of the non Islamic works in
Ajamiyya that have been found are as follows:

“Prose narratives (divisible into romances, short stories, and legends): Rekontamiento del rey Alisandere (Story of King Alexander), Historia de los amores de París y Viana, Libro de las batallas, Leyenda de ‘Ali ibnu abi Talib y las cuarenta doncellas (Legend of ‘Ali ibnu abi Talib and the Forty Damsels), El baño de Zarieb, and Leyenda de Yuçuf (Legend of Joseph).

Eschatological texts: Estoria del día del juicio (Story of the Day of Judgment) and Ascención de Mahoma a los cielos
(Ascension of Muhammad to the Heavens). Biblical legends:

La leyenda de Ibrahim (The Legend of Abraham), Historia del sacrificio de Ismael (Story of the Sacrifice of Ishmael), Las demandas de Muça (The Questions of Moses), Leyenda de Muça con la paloma y el halcón (Legend of Moses with the Dove and the Falcon), Muerte de Muça (Death of Moses),
Historia de Ayub (Story of Job), Recontamiento de Çulayman
(Story of Solomon), Nacimiento de Iça (Birth of Jesus), Jesús resucita a Sem hijo de Noe (Jesus Resuscitates Shem, Son of Noah), and Historia del rey Jesús (Story of King Jesus).

Travel literature: Itinerario de España y Turquía (Itinerary of Spain and Turkey) and Avisos para el caminante (Warnings for the Walker). Didactic prose: Los castigos de ‘Ali (The Moral Teachings of ‘Ali), Los castigos de Alhaquim a su hijo
(The Moral Teachings of al-Hakim for His Son), Los castigos
del hijo de Edam (The Moral Teachings of the Son of Edam),
Libro y translado de buenas doctrinas y castigos y buenas
costumbres (Book of Good Doctrine, Moral Teachings, and Good Habits), and Libro de predicas y examplos y doctrinas para medecinar el alma y amar la otra vida y aborrecer este mundo (Book of Preachings, Exempla, and Doctrine to Heal the Soul, Love the Life to Come, and Abhor This World).

Treatises on popular beliefs and superstitions: Libro de dichos maravillosos (Book of Marvelous Sayings), Libro de las suertes
(The Book of Fortunes), and Libro de los sueños (Book of Dreams).

Anti-Christian and anti-Jewish polemics: Disputa contra los judíos y disputa contra los cristianos (Dispute against the Jews and Dispute against the Christians) and
Preguntas de unos judíos a Muhammad (Questions of Some Jews to Muhammad)… Poetic works: Poema de Yuçuf, Almadha de alabança al annabi Muhammad (Poem of Praise for the Prophet Muhammad), Historia genealógica de Mahoma
(Genealogical History of Muhammad), and Coplas en alabança del-adín del-aliçlam (Verses in Praise of the Religion of Islam), (Barletta, 8).”

One of the more famous Muslim scholars of the Mudajjan and ‘Morisco’ period is Isa Al Shaadhili. He was a faqih and the
qadi of the Jama’a of Al Shaqoubiyah, (Segovia), in Castile, during the middle of the 15 century CE. He was one of the Ahl Al Dajn, as were the rest of the community that was with him in Castile. He was Maliki by way of his fiqh as was virtually everyone in the Maghrib and Andalus, (until the Uthmani forces took control during the 16 century CE, wherein the population of Ahnaaf/Hanafis began to increase). As is evident from his name he was a Sufi of the Shadhiliyya order which is the most prevelant in the Maghrib today and was then too, along with the Tijaniyya order.  In 1462 CE, he wrote his most famous book, Breviario Sunni , (‘Introduction to the Sunnah’), which was a manual designed to aid Muslims in their daily practice of Islam. He also had the infamy of having cooperated with the Christian authorities of Segovia to translate the Quran from Arabic to Castilian.

As for the religious works that were translated into Spanish were:

1. Tafsir of Ibn Ali Zaminin

2. Tafsir Ghareeb Al Quran of Al Sijistani

3. Ibn Salama’s work on Ayaat that are mansukh , (abrogated)

4. Some works on different modes of Qiraat, even some that argue the difference between Warsh and Qaloon

5. Kitaab Fihi Tafseer Mukhtalif Al Hadith by Ibn Qutayba

6. The Forty Hadith of Imam Ghazali

7. Kitaab Shihab Akbar by Al Quda’i

8. Kitab Anwar Al Saniyya by Ibn Juzayy

9. B’ad Al Khalq Wa Qisaas Al Anbiya by Al Farisi

10. Kitab Al Anwar by Abu Al Hassan Al Bakri

11. Rai’ Al Durar by Al Qazwini

12. Al Risaala by Ibn Zayd Al Qayrawani 1

3. Kitab Al Istadhkaar by Abd Al Barr Al Namari

14. Kitab Al Iqtisaad fee Al Itiqaad by Imam Ghazali

And many more. Below is an example of Ajamiyya text, (the following is a Spanish translation of the Quran written in Arabic script):


In other contexts, the word aljamiado is sometimes used for other non-Semitic language written in Arabic letters. For example, some Serbo-Croatian, Bosnian and Albanian texts written in Arabic script during the Ottoman period have been referred to as aljamiado.

A very interesting example of the principle of writing another language in Arabic script is
Xiao’erjing , which is the method by which Hui Chinese Muslims use to write Mandarin Chinese in Arabic script. Formerly the Dungan descendants of these Chinese Muslims in Central Asia also used this method of writing until the Soviet Union banned it by enacting writing reforms which forced the Dungan people to replace Xiao’erjing with a Roman script and later a Cyrillic one, which they continue to use until today. However, in our discussion, we are only referring to Spanish written in Arabic script.


Returning to the Muslims of Andalus, it must be clear, and it will be discussed, that Christians in their treachery had deliberately designed a method by which the Muslims in Andalus would not be able to escape to the Maghrib and would thus, by their calculations, have to accept Christianity and enlarge the number of Christian followers in the land. One hundred and fifty years later from the Treaty of Garnata, after two major insurgencies, the resilience of Muslims holding on to their faith and their refusal to become Murtad , (apostate), (even when their nobles were the first in line to apostasize and safeguard their wealth), the Spanish decided to expel all the Muslims, (by now they were called Moriscos), and admit their defeat at the hands of a few hundred thousand oppressed souls.

A mention should be made of an issue that deserves our attention, and that is the question that is on the mind of most Muslims when they touch this topic, that if they converted, then how can they be Muslim (speaking of the period of 1502 where Mudajjan status had ended all over spain and everyone was forced to convert and called Morsico’s)? It is a question which scholars have tussled over and were tussling with at the time over how to rule on this question. In hindsight and availability of documents, it was seen that what was imposed on the Muslims of Andalus, (who either wanted to leave and weren’t able to due to poverty and not able to afford the transport off the peninsula or were captured before reaching the ports, and not those who deliberately desired to stay in Andalus, unless they were attempting to regroup and lead an insurgency to liberate Andalus from the Kuffaar), by its very definition was Ikrah in its textbook definition, (i.e. compulsion and coercion).

Therefore if we look at what the scholars have said in regard to a situation like this, we can see that there were grounds for them to pretend to convert, while still being Muslim, ( Taqiyyah or dissimulation). Imam Nawawi in his Arba’ain in Hadith number 39:

ﻋَﻦِ ﺍﺑْﻦِ ﻋَﺒَّﺎﺱٍ ﺭَﺿِﻲَ ﺍﻟﻠَّﻪُ ﻋَﻨْﻪُ ﺃَﻥَّ ﺭَﺳُﻮﻝَ ﺍﻟﻠَّﻪِ ﺻَﻠَّﻰ ﺍﻟﻠَّﻪُ ﻋَﻠَﻴْﻪِ ﻭَﺳَﻠَّﻢَ ﻗَﺎﻝَ :
ﺇﻥَّ ﺍﻟﻠَّﻪَ ﺗَﺠَﺎﻭَﺯَ ﻟِﻲ ﻋَﻦْ ﺃُﻣَّﺘِﻲ ﺍﻟْﺨَﻄَﺄَ ﻭَﺍﻟﻨِّﺴْﻴَﺎﻥَ ﻭَﻣَﺎ ﺍﺳْﺘُﻜْﺮِﻫُﻮﺍ ﻋَﻠَﻴْﻪِ
‏( ﺣَﺪِﻳﺚٌ ﺣَﺴَﻦٌ، ﺭَﻭَﺍﻩُ ﺍﺑْﻦُ ﻣَﺎﺟَﻪ، ﻭَﺍﻟْﺒَﻴْﻬَﻘِﻲُّ “ ﺍﻟﺴُّﻨَﻦ ‏)

Ibn Abbas, (radiyAllāhu ‘anhu) , reported that the Messenger of Allāh, ( ﺻﻠَّﻰ ﺍﻟﻠﻪ ﻋﻠﻴﻪ ﻭﺳﻠَّﻢ ), said:
“Truly Allāh has for my sake pardoned the mistakes and forgetfulness of my community, and for what they have done under force or duress.” [1]

The Ulema cite in support of this Hadith, (Along with Surah Al Ahzab, Ayah 5 and Surah Baqarah, Ayah 286), cite this
ayah :

ﻣَﻦ ﻛَﻔَﺮَ ﺑِﺎﻟﻠَّﻪِ ﻣِﻦ ﺑَﻌْﺪِ ﺇﻳﻤَـﻨِﻪِ ﺇِﻻَّ ﻣَﻦْ ﺃُﻛْﺮِﻩَ ﻭَﻗَﻠْﺒُﻪُ ﻣُﻄْﻤَﺌِﻦٌّ ﺑِﺎﻹِﻳﻤَـﻦِ ﻭَﻟَـﻜِﻦ ﻣَّﻦ ﺷَﺮَﺡَ ﺑِﺎﻟْﻜُﻔْﺮِ ﺻَﺪْﺭًﺍ ﻓَﻌَﻠَﻴْﻬِﻢْ ﻏَﻀَﺐٌ ﻣِّﻦَ ﺍﻟﻠَّﻪِ ﻭَﻟَﻬُﻢْ ﻋَﺬَﺍﺏٌ ﻋَﻈِﻴﻢٌ 2

Whoever disbelieves in Allāh after his belief – except one who was forced while his heart is at peace with the faith – but whoever opens their breasts to disbelief, on them is wrath from Allāh, and theirs will be a terrible torment

Ibn Kathir States in the Ayah regarding “except one who was forced while his heart is at peace with the faith:”

“ This is an exception in the case of one who utters statements of disbelief and verbally agrees with the Mushrikin because he is forced to do so by the beatings and abuse to which he is subjected, but his heart refuses to accept what he is saying, and he is, in reality, at peace with his faith in Allāh and His Messenger. The scholars agreed that if a person is forced into disbelief, it is permissible for him to either go along with them in the interests of self-preservation, or to refuse, as Bilal did when they were inflicting all sorts of torture on him, even placing a huge rock on his chest in the intense heat and telling him to admit others as partners with Allāh. He refused, saying, “Alone, Alone.” And he said, “By Allāh, if I knew any word more annoying to you than this, I would say it.” May Allāh be pleased with him. Similarly, when the Liar Musaylimah asked Habib bin Zayd Al-Ansari, “Do you bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allāh” He said, “Yes.” Then Musaylimah asked, “Do you bear witness that I am the messenger of Allāh” Habib said, “I do not hear you.” Musaylimah kept cutting him, piece by piece, but he remained steadfast insisting on his words. It is better and preferable for the Muslim to remain steadfast in his religion, even if that leads to him being killed, as was mentioned by Al-Hafiz Ibn ‘Asakir in his biography of ‘Abdullah bin Hudhafah Al-Sahmi, one of the Companions. He said that he was taken prisoner by the Romans, who brought him to their king. The king said, “Become a Christian, and I will give you a share of my kingdom and my daughter in marriage.”

‘Abdullah said: “If you were to give me all that you possess and all that Arabs possess to make me give up the religion of Muhammad even for an instant, I would not do it.” The king said, “Then I will kill you.” ‘Abdullah said, “It is up to you.” The king gave orders that he should be crucified, and commanded his archers to shoot near his hands and feet while ordering him to become a Christian, but he still refused. Then the king gave orders that he should be brought down, and that a big vessel made of copper be brought and heated up. Then, while ‘Abdullah was watching, one of the Muslim prisoners was brought out and thrown into it, until all that was left of him was scorched bones. The king ordered him to become a Christian, but he still refused. Then he ordered that ‘Abdullah be thrown into the vessel, and he was brought back to the pulley to be thrown in. ‘Abdullah wept, and the king hoped that he would respond to him, so he called him, but ‘Abdullah said, “I only weep because I have only one soul with which to be thrown into this vessel at this moment for the sake of Allāh; I wish that I had as many souls as there are hairs on my body with which I could undergo this torture for the sake of Allāh.”

According to some reports, the king imprisoned him and deprived him of food and drink for several days, then he sent him wine and pork, and he did not come near them. Then the king called him and asked him, “What stopped you from eating” ‘Abdullah said, “It is permissible for me (under these circumstances), but I did not want to give you the opportunity to gloat…”

So as Imam Ibn Kathir (rahimahullah) says, “It is better and preferable for the Muslim to remain steadfast in his religion, even if that leads to him being killed…” indicating a preference to be steadfast and be put to death, (as in the case of Habib bin Zayd Al Ansari), than apostasizing. However, as we see in the case of Abdullah Hudhaifa Al Shami, he says, “It is permissible for me (under these circumstances), but I did not want to give you the opportunity to gloat.” So it can be ascertained doing things such as eating pork and drinking wine are permissible under compulsion but not the preferable mode of action as the first recourse.

Another view or category is the distinction between speech and actions. In terms of speech, a person might be forced and allowed to say something that is not allowable. The scholars say he should not practice taqiyah . Taqiyah means to say or do something which you do not believe in and are not satisfied with. This only applies to sayings and not actions. Regarding this issue there is an agreement among the Muslim scholars. They say that whoever is forced to say something that is not allowed in shari’ah , then he will be allowed to say it – he will not be regarded or considered as ‘saying’ it. There is another condition that the scholars set.

They say that whenever a person is put into ikrah or duress, the duress should be definite and most likely to happen and not just something the person imagines or assumes. He has to be sure. Through proofs such as these Scholars who understood the situation of the Andalusis issued fatawa stating that, (if the Muslims are truly under ikrah as mentioned above), they can state that they are christian but in their heart not believe, play with words to make statements that are favorable to Christians but neither are outright shirk and kufr . These ahadith and ayaat are, if you will, part of the camp of people that did not, or could not resist the Christians or were unable to leave the land due to genuine Ikrah .

However, on the other hand in Surah Al Nisaa,’ ( Ayah 97), Imam Ibn Kathir (rahimahullah) clarifies the conditions of remaining in mushrik lands without putting oneself into a sinful position:

ﺇِﻥَّ ﺍﻟَّﺬِﻳﻦَ ﺗَﻮَﻓَّﺎﻫُﻢُ ﺍﻟْﻤَﻶﺋِﻜَﺔُ ﻇَﺎﻟِﻤِﻲ ﺃَﻧْﻔُﺴِﻬِﻢْ ﻗَﺎﻟُﻮﺍْ ﻓِﻴﻢَ ﻛُﻨﺘُﻢْ ﻗَﺎﻟُﻮﺍْ ﻛُﻨَّﺎ ﻣُﺴْﺘَﻀْﻌَﻔِﻴﻦَ ﻓِﻲ ﺍﻷَﺭْﺽِ ﻗَﺎﻟْﻮَﺍْ ﺃَﻟَﻢْ ﺗَﻜُﻦْ ﺃَﺭْﺽُ ﺍﻟﻠّﻪِ ﻭَﺍﺳِﻌَﺔً ﻓَﺘُﻬَﺎﺟِﺮُﻭﺍْ ﻓِﻴﻬَﺎ ﻓَﺄُﻭْﻟَـﺌِﻚَ ﻣَﺄْﻭَﺍﻫُﻢْ ﺟَﻬَﻨَّﻢُ ﻭَﺳَﺎﺀﺕْ ﻣَﺼِﻴﺮًﺍ 3

Imam Ibn Kathir (rahimahullah) clarifies this Ayah by stating:

Al-Bukhari recorded that Muhammad bin ‘Abdur-Rahmān, Abu Al-Aswad, said, “The people of Al-Madinah were forced to prepare an army (to fight against the people of Ash-Sham during the Khilafah of Abdullah bin Az-Zubayir at Makkah), and I was enlisted in it. Then I met ‘Ikrimah, the freed slave of Ibn ‘Abbas, and informed him (about it), and he forbade me strongly from doing so (i.e., to enlist in that army), and then he said to me, ‘Ibn ‘Abbas told me that some Muslims used to go out with the idolators increasing the size of their army against the Messenger of Allāh . Then, an arrow would hit one of them and kill him, or he would be struck on his neck (with a sword) and killed, and Allāh sent down the Ayah,

ﺇِﻥَّ ﺍﻟَّﺬِﻳﻦَ ﺗَﻮَﻓَّـﻬُﻢُ ﺍﻟْﻤَﻠَـﺌِﻜَﺔُ ﻇَـﻠِﻤِﻰ ﺃَﻧﻔُﺴِﻬِﻢْ

‘Verily, as for those whom the angels take (in death) while they are wronging themselves’

Ad-Dahhak stated that this Ayah was revealed about some hypocrites who did not join the Messenger of Allāh but remained in Makkah and went out with the idolators for the battle of Badr. They were killed among those who were killed. Thus, this honorable Ayah was revealed about those who reside among the idolators, while able to perform Hijrah and unable to practice the faith. Such people will be committing injustice against themselves and falling into a prohibition according to the consensus [emphasis is mine] and also according to this Ayah,

ﺇِﻥَّ ﺍﻟَّﺬِﻳﻦَ ﺗَﻮَﻓَّـﻬُﻢُ ﺍﻟْﻤَﻠَـﺌِﻜَﺔُ ﻇَـﻠِﻤِﻰ ﺃَﻧﻔُﺴِﻬِﻢْ

“Verily, as for those whom the angels take (in death) while they are wronging themselves,” by refraining from Hijrah,
ﻗَﺎﻟُﻮﺍْ ﻓِﻴﻢَ ﻛُﻨﺘُﻢْ

They (angels) say (to them): ‘In what (condition) were you’
meaning, why did you remain here and not perform Hijrah

ﻗَﺎﻟُﻮﺍْ ﻛُﻨَّﺎ ﻣُﺴْﺘَﻀْﻌَﻔِﻴﻦَ ﻓِﻰ ﺍﻻٌّﺭْﺽِ

They reply: ‘We were weak and oppressed on the earth.’
meaning, we are unable to leave the land or move about in the earth,

ﻗَﺎﻟْﻮﺍْ ﺃَﻟَﻢْ ﺗَﻜُﻦْ ﺃَﺭْﺽُ ﺍﻟﻠَّﻪِ ﻭَﺳِﻌَﺔً

They (angels) say: ‘Was not the earth of Allāh spacious enough for you’

Abu Dawud recorded that Samurah bin Jundub said that the Messenger of Allāh said:

ﻣَﻦْ ﺟَﺎﻣَﻊَ ﺍﻟْﻤُﺸْﺮِﻙَ ﻭَﺳَﻜَﻦَ ﻣَﻌَﻪُ ﻓَﺈِﻧَّﻪُ ﻣِﺜْﻠُﻪ

“Whoever mingles with the mushrik and resides with him, he is just like him.”

In essence Ibn Kathir (rahimahullah) explains the ayah by saying that those who have the ability to make hijrah , (i.e. they were able to leave the land or able to traverse the earth without prohibition), and do not do it, and have an inability to practice their Islam, will be falling into a prohibition according to the concensus of scholars. The issue directly applies to the Muslims in Andalus after 1492, as many Muslims, (who had the ability to make hijrah ), chose to stay behind in the misguided notion that if they stayed they could reclaim Andalus from the Christians with the help of the Fatimi / Mahdi, (when clearly they neither had the force inside Andalus or in the Maghrib to help them achieve that. Furthermore, Uthmani help never came until much later in a very meager form. The best solution would have been to regroup in the Maghrib in order to regain Andalus), or simply that, they had an attachment to the land and didn’t want to leave, even if it meant hardship, slavery or even feigned or real apostasy to Christianity.

It is clear according to the scholars how grave the issue of living among the Mushrikeen is, as, Imam Ibn Katheer cites a hadith from Abi Dawood that whosoever lives and mingles with the mushrikeen, is like him (i.e. a mushrik ). Moreover a hadith is narrated where “some munafiqeen who did not join the Messenger of Allāh but remained in Makkah and went out with the mushrikeen for the battle of Badr. They were killed among those who were killed.” Imam Ibn Kathir explains that the Ayah applies to those who were able to make hijrah, unable to practice their Islam and resided amongst the
mushrikeen. However the hadith adds that those Muslims, who fought under the mushrikeen at Badr against the Prophet ( ﺻﻠَّﻰ ﺍﻟﻠﻪ ﻋﻠﻴﻪ ﻭﺳﻠَّﻢ ), and were killed, died in a state where they would be wronging themselves. It is a stark reminder especially to those living in countries ruled by kafirs such as in those of the Americas and Europe.

Their armies have come to do nothing short of occupation and the manipulation, if not annihilation, of the Deen of Islam and Muslims. Many Muslims fight in these armies and put themselves at great peril.

As for those who still are obstinate and choose to remain in kafir lands when they have the wherewithal to leave, they are at risk of being drafted into the armies of kafir host countries and put their aakhirah [hereafter] in peril.

Imam Ibn Kathir (rahimahullah) proceeds to provide the exeptions to this Ayah by clarifying the proceeding Ayah :

ﺇِﻻَّ ﺍﻟْﻤُﺴْﺘَﻀْﻌَﻔِﻴﻦَ

‘Except the weak’ until the end of the Ayah, is an excuse that Allāh gives for this type of people not to emigrate, because they are unable to free themselves from the idolators. And even if they did, they would not know which way to go. This is why Allāh said,

ﻻَ ﻳَﺴْﺘَﻄِﻴﻌُﻮﻥَ ﺣِﻴﻠَﺔً ﻭَﻻَ ﻳَﻬْﺘَﺪُﻭﻥَ ﺳَﺒِﻴﻼً

“Who cannot devise a plan, nor are they able to direct their way,” meaning, they do not find the way to emigrate, as Mujahid, ‘Ikrimah and As-Suddi stated.

Allāh’s statement,

ﻓَﺄُﻭْﻟَـﺌِﻚَ ﻋَﺴَﻰ ﺍﻟﻠَّﻪُ ﺃَﻥ ﻳَﻌْﻔُﻮَ ﻋَﻨْﻬُﻢْ

“These are they whom Allāh is likely to forgive them” means, pardon them for not migrating, and here, ‘likely’ means He shall…

Allāh’s statement,

ﻭَﻣَﻦ ﻳُﻬَﺎﺟِﺮْ ﻓِﻰ ﺳَﺒِﻴﻞِ ﺍﻟﻠَّﻪِ ﻳَﺠِﺪْ ﻓِﻰ ﺍﻻٌّﺭْﺽِ ﻣُﺮَﺍﻏَﻤﺎً ﻛَﺜِﻴﺮﺍً ﻭَﺳَﻌَﺔً

“He who emigrates in the cause of Allāh, will find on earth many dwelling places and plenty to live by.” this encourages the believers to perform Hijrah and abandon the idolators, for wherever the believer emigrates, he will find a safe refuge to resort to. Mujahid said that,

ﻣُﺮَﺍﻏَﻤﺎً ﻛَﺜِﻴﺮﺍً

“many dwelling places” means, he will find a way out of what he dislikes. Allāh’s statement,

“and plenty to live by” refers to provision. Qatadah also said that,

ﻳَﺠِﺪْ ﻓِﻰ ﺍﻻٌّﺭْﺽِ ﻣُﺮَﺍﻏَﻤﺎً ﻛَﺜِﻴﺮﺍً ﻭَﺳَﻌَﺔً

“…will find on earth many dwelling places and plenty to live by” means, Allāh will take him from misguidance to guidance and from poverty to richness.

Allāh’s statement,

ﻭَﻣَﻦ ﻳَﺨْﺮُﺝْ ﻣِﻦ ﺑَﻴْﺘِﻪِ ﻣُﻬَـﺠِﺮﺍً ﺇِﻟَﻰ ﺍﻟﻠَّﻪِ ﻭَﺭَﺳُﻮﻟِﻪِ ﺛُﻢَّ ﻳُﺪْﺭِﻛْﻪُ ﺍﻟْﻤَﻮْﺕُ ﻓَﻘَﺪْ ﻭَﻗَﻊَ ﺃَﺟْﺮُﻩُ ﻋَﻠﻰَ ﺍﻟﻠَّﻪِ

“And whosoever leaves his home as an emigrant unto Allāh and His Messenger, and death overtakes him, his reward is then surely, incumbent upon Allāh.” means, whoever starts emigrating and dies on the way, he will acquire the reward of those who emigrate for Allāh. The Two Sahihs, along with the Musnad and Sunan compilers, recorded that ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab (radhiyallahu anhu) said that the Messenger of Allāh (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) said:

ﺇِﻧَّﻤَﺎ ﺍﻟْﺄَﻋْﻤَﺎﻝُ ﺑِﺎﻟﻨِّــﻴَّﺎﺕِ، ﻭَﺇِﻧَّﻤَﺎ ﻟِﻜُﻞِّ ﺍﻣْﺮِﻯﺀٍ ﻣَﺎ ﻧَﻮَﻯ، ﻓَﻤَﻦْ ﻛَﺎﻧَﺖْ ﻫِﺠْﺮَﺗُﻪُ ﺇِﻟَﻰ ﺍﻟﻠﻪِ ﻭَﺭَﺳُﻮﻟِﻪِ، ﻓَﻬِﺠْﺮَﺗُﻪُ ﺇِﻟَﻰ ﺍﻟﻠﻪِ ﻭَﺭَﺳُﻮﻟِﻪِ، ﻭَﻣَﻦْ ﻛَﺎﻧَﺖْ ﻫِﺠْﺮَﺗُﻪُ ﺇِﻟﻰ ﺩُﻧْﻴَﺎ ﻳُﺼِﻴﺒُﻬَﺎ، ﺃَﻭِ ﺍﻣْﺮَﺃَﺓٍ ﻳَﺘَﺰَﻭَّﺟُﻬَﺎ، ﻓَﻬِﺠْﺮَﺗُﻪُ ﺇِﻟﻰ ﻣَﺎ ﻫَﺎﺟَﺮَ ﺇِﻟَﻴْﻪ 4

The reward of deeds depends upon the intentions, and every person will be rewarded according to what he has intended. So, whoever emigrated to Allāh and His Messenger, then his emigration is for Allāh and His Messenger. And whoever emigrated for worldly benefits or for a woman to marry, his emigration is for what he emigrated for.

This Hadith is general, it applies to Hijrah as well as every other deed …

In this the exception is clear, in that, the only ones excused are those that are:

1. Unable to free themselves from the idolators

2. And those, even if they were to free themselves, would not know which way to go, or find the way to emigrate.

In addition, many Muslims after the Treaty of Garnata, exclaimed that the reason they didn’t want to go to the Maghrib was because life was rough there and there was no living to be made in Andalus, (as an Andalusi Muslim had asked Imam Wanshirisi during the 1500’s).

However Allāh ( ﺳﺒﺤﺎﻧﻪ ﻭ ﺗﻌﻠﻰ ) states clearly the muhajir who emigrates fee sabillilah [in the cause of Allāh], “…will find on earth many dwelling places and plenty to live by.” So Allāh ( ﺳﺒﺤﺎﻧﻪ ﻭ ﺗﻌﻠﻰ ), is not saying there is a possibility of sustenance or shelter, rather, He is saying that there will be shelter and sustenance for those who immigrated in His path.

Hand in hand with the previous verses, the people mentioned here are those who were put to trial and were under oppression, and could not leave the land, but when they opportunity arose, they emigrated in His path and waged
Struggle as Allāh ( ﺳﺒﺤﺎﻧﻪ ﻭ ﺗﻌﻠﻰ ), states in Verse 110 of Surah Al Nahl:

ﺛُﻢَّ ﺇِﻥَّ ﺭَﺑَّﻚَ ﻟِﻠَّﺬِﻳﻦَ ﻫَـﺠَﺮُﻭﺍْ ﻣِﻦ ﺑَﻌْﺪِ ﻣَﺎ ﻓُﺘِﻨُﻮﺍْ ﺛُﻢَّ ﺟَـﻬَﺪُﻭﺍْ ﻭَﺻَﺒَﺮُﻭﺍْ ﺇِﻥَّ ﺭَﺑَّﻚَ ﻣِﻦ ﺑَﻌْﺪِﻫَﺎ ﻟَﻐَﻔُﻮﺭٌ ﺭَّﺣِﻴﻢٌ

Then, verily, your Lord for those who emigrated after they were put to trials and then struggled in His Path, and were patient, – after this, your Lord is indeed Forgiving, Most Merciful.

About this Ayah , Ibn Kathir States:

“This refers to another group of people who were oppressed in Makkah and whose position with their own people was weak, so they went along with them when they were tried by them. Then they managed to escape by emigrating, leaving their homeland, families and wealth behind, seeking the pleasure and forgiveness of Allāh. They joined the believers and fought with them against the disbelievers, bearing hardship with patience.
Allāh tells them that after this, meaning after their giving in when put to the test, He will forgive them and show mercy to them when they are resurrected.”

This Ayah fits in perfectly of those Muslims who after hiding their faith for a number of years and safeguarding it, managed to escape Andalus and subsequently managed to join up with the Ghazis of the Uthamani navy such as Khair Al Deen, (in the West he is called Barbarossa, or Red Beard), to raid Christian vessels to terrorize the enemies of Allāh and wage battle in His Path. This dichotomy is a perfect way to understand the Muslims of Andalus after 1492, but in its own way, it is a way to understand Muslims in the West today, and even those living under tyrannical Muslim regimes in the ‘east.’



[1] A Saheeh hadith related by Ibn Majah, Al-Baihaqi and others

[2] Surah Nahl, Ayah 106

[3] Surah 4 Ayah 97

[4] Sahih Bukhari, Hadith #: 1

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