Traversing Deep Waters – A Discourse on Practical Unity


by  Muhammad al-Hassan Walid al-Dido al-Shinqiti | Translated and Abridged by Suhaib Webb

Taken from Fiqh al-Asr

Question: There are many different sects and madhāhib [schools of Islamic law]. When we look at them it is difficult to gauge their relationship with Ahl al-Sunna. Are they close or distant? Let us begin with the Ash’aris.

Answer: Let us first clarify what is meant by the word madhhab [school of thought]. A madhhab is a way of engaging the texts, therefore everything that Gibr̄il [Angel Gabriel] brought from Allah does not constitute a madhhab, and every text considered definitive in Islamic law is not a madhhab. A madhhab cannot occur except in the realm of ijtihad [independent interpretation made by a qualified legal scholar].

In light of that, the Ash’aris, Maturidis and Ahl al-Hadith all constitute different madhhabs [of their own]. This is due to the fact that the definitive texts are unanimously agreed upon by these three schools whereas they differed [established their madhabs] in areas where it was acceptable.

Whoever denies a definitive [about its meaning a consensus has been met] text from the Qur’an or the Sunna is a disbeliever. As for other issues based on the interpretations of men, they can be both correct and incorrect.

The Ash’āris were mistaken about certain issues, but those opinions did not take them out of Ahl al-Sunna. Similarly the Maturidīs were wrong about some issues which, as in the case of the Ash’aris, did not put them outside the category of Ahl al-Sunna.

Some of the great scholars of Ahl al-Sunna like Imām al-Bayhaqī (Allah’s mercy be upon him), Imām al-Hākim (Allah’s mercy be upon him), and Imām al-Nawwawī, Allah’s mercy be upon them were from the Ash’arī school.

Q. Some say those scholars were not Ash’ari - that they only agreed with the Ash’aris on a few issues?

A. Actually, they were indeed scholars of the Ash’ari school and for that reason the Ash’aris reference them and take them as references.

Q. How can they be considered from Ahl al-Sunna when they differ with us on 15 fundamental principles? The first being the mind is the source of guidance, rather than revelation?

A. How is it correct to say that the first source of guidance is the mind according to Imam Abu Hasan al-Ash’ari when he was from the scholars of hadīth, qirāt and tafsīr and he neither said nor wrote that?

Q. What about their contention that good and evil are independent of revelation?

A. They actually didn’t say that. In fact, they refuted it! What they meant by good and evil was what was blameworthy to one’s nature and repulsive to the intellect; that good and evil in the Hereafter is strictly a Shari matter established solely by revelation.

Q. What about the division of the Qur’an? Is it true they divided it into two parts, the uttered and the unuttered?

A. This is not a division related to the creation of the Qur’an. It is a division solely related to the description of Allah [the Most High]. This division is found among the later scholars of hadith. It is related to ijtihad and there is no definite text regarding it. Thus if a person were to die ignorant of this division, it would not harm him in the least.

Q. So what if someone wasn’t ignorant of it?

A. Even if someone knew about it, there is no harm done because this is an issue of ijtihad. In fact, a quick glance at the works of Sheikh al-Islam Ibn Tamiyyah illustrates that he held the same opinion all be it with different wording.

Q. What about the issue of declaring those who instead of exercising intellect, follow blindly, as heretics?

A. First let it be known that this is not a contention held exclusively by Imam Abu Hasan al-Ash’aris. This is a contentious issue amongst them, as well as a contentious issue amongst the Ahl al-Had̄ith. It is related by some of the scholars of hadith that Imām al-Shafi’ī had the same opinion.

Q. What about their contention that faith in the heart is sufficient, freeing one from other responsibilities?

A. They didn’t say that. This issue is related to the understanding of faith, in that does the understanding of faith enter into the realm of actions or not? This was an issue disputed by the students of the companions [al-Tabi’īn].

Q. What about their refusal to accept issues of creed found in the Sunna?

A. You will not find any of their scholars denying authentic texts because every authentic Sunna becomes definite whether related to issues of creed or deeds. Anyone who denies it is disbeliever. Allah says, By your Lord, they will not believe until they make you a judge in their disputes… (Qur’an 4:65).

Q. Are these things that we read and hear attributed to the Ash’aris not authentic?

A. Yes, most of the things attributed to them are not from authentic sources. It could be a mixing and matching of statements made by some Ash’aris [but not representative of the school]. As mentioned before, the school has many mistakes and Imam Abu Hasan al-Ash’ari made a number of mistakes. Some of them he changed and clarified in his works such as al-Maqalat al-Islamiyin and al-Ibanah. He failed to correct other mistakes and he and his followers continued to believe and act on them. Even so they remain from Ahl al-Sunna and their mistakes in creed were related to matters of ijtihad.

Q. Summarizing, then, these issues are not those that would take them out of the circle of Ahl al-Sunna?

A. No, they are not outside of Ahl al-Sunna. They do have some mistakes, but those mistakes do not take them out of the Ahl al-Sunna category. In this, they resemble schools of fiqh: the Hanafis, Malikis, Shafi’is and the Hanbalis. All of them are schools from the schools of Ahl al-Sunna. They all have their mistakes but their mistakes do not put them outside of the madhhab of Ahl al-Sunna.

Q. What do you say about the Sufis?

A. They differ according to their conditions and states. There are those who are Ahl al-Sunna in creed and practice, and they are accepted as such. Examples would be Sheikh ‘Abdul al-Qādir al-Jaylānī [Allah’s mercy upon him], al-Harawī [Allah’s mercy upon him] and other notable scholars and even Ibn al-Qayyim [Allah’s mercy be upon him] was a Sufi, and he is the sheikh of the true Sufis!

Q. Ibn al-Qayyim was a Sufi? That is hard to digest!

A. But why?! He said that about himself and wrote about it in Madārij al-Sālikīn and Udāt al-Sabirīn and other works which illustrate his tasawwuf.

The religion is based on three pillars: Faith, Islam, and Ihsān. Faith addresses the intellect, Islam addresses the body, and Ihsān addresses the spirit. As for the last pillar, there isn’t much attention given to it except from those who were concerned with spiritual progress. And these people are definitely called Sufis. Thus tasawwuf is like fiqh: there is the accepted and the rejected. It is as simple as what agrees with Islamic law is accepted and anything else is rejected.

May the peace and blessings be upon the Prophet, his family, companions and those who follow them until the end of time.

——————————-

*He is, as many have called him, a walking ‘Encyclopedia.’ The sheikh is blessed with an astounding memory such that he has memorized the Qu’ran with all of its readings, all of the major books of hadith including the Muwatta and the major Mutun with their explanations. Once I was with him reading Lamyiat al-Afal and he started reading another line which I had not heard nor memorized with my teachers. When I looked puzzled he told me, “My family wrote a commentary on it. For the first line there are 99 lines to explain it.” Once I was with him and he explained the Shamil for two hours straight, quoting hadith, poetry and asanid without any notes. With all of that knowledge Allah has blessed the sheikh to be with the people, sit with them and tend to their needs.  He has started a school for preparing scholars in Mauritania. I encourage all serious students to visit and benefit from his knowledge and character. May Allah protect him and grant us his likes amongst those in the USA.

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41 Comments

  1. Abû Selma al-Mâlikî says:

    What are these “many mistakes” of the Ash’aris and Maturidis? Who decides if they are mistakes or not? An honest question.

    Though, it is great that Sufism is mentioned in a positive manner. But, really, the majority of ‘ulama through-out 1400 years have been “Sufis”, so how can people still cling to those ridiculous, general ideas about Sufis? There will always be heretics and mubtadi’un, no matter what science. As a shaykh mentioned, if you denounce Sufis, then almost all chains of isnad and ijaza will be “tainted”, because Sufis, Ash’aris and Maturidis are in all chains of Ahl us-Sunnah wa l-Jama’ah, and in vast numbers. That fact is something to reflect upon.

  2. Abul Layth says:

    The Ash’āris were mistaken about certain issues, but those opinions did not take them out of Ahl al-Sunna. Similarly the Maturidīs were wrong about some issues which, as in the case of the Ash’aris, did not put them outside the category of Ahl al-Sunna.

    Some of the great scholars of Ahl al-Sunna like Imām al-Bayhaqī (Allah’s mercy be upon him), Imām al-Hākim (Allah’s mercy be upon him), and Imām al-Nawwawī, Allah’s mercy be upon them were from the Ash’arī school.

    I sympathize with this Shaykh’s compassion in trying to understand the “other side”, although, it is certainly laughable to see a non-mujtahid mutlaq from the khalaf claim that the Imams of this Ummah in Hadith, Creed, and Fiqh, are somehow “mistaken” in their creed. Who is Muhammad Shinqiti in comparison to Imam An-Nawawi – the second Shafi’i, of whose books and treatises this Ummah cannot do without!? Or what of Imam Al-Bayhaqi, of whom the scholars say Imam Ash-Shafi’i only owes to one man after him – Bayhaqi!

    It is interesting to note that the Shaykh said “some of the great scholars”, when in fact it should read “most of the great scholars”. The list of great Imams that were Asha’ri and Maaturidis surpasses the number of ahadith this Shaykh has (or could) even memorize. It is beyond the amount of knowledge he could ever dream of holding, yet he arrogantly claims of these mountains of knowledge, bastions of truth, the forefathers of the schools of Islam, were mistaken in the most fundamental part of the religion; ‘aqidah!

    By claiming that the Maaturidiyyah and the Asha’riyyah have “mistakes” in their creed, this man has set his tongue against the awliyaa’ of this Ummah, the very men who conquered Constantinople, and those who led this Ummah to victory for more generations than this Shaykh can even trace his lineage to. In fact, it is due to the efforts of the Asha’ris and Maturidis, (who are the majority of this Ummah) that Mr. Shinqitee even has Islam today, considering it was they who brought Islam to the west of Africa and defended it up to modernity.

    Br. Suhaib Webb, the parroting of such disgraceful opinions by yourself leads any Sunni Muslim to believe that you have disdain for 1200+ years of orthodoxy, the same orthodoxy that eradicated the Batiniyyah through the Asha’ri arguments of Al-Ghazzali, the same orthodoxy that wiped from the earth the Fatimids in Egypt, the same orthodoxy that conquered Constantinople of whom our beloved Messenger (‘alayhis salam) said:

    “Certainly, Costantinople will be conquered. How good is the commander who will conquer it, and how good is his army.” [Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, Musnad, 4/335] Everyone knows what madh-hab creed and what fiqh school the Ottomans espoused at the time!

    It is the orthodoxy that has defined “Sunnism” for over a thousand years, yet we find in our times that the khalaf wag their tongues at these Imams! Again, the statements within this article are laughable, and sadly show the degenerate state that we find ourselves in within this sad era.

    May Allah bless our beloved Sayyid Muhammad and guide us aright. Amin!

  3. It is one thing to disagree with the opinion of a scholar. It is yet another to use language such as “laughable” and accusations of arrogance–against a scholar (Shaykh Dido) widely admired for his knowledge, piety, character, balance, and courage in standing up for justice.

    The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day should say the good or remain silent.” [Bukhari and Muslim]

    • ibn Adam says:

      alhumdulillah.

      it is without a doubt that differences of opinion exist. but how we go about those differences makes the greatest impact. as shaykh rabani quoted the hadith above, “The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day should say the good or remain silent.” [Bukhari and Muslim]” If you want to share your “2 cents”, please do it in a kind and appropriate manner. Jazakamullah Khairan. May Allah guide us to the truth, Ameen. Allhuma ya muqalibul qulub, thabit qalbi ala dinik. Ameen.

  4. Ahmad says:

    Abu Layth, you have proved by your sheer disrespect for a scholar and an alim that you are somebody who is both ignorant, rude, lacking in the basic adab of conversation and discussion. It is evident from your post that you claim to have knowledge that only Allah has? You say that you know the limits of the Shaykh’s knowledge and abilities, do you have some sort of divine knowledge that Allah has bestowed you with?

    You then prove the abilities of the Ashari and Maturidi scholars by giving examples of wordly conquests and battles, yet you have not refutes or proved their intellect with any examples.

    Knowledge is difficult to quantify, worldly conquests do not reflect it. Your post only proves that you are someone who needs to observe patience and learn basic adab.

    May Allah guide you and us, amin.

  5. There's this thing called adab says:

    Brother Abul Layth, you really should consider remembering your adab when speaking. It’s easy to angrily rant about your differences in opinion, but providing a thoughtful, rational and respectful critique takes a certain type of adab that every Muslim should strive to have. Your critical thinking is commendable, but your tone and manner in critiquing Sheikh al-Shinqiti and Imam Suhaib are truly shameful.
    Words like ‘laughable’ and ‘parroting’ (seriously?? parrotting??) are not respectful words, and an intelligent fact-based critique would not need to resort to such disrespectful remarks. I actually agree with a lot of what you said and I’m eager to learn from what you’re saying in your comment, but it’s hard to distinguish the facts from your own personal (baseless) accusations and angry remarks.
    So do yourself and the readers a favour and stick to the point you’re trying to make and don’t detract from your own credibility.

    ” يَوْمَ تَشْهَدُ عَلَيْهِمْ أَلْسِنَتُهُمْ وَأَيْدِيهِمْ وَأَرْجُلُهُم بِمَا كَانُوا۟ يَعْمَلُونَ “

  6. Suhaib Webb says:

    Asalamu alaykum,

    The sheikhs usage of the word “mistakes” is indicative of his conclusions [Ijtihadaat]. The issues refered to in this article are all issues where ijtihad is open. It is well known that it is almost impossible to come to an exact consensus regarding them. Therefore, his usage of the word “mistakes” should be understood in the areas of ijtihad and not the usol. A basic study of Usol would provide the needed GPS to have a basic understanding of the sheikhs wording and more importantly the adab needed to engage it. It is well known that there is no inkar on the Masail of ijtihad. Thus, to react is the fashion as our Sh. Abu Layth has done is indicative of a lack of knowledge regarding Usol and debate, or a sincere love for one’s school that borders on fanaticism. Since I’m obliged to have the best excuse for my brother, I will assume that this is all coming form his love for the din and attachment to what he holds is true. My problem is that take him beyond the usol of debate and munadharah which our scholars have taught us.

    The sheikh, took a balanced option which many of our hardened brothers and sisters in the West could benefit from: respecting acknowledged differences while holding the others in high esteem. This could not happen unless someone brought together the dirayah and the riwayah. This is the case of al-Nawwawi, who is not considered a mujtahid mutlaq by the way, but mentioned both creeds, the khalaf and the salaf, and maintains respect for both while pointing out his differences.

    Sh. Faraz and I are very dear brothers; we exchange messages and very pleasant phone conversations every now and then. At the same time we are very aware of our differences, respect them, differ and move on. I would hope that some of the Western students of knowledge will be able to develop the refined maturity of al-Nawwai, Ibn Hajar and other great scholars. This holds especially true as we are facing a community who cares very little about these classical debates and struggles to maintain faith in the Modern Age. Thus while we have simple internet students who can rattle off the latest attacks on al-Junaid, we are impoverished when it comes to finding one who can write a book of creed that deals with the problems of our youth in the West. Thus, he is equipped to save the 7th century Muslims from the Hashwiyah, but defenseless to answer the attacks of Dawkins, Crone and the cult of materialism in his own time.

    Sh. Abu Layth: instead of comparing Sh. Muhammad with al-Nawwai, you should start by comparing yourself to Sheikh Muhammad. Perhaps you can start with the list at the end of this article and show and check those areas where you equal the sheikh? Your actions call to mind the wise statement of Abdullah bin Mubarak, “We are a people in need of a little adab more than a lot of knowledge.”

    SDW

  7. Suhaib Webb says:

    Something to think on:

    ” Summarizing, then, these issues are not those that would take them out of the circle of Ahl al-Sunna?

    A. No, they are not outside of Ahl al-Sunna. They do have some mistakes, but those mistakes do not take them out of the Ahl al-Sunna category. In this, they resemble schools of fiqh: the Hanafis, Malikis, Shafi’is and the Hanbalis. All of them are schools from the schools of Ahl al-Sunna. They all have their mistakes but their mistakes do not put them outside of the madhhab of Ahl al-Sunna.”

  8. AsSalaamu Alaikum,
    This discourse of Madhabs is very interesting. Hopefully inshaAllah, we can begin putting some of these issues aside and focus on our unity in doing what we’re obligated to do. Unfortunately in the many communities I’ve traveled through I’ve discovered that many muslims will hide, for the lack of a better word, from events and functions amongst muslims to avoid debates on such topics or to avoid being judged. It’s a problem. Beautiful masjids are filled with arguing brothers and sisters on which madhab is rightly guided while jobs are scarce, moral is low, and solutions to prepare and to combat these hard times are not being discussed in the least in regards to the Qur’an and the Sunnah. Sadly so many obligatory things and definative things are being left and forgotten while these heated arguments ensue.
    May Allah bless who posted this article, inshaAllah it helps in uniting us as muslims despite our differences, because la ilaha illa Allah wa Muhammad Ar-Rasullulah does not change.

  9. AsimG says:

    Asalaamu alaykum Imam Suhaib,

    I enjoy creed articles like these very much. With an intro class to aqeedah and an overall lack of knowledge, I became very accusatory and arrogant whenever this topic came up.

    Alhamdillah, posts like these help me settle down and realize how little I understand.
    (I don’t even know the meaning of some of the Islamic concepts you mentioned!)

  10. Shaykh Didou Rocks says:

    As-salamu ‘alaikum,

    With all due respect to Ustaadh Suhaib, his referral to “Abul-Layth” as shaykh is wrong. Abul-Layth is a person, who upon his own admittance many times, has absolutely no FORMAL education in Islam. Yet he finds it befitting to call some of the greatest scholars of the Ummah with vilest of terms. A cursory look at his website shall prove this contention right. It is only Abul-Layth ‘striking back’ with his greatest ‘struggle’ to eradicate ‘the salafi menace’. He’s hardly a JUST individual, having a history of being harsh, rude, and erratic.

    May Allah reward Shaykhana Didou, and elevate his status, ameen.

    • Rafael says:

      As salam ‘alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh.

      Monsieur Shaykh Dido Rocks,

      I feel obliged as both a personal friend of Sidi Abu Layth and a student majoring in English to correct two assumptions here I believe to be slightly mistaken: one, that Sidi Abu Layth has had no formal training, which is not true if by formal training you mean sitting in front of teacher and learning from him (not taking knowledge as an autodidac). Of course if you mean to say that he is not enrolled at Al-Azhar, then yes, I suppose that is true.

      Next, you made the assumption that Imam Suhaib’s use to “our shaykh” in reference to Sidi Abu Layth (may Allah perfect them both) was “mistaken”. Well, mistaken is quite a thing to say — philosophically the designation could certainly be argued to be a relative one — but I think as someone studying English literature, that the designation was employed for irony, or perhaps to be a little waggish if not endearingly facetious. Allahu `Alim, I’m just a poet.

      Jazakum Allah khayrun for the original post, I’m one to think we need more clarity in our dialogues, more frankness.
      Wasalam.

      • Suhaib Webb says:

        Asalamu alaykum,

        “that the designation was employed for irony, or perhaps to be a little waggish if not endearingly facetious. Allahu `Alim, I’m just a poet.”

        Some of my teachers will not teach a student ilm until he has learned the adab of debate and discussion. One of the most important principles, in fact Sh. Dido stated that there is an Ijm’a on this, is trying to read or guess someone’s intention. Your designation of my intention goes against the very principles of debate and discussion passed on to us by our scholars and puts yourself in a very dangerous maqam: the knowledge of the hearts is strictly the realm of God alone. Claiming to share or understand what the hearts say without an established Qarinah is strictly forbidden. I, in no way intended any irony but only respect and fraternity for another person.

        Suhaib

        • Rafael says:

          Wa ‘alaykum as salam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh.

          It’s how I read it at first, God forgive me. I had not intended to read your heart, but your words. I stand corrected and admit my premise itself was perhaps flawed: to see comedy in your response was to forget the maxim that Muslims have no sense of humour.

          Thank you for rebuking my lack of etiquette and keep us in your prayers.

          Wasalam.

  11. abu majeed says:

    As-Salamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,

    Identitfying oneself with a group can be just fine as long as one does so recognizing that differences should never obstruct the unity and brotherhood of Ahle Sunnah wal-Jama’ah. Although Sh. Dido (ha) does not ascribe to any group per say, he is a mujtahid and he beautifully represented the untiy of Islam in differing with many great repudiated scholars of ahle Sunnah wal-Jama’ah. What abul-Layth represents is the problem which he himself is quoted as saying-

    “Again, the statements within this (response to this) article sadly shows the degenerate state that we find ourselves in within this sad era.”

    It is our dear brothers attachment to being Sufi and Ash’ari that led him to such un-Islamic behavior. I encourage everyone to be first and foremost attached to being Muslim and having a deep reverence for the Shahadah and those who say it. Let’s let our great scholars and teachers differ. If we have heard “supposed” scholars defaming and even questioning the very faith of their peers or predecessors for differences of opinion then we should question the integrity of such a “scholar” and defintely rethink following them as they are a hinderence to the unity of Ahle Sunnah wal-Jama’ah which is an established Asl (foundation) which is based in clear decisive texts and is not up for Ijtihad. Without unity we will not succeed!

    And Allah knows best

  12. Abu Sa'eed says:

    JazakAllah khayr Shaykh Suhayb. I feel the following point is especially descriptive of our main problem:

    “…he is equipped to save the 7th century Muslims from the Hashwiyah, but defenseless to answer the attacks of Dawkins, Crone and the cult of materialism in his own time.”

    BINGO. Descriptive of most of the bright minds of the revival generation (whether from the sufi or salafi side). They can argue all night on the precise meaning of the word ‘istiwa’, but when western academics, orientalists and/or missionaries attack the character of the Prophet, the integrity of the Qur’an, the practicality of the shari’ah, and the veracity of Islam, they seem completely disinterested in responding to the lies and misconceptions. You know how to refute a Kullaabi but your mouth is dry against the assault of an atheist?? Do you know how many Muslim youth in the west are disbelieving in Islam every day because they think it to be just a cultural label with no real truth to it?

    Let’s put it this way. Even if you make tabdee’ of “the other side”, I ask you this: Is it worse to die a mubtadi’ or to die a kafir? Wallahi, our brothers and sisters who are falling into kufr are more deserving of our efforts to save them.

    Nas’al-Allaha as-salamata wal-aafiya.

    • Qas says:

      NIcely put bro. Another pertinent question: are more youth becoming mubtadi’ or are they becoming murtads?

  13. Abul Layth says:

    As-Salamu ‘Alaykum,

    This is what is concluded by the article of Sh. Dido:

    A) The Asha’ris and Maturidis are Mistaken [a blanket statement without further clarification as what (and why) they are mistaken in, of course!]

    B) Imams Nawawi, Bayhaqi, Hakim as well as the majority of Shafi’is, the majority of the Hanafis, the majority of the Malikis are Asha’ris and Maturidis.

    A+B= All said ‘Ulama’ above are “mistaken” – for of course reason(s) based upon the ijtihad of a scholar that comes some 1000 years after the above said ‘Ulama”s schools have been established as Sunni orthodoxy, by both the Umara’ as well as the Mujtahid Imams.

    I am accused in the comments of this thread as “lacking adab” for calling such a claim “laughable”. To this it could be said that such accusations of “lacking adab” for calling a non-mujtahid’s open ended claim of the majority of this Ummah being “mistaken” in creed is itself, lack of adab to say the least.

    Then Br. Ahmed said:

    know the limits of the Shaykh’s knowledge and abilities, do you have some sort of divine knowledge that Allah has bestowed you with?

    It does not take divine knowledge to know that more ‘Ulama’ have existed in this Ummah that are Asha’ri and Maturidi than there are in the count of hadith. Justifying what I said:

    The list of great Imams that were Asha’ri and Maaturidis surpasses the number of ahadith this Shaykh has (or could) even memorize. It is beyond the amount of knowledge he could ever dream of holding

    So is it you, Br. Ahmed, that have been blessed with some divine knowledge to boastfully parrot the words that the majority of this Ummah for over a thousand years has been “mistaken”? Also Br. Ahmed, I used the history of this Ummah as the measuring stick for truth, for the Prophet Muhammad (saaws) said,

    “Indeed Allaah will never unite this Ummah upon misguidance and the Hand of Allaah is upon the Jamaa`ah.” [Tirmidhi’s Sunan]

    Imam Al-Bukhari (r) said, “Al Jama’ah (lit. ‘the group’) is Ahl Al-‘Ilm (the people of knowledge), those that follow the Prophet (saaws) and his companions and those who follow them after.”

    And the words of our beloved Sayyid Ibn Mas’ud when he said,

    “That which the Muslims consider good, Allah considers good!” [Musnad of Imam Ahmad]

    So you will have to pardon my utilization of such occurrences such as Hafith Ibn As-Salaah stating:

    “There is Ijma’ that is it is not permitted for anyone to follow other than the four schools!”

    I am also accused of “ignorance”, a title I do not deny, nor will I ever. What is also laughable, however, is that this ignorant one can see the ignorance in the claimants of knowledge when they arrogantly forward that the majority of this Ummah “is mistaken” in creed.

    Br. Suhayb Webb stated,

    The sheikh, took a balanced option

    It is not “balance” to call the majority of this Ummah “mistaken” in creed, it is extremism and shows disdain for the heritage of this Ummah. I am not sure what measuring stick you are using to say such is “balance”? Balance is, whatever this Ummah has concurred upon, and they have concurred upon the following of the 4 schools, and their being upon truth, as well as the correctness of the Ash’ari and Maaturidi madha-hib.

    There is consensus upon the validity of their views, unlike the claim of some groups that exist in our time who hold the Imams in disdain and contempt, believing themselves to be Mujtahidin, able to sift through the oceans of knowledge by themselves in order to make tarjih. So it is certainly worrying that an individual comes along generations after the fact that they [the four schools] have been agreed upon as “Truth”, and thus orthodoxy, to claim they all have mistakes in creed and fiqh!

    But of course, in the words of Br. Suhayb, may Allah bless him with firdaws, this is “balanced”!

    Abu Majeed says:

    It is our dear brothers attachment to being Sufi and Ash’ari that led him to such un-Islamic behavior.

    Abu Majeed, I am not sufi – and only wish I were, and I am not a true Asha’ri. Jazakum Allahu Khayran! My actions are my own and not representative of anyone else, just as yours are not. So grow up!

    Thus, to react is[n] the fashion as our Sh. Abu Layth has done is indicative of a lack of knowledge regarding Usol and debate, or a sincere love for one’s school that borders on fanaticism.

    Yes Sidi Suhayb Webb, may Allah bless you with firdaws, I am a fanatic in calling into question claims that the majority of this Ummah’s ‘Ulama’ of past and present are somehow mistaken in their creed and fiqh [per the last quote in the comments from Shaykh Dido] ! You will have to pardon my “unbalanced” contempt for those individuals who declare such. Rather, the determination of what is “balance” and what is not, is not in my hands or yours. It is in the Jama’ah’s, and the Jama’ah has concurred upon the uprightness, and the TRUTH of the four schools and the schools of creed.

    I beg thy pardon for any errors and mistakes I have made, and ask Allah to bless you all amin.

    May Allah bless our Sayyid Muhammad, his progeny, Sahaba, and followers. Amin!

    -Abul Layth

    • Suhaib Webb says:

      Asalamu alaykum,

      Akhi al-Habib:

      I think in your haste you have confused a number of issues, constricting things which Allah has left open and placed within them ease.

      “It is not “balance” to call the majority of this Ummah “mistaken” in creed”

      There is a difference between al-Jumhur opinion and and a certain ‘Ijma. As for the former, while it is certainly given great weight, it is well known that it could be a mistake and is not a source for rulings. If you are aware of some Usoli principle that gives the Jumhor this right, I would certainly be interested in benefiting.

      That being said, it seems you are turning issues where differences are allowable into the opposite. Such an attempt is what can be defined as fanaticism and extremism because it, as al-‘Allahmah Yusuf al-Qaradawi noted, involves assigning people’s commitment to a thing in a way which the Shar’iah did not. Other scholars noted that such a confusion in the principles of Usol will lead one to one of two realities:

      Those who earned Allah’s wrath
      Those who went astray

      Those who are able to apply the Usol in the correct fashion, respect differences, avoid fanatical leanings, repel their nuffs and let the Usol guide them in the light of the Maqasid are, as one scholar noted, “the people of the straight path.”

      I would advice you dear brother to slow down, gain some more knowledge and learn the tools that will equip you to move beyond such partisan diatribes. I say this with nothing but love for you and concern for, what could only be described, as your cultish behavior.

      SDW

  14. abu majeed says:

    As-Salamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,

    It is well known that the four scholars of the madhhabs followed the tradition of the Salaf in Aqeedah. For all readers who would be fooled by this brother’sand sister’s misleading statement-

    “A+B= All said ‘Ulama’ above are “mistaken” – for of course reason(s) based upon the ijtihad of a scholar that comes some 1000 years after the above said ‘Ulama’’s schools have been established as Sunni orthodoxy, by both the Umara’ as well as the Mujtahid Imams.”

    I ask him if the salaf i.e. the Prophet’s (saws) Companions (raa) and their followers (raa) -whom Allah mentioned are those whom He is satisfied with in verse 100 of at-tawba- were of the Ash’ari school? They knew Islam best and the well known MUJTAHID Sh. Dido (ha) is simply saying that to follow the salaf according to Allah’s guidance in verse 100 of sooorah at-tawba is correct and that those who made Ijtihad and differed with the Salaf were mistaken in using logic in trying to describe Allah. So indeed, the original opinion is the way of the Salaf which does not include any interpretations of the meanings of Allah’s attributes according to human logic.

    This is my last comment on this article and I would advise others here not to get into a back and forth with this brother as this is something the salaf and khalaf have rebuked.

    May Allah guide us to unity and to things more worthy of our time.

    And Allah knows best

    http://www.islamhouse.com/files/ar/ih_books/single/ar_5354.doc

  15. Suhaib Webb says:

    Asalamu alaykum,

    Perhaps if the brothers want to debate the finer issues surrounding the Salaf and the Khalaf they can exchange emails and do so? We are not going to open this up to another ancient debate that is not going to accomplish much. I certainly appreciate everyone’s comments, hope to benefit from them but want to caution from losing site of the posts original intent: we can differ, and we can do so with adab.

    Allah bless,
    Suhaib

  16. Haq says:

    Salaams all,
    I think, with all due respect, Abu Layth is a symptom of a deep rooted problem, which mainly comprises of a lack of reason, excessive emotional attachment to personalities which blurs straight thinking. Without a practical centralised unified approach taken by bonafide scholars, at least in the West, which can be effected locally, I think we will continue to address symptoms without actually solving the problem. I do not intend to be pessimistic, but perhaps it is not a solvable problem, however if the general masses are enlightened to the pitfuls of such ways of thinking, then at least it would be marginalised. I think the fact that Shaykh Dido (May Allah preserve him) said:
    “The Ash’āris were mistaken about certain issues”
    has upset Abu Layth hence his emotionally charged responses and use of innapropriate words, maybe it would help to remember that the Shaykh qualified his statement by adding “some”? And if the issue is the fact that Shaykh Dido holds some of what the Asharis hold is incorrect, then the problem is not the scholar who voices his scholarly judgement, but the lay who want to mute such efforts. One of my teachers once remarked “I studied the Hanbali Fiqh, but I am not Hanbali”. He said this since he didnt want to become the centre of attacks from Pseudo-scholars who wouldnt pass basic GCSE’s let alone become scholars. When first learning Arabic, I learnt alot of proverbs in Arabic, and if i can recall one (wording may be slightly different), it said:
    “The Bull who charges on a mountain only damages his own horns”
    Anyways, nice to be back on here, Salaams to Sh Suhaib, Sh Abu Majeed!!! Hope every one is well…
    Peace…

  17. Junaed says:

    I think everyone should post some salutations to the Prophet! peace be upon him

    • Rafael says:

      Allahuma salli `ala Saydina Muhammadin, `abdika wa rasulika nabiyyi `ummi, wa `ala alihi wa sahibi wa salam teslima kathiran bi qadri aðamati ðatika fi kulli waqtin wa hin!

  18. Shibli Zaman says:

    1) There has never been any census taken at any period in Islamic history that has concluded either the Ash`aris, Maturidis or Atharis, or any combination of these three, to be the “overwhelming majority”. So please stop using this type of rhetoric. It has no place in a discussion based on empirical evidence. It is also a logical fallacy called Argumentum ad populum or, probably in this case more accurately, Consensus gentium. The majority of the world is Christian. What will you do with that?

    2) We need a revolution in the Muslim world against the “`Aqidah Warriors”. Shaykh Salman al-`Awdah tapped into this necessity when he said `Aqidah could be explained in 10 minutes. All hell was brought down on him for it, but it was a great statement that was, sadly, quelled quickly. May Allah reward him and make the Muslims aware of the need to resist these disgusting theological arguments that go on ad infinitum and ad NAUSEUM. Resist it!

    3) This is yet another classic example of my oft-repeated point. Some of these internet Mujahidin need to loosen their britches and just calm down. When you get angry, sit down. If you’re sitting, then lay down. Make Wudhu. Pray Raka`tayn. If you find yourself in this situation often, then realize there is something wrong. When you lose your manners and your cool you invalidate even the valid things you say and that is the thing you will be held the most accountable for: Illegitimizing the Haq by being an ill-mannered representative of it.

    4) I remember squinting my eyes on a bullet riddled wall in a remote part of the world to find, much to my amazement, some barely legible words of wisdom someone had scrawled on the walls before those bullet holes got there. They are with me to this day:

    “Never forget your place.”
    (That’s a rough translation of the words which are difficult to express in English)

    Its not that some of us are in low places while others are in high places. We each have our place. We each have our strengths and weaknesses. Let us not belittle from a position of weakness those speaking from their positions of strength…and, perhaps even more importantly, let us not belittle from a position of strength those speaking from their position of weakness. Simply put: Let’s just stop belittling each other and let’s show some respect.

    والله تبارك وتعالى أعلم وصلى الله على نبينا محمد قائد الغر المحجلين

  19. AbdelRahman says:

    Debates like this are fruitless. They haven’t been solved with a definite conclusion for hundreds of years, and they won’t be solved on the comments of Imam Suhaib’s blog. Why don’t you go start a youth halaqah and teach seerah in order to help Muslims stop partying on the weekends.

    P.S. May Allah (swt) put us on the truth, get rid of our biases for sake of pride, and allow s to follow the simple, understandable, and sensical creed that His Beloved Prophet Muhammad (saw) brought – one that even the Bedouin can understand. Whether it’s the actual creed, or one influenced by philosophical concepts.

  20. Abu Asiya says:

    As Salaamualilkum,

    I say this with the greatest respect, but Abu Layth has a bit hatred for salafis and cannot accept that anything they do or believe may be the truth, hence his severe hatred for their aqeeda. Abu Layth has been consistently dealt with in the past, and Abuz Zubair’s debates with him spring to mind, which magically dissapeared from his website.

    I ask Allah SWT to guide us all, and to help us remain steadfast and remove any ghuloo in our hearts.

  21. Bilal says:

    As Salaamu Alaikum:

    Jazakhum Allahu Khayran for everyone’s comments. I think the reason for the very emotional responses in issues of Aqida is a result of the Ummah’s over obsession with Aqida. All Muslims from Ahli Sunna Wa Jama share to same basic Aqida. We really need to shift our focus on the study of Fiqh and Usul al-Fiqh. There are many Muslims arguing about very sophisticated aspects of Aqida when they have absolutely no knowledge of Fiqh. I have met some people who don’t know the Fiqh of Salaat, Wudu, Ghusl, or anything else but are quick to label a certain group deviants in terms of Aqida. Allah has created us to worship him and the first thing we will be questioned about on the Day of Resurrection is our prayer followed by other obligations that are Fard al-Aiyn. Fiqh is the path to carrying out our individual obligations in terms of our worship and if we are ignorant of Fiqh than our acts of worship will not be accepted. At the end of the day we have to agree to disagree on matters which our valid to have differences of opinions on. We must also learn the Adab of disagreement which seems to be a lost art in our times.

  22. Hasan says:

    Assalamu Alaikum

    Most people here did not even try to understand what Abul Layth was saying. One brother above said that he did not bring the proofs of the Asha’ira forward, and instead used the fact that Muhammad II Al Fatih conquered Constantinople. But do you not see that the PROPHET Muhammad had praised this man, and everyone knows this man’s aqeedah and fiqh!

    It is not out of partisan enthusiasm that sidi Abul Layth said what he said. It is rather disquieting for a non-mujtahid that has nowhere near the Imams of old to come forward and say that Imam Nawawi, baihaqi, Hakim, and the majority of the greatest scholars of all time were wrong about something.

    As for the argument that the Prophet nor his companions were Ash’ari, it is a similar argument to the one against maddhahib. Many a salafi/wahhabi has put forth this argument: “Was the Prophet a Hanafi or Shafi’i?” This question is rooted in extreme ignorance. Subhanallah! Why would the Prophet need to follow an imam when he got Divine Revelation from the Almighty?!! And why would his Companions need to ask a mujtahid Imam, when they could directly ask the Prophet? And they still had ikhtilaaf amongst them over issues, which they were unable to solve. And today, scholars who have not a tenth of the knowledge of those sahaba and those tabi’in and those mujtahidin who knew over four hundred thousand ahadith (Imam Ahmad’s criterion for being a mujtahid mutlaq) come along and say that they have found the absolute truth which is contrary to all of our a’immah. It should anger anyone.

    • Suhaib Webb says:

      Brother Hasan:

      Asalamu alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barkatu,

      I hope you are well and wanted to comment on a statement of yours:

      “It is rather disquieting for a non-mujtahid that has nowhere near the Imams of old to come forward and say that Imam Nawawi, baihaqi, Hakim, and the majority of the greatest scholars of all time were wrong about something.”

      This statement goes against the very foundations of usol. In any major book on usol one would find that there are a few areas where a scholar is forbidden to make ijtihad, and correcting the mistaken opinions held by great scholars is not one of them. A brief look at some of the greatest scholars in history proves this point.

      ‘Abdullah bin ‘Abbas is well known to have differed with ‘Abdullah bin Umar.

      Although his student, Imam Malik differed with his teacher Rab’iah bin Abd al-Rahman on a number of issues.

      Imam al-Shaf’i differed with his teacher, Imam Malik and wrote an entire chapter on it in al-Um calling it, “Where Shaf’i differed with Malik.

      Abu al-Rahman bin Qasim, who studied with Malik for 20 years, differed with the Imam on a number of issues. So much so, that Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr wrote a book on the subject.

      Imam Abi Zaid al-Qayrawani differed with a large number of issues held to be the opinion of Malik and his students.

      Imam Jamal al-Din Ibn Malik, the teacher of al-Nawwawi, noted in is monumental work al-Tashil that, “Scholars will constantly succeed other scholars and correct the mistakes they made.”

      Imam al-Nawawi in al-Majm’u differs with the prominent opinion help by his school and others that water warmed by the sun was makruh and harmed the body stating that “Medicine” proved that to be incorrect.

      Ibn Khaldun noted in al-Muqadimah, that one of the reason to write a book was “To bring something new or correct the mistakes of earlier scholars.”

      Imam al-Suyuti wrote “All praise be to Allah. When I made ijtihad I found that I differed with the Shafi’ madhab is 17 issues because the proofs used were weak.”

      Badru al-Din al-Qarafi al-Maliki noted , when he differed with a mashur opinion held by the school regarding divorce, “We’ve been changing the mashur based on Maslaha since our schools inception.”

      Your contention that no scholar has the right to come and differ with anyone of the great Imam’s is simply incorrect and a form of over exaggerating people’s status. Infallibility is granted to the Prophets exclusively and outside of a proven Ijm’a and an explicit Qiyas, the latter being debatable, we have a long history of great scholars differing with those who proceeded them, regardless if they were mujtahid mutlaq or not. In fact, the Ash’ari school went through no less than five phases, ultimately coming to some conclusions that differed with its founder, the great Imam and Scholar of Ahl Sunna, Abu Hassan al-‘Ashari. Thus we have the Baqilani Ash’ari’s, the Ghazzali ‘Ash’aris, it should be noted that the Andalusian Ash’aris, such as Tartusha considered al-Ghazzali as a rebel because of his differences with the school and ordered his books burned, and the Razian Ash’aris; the latter actual added 13 of the famous sifat 20 as noted by al-Suyuti in al-Kawakib al-Sat’i, and we find many of them differing over the issue of tafwid and tawil as noted by Ibn Hajar and al-Nawwai. In short, your statement is not only very dangerous, because it gives the right of prophethood to those who are not prophets and works to freeze the faith, but it undermines the very school you claim to follow since its opinions were developed over a number of years through debate and differing.

      May Allah bless you and raise your status and if I’ve said anything that came across as rude or offensive please know that it was not my intention.

      Allah bless you,
      Suhaib

  23. Abu Asiya says:

    Sorry just to reply quickly to Hasan, your arguements are a circular type, you moan when something is stated, and try to use Abu Layth’s POV that the Shaikh isnt Mujtahid Mutlaq therefore cannot comment on those past giants, but then is it alright for him to then start discussing Shaikh Al Islam Ibn Taymiya rh is a negative light? and what about all those Hanbali giants who similarly refuted the Ashari’s of the past?

    You cant have it both ways…

  24. Hasan says:

    Assalamu Alaikum

    Neither I nor Sidi Abul Layth nor any other scholar today needs to refute Ibn Taymiyyah. He was already refuted by the likes of Imam Dhahabi, Ibn Kathir, Ibn Hajar al Haitami and others.

    What other Hanabali giants refuted the Aha’ira who were not refuted themselves? Or do you are you talking about the Hanbali Ibn al Jawzi and other Atharis who refuted the tajsim of the Hanbalis of the day?’

    The bottom line is this: no qualified scholar has refuted the great Ash’ari, Maturidi scholars of the past, but qualified scholars have refuted Ibn Taymiyyah, Ibn al Qayyim and others. Scholars that are considered the bastions of knowledge even by modern salafis have refuted them.

    Wallahu a’lam

  25. Jhon Gray says:

    "The bottom line is this: no qualified scholar has refuted the great Ash’ari, Maturidi scholars of the past, but qualified scholars have refuted Ibn Taymiyyah, Ibn al Qayyim and others. Scholars that are considered the bastions of knowledge even by modern salafis have refuted them." Hasan

  26. Abu Asiya says:

    Ibn Qudama is one that springs to mind, oh and btw Ibn Jawzi rh is the only one you can use for the hanbalis, there must be a reason for that.. oh and as for ibn kathir rh is this the same one who was insistant on being buried next to his teacher who happened to be ibn taymiya?

  27. Jhon Gray says:

    Yeah, ibn Kathir was the student of Ibn Taymiyyah, as was Dhahabi, and they had the most respect for their teachers, but they were more committed to the truth, and they corrected their teacher’s mistakes when they saw it. Ibn Kathir’s wanting to be buried next to Ibn Taymiyyah speaks nothing of his views. Even I would want to be buried next to him.

  28. Abû Selma al-Mâlikî says:

    The comment that no census date is available to empirically prove that the majority of the ‘ulama’, for a thousand years, have been upon the creeds of the Ash’ariyya and Maturidiyya—come on. You can empirically prove it by going over the books of Islam—tafsir, commentary, biographies—from the Imams and mujtahidun of the Sunnis. The Ash’aris and Maturidis are vast in numbers, but those that clung to the modern “salafist” ‘aqida are not, an ‘aqida far from the real Salaf.

    Just be honest.

  29. Hasan says:

    Is Ibn al-Jawzi the only Hanbali Athari I can think of? Of course not! What would you call Ibn Aqil and Al-’Allaamah Muhammad ibn Ahmad Al-Saffarani? As for Ibn Qudama, he did not proclaim what the mujassimin of today claim–i.e. Allah sits on his throne with his essence (bi dhatihi). He was an Athari, not a mujassim.

  30. AsSalaamu Alaikum,

    May I make a statement brothers and sisters? Imam Suhaib Webb politely suggested for you guys to move the conversation of the Salaf and all of this stuff to your private e-mails. I would kindly reiterate his statement. Have some respect for the Imam and his wishes. How can you talk about all of these Sheikhs and scholars of the past and aqida and fiqh and not respect a notable Imam of today. Do you think that if you were in the presence of these Sheikhs you argue over or any of there personal students that they would accept such behavior?
    This began with Akhi Abu Layth, Why don’t you brothers continue the argument over there at his blog.
    Imam, forgive me if I’m out of line, it seems to me that they didn’t listen when you said it the first time.

  31. Zubair Khan says:

    Jazakum Allahu khayr everyone for commenting and carrying out a somewhat healthy discussion. The last few comments have resorted to the traditional cult wars so we will be closing the comments at this time. Let’s use our time productively doing beneficial things, such as for example, writing to the Daily Show staff supporting their decision to bring Anna Baltzer and Dr. Barghouti on the show to speak about the injustices against our brothers and sisters in Palestine.

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