Salafi Tampering of Riyadh asw-Swalihin

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

It is important for a Muslim seeking to learn about Islam to have the proper teachers.  It is also important for them to ensure that any books they have are by verified scholars.  If it is a translation, of a classical work the translator and the publisher have to be verified.  The same applies if it is a commentary.

The following is adapted from Salafi Tampering of Riyadh asw-Swalihin by Shaykh Gibril Haddad and Moin Shaheed, President, Ahlus Sunnah Muslim Association of Sri Lanka.  This is a review of the translation of Imam an-Nawawi's (r.a.) Riyadh asw-Swalihin published in 1999 by Darussalam Publishing House, Riyadh.

A team of unprincipled editors and translators out of a Riyadh publishing house by the name of Darussalam was commissioned to produce a glossy 2-volume English edition of Imam an-Nawawi's (r.a.) Riyadh asw-Swalihin to be distributed for free to Islamic schools around the world.  This exercise is designed to propagate Salafi ideology to unwary English-speaking Muslim students of Islamic knowledge.  This ideology is couched within a thoroughly unscrupulous commentary inserted into the book chapters and authored by an unknown or spurious 'Hafiz Salahuddin Yusuf of Pakistan,’ ‘revised and edited by Mahmud Rida Murad’ (1:7).  The following are some examples of what is contained in this brand new Salafi product:

(a)       The work is laced with an unabashed eulogy of Naswir Albani whom it calls "the leading authority in the science of hadith" (1:88).  The fact is that the only agreed-upon title Albani has been able to earn from the verifying ‘ulama of the Ummah from East to West, is that of an erratic innovator.

(b)       Declaring that "in case of breach of ablution, the wiping over the socks is sufficient, and there is no need for washing the feet" (1:31).  This ruling invalidates one of the conditions of wudhu spelled out in the Qur'an and the sunnah, making swalah prayed with such a wiping null and void according to the Four Schools, which prohibit wiping over non-waterproof footwear.

(c)       Declaring that "ours should not be the belief that the dead do hear and reply [to our greeting]" (1:515). The Jumhur differ.

(d)       Declaring that expressing the intention, niyyah, verbally before swalah "is a bid`ah (innovation in religion) because no proof of it is found in Shar'`ah" (1:14).  This is not only a wanton attack on the Shafi`i School but an ignorant violation of the criteria of calling something an innovation in the religion.

(e)       "Prohibition [of kissing] is only effective if the kissing of hands is also involved."  (2:721).  Note that Imam Sufyan ats-Tsawri (r.a.) called the kissing of the hands of the ‘ulama a sunnah and that the majority of the scholars concur on its permissibility.

(f)        Saying "unapproved hadith" - an invented classification - for the swahih hadits of the two Jews who kissed the Prophet's (s.a.w.) hands and feet as narrated by Imam at-Tirmidzi (r.a.) and others.

(g)       The weakening of the hasan hadits whereby the Prophet (s.a.w.) kissed Zayd ibn Haritsa (r.a.) as narrated by Imam at-Tirmidzi (r.a.) as hasan.

(h)       Declaring "the hadiths about the kissing of hands are weak and deficient from the viewpoint of authenticity," an outright lie.

(i)        Declaring after the hadits stating: "I suffer like two men of you": "This hadith... throws light on the fact that the Prophet (s.a.w.) was merely a human being." (2:737)  This discourse is that of the disbelievers mentioned in many places of the Qur'an:

…They said: "Ah!  Ye are no more than human like ourselves!..."  (Surah Ibrahim:10)

They said: "Shall we believe in two men like ourselves?..." (Surah al-Mu’minun:47)

The (people) said: "Ye are only men like ourselves..." (Surah YaSin:15)

… but they said: "Shall (mere) human beings direct us?"... (Surah at-Taghabun 6)

(j)        Claiming: "We are uncertain that after saying a funeral prayer, the Prophet (s.a.w.) and his Companions ever stood around the bier and supplicated for the dead body.  It is an innovation and must be abolished." (2:755).  This is flatly contradicted by the sound narrations ordering the swahabah to make ud’iyyah for the deceased directly after burial.  The commentor(s) go on to say: "It looks strange that believers should persist in reciting supplications in their own self-styled way after the funeral prayer, but desist from them during the funeral prayer to which they have relevance.  It implies that prayer is not the object of their pursuit, otherwise they would have prayed in accordance with the Sunna.  In fact, they cherish their self-fabricated line of action and seem determined to pursue it."  Yet the commentator(s) a few pages later (2:760) state: "The Prophet (s.a.w.) has instructed his followers that after a Muslim's burial, they should keep standing beside his grave for some time and pray for his firmness."

(k)       Omitting (2:760) to translate the words of Imam ash-Shafi`i (r.a.) related by Imam an-Nawawi (r.a.) in Chapter 161 ("Supplication for the Deceased after his Burial"): ""It is desirable (yustahabb) that they recite something of the Qur'an at the graveside, and if they recite the entire Qur'an it would be fine."  Omitting to translate these words which are in the original text of Riyadh asw-Swalihin is deceit and a grave betrayal of the trust, amanah, of the translation of one the mother books of knowledge in Islam.

(l)        As if the above were not enough, the "commentary" goes on to state: "The reference made to Imam ash-Shafi`i about the recitation of Qur'an beside a Muslim's grave is in disagreement with the Prophet's (s.a.w) practice... the reference made to Imam ash-Shafi`i seems to be of doubtful authenticity."  However, Shaykh az-Za`farani (r.a.) said: "I asked ash-Shafi`i about reciting Qur'an at the graveside and he said: la ba'sa bihi - There is no harm in it."  This is narrated by Imam Ahmad's (r.a.) student Shaykh al-Khallal (r.a.) (d. 311) in his book al-‘Amr bi al-Ma`ruf (p. 123 #243).  Similar fatawa are reported from Shaykh ash-Sha`bi (r.a.), Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal (r.a.), Shyakh Ishaq ibn Rahuyah (r.a.) and others of the Salaf by no less than Shaykh ibn al-Qayyim (r.a.) and Shaykh ash-Shawkani (r.a.) in their books - the putative authorities of the "Salafi" movement.

(m)      Stating (2:761): "Qur'an reading meant to transmit reward to the dead man's soul is against the Prophet's (s.a.w)example.  All such observances are of no use to the dead."  This is the exact same position as the Mu`tazila on the issue, who went so far as to deny the benefit of the Prophet's (s.a.w.) intercession.  It should be noted that the manipulative editors /commentators of Riyadh asw-Swalihin deliberately omit any mention of the Companions' practice, as it is authentically recorded from ibn `Umar (r.a.) that he ordered that Qur'an be read over his grave, which has the status of the sunnah of the Prophet (s.a.w.) as this particular Companion was known to be the staunchest of all people in his adherence to the Prophet's (s.a.w.) example.

(n)       Stating (2:761): "For further detail, one can refer to Shaykh al-Albani's Ahkam al-Jana'iz."  This is the book in which this man lists among the innovations of misguidance the fact that the Prophet's (s.a.w.) grave is inside his Mosque in Madina and the fact that it has a dome built over it, and he asks for both of them to be removed.

(o)       Stating (2:791-792): "If a woman has no husband or mahram, hajj is not obligatory on her.  Neither can she go for hajj with a group of women, whether for hajj or any other purposes....  Under no circumstances a woman may travel alone."  This contradicts the fatwa of the majority of the ‘ulama as well as the principle that when there is scholarly disagreement over an issue, it becomes automatically impermissible to declare it prohibited.

(p)       Rephrasing a hadits (2:810-811) by omitting key words which invalidate their position.  In chapter 184 of Riyadh asw-Swalihin titled "Desirability of Assembling for Qur'an-Recitation," Imam an-Nawawi (r.a.) cites the hadits of Imam Muslim (r.a.) whereby the Prophet (s.a.w.) said: "No group of people assemble in one of the Houses of Allah, all of them reciting [plural pronoun] the Book of Allah (yatla’una kitab Allah) and studying  It among themselves except Serenity (as-sakina) shall descend upon them."  The editor/ commentator(s) of Riyadh asw-Swalihin rephrased the hadits thus: "Any group of people that assemble in one of the Houses of Allah to study the Qur'an, tranquility will descend upon them." omitting the key words: "all of them reciting the Book of Allah."  Then the same editor/ commentator(s) had the gall to comment: "This hadith... does not tell us in any way that this group of people recite the Qur'an all at once.  This is bid`ah for this was not the practice of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.)."  This is tampering compounded with a shameless lie.  This misinterpretation and false claim of bid`ah is, of course, directed at the Maghribi style of Qur'anic recitation that relies heavily on collective tilawah in order to strengthen memorization.

(q)       The statement (2:848) concerning the Prophet's (s.a.w) miracle of seeing behind his back: "It must be borne in mind that a miracle happens with the will of Allah only.  It is not at all in the power of the Prophet (s.a.w).  Had he been capable of working a miracle on his own, he would have shown it at his own pleasure.  But no prophet was ever capable of it, nor was the Prophet (s.a.w) an exception to this rule."  In truth this speech comes directly from books such as Isma`il Dehlvi's Taqwayt al-Iman concerning which Abu al-Hasan ats-Tsanwi (r.a.) said: "The words used by Isma`il Dehlvi are, of course, disrespectful and insolent.  These words may never be used." (Imdad ul-Fatawa 4:115)

(r)        The statement (2:861): "The right number of rak`ats in the tarawih prayers is eight because the Prophet (s.a.w.) never offered more than eight rak`ats...  It is not in any case twenty rak`ats.  Authentic ahadith prove this point abundantly."  This is a transgressive innovation, bid`ah mufassiqa, as it rejects the command of the Prophet (s.a.w) to "obey the sunnah of the Rightly-Guided Caliphs after me" and also kufr as it violates the passive consensus, ijma` sukuth, of the Companions over twenty raka`at.

(s)        The statement (2:905): "Twenty rak`at tarawih is not confirmed from any authentic hadith, nor its ascription to `Umar ( is proved from any muttasil (connected) hadith."  This is a blatant lie, as the number of hadits masters who graded as swahih the connected chains back to `Umar (r.a.) establishing twenty raka`at tarawih are too numerous to count.  They provided the basis on which the ‘ulama concur in declaring that consensus formed on the matter among the Companions as stated by Shaykh al-Qari (r.a.), Shaykh az-Zayla`i (r.a.), Shaykh al-Haytsami (r.a.), Shaykh ibn al-Humam (r.a.), Shaykh ibn Qudama (r.a.), and a number of other major jurists of the Four Schools.

(t)        The statement (2:1025): "In the present age Shaykh Naswir ad-Din al-Albani has done a very remarkable work in this field [hadith].  He has separated the weak ahadith found in the four famous volumes of ahadith (Abu Dawud, at-Tirmidhi, an-Nasa'i, and ibn Majah) from the authentic and prepared separate volumes of authentic and weak ahadith.  This work of Albani has made it easy for the ordinary ulema to identify the weak ahadith.  Only a man of Shaykh Albani's caliber can do research on it.  The ordinary ulema and religious scholars of the Muslims are heavily indebted to him for this great work and they should keep it in view before mentioning any hadith.  They should mention only the authentic ahadith and refrain from quoting the weak ones.  It is wrong to ignore this work on the ground that Shaykh Albani is not the last word on the subject.... As Muhaddithin have done a great service to the Muslim Umma by collecting and compiling the ahadith, similarly in the style of Muhaddithin, and in keeping with the principles laid down by them, the research carried out to separate the authentic ahadith from the weak is in fact an effort to complete their mission.  In this age, Almighty Allah has bestowed this honor on Shaykh Albani."  All this fawning will not hide the facts that al-Albani has been exposed as the innovator of this age par excellence and that his splitting of the books of Sunan into Swahih at-Tirmidzi and Dha`if at-Tirmidzi and so forth is an unprecedented attack on the mother books of Islam for which, undoubtedly, he shall be brought to account on the Day of Judgment as he was rejected for it by the ‘ulama of the ummah from East to West.

(u)       Another systematic mistranslation for the Chapter-title 338 (2:1294) states: "Prohibition of placing the hands on the sides during Salat" when the Arabic clearly states al-khasira which means "waist" or "hip" rather than "sides."  The same mistranslation is then repeated in the body of the chapter, then a third time in the commentary.  This mistranslation is part of the Salafi campaign against the Maliki form consisting in letting the arms hang down by the sides during the standing part of swalah.  In some places of North Africa today, such as Marrakech, certain people are paid to declare takfir and tadhlil, in the name of the sunnah, of those who pray with their arms hanging by their sides although it is an established sunnah.

All sincere Muslims should consider themselves warned and warn others that this is not a Sunni translation of the great classic of Imam an-Nawawi (r.a.) but an innovative, deviant, and inauthentic translation which should never have been allowed.  There are two other English translations of Riyadh asw-Swalihin available in print, any one of which would be preferable to this one.  And from Allah (s.w.t.) comes all success.


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