al-Albani: A Concise Guide to the Chief Innovator of Our Time

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

The following article is adapted from al-Albani: A Concise Guide to the Chief Innovator of Our Time by Dr. Gibril F. Haddad.

Naswir ad-Din al-Albani is the arch-innovator of the Wahhabis and “Salafis” in our time.  A watch repairman by trade, al-Albani was a self-taught claimant to hadits scholarship who had no known teacher in any of the religious sciences and has admitted not to have memorised the Qur’an nor any book of ahadits, fiqh, ‘aqidah, uswul, or grammar.  He achieved fame by attacking the great scholars of Ahl as-Sunnah and reviling the science of fiqh with especial malice towards the school of his father who was a Hanafi jurist.

He was a rabid reviler of the awliya’ and the Sufis.  He was expelled from Syria, then Saudi Arabia and lived in Amman, Jordan under house arrest until his death in 1999.  He remains the qiblah of the people of innovation, self-styled reformers of Islam, and other “Salafi” and Wahhabi sympathisers, and the preferred author of book merchants and many uneducated Muslims.  Most of the contemporary Sunni scholars warned of his heresy and many of them wrote articles or full-length works against him.

The Indian ahadits scholar, Habib ‘Abd ar-Rahman al-A’azhami (r.a.) wrote al-Albani Shudzudzuh wa Akhta’uh, “al-Albani's Aberrations and Errors,” in four volumes.  al-Albani’s deviance in the field of ahadits alone could fill four volumes.

The Syrian scholar, Imam Muhammad Sa`id Ramadhan al-Buwthi (r.a.) wrote the two classics, al-Lamadzhabiyyah Akhtaru Bid’atin Tuhaddidu ash-Shari’ah al-Islamiyyah, “Not Following a School of Jurisprudence is the Most Dangerous Innovation Threatening Islamic Sacred Law”, and as-Salafiyyah Marhalatun Zamaniyyatun Mubarakah laa Madzhabun Islami, “The Way of the Early Muslims was a Blessed Historical Epoch, Not an Islamic School of Thought.”

The Moroccan ahadits scholar, Shaykh ‘Abdullah ibn Muhammad ibn asw-Swiddiq al-Ghumari (r.a.) wrote Irgham al-Mubtadi’ al-Ghabi bi Jawaz at-Tawaswswul bi an-Nabi fi ar-Radd ‘ala al-Albani al-Wabi, “The Coercion of the Unintelligent Innovator with the Licitness of Using the Prophet as an Intermediary in Refutation of al-Albani the Baneful”; al-Qawl al-Muqni’ fi ar-Radd ‘ala al-Albani al-Mubtadi’, “The Persuasive Discourse in Refutation of al-Albani the Innovator”; and Itqan as-Sun’a fi Tahqiq Ma’na al-Bid’ah, “Precise Handiwork in Ascertaining the Meaning of Innovation.”

The Moroccan ahadits scholar, Shaykh ‘Abd al-‘Aziz ibn Muhammad ibn asw-Swiddiq al-Ghumari (r.a.) wrote Bayan Nakath an-Nakith al-Mu’tadi, “The Exposition of the Treachery of the Rebel.”

The Syrian ahadits scholar, Shaykh ‘Abd al-Fattah Abu Ghuddah (r.a.) wrote Radd ‘ala Abathil wa Iftira’at Naswir al-Albani wa Swahibihi Sabiqan Zuhayr ash-Shawish wa Mu’adzirihimah, “Refutation of the Falsehoods and Fabrications of Naswir al-Albani and His Former Friend, Zuhayr al-Shawish and their Supporters.”

The Egyptian ahadits scholar, Shaykh Muhammad ‘Awwamah (r.a.) wrote Adab al-Ikhtilaf, “The Proper Manners of Expressing Difference of Opinion,” criticising al-Albani’s lack of manners in issues of ikhtilaf and his constant takfir, and labelling of others as innovators and heretics.

The Egyptian ahadits scholar, Shaykh Mahmud Sa’id Mamduh (r.a.) wrote Wuswul at-Tahani bi Itsbat Sunniyyat asw-Swubhah wa ar-Radd ‘ala al-Albani, “The Alighting of Mutual Benefit and Confirmation that the Beads are a Sunnah in Refutation of al-Albani”, and Tanbih al-Muslim ila Ta’adhdhi al-Albani ‘ala Swahih Muslim, “Warning to the Muslim Concerning al-Albani's Attack on Swahih Muslim.”

The Saudi ahadits scholar, Shaykh Isma’il ibn Muhammad al-Answar (r.a.) wrote Ta’aqqubat ‘ala Silsilat al-Ahadits adh-Dha’ifat wa al-Mawdhu’at li al-Albani, “Critique of al-Albani's Book on Weak and Forged Ahadits”; Taswhih Swalat at-Tarawih ‘Ishrinah Rak’atan wa ar-Radd ‘ala al-Albani fi Tadh’ifih, “Establishing as Correct the Swalat at-Tarawih in Twenty Rak’ah and the Refutation of Its Weakening by al-Albani”; and ‘Ibahat at-Tahalli bi adz-Dzahab al-Muhallaq li an-Nisa’ wa ar-Radd ‘ala al-Albani fi Tahrimih, “The Licitness of Wearing Gold Jewellery for Women, Contrary to al-Albani's Prohibition of It.”

The Syrian scholar, Shaykh Badr ad-Din Hasan Diyyab (r.a.) wrote Anwar al-Maswabih ‘ala Zhulumat al-Albani fi Swalat at-Tarawih, “Illuminating the Darkness of al-Albani over the Swalat at-Tarawih.”

The Director of Religious Endowments in Dubai, Shaykh ‘Isa ibn ‘Abdullah ibn Mani’ al-Himyari (r.a.) wrote al-‘Ilam bi Istihbab Shadd ar-Rihal li Ziyarati Qabri Khayr al-An’am, “The Notification Concerning the Recommendation of Travelling to Visit the Grave of the Best of Creation” and al-Bid’ah al-Hasanah Aswlun min Uswul at-Tashri’, “The Excellent Innovation is One of the Sources of Islamic Legislation.”

The Minister of Islamic Affairs and Religious Endowments in the United Arab Emirates, Shaykh Muhammad ibn Ahmad al-Khazraji (r.a.) wrote the article al-Albani: Tatharrufatuh, “al-Albani’s Extremist Positions.”

The Syrian scholar, Shaykh Firas Muhammad Walid Ways (r.a.) in his edition of Imam ibn al-Mulaqqi’s (r.a.) Sunniyyat al-Jumu`ah al-Qabliyyah, “The Sunnah Prayers That Must Precede Swalah al-Jumu`ah,” refuted al-Albani.

The Syrian scholar, Shaykh Samir Islambuli (r.a.) wrote al-Ahad, al-Ijma’, an-Naskh.

The Jordanian scholar, Shaykh As’ad Salim Tayyim (r.a.) wrote Bayan Awham al-Albani fi Tahqiqihi li Kitab Fadhl asw-Swalat ‘ala an-Nabi, “False Declarations of al-Albani in His Investigations into the Book of Obligatory Prayers upon the Prophet.”

The Jordanian scholar, Shaykh Hasan ‘Ali as-Saqqaf, wrote the two-volume Tanaqudhat al-Albani al-Wadhihah fi ma Waqa’ah fi Taswhih al-Ahadits wa Tad’ifiha min Akhta' wa Ghalthat, “Albani’s Patent Self-Contradictions in the Mistakes and Blunders He Committed While Declaring Ahadits to be Sound or Weak”; Ihtijaj al-Kha’ib bi ‘Ibarat man Idda’a al-Ijma’ fa Huwa Kadzib, “The Loser’s Recourse to the Phrase, ‘Whoever Claims Consensus is a Liar!’”, al-Qawl ath-Thabtu fi Swiyami Yawm as-Sabt, “The Firm Discourse Concerning Fasting on Saturdays”; al-Lajif al-Dhu’af li al-Mutala’ib bi Ahkam al-I’itikaf, “The Lethal Strike Against Him Who Toys with the Rulings of I’itikaf”; Swahih Swifat Swalat an-Nabi (s.a.w.), “The Correct Description of the Prophet’s (s.a.w.) Prayer”; ‘Ilam al-Kha’id bi Tahrim al-Qur’an ‘ala al-Junub wa al-Ha’idh, “The Appraisal of the Meddler in the Interdiction of the Qur’an to those in a State of Major Defilement and Menstruating Women”; Talqih al-Fuhum al-‘Aliyah, “The Inculcation of Lofty Discernment”; and Swahih Sharh al-‘Aqidah ath-Thahawiyyah, “The Correct Explanation of ath-Thahawi’s Statement of Doctrine.”

al-Albani's innovations in the religion were many.  In his book, Adab al-Zafaf, he prohibited women from wearing gold jewellery, despite the ijma’ permitting it.  He claimed that zakat is not due on money obtained from commerce, the main activity whereby money circulates among Muslims.  He absolutely prohibited fasting on Saturdays.  He prohibited i’itikaf in any but the Three Mosques.   He claimed that it is lawful to eat in Ramadhan before maghrib as defined by the shari’ah, and similarly after the true dawn.  He compared Hanafi fiqh to the Gospel in his 3rd edition commentary on Imam al-Mundziri’s (r.a.) Mukhtaswar Swahih Muslim.  This phrase was removed from later editions.  He called people to imitate him rather than the a’immah of the salaf such as the founders of the Four Schools, and his followers invalidate the ahadits that contradict his views.  He prohibited the make-up performance of prayers missed intentionally.  He claimed that it is permissible for menstruating women and those in a state of major defilement, junub, to recite, touch, and carry the Qur’an.

al-Albani claimed over and over that among the innovations in religion existent in Madina is the persistence of the Prophet’s (s.a.w.) grave in the mosque.  He claimed that whoever travels intending to visit the Prophet (s.a.w.) or to ask him for his intercession is a misguided innovator.  He claimed that whoever carries dzikr beads in his hand to remember Allah (s.w.t.) is misguided and innovating.  He claimed in Tamam al-Minna that masturbation does not annul one’s fast.  He published “corrected” editions of Swahih al-Bukhari and Swahih Muslim, which he deceitfully called abridgments, mukhtaswar, in violation of the integrity of these mother books.  He published newly-styled editions of Imam al-Bukhari's (r.a.) al-Adab al-Mufrad, Imam al-Mundziri's (r.a.) at-Targhib wa at-Tarhib, and Imam as-Suyuthi’s (r.a.) al-Jami` asw-Swaghir, each of which he split into two works, respectively prefixed Swahih” and “Dha’if” in violation of the integrity of these mother books.

In terms of theology, he invented a location for Allah (s.w.t.) above the Throne which he named al-makan al-‘adami, “the non-existent place.”  Regarding the Divine Attributes, he said, “Many of those who interpret figuratively are not heretics, but they say what heretics say,” implying Sunni Muslims are upon kufr.  He also said “at-ta’wil ‘ayn at-ta’til, “figurative interpretation is the very same as nullification.”  This is found in his Fatawa and Mukhtaswar al-‘Uluw.

He suggested that Imam al-Bukhari (r.a.) was a disbeliever for interpreting the Divine Face as Mulk, “Dominion” or “Sovereignty” in the verse:

…Everything (that exists) will perish except His Own Face... (Surah al-Qaswasw:88)

In the book of tafsir in his Swahih, Imam al-Bukhari (r.a.) wrote, “Except ‘His Wajh’ means except ‘His Mulk’, and it is also said, ‘Except whatever was for the sake of His Countenance.’”

In contrast, al-Albani said, “No true believer would say such a thing,” implying that Imam al-Bukhari (r.a.) was not a believer.  He then added, “We should consider al-Bukhari innocent of that statement,” in his Fatawa.

In imitation of the Mu’tazila, he declared tawaswswul, istighatsa’ and tashaffu` through the Prophet (s.a.w.) or one of the awliya’, haram and tantamount to shirk in his booklet, at-Tawaswswul.  His friends, ibn Baz and those who obey them such as al-Qahtani in al-Wala’ wa al-Bara’ and others, did so as well.  This is in flat rejection of the numerous sound and explicit narrations to that effect, such as Imam al-Bukhari’s (r.a.) narration of the Prophet (s.a.w.) from ibn ‘Umar (r.a.), “Truly the sun shall draw so near on the Day of Resurrection that sweat shall reach to the mid-ear, whereupon they shall ask help from Adam (a.s.), then from Musa (a.s.), then from Muhammad (s.a.w.) who will intercede,” and continuing to “and that day Allah shall Raise him to an Exalted Station, so that all those who are standing shall glorify him,” referring to the Exalted status of the Prophet (s.a.w.).

He denied that the name of the angel of death is ‘Azra’il and claimed such a name has no basis other than Israelite reports, although Qadhi ‘Iyadh (r.a.) reported the ijma’ of the ummah on it in ash-Shifa’.

Like the rest of Wahhabi innovators, he declared Asharis, Maturidis, and Sufis to be outside the fold of the Ahl as-Sunnah and even outside the fold of Islam, although Allah (s.w.t.) and His Prophet (s.a.w.) Praised them:

O ye who believe!  If any from among you turn back from his faith, soon will Allah Produce a people whom He will Love as they will love Him, ― lowly with the believers, mighty against the rejecters, fighting in the Way of Allah, and never afraid of the reproaches of such as find fault.  That is the Grace of Allah, which He will Bestow on whom He Pleaseth: and Allah Encompasseth all and He Knoweth all things. (Surah al-Ma’idah:54)

Upon Revelation of the verse, the Prophet (s.a.w.) pointed to Abu Musa al-Ashari (r.a.) and said, “They are that man’s people.”  This is narrated from Qadhi ‘Iyadh (r.a.) by Imam ibn Abi Shaybah (r.a.) and Imam al-Hakim (r.a.) who said it is swahih by Imam Muslim’s (r.a.) criterion, and by Imam ath-Thabarani (r.a.) with a sound chain as stated by Imam al-Haytsami (r.a.).

Imam al-Qushayri (r.a.), Imam ibn ‘Asakir (r.a.), Imam al-Bayhaqi (r.a.), Imam ibn as-Subki (r.a.), and others said that the followers of Imam Abu al-Hasan al-Ash’ari, who were mostly Sufis, are included among Abu Musa’s (r.a.) people for in every place that a people are affiliated to a Prophet (s.a.w.), what is meant is the followers of that Prophet (s.a.w.).

As for Maturidis, they are referred to in the narration of the Prophet (s.a.w.) from Shaykh Bishr al-Khats’ami (r.a.) or Shaykh al-Ghanawi (r.a.) with a swahîh chain according to Imam al-Hakim (r.a.), Imam adz-Dzahabi (r.a.), Imam as-Suyuthi (q.s.), and Imam al-Haytsami (r.a.): “Truly you shall conquer Constantinople and truly what a wonderful leader will her leader be, and truly what a wonderful army will that army be!”  Both the leader and his army were classic Hanafi Maturidis and it is known that Sultan Mehmet Fatih (r.a.) loved and respected Sufis, practiced tawaswswul and followed a shaykh.  Moreover, enmity against Ash’aris, Maturidis, and Sufis, is nifaq and enmity against the ummah of Islam as most of the ‘ulama of Islam are thus described.

In at least five of his books, al-Albani called for the demolition of the Green Dome of the Prophet’s (s.a.w.) Mosque in al-Madina al-Munawwarah and for taking the Prophet’s (s.a.w.) grave outside the mosque.  This is found in Ahkam al-Jana’iz wa Bida’uha, Talkhisw Ahkam al-Jana’iz, Tahdzir as-Sajid, Hijjat an-Nabi, and Manasik al-Hajj wa al-‘Umrah.

He stated, “I have found no evidence for the Prophet’s (s.a.w.) hearing of the salaam of those who greet him at his grave,” and, “I do not know from where ibn Taymiyyah took his claim that he hears the salaam from someone near.”  Shaykh ibn Taymiyyah (r.a.) wrote such in Majmu’a al-Fatawa.  This and the previous item are among his greater enormities and bear the unmistakable signature of innovation and deviation.  This claim of al-Albani is found in his notes on Shaykh Nu’man al-Aluwsi's (r.a.) al-Ayat al-Bayyinat and his Silsilah Dha’ifa.  He considered it an innovation to visit relatives, neighbours, or friends on the day of ‘Iyd and prohibited it.  This is found in his Fatawa.

He gave the fatwa that Muslims should exit Palestine en masse and leave it to the Jews as it is part the Abode of War, Dar al-Harb.  This is found in Fatawa.

He advocated in his Swalawat an-Nabi, the formula, “Peace and blessings upon the Prophet,” instead of, “upon you, O Prophet,” in the tashahhudin contradiction of the Four Sunni Schools, on the basis of a hadits of ibn Mas’ud (r.a.) whereby the companions used the indirect-speech formula after the passing of the Prophet (s.a.w.).

But the Prophet (s.a.w.) himself instructed them to pray exactly as he prayed saying, “Peace and blessings upon you, O Prophet,” without telling them to change it after his death, nor did the major companions whose sunnah we were ordered to imitate, together with that of the Prophet (s.a.w.), such as Abu Bakr (r.a.) and ‘Umar (r.a.), teach the companions and successors otherwise.

He prohibited praying more than eleven rak’ah in swalah at-tarawih on the grounds that the Prophet (s.a.w.) never did and in blatant rejection of his explicit command to follow the sunnah of the Rightly-Guided Caliphs after him.  He declared, in Fatawathat adding more to eleven supererogatory rak`ah in the tahajjud is an innovation rather than an act of obedience on the grounds that the Prophet (s.a.w.), “never ever prayed one hundred rak`ah in his whole lifetime,” although the ‘ulama agree that there is no prescribed limit to something which the Prophet (s.a.w.) commanded without specifically quantifying it, and he said in three authentic narrations narrated as part of a longer hadits from Tsawban (r.a.) with sound chains by Imam ibn Majah (r.a.) and Imam Ahmad (r.a.).  Imam Malik (r.a.) cited in his al-Muwaththa’ that the Prophet (s.a.w) said, “Know that the best of your good deeds is prayer.’

As part of a longer hadits narrated from Abu Malik al-Ash’ari (r.a.) and Ka’b ibn ‘Aswim (r.a.) by Imam Muslim (r.a.), Imam at-Tirmidzi as, Imam an-Nasa’i (r.a.), Imam ibn Majah (r.a.), Imam Ahmad (r.a.) and Imam ad-Darimi (r.a.) as either hasan or swahih, the Prophet (s.a.w.) said “Prayer is a light.”

Narrated from ibn ‘Umar (r.a.) in the Nine Books, the Prophet (s.a.w.) said, “The night prayer is in cycles of two and when one of you fears the rising of the dawn, let him pray a single one.”  It is also established in many authentic narrations collected by Imam ‘Abd al-Hayy al-Lakhnawi (r.a.), in the second part of his Iqamat al-Hujjat ‘ala Anna al-Iktswar min at-Ta’abbudi Laysa bi Bid’ahthat the companions and salaf prayed hundreds, if not thousands, of rak`ah in every twenty-four hours.

al-Albani considered it an innovation to pray four rak`ah between the adzan of Jumu`ah and the adzan before swalah, although it is authentically narrated that, “the Prophet (s.a.w.) prayed four rak`ah before Jumu`ah and four rak`ah after it,” with a fair chain from ‘Ali (k.w.) and ibn ‘Abbas (r.a.) as stated by Imam al-‘Iraqi (r.a.) in Tarh at-Tatsrib, Imam ibn Hajr (r.a.) in Talkhis al-Habir, and Imam at-Tahanawi (r.a.) in ‘Ila’ as-Sunan.

He declared, in Fatawa, that it haram and an innovation to lengthen the beard over a fistful’s length although there is no proof for such a claim in the whole shari’ah and none of the ‘ulama ever said it before him.

He gave free rein to his propensity to insult and vilify the ‘ulama of the past as well as his contemporaries.  As a result, it is difficult to wade through his writings without being affected by the nefarious spirit that permeates them.  For example, he considered previous editors and commentators of Imam al-Bukhari’s (r.a.) al-Adab al-Mufrad, “Book of Manners,” “sinful," “unbearably ignorant,” and even, “liars” and “thieves.”  Of one, he said, “There are so many weak hadits that it is an un-Islamic practice”; of another, “It is ignorance which must not be tolerated”; of another, “Forgery and an open lie,” and continued, “His edition is stolen,” meaning stolen from a previous one.  All this from the Introduction of his Swahih al-Adab al-Mufrad.  Such examples actually fill a book compiled by Shaykh Hasan ‘Ali as-Saqqaf (r.a.) and titled Qamus Shata’im al-Albani wa Alfazhihi al-Munkarat allati Yatluquha ‘ala ‘Ulama’ al-Ummah, “Dictionary of al-Albani's Insults and the Heinous Words He Uses Against the Scholars of the Community.”

al-Albani revived Imam ibn Hazm's (r.a.) anti-madzhabi claim that differences can never be a mercy in any case but are always a curse on the basis of the verse:

Do they not ponder on the Qur’an (with care)?  Had it been from other than Allah, they would surely have found therein much discrepancy. (Surah an-Nisa’:82)

In as-Silsilah adh-Dhaifa, Imam an-Nawawi (r.a.) had long since refuted this view in his commentary on Swahih Muslim where he said, “If something is a Mercy, it is not necessary for its opposite to be the opposite of Mercy.  No one makes this binding and no one even says this, except an ignoramus or one who affects ignorance.”

Similarly, Imam al-Munawi (r.a.) said in Faydh al-Qadir, “This is a contrivance that showed up on the part of some of those who have sickness in their heart.”

In his introduction to Imam as-San’ani’s (r.a.) Raf` al-Asthar, al-Albani expressed hatred for those who read Imam al-Buswiri’s (q.s.) masterpiece, Qaswidah al-Burdah, and called them cretins, mahabil.  This would encompass millions of Muslims past and present including the likes of Imam ibn Hajr al-‘Asqalani (r.a.), Imam as-Sakhawi (r.a.) and Imam as-Suyuthi (q.s.) who all included it as required reading in the Islamic curriculum.

al-Albani perpetuated lies about the Ash’ari scholars, such as his remark that Imam Sayf ad-Din al-Amidi (r.a.) did not pray.  This is found in his notes to Imam Nu`man al-Aluwsi’s (r.a.) al-Ayat al-Bayyinat, although Dr. Hasan al-Shafi’I, in his massive biography entitled al-Amidi wa Ara’uhu al-Kalamiyyah, showed that the story that Imam al-Amidi (r.a.) did not pray was a forgery put into circulation during the campaign waged by ibn asw-Swalah against him for teaching logic and philosophy in Damascus.

He perpetuated, in Mukhtaswar al-‘Uluw, the false claim first made by Munir Agha, the founder of the Egyptian Salafiyya Press, that Imam Abu Muhammad al-Juwayni (r.a.), the father of Imam al-Haramayn (r.a.), “repented” from Ash`ari doctrine and supposedly authored a tract titled Risalah fi Itsbat al-Istiwa’ wa al-Fawqiyyah, “Epistle on the Assertion of Establishment and Aboveness.”  This spurious attribution continues to be promoted without verification by modern-day Salafis who adduce it to forward the claim that Imam al-Juwayni (r.a.) embraced anthropomorphist concepts.  The Risalah in question is not mentioned in any of the bibliographical and biographical sources, nor does Imam adz-Dzahabi (r.a.) cite it in his encyclopedia of anthropomorphist views, al-‘Uluw.  More conclusively, it is written in modern argumentative style and reflects typically contemporary anthropomorphist obsessions.

He derided the fuqaha’ of the ummah for accepting, in their massive majority, the hadits of Mu’adz ibn Jabal (r.a.) on ijtihad as authentic then rejected the definition of ‘ilm in Islam as pertaining to fiqh but claimed that it pertains only to hadits, although the ‘ulama of the salaf explicitly said that a hadits master without fiqh is a misguided innovator.  This is found in his notes on Imam al-Qasimi’s (r.a.) al-Mash ‘ala al-Jawrabayn.  And he defined the ‘alim in Tahrim Alat at-Tarab as “meaning, of course, the Salafi ‘alim, not the Khalafi, al-Ghazali.”

Imam al-Qurthubi (r.a.), in his Tafsir said, “One of ‘arifin said, ‘A certain group that has not yet come up in our time but shall show up at the end of time and will curse the scholars and insult the jurists.’”


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