Tuesday, 10 March 2015

The Wahhabi Denial of Taqlid & Ijtihad of Past Scholars

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

The following is extracted from Imam Jamil Swidq ibn Muhammad Faydhi az-Zahawi al-Kurdi’s (r.a.), al-Fajr asw-Swadiq fi ar-Radd ‘ala Munkiri at-Tawaswswul wa al-Khawariq, “The True Dawn: A Refutation of Those Denying Miracles & Intercession in Islam”.

Since the statements of the mujtahidun of the past, and the established religious rulings to which they have arrived clash with what the deviant sect of Wahhabis have devised in the way of unwarranted innovation, that sect deemed it a necessity to deny the validity of their ijtihad, reject the soundness of their opinions, and declare whoever followed their opinions to be an unbeliever.  The result of this is that they have the freedom of action to establish themselves far and wide and to scream and play with the religion just as their passions dictate.  Thus, they pave the way for founding the basis of their clear misguidance.  For if they did not deny the ijtihad of the mujtahidun of the past, then their application, in accordance with their whim, of the verses of the Qur’an Revealed concerning idolaters to Muslims and to those who make their petitions to Allah (s.w.t.) for the sake of the honour of His Messenger (s.a.w.), and respect of the awliya’ could not have been brought to pass.  That is because they focus on what no mujtahid said in the first place and what none of the a’immah of the religion accepted.

All of this misguidance is due to the unwarranted innovator, Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab, who displayed marked resemblance to those who claimed prophethood like Musaylimah and Abu al-Aswad al-Anasi and other liars.  He concealed in himself the establishment of a religion which imitated the pattern of those liars.  But he feared to show people his lies unlike those who came previously.  What he made appear to people, he put in the guise of support of the Islamic faith while he painted this picture in people’s minds that he simply wanted pure monotheism and that people had become idolaters.  Thus, the jihad with people followed so that they might “return from their idolatry.”  Therefore, ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab claimed absolute ijtihad for himself and charged with error, whoever preceded him belonging to the mujtahidun, those great figures who dipped from the sea of knowledge of the Prophet (s.a.w.), and declared as disbelievers, their followers.  He did not permit imitating the opinions of anyone other than himself, although he allowed anyone his of his ignorant followers to interpret the Qur’an in whatever mode their limited understanding gave them access, and to derive legal rulings from them on the basis of their weak grasp of its meaning.  It was as though he permitted any one of his followers to be a mujtahid.  He played with religion and toyed with the shari’ah.

As for his claim of absolute ijtihad, it is pure nonsense on his part and shameless impudence with regard to the Arab language since he was not, in his time, one of those recognised for being foremost in knowledge.  On the contrary, he was not even numbered among those who were considered by masters in the Hanbali madzhab as having any weight whatsoever, not to mention being considered an absolute mujtahid in the religion.

Ijtihad has conditions which the ‘ulama have agreed upon without exception and it is not permissible for any individual to be an imam in the religion and in any of the schools of shari’ah, unless he has fulfilled them.  The conditions of ijtihad are as follows below.

A mujtahid must be a master of the language of the Arabs, knowing its different dialects, the import of their poems, their proverbs, and their customs.  It is not necessary, according to consensus, that he possess profound erudition in the Arabic language, tabahhur, but it is enough that he have a moderate erudition, tawassuth.

A mujtahid must have a complete grasp of the differing opinions of the scholars and jurists of Islam.  By this are meant the science of differences of opinions, ‘ilm al-khilaf; the science of consensus in opinions, ‘ilm al-ijma’; and the science of analogy and its kinds, ‘ilm al-qiyas.

A mujtahid must be a jurist himself, learned in the Qur’an, having memorised it and knowing the difference of the seven readings of the Qur’an while understanding its commentary, being aware of what is clear and what is obscure in it, what it abrogates and what is abrogated by it, and the stories of the prophets.

A mujtahid must be learned in the sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.), capable of distinguishing between its sound hadits and its weak hadits, its continuous hadits and hadits whose chain of transmission is broken, its chains of transmission, as well as those hadits which are well known.  It is not necessary that he reach the rank of hadits master, hafizh, as Imam as-Suyuthi (q.s.), in ar-Radd ‘ala man Akhlad, pointed out by listing non-hafizh absolute mujtahidun, mujtahidun al-muthlaq, such as Imam Abu Ishaq ash-Shirazi (r.a.), Imam ibn as-Sabbagh al-Juwayni (r.a.), and Imam al-Ghazali (r.a.).

A mujtahid must be scrupulously pious in the religion, restraining his lower desires with respect to righteousness and trustworthiness, and his doctrine must be built upon the Qur’an and the sunnah of the Prophet (s.a.w.).  One who is missing in any of these characteristics falls short and is not permitted to be a mujtahid whom people imitate.  Imam as-Suyuthi (q.s.) listed among the mujtahidun whose mastership is recognised at one and the same time in the three fields of jurisprudence, hadits, and the Arabic language as himself, Imam ibn asw-Swalah (r.a.), Imam Abu Shamma (r.a.), Imam an-Nawawi (r.a.), Imam ibn ad-Daqiq al-‘Iyd (r.a.), and Imam Taqi’ ad-Din as-Subki (r.a.) among others.

Imam ibn al-Qayyim (r.a.), in ‘Ilam al-Muwaqqi’in, did not permit anyone to make derivation from the Qur’an and sunnah as long as he has not fulfilled the conditions of ijtihad with respect to the Islamic sciences.

A man asked Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal (r.a.), “If a person memorised a hundred thousand ahadits, is he a faqih?”

Imam Ahmad (r.a.) said, “No.”

He asked again, “Two hundred thousand ahadits?”

Imam Ahmad (r.a.) said, “No.”

“Three hundred thousand ahadits?”

Again, he said, “No.”

“Four hundred thousand ahadits?”

Finally, Imam Ahmad (r.a.) said, “Yes.”  It is said that Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal (r.a.) gave legal answers on the basis of six hundred thousand ahadits.

Imam as-Sakhawi (r.a.) related in the introduction to his biography of Imam ibn Hajr al-‘Asqalani (r.a.), al-Jawahir wa ad-Durar, that Imam Ahmad (r.a.) said neither yes nor no to the figure of 300,000, but he gestured with his hand that it was acceptable.  Imam ibn al-Jawzi (r.a.) related in al-Hatsts ‘ala Hafzh al-‘Ilm that Imam Abu Zur’ah (r.a.) said that Imam Ahmad (r.a.) knew no less than a million ahadits.  According to Imam Ahmad’s (r.a.) statement reported by Imam al-Hakim (r.a.) in his Madkhal li ‘Ulum al-Ahadits, that there were seven million sound ahadits known in his time, of which the hafizh, Imam Abu Zur’ah (r.a.) had memorised six million; and he sat at Imam al-Bukhari’s (r.a.) feet like a young boy learning.  All these numbers refer to chains of transmission, not texts.

People have agreed, generation after generation and century after century, that the mujtahidun only derive legal rulings from the Qur’an and the sunnah after they have completely studied the sunnah and its sciences and the Qur’an with respect to its rulings and understanding, in a way unmatched by those who followed them in later times.  On the contrary, the ‘ulama, generation after generation, take hold of what they said , scholars of the caliber of Imam an-Nawawi (r.a.), Imam ar-Rafi’i (r.a.), Imam Taqi’ ad-Din as-Subki (r.a.), Imam ibn Hazm (r.a.), Shaykh ibn Taymiyyah (r.a.), Imam ibn al-Qayyim (r.a.), Imam ibn al-Jawzi (r.a.), scholars like Imam Fakhr ad-Din ar-Razi (r.a.), Imam ath-Thahawi (r.a.), Imam al-Qasim (r.a.), Imam al-Qarafi (r.a.); all were imitating the opinions of the mujtahidun and their followers, despite the fact that each one of these leading figures and those before them had delved deep into every category of the Islamic sciences.  Yet and still, they knew that they had not arrived at the level of deriving law from Qur’an and the sunnah independently.  What is more, they understood their own limits.  May Allah (s.w.t.) have Mercy on the man who knows his measure and does not go beyond his proper level.

So how is it possible for any one of us from this later time to derive law from Qur’an and sunnah and to cast aside the ‘ulama who were capable of deriving law and whom both the elite and the masses of the Muslims agree on following?  ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab’s labeling disbelievers those who imitate the opinion of the mujtahidun of the past, as mentioned previously is only to initiate spread of his unwarranted innovation, bid’ah, in our faith so that he only considered Muslim those who followed him.  What would happen if we supposed that the past mujtahidun had gone astray, as ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab has claimed, and they had, indeed, gone astray?  Would it be incumbent upon the common person to practice Islam while being unable to know how to derive legal rulings from Qur’an and sunnah with ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab having not yet been born to resolve the difficulty of their confusion and ignorance?  It is unlikely that he would have arrived at the temerity to say those people were living in the primordial state of natural religion, fithrah, since they came in a time prior to a mujaddid.  These are the recognised mujaddidiyyah according to Ahl as-Sunnah wa al-Jama’ah:

1st Century: Caliph ‘Umar ibn ‘Abd al-‘Aziz (r.a.)
2nd Century: Imam Abu Hanifah (r.a.), Imam Malik (r.a.), Imam ash-Shafi’i (r.a.)
3rd Century: Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal (r.a.), Imam Abu al-Hasan al-Ash’ari (r.a.)
4th Century: Imam al-Hakim an-Naysaburi (r.a.)
5th Century: Imam al-Bayhaqi (r.a.), Imam al-Ghazali (r.a.)
6th Century: Imam Fakhr ad-Din ar-Razi (r.a.)
7th Century: Imam an-Nawawi (r.a.), Imam ibn ad-Daqiq al-‘Iyd (r.a.)
8th Century: Imam Taqi’ ad-Din as-Subki (r.a.), Imam al-Bulqini (r.a.)
9th Century: Imam ibn Hajr al-‘Asqalani (r.a.), Imam as-Suyuthi (q.s.)
10th Century: Imam ash-Sha’rani (r.a.)
11th Century: Imam al-Faruqi as-Sirhindi (q.s.)
12th Century: Imam ibn ‘Alawi al-Haddad (q.s.)
13th Century: Hafizh Khalid al-Baghdadi (r.a.)
14th Century: Imam al-Kawtsari (r.a.)

Every single one of them was a Sufi.  Following an authority in matter of Islamic practice, al-taqlid, is necessary inasmuch as, ordinarily speaking, it is impossible that each individual Muslim reach the level of knowledge enabling him to derive legal rulings of the shari’ah directly from Qur’an when there is no plain meaning text and he is completely ignorant of the Arabic language like non-Arab peoples such as Persians, Kurd, Afghans, Turks, and others whose number increases beyond the number of Arabs, a fact obvious to anyone with a knowledge of geography.  The scholars of Islam have agreed that it is incumbent upon a person who has not reached the stage of ijtihad to follow and imitate the legal rulings of a mujtahid

Allah (s.w.t.) has Said:


… if ye realise this not, ask of those who possess the Message. (Surah an-Nahl:43)

And the Prophet (s.a.w.) said, “Did they ask when they did not know?  For the only remedy of incapacity in such instances is to ask a question.”  This was related by Imam Abu Dawud (r.a.).

Imam ibn al-Qayyim (r.a.) said, “There is wajib taqlid, a haram taqlid, and halal taqlid.  The wajib taqlid is the taqlid of those who know better than us, as when a person has not obtained knowledge of an evidence from the Qur’an or the sunnah concerning something.  Such a taqlid has been reported from Imam ash-Shafi’i in many places, where he would say, ‘I said this in taqlid of ‘Umar’, or, ‘I said that in taqlid of ‘Utsman’, or, ‘I said that in taqlid of ‘Atha’.’  As ash-Shafi’i said concerning the companions, ‘Their opinion for us is better than our opinion to ourselves.’”  This is found in Imam ibn al-Qayyim’s (r.a.), ‘Alam al-Muwaqqi’in ‘an Rabb al-A’alamin.


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