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Traditional Scholarship & Modern Misunderstandings
Understanding The Ahle al-Sunnah -
By Abu Ammar

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16) Taweez

The defenition of a ta'wiz is simply a written du'a from the Qur'an or ahadith, and is for the one who cannot read or has not memorized that particular du'a. It is written on a piece of paper and is worn around the neck.

We, the Ahl as-Sunna, believe that to wear a ta'wiz around the neck is permissible if the du'a' contained in it is written from the Qur'an or ahadith. Prophet Muhammad (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) used to recite du'a' and then blow onto the sick person. The Companions of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) also did this and they wrote the du'a' on a piece of paper and placed it around the neck of a person if they could not read it. Of course, the du'a's from the Qur'an and ahadith have the power to heal the sick. Some people say that if you wear the ta'wiz you are commiting shirk, but we shall prove, with the help of Allah, that it is permissible to wear a ta'wiz.

The Qur'an Has the Power of Healing

Allah Most High says in the Qur'an:

"...We send down in Qur'an that which is a healing and a mercy to the believers..."

[Sura Banu Isra'il, verse 82]

Qadi Shawkani writes, "If the Qur'an's du'a's are recited and blown on the sick, they will be cured. When the non-believers recite the Qur'an, their blasphemic disease will be cured" [Tafsir Fath al-Qadir, under Sura Bani Isra'il, verse 82]

Proof of Wearing the ta'wiz

Hafiz Ibn Kathir and Qadi Shawkani write:

"Amr ibn Shu'aib (may Allah be pleased with him) said that 'Rasulu'llah(may Allah bless him and grant him peace) taught my father and grandfather a du'a which we would read before going to sleep, to protect us from fear and anguish.We told our elder children to recite this du'a before going to sleep as well.But for those children who were not yet literate, we would write it and then put it around their necks"

[Musnad Ahmad ibn Hanbal vol.2; Abu Dawud, in 'Chapter of Medicine'; Tafsir Ibn Kathir, under Sura al-Mu'minun, verse 97; and Qadi Shawkani, Fath al-Qadir, under the same verse]

It is Permissible to Read Du'a and Blow Upon the Sick

Imam al-Bukhari and Imam Muslim write:

"When a person who was sick or in some distress they would go to the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) who would then place his hand on the area of pain and recite a du'a' and then blow onto him"

[Bukhari; Muslim, Chapter of Tibb]

Imam Muslim writes:

"When the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) was ill for the last time, Angel Jibril (peace be upon him) came and recited du'a' and blew on to the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace)"

[Muslim, Chapter of Tibb]

Imam Muslim writes:

" 'A'isha (may Allah be pleased with her) relates that when the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) was ill for the last time, she recited Sura al-Falaq and Sura an-Nas and then blew on to the Prophet's (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) hands. The Prophet then blew this onto his own face and body because his hands had more blessing then 'A'isha's (may Allah be pleased with her)"

[Muslim, Chapter of Tibb]

From the above narrations, it proves that to blow after reciting du'a's onto the sick is Sunna and the more pious the person is, the more healing power he has because he is blessed more than the less pious.

Hafiz Ibn Taymiyya writes:

"It is permissible to [to recite du'a's and then] blow upon the sick in Islam, but the words must be from the Qur'an or ahadith. If the words are not, then it is not permissible"

[Ibn Taymiyya, At-Tawassul, Chapter on Blowing onto the Sick]


Q) Some people ask, 'How is it allowed to blow dua's onto the sick when some ahadith say this is forbidden?'

A) Allama Sa'idi has written the answer to this question in great detail; he has also included the opinion of all the other great scholars, and we will present this here.

Allama Sa'idi writes:

"Imam an-Nawawi in Sharh Muslim states: 'There are two types of ahadith concerning blowing. [reciting a du'a and then blowing onto a person]. One of the types is transmitted in Bukhari: 'There will be people who will enter Paradise without any questioning, who have never been blown upon.' Imam Muslim has also recorded a hadith in support of those who do not ask to be blown upon. Imam Bukhari in the chapter on Tibb [Medicine] has written du'as that our Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) recited when doing damm [reciting a du'a and then blowing onto a person]. Imam Muslim states in 'The Chapter on Virtues of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace)' that: "When our Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) was ill, the Angel Jibril came to him and performed the blowing." The above types of ahadith apparently seem to contradict each other but in reality there is no contradiction.

"The former type of hadith refers to the prohibition of having read something that is not from the Qur'an and Sunna [i.e.something that has pictures, diagrams or words not from the Qur'an or Sunna] and then blow upon someone. The latter types of ahadith which permit damm refer to those kalimat [words or verses] which have been taught by the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace)"

[Allama Sa'idi, Sharh Sahih Muslim, Chapter of Tibb]

In the same way as above there are two types of ahadith concerning ta'wiz. There are many narrations that forbid the use of ta'wiz and also many permitting their use.

Imam al-Qurtubi wrote in detail about both types of ahadith concerning ta'wiz:

"The ta'wiz that are forbidden are those ta'wiz from the Time of Ignorance - those which are satanic and contain an element of shirk [mantar, voodoo and magic, etc.]. The ta'wiz, which are permitted are those written with du'as evidently from Qur'an and ahadith only"

[al-Qurtubi, at-Tadhkirat, chapter on 'Ta'wiz']

Here are the narrations which show the permission for one to wear a ta'wiz around one's neck:

Allama Alusi al-Hanafi, in his Tafsir of the Qur'an, writes:

"According to Imam Malik 'It is permitted to put around the neck the ta'wiz written with the name of Allah.' Imam Baqir also stated that it is permitted to put such a ta'wiz around the neck of a child"

[Ruh al-Mani, chapter 15, under Sura al-Mu'minun, verse 97]

Allama Shami al-Hanafi writes:

"It is permitted to write a ta'wiz and put it around the neck... It would be better if a person recites the du'as taught by the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace). But if a person cannot read or is too young to recite then it is permitted for that person to put it around the neck"

[Rad al-Mukhtar, chapter on 'Qira'at'; Sa'idi, Sharh Sahih Muslim, Chapter on Tibb]

To conclude, it can be said that those verses that oppose the Qur'an, Shari'a, or the Sunna are forbidden to read and also forbidden to put around the neck.But as for the du'as and verses from the Qur'an and Sunna it is permitted to be written and put around the neck of a small child, illiterate or a sick person.

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17) The Life of Khidar (AlayHissalaam)

There are differences of opinion (ikhtilaf) amongst the scholars regarding whether al-Khidr (peace be upon him) is still alive, or has died.There also exists ikhtilaf regarding whether al-Khidr (peace be upon him) was a prophet or a saint. Many scholars are of the opinion that he is still alive, while others, such as Hafiz Ibn Taymiyya and his followers, are of the opinion that he has died.

Evidence suggesting that al-Khidr (peace be upon him) is alive

In Sahih Muslim we find the following narration:

"The Dajjal will kill a person once and then bring him back to life, then he will ask him, 'Do you believe that I am God?'That person will reply, 'No! I am convinced that you are the Dajjal of which the Prophet (may allah bless him and grant him peace) informed us.' Dajjal will throw him in his fire, which in reality will be Paradise. The narrator of this hadith is Abu Ishaq who says: 'It is commonly known that this person would be al-Khidr (peace be upon him)'"

[Sahih Muslim, Chapter on Dajjal]

Abu Ishaq was amongst the Tabi'u't-Tabi'in and it was common knowledge during that period that al-Khidr (peace be upon him) was alive and his death will occur at the time of Dajjal.

Hafiz Ibn Kathir states:

"King Dhu'l-Qarnayn discovered a type of water referred to as the 'water of life' which, when drank, would allow a person to remain alive forever.He departed with many people searching for it, and al-Khidr, (peace be upon him) was also with him. At one place al-Khidr (peace be upon him) drank some water and the King did not"

[Ta'rikh Ibn Kathir, volume 1, Chapter on Dhu'l-Qarnayn]

Hafiz Ibn Hajar al-'Asqalani says in his A'sabah that al-Khidr's name is in the list of Companions of our Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace).

Hafiz Ibn Kathir writes:

"When the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) departed from this world, 'Umar heard someone come into the house but saw no-one. When he was asked, 'Umar said it was al-Khidr (peace be upon him). Then a voice was heard which said, 'O household of the Prophet, be patient.' 'Ali said it was al-Khidr (peace be upon him). Imam al-Bayhaqi said: 'These narrations are weak, but there are so many similar narrations, which suggests that they do have some origin"

[Ibn Kathir, Sirat an-Nabi and Ta'rikh ibn Kathir, chapter on 'Demise of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace)]

Other narrations of a similar nature can be found, including the following made by someone who is very much respected by certain factions. Muhammad ibn 'abd al-Wahhab an-Najdi writes:

"After the death of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) a voice was heard, 'O family of the Prophet, be patient and peace be upon you'"

[Mukhtasar Sirat ar-Rasul, chapter on 'Death of Prophet']

We can mention here a very important scholarly point that are made by countless scholars, including Hafiz Ibn Kathir who writes:

"If there exist many narrations regarding one issue then, even if they are weak, they can be accepted" [Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Sura al-An'am, verse 123]

Hafiz Ibn Kathir states that al-Khidr (peace be upon him) was the son of Adam (peace be upon him). Adamhad prayed to Allah: 'O Allah, give my son, al-Khidr, a long life so that he lives until the Day of Judgement.' Adam (peace be upon him) also told al-Khidr (peace be upon him), 'O my son, you shall bury me after my death.' He also gave him news of his long life. Al-Khidr (peace be upon him) also sat in the boat of the Prophet Nuh (peace be upon him)"

[Ta'rikh Ibn Kathir, vol. 1, chapter on 'Musa and al-Khidr']

There have been many narrations of various types - some which have been rejected by the scholars. For example, Hafiz Ibn Kathir rejected the statements which claimed that al-Khidr (peace be upon him) was the son of Pharaoh or that he was born during Pharaoh's time. He strictly says he was alive a long time before Musa (peace be upon him) [Ta'rikh Ibn Kathir, vol. 1, chapter on 'Musa and al-Khidr']

Imam adh-Dhahabi writes:

" 'Umar ibn 'abd al-Aziz was talking with a man. After he had finished talking with him, he returned and someone asked him who he had been talking with. He replied, 'He was al-Khidr and he came to give me some good news - that I will be the ruler of the Muslim world' "

[adh-Dhahabi, Tadhkirt al-Huffaz; also Ta'rikh Ibn Kathi and Tahzib at-Tahzib, Biography of 'Umar ibn 'abd al-Aziz]

Imam an-Nawawi also provides many references and statements given by many scholars, proving that al-Khidr (peace be upon him) is still alive [Sharh Muslim, Chapter on Dajjal]

From the aforementioned evidence, it can be clearly seen that the narrations support the opinion of those 'ulema who say that al-Khidr (peace be upon him) is still alive.


Some people argue that in Bukhari there is a hadith where the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) states, 'Of all the people who are alive upon the earth on this day, none will be living in a100 years time.' Secondly, they mention the hadith where the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) supplicated upon the occasion of the Battle of Badr:'There are 313 people with me. If we do not triumph then no-one will be left to worship you, Oh Allah.'Following this evidence, Hafiz Ibn Taymiyya and his follwers conclude that if al-Khidr (peace be upon him) was alive then he should have joined the army and made the number amount to 314.

Answers to the objections

(1) The Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) stated: 'Of those alive on the earth, none will be alive in a 100 years time.' It is possible that al-Khidr (peace be upon him) at that particular moment was present in a location other than this world (dunya). Just as 'Isa (peace be upon him) was also 'alive' at that time. If 'Isa (peace be upon him) never came down to help the Prophet Muhammad (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) in the Battle of Badr then this did not break his promise that he made with Allah, in the spiritual world.In the same manner, there is nothing inappropriate regarding the fact that al-Khidr (peace be upon him) never joined the army for the battle. Having said that, there is no confirmation that he did or did not join the Muslim army in the Battle of Badr, since he is an unseen person. It may also be possible that he joined, but our Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) never mentioned his name like the 1000s of angels who fought in this great battle,but the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) never mentioned all their names. So this means that Hafiz Ibn Taymiyya's suspicions are insufficient to support the opinion that al-Khidr (peace be upon him) has died. There is not even a single weak hadith to support this opinion - let alone an authentic one.

(2) At the time of the Battle of Badr the population of the Muslim Umma was not just 313. In fact, there were Muslims present in Madina al-Munawwara who did not fight in the battle.

The explanation of the du'a' is. 'There will be none to worship you with victory.' For no doubt the Muslims in Madina, Abyssinia and Makka would have continued to worship Allah.

From the aforementioned, according to Hafiz Ibn Kathir, al-Khidr (peace be upon him) was alive from the time of Adam (peace be upon him) up until the time of Musa (peace be upon him). It seems rather unusual that Ibn Kathir rejected the understanding that al-Khidr (peace be upon him) could not live after the time of Musa (peace be upon him).


To conclude this chapter, it is clear that Ibn Taymiyya and those who adhere to his principles do not believe that al-Khidr (peace be upon him) is alive.

It is very disturbing to see that, on one side, many narrations exist which prove the validity of al-Khidr (peace be upon him) being 'alive' but, on the other side, there are the suspicions of Ibn Taymiyya and those who follow him, such as Hafiz Ibn Kathir, who after having written the above narrations was convinced by Hafiz ibn Taymiyya's understanding - thus creating doubts in the minds of Muslims.

It must be understood that the belief that al-Khidr (peace be upon him) is still alive is not a matter of 'aqida and has no relation to iman and kufr.

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18) Taqleed

Taqlid can be defined as the acceptance of a mujtahid's statements (fatawa) without knowing his references (evidences) [an-Nawawi, Tazeeb; and Qadi Shawkani, Irshad al-Fahul]

There is a consensus amongst the majority of Muslims that we should follow the four major Imams in matters of Shari'a. Such matters include:

· Those matters in which there is no direct, single and clear meaning in sources of Shari'a

· When there exists a difference of opinion between the Sahaba upon an issue, the Imams have tried to show the similarities in them

We only observe taqlid in matters of fiqh, not in our 'aqida. The unity of Allah, the finality of the Prophet Muhammad (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) and the Day of Judgement etc. are matters of 'aqida so they are not concerned with taqlid.

Some say that it is a form of shirk (polytheism) to observe taqlid of anyone apart from Allah. In particular, to follow only one Imam is a bid'a. They say that the evidence from all the Imams should be read and weighed in order that only those verdicts based upon strong evidence can be accepted and weak ones rejected.

The view of the Ahl as-Sunna wa'l-Jama'a is that it is impossible for an ordinary Muslim to go directly to the Qur'an and Sunna and extract religious laws. This is due to the fact that these sources of knowledge contain many matters which are unclear - thus requiring research into many other sources along with the application of rules which assist in understanding the matter under study. In order to do this, a person needs to possess both a deep and broad knowledge of Islam, which is both impractical and not incumbent upon each and every Muslim. Allah does not expect all Muslims to become scholars, rather He orders them to refer to those who have knowledge. Consider the following verse:

"And ask those who recall, if you know not"

[Sura 16, verse 43]

Also, in Sura Nisa:

"If they had referred it to the Messenger and to those of authority among them, then those of them whose task it is to find it out would have known the matter"

[Sura 4, verse 83]

For those who have the necessary pre-requisites, such as being a master of 'ulum al-Qur'an, master of ahadith and their principles, 'aqa'id, fiqh principles, Tafsir and its principles, and jarh wa ta'dil (the science of hadith narrators). They are allowed to take ahkam (legal rulings) from the Shari'a. Such a person can be called a mujtahid. However, many great scholars who were qualified to perform ijtihad, followed Imams. For example, Qadi Abu Yusuf, Imam Muhammad and Imam Zafar were able to perform ijtihad but followed the opinion of Imam Abu Hanifa.

There are many categories of hadith such as mutawatir (rigourously authenticated), authentic, not authentic, weak and those which are fabricated.Some are mansukh, which means that certain matters were at first permissible but later made impermissible - for instance talking during the salat during the early period of Islam was permissible but later on made unlawful. This is why taqlid is a necessity - the scholars have taken all the above into consideration before issuing their verdict.

Rejectors of taqlid

Those who tried to reject taqlid, like Hafiz Ibn Taymiyya, were unsuccessful. He was, however, not a muqallid (one who must do taqlid of a mujtahid) like the ordinary people. Nether the less, his works of literature contain influences from the Hanbali school of thought. He always preferred his fatwas to Imam Ahmad's. His followers also claim that they are not muqallid to anyone and taqlid is bid'a. But, they always perform taqlid of Hafiz Ibn Taymiyya and quote fatawa from his books. The following is one such example:

Shaykh Ibn Baaz (the late popular government scholar of Saudi Arabia) wrote one fatwa against Milad an-Nabi and another against travelling to the grave of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace). He wrote that it is impermissible to celebrate the Milad, as Hafiz Ibn Taymiyya's research had stated that this was bid'a.Likewise, he stated that to visit the Prophet's (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) grave is impermissible because this was the opinion of Hafiz Ibn Taymiyya [Ibn Baaz, Milad an-Nabi; and Ziyara Roza Sharif]

We can see how Shaykh Ibn Baaz is blindly depending upon Hafiz Ibn Taymiyya's research. The Shaykh also performs taqlid to scholars such as Hafiz Ibn al-Qayyim, Hafiz Ibn Kathir, Ibn al-Hadi, Shawkani and Albani.

This is quite astonishing! These people follow their Imams but still claim that they are not blind followers and call the followers of the four Imams blind followers! In reality, everyone does taqlid in one way another. Some follow Imam Abu Hanifa, some follow Hafiz Ibn Taymiyya. Furthermore, when they are told that a hadith is weak, authentic or fabricated, they accept this without researching it themselves. Cosequently, they blindly follow Imam al-Bukhari, Ibn Abi Hatim, Hafiz Mizayy, Hafiz al-'Asqalani, Hafiz adh-Dhahabi, and Hafiz Maqdasi. The fact is that these people do not conduct their own research, but 'blindly' follow the research of their scholars.

When rejectors of taqlid label a hadith as being authentic, weak or fabricated, they actually imitate scholars of Hadith who have previously categorised ahadith into the above groups. Also, the technical terms used by the classical scholars to describe the different ahadith, such as mursal, mu'dal, shadhdh, mu'allal, 'aziz, and gharib, are not mentioned in the Qur'an or Sunna. To utilise these terms is also a form of taqlid.

Similarly, to accept principles of Hadith and Tafsir and also to interpret the Qur'an and Sunna in the light of these principles is to follow the imams who have developed these sciences. People who do not follow imams should find out the strength of a hadith directly without referring to any imam. They should also find new terms to describe the hadith, instead of mursal, shadhdh etc. They should invent their own principles of Hadith and Tafsir and then study the Qur'an and Sunna in the light of these new principles. Only then can they save themselves from 'shirk and bid'a'.

Doubts Raised by the Objectors to Taqlid

Those who oppose taqlid argue that there is no need to follow one particular Imam. They conduct their own personal research, in the hope that they will find the Imam that has the best opinion.If they think that a particular opinion is wrong they will try and find another until such a time that they follow aspects from all the four Imams. We say that this is not possible because the Imams have already performed thorough research into the Islamic sources and have utilised their own principles to determine the best opinions. Thus, you have to follow one Imams principle. Otherwise, you are using your own principles that are most likely to be that of your desires, such as that which is easy to perform.

Here are some examples: Imam ash-Shafi'i is of the opinion that if you touch a woman your wudu breaks. On the other hand, Imam Abu Hanifa says that this action does not break the wudu.Furthermore, Imam ash-Shafi'i does not accept mursal hadith, unlike Imam Abu Hanifa. If there exists two hadith, one explaining the Prophet's (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) words and the other explains the Prophet's (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) practice, Imam Abu Hanifa accepts the words to have more authority, whereas Imam ash-Shafi'i says that the practices have more authority.From these examples we know that we cannot follow two Imams. So how can we follow four or more Imams at one time?

Hafiz Ibn Taymiyya says that when a person begins to follow one particular Imam without any valid Islamic reason he begins to follow another Imam - he is actually following his own wishes and not the other Imam and this is haram. The great scholars have strongly discouraged for a person to sometimes follow the fiqh of ash-Shafi'i and at other times the fiqh of Abu Hanifa [Fatawa Ibn Taymiyya, vol. 20, Chapter of Taqlid]

Thus, from Hafiz Ibn Taymiyya's fatwa we have understood that at one time we should follow one Imam and taqlid is a necessity.

Some Objections

Common objections raised include: 'When the four Imams have not asked us to follow them, why do we follow them?' Also, 'When there is no hadith that recommends following the four Imams, why do we follow them?'

The answer to this is that we recite the Holy Qur'an in the manner of the seven qurra' and yet they didn't say 'Follow us!' nor did the ahadith say we should follow them. Did the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) say only to follow Bukhari and Muslim? Did the blessed Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) say that Bukhari is the most authentic source after the Holy Qur'an?

What the four Imams meant by saying 'Do not follow us' is, 'Do not follow our sayings.' We do not follow their sayings but follow the fatwas they gave after exerting great effort in research from the Qur'an and Sunna. By saying this they encourage us to follow their deductions, which are guaranteed to be from the Qur'an and Sunna. Even Imam Muslim and Bukhari did not ask us to follow them. They never told us to accept only the ahadith written in their books.

Were there Four Imams Present at the Time of the Sahaba?

The four Imams of Ahl as-Sunna were not present at the time of the Sahaba, the first generation - just as Imam al-Bukhari and Imam Muslim were also not present. However, at that early period of Islam, there were those who possessed great knowledge of Islam and could therefore be referred to as scholars or Imams. Many Muslims would resort to them for advice and guidance in Islamic aspects. The foremost scholars at that time were four in number as explained below. The four Imams are however, included in the first three generations and were people from among the best generations. The Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) said, "My generation is the best, then the next, then the next....".

Hafiz Ibn Qayyim writes that there were four Imams in the time of the Sahaba:

"In Makka there was 'Abdullah ibn 'Abbas; in Madina there was Zayd ibn Thabit; in Basra there was Anas ibn Malik and in Kufa there was 'Abdullah ibn Mas'ud.After they passed away, amongst the Tabi'un were four Imams; again, they were famous. In Madina there was Sa'id ibn Musayb; in Makka there was Ata ibn Rab'a; in Yamen there was Tawus, and in Kufa there was Ibrahim. There were many other Imams but these were the most famous at that time"

[Ibn al-Qayyim, Alam al-Muwaqqieen, page 10]

It is clear that before the four Imams of the Ahl as-Sunna there also existed Imams in the days of the Sahaba, who were also a source of religious advice. The details of their fatawa are written in Kitab Musannaf by 'Abd ar-Razzaq and Ibn Abi Shayba's, Musannaf.

Hafiz Ibn al-Qayyim says that "There were many Sahaba at the time but mainly Zayd ibn Thabit, Anas ibn Malik, 'Abdullah ibn Mas'ud, and 'Abdullah ibn 'Abbas were the most famous and they used to give a lot of fatwas"

[A'lam al-Muwaqq'in, Chapter on 'Qiyas']

It is the same with the four Imams of the orthodox madhabs (schools of thought): Imam Abu Hanifa, Imam Malik, Imam ash-Shafi'i, and Imam Ahmad. During their time there were many muhaddithin and scholars, but people would come to these four Imams as they were the most famous of their time due to their extensive knowledge and reliability.

The Four Imams Had Differences Amongst Themselves, So Why Do We Still Follow Them?

Even Imam al-Bukhari and Imam Muslim had differences between themselves. Imam Muslim in his book, Sahih Muslim, in the first part, has criticised Imam al-Bukhari. There also existed many differences amongst the Sahaba. So does this imply that we should not follow any of the Sahaba or Muslim or Bukhari as they had differences amongst them?

Why Don't we Follow the Ahadith in Bukhari and Muslim, and Ignore the Imams?

1) If we should ignore the Imams and depend only upon Muslim and Bukhari, why did both these great Imams follow Imam ash-Shafi'i? Imam Ibn Athir has written that Imam al-Bukhari and Imam Muslim were Shafi'is

[Ibn Athir, Jamee'ul-usul, biographies of Imam al-Bukhari and Imam Muslim]

Taki ad-Din Subki has mentioned Imam Bukhri's name in the list of Scholars belonging to the Shahfi'i school

[Subki, Tabaqat Ash-Shafi'i]

Nawab Siddeeq Hasan Khan has also mentioned Imam al-Bukhari in the list of Shafi'i scholars[Khan, N, S, H., Abjad al-'Ulum]

When the Imams Muslim and al-Bukhari themselves had to make recourse to taqlid and following a madhab, then how can the ordinary Muslim be expected to do otherwise!

2) Imam al-Bukhari and Imam Muslim did not gather all the authentic ahadith in Bukhari and Muslim. Many authentic ahadith have been left out. Imam al-Bukhari said: 'I have left many authentic ahadith out of Bukhari as the book would have been too large [al-'Asqalani, Muqaddima Fath al-Bari, page 9]

Hafiz Ibn Kathir says that neither Imam al-Bukhari nor Imam Muslim gathered all the authentic ahadith. Some of the left out narrations are present in Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah, Nasa'i and, Abu Dawud. Furthermore, Imam al-Bukhari himself said that he knew of more than 200, 000 ahadith that are musnad (hadith with chain going back to the Prophet, as opposed to marfu' which only goes back to the Sahaba) [Ibn Kathir, 'Ulum Ahadith and Ta'rikh Ibn Kathir, Biography of Imam al-Bukhari]

3) Bukhari and Muslim are not easy books to follow as Hafiz al-'Asqalani wrote seventeen volumes of commentary on Bukhari and Imam Ayni wrote 25 volumes on Bukhari. Imam an-Nawawi wrote a commentary on Muslim. Yet there were some ahadith which these great scholars of Islam could not understand. So how can we encourage ordinary Muslims to pickup Muslim and Bukhari and start following them?

4) We should not follow only Bukhari and Muslim otherwise we would become blind followers of Muslim and al-Bukhari and ignore the hundreds of books of hadith which were written before Imam Muslim and Imam Bukhari were even born!

5) If it is essential to follow only Imam al-Bukhari or Muslim, then why did Imam al-Bukhari, himself not follow his own ahadith narrations?For example:

(a) Hafiz al-'Asqalani and Imam Ibn Kathir write that Imam Bukhari prayed that Allah Most High should take his life during the period when he was being persecuted by people [al-'Asqalani, Tahdib Al Tahdib; and Ta'rikh Ibn Khathir, Biography of Imam Bukhari]

This is despite the fact that Imam al-Bukhari also states a hadith that the Prophet (May Allah bless him and grant Him peace) said that a Muslim should never ask Allah to take his life

[Bukhari, Al-Marda]

(b) Imam al-Bukhari was known to complete the entire recitation of the Qur'an in one night during the month of Ramadan. This opposes the hadith narrations which he collected himself that mentions that the Qur'an should be completed within five to seven days

[Bukhari, Fada'il Qur'an]

Did Not the Four Imams Say "If you find an authentic hadith which goes against what we say, accept the hadith and ignore us?"

It is correct that if an Imam says something which opposes an authentic hadith, then we should reject his sayings and follow the hadith. But what exactly does an 'authentic hadith' mean? Is an authentic hadith that which is written in Bukhari or Muslim? Or is it a hadith, which fulfils the criterion of being an authentic hadith? Or is an authentic hadith that which has been called authentic by the scholars of Hadith?

If we believe that authentic ahadith are those only to be found in Bukhari and Muslim, then we would just be blind followers of Imams al-Bukhari and Muslim. If we say that authentic hadith are those which fulfil the requirements laid down by hadith principles, then we would just be blindly following those scholars who have written down these principles! Also, if we say that authentic ahadith are those which were claimed to be authentic by muhaddithin, we would simply be following them "blindly."

It can be concluded, that if we took any of the above opinions we would still be following someone.

Hafiz Ibn Taymiyya writes that there has never been anyone from among the Imams who has deliberately opposed the Sunna. When we find a statement from an Imam which goes against the Sunna, the hadith in question does not fulfil the requirements of authentication of that Imam. Thus, each Imam has their own sets of rules which determine if a hadith is authentic or weak - so what may be an authentic hadith to one Imam may not be recognised as authentic by another [Ibn Taymiyya, Rafu'l malam, pages 15-16]

An example can be given by looking at the ahadith which Abu Hanifa received from his teachers, who were the Sahaba of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) and their students (Tabi'un). As these ahadith reached Abu Hanifa through direct narration from the Sahaba and their students, no question can be raised as to their authenticity. But when these same ahadith reached scholars of later generations, the chains of narrators could contain some unreliability. Therefore, if someone studies a hadith whose narrator is unreliable, and then says that a fatwa of Abu Hanifa that is based upon this hadith is contrary to the Sunna, it would be unfair.

Secondly, whatever the four Imams have said was not necessarily final. Throughout their lives, the Imams have changed their opinions as they received further information. Also after their deaths, their students would check their respective Imam's work and modify their opinions to accommodate the new information. Their students, and so on, also repeated this again. This structure is known as a school of fiqh (madhhab).

If a fatwa given by a certain school appears to contradict a narration in Bukhari or Muslim, it does not mean that it is against the Sunna as they are following other authentic ahadith, and therefore, not opposing the Sunna.

Two examples of following blindly

(1) Shaykh Albani writes:

"The hadith, which is attributed to our Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace), and states that 'Isa and Imam Mahdi (peace be upon them) are the same person is completely untrue. Although Imam Ibn Majah, Imam al-Hakim, Imam Ibn 'Abdi'l-Barr and other scholars of Islam have quoted the above hadith in their books. The reason this narration is false is because both Imam Ibn Hajar and Imam al-Bayhaqi write that the narrator is Muhammad ibn Khalid, who is unknown. Furthermore, Imam adh-Dhahabi also considers this hadith to be false. Imam Sagani said that this hadith is fabricated. Imam as-Suyuti said that the people have fabricated this hadith. Imam al-Qurtubi considers this hadith to be weak"

[Albani, N., Silsila Ahadith Da'ifa, hadith no. 77]

It can be observed from the above, how Shaykh Albani takes the opinions of an aforementioned Imam as evidence.Moreover, if Imam adh-Dhahabi says this hadith is untrue then Albani says likewise. If Qadi Shawkani says this hadith is fabricated then Albani also says it is fabricated.What can one say about this research - is Albani following Qur'an, Sunna or the Imams?

If one reads Shaykh Albani's books it can be observed that Albani is always following Imams. If Albani cannot avoid taqlid then a simple Muslim would definitelyneed to follow an Imam.

When Albani follows Imams, such as Ibn Taymiyya, Ibn Kathir, Shawkani, adh-Dhahabi, al-'Asqalani, and Ibn Abi Hatim, he is considered a great scholar and a knowledgeable person.Moreover, when someone else follows Imam Abu Hanifa, or any of the other three Imams then they are considered to be ignorant innovators.Therefore, having observed the above evidence, one has to draw a conclusion that people have one set of rules for one set of people and another set of rules for other people.

(2) Shaykh Albani writes that Imam ad-Darimi wrote:

"There was a great famine in Madina, the people went to 'A'isha (may Allah be pleased with her) to seek guidance.She said to them to go and make a a hole in the roof where our Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) was buried..When they had done this it started to rain.There was a good harvest and the camels fattened; people named that year as a 'fruitful year'.This narration is false because one of the narrators is weak, who is Sa'id ibn Zahid.Imam Ibn Hajar says that this narration is not authentic. Imam adh-Dhahabi says Sa'id's narration is weak; Imam Sa'di says that Sa'id is unreliable; Imam an-Nasa'i says Sa'id is weak in knowledge, but Imam Ahmed says that Sa'id is acceptable and the other narrator of this narration is Muhammad ibn Fadal, who is known to be authentic.However, during the later stages of his life he suffered memory lapse.We do not know whether Imam ad-Darimi took this narration from Imam Muhammad, before or after he started to suffer from memory lapse, therefore we cannot accept this narration as evidence and Hafiz Ibn Taymiyya has refused to accept the above narration. He writes in his book Ar-rad Al-Bakari that the hole in the room of our Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) was not present in the lifetime of 'A'isha (may Allah be pleased with her).The hole came into existence during the time of Khalifa Walid ibn 'Abd al-Malik, hence the above narration is false. 'A'isha (may Allah be pleased with her) told the people to make a hole - this was her personal option and this is not acceptable"

[Albani, N., at-Tawassul, page 162]

In the above research it can be seen how Albani is again relying upon Imams, and in particular, how he is blindly following Hafiz ibn Taymiyya. Now we can ask those people who falsely accuse us of following Imam Abu Hanifa and Imam ash-Shafi'i.We ask them why Shaykh Albani is only following Imam Dahahbi, Imam al-'Asqalani, Hafiz ibn Taymiyya and Shawkani therefore it can be said that if it is acceptable for Albani to follow Imams then why is it wrong for anyone else to follow Imams.

Let us now examine Albani's research regarding the above four points relating to the narration of Imam ad-Darimi.

The first response to Albani's research is that he has only quoted the opinion of those scholars who considered Sa'id ibn Zahid to be unreliable. The reason he has chosen to do this is because if he had mentioned the scholars who had praised Sa'id ibn Zahid, then he would have to accept their narrations.This opposed his (Albani) and his Imam's (Ibn Taymiyya) opinion. Let us consider the other opinions of scholars about Sa'id ibn Zahid.

Imam Bukhari mentions that Sa'id ibn Zahid was truthful and a learned man of hadith [al-Bukhari, Ta'rikh al-Kabir, Biography of Sa'id ibn Zahid]

Hafiz Ibn Taymiyya and Ibn Kathir both agree that Imam al-Bukhari was the one person in the world who knew hadith, texts and narrations better than anyone else [Ibn Taymiyya, Fatawa Ibn Taymiyya, vol.3, page 200; also Ibn Kathir, Ta'rikh Ibn Kathir, Biography of Imam al-Bukhari]

Imam Ibn Abi Hatim says Imam Abu Zahra said Sa'id ibn Zahid is a reliable person [Ibn Abi Hatim, Jarh wa Ta'dil, ,Biography of Sa'id ibn Zahid]

Hafiz al-'Asqalani writes that Yahya ibn Mu'in said that Sa'id ibn Zahid was a reliable peson. Also, Imam Ajali and Imam Abu Zahra say that he was reliable. Imam Naban ibn Hilal says Sa'id ibn Zahid was a master of hadith. But Imam Daraqutni says that Sa'id ibn Zahid was weak [al-'Asqalani, Tahdib al-Tahdib, Biography of Sa'id ibn Zahid]

We are surprised as to why Albani has chosen to discard the opinions of the aforementioned scholars regarding the reliability of Sa'id ibn Zahid. If Albani recognised the authenticity of Sa'id ibn Zahid by trusting the opinion of Imam al-Bukhari and Yahya ibn Mu'in, he would have no choice but to accept Sa'id ibn Zahid as a reliable narrator and hence accept the hadith.This would be a logical conclusion if we remember that Albani's two Imams (Ibn Taymiyya and Ibn Kathir) have said that Imam al-Bukhari is the most learned person of hadith in the world.

The second objection of Albani regarding this narration is that Muhammad ibn Fadal, the narrator of this hadith, suffered from memory lapse at later stages of his life .We do not know whether Imam ad-Darimi took this narration from Muhammad ibn Fadal before or after he started to suffer from memory lapse, therefore we do not accept this narration.

The answer to the above objection is that Muhammad ibn Fadal was a teacher of both Imam al-Bukhari and Imam Muslim. Imam al-Bukhari took narrations from him. We have a reliable opinion that Imam al-Bukhari took the narration from Muhammad ibn Fadal before he started to suffer from memory lapse. Furthermore, Imam as-Darimi, like Imam al-Bukhari, was a learned scholar of hadith and was able to understand and judge when to accept a hadith from a narrator.

Albani's objection can only be valid if we can establish that Imam ad-Darimi had a habit of taking hadith from narrators that were suffering from memory problems. There is no proof to suggest this.

If Albani insists upon the idea that Imam ad-Darimi took the narration from Muhammad ibn Fadaal, that is after he started to suffer from memory lapse, then someone else may say that Imam al-Bukhari also accepted narrations from Muhammad ibn Fadal after he started to suffer from memory lapse as it cannot be established from historical data as to precisely when he started to suffer from memory lapse.

Hafiz al-'Asqalani has written in his preface to Fath al-Bari that Imam al-Bukhari took narrations from Muhmmad ibn Fadal before he started to suffer from memory lapse. However, Hafiz Ibn Hajar did not state the period in which Muhammad ibn Fadal started to suffer from memory lapse or to the fact how he knew that Imam al-Bukhari took narration from Muhammad ibn Fadal before he started to suffer from memory lapse. We are therefore puzzled as to how Albani has established his suspicion on Imam ad-Darimi regarding this narration. Likewise, others may be suspicious about Imam al-Bukhari.

The third objection of Albani regarding this narration is that during the rule of Walid ibn Malik, the room of 'A'isha, where our Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) is buried, was rebuilt with a hole in the room. From this it can be seen that the hole was not made by the order of 'A'isha.,Therefore, the narration that states that 'A'isha gave the order for the hole to be made is false. However, when Walid ibn Malik rebuilt 'A'isha's room, the hole was made again. So we cannot be certain that the hole was in existence before the rebuilding of the room.

Imam Ibn Jarir al-Tabari and Hafiz ibn Kathir write in their Ta'rikh that during Walid ibn Malik's

Governmental period the Mosque of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) was enlarged and, during this extension, 'A'isha's room (where our Prophet is buried) was enclosed in the Mosque. But they do not mention anything about a hole. Therefore, how can it be said that narration regarding a hole is not authentic?

Shaykh Albani says Hafiz ibn Tamiyyah never accepted this narration. However, Hafiz ibn Taymiyya has accepted this narration elsewhere. Hafiz Ibn Taymiyya writes:

"During 'A'isha's time there was a famine in Madina and she opened the roof of her room [where our Prophet is buried]. This was done because rain is blessing of Allah and it would therefore fall upon our Prophet's (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) grave"

[Ibn Taymiyya, Iqtida as-Sirat al-Mustaqim, page 338]

If this narration was not true then Hafiz Ibn Taymiyya would have rejected it but he has not rejected it hence further supporting its validity.

Albani's fourth objection is that this was 'A'isha's personal opinion. This can be answered by the fact that the Sahaba were alive and they did not object to what 'A'isha did. Therefore she and the Sahaba were in agreement.This is evidence for the entire Muslim Umma. Except Albani.

In conclusion we can say that if Albani needs to fallow Imam adh-Dhahabi, Imam al-'Asqalani, Imam Abu Hatim, Imam Ibn 'Adi, Hafiz Ibn Taymiyya and Shawkani. Therefore ordinary Muslims also need to follow Imams i.e. Imam Abu Hanifa, Imam Malik ,Imam ash-Shafi'i and Imam Ahmed.

Furthermore, Albani's research is unreliable because he has chosen to ignore opinions which he disagrees with.

An Interesting Event That Helped the Author!

Once a young man came to me and asked me why I did not follow Bukhari and Muslim only. He then told me to only follow them, rather than any Imam and not to be an innovator.

I answered him by showing him two ahadith, and asked him to tell me what he understood by them? One narration was from Bukhari and the other was from Muslim.The young man was determined to prove that his interpretation was better than Imam Abu Hanifa or Imam Malik, because in their time there was no computer to compile a database of ahadith.

The two ahadith were:

1) Imam al-Bukhari reports that Amar ibn Maymun said: 'I saw a monkey who had just copulated with another monkey, and the other monkeys were stoning them, so I also started to throw stones at them.'[Bukhari, chapter on 'Ayyamul-Jahiliya']

2) Anas (may Allah be pleased with him) reports: "The Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) told 'Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) to go and execute a Muslim man who was accused by the people of committing adultery with a slave girl. When 'Ali found him, he was bathing in a lake.He then called to him and when he came out of the lake he had no clothes on. 'Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) saw that this person could not commit adultery as he was an eunuch.'Ali then let him go [Muslim, chapter on 'Tawba']

His answer was:

"It is clear from this narration of al-Bukhari that animals should be married according to Islam, and if they commit adultery, they should be punished like humans to make their lives more civilized. Also, from the second hadith, if someone is accused of committing adultery with a woman, he should be killed, but before killing him it should be checked whether he is a eunuch or not."

This is one example of the ijtihad made by people who encourage others to pick up Muslim and Bukhari and ignore the Imams. As for the correct interpretation, this is discussed in the chapter, "Bukhari and Muslim Are the Only Sources of Sunna!"

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