The Ashari School

The Ash’ari School

By Sayyid Muhammad Alawi al-Maliki

A defence of the Ash’ari school by one of the foremost scholars of Hadith and Fiqh in Makkah of his time – Shaikh Sayyid Muhammad Alawi al-Maliki al-Makki (RahimAllah).

Shaykh Muhammad ‘Alawi Maliki: “Many sons/daughters of Muslims are ignorant of the Ash’ari School, whom it represents, and its positions on the tenets of the Islamic faith (aqidah), and yet some of them are not God-fearing enough to refrain from accusing it of deviance, departure from the religion of Islam, and heresy about the attributes of Allah. The ignorance of the Ash’ari school is a cause of rendering the unity of the Ahl al-Sunnah dispersing its ranks. Some have gone as far as to consider the Ash’aris among the categories of heretical sects, though it is beyond me how believers can be linked with misbelievers, or how Sunni Muslims can be considered equal with the most extreme faction of the Mu’tazilites, the Jahmites.

“Shall We deal with Muslims as We do criminals? How is it that you judge?” [Qur’an 68:35-36]

The Ash’aris are the Imams of the distinguished figures of guidance among the scholars of the Muslims, whose knowledge has filled the world from east to west, and whom people have unanimously concurred upon their excellence, scholarship, and religiousness. They include the first rank of Sunni scholars and the most brilliant of their luminaries, who stood in the face of the excesses commited by the Mu’tazilites, and who constitute whole sections of the foremost Imams of Hadith, Sacred Law, Quranic exegesis. Shaykh al-Islam Ahmad ibn Hajar ‘Asqalani (d. 852/1449; Rahimullah), the mentor of Hadith scholars and author of the book “Fath al-Bari bi sharh Sahih al-Bukhari“, which not a single Islamic scholar can dispense with, was Ash’ari. The shaykh of the scholars of Sunni Islam, Imam Nawawi (d. 676/1277; Rahimullah), author of “Sharh Sahih Muslim” and many other famous works, was Ash’ari. The master of Qur’anic exegetes, Imam Qurtubi (d. 671/1273; Rahimullah), author of “al-Jami’ li ahkan al-Qur’an“, was Ash’ari. Shaykh al-Islam ibn Hajar Haytami (d. 974/1567; Rahimullah), who wrote “al-Zawajir ‘an iqtiraf al-kaba’ir“, was Ash’ari. The Shaykh of Sacred Law and Hadith, the conclusive definitive Zakariyya Ansari (d. 926/1520; Rahimullah), was Ash’ari. Imam Abu Bakr Baqillani (d. 403/1013; Rahimullah), Imam ‘Asqalani; Imam Nasafi (d. 710/1310; Rahimullah); Imam Shirbini (d. 977/1570; Rahimullah); Abu Hayyan Tawhidi, author of the Qur’anic commentary “al-Bahr al-muhit“; Imam ibn Juzayy (d. 741/1340; Rahimullah); author of “al-Tashil fi ‘ulum al-Tanzil“; and others – all of these were Imams of the Ash’aris. If we wanted to name all of the top scholars of Hadith, Qur’anic exegesis, and Sacred Law who were Imams of the Ash’aris, we would be hard put to do so and would require volumes merely to list these illustrious figures whose wisdom has filled the earth from east to west. And it is incumbent upon us to give credit where credit is due, recognising the merit of those of knowledge and virtue who have served the Sacred Law of the Greatest Messengers (Allah bless him and grant him peace). What good is to be hoped for us if we impugn our foremost scholars and righteous forbearers with charges of aberrancy and misguidance? Or how should Allah give us the benefit of their scholarship if we believe it is deviance and departure from the way of Islam? I ask you, is there a single Islamic scholar of the present day, among all the PhD.’s and geniuses, who has done what Ibn Hajar ‘Asqalani or Imam Nawawi have, of the service rendered by these two noble Imams (May Allah enfold them in His mercy and bliss) to the pure Prophetic Sunnah? How should we charge them and all Ash’aris with abberancy when it is we who are in need of their scholarship? Or how can we take knowledge from them if they were in error? For as Imam Zuhri (d. 124/742; rahimullah) says, “This knowledge is religion, so look well to whom you are taking your religion from.

Is it not sufficient for someone opposed to the Ash’aris to say, “Allah have mercy on them, they used reasoning (ijtihad) in figuratively interpreting the divine attributes, which it would have been fitter for them not to do”; instead of accusing them of deviance and misguidance, or displaying anger towards whoever considers them to be of the Sunni Community? If Imams Nawawi, ‘Asqalani, Qurtubi, Baqillani, al-Fakhr al-Din al-Razi, Haytami, Zakariyyah Ansari, and many others were not among the most brilliant scholars and illustrious geniuses, or of the Sunni Community, then who are the Sunnis?

I sincerely entreat all who call others to this religion or who work in the field of propagating Islam to fear Allah respecting the honour of the Community of Muhammad (Allah bless him and grant him peace) is possessed of goodness until the Final Hour, we are bereft of any if we fail to acknowledge the worth and excellence of our learned.”

In conclusion, the Ahl al-Sunnah wa’l Jama’ah are the true followers of the Prophet (Peace be upon him) and his Companions (Allah be pleased with them all), followed by by those who trod their path for the last 1400 years. It is in summary the followers of Imam Abu’l Hasan al-Ash’ari (Rahimullah) and Imam Abu Mansur al-Maturidi (Rahimullah) in Aqeedah, and this saved sect is represented by the adherents of one of the four schools – Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi’i and Hanbali today. This is the sect which has had the largest following throughout Islamic history as-Sawad al-Az’am) as confirmed by the Qur’anic and Ahadith based evidence and it will remain dominant until the Hour is established, inshaAllah.The


The Principles of Tasawwuf
by Sheikh Muhammad al-Ya`aqubi

إن مبادي كل فن عشره                     الحد و الموضوع ثم الثمره
و فضله ونسبة و الواضع                  و الاسم الاستمداد حكم الشارع
مسائل و البعض بالبعض اكتفى           و من درى الجميع حاز الشرفا

Verily the principles of each science are ten,

Definition, topic, fruits gained and then,

It’s ascription, it’s merit and founder,

The name, the sources, the legal ruling,

Issues covered.  However, some of the ten are deemed sufficient,

And whoever grasps them all is most proficient.

1. The definition- (الحد) Hundreds of definitions of Tasawwuf have been drawn. The great scholar sidi Ahmed Zarouq says: ”Tasawwuf has more than two thousand explanatory definitions; all ultimately refer to the following: True devotion to Allah from where He likes by the means He likes (صدق التوجه إلى الله من حيث يرضاه بما يرضاه) Some of the common definitions are: Acting upon knowledge  العمل بالعلمNoble characterالتصوف أخلاق Acquiring the good characters and getting rid of the bad.

2. The subject-الموضوع: The Divine Essenceالذات العلية  as how Allah can be known. Another opinion says that the subject of this discipline is hearts and souls; because it works on their purification and cultivation. Both opinions are correct as the latter looks at the goal and the former looks at the means; as it has been correctly said, ”He who knows himself will know his Lord”.

3. The fruit- الثمرة: The fruit or the benefit of this discipline is the purification of the heart and knowing the Master of the worlds.

4. The merit- فضله :Tasawwuf is a noble discipline of high merit. Its nobility stems from from its subject. Al- Ihsan الإحسان is one of the three levels of this deen and the highest.

5. (Ascription) The relation of this discipline to others- نسبته إلى غيره من العلوم: Tasawwuf is the base of the Sharia; without it all acts of worship would be imperfect. It is the core of the Quran and the Sunnah and the tissue of muslims spiritual life. Imam Malik says: من تصوف و لم يتفقه فقد تزندق و من تفقه و لم يتصوف فقد تفسق و من جمع بينهما فقد تحقق ”Whoever acquires tasawwuf without fiqh is a heretic and whoever studies fiqh without tasawwuf is unrighteous and who combines both has the reality”

6. The founder- الواضع : The word al-wadi means the one that sets forth this branch of knowledge. It is of course the Prophet (s). Many ahadith highlight this fact, most famous of wich is hadith Jibril (s). The first one who made this knowledge known is Sayyiduna Ali (r) and then his son Sayyiduna al-Hasan (r) and al-Hasan al-Basriy.

7. The name- الاسم: The name of this science is tasawwufعلم التصوف  The word is derrived from souf: wool; or from safa: purity; or from suffa: the special place of a group of the sahaba in the Holy Sanctuary of the Prophet .
The discipline has been known by this name since the second century of hijra, i.e. the time of the salaf . It has been frequently called ilm as-Sulouk, ilm al-Ihsan, ilm at-Tarbiyah or ilm at-Tazkiyah.

8. The sources- الاستمداد : Tasawwuf relies on al-Quran and as-Sunnah as the sources and proofs of its material. The sayings of the great scholars are a rich treasure for the seekers and the masters alike.

9. The legal ruling- حكم الشارع : The legal ruling of studying tasawwuf is fard i.e. obligatory. Since all human beings are susceptable to sins save for the Prophets. Imam Abul Hasan ash-Shadiliy saysمن لم يتغلغل في علمنا هذا مات مصرا على الكبائر و هو لا يشعر  ”Who does not deeply study this discipline will die persisting on major sins without being aware of it”.

10. The issues discussed- مسائله: Tasawwuf tackles some of the cardinal elements of the deen such as ikhlas: sincerity; sidq: truthfulness; wara: religious cautioness; tawakkul: reliance; zuhd: asceticism; mahabba: love; and similarly their opposites, wich are called the diseases of the hearts such as insincerity; hypocrisy; arrogance; greed. It also tackles some of the subtlest subjects such as the passing of thoughts; the states of the heart; inspiration. One of its most important subjects is dhikr, the remebrance of Allah and its virtues; another is the sheikh and his qualifications, the disciple murid and his adab.

Answered by Ustadh Salman Younas

Question: Could you please explain the state of the fitra in non-Muslims? For example, does the fitra change in essence when a person becomes “a Christian, Jew, or Zoroastrian”?

Answer: assalamu `alaykum

Thank you for your question.

There has been extensive disagreement between scholars on the definition of the term fitra that impacts the way in which we understand the tradition, “There is no child except that he or she is born on the fitra, and it is the parents who make him Jewish, Christian, or Magian.” [Bukhari, Muslim]

I have listed some of the major interpretations below:

(a) Fitra refers to the sound natural disposition and constitution of the human being that allows one to discern the existence of God, His oneness, and His religion. In other words, the fitra is not a form of knowledge, nor an actual state of belief or disbelief.

(b) Fitra refers to Islam. In other words, every child is born a Muslim, namely in terms of recognizing God, or with an inclination towards Islam.

(c) Fitra refers to the decree of God in terms of the individuals being damned or saved. In other words, every child is born upon that state which God knows he will eventually die upon.

[Ibn `Abd al-Barr, Tamhid (18:65-84); al-Nawawi, Sharh Sahih al-Muslim (16:208); al-`Ayni, `Umdat al-Qari (8:178); al-Subki, Fatawa (2:361-62)]

In each of the interpretations above, the adoption of a religion other than Islam does not entail the removal of the fitra in its essence. This is most clear for the first and third interpretations, since a person always in some capacity possesses the ability to discern the truth and since decree of God is unchanging and based on His pre-eternal knowledge.

As for the second interpretation, it may be that the fitra is lost in its essence in so far as a person is in fact no longer on it i.e. he is not on Islam. However, even here, there still may be deep down a natural inclination towards the truth that can never be erased from the heart of an individual.


Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Imam Nawawi on Fitrah

Abu Hurayrah narrates that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said,

مَا مِنْ مَوْلُودٍ إِلاَّ يُولَدُ عَلَى الْفِطْرَةِ فَأَبَوَاهُ يُهَوِّدَانِهِ وَيُنَصِّرَانِهِ وَيُمَجِّسَانِهِ كَمَا تُنْتَجُ الْبَهِيمَةُ بَهِيمَةً جَمْعَاءَ هَلْ تُحِسُّونَ فِيهَا مِنْ جَدْعَاءَ

“No child is born except on the Fitrah and then his parents make him Jewish, Christian or Magian. Just as an animal produces a perfect young animal: do you see any part of its body amputated?”

Then Abu Hurayrah said, “And recite if you wish:

فِطْرَ‌تَ اللَّـهِ الَّتِي فَطَرَ‌ النَّاسَ عَلَيْهَا ۚ لَا تَبْدِيلَ لِخَلْقِ اللَّـهِ

“The fitrah of Allah upon which He has created [all] people. No change should there be in the creation of Allah.” [30:30]

[Muslim #6423]

Imam al-Nawawi writes in his explanation of Sahih Muslim about this hadith:

قوله صلى الله عليه وسلم : ( ما من مولود إلا يولد على الفطرة ، فأبواه يهودانه وينصرانه ويمجسانه كما تنتج البهيمة بهيمة جمعاء ، هل تحسون فيها من جدعاء ؟ ثم يقول أبو هريرة : اقرءوا إن شئتم : فطرة الله التي فطر الناس عليها لا تبديل لخلق الله الآية وفي رواية : ما من مولود يولد إلا وهو على الملة وفي رواية ليس من مولود يولد إلا على هذه الفطرة حتى يعبر عنه لسانه قالوا : يا رسول الله ، أفرأيت من يموت صغيرا ؟ قال : الله أعلم بما كانوا عاملين وفي رواية : إن الغلام الذي قتله الخضر طبع كافرا ، ولو عاش لأرهق أبويه طغيانا وكفرا وفي حديث عائشة : توفي صبي من الأنصار ، فقالت : طوبى له ، عصفور من عصافير الجنة ، لم يعمل السوء ، ولم يدركه . قال : أو غير ذلك يا عائشة إن الله خلق للجنة أهلا خلقهم لها وهم في أصلاب آبائهم ، وخلق للنار أهلا خلقهم لها وهم في أصلاب آبائهم . .

His statement (ﷺ), “No child is born except on the Fitrah and then his parents make him Jewish, Christian or Magian, as an animal produces a perfect young animal: do you see any part of its body amputated? Then Abu Hurayrah said, “And recite if you wish:’The fitrah of Allah upon which He has created [all] people. No change should there be in the creation of Allah.’” And in another narration, “No child is born except upon the millah“, and in another another narration, “Every child is born on this Fitrah so long as he does not express himself with his tongue” They said, “What is your opinion about him who dies in infancy?” He said, “It is Allah alone Who knows best what they would be doing”. And in another narration, “The young man whom Khadir killed was a kaafir by his very nature and had he survived he would have involved his parents in defiance and unbelief.” And in the hadith of ‘Aaishah: A child from the Ansar died, so she said, “Glad tidings for this child who is a bird from amongst the birds of Paradise for it committed no sin nor has he reached the age when one can commit sin” So he (ﷺ) said, “‘Perhaps it may be otherwise, O ‘Aaisha, because Allah created for Paradise those who are fit for it while they were yet in their father’s loins and created for Hell those who are to go to Hell. He created them for Hell while they were yet in their father’s loins.”

أجمع من يعتد به من علماء المسلمين على أن من مات من أطفال المسلمين فهو من أهل الجنة ; لأنه ليس مكلفا . وتوقف فيه بعض من لا يعتد به لحديث عائشة هذا ، وأجاب العلماء بأنه لعله نهاها عن المسارعة إلى القطع من غير أن يكون عندها دليل قاطع ، كما أنكر على سعد بن أبي وقاص في قوله : أعطه إني لأراه مؤمنا ، قال : ” أو مسلما ” الحديث . ويحتمل أنه صلى الله عليه وسلم قال هذا قبل أن يعلم أن أطفال المسلمين في الجنة ، فلما علم قال ذلك في قوله صلى الله عليه وسلم : ما من مسلم يموت له ثلاثة من الولد لم يبلغوا الحنث إلا أدخله الله الجنة بفضل رحمته إياهم وغير ذلك من الأحاديث . والله أعلم

The majority of Muslim scholars have confirmed that whoever dies from the children of the Muslims, then he is from the people of jannah, because he is not legally responsible. But some of them did not confirm that position because of the hadith of ‘Aaishah, and answer of the scholars is that perhaps he (ﷺ) wanted to prevent her from rushing to a conclusion without having had the evidence for that, just as he corrected Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqaas when he said, “Verily I see him a mu’min”, so he (ﷺ) said, “or a Muslim.” And perhaps he (ﷺ) said this before he knew that the children of Muslim are in jannah, for it is known that he (ﷺ) said, “Any Muslim who loses three children before they reach the age of maturity, will be granted Jannah by Allah, the Exalted, out of His Mercy for them” and elsewhere in other ahaadith. And Allah knows best.

وأما أطفال المشركين ففيهم ثلاثة مذاهب . قال الأكثرون : هم في النار تبعا لآبائهم . وتوقفت طائفة فيهم . والثالث ، وهو الصحيح الذي ذهب إليه المحققون أنهم من أهل الجنة ، ويستدل له بأشياء منها حديث إبراهيم الخليل صلى الله عليه وسلم حين رآه النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم في الجنة ، وحوله أولاد الناس قالوا : يا رسول الله ، وأولاد المشركين ؟ قال : ” وأولاد المشركين ” رواه البخاري في صحيحه . ومنها قوله تعالى : وما كنا معذبين حتى نبعث رسولا ولا يتوجه على المولود التكليف ويلزمه قول الرسول حتى يبلغ ، وهذا متفق عليه . والله أعلم .

But as for the children of the mushrikoon, then there are three opinions. Most say: they are in the fire, following their fore-fathers. A group from amongst them stopped [did not answer]. And third, and this is accurate, is that they are from among the people of jannah, and from the evidences for this is the hadith of Ibrahim al-Khaleel (ﷺ) when he was seen by the Prophet (ﷺ) in jannah, and he was surrounded by children. The people said, “O Messenger of Allah, even the children of the mushrikoon? He said, “And the children of the mushrikoon.” This is narrated by al-Bukhaari in his sahih. And another evidence is the statement of Allah, “And never would we punish until we sent a messenger” [17:15] and this does not apply to the child which is not legally responsible, as according to the statement of the Messenger, until he reaches maturity, and this is agreed upon. And Allah knows best.

وأما الفطرة المذكورة في هذه الأحاديث فقال المازري : قيل : هي ما أخذ عليه . في أصلاب آبائهم ، وأن الولادة تقع عليها حتى يحصل التغير بالأبوين . وقيل : هي ما قضي عليه من سعادة أو شقاوة يصير إليها . وقيل : هي ما هيئ له هذا كلام المازري . .

And as for the fitrah which is mentioned in these ahaadith, al-Maazari said, “It is said, ‘it is what one clings to, in the loins of their fathers, and what was is born upon until his parents alter that.’ And it is said, ‘It is was has been decreed for him of joy or sorrow which will come to him.’ And it is said, ‘it is was is prepared for him’ and this is the statement of al-Maazari.”

وقال أبو عبيد : سألت محمد بن الحسن عن هذا الحديث ، فقال : كان هذا في أول الإسلام قبل أن تنزل الفرائض ، وقبل الأمر بالجهاد . وقال أبو عبيد كأنه يعني أنه لو كان يولد على الفطرة ، ثم مات قبل أن يهوده أبواه أو ينصرانه لم يرثهما ، ولم يرثاه ، لأنه مسلم ، وهما كافران ، ولما جاز أن يسيء فلما فرضت الفرائض ، وتقررت السنن على خلاف ذلك علم أنه يولد على دينهما

And ibn ‘Ubayd said, “I asked Muhammad ibn al-Hasan about this hadith, and he said, ‘that is in the beginning of Islam before the obligatory duties were sent down, and before the command for jihaad.’” And Abu ‘Ubayd said it is as if it means that if one is born upon the fitrah, then he dies before his father makes him a Jew or a Christian, he doesn’t inherit that from them, nor do they inherit something from him, because he is a Muslim and they are Kuffaar. And when he is able to sin, then I assign the obligatory duties, and I have decided the sunan over what contradicts it that he is born upon his parents religion.

وقال ابن المبارك : يولد على ما يصير إليه من سعادة أو شقاوة فمن علم الله تعالى أنه يصير مسلما ولد على فطرة الإسلام ، ومن علم أنه يصير كافرا ولد على الكفر

And Ibn al-Mubaarak said, “born upon what is destined from him of joy or sorrow, for whoever Allah knows will become a Muslim, he is born upon the fitrah of al-Islam, and whoever He knows will become a kaafir, he is born upon kufr.

وقيل : معناه كل مولود يولد على معرفة الله تعالى والإقرار به ، فليس أحد يولد إلا وهو يقر بأن له صانعا ، وإن سماه بغير اسمه ، أو عبد معه غيره والأصح أن معناه أن كل مولود يولد متهيئا للإسلام ، فمن كان أبواه أو أحدهما مسلما استمر على الإسلام في أحكام الآخرة والدنيا ، وإن كان أبواه كافرين جرى عليه حكمهما في أحكام الدنيا ، وهذا معنى ( يهودانه وينصرانه ويمجسانه ) ، أي يحكم له بحكمهما ما في الدنيا .

And it is said, “It’s meaning is that the child is born having the awareness of Allah and affirmation of Him. So there is no one born except that he admits that Allah is his Maker, and if he called by other than His Name, or worshiped others alongside Him, then the most accurate position is the meaning that every child is born prepared for Islam, so whoever has two or at least one Muslim parents, he will remain upon Islam in the rulings of the aakhira and the dunya, but if his parents are kaafiroon then their ruling becomes his ruling in the dunya, and this is the meaning of “his parents make him Jewish, Christian or Magian” , and he is judged according to their status in the dunya.

. فإن بلغ استمر عليه حكم الكفر ودينهما ، فإن كانت سبقت له سعادة أسلم ، وإلا مات على كفره . وإن مات قبل بلوغه فهل هو من أهل الجنة أم النار أم يتوقف فيه ؟ ففيه المذاهب الثلاثة السابقة قريبا . الأصح أنه من أهل الجنة . والجواب عن حديث الله أعلم بما كانوا عاملين أنه ليس فيه تصريح بأنهم في النار ، وحقيقة لفظه : الله أعلم بما كانوا يعملون لو بلغوا ولم يبلغوا إذ التكليف لا يكون إلا بالبلوغ . وأما غلام الخضر فيجب تأويله قطعا لأن أبويه كانا مؤمنين ، فيكون هو مسلما ، فيتأول على أن معناه أن الله أعلم أنه لو بلغ لكان كافرا ، لا أنه كافر في الحال ، ولا يجري عليه في الحال أحكام الكفار . والله أعلم

And if he attains maturity remaining upon the status of kufr and his parents religion, and unless the joy of submitting was written for him, he would not die except in a state of kufr. And if he died before he reached the age of maturity, is he from the people of jannah or the hell-fire or we do not know? Of the three opinions the last one is the closest. The most accurate position is that he is from the people of jannah. And the response to the hadith “It is Allah alone Who knows best what they would be doing” is that it is not a clear statement that they are in the hell-fire. And the reality of the wording is, “Allah knows best what they would be doing if they had attained maturity, and they did not attain the status of legal responsibility, which only applies to those of mature age.” And as to the boy in the story of al-Khidr, then an explanation is certainly necessary , because his parents were mu’minoon, so he was a Muslim. So this is explained by the meaning that Allah knew best that, had he reached maturity, he would have been a kaafir, and he was not a kaafir inherently, and the condition of the status of a kaafir did not apply to him. And Allah knows best.

وأما قوله صلى الله عليه وسلم : ( كما تنتج البهيمة بهيمة ) فهو بضم التاء الأولى ، وفتح الثانية ، ورفع البهيمة ، ونصب بهيمة . ومعناه كما تلد البهيمة بهيمة ( جمعاء ) بالمد أي مجتمعة الأعضاء سليمة من نقص ، لا توجد فيها جدعاء بالمد ، وهي مقطوعة الأذن أو غيرها من الأعضاء . ومعناه أن البهيمة تلد البهيمة كاملة الأعضاء لا نقص فيها ، وإنما يحدث فيها الجدع والنقص بعد ولادتها .

And as for his statement (ﷺ) “Just as an animal produces an animal” – meaning just as an animal gives birth to an animal “whole” with all its limbs present, free from detraction, and you will not find in it any alteration, such as a slit in the ears or other than that from its limbs. And the meaning is that the animal gives birth to a whole and complete animal with all its limbs and no parts missing therefrom, and the alterations or amputations only occur after its birth.

[Sharh al-Nawawi ‘alaa Muslim #2658]

It is not wise to pour water into a full cup.
It is better to empty it, and then fill it up.
It is why we make ablution, it is a source of light
To prepare ourselves to feel the beauty and might
How forgetful we’ve become, lost in such and such
This is why we are called to remembrance much
Be sincere, and in your heart there will be a source of noor
And then you will know, knowledge, can’t be bought in a store

This poem was inspired by Imam Malik statement, “Knowledge does not consist in narrating much. Knowledge is but a light which Allah places in the heart.”

Sunni Islam is short for the arabic title, Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jamaah.

During the time of the Prophet sent Sahaba from Medinah to different regions Mecca, Iraq, Egypt, Yemen, Syria etc etc. These different regions pretty much developed into different madhabs, schools of thought.
After dust of fiqh issues had settled, the four madhabs of fiqh, came to represents Sunni Islam, Shafi, Maliki, Hanafi, and Hanbali. And in Aqida, Ashari, Maturidi and Athari. And in Tasawwuf, many, such as the Shadhilis, Naqshabandi etc. This was the face of Sunni Islam for over a thousand years.

After this the Muslim world was colonized by Europe, ie they conquered the Muslim world, destroying much of Islamic scholarship. Ignorant Muslims sought to find solutions to the Muslim problem without adequate Islamic education and many reformist movement were born, one such group was the Wahabis, which is named after Muhammad Ibn Abdul Wahab. He literally made takfir on the Muslims including the Muslims in Mecca and Medinah during his time, and called for them to make hijrah to Nadj. Islamic scholarship at the time, ruled the Muhammad Ibn Abdul Wahab was a rebirth of the Khawatij, even his older brother Sulayman wrote a book against him. This group evolved into the modern day Salafis (Salafi Dawah, Salafi Minhaj), and has many splinter groups associated with it, modern day Ahlul Hadith, Al Qaeda, ISIS, Madkhalis, even some of the Ikhwan Muslimeen (called Surooris, I believe), etc etc.

The irony of this group is they sought to unite the Muslims, upon this newly found minhaj, only to find themselves divided.

Messenger of Allah, , said, “Without doubt, my Ummah will never be UNITED upon misguidance. Whenever you see disagreement, hold fast to the greater majority.” [Ibn Majah]

In traditional Sunni Islam, the four madhabs of fiqh and the three madhabs of Aqida are still united, as Ahlus Sunnah wal Jamaah and have been for over 1000 years.

Imam Saffarini said, “The Ahlus Sunnah consist of three groups: the textualists al-Atharis, whose Imam is Ahmad ibn Hanbal, the Ash’aris, whose Imam is Abu al-Hasan al-Ash’ari, and the Maturidis, whose Imam is Abu Mansur al-Maturidi رضي الله عنهم and they are all one group, the saved sect (al-Firqatun Najiyyah), and they are Ahl al-Hadith, the Ahlus Sunnah Wa’l Jama’ah.” [Imam Muhammad Saffarini al-Nabulusi al-Hanbali رحمه الله in Lawami` al-Anwar]

And Allah knows best

The Sunni Methodology in Dealing with weak Hadith

Edited by aMuslimForLife

The edited edition of Shaykh Habib Ali Jifri exposition of weak hadith is intended to give a fuller explanation of the issue at hand. I refrained from commenting myself and only quoted scholars of Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jamaah.

Habib Ali Jifri:
“The vast majority of Sunni Hadith scholars like Imam Ibn Hajar al Asqalani, Imam Ibn Salah and Imam al Nawawi in his introduction to al Adhkar, says that hadith that are classified as weak are accepted and acted upon in matters pertaining to virtuous deeds (Fadail al Amal).[/SIZE]

[AMFL: (Shaykh al-Islam Abu Zakariyya al-Nawawi: ) “The scholars among the experts in hadith and the experts in law and others have said: it is permissible and (also) recommended that the religious practice (al-`amal) concerning good deeds and good character (al-fadâ’il), encouragement to good and discouragement from evil (al-targhib wa al-tarhib) be based (even) on weak hadith (bi al-hadith al- da`îf) as long as it is not forged (mawdu`).(Al Adhkar)]

Habib Ali Jifri:
In a previous lesson we’ve mentioned that people today have inverted the meaning of being scrupulous (wara). They say in matters pertaining to virtuous deeds “I’ll be cautious, this hadith might be weak, it is better I don’t act upon it.” NO. Even if it is a weak hadith and mentions righteous deeds, then do it, to be on the safe side, because there might be other sources which attest to its soundness.

The status “weak (daif)” does not mean that the Prophet did not say it. What does weak mean then?”

The meaning of weak hadith (daif) is that one of the narrators in the hadith chain of transmission started to muddled in his narration in old age, and the scholars therefore had concern that he might be forgetful or he lost possession of his books and therefore his capacity to memorize was weak. So there is doubt concerning his name. [/SIZE]

Weak Hadith Does Not Mean Fabricated

[AMFL: (Shaykh Abdul Wakil al Durubi: ) “Weak (Daif) is a term for any hadith with a chain of transmission containing a narrator whose memory was poor, one who was not trustworthy, not identified by name or for other reasons. But weak (daif) cannot simply be equated with false (mawdu). Were this the case, mere analysis of the transmitters would be the universal criterion for acceptance or rejection of a particular rulings based on hadiths. While scholars do use this measure in upgrading the work of preceding generations of legal authorities, they have not employed it as a simplistic expedient to eliminate every piece of legal information that is connected with a weak hadith because of various considerations.]

Multiple Means of Transmission

[AMFL: (Shaykh Abdul Wakil al Durubi: ) One of these is that when a piece of information is received through a means of transmission that may or may not be trustworthy, we generally have doubts about it. But when one and the same piece of information reaches us through several completely different channels, even though each one may or may not be trustworthy, the logical probability of the information’s falsity us much reduced. And if we receive the very same piece of information from ten such channels, the possibility of its falsity does not usually even come to mind.

This verificatory principle has two important implication, one being the obligatory nature of belief in hadiths that are mutwatir and the second being the weight that hadith scholars give to multiple means of transmission, which can raise a hadith from well authenticated (Hasan) to rigorously authenticated (Sahih), or from weak (daif) to well authenticated (Hasan), as described in the following account of a hadith’s reclassifcation by a major specialist in hadith forgeries.

(Imam Ali Qari: ) “The Hadith, ‘I am the city of knowledge and Ali is its gate,’was mentioned by Tirimidhi in his Jami, where he said it was unacknowledgeable. Bukhari also said this, and said that it was without legitimate claim to authenticity. Ibn Ma’in said that it was a baseless lie, as did Abu Hatim and Yahya ibn Said. Ibn Jawzi recorded it in his book of hadith of forgories, and was confirmed by Dhahabi and others in this. Ibn Daqiq al Eid said, “This hadithis not confirmed by scholars said, “This hadith is not confirmed by scholars, and is held by some as spurious.” Daraqutni stated that is was uncorroborated. Ibn Hajar Asqalani was asked about it and answered that it was well authenticated (hasan), not rigorously authenticated (Sahih), as Hakim had said, but not a forgery (mawdu) as Ibn Jawzi had said. This was mentioned by Suyuti. The Hadith master (Hafiz) Abu Sa’id Ala’i said, “The Truth is that the hadith is well authenticated (hasan), in view of its being neither rigorously authenticated (hasan) nor weak (da’if) much less a forgery (Risala al mawdu’at).”

(Shaykh Abdul Wakil al Durubi: ) Thus, when the person who has related a hadith is an Islamic schlar of the first rank, it is not enough for a student or popular writer to find one chain of transmission for the haidth that is weak. There are a great many hadiths with several chains of transmissions, and adequate scholarly treatment of how these affect a hadith’s authenticity has been traditionally held to require a master (hafiz), those like Bukhari, Muslim, Dhahabi, Ibn Kathir, or Suyuti who have memorized at least 100,000 hadiths – their texts, chains of transmission, and significance — to undertake the comparative study of the hadith’s various chains of transmission that cannot be accurately assessed without such knowledge. Today, when not one hadith master (hafiz) remains in the Muslim Community, we do not accept the judgment of any would-be reclassifiers of hadith, no matter how large their popular following, unless it is corroborated by the work of previous hadith masters.]

Text and Chain of Transmission are Different Things

[(Shaykh Abdul Wakil al Durubi: )
Another reason why weak (da’if) cannot simply be equated with false (mawdu) is the fact that weak is an attribute of the hadith’s chain of transmission (isnad), while false is an attribute of the hadith’s text (matn). These are two different things, and the relationship between their respective reliabilities is a probabilistic expectation )istinbat) that is neither strictly causal, nor yet a necessary logical implication (lazim), there being four logical possibilities for any hadith:

(1) a sound text and sound chain of transmission, as with well authenticated (hasan) or rigorously authenticated (sahih) hadiths;

(2) a sound text and an unsound chain of transmitters, reflecting the possibility that a transmitter with poor memory, or unknown to the person who recorded the hadith, or one not trustworthy, is in principle capable of relating the hadith correctly;

(3) an unsound text and unsound chain of transmitters, as with hadiths that are forged (mawdu):

(4) or an unsound text and a sound chain of transmitters, reflecting the possibility that one of those who clssify the personalities and reliability of various hadith transmitters could in principle make an error in their ijtihad regarding a particular person.

Because of the distinction between text and transmission, forms of evidence other than the authenticity rating of the chain of narrators are sometimes admissible, as when there is a consensus of legal scholars who have received the hadith with acceptance, which is an acknowledged form of corroboration for hadiths of the second type mentioned above.

(Isma’il Ansari: ) Ibn Hajar Asqalani says, “‘Among the characteristics that necessitate acceptance is for scholars of Sacred Law to have concurred on applying the implications of a hadith. Such a hadith is acceptable, even oblgatory to apply, as a number of Imams of fundamentals of Islam (usul) have explicitly stated. Shafi’i for example says, ‘What I have said about water when its taste, odor and color change, has been related from the Prophet, (SAW) through a channel of transmission that hadith scholars do not confirm the like of, but it is the position of all scholars without a single dissenting voice I know of.’ And he said of that hadith ‘There is no bequest to an estate division heir’ – ‘Scholars of Hadith do not corroborate it, but all scholars receive it with acceptance and apply it.'”

Ibn Qayyim,
in his Illam al muwaqqi’in, when discussing the hadith of Mu’adh (in which the Prophet (SAW) asked Mu’adh Ibn Jabal when dispatching him to Yemen how he owuld judge, to which Mu’adh replied that he would judge first by the Quran, then by the sunnah, and then by his own reasoning (ijihad)), says, “Legal scholars (fuqaha) accept it and employ it as evidence, from which we learn that they hold it to be rigorously authenticated (Sahih), just as we learn of the authenticity of the Prophet’s Saying (SAW):

(1) ‘There is no bequest to an estate division heir.’
(2) ‘(The hadith about the sea) Its water is purifying.’
(3) ‘When buyer and seller differ about the price they have agreed upon and the merchandise still exists, each swears (that his side of thestory is correct) and (if they cannot agree) they cancel the sale.’
(4)’The Killer’s extended family is responsible for the indemnity.’

Even if these hadiths are unauthenticated in their chains of transmission, since virtually all scholars have related them, the hadiths’ authenticity, which they accept, eliminates their need to verify the channels of transmission, and so it is too with the Hadith of Muadh: the fact that all scholars have adduced it as evidence eliminates the need for their checking its means of transmission.”

And Ibn Ab al Barr says in al Istidhkar, concerning Tirmidhi’s having related that Bukhari said of the hadith of the sea “Its water is purifying’ that it was rigorously authenticated (sahih)— “Hadith scholars do not consider hadiths with the like of its chain of transmission to be rigorously authenticated (Sahih), though I hold it to be so, because scholars have received it with acceptance.” (Al Isaba Fi nusra al Khulafa al Rahidin wa Sahaba)
(Shaykh Abdul Wakil al Durubi:) Among the primary textual evidence for the admissibility of such hadiths is the word of the Prophet

“Allah will never make my Community concur upon misguidance, and Allah’s hand is over the group.”

So it is inadequate for someone who proposes to annul a ruling of the Sacred Law to adduce that the hadith supporting it has a weak chain of transmission, unless he can also establish both that there are not a number of similar variants of alternate channels of transmission that strengthen it, confirming this by means of a text by a hadith master (hafiz); and that the meaning of the hadith has not been received with acceptance by the scholars of the Muslim Community.”]

Habib Ali Jifri:
There is a very big possibility for most of the hadith classified as weak, The Prophet did actually say them but the reason that those hadith were downgraded from being sound (Sahih) or Fair (Hasan) to be weak was out of precaution.

[AMFL: al Suyuti: If anyone says, ‘This hadith is not Sahih, (if he had said it is weak it would have been shorter) then it means its chain is not authentic according to the aforementioned conditions, not that it is actually a lie, because of the possibility of truthfulness of a liar and the correctness of someone who makes many mistakes. (Tadrib ar Rawi)]

[(Zafar Ahmad al Uthmani:
) Concerning the ruling on acting by a weak hadith and the conditions for doing it is only narrated by one route. If it is narrated through two or more routes we have already seen that it is somethings to be appended to the (degree) of Sahih and sometimes to the (degree) of hasan. (Muqaddima I’la as Sunna)]

Habib Ali Jifri:
For this reason, be cautious with regards to virtuous deeds is to act upon them and not to say, “this hadith is weak, therefore I won’t act upon it.” We say be on the safe side and act upon the deed so you don’t lose at an opportunity to attain reward. Only in issues pertaining to permissible (Halal) and forbidden (haram) matters are hadith not accepted (generally speaking).

[AMFL: Ibn Hajar said in the commentary of Al Arbain, “It (weak hadith) can be acted upon because if it is in fact sahih then it has been given its due of action, but if not no harm comes of it in terms of declaring something to be halal (which actually may not be) or haram (when it actually may not be), of voiding some other’s right.” . (Muqaddima I’la as Sunna-Zafar Ahmad al Uthmani)]

Habib Ali Jifri:
However Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbali of the Hanbali school of Law was of the opinion that weak hadith can be used to determine a matter of halal and haram in the absence of a sound hadith. So mam Ahmad preferred to choose a weak hadith over analogical reasoning (qiyas) in any issue which had no sound (Sahih) or …good (Hasan)… to support it, despite other jursit and scholars preferring to choose qiyas over a weak hadith in matters of halal and haram.

(AMFL: Some people argue the weak hadiths that Imam Ahmad used would now be considered hasan (well-authenticated) hadith. The Point is that Imam Ahmad used hadith in matters of fiqh that he considered weak without knowing how future generations would grade those hadiths.)

Habib Ali Jifri: Imam Nawawi was of the view that weak hadith are accepted in matters of halal and haram only when it pertains to exercising scrupulousness (Wara). It is related to question such as ‘is this transaction allowed or not?” Is selling an item in a particular way halal or haram? There are no particular (sound or hasan) hadith which offer a clear answer, but there is a weak hadith which indicates that it is haram – here you have a weak hadith and do not perform the action, out of scrupulousness because the weak hadith indicated it.

[AMFL: (Shaykh al-Islam Abu Zakariyya al-Nawawi:) As for legal rulings (ahkâm) such as what is permitted and what is forbidden, or the modalities of trade, marriage, divorce and other than that: one’s practice is not based upon anything other than sound (sahih) or fair (hasan) hadith, except as a precaution in some matter related to one of the above, for example, if a weak hadith was cited about the reprehensibility (karahat) of certain kinds of sales or marriages. In such cases what is recommended (al-mustahabb) is to avoid such sales and marriages, but it is not obligatory (la yajib).” .(Al Adhkar)]

[(Al Suyuti): The weak hadith is acted upon in rulings (ahkam) also if there is in it some precaution.”]

Habib Ali Jifri:
Today many people think that a weak hadith should be thrown to the side. To think this is grave and wrong. Regarding weak hadith, the overwhelming majority of the scholars of Ahlus Sunnah, do yo uknow what “overwhelming majority” means? It means almost all of the scholars of Ahlus Sunnah, so much so that the matter has almost reached a consensus amongst them. They say that a weak hadith can used for virtuous deeds and anything less than it.

What is less than virtuous deeds? Prophetic biographies (Sira), biographical accounts that recount the merits of the righteous (manaqib), and history. So, every weak hadith that is used in the books of prophetic biography or in the books of history or in books that recount the merits and virtuous of the righteous or those who proceeded them. Weak hadith used is used in the genre of signs of hte end times. They (weak hadith) are accepted , unless the weakness falls to the same level of a fabricated (mawdu) hadith or the weak hadith conflicts with a sound hadith, in which case the sound hadith is accepted over the weak.

Are the principles for dealing with a weak hadith now clear? We want to make sure of this because today, if our youth come to the religion they hear people speaking wrongly about weak hadith to the point they think we need to discard these hadith. No. There is a very likely possibility that the Prophet did actually say what is contain in the weak hadith. To confirm, we accept and use weak hadith in matters pertaining to virtuous deeds, prophetic biographies (sira), biographies of the merits of the righteous (manaqaib), history and the signs of the end times.