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A Glimpse at the Way of the Companions

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A Glimpse at the Way of the Companions
 
Shaykh 'Abdul-Qādir al-Arna'ūt
Translated by Abū Taher
 

Translator's Introduction

All praise is for Allāh, we praise Him, seek His aid and ask for His forgiveness. We seek refuge in Allāh from the evils of ourselves and the evil of our actions. He whom Allāh guides then there is none who can misguide him, and he whom Allāh misguides then there is none who can guide him. I bear witness that none has the right to be worshipped (in truth) except Allāh alone, having no partners and I bear witness that Muhammad sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam, is His slave and Messenger.

To proceed:

This is an abridgement of a small treatise written by the renowned scholar Shaykh 'Abdul-Qādir al-Arna'ūt hafidhahullāh who has specialised in the field of Hadīth. His most famous works include the checking of Zādul M'ād by Ibn al-Qayyim, Jāmi'-ul-Usūl by Ibn al-Athīr and al-Adhkār by Imām an-Nawawī.

This is the first treatise in a series regarding the Methodology of the Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam and his Companions (may Allāh be pleased with them). It is the Methodology that was implemented by the Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam and adhered to by the best of generations (the Companions), giving them success in this world and the ultimate success in the Hereafter. This series is entitled Tasfiyah wat Tarbiyah, [1] which are the two main instruments of this Prophetic Methodology that can be used to help us remain firmly established upon the Dīn of Islām.

This treatise was written by Shaykh 'Abdul-Qādir in response to the numerous questions that were posed to him and the general confusion concerning this important matter. In compiling this treatise the Shaykh relied upon classical works, due to the importance of returning to the understanding of the early scholars of this Ummah.

This treatise has been translated in an attempt to remove the confusion surrounding this crucial subject, concerning the methodology adopted by the Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam, and his Companions radiallāhu 'anhum, in establishing Islām as a way of life.

Every Muslim desiring to return to Islām in its true sense, must grasp what the Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam and his Companions were upon, in all aspects of life. Only then can we move further towards establishing Islām as our way of life.

This treatise highlights the main principles governing the correct understanding of this topic, following the way of the early scholars in clarifying and expounding the Prophetic Methodology.

The treatise has been abridged in order to remove some of the unnecessary technical terms, and also wherever necessary, clarification of some terms and points have been included. A glossary has also been added to assist the reader.

We praise Allāh and ask Him to make this treatise beneficial to the Muslims and to guide us to the Straight Path, the Path of the Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam and his Companions. We ask Allāh to make this purely for His Face for verily He is All-Hearing, All-Knowing.

Abu Taher

A GLIMPSE AT THE WAY OF THE COMPANIONS

Definition of Manhaj

Linguistically and in the Sharī'ah: An-nahju, al-manhaj and al-minhāj mean the clear and manifest way. Allāh the Most High says in the glorious Qur'ān:

To each among you we have prescribed a law and a minhāj [al-Mā'idah (5):48]

Meaning a law and a way which is clearly explained. Indeed Allāh, the Most High, prescribed for every nation a law and a clear way (a manhaj). Thus the people of the Taurāt had a law and the people of the Injīl had a law and the people of the Qur'ān have a law.

These laws differ in their rules (ahkām) but are united in the tawhīd of Allāh (uniqueness of Allāh) as Allāh's Messenger sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam said:

"I am the most worthy person to 'Īsa ibn Maryam in this world and the Hereafter. The Prophets are paternal brothers, their mothers are different, and their Dīn is one. There is no prophet between 'Īsa and myself." [Reported by al-Bukhārī in his Sahīh, the Book of Prophets, chapter 'Remember the Book of Maryam', Muslim in his Sahīh (no.2365), the Book of Merits, chapter 'Merits of 'Īsa peace be upon him'. From the hadīth of Abū Hurayrah radiallāhu 'anhu.]

The meaning of this is that they (the prophets) are united upon the fundamentals of uniqueness (tawhīd) of Allāh; as for the branches of (furū') of law and legislation, then differences occurred in them. Thus their laws are different.

Allāh the Most High says:

And We did not send any Messenger before you (O Muhammad) but We inspired to him that (say) There is none who has the right to be worshipped except I (Allāh), so worship Me (alone and none else). [al-Anbiyā' (21):25]

Also, the Saying of Allāh the Most High:

And verily, We have sent among every nation (Ummah) a Messenger proclaiming: Worship Allāh alone and avoid the Tāghūt (all false deities). [an-Nahl (16):36]

This is in respect of tawhīd (oneness) of Allāh, the One free from all defects. As for the laws, then they differed with respect to the commands and prohibitions.

Linguistic [2] and legal definition of the word Salaf

1) As-Salaf - That which has past and preceded. Hence it is said Salafa shai Salafah to mean something which has passed; Salafa fulanan Salafan to mean someone has preceded; as-sālif - a predecessor; as-salaf - a group of predecessors, and as-salaf - a people who have preceded us in conduct.

Allāh says:

So when they angered Us, We punished them, and drowned them all, and made them a precedent - Salafan (as a lesson for those coming after them) and an example to later generations. [az-Zukhruf (43):55-56]

That is "when they angered Us, We punished them, drowning them all making them a precedent," predecessors for those who do action like theirs, so that the people coming after them can take heed and warn others by their example.

2) As-Salaf: Every good deed that one does. It is said: Qad salaf lahu amal sālih meaning, verily he has good deeds that have preceded him.

3) As-Salaf: Those who precede you, from amongst your forefathers and relatives, who may be older than you or better than you in merit [3]. The singular of this term is Sālif.

Due to this the first generation (the Companions) were called as-Salaf as-Sālih (the Pious Predecessors).

The Messenger of Allāh sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam and his Companions and those that follow them in Ihsān [4] are the Salaf of this Ummah. [5]

Matters concerning their Methodology

(i) Status of the Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam

Everyone who calls to what the Messenger of Allāh sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam, his Companions and their successors called to, then he is upon the way of the Salaf as-Sālih. It is obligatory upon all Muslims to follow the Noble Book (Qur'ān) and the pure Sunnah, by going back to the understanding the Pious Predecessors (Salaf as-Sālih), may Allāh be pleased with them all. For verily they are the ones that deserve the most to be followed, as they were truthful in their faith, strong in their beliefs and sincere in their worship.

The leader (Imām) of the Salaf as-Sālih is Allāh's Messenger, Muhammad sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam, whom Allāh has ordered us, in His Book (the Qur'ān), to follow, in His saying:

And whatsoever the Messenger (Muhammad) gives you take it, and whatsoever he forbids you abstain from it. [al-Hashr (59):7]

The Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam is a beautiful example, and a righteous model to be followed, Allāh the Most High says:

Indeed in the Messenger of Allāh (Muhammad) you have a good example to follow, for him who hopes in meeting Allāh and the Last Day and remembers Allāh much. [al-Ahzāb (33):21]

The Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam is the one who speaks by revelation sent to him from the heavens:

Nor does he speak of his own desire. It is only an inspiration that is inspired. [an-Najm (53):3-4]

Allāh, the Most High, ordered that we judge by the Messenger sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam in all affairs in our life. Allāh, the One free of all defects, says:

But no by your Lord, they can have no faith, until they make you judge in all disputes between them, and find in themselves no resistance against your decision and accept them with full submission. [an-Nisā' (4):65]

Allāh, the Most High, warned us about opposing the Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam saying:

So let those who oppose the Messenger's commandments (i.e. his Sunnah) beware lest some fitnah (disbelief, trials, afflictions, earthquakes, killing, overpowered by a tyrant, etc.) befall them or a painful torment be inflicted on them. [an-Nūr (24):63]

The reference point of the Salaf, whenever they have a disagreement, is the Book of Allāh, the Mighty and Majestic, and the Sunnah of the Messenger sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam.

Allāh, the Most High, says:

And if you differ in anything amongst yourselves refer it to Allāh and His Messenger, if you believe in Allāh and in the Last Day. That is better and more suitable for final determination. [an-Nisā' (4):59]

The Messenger of Allāh sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam is the conveyer (of news) from his Lord and the one who explains His Book. Allāh the Most High says:

And We have sent down to you (Muhammad) the reminder and the advice (the Qur'ān) that you may explain clearly to men what is sent down to them. [an-Nahl (16):44]

The Messenger sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam said in a hadīth:

"Adhere to my Sunnah and the Sunnah of the rightly guided Khulafā', bite on to it with your molar teeth and beware of newly invented matters, for verily every innovation (bid'ah) is a going astray." [6]

(ii) Status of the Companions

The best of the Salaf after the Messenger of Allāh sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam are the Companions, who took their Religion (Dīn) from the Messenger sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam with truthfulness and sincerity; just as Allāh has described them in His Book when He said:

Among the believers are men who have been true to their covenant with Allāh and showed not their backs to the disbelievers, of them some have fulfilled their obligations and some of them are still waiting, but they never changed (i.e. they never proved treacherous to their covenant which they concluded with Allāh) in the least. [al-Ahzāb (33):23]

They are the ones who did righteous deeds, which Allāh, the Most High, has mentioned in His Book, in His saying:

But righteousness is the quality of one who believes in Allāh, the Last Day, the Angels, the Book, the Prophets and gives his wealth, in spite of love for it, to the relative, to the orphans and to the poor who beg and to the wayfarer and to those who ask and to set slaves free, and offers the prayer perfectly (iqamat-as-Salat), and gives the zakat (obligatory charity) and who fulfill their covenant when they make it, and who are patient in extreme poverty and ailment (disease) and at the time of fighting (during battles); such are the people of the truth and they are the pious. [al-Baqarah (2):177]

This verse is the verse which professes the truth with which the Companions have been described with.

Sources of the Dīn

The Book of Allāh, the Most High, is their manual (dustūr) and their law then the Sunnah after [7] the Book of Allāh. The Sunnah is the most blessed of sources and the best of sciences, the most beneficial of all, in the Dīn and Dunyah (world), after the Book of Allāh, the One free of all defects. It is like the meadows and gardens,  you will find in it all goodness and righteousness. After the Sunnah, their manual is that which the Salaf of this Ummah and it's A'immah have agreed upon.

The Salaf as-Sālih are also: The Best Generation, about which the Messenger of Allāh sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam said in a hadīth:

"The best of the people are my generation, then those after them, then those after them ... " and he sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam said: " .. Then there will come a people giving witness when they are not asked to give witness. They will be dishonest and not be trusted. They will take vows but will not fulfill them. Fatness will appear amongst them." [8]

From their beliefs ...

Thus the fundamentals of the Religion (Usūl ud-Dīn) which were adhered to by those that preceded from the leaders (a'immah) of the Dīn, the scholars of the Muslims and the Salaf as-Sālih and what they called people to are:

That they believe in the Book and Sunnah; [9] the general and the detailed aspects of it. They attest to the oneness of Allāh the Mighty and Majestic, and attest to the Messengership of Muhammad sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam.

They know their Lord by the attributes (sifāt) that His revelation has spoken of, or are attested to by the Messenger of Allāh sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam from that which is found in authentic ahadīth, narrated from him by just and reliable narrators.

They affirm for Allāh, the Most High, that which He affirmed for Himself in His Book, or upon the tongue of His Messenger sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam without making Tashbīh [10] (resembling) to His creation, without Tahrīf (changing), without Tabdīl and without Tamthīl. [11]

Allāh, the Most High, says:

There is nothing like unto Him, and He is the all Hearer, all Seer. [ash-Shūra (42):11]

Imām az-Zuhrī [12] said: "Upon Allāh is the bayān (explaining), upon the Messenger is the balāgh (conveying) and upon us is taslīm (willingly accepting)." [This is reported by al-Bukhārī in mu'allaq form (13/503), by Ibn Abī Āsim in Kitāb al-Adāb and in Kitāb az-Zuhd (71) and by Abū Nu'aym in Hilyah (3/179)]

Imām Sufyān ibn 'Uyaynah [13] said: "All that Allāh has described Himself with in His Book, then its tafsīr (explanation) is its reciting and keeping silent about it."

Imām ash-Shāfi'ī [14] said: "I believe in Allāh, and that which has come from Allāh, upon the intended meaning of Allāh. I believe in the Messenger of Allāh sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam and that which has come from the Messenger of Allāh upon the intended meaning of the Messenger of Allāh sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam."

The Salaf and leaders of the khalaf (those later generations after the Salaf) many Allāh be pleased with them, proceeded along this way. They are all agreed upon, affirming, asserting and confirming that which is found in the Book of Allāh, the Most High, and the Sunnah of His Messenger sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam, regarding Allāh's attribtutes without subjecting them to interpretation (ta'wīl).

Verily we have been ordered to follow their way and to be guided by their light. The Messenger of Allāh sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam has warned us of newly invented matters, and informed us that they are from misguidance. He said in a hadīth:

"Adhere to my Sunnah (way) and the the Sunnah of the rightly guided Khulafā'. Bite on to it with your molar teeth, and beware of newly invented matters, for verily every bid'ah (innovation) is a going astray." Its reference (takhrīj) has preceded. (see footnote no. 6).

'Abdullāh bin Mas'ūd [15] radiallāhu 'anhumā said: "Follow and do not innovate for verily you have been sufficed."

'Umar bin 'Abdul-'Azīz [16] said: "Do not go beyond where they stopped. For verily they stopped upon knowledge and with a perceiving view sufficed."

Imām al-Awzā'ī [17] said: "Stick to the footsteps of the Salaf, even if people abandon you. Beware of the views of men, even if they beautify it for you with words."

From the 'aqīdah [18] (beliefs) of the Salaf as-Sālih is their saying: Īmān is a saying of the tongue, an action by the limbs and a strong belief in the heart. Īmān increases with obedience to Allāh and decreases with disobedience to Allāh.

From the beliefs of the Salaf is that good and evil is by the Qadā (decree) of Allāh the Most High and His Qadr (pre-estimation). However evil is not ordered by Allāh, as some of them say: "All of it is ordered by Allāh," since Allāh has ordered good and prohibited evil. He did not order us with abominable acts, indeed He prohibited us from them. The human is not forced, he chooses his acts and beliefs. He deserves punishment or reward, depending upon his choice and he is the chooser in (doing or leaving) the ordered and prohibited things.

Allāh, the Most High, says:

Then whosoever wills let him believe, and whosoever wills let him disbelieve. [al-Kahf (18):29]

From the beliefs of the Salaf is that they do not make takfīr [19] of anyone of the Muslim due to a sin, even if it is from the major sins. Except if he denies (rejects) a thing that is known in the religion by necessity and is known by the scholars as well as the generality of people, and is based firmly upon the Book and the Sunnah and Consensus (Ijmā') of the Salaf of this Ummah and its leader.

From the beliefs of the Salaf as-Sālih is that they worship Allāh, the Most High, and do not associate anything with Him. Thus they do not ask any one except Allāh, the Most High, of a need no one else can satisfy. They do not seek help (in which no one can help) from anyone except Allāh, the One free of all defects. They do not call upon anyone for aid (for an immediate need that no one can fulfil) except upon Allāh. They do not make tawassul (seeking nearness) to Allāh except by obeying Him, worshipping Him and doing good / righteous deeds.

This being taken from His saying:

O you who believe! Do your duty to Allāh and fear Him, seek the means of approach to Him. [al-Mā'idah (5):35]

That is, draw close to Allāh by obedience to Him and by worship of Him.

From the beliefs of the Salaf as-Sālih is that Prayer (Salāt) behind all righteous people and sinners is permissible if the external nature of the prayer is correct. [20]

We do not certify with certainty for anyone, whoever he may be, of being in Paradise or in Hell; except whoever the Messenger of Allāh sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam testified for. However we hope Paradise for the righteous and fear Hell for the sinful.

We testify for the ten people given the glad tidings of Jannah (Paradise), that they will be in Jannah (Paradise); just as the Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam testified this for them. We testify, as being in Jannah, for everyone that the Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam testifies this for them. This is because the Prophet does not speak of his own desire. Indeed it is nothing but revelation revealed to him.

We take the Companions of Allāh's Messenger sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam as awliyā (friends). We refrain from showing their defects [21] and that which happened between them. Their affair is with their Lord. We do not abuse anyone of the Companions. This is taken from the Prophet's sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam saying:

"Let none of you abuse (slander) my Companions. For by Him in whose Hand is my life, if one of you spent (in the way of Allāh) the equivalent of mount Uhud in gold it would not reach a handful nor half a handful of what they spent" [22]

The Companions are not infallible from error. Infallibility is for Allāh, the Most High, and for His Messenger sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam in conveying the message. Allāh, the Most High, has protected the collective Ummah from mistakes (and not
individuals) as the Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam said:

"Indeed Allāh will never unite this Ummah upon misguidance and the Hand of Allāh is upon the Jamā'ah." [23]

We are pleased with the wives of the Messenger of Allāh sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam, they are the mothers of the believers and we believe that they are pure and innocent from all evil.

From the beliefs of the Pious Predecessors is that they do not make it obligatory upon any Muslim to restrict himself to a specific madhhab. [24] He can move from one madhhab to another, due to the strength of the evidence (in a particular point). The layman has no madhhab. Rather his madhhab is the madhhab of his mufti (scholar who gives religious verdicts). [25] If a student of knowledge (tālibul-'ilm) has the ability to recognise the proofs and evidences of the Imāms, he should act by it, moving from a madhhab of an Imām, in any issue, to the madhhab of another Imām, due to the strength of the evidence, and the more correct understanding, in an issue. Thus he becomes a muttabi' (a follower) and not a mujtahid. [A mujtahid is one who is qualified to extract rulings from the Qur'ān and Sunnah, i.e. do Ijtihād. (Translator)] For indeed Ijtihād is the extracting of Islamic rulings from the Book and Sunnah, as the four Imāms and others Imāms of the fiqh (jurisprudence) and the muhaddithūn (scholars of hadīth) have done.

From the beliefs of the Salaf as-Sālih is that the four Companions: Abū Bakr, 'Umar, 'Uthmān and 'Alī radiallāhu 'anhum are the rightly guided Khulafā' and with them existed the Khilāfatun-Nabuwwah (Khilāfah upon the Prophetic Way) lasting for thirty years including the Khilāfah (ruling period) of Hasan radiallāhu 'anhu. This is taken from the saying of the Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam:

"The Khilāfah in my Ummah is for thirty years then after it is kingship." [26]

From the beliefs of the Salaf as-Sālih is that it is obligatory to have īmān (faith) in all that the Qur'ān has come with, and what Allāh, the Most High, has ordered us with, and leaving all that Allāh, the Most High, has prohibited us from, the general and the detailed. We believe in all that the Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam has informed us of, when its transmission from him is authentic, in that which we witness or do not witness, regardless of whether we comprehend it, or are ignorant of it or we have not come across the reality of its meaning.

We carry out the orders of Allāh, the Most High, and the orders of his Messenger sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam. We refrain from what Allāh, the Most High, has prohibited us from and what the Messenger of Allāh sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam prohibited us from. We stop at the hudūd (boundaries) of the Book of Allāh, and the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allāh sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam and that which has come from the rightly guided Khulafā. Our duty is to ittibā' (following) of that which the Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam has come with: from beliefs, actions and sayings, to follow the way of Allāh's Messenger sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam, and the four rightly guided Khulafā', in their beliefs, actions and sayings. This is the complete Sunnah, as the Sunnah of the rightly guided Khulafā' is adhered to like the following of the Prophetic Sunnah.

'Umar ibn 'Abdul-'Azīz said:

"The Messenger of Allāh sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam and the leaders of the Muslims after him set examples (Sunnah), the taking of which is holding on to the Book of Allāh, the Most High, and strength upon the Dīn of Allāh. It is not for any one to change or alter it, nor to look at a matter in opposition to it. Whoever is guided by it then he is truly guide, and whoever seeks help by it then he is truly helped. Whoever leaves it and follows a way other than the way of the believers, Allāh will turn him to what he has chosen and burn him in hell what an evil abode!"

This is confirmed by the saying of Allāh's Messenger sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam:

" ... and beware of newly invented matters, for verily every bid'ah is a going astray."

This hadīth is a great principle from the principles of the Dīn and it resembles another saying of the Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam:

"Whoever invents into this Dīn of ours that which is not from it, then it is rejected." [27]

In it is a warning from following newly invented matters in the Dīn and worship. The meaning of bid'ah is that which has been invented and has no root in the Sharī'ah pointing to it. As for what has a root in the Sharī'ah pointing to it then it is not legally (technically) a bid'ah; even though linguistically the term bid'ah is may be applied to it. Thus whenever something new is introduced into the Dīn, having no root (in the Dīn) to return it to, then it is misguidance - deviation. The Dīn is free of it, regardless of whether it is connected to issues of belief, actions or sayings.

As for the istihsān (approval and condoning) of bid'ah, which occurred in the words of the Salaf, then that is in relation to bid'ah al-logawī (linguistic use of bid'ah) and not in the legal (technical) use of the term bid'ah. From these sayings is the saying of 'Umar bin al-Khattab, when he gathered the people in Qiyām-ur-Ramadān - Tarāwīh prayers - behind one Imām in the masjid. He went out and say them praying and said: "What a wonderful bid'ah."

This has a root in the Sharī'ah. Verily the Messenger of Allāh sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam prayed it (this prayer) in congregation in the masjid and then left it, fearing that it might become obligatory upon his Ummah and that they would be unable to perform it. Indeed they became free of this fear after the death of the Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam. So 'Umar radiallāhu 'anhu revived it. As for that which is a matter confirmed, in worship, then it is not permissible to make additions to it.

So, for example the adhān, remains the form in which it was legislated, without addition or subtraction. The Prayer remains upon the manner it was legislated as the Messenger of Allāh sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam said:

"Pray as you have seen me praying."

This is an authentic hadīth, reported by al-Bukhārī in his Sahīh.

Hajj remains upon the manner in which it was legislated, because the Messenger of Allāh sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam said:

"Take from me your rites (of Hajj)." [Reported by Muslim (no.1297) in the Book of Hajj]

Indeed the Muslims have done things that were not present in the time of the Messenger of Allāh sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam, due to them being darūrah (necessities) in preserving Islām. Indeed they have permitted it and kept quiet about it. Like the gathering of the people to one mushaf (that which the Qur'ān is written upon), by 'Uthmān ibn 'Affan radiallāhu 'anhu, fearing the splitting of the Ummah. Indeed it was approved of by the Companions radiallāhu 'anhum and that was for a maslaha (benefit).

The example of writing down Prophetic traditions (hadīth) fearing its loss due to the death of its people. The writing of Tafsīr of the Qur'ān and the Hadīth. The compilation of 'Ilm-an-Nahw (science of grammar) to safeguard the Arabic language, which is a means of understanding Islām. The formation of 'Ilm-al-Mustalah (science of hadīth). Thus, there are permissible to safeguard the Islāmic Sharī'ah. Verily Allāh, the Most High, has taken the responsibility of safeguarding His Law - from His saying:

Indeed it is We who have sent down the Dhikr (Qur'ān) and surely We will guard it (from corruption). [al-Hijr (15):9]

The Messenger of Allāh sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam said:

"This ilm (Dīn) will be carried by the trustworthy ones of each generation. Negating from it the tahrīf (alterations) of the ones going beyond bounds, the false assumptions of the liars, and the ta'wīl (false interpretations) of the ignorant." 

This hadīth is hasan due to all its chains and shawāhids (supporting narrations).

This is the belief ('aqīdah) - of the first group of this Ummah (i.e. the Companions) radiallāhu 'anhum and it is a pure belief like the purity of fresh drinking water, strong as the firmly fixed mountains, firm as the firmed of hand holds. It is a flawless 'Aqīdah, a straight way, upon the methodology of the Book ad the Sunnah and the sayings of the Salaf of this Ummah and its A'immah (leaders). It is the way which revived the hearts of the pioneers of this Ummah.

The Belief of the Pious Scholars of Islām

It is 'Aqīdah of the Salaf as-Sālih, Firqatun-Nājiyah (saved sect) Ahl-Sunnah wal-Jamā'ah. It is the 'Aqīdah of the four Imāms [28] - the founders of the well known and followed madhhabs and of most of their followers. It is the 'Aqīdah of the generality of the fuqahā, the muhaddithīn, the scholars that act on what they know, and those that traverse along their way, to this day and until the Day of the Judgement.

Indeed the ones that differed are the ones that altered their (the imāms') sayings, from amongst those of the later generations (muta'akhirīn) who ascribe to their madhhabs.

So our duty is to return, with a pure 'Aqīdah, to the fountain which the best of our Pious Predecessors drank from. To keep quiet about that which they kept quiet about, to perform our 'Ibādah (worship) the way they performed their worship, to adhere to the Book and Sunnah, the ijmā of the Salaf of this Ummah and its A'immah, and the correct qiyās in new matters. Imām an-Nawawī rahimahullāh, said in al-Adhkār. [In p137 of my (Shaykh Abdul Qādir's) checking of al-Adhkār in the book of Janāza, chapter 'What one who is walking with the Janāza says.']

" ... and know that the selected, correct way is that which the Salaf as-Sālih were upon, and that is the truth. Do not be fooled by the large number that oppose it. For indeed Abū 'Alī Fudayl bin 'Iyād said (the meaning of which it): "Stick to the ways of guidance and you will not be harmed by the smallness of numbers that follow it. Beware of the ways of misguidance and do not be fooled by the multitude of the ones that will be destroyed."

This is the only way that will reform the rest of the Ummah. Imām Mālik bin Anas rahimahullāh, the scholar of Madīnah spoke the truth when he said:

"The latter part of the Ummah will never be reformed except by that which reformed the former part."

Never will good disappear from this Ummah, because the Messenger of Allāh sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam said in a hadīth:

"There will not cease to be a group from my Ummah manifestly upon the Haqq (Truth). The ones that abandon them will not harm them, until the Order of Allāh comes and they are like that (upon the Truth)." [29]

The Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam further said:

"The example of my Ummah is like of rain. It is not known whether the initial part (of the rain) is good or the latter part." [30] This is an authentic hadīth.

Indeed the 'Aqīdah of the Salaf as-Sālih has been stipulated by a great many of the scholars. [31] From them, Abū Ja'far at-Tahāwī, [32] and his 'Aqīdah has been explained by Ibn Abil-'Izz al-Hanafī [33] one of the students of Ibn Kathīr al-Dimishqī naming Sharh al-'Aqīdah at-Tahāwiyyah and, from them is Abul-Hasan al-Ash'arī, [34] in his book al-Ibānah 'an Usūl ad-Diyānah. This being the 'Aqīdah which he finally settled upon. He said: " ... our saying, which we state, the Dīn which we profess belief in, is adherence to the Book of Allāh, the Sunnah of our Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam and that which is related from the Companions radiallāhu 'anhum, the Tābi'ūn and Imāms of hadīth, we cling on to this, and we say that which Abū 'Abdullāh Ahmad bin Hanbal used to say and distance ourselves from ones that opposed his sayings."

From those that wrote about the 'Aqīdah of the Salaf as-Sālih is as-Sābūnī [35] in his book Aqīdat-us-Salaf and Muwaffiq-ud-Dīn ibn Qudāmah al-Maqdasī al-Hanbalī [36] in his book Luma'tul 'Itiqād al-Hādi ilā Sabīl ar-Rashād, and other glorious scholars, may Allāh reward them with good.

We ask Allāh to guide us to the pure 'Aqīdah (beliefs) and to a pure and clean heart, we ask for virtuous and pleasing manners, and to give us life as Muslims and to take our life while being upon the Sharī'ah of our Prophet, Muhammad sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam.

O Allāh let us die as Muslims as make us meet the Sālihīn (righteous) without being disgraced or tried. Forgive us, our parents, and the believers on the Day of Judgement. We ask Allāh for inspiration to the correctness of sayings and actions. Indeed He is all powerful over all things and the most worthy of answering calls, and our final du'ā is, all praise belongs to Allāh, Lord of all the worlds.


Footnotes

* The text has been kept as that published by al-Hidaayah. However, aa has been changed to ā, ee to ī and oo to ū in keeping with the style of this website. Some smaller footnotes have also been incorporated into the main text.

1. Tasfiyah wat Tarbiyah: Restoration of the Dīn to its original pure form as it was revealed to the Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam by removal and rejection of false beliefs, innovated practices and the fabricated and unauthentic ahadīth introduced into it (tasfiyah). Educating and cultivating the Muslims upon this pure Dīn so that their beliefs, worship and manners become those that were taught by the Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam and held and practised by the Companions (tarbiyah). (Publisher's note)

2. The linguistic definitions of the word Salaf are many; here the author has mentioned a few of them. (Translator)

3. This definition can be found in Lisān ul-Arab, by Ibn Mandhūr al-Afrīqī. (Translator)

4. Ihsān, in this usage has been explained to mean following in terms of beliefs, sayings and actions. Refer to Taysīr al-Karīm ar-Rahmān fī Tafsīr Kalāmul-Mannān, the book of Tafsīr by Shaykh 'Abdur-Rahmān bin Nāsir as-Sa'dī. (Translator)

5. The technical (Islamic) meaning of the word Salaf, as understood by the majority of the scholars of Ahl-Sunnah wal-Jamā'ah, has been defined as being the Companions, the Successors (tābi'ūn) and the Successors to the Successors (atbā at-tābi'ūn) that is the first three generations. This has been taken from the saying of the Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam : "The best of people are my generation then those who come after them, then those who come after them, then there will come a people in whom there will be no good." Reported by at-Tabarānī from Ibn Mas'ūd and declared authentic by al-Albānī in Sahīh al-Jāmi', and there are many other similar ahadīth to the above, all of which have lead to the definition of the word Salaf being restricted to the first three generations.

6. Reported by Ahmad bin Hanbal in Musnad (4/126, 127) Abū Dāwūd in his Sunan (4607) in the Book of Sunnah, chapter 'Adhering to the Sunnah', at-Tirmidhī in his Sunan (no.2678) in the Book of Knowledge, Chapter '16', Ibn Majah, in his Sunan (no.42) in the Muqaddimah (introduction) and others. From the hadīth of 'Irbād bin Sāriyah radiallāhu 'anhu, and it is an authentic hadīth. Refer to the detailed explanation of the hadīth in Jāmi' al-Ulūm wal-Hikām by Hāfidh ibn Rajab al-Hanbalī rahimahullāh, for verily he has done extremely well in explaining it and benefited others in doing so.

7. The majority of the scholars of Ahl-Sunnah say the Qur'ān and the Sunnah go hand in hand, not one before the other. One does not refer to the Sunnah only when nothing is found in the Qur'ān. Rather whenever one needs to look for a verdict one goes back to the Qur'ān and Sunnah, together. Shaykh al-Albānī, in Silsilat-ul-Ahādīth ad-Da'īfah (vol 2 no.881), says: " ... rather it is obligatory to refer to the Book and Sunnah, together, without differentiating between them, since the Sunnah explains the general (mujmal) verses of the Qur'ān, restricts its unrestricted verses, specificies its general verses, as is known ... "

There are many sayings from the Salaf showing that this view was held by them. Imām al-Awzā'ī and Imām Yahya bin Kathīr and others have said: "The Qur'ān is in more need of the Sunnah than the Sunnah is of the Book. The Sunnah is Qādiatun (conclusive) over the Book and the Book is not conclusive over the Sunnah." Reported by ad-Dārimī (1/117). Similar narrations from the Salaf concerning this topic can be found in the books of the Salaf like al-Ibānah of Ibn Battah. (Translator)

8. Reported by al-Bukhārī (5/190) in the book of Witness, chapter 'Do not be a witness to injustice is asked that,' and in the book of Merits of the Companions of the Prophet, chapter 'Merits of the Companions of the Prophet', and in the book of Softening the Hearts, chapter 'Warning regarding worldly pleasures, amusements and competing with each other for the enjoyment thereof' Muslim (no.2535) in the book of Merits of the Companions, chapter 'Merits of the Companions then those after them then those after them' at-Tirmidhī (no.2222) in the book of Trials, chapter 'That which has come regarding the first three generations' and (no.2303) in the book of Witness, chapter 'Best generations.' Abū Dāwūd (no.4657) in the book of Sunnah, chapter 'Merits of the Companions of the Messenger.' An-Nasā'ī (7/17,18) in the book of Covenants and Vows, chapter 'Fulfilling Vows' all from the hadīth of 'Imrān bin Hussain. Also reported by al-Bukhārī (5/191) in the book of Witness, chapter 'Do not be a witness to injustice if asked to do that', the book of Merits of the Companions of the Prophet, chapter 'Merits of the Companions of the Prophet,' and in the book of softening the heart, chapter 'Covenants and Vows'. Muslim (no.2533) in the book of Merits of the Companions of the Prophet. At-Tirmidhī (no.3858) in the book of virtues. All from the hadīth of 'Abdullāh ibn Mas'ūd radiallāhu 'anhu.

9. This includes all authentic hadīth, whether it be a narration with numerous chains (mutawātir) or a hadīth with just one, two or three chains (ahād). The beliefs are based upon both, refer to the book by Abul Qāsim al-Asbahānī al-Hujjah fī Bayān al-Mahajjah wa Sharh 'Aqīdatul Ahl-Sunnah, ar-Risalāh by Imām ash-Shāfi'ī and Mukhtasar Sawā'iqul Mursalah by Ibn al-Qayyim. (Translator)

10. Tashbīh: Tamthīl (resembling, comparing) the Sifāt (attributes) of Allāh to the sifāt (attributes) of creation; "so it is not said that the Essence of Allāh is like our essence neither does it resemble our essence and likewise the Sifāt of Allāh - we do not say that His attributes are like our attributes, not resemble our attributes. Rather it is wājib (obligatory) for a believer to stick to the saying of Allāh: "There is nothing like unto Him ... " (ash-Shūra 42:11).

Tahrīf: Changing the 'terms' of the names and attributes of Allāh or changing their 'meanings'; like the saying of the Jahmiyyah (a deviant sect) that istawā (being high above the throne) means istawlā (seizing power over something). Thus Ahlus-Sunnah do not do this.

Tabdīl: see tahrīf.

Tamthīl: see tashbīh.

Refer to Tambihāt al-Lātifah 'alā 'Aqīdatul-Wāsitiyyah by Shaykh Sa'dī rahimahullāh. (Translator)

11. Shaykh-ul-Islām ibn Taymiyyah says in 'Aqīdatul-Wasitiyyah when talking about īmān (belief) in Allāh's Sifāt (attributes): "Īmān (belief) in all what Allāh has described Himself by, in His Book and in what His Messenger Muhammad sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam has described Him by - without doing tahrīf, ta'tīl, takyīf or tamthīl."

This statement shows two other principles held by Ahl-Sunnah wal-Jamā'ah regarding īmān in Allāh and His Sifāt (attributes); that is they do not do ta'tīl, which is to deny or reject the Sifāt of Allāh; and takyīf - which is to ask how and question their manner.

Refer to 'Aqīdatul-Wāsitiyyah by Ibn Taymiyyah, and Qatful-Thamr fī-Bayān 'Aqīdatul Ahlul-Athar by Siddīq Hasan Khan, Mukhtasar Sawā'iqul-Mursalah by Ibn al-Qayyim and Fatāwa al-Hamawiyyah al-Kubrah by Ibn Taymiyyah. (Translator)

12. Muhammad bin Muslim ibn 'Ubaidallah bin 'Abdullāh bin Shihāb bin Zahrah, Abū Bakr. A faqīh (jurist) and hāfidh. His high status of proficiency is agreed upon. He is a successor, from Madīnah and one of the great Imām, a scholar of Hijāz and Shām. He died in 125H.

13. Sufyān bin 'Uyaynah, Hāfidh Abū Muhammad al-Hilālī al-Kūfī. He was an imām, a hāfidh, a proof (hujja), having immense knowledge, and of great ability. A muhaddith (scholar of hadīth) of the Haram of Makkah. Imām ash-Shāfi'ī said about him: "Were it not for Mālik and Sufyān the knowledge would have disappeared from the Hijāz." He died whilst in Makkah in the year 198 hijrī.

14. Muhammad bin Idrīs bin al-'Abbās bin Uthmān bin Shoafa ash-Shāfi'ī al-Muttalibi; Abū 'Abdullāh. He was a mujaddid (reviver) of the Dīn at the beginning of 200 Hijrī, a well known imām. He died in Egypt in the year 204 Hijrī.

15. 'Abdullāh bin Mas'odd ibn Ghāfil ibn Habīb al-Huthalī, Abū 'Abdur-Rahmān. From the first generation of Muslims and from the major Companions in merit and intellect. He migrated to Habasha (Ethiopia) and then to Madīnah. He witnessed the battle of Badr, Uhud, Khandaq, the pledge of Ridwān and the remaining incidents with the Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam; he was from the fuqahā (jurists) of the Companions - may Allāh be pleased with them - he died in Madīnah in 32 hijrī.

16. Abū Hafs, 'Umar bin 'Abdul-'Azīz bin Marwān bin Hakam al-Amawī al-Qurashī. A righteous Khalīfah. Born and raised in Madīnatul-Munawwarah. He took the position of Khalīfah in the year 99 Hijrī and died in the land of Shām, in the year 101 Hijrī.

17. 'Abdur-Rahmān bin 'Amr bin Yuhmid al-Awzā'ī. A famous Imām of Syria. He used to live in Damascus, outside Bab al-Frādīs and then moved to Beirut and lived there, posted in the way of Allāh, until he died in the year 157 Hijrī.

18. The word 'aqīdah signifies the thing that one believes in (has īmān in), hence the two words ('aqīdah and īmān) are sometimes synonymous. The word 'aqīdah being taken from the Arabic root of 'aqada - to tie - to fasten. Thus 'aqīdah is those things that the heart is tied to or fastened to, worshipping Allāh by it and, getting closer to Allāh. Refer to classical Arabic dictionaries like Lisān ul-Arab by Ibn Mandhūr al-Afrīqī. (Translator)

19. Takfīr is the action of declaring a Muslim to have left Islām. This is left for the people of knowledge ('ulamā) to do and it must be done following strict guidelines. Refer to the book al-'Uzar bil-Jahal wa rad'alā bid'atut Takfīr (The Excuse of Ignorance and the Refutation of the Innovation of Takfīr) by Ahmad Farīd. (Translator)

20. What is implied by the statement if the external nature of the prayer is correct is that all the pillars and obligatory actions of the prayer are enacted by the one leading the prayer. For example that he faces the Qiblah etc. (Translator)

21. The proof for this is abundant, found in the books of 'aqīdah and hadīth, like the saying of the Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam, "When my companions are mentioned then refrain." Reported in Hilyatul-Awliyā (41108), at-Tabarānī in al-Kabīr (2/78/2) from the hadīth of Ibn Mas'ūd radiallāhu 'anhu. Also in Kitāb Sharh-us-Sunnah by Imām al-Barbahārī, point 104, " ... and if you see a man criticising the Companions of the Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam then know that he is a person of wicked speech and desires, since Allāh's Messenger sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam said: "When my Companions ore mentioned then refrain." Since the Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam knew any slips they would make after his death yet still he did not speak about them except good and said: "Leave my Companions for me. For by Him in whose Hand is my soul, if you were to spend the like of Uhud or of the mountoins in gold, you would not reach their actions." Do not discuss about their slips or their wars, nor of that which the knowledge of which escapes you, and do not hear from anyone who speaks it, since your heart will not remain safe and sound if you hear it." Thus Ahl-Sunnah wal-Jamā'ah do not talk about such things, knowing that Allāh has forgiven them (the Companions) their errors. (Translator)

22. Reported by al-Bukhārī (7/27,28) in the book of Merits of the Prophet's Companions, chapter 'If I was to take a Khalīl', Muslim (2541) in the book of Virtues of the Companions, chapter 'Prohibition of abusing the Companions'. Abū Dāwūd (4658) in the book of Sunnah chapter 'Prohibition of abusing the Companions', at-Tirmidhī (3860) in the book of Virtues. All from the hadīth of Abū Sa'īd al-Khudrī radiallāhu 'anhu. Also reported by Muslim (2540) in the book of Virtues of the Companions in the chapter 'Prohibition of abusing the Companions' from the hadīth of Abū Hurairah radiallāhu 'anhu.

23. Reported by at-Tirmidhī from the hadīth of Ibn 'Umar (No. 2168) in the book of Fitan, chapter 'That which has come in adhering to the Jamā'ah'. Its chain has a weakness, however it has a shāhid (supporting narration) with at-Tirmidhī from the hadīth of Ibn 'Abbās (no. 2167) and another supporting narration with Ibn Abī 'Āsim in as-Sunnah (no. 81) from the hadīth of Usāmah bin Shārik. Thus the hadīth is an authentic hadīth.

24. Madhhab is a school of thought or a position held by a scholar.

25. Refer to the book Risālatul-Taqlīd by Ibn al-Qayyim for it is very important. The layman follows the scholars, as Allāh has ordered him to do in the verse:

Ask the people of knowledge if you do not know. [an-Nahl (16):43]

The layman by following the scholars is indeed following the Qur'ān and Sunnah and not doing taqlīd (blind following) rather this is called ittibā' for him. However he does not follow the scholars in their mistakes, when it is made clear to him that it is a mistake. This is what is required of the layman, as Ibn al-Qayyim points out in his book. The one who has the ability to weigh up evidences, ie. a student of knowledge, he can look into the proofs and follow the strongest proof, but the one who does not have the ability, ie. a layman, then he follows the scholars, as Allāh has ordered him to do. (Translator)

Refer also to Blind Following of Madhhabs, by Shaykh Muhammad Sultān al-Ma'sūmī (Al-Hidāyah, 1993). [Publisher's note]

26. Reported by Ahmad in Musnad (5/220, 221), at-Tirmidhī (no.2227) in the book of Fitan, chapter 'That which has come regarding the Khilāfah', Abū Dāwūd (no. 4646 and 4647) in the book of as-Sunnah, chapter 'Khulafā'. Ibn Hibbān (no. 1534 1535 - in Mawarid) in the book of 'Imārah, chapter of 'Khilāfah', al-Hākim in al-Mustadrak (3/71, 145) from the hadīth of Safīnah. It is an authentic hadīth and the thirty year period was the period of the rightly guided Khulafā up to when Hasan abdicated from his Khilāfah.

27. Reported by al-Bukhārī in ta'līq form (without mentioning the chain) (4/298) and in the full form (5/221), Muslim (no.1718), Abū Dāwūd in the book of Sunnah (no.4606), Ibn Majah (no.14).

28. Nu'mān bin Thābit (Abū Hanīfah) - One of the Imāms of the Islām and leading personalities. Born 80 Hijrī during the era of the young Companions, he saw Anas bin Mālik radiallāhu 'anhu (at a young age). His main students are Abū Yūsuf and Muhammad al-Hasan ash-Shaybānī. The Hanafī madhhab is ascribed to him but more that a third of the madhhab is from other later scholars. He died 150 hijrī.

Mālik bin Anas, Imām of Dār-ul-Hijrah (Madīnah). Born 93 Hijrī, the year Anas bin Mālik died. An Imām of the Muslims and a leading scholar of Islām. The Mālikī madhhab is ascribed to him.

Muhammad bin Idrīs ash-Shāfi'ī - see footnote (14).

Ahmad bin Hanbal, known as the Imām of Ahl-Sunnah wal-Jamā'ah. Born in Baghdad 164 hijrī. He was from the few who at his time preserved the way of the Companions, fighting away the innovations of the deviant sects and upholding the way of the Salaf. From amongst his students were Abū Dāwūd, 'Alī bin al-Madanī, Abū Zu'arah and Abū Hātim and many more famous scholars of Ahl-Sunnah wal-Jamā'ah. He died 241 hijrī.

May Allāh have mercy upon them, they are known as the four well followed Imāms. (Translator)

29. Reported by Muslim in his Sahīh (no.1920) in the book of 'Imārah, chapter 'The saying of the Prophet: There will not cease to be a group ... ' Abū Dāwūd (no.4252) in the book of Fitan, chapter 'Mention of the fitnah and its signs', at-Tirmidhī (no.2177) and (2230) in the book of Fitan. All from the hadīth of Thawbān radiallāhu 'anhu. The hadīth has various narrations from the hadīth of Mughīrah bin Shu'bah, Sa'd bin Abī Waqqās, Mu'āwiyyah bin Abī Sufyān, 'Imrān bin Hussain and others radiallāhu 'anhum.

30. Reported by Ahmad in Musnad (3/130), at-Tirmidhī (no.2873). Also reported in Ahmad (4/319).

31. Here it is fitting to mention some of the early books, in which the early scholars have stipulated this pure 'aqīdah:

  1. Kitābul-Īmān by Abī 'Ubaydah Qāsim bin Sallām (d.224).

  2. Rad 'alā Zanādiqa wal-Jahmiyyah by Imām Ahmad.

  3. Rad 'alā Jahmiyyah by Imām al-Bukhārī.

  4. Khalq Af'āl al-'Ibād by Imām al-Bukhārī.

  5. Al-Īmān by Ibn Mandah (d.390).

  6. As-Sunnah and Usūl as-Sunnah by Imām Ahmad.

  7. As-Sunnah by Abū Bakr bin Athrām (d.272).

  8. Kitāb us-Sunnah by 'Abdullāh Ibn Ahmad (d.290).

  9. As-Sunnah by Nasr al-Marwazī (d.294).

  10. As-Sunnah by al-Khallāl (a student of Imām Ahmad) (d.311).

  11. Kitāb Sharh us-Sunnah by Imām al-Barbahārī (d.329).

  12. Kitāb ut-Tawhīd by Imām of the A'immah Ibn Khuzaimah (d.311).

  13. Al-Ibānah al-Kubra and al-Ibānah as-Sughra by Ibn Battah (d.387).

  14. Sharh Usūl al-'Ittiqād Ahl-Sunnah wal-Jamā'ah by Imām al-Lālakā'ī (d.418), which is in 9 parts, but printed in 5 volumes, containing the beliefs of the Salaf and many small treatises traced back by isnād to the Salaf, it is a masterpiece and an essential reference book for all students of knowledge. [Translator]

32. Ahmad bin Muhammad bin Salāmah al-Azdī at-Tahāwī. Died in the year 320 hijrī in Egypt and is buried in Qarafa.

33. Abul-Hasan Sadruddīn 'Alī bin 'Alā-uddīn Ibn Abil-'Izz al-Hanafī. He died in the year 792 hijrī.

34. 'Alī bin Ismā'īl bin Ishāq from the descendants of Abū Mūsa al-Ash'arī radiallāhu 'anhu. Died in the year 323 hijrī.

35. Abū 'Uthmān bin 'Abdur-Rahmān as-Sābūnī, Imām, Muhaddith, Shaykh-ul-Islām. He died in the year 449 hijrī.

36. Muwaffiq-ud-Dīn Abū Muhammad 'Abdullāh bin Ahmad ibn Qudāmah al-Maqdasī al-Hanbalī. Shaykh-ul-Islām, a major faqīh, he died in the year 720 hijrī.