On Taqlid in beliefs

Posted on January 6, 2007. Filed under: 202 - Advanced Asma wa Sifaat |

28. As for this statement of his, “The stupid person is he who is deceived by his Salaf and relies upon the doctrines of his professors, trustful in following their authority without examining their doctrines,” it consists of venomous, vicious words with which he allusively censures following the path of the pious Salaf, finding fault with what our lmams have praised and enjoined us to do; namely, to adhere to their path and be guided by their mode of life. On the other hand, he summons to the doctrines of the partisans of speculative theology, and to the study of sciences founded on reason; namely, the science of speculative theology, the censure of which we have already mentioned on the authority of the Imams, and its leading of its partisan to the states of zandaqa, heretical innovation and the total lack of prosperity. The evidence of what the Imams have said is manifest in Ibn ’Aqil’s case. For since he devoted himself to it and preferred it to the science of tradition, he became a zindiq urging others to cease following the Salaf whose orthodoxy and right guidance are matters of general agreement, whom God has revealed His being satisfied with them and His having chosen them. He has also praised and commended them. Now sufficing you are those who have been praised and commended by God, and the accounts of those whom the Prophet has recommended, urging men to follow them and be guided by their example.

29. Moreover, our Imams and learned men have not ceased urging us to cling to their mode of life and adopt their course. Then along comes this poor wretch cautioning us against them and desiring us to form an evil opinion of them, abandon their path, and end by following the partisans of speculative theology and being guided by their example. This, now, is one of the most decisive indications of his error and of the evilness of his doctrines. For, were it not for his opposition to our Imams and his pursuing a path other than theirs, he would not have sought to inspire us with aversion against them.

30. Yet, at the end of this discourse, he did say: “God, fear God! Adhere to the path of the pious Salaf.” Thus, through a desire for covering up, he contradicted what he had just been saying, after having dishonoured his soul and removed its disguise by censuring their doctrines, by inspiring aversion against following them as guides and by urging others to oppose them. But we are not of those who accept what he says in dispraise of them who have been praised by God and His Apostle and Imams; nor will his statement cause us to abandon the path of those whose path we have been enjoined to pursue.

31. God has said: “Those who have precedence, the first of the Emigrants and the Helpers, and those who have followed them in well-doing, God is satisfied with them and they are satisfied with Him.”[9:100]— “Muhammad is the Apostle of God. Those who are with him…” [48:29]—to the end of the verse.

32. And the Prophet has said: “The best of men are those of my generation, then those who succeed them.”[25] He also said: “Do not revile my Companions; for, were one of you to give alms the size of Mount Uhud in gold, he would not be rewarded as one of them for giving a handful or half thereof.”[26]—”Verily, God has chosen me, and has chosen my Companions, and has made of them in-laws and helpers for me.”[27]—” Keep to my Sunna and the Sunna of the rightly guided Caliphs after me; hold fast thereto.”[28]—” Follow the example of those after me: Abu Bakr and ’Umar.”[29]— “My Companions are like the stars; you will find guidance in following the example of whichever of them you choose.”[30] The Prophet also said, when he spoke of the sects: “They shall all perish in Hell except one.” “Which one is it?” he was asked. He replied: that to which I and my Companions conform.”[31]

33. And it is related that Ibn Mas’ud said: “Verily, God looked into the hearts of mankind and found the heart of Muhammad to be the best; so He sent him with His message. Then again He looked into the hearts of mankind, and found the hearts of Muhammad’s Companions to be the best after him; so He chose them for the companionship of the Prophet and his assistance.”[32]—Our Imams have not ceased urging us to follow their path and be guided by their right mode of life.

34. Ibn Mas’ud has also said: “Let those among you who wish to be guided, follow the example of the Companions of the Apostle of God; for they were, of the people of this Community, the most pious in heart, the most profound in religious knowledge, the least meddlesome, the nearest in respect to the right direction, and the best in respect of condition;—a people whom God has chosen for the companionship of His Prophet and the establishment of His religion. Avow, therefore, their excellence, and follow in their footsteps, for they were pursuing the right direction.”[33]—Some of these words, or words of their substance, have also been related on the authority of al-Hasan al-Basri.
35. Ibn Mas’ud has also said: “Follow the example of our predecessors and do not perpetrate heretical innovations; for you have been defended therefrom.”[34]— “Verily, we take after the example of our predecessors, and do not initiate anything new; we follow their example and do not perpetrate heretical innovations; we shall not go astray, so long as we cling to tradition.”[35]— [“Beware of turning innovator! beware of immoderation! beware of exaggeration and keep to the old religion!”][36]—” I am more fearful for your sakes of other things than I am of the Antichrist (Dajjal); namely, matters proceeding from your leaders. No matter which insignificant man or woman of those days had followed the first course. So I, today, follow the Sunna.”[37]

36. Hudhaifa b. al-Yaman has said: “O Reciters of the Quran! take the path of those who preceded you. For, by God, if indeed you pursue the right course you will surely greatly succeed; but should you leave it to the right and to the left, you will go far astray.
37. Imam Ahmad has said: “The fundamental principles of the Sunna, in our opinion, consist in clinging to that which the Companions of the Apostle of God conformed to, following their example, and abstaining from heretical innovations. Every innovation is an error.”[38]
38. A statement has been related on the authority of ’Umar b. ’Abd al-’Aziz, the import of which follows: Stop in matters of religion, maintaining an attitude of prudent reserve, where the first community of believers stopped; for they did so on the basis of good knowledge and, with critical perception, refrained from delving too far into religious questions. They were more fitted for the task of examining them, and would have been more worthy of favour, if such a deed earned favour. Now if you were to say, “these religious questions arose after them,” the answer is that no one innovated them but he who has pursued a path other than theirs, and held himself superior to them. Indeed, they have discussed of these matters what is sufficient, and prescribed of them what suffices to relieve from doubt. To do less than what they have done would be to fall short of what is required; to do more, would be to inspire others to that which is unlawful. Some people fell short of the first believers, and thus did evil; others went too far, and thus fell into extremism. But those who maintain the middle course are indeed pursuing the right direction.[39]

39. Al-Awza’i, Imam of the Syrians, has said: Adhere steadily to the Sunna; stop in matters of religion, maintaining an attitude of prudent reserve, where the first community of believers stopped; pursue the path of your pious Salaf, for that which was fit for them is also fit for you; uphold their teachings; refrain from that from which they refrained. If theological speculation were a moral good, you would not have been especially singled out for it to the exclusion of your Salaf; for no moral good was treasured away from them which, to their exclusion, has been secretly kept for you through some excellence of your own. They are the Companions of the Apostle of God. God chose them, and sent His Prophet into their midst, and described them, saying: “Muhammad is the Apostle of God. Those who are with him are violent against the unbelievers, compassionate amongst themselves” [48:29]—to the end of the verse.[40]

40. A man asked al-Hasan b. Ziyad al-Lu’lu’i concerning Zufar b. al-Hudhail,[41] as to whether the latter used to study speculative theology (kalam). He replied: “Glory be to God! how stupid you are! Were you not the contemporary of our professors Zufar, Abu Yusuf and Abu Hanifa? And those in whose company we sat and from whom we learned, were they concerned with anything other than jurisprudence (fiqh) and following the example of the predecessors?”[42]

41. These then are the Imams, and these are their teachings, urging us to follow our Salaf and to be guided by their example. Now do you suppose that we shall desert the word of God, and the word of His Apostle, and the admonition of our Imams urging us to follow our Salaf, in order to accept Ibn ’Aqil’s advice when he says: “Leave off following their example! Imitate me, and follow my teachings and the teachings of speculative theologians like me.” He also seems to be saying: “I am he whose sins are numerous; I am he who is known for his heretical innovations and errors; I am he whose slips are numerous; I am he who is ignorant of traditions; I am he who prefers the censured science of speculative theology to the religious knowledge of our chosen Prophet. Follow me, then, and leave off following him; for he summons you to salvation, whereas I invite you to hell-fire’s perdition!”

42. Moreover, all of us agree that consensus (ijma’) is a decisive argument. Therefore, when the companions agree on a matter, then are followed in it by the Successor-Imams, whose example is followed in turn by the Imams coming after them in each successive period, each urging the other to cling to it and warning their disciples against opposing it—how can it be said of him who follows that consensus to be stupid and deceived? The stupid, deceived, transgressing and innovating one is only he who opposes it and shuns it. God has said: “But he who separates himself from the Apostle after the Guidance has become manifested to him, and follows any other way than that of the believers, We shall charge him with what he will have charged himself, and cause him to face Jahannam, and what a detestable outcome!”[4:115]

[25] Al-Bukhari and Muslim
[26] Al-Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawud and al-Tirmidhi.
[27] Dha’if, due to an unknown narrator, ‘Abd al-Rahman b. Salim b. ‘Uwaym. However, al-Hakim still declares the hadeeth as Sahih while al-Dhahabi agrees.
[28] Sahih, collected by Abu Dawud, al-Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah and Ahmad
[29] Sahih, collected by Ahmad, Al-Tirmidhi who declares it Hasan, and al-Hakim declares it Sahih while al-Dhahabi agrees
[30] Dha’if. Ibn Hajar declares all its routes to be weak and further quotes al-Bayhaqi declaring that even though the text is well-known, all its chains are weak. Abu Bakr b. al-Bazzar states: “This saying is not authentically attributed to the Prophet SallAllahu ‘alaihi wa-sallam.” Ibn Hazm says: “This report is a lie, a fabrication and false!”
[31] Hasan only due to other matching reports. Narrated by al-Tirmidhi with a weak chain.
[32] Hasan. Narrated by Ahmad, al-Bazzar, al-Tabarani (al-Kabir).
[33] Dha’if. Narrated by Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr in Jami’ Bayan al-‘Ilm 2/947, ed. Abu al-Ashbal, Dar Ibn al-Jawzi 1998. A similar narration is also attributed to Ibn ‘Umar as mentioned by Abu Nu’aym in al-Hilya, but also with a weak chain. However, the meaning of the tradition remains true.
[34] Sahih, collected by Ahmad in al-Zuhd and al-Lalika’i in Sharh Usul I’tiqad
[35] Dha’if, collected by Al-Lalika’i
[36] Sahih, collected by al-Darimi in al-Sunan and al-Bayhaqi in al-Madkhal. Ironically, the passage within [] is nonexistent in Makdisi’s handwritten copy of the manuscript, yet existent in the English translation. Perhaps, the passage does exist in the original manuscript, which George Makdisi successfully included in his translation, but forgot to copy it out in Arabic.
[37] Collected by Al-Lalika’i and al-Darimi in al-Sunan
[38] Ibn al-Jawzi, Manaqib al-Imam Ahmad 230, ed. Dr. ‘Abdullah al-Turki, Dar Hajr 1988; Ibn Abi Ya’la, Tabaqat al-Hanabila 2/166, ed. Dr. ‘Abd al-Rahman al-‘Uthaymin, 1999.
[39] Sahih, collected by Ibn Waddah in his work al-Bid’a and Abu Nu’aym in al-Hilya
[40] Sahih, collected by al-Aajurri in al-Shari’a
[41] Zufar b. al-Hudhayl al-‘Anbari, a traditionist, a jurist and one of the foremost students of Imam Abu Hanifa. Al-Dhahabi describes him as one of the most an intelligent jurists who combined knowledge with actions; an honest and objective researcher who would strictly submit to the legal texts. He died in the year 158 AH (al-Dhahabi, Siyar al-‘Alam al-Nubula 7/378, Dar al-Fikr 1997)
[42] Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr, Jami’ Bayan al-‘Ilm 2/942, ed. Abu al-Ashbal, Dar Ibn al-Jawzi 1998.

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