Friday, February 02, 2007

"Allah does not change the condition of a people until they change their own lives." (Ar-Ra`d: 11)

Umar Lee has just finished writing his series of articles titled “The Rise and Fall of
the Salafi Da’wah”. The slight inaccuracy of the title aside (since, as many people
have pointed out, the Salafi Da’wah hasn’t exactly ‘fallen’ yet, although it has
declined since the ‘glory days’), I think it’s a wonderful series, masha'Allah.

As someone who hasn’t had any experience whatsoever with the Salafi movement
– heck, I didn’t even know what they even were ‘till now! – I found his posts
extremely educational and emotionally moving.

His first few posts were on the beginning and the rise of the Salafi Da’wah – the
time that I’ve nicknamed the glory days, because of how amazing it all sounded to me. Reading about it all, it made my heart swell with pride that the Muslim community managed to do such wonderful things.

Then came the 'falling' part. Not fun. I found it downright painful, the way the community ended up so beaten and broken, the way that Muslims turned on each other so cruelly, denouncing each other and destroying the hard work of the individuals who had struggled so hard to establish the foundations of the movement in the first place. Umar's sorrow and pain is echoed in the comments section, where several people described their own sad experiences.

For me, who has only recently become more aware of the Muslim Ummah around the world, who hasn't really had any experience with the 'real world', Umar's articles were a real eye-opener. I know how badly the state of the Muslim Ummah sucks, in general, but I had no idea that all this stuff happened! It made me realize just how ignorant and naive I am in the ways of the world, how little I really know... and then when I complained to my parents about it, they're just like, "Well, you don't need to know that stuff. Go finish your homework." Hmph.

But, I DO need to know this stuff. If I hope to spend my life helping the Muslim community, then I HAVE to know this stuff! To deal with the problems of the present, one must know the history of those problems, right?

Anyway, after reading Umar's posts and the 100+ comments that swiftly followed, I got pretty depressed. No one likes to hear or read about sad things (when I was younger, I'd often skip the sad parts of whatever book I was reading and instead read the happy ending. Later on, I tried to do pretty much the same thing with reality... until reality hit me hard on the head and I realized that bad experiences are needed just as much as good experiences for us to really learn life lessons).

But after reading brother Amad's post, in which he said that there was hope to be felt as well... and that inspired me to stop being depressed and to start using my brain.

My brain concluded the following:

We, the Muslim Ummah, have problems. I, a member of that Ummah, have a responsibility to do whatever I can to solve those problems. To be effective, I should stop thinking in terms of ideals (which is actually pretty hard. Now I know
why some people prefer to live in their own little bubble worlds/fantasies than
reality!) and start thinking practically. To deal with things practically, there are
some very basic skills that need to kick into play: problem solving! (All right, all right, I admit that school can teach you useful things... sometimes.)

The Basic Steps of Problem-Solving:

Define the problem
I think that Umar and others have done a pretty good job of defining the various problems that exist and which need to be dealt with.

Categorize the problem
The sheer amount of issues that we're suffering from means that in order to deal with them effectively, we need to categorize them. The Ummah being as diverse as it is, with so many sub-groups (e.g. converts and 'born Muslims'; various ethnic origins and the cultural background and issues of people who belong to whichever ethnic group they belong to; issues of class - high class, middle class, working class; etc.), we need to sit down and spend some time just organizing it all, 'cuz if
we try to lump them all together we'll simply get overwhelmed - not to mention that more problems would probably arise due to the fact that it's being incorrectly dealt with.

Look at potential causes of the problem
Another thing that I think Umar and the others have done a good job with.

Identify alternatives for approaches to resolve the problem
Brainstorm, people! With all the brilliant minds that we have in our Ummah - yes, they do exist, I know it! - surely we can come up with something that'll be agreeable to all (or at least most!).

Select an approach to resolve the problem
Very, very important! I've noticed that when it comes to dealing with problems, we Muslims spend a lot of time talking and brainstorming, but that we rarely ever manage to take the first step towards ACTION. Choosing our approach to solving the problem is what we need to (finally) do.

Plan the implementation of the best alternative
Yes! We're getting closer to actually DOING SOMETHING!!

Implement the plan
Lights, cameras... ACTION!!!!!!! This is my favourite part... because we're finally doing something! I cannot stress enough how important this is... I'm personally sick and tired of all the TALK that we Muslims are involved in, yet we always disperse without any course of action decided upon or taken. It's when we take action that we're literally changing the state of our Ummah (in however small a manner it may be)!

Monitor implementation of the plan
Action is important, but we've got to make sure that it's the right kind of action! Are we doing what's needed to be done? Is everything going according to plan?

Verify if the problem has been resolved or not*
Results, people! Are we getting them? And are they the results we want and need? (Insha'Allah they are!)

If not... then it's back to step one! (Which isn't neccessarily a bad thing... practice makes perfect; and try, try again!)


So come on, people! Even if I'm just a 16-year old Muslimah marooned in a tiny city on Canada's West Coast (and therefore isolated from and totally useless to the rest of the Ummah), blogging away because it's the only way I can reach out to y'all... doesn't mean that YOU're in the same situation and can't do anything!

With that, let me conclude with saying, may Allah help us all on our quest to solve the problems of this Ummah, and make us sucessful in this world and in the Hereafter, ameen!

(Credit goes to this website for the refresher on the basic steps of problem solving!)

Note: After reading this post, head on over to brother Amad's blog, where he has
declared: Let the Healing Begin!

Your little sister in Islam,



Travelling Stranger said...

One essential solution/cure:
Start with yourself. Allah does not change the state of a people until they change themselves.

Athena's son said...

MM, you said

If I hope to spend my life helping the Muslim community,

why be so insular? I think this failing of the muslim community is one (of many) reasons Muslims are so unpopular.

Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Hinduist, etc sense of charity is a universal "help all mankind" kind of thing; Islamic charity is "help the ummah, ignore the non-believer".

Something to think about, no?

Manas said...

Athena's son, don't be a hypocrat!
Don't tell me you didn't hear "charity begins at home."
Everybody helps their community first and then others. A Muslim never denies others help. But seeing the sorrow state their own people are in, they should help people in ummah. Leaving you son to die, you feed others, is that charity?

Point number two: "help the ummah, ignore the non-believer" not true, if not a lie. Ummah means muslims. and believers can be outside ummah. Nobody asks you to ignore non-Muslims (i believe that is what you meant.)

Muslims are unpopular among many for a lot of other reasons. Those reasons are veiled in these pretexts.

Heard Aeshop's stories ever? Everybody has their own faults behind their back. (And that is why I did not talk about the evils christians have done on earth, sidenote: I don't blame christianity for that.)

Anonymous said...

Here's a source of politics for you;

Witty, critical, satirical, serious and exceptional, from Sweden and beyond. The world is the topic, and politicians are the bad guys in this story. Enjoy the ride, the sickness bag can be found under your seats ladies and gentlemen.

The source on the "normal" stuff in the world, you know, war, politics, conflicts, ignorance and so on..

AnonyMouse said...

Travelling Stranger – jazakAllahu khair for the reminder – as you see, I used the ayah as the title of my post! :)

Athena’s Son – As Manas pointed out, many people decide to work within the communities they feel they could best serve. For me, that’s the Muslim community. I know the people, I’m familiar with them, I’m comfortable with them, and I know their needs.

DA said...

Athena's son,you the punk who was talking shit before? Cos Im still waiting for you to come to flagstaff and kick my ass. Cos you look like Vin Diesel and all hahahahahaha.

Mouse, I think the Salafi movement is and was largely intellectually bankrupt from the beginning. This doesn't mean I hate Salafis or consider them non-Muslims or anything, but any movement that follows "thinkers" like Ibn Taymiyyah and Ibn Abdul Wahab is going to have problems. The Salafis were possessed by the idea that they, and they alone, were 100% right, everyone else was at best a "deviant". It's not like other Muslims don't think similarly but with the salafiyahh it seems more pronounced and uniersal.

iMuslim said...

Although Athena's son didn't phrase the advice in the nicest way, it shouldn't be ignored.

It's not a failing of Islam, but as per usual, the Muslims. We know of the charitable acts Prophet Muhammad showed to people from all walks of life. Many times it was his kind and honourable demeanor with strangers that made them accept Islam on the spot.

I also agree with Mouse and Manas that charity does begin at home, but it doesn't have to end there. We just have to spread our resources out, and never deny anyone who comes to us for help, whatever their beliefs, inshallah.

This is an excellent example of what i mean:

It is a video about Umma Community clinic, run by volunteer doctors and physicians who work to help the poorest members of South Central Los Angeles. The doctors are Muslim, the health care is free, and yet most of the patients are non-Muslim. Mashallah, truly inspirational work.

iMuslim said...

P.S., My dear brother, Da, rather than using your typical "flowery" language, you could have explained how your own job involves working in a mixed community - at least, that is the impression i got.

iMuslim said...

P.P.S., the link i gave in my previous comment refers to an older comment Da made on his work with children... please ignore all the comments above that, especially my lame joke about wax strips. *iMuslim does a tomato impression*

Faraz said...

I'm not a regular reader of Umar Lee's blog, but I read bits and pieces as well as the responses of others, notably Yusuf Smith.

I have great respect for Hafiz ibn Taymiyyah; after having read his biography as written by Shaikh Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi rahmatullahi'alayh, I understand better his opinions in face of the social conditions around him. So when I moved into a city that was predominantly Salafi in nature, at first I was very impressed. I started inclining toward that direction.

I felt largely uncomfortable however, since there was much truth to the things I had heard about many Salafis condemning other Muslims and making takfeer of them. Many of them seemed to have such shallowness in their deen as well, in that they would discuss entire treatises on things like the finger in salaah, but would be negligent in simple manners as halal food. While they were quick to call everything bid'ah, I found so many innovations in their own practices that I just couldn't accept it as a reasonable path for me.

Before I went for Hajj, I attended a lecture by the main imam of my old city, who studied at Madinah University. In it, he warned us against eating out at McDonalds and KFC in Saudi Arabia, saying that the meat they used there is the same as the meat they use in Canada, that there's no concept of halal meat there. I was shocked, and didn't really believe this. When I asked a Salafi shaikh who was leading our Hajj group, his reply was that "Yes, this is true - but it is from ahlul-kitab still and we have to trust our scholars." I couldn't believe that - I don't believe that McDonalds meat passes as legitimate ahlul-kitab meat. There's no tasmiya and the method of slaughter is certainly not according to the laws practiced by Muslims and orthodox Jews. Furthermore, the "blind faith" they encouraged here seemed no different from the blind faith they discouraged, even condemned, for those who follow madhabs seriously.

Incidents like this soured me on the movement as a whole, and I settled comfortably back into my traditional muqallid Hanafi practice. I still have a lot of respect for many of the scholars. I know Shaikh Muhammad al-Shareef personally, and he is an exemplary individual. But it is all too commonplace that those who go down that route quickly become very prejudiced, discriminatory, and almost hateful. I remember one time I was giving a lecture at a small masjid, when one of the Salafi brothers from the masjid got up and interrupted me, saying I was a deviant from among the misguided sects of Islam. I was quite offended, but I didn't say anything. On another occasion, a friend of mine, a very committed brother involved in Tabligh, said "Assalamu'alaykum" to one of the salafi scholars of our city. Immediately, the Salafi scholar rebuked him, saying that "the proper sunnah is to say assalamu'alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh"; he didn't reply to the salam, though.

Generally, my strategy remains to speak no ill of any Muslim group or person, because I'm far from perfect. I've learned a lot from lots of different groups and people, so it would be hypocritical for me to take a position against any one of them. I've had thoughts to write something on this whole topic, but I've decided that I'd rather not open that can of worms since people can get very emotional on these topics. I've read how people react to these discussions, and I just find it unsettling. As can perhaps be deduced from my blog, I'm a fairly non-confrontational sort of person.

iMuslim said...

After reading Faraz's input, i'm tempted to leave a more relevant comment!

When i started practising Islam seriously, i was also tempted down the Salafi road, though at the time, i wasn't even aware of all the different groups in existance, so I was quite naive.

Basically, one of my friends who i trusted, and still do, encouraged me to go to the annual JIMAS conference, as she thought it would be a good introduction for me. I really enjoyed it; subhanallah, the atmosphere was great. It was based at Leicester University halls over August bank holiday. Every place you looked there were just Muslims, Muslims and more Muslims! Brothers in thobes and sisters in hijab; superficial i know, but it just added to the imaan boost. The talks were really good too, mashallah. I liked the way the sheikhs backed up everything with evidences from Qur'an and Sunnah. I was told many times by different people before attending the conference, that this was necessary to avoid innovations in the deen. I really didn't know this kind of stuff before; i just assumed when the 'alim says "jump", you jump... don't even dare question "how high?", cos questions were not allowed! So all this was so refreshing for me, and it softened my heart towards the movement.

I read many Salafi publications, and again, because of all the quotes from Q&S, i assumed they were the ones on the straight path. So i even believed the stuff they said about not following schools of thought etc.

At this point i have to say "Alhamdulillahi rabbil 'alameen" for the great mix of sisters Allah had surrounded me with. Apart from the Salafi friends, I also had friends who were Hanafi, Sha'afi, even Hizbut-Tahrir for goodness sakes! Talking to them about various issues lead me to discover the white elephant of "valid differences of opinion". That was a hard time for me... trying to understand how there could be such a thing when Islam is meant to be so straight-forward! Anyway, these discussions prevented me from becoming a staunch Salafi, and i ended up being more of a Salafi "sympathiser".

I suppose the final nail in the Salafi coffin was a talk i attended last year, titled Taqlid & Madhabs. The ironic thing was that it was run by one of the pioneers of the UK Salafi movement, Abu Aaliyah, yet it was quite "pro" madhabs, or at least, he illustrated how necessary schools of thought and taqlid are for the average Muslim who has no detailed knowledge of Q&S. That was quite a turning point for me, in terms of blowing away the last of the Salafi cobwebs from my mind.

I'm not sure where i am now. I have decided to just stick to whatever knowledge i have about practising the pillars of Islam. I don't want to confuse myself further just yet with decisions about which school of thought to follow etc. It is a bit of a cop-out, but i'm kinda hoping i'll just tag along with whatever my future husband is into, to make my life easier! If he isn't into anything, then we can make the decision together, inshallah. I figure as long as the rulings of the madhab are based on Q&S, it shouldn't matter which one you follow... but your intentions must be clear. Meaning: even though you are a muqalid, you shouldn't be the blind, tribalistic kind, where "my madhab is better than your madhab", and where sheikhs become infallible, just because they're of the same madhab. When i witness that kind of behaviour, i can understand why Salafis were so anti-madhab. However, both mind-sets are just opposite sides of the same coin of extremism in the deen.

I don't know how the UK Salafi movement compares to the US one, but if the annual JIMAS conference is anything to go by, Salafism is only becoming more popular, though i don't think it is as hardline on all issues now, as it used to be.

iMuslim said...

P.S., (again!), if i was to nominate an ideal approach for fatwas, i would go with Yes, i know it's a Saudi site, and i don't agree with all of their rulings, but i do like the way they take into account the opinions of all of the major madhabs. Rather than throwing away centuries of wisdom and accumulated knowledge, they pool it together and try to judge which is the strongest opinion, if there are differences. And if there are none, then it shows that there is some level of ijmaa and so the ruling is more reliable.

They also show their "working out" (i.e., evidences used to formulate the ruling) which means if any scholar disagrees, they can pinpoint exactly why they do so, e.g., weakness in the hadith quoted.

Just my opinion, which i know is definitely not the most knowledgeable.

Athena's son said...

RE: Charity and the Muslim response.

-When, after the horrible Tsunami of 2005, Muslims would rather see their own children suffer and die from the elements rather than be helped by Christian orfanages; I lost a bit of faith in Islamic sense of humanity.

-When the Red Star(the Jewish version of the Red Cross or the Red Crescent) was not allowed to help out in the Iranian Earthquake, I lost a bit more.

-When Israeli funds were refused by Iran after that earthquake, I almost lost it all.

-Seeing that no muslim charities contributed to the 2005 New Orleans crisis or any non-muslim crisis, I lost all hope for muslims

This is the cause you should be activist about, Mouse; improving your communities image through helping the non-muslim

DA, I've been to your website and all I can conclude is that you are a belligerent drunk.

DA said...

Sorry pal, I'm a belligerant ex-drunk. You're a bigot who trolls the blogs of teenage girls. I still feel I come off better here.

Athena's son said...

Sorry DA,

Your a belligerent person here to pick a fight for some reason; I'm here to try to convince Ms. Mouse of looking beyond her community in her activism. I don't see how that can be objectionable to you.

Faraz said...

Seeing that no muslim charities contributed to the 2005 New Orleans crisis or any non-muslim crisis, I lost all hope for muslims.

Human Concern International was there, and raised funds. HCI is very prominently a Muslim organization. Local Muslim Students Associations had fundraising dinners for Katrina disaster relief.

If you explore the HCI website, you'll see other fundraising efforts for non-Muslim countries. It just happens to be the case that many of the afflicted areas are in Muslim countries.

MSA National, with chapters all over North America, annually runs "Fast-a-thons" which typically raise money for local food banks. Many masjids run soup kitchens and have food basket programs.

I can go on. So far, I've only listed organizations that I've been involved with personally; I'm sure there are many others that I don't know about.

DA said...

You're calling us evil and saying our religion sucks, and you're just doin it to help people? And I'm the one trying to pick fights? Forgive me if I call bullshit.

I spend a fulltime job every week helping non-muslim kids although I could be earning 50-100% more elsewhere. I donate time, money, and time to help cook and serve food to almost entirely non-Muslim people as often as possible. I teach free self-defense to nnon_muslim women. This is all while I go to school full time so I can teach (probably) non-Muslim kids. And you troll some kid's blog. Your self-righteousness is hilarious.

I'm sure you're the same asshole who was running his yap and threatening me a while back (what, she's gonna have two seperate people trolling who like to hate Muslims and invoke greek idols). If so, you said you were gonna kick my ass. I'm still waiting. Punk.

Athena's son said...


You've said that I've threatened to kick your ass and that I've compared myself to Vin Diesel. I'd like the later to be true. Unfortunately, I'd have to shave my head, lose 50 Kg, tan myself, regrow my right foot I lost to Diabetes two years ago, and learn to walk without my wheelchair.

Nice going, scumbag.

iMuslim said...

I'm not sure about Muslims refusing Christian aid, but i am not at all surprised to hear about Iran refusing Israeli aid - does that not scream of political motive?

Why would Iran need aid anyway, when it has all that lubly oil?

I doubt many Muslims, on this blog at least, have any understanding or affinity for the actions of Muslim governments. We're often as baffled as the rest of the world with their decisions.

Amad said...

iMuslim: you have your head in the right place. It was unfortunate that many so-called salafis took the madhab thing and diverted it to a minority opinion that you can't follow one (Shawkani, and a few others). But most of the scholars of the salaf, even from Saudi, like Ibn Uthaymeen recommend that the layman should follow a madhab. There is nothing wrong with it.
In fact, it takes away from the main issue, which is Aqeedah. A Muslim who has the proper Aqeedah can follow any madhab and he'll be just fine. By the way, Abu Aaliyah didn't "change" as you may think. He just wised up to the majority opinions, not a narrow view by some salafi du'aat. See this article i put up sometime ago.

AnonyMouse said...

I don't really know that much about the Salafis, but from what I've heard and read, I think they honestly started out with good intentions: to follow in the footsteps of the Prophet (SAW), the Sahaabah, the Taabi'een, and the Salaf as-Saalih. As brother Umar describes in his article, it all started out pretty well, with a strong community being formed. In the beginning, too, there wasn't such a huge emphasis on who was right and who was a 'deviant'. However, it's when certain people began to exert their opinions over the others, and the basics of the religion were neglected in favour of issues like 'who was on the manhaj'... *that's* when things took a turn for the worse.

Re:Ibn Taymiyyah and ibn Abdul-Wahhab - I honestly don't know much about them (well, not much about ibn Taymiyyah, although I know a tiny bit more about Muhammad ibn Abdul-Wahhab), and so I can't really say anything about them. I've only read ibn Taymiyya's essay on the Jinn, and skimmed over Kitab at-Tawheed, so while I benefited from those readings in terms of Islamic knowledge, I still don't know anything about their politics or other teachings.

The whole madhhab thing sort of confuses me... as far as I know, my family doesn't follow any one of the schools of thought - instead, we follow what is most strongly supported in the Qur'an and Sunnah.
When I asked my father about the madhhab thing, he said that there's nothing wrong with following a madhhab, especially for the layman (and woman!) who doesn't have deep knowledge of fiqh and stuff him/herself. It's just blind following of madhhabs or shuyookh that's dangerous... And after all, every Muslim has the obligation to seek knowledge!

I guess the crux of the issue is that no group is perfect... but this shouldn't stop us from striving for it! What we need to do is to recognize the problems we have within our community, and be pro-active in trying to resolve those issues... And we all need to get involved; if we just try to hand over the responsibility to someone else, nothing will ever get done!

I saw the Ummah Clinic video before, and it's definitely inspiring! May Allah reward them for their wonderful efforts, ameen! I hope that more clinics like this one can be opened elsewhere in America - and in Canada too, for that matter (and, of course, let's not forget the UK)! There are so many who could benefit from it...

Like you and Faraz, I think it's hard to 'choose' a label for myself... well, not just myself, but for myself and the other Muslims I'm around. In my old city, when my dad was running an Islamic centre, people would often call us Salafi or Wahhabi, even though we didn't call ourselves that.

And the funny thing is, when a family from Toronto who was friends with someone we knew moved to our city and came to our centre, they didn't really like us that much - and *they* were hard-core Salafi!
My dad jokingly says that we're just a bunch of misfits - the Salafis don't want us, the progressives/modernists don't want us (well, we don't really want them either!)... some people think we're too strict, and others think we're too easy-going!
Which just goes to show, labels are stupid and usually inaccurate anyway. And when you get right down to it, as long as you stick to the Qur'an and Sunnah and do so with good intentions and an open heart, then insha'Allah you'll be all right! :)

It's funny that you should mention Islam-QA - it's where I usually look things up! As a matter of fact, my dad almost got a job working for them (translating from Arabic into English), but some issues came up and it didn't work out...

Athena's Son:
You just want to help me, huh? Suuuuuure. That's why your first appearance on my blog was to say that you hoped my grandpa died of his heart attack(he's still alive and doing quite well, by the way).
In any case, nothing you say is going to change my mind about what I want to do with my life.

Faraz said...

Regarding the madhhab thing, people probably called you "salafis" exactly because as you said, your "family doesn't follow any one of the schools of thought." Generally, it is believed that if a person doesn't identify with any particular madhhab, that person is a Salafi. Salafi itself is a misnomer (everyone wants to follow the salaf, they just choose to put that in the name), so that's just how people define it.

I'll try to explain the madhhab thing as best I can.

"We follow what is most strongly supported in the Qur'an and Sunnah." According to whom? This is part of why people follow madhhabs in the first place. It's easy to say that we follow what is in the Quran and Sunnah, but the question that needs to be asked is, how do I know what is more strongly supported? Am I an expert on these topics that I can formulate a better opinion than someone like Imam Shaf'i or Imam Abu Hanifah who gave their lives for the deen?

One thing that is important to note is that the Hanafi madhhab, for example, is not just one person. It is a school of thought developed over many centuries of scholarship, and evolving to this day. To follow the madhhab is not to say that you believe that Imam Abu Hanifah was right about everything; rather, it is to say that you respect and trust the annals of scholarly research that have lead to how the rulings were derived; you trust that line of scholars more than you trust yourself.

If a person can derive his/her own rulings, then that's great. But there are so many factors to consider; one can't take one hadith and then derive a ruling without knowing context, history, sanad, other hadith, etc.. and for a person who isn't an expert in hadith sciences, it is irresponsible (and blameworthy) that they derive their own (potentially incorrect) rulings while dismissing that of previous scholars. If a person does have the required knowledge to identify the rulings best supported by Quran and Hadith, then by all means, he should do so.

I don't have anything against people who don't follow a single madhhab, but the common risk in not doing so is that people take from all the various rulings only the ones they like. Maybe in one case, Imam Abu Hanifa is more lenient on a particular ruling, and in another, Imam Malik is more lenient. To take only the rulings that we like is not to follow scholarly consensus; it is only us following our own nafs. And that's why people prefer to mitigate that risk by leaving the affairs of Islamic scholarship to the Islamic scholars.

In your case, I'm sure your father has a strong background such that your family doesn't follow just one. But for people who don't have access to that sort of scholarship, the four madhhabs system ensures that whatever rulings a person takes, they are grounded in solid research and sincerity.

My comments always turn out really long ... but if you need any more clarification, let me know.

iMuslim said...

Amad: Jazakallah for the clarification.

I wasn't implying that Abu Aaliyah had "swopped sides", but that, by his own words, he had changed positions on the madhab issue after careful study.

In the past, when a muqalid tried to explain to me the idea of taqlid, i sometimes felt they were trying to "sell" me their opinion, just because i disagreed with them. The reason why Abu Aaliyah's class was so enlightening, other than being well researched, was because i knew that he used to be of the complete opposite opinion. After seeing that he was humble enough to admit to being mistaken in the past, I appreciated his lesson even more. It's a good sign; may Allah have mercy on him.

Molly said...

imuslim, it's spelled swapped. :)

AnonyMouse said...

Faraz – JazakAllahu khair for explaining it! Now it makes more sense to me… :)

iMuslim said...

Molly, i'm British, so it is swop!

Farzeen said...

Assalaamu'alaykum wa rahmatu Allah sister

Brother Faraz has done a good job in explaining the concept of madhabs, but if you want some history to it as well and an in-depth read, then here it is.

The article also explains the type of knowledge that is required of individuals before they can make ijtihad (a valid scholarly opinion). In fact, if one reaches the level of ijtihad, one cannot follow a madhhab. Not everyone can become scholars, so for the non-scholars, we are required to consult the scholars.

May Allah guide us all, ameen!

illuminatingfaith said...

As salaamu alaikum wa rahmatu Allahi wa barakatuh,

About following a madhab/not following one, in Ahlus Sunnah wal Jamah, people who follow the Qur'an and sunnah, we shouldn't criticize those who follow a madhab or those who do follow a madhab. However, what is not good is to follow a madhab blindly. Here are statements from our 4 beloved imams on this topic:

Imam Abu Hanifa (rahimahullah):

1. "When a hadeeth is found to be saheeh, then that is my madhhab."20

2. "It is not permitted21 for anyone to accept our views if they do not know from where we got them."22

Imam Malik (rahimahullah):

1. "Truly I am only a mortal: I make mistakes (sometimes) and I am correct (sometimes). Therefore, look into my opinions: all that agrees with the Book and the Sunnah, accept it; and all that does not agree with the Book and the Sunnah, ignore it."28

2. "Everyone after the Prophet (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam) will have his sayings accepted and rejected - not so the Prophet (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam)."29

Imam Shafi'i (rahimahullah):

1. "The sunnahs of the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam) reach, as well as escape from, every one of us. So whenever I voice my opinion, or formulate a principle, where something contrary to my view exists on the authority of the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam), then the correct view is what the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam) has said, and it is my view."32

2. "The Muslims are unanimously agreed that if a sunnah of the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam) is made clear to someone, it is not permitted33 for him to leave it for the saying of anyone else."34

Imam Ahmad (rahimahullah):

1. "Do not follow my opinion; neither follow the opinion of Maalik, nor Shaafi'i, nor Awzaa'i, nor Thawri, but take from where they took."44

3. "Whoever rejects a statement of the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam) is on the brink of destruction."48

source & for more info:

Furthermore, we all know that the 4 imams based their opinions on the Qur'an and sunnah. BUT small differences did arise, of course, because some ahadeeth reached some of them and some did not. For example, the issue of wiping over socks, Imam Abu Hanifa (rahimahullah) didn't know about this until shortly before his death, and when he did find out, he started telling people that this WAS indeed a sunnah, etc.

So now that we know, alhamdulillah, all the sahih ahadeeth and we know all the opinions of the 4 imams, that is why many Salafis or those who don't follow only one madhab (but still respect madhabs, of course) take the STRONGEST opinion from all of them. THere is a misconception within the ummah that those who don't follow one madhab strictly choose the easiest opinion, and although this may apply to some people, it doesn't apply to everyone. Rather, many Salafis choose to follow the strongest opinion of the 4 imams with the strongest hadeeth related to that issue. For example, if Imam Shafi'i (ra) made a ruling on a certain issue based on a weak hadith and Imam Malik (ra) made the ruling based on a strong hadith, many Salafis will choose to follow the ruling based on the strong hadith with the stronger chain of narrators, etc.

(to learn more about hadith and their levels of authenticity go here:

With regards to the fact that those laymen who don't follow a madhab can't interpret the Qur'an and sunnah on their own, I wholeheartedly agree 100%. However, many Salafis don't interpret on their own. They take the rulings of the Imams and the great scholars who have studied Islam all their lives. Some examples of these scholars may be people like the 4 imams, Imam Ibn Qayyim, Ibn Taymiyyah, Imam Nawawi, etc.

So inshaAllah I just wanted to give the other side as well after brother Faraz had explained the madhab issue (very well too, mashaAllah).

on a side note, although I used the term 'Salafi' throughout this post, I used it to make it easier to explain the ideas, etc. but I try not to label myself since I think labels can often be misused and be divisive. I choose to say I am a Muslim who follows the Qur'an and Sunnah and Companions.

please forgive me if I've offended anyone, as that was not my intention.

May Allah guide us all to Jannat ul Firdous and make us true muslimeen, ameen.

wasalaamu alaikum.

UmmBadier said...

Always thought provoking AND entertaining. Masha Allah Mouse, you are a great host(ess)!!!

AnonyMouse said...

As-salaamu ‘alaikum wa rahmatullaahi wa barakaatu,

I know this is a little late in coming, but I'd forgotten about this thread :S

JazakAllahu khairan to sis Farzeen and illuminatingfaith for the additional info on madhaahib! :)

Sis UmmBadier, jazaakillaahi khairan! :)

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