Time and time again we see people not well grounded in Islamic knowledge openly give personal opinions on the teachings of Islam.
The official mazhab in Malaysia is Mazhab Shafie but two main types of revisionist Muslims having been trying to influence Muslims to accept their version of Islam: the Wahabi-Salafi and the Libtards.
They interpret Quranic verses without understanding asbab al-nuzul (cause/reason/occasion of revelation) and quote the verses and hadith out of context to support their opinion.
Libertards / libtards / ultra-liberals / liberal extremists
Libtards are much lazier than the Wahabi-Salafi so they only refer to translations e.g. by Yusuf Ali, Marmaduke Pickthall, Arberry, Shakir or Muhammad Assad. They don’t bother reading tafsirs e.g. Tafsir Al-Jalalayn.
Any Islamic scholar (ulama) who preaches traditional Islamic teacings is repulsive to them. As far as libtards are concerned, their sins are between them and God, including gay sex, so don’t preach God’s law to them and don’t enforce Shariah Law upon them — it’s their own business if non-married couples have sex, if they want to dine in public places during the holy month of Ramadhan or if a man dresses up like a woman.
They frequently quote to Muslims the Quranic verses Lakum dīnukum waliyadīn (“For you your religion, for me my religion” / “Bagimu agamamu, bagiku agamaku”) and Lā ikrāha fiddīn (“There shall be no compulsion in [acceptance of] the religion”) to justify their freedom to sin or ignore the authority and application of the Shariah.
They often express doubt on the validity and authenticity of hadith and demonstrate their ignorance and misunderstanding of the roles of Islamic scholars and mazhabs. They know next to nothing about tafsir, hadith, usul al-fiqh, and reveal their ignorance through unsound logic and misconceptions.
Wahabi-Salafi are generally more knowledgable than libtards. Indeed there are many of them who are good at debating against kafir harbi (disbelievers who are hostile towards Islam and Muslims) in defending Islam and the Quran. The name or label “Wahabi-Salafi” are most often used together rather than making a distinction between the two because the name Salafi is essentially merely Wahabi rebadged — both do not follow any of the Four Mazhabs but claim to follow the Quran and Sunnah based on their own interpretation (and misinterpretation) of the primary texts (Quran and Hadith).
Unfortunately they think they are too clever. They try to revise Islam after being influenced by certain misguided teachings of Muhammad Abd Wahhab, Ibn Taymiyya and Nasiruddin Al-Albani. They tell us that traditional Muslims have been practising deviant practices for hundreds of years. They tell us the Prophet (saw) did not do this and did not do that so why are we doing it? Also, on the pretext that they are not rejecting the fiqh of Mazhab Shafie they tell us that such practices are against the teachings of Imam Shafie.
This merely reflects their inability to understand true Islamic jurisprudence and the true meaning of a practice being premised upon the Quran and Sunnah. Their main weakness is in taking Quranic verses and hadith literally without understanding the context. For example, they get confused on whether a ruling is absolute, a general rule or an exception to the rule. They claim to follow the Quran-Sunnah and the Salafussoleh but their actual position and attitude are far from the truth.
Sources of Islamic knowledge
This post is not about arguing in detail the mistakes of libtards and Wahabi-Salafi but to stress that we must be diligent in where we source Islamic knowledge. We need at least some pre-requisite knowledge – and learning at the feet of a trustworthy teacher is the best start — before anyone inadvertently starts latching on to some Sheikh Google, Sheikh YouTube, Mufti Facebook or Mufti Twitter.
Of course there are the genuine scholars you should indeed follow on the social media such as Habib Ali Zainal Abidin, Sheikh Nuruddin al-Banjari, Habib Najmuddin Othman, Ustaz Abdul Somad, Ustaz Engku Ahmad Fadzil and many more of the Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jamaah. And yes, that includes Ustaz Dr Zamihan al-Ghari, who is also a staunch defender of ASWJ– cringe all you like but he speaks the truth, though he may sound harsh times, especially when criticising and rebutting libtards and Wahabi-Salafi.
There are also Islamic scholars that you should keep away from and three popular local ones that I’ll name now are Dr Asri Zainul Abidin (aka Dr MAZA, Mufti Perlis), Dr Rozaimi (aka RORA) and Dr Zaharuddin Abul Rahman (aka UZAR). Oh ya, one more…. Dr Zulkfili Al-Bakri, Mufti Wilayah Persekutuan. All of them are inclined to some extent or another towards the Wahabi/Salafy doctrine (but will not admit it). I won’t go into detail in this post but another time.
Once you are hooked onto the “unorthodox” ones – having acquired that little knowledge from those Sheikhs – you find it all too easy to reject the correct knowledge from qualified scholars of the Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jamaah, particularly in aqidah and fiqh. That is why I know many may be surprised, shocked, annoyed or furious that I dare name Dr Zulkifli as one of them — he’s a mufti who is so soft spoken, who is this brash Azmi Arshad?
Be patient and bear with me.
Primary sources of Fiqh and Islamic Law
I only want to touch on a little bit of the basics of the epistemology of Islamic knowledge so that you can appreciate that it is not as simple as picking up a translation of the Quran and deriving your own opinion based on your own superficial reading.
As many already know, the primary sources of knowledge of fiqh and Islamic Law are:
Recommended reading if you want to do a more in-depth study: Islamic Jurisprudence (Usul al-Fiqh) by Imran Ahsan Khan Nyazee.
Quran and hadith are primary texts but ijma’ and qiyas are two of the four primary sources. Ultimately what is derived through ijma’ and qiyas by the mujtahid imams (particularly Imam Hanafi, Imam Malik, Imam Shafie and Imam Ahmad, all of four of whom are mujtahid mutlaq) and fuqaha (jurists) are all based on the Quran and Sunnah i.e. they are not compartmentalised sources, just as the Quran and Sunnah have to be approached together or jointly and not necessarily sequentially.
The authority of the principles of ijma’ and qiyas are found in the Quran and Sunnah. I mention this because we see many who declare they will only follow the Quran and Sunnah, as though ijma‘ and qiyas are not premised upon the Quran and Sunnah.
There are many other subsidiary principles which are explained in Usul al-Fiqh studies — istihsan (juristic preference), istishab (presumption of continuity), maslaha mursalah (extended analogy), sadd al-dhariah (blocking the lawful means to an unlawful end), qawl al-sahabi (companion’s opinion) etc. I’m not going to try to explain these principles but it’s only to give an idea of how much we don’t know — and to appreciate why laypersons can’t derive hukum on their own.
After all that, we then have in our hands today the valuable fiqh manuals/books (e.g. Umdat al-Salik by Ahmad ibn an-Naqib al-Misri), codified creeds of beliefs (doctrine) and other great works by the mujtahid mutlak imams who gave us the Four Mazhabs (Hanafi, Maliki, Shafie and Hanbali) that “operationalise” the Quran and Sunnah for us. All four Mazhabs share and preach the same aqidah and the followers of these mazhabs are the Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jamaah.
Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jamaah
Due to attempted distortions and corrupted teachings by deviant scholars and sects, Imam Al-Ashari and Imam al-Maturidi laid out the Islamic doctrine for us to understand our true aqidah and to defeat the Mu’tazilah in debate. (Imam Al-Ashari was himself formerly a Mu’tazilah until he was 40 years old)
Since then, for the sake of distinguishing ourselves from the deviant sects in beliefs, we say that we are Al-Ashari/Al-Maturidi in aqidah. Hanafis, Malikis, Shafies, Hanbalis, Asharis, Maturidis are synonymous in the AQIDAH (creed of beliefs) context and are the Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jamaah. To say Hanafis, Malikis, Shafies, Hanbalis, Asharis, Maturidis did not exist during the Prophet’s (saw) time reflects poor comprehension of the purpose of classification — that is not an intelligent rebuttal by any means.
To have an idea what I’m saying with regard to aqidah – our creed of beliefs — it would be beneficial for us to read, for example, Imam Abu Hanifa’s “Al-Fiqh Al-Akbar” and Imam at-Tahawiyyah’s “Al-Aqidah al Tahawiyyah”.
To be safe, just make sure that the publisher is not Darussalam or Darul as-Salam or Islamic Book Trust. (Avoid books by Ibn Taymiyyah such as his “Al-‘Aqidah Al-Wasitiyyah”). Darussalam (based in Riyadh — Wahabi stronghold) is known to have tampered with translations and meanings of a number of books including Riyadh al-Salihin (Imam Nawawi), Sahih Bukhari and also Al-Aqidah al Tahawiyyah.
Trust the Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jamaah scholars, avoid La Mazhab scholars
There have been monumental contributions from other classical imams such as Imam an-Nawawi, Imam Ahmad Ibn Naqib al-Misri, Imam Suyuti, Imam Qurtubi, Imam Abdullah al-Haddad etc — the list is very long. These and many other imams also rely on the works of other trustworthy scholars so who are we not to (as opposed to deriving our own opinion)?
We cannot imagine anybody today wanting to undertake another exegesis of the Quran and Hadith all over again (which is what libtards have been calling for); for sure it will not be to educate the ummah but to corrupt the unwary. He will get it wrong. Indeed Nasiruddin al-Albani committed more than 1,000 errors reclassifying hadith instead of accepting the six canonical books of hadith (Sihah Sitta: Sahih Bukhari, Sahih Muslim, Sunan al-Nasa’I, Sunan Abu Dawood, Jami al-Tirmidhi and Sunan ibn Majah) and other hadith collections by the likes of the towering Imam Malik, Imam An-Nawawi, Imam Tabarani, Imam Ahmad etc.
Many Muslims (especially Salafis) have been misled by Albani, a self-proclaimed mujtahid imam who does not follow a mazhab. Sayyid Sabbiq, another la mazhab (tidak ikut mazhab) “imam”, also misled many with his Fiqh Sunnah where he campur aduk teachings of the Four Mazhabs and was effectively propagating a fifth mazhab. Both Albani’s and Syed Sabbiq’s books are still being sold in bookstores (thanks to Salafi funding) – keep away from them. Read up the biographies of Albani and Syed Sabiq and compare (their qualifications, akhlak, teachers, memorisation of hadith etc) to those of the imams of the Sahih Sitta and Imam Shafie and you’ll see it’s a no brainer concluding who you should trust.
Also glance through (if not study with qualified teachers) Imam Ghazali’s Ihya Ulum al-Din (Revival of the Religious Sciences) and one can only gasp at the superhuman effort, exceptional intellect and pureness of the heart behind such a monumental contribution to the ummah. Just the first book of the Ihya’, Kitab al-‘ilm (Book of Knowledge) will blow your mind where among other things he explains the categories, science, philosophy and inner dimensions of knowledge. I can’t do justice to his amazing work by trying to explain it.
And to have an idea of a different dimension of knowledge (which science can’t teach), read The Secret of Secrets by Wali Qutb Hadrat ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani (interpreted by Shaykh Tosun Bayrak al-Jerrahi al-Halveti). Again, I dare not give my own synopsis of this incredible book.
Some quotes I obtained from the internet that sum up what I’m trying to convey:
“Men of religious authority in almost all Muslim countries strive to promulgate and defend this right way of Ahl as-Sunnah. However, some ignorant people, who either have not read or have not understood the books written by scholars of Ahl as-sunnat, make some ignorant oral and written statements, though without having any effect except betraying their own ignorance and wretchedness against Muslims’ firm iman and the brotherly love they have for one another.”
“Some people, instead of deriving the knowledge of belief from the books of the Salaf as-salihin (rahmatullahi ta’ala alaihim ajmain), interpret Qur’an al-karim and Hadith ash-Sharif in accordance with only their own minds and opinions; thus their creed deviates completely and they become disbelievers called mulhids. The mulhid thinks of himself as a sincere Muslim and of the Umma of Muhammad (salallahu alaihi wasallam). The munafiq introduces himself as a Muslim but is in another religion. The zindiq is an atheist and does not believe in any religion, but pretends to be a Muslim in order to make Muslims irreligious, atheistic. He strives to make reforms in Islam and to annihilate Islam by changing and defiling it. He is hostile to Islam. They are much more harmful than Jews and Christians. And so are freemasons.”
“Will a reasonable person follow the way of the Ahl as-Sunnah, which has been praised unanimously by the ulama of Islam (rahmat-Allahi ta’ala ‘alaihim ajmain), who have come during the period of a millennium, or will he believe the so-called “cultured, progressive” people who are unaware of Islam and who have sprung up within the last hundred years?”
“When someone becomes a Muslim, it will primarily be fardh for him to know and believe in the meaning of the phrase La ilaha ill-Allah, Muhammadun Rasul-Allah. This phrase is called the kalimah at-tawhid. It is sufficient for every Muslim to believe without any doubt what this phrase means. It is not fardh for him to prove it with evidence or to satisfy his mind. Rasulullah (sall-Allahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) did not command the Arabs to know or to mention the relevant proofs or to search and clarify any possible doubts. He commanded them to believe only and not to doubt. It is enough for everybody also to believe superficially. Yet it is fardh kifaya that there should exist a few ‘alims in every town. It is wajib for these ‘alims to know the proofs, to remove the doubts and to answer the questions. They are like shepherds for Muslims. On the one hand, they teach them the knowledge of iman, which is the knowledge of belief, and, on the other hand, they answer the slanders of the enemies of Islam.” [Imam Muhammad al-Ghazali (rahmat-Allahi ‘alaih), Kimya-i Saadat]
Anti-hadith or Quranist sect
I’ve come across a few people on Facebook who have no qualms rejecting a hadith merely because they themselves do not know the evidence of the matan (content). Instead of deferring their conclusion until they had consulted an expert, they openly share their erroneous personal opinion and get applauded for it by friends no less ignorant.
If you want to know about hadith exegesis and hadith authenticity get hold of “Hadith Literature: Its Origin, Development and Special Features” by Muhammad Zubayr Siddiqi. That should increase your understanding and certainty that the accepted hadith had gone through rigorous verification and authentication.
A word of caution to libtards: Those who accept only the Quran and reject hadith are out of the fold of Islam. Such a belief is kufr. Na’uzubillah.
Maqasid al-Shariah (Higher objectives of the Shariah)
Then there are those who also try to separate religion from government and politics or promote the false ideology that religion has no business anywhere other than in your own home and masjid.
Educated Muslims know that Islam is a way of life and encompasses all aspects of mankind and administration. Before we pass personal judgment on any tenet of Islamic Law, at least first understand the Maqasid al-Shariah (the higher objectives of the Shariah):
1. Preservation of Religion (Islam)
2. Preservation of Life
3. Preservation of Lineage (progeny)
4. Preservation of Intellect
5. Preservation of Property (wealth)
Some may find fault with the first objective but no, the objective does not result in the oppression of other religions as evident of past Islamic civilisations. It’s when leaders do not follow Islamic teachings that not only other religions but also Muslims will be oppressed (i.e. under pemerintah yang zalim). How would government and politics be in conflict with the objectives of the Shariah except for unscrupulous policies and activities? How would “human rights” be in conflict with these objectives? (By the way, LBGT’s mission would obviously be on a collision course with the third objective).
While the objectives are ranked in priority, each is not necessarily always to the exclusion of the other, the weighing, balancing and consideration of which should only be left to qualified jurists – fatwas are not issued willy nilly. We can’t be criticising fatwas merely because they are in conflict with our lifestyle or merely because the country is multi racial.
Every fatwa issued must have a basis in Maqasid al-Shariah, the Quran and Sunnah and upon sound fiqh methodology.
Don’t pretend you can derive rulings and knowledge on your own
We have to admit that we do not know the hikmah (wisdom) behind all the commands of Islam. So shouldn’t we at least try to understand these first before criticising and rejecting them?
For example, do you know the apparent reasons and inner mysteries of ablution (wudhu’)? Do you know why recital is not loud in Zuhur and Asar but audible in Subuh, Maghrib and Isha’? Do you know why recital is also audible for Friday and Eid prayers? Do you know the reason marriage by mut’ah is disallowed? Do you know why ‘iddah is prescribed for a woman? Do you know the wisdom in burying the dead and not burning the body?
If you can’t give factual answers without referring to works of scholars then you should by now know what I’m trying to say. That is, we can’t be expected to understand the apparent (zahir) reasons and inner (batin) reasons or wisdom (hikmah) of all commands without extensive research and investigation. We have neither the skill nor time for such an exercise in futility – we’ll make more mistakes than what we get right. Indeed even scholars do not try to interpret certain Quranic verses for which only Allah knows their true purpose or meaning.
Again, trust the Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jamaah scholars
Just to put our intellectual capacity into perspective, Imam Al-Bukhari memorised at least 300,000 hadith together with the chain of narrators of each hadith. Read the famous short story about how his memory was tested at Baghdad. How many hadith have we even read let alone memorise? We haven’t memorised even ONE hadith with the full chain of narrators!
In describing the muhaddith, Imam Al-Dhahabi (1274-1348) raised the question:
“Where is the knowledge of hadith, and where are its people?” Answering his own question, he said, “I am on the verge of not seeing them except engrossed in a book or under the soil.”
Putting it in another way, Imam Al-Dhahabi is saying that if there is a hadith scholar around, the person going round busying himself with preaching or debating is not one of them because the true hadith scholars are already too pre-occupied with their specialised field.
The same applies even more so today. In other words people like you and me just accept the hadith we find from the Sihah Sitta and other hadith works without having to worry about the authenticity or the chain of narrators — because the hard work has already been done for us. So we just quote the hadith and the source e.g. Sahih Bukhari, instead of Z who heard it from Y who heard it from X who heard it from W who heard it from … (so on and so forth)… who heard it from the Prophet salallahu alaihi wasallam. If it is in Sahih Bukhari then it is SAHIH regardless of how illogical it sounds to us, which is only due to our own intellectual deficiency.
Similarly we laypersons rely on the fiqh manuals produced by ASWJ scholars without having to delve deep into the underlying nas and dalil behind each hukum. We simply don’t have the time (or competency) to study, scrutinise and verify the reasoning and wisdom behind each hukum before we accept and practice it.
You need to put your trust in qualified Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jamaah scholars. Read their books, watch their lectures on YouTube and heed their advice if you cannot be in their physical presence or if you are not yet able to learn properly with a qualified teacher. Just bear in mind that any benefit you get watching YouTube or reading a book on our own is not the same as that of learning at the feet of teachers and attending majlis ilmu. The videos and books should preferably be supplements and not substitutes to learning with teachers.
Don’t follow any scholar who does not follow a mazhab, any scholar that criticises a mazhab or any scholar that does not refer to the Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jamaah scholars or their books. And last but not least, avoid the scholar who claims that we should only “follow the Quran and Sunnah and not blindly follow a scholar/ulama” – this may sound logical but in truth he is trying to persuade you to not follow a mazhab or scholars who follow a mazhab. The real truth is that following a mazhab and scholars of a mazhab means following the Quran and Sunnah and there is no blame upon you even if (unlikely), you follow such a scholar who made a mistake in his judgment.
Further reading on why we need to follow a mazhab:
– Why Muslims Follow Madhhabs?
– What is a Madhab? Why is it Necessary to Follow One?
– Why Does One have to follow a madhhab? (Debate Between Muhammad Sa’id al-Buti and a Leading Salafi Teacher)
– The Problem of Anti-Madhhabism
Obviously since the official mazhab in Malaysia (and Nusantara) is Mazhab Shafie then we should logically follow Mazhab Shafie even though the other three mazhabs are also Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jamaah.
Also do not trust scholars who compare rulings between the Four Mazhabs and then selects the one according to his fancy. Two such local scholars are UZAR and Dr Zul Al-Bakri — neither one is a mujathid imam nor ASWJ, much as they want to give the impression that they are. Avoid them.
“It is the duty of people after accepting Iman and Islam to engage themselves in worship and carry on their livelihood… and leave the ilmi masail at the hands of Ulama.. for a commoner to argue in these matters is more harmful and dangerous than Zina and stealing… since a person who is not well versed in deeni uloom and continues to argue in the masail of Allah and his deen… it is very much possible that he forms an opinion that is Kufr and he may not even be aware that what he thinks is kufr… this is similar to a person who does not know swimming and jumps into the ocean.” (Imam Al-Ghazali)
The Prophet (saw) said:
“Whoever interprets the Qur’an by his own opinion, let him seek his abode in the Fire” (Tirmidhi)
– AA –