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Fahm'us Salaf

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SEVENTY-THREE SECTS AND THE AHL'US SUNNAH WA'L JAMA'AH
« on: 04.08.2015, 01:47:50 AM »
Seventy-three Sects and the Ahl'us Sunnah wa'l Jama'ah
Shaykh’ul Islam Ibn Taymiyyah, Majma’ul Fatawa, 3/345-358

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

“Shaykh’ul Islam Ahmad Ibn Taymiyyah (rahimahullah) was asked about his (Rasulullah) sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam’s Hadith:

تفترق أمتي ثلاث وسبعين فرقة

“My Ummah will divide into seventy three sects…”

Which sects are they?

What are the I’tiqad (creed) of all these sects?

In reply he (rahimahullaah) wrote:

Alhamdulillah (Praise be to Allah)!.. This is a Sahih (authentic) Hadith and Mashur (well know) in Sunnan and Masanid collections, such as the Sunnan of Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi, Nasai and others. It runs like this:


"‏افترقت اليهود على إحدى وسبعين فرقة، كلها في النار إلا واحدة، وافترقت النصارى على اثنتين وسبعين فرقة كلها في النار إلا واحدة، وستفترق هذه الأمة على ثلاث وسبعين فرقة، كلها في النار إلا واحدة‏"

“The Jews divided into seventy one Firqa (sects), all of which will go to Hell except one; the Christians divided into seventy-two sects, all of which will go to Hell except one; this Ummah will divide into seventy three sects, all of which will go to Hell except one.” (Abu Dawud; Tirmidhi; Ibn Maajah; Darimi; Ahmad, Musnad)

In another version of the Hadith the words are:


‏على ثلاث وسبعين ملة‏‏ “seventy three Millah, communities.” (Tirmidhi; Ahmad, Musnad)

In a third version we also have this addition:


قالوا‏:‏ يا رسول الله، من الفرقة الناجية‏؟‏ قال‏:‏ ‏"‏من كان على مثل ما أنا عليه اليوم وأصحابي‏"‏‏

“Some people asked Rasulullah about Firqat’un Najiyah (the sect which will be saved). He (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) said: The one which will follow the way I and my companions follow today.” (Hakim, Mustadrak; Ajurri, ash-Sharia; Lailaki, Sharh Usul I'tiqad Ahl’us Sunnah wa’l Jamaa'ah; Ibn Battah, al-Ibanah ala Usul’us Sunnah wa’l Diyanah)

In a fourth version the last part is like this:


قال‏:‏ ‏هي الجماعة، يد الله على الجماعة‏

(Rasulullah) said: “It will be the Jamaa'ah, and the hand of Allah will be on the Jamaa'ah.” (Abu Dawud; Tirmidhi; Ibn Maajah; Darimi; Ahmad, Musnad)

This is the reason why Firqat’un Najiyah (the people that will be saved) are called Ahl’us Sunnah wa’l Jamaa'ah (the people of the Sunnah and the community). They will constitute Jumhur’ul Akbar (the overwhelming majority) and Sawad’ul Adham (the common masses).

The remaining sects will expound Ahl (people of) Shazz (strange) views, Tafriqa (schismatic) and Bid’ah (heresies; innovations) and will indulge in vain al-Ahwa (desires). But even taken together they will neither be equal to nor nearing the number of Firqat’un Najiya (the people who will be saved). In fact, they will be very few; Shiar (the common element between them that will distinguish them) will be their deviation/opposition from Kitab (the Qur’an), the Sunnah  and Ijmaa (the consensus) for those who adhered to the Sunnah and Ijmaa (the Consensus), they are amongst the Ahl’us Sunnah wa’l Jamaa'ah.

As for the identification of these sects, a number of people have written on the subject and mentioned their names in their works on Maqalat (views and doctrines). But the point that a particular sect named by them is -…- (there is a word that can’t be read in the original script) one of those seventy two deviant sects has to be proved. Let us recall that Allah made it Haraam (forbidden) saying anything without Ilm (knowledge) particularly in matters like this. (Allah) Ta'ala has said:


{قُلْ إِنَّمَا حَرَّمَ رَبِّيَ الْفَوَاحِشَ مَا ظَهَرَ مِنْهَا وَمَا بَطَنَ وَالإِثْمَ وَالْبَغْيَ بِغَيْرِ الْحَقِّ وَأَن تُشْرِكُواْ بِاللّهِ مَا لَمْ يُنَزِّلْ بِهِ سُلْطَانًا وَأَن تَقُولُواْ عَلَى اللّهِ مَا لاَ تَعْلَمُونَ‏}

“Say: The things that my Lord has instead forbidden are shameful deeds, whether open or secret, sins and trespasses against truth or reason, assigning of partners to Allah, for which he has given no authority and saying things about Allah of which you have no knowledge.” (al-Araf 7/33) (Allah) Ta’ala also said:

يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ كُلُواْ مِمَّا فِي الأَرْضِ حَلاَلًا طَيِّبًا وَلاَ تَتَّبِعُواْ خُطُوَاتِ الشَّيْطَانِ إِنَّهُ لَكُمْ عَدُوٌّ مُّبِينٌ إِنَّمَا يَأْمُرُكُمْ بِالسُّوءِ وَالْفَحْشَاء وَأَن تَقُولُواْ عَلَى اللّهِ مَا لاَ تَعْلَمُونَ‏‏

“You people! Eat of what is on earth lawful and good; and do not follow the footsteps of the Evil One, for he is to you an avowed enemy. He commands you what is evil and shameful, and that you should say of Allah that of which you have no knowledge.” (al-Baqarah 2/168-169) (Allah) Ta’ala also said:

‏وَلاَ تَقْفُ مَا لَيْسَ لَكَ بِهِ عِلْمٌ إِنَّ السَّمْعَ وَالْبَصَرَ وَالْفُؤَادَ كُلُّ أُولئِكَ كَانَ عَنْهُ مَسْؤُولًا‏

“Pursue not that of which you have no knowledge.” (al-Isra 17/36)

Also, many people talk about these sects merely on Hukm’uz Zan wa’l Hawa (the basis of conjectures and predilections). The sect they belong to or the people that follow their leaders, they call Ahl’us Sunnah wa’l Jama’ah and those who oppose them, they call Ahl Bid’ah (People of Innotaion; heretics). This is plainly wrong. For Ahl’ul Haqq wa’s Sunnah (the people of truth and Sunnah) will have no leader other than Rasulullah sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam (of whom Allah says):


لا ينطق عن الهوى، إن هو إلا وحي يوحى

“He does not say anything of  Hawa (his own desire), (and) what he says is Wahy (inspiration) which is sent down to him.” (an-Najm 53/3)

It is Waajib (obligatory) that whatever he informs is to be accepted/believed and what he commands is to be obeyed. No one else amongst the Aimmah (pl., Imam; leaders) enjoys this position, and no one else amongst the people is to be followed in all that he says, Rasulullah sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam is the only exception…

Then whoever accounts the one who loves and consents other than Rasulullah sallallahu alayhi wa sallam to be Ahl’us Sunnah wa’l Jama’ah (the people of Hadith and Sunnah) and those who oppose him to be Ahl Bid’ah wa’l Firqat –which can be seen amongst Taifah (groups) from the followers of the Aimmah of the sciences of Kalam fid Din (theology) and other than- becomes amongst the Ahl Bid’ah, Dalalah and Tafriqa. It is clear from this that those who have the right to be amongst Firqat’un Najiyah (the people who will be saved) are Ahl’ul Hadit wa’s Sunnah (the people of Hadith and Sunnah). They have none other than Rasulullah sallallahu alayhi wa sallam to be followed.

Of all the people they (i.e., Ahl’us Sunnah wa’l Jama’ah) are those who know his (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) statements and states best, who are aware which reports about him are Sahih (authentic) and which are Saqim (defected). Their scholars have a better Faqaha (knowledge and understanding) of these things and follow them best.

They (i.e., Ahl’us Sunnah wa’l Jama’ah) are Ahl Marifah (know and adhere) to them (i.e., the Sunnah of Muhamamd sallallahu alayhi wa sallam), accept and act upon it, love and show Muwalat (friendship) towards those who show Wala and enmity towards those who show enmity.

They think over the issues in the light of  Kitaab (the Qur’an) and the Hikmah (wisdom i.e., the Sunnah) and do not raise anything to the status of Usoul’ud Din and advocate it unless it is derived from what has come down from him (i.e., Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam). In fact they base their ideas and doctrines on the Qur’an and Hikmah (the wisdom) that Rasulullah has given.

They refer the issues which people have debated, such as Sifaat (divine attributes), Qadr (fore-ordainment), Wa’id (reward and punishment), the names, Amri bi’l Ma’ruf wa’l Nayhi an’il Munkar (the duty of enjoining the right forbidding the wrong) and other than that…to Allah and His Prophet. Lafdh (the words) that are Mujmal (ambiguous) and have been interpreted in different ways by Ahl’ul Tafriq wa’l Ikhtilaaf (People of  schismatic and secessionist), they interpret in the sense which is closest to al-Kitaab (i.e., the Qur’an) and Sunnah and reject and invalidate all the other senses which are opposed to al-Kitaab and Sunnah. They neither run after Zann (conjectures) nor follow vain desires, for they believe that indulgence into conjecture is ignorance and pursuance of desires without any clear guidance from Allah is Dhulm (folly). Allah Ta’ala said:


‏وَحَمَلَهَا الْإِنسَانُ إِنَّهُ كَانَ ظَلُومًا جَهُولًا‏

(We did indeed offer the Trust to the Heavens and the Earth and the Mountains; but they refused to undertake it, being afraid thereof:) but man undertook it;- He was indeed unjust and foolish... (al-Ahzab 33/72) up until to the end of the Surah (al-Ahzab 33/73)

(Allah) Subhanahu wa Ta’ala in the next Ayah (verse), mentioned Tawbah (repentance) and Allah would accept Tawbah from whomever He wishes. Since every person has Jahl (ignorance) and Dhulm (oppression), for the Mu’min (believer) slave, the truth that he does not know always would become apparent so that he would turn back from a deed that Dhulm in it. (check: al-Ahzab 33/73)

The least Dhulm (of mankind) is (the Dhulm) for his ownself. (Allah) Ta’ala stated:


اللّهُ وَلِيُّ الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ يُخْرِجُهُم مِّنَ الظُّلُمَاتِ إِلَى النُّوُرِ

Allah is the Protector of those who have faith: from the depths of darkness He will lead them forth into light. (al-Baqarah 2/257)

(Allah) Ta’ala also stated:


هُوَ الَّذِي يُنَزِّلُ عَلَى عَبْدِهِ آيَاتٍ بَيِّنَاتٍ لِيُخْرِجَكُم مِّنَ الظُّلُمَاتِ إِلَى النُّورِ

He is the One Who sends to His Servant Manifest Signs, that He may lead you from the depths of Darkness into the Light. (al-Hadid 57/9)

(Allah) Ta’ala also stated:


الَر كِتَابٌ أَنزَلْنَاهُ إِلَيْكَ لِتُخْرِجَ النَّاسَ مِنَ الظُّلُمَاتِ إِلَى النُّورِ

Alif. Lam. Ra. A Book which We have revealed unto thee, in order that thou mightest lead mankind out of the depths of darkness into light. (Ibrahim 14/1)

It may be noted, however, that those who follow one scholar or the other in matters regarding Usou’ud Din (the principles of religion) and Kalam (theology) fall into different categories. Some oppose the Sunnah on major Usoul (principles); others oppose the Sunnah on precise (minor) issues. Furthermore, it is possible that those who refute the views of others which are far more removed from the Sunnah than their own views may be right in what they say in refuting wrong doctrines or supporting the right ones, they would be praised as much good as they have. However they may separated from the Adl (jusctice) and have gone too far in their refutation and rejected some part of the truth and defended some untruth. That is to say, they may get rid of a greater Bid’ah (heresy) through a lesser heresy and demolished a greater untruth through a lesser untruth. This is the condition of most of the Ahl’ul Kalam (theologians) with in the fold of the (Ahl’us) Sunnah wa’l Jama’ah.

If people like these do not severe their relations from Jama’at’ul Muslimin (the Muslim community) on the basis of the heresies they expound, taking them as the criterion for friendship or enmity, they are only guilty of mistaken. Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala will forgive mistakes like this and pardon those who commit them.

This is the state that many of the Salaf (predecessor) and the Aimmah of this Ummah (nation) fell into. They have views (& sayings) out of Ijtihaad that are in opposition to the Kitaab and the Sunnah. But if they take as friends those who agree with them and as enemies those who disagree with them, and divide Jama’at’ul Muslimin into their supporters and opponents and call the latter Kafir or Fasiq even though they differ from them in matters in which opinions may differ, and think that they should fight them, they will then be called Ahl’ul Tafriqa wa’l Ikhtilaaf (People of Schismatic and Secessionist).

That is why the first group of people amongst the Ahl’ul Bid’ah who seceded from Jama’at’ul Muslimin were the Khawarij; they went out of the boundaries of Islam. The Hadith of Nabi sallallahu alayhi wa salllam which we have about them has come down to us through ten different channels all of which have been noted by Muslim in his Sahih. Some of them also have been noted by Bukhari (in his Sahih). The companions of Nabi (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) fought them under the command of Amir’ul Mu’minun Ali Ibn Abi Talib (radiyallahu anh) and were united with regards to fighting against them unlike the Fitnah (trial) concerning fighting against on the Day of Jamal and Siffin. (Ashab) were in three ranks with regards to it (i.e., fighting against them on the Day of Jamal and Siffin): One group fought with him (Ali ibn Abi Talib); one group fought with others (against Ali ibn Abi Talib) and one group did not fight in anyways since there are Nass that indicates to prefer this.

When they seceded from Jama’at’ul Muslimin and regarded its members as Kafir and justified taking up the sword against them, Sunnah contains (narrations indicates that) this would happen. Like Nabi sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam said:


"‏يحقر أحدكم صلاته مع صلاتهم، وصيامه مع صيامهم، وقراءته مع قراءتهم يقرؤون القرآن لا يجاوز حناجرهم، يمرقون من الإسلام كما يمرق السهم من الرمية، أينما لقيتموهم فاقتلوهم، فإن في قتلهم أجرًا عند الله لمن قتلهم يوم القيامة‏"‏

“You will look down upon your Salah in comparison to their Salah, your fasting in comparison to their fasting, and your Qiraah (recitation of the Qur’an) in comparison to their Qiraah. But they will read the Qur’an and their reading will not go down their throat. They will move out of Islam as an arrow moves out of the prey it kills. Kill them whenever you get them, you will be rewarded for killing them on Yawm’ul Qiyamah (the Day of Judgment).” (Bukhari; Muslim; Ibn Majah; Ahmad, Musnad; Tabarani, Mujam’ul Kabir; Abu Nu’aym, Hilyat’ul Awliya; Haythami, Majma’uz Zawaid)

First Khawarij occurred during the era of Rasulullah sallallahu alayhi wa sallam. When he saw Nabi sallallahu alayhi wa sallam distributes the share (of booty of the Hunayn Ghazwa) said:
يامحمد، اعدل؛ فإنك لم تعدل Be just in your distribution O Muhammad! You were not just in your distrubution. Nabi sallallahu alayhi wa sallam said: "‏لقد خبت وخسرت إن لم أعدل‏" If I was unjust then I would be destroyed. Then some of the Ashab said: دعني يا رسول الله أضرب عنق هذا المنافق Rasulullah! Let me cut the neck of this Munafiq!.. Then (Rasulullah) said:

إنه يخرج من ضئضئ هذا أقوام يحقر أحدكم صلاته مع صلاتهم، وصيامه مع صيامهم، وقراءته مع قراءتهم

From among the offspring of this man there will rise a people who you will look down upon your Salah in comparison to their Salah, your fasting in comparison to their fasting, and your Qiraah (recitation of the Qur’an) in comparison to their Qiraah...

Source of the Bid’ah is Ta’n (insulting/vilificating) to the Sunnah by Zann and Hawa (desire) as Iblis (Lucifer) made Ta’n to the order of  His (Ta’ala) with Ra’y (opinion) and Hawa.

As for identifying those destroyed sects, the first man who discussed the issue was Yusuf Ibn Asbat, then Abdullah Ibn’l Mubarak. Both are outstanding scholars amongst the Aimmah of the Mu’minin and they have said that Asl’ul Bid’ah (sources of Bid’ah; heresies) have proceeded from four sects:


أصول البدع أربعة‏:‏ الروافض، والخوارج، والقدرية، والمرجئة

Rafawid, Khawarij; Qadariyyah and Murjiah. Ibn’ul Mubarak was asked: “What about the Jahmiyyah?” He said: ليسوا من أمة محمد “They are not part of the Ummah of Muhammad.” He used to say: إنا لنحكي كلام اليهود والنصارى، ولا نستطيع أن نحكي كلام الجهمية‏.‏ “We quote the words of the Jews and the Nasara (Christians) however we do not quote the words of the Jahmiyyah.”

A number of scholars from Ashab (companions; the school) of (Imam) Ahmad and others agree with this assessment. They said:


إن الجهمية كفار فلا يدخلون في الاثنتين والسبعين فرقة، كما لا يدخل فيهم المنافقون الذين يبطنون الكفر ويظهرون الإسلام، وهم الزنادقة‏.‏

The Jahmiyyah are Kuffar (infidels); they can not, therefore be included in the seventy-two sects, just as Munafiqun (the hypocrites) who conceal their Kufr and express their Islam and they are Zanadiqa (heretics) are not included in them.

Others amonsgt the Ashab of Ahmad and other than them said: Rather, Jahmiyyah included in seventytwo sects and consequently they count Usoul’ul Bid’ah (the sources of innovation; heresy) to be five. According to them, all of the (five sects of heresy) is divided into twelve sects. According to the firs view, all of the (four sects of heresy) is divided into eighteen sects.
 
The reason for this difference lies in the answer that these two group, give to the question whether Ahl’ul Bid’ah (the people expounding heretical ideas) made Takfir of (excommunicated as Kafir). Those who exclude the Jahmiyyah from them (i.e., the list of seventy-two sects) do not make Takfir (excommunicate) of them (the expounders of heresies), for Ahl’ul Bid’ah (everyone who comes out with a heresy) can not be made Takfir (excommunicated) of. They (do not account them as Kafir) rather categorize them (Ahl’ul Bid’ah) with in Ahl’ul Wai’d (the people that deserve punishment) like Fussaq (the intransigent) and Usat (the sinners) as it is in the saying (of Rasulullah) that:
هم في النار “they are in fire (i.e., Hell)” they point out, should be understood in the same sense in which it is said about other sinners, such as those who misappropriate the property of orphans. (Allah) Ta'ala has said:

إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يَأْكُلُونَ أَمْوَالَ الْيَتَامَى ظُلْمًا إِنَّمَا يَأْكُلُونَ فِي بُطُونِهِمْ نَارًا وَسَيَصْلَوْنَ سَعِيرًا

“Those who unjustly eat the property of orphans eat up a fire into their own bodies.” (an-Nisa 4/10)

Those, on the other hand, who include the Jahmiyyah in the list are of two kinds, (those who call no one Kafir and) those who call all of them Kafir. The latter group is comprised of some scholars of later periods from among the followers of the Aimmah (scholars) or Mutakallimin (the theologians).

However, the Salaf and the Aimmah are one at (and did not have any disagreement) that in the case of (the Murjiah) and the (Shiah) Mufaddilah (i.e. those who simply assert that Ali was superior to the other three righteous caliphs) and others, they can not be called Kafir. Ahmad’s statements with regard to them are quiet clear (and there is no disagreement in it) that they can not be called Kafir. Infact in opposition to him (i.e., Imam Ahmad) and his Madhhab, amongst his Ashab (companions) there are some who make Takfir of both these groups and others. Even some have also said that these and other groups (amongst Ahl’ul Bid’ah) are condemned to (Hell) forever. This is a lapse upon his Madhhab as well as the Shari'ah.

Amongst them those who do not make Takfir of any heretical sect do so because they put Ahl’ul Bid’ah (the heretics) with Ahl’ul Masiyah (the sinners) and they say: As it is a principle of Ahl’us Sunnah wa’l Jama’ah, not to call anyone Kafir because of his sin, likewise they would not like to call anyone Kafir on account of his Bid’ah (heresy)

Salaf and the Aimmah are reported to have make Takfir of only the sheer Jahmiyyah, who deny Sifaat (Allah’s attributes), who say that Allah neither speaks nor sees in true sense, that He is not separate from the creation, that He has no Ilm (knowledge), no Qudrah (power), no hearing, no sight and no life, (stating that) indeed the Qur’an is a created object, that Ahl’ul Jannah (the people of Paradise) like Ahl’ul Nar (the people of fir; Hell) will not see Allah and so on so forth.

With regard to the Takfir of the Khawarij and the Rafawid there are contradictions and doubts from (Imam) Ahmad and others that they are Kafir.

As for the Qadariyyah, who deny (Allah’s) writing (fore-ordainment; for-knowledge of human actions) and Ilm (for-knowledge) they have called them Kafir, however with regard to those who affirm Allah’s Ilm (fore-knowledge) but not His creation of human actions, they had not called them Kafir.

I will state here two principles as Fasl’ul Khitab (clarify the issue).

First, of those who offer Salah, no one would be Kafir unless he is a hypocrite, for since the time Allah sent Muhammad sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam as a messenger, given the Qur’an and compelled to migrate to Madinah, people were divided into three groups, Mu’min (those who believed in him), Kafir (those who rejected him) and did so openly, and Munafiq (those who were hypocrites and) concealed their rejection of him.

For this reason, Allah mentioned these three groups in Surah al-Baqarah; revealed for Ayah regarding the state of Mu’minin, two Ayah regarding the Kuffar and more than ten Ayah regarding the Munafiqin.

Allah in many places in the Qur’an mentioned the Kuffar (pl., Kafir; disbelievers) and the Munafiqin (pl., Munafiq; hypocrites). Like the following statements (of Allah):


وَلَا تُطِعِ الْكَافِرِينَ وَالْمُنَافِقِينَ

"hearken not to the Unbelievers and the Hypocrites." (al-Ahzab 33/1) And the statement (of Allah):

إِنَّ اللّهَ جَامِعُ الْمُنَافِقِينَ وَالْكَافِرِينَ فِي جَهَنَّمَ جَمِيعًا

"For Allah will collect the hypocrites and those who defy faith - all in Hell." (an-Nisa 4/140) And the statement (of Allah):

فَالْيَوْمَ لَا يُؤْخَذُ مِنكُمْ فِدْيَةٌ وَلَا مِنَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا

"This Day shall no ransom be accepted of you (i.e., the Munafiqin), nor of those who Kuffar (rejected Allah)." (al-Hadid 57/15)

(In these Ayah and the similar of them, Allah) used Atf (conjunction) due their making Islam apparent, to distinguish between the Munafiqin and the Kuffar. In fact the Munafiqin are worse than the Kuffar. As (Allah) Ta’ala stated:


إِنَّ الْمُنَافِقِينَ فِي الدَّرْكِ الأَسْفَلِ مِنَ النَّارِ

The hypocrites will be in the lowest depths of the Fire. (an-Nisa 4/145) As (Allah) Ta’ala stated:

وَلاَ تُصَلِّ عَلَى أَحَدٍ مِّنْهُم مَّاتَ أَبَدًا وَلاَ تَقُمْ عَلَىَ قَبْرِهِ إِنَّهُمْ كَفَرُواْ بِاللّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ

Nor do thou ever pray for any of them that dies, nor stand at his grave; for they rejected Allah and His Messenger. (at-Tawbah 9/84) As (Allah) Ta’ala stated:

قُلْ أَنفِقُواْ طَوْعًا أَوْ كَرْهًا لَّن يُتَقَبَّلَ مِنكُمْ إِنَّكُمْ كُنتُمْ قَوْمًا فَاسِقِينَ وَمَا مَنَعَهُمْ أَن تُقْبَلَ مِنْهُمْ نَفَقَاتُهُمْ إِلاَّ أَنَّهُمْ كَفَرُواْ بِاللّهِ وَبِرَسُولِهِ وَلاَ يَأْتُونَ الصَّلاَةَ إِلاَّ وَهُمْ كُسَالَى وَلاَ يُنفِقُونَ إِلاَّ وَهُمْ كَارِهُونَ

"Say: Spend (for the Cause) willingly or unwillingly: not from you will it be accepted: for ye are indeed a people rebellious and wicked. The only reasons why their contributions are not accepted are: that they reject Allah and His Messenger; that they come to prayer save lazily; and that they offer contributions unwillingly." (at-Tawbah 9/53-54)
 
When this is the case we may have among Ahl’ul Bid’ah (the heretical sects) those who are Munafiq (hypocrites) and Zindiq (heretic); they are Kafir. Such people are mostly found among the Rafawid and the Jahmiyyah. Their leaders were Munafiqin (hypocrites) and Zanadiqah (pl., Zindiq), just as the man who invented Rafd was a Munafiq. (The school of) the Jahmiyyah, too, was raised on the basis of Zanadaqah (heresy) and Nifaq (hypocrisy). This is the reason why Zanadiqah who come from the Karmathian Batini (esoteric) and pose as Mutafalsafa (philosophers) incline towards the Rafawid and Jahmiyyah with whom they have great affinity.

Among Ahl’ul Bid’ah (the heretical sects) we may also have people who have Iman (faith) Batinan (inwardly) and Dhahiran (outwardly) in their heart but are guilty of Jahl (ignorance), Dhulm (wrongdoing) and mistakes with regard to the Sunnah. Such people are neither Kafir nor Munafiq (hypocrites).

They may be doing things of transgression and Dhulm (oppression) that render them, Fasiq (transgressors) and Asi (sinners). Some of them may be doing so by mistaken Ta’wil (erroneously interpreting the texts); such people will be forgiven for their mistake. Some may also have Iman (faith) and Taqwa (piety) to a degree which earns the status of Waliyullah (Allah’s Walayah; love and support) commensurate with their Iman and Taqwa. This is the first principle.

The second principle is that the doctrine that one expounds may be in itself Kufr (faithlessness). For example, one may deny that Salah, Zakah, Siyam (fasting) or Hajj is Waajib (obligatory), or assert that Zina (adultery), Khmar (drinking wine), gambling or marrying within the prohibited circle is lawful. However it is possible that the expounder of these doctrines may not have knowledge about them or may not have gotten the Khitab (call) and such person can not be made Takfir of due to his denial. This may happen with a person who has embraced Islam new, or who is born and brought up in a place that rulings/principles of Islam has not reached. He can not, therefore, be called Kafir on the grounds that he denies something revealed to Rasul (messenger), for he does not know that it was revealed to the Rasul sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam. 

The doctrines of the Jahmiyyah belong to this category; because they negate the state (attributes) which Rabb (Lord) Ta’ala is qualified and which Allah has revealed to His Rasul (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam).

There are three reasons why they (i.e., The Jahmiyyah) have been condemned so strongly:

First of all, Nass (the texts) which contradict their doctrines are in abundance in Kitaab (the Qur’an), Hadith and Ijmaa (the consensus), and are Mashur (well known) and they just reject them by Tahrif (misinterpreting them).

Second, their doctrines amount to Ta’til (negation) of the Creator, however it is possible that some of them may not have realized that their doctrines Ta’til (negate) the Creator. Just as the basis of Imam (faith) is Iqrar (belief) in Allah, the basis of Kufr is Inkar (the denial) of Allah.

Third, they contradict truths which are agreed upon in all religions and testified to by human nature.

In spite of this, many Muslims are not able to see the real import of their doctrines; some even think that Haqq (the truth) is with them since they put forth their objections quite forcefully (to let people fall into their traps).

These Muslims do have Iman (faith) in Allah and His Rasul (Messenger) Batinan and Dhahiran. Therefore the argument which these heretics advance confuse them as they confuse other groups of Bid’ah and doubts and parallelism occurred. Certainly these Muslims are not Kafir at all; rather some of them may be Fasiq (transgressors) and Asi (wrongdoers); some may be mistaken and Allah may (hopefully) forgive them; and some may even have, along with their erroneous ideas, Iman (the faith) and Taqwa (piety) which earns the status of Waliyullah (Allah’s Walayah; love and support) commensurate with their Iman and Taqwa.”

The foundation of separation of the Ahl’us Sunnah from the Khawarij, the Jahmiyyah, the Mu’tazilah and the Murji’ah is the view; Iman (faith) increases (& decreases) and consists (of belief, statement and Amal; deed) since Nabi sallallahu alayhi wa sallam stated:


يخرج من النار من كان في قلبه مثقال ذرة من إيمان

"The one who has in his heart Iman (good faith) equal to the weight of an atom will be taken out of Nar (fire i.e., Hell)." (Bukhari; Muslim; Tirmidhi)

When the Asl’ul Bid’ah (bases of innovation & heresy) is known, the foundation of the views of the Khawarij is; they make Takfir due to sins, they account things that are not sins as sin, they make it a necessity to follow the Kitab when the Dhahir of the Sunnah is in opposition to it (the Book) even if it is Mutawatir (mass transmitted narration). They make Takfir of those who oppose them. They make Istihlaal (make it Halal i.e., permissible) which is not permissible (in the first place) for the Kuffar’ul Asl (disbelievers in origin), concerning their opponents which they accuse them with Irtidaad (apostasy). Since Nabi sallallahu alayhi wa sallam stated:

يقتلون أهل الإسلام وَيَدعون أهل الأوثان

"They kill Ahl’ul Islam (People of Islam i.e., Muslims) and leave Ahl’ul Awthan (People of idolaters) alone." (Bukhari; Muslim; Abu Dawud)

For this reason out of their Habith (malignant) views they made Takfir of Uthman (radiyallahu anh), Ali (radiyalalhu anh) and their adherents, likewise they made Takfir of the both groups of the Ahl Siffin and likes…

The bases of the views of the Rafidha are:

Nabi sallalahu alayhi wa sallam, appointed Ali (radiyallahu anh) in a manner that there is no space for excuse. And surely he (Ali radiyalalhu anh) is the Masum (innocent, infallible) Imam. Whoever opposes to him becomes Kafir. Muhajirin (emigrants) and the Ansar (helpers) hid the Nass (textual proof) and rejected the Masum Imam. They followed Hawa (vain desire) and changed the Din, denaturized the Shari’ah; performed excess and Dhulm (oppression). Rather other than ten or so amongst the Ashab (companions) they made Takfir of the rest (of the companions).

Then they (Rafidha) said: Abu Bakr and Umar and likes were always Munafiq. They also said: Rather they believed and then disbelieved.

Majortiy of them (Rafidha) make Takfir of those who oppose their views, they call themselves as Mu’minin (believers) and their opponents as Kuffar (pl., Kafir; disbelievers). They accounted the cities of Islam which their views do not appear in it as Daru Riddah (Abode of Apostasy) and (they accounted the cities of Islam) worse than the cities of the Mushrikin and Nasara (the Christians). For this reason, they ally with the Yahud (the Jews), the Nasara (the Christians) and the Mushrikin against some amongst the majority of the Muslimin. As their alliance with the Mushrik Kuffar against the majority of the Muslimin is known and their alliance with the Franks (European) Nasara (the Christians) against the majority of the Muslimin and their alliance with the Yahud (the Jews) against the majority of the Muslimin (is known as well).

Amongst them (i.e., the Rafidha) occured the mother of Zanadiqah and Nifaq such as the Zanadiqah of Batini Qaramita and likes. No doubt they (i.e., the Rafidha) are the most distant ones to the Kitaab (the Book, i.e., Qur’an) and the Sunnah amongst the (all) Mubtadi (innovated) sects. Because of it they, are known with their opposition to the Sunnah, in the public. Majority of the public would not describe opposite of Sunni other than Rafidhi. When one amongst the public says: I am Sunni, it means that I am not Rafidhi.

No doubt they are worse than the Khawarij. However the Khawarij at the beginning of Islam drew their swords against the Ahl’ul Jama’ah (People of Community). Their (Rafidha) alliance with the Kuffar is greater (in danger) than the swords of the Khawarij. Qaramita, Ismailiyyah and their likes of Ahl’ul Muharaba (People of Belligerent) against the Ahl’ul Jama’ah are Muntasib (affiliated) with them (Rafidha). The Khawarij are known with their Sidq (truthfulness) on the other hand the Rafidha are known with their lies. Khawarij became distant from Islam; they (Rafidha) declare war against Islam.

When it comes to the pure Qadariyyah; they were much better than them (i.e. the Rafidha) and closer to the Kitaab and the Sunnah. However groups of the Qadariyya such as the Mu’tazilah and likes are the same with Jahmiyyah. They (as well) made Takfir of those who oppose them, they made the blood of the Muslimin Halaal (permissible to shed) so with it became closer to them.

And the Murj’ah; are not amongst the followers of the harsh Bid’ah. Rather some of the Ahl’ul Fiqh wa’l Ibadaah (People of Fiqh; jurisprudence and Ibadaah; worship) joined their views and were entitled as Ahl’ul Sunnah up until they separated (from Ahl’us Sunnah) due to accepting irrational views.

When Irja and Tafdil attributed to Mashahir (famous) people who were followed then Aimmat’ul Sunnat’ul Mashahir (Famous Sunnah Scholars) spoke ill of the Murji’ah which has the belief of Tafdil like Sufyan ath-Thawri stated:


من قَدَّم عليًا على أبي بكر والشيخين فقد أزرى ‏"‏أي‏:‏ حطَّ من شأنهم‏"‏ بالمهاجرين والأنصار، وما أرى يصعد له إلى الله عمل مع ذلك‏.‏

"Whoever prefers Ali (radiyallahu anh) to Abu Bakr (radiyallahu anh) or to the Shayhayn (two Shaykhs; Abi Bakr and Umar) and accounted him better than them, then he spoke ill of and affront the Muhajir and the Ansar. I don’t think there is an Amal (deed) for such person to reach Allah with."

‏من قدم عليا على عثمان فقد أزرى بالمهاجرين والأنصار،

Whoever makes Taqdim (preference) of Ali (radiyallahu anh) to Uthman (radiyallahu anh) then he wronged the Muhajir and the Ansar.

He said this when the claim of such from some of the Aimmah of Kufa reached him. It was narrated that he (Ayyub as-Sakhtiyani) made Ruju (revoked) from this (i.e., his view). Likewise the statements of Thawri, Malik, Shafii and others concerning their speaking ill of the Murji’ah when Irja was attributed some of the Mashurun (famous scholars).

Statements of Imam Ahmad (ibn Hanbal) concerning this matter are the same as the statements of those guidance giving Aimmah who passed. He did not fabricate any statement from himself. However he; made the Sunnah manifest and affirmed it, defended the Sunnah and put forth the state of his opponents, made Jihaad upon Sunnah, he showed Sabr (patience) to persecution of the Hawa and Bid’ah for its sake. Allah Ta’ala stated:


وَجَعَلْنَا مِنْهُمْ أَئِمَّةً يَهْدُونَ بِأَمْرِنَا لَمَّا صَبَرُوا

"And We appointed, from among them, leaders, giving guidance under Our command." (as-Sajda 32/24)

Sabr (patience) and Yaqin (certainty)... the degree of Imam in the Din can be reached with them both.
   
When Imam Ahmad committed all of these, he earned the attribute of al-Imam fi’s Sunnah which he became famous with, just like he followed those who passed he became (Imam) to be followed for those after him.

Sunnah is no other but a viewpoint that the Sahaba (companion) took from Rasulullah sallallahu alayhi wa sallam, from them (i.e., the Sahaba) took the Tabi’in and Atba’i Tabi’in from them (i.e., Tabi’in) ... those which will continue to be taken until to the Yawm’ul Qiyamah (Doomsday). Though some of the Aimmah know the Sunnah better and are more patient (than the rest).

Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala all Knower and all Ruler. Wallahu A’lam (Allah knows the best)!..
Whosoever desires الْعِزَّةَ al-Izzah (honour, power and glory) then to Allah belong all الْعِزَّةَ al-Izzah [and one can get honour, power and glory only by obeying and worshiping Allah (Alone)]. To Him ascend (all) الْكَلِمُ الطَّيِّبُ al-Kalim al-Tayyib (the goodly words), and الْعَمَلُ الصَّالِحُ al-Amal al-Saalih (the righteous deeds) exalt it (the goodly words i.e., the goodly words are not accepted by Allah unless and until they are followed by good deeds). (Fatir 35/10)

 

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