Foundations for the Islamic Awakening

Imām Muḥammad Nāṣir al-Dīn al-Albānī

Establishing what is necessary for us to return to the Islām that the Prophet (ﷺ) left his companions upon.
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The noble scholar Muḥammad Nāsir al-Dīn al-Albānī was asked: What are the foundations that will enable the Islamic world to arise again anew?

He respodonded (رحمه الله) and said: That which I believe, is what has been reported in the authentic ḥadīth – which is a clear answer to this question, and to those questions similar to it which are asked in our present time – and that is the statement of the Prophet (ﷺ), “When you deal in ’eenah (a transaction involving usury), take hold of the tails of cows, become content with agriculture and abandon jihād in the Path of Allāh, then Allāh will permit your humiliation and He will not remove it from you, until you return to your Religion.” 2 Thus, the foundation is the return to Islām.

This very fact has been pointed out by Imām Mālik (d.179H) – raḥimahullāh – in a statement transmitted from him, which is worthy of being written in golden ink; and that is his saying, “Whosoever introduces into Islām an innovation, and holds it to be something good, has indeed alleged that Muḥammad (ﷺ) has betrayed his message.  Read the saying of Allāh – the Most Blessed, the Most High:

الْيَوْمَ أَكْمَلْتُ لَكُمْ دِينَكُمْ وَأَتْمَمْتُ عَلَيْكُمْ نِعْمَتِي وَرَضِيتُ لَكُمُ الْإِسْلَامَ دِينًا ۚ فَمَنِ اضْطُرَّ فِي مَخْمَصَةٍ غَيْرَ مُتَجَانِفٍ لِّإِثْمٍ ۙ فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ ‎﴿٣﴾

“This day I have perfected your Religion for you, completed My favour upon you and I have chosen for you Islām as your Religion.”
[al-Māʾidah, 5:3]

So that which was not part of the Religion at that time, cannot be part of the Religion today.

And the last part of this Ummah cannot be rectified, except by that which rectified its first part. 3

Imām Mālik

The last sentence is the essential part with regards to the answer to this question, since he said, “And the last part of this Ummah cannot be rectified, except by that which rectified its first part.”  So, just as the affairs of the Arabs in jāhilīyyah (pre-Islamic ignorance) was not rectified, except by the advent of the Prophet Muḥammad (ﷺ) via Divine Revelation – which brought them happiness in this world and will bring them salvation in the Hereafter – then likewise, re-establishing a happy and successful Islamic life cannot be based upon anything other than returning to the Qurʾān and the Sunnah.

However, this matter is in need of some clarification, due to the presence of a multitude of Islamic groups and parties in our midst today, each of them claiming to have set out the correct manhaj (methodology) which will bring about the Islamic society and the rule of Islām.

We know the Book of Allāh and the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allāh (ﷺ) that the path to be taken in order to realize this objective (of bringing about the Islamic society and the rule of Islām) is a single path, and that is the one which Allāh – the Mighty and Majestic – mentions in His saying:

وَأَنَّ هَٰذَا صِرَاطِي مُسْتَقِيمًا فَاتَّبِعُوهُ ۖ وَلَا تَتَّبِعُوا السُّبُلَ فَتَفَرَّقَ بِكُمْ عَن سَبِيلِهِ ۚ ﴿١٥٣﴾

“Indeed this is My Straight Path, so follow it, and do not follow other paths that will separate you from His Path.”
[al-Anʿām, 6:153]

And the Messenger of Allāh (ﷺ) explained this to his Companions since: One day he drew a straight line for them on the ground and then drew many short lines on both sides of it.  He then recited the previous āyah whilst he was moving his noble finger over the straight line, and he said, “This is the Path of Allāh.”  He then pointed to the other lines and said, “These are other paths, and at the head of each of them is a devil calling towards it.” 4

Our Lord – the Mighty and Majestic – emphasized in another āyah this very same point which was mentioned in the very same āyah; along with the explanation of the Messenger of Allāh (ﷺ) in the ḥadīth.  Allāh – the Most High – said:

وَمَن يُشَاقِقِ الرَّسُولَ مِن بَعْدِ مَا تَبَيَّنَ لَهُ الْهُدَىٰ وَيَتَّبِعْ غَيْرَ سَبِيلِ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ نُوَلِّهِ مَا تَوَلَّىٰ وَنُصْلِهِ جَهَنَّمَ ۖ وَسَاءَتْ مَصِيرًا ‎﴿١١٥﴾

“And whosoever opposes the Messenger, even after the guidance has been clearly conveyed to him, and follows a path other than that of the Believers, We shall leave him in the path he has chosen and land him in Hell, what an evil destination.”
[al-Nisāʾ, 4:115]

This āyah contains a great wisdom, since He – the Most Perfect – placed the path of the Believers in conjunction with that which the Messenger (ﷺ) brought.  And the fine point of this wisdom was also indicated by the Messenger of Allāh (ﷺ) in the ḥadīth of al-Iftiraaq (the authentic narration concerning the splitting of this Ummah into seventy three sects), when he was asked about the Saved-Sect, so he replied, “It is that which I and my Companions are upon today.” 5

So what is the wisdom in Allāh – the Mighty and Majestic – mentioning the path of the Believers in the previous āyah?  And what is the underlying point of the Messenger of Allāh (ﷺ) mentioning his Companions right after mentioning himself, in the previous ḥadīth?

The answer to this is: that the noble Companions are the very people who received the two Revelations (the Qurʾān and the Sunnah) from the Messenger of Allāh (ﷺ), who explained it to them directly – without an intermediary – and this is contrary to all those who came after them.  And there is no doubt that the issue is as the Messenger of Allāh (ﷺ) said, “Indeed the one present sees that which the one absent does not.” 6 This is why the īmān (faith) of the Companions was greater than the faith of those who came after them, and this is what has been clearly indicated by the Messenger (ﷺ) an the authentic ḥadīth, “The best of mankind is my generation, then those who follow them, then those who follow them.” 7 Therefore, it is not possible for any Muslim to independently understand the Book and the Sunnah.  Rather, one must seek aid in understanding them by returning to the understanding of the noble Companions, who took their understanding from the Prophet (ﷺ); via his statements, his actions and his tacit approvals.

Thus, along with calling to the Book and the Sunnah, it is absolutely essential to attach the understanding and the practice of the Salaf al-Ṣāliḥ (the Pious Predecessors: the first three generations of Muslims whose excellence has been testified to in the above ḥadīth); acting upon the preceding verses and ḥadīth, which order clinging to the path of the Believers, which has been explained to be the path upon which the Prophet (ﷺ), his Companions and those who followed them in belief and actions, were upon.

And here, a very important question arises, which many of the groups and parties neglect; and that is: How does one obtain knowledge of the understanding and the practical application of the Sunnah that the Companions adhered to?

The answer to this is: that there is no way in obtaining this knowledge, except by returning to ʿilmul-ḥadīth (the knowledge of ḥadīth); ʿilm mustalahatul-ḥadīth (the science of ḥadīth) and the science of al-jarh wat-ta’deel (the science of verifying the condition of the narrators) – applying its principles and its terms such that the Scholars are able to distinguish that which is authentic from the Prophet (ﷺ), from that which is not.

So in ending the answer to the question, we say in the clearest possible manner, to those who wish to bring back to Islām its honour, strength, supremacy and rule, that you must actualize two matters:

Firstly: to bring back to the minds of the Muslims the knowledge of the Sharīʿah (Laws) of Islām; purified from all the innovations that have entered into it, which were not a part of it upon the day when Allāh – the Most Blessed, the Most High – revealed His saying:

الْيَوْمَ أَكْمَلْتُ لَكُمْ دِينَكُمْ وَأَتْمَمْتُ عَلَيْكُمْ نِعْمَتِي وَرَضِيتُ لَكُمُ الْإِسْلَامَ دِينًا ۚ فَمَنِ اضْطُرَّ فِي مَخْمَصَةٍ غَيْرَ مُتَجَانِفٍ لِّإِثْمٍ ۙ فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ ‎﴿٣﴾

“This day I have perfected your Religion for you, completed My favour upon you and I have chosen for you Islām as your Religion.”
[al-Māʾidah, 5:3]

Accomplishing this matter requires a huge and tremendous effort on the part of the Muslim Scholars in all parts of the world.

Secondly: It is a must that this purified knowledge is coupled with constant and steadfast action.

Thus, the day that the Muslims return to understanding their Religion as the Companions of the Messenger of Allāh (ﷺ) understood it; then act upon this purified Islām in a correct manner, in all aspects of life, then that will be the day when the Muslims will rejoice at the help of Allāh and His victory.  So this is what I am able to write in this short time.  I ask Allāh that He grants us and all of the Muslims the correct understanding of Islām – in light of the Book, the authentic Sunnah of His Messenger (ﷺ) and that which the Salaf al-Ṣāliḥ (pious predecessors) were upon – and that He grants us the ability to be able to act in accordance to it.  Indeed Allāh is the One who hears and responds.

Endnotes:

  1. Taken from al-Asaalah magazine (11/84-87)
  2. Ṣaḥīḥ: Related by Abū Dāwūd (no. 3462) and al-Bayḥaqī in as-Sunan al-Kubrā (3/316), from ʿAbdullāh Ibn ʿUmar (raḍī Allāhu ʿanhu).  It was authenticated by Ibn Taymīyyah in Majmūʿ al-Fatāwá (29/30).
  3. Related by al-Qaadee ’Iyāḍ in ash-Shifaa‘ (2/676)
  4. Ḥasan: Related by Aḥmad (1/435) and Sūrah al-Nisāʾī (7/49), from Ibn Masʿūd (raḍī Allāhu ʿanhu).  It was authenticated by al-Albānī in Dthilālul-Jannah fī Takhreejis-Sunnah (no. 16)
  5. Ḥasan: Related by al-Tirmidhī (no. 2796) and al-Ḥākim (1/128), from ʿAbdullāh Ibn ’Amr Ibn al-ʿĀs (raḍī Allāhu ʿanhu).  It was authenticated by al-Ḥāfiẓ al-ʿIrāqī in Takhreejul-Iḥyā‘ (3/199).
  6. Ṣaḥīḥ: Related by Ibn Sa’d in at-Tabaqaat (2/176), from ʿAlī (raḍī Allāhu ʿanhu).  It was authenticated by al-Albānī in Ṣaḥīḥ al-Jāmiʿ (no. 1641).
  7. Related by al-Bukhārī (5/199) and Muslim (7/184), from Ibn Masʿūd (raḍī Allāhu ʿanhu).
Published: June 11, 2007
Edited: January 6, 2022

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