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Fleeing from Fitnah

  Shaykh Muḥammad al-Ḥamūd al-Najdī

A prohibition against being hasty and forward, and an encouragement to cling to the scholars in the time of fitnah.

bismallah

  

  From the very nature of fitnah (trial and discord) is that matters become confused, mistakes increase, and minds and intellects begin to swerve. Protection and safety from this – in such times – lies in the jamāʿah; at the head of which are the Scholars.

 

“All praise is for Allāh who, in every age and intervals between the Prophets, raises up a group from the people of knowledge, who call the misguided to guidance and patiently bearing ill-treatment and harm.  With the Book of Allāh, they give life to the dead, and by Allāh’s Light they give sight to the blind.  How many a person killed by Iblīs have they revived.  How many people astray and wandering have they guided.  How beautiful their effect has been upon the people, and how vile the people have been towards them.  They expel from the Book of Allāh the alterations of those going beyond bounds, the false claims of the liars and the false interpretations of the ignorant-ones – those who uphold the banner of innovation and who unleash the fitnah (trial and discord), who differ about the Book, oppose the Book and agree to oppose the Book.  Those who speak about Allāh and His Book without knowledge, and who argue about what is ambiguous in the Book, and deceive the ignorant with such ambiguities.  So we seek refuge in Allāh from the fitan (trials and discord) of the misguided ones.” [2] And I bear witness that none has the right to be worshipped besides Allāh, alone, having no partner and that Muḥammad (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) is His trustworthy slave and Messenger.  And may Allāh extol and send His blessings of peace upon him, his Family, and his Companions.  To proceed:

FORBIDDANCE OF BEING HASTY AND IMPATIENT:

From the very nature of fitnah (trial and discord) is that matters become confused, mistakes increase, and minds and intellects begin to swerve.  Protection and safety from this – in such times – lies in the jamāʿah; at the head of which are the Scholars.  So it is obligatory upon the people – those leading and those being lead – to take hold of the sayings of the Scholars and to act upon them.  Since the general masses being pre-occupied with issues of fitnah, wherein they begin to express their own opinions, only leads to an increase in the fitnah and further splits in the Ummah.  So the umoorlul-’aammah (affairs relating to public benefit and welfare) – from the matters related to peace, security and fear – should be referred back to those who possess sound knowledge and understanding, as Allāh – the Most High – has said:

When there comes to them some matter related to public welfare of security or fear, they make it known amongst the people.  If only they had referred it back to the Messenger, or to those in authority amongst them, then the proper people would have investigated and evaluated the matter from them.  Were it not for the grace and mercy of Allāh upon you, you would have indeed followed Shayṭān – except a few of you.” [Sūrah Sūrah al-Nisāʾ 4:83]

Imām as-Saʿdī (d.1376H) – raḥimahullāh– said:

“This is the disciplinary admonition from Allāh to His servants with regards to their unbefitting action.  And that it is a must for them, that when there comes to them the news of some important matter – such as the issues connected to public welfare and the safety of the Believers, or those that are related to breach of security, or fear of a calamity befalling them – that they should first verify such news and not be hasty in spreading it.  Rather, they should refer such issues back to the Messenger (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam), and to the people in authority; those who possess knowledge, understanding, sound advice, intellect, maturity and composure; those who understand the affairs and have knowledge of the associated benefits and harms.  If they see that in broadcasting there is a benefit and a cause of happiness for the Believers, and a means of protection from their enemies, then they should do so.  But if they see that there is no benefit in it, or that there is some benefit, but the harm in it is greater, then they should not do so.  This is why Allāh said: “Then the proper people would have investigated and evaluated the matter from them.” Meaning, that they would evaluate it with their sound understanding and their firm and correct knowledge.  So in this is an evidence for an important principle which is: If there arises a need to investigate a particular issue, then it is obligatory that it is left to those who are qualified for it, and no one should precede them in this – and this is closer to what is correct and safe from error.  And in this is also a prohibition of being hasty and impatient in spreading the news as soon as they hear it.  Likewise, there is a command to reflect and consider before speaking, so he looks into it to see if there is a benefit in doing so, if so, he embarks upon it, and it not, he abstains from it.” [3]

THE SCHOLARS AND THE AFFAIRS OF THE UMMAH:

In issues of fitnah and other detailed issues connected to matters of public welfare of the Ummah – such as affairs related to siyaasatush-shar’iyyah (politics of the Sharīʿah), and the wide-spread evils, and their like – people are in need of having sound knowledge and understanding of the maslahah (benefit) and the mafṣadah (harm).  Since these issues, most of the time, are the cause for fitan to occur; and they are not like the issues related to purification, Prayer, Pilgrimage and their like; which is possible for a young student of knowledge – or in some cases, even the layman – to speak about, and to prefer one saying to another.  And this is because: “Understanding the objectives and goals of the Sharīʿah is not possible, except by thoroughly studying the texts and studying the detailed workings of the Sharīʿah.  Since fiqhul-maqaasid (the science of understanding the objectives and goals of the Sharīʿah) in indeed a great and mighty science which cannot be gained by just anyone.  Rather, it can only be gained by one who has reached a high level of knowledge, has examined the state of affairs and is well-acquainted with them, and has looked into the various possible outcomes that may occur.  And weighing between the benefits and harms is dependent upon understanding the Sharīʿah and its objectives, and having understanding of the state of affairs, and the various degrees of benefits and harms.  So none of this is possible, except for the Scholars.” [4]

Imām al-Nawawī (d.676H) – raḥimahullāh– said:

“The one ordering the good or prohibiting the evil must be knowledgeable about what is being ordered or prohibited.  And the level of knowledge required for this will vary in accordance with what is being ordered or prohibited.  Thus, if it is an issue concerning clear-cut obligations and well-known prohibitions – such as Prayer, Fasting, fornication or drinking intoxicants – then every Muslim is a Scholar with regards to such issues.  However, if the issue involves detailed matters, or matters connected to ijtihād (the science of extracting rulings of the Revelation), then the general body of Muslims cannot enter into it, nor is it for them to order or prohibit.  Rather, this is only for the Scholars.” [5]


And the subjects that we have mentioned (i.e. that which is related to affairs of public benefit and interest of the Ummah; such as matters connected to Sharīʿah politics, weighing the affairs, correcting the widespread evil, takfīr (declaring Muslims to be unblievers) and (rebelling against the rulers) are from the most important subjects which have touched the Islamic awakening in these days, and about which there is plents of discussion, conteversy and argumentation between those Muslim youth who are film in clinging to the Religion and who earnestly desire good.  So these subjects are of an extremely important nature, and likewise, deviating from the correct path with regards to them is extremely dangerous!

Due to this, I wanted to gather some of the statements from our noble contemporary Scholars on this subject – may Allāh protect them and look after them, and continue making them of benefit to the Ummah for the remainder of their time – those who are the Scholars of the Religion and the inheritors of the Prophets, those who concentrated on understanding the formulating principles regarding the ḥalāl (lawful) and the ḥarām (prohibited).  Shaykh al-Islām Ibn Taymīyyah (d.728H) – raḥimahullāh – said: “And whosoever from this Ummah, is known for having truthfulness, whereas he has been praised and commended by the majority of the various groups of people from this Ummah, then those are the leaders of guidance and the beacons in the darkness.” [6] So they are the Rabbaanee Scholars, [7] those who teach the people the Book and the wisdom, and to cultivate the people upon it.  And they are the people of deep understanding and wisdom, whom Allāh commanded us to ask, by His saying:  Ask the people of knowledge if you do not know.” [Sūrah al-Anbiyāʾ, 21:30]

So returning to them, being around them, and asking them, is the way of the fitan– as we have previously explained – especially when there are a great number of differences and a great number of people differing, and many differing paths ahead of the traveler.

CLING TO THE JAMĀʿAH:

The Scholars are the leaders and the Jamāʿah that we have been commanded to cling to, and which we have been warned against separating from – as occurs in the ḥadīth of ʿAbdullāh Ibn Masʿūd (raḍī Allāhu ʿʿʿanhu) who related that the Messenger of Allāh (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) said: “The blood of a Muslim who testifies that none has the right to be worshipped besides Allāh and that I am the Messenger of Allāh, is not lawful, except in one of three cases: the one who commits adultery, a life for a life, or the one who abandons his Religion and splits from the Jamāʿah.” [8]

ʿUmar Ibn al-Khaṭṭāb (raḍī Allāhu ʿʿʿanhu) relates that the Messenger of Allāh (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) said: “Cling to the Jamāʿah and beware against splitting!  For indeed Shayṭān is with the individual person but is farther away from two people.  And whosoever desires the centre of Paradise, then let him cling to the Jamāʿah.  And whosoever is pleased by his good deeds and saddened by his evil deeds, then he is a Believer.” [9]

Thus, whosoever clings to the Jamāʿah – not separating from it – will be the successful one.  But whosoever splits from the Jamāʿah and is amazed with his own opinion and knowledge, and the larger number who follow him – then he is the one who is destroyed.

Imām Abū Bakr al-Ājurrī (d.360H), after quoting various āyāt and aḥādīth that order clinging to the Jamāʿah, then said: “The sign whosoever Allāh – the Mighty and Majestic – intends goodness for, is that he traverses this path: Clinging to the Book of Allāh the Mighty and Majestic, to the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allāh (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam), and to the path of his Companions (raḍī Allāhu ʿʿʿanhum); and all those who followed them in correctness and goodness, may Allāh have mercy upon them all; and also to what the Scholars of the Muslims were upon in the various lands – such as al-Awzāʿī (d.157H), Sufyān al-Thawrī (d.164H), Mālik Ibn Anas (d.179H), al-Shāfiʿī (d.204H), Aḥmad Ibn Ḥanbal (d.241H), al-Qāsim Ibn Sallām (d.235H), and all those who were upon a path similar to theirs, avoiding taking any path which those Scholars did not take.” [10]

Endnotes:

[1] Taken from al-Furqān magazine (no. 61/p. 44-46)

[2] ar-Radd ’alal-Jahmiyyah waz-Zanādiqah (p. 2) of Imām Aḥmad Ibn Ḥanbal

[3] Tayseerul-Kareemir-Raḥmān (2/54-55), refer also to Qawaa‘id fī Ta’aamul-ma’il-’Ulamāʾ‘ (p. 121)

[4] Qawaa’id fī Ta’aamul ma’il-’Ulamāʾ‘ (p. 119) of Shaykh ’Abdur-Raḥmān al-Luwayhiq

[5] Sharḥ Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim (2/23)

[6] Majmūʿ al-Fatāwá (11/45)

[7] The Rabbānī Scholar is one possessing deep knowledge and who acts in accordance to his knowledge and teaches it to others in accordance to their level.  Refer to Fat′h al-Bārī (1/214) of al-Ḥāfiẓ Ibn Ḥajar.

[8] Related by al-Bukhārī (9/6) and Muslim (3/1302)

[9] Ṣaḥīḥ: Related by Aḥmad (1/18) and al-Tirmidhī (no. 2254).  It was authenticated by al-Albānī in Dhilāl al-Jannah (no. 87).

[10] al-Sharīʿah (no. 14) of Imām al-Ājurrī

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