THE SUBJECT MATTER OF SUFISM

The variety of definitions and explanations that have been provided of Sufism indicate the breadth of its subject matter. It might therefore be said that the subject matter of Sufism is as vast and deep as an ocean; for it covers everything related to the human soul and spirit. Essentially, it sees to the spiritual states passed by the wayfaring disciple during his spiritual journey, in the beings with whom he meantime gets in touch with, in the experiences he encounters and in the ways he finds, knows, and serves his Lord; though this would only be brief number of the otherwise great breadth of topics the subject matter of Sufism includes. Still, at the risk of being succinct, we may nonetheless proceed to expand on the primary subject matter of the Sufi path.

Above all, the Sufi path engages in the spiritual states and stations a disciple passes by in the process of perfecting his unripe spirit to ripeness, by means of purifying his heart and soul. In other words, Sufism deals with the exact ways of purifying the heart and soul and obtaining inner and outer enlightenment, to enable the actions of the Sufi to accord with Divine pleasure and thereby grant him eternal happiness. The gist of this consists in embodying an exceptional moral conduct and tapping in to the knowledge of spiritual realities. At its core, Sufism thus seeks to ensure one tastes the zest of ihsan, of internalizing faith, and enjoying its indescribable pleasure.

To put it in another way, the Sufi path is about the principles and ways to understand the Divine wisdoms, secrets and intentions concealed in names and attributes of Allah, glory unto Him, as well as their abounding manifestations throughout the universe. In this context, Sufism talks about notions related to the unseen, the spirit, the heart and the soul; as well as spiritual experiences like insight (kashf), inspiration (ilham), spiritual witnessing (mushahada), ecstasy (wajd), and love (‘ishq), and no less, the spiritual states attained as a result of undergoing these experiences.

In short, Sufism is concerned with imparting the spiritual ability to behold and witness of the names and attributes of the Lord and to acquire Divine knowledge (marifatullah), offering man a real insight into the uni- verse, the Quran, as well as himself, by taking him through a journey at the end of which awaits spiritual maturity.

  • Excerpt from the book, “SUFISM: A PATH TOWARDS THE INTERNALIZATION OF FAITH (IHSÂN)”

Ramadan Kareem


The moon has been sighted in Saudi Arabia. Ramadhan 1437 will begin tonight. 
May we all be blessed with Allah’s mercy on this first night of this month, may He forgive all of our sins, accept all of our fasts and worship, and may this month be a means of gaining nearness to Him and His beloved salla’Allahu ‘alayhi wasalam. 

Please keep me and my loved ones in your blessed prayers.

#RamadanKareem #RamadanMubarak #Ramadan

Salawat’us-Sharifah

In the Holy Quran, Allah, glory unto Him, vows by the Prophet’s life. Mentioning his great name next to His Own, the Almighty has required belief in his prophethood, as a precondition of being a worthy servant. Allah took offense in others raising their voices in the presence of His Beloved , cautioning against calling out his name like any other. What’s more, the Almighty has stated that He and the angels send their numerous blessings, salawat’us-sharifah, to the Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him), ordering his ummah amply do the same.

In accordance with the ayah:

“Allah and His angels send blessings on the Prophet: O Believers! Send your blessings on him and salute him with all respect,” (al-Ahzab, 56) sending salawat’us-sharifah to that Great Being is a duty for all Believers, laid down by Allah, glory unto Him.

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Narrating the following is Ubayy ibn Kab (RadiAllahu Anhu):

“A third of the night had passed when the Messenger of Allah (Peace and blessings be upon him) awoke from his sleep and said:

‘Remember Allah, people, remember Allah! Blown will be the first horn that will rattle the ground. Then will follow the second. Death will arrive with all its intensity; death will arrive with all its intensity…’

‘I send lots of salawat’us-sharifah, Messenger of Allah’,said I. ‘How often should I do it?’

‘As much as you wish’ he (Peace and blessings be upon him) replied.

‘Would it be right if I spared a quarter of my prayer for it?’ I again inquired.

‘Spare as much from it as you wish’, he advised. ‘But it will be better for you if you spared more.’

‘Then I will spare half ’, I proposed.

‘As you wish…But better if you spared more’, said he.

‘How about I spared two-thirds then?’

‘As you wish… But better if you spared more’.

‘How would it be then if I send salawat’us-sharifah in the entire time I spare for prayer?’ I then asked.

‘If you do’, the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) replied, ‘then Allah will rid you of all your troubles and forgive your sins.’” (Tirmidhi, Qiyamat, 23/2457)

Devotees of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), therefore, embrace the salawat’us-sharifah as a continuous chant, for they are means of increasing the love of the Prophet in a Believer’s heart. Appropriately following the Blessed Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) and making the most of the quintessential example he has provided doubtless comes through a grasp of the reality of the Quran and Sunnah, which in turn is possible only by virtue of drawing closer to the exemplary morals of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), and delving into the depths of his heart.

No mortal has succeeded in describing his (peace and blessings be upon him) essential attribute; his towering morals and disposition has eluded comprehension. The wise, those spiritual sultans, even the great Jibril (Alaihi Salaam), have all accepted being on his path as the greatest honor, begging by his door as the most indefinable bliss.

On another note, according to the manners of prayer advised by Islam, all prayers begin and end with thanking Allah, glory unto Him, and sending blessings to the Blessed Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). There is an established conviction that Allah, glory unto Him, never turns down a salawat’us-sharifah, which, in essence, is a prayer and plea to the Almighty; the precise reason as to why prayers are adorned with it, both in the start and in the end. That is to say, squeezing in personal prayers amid two, whose acceptances are highly expected, is to ensure their acceptance as well.

“A prayer is left hanging between the earth and the skies,” states Omar  “and is not raised to Allah until blessings are sent to the Messenger of Allah .” (Tirmidhi, Witr, 21/486)

Therefore do not forget sending your blessings and peace to him (peace and blessings be upon him)…for you too stand in need of his intercession in the darkest of hours!

Peace & Blessings

Tawakkul and Submission

Tawakkul means to rely upon another, to appoint a trustee and to put one’s trust in that trustee.

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One of the beautiful names of Allah is ‘Al-Wakeel’. This name has the meanings of ‘the one who takes care of matters which have been referred to Him, (in a most suitable way), and the One who takes care of affairs in the best way, the One who is relied upon, and the One who controls and who rules over everything’.

It is a must that the sole Source to be relied upon in all matters is the immortal, everlasting Absolute One of Power. It would be meaningless to trust somebody who is in fact the opposite.

􏰀Almighty Allah says in the Qur’an:

‘Put your trust in the Living who does not die and glorify Him with praise’ (Al-Furqan, 25:58)

Allah Most High desires that we, His servants, rely upon Him only. He says in the Qur’an:

‘So let the believers put their trust in Allah’. (Ibrahim, 14:11) ‘Whoever puts his trust in Allah – He will be enough for him’ (al-Talaq, 65:3)

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The Prophet Muhammad (upon whom be peace and blessings) has said:

“If you were able to rely on Allah properly, you would be pro- vided for just like birds who leave their nests hungry and return full” (Tirmidhi, Zuhd, 33/2344; Ibn Majah, Zuhd, 14).

When it comes to submission, this has the meaning of acquiescence and acceptance of whatever events befall one without objection and thus arriving at peace. Submission is an act of the heart, and it is to be free of any doubts that arise in matters that have come from Allah. It is to be free of carnal desires that are contrary to divine commands, desires that are not compatible with sincerity, and the curse of resisting divine decree and Islamic law. It is stated in a verse from the Qur’an:

‘No, by your Lord, they are not believers until they make you their judge in the disputes that break out between them, and then find no resistance within themselves to what you decide and submit themselves completely.’ (An-Nisa, 4:65)

The word ‘teslimiyet’ or submission has the same root as the word ‘islam’. This is why to truly live Islam and to be a true servant of Allah is only possible through submission. This is because Allah (exalted and glorified be He) is not pleased when His servant yields to any other than Him.

Submission is an act of obedience based on love. It was through the blessings of this obedience and submission that nothing – not his life, his property or his son- could hinder the Prophet Ibrahîm (Abraham) (upon whom be peace) from the path of his exalted Lord. Thus his act of worship, of which the pilgrimage is the best symbol for his reliance and submission to his Lord, will continue until the end of time. The tongue of Ibrahîm was an interpreter of what was in his heart and he would constantly pray:

‘I am a Muslim who has submitted to the Lord of all the worlds.’ (Al-Baqara, 2:131)

The aim of tasawwuf, which takes love as its foundation and which is the essence of Islam, is the establishment of feelings of submission and contentedness with Allah by allowing the servant to live under divine guidance and move closer to Allah with every breath. The effects and deceits of the soul that arise from the thousand and one worries, anxieties and pains that are rife in this fleeting world, will only begin to abate as a result of contentment and submission to Allah. How beautifully Ibrahim Hakki Erzurumi puts it:

Rely upon Allah
Submit and find peace
Be content with all His affairs
And let us see what Allah has in store; For whatever it is, it will be for the best


Scenes of Virtue

Once a Bedouin came to the Prophet (upon whom be peace and blessings) and asked him:

“O Messenger of Allah! Shall I tie my camel and then trust in Allah or should I trust in Allah without tying my camel?”

 

The Prophet  replied:

“Tie your camel first, and then trust in Allah”. (Tirmidhi, Qiyamah, 60/2517)

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According to reports by Ummu Seleme (May Allah be pleased with her), whenever the Messenger of Allah (upon whom be peace and blessings) would leave the house he would always make sure to turn his face to the heavens and say the following prayer:

“In the name of Allah! I put my trust in Allah. O Allah, I seek refuge in You that I should stray or be led astray, that I should slip, or be made to slip, that I should oppress or that I be oppressed, and that I should show ignorance or be subject to others ignorance” (Abu Dawud, Adab, 102-3/5094; Tirmidhi, Deavat 35).


 -An Excerpt from the book, “Civilizations of Virtues-II”

The History of the Kaabah and Its Sacredness

The Kaabah, mentioned twice in the Quran, literally means a cubic object. Notwithstanding its other famous synonyms referred to in the Quran like al-Bayt, Baytullâh, al-Baytu’l-Atîq, al-Baytu’l- Harâm, al-Baytu’l-Muharram, al-Masjidu’l-Harâm, it is often called the Kaabah-i Muazzama, the highly respected Kaabah.

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[The Kaabah was erected upon approximately 1.5 meter-wide columns. Its walls contain a total of 1614 basalt stones of various dimensions brought from around Mecca. On the east corner is the Hajar’ul-Aswad, the Black Stone. It is kept in a silver casing and marks the beginning and ending point of circumambulation. The Kaabah’s east corner is called Rukn’ul-Hajar’ul-Aswad or Rukn’us-Sharqi, its north corner Rukn’ul-Iraqi, its west corner Rukn’us-Shami, while its south corner Rukn’ul-Yamani. The drain channeling the rainwater from the roof of the Kaabah (Mizab’ul-The Kaabah) is known as the Golden Drain. Starting from the Kaabah, the first three meters of the area enclosed by a semicircular wall, standing at a height of 1.32 meters and width of 1.55 meters, that rises opposite the northwest corner of the Sacred House between Rukn’ul-Iraqi and Rukn’us-Shami, is known as Hatim. This section was included in the main building of the Kaabah put up by Ibrahim u. Restricted by a lack of material, however, Quraysh, during their restoration, had no other choice but to leave it outside. The remaining 5.56 meter area known either as Hijrul-the Kaabah, Hijru Ismail or Hatira, is the exact spot where Ibrahim u had made a shade for Hajar and his son Ismail from an arak tree. According to tradition, both Hajar and Ismail –upon whom be peace- are buried in the area of Hijr. It has thus been decreed obligatory to perform circumambulation from the outside of the Hijr. The door of the Kaabah, on the northeast of the House, stands at height of 2,25 meters from the ground. The section of the wall located between the door and the Hajar’ul-Aswad is known as Multazam. The exact height of the Kaabah is 14 meters. The length of Multazam is 12.84 meters, while that of Hatim 11.28 meters. Hatim and Rukn’ul-Yamani is separated by a distance of 11.52 meters. Holding the roof inside the Sacred House are three pillars, lined in the middle, from the south wall to Hatim. A ladder to the roof is found on the right hand side of the entrance, which also has a door of its own, called Bab’ut-Tawbah, the Door of Repentance. The inner walls of the Kaabah and its roof are covered with a green fabric made of silk. (Muhammad Ilyâs Abdulghanî, p. 33-66; Kâmil Mîrâs, Tecrid Tercemesi, VI, 17-20)]

The story of the Kaabah begins with Prophet Adam (Alaihi Salaam), the first human being. Upon descending to the world, he was given the duty of building a place of worship on the grounds where the Kaabah stands today (See Tabarî, Târih, I, 124). This is mentioned in the Quran in the following verse:

“Most surely the first house appointed for men is the one at Bekka, blessed and a guidance for the nations.” (Âl-i İmrân, 96)

In response to a question posed by Abu Dharr (May Allah be pleased with him) (*), the Messenger of Allah ﷺ reveals the first building constructed on the face of Earth as the Kaabah, and the second as Masjid’ul-Aqsâ, the holy mosque of Jerusalem (See Bukhari, Anbiyâ, 10). The valley of Mecca was hence chosen as a holy place since the very beginning of human history.

After the Deluge of Nuh (Alaihi Salaam), the Kaabah remained for a long time under sand. It was rebuilt by Hazrat Ibrahim (Alaihi Salaam) many years after he left his son and wife in the land. Revisiting his family in Mecca years after, and seeing that his son was now a young man, Ibrahim (Alaihi Salaam) told him:

 “Our Lord commands us to build a house for him…and you will help me!”

The young Ismail (Alaihi Salaam) carried stones while Ibrahim (Alaihi Salaam) erected the walls of the Kaabah. The piece of marble carrying the footprints of Ibrahim (Alaihi Salaam) was used as a stepping stone to help him reach the higher places of the wall (**). The Holy Quran narrates the event in the following words:

“And when Ibrahim and Ismail raised the foundations of the House: Our Lord! accept from us; surely You are the Hearing, the Knowing” (al-Baqara, 127) (For the details of the incident, see Bukhari, Anbiya, 9).

The Kaabah is the House of the Almighty only symbolically; that is to say, God does not live in it. Muslims pray to Allah (swt), by circumambulating it seven times, starting from the Black Stone placed by Ibrahim (Alaihi Salaam) near one of the corners of the Kaabah. The Black Stone descended from Paradise, and as reported by the Blessed Prophet ﷺ, it was whiter than milk and snow at the time of its descent, darkened in time by the sins of human beings. (Tirmidhî, Hajj, 49/877; Ahmad, I, 307).(***)

It has also been reported that fires before and after Islam had a part to do with the darkening of the Stone. But there are accounts that the side of the Stone facing the wall of the Kaabah still remained very white.

Mujahid narrates that when Abdullah ibn Zubayr (May Allah be pleased with him) demolished the walls of the Kaabah in order to renovate it, he saw that the inner side of the Black Stone was white.

Present during the reinstatement of the Stone in the 339th year of Hegira after having been taken away by the heretic Qarmatîs was Muhammad ibn Nâfî el-Huzâî, who later gave the following testimony:

“I was there to inspect the Black Stone when it was removed from its case and I saw that only one side, the visible side of the Stone was black, while the other three sides were white.”

In the 1039th year of Hegira, the Kaabah was ruined by a strong flood that swept across Mecca. During the rebuilding, Imâm Ibn Allân al-Makkî inspected the Black Stone, commenting that “the parts of the Black Stone installed facing the walls of the Kaabah are as white as the marble where Ibrahim u prayed (Maqâmu Ibrâhim)”(See Said Bektash, p. 36-38; Dr. Muhammad Ilyâs Abdulghanî, p. 43.)

The Quran narrates that once the building of the Kaabah was completed, Prophet Ibrahim (Alaihi Salaam) and his son Ismail (Alaihi Salaam) prayed to Allah (swt), in the following manner:

“Our Lord! Make of us Muslims, bowing to Your (Will), and of our progeny a people Muslim, bowing to Your (will); and show us our place for the celebration of rites; and turn unto us in Mercy; for You art the Oft-Returning, Most Merciful.

Our Lord! Send among them a Messenger of their own, who shall rehearse Your Signs to them and instruct them in scripture and wisdom, and sanctify them: For You are the Exalted in Might, the Wise.” (al-Baqara, 128-129)

Upon the completion of the Kaabah, the Almighty commanded Ibrahim to invite people for pilgrimage:

“And proclaim among men the Pilgrimage: they will come to you on foot and on every lean camel, from every remote path.”(al-Hajj, 27)

Heeding to this Divine commandment, Ibrahim u climbed the nearby Abu Qubays Mountain, and called out to all four directions with an audible voice, informing people of their obligation to visit the Kaabah.(See Kâmil Mîrâs, Tecrid Tercemesi, VI, 20-21; Said Bektash, p. 111.)

After this declaration the Archangel Jibril (Alaihi Salaam) came and showed Ibrahim (Alaihi Salaam) the borders of the Holy Mosque and the distances of Safâ and Marwâ, telling him to erect stones to mark these borders. The Archangel afterward taught him all the rituals and procedures of the pilgrimage. Thereafter, people from far away lands began visiting the Kaabah for pilgrimage, making Mecca the center for the religion of the Almighty, granting the town an important place in the hearts of people.

Worshipping in the House of Allah (swt), continued the way Prophet Ibrahim (Alaihi Salaam) had taught up until the spread of idolatry. When idol worshipping became widespread in Mecca, the idolaters filled inside and around the Kaabah with idols. But even then the Kaabah was not renamed after a certain idol, continuing to be called Baytullah, the House of Allah (swt).

When Mecca was taken and opened to Islam by the Noble Prophet ﷺ all the idols were demolished, and under the inspection of the Prophet ﷺ, the Kaabah, from both the inside and outside, was cleansed with Zamzam water. This initiated a custom of washing the Kaabah with Zamzam and rosewater every year, perfuming it with musk and amber, and renewing its cover.

Any service made to the Kaabah and its visitors was thus held in great esteem. First fulfilled by Ismail (Alaihi Salaam), these noble duties passed on to his sons, then to the Jurhumites and finally to the tribe of Quraysh. Simultaneous to the establishment of the Meccan city- state we see the founding of the following duties:

1. Sidânah or Hijâbah: The duty of covering the Kaabah and safeguarding its keys.(****)

2. Siqâyah: Providing the pilgrims with water and beverages, and the maintenance of the Zamzam well.

3. Ridânah: Feeding and hosting poor pilgrims.

Becoming entrusted with these duties was considered a great honor and privilege among Arabs. In the time of the Noble Prophet ﷺ these duties were shared among the leading families of the Mecca. Omar (may Allah be pleased with him), the second Caliph, allocated allowances for these purposes, which during the time of Muawiyah (may Allah be pleased with him) became more organized. The Ottomans similarly considered the upkeeping of the Kaabah as being of great significance, providing sizeable allowances for tending to the Sacred House.

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Masjid al-Haram is believed to have looked like this during the time of the Prophet. صلى الله عليه و سلم

(*) Abu Dharr’s (may Allah be pleased with him) real name is Jundab ibn Junada. He was known as Ghifari in reference to the tribe of Ghifar from where he originally sprung. As the fifth Muslim, he was a man of piety, contentedness and abstinence, which lead the Blessed Prophet ﷺ to call him the Masih’ul-Islam, i.e. the Isa (Alaihi Salaam) of Islam. Constantly by the side of the Noble Prophet ﷺ, he would look to reap the greatest benefit from his presence, asking what he knew not to the Prophet ﷺ for clarification; accumulating so deep a knowledge in the end that Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) is known to have called him ‘the repertoire of knowledge’. The total amount of his hadith narrations is 281. Breathing his last in Rabaza near Mecca in the 31st year of Hegira, his funeral last was conducted by a small group who laid him to rest.

(**) Said Bektash, Fadlu’l-Hajari’l-Aswad wa Maqâmi Ibrâhîm (upon him peace), p. 108; Muhammad Ilyâs Abdulghanî, p. 71-73. According to one source, Ibrâhîm –u later stood up on the marble, the Maqamu Ibrahim and invited people to hajj. (Said Bektash, p. 111) In reference to the Maqamu Ibrahim, Allah Y, says: “And when We made the House a resort for mankind and sanctuary, (saying): Take as your place of worship the place where Ibrahim stood (to pray).” (al- Baqara, 125)

(***) Scholars have commented that if sins can have so great an effect on even a stone so as to leave it black, who knows the intensity of the tarnish they can leave on the heart. Abstaining from sins with utmost effort is therefore a must.

(****) Ismail u is recognized as the first person to drape the Kaabah. (Abdurrazzaq, V, 154) Throughout Islamic history, the preparation of the cover of the Kaabah would be seen to by the Caliph, a sultan or the incumbent governor of Mecca. After the passage of the Caliphate to the Ottomans in 1517, the cover of the Sacred House continued to be woven in Egypt for a little while longer. During the reign of Suleyman the Magnificent, Istanbul became the center for weaving its inner cover, added to which was the outer cover, come the time of Sultan Ahmed III. The last cover woven in Ottoman hands to be sent was in 1916, with the rebellion of Sharif Hussain preventing further attempts. Prepared for a period of time once again in Egypt thereafter, the cover is today is made in a factory in Mecca set up specifically for that purpose.

-Excerpt from the book, “THE PROPHET MUHAMMAD MUSTAFA THE ELECT ﷺ”

They Held Fast to the Quran

Even the most difficult circumstances could not hold the Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- back from the Quran to the Companions. Abu Talha -Allah be well-pleased with him- one day saw the Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peaceteaching Quran to the students of the Suffa, standing. In order to keep his back, bent double from excruciating hunger, straight, he had tied a stone around his belly. (Abu Nuaym, Hilya, I, 342)

Thus the Companions’ greatest concern was to understand the Book of the Almighty, to acquire its manifestations of wisdom and act in accordance. They had discovered the taste of life in repeating the Quran over and over, listening to it and implementing it in their lives.

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In short, the Companions lived with the Quran and its content, devoting their entire lives to the Word of the Almighty. They showed a feat of self-sacrifice never before witnessed in history. They were subjected to worst kinds of oppression and torture but never did they compromise what they believed in. To implement the Holy Quran in their lives, they abandoned their entire wealth and properties, even their hometowns, and immigrated to Medina, for which they were more than ready to even let go of their lives.

The Companions were in a continuous endeavor to learn and put into practice each ayah of the Holy Quran. They never neglected the Quran, even during the most dangerous situations.

Abbad -Allah be well-pleased with him-, appointed by the Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- to keep guard over the Muslim forces had begun offering salat. The enemy, who had been on the lookout all along, began shooting arrows at him. Only after being shot with two or three arrows did Abbad -Allah be well-pleased with him- bow down to ruqu and then to sajdah and eventually complete his salat. He then informed his fellow guard Ammar -Allah be well-pleased with him-.

“Why did you not tell me when you had first been shot?” asked Ammar, somewhat astounded.

“I was reciting a surah of the Quran and I did not want to break my salat before completing it,” replied Abbad. “But when the arrows hit me one after another I stopped reciting and bowed to ruqu. But by Allah, had there not been the fear of losing this spot whose protection the Messenger of Allah has ordered, I would have preferred death over cutting my recital of the chapter short.” (Abu Dawud, Taharat, 78/198; Ahmad, III, 344; Bayhaki, Dalail, III, 459; Ibn Hisham, III, 219; Waqidi, I, 397)

The Companions led a life within the Quran’s content. For them, each pillar of Islam was an insatiable taste. Each revealed ayah was like a feast from the heavens. All efforts were channeled to the aim of properly understanding and living the Quran and of setting the best example in regard. How great a portrait of virtue and testimony of an enthusiastic iman it is that, as mihr or dowry, a female Companion would only require her soon-to-be husband teach her the parts of the Quran he knew.

The Companions took the enthusiastic effort of the Noble Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- towards the Quran as example and as a result the small town of Medina became filled with huffaz and scholar

Who are the Ahl as-Sunnah wa’l Jama’ah?

-Article by Ahmed ibn Muhammad (Taken from http://www.masud.co.uk with slight modification)

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Many people today like to classify themselves as belonging to the Saved Sect (Firqatun-Najiyyah) – Ahl as-Sunnah Wa’l Jama’ah; but do these people really know which is the Saved Sect, from the many sects we have today? The following is an attempt to clarify some misconceptions by way of definitive proofs from the Qur’an and Sunnah, as well as quotes from the profoundly learned Classical Scholars of Islam. Know that there is only one Saved Sect in Islam, and this is the original pristine form of Islam that has been transmitted to us by Allah Subhana Wa Ta’ala in his Qur’an, his Rasul (Peace and blessings be upon him), the blessed Companions (may Allah be pleased with them all) and the great scholars of Islam (Allah’s mercy be upon them all) who have been following their Straight Path for more than one thousand years of Islam’s history. The first question that should be raised is: “What differentiates one sect from another sect?” The answer to this is simple and definitive! Know that the chief characteristic that distinguishes one sect from another, lies not in the differences of opinion that its scholars have attained by making ijtihad from the sources of the Shari’ah (this leads to the formation of the Madhhabs), but rather the actual belief (aqid’ah or i’tiqad in Arabic) that the scholars and laity of the sect in question are clinging onto – since the founding of their respective sect.

According to the unknown author of the book Belief and Islam (pp. 78-9), the faith of the People of the Sunnah and Jama’ah was spread as follows:

“Nowadays, some mouths frequently use the name of ‘Salafiyya’. Every Muslim should know very well that in Islam there is nothing in the name of the Madhhab of Salafiyya but there is the Madhhab of the Salaf as-salihin who were the Muslims of the first two Islamic centuries (i.e; the Companions, their successors and the followers of the successors) which were lauded in a Hadith sharif. The ulama of Islam who came in the third and fourth centuries are called Khalaf as-sadiqin. The i’tiqad (belief) of these honourable people is called the Madhhab of Ahl as-Sunnah wa’l Jama’ah. This is the Madhhab of Iman, tenets of faith. The Iman held by the Sahaba al-Kiram (may Allah be pleased with them all) and by theTabi’un (Allah’s mercy be upon them all) was the same. There was no difference between their beliefs. Today most Muslims in the world are in the Madhhab of Ahl as-Sunnah (i.e; most Muslim’s claim to be Sunni’s). All the seventy-two heretical groups (see later for the actual Hadith and its commentary) of bid’ah appeared (mainly) after the second century of Islam. Founders of some of them lived earlier, but it was after the Tabi’unthat their books were written, and that they appeared in groups and defied the Ahl as-Sunnah.

RasulAllah (Peace and blessings be upon him) brought the beliefs of Ahl as-Sunnah. The Sahaba al-kiram (may Allah be pleased with them all) derived these teachings of Iman from the source (the Qur’an and Sunnah). And the Tabi’un (successors), in their turn, learned these teachings from the Sahaba al-kiram. And from them their successors learned, thus the teachings of Ahl as-Sunnah reached us by way of transmission and tawatur (through many undeniable chains of transmission). These teachings cannot be explored by way of reasoning. Intellect cannot change them and will only help understand them. That is, intellect is necessary for understanding them, for realizing that they are right and for knowing their value. All the scholars of Hadith held the beliefs of the Ahl as-Sunnah. The Imams of the four Madhhabs in deeds, too, were in this Madhhab. Also, al-Maturidi and al-Ashari (Allah’s mercy be upon them), the two Imam’s of our Madhhab in beliefs, were in the Madhhab of the Ahl as-Sunnah. Both of these Imams promulgated this Madhhab. They always defended this Madhhab against heretics and materialists, who had been stuck in the bogs of ancient Greek philosophy. Though they were contemporaries, they lived in different places and the ways of thinking and behaving of the offenders they had met were different, so the methods of defence used and the answers given by these two great scholars of Ahl as-Sunnah were different. But this does not mean that they belonged to different Madhhabs (rather they were both from the Ahl as-Sunnah). Hundreds of thousands of profoundly learned ulama and awliya (friends of Allah) coming after these two exalted Imams studied their books and stated in consensus that they both belonged to the Madhhab of the Ahl as-Sunnah. The scholars of the Ahl as-Sunnah took the nass (Qur’an and Sunnah) with their outward meanings. That is, they gave the ayats and Hadiths their outward meanings, and did not explain away (ta’wil) thenass or change these meanings unless there was a darura (necessity) to do so. And they never made any changes with their personal knowledge or opinions. But those who belonged to heretical groups and the la-Madhhabi (those who do not belong to one of the four Madhhabs) did not hesitate to change the teachings of Iman and Ibadat (worship) as they had learned from (the books of) Greek philosophers and from sham scientists, who were Islam’s adversaries.”


Let us now see what the definition of Ahl as-Sunnah wa’l Jama’ah was according to the classical scholars of this aided, Victorious sect (Tai’fatul-Mansoorah) of Islam.

(1) Shaykh al-Islam Ahmad ibn Hajar al-Haytami (d. 974/1567; R.A.)

Hafiz Ibn Hajar al-Haytami defined the Sunni Muslims as follows in his book Fath al-jawad:

“A mubtadi (innovator) is the person who does not have the faith (aqid’ah) conveyed unanimously by the Ahl as-Sunnah. This unanimity was transmitted by the two great Imam’s Abu’l Hasan al-Ashari (d.324/936; Rahimahullah) and Abu Mansur al-Maturidi (d.333/944; Rahimahullah) and the scholars who followed their path.” Hafiz Ibn Hajar al-Haytami also said in his book al-Fatawa al-Hadithiyya (pg. 205): “Man of bid’ah means one whose beliefs are different from the Ahl as-Sunnah faith. The Ahl as-Sunnah faith, is the faith of Abu’l Hasan al-Ashari, Abu Mansur al-Maturidi and those who followed them. One who brings forth something which is not approved by Islam becomes a man of bid’ah.”


(2) Imam Ahmad Shihab ad-Din al Qalyubi (d.1069/1659; R.A.)

Imam al-Qalyubi wrote on the fourth volume of his marginalia to the book Kanz ar-raghibin:

“One who departs from what Abu’l Hasan al-Ashari and Abu Mansur al-Maturidi (Allah’s mercy be upon them) reported is not a Sunni. These two Imam’s followed the footprints of Rasulullah (Peace be upon him) and his Sahaba (may Allah be pleased with them all).”


(3) Imam Abdullah ibn Alawi al-Haddad (d. 1132 AH; Rahimahullah)

Imam al-Haddad stated in The Book of Assistance (pg. 40):

“You must correct and protect your beliefs and conform to the pattern of the party of salvation, who are those known from among the other Islamic factions as the “People of the Sunnah and Jama’ah” (Ahl as-Sunnah wa’l Jama’ah). They are those who firmly adhere to the way of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him), and of his Companions (may Allah be pleased with them all).

If you look with a sound understanding into those passages relating to the sciences of faith in the Book (Qur’an), the Sunnah, and the saying of the virtuous predecessors, whether they be Companions or followers, you will know for certain that the truth is with the party called the Ashari (NB-the Maturidi’s are also upon the truth), named after the Shaykh Abu’l Hasan al-Ashari, may Allah have mercy on him, who systematized the foundations of the creed of the people of the truth, and recorded its earliest versions, these being the beliefs with the Companions and the best among the followers agreed upon.”


(4) Imam Abdal Ghani an-Nablusi (d. 1143/1733; Rahimahullah)

Imam an-Nablusi stated in his book al-Hadiqat an-Nadiyya (vol. 2, pg. 103):

“Jama’ah is rahma, that is, the union of Muslims on truth brings Allahu ta’ala’s Compassion. Tafriqa is adhab, that is, separation from the Community of Muslims brings about punishment from Allahu ta’ala. Hence, it is necessary for every Muslim to unite with those who are on the right path. He must join and believe like them even if they are only a small group. The right path is the path of as-Sahaba al-Kiram. Those who follow this path are called Ahl as-Sunnah Wa’l Jama’ah. It should not confuse us that many heretical groups appeared after the time of as-Sahaba al-Kiram. Al-Imam al-Bayhaqi (d. 458/1066; Rahimahullah) said, ‘When Muslims go astray, you should follow the right path of those who came before them! You should not give up that path even if you are left alone on the path!‘ Najm ad-Din al-Ghazzi (d. 1061/1651; Rahimahullah) wrote: ‘Ahl as-Sunnah Wa’l Jama’ah are those ulama who keep on the right path of Rasullullah (Peace and blessings be upon him) and as-Sahaba al-Kiram. As-Sawad al-Azam, that is, the majority of Islamic scholars, have followed this right path. The Firqatun-Naajiyyah which was defined to be the group of salvation among the seventy three groups is this true Jama’ah.‘ The Qur’an al-Karim declares, ‘Do not disunite!‘ This ayat means ‘Do not disunite in i’tiqad, in the teachings of beliefs!‘ Most ulama, for example, Abdullah ibn Masood (may Allah be pleased with him), interpreted this ayat as above and said that it meant, ‘Do not deviate from the right path by following your desires and corrupt ideas.‘ This ayat does not mean that there should be no disagreement in the knowledge of fiqh. It forbids separation which causes discord and dissension in the knowledge of i’tiqad (see Imam al-Qurtubi’s opinion later). The disagreement in the knowledge (of fiqh) derived through ijtihad in the field of practices (amal) is not a discord, because such disagreement has brought to sight the rights, the fards and the subtle teachings in amal andIbadah (worship). As-Sahaba al-kiram (Allah be pleased with them all), too, differed from one another in those teachings that explained the daily life, but there was no disagreement among them in the knowledge of i’tiqad.”


(5) Allamah Sayyid Ahmad at-Tahtawi (d. 1231/1816; Rahimahullah)

Allamah Sayyid Ahmad at-Tahtawi, a great Hanafi fiqh scholar of Egypt, wrote on the subject of ‘Zabayih‘ in his Hashiya al-Durr al-Mukhtar:

“According to the majority of scholars of tafsir, the ayat, ‘They parted into groups in the religion,‘ referred to the people of bid’ah who would arise in this Ummah. In a Hadith reported by Umar (may Allah be pleased with him), Rasulullah (Peace and blessings be upon him) said to Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her), ‘The ayat about the partitions into groups in the religion refers to the people of bid’ah and to the followers of their nafs who would arise in this Ummah.’ Allah declared in the 153rd ayat of Surah Al-An’am, ‘This is My Straight path, so follow it! Follow not other ways, lest you be parted from His way!‘ (that is, Jews, Christians, and other heretics departed from the right path; you should not part like them!). In the 103rd ayat of Surah Al-Imran, Allah declares, ‘And hold fast, all of you together, to the rope of Allah, and do not separate!‘ (see later for a brief commentary). Some scholars of tafsir said that Allah’s rope meant Jama’ah, unity. The command, ‘Do not separate‘, shows that it is so and the Jama’ah are the possessors of fiqh and ilm (knowledge). One who descents from fuqaha (scholars of fiqh) as much as a span falls into heresy, becomes deprived of Allah’s help and deserves Hell, because the fuqaha have been on the right path and have held on to the Sunnah of Rasulullah (Peace and blessings be upon him) and on to the path of al-Khulafa ar-Rashideen, the Four Khaliphs (may Allah be pleased with them). As-Sawad al-Azam, that is, the majority of the Muslims, are on the path of fuqaha. Those who depart from their path will burn in the fire of Hell. O believers! Follow the unique group which is protected against Hell! And this group is the one that is called Ahl as-Sunnah Wa’l Jama’ah. For, Allah’s help, protection and guidance are for the followers of this group, and His wrath and punishment are for those who dissent from this group. Today, this group of salvation comes together in the Four Madhhabs, namely the Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi’i, and Hanbali.”

It is very important to have unity in the Ummah, and to achieve this goal of unity it is incumbent that the whole Ummah has the correct and preservedaqidah of the Salaf as-salihin (may Allah be pleased with them all); since Allah will no doubt ask us about our aqidah if it is not in conformity with the divine revelation and what his Messenger (Peace and blessings be upon him) transmitted to us. The way of the Salaf as-salihin is the way of the saved sect of the Ahl as-Sunnah wa’l Jama’ah. And we should all know that the Jama’ah is the sect which has the most correct and united aqid’ah out of all other Jama’ahs. To know what is the real Jama’ah, one must look into the Qur’an and Hadith for evidence. If one was to look deeply in to this matter with an open and scholarly mind, one will come to the conclusion that this great Jama’ah is the one which is composed of the foremost scholars of Qur’anic commentary, Hadith, fiqh and other Islamic sciences; it is no doubt the Jama’ah which has had the greatest following throughout Islamic history in terms of scholars and laity, and this alone is the main body of Islam which represents the views of the great mass of believers (as-Sawad al-Azam) as we shall see from the Hadith evidence below. Let us now see what Allah ta’ala has said about unity and schism in the Holy Qur’an.

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Qur’anic Evidence

(1) Surah al-Imran (3:103):

“And hold fast, all of you together, to the rope of Allah and be not divided.”

Imam Sayf ad-Din al-Amidi (d. 631/1233; Rahimahullah) said in his al-Ihkam fi usul al-ahkam (The proficiency: on the fundamentals of legal rulings, pg. 295) with regard to the above Qur’anic verse:

“Allah has forbidden separation, and disagreement with consensus (ijma) is separation.”

Hence, if Allah has forbidden separation then surely we must all unite on the unanimously accepted aqid’ah of our pious predecessors. And I have already quoted Hafiz Ibn Hajar al-Haytami (Rahimahullah) as saying: “This unanimity (in aqidah) was transmitted by the two great Imam’s Abu’l Hasan al-Ashari and Abu Mansur al-Maturidi (Allah’s mercy be upon them) and the scholars who followed their path.”

Mahmoud Ayoub wrote in The Qur’an and Its Interpreters (vol. II, 275-6):

Ibn Kathir (d. 774/1373; Rahimahullah) interprets the ‘rope of God‘ in verse 103 as ‘The covenant of God,‘ citing in support of this interpretation verse 112 below (in Surah al-Imran). Another view, he adds, is that ‘The rope of God‘ here refers to the Qur’an, as reported on the authority of Ali (Allah be pleased with him) who said that ‘The Qur’an is God’s strong rope and the straight way.‘ He cites another Hadith, on the authority of Abu Sa’id al-Khudri (Allah be pleased with him), where the Prophet (Peace be upon him) declared, ‘The book of God is God’s rope stretched from heaven to earth.‘ Abd Allah ibn Mas’ud (Allah be pleased with him) reported -that the Messenger of God (Peace be upon him) said, ‘Surely this Qur’an is God’s strong rope, manifest light, and beneficial source of healing. It is protection for those who hold fast to it, and a means of salvation for those who abide by it.‘

Ibn Kathir interprets the injunction, ‘and do not be divided‘ to mean strict adherence to unity among Muslims. He reports on the authority of Abu Hurayrah (Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said, ‘God will be pleased with three acts from you, and wrathful with three others. He wishes that you worship Him alone without associating any thing with Him; that you hold fast all together to the rope of God and be not divided; and that you show loyalty to those whom God has set in authority.‘ (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, II, pp. 83-4)

Qurtubi (d. 671/1273; Rahimahullah) agrees with Tabari (d. 923 CE; Rahimahullah) and Ibn Kathir regarding the meaning of ‘the rope of God‘ in verse 103. He cites with approval the famous traditionist Ibn al-Mubarak (d. 181/797; Rahimahullah) who said, ‘Surely unity is God’s rope; therefore hold fast all together to ‘its firm handle‘ (see Qur’an 2:256).’ Qurtubi adds that ‘God enjoins concord and forbids dissension, for in disunity is perdition, and in unity salvation.‘

Qurtubi offers two possible interpretations of the phrase ‘And be not divided‘:

‘Be not divided in your religion as were the Jews and Christians divided in their religions‘ and ‘Be not divided in following different false opinions and purposes. Rather, be brothers in God’s religion.‘

As a jurist, Qurtubi observes that, ‘There is no indication in this verse of the prohibition of disagreement in the branches (furu’) [of fiqh] as this in reality is not dissension. This is because true dissention is one wherein concord and unity become virtually impossible. As for disagreement in judgements based on personal effort (ijtihad), it is due to differences in deducing obligations (fara’id) and the minutiae of law.‘ On page 279, Imam al-Razi (d. 606/1210; Rahimahullah) was quoted as saying in conclusion to his commentary on the above ayat:
‘If a person going down into a well must hold fast to a rope in order that he may not fall in, so also the Book of God, His covenant, religion and obedience to Him, as well as unity and harmony among the people of faith are means of security for anyone who holds fast to them from falling into the bottom of Hell.’

(2) Surah al-Imran (3:105):
“And be not like those who separated and disputed after the clear proofs had come unto them: For such there is an awful doom.”

(3) Surah al-Imran (3:110):
“Ye are the best community that has been raised up for mankind. Ye enjoin the good and forbid the evil; and ye believe in Allah”

(4) Surah Al-An’am (6:159):
“As for those who divide their religion and break up into sects, thou has no part in them in the least: Their affair is with Allah: He will in the end tell them the truth of all that they did.”

(5) Surah Al-Mu’minun (23:52-53):
“And verily this Ummah of yours is a single Ummah and I am your Lord, so keep your duty unto Me. But they have broken their religion among them into sects, each sect rejoicing in its tenets.”

(6) Surah Al-Rum (30:32):
“Those who split up their Religion, and become Sects, each sect exulting in its tenets.”

(7) Surah Al-Nisa (4:115):
“He that disobeys the Apostle (Muhammad) after guidance has been made clear to him and follows a way other than that of the believers, We appoint for him that unto which he himself hath turned, and expose him unto Hell – a hapless journey’s end!”

(8) Surah Al-An’am (6:153):
“This is My Straight path, so follow it. Follow not other ways, lest ye be parted from His way. This has he ordained for you, that ye may ward off (evil).“

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Hadith Evidence

(1) Imam Abu Dawood (Rahimahullah) has quoted the well known Hadith concerning the division of the Muslim Ummah into seventy-three sects in his Sunan (3/4580, English edn):

Abu Amir al-Hawdhani said, “Mu’awiyah ibn Abi Sufyan (may Allah be pleased with him) stood among us and said, ‘Beware! The Apostle of Allah (may peace be upon him) stood among us and said’: ‘Beware! The People of the Book before (you) were split up into 72 sects, and this community will be split up into 73, seventy-two of them will go to Hell and one of them will go to Paradise, and it is the majority group (Jama’ah).’

Another version of the above Hadith has been reported by Hafiz Ibn Kathir (Rahimahullah) in The signs before the day of Judgement (pg. 14):

“Awf ibn Malik reported that the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said, ‘The Jews split into 71 sects: one will enter Paradise and 70 will enter Hell. The Christians split into 72 sects: 71 will enter Hell and one will enter Paradise. By Him in Whose hand is my soul, my Ummah will split into 73 sects: one will enter Paradise and 72 will enter Hell.’ Someone asked, ‘O Messenger ofAllah (Peace be upon him), who will they be?’ He replied, ‘The main body of the Muslims (al-Jama’ah).’ Awf ibn Malik is the only one who reported this Hadith, and its isnad is acceptable.” And in another version of this Hadith the Prophet (Peace be upon him) goes onto say that the saved sect, “…Are those who follow my and my Sahaba’s path” (Tirmidhi, vol. 2, pg. 89)

As-Sayyad Shaykh Abd’al-Qadir al-Jilani (Radi Allahu ta’ala anhu) (470AH) says in his famous book Ghuniyya-t at-Talibeen “There are 73 groups as foretold by Sayyadina Rasulullah (Salla Allahu ta’ala ‘alayhi wa Sallam). The group which will be saved from the fire of Hell is the Ahl as-Sunnah Wal Jama’ah.”

Imam Ghazzali (Radi Allahu anhu) (450AH-505AH) in his book Mujarribaate Imam Ghazzali states ” The Ahl as-Sunnah Wal Jama’ah is the sucessful group and it is this group which weighs or determines its thoughts and its mind according to the scales of the Noble Quran.”

Shaykh al-Islam Ahmad al-Sirhindi (d. 1034/1624; Rahimahullah) who is regarded by many people in the Indian sub-continent as a great renovator of the Tenth Islamic Century (Mujaddid alf Thani) wrote in his Maktubat (Vol. 3, Letter 38):

“It was declared in a Hadith that this Ummah would part into 73 groups, 72 of which would go to Hell. This Hadith informs us that the 72 groups will be tormented in the Fire of Hell. It does not inform us that they will remain in torment eternally. Remaining in the torment of Hell Fire eternally is for those who do not have Iman. That is, it is for disbelievers. The 72 groups, on account of their corrupt beliefs, will go to Hell and will burn as much as the corruptness of their beliefs. One group, the 73rd, will be saved from Hell Fire because their belief is not corrupt. If among the members of this one group there are those who committed evil deeds and if these evil deeds of theirs have not been forgiven through repentance or intercession, it is possible that these, too, will burn in Hell as much as their sins. All of those who are in the 72 groups will go to Hell. But none of them will remain in Hell eternally. Not all of those who are in this one group will go to Hell. Of these only those who have committed evil deeds will go to Hell. The 72 reported groups of bid’ah, which will go to Hell, should not be called disbelievers, because they are Ahl al-Qibla (people of the Qibla in prayer). But, of these, the ones who disbelieve those facts in the Deen that are indispensably required to be believed, as well as those who deny the rules of the Shari’ah which every Muslim has heard and knows, become disbelievers.”

In another letter (vol. 1, letter 80) he said:

“There is no doubt whatsoever that the sect that made conforming to the conduct of the Prophet’s Companions (may Allah be pleased with them all) necessary, that alone is the Ahl as Sunnah wa’l Jama’ah.”
Shaykh Abdal Qadir al-Jilani (d. 561/1166; Rahimahullah) stated in his commentary to the above Hadith in Ghunyat at-Talibin (pg. 90),
“The Believer should adapt himself to the Sunnah and to the Jama’ah. The Sunnah is the way shown by Rasulullah (Peace be upon him). The Jama’ah is composed of the things done unanimously by the Sahaba al-Kiram who lived in the time of the four caliphs called Khulafa’ ar-Rashidin (and others in their path). A Muslim must prevent the multiplication of the men of bid’ah and keep away from them, and should not greet them (as given in many Hadith on this issue). Ahmad ibn Hanbal (rahimahullah), the Imam of our Madhhab, said that greeting a man of bid’ah meant loving him since it had been declared in a Hadith, ‘Disseminate (your) greeting (salaam)! Love one another in this way!” He also said (pg. 143): “The title, Ahl as-Sunnah, which the innovators have expressed for themselves is not appropriate for them.“

Although Ibn Taymiyya was accused of holding certain corrupt points in his aqid’ah, which led so many scholars to denounce him for his heresy, he never the less hit the right point when he described those who are the real Sunni’s in his Aqeedat-il-Wasitiyyah (pg. 154):

” Their creed is the religion of Islam which was sent to the world by Allah through the Prophet (Peace be upon him). But the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said, ‘My Ummah will get divided into 73 sects and each one will go to Hell save one and that one is the Jama’at.’ Also in one Hadith he said, ‘They are those people who will follow this path which I and my Sahaba follow today.’ Therefore they have caught hold of Islam unalloyed from every adulteration and these are the people of Ahl as-Sunnah Wa’l Jama’ah. This group includes the truthful, the martyrs and the virtuous; it includes the minarets of guidance, lamps in the darkness and owners of such superiorities and virtues who have been already mentioned. It includes the saints and also those Imams on whose guidance Muslims are unanimous. It is this successful group about which the Prophet (Peace be upon him) has said: ‘One group from my Ummah will always remain dominant with truth; the opponents will never be able to harm its members or afflict them upto the Doomsday.’”

Imam Rabbani Mujaddid Alf Thanni (Radi Allahu anhu)(971AH-1034AH) states in his famous book Maktubaat

” The way of Salvation is followance of the Ahl as-Sunnah Wal Jama’ah. May Almighty Allah bestow blessings upon the Ahl as-Sunnah Wal Jama’ah, in their speech, in their actions, laws, for this is the successful group. Besides this, all other groups have become victims of deception. Today, nobody realizes how much these misled groups will be punished, however, on the Day of Judgment this secret will become apparent. Even though at that time this knowledge will be of no benefit to the misled.”

(2) Imam Muslim (Rahimahullah) has collected a number of variant Hadith on the saved sect. He has related a longer version of the last Hadith quoted above:

Abdal Rahman ibn Shamasa al-Mahri said: ‘I was in the company of Maslama bin Mukhallad and Abdullah ibn Amr ibn al-Aas (may Allah be pleased with them).’ Abdullah said, ‘The Hour shall come only when the worst type of people are left on the earth. They will be worse than the people of pre-Islamic days. They will get what ever they ask of Allah.‘ While we were sitting Uqba ibn Amir came, and Maslama said to him, ‘Uqba, listen to what Abdullah says.‘ Uqba said, ‘He knows, so far as I am concerned, I heard the Prophet (Peace be upon him) say: A group of people from my Ummah will continue to fight in obedience to the Command of Allah, remaining dominant over their enemies. Those who will opose them shall not do them any harm. They will remain in this condition until the Hour over takes them.‘ (At this) Abdullah said, ‘Yes. Then Allah will raise a wind which will be fragrant like musk and whose touch will be like the touch of silk; (but) it will cause the death of all (faithful) persons, not leaving behind a single person with an iota of faith in his heart. Then only the worst of men will remain to be overwhelmed by the Hour.’” (Sahih Muslim, 3/4721, English ed’n, see also Sahih al-Bukhari, 9/414, English ed’n)

Imam Nawawi (d. 676/1277, Rahimahullah) said in his Sharh Muslim (vol. 2, pg. 143):

“The group of people (mentioned in the above Hadith) consists of scholars, jurisprudents, authorities on Hadith, those who enjoin Good (Maroof) and forbid Evil (Munkar) and all such persons who do good deeds. Such righteous persons may be found spread all over the world.”

Imam al-Tirmidhi (Rahimahullah) said:

“The explanation of al-Jama’ah according to the people of knowledge: They are the people of fiqh, knowledge and Hadith.” (Sunan al-Tirmidhi, 4/2167; Ahmad Shakir ed’n)

Imam Bukhari (Rahimahullah) stated in his Sahih (vol. 9, chapter. 10, English ed’n),

“The statement of the Prophet (Peace be upon him): ‘A group of my followers will remain victorious in their struggle in the cause of the Truth.’ Those are the religious(ly) learned men (Ahl ul-Ilm).”

Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal (Rahimahullah) said about this group:

“If it is not the people of Hadith, then I do not know who they may be.” (Sahih Muslim Sharif-Mukhtasar Sharh Nawawi, vol. 5, pg. 183, W. Zaman)

Qadi Iyad (Rahimahullah) said in ash-Shifa (pg. 188):

“In a Hadith from Abu Umama (Allah be pleased with him), the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said, `A group of my community will remain constant to the truth, conquering their enemy until the command of Allah comes to them while they are still in that condition.‘ He was asked, ‘Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him), where are they?‘ He replied, `In Jerusalem.‘”

(3) Imam Muslim (Rahimahullah) has related in his Sahih (3/4553) under the chapter heading ‘Instruction to stick to the main body of the Muslims in the time of the trials and warning against those inviting people to disbelief‘, a Hadith on the authority of Hudhaifa ibn al-Yaman (Allah be pleased with him), who said:

“People used to ask the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) about the good times, but I used to ask him about (the) bad times fearing lest they overtake me. I said, ‘Messenger of Allah, we were in the midst of ignorance and evil, and then God brought us this good (time through Islam). Is there any bad time after this good one?’ He said, ‘Yes’. I asked, ‘Will there be a good time again after that bad time?’ He said, ‘Yes, but therein will be a hidden evil.’ I asked, ‘What will be the evil hidden therein?’ He said, ‘(That time will witness the rise of) the people who will adopt ways other than mine and seek guidance other than mine. You will know good points as well as bad points.’ I asked, ‘Will there be a bad time after this good one?’ He said, ‘Yes. (A time will come) when there will be people standing and inviting at the gates of Hell. Whoso responds to their call, they will throw them into the fire.’ I said, ‘Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him), describe them for us.’ He said, ‘All right. They will be a people having the same complexion as ours and speaking our language.’ I said, `Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him), what do you suggest if I happen to live in their time?’ He said, ‘You should stick to the main body of the Muslims and their leader’ I said, ‘If they have no (such thing as the) main body of the Muslims and have no leader?’ He said, ‘Separate yourself from all these factions, though you may have to eat the roots of trees until death comes to you and you are in this state.’”

(NB-It is not likely that there will be an absence of a Jama’ah, since I have already quoted the Prophet, peace be upon him, as saying: ‘A group of people from my Ummah will continue to fight in obedience to the command of Allah, remaining dominant over their enemies. Those who will oppose them shall not do them any harm. They will remain in this condition until the Hour overtakes them.‘)

(4) Abu Hurayra (Allah be pleased with him) reported the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) as saying:

“Who (ever) defected from the obedience (to the Amir) and separated from the main body of the Muslims – then he died in that state – would die the death of one belonging to the days of Jahiliyya (pre-Islamic ignorance). And he who is killed under the banner of a man who is blind (to the cause for which he is fighting), who gets flared up with family pride and fights for his tribe – is not from my Ummah, and whoso from my followers attacks my followers (indiscriminately) killing the righteous and the wicked of them, sparing not (even) those staunch in faith and fulfilling not his obligation towards them who have been given a pledge (of security), is not from me.” (Sahih Muslim, 3/4557 & 4555; English ed’n)

Imam al-Bayhaqi (d. 458/1066; Rahimahullah) stated in his: The Seventy-Seven Branches of Faith (pg. 42-3), under the fiftieth branch of faith (50 – Holding firmly to the position of the majority): “God Most High has said: Hold fast, all together, to the rope of God, and do not be disunited. [3:103]. Muslim (Rahimahullah) relates on the authority of Abu Hurayra (Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said, ‘Whoever is disobedient, and departs from the majority, and then dies, has died in a state of Jahiliyya.‘ He also relates the following Hadith on the authority of Ibn Shurayh (Allah be pleased with him): ‘After I am gone, there will come days of corruption and turmoil. When you see people damaging the unity of the Community of Muhammad (Peace be upon him), you must fight them, whoever they may happen to be.‘

Abdal Hakim Murad (the translator of the above book) said in the footnote to the fiftieth branch of faith:

‘Orthodoxy in Islam is defined as the doctrine of ahl al-sunna wa’l jama’a, the People of the Sunna and the Community. To know whether a doctrine or practise is orthodox or heretical, the Muslim is required to find out whether it is recognised by the majority of Muslim scholars (see later for Imam al-Munawi’s commentary). Thus even without looking into their theology, he will know that sects such as the Isma’ilis, the Khariji’s, the Wahhabi’s, the Twelver Shi’a and others (not to mention anti-Islamic groupings such as the Ahmadiya and the Bahais) are to be repudiated.’”

(5) Ibn Abbas (Allah be pleased with him) reported the Prophet (Peace be upon him) as saying:

“One who found in his Amir (the ruler of the true Islamic state; which is absent today) something which he disliked should hold his patience, for one who separated from the main body of the Muslims even to the extent of a handspan and then he died, would die the death of one belonging to the days of Jahiliyya.” (Sahih Muslim, 3/4559; English ed’n & Sahih al-Bukhari, 9/257; English ed’n)

(6) Imam’s Ahmad and Abu Dawood (Allah’s mercy be upon them) said that Abu Dharr (Allah be pleased with him) reported the Prophet (Peace be upon him) as saying:

“He who separates from the main body (of the Ummah) by even a hand’s breadth from the Community he throws off Islam from his neck.” (Mishkat-ul-Masabih, 1/185 & Sunan Abu Dawood, 3/4740)

NB-The following five Hadith have been mentioned by the great scholar of Hadith, Hafiz Abd al-Rahman ibn al-Jawzi (d. 597/1201; Rahimahullah) in hisTalbis Iblis (section entitled: Adherence to the Sunnah and Jama’ah). A section of the above work has been translated by Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips in to English, under the title: The Devil’s Deception of the Shee’ah (pp. 4-5). Bilal Philips has put footnotes to the five Hadith that I will be quoting below (to declare some of the Hadith to be Da’eef), but one thing that should be mentioned is that he has mainly relied upon al-Albani’s classification of the Hadiths in question; hence these ‘classifications’ of al-Albani need re-verifying! I say this because it is a well known fact that Hafiz Ibn al-Jawzi was noted for his exceptional stringency in accepting Hadith, and he has been known to have declared some of the Hadith in Bukhari/Muslim to be Da’eef, as well as declaring some sound Hadith to be fabricated! Nevertheless, I would like to make it clear to those readers who are unaware of the status of Bilal Philips, that he has heavily depended on the classifications of al-Albani in most of his books! If the esteemed reader is convinced that the errors of al-Albani are most apparent, then one should beware of the status of those Hadiths that have been used by Bilal Philips (on account of his accepting al-Albani’s classifications). Bilal Philips seems to be a leading critic of Taqleed who has been swept away by the tide of modern day “Salafiyyism”; and it seems that he has ‘blindly’ accepted the classifications of al-Albani without himself reverifying al-Albani’s classifications! I ask you, is this not a clear cut example of Taqleed? If it has been proven that al-Albani’s classifications are unreliable, would it not be just for Bilal Philips to re-verify all the Hadiths that have been authenticated by al-Albani and correct any misclassifications in his books? Allah know’s best.

(7) ‘Umar (Allah be pleased with him) reported that on one occasion Allah’s Messenger (Peace and blessings be upon him) stood up among them and said, “Whoever among you desires the centre of paradise should keep close to the Jama’ah for the Devil closely accompanies the solitary individual and is more distant from two.” (Collected by Imam Tirmidhi)

(8) And ‘Arfajah (Allah be pleased with him) reported (Allah’s Messenger, peace be upon him, as saying): “that Allah’s hand is over the Jama’ah and the Devil is with whoever deviates from the Jama’ah.” (Collected by Imam al-Tabarani)

(9) ‘Abdullah ibn Masood (Allah be pleased with him) reported that once Allah’s Messenger (Peace be upon him) drew a line in the dust with his hand and said, “This is the straight path of Allah.” Then he drew a series of lines to the right of it and to the left and said, “Each of these paths has a devil at its head inviting people to it.” He then recited (Qur’an 6:153), “Verily this is my straight path so follow it and do not follow the (twisted) paths.” (Collected by Ahmad, Nisai and Darimi; see Mishkat ul-Masabih, 1/166)

(10) Mu’adh ibn Jabal (Allah be pleased with him) reported that Allah’s Messenger (Peace be upon him) said, “The Devil is like a wolf among humans as a wolf is among sheep; it snatches the stray sheep. So beware of the paths which branch off and adhere to the Jama’ah, the masses and the masjid.” (Collected by Imam Ahmad; NB- The version given in Mishkat, 1/184, also on the authority of Imam Ahmad does not have the addition ‘the masses and the masjid.’)

(11) And Abu Dharr (Allah be pleased with him) reported from the Prophet (Peace be upon him) that, “Two are better than one, and three better than two; so stick to the Jama’ah for verily Allah, Most Great and Glorious, will only unite my nation on guidance.” (Collected by Ahmad)

(12) Al-Harith al-Ashari (Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) said:

“I bid you to do five things: to remain attached to the main body (Jama’ah of Muslims), listen to your ruler (the Khalif of the Islamic state) and obey him, and migrate, and fight in the way of Allah. And he who detaches himself from the main body of the Muslims (Jama’ah) to the extent of one span of hand, he in fact, throws off the yoke of Islam from his neck, and he who calls with the call of ignorance, he is one from the denizens of Hell beyond doubt, even if he observes fast and says prayers and considers himself as a Muslim.” (Musnad Ahmad, vide: Selection from Hadith, no. 288; by A.H. Siddique)

(13) Ibn Umar (Allah be pleased with him) reported Allah’s Messenger (Peace be upon him) as saying:

“Follow the great mass (as-Sawad al-Azam) for he who kept himself away from it, in fact would be thrown in Hell Fire.” (Ibn Majah; vide: Mishkat, 1/174, by A.H. Siddiqui).

The translator of Mishkat-ul-Masabih (A.H. Siddiqui, pg. 113) said in the footnote to the last Hadith:

“There is a good deal of difference of opinion as to what the term Sawad al-Azam implies. The overwhelming majority of the scholars are of the view that As-Sawad al-Azam means the largest group of the learned scholars and pious persons whose opinions are held in high esteem in Islam.”

(14) Imam al-Shafi’i (Rahimahullah) said in his Risala (pg. 252-3):

“Sufyan (ibn Uyayna) told us from Abd al-Malik ibn Umayr from Abd al-Rahman ibn Abd Allah ibn Masood from his father, that the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said, `God will grant prosperity to His servant who hears my words, remembers them, guards them, and hands them on. Many a transmitter of law is no lawyer (faqih) himself, and many may transmit law to others who are more versed in the law than they. The heart of a Muslim shall never harbour vindictive feelings against three: sincerity in working for God; faithfulness to Muslims; and conformity to the community of believers (Jama’ah) – their call shall protect (the believers) and guard them from (the Devil’s) delusion.‘” (vide: Sunan al-Darimi, vol. 1, pp. 74-6; Ibn Hanbal, vol. 6, pg. 96; Musnad al-Shafi’i, vol. 1, pg. 16; Mishkat-ul-Masabih, 1/228; and al-Bayhaqi in his al-Madkhal). Imam al-Shafi’i said (pg. 253): “The Apostle’s (Peace be upon him) order that men should follow the Muslim community is a proof that the ijma (consensus) of the Muslims is binding.”

(15) Imam al-Shafi’i (Rahimahullah) stated in al-Risala (pg. 286-7):

“And Sufyan (also) told us from `Abd Allah ibn Abi Labid from `Abd Allah ibn Sulayman ibn Yasar from his father, who said: `Umar ibn al-Khattab (Allah be pleased with him) made a speech at al-Jabiya in which he said: The Apostle of God (Peace be upon him) stood among us by an order from God, as I am now standing among you, and said: Believe my Companions, then those who succeed them (the Successors), and after that those who succeed the Successors; but after them untruthfulness will prevail when people will swear (in support of their saying) without having been asked to swear, and will testify without having been asked to testify. Only those who seek the pleasure of Paradise will follow the community, for the devil can pursue one person, but stands far away from two. Let no man be alone with a woman, for the devil will be third among them. He who is happy with his right (behaviour), or unhappy with his wrong behaviour, is a (true) believer.’” (see also Musnad al-Shafi’i, vol. 2, pg. 187; and Ibn Hanbal, vol. 1, pg. 112-13, 176-81).

Imam al-Shafi’i said in conclusion to this Hadith:

“He who holds what the Muslim community (Jama’ah) holds shall be regarded as following the community, and he who holds differently shall be regarded as opposing the community he was ordered to follow. So the error comes from separation; but in the community as a whole there is no error concerning the meaning of the Qur’an, the Sunnah, and analogy (qiyas).”

(16) Imam Hakim (1/116) has related a Sahih Hadith from the Prophet (Peace be upon him) in the following words: “My Ummah shall not agree upon error.”

(17) Imam al-Tirmidhi (4/2167) reported on the authority of Ibn Umar (Allah be pleased with him) from the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace), who said: “Verily my Ummah would not agree (or he said the Ummah of Muhammad) would not agree upon error and Allah’s hand is over the group and whoever dissents from them departs to Hell.” (see also Mishkat, 1/173)

Imam al-Azizi (d. 1070/1660; Rahimahullah) quoted Imam al-Munawi’s (d. 1031/1622; Rahimahullah) commentary to the last Hadith in his al-Siraj al-munir sharh al-Jami al-saghir (3.449), as follows:- Allah’s hand is over the group

(al-Azizi): Munawi says, “Meaning his protection and preservation of them, signifying that the collectivity of the people of Islam are in Allah’s fold, so be also in Allah’s shelter, in the midst of them, and do not separate yourselves from them.” The rest of the Hadith, according to the one who first recorded it (Tirmidhi), is:-

and whoever descents from them departs to hell.

Meaning that whoever diverges from the overwhelming majority concerning what is lawful or unlawful and on which the Community does not differ has slipped off the path of guidance and this will lead him to hell.” (vide: The Reliance of the Traveller, pg. 25)

So, it is compulsory for the wise people to amend their beliefs to be in accordance with the beliefs of the Ahl as-Sunnah Wa Jama’ah because this is the only group which will be saved from the fire of Hell. None of the Sahaba, the Salaf-e-Saliheen or the pious scholars of Islam followed the new ideas or beliefs. They strictly abstained from the groups who followed these deviated ideas and beliefs. All the great scholars of Hadith and the great scholars of Fiqh of the four Schools of thought and their followers, all held the belief of the Ahl as-Sunnah Jama’ah. In addition, all the great pious Muslims and the Sufi Saints of the past and present, followed the way of the Ahl as-Sunnat Wal Jama’ah. Their great literary works stand witness to this fact.

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