The way of the Salaf - By Imaam Albaani
It is upon every student of knowledge to abide by the hadeeth of the Prophet (peace be upon him).
"Convey from me even if it is only one ayah. And narrate from the (stories) of the Tribe of Israa'eel for there is no harm. And whoever lies on me intentionally, then let him find his seat in the Hellfire."
Therefore based on this hadeeth and complying with this great prophetic text, as well as other texts from the Book of Allaah and the Hadeeth of Allaah's Messenger, we take on the task of conveying to the people what they lack knowledge of. But this does not mean that we have turned into something like that which is found in the good thoughts that (some of) our brothers hold for us. The matter is not such.
This is the reality that I feel deep down in my heart. Whenever I hear this kind of talk, I am reminded of the old proverb, which is well known amongst the scholars:
"Verily, the small bird (bughaath ) in our lands has now become an eagle."
Some people are unaware of what is intended by this statement or by this proverb.
The bughaath is a small bird that is worthless - but this small bird becomes like an eagle to the people - due to their ignorance...
This proverb is true about many of the people who call to Islaam, whether upon truth and correctness or upon error and falsehood. But Allaah knows that the entire Muslim world is void - except for very, very few individuals, whom it is correct to say about them that "So and so is a scholar." As is stated in the authentic hadeeth, reported by Imaam Al-Bukhaaree in his Saheeh, from the report of 'Abdullaah bin 'Amr Ibn Al-'Aas, radyAllaahu 'anhu, who said: Allaah's Messenger (peace be upon him) said:
"Verily, Allaah will not snatch away the knowledge from the chests of the scholars, but rather He will take away the knowledge by taking away the scholars. Until there does not remain any scholar - this is the point - until there does not remain any scholar, the people will take ignorant leaders, who will be asked questions and then give fatwa (religious rulings) without knowledge. So they will go astray and cause others to go astray."
When Allaah wants to take away the knowledge, He will not snatch it away from the hearts of the scholars, such that the scholar becomes like someone who never learned anything in the first place, no. This is not from the Sunnah (way) of Allaah when dealing with His servants, especially His righteous servants - to take away the knowledge that they have acquired for the sake of Allaah, 'azza wa jall .... Allaah is just and fair in His rulings - He does not snatch the knowledge away from the hearts of the
true scholars. But rather, it is from the Sunnah of Allaah with His creation that He takes away the knowledge by taking away the scholars [i.e. causing them to die], as He did with the chief of all scholars and prophets and messengers, Muhammad (peace be upon him).
"...Until there does not remain any scholar, the people will take ignorant leaders, who will be asked questions and then give fatwa (religious rulings) without knowledge. Then they will go astray and cause others to go astray."
This does not mean that Allaah will leave the earth void of any scholar, through which Allaah's proof can be established upon His servants, but rather it means that the more that time continues to pass, the more that knowledge decreases. And we will continue increasing in this condition of less and deficient knowledge, until there does not remain on the face of this earth, anyone who says:
You hear this hadeeth many times, and it is an authentic hadeeth:
"The Hour will not be established while there remains someone on the face of the earth that says: 'Allaah, Allaah.'"
From the likes of those people who were mentioned in the last part of the hadeeth:
"until there does not remain any scholar, the people will take ignorant leaders" are those leaders who interpret the Qur'aan and the Sunnah with interpretations that are in contradiction to what the scholars - I will not say those of the past only, but also those of the present - were upon.
For indeed they use this hadeeth "Allaah, Allaah" as evidence for the permissibility, rather the recommendation of remembering Allaah (making Dhikr) with single words - Allaah, Allaah, Allaah, and so on [as done by the Sufis].
Thus no one remains deceived or unaware when they hear this hadeeth with that misinterpretation, I think its proper, even if incidentally, to remind our brothers here that this interpretation is false, firstly, because the hadeeth's explanation is stated in another report from Allaah's Messenger (peace be upon him). And secondly, if this interpretation were correct, there would be an indication of it in the actions of our pious predecessors (Salaf As-Saalih, may Allaah be pleased with them). If they did not do it - their rejection of acting on this interpretation indicates the falsehood of this kind of interpretation. So how will it be for you if the other report of the hadeeth is added, and the gist of it, as is commonly said, is that Imaam Ahmad, rahimahullaah, reported this hadeeth in his Musnad with an authentic chain of narration, with the wording:
"The Hour will not be established while there remains someone on the face of the earth that says: "Laa Ilaaha Illaa Allaah."
This is what was intended in the first hadeeth, where the word "Allaah" is shown in repetition. The point is that today, the world unfortunately is void of those scholars who used to fill the earth with their extensive knowledge and who would spread it amongst the people. Today it has become like the saying goes 'When they were counted they were so few But today they have become less than that few'.
We hope from Allaah, 'azza wa jall, that He make us from among the seekers of knowledge who truly take from the scholars' example and who honestly follow their way. This is what we hope from Allaah 'azza wa jall - that He make us from among those students who follow that way, about which the Messenger (peace be upon him) said:
"Whoever treads a path, by which he seeks knowledge, Allaah will make a path for him to Paradise."
This leads us into discussing the topic of this knowledge, which has been mentioned in the Qur'aan in many, many places, such as Allaah's saying:
"Are those who have knowledge equal to those who do not have knowledge?" [Surah Az-Zumar: 9]
And Allaah's saying: "Allaah will raise in levels those who believe amongst you and those who have
been given knowledge." [Surah Al-Mujaadilah: 11]
What is this knowledge, due to which Allaah has praised those who possess it and act on it, and those who follow the way of these people? The answer is as the Imaam, Ibn Qayyim Al-Jawziyyah,
rahimahullaah, the student of Shaikh-ul-Islaam Ibn Taimiyyah, rahimahullaah, said:
"Knowledge is: (what) Allaah said, (what) His Messenger said, (and what) the Companions said. This is not something false. Knowledge is not that we rush into disagreements foolishly between the Messenger and between the opinion of a Faqeeh (scholar). Nay, and we do not deny and negate the Attributes (of Allaah) just out of fear of falling into tashbeeh and tamtheel."
So we take the definition of knowledge from this statement and this poem, which we rarely hear among the verses of the poets, since the poetry of the scholars is not like the poetry of the poets. So this man (Ibn Al-Qayyim) was a scholar, and he also wrote good poetry. So he said: Knowledge is what Allaah said, at the first level, then what the Messenger of Allaah said, at the second level, then what the Companions said, at the third level. The words of Ibn Al-Qayyim remind us of a reality that is extremely important, and which is often neglected by a large majority of Callers who are spread
throughout the lands today in the name of calling to Islaam. What is this reality? What is well known to all of these callers is that Islaam consists of: The Book of Allaah and the Sunnah of Allaah's Messenger . This is the truth and there is no doubt about it, however it is deficient.
Ibn Al-Qayyim noted this deficiency in his lines of poetry, which we just mentioned. That is why after mentioning the Qur'aan and the Sunnah, he mentions the Companions. "Knowledge is:(what) Allaah said, (what) His Messenger said, (and what) the Companions said..."Nowadays, it is very rare that we hear someone mention the Companions when mentioning the Qur'aan and the Sunnah. And as we all know, they are at the head of the Salaf As-Saalih (pious predecessors), of whom the Prophet spoke of in his saying, which has been reported by many Companions:
"The best of mankind is my generation..."
And do not say what many of the callers nowadays say: "The best of generations. "This phrase "the best of generations" has no source in the Sunnah. The authentic Sunnah, which is stated in the two Saheeh collections (of Al-Bukhaaree and Muslim) and other hadeeth references all report the hadeeth with the wording: "The best of mankind is my generation, then those that come after them, then those that come after them." Imaam Ibn Qayyim Al-Jawziyyah has linked these Companions - who are at the head of the three generations that have received testimony for their excellence - to the Book and the Sunnah. So was this link that he made an opinion of his, or a scholarly deduction and conclusion, which are all prone to error. The answer is no, it is not from his scholarly deduction or his conclusions, of which it is possible that error can come into them, but rather it is based on the Book of Allaah and the Hadeeth of Allaah's Messenger. As for the Qur'aan, then there is the saying of Allaah, 'azza wa jall:
"And whoever opposes the Messenger after the guidance has been made clear to him, and he follows a way other than the Way of the Believers, We will turn him to what He has chosen and land him in Hell â€“ what an evil destination." [Surah An-Nisaa: 115]
"And he follows a way other than the Way of the Believers " - Our Lord did not stop short in this ayah, and if He would have, the ayah would still be correct and true. He did not say: "And whoever opposes the Messenger after the guidance has been made clear to him, We will turn him to what He has chosen and land him in Hell - what an evil destination."
I hope that this ayah becomes firmly grounded in your minds and in your hearts, and I hope that you don't forget it, because it is the truth. And through it, you will be saved from deviating by drifting away to the right or to the left and you will be saved â€“ even in one aspect or some issue â€“ from falling into one of the sects that are not saved, or one of the deviant sects. This is because the Prophet said in the well-known hadeeth, which I will abridge in order to get the part relevant to our discussion:
"And my Ummah will divide into seventy-three sects - all of them will be in the Hellfire, except one".
They said: "Which one is it, O Messenger of Allaah?" He said: "It is the Jamaa'ah."
The Jamaa'ah is the "Way of the Believers." So the hadeeth - if it is not a direct revelation from Allaah to the heart of the Prophet, then it must be derived from the previously mentioned ayah. "And he follows a way other than Way of the Believers." So if the person who "opposes the Messenger" and "follows a way other than Way of the Believers" is threatened with the Hellfire, then the opposite is also correct, so whoever does follow the "Way of the Believers", then he is promised Paradise, and there is no doubt about this. So then, when the Messenger of Allaah responded to the question about which group was the saved sect, he said: "the Jamaa'ah." So then the Jamaa'ah is the group of Muslims. Then there is stated in another narration of this hadeeth, what supports this understanding, in fact, it adds more clarification and explanation to it. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said:
"It is that which I and my Companions are upon."
"My Companions" then refers to the "Way of the Believers." So when Ibn AlQayyim mentioned the Companions in his lines of poetry that we stated before, he only took that understanding from the ayah we just stated and this hadeeth. There is also the well-known hadeeth of Al-'Irbaad bin Saariyah, rady Allaahu 'anhu, which I will also shorten to mentioning only the part that is relevant to our discussion, so that we have enough time to take questions later. He (peace be upon him) said:
"So stick to my Sunnah and the Sunnah of the rightly-guided Khaleefahs after me."
So here we find the same example as the hadeeth we just mentioned before this one and also the previous ayah. The Messenger did not say "Stick to my Sunnah" only, but rather he connected to his Sunnah, the Sunnah of the rightly guided Khaleefahs. So here we say, especially in these times in which we find conflicting views, and ideologies and madhaahib (schools of thought), and in which there are many parties and groups, such that many of the Muslim youth began to live in confusion. He doesn't know to which group he should ascribe himself to.
So here we have given the answer from the ayah and the two hadeeth, we just mentioned. Follow the way of the Believers! The way of those believers from present times? The answer is no, we mean the Believers from the past - the first era - the era of the Companions - the Salaf As-Saalih (pious predecessors). These are the people whom we should take as our example and as the ones whom we follow. And there is absolutely no one equal to them on the face of the earth. Therefore, the essence of our call is based on three pillars - on the (1) Qur'aan, the (2) Sunnah and (3) Following the Salaf As-Saalih (pious predecessors).
So whoever claims that he follows the Qur'aan and the Sunnah, and that he doesn't follow the Salaf As-Saalih, and he expresses in both words and actions: "They are men and we are also men" [i.e. the Companions and them are equal], then this person is in deviance and misguidance. Why - because he did not accept these texts, which we related to you just now. Did he follow the "Way of the Believers"? No. Did he follow the Companions of Allaah's Messenger? No. What did he follow? He followed his desire, and he followed his intellect. Is one's intellect infallible and free from error? The answer is no. So then, he is upon clear misguidance. I believe that the reason for the many inherited differences found in the well-known sects of the past and the differing that has just risen recently today is due to the lack of returning back to this third source, which is the Salaf As-Saalih.
So everyone claims to follow the Qur'aan and the Sunnah, and how often have we heard this kind of talk from the youth who are in confusion, when they say: "Ya akhee, these people claim to follow the Qur'aan and the Sunnah and those people claim to follow the Qur'aan and the Sunnah." So what is the clear and decisive distinction? It is the Qur'aan and the Sunnah and the Methodology of the Salaf As-Saalih. So whoever follows the Qur'aan and the Sunnah without following the Salaf As-Saalih, he in fact has not followed the Qur'aan and the Sunnah, rather he has only followed his intellect, if not his desire.
I will present some examples to clarify this issue - rather this important point, which is (following) the methodology of the Salaf As-Saalih. There is a statement reported from Al-Farooq, 'Umar Ibn al-Khattaab, radyAllaahu 'anhu, in which he says: "If the people of innovation and desires debate you with the Qur'aan, then debate them with the Sunnah..." What led 'Umar, radyAllaahu 'anhu, to make such a statement? It was due to Allaah's saying, in which He is speaking to the Prophet (peace be upon him):
"And We revealed the dhikr (reminder, Sunnah) so that you (O Muhammad) may give an Explanation to the people of what was (already) revealed to them." [Surah Nahl: 44]
Is a Muslim, who is firmly grounded in Arabic, knowing its rules and grammar, is this person able to understand the Qur'aan without using the Way of our Messenger (peace be upon him)? The answer is no. And if this is not so, then Allaah's saying "so that you (O Muhammad) may give an Explanation to the people of what was (already) revealed to them" would have no significance. And Allaah's Speech is void of having any insignificance in it. Therefore, whoever seeks to understand the Qur'aan through other than the Way of the Messenger (peace be upon him), he has gone far astray.
Furthermore, is this same person (mentioned above) able to understand the Qur'aan and the Sunnah through other than the Way of the Companions of Allaah's Messenger. The answer is also no. This is since, they (the Companions) are the ones who transmitted to us, firstly, the wording of the Qur'aan, which Allaah revealed unto the heart of Muhammad (peace be upon him). And secondly, they transmitted to us, the Prophet's Explanation (of it), which has been mentioned in the previously stated ayah, as well his application of this Noble Qur'aan.
The Prophet's Explanation (of the Qur'aan) can be divided into three categories: 1) Speech, 2) Action and 3) (Silent) Approval. Who are the ones who transmitted his (peace be upon him) speech (?) - his Companions. Who are the ones who transmitted his (peace be upon him) actions (?) - his Companions. Who are the ones who transmitted his (peace be upon him) silent approvals (?) - his Companions. So because of this, it is not possible for us to depend solely on our linguistic capacities for understanding the Qur'aan. Rather, we must seek assistance in understanding the Qur'aan. But this does not mean that we have no need for the (Arabic) language in this matter, no.
This is why we firmly believe that the non-Arabic speaking people, who have not mastered the Arabic language, fall into many, many errors. This is especially so, since they fall into this fundamental error of not returning back to the Salaf As-Saalih for understanding the Qur'aan and the Sunnah. I do not mean by the words I stated before that we cannot rely on the (Arabic) language for explaining the Qur'aan. How can this be - for if we want to understand Arabic words, then no doubt we must understand the Arabic language.
Likewise, in order to understand the Qur'aan and the Sunnah, one must know the Arabic language. So we say that the Messenger's (peace be upon him) Explanation, which was mentioned in the previous ayah, is divided into three categories: sayings, actions and silent approvals. We will present an example, in order to comprehend that this division is an established fact, which cannot be disputed. Allaah says:
"And (as for) the male thief and the female thief, cut off their hands." [Surah Al-Maa'idah: 38]
Look now at how it is not possible for us to explain the Qur'aan based on the language only. The thief according to the language is someone who steals property from some restricted place, regardless of whether this property has value or not. For example someone steals an egg or a loaf of bread - this according to the (Arabic) language is considered a thief. Allaah says:
"And (as for) the male thief and the female thief, cut off their hands."
Does everyone who steals have to have his hand cut off? The answer is no. Why? It is because the one who is explaining (i.e. the Prophet), who is in charge of explaining that thing which is being explained (i.e. the Qur'aan) has informed us those amongst the thieves whose hands are to be cut off. The one explaining is the Prophet and the thing being explained is the Qur'aan. He said:
"Do not cut off the hand except for (someone who steals) a quarter of a dinar and what is beyond that."
So anyone that steals something that is less than a quarter of a dinar, even if according to the language he is called a thief, he is not considered a thief according to the religious definition. So here, we come upon a knowledge-based reality, which many students of knowledge are unaware of. On one side, we have an Arabic language, which has been passed down through the generations. And on the other side, we have a religious language, that Allaah Himself has termed and defined, which the Arabs - who spoke the language of the Qur'aan (i.e. Arabic), which the Qur'aan was revealed in - were not aware of before. So if the thief is applied according to the (Arabic) language, it covers all of the thieves. But if the thief is mentioned according to the religious terminology, then not all thieves are included, but rather only those who steal what equals a quarter of a dinar and beyond that.
So this is an actual example - it is not possible for us to depend solely on our knowledge of the Arabic language for understanding the Qur'aan and the Sunnah. This is the mistake that many contemporary writers have fallen into nowadays. They place their knowledge of the Arabic language over the Qur'aanic ayaat and the prophetic ahaadeeth. So they interpret these religious texts and come up with innovated interpretations, which the Muslims never heard of in the past.
Due to this, we say, It is an obligation to understand that the true Call to Islaam is based on three fundamental principles and foundations, which are the 1) Qur'aan, 2) the Sunnah and 3) the way and understanding of the Salaf As-Saalih. Therefore the ayah "And (as for) the male thief and the female thief" is not to be interpreted according to the linguistic requirements, but rather according to the requirements of the religious language, which states: "Do not cut off the hand except for (someone who steals) a quarter of a dinar and what is beyond that."
The remainder of the ayah states: "cut off their hands." What is a hand according to the language? All of this is considered the hand - from the fingertips to the armpit - all of this is the hand. So is the hand to be cut from here or from here or from here? The Messenger of Allaah (peace be upon him) has explained this to us with his actions [i.e. to be cut off from the wrist joint]. We don't have any authentic hadeeth - like that one which confirmed which of the thieves is required to have his hand cut off - we donâ€™t have any hadeeth that clearly defines the place from where we are supposed to cut, from the Messenger's Explanation by speech. Instead, there was revealed his Explanation by action - his physical application. How do we come to know of this application (?) from our Salaf As-Saalih - the Companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him). This is the second category, which is the Explanation by action.
The remainder of the ayah states: "cut off their hands." What is a hand according to the language? All of this is considered the hand - from the fingertips to the armpit - all of this is the hand. So is the hand to be cut from here or from here or from here? The Messenger of Allaah (peace be upon him) has explained this to us with his actions [i.e. to be cut off from the wrist joint]. We don't have any authentic hadeeth - like that one which confirmed which of the thieves is required to have his hand cut off - we do not have any hadeeth that clearly defines the place from where we are supposed to cut, from the Messenger's Explanation by speech. Instead, there was revealed his Explanation by action - his physical application. How do we come to know of this application (?) from our Salaf As-Saalih - the Companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him). This is the second category, which is the Explanation by action.
The third category is the approval of Allaah's Messenger for something, which he didnâ€™t reject or forbid. This approval is neither speech from him nor an action that came from him, rather it is an action that came from someone else, which he (peace be upon him) saw and approved of. So if the Messenger (peace be upon him) saw something and remained silent about it, approving it, it became something approved of and permissible. But if he saw something and rejected it, even if this thing was done by some of his Companions, yet it is authentically established in the texts that he forbade it, then this forbiddance takes precedence over that which he approved of. I will give an example for these two things, based on the ahaadeeth. 'Abdullaah bin 'Umar Ibn al-Khattaab, radyAllaahu 'anhumaa, said: "We used to drink while standing and eat while walking during the lifetime of the Prophet."
So in this hadeeth, 'Abdullaah has informed us of two things: 1) Drinking while standing, and 2) Eating while walking. And he stated that these were two things that were done at the time of the Prophet (peace be upon him). So what is the religious ruling regarding these two matters: drinking while standing and eating while walking?
If we apply the points we mentioned earlier, we are able to derive the ruling - of course
- with a required addition to it, which is that someone knows about what the Messenger of Allaah (peace be upon him) has forbidden, through speech, action and (silent) approval. So if we refer back to the authentic Sunnah, concerning what is related to the first matter (drinking while standing), which many of the Muslims, if not the majority of them, are being tested with today. And that is opposing the saying of Allaah's Messenger (peace be upon him) by drinking while standing. They drink while standing, they (i.e. the men) wear gold and silk. These are facts that no one can deny. But did the Prophet (peace be upon him) agree with all of this?
The answer is that he forbade some of it and he approved some of it. So whatever he forbade then it falls into the bounds of evil (munkar) and whatever he approved, then it falls into the bounds of good (ma'roof). So he forbade drinking while standing in many ahaadeeth. And I do not want to go deep in mentioning all of them - so that firstly, we donâ€™t divert from the time that we have restricted ourselves to discuss this topic so we can take questions at the end, and secondly, this issue requires a special sitting in itself. But it is sufficient to present one authentic hadeeth, which has been reported by Imaam Muslim in his Saheeh, from the report of Anas bin Maalik, rady Allaahu 'anhu, who said: "The Messenger of Allaah forbade drinking while standing."
" And in another narration [of the hadeeth], he said: "The Messenger of Allaah (peace be upon him) restricted (others) from drinking while standing."
Therefore, this thing which used to be done during the time of Allaah's Messenger (peace be upon him), as has been testified to in the report of Ibn 'Umar, was forsaken and restricted. So that thing which they used to do became forbidden, based on the Prophet's forbiddance of it. But the second part of the hadeeth (of Ibn 'Umar), which states that they used to eat while walking, we did not receive any report that the Messenger of Allaah (peace be upon him) forbade this. So we derive from this (silent) approval, a religious ruling. So up to here, we have come to realize the strong need for relying on the way of the Salaf As-Saalih for understanding the Qur'aan and the Sunnah. And that no one can rely on his own knowledge, if not to say his ignorance, to understand the Qur'aan and the Sunnah.
After making clear this important condition of "upon the methodology of the Salaf AsSaalih", I must give you some examples. In the past, the Muslims split up into many sects. You hear about the Mu'tazilah, you hear about the Murji'ah, you hear about the Khawaarij, you hear about the Zaidiyyah, not to mention the Shi'a and the Raafidah and so on. There is no one amongst these groups, no matter how deep in misguidance they are, that does not share the same saying as the rest of the Muslims, which is that: "We are on the Qur'aan and the Sunnah." No one amongst them says: "We do not follow the Qur'aan and the Sunnah." And if one of them were to say that, he would completely leave the fold of Islaam. So then why did they split up so long as all of them rely on the Qur'aan and the Sunnah - and I bear witness that they do rely on the Qur'aan and the Sunnah for support. But how is this relying done? It is done without relying on the third foundation, which is what the Salaf As-Saalih were upon.
And there is another additional point that must be noted here - and it is that the Sunnah differs completely from the Noble Qur'aan in the sense that the Noble Qur'aan is preserved between the two covers of the mus-haf, as is well known to everyone. But as for the Sunnah, then for the most part, it is spread out in hundreds, if not thousands of books, amongst which there is a very large portion of them that remain in the hidden world - the world of unprinted manuscripts.
Furthermore, even those books among them that are in print today, there are those ahaadeeth that are authentic and those that are weak. So those who rely on the Sunnah for support, whether they are from those who ascribe themselves to Ahl-usSunnah wal-Jamaa'ah and the methodology of the Salaf As-Saalih or they are from the other groups - many of them are not able to distinguish the authentic Sunnah from the weak Sunnah. So they fall into contradicting and opposing the Quraan and the Sunnah due to their relying on weak and fabricated ahaadeeth.
The point is that some of these groups that we just mentioned reject literal meanings stated in the Qurâ€™aan and the prophetic Hadeeth, in the past and also in present days. [For example] The Noble Qurâ€™aan affirms and gives the good tidings to the believers of a very great blessing they will receive in Paradise, which is that the Lord of the Worlds will reveal Himself to them and they will see Him. As one Salafee scholar stated:
The Believers will see Him, (we believe this) without saying how it will be done or making comparisons to that, or giving examples of it.
The textual evidences from the Qurâ€™aan and the Sunnah indicate this. So how can some of these past and present-day sects deny this great blessing? As for those groups in the past that rejected this seeing (of Allaah), then there was the Muâ€™tazilah. Today, according to what I know, there is not found any group on the face of this earth that says: We are Muâtazilah. We are following the beliefs of the Muâtazilah. However,I did see a foolish man who announced publicly that he was Muâtazilee. And he rejects many established facts from the Religion, acting out of rashness. So these Muâtazilah reject this great blessing and they say with their weak intellects: It is impossible that Allaah can be seen! So what did they do? Did they reject the Quraan? Allaah says in the Quraan:
Faces on that Day will be bright, looking at their Lord. [Surah Al-Qiyaamah: 22-23]
Did they reject this ayah? No, they didnâ€™t reject it nor did they disbelieve or apostate. Up to today, the true Ahlus-Sunnah rule that the Muâtazilah are upon deviance but they do not take them out of the fold of Islaam. This is because they do not reject this ayah, but rather they reject its true meaning, of which its Explanation has been stated in the Sunnah, if we recall. Allaah says about the believers who will enter Paradise: "Faces on that Day will be bright, looking at their Lord." So they changed it's meaning - they believe in the ayah's wording but they disbelieve in its meaning. And the wording, as the scholars say, is the mold of the meaning. So if we believe in the wording but disbelieve in the meaning, then this belief (Eemaan) neither nourishes nor avails against hunger. [i.e. is of no benefit]
So why did these people reject this seeing of Allaah? Their minds are constricted from imagining and conceptualizing that this slave ('abd), that is created and limited is able to see Allaah openly, similar to the case when the Jews requested from Moosaa (to see Allaah), so Allaah prevented them, as is found in that well known story [See Surah Al-Baqarah: 55-59, Allaah said to Moosaa]:
"Look upon the mountain, if it stands still, then you shall see Me." [Surah Al-A'raaf: 143]
Their intellects were narrowed so they felt obliged to play with the Qur'aanic text and change its meaning. Why (?) - because their Eemaan (Faith) in the Unseen is weak and their Faith in their intellect is stronger than their Faith in the Unseen, which they were commanded to have faith in, in the beginning of Surah Al-Baqarah:
"Alif Laam Meem. This is the Book in which there is no doubt - a guidance to the Muttaqeen - (who are they?) - Those who believe (i.e. have faith) in the Unseen." [Surah Al-Baqarah: 1-2]
Allaah is Unseen, so whenever our Lord talks about Himself, we must affirm that it is the truth and we must believe in it, because our intellects are very limited. The Mu'tazilah did not acknowledge this point, so that is why they denied and rejected many of the facts established in the Religion, such as Allaah's saying: "Faces on the Day will be bright, looking at their Lord."
This goes the same for the other ayah, which is more obscure to these people than the first ayah, and it is the saying of Allaah:
"For those people who do good, they will receive Al-Husnaa (goodness) and Ziyaadah (an increase to that)." [Surah Yoonus: 26]
Al-Husnaa (goodness) here refers to Paradise, and the Ziyaadah (increase) here means, seeing Allaah in the Hereafter. This is what is stated in a hadeeth reported in Saheeh Muslim, with an authentic chain of narration from Sa'ad bin Abee Waqqaas, rady Allaahu 'anhu, who said: Allaah's Messenger (peace be upon him) said: "'For those people who do good, they will receive Al-Husnaa', (meaning) Paradise, 'and Ziyaadah', (meaning) seeing Allaah."
The Mu'tazilah and also the Shi'ah, who are Mu'tazilah in their Creed, reject that Allaah will be seen, which is affirmed in the first ayah and explained by the Messenger of Allaah in the second ayah. And there are many ahaadeeth (reaching the level of Mutawaatir) from the Prophet (peace be upon him) about this. So their ta'weel (distorting the true meaning) of the Qur'aan brought them to reject the authentic ahaadeeth of Allaah's Messenger (peace be upon him). So they left from the realm of being considered the Saved Sect - "That which I and my Companions are upon."
Allaah's Messenger believed and had firm faith that the believers would see their Lord, because it is reported in the two Saheeh collections from the narration of a large group of Companions, such as Abu Sa'eed Al-Khudree, Anas bin Maalik - and outside of the Saheeh collections - there was Abu Bakr As-Siddeeq and so on“ that the Prophet said:
"Indeed you will see your Lord on the Day of Judgement, just as you see the moon on a (clear) night in which there is a full moon - you have no problem in seeing it."
What is meant by this is that you will not have any problem seeing Allaah just as there is no problem in seeing the moon on a clear night in which there is a full moon, with no clouds. They reject these ahaadeeth based on their intellects, so they have weak Eemaan (Faith). This is one example of the things that some sects of the past fell into, and also some sects of the present, such as the Khawaarij, believe in this too. From their ranks are the Ibaadiyyah who nowadays have become active in calling people to their misguidance. They have articles and treatises that they are spreading and distributing, by which they revive the many deviations, which the Khawaarij were known for (doing) in the past, such as their rejecting that Allaah will be seen in Paradise.
Now we will present you with a present day example, which is the Qadiyanis. Perhaps you have heard of them. These people say as we say: â€œI bear witness that there is no god that has the right to be worshipped except Allaah, and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allaah."
They pray the five daily prayers, they establish the Jumu'ah prayer, they make Hajj and 'Umrah to Allaah's sacred House. There is no difference between us and between them - they are like the Muslims. However, they differ with us in many aspects of the Creed, such as their belief that the prophethood did not end. They believe that prophets will come after Muhammad and they claim that one of them came already to Qadiyan, a land in India. So (they say that) anyone that doesnâ€™t believe in this prophet that came to them, then he is a disbeliever. How can they say this when the ayah is clear:
"Muhammad is not the father of any amongst your men, but (rather he is) the Messenger of Allaah and the seal (last) of the prophets." [Surah Ahzaab: 40]
How can they say this, when the ahaadeeth have reached the level of Tawaatur, (stating): "There is no prophet after me." So they changed the meaning of the Qur'aan and the Sunnah and they did not interpret the Qur'aan and the Sunnah as the Salaf As-Saalih interpreted them. So the Muslims also followed them in that without any disagreement occurring amongst them, until there came this deviant and misguided person, named Mirza Ghulaam Ahmad Al-Qadiyani who claimed to be a prophet. And he has a long story, which is not the focus of our subject now.
So he deceived many people who donnot have knowledge of these facts, which preserves the Muslim from deviating, just as these Qadiyanis deviated with this Dajjaal who claimed prophethood for himself. What did they do with Allaah's saying: "But (rather he is) the Messenger of Allaah and the seal (last) of the prophets?" They said that it does not mean that there is no prophet after him, but rather the word khaatam refers to the Prophet's adornment. So just as the khaatam (seal or ring) is the adornment of the finger, then likewise, Muhammad is the adornment of the prophets. So then they did not disbelieve in the ayah. They did not say that Allaah didn't reveal this ayah unto the heart of Muhammad. Rather, they disbelieved in its true meaning.
So what good is having faith in the wording if there is no faith in the true meaning. If you have no doubt about this fact, then what is the way of coming to known the meanings of the Qur'aan and the Sunnah. You already know the way. It is not for us to
rely on our knowledge of the Arabic Language, nor to interpret the Qur'aan and the Sunnah with our desires or our traditions, or our blind following or our madh-habs or our (sufi) orders, but rather, the only way is - as is commonly said, and I will close my speech with this:
"And every good is in following those who came before (Salaf), while every evil is in the innovating of those who came after (Khalaf)."
We hope that this serves as a "reminder to the one who has a heart or lends his ear while being heedful." [Surah Qaaf: 37] [End of the Lecture]