Category Archives: Scholarship

In Defence of Shaykh Muhammad Saeed Ramadan al-Buti

In the Name of Allah, Most Merciful, Most Kind

Shaykh Muhammad Saeed Ramadan al-Buti, God have mercy on him, (1928-2013) was a notable Sunni Muslim scholar who was a revered authority of orthodox Sunni Islam across the Arab world and beyond. He was a prolific writer whose sermons were regularly broadcast on television and authored more than sixty books on various Islamic issues. He was considered an important scholar of the approach based on the four schools of Sunni Islam and the orthodox Ash’ari creed. He was assassinated in 2013 whilst giving a lesson in a Damascus mosque and was widely mourned across the Sunni world. His political stance of not supporting the Syrian uprising was controversial, however, with the passage of time he was proven to be accurate in his predictions of the anarchy and chaos that would result from protests.

Amongst Shaykh al-Buti’s most popular work was his acclaimed al-Lamadhhabiyya in which he tackled the Salafi movement and its approach to the issue of following schools of law (madhabs) and following qualified scholarship (taqlid). In this book he presented – without mentioning names – a discussion he had with a Salafi teacher on this issue, which was subsequently translated by Shaykh Nuh Keller and uploaded to Masud Khan’s website.

This translated article shortly thereafter received a response from a student of knowledge from the Wycombe Islamic Society (WISE) in which he identified this unnamed Salafi teacher as Shaykh Eid al-Abbasi and made the following comments based on Shaykh al-Abbasi’s book Bidah Tassub al-Madhabi:

  1. Shaykh al-Buti exaggerated the contents of the discussion and was a liar.
  2. The answers the Salafi teacher gave were astonishing and not credible.
  3. The Salafi teacher was made to look like a “fool”.
  4. A “beginner in Salafeeyah” would not have answered in this manner.

Who Was Accurate in Their Description of the Discussion?
We have two differing accounts of this discussion and lack a video or audio recording to be able verify the accuracy of the opposing accounts. Shaykh al-Buti, however, in his response to accusations of having exaggerated and lied about the discussion mentioned on page 133 of al-Lamadhhabiyya that there were close to ten witnesses who could verify the accuracy of his version of events.

Shaykh Eid al-Abbasi also mentioned witnesses in passing (p. 291) but did not name them nor cite their testimony which would have been the easiest course of action. Rather, he ignored collating witness testimony and instead challenged Shaykh al-Buti to a Mubahala (p.296) calling on Allah Taala for the swift death and punishment of the party who was lying. Readers should note that both parties lived for decades after this incident, Shaykh al-Buti gaining the lofty rank of a martyr (Shahid) and Shaykh Eid al-Abbasi is still living (as far as I know).

Readers will note that Shaykh al-Buti saw no need to engage in a cursing of himself when he had already mentioned the presence of several witnesses to verify his version of events.

Would a Salafi Scholar Make Such Statements?
We then come to the other aspect of this attack on Shaykh al-Buti, namely that, according to the Salafi translator, he was “astonished at some of the answers that this Salafee Teacher gave”. Were these responses far fetched and not befitting a Salafi scholar? We will leave it to readers to make up their mind based on passages from Shaykh Eid al-Abbasi’s very same book which we believe:

  • Support the general meaning of Shaykh al-Buti’s testimony.
  • Contain statements many scholars (including some Salafis) would find disturbing and regard as absurd, thereby undermining the claims of astonishment and a beginner not making such mistakes.

Note: We are only highlighting some issues here, a number of the central points were discussed in detail by Shaykh al-Buti in his book which can be referred to. Also note, Shaykh Eid al-Abbasi does cite some scholars to support his views, but these quotes are often grossly out of context, incomplete, misleading or from scholars who followed a minority view which was rejected by many Sunni scholars. An example of a minority viewpoint being a lay person must leave his madhab because he/she comes across an evidence which conflicts with their school, only a minority of scholars hold the view presented by Shaykh al-Abbasi.

Taqlid and Following the Evidence
Shaykh al-Abbasi stresses in a number of places that he and other Salafis permit a common person to make taqlid (follow qualified scholarship), and that the claim that they oblige everyone to deduce rulings by themselves is a lie against them. However, their position of permitting taqlid on closer examination still obliges the common man to grapple with Quran and Sunnah evidences and go against what they may have been taught, he said on page 40:

I have mentioned previously that the ignorant common person (Al-Ami al-Jahil) is permitted by the sacred law to make taqlid of the person whom he deems trustworthy in his knowledge and religion, and he is not obliged to study the shariah evidences and derive rulings from them. However we must highlight that this is on condition that this Muqallid (person who makes taqlid) has not received from a trustworthy scholar a noble verse or Sahih hadith which contradicts that which he is making taqlid of in some matters, thus if it reaches him he must abstain from making taqlid and follow what this scholar states.”

Point to note: It does not matter if a person is an ignorant common person, if a Salafi scholar presents an evidence to them they must leave their madhab and follow the evidence, even though they have no skills to understand what is being presented to them.

Unification of the Madhabs in to One
The clearest example of an absurd proposition from the book and clear contradiction within the space of one paragraph is the issue of creating a new fifth madhab. Shaykh Eid al-Abbasi starts by denying this claim against the Salafis for wishing to create a new fifth madhab but then within a few lines contradicts himself saying on page 61:

We in reality dislike division, difference and despise sectarianism and dispute, thus it would be absurd for us to strive to create a new fifth school – as our opponents claim. We find it troubling that Muslims are divided into four Madhabs, rather we are working to unify these madhabs in to one madhab as was the case at the time of the Salaf al-Salih.”

He goes on to say on page 66,

We now are at the start of a comprehensive revival and it behoves us to do that which was missed the people of the later generations, which is to produce for people a unified Islamic fiqh madhab based on the most authentic evidences and opinions of the Muslim schools of law, more specifically the four.”

Question: How is unifying the four madhabs in to one unified madhab not creating a fifth madhab?

Process for Creating the New Unified Madhab
Shaykh al-Abbasi then proceeds to suggest a process for formulating this new unified madhab including a name for it, he said on page 67,

Due to all of these mentioned reasons we suggest the following:
1. Form a committee consisting of the leading scholars of the Muslim world, including different specialities in the Shariah, their focus being the unification of the Islamic fiqh madhabs (madhahib fiqhiyyah islamiyyah) in to one.
2. This committee will work according to the following plan…
c. In the issues where there is a clear difference of opinion which conflict with each other the evidence of each madhab is examined and the strongest view in terms of evidence is taken without partisanship to any view.
d. For issues which it is difficult to give preference to any view and their evidences are equally strong, any of the views can be adopted and it is good to give preference to that which is for the public benefit of the Muslims…
4. This madhab will be called the madhab of the Kitab and Sunnah and all of the Imams (Kitab wal-Sunnah wa Jami al-Aimmah)”

The Majority of Sunni Scholarship is Misguided
Shaykh al-Abbasi gives little credence to the majority of mainstream Sunni scholars regarding the following of madhabs and argues the following on page 111,

We admit to that which al-Buti said that these madhahib which millions follow and adhere to, and books are filled with the names of scholars who follow them, we accept this, have seen it and have lived amongst this. We know that the vast majority of those who claim knowledge of the shariah are blind followers (muqallidun) and adhere to a madhab, and that those adhering to the sunnah and following the path of the Salaf are small in number in comparison to them. However al-Buti should not rejoice at these large numbers, for Allah the Exalted has stated that the followers of the truth are always small in number, and the followers of falsehood are always the majority, except at some very rare occasions in time.”

Salafi Scholars Tolerance of Madhab Followers & Straw Man Arguments
Shaykh al-Abbasi’s understanding of following a madhab was presented earlier, in this passage he explains the lack of understanding and tolerance he would promote of madhab followers trying to follow their school, along with a poorly constructed “straw man argument”. He said on page 121

Real Life Examples of the Difference Between the Callers to the Sunnah and their Opponents…It is relevant that we present to you some real life examples of this difference which we live in…

Between a Salafi and a Muqallid Maliki
One of the callers to the Sunnah meets one of the scholars…from the muqallidin (followers) of the madhab of Imam Malik for example and sees him praying with his hands by his side. So he asks him: Why do you place your hands by your side in the prayer?
The muqallid (follower) will say: I make taqlid of the Maliki madhab which states that hands are placed on the side.
The salafi says: However it is reported from the Imam of your madhab himself Malik (Allah have mercy on him) that he would place his right hand on the left in the prayer, and this is mentioned in his book al-Muwatta itself.
The muqallid says: However the later scholars from the Malikis stated the opposite to this.
The Salafi says to him: Is the view of the later scholars more correct and stronger than the hadith of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) and the view of the Imam of your madhab himself? The muqallid says: Perhaps they were aware something which I am not aware of.
The Salafi says to him: What is it that they were aware such that they give it precedence to the hadith of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) and the view of the Imam? The muqallid says: I do not know….
Is this behaviour acceptable from a Muslim who follows the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace)…”

And the discussion goes on, with Shaykh al-Abbasi giving examples from the four madhabs where the follower could be confronted with evidence which they would not be able to answer. All of the scenarios are poorly written and constructed.

We Respect the Madhabs – Sort of
After proclaiming respect and appreciation for the madhabs and their work Shaykh al-Abbasi follows it with the following disclaimer on page 136,

We however also believe that there has occurred in the fiqh madhabs after the blessed three generation many deviations and significant mistakes and many negatives (uyub) have been associated with them, and they have in many matters gone in different directions to the directives of the Kitab, Sunnah and that which all of the Imams call to. We therefore believe that it is necessary to review them from anew and cleanse them of their mistakes, deviations and mistakes.”

Likening Madhab Followers to the People of the Book
Shaykh al-Abbasi explains his views of madhab followers further in the following passage saying on page 143,

Some may object and say: How can you liken the muqallids (followers) of the madhabs to the Jews and Christians? and how can you apply this verse to them when it was revealed regarding the People of the Book, whereas these (followers of madhabs) are Muslim and they (People of the Book) are non Muslim?
The answer is that we ask them: What was the reason for the misguidance of the People of the Book? Was it not turning away from the words of Allah and His Messenger and giving priority to the words of so and so from their notable figures? …”

Madhab Works Have Replaced the Quran and Sunnah
Shaykh al-Abbasi further criticizes the well known and respected works of the Sunni madhabs saying on page 160:

The book Ghayah wal-Taqrib and Manhaj [sic] for the Shafi’s, the book Maraqi al-Falah and Kanz for the Hanafis, the book Mukhtasar al-Khalil and al-Risalah al-Qayrawani according to the Malikis, and the book Zad al-Mustaqni according to the Hanbalis. These books are the first and last reference that each group from them refers back to if in dispute, and accept its ruling and are happy with it. These abridged works (mukhtasarat) have taken the place for them (the madhab followers) similar to that of the noble Quran and Sunnah…”

Do Not Teach the Above Madhab Works to the Young
Shaykh al-Abbasi said on page page 163

“We do not accept teaching the abridged texts (mutun al-mukhtasarah) to the young…rather we hold that teaching them should be done by means of the study of the evidence in a simplified way from the Book and the Sunnah, and there is no harm in choosing topics which they will be able to understand…”

The Classical Madhab Works Do Not Produce Real Scholars
Shaykh al-Abbasi continues his criticism further saying on page 164,

Whereas these mutun (textbooks of Islamic law) do not produce a single real scholar, all of whom they produce are blind followers (muqallidun) whom it is not correct to call Ulema except metaphorically as was accepted by al-Buti.”

We Follow Shaykh al-Albani and Not the Madhabs
Shaykh al-Abbasi makes this surprising admission in his book, clearly stating his preference for Shaykh al-Albani’s teachings over any of the four Sunni schools, he explained on page 258 saying,

“And from this is our preference for following our Shaykh Nasir al-Din al-Albani rather than following other from Imams, Mujtahids and scholars. This is because he has benefited from their efforts and extracted the finest of them, and his [Shaykh al-Albani’s] views are the most accurate and correct, even though the virtue in this returns back to the earlier scholars…but this does not mean that the ijtihad of our Shaykh are the final word on matters…and our method is not to accept the views of Shaykh Nasir without evidence or proof..”

We will leave readers with the above brief selections from the work of Shaykh Eid al-Abbasi to form their own conclusions about the discussion which was conveyed by Shaykh al-Buti, and the accusations of exaggeration and lying against him. To recap:

  • Shaykh al-Buti mentions there were close to ten witnesses to the discussion who can affirm he was accurate in his conveying of it.
  • There are numerous passages from the work of Shaykh Eid al-Abbasi which seem to support the general meaning of the discussion as conveyed by Shaykh al-Buti.
  • There are numerous passages from the work of Shaykh al-Abbasi which are astonishing and deeply concerning, and would severely weaken the claim of the author of the article attacking Shaykh al-Buti that a Salafi scholar could not have made those comments.

Author: Saleh – Abu Hashim

Shaykh al-Nabhani and Respect for Ibn Taymiyyah

A short passage to reflect over and ponder, especially for those from an Indian Subcontinent background where matters are always presented as black and white.

Shaykh Yusuf al-Nabhani , the recent prominent Sunni theologian of Palestine wrote the following passage in his work Shawahid al-Haqq (p.62).

“Know that the belief I hold regarding Ibn Taymiyyah and his two students – Ibn al-Qayyim and Ibn Abd al-Hadi – is that they are from the Imams of the religion and from the prominent (akabir) Muslim scholars. They have greatly benefitted the Muhammadan community with their knowledge, even though they made serious errors regarding the issues of visitation and istighatha as a result which they caused significant harm to Islam and the Muslims. I swear by Allah to Magnificent! Before my coming across their statements regarding these issues regarding the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) I did not believe that a Muslim could venture to say such a thing. I have now for a number of months been reflecting over citing their statements but cannot venture to do so even for the sake of refuting them out of fear that I might be a means of increasing their circulation such is their ugliness. May Allah forgive them and have mercy on them according to their intentions and not deprive us from seeking mercy for them and benefitting from their knowledge.”

Shah Waliullah & Istighatha Clarified


Shah Waliullah and the topic of istighatha can be confusing.  You have the anti-istighatha scholars usually citing passages from his Hujatullah al-Baligha and at times other disputed works which seem to support their argument.  Yet when you read works of Shah Waliullah such as the Anfas al-Arifin you get a totally different impression, as it contains a number of pro istighatha anecdotes and comments, some of which have been presented on this site.  So which is the real Shah Waliullah?  I had been thinking for some time that the written words of a scholar can be misinterpreted and misrepresented by parties seeking to validate their own views, and that a record of the personal practice of an individual is often the best means to understand their view on an issue.  I was therefore overjoyed to some time ago come across the authorised biography of Shah Waliullah which was penned by his close disciple, and which happens to shed light on the issue of istighatha in such as a decisive way that only a stubborn partisan fanatic would engage in intellectual gymnastics to refute it.

Shaykh Muhammad Ashiq Phulati, the close disciple of Shah Waliullah and author of his authorised biography named Qawl al-Jalli mentions (p.82-83) a clear instance of istighatha which Shah Waliullah taught his students and which is cited approvingly by Shaykh Muhammad Ashiq Phulati. He said:

“A person named Muhammad Yusuf, who was a learned and pious mystic (darwesh) person narrates from a person named Dost Muhammad who was also a pious learned (fadil) person who narrated the following incident:

I would usually go to a person who I was close to who was well known in tasawwuf but regarding whom I knew that his beliefs (aqaid) were not good. I would also go to another person whose company I found beneficial and outwardly he conformed to the sacred law (shariah), and I had full trust in both of them.

One day I got up for the Fajr prayer and the congregation was ready and about to begin, I wished to pray 2 units and then join the congregation, however just as I had formed my intention for this that both of these Shaykhs forms manifested in front of me and attempted to prevent me from praying. I wished to get rid of them and begin the prayer but despite my attempts I was unable to do so. One of the Shaykhs sat down at the place of prostration (sajda) in order to prevent me from prostrating. The other Shaykh stood next to me* and was preventing me…when I found I was unable to do anything I began to recite, ‘La Hawla…’ but I did not find this beneficial to my predicament. I was increasingly becoming more distressed and was aware that the time for the prayer was running out.

I then began to individually recite the names of the pious folk of the past, meaning the noble awliyah and great Prophets and seeking help from them. I then remembered that Hazrat-e-Aqdas (Shah Waliullah) had once said that at a time of distress or difficulty remember my name. As soon as I had called out/took the name of Hazrat-e-Aqdas and sought help from him that I saw that Hazrat-e-Aqdas appeared and with his two hands took both Shaykhs by the ear and banished them and saved me from this tribulation.

I thanked Allah for this and busied myself with the prayer, and this incident was a reason for my increased veneration of Hazrat-e-Aqdas.”

Shah Waliullah al-Dihlawi Visit to Punjab & Mazars of the Awliyah


Shaykh Muhammad Ashiq Phulati mentions the following in the biography of his teacher Shah Waliullah al-Dihlawi (Qawl a-Jalli p.52-53):

Point of benefit: When the desire to undertake travel to the Haramain Sharifain (May Allah increase them both in nobility and honour!) occurred and this blessed resolve became firm, in Rabi al-Akhir 1143 hijri he (Shah Waliullah) set off in the company of his elder maternal uncle Shaykh Ubaydullah (May Allah Taala protect them) via the route of Lahore.
During this blessed journey wherever they came across a tomb (mazar) of a wali they would go to it and spend a little time there, and whichever nisbat the wali possessed would become apparent to him which he would then explain in detail.
When they reached Panipat they visited the tomb of Shah Bu Ali Qalandar, Shah Shams Turk and Shah Jalal (Allah sanctify their secrets). After this after reaching Sirhind they visited the tomb of Hazrat Mujaddid Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindi and from there they went to Lahore and the tomb of Shaykh Ali Hujwiri (Allah sancitify his secret).
They then reached Multan where they visited the shrine of Makhdum Baha al-Din and Shah Rukn Alam (Allah sanctify their secrets) and he proceeded to detail the spiritual states (ahwal) of each person.
In the city of Multan most of the students of knowledge took the pledge of spiritual allegiance (bayat) and received instruction on spiritual exercises to perform. Some even attained the station of “spiritual ecstasy” from merely one blessed spiritual gaze and only came to their senses after some time. Some others began to shout ecstatically without being able to control themselves .
At the time of Shah Waliullah’s departure most peoples state was that they were insistent on leaving friends and family behind and departing with him. However Hazrat-e-Aqdas keeping in mind what was best consoled everyone and then departed.
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Shaykhs Saving in the Afterlife


I found the following from Shaykh Ahmad Zarruq, the great Shaykh of the Shadhili tariqah who said in his book Uddat al-Murid al-Sadiq:

“I heard a person saying whilst indicating to himself:

‘Every Shaykh who does not guarantee for his murid [that he will help him] in three places – meaning at the time of death, at the time of being questioned [in the grave] and on the bridge [sirat] – is a fraud.’

This is an immense affliction! this is because the state of the Shaykh in these three places is unknowable, likewise the state of all of the creation, and the next world will be a day where Masters will not be able to help each other nor can they be sought help from – except those whom Allah bestows His mercy upon! The supplication of the Messengers upon the Sirat will be “Allahumma sallim sallim” so how can other than the Messengers possess that which they do not? May Allah protect us from this disgraceful matter and lying against Him. This is a great tribulation and mistake which has occurred from this person, and this is due to his ignorance, good opinion of himself and love of leadership. Added to this is his eating in the name of the religion, accompanying the oppressors, giving preference to the rich over the poor and those who hold him in esteem over those who do not…”

Medinan Hanafi Scholar: Shaykh Abd al-Baqi al-Ayyubi

The picture above is of Shaykh Abd al-Baqi al-Ayyubi al-Luknawi, one of the great Hanafi scholars of the last 100 years from the illuminated city Medina.
He is best known for his work Manahil al-Salsalah on Musalsal hadith which is regarded to be the most extensive work in this genre.
A number of our teachers were taught by students of Shaykh Abd al-Baqi, such as Shaykh Muhammad al-Mulla and Shaykh Muhammad Yasin al-Fadani.
Only a handful scholars today remain (to my knowledge) who are able to transmit the Manahil al-Salsalah with all of its conditions. I queried Shaykh Khalid al-Turkestani about the Manahil and Shaykh al-Fadani, he mentioned to me that he did not have the opportunity to read the full text with Shaykh al-Fadani but rather took some narrations from him from the text, he was however permitted to borrow Shaykh al-Fadani’s copy of the Manahil and transcribe his notes from his personal reading to the author.
Here is a link to a biography of Shaykh Abd al-Baqi:

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Isnad for Archery Bow Making


Archery has over the past few years become increasingly popular amongst the Muslim community in the UK.  This is primarily due to several Prophetic narrations regarding the virtue of this activity such as:

The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Whoever learns archery and then leaves it is not from amongst us, and has done wrong.” (Sahih Muslim 1919)


The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Whoever learns archery but then forgets it, then it is regarded as a blessing which has been lost.” [Tabarani in Al-Awsat]

These above narrations along with a number of others can be found in Imam Murtada al-Zabidi’s work listing his students and teachers entitled Mujam al-Mukhtas. Whilst looking through this book (p.536 onwards) I was interested to find a lengthy ijazah an expert bowyer (the term used for a person who makes bows) asked him to write on their behalf regarding the issue of archery and more specifically the art of bow making.  Imam al-Zabidi after mentioning several narrations regarding the virtue of archery (including the above) wrote on behalf of Ali bin Abdullah al-Rumi (the Mawla of Ahmad Katakhda Salih) saying:

It is established that the first person who practised archery with an Arabian bow was Adam (upon him salutations and peace), for Gibril (Upon him be peace) descended from Paradise with a bow, a bowstring ad two arrows in his hand, which he passed to him and taught him how to practise archery.  It was then passed on to Ibrahim (Upon him be peace) and then on to his son Ismail (upon him be peace) at whom the chain of transmission (isnad) of the scholars of this science ends.  This being the case…I issue this specific license (ijazah) to him (Hasan bin Abdullah Mawla Ali) in this noble art, with the witnessing of the brethren, just as I was authorised by the Shaykh, the pious complete expert, the deceased: Abdullah Effendi bin Muhammad al-Busnawi, on the basis of his taking from his Shaykh, the deceased, al-Haj Ali al-Albani, from his Shaykh Muhammad al-Istanbuli with his continuous chain to Abdur Rahman al-Fazari and the Imam, the author of al-Ikhtiyar and author of al-Idah, better known as al-Tabari, on the basis of both of them taking from the well known Imams of this art:  Tahir al-Balkhi, Ishaq al-Rafa, Ibn Hashim al-Barudi by means of their continuous chains via Shaykh from Shaykh until it reaches Sayyiduna Ismail (Upon him be peace).


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Wazaif Ibn Taymiyyah


Wazaif Ibn Taymiyyah? Yes! It appears that even Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah despite his well known stance on the issue of innovation (bidah) had some litanies (wazaif) which were not directly established from the sunnah. Two examples are presented below:

Repeating the Fatihah After Fajr Prayer till Sunrise‎

Hafiz Umar bin Ali al-Bazzar said:

I kept his close company for the duration of my stay in Damascus, for most of the day and a large part of the night. He would keep me close to himself such that he would make me sit next to him and I would be able to hear what he recited and the invocations he would make. I witnessed him recite the Fatihah and repeat it for the whole duration of time between (the offering of) Fajr until the sun had risen.‎  Alam al-Aliyyah fi Manaqib Ibn Taymiyyah p38

Wazifa Between Sunnah and Fard of Fajr

Ibn al-Qayyim said:

Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah (Allah sanctify his soul)… said one day: these two names – referring to al-Hayy and al-Qayyum – have a profound effect on giving life to the heart, indicating that these two names were the greatest name (Ism al-Adham). I heard him saying: Whoever consistently recites 40 times on a daily basis between the sunnah of Fajr and the Fajr prayer: Ya Hayyu Ya Qayyum La ilaha illa anta, bi rahmatika astaghith, will attain life of the heart and prevent its death.  Madarij 1/446