Category Archives: Aqidah

Sharh Aqidah al-Awam of Sayyid al-Maliki: The Story of The Poem

Salam

One of my favourite Aqidah texts is the beginners poem on belief named ‘Aqidah al-Awam’ (The common/lay persons belief) written by Shaykh Ahmad al-Marzuqi al-Maliki.  I obtained a useful commentary on this poem many years ago by the Muhaddith of the Haramayn:  Sayyid Muhammad bin Alawi al-Maliki which was transcribed by his student Shaykh Muhammad Ihya Ulum al-Din from the teaching of this text in sacred city of Makkah in the late 1970’s.

I had been puzzled for some time why this wonderful work has seemingly been ignored by translators (not least as it is the first text studied by students of knowledge in many parts of the Muslim world) whilst other more detailed and complex works have been translated and offered to the English speaking public.  I pray that we have the tawfiq to be able to present all of this brief commentary on this blog in the upcoming months, Ameen.  Please find below an extract from pg 11-12 of Sayyid Malikis commentary compiled by his wonderfully named student (Muhammad Ihya Ulum al-Din).  The commentary states:

The Reason For the Composition of This Poem
A unique story is reported from the author regarding the reason for his composing this poem which we will make mention of, and it is:

The author (Allah have mercy on him) saw the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) and his companions (Allah be pleased with them) standing around him (in a dream). He (Allah bless him and give him peace) said to him:

Recite the poem of al-Tawhid which whomsoever memorizes it will enter paradise, and will attain all that is desired from every good which is in conformity with the Book and the Sunnah.

He said to him:

What is that poem O Messenger of Allah?

The Companions said to him:

Listen to the Messenger of Allah to what he says. The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said: Say  أَبدَأُ بِسْمِ اللهِ وَالّرَحْمن

So he said:

أَبدَأُ بِسْمِ اللهِ وَالّرَحْمن

To its end which are his words:

وَصُحُفُ الخَلِيْلِ وَالكَلِيم فِيْهَا كَلاَمُ الحَكَمِ العَلِيْم

Whilst the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) was listening to him. When he awoke from his sleep he recited that which he had seen in his dream and found that it was preserved with him from its beginning to its end. He then saw the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) a second time in a dream at the time before dawn, the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said to him:

Recite that which you have gathered (meaning in your heart).

So he recited it from its beginning to its end whilst standing in front of him (Allah bless him and give him peace) and his companions standing around him saying: ‘Ameen’ after every verse of this poem. When he had completed his recitation the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said:

May Allah (the Exalted) give you success to that which pleases Him, and accept that from you, and bless you and the believers, and benefit the slaves by it, Ameen.

The author was then questioned after people came to know of the poem, so he answered their question, and added to it the poem from his words:
كُلُّ مَا أَتَى بِهِ الّرَسُوْلُ فَحَقُّهُ الّتَسْلِيمُ وَالقَبُوْلُ until the end of the poem. This is what the author has informed regarding himself, and we have conveyed it exactly, and the responsibility is upon the narrator.

Divine Protection

Salam. I was looking over the draft translation of a wonderful classical work on the virtues/excellence of the Prophet (Allah bless Him and give Him peace), soon to be released by a publisher I work with. A discussion related to the subject matter below comes up in the text, I submitted the following footnotes lest any confusion may ensue in the mind of the unwary reader who may misunderstand the authors intent. I will post more details closer to the release date of this short booklet which is a must read. Wassalam
***
Imam Abu Hanifah said in ‘Fiqh al-Akbar’ p.48:
The Prophets (upon them be peace) are free from minor and major sins

Abul Muntaha adds to this in his commentary:
Meaning before Prophethood and after it

Mulla Ali al-Qari in his ‘Sharh Fiqh al-Akbar’ p.69 comments:
This protection/immunity is established for the Prophets before Prophethood and after it according to the more correct opinion

Going on to add importantly that p.73:
In it is a proof that His Prophethood was not limited to that which is after 40 (years of age) as a group have said. Rather there is an indication that from the day of His birth He is attributed with the quality of Prophethood. Rather the hadith: ‘I was a Prophet when Adam was between a soul and body’ is a proof that He was attributed with the quality of Prophethood in the world of souls before the creation of bodies.

Imam Ibn Abidin said in his ‘Rasail’ p.307:
They are protected/immune from minor and major (sins) before Prophethood and after it, whether deliberately or forgetfully

(Taken from Mufti Madarullah Madar’s book on the issue)

Sh. Murabit al-Hajj: Book Cover

Salam

Alhumdulillah I discovered this precious gem with a young Mauritanian scholar (Sayyidi Yahya al-Shinqiti) in the small village of Baynunah in Emirate of Abu Dhabi. Sayyidi Yahya also possessed a hand written manuscript of the work (scribed by himself in Mauritania I believe). May Allah (the Exalted) help us to continue benefitting from our Shuyukh who are guiding stars in the dark night of confusion of this age. Wassalam

 

It-haf: Aqida with Notes – Pt.1

Salam, please find below the section on Aqidah from the text It-haf al-Talib. I selected some very brief notes based on the commentary (Minhaj al-Raghib) by the author (Sh. Abu Bakr al-Mulla), as you can see some points go without a detailed explanation, the reason being that the Sheikhs discussion was very ilm al-kalam based, and is thus of little benefit to the beginner student in this day and age (in the past it may have been different!). Ideally some detailed notes for each of the points from excellent modern works such as ‘Mukhtasar al-Mufid’ of Sh. Nuh Ali Salman would prove extremely useful for the intended audience, may Allah (the exalted) facilitate this project in the future. Note: Matn is in bold
**********************************
Introduction: The Correct Belief:
-Meaning that which a person believes and hold to be true in their heart and mind

It is to know
-meaning to have a firm definite belief[1] along with acceptance and conviction

that Allah is:
Existent

– Because of the agreement of the Salaf and Khalaf from the scholars of hadith and Imams of Ahl al-Sunnah wal-Jama’ah that everything other than Allah (taala) is created[2]

and is necessarily[3] existent,
– His essence (dhat) necessitates that He is existent[4]

beginningless[5],
– Meaning that He (taala) has always existed without a beginning. He (taala) said: ‘He is the First and Last’[6]

Everlasting
– Meaning that it is impossible for Him to be non existent, or that His existence come to an end[7]

one,
– Meaning in his essence, attributes and actions. There is no other essence like Him, nothing else has the same attributes as Him, and nothing is similar to Him in terms of actions meaning that He alone has created everything and is the real cause for everything.[8] All of this is generally included in the Kalimah al-Tawhid.

There are many proofs for Tawhid mentioned in the transmitted sources and rational proofs. The prophets and messengers were sent because of tawhid, He (taala) said: ‘Your God is one, there is no god except He’[9] ‘Say: He Allah is one’[10]

He (s) said: ‘I have been ordered to fight the people until they say ‘there is no god except Allah’ if they say it their blood, wealth is protected from me except due to a right and their reckoning is with Allah’[11]

self sufficient,
-Meaning through His essence. It means that Allah (Taala) is free of need or help from anything, He does not need a place in which to exist.

dissimilair to created things.
– Meaning none of the creation resembles Him, not in his essence, attributes or actions. Allah (taala) has said: ‘Nothing resembles Him, and He is all hearing all seeing’[12]

From is attributes are:
– These attributes subsist in His essence, they are seven in number and are called the ‘Sifat al-Ma’ani’[13]. The first being:

Life,
-…… The second being:

knowledge,
– It is an attribute which totally encompasses all things without there having been any previous ignorance of them. He (taala) is knowledgeable of all information/knowledge and that what can possibly take place. He (taala) said: ‘And Allah is knowledgeable of all things’[14] ‘He encompasses everything with His knowledge’[15]. He is knowledgeable of that which was, what will be, that which wasn’t if it were to be how it would be. The third is:

power,
– It is the attribute which brings into existence the possible and vice versa according to His will. It relates to all of the possible acts (mumkinat) as opposed to the necessary (wajibat) and impossible (mustahilat).
He (taala) is powerful to do as He wishes what is meant by the possible (mumkin) acts are bodies[16] or accidents[17]. The fourth is:

will,
– This is the attribute which specifies whether something occurs or not. Allah (taala) will relates to the occurrence of good and evil, He (taala) said: ‘He whom Allah wishes to be guided He expands their chests/hearts to Islam, and whom Allah wishes to misguide He makes his heart constricted’[18] The fifth is:

hearing,
– It is an attribute which encompasses everything which can be heard, even if imperceptible. The sixth is:

seeing,
– It is an attribute which encompasses everything which can be seen even if minute and not evident. The evidences for both of these attributes are mentioned in numerous places in the Quran and Sunnah and are necessarily known from the religion of the Prophet (s), there it is incumbent definitively affirm them. The seventh is:

Speech
– Which does not consist of letters nor sounds[19]

His essence does not resemble other essences
– Rather He (taala) is different to anything else

and His attributes do not resemble other attributes.
– Allahs attributes such as knowledge and power are more greater and perfect than similarly described attributes amongst created things, such that there is no similtude between them. For example our knowledge is recently discovered or learnt, is limited etc, His (taala) knowledge is all encompassing, beginningless, everlasting etc. Therefore there is no similarity between Allah and the creations attribute of knowledge.
Allah (taala) is neither a body (jism)[20] nor an atom[21], nor an accident. Because He (taala) is free from being created. Neither is He a form, nor limit
ed, He does not exist in a place, time does not pass over Him, anything that comes to your mind in terms of imagining Allah, then know that Allah is different to it.
After learning of that which is necessary for Him (taala) in terms of His attributes, know that it is also necessary to learn/know that which is impossible for Him.

He is free from attributes of deficiency,
– Such as the opposites of the attributes which have been mentioned, we cannot conceive of the opposites of these attributes being possible. It is impossible for Allah to be non-existent, created, that He is not one in terms of His essence, attributes and actions. That He is not self sufficient, that He resembles the creation, that He is unable to do something possible, that He be forced to create something, that He be attributed with ignorance, sleep, death, deafness, blindness, being unable to speak.
To conclude: It is necessary for everyone to believe that Allah (taala) is free from every deficiency, and also anything which is not a deficiency nor is perfection. By mentioning these points specifically a clear refutation of all deviated groups including the anthropomorphists is intended.[22]

nothing is incumbent upon Him
– Such as reward, punishment, the performance of an act or its non performance

Qadr, the good and the evil is from Him.
– Its is necessary to believe that He (taala) apportioned the good and evil before creating the creation, and that all of existence is according to His decree, Qadr and will. That which He apportioned in pre eternity from the good and evil must occur, and that which He did not apportion cannot occur. This is the amount which must be believed in as mentioned in the hadith of Gibril reported in the two Sahih’s.[23]
The evidences for this from the Quran and Sunnah are numerous, He (taala) said: ‘Verily, all things have We created in proportion and measure’[24]

He the Exalted sent his Messengers
– Meaning sent them to the creation, giving good news and warning, so as to inform them of Allah’s orders, prohibitions, reward and punishment. And to explain to them that which they are in need of knowing from the matters of this world and the religion present in the sacred law and rulings revealed to them in the form their books.
Belief in the messengers also includes belief in the prophets. Those whose specific name is known it is incumbent to believe in them specifically, and those whose name is not known are to be believed in a general sense, likewise the divinely revealed books and angels, those whose name is known belief in them specifically is necessary, and those whose name is not known a general belief in them is required.

and revealed to them Books
– They are 104 in number, 50 to Sheeth, 30 to Idris, 20 to Adam, 10 to Ibrahim, the Tawrah, the Injil, al-Zabur and the Quran.
Belief in them entails that one affirms that they are the beginningless, uncreated speech of Allah, neither letters nor sounds, and all that they contain is true and correct.

and divinely protected them
– That Allah (taala) does not create in them a sin along with their still having the choice and ability to do so

from
-All

sins.
– Both the major and minor sins, whether forgetfully or deliberately, before and after prophethood. This position was chosen and declared as correct by Imam Ibn Hajar al-Haytami[25]

The Angels
– They are bodies of light able to take on different forms, they worship their Lord and reside in the heavens, therefore it is necessary to believe that they are:

are servants of Allah
– Allah (Taala) said: ‘they do not disobey Allah in what He commands them, and do as they are commanded’[26]
Their numbers are such that Allah alone knows it, He (taala) said: ‘And none can know the forces of your Lord, except He’[27]

and are not attributed with sin
– Because of their being protected from and unable to sin

The miracles of the Saints (awliyah)
– A saint/friend (wali) is one knowledgeable of Allah and his attributes, who is firm in obedience, avoids sins.
A miracle (karamah) is an event which breaks the natural order of events at the hands of a righteous servant who does not claim prophethood, the righteous servant closely follows the sacred law of the Prophet whom he is obliged to follow, and possesses sound belief and righteous works.

are true
– Meaning it is established that they may possibly take place as was the view of the majority of Ahl al-Sunnah, whose proof lies in what is mentioned in the Quran of the story of Maryam and her giving birth to Isa[28] (as) without a husband, the story of the people of the cave and their living for a number of years without eating nor drinking[29], the story of Asif[30] and his bringing of the throne in an instant to Suleiman (as).

Also those miracles which took place at the hands of the companions (Allah be pleased with them), such as the flowing of the nile due to the letter of Umar (ra)[31], and his seeing whilst on the minbar in al-Madinah his army in Nahuwand such that he said to to the commander of the army ‘O Sariyah! The mountain the mountain’ warning him of the enemy behind the mountain, and Sariyah hearing his voice despite the distance between the two[32]. Likewise Khalids drinking poison and it not harming him[33]

Death
– Which is the seperation of the soul from the body

is according to lifespan
– It is the time that Allah has written in pre eternity for the end of a persons life, everyone who dies or is killed is because of the ending of his lifespan which Allah knew in pre eternity that it would take place. He (taala) said: ‘When their term comes, neither can they delay it nor can they advance it an hour (or a moment)’[34]

Commiting major sins does not remove one from faith/belief
– A person does not become a disbeliever by commiting major sins in contrast to the view of the khawarij[35]
The proof against them is the description in the Quran and Sunnah of sinners as being believers, He (taala) said: ‘And if two parties or groups among the believers fall to fighting, then make peace between them both, But if one of them rebels against the other, then fight you (all) against the one that which rebels till it com
plies with the Command of Allâh…’[36]
Both groups have been described as believers despite them fighting each other and one of them rebelling against another, both of the acts being sins.

Additional Note[37]:
Iman (faith) is the affirmation of all that which our Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless Him and give Him peace has come with) and which is known by necessity in the religion. Such as the oneness of Allah, prophethood, the sending forth from the graves, recompense for actions, the obligatory nature of the five daily prayers, zakat, fasting, hajj, the prohibition of alcohol, fornication etc. Therefore if someone does not affirm that the five daily prayers are obligatory when asked they becomes disbelievers. What is meant by affirming that which He (s) has come with is: Accepting that which He has come with happiness/pleasure, not the mere ascription in the heart of His being truthful without being convinced of it and accepting it. As many of the unbelievers knew He (s) was truthful with regards to His (s) prophethood and that which He (s) came with, however they did not accept it. When affirmation is a hidden matter which we cannot comprehend, the sacred law has linked it to the verbal utterance of the shahadatain (testimony of faith) for the one able to.

Therefore is the verbal utterance of the shahadatain a condition for the application of the rulings of believers upon them in this world (dunya), such as the funeral prayer over them, inheritance, marriage etc. The majority of the verifying scholars from the salaf and khalaf are of the view that it is a condition, whilst many of the jurists (fuqaha) say that it is not. Despite this difference the one who verbally utters the shadatain is without doubt a believer, even if done due to imitating (taqlid) of others. Imam al-Nawawi[38] said: this is the view of the verifying scholars and majority of the salaf and khalaf.As for Islam it is the outward performance with the limbs of acts of obedience such as, uttering the shahdatain, prayer, zakat and other acts. It was due to this that the Prophet (s) explained Islam as being: ‘To bear witness that there is no god except Allah, and that Muhammad is his servant and messenger, to establish the prayer, give zakat, fast in ramadan and perform Hajj if possible’
[1] Al-Bukhari (8) Muslim (16) with slight variant wordings
[1] Meaning without any doubts due to His (Taala) words: ‘And know that there is no god except Allah’
[2] Meaning coming forth from non existence to existence. Or in other words, did not exist and then was created and brought into existence. For further details refer to Sharh al-Aqaid (p.75) of al-Taftazani
[3] The scholars of belief (aqidah) have three terms that they often use
i) Necessary (wajib): This is that whose non-existence the intellect cannot comprehend or regards as impossible
ii) Impossible (mustaheel): That whose existence the intellect cannot comprehend or regard as possible
iii) Possible (mumkin): That which the intellect can comprehend or hold to exist or not exist
[4] Allah (taala) said: ‘Their Messengers said: Is there any doubt in Allah, the creator of the heavens and the earth’ [Ibrahim:10] Ibn Kathir commented in his Tafsir (4/401): Meaning is their in His- Meaning Allah- existence any doubt?, the natural disposition (fitar) are witness to His existence and are bound to affirm this, for acceptance of this is necessary in sound minds.
[5] As for the Arabic term al-Qidam, al-Zabidi said in ‘Ithaf al-Sadah al-Muttaqin’ (2/21): The muslim community (ummah) has agreed with His being described with this attribute’.
[6] Al-Hadid:3
Muslim (2713) reports that the Prophet (s) would say: ‘O Allah, you ar the first, and there is none before you, and you are the last and there is none after you…’
[7] As for that which is mentioned in the sacred law regarding paradise and hell lasting forever, then this everlastingness is only because Allah wishes for them to exist for eternity, as of themselves it is possible for them to come to an end. However the pleasures and rewards of paradise will always exist according to the consensus of the muslim community, as for the punishment of the people of disbelief it has been said: it will come to an end, but this is an odd opinion which should not be given any attention.
[8] The position of Ahl al-Sunnah is that Allah (taala) is the causer/effector of all things and has the choice whether to break the habitual chain of events (adaat). See Rasail fi Aqaid Ahl al-Sunnah of Sh. Muhammad al-Hoot (p.58).
[9] Al-Imran:163
[10] Al-Ikhlas:1
[11] Reported by the six, it is a Mutawatir report. See Qatf al-Azhaar al-Mutanathirah of Imam al-Suyuti (no.4)
[12] Al-Shurah:11
[13] They are named as such because they indicate to things which can be perceived/seen in the creation. For example Zayd is powerful, knowledgeable, has a choice to do a certain act, these all can be seen in Zaid by people.
[14] Al-Nur:64
[15] Al-Talaq:12
[16] The term al-Jawhar has been used here, according to the Ahl al-Sunnah it refers to an atom or particle (al-jawhar al-fard) which can no longer be subdivided further into smaller parts. All bodies are constructed from a number of these
[17] An accident is something which needs another thing in which to exist, an example are colours which need a body or substance in which to exist. For further details refer to ‘al-Tarifat’ of al-Jurjani (p.193).
[18] Al-Anam:125
[19] This is the position of Imam Abu Hanifah, that the speech of Allah does not consist of letters and sounds. See al-Fiqh al-Akbar (p.40-51) with the Sharh of Mulla Ali al-Qari.
[20] Because a body is constructed and exists in a place which would in turn necessitate that it is created (Sharh al-Aqaid al-Nasafi p.92).
Imam al-Zabidi mentioned in his Sharh al-Ihya (2/24) that those who describe Allah (taala) as a body are misguided and are misguiding, and that al-Bayhaqi relates from his Sheikh al-Halimi that a group have deviated from the truth by their describing Allah (taala) as a body.
Imam Ahmad bin Hanbals condemnation of those who describe Allah as a body and negation of this description for Him (taala) can be found the Tabaqat al-Hanabilah of Ibn Abi Yaala (2/298)
[21] The term jawhar has been used here by the author, translated earlier as body, it is referring to all bodies being constructed from atoms.
[22] Further details of their history and beliefs can be found in the following works: al-Farq bain al-Firaq (p.225), al-Tabseer fi al-Din (p.70-71) and al-Milal wa al-Nahl (1/137/144).
[23] Al-Bukhari (50) Muslim (8)
[24] Al-Qamar:49
[25] He is Ahmad Ibn Hajar al-Haytami al-Shafi. A jurist (faqih) and deeply knowledgeable of a number of Islamic sciences. He was born in in Egypt in 909 (AH) and passed away in Makkah in 973 (AH). From his authored works are Tuhfah al-Muhtaj li Sharh al-Minhaj and al-Zawajir. See Mujam al-Muallifin (2/152).
[26] Al-Tahrim:6
[27] Al-Mudathir:31
[28] ‘When the angels said: “O Maryam! Verily, Allâh gives you the glad tidings of a Word from Him, his name will be the Messiah ‘Īsā, the son of Maryam , held in honour in this world and in the Hereafter, and will be one of those who are near to Allâh.” “He will speak to the people in the cradle and in manhood, and he will be one of the righteous.” She said: “O my Lord! How shall I have a son when no man has touched me.” He said: “So (it will be) for Allâh creates what He wills. When He has decreed something, He says to it only: “Be!” – and it is.’ (al-Imran:45-47)
[29] ‘And they stayed in their Cave three hundred years, and adding nine’ (al-Kahf:25)
[30] It is mentioned that he was a one of Suleiman (as) ministers, He (taala) said: ‘He said: “O chiefs! Which of you can bring me her throne before they come to me surrendering themselves in obedience?” , An Ifrît (strong one) from the jinn said: “I will bring it to you before you rise from your place (council). And verily, I am indeed strong, and trustworthy for such work.” One with whom was knowledge of the Scripture said: “I will bring it to you within the twinkling of an eye!” Then when he saw it placed before him, he said: “This is by the Grace of my Lord – to test me whether I am grateful or ungrateful…” (al-Naml:38-40)
[31] Al-Suyuti said in his referencing of the hadith of Sharh al-Aqaid al-Nasafiyah that the hadith was reported by Abu al-Sheikh bin Hibban in Kitab al-Udhmah with a chain containing unknown narrators. It was also mentioned by Ibn Kathir in al-Bidayah wa al-Nihayah (1/27-28) from the same route. It was mentioned by the author of al-Mujam (5/335) from Abd al-Rahman bin Abdullah bin Ab al-Hakim from Amr bin al-Aas.
[32] This occurred in the year 23 (AH) it is reported by al-Bayhaqi in Dalail al-Nubuwwah (6/370), Abu Nuaym (525) with two chains one of which is Hasan as was mentioned by al-Hafih Ibn Hajar in al-Isabah and al-Suyuti in Takhrij Ahadith Sharh al-Aqaid. See al-Isabah (4/98) al-Sakhawi’s Takhrij of al-Arbain al-Sulamiyah (44-46)
[33] Reported by al-Bayhaqi in al-Sunan and Abu Nuaym in al-Dalail (2/574), al-Haithami said in Majma al-Zawaid (9/350) that the narrators of one of al-Tabaranis chains were those of the Sahih, except that it is mursal, as Abu al-Safar and Abu Burda did not hear from Khalid. And Allah knows best.
[34] Al-Araf:34
[35] They were given this name due to their opposing Ali (ra), they held the view that every major sin is disbelief (kufr) and the one who commits a major sin becomes a non muslim. Also those who commit major sins will be punished eternally in the next world. For more details refer to: al-Milal wa al-Nihal (1/114-139), al-Farq bain al-Firaq (72-113), al-Tabseer fi al-Din (26-36)
[36] Al-Hujurat:9
[37] Also based Minhaj al-Raghib Sharh It-haf al-Talib (p.65-66)
[38] He is Yahya bin Sharaf al-Nawawi al-Shafi (631-677 AH) A jurist, Muhaddith, Hafidh. He was born in Nawa where he studied the Quran, he then came later to Damascus where he stayed at Madrasa al-Rawahiyyah, he also taught at Dar al-Hadith. He passed away in Nawa and is buried there. See Mujam al-Muallifin (13/202)