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Nuh Ha Mim Keller - Masud Questions 6 Ibn Baaz and Al-Albani

Nuh Ha Mim Keller - Masud Questions 6 Ibn Baaz and Al-Albani

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The Re-Formers of Islam The Mas'ud QuestionsNuh Ha Mim Keller - Question 6
The Ijazas of Ibn Baaz and al-Albani
The Salafis allege that both Ibn Baz and al-Albani have ijazas (authorizations of mastery of a book, etc. in Islamic knowledge from the scholar it was studied with)from great sheikhs. They say that al-Albani has an ijaza from some sheikhs inSyria, do you have any information on this? AnswerOur teacher in hadith, Sheikh Shu‘ayb al-Arna’ut, tells my wife and me thatSheikh Nasir al-Albani learned his hadith knowledge from books andmanuscripts in the Dhahiriyya Library in Damascus, as well as his long years working on books of hadith. He did not get any significant share of his knowledgefrom living hadith scholars, according to Sheikh Shu‘ayb, for the very goodreason that there wasn’t anyone in Damascus at the time who knew much abouthadith, and he didn’t travel anywhere else to learn. I have heard Salafis say thathe has an ijaza from one person in Syria, but it could only be (according to SheikhShu‘ayb) from someone with far less knowledge than himself I believe Sheikh Shu‘ayb about this, because his family, like Sheikh Nasir’s, wereof the Albanians who emmigrated to Damascus at the collapse of the OttomanEmpire, and they all know each other rather intimately. The impression one getsis that Sheikh Nasir’s father, Sheikh Nuh al-Albani, was so strict a Hanafi that heproduced something of an over-reaction in Sheikh Nasir not only against AbuHanifa and his madhhab, but against traditional Islamic sheikhs as well. According to Sheikh Shu‘ayb, Sheikh Nasir studied tajwid or ‘Qur’anic recitation’and perhaps the Hanafi fiqh primer Maraqi al-falah [The ascents to success] withhis father Sheikh Nuh al-Albani, and possibly other lessons in Hanafi fiqh fromSheikh Muhammad Sa‘id al-Burhani, who taught in Tawba Mosque, in thequarter of the Turks on the side of Mount Qasiyun, near Sheikh Nasir’s father’sshop. Sheikh Nasir subsequently found that his time could be more profitably spent with books and manuscripts at the Dhahiriyya Library and in reading works to students, and he did not attend anyone else’s lessons As for his ijaza or ‘warrant of learning,’ Sheikh Shu‘ayb tells us that it came whena hadith scholar from Aleppo, Sheikh Raghib al-Tabbakh, was visiting theDhahiriyya Library in Damascus, and Sheikh Nasir was pointed out to him as apromising student of hadith. They met and spoke, the sheikh authorized him "inall the chains of transmission that I have been authorized to relate"—that is tosay, a general ijaza, though Sheikh Nasir did not attend the lessons of the sheikhor read books of hadith with him. Sheikh Raghib al-Tabbakh had chains of sheikhs reaching back to the main hadith works, such as Sahih al-Bukhari, theSunan of Abu Dawud, and hence had a contiguous chain back to the Prophet
 
(Allah bless him and give him peace) for these books. But this was anauthorization (ijaza) of tabarruk, or ‘for the blessing of it,’ not a ‘warrant of learning’—for Sheikh Nasir did not go to Aleppo to learn from him, and he didnot come to Damascus to teach himThis type of authorization (ijaza), that of tabarruk, is a practice of sometraditional scholars: to give an authorization in order to encourage a student whom they have met and like, whom they find knowledgeable, or hope will become a scholar. The reason I know of such ijazas is because I have one, fromthe Meccan hadith scholar Sheikh Muhammad ‘Alawi al-Maliki, which authorizesme to relate "all the chains of transmission that I [Muhammad ‘Alawi al-Maliki]have been authorized to relate by my sheikhs," including chains of transmissionreaching back to the hadith Imams Malik, al-Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawud, al-Tirmidhi, al-Nasa’i, Ibn Majah (Mecca: Muhammad ‘Alawi al-Maliki, 1412/1992).Though my name is on the authorization, and it is signed by the sheikh, it doesnot make me a hadith scholar like he is, because aside from some of his publiclessons, my hadith knowledge is not from him but from Sheikh Shu‘ayb, whom Ihave actually studied with. Rather, Sheikh al-Maliki knows my sheikhs inDamascus, that I am the translator of ‘Umdat al-salik [Reliance of the traveller]in Shafi‘i fiqh, that we have known each other for some time, and he approves of my way. The scholarly value of such ijazas is merely to establish that we have met. As for Ibn Baz, I do not know who he studied with, though from his broadcasts onthe radio, I would be most surprised if he had ever studied with someoneuncommitted to what he and his colleagues simply call the da‘wa or ‘propagation,’that is, of the revisions of Islam advocated by Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab. As it is unlawful to say anything disliked about a Muslim except for an interestcountenanced by Sacred Law, the following discussion will not exceed (a) whether these revisions constitute a sectarian emphasis differing from traditionalIslam; and (b) if sectarian, how this influences issues that Sheikh Nasir and IbnBaz might otherwise be believed aboutI mention this to you, because, as you may know, some people take offense at the word Wahhabi—and with good reason, if we mean to suggest that they do notlove Islam, or are not trying to practice it to the best of their understanding andability. I feel this is true of virtually all separatist groups, from the beginning of Islam. Provided they do not negate something necessarily known to be of thereligion (necessarily known meaning that which any Muslim would know about if asked), all these groups may be said to have tried to understand and apply theQur’an and the sunna, even though their understanding has brought them to amistaken conclusion. This is why Shari‘a manuals say things like:They [those who rise in insurrection against the caliph] are subject to Islamiclaws (because they have not committed an act that puts them outside of Islamthat they should be considered non-Muslims. Nor are they considered morally corrupt (fasiq), for rebels is not a perjorative term, but rather they merely have a
 
mistaken understanding), and the decisions of their Islamic judge are consideredlegally effective (provided he does not declare the lives of upright Muslims to be justly forfeitable) if they are such as would be effective if made by our own judge(Reliance of the Traveller, 594).The fact that such people may consider other Muslims not of their sect to be non-Muslims—the hallmark of heterodox (batil) sects of all times and places—doesnot change the above rulings, and the caliph or his representative may use only enough force to end the strife. We find in the Hashiya radd al-muhtar ‘ala al-Durral-mukhtar sharh Tanwir al-absar [(Ibn ‘Abidin’s) Commentary: the guide of theperplexed, upon (Haskafi’s) The choice pearls, an exegesis of (Tumurtashi’s)Illumination of eyes], whose every word is considered a decisive evidence (nass)in the Hanafi school:(al-Haskafi:) Those who revolt against obedience to the imam [meaning thecaliph or his representative] are of three types:(1) highwaymen, and their ruling is known [n: i.e. the death penalty, if they donot give themselves up before they are caught];(2) rebels (bughat) against the caliphate, whose ruling will be discussed below [n: i.e. they are fought with as much force as needed to make them desist, as inthe Reliance above];(3) and kharijites, meaning men with military force who revolt against theimam because of a mistaken scriptural interpretation (ta’wil), believing that he isupon a falsehood of unbelief (kufr) or disobedience to Allah (ma‘siya) thatnecessitates their fighting him, according to their mistaken scripturalinterpretation, and who consider it lawful to take our lives, our property, and takeour women as slaves, and who consider the Companions of our Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) to be disbelievers. Their ruling is the same as thatof rebels (bughat) against the caliphate [n: (2) above] by unanimous consensus of fiqh scholars.(Ibn ‘Abidin:) His words and who consider the Companions of our Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) to be disbelievers are not a condition for someoneto be a kharijite, but rather are a mere clarification of what those who revoltedagainst ‘Ali (Allah Most High be well pleased with him) in fact did. Otherwise, itis enough to be convinced of the unbelief of those they fight against, as happenedin our own times with the followers of [Muhammad ibn] ‘Abd al-Wahhab, whocame out of the Najd in revolt, and took over the sanctuaries of Mecca andMedina. They followed the Hanbali madhhab, but believed that they were theMuslims, and that those who believed differently than they did were polytheists(mushrikin). On this basis, they held it lawful to kill Sunni Muslims (Ahl al-Sunna) and their religious scholars, until Allah Most High dispelled their forces,and the armies of the Muslims attacked their strongholds and subdued them in1233 A.H. [1818] (Hashiya radd al-muhtar, 4.262).

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