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Refutation of Dr.

Zakir Naik
Taken from Brother Sajid reply to one of the questions regarding Dr. Zakir Naik’s
view on Manhaj Ahlehadeeth

As-Salaam Alaikum
The above mentioned view is a erroneous view and is based upon a wrong assumption
that the best generations of muslims never used a label for themselves other than Muslim
and when a group of people deviated they were given a label (for example – giving the
label of khawarij) but the muslims themselves did not use a label other than “Muslim”

Ibn Sirin (d.110) a Tabiee said, “They would not ask about the Isnad. But when the fitnah
(turmoil/civil war) happened, they said, ‘Name to us your men. So the narrations of the
Ahlus-Sunnah (Adherents to the Sunnah) would be accepted, while those of Ahlul-
Bidah (Adherents to Innovations) would not be accepted”

[Sahih al-Muslim bi Sharh an-Nawawi (Introduction) Chapter : The Isnaad is from the
Deen, p.257 [Maktaba Nazaar Mustafa al-Baaz - Riyadh [1st edition]. Quoted from the
Classification of Hadeeth by Shaikh Suhaib Hassan]

Here we can clearly see the Muslims at the time of the Tabieen – labeled themselves with
a label other than Muslim – i.e. Ahlus-Sunnah

The context of this statement is that during the lifetime of Allah’s Messenger, the
Sahabah would convey the sayings of Allah’s Messenger to the other companions and
there way no reason to doubt a companion because all the companions were truthful. But
with the emergence of deviants who fabricated Hadeeth to support their heretical views,
the terms ‘Ahlus-Sunnah’ and ‘Ahlul-Bidah’ were used so that the narrations of Hadeeth
those upon the right path could be accepted and the narrations of the deviants be rejected.

As deviation and innovations in matters of the religion entered into the ranks of the
Muslims, the need arose for descriptive terms to distinguish between the Muslims upon
the right path and those upon deviation. Consequently terms like Salafi, Ahlus-Sunnah
and Ahlul-Hadeeth have been used, each of them more appropriate than the other
according to the situation, but in essence they all stand for adherence to the creed,
methodology and understanding of the Salaf.

There was not need for the description ‘Ahlus-Sunnah’, at the time of the Messenger
when all the Muslims (i.e. the Sahabah) were upon the Sunnah. Even the Munafiqs
(hypocrites) who joined the ranks of the Muslims for worldly gain whilst disbelieving in
their hearts, had no way but to put up an outward show of Islam by not opposing the
teachings of Allah’s Messenger. But as the situation changed the term “Ahlus-Sunnah’
was used, as mentioned in the narration of Ibn Sirin

It is incumbent to adhere to the understanding of the Salaf, because this way has as its
beginning the pious gathering of the Sahabah who took the religion directly from the
Messenger of Allah. They were the best of those who understood the teachings and
adhered to them in a way that gained the Pleasure of Allah – the Most Gracious.

“And the first to embrace Islam of the Muhajirun and the Ansar and also those who
followed them exactly (in Faith). Allah is well-pleased with them as they are well-pleased
with Him.” [Soorah At-Tawbah: 100]

The belief of the Sahabah is an example for us to follow, as Allah says in the Qur' an: "So
if they believe in the like of that which you believe, they are rightly guided, but if they
turn away, then they are only in opposition." [2:137]

Furthermore, the Qur’aan exhorts us to follow the way of the believers, which is a
reference to the way of the Sahabah.

“And whoever contradicts and opposes the Messenger (Muhammad) after the right path
has been shown clearly to him, and follows other than the way of the believers. We shall
keep him in the path he has chosen, and burn him in Hell - what an evil destination.”
[Soorah An-Nisaa: 115]

The Prophet asserted that his Ummah shall be divided into seventy three sects and that all
of whom will end up in Fire except one. When he was asked about that saved sect, he
described it saying: “It is the sect that adheres to what I and my Companions are adhering
today.” [Ahmed and others (from Kitaab at-Tawheed of Al-Fawzaan)]

Allaah' s Messenger (sallaahu ' alaihi wassallam) said: "I have left you upon clear proof ,
its night is like its day, no one deviates from it except one who is destroyed, and whoever
lives long from amongst you will see great controversy. So stick to what you know from
my Sunnah and the Sunnah of the rightly-guided caliphs - cling to that with your molar
teeth." [Ahmad and Ibn Maajah]

When adhering to the way of the Salaf is necessary to be upon the right path, how can
ascribing to the way of the Salaf be blameworthy sectarianism, especially at a time when
the callers to ways opposed to that of the Salaf are numerous, organized and eloquent in
propagating their falsehood.

The Saying of the Scholars on Ascribing to the way of the Salaf

Shaikh ul-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah (rahimahullaah) says: "There is no blame on the one
who manifests/proclaims the way (madhdhab) of the Salaf, who attaches himself to it and
refers to it. Rather, it is obligatory to accept that from him by unanimous agreement
(Ittifaaq), because the way (madhdhab) of the Salaf is nothing but the Truth (Haqq)."
[From Majmoo al-Fataawaa, 4:149.]
al-Haakim said: Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal did well when he commented on this report by
saying that the victorious group who will prevail until the Hour begins is “ashaab al-
hadeeth” (the people of hadeeth). Who is more deserving of this description than people
who follow the way of the righteous and follow in the footsteps of the salaf who came
before us, and exposed the falsehood of the people of bid’ah (innovation) by basing their
arguments on the Sunnahs of the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be
upon him)? [Ma’rifat ‘Uloom al-Hadeeth, by al-Haakim al-Nisaboori, p. 2, 3]

Al-Khateeb Al-Baghdaadi said: “Allaah has made these people – Ahl al-Hadeeth – the
pillars of sharee’ah, and He has destroyed through them all abhorrent innovations. They
are the trustees of Allaah among His creation, the intermediaries between the Prophet
(peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and his ummah. They are the ones who are
striving hard to protect his religion; their light is shining, their virtues are well known, the
signs of their sincerity are obvious, their way is prevailing, and their evidence is supreme.
Every group has its own focal point which is based on whims and desires, apart from the
people of hadeeth, whose reference point is the Qur’aan, whose evidence is the Sunnah
and whose leader is the Messenger to whom they belong; they do not pay any attention to
whims and desires, and they do not care about personal opinions. They are content with
what is narrated from the Messenger, and they are the ones who are entrusted with it and
they take care of it. They are the guardians and keepers of the faith, the vessels and
bearers of knowledge. If there is a difference of opinion concerning a hadeeth, people
refer to them, and what they rule is what is accepted and listened to. Among them are
prominent faqeehs, great imams, ascetics who are well-known among their tribes, men
who are known for their virtue, skilled reciters of Qur’aan and good speakers. They are
the majority and their way is the right way. Every innovator pretends to be following
their path, and cannot dare to claim any other way. Whoever opposes them, Allah will
destroy him, and whoever goes against them, Allah will humiliate him. They are not
harmed by those who forsake them, and those who stay away from them will not prosper.
The one who cares for his religion needs their help, the one who looks down on them is a
loser, and Allah is able to support them.” [Sharf Ashaab al-Hadeeth, p. 15]

Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah said: “Hence it is clear that the people who most deserve
to be called the victorious group are “Ahl al-Hadeeth wa’l-Sunnah”, who have no leader
to follow blindly apart from the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be
upon him). They are the most knowledgeable of people concerning his words and deeds,
the most able to distinguish between what is sound and what is not [of hadeeth]. Their
imams have deep knowledge of that, they are the ones who understand its meanings and
are the most sincere in following it. They accept it and believe in it, and act upon it. They
show love to those who adopt it and they show enmity to those who oppose it. They are
the ones who measure any idea against that which is proven in the Qur’aan and Sunnah,
so they never adopt any idea and make it one of the basic principles of their religion
unless it is proven in that which the Messenger brought. Rather they make that which the
Messenger brought, the Qur’aan and Sunnah, the foundation and basis of their beliefs.
With regard to the issues concerning which people dispute, such as the attributes of
Allaah, the divine decree, the threat of Hell, the names of Allaah and the principle of
enjoining what is good and forbidding what is evil, etc., they refer that to Allaah and His
Messenger. They examine the general ideas concerning which the different groups
dispute, and whatever of these ideas is in accordance with the Qur’aan and Sunnah, they
approve of it, and whatever goes against the Qur’aan and Sunnah, they reject it. They do
not follow conjecture or whims and desires. For following conjecture is ignorance and
following whims and desires without any guidance from Allaah is wrongdoing.”
[Majmoo’ al-Fataawa, 3/347, 348]

We should note that Ahl al-Hadeeth includes everyone who follows the hadeeth of
the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and gives it precedence
over all else, whether he is a scholar or an ordinary Muslim.

Shaykh ul-Islaam Ibn Taymiyah said: “According to us the Ahlul–Hadeeth are the
Muhadditheen, who heard the hadeeth from their teachers, who also wrote down that
which was narrated to them from their teachers, and those who narrated hadeeth to others.
In the same way the Ahlul–Hadeeth are those common people who follow and act upon
hadeeth in all matters.” [Fataawa Ibn Taymiyah 4/59]

Shaykh al-Islam [Ibn Taymiyah] said: “We do not mean by Ahl al-Hadeeth only those
who study it, write it down or narrate it, rather we mean anyone who takes care to
memorize it, understand it and follow it, both inwardly and outwardly. The same may be
said of “Ahl al-Qur’aan” (the people of the Qur’aan).

The basic quality of these people is their love of the Qur’aan and hadeeth, referring to
them and their meanings, and acting upon what they learn.” [Majmoo’ al-Fataawa, 4/95]

The imams have said a great deal on this matter. You can learn more by referring to the
sources quoted above, as well as volume 4 of Majmoo’ Fataawa Shaykh al-Islam Ibn
Taymiyah. [Taken from Islam Q&A (]

Is there a Need to distinguish between the Muslims:

Surely, there is a need to identify those Muslims who are upon the correct understand and
distinguish them from those who have deviated from the path out of ignorance,
misunderstanding or arrogance. The one who denies this need, in reality denies the need
to distinguish between the truth and falsehood.

The need for this distinction has been from the time of the Tabi’een (the second
generation of Islam), and the need is much more in these times when the people of
deviation and innovation are numerous, well-organized and eloquent.


1- Those groups who reject the usage of any term other then ‘Muslim’, identify
themselves by ascriptions to individuals, organizations, groups or movements. Why do
they not name their organizations or group as, “One Muslim Group” or “One Muslim

If identifying oneself with a certain position (in our case - to align with the position of the
Salaf in our affairs) is sectarianism, then identifying with a particular organization or
movement is also sectarianism. Then on what basic would such people accuse others of

2 - Those who reject the usage of any term other then ‘Muslim’, themselves use terms
like “good Muslim / bad Muslim”, “Muslim with the correct opinion / Muslim with the
incorrect opinion”, and they themselves use existing terms like ‘soofi’, ‘shia’, etc. to
identify others.

So indirectly they too have displayed the need for such description for the sake of brevity
which is a natural need for easy communication.

None can truly claim to be in no need to descriptions other than ‘Muslim’ except for
those upon two extremes. One extreme of those who call themselves, “Jamaat al-
Muslimeen” – who believe that the term ‘Muslim’ refers to a member of their group, and
anyone who is not from their group is not part of the Jama’aah (gathering) of the Muslims
– even if he adopts no other name apart from ‘Muslim’. The lack of responsibility and
maturity of this cult makes it easy for it to expel the overwhelming majority of Muslims
out of the “Jamaat al-Muslimeen”.

The other extreme that does not require such type of distinction is the group of non-
practicing, materialistic individuals who are grossly ignorant of the religion of Islam –
and for whom being a Muslim is like a nationality which anyone can claim irregardless of
his deviation from the revelations (Wahy) of Allah. A person could loose his nationality
by rebelling against his nation but these individuals consider even the most rebellious
deviant to have the right to claim Islam. Obviously these individuals too are in no need
for making distinctions.

Apart from these two ridiculously extreme views, none is truly independent from the use
of ‘distinguishing terms’.

3 – As for those who accept in the obligation of following the way of the Salaf but object
to ascribing themselves to the Salafi way, we say to them:

a. Know that ascription to Salafiyyah is not sectarianism because a Salafi ascribes himself
to the Messenger, the Jamaa’ah of the best generations and those who followed them
upon righteousness. Those who ascribe themselves to individuals, movements, groups,
parties or schools of thought are guilty of sectarianism because the entire Muslim nation
cannot be united in the following of an Imam, a political leader, a philosopher, a theocrat
or any other individual. And this does not equal ascribing oneself to Ahlus-Sunnah,
Ahlul-Hadeeth or Salafiyyah.
b. By ascribing yourself to the Salafi Dawah you will be ethically bound to follow the
principles of the Salafi Dawah and this will be a source of guidance and direction. This is
unlike the case of the ones who do not ascribe to the Salafi way and thus not obliged to
bound themselves to the usool (principles) of Ahlus-Sunnah. And anything that is not
bound by principles amounts to chaos and anarchy.

c. Without ascribing yourself to the Salafi way and binding yourself to the way of the
Salaf, you are another in the long list of misguided sects because safety from
misguidance would come only in following the way of the Salaf which is to follow the
Book and the Sunnah upon the understanding of the Sahabah.

d. As for those who follow the Salafi way but do not ascribe themselves to Salafiyya out
of fear that it will harm their Dawah should know that this action of theirs does not
conceal their methodology except to those ignorant of the different Manahij (ways). As
for the one who is acquainted with this merely puts two and two together because if you
are a person who stresses upon Tawheed, gives precedence to following the Hadeeth over
the Taqleedi Madhhabs, opposes the ways of the heretical Sufis, does not exaggerate in
the honor of the Ahlul-Bait, does not undermine the Sunnahs, and so on. This is a clear
indication that you are on none other than the Salafi way. When this is the case then why
shy away from ascribing yourself to the Salafi Dawah and subject yourself to the
balancing act whenever someone asks you a simple question – ‘What way are you upon?’

Hope the above answers the question and clears all doubt

Your brother in faith

- Sajid

Further Reading : Who is the Saved Sect ?