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The Monumental Sunni Pledge

Andrew Booso | October 27, 2007 4:32 pm The essential point of the ‘Pledge of Mutual Respect and Co-operation Between Sunni Muslim Scholars, Organisations, and Students of Knowledge’ – published in Ramadan 2007 on many websites, including www.suhaibwebb.com (posted 22 September) – is, to a large extent, to temper the theological controversy between ‘Ash’aris’ and ‘salafis’ in the West. These two aforementioned groups have raised the standard of theological studies in the West in recent years. However, both, in general, have claimed an exclusivity to being the true upholders of the People of the Sunnah, with polemics – let’s face it – equating the other with anti-Islamic theological groupings: arguably most ‘salafis’ putting the ‘Ash’aris’ with the Jahmiyyah sect (clear deniers of necessary truths of revelation); and many ‘Ash’aris’ charging the ‘salafis’ with anthropomorphism [tajsim]. This pledge has one monumental reading that has both gladdened some and upset others, and that reading is one that recognises the other as essentially Sunni, or orthodox. The apparent wording of the document supports the idea of a monumental reading; however, it is also possible that a monumental reading is not intended, but that it is only intended to bring about better social relations between the two groups, so as to facilitate future co-operation on societal issues of common concern. If the defined monumental reading was not the intent of some or all of the signatories, we are still, nevertheless, left with a pledge of monumental potentiality for successful unified ‘Sunni’ endeavours in the West, by the will of God. The Ash’ari-Salafi Debate: A Summary The debate between the two sides relates, essentially and in the main, to the theological discussion of the attributes of God. On the vexed question of the attributes of God according to the Ash’ari school – and here I could speak of the Maturidis with the Ash’aris because they are essentially one, with minor differences, as enunciated by Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi in Saviours of the Islamic Spirit – one can read line 40 from Ibrahim Laqani’s standard theological poem entitled Jawharah at-tawhid as a summary of their stance: Every text instilling a groundless fear of their implying the similarity of the Creator to His creation Figuratively explain it or consign the knowledge of it to God, and exalt God above the attributes of creation. [wa kullu nassin awhama at-tashbiha/awwilhu aw fawwid wa rum tanziha.] The recourse to figurative interpretation, as one of two alternatives, is highly qualified by the scholars of this method, and is not open-ended to all or everything. It is this restraint that clearly separates the Ash’aris from the overly figurative, such as the Mu’tazilah and Jahmiyyah, not to mention the Batiniyyah. Scholars of this understanding have deemed their approach valid according to the Sacred Law, as well as identifying both methods with the early Muslims [as-salaf]: one can see such arguments put forward by Imam Nawawi (in his Sharh Sahih Muslim and al-Majmu’, as translated by Nuh Keller in his Reliance of the Traveller and elsewhere) and al-‘Izz Ibn ‘Abdas-Salam (as quoted, from his Fatawa, by Gibril Haddad in his translation of excerpts from Imam Bayhaqi’s al-Asma’ wa al-Sifat). Shaykh Yusuf Qaradawi, in his Priorities of the Islamic Movement, has written how the foremost

uk). Ibn Taymiyyah is the subject of controversy amongst the Ash’aris. who – apart from Ibn Taymiyyah and Ibn al-Qayyim – are not household names for most religious Muslims in the same way that the scholars utilised by Kawthari are. Of course. The debate surrounding the ‘salafis’ ascription to Imam Ahmad surrounds the holding to the ‘outward’ [zahir] of such verses and hadith that are deemed to concern the attributes of God. and Deoband – are upon what can fairly be described as the Ash’ari-Maturidi method. There are two features that dominate Kawthari’s method in this regard: 1) his success in bringing together a long stream of quotations from recognised authorities on the subject of figurative interpretation [ta’wil] and the attributes of God.masud. Ghazali. for example. Now the ‘salafis’ are. Qurtubi. The firmest opponents of the ‘salafis’ refute the notion that they are upon Imam Ahmad’s way. also. al-Qarawiyyin. who have opted to not follow the second characteristic of Kawthari’s that I have identified. What we can call ‘revived Ash’arism’ in English seems to be really the consequence of mainly Muslim converts translating the research of Shaykh Zahid Kawthari (1879-1952) – one can merely compare the notes of Kawthari that ‘Abdullah bin Hamid ‘Ali included in his translation of Ibn alJawzi’s Daf’ shubah at-tashbih. Muhammad ibn Adam alKawthari told me that the explicit opinion of his teacher Shaykh Taqi ‘Uthmani is against attributing such a major heresy to Ibn Taymiyyah (as is the opinion of Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi in his Saviours and Muhammad Sa’id Ramadan al-Buti (al-Azhari) – one can find Buti’s stance on Ibn Taymiyyah’s theological position regarding the attributes of God in an essay on Ibn Taymiyyah by Abu Rumaysah. it is a different matter if people are using similar words but arriving at different conclusions and understandings – a clearly valid point made by al-‘Izz ibn ‘Abdas-Salam. whilst exonerating the Imam of such a charge. Ash’aris have ventured into. 2) his clear attack on Ibn Taymiyyah as an ‘unmitigated anthropomorphist’ (as stated by Gibril Haddad. upon the way of Ibn Taymiyyah. with individuals affiliated to the school holding divergent opinions about him. The ‘salafis’ propose a vehement oppositional argument against the use of figurative interpretation in some of the areas in which some. encourage the laity to not engage in such complexities. and in turn they accuse the ‘salafis’ of anthropomorphism. Kawthari uses a ‘who’s who’ of Islamic scholarly greatness to buttress his proofs: Tabari. as referred to earlier. and to just remain ‘Sunni’ at basis.islamicawakening. There are other scholars who are also affiliated to the Ash’ari school. Suyuti. Ibn al-Jawzi. alIzz ibn ‘Abdas-Salam. the exact correlation between the ‘school of Imam Ahmad’ and what we can now call the ‘school of the salafis’ in the current age is intensely disputed. as the ‘followers of Imam Ahmad’). The ‘salafis’ claim to follow the theological method of Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal. ‘Iyad. Nawawi. The ‘salafi’ theological method in English is largely the translation of numerous scholars. through having progressed through Azhari or Deobandi educations. to all outward appearances. and disputed by others (including Shibli Numani in his Imam Abu Hanifa). which they believe is the way of Imam Ahmad. Bayhaqi. available at www.co. from the Hanbali school. However. and are thus associated with the Athariyyah school (commonly identified. not all. Razi. they issue forth an outright condemnation of the Ash’aris. with the works of translators such as Nuh Keller and Gibril Haddad for the detailed similarity to be palpably obvious. entitled The Attributes of God. like my own teacher Shaykh Iqbal Azami. Such people. ancient and modern. and he certainly rejected the idea of Ibn Taymiyyah being upon anthropomorphism. etc. Ibn Daqiq al-‘Id. al-Zaytuna.com). in the process. some of the ‘salafi’ language used by Imam Abu Hanifa in his al-Fiqh al-akbar.Muslim ‘universities’ – and he names al-Azhar. considering them to be astray from the correct path of the early Muslims. . posted on www. The matter is even more obscure when the ‘salafis’ make extensive verbatim use of the language attributable to early theological utterances – see. as defined by themselves. which is attributed to him by some (as argued by Gibril Haddad in his Four Imams). in an article on Kawthari. Yet.

We love our teachers. and he is one of the blind [fa huwa a’ma min al-‘umyan]: don’t waste time on his reform…The condition of the conformist [shart al-muqallid] is that he cannot speak and cannot be spoken to because he is incapable of travelling the path of argument. when a matter is one of confirmed dispute – such as one scholar saying that ‘such-and-such. However. the more complex it gets for a muqallid. as Sunni Muslims…’ Furthermore. pure conformism [taqlid] has bound him. . yes. or even holding the orthodoxy of fellow believers with contrary stances. of either school to trade blows with: Ibn al-Jawzi’s Attributes of God for Ibn Qudama’s Prohibition of Studying Works on Speculative Theology and al-‘Uthaymin’s Tenets of Faith. he would be one who is followed [mustatbi’an].e. i. ‘broad scholarly tradition of the Sunni Muslims’. that we will completely hold onto whatever our shaykh says.J. for the nature of taqlid in such non-conclusive matters is that one is not seeing a matter with the eye of certainty. provoked both joy and dismay – in almost equal quantities – on the internet. then our entrenchment upon one position is completely justified.saheefah. All of which exemplifies the wisdom in the pledge’s seeming call for the end of unlearned and ill-mannered debate. It doesn’t make strategic sense. ‘So-and-so did say suchand-such.There are now sufficient English resources for the muqallid. despite the apparent differences. and this was because many people of both sentiments perceived a monumental reading: one that categorically declared each grouping to be ‘Sunni’. said by So-and-so. and not a follower [tabi’an]. and indeed we follow them. or www. The reality of being a muqallid.sunnah.org. signed by such prestigious Western luminaries. in Faysal at-tafriqa (translated into English. McCarthy’s translation of Ghazali entitled Deliverance from Error). even when they appear quite. and far from conclusion. even if one is simply propagating the views of one’s teacher. This pledge is a document that is to be signed by muqallidin in the West. or other than them – then know that he is gullible [or: inexperienced]. is that one should proceed with caution with regards to such certainty and passion concerning matters of dispute amongst the scholars of the world. This reading is certainly fuelled by the pledge’s talk of ‘the historical nature of Sunni Islam is a broad one’. even if we incline to their stance. and another scholar directly responds. because one’s self is blind. is kufr [disbelief] or innovation [bid’a]’. for the world of Islamic scholarship is bigger than just our teacher or teachers.uk on ‘aqida for www. the fact that representatives of competing and conflicting methods were upon the list of signatories made such a monumental reading all the more obvious for many. and rejected the heresy of the other. The Monumental Reading This pledge. the more one studies the controversy. warns against all such muqallid behaviour: ‘[When requesting your companion to provide a definition of unbelief [kufr]. and matters are not always decisive. in the spirit of recognising that Islamic scholarship is vast. and ‘we feel. as exampled. but is rather taking something on trust from one whom one considers to be able to see. Indeed. If he were qualified for it. like myself. for Western muqallidin to refrain from working together on common matters. especially on internet forums. if the disputes are seemingly valid or far from decisive resolution – and the latter is only possible by rearing the dead from their graves for interrogation. clear. but he did not mean what you understand as kufr or bid’a from it’ – then we should refrain from the one dimensionality of ‘my-shaykhness’.’ Of course.org and www. but on non-decisive interpretations. I hope that it is clear that this debate is far from simple.co. from an ummatic perspective. we acknowledge their humanity and the possibility of their being mistaken. where us muqallidin are dealing with decisively proven religious matters [al-qat’iyyat]. the Mu’tazilah or the Hanbalis. and included in R. or unmitigated follower. even if not categorically proven. but not completely.masud. Imam Abu Hamid Ghazali.] if he claims that the definition of unbelief is: That which is contrary to the doctrine [madhhab] of Ash’ari.

but instead talks of the ways of the ‘salaf’ and the ‘khalaf’ [the later generations of Muslims]. theological treatise entitled al-‘Aqa’id (available in English translation from www. with accepted and minimal differences on non-essential and non-decisive theological matters. yet we both have our respective basis. yet suitably comprehensive. Yet. without categorically proving the validity of such a position according to the high standards of scholarship. and a way to end the heated condemnation and arguments between the two camps – a debate that is too advanced for over ninety percent of people. if one is willing to still adhere to this classical understanding. Such monumental readings of theology and efforts to bring together the ‘Ash’aris’ and ‘salafis’ are certainly not new to the Muslim world or the West. Such an understanding of brotherhood is radically different to saying: ‘You are a heretic. but we can work on societal matters of common good. despite some minor differences. Dismay has come from those who do not accept such a reading of their tradition. should any signatory believe. now or in the future.’ It is this latter reading that has caused both joy and dismay. the ‘Movement’ people are now required to actually cogently convey the why behind their stance from an orthodox scholarly perspective. It . and not intellectual. In this aforementioned work. whilst accepting that they can work together for the common good. it was perceived as a means towards profound brotherhood based on an almost identical foundation.’ Instead. but that the other is in fact ‘Sunni’. according to some fair and common principles from the scholars of the field. In the Muslim world. the reason why the pledge can call for a ‘cessation’ of the type under discussion is because the monumental reading necessarily entails the acceptance of the other as having not committed disbelief on the well-known controversies. and they desire to stand by their accusations of heresy against the other. al-Banna argued that both groups – as customarily and essentially defined and understood – were Sunnis. to a large extent – for ‘unity’. such a monumental reading says: ‘We are both orthodox. Moreover. or Sunni. one sees the efforts of Hasan al-Banna (1906-1949) in Egypt to bring these two groups together. Moreover. but it has not yet found here a comprehensive scholarly articulation (which is not the case with his treatise). then this part of the pledge that calls for a cessation of such action is nullified for them. It is maybe because some of the pledge’s authors and signatories envisaged such a monumental reading that they omitted being as comprehensive as the Amman Message of November 2004 (under point one of the ‘three points’ of the message). and neither of them can be associated with anthropomorphism nor the Jahmiyyah. Of course. as opposed to simply relying on some nebulous how and what of ‘unity’. that another group or individual has opposed any necessarily known tenet. This pledge – certainly from the perspective of a monumental reading – supports the growing vitality and influence in the West of al-Banna’s position: a fact that prevents any surprise at the inclusion of certain ‘Movement’ signatories from the West on this pledge. which explicitly qualified the signatories understanding of the other as ‘Muslim’ with the dictum agreed-upon by Sunni theologians that someone is a Muslim as long as one ‘does not deny any necessarily self-evident tenet of the religion’ – what Imam Nawawi is recorded in the Reliance as calling ‘ma ya’lam min din al-islam daruratan’ (translated by Keller as ‘something that is necessarily known to be of the religion of Islam’). despite the clause not being written (for it is simply implicit). Thus the latter position does not accommodate the pledge’s call for a ‘cessation of all implicit or explicit charges of disbelief’. Therefore only a monumental reading justifies such an outright commitment to the cessation of ‘all’ charges of this nature.ca/) is the relevant evidence for my claim – although he doesn’t talk about ‘Ash’aris’ and ‘salafis’. The issue with such an entrenched position – what we can call ‘hard-line’ or ‘super-[fill-in the blank with ‘salafi’ or ‘Ash’ari’]’ – is that it can necessarily entail the disbelief [kufr] of one’s opponent according to the classical juridical method.Those who welcomed it with joy saw it as the first major breakthrough in the West between these warring factions. but we differ on these disputed fine details of theology. Hasan al-Banna’s stance has been carried over into the West by his followers. but his arguments are directly relevant to our discussion. and it has largely been a seemingly ill-informed call – apparently emotional. His short. both have their precedents from the early Muslims.youngmuslims.

This clarification might be more realistic. so to speak. then we cannot say that the document holds a monumental reading. but he would not have considered himself to be an ‘Ash’ari’ in general). if this is the case. ‘Asqalani. Bayhaqi. whilst not being – as the English might say – so ‘rotten’ to one another in the process of declaring the other of theological heresy. the current wording of the pledge from ambiguities. and the aspect of individuality that is inherent in scholarship – of the Sunni nature of ‘Ash’aris’ by ‘salafis’ and ‘salafis’ by ‘Ash’aris’. the ‘Movement’ will just remain passively waiting for some ‘Ash’aris’ and ‘salafis’ to provide the leadership for them. and I don’t think that this is what alBanna had in mind. had been unable to understand the minhaj as-salaf. and others) their beliefs. The consequence of this is that one can imagine many current supporters of the pledge being seen to break the pledge in the opinion of those who support it on the basis of a monumental reading – whether the latter group consists of fellow signatories or more lay supporters.thus requires the ‘Movement’ to at last see the importance of producing a Western scholarly tradition in Sunni theology. in general. then the document has caused a false dawn of high hope for many of those that welcomed it at face-value. [Of course. in practice. rightly or wrongly. as well as scores of others.] A revised wording might attract some of those who can be considered to be ‘super salafis’ or ‘super Ash’aris’. Qurtubi. and orthodoxy. might be one way of getting such people to sign up to a . whether through personal expert reasoning [ijtihad] or valid taqlid. and the sheer weight of intellectual brilliance behind the ‘Ash’ari’ method makes it highly difficult for people to believe that such scholars like Juwayni. Razi. but the pledge itself gives the impression of the monumental reading. certain signatories do not see co-signatories as true. 2) as a consequence of (1). A person is entitled to a ‘super’ stance on the issue. Sunnis. and enable us to achieve better long-term objectives. On a Non-Monumental Reading of the Pledge. as I’ve suggested. Ibn al-Jawzi (who can be deemed by others to be ‘Ash’ari’ on the attributes. without attempting something that is too weak to stand as it is. so they can jump on board. The potential for such a ‘balanced’ stance – as outlined by al-Banna – to acquire a large following seems substantial for a number of reasons. and people support it only as a means of working together on societal issues. ‘Iyad. And God knows best. but is clear that this is a working together on social and common issues between those who are considered. in the process. because of the pledge itself or the signatories themselves giving the impression to the wider public that they were saying something that they were in fact never intending to communicate. to be Sunni Muslims – even if. such a crisis might be a way of cleansing. Nawawi. Indeed. a scholarly argument that validates both schools for the understanding of the laity and learned muqallidin is quite possible: the ‘salafis’ can be exonerated of anthropomorphism through the defence of Ibn Taymiyyah by certain famous ‘Ash’aris’. or the method of the early Muslims. to perhaps a revised pledge that doesn’t support the monumental reading. and Conclusion If this pledge is not a general endorsement – for one cannot have an absolute endorsement due to the complexity of the issue and the schools themselves. and it is not proper to expect them to sign a pledge that openly opposes or misleadingly misrepresents (in their opinion. as defined by me earlier. such bemused people will be content with a position that allows them to maintain a good opinion of both camps. If this is the case. Ibn Daqiq al-‘Id and al-‘Izz ibn ‘Abdas-Salam. in order to be better placed to textually convince people from the ranks of the ‘salafis’ and ‘Ash’aris’ of where a common ground can be validly found – a condition that I have not yet seen too much evidence of emerging with the ‘Movement’ in the West. and has justified the opponents of it. then the pledge will only stand through the support of all of those who support a monumental reading. Yet a clearer and more general document. Leading. Ghazali. who are conspicuous by their present absence – for whatever reason – from the pledge as it stands. 3) due to the lack of general expertise in the controversy. or specific. Without such a development. even if they don’t know the fine details. we cannot dispute that some signatories might have already signed the pledge on this basis. by the will of God: 1) the differences are so detailed that most people are bemused by the debate – and this is highly unlikely to change (and God knows best). Alternatively.

Many people err in understanding this. by the will of God. which general supporters might currently misunderstand. agree upon. and holding on to the jama’ah’ – is sufficient proof against being tyrannised by the majority: ‘The meaning of “holding on to the jama’ah” is to remain attached to the truth and the upholders of truth even though they may be small in number. Maybe this pledge is a vaguelydefined document that has the potential for an improved ‘government’ of Muslim affairs in the West as it stands. It does not mean that you have to join or remain attached to the majority [akthar an-nas]. The following quotation from Shaykh ‘Abdal-Fattah Abu Ghudda’s notes to Muhasibi’s Risala al-mustarshidin (which has now been translated into English under the title of The Sunnah Way of the Sufis) – in commentary on Muhasibi’s statement: ‘The basis of steadfastness is in three things: following the Book [of Allah]. be the basis for a more unified collective endeavour on the ninety-five percent-plus issues that both sides. with the substantial support already mustered. the words are: “He then struck me on my thigh and said: ‘I am disappointed with you. and this can. the Sunnah. receive wide support. Due to the low levels of religious observance of Islam amongst the Muslims of the English-speaking world. hence bestowing the feeling that it is better to proceed in the current way. I certainly believe that the current pledge has. Even if there may be only one of them in this entire world…There is no difference whatsoever among the ‘ulama regarding what we said in this regard”… ‘Imam Ibn al-Qayyim rahimahullah says…[‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ud (may God be well pleased with him)] said: “The jama’ah is what conforms to the truth even if you are all alone. are aware that such an endeavour can only proceed on the basis of such vagueness. and a foundation for future strength.pledge that calls for better social relations. you should hold on to what the jama’ah was on before it degenerated. I guess that such people would prefer the pledge to walk fairly tall as the united Soviet Union of the early 1980’s – intellectual warts and all. Perhaps such meticulousness will be seen as either uncalled for or even harmful to the aims of the pledge that the current signatories believe are productively achievable through the current document.” In another narration. my old politics teacher. seemed to be still staying afloat until Gorbachev’s reforms after 1985 “merely hastened the demise of orthodox communism by exposing its structural flaws and generating an appetite for greater political change. and rather unsteady on its feet – as opposed to merely meddling along like the numerous present-day states of the former-Soviet Union: weakened in such a comprehensive sense. To use an analogy. even if you are all alone.”’ . As Alexis de Tocqueville remarked in relation to France in 1789: ‘the most perilous moment for a bad government is when it seeks to mend its ways’” (quoted from Heywood’s Political Ideologies). Imam Ibn Hazm rahimahullah says: “The jama’ah and the group refers to the people of truth. and leave alone such fine details and their apparent risks. and were these matters to be so openly and methodically defined. I have therefore brought your attention to this. For you are the jama’ah at such a time”… ‘Al-Khatib al-Baghdadi [in al-Faqih wa al-Mutafaqqih] narrates from Ibn Mas’ud (may God be well pleased with him): “The jama’ah is the Qur’an and the Sunnah even if you are all alone. and will. Nevertheless. but it would still be a worthy effort. in comparison. the Muslims are warned against the tyranny of the majority when dealing with theology and law. despite the cracks in the system’s edifice. God willing. and even some or many of the signatories.” In another narration: “The jama’ah refers to those who hold on to the truth even if you are all alone. then the pledge would essentially fall. even if it is not intended to have a monumental reading by many or some presently involved with it. ‘wide support’ would still be a minority affair. I remember Andrew Heywood. Surely the jama’ah is that which concurs with the obedience of Allah (the Exalted)’”… ‘[Imam Bayhaqi narrates:] Nu’aym ibn Hammad said: “If the jama’ah degenerates. telling us how the Soviet Union. in turn. with all Muslims. The majority of the people have left the jama’ah. for it is not inconceivable that the authors of the document.

in Lings’ words. Martin Lings reminds us. because it is a neglected one. and. In conclusion. to work together on the plus ninety-five percent of topics and issues. that Plato considered ‘democracy’ to be. who have signed on this basis and not on the basis of a monumental reading. which is more than just informed by necessity (whilst still believing one’s brother to be upon heresy): good conduct goes a long way to convincing others without the need for words. which can be established according to high scholarship for the muqallidin. indeed. then its ramifications are all too apparent. should the charge of heterodoxy be called for by the law. Nevertheless. However. suffer from their own tyranny of the majority. thus we can be ‘super’ men and women if we feel compelled – although I think that the pledge is superior to the normative ‘super’ behaviour in this instance. these two camps are the foremost proponents of finely detailed Islamic knowledge in the West. Yet in such cases necessitating ‘hard-line’ behaviour we are still required to work justly and for the betterment of all people. and we look to the future in good spirits. the Almighty. from Karl Popper. we – as individuals or groups – are obliged to conform to the rules. oppression – in particular against the laws of God). linguistically and intellectually – from the centres of Islamic learning in the Muslim world (which can. who follow the ‘Shaykh’ – to perhaps think again.Now I do not believe that Muslims in the West are in such a dire situation of having the jama’ah defined by one person or a few people. they are often disgusted by the severity of the discourse. At the end of the day. whilst this pledge is a welcome attempt to bring about good relations between those generally seen as Sunni Muslims dedicated to fine theological debate. it is a point worth reiterating from classical literature. as might be the case exemplified with some current signatories to the pledge. and should be supported. ‘the harbinger of demagogy or dictatorship… [and] recent history has not proved that Plato is wrong. consisting of both ‘Ash’aris’ and ‘salafis’. If we understand the reality of ‘dictatorship’ in the Arabic zulm (tyranny. • • • • • Tweet This Share on Facebook Digg This Save to delicious Stumble it . and the pledge allowing and recognising their respective differences – erects high hopes in an exemplarily profound brotherly endeavour. Finally. on which they completely concur. to say the least’ – despite the objections. Moreover. regardless of the weight of numbers saying that we shouldn’t. the fact remains that the overwhelming majority of people identified as Sunni Muslims have little interest or awareness of these complexities. especially in our age of ‘democracy’. in his Eleventh Hour. and we ask Him. both intellectual and social. for success. the pledge is primarily welcomed as only a first step on a longer path and in the spirit of a monumental reading. in any given instance. Therefore we must realise that even a monumental reading only touches the lives of a meagre minority of Muslims. and a bringing together of their methods – despite them not being one. of course. injustice. the importance of the point is to be emphasised if we consider the real threat that a minority faces by being distanced – geographically. with our trust in God. we could add. a monumental reading poses monumental potentiality for this religiously sophisticated minority. Nevertheless. therefore I’d advise anyone who thinks that they are the solitary jama’ah in the West – or that it is his self. or tyranny of the powerful). Indeed. his Shaykh and his three friends. also.

when he said: His ‘Rising’ is not something unknown. Belief in it is mandatory. the . Reply 2. 2007 at 9:43 pm As-salaamu ‘alaikum The greatness of a subject is measured by the subject you are studying. Andrew Booso October 30. How is beyond human logic. where we read the ayats. so if in this case one is studying Tawheed al-Asma was-Sifaat.• RSS Feed 9 Comments 1. I think they called it madhab al-tawaquf. when asked about the word “Istawaa” ie. Aboo Uthmaan October 28. Thank you for your comment. can there be any subject greater than this? Far from meaningless doctrinal disputes I would say. Reply 3. it is from the fundamentals of belief about our Creator. Baba October 27. Abu Hamza October 28. rather. May I ask why can’t we all agree to follow Imam Malik’s recommendation. 2007 at 10:18 pm May Allah help guide newly converted Muslims as well as those Muslims who really wish to taste something of the Divine Realities far away from these kinds of meaningless doctrinal disputes. Asking about it is a bid’aah. believe in the attributes as revealed. I mean isn’t it a bid’aah to argue and discuss and philosiphize about these attributes? Isn’t there a third position. Jazakumallah khairan ustadh Andrew for the well-researched article. Firstly. Was-salaamu ‘alaikum Aboo Uthmaan Reply 4. how Allah Rose over His Throne. and not expound on the issue? Maybe this can be the middle ground…since the Sahabah never engaged in such philisophical discourses. 2007 at 7:17 pm Asalamualaikum wa rahmatallah. 2007 at 8:26 pm Wa alaykum as-salam wa rahmatullah Dear Abu Hamza. may Allah bless you with good.

and it is: to refrain from interpretation. Nawawi didn't describe this approach as 'ijma as-salaf [the unified consensus of the early Muslims]‘. and terms like ‘Ash’ari’ and ‘salafi’. [See Reliance of the Traveller for Nawawi's words from his al-Majmu'. Q 21:92“Lo! This. and how ye were upon the brink of an abyss of fire. that happy ye may be guided. Everything in our religion demands unity. And remember Allah’s favour unto you: How ye were enemies and He made friendship between your hearts so that ye become as brothers by His grace. and his Sharh Sahih Muslim indicates why he didn’t use such a phrase]. black . 2007 at 8:50 pm For a Muslim Allah swt is one. he is the creator and the provider of all mankind. Q3:102-105 O ye who believe! Observe your duty to Allah with right observance. your religion. Nevertheless. eternal and universal. Allah maketh clear His revelations unto you. Aboo Uthmaan is right to point out that the subject of theology is not ‘meaningless’: it is necessary for every Muslim.best approach is what Imam Nawawi called the ‘safest’ [aslam]. each group and rejoicing in its tenets. People have to decide for themselves about whose narrative of the legacy they find most true. May Allah guide us. Q 23:52-54 And lo! This your religion is one religion and I am your lord. Such are they who are successful and be ye not as those who separated and disputed after the clear proofs had come unto them. is one religion. old.(UNITY)The prophet SAW in his last sermon declared that no one has superiority over the other EXCEPT by piety and good action. Know every Muslim is the brother of another Muslim and that Muslims constitutes the brotherhood. to the cable of Allah. AbuI . And enjoins right conduct and forbid indecency. so live them in their error till a time. Umm M November 4.poor and rich and face one direction in our daily prayers (qiblah )lets hold tight. fi amanillah. Reply 5. which is the characteristic of the unlearned. Thus. Interestingly. one must know one’s place at each juncture: between over optimism and over pessimism. we are all Muslim we believe in oneness of Allah swt Quran and Sunnah of the prophet Saw is our one and only guide. Moreover. so keep your duty unto me. We are Muslims and lets all remember unity is our religious obligation. Reply 6. But they mankind have broken their religion among them into sects. all of you together. For such there is an awful doom. but know that God is above the attributes of creation. We all stand together shoulder to shoulder young . The oneness of Allah is a reflection of oneness of humanity. and die not save as those who have surrendered (unto him) and hold fast. Your brother Andrew. when studying any discipline. He is the only judge before him we are all equal and brother of one another.white . and it is the way of many of the salaf [Nawawi said: hadhihi tariqa as-salaf aw jamahiruhum]. so worship me. and there may spring from you a nation who invites to goodness. and I am your lord. and He did save your from it. which refer to schools and are thus complex. And do not separate. the legacy of the salaf has been differently interpreted. Yet every Muslim should tread with caution on such a challenging road: it is easy to make hasty conclusions. hence we have this discussion.

It is not to belittle the debate. [Of course. but just to acknowledge when one is at a stalemate. such that people can decide for themselves? If not. is the crux of the matter. and wanted Muslims – scholars. without condemning either the Ash’aris or salafis. Ultimately. for he’s making a case for accepting both as Ahl as-Sunnah. but just to be ‘Sunni’. I see a certain irony in that. Shaykh Iqbal Azami always played down these theological debates.” Well. or is it really ‘salafi’. It begs the question of just -how. . To quote our esteemed brother Andrew: “Nevertheless. and terms like ‘Ash’ari’ and ’salafi’. What tools -are. i. Such a position is not so fancy as being a ‘salafi’ or ‘Ash’ari’.there for the aspirant between the muqallid and the mujtahid? -Is. the last statement there. indeed the finer points of the debate over interpretation of Attributes is beyond most muslims – and yet also rightly mentioned is that at the same time this issue is of relevance to every muslim and the essence of their faith. 2007 at 7:09 pm It’s an interesting dilemma for the average muslim. the legacy of the salaf has been differently interpreted. People have to decide for themselves about whose narrative of the legacy they find most true. At the end of the day. they have only stressed a minimalist theology for the non-specialist. which in practice means sticking to the text of Imam Tahawi’s al-‘Aqidah at-Tahawiyya without commentary. but it is probably more realistic. hence we have this discussion. As you mention. without doubt or argument amongst those ‘considered Sunni’ (which includes ‘Ash’aris’ and ‘salafis’). delineating the position of the two contending schools with proofs both sufficient yet simple. but even that is not ‘neutral’.November 8. which can never be the case with the categorically-proven matters of the religion. knowing God for most Muslims means simply believing in absolutes. what kind of ‘deciding’ can a muqallid do anyway? The vigorous ‘salafi’ or ‘Ash’ari’ lines of argument are well developed in English.people are to decide for themselves. neutral and unbiased. surely one is called for.e.there a simple tract. to me. And this dilemma for the average muslim is of what position to take. those matters that are conclusively proven by the primary sources. Maybe the path between the two – one that I mentioned in the article in relation to Hasan al-Banna – could be better developed. which refer to schools and are thus complex. students and laypeople – to move on from this debate. one is then able to move on in trying to develop their relationship with God before meeting Him and being taken to account for one’s deeds. or is it something else? The debates go on…] After settling upon one’s limitations. for which this debate is not one of them. one can debate whether such a minimalist position is really ‘Ash’ari’. 2007 at 10:16 pm Dear AbuI I think that the various polemics currently available are adequate for the non-specialist to ‘decide’ to a certain extent if they so wish – even if ‘deciding’ looks like ‘sitting on the fence’. in fact. Andrew Booso November 9. Those with a ‘Deobandi’ or ‘Azhari’ education that I’ve been blessed to know have not stressed being ‘Ash’ari’ or ‘salafi’. wa’l salam Reply 7.

there has been great advancement in the community in terms of knowledge and da’wa. to be self-critical. 2007 at 8:55 pm Salam alaikum. For that which is private. “Does it really cost all that to fly over the speakers?” This must be a way to generate money. But then…oh no!…There’s a price tag. Please make Minaras more reasonable. I have jotted down a few ways I believe Zaytuna can get better: 1) More Reasonable Fees: Every time I see an ad for a Minaqra I say. we may discuss in the open. That’s how you get 7. but is it a magazine or a journal? It’s not an academic journal for sure. $60. As such. as a nation. critical ones. we are taught. because a lot of people.and so on.suhaibwebb. If so. but the worker bees have an air of arrogance and aloofness to them. Al-Maghrib has delivered weekend classes to 7K Muslims in America. I believe we now have a peaceful environment in which ideas. 75 students from Atlanta. How do they do it? And why isn’t Zaytuna competing? Some say. can be exchanged without the perception that these are attacks and bashes. especially through his blog http://www.Fi amanillah Andrew Reply 8. And they are a lot younger that Zaytuna. 25 from Alabama. these mountains have come together through the Pledge of Unity. I would disagree. And that number is growing. Hire two locals. and don’t have a world-renown spokesperson like Imam Hamza. The Imams and the old-timers are wonderful. we must discuss privately. It doesn’t mean there are 7K students with their noses in yellow-paged texts at this very moment. I mean night-time community-college style classes that meet once or twice a week for the Fall or Spring terms. can’t afford these fees. then shame on Zaytuna. Fundraise in another way. Zaytuna. In ten years it should be in five digits. maybe six. Kate Suhaila November 12. like those of the inner-city.” I ask myself. then it needs to publish academic articles. It means that over the years. 150 from Michigan…. and for that which is public (like the subject of this paper). Zaytuna will not compete until it adopts regional classes. This should not be difficult for an organization like Zaytuna. “Who in the world can afford this stuff?” It’s a no-brainer that I cannot go. It’s the regional classes. please diversify. More recently. 100 from New York. Gratitude goes to Al-Maghrib.000 registered students over time. If it wants that reputation. $45. Also. I have to ask. I can predict who will be in each issue.com. How much is it. From where was this derived?? I would say that the number one thing . Our only guidelines are to be polite in our manner. and Suhaib Webb. “Great! I’ll get to see the Imams and all the sisters. I am wondering if the moderator would like to put this article out on the blog: Not Beyond Reprove: 7 Ways Zaytuna Can Improve Through commanding the right and forbidding the wrong. $80! Forget it. I don’t want Zaytuna to be ‘the same old people.’ 3) Regional classes: I recently heard that Al-Maghrib has over 7. which it rarely does. “It’s the Saudi financing” (for Al-Maghrib’s success). loving and kind in our intention.000 registered students. Trust me. and a rent out a class room. 2) Academizing Seasons: The Seasons journal is great. an instructor. And I don’t mean weekend classes (no one wants their weekend eaten up like that). In the last few years. 4) Community Relations: There have been a lot of complaints against the staff at Zaytuna.

Reply 9.( I cant really say I know much about it other than attending few events here and there outside the institute) But am sure zaytuna might benefit and appreciate getting feedbacks regarding the institute. we are presented with the same mashayikh. is that Zaytuna needs to get accredited. then shame on Zaytuna. what are the chances that one might say “here comes suhaibwebb. That means you can put it above the ‘personal interests’ part of your resume. I have been so into unity in Islam praying for it to happen especially in the west and so for this reason not only do I jump into reading any article on the topic of unity. and I believe they are working on this. We all know that it is through feedback that we all improve or keep up our good efforts when it comes services we offer. A long time ago. We require more diversity than in previous epochs. Manshallah it is a nice article. because they have displayed a readiness to listen. My message to them: “Please be normal. 2007 at 4:56 am For Admin and sis kate. 6) Urban Muslims Get No Love: If you are a brother or sister from the rougher cities in our country. I somehow thought how others would take it if they saw this coming from suhaibwebb.I mean a step towards even talking about unity is better than nothing Alhamdullilah Anyways I was here following up on comments. the people of this age are different. An added incentive for people to attend Al-Maghrib is that they are officially accredited. I have also been following up on the comments that follows (since am just curious about others opinions) I must say things are looking good . .com. you used to live in a village and had the same imams all your life. Reading this post which sis Kate is wondering if it can be posted on suhaibwebb.” A humble and professional staff would be a great asset for Zaytuna. Here they are in sum. Be real. If the inner city gets no attention because they have no money. Your Sister Kate Suhaila. Also.that turns me off from Zaytuna is that their people are not personable. there are so many qualified instructors. That was acceptable because there were no other options! Here in America and in the UK and Canada. Rap and Hip Hop is the only place Islam gets any props.com attacking zaytuna. when I came across sister kate commets/post. I hope these words don’t fall on deaf ears: Reasonable Fees Academizing Seasons Regional Night Classes Better community relations Diversity in teachers and authors Urban-setting programs Accreditation Sincerely. 7) Accreditation: Lastly. Insofar as Zaytuna is dedicated to da’wa (as opposed to training scholars). 5) Diversity of instructors: I love all the Zaytuna teachers. you might not even know what Zaytuna is. and don’t forget your origins. 50% of that dedication must be focused on Blackamericans. but after about ten years.com as one of the articles. There is no Muslim sub-community in America that has more influence on this country than Blackamericans. Umm M November 15.

I think its better not to post it here instead if anything may be sis Kate you can try posting it on zaytuna. (Forgive me if I am) Somehow I thought about how others would react reading it from some else web site. . Plus may be zaytuna has reason as to why things are the way they are eg why their prize tag are high plus its possible that they might not be aware of some of the things happening out there sometimes and to me I would say the best way is to send this article directly to zaytuna. I could be very wrong.I guess it very possible and so knowing that Suhaibwebb. Or May be suhaibwebb.com is a site about unity/brotherhood and helping each other out to improve on ourselves and learn something.com can try to get the messange delivered to zaytuna directly if possible inshallah .com or on one of the leaders/shaikhs blogs (I know brother Hamza or Brother Zaid both have blogs).com Allah knows best Your sis in Islam Reply 10.