Clarifying the Maxim: Our Madhhab is Correct and Possibly Incorrect While the Madhhab of Others is Incorrect and Possibly Correct.
By Shaykh Muhammad ‘Awwāmah
Translated by Muntasir Zaman
Objection: The following maxim is often quoted in the books of Fiqh: Our madhhab is correct and possibly incorrect while the madhhab of others is incorrect and possibly correct. What kind of conduct is this with those who hold a different opinion? How can they say this when they granted permission to make Taqlīd and recommended the observance of differences?
Clarification: It is true that they said this, but it is our responsibility to understand it according to their explanation and not according to hearts that are ill mannered towards them or minds that have failed to understand their intent. The correct method of understanding their statement is by establishing the conflict between the two statements. Thus we say:
Their statement regarding Taqlīd is proof of their approval of the madhhab of the one being followed (the Imām), and their recommendation for observing the opposing view is a clearer proof of their approval and regard for the opinion of the one who differs, so how did they make this statement? Read the rest of this entry »
In accordance with His promise to preserve the true teachings of Islām, Allāh has selected certain individuals or groups throughout Islām’s history to carry out the task of preserving the noble Islāmic legacy. At times of creedal turmoil, the likes of Ahmad ibn Hanbal stood against the Mu’tazilī heresy; at times of political instability, personalities such as Salāh al-Dīn al-Ayyūbī mobilized the Muslim armies for combat; and at times of spiritual degradation, reformers like al-Ghazālī let the ink of their pens flow to revive the true spirit of scholarship and worship. Thus manifested Allāh’s undertaking mentioned in the verse: “We have, without doubt, sent down the Message; and We will assuredly guard it.” (Qur’ān, 15:9)
The founding of an institution in Deoband, India, in the year 1866, was not the inception of a yet another sect. Rather, it was an extension of this continuous effort to preserve the noble Islāmic legacy. The scholars of Deoband have played a pivotal role in preserving Islām, be it the Qur’ān, the Sunnah and their connected sciences or Islām’s prestigious history. It is sad to witness such a noble legacy and rich heritage go largely unnoticed by many students and scholars of Islām. They have contributed tremendously in various fields of Islām, from Qurā’nic exegesis, to jurisprudence, to Arabic, to political reform. However, their contribution towards the revival and preservation of the blessed Sunnah is most noteworthy.
As a token of acknowledgment and a means of creating awareness, the following article was prepared to highlight their most important contributions in the field of Hadīth. More emphasis has been given to earlier scholars, although contemporary scholars are also occasionally cited. Among other sources, the book Dār al-Ulūm Deoband by Shaykh Muhammad ‘Ubayd Allāh al-Qāsīmī and a list published in a monthly newsletter by Dār al-Ulūm Deoband (Rajab, 1432 AH) were consulted. Honorific titles such as Shaykh, Mawlānā, Muftī, etc. were omitted from the lists.
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The following is a dialogue that took place between ‘Allāmah Zāhid al-Kawtharī (d. 1371) and Shaykh Taqī al-Dīn al-Hilālī (d.1407) regarding the status of lifting ones hands (raf’ al-yadayn) in prayer in light of hadīth. The purpose of translating this dialogue is not to exhaust all the existing evidence of a particular view or to prove the superiority of one practice over the other. Rather, it is to point out the flaw of adopting a superficial approach when dealing with matters of jurisprudence, which at times may appear to contradict authentic hadiths due to shallow knowledge of the dynamics of Islāmic sciences. To make the article more-reader friendly, an idiomatic translation was adopted in many places.
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“Your handwriting resembles that of the hadith scholars,” said al-Birzālī. These words resonated well with Muhammad ibn Ahmad such that it instilled within him the desire to pursue the science of hadith.  He went on to author countless works, assume lofty academic positions, and was eventually regarded as a leading authority in the field of hadīth. Muhammad ibn Ahmad was none other than the Damascene hadith master and expert historian better known as Shams al-Dīn al-Dhahabī (d. 748 AH). There are countless examples in the annals of Islāmic history of apparently trivial remarks that changed the lives of laymen, thus, making them the great luminaries whose biographies decorate the pages of our prestigious history.
The following is an excerpt from the inspiring book of Shaykh Muhammad ‘Awwamah entitled, ‘Ma‘ālim Irshādiyyah li Sanā’at Tālib al-‘Ilm (Instructive Signposts for Developing a Seeker of Knowledge)” In this section, the author highlights the influence kind words can have on people. He cites three examples of great luminaries whose turning point in their lives were kind words uttered by those who themselves had not expected such remarkable results.
In order to make the article more reader friendly an idiomatic translation was adopted in many places. May Allāh reward our pious predecessors for the noble example they left for us, and grant us the ability to follow in their footsteps. Āmīn.
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The Forty-Scholar Council of Imām Abū Hanīfah
By Muntasir Zaman
Among the various specialties of the Hanafī school of thought, one outstanding specialty is the rigorous manner in which it was developed. Imām Abū Hanīfah had a group of prominent scholars with whom he would consult. Often they would only come to a conclusion on a particular issue after debating it for three days.
As such, one can understand the truthfulness of what Imām Wakī‘ ibn al-Jarrāh stated when a person in his gathering claimed that Imām Abū Hanīfah erred. He said:
How can Abū Hanīfah err when with him are the likes of Abū Yūsuf and Zufar in their logic; and the likes of Yahyā ibn Abī Zā’idah, Hafs ibn Ghiyāth, Hibbān, and Mindal in their memorization of hadīth; and the like of al-Qāsim ibn Ma‘n in his knowledge of language and Arabic; and Dāwūd al-Tā’ī and Fudayl ibn ‘Iyād in their asceticism and their scrupulousness? The one whose companions are such, he does not come close to erring, because if he erred they would correct him.
Moreover, there was a council of forty scholars from his companions who documented the legal issues. The following is a report that mentions this council, followed by its grading.
It is reported in Fadā’il Abī Hanīfah of Ibn Abī al-‘Awām:
The belief of the Ahl al-Sunnah wa al-Jamā’ah in respect to the noble companions of the Messenger of Allāh (peace and blessings be upon him) has been clearly outlined by Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr (d. 463 AH) as follows:
They are the best of generations, and the best of nations taken out for the benefit of mankind. Their uprightness is established by the praise of Allāh and His Messenger. No one can be more upright than those whom Allāh selected for the companionship and assistance of His Messenger. This is the greatest form of approval and the most complete form of accreditation.
The Sahābah have undoubtedly secured a lofty rank in the court of Allāh, which is described in the following verse:
And the first forerunners [in the faith] among the Muhājirūn and the Ansār and those who followed them with good conduct, Allāh is pleased with them and they are pleased with Him, and He has prepared for them gardens beneath which rivers flow, wherein they will abide forever. That is the great attainment.
Accordingly, to disparage or slander any of the Sahābah, let alone the high ranking among them, is unacceptable and highly detested.
The following is a response by Mufti Taqī ‘Uthmānī to allegations leveled by the Shī’ah against our master ‘Umar ibn al-Khattāb (Allāh be pleased with him) regarding the Hadith of the Pen and Paper. To make the article more reader friendly, an idiomatic translation was adopted in many places.
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Chronological List of Prominent Hadīth Scholars
The importance of knowing the dates of birth/death of the scholars cannot be stressed enough, for it holds a high status in Islāmic knowledge in general and in the science of Hadīth in particular. Thus, Imām ‘Alī ibn al-Madīnī mentions, “Comprehension of the meaning of Hadīth is half of knowledge and knowing the transmitters is the other half.” To illustrate this point, let us look at the following incident:
A group of Jews presented a letter from the Messenger of Allāh that supposedly absolves the inhabitants of Khaybar from paying jizyah. This letter contained the testimony of the Companions and had the signature of ‘Alī (Allāh be pleased with him). When it was brought to the head of state, he gave it to al-Khatīb al-Baghdādī to examine it. After examining it, al-Khatīb concluded that the letter was forged. When asked how he came to that conclusion, he replied, “It contains the testimony of Mu‘āwiyah (Allāh be pleased with him) who only accepted Islām during the conquest of Makkah whereas Khaybar was conquered on the seventh year of Hijrah. Further, it contains the testimony of Sa‘d ibn Mu‘ādh (Allāh be pleased with him) who passed away during the battle of Banū Qurayżah, which was two years prior to the conquest of Khaybar.”
In view of this importance, we prepared the following chart, which contains the names, dates of birth/death, and works of prominent hadith scholars, starting from the second century AH until the present century. In this chart, we have sufficed on the relatively prominent hadith scholars; as otherwise, there would be no end to the list. Wherever possible, both the dates of birth and death were mentioned. Otherwise, only the date of death was mentioned, preceded by the abbreviation, “d.” When an approximate date is mentioned, it is preceded by “c.” (circa). The abbreviation “p.” means “post.”
It should be noted that the purpose of this chart is to serve as an easy reference for those searching for the names and dates of birth/death of major hadith scholars. Those who are interested in detailed biographical entries of these scholars should refer to the relevant works, such as Wafayāt al-A‘yān of Ibn Khallikān, Siyar A‘lām al-Nubalā’ of al-Dhahabī, Tabaqāt al-Shāfi‘iyyah al-Kubrā of Tāj al-Dīn al-Subkī, Shadharāt al-Dhahab of Ibn al-‘Imād, and al-A‘lām of al-Ziriklī etc.. To facilitate easy referencing, relevant works for further details have been cited under each entry in the Arabic chart.
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