A 21 page article was published yesterday (22/04/2014) by Yasir Qadhi, "On Salafi Islam" in which he follows the way of Jewish and Christian Orientalists in defining 'Salafiyyah' as a modern (human) movement, lumping together "quietist reformative", "sahwah activist" and "jihadi takfiri" elements into a broad array of groups that identify with Salafiyyah, with special denigration reserved for those referred to as "Madkhalis" and tracing Salafiyyah (in terms of the label) effectively to Muhammad Rasheed Rida and then Shaykh al-Albani. In other writings Yasir Qadhi, has alluded to Salafiyyah as a fallible human trend (movement) like other movements (see article).
Yasir Qadhi has avoided returning to Salafi authorities (past or present) to define Salafiyyah, because if he did, that would undermine the agenda he has embarked upon over the past couple of years (which serves the interests of the Orientalists and some of the astray sects). This agenda aims to erode the fact that unlike Judaism and Christianity - (because they are distorted, abrogated religions whose adherents have no extant, lasting criterion with which to judge truth from falsehood) - the knowledge and practice of Islam as it was revealed (particularly in matters of creed and methodology which comprise the usool, foundations) will be preserved and remain through the ages despite the splitting and deviation of a large part of the Ummah. This is unique for Islam because it is meant to be preserved until the Day of Judgement and will not be distorted or abrogated. Thus, there will always remain a path upon and around which the Muslims can truly unite with a genuine, actual unity (not a fake, contrived one as advocated by Qadhi and Ikhwanis like Salman al-Awdah). A unity of the hearts, in belief, speech and action, just as the Companions were united by an authentic 'Salafi' Islam (see below). Whilst Allaah has legislatively (shar'an) ordered and commanded unity in many verses, He has, alongside that, decreed splitting and differing (kawnan) for a wisdom, which is to determine who clings to the guidance in belief, speech and action, and who abandons the guidance in part or whole. Unity has not been commanded for unity's sake, but unity has been commanded around authentic foundations (usool) of Islam and Sunnah. The path that Allah and His Messenger ordered, that it be clung to, with the molars, has foundations, principles that are laid out in the Qur'an and the Sunnah and consolidated and preserved through the understanding and implementation of the Companions (radiyallaahu anhum). This is Salafiyyah. It is Islaam as it was revealed. There are areas within the religion where variation is permitted, and there are areas where differing and variation is unlawful and must be ended. This definition and understanding is found in the statements of Salafi authorities past and present, including Ibn Taymiyyah, Ibn al-Qayyim, Ibn Abd al-Wahhaab, the Scholars of the da'wah of tawhid from Najd, and the contemporary Salafi scholars (al-Albani, Ibn Baz, Ibn al-Uthaymeen, al-Fawzaan and so on). Thus, it is from the height of deception and injustice, that rather than quote from Salafi authorities, Yasir Qadhi follows Jewish, Christian Orientalists in their perception of Salafiyyah, throwing in the Kharijites, Ikhwanis, takfiris and others alongside them to help arrive at the misguided conclusion that Salafiyyah is a fallible human trend because there are a "spectrum of conflicting views" within it. This argument is as much misguided as the argument of a non-Muslim who says that Islam is a fallible human movement because of the spectrum of conflicting views therein. Thus, just as not everyone who ascribes to Islam, is actually upon the Islam brought by the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam), and their areas of departure can be investigated, known and made clear, then likewise, not everyone who ascribes to Salafiyyah is actually upon Salafiyyah, and their opposition and departure can be investigated, known and made clear. The fact that Yasir Qadhi did not venture into defining what Salafiyyah is through the statements of those Salafi Scholars just mentioned shows that he is academically dishonest, and that he has an agenda to pursue, in which Western academic and Orientalist perceptions are of more value (in defining Salafiyyah) than the statements of Salafi scholars, whether past or contemporary.
Shaikh Salih al-Fawzaan was asked (in the lecture, "at-Tahdheer min al-Bid'ah" second cassette, delivered as a lecture in Hawtah Sadeer, 1416H) , "Is Salafiyyah a hizb (party) from amongst the parties. And is ascribing to them (i.e. the Salafis) a blameworthy thing?" To which he replied:
As-Salafiyyah is the Saved Sect, and they are Ahl us-Sunnah wal-Jamaa'ah. It is not a hizb (party) from amongst the various parties, those which are called "parties" today. Rather they are the Jamaa'ah, the Jamaa'ah upon the Sunnah and upon the Deen (religion). They are Ahl us-Sunnah wal-Jamaa'ah. The Messenger (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) said, "There will not cease to be a group from my Ummah manifest and upon the truth not being harmed by those who forsake them neither by those who oppose them" and he (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) also said, "And this Ummah will split into seventy-three sects, all of them in the Hellfire but one". They said, which one is this O Messenger of Allaah? He replied, "They are those who are upon what I and my companions are upon today". Hence Salafiyyah is a group of people upon the madhhab of the Salaf, upon what the Messenger (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) and his companions were upon and it is not a hizb from amongst the contemporary groups present today. Rather it is the very old Jamaa'ah, from the time of the Messenger (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) which inherits (this way) and continues, and which never ceases to be upon the manifest truth until the establishment of the Hour, as he (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) has informed (us)."
Imaam al-Albaani (rahimahullaah), in response to the question:
لماذا التسمي بالسلفية ؟ أهي دعوة حزبية أم طائفية أو مذهبية ؟ أم هي فرقة جديدة في الإسلام؟
Why the label of Salafiyyah? Is this a partisan call or a doctrinal one? Or is it a new sect in Islaam?
He replied, as documented in al-Tuhfah al-Mahdiyah Liman Sa'ala an Ma'naa al-Salafiyyah (p. 34), cited from al-Asaalah, (Volume 9, pp. 86-90):
Indeed, the word 'al-Salaf' is known in the language of the Arabs and in the language of the [Divine] Shar' (legislation), and what concerns us here is to investigate it from the legislative aspect:
For it is authentically related from the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) that during the illness (preceding) his death he said to Sayyidah Faatimah (radiallaahu anhaa), "So fear Allaah and have patience for an excellent 'salaf' I am for you." And the Scholars' usage of the word 'al-Salaf' is abundant, and it is more abundant than can be enumerated. But sufficient for us is a single example, and it is what they use in combatting innovation (bid'ah):
And every good is in following the Salaf and every evil is in the innovation of the later ones (or those who turned away).
There is however, from those who claim knowledge, who rejects this ascription claiming that it has not basis! So he says, "It is not permissible for a Muslim to say, 'I am Salafi'," and it is as if he is saying, "It is not permissible for a Muslim to say: I am a follower of the Righteous Salaf in what they were upon of creed, worship and behaviour."
No doubt the likes of this rejection - if he was intending it - would make it binding upon him to free himself from the authentic Islaam which our Righteous Salaf used to be upon, and at the head of them, the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam), just as is indicated by the mutawaatir hadaeeth which is in the two Saheehs (of al-Bukhari and Muslim) and others, from [the Prophet] (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam), "The best of generations is my generation. Then those who follow them. Then those who follow them." Hence, it is not permissible for a Muslim to free himself from ascribing to the Righteous Salaf. On the other hand, if he was to free himself from any other ascription, it would not be possible for any of the people of knowledge to ascribe disbelief and sin to him. But the one who rejects this ascription (to the Salaf), do you see that he does not ascribe to any particular school from amongst the schools?! Irrespective of whether this school is connected to creed or to jurisprudence?
For he will either be an Ash'aree or Maatureedee (in creed), or he may be from Ahl al-Hadeeth (in jurisprudence) or a Hanafi, Shaafi'ee, Maalikee or Hanbali from those (schools of jurisprudence) that enter into the meaning of Ahl al-Sunnah wal-Jamaa'ah [i.e. because they do not oppose the usool of Ahl al-Sunnah wal-Jamaa'ah even if they have different approaches in jurisprudence]. And alongside this, the one who ascribes to the Ash'aree madhhab or (any) of the four schools (of jurisprudence), then he undoubtedly ascribes to individuals who are not infallible (free of making mistakes), even if there are scholars amongst them who arrive at the truth (in matters), so I wish I knew why he does not reject the likes of these ascriptions to individuals who are not infallible?
But as for the one who ascribes to the Righteous Salaf, then he ascribes to that which is infallible - in a generalized sense - and the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) mentioned that from the signs of the Saved Sect (al-Firqah al-Najiyah) is that it holds fast to what the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) and his Companions were upon.
So whoever held fast to it, out of certainty, then he is upon guidance from his Lord and there is no doubt that the clear, manifest, distinguishing, plain appellation (title) is that we say, "I am a Muslim upon the Book and the Sunnah upon the methodology of our Righteous Salaf" and this is said concisely as "I am a Salafi."
Yasir Qadhi is not honest enough to allow Salafiyyah to be defined through Salafi Scholars and Imams themselves, and instead follows the approach of the Jewish and Christian Orientalists who impose their fake, rubber, elastic definition of Salafiyyah which helps serve their academic and political interests. That's why we do not see statements about Salafiyyah from Ibn Taymiyyah, Ibn al-Qayyim, the scholars of tawhid, Ibn Baz, al-Fawzaan and a multitude of other scholars both past and contemporary. There is only one Salafiyyah and its the one defined by Salafi Scholars through the types of texts mentioned in the quote above.
Ibn Taymiyyah and Ibn al-Qayyim on the Prophetic Salafi Way
Ibn Taymiyyah (d. 728H) wrote (Dar al-Ta'aarud 1/164):
As for the Legislated, Muhammadan, Salafi, Sunni, Prophetic way (الطريقة النبوية السنية السلفية المحمدية الشرعية), then only he debates them by way of it who is well-versed in it and in the statements that contradict it.
And a little later (Dar al-Ta'aarud 1/166):
And there is combined in those who turn away from the Prophetic Salafi Way (الطريقة النبوية السلفية) both this and this, following the alluring desires and misguiding tribulations, thus there is misguidance and allurement within them to the extent of their departure from the way Allaah sent His Messenger with
And he says elsewhere (Dar al-Ta'aarud 5/356):
So everyone who turned away from the Divine, Legislated, Prophetic, Salafi Way (الطريقة السلفية النبوية الشرعية الالهية), then he will (by necessity) go astray and contradict (himself) and remain in ignorance, simple or compound.
Ibn al-Qayyim said in al-Safadiyyah (p. 168):
And whoever traverses the Salafi Prophetic paths (الطرق النبوية السلفية) will know that sound intellect agrees with authentic text...
And Ibn Taymiyyah also says (Dar al-Ta'aarud 2/8):
And another faction from the Salafis (السلفية) such as Nu'aym bin Hammaad al-Khuzaa'ee, al-Bukhari, the author of the Saheeh, Abu Bakr bin Khuzaymah and others besides them such as Umar bin Abd al-Barr...
In the above quote, Ibn Taymiyyah refers to 3rd, 4th and 5th century (hijri) scholars as "Salafis" and he actually uses the word "Salafiyyah" to indicate a faction often in his writings, he says, (وهو قول السلفية), "It is the saying of the Salafis" (Majmu' 6/51) and (وهذا مذهب السلفية وجمهور الصفاتية), "And this is the madhhab of the Salafis and of all the affirmers of the attributes" (Majmu' 6/379) and (وأما السلفية فعلى ما حكاه الخطابى وأبو بكر الخطيب وغيرهما), "As for the Salafis, then they are upon what is cited by al-Khattaabi and Abu Bakr al-Khateeb" (Majmu' 33/177) and (السلفية الذين يقولون إنه فوق العرش), "... the Salafis, who say He is above the Throne." (Bayan Talbis al-Jahmiyyah, 2 vols, 1/122).
From the above it is clear that there is a "Divine, Legislated Prophetic Salafi Way" and a faction referred to as "Salafis" who identify with, follow and propagate that way, and this is apparent in the speech of Shaykh al-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah, and this faction comprises the Companions (radiyallaahu anhum) primarily, and then whoever traversed upon their path in every age and era and was truthful, inwardly and outwardly, in following this way. These statements are not made except upon a correct understanding of the hadeeth of the 73 sects (which Yasir Qadhi is also attempting to distort) and other authentic texts of that nature (al-taa'ifah al-mansoorah, al-ghurabaa).
In contrast to the above, Yasir Qadhi is upon the manhaj of Hasan al-Banna (open up arms to Shia's, Sufis and everyone else) and Salman al-Awdah (a new civic Islam). He is not bringing anything new in reality, however, his presentation of the same essential ideas are done in a more sophisticated way, and in his approach to Salafiyyah and Salafis, he follows the way of Jewish, Christian Orientalists who treat Salafiyyah as a modern movement and he cowardly flees from citing statements of Ibn Taymiyyah, Ibn al-Qayyim, Ibn Baz, al-Fawzan which justice would have demanded from him.
Notes on the Above
On page 11 of his article, Qadhi writes in his footnote, "Had Ibn Taymiyya been alive today, he would not have written the works that he did; rather, he would have paid attention to the intellectual threats the Ummah is currently facing. Ibn Taymiyya wrote in response to the challenges of his day; modern Salafīs are, for the most part, unwilling to venture outside of the territories and ideas that Ibn Taymiyya wrote about seven hundred years ago and face the challenges of our day." The following points will demonstrate that this is fanciful thinking:
01. Ibn Taymiyyah's da'wah was based around reconnecting the Ummah to the Salafi way after the ummah had been severed from the Righteous Salaf due to historical, social and political factors and to refute every faction who had swerved from the way of the Salaf. Ibn Taymiyyah considered the Salafi way to be nothing but the truth and which the Ummah must return to in order to attain the desired unity and repel the differing that caused the splitting of the Ummah. He said in refutation of the Ash'ari Jurist, al-Izz bin Abd al-Salaam (see here), "There is no fault (blame) upon the one who proclaims the madhhab of the Salaf, who ascribes to it and affiliates himself to it. Rather, it is obligatory to accept that from him by unanimous agreement, for the madhhab of the Salaf is never but the truth." (Majmu al-Fatawa 4/149). Had Ibn Taymiyyah been alive today, he would have embarked upon exactly the same, to reconnect the Ummah to the way of the Salaf, arguing for it, defending it, and refuting every opposer to that way. Ibn Taymiyyah would have clarified that deviation away from tawhid, the Sunnah and the Salafi path is the fundamental cause for the problems and challenges facing the Muslim Ummah - as is evident through his writings. Had he been present today, a large and significant part of his methodology would have been to refute all modern groups who swerve and deviate from the way of the Salaf, thereby increasing the disease and weakness of the Ummah, and make clear that their way is other than the way of Salafiyyah in which all success and rectification lies. Al-Haafidh al-Bazzaar (d. 749H), a student of Ibn Taymiyyah, stated (refer to al-Qawl al-Jali Fee Tarjamat Shaykh al-Islam Taqi al-Din Ibn Taymiyyah al-Hanbali, Dar al-Kutub al-Ilmiyyah, pp.582-583):
He wrote a great deal in the (field of) usool [meaning matters of creed], let alone in other sciences, so I asked him for the reason behind that and I requested from him to author a text in fiqh in which he compiles together his preferred views and the stronger opinions so that it could be relied upon in giving fatwa, so he said to me with what means: "The affair of the furoo' (branches, rulings) is an easy one, when a Muslim follows one of the blind-following scholars (of one of the madhhabs), it is permissible for him to act upon his saying, so long as he has not become certain of the error of his saying. But as for the usool (foundations), then I have seen the people of innovation and misguidance and desires such as the Mutafalsifah ("Islamic" philosophers), the Baatinyyah, the Malaahidah, those speaking with the Unity of Existence, the Dahriyyah (Materialists, Atheists), the Qadariyyah, the Nusayriyyah, the Jahmiyyah, the Hulooliyyah, the Mu'attilah, the Mujassimah, the Mushabbihah, the Raawandiyyah (a Sufi sect), the Kullaabiyyah, and the Salimiyyah and other than them from the people of innovation, they deeply engrossed themselves in them (the innovations), with misguidance reaching critical levels, and it became clear to me that many of them intended to invalidate the sanctified Muhammadan Shari'ah, that is superior and lofty over every deen, and that all of them as as whole threw the people into doubt about the usool of their deen. And for this reason, rarely did I hear or see one who turned away from the Book or the Sunnah, turning towards their sayings except that he became a heretic or he became uncertain in his religion and belief. So when I saw the affair was like this, it became clear to me that it is obligatory upon everyone who is able to repel their doubts and their falsehood and to cut off their proofs and their misguidances, that he should expend his efforts to expose their evils, their counterfeit evidences, in order to defend the upright religion, and the authentic, lofty Sunnah."
This is the manhaj of Ibn Taymiyyah, and his intent behind all of this was to connect people back to the authentic Sunnah and the Salafi way. His intent was to warn the Ummah about issues that will lead them to misguidance and whose misguidance and danger most people may not realize. Ibn Taymiyyah in no way took the futile path being advocated by Yasir Qadhi of leaving aside "complex and intricate issues of theology", rather he addressed those issues for the reason that he explained and he included amongst those whom he refuted, the Jahmiyyah, the Kullaabiyyah and their likes from the Ash'aris and all other factions of opposers and innovators.
02. Shaykh ul-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah said concerning one of the Sufi extremists (Majmu' al-Fataawaa 2/359):
It is statements like these that are from the greatest forms of falsehood. As we already alerted to some of what is with it, so that their meanings would be known to be absolutely false. The obligation is it's refutation. For verily the refutation of this contagious ill amongst many Muslims has more importance than the refutation of the religion of the Jews and Christians, which the Muslims are not misled by.
Muslims on the whole are not going to be mislead by Secularism, Hedonism and the likes as much as they are going to be misled by the likes of the Sufis, Jahmites, Kharijites and others who are the contagious ill amongst the Muslims whom Yasir Qadhi praises (whilst denigrating Salafis). Thus you see him signing pledges with the heads of the Sufis, Asharis and praising diseased, power-hungry Kharijites such as Salman al-Awdah, he opens up arms towards the Shi'ah and Sufis (following the way of Salman al-Awdah) and what is similar to this.
03. Shaykh ul-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah said (Majmu' al-Fataawaa 28/231-232):
And such as the People of innovation among the people of the [innovated] sayings that oppose the Book and the Sunnah or the acts of worship opposing the Book and the Sunnah - for exposing their condition and warning the Ummah about them is obligatory by unanimous agreement of the Muslims - until it was said to Imaam Ahmad bin Hanbal: "Is it more loved by you that a man fasts, prays and peforms tawaaf or that he speaks about the People of innovation [i.e. exposes them and warns about them]?" He replied: "When he stands, prays and performs tawaaf that is for himself but when he talks about the People of innovation then that is for the Muslims and this is more excellent." So he explained that the benefit of this is for the Muslims in general - for [the protection of] their religion - and it is a form of Jihaad in the Path of Allaah because the purification of the Path of Allaah, His Deen, His Minhaaj (methodology) and His Sharee'ah, repelling the oppressors and having enmity towards them is obligatory with kifaayah (i.e. there must be some amongst the Muslims who do this otherwise all of them are sinful for neglecting this duty). And if it had not been for the one whom Allaah had made to undertake this duty of repelling the harms of these people the Deen would have been corrupted and destroyed. And this corruption is greater than the corruption resulting from the domination of the enemies - amongst the people who fight against the Muslims (i.e. disbelievers) - and this is because these people (the disbelievers) when they dominate and conquer the Muslims, do not corrupt the hearts or whatever faith is contained within them except as a consequence, after time. As for these (the People of Innovation) then they corrupt the hearts right from the very beginning (i.e. since they corrupt the Deen itself)."
Note: Ibn Taymiyyah, in this quote here, may just well be referring to the way of those "Madkhalis" that Yasir Qadhi takes pleasure in denigrating in his article by accusing them of intellectual backwardness and inferiority. The label of "Madkhalis" is used tactfully by the detractors because it helps to perpetuate confusion and makes it appear that the Salafis who adhere to that methodology are just an extreme fringe of a modern movement creating fitnah in the ummah. When in reality, they are upon the Prophetic Salafi way of removing the fitnah brought into the Ummah by those who left the Prophetic Salafi way they were commanded to follow by Allaah, the Mighty Majestic, and by the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) himself, and instead, using their opinions, thoughts and understandings, they innovated and split the Ummah and caused it to become diseased, inviting calamities and tribulations.
The above quote from Ibn Taymiyyah is alongside our knowledge that Ibn Taymiyyah did not leave a faction from those factions who deviated from the "Prophetic Salafi way" in belief, speech or action, except that he refuted them and dedicated himself to writing about them in one form or another and to one degree or another. Ibn Taymiyyah was a Salafi. He called to Salafiyyah. He championed the way of the Salaf. And he reconnected the Ummah back to the Salaf. Had he been alive today, he would have done exactly the same and would have written and stated explicity, "Rectification lies in the way of Salafiyyah" and this is found throughout his writings, when he refuted the Raafidah, the Sufiyyah, the Jahmiyyah and all other factions or individuals. As for the misconception Yasir Qadhi brings, that there are challenges we face today like Secularism and Hedonism and the likes, these are red-herrings, the majority of the Muslims know of the inherent falsehood of these affairs and rarely are they going to leave Islam through these routes. But what Yasir Qadhi really intends to say through these types of misconceptions is:
We are facing a new challenge - and what he means here is that we are living in democracies in the West, we are living where music is commonplace, films and movies are commonplace, we mix with all sorts of people (religions and Islamic sects) and there are many strong cultural, social and political influences - and so what we need is a new fiqh and a new approach. But in this regard, those Scholars of the desert are of no real use or benefit to us because they don't live in these lands, and all they will do is to tell us "haraam" or "halaal". So it is upon us to develop a new, modern scholarship for these lands so we can start accommodating much of what we consider to be the positive aspects in these democracies. This is a new liberal, civil Islam. The same one Salman al-Awdah is calling for in the Gulf countries - one which accommodates Sufis, Shi'ahs and others and focuses on tackling social, economic and political problems primarily, as a greater priority, and where tawhid and Sunnah take a back seat and whose finer details (meaning points of contention between various factions) are spoken of academically in certain settings upon a mindset of al-Irjaa' where the academic elites from the various factions can have intellectual debates about theological issues and loyalty and disloyalty and love and hate are relegated to the dustbin. Thus, Yasir Qadhi can, for example, have an academic debate with Ash'aris and Sufis, but that's pretty much going to remain as it is, with every party considered as being upon the truth and having a justified stance. Why? Because there is no such thing as Salafiyyah that is a criterion for the Ummah and through which it can be said about a belief, statement or action, "This is truth", "this is falsehood" or about a person, group or faction, "guided", or "misguided." A large array of (conflicting) opinions can be accommodated. and considered part of a "broad Sunni Islam."
This is the new civic liberal Islam of Salman al-Awdah and Yasir Qadhi. The Orientalists among the Atheists, Jews and Christians love it. This is the true and real agenda and since the Prophetic Salafi way stands in the face of this attempt, Yasir Qadhi has embarked upon a revisionist agenda and aims to undermine certain texts such as the hadeeth of the 73 sects with innovated understandings, mixing truth with falsehood, so as to undermine the Prophetic Salafi way. He is not able to do that through the explicit statements of Ibn Taymiyyah which refute his claim (regarding Salafiyyah) and instead he took the ways of Jewish and Christian intellectual writings about Salafiyyah, those who - by and large - study Islam so as to subdue its people by deliberate obfuscation of the truth therein. Yasir Qadhi serves their agenda (unintentionally) by speaking about Salafiyyah in the way that he does. As for the claim of Yasir Qadhi, that Salafiyyah is not intellectually stimulating and cannot tackle modern-day problems (see article), this is pure arrogance and a very grave and serious statement for which he needs to announce his tawbah openly and clearly.
Closing Reflection: If you imagine Ibn Taymiyyah was present today and came across the writings of Yasir Qadhi about Salafiyyah, what do you think he would have said? Answer with honesty. Read more:
- Ibn Taymiyyah: Sound Reason and Authentic Text Never Necessitate Opposition to the Salafi Way - (see here)
- Ibn Taymiyyah: Obligatory to Accept Ascription to the Way of the Salaf - (see here)
- Ibn Taymiyyah: From the Slogans of Ahl Al-Bid'ah Is to Abandon Ascription to the Way of the Salaf - (see here)