What the Salaf Said Regarding Theological Rhetoric (ilm al Kalaam)

Text from Usool as Sunnah (Foundations of Sunnah)

19.For indeed, (indulging in) theological rhetoric (kalaam) in [22] the matter of Qadar, the Ru’yah, the Qur’aan and other such issues are among the ways that are detested and which are forbidden.

20. The one Who does so, even if he reaches the truth with his words, is not from Ahlus-Sunnah, until he abandons (using) this mode of argumentation, [and until he] submits and believes in the aathaar (the Prophetic Narrations and those of the Companions [23]

Footnotes:

[22] Imaam ash-Shaafi’ee (d. 204H) said,

“My ruling regarding the people of theological rhetoric is that they should be beaten with palm leaves and shoes and be paraded amongst the kinsfolk and the tribes with it being announced, ‘This is the reward of the one who abandons the Book and the Sunnah and turns to theological rhetoric (kalaam).”

Sharh ‘AqeedatitTahaawiyyah of lbn Abil-’Izz, p. 75.

Ibn ‘Abdul-Barr said,

“The people of Fiqh and Aathaar in all the various towns and cities are agreed unanimously that the Ahlul-Kalaam (People of Theological Rhetoric) are (but) Ahlul-Bida’ waz-Zaigh (the People of Innovations and Deviation). And they are not considered, by all of the above, to be amongst the ranks of the Scholars (in truth).”

Reported by Ibn Qudaamah in his Burhaan fee Bayaanil-Qur’aan.

Imaam ash-Shaafi’ee (d. 204H) said,

“That a person is put to trial with everything that Allaah has forbidden, besides Shirk, is better than that he looks at Kalaam (theological rhetoric).” He also said, “If people knew what (misleading and destructive) desires are contained within theological rhetoric they would certainly flee from it as they would from a lion,”

he also said,

“Whoever showed boldness in approaching theological rhetoric will never prosper.”

Reported by Ibn Qudaamah in his Burhaan fee Bayaanil-Qur’aan.

One of the Scholars of ash-Shaash said:

“Every knowledge save that of the Qur’aan is a pre-occupation
Except for the Hadeeth and Fiqh (understanding) of the Deen
Knowledge is only that about which it is said,
‘Haddathanaa …‘ (So and so narrated to us)
And what is besides that
Are but whisperings of the Shayaateen (devils)”

Aboo Yoosuf, the companion of Aboo Haneefah said,

“Whoever sought knowledge by kalaam (theological rhetoric) will turn a heretical apostate,” and Ahmad ibn Hanbal (d. 241H) said, “The person of theological rhetoric will never prosper. And never do you see anyone looking into theological rhetoric except that in his heart is a desire for creating mischief.”

Both narrations are reported by Ibn Qudaamah in his Burhaan fee Bayaanil-Qur’aan.

[23] Muhammad Ibn Seereen (d. 110H) said,

“They (i.e., the Companions and the Taabi’een) used to consider themselves upon the path (of truth) so long as they held onto the narrations.”

Reported by al-Laalikaa’ee in his Sharh Usolil It’iqaad, no. 110.

Shaadh ibn Yahyaa said,

“There is no path which is more straight and direct (in leading) to Paradise than the path of the one who travels upon the aathaar (narrations).”

Reported by al-Laalikaa’ee in his Sharh UsoolilIt’qaad no. 112.

‘Abdullah ibn alMubaarak (d. 181H) said,

“I found that the affair was Ittibaa’ (following and imitation, i.e., following and submission to the narrations).”

Reported by al-Laalikaa’ee in his Sharh Usoolil-l’tiqaad, no. 113

O Abu ‘Abdullah! Are you groaning?

There are also some Angels who write down the deeds of human beings.

“But verily, over you (are appointed Angels in charge of mankind) to watch you, honorable, writing down (your deeds), they know all that you do” (Al-Infitar 82:10-12)

“Not a word does he (or she) utter, but there is a watcher by him ready (to record it)” (Qaf 50: 18)

One of the companions of Imam Ahmad, may Allah have mercy upon him, visited him while he was sick. He found him groaning from the sickness. He said:

“O Abu ‘Abdullah! Are you groaning? Tawus said ‘Indeed, the Angels write down everything, even the groan of a sick person, because Allah says:

Not a word does he (or she) utter, but there is a watcher by him ready (to record it(Qaf 50: 18)”‘

Therefore, Abu ‘Abdullah began to have (more) patience, and he stopped groaning,[1] because everything is written down. “Not a word does he (or she) utter? – Meaning any word uttered by you is written. However, you might be rewarded or punished for it. This is based on the saying that was said.

[1] For what was reported by Salih bin Al-Imam Ahmad, he said: “During his sickness prior to death, my father said: ‘Take out the book of ‘Abdullah bin Idris.’ then said: ‘Read to me the narration of Laith that Tawus used to dislike groaning during sickness.’ After that I did not hear to my father a groan till he died.” Siyar A’lam An-Nubula (11:215).

Source : Al-’Aqidah Al-Wasitiyyah (2 Vol. Set) – Author: Muhammad bin Salih Al-’Uthaimin – Publisher: Darussalam Publishers & Distributors

Foundations of the Sunnah (Usool-us-Sunnah) – Imam Ahmad – English Text

Click the below link to read the document

Foundation of Sunnah – Imam Ahmad [PDF]

Developing Humility in Prayer – Imaam Ahmad ibn Hanbal

You should know – may Allah have mercy upon you – that when the slave [of Allah] leaves his house to go to the mosque, that he is going to face Allah, the Irresistible, the One, the Omnipotent, the Exalted in Might, the Oft-forgiving, in the knowledge that nothing is hidden from Allah, wherever it might be, and that nothing is hidden from Allah and that even something as small as a mustard seed is not concealed from Him, nor even something smaller, nor larger – in the seven earths or the seven heavens, in the seven seas or the lofty mountains, fixed and firm. And  verily, the mosque to which he comes is one of the Houses of Allah. He desires only Allah and he sets out to one of Allah’s Houses, which:

In houses (mosques), which Allah has ordered to be raised (to be cleaned, and to be honored), in them His Name is glorified in the mornings and in the afternoons or the evenings, Men whom neither trade nor sale diverts them from the Remembrance of Allah (with heart and tongue), nor from performing As-Salat (Iqamat-as-Salat), nor from giving the Zakat. They fear a Day when hearts and eyes will be overturned (from the horror of the torment of the Day of Resurrection). [Qur’an 24:36-37, Muhsin Khan Translation]

So when anyone from amongst you sets out from his house (for the mosque) he should say quietly to himself words of remembrance [of Allah] – words unconnected with the affairs and business of this world. He should set out calmly, somberly, for this is what the Prophet, sallallahu `alaihi wa sallam, ordered us to do; he should set out with (his heart full of) longing and desire [for Allah’s pleasure] and fear and apprehension [of Allah’s anger] and with humility and meekness towards Allah. For the more humble, the more meek, the more submissive he is to Allah, the more virtuous and righteous does he become in Salah and the greater becomes his reward, and the more noble and nearer to Allah becomes the worshipper. But should he be filled with pride, Allah will destroy him and will reject his deeds, for the deeds of the proud are never accepted.

It has been narrated in a hadith concerning Prophet Ibrahim, `alaihis salam, Allah’s Khalil, that he spent the night in worship and remembrance of Allah, and in the morning, he was pleased with the night’s worship and he said: “How Good is the Rabb (Lord), and how good is the slave, Ibrahim (`alaihis salam).” On the following day, finding none to share his food with him – and he loved to share his food – he took his food outside to the road and sat, waiting for any passerby to eat with him. then two angels descended from the heavens and approached him.So he invited them to eat with him and they accepted. Then Ibrahim `alaihis salam suggested that they approach a nearby garden which contained a fresh water spring. They agreed to this and approached the garden, only to find that the spring had run underground, so there was no water. This was a severe blow to Ibrahim, `alaihis salam, and he was  embarrassed by what he had said (because there was no spring in evidence) and so the angels said to him: “Ask your Rabb to return the spring.” He did so, but the spring did not appear, and this was a great blow to him and so he said to the angels: “You ask Allah.” So one of them asked Him, and behold! The water returned, then the other supplicated Allah and the water flowed near to them. Then they informed him that his being impressed by his own standing in prayer the previous night had caused his supplication to be rejected.

So beware – may Allah have mercy on you – of pride, for no deed will be accepted if it is accompanied by pride. Be humble in your Salah. Should any of you stand in Salah before his Rabb, he should know Allah, in his heart by the great blessings which He bestows upon him and the abundant favour which He grants him, for Allah has honoured him with great goodness, but he has saddled himself with sins. Therefore it is incumbent upon him to be excessive in his humility and meekness towards Allah.

It is reported from Abu ad-Darda that he said, “That may face be covered in dust for my Rabb (is most loved by me), – for that is the best kind of worship for Allah.” So let none of you fear the dust, nor find it distasteful to make sujud in it, for there is no doubt that every one of you comes from it (i.e. mankind was created from dust). Nor should any of you fear an excess of it, for verily, it is by this means that one attempts to attain freedom from slavery and salvation from the Hellfire – a fire before which the fixed lofty mountains which were placed as pegs (holding the earth) could not stand, nor the seven strong heavens, built one above another, which are placed as a well graded canopy over us, nor the earth, which was placed as a dwelling for us, nor the seven seas, of which none knows their depths or their size except the One Who created them. Then what about us, with our feeble bodies, our delicate bones, our flimsy skin? We seek refuge with Allah from the Fire!

So should any of you stand in Salah – may Allah have mercy on you – then let him be as if he sees Allah before him, for though he may not see Allah, verily, Allah sees him. It is narrated in a hadith that Allah’s Messenger, sallallahu `alaihi wa sallam, advised a man, saying:

“Fear Allah as though you see Him, for verily, though you may not see Him, He sees you.” [Something similar to this wording is quoted in the hadith in which the Prophet, sallallahu `alaihi wa sallam spoke to Jibril, `alaihis salam, informing him about the meaning of ihsan, as reported by Bukhari and Muslim.]

This then, is the advice of the Prophet, sallallahu `alaihi wa sallam, to the slave in all his affairs, so what about when he performs Salah, when he stands before Allah, in a particular place, a sacred place, desiring Allah and turning his face towards Him? Does not his standing, his situation in Salah merit the same ihsan as all his affairs? It says in a hadith:

“Verily, the slave, when he starts his Salah, should turn his face to Allah, and he should not turn it away from Him until he leaves or turns to right and left.” [That is, when he makes taslim at the end of the prayer.] (Narrated by Ahmad, Abu Dawud and an-Nasa’i).

It is also narrated in a hadith:

Verily, the slave, as long as he is in Salah, possesses three qualities: Blessings are showered upon his head from the heavens above, the angels sit around him, from his feet to the heavens and a caller says: ‘If the slave knew the One Who hears his whispered utterances, he would never leave his Salah.'” [This narration was mentioned by Muhammad ibn Nasr al-Mirwazi in Kitab as-Salah from the hadith of Al-Hasan Al-Basri in a mursal form (an incomplete chain of narrations, in which no Companion is mentioned).

Allah showers His Mercy upon the worshipper who approaches prayer  in a state of humility and meekness towards Allah, in fear and supplicating Him with desire (for His Pleasure), and in hope (of His Mercy), making Salah to his Rabb, his most important consideration, dedicating his whispered utterances to Him and his standing erect in worship and his ruku` and his sujud, poring out his heart and his feelings and struggling to perfect his acts of worship, for he knows not whether he will perform another prayer after it, or whether he will be overtaken (by death) before he can perform Salah again. He stands before his Rabb, earnestly, with deep feelings, hoping for its acceptance and fearing its rejection, for verily, its acceptance is a cause for joy, while its rejection is a cause for misery and wretchedness. Nothing could be more important to you – O my brother – in this Salah, or indeed in any of your actions [i.e. that Allah should accept them]. What is more deserving of your distress and misery, your fear – indeed your terror – you know not whether your Salah will find favour with Allah at all, nor whether any of your good deeds will be accepted.

Do you know if your sins will be forgiven at all? After all this, you have no assurance that you will be spared from it (i.e. the punishment of the Hellfire). So who is more deserving of your tears and sadness [than Allah] – that He may accept from you (your deeds)? In addition to this, you know not whether or not you will awaken in the morning, nor if you will still be here in the evening – will you be given the good news of Paradise, or the bad news of the Hellfire? I only desire to warn you – O my brother – of this terrible danger. It is not fitting that you should be happy because of your family, your wealth or your children. It is a most amazing thing that you should continue to be unmindful, chasing after vain desires, wasting your time in disregard of this most important matter, for you are being driven at a fierce pace (towards death) day and night, hour by hour, like the blink of an eye. You should expect – O my brother – that your time may come at any moment and do not be unmindful of this great danger which may visit you. Most assuredly, you must (eventually) taste death.

Your time may come in the morning or in the evening. You will be separated from all that you possessed – either (to be rewarded with) Paradise or (to be punished in) the Hellfire. Descriptions and stories of them (have become) superfluous. Have you not heard – O my brother the words of the pious slave: “I am amazed concerning the Hellfire – how does the one who could flee from it sleep? And I am amazed concerning the Jannah – how does the one who desires it sleep? For by Allah! If you neither desire Paradise, nor fear the Hellfire, then you are destroyed and grievous will be your sorrow, interminable your sadness and without limit your tears; you will be amongst the wretched, the punished ones. So if you claim that you are amongst those who seek refuge from the Fire and desire Paradise, then strive for that which you seek and do not be misled by your worldly desires.”

Posted from the Book – Ahmad ibn Hanbal’s Treatise on Prayer (Salah)
Translated by Sameh Strauch

This treaties, by Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal was written several hundred years ago to the inhabitants of a town where the Imam stayed for a period of time. It contains a full and clear description of the prayer and includes detailed observations of the mistakes, which Imam Ahmad observed during his time in that town. It was and remains an invaluable work for all Muslims, detailing as it does many common errors made during prayers, some of which are serious enough to invalidate the act of worship. The book includes several explanatory notes by the translator, Sameh Strauch.

Clarity – Defending the Religion & Uniting the Ranks upon the Truth

Istiqaamah Magazine , Issue No.2 ,1996

DEFENDING THE RELIGION

Imaam Ahmad bin Hanbal (d.241H)- rahimahullaah – said:

“All praise is for Allaah who, in every age and intervals between the Prophets, raises up a group from the People of Knowledge, who call the misguided to guidance, patiently bearing ill treatment and harm. With the Book of Allaah they give life to the dead, and by Allaah’s Light they give sight to the blind. How many a person killed by Iblees (the Devil) have they revived. How many people astray and wandering have they guided. How beautiful their effect has been upon the people, and how vile people have been towards them. They expel from the Book of Allaah the alterations of those going beyond bounds, the false claims of the liars and the false interpretations of the ignorant ones – those who uphold die banner of innovation and let loose the trials and discords; who differ about the Book, oppose the Book, and agree upon opposing the Book. They speak about Allaah and His Book without knowledge, argue about what is ambiguous in the Book, and deceive the ignorant masses with such ambiguities. We seek refuge in Allaah from the trials of the misguided ones.” 1

Shaykhul-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah (d.728H) – rahimahullaah – said:

“When some people asked Imaam Ahmad bin Hanbal that they felt uneasy about criticizing people, he replied: “If I were to remain silent, how would the ignorant masses know the truth from falsehood?” Those who introduce heretical writings which oppose the Qur’aan and the Sunnah and those who innovate in matters of worship, then it is obligatory that they be exposed and that the Muslims be warned against them – by unanimous agreement of the Muslims Scholars. In fact, when Imaam Ahmad bin Hanbal was asked about a person who fasted, preyed and secluded himself in the mosque for worship; if he was dearer to him than a person who spoke out against ahlul-bid’ah (the innovators), he replied: “When he fasts and prays and secludes himself, then he does so for the benefit of his own self. However, when he speaks out against the innovators, he does so for the benefit of the Muslims in general, and this is more virtuous.”

So it is clear that openly opposing the innovators is of general benefit to the Muslims and is considered one of the types of jihaad in the path of Allaah. Since purifying the religion of Allaah and defending it from their attacks is a collective obligation – as is agreed upon by the Scholars. For Allaah did not raise up some people to oppose the innovators, then the religion would suffer harm, corruption and deviation. Indeed, this type of corruption is even greater then the corruption resulting from the disbelievers conquering the Muslims. Since when the disbelievers conquer the Muslims, they do not corrupt their hearts, nor their religion, except after some time. Whereas the innovators corrupt the hearts from the very beginning.” [2]

UNITING THE RANKS UPON THE TRUTH

Shaykh ‘Abdul-‘Azeez bin Baaz – hafidhahullaah – said:

“There is no doubt that it is obligatory upon the Muslims to unify their ranks and to unite their word upon the truth and to co-operate in goodness and piety against the enemies of Islaam – as Allaah, the Most Perfect, ordered them with in His saying: “And hold fast altogether to the rope of Allaah and do not become divided.” [Soorah Aal-‘lmraan 3:102]. And likewise, Allaah has warned the Muslims against splitting up, as occurs in His – the Most Perfect’s – saying: “And do not be like those who differed and split-up after the clear evidences came to them.” [Soorah Aal-‘lmraan 3:105]. However, the order to unify the Muslims and unite their word upon the truth and to hold fast to the rope of Allaah, does not necessitate that they should not censure wrong beliefs and practices – whether from the Soofees or other than them. Rather, what the order to hold fast to the rope of Allaah necessitates is: to order the good, forbid the evil and also to clarify the truth – with the clear Sharee’ah proofs – to whomsoever is misguided or has a mistaken opinion, until they unite upon the truth and turn away from that which opposes it. All of this is included in His – the Most Perfect’s – saying: “And help you one another in righteousness and piety, and do not help one another in sin and transgression.” [Sooratul-Maa’idah 5:2]. And His – the Most Perfect’s – saying: “Let there arise from amongst you a group of people calling to all that is good, enjoining the good and forbidding the evil, they are the ones who shall be successful.” [Soorah Aal’-lmraan 3:110]. And when the people of truth withhold from clarifying the mistakes of those who have erred or are mistaken, then they will not have achieved that which Allaah ordered them with, as regards calling to goodness, ordering the good and forbidding the evil. So the person in error will remain upon his error, and the one acting in opposition to the truth will remain upon his opposition. And this is contrary to what Allaah – the Most Perfect – prescribed, with regards sincere advice, co-operation upon goodness, ordering the good and forbidding the evil – and Allaah alone is the One who grants success.

Shaykh ‘Abdul-‘Azeez bin Baaz was asked about the correctness of the saying: “We should unite upon that which we agree, and excuse each other in that which we disagree.” The Shaykh commented:

“Yes! It is obligatory to co-operate in that which we agree, by aiding the truth, calling to it and warning against that which Allaah and His Messenger sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam have prohibited. Its for excusing each other for that in which we differ – then this is not to be taken in an absolute sense, but rather in a general one. Thus, if the difference involves a particular issue of ijtihaad wherein the proofs are deep and detailed – then it is obligatory not to reproach or censure one another. However, if it opposes a clear text of the Book and the Sunnah, then it is obligatory to correct the one who has opposed the clear texts, but with wisdom, beautiful admonition and debating in the best possible manner, acting upon Allaah -the Most High’s – saying: “And help you one another in righteousness and piety, but do not help one another in sin and transgression.” [Soorah al-Maa’idah 5:2] And His – the Most Perfect’s – saying: “The Believers – man and woman – are protectors to each other, they order the good and forbid the evil … “ [Soorah at-Towbah 9:71]. And His – the Mighty and Majestic’s – saying: “Invite to the way of your Lord with wisdom and beautiful admonition, and argue with them in ways that are better.” [Soorah an-Nahl 16:125]. And he sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said: “Whosoever sees an evil, then let him change it with his hand. If he is unable to do this, then with his tongue, and if he is unable to do this, then with his heart. And that is the weakest of eemaan (faith).” And he sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said: “Whosoever directs a person to do good, will have a reward similar to the one who does that good.” 5 And the aayaat (verses) and ahaadeeth with this meaning are plenty.” 6


1. Ar-Radd ‘alal-Jahmiyyah waz-Zanaadiqah (p.2) of Imaam Ahmad ibn Hanbal.
2. Majmoo’ul-Fataawaa (28/231-232).
3. Tanbeehaat fir-Radd ‘alaa man Ta’awwalis-Sifaat (pp.31-32).
4. Related by Muslim (2/21), from Abu Sa’eed al-Khudree radiallaahu ‘anhu.
5. Related by Muslim (13/38), from Abu Mas’ood al-Ansaaree radiallaahu ‘anhu.
6. Tanbeehaat fir-Radd ‘alaa man Ta’awwalis-Sifaat (pp.14-15)

Imam Ahmad A Good Example Of Implementing The Sunnah Over Desires – Shaikh Jamaal Al-Haarithee

Bismillaah Al-Hamdulillaah wa salatu wa salamu ‘ala Rasool Allaah

The following is from Shaikh Jamaal Al-Haarithee from his comments on Shaikh Saalih al-Fawzaan’s Beneficial Answers to Questions on Innovated Methodologies (hafidhahumullaah):

It is reported in the book as-Sunnah of Ibn Abee ‘Aasim (2/351), al-Mustadrak of Al-Haakim (3/290) and the Musnad of Imaam Ahmad (3/404) from the narration of ‘Iyyaad bin Ghanam that the Messenger of Allaah (salallaahu ‘alaihiwasallam) said:

 “Whoever has some advice for the leader should not speak it out in public. Rather, he should take his hand and sit with him in privacy. So if he [the ruler] accepts it, then he accepts it, and if he doesn’t, then he [the advisor] has performed what is required of him and what is for him.”

The wording of this hadeeth is from Al-Haakim, and it is a sound hadeeth.

Look at the example of the Imaam of Ahlus Sunnah, Ahmad ibn Hanbal (rahimahullaah). He was beaten with a whip, dragged on the floor, and imprisoned due to the [the deviants’ claim] of the Qur`an being created. But in spite of this, he would refer to him [the ruler] as the “Commander of the Believers” and tell the people: “Do not rebel (against the leader); be patient.” Don’t we have a good example in our righteous predecessors? Or is it that we are more knowledgeable and braver than them?!

Imam Ibn Rajab al-Hanbalee (rahimahullaah) said in his book Jaami’ul-‘Uloom wal Hikam (pg. 113):

“Sincere Advice to the Muslim leaders means cooperating with them upon the truth, obeying them, reminding them, cautioning them with gentleness and ease, preventing an uprise against them, and supplicating for them to be guided.”

Imaam Ash-Shawkaanee said in his book Raf’-ul-Asaateen fee Hukm-il-Ittisaal bis-Salaateen (pg. 81-82):

 “It is well established in the Mighty Book (Qur`an) that we are commanded to obey the ruler. Allaah put obeying the rulers after obeying Him and obeying the Messenger (salallaahu ‘alaihiwasallam). There are many ahaadeeth in the purified Sunnah, i.e. the main collections, and other books that state that it is obligatory to obey them [the rulers] and to be patient with their oppression. One of the ahaadeeth in which the Prophet (salallaahu ‘alaihiwasallam) commanded us to obey them [the rulers] consists of the words: ‘…even if he beats your back and takes your money.’ It is also authentically reported on him (salallaahu ‘alaihiwasallam) that he said: Give them what they are entitled to (of rights), and ask Allaah for what you are entitled to (of rights).‘”

Note: From the comments that follow the 31st question and answer in Beneficial Answers to Questions on Innovated Methodologies.