Know that He is the Creator and all matters are at His disposal. So there is no creator except Allaah, there is no planner for the creation except Allaah, and there is no law for the creation except the law of Allaah. So it is He who obligates and prohibits things, just as He is the one who permits things.

~ Shaykh Ibn al-`Uthaymeen, The Book of Knowledge

Sayings of the Imaams regarding following the Sunnah and ignoring their views contradictory to it124

Allaah, Mighty and Sublime, says:

“Follow (O men!) the revelation given to you from your Lord, and follow not, as friends and protectors, other than Him. Little is it you remember of admonition.”

Imaam Abu Haneefah (rahimahullaahu ta’aala)

The first of them is Abu Haneefah Nu’maan ibn Thaabit, whose companions have narrated from him various sayings and diverse warnings, all of them leading to one thing: The obligation to accept the Hadeeth, and to give up following the opinions of the imaams which contradict it:

  1. “When a hadeeth is found to be saheeh, then that is my madhhaab.”
  2. “It is not permitted for anyone to accept our views if they do not know from where we got them.”3

In one narration, “It is prohibited for someone who does not know any evidence to give verdicts on the basis of my words.”

Another narration adds, “…for we are morals: We say one thing one day, and take it back the next day.

In another narration, “Woe to you, O Ya’qoob! Do not write down everything you hear from me, for it happens that I hold one opinion today and reject it tomorrow, or hold one opinion tomorrow and reject it the day after tomorrow.”

2. “When I say something contradicting the Book of Allaah, the Exalted, or what is narrated from the Messenger (salallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam), then ignore my saying.”

Imaam Maalik ibn Anas (rahimahullaahu ta’aala)

As for Imaam Maalik ibn Anas, he said:

  1. “Truly I am only a mortal: I make mistakes (sometimes) and I am correct (sometimes). Therefore, look into my opinions: All that agrees with the Book and the Sunnah, accept it; and all that does not agree with the Book and the Sunnah, ignore it.”

2. “Everyone after the Prophet (salallaahu ‘alayhi wasallam) will have his sayings accepted and rejected – not so the Prophet (salallaahu ‘alayhi wasallam).

3. Ibn Wahb said: “I heard Maalik being asked about cleaning between the toes during ablution. He said, “The people do not have to do that.’ I did not approach him until the crowd had lessened, when I said to him, ‘We know of a sunnah about that.’ He said, ‘What is that?’ I said, ‘Layth ibn Sa’d, Ibn Lahee’ah and ‘Amr ibn al-Haarith narrated to us from Yazeed ibn ‘Amr al-Ma’aafiree from Abu ‘Abdur-Rahmaan al-Hubulee from Mustawarid ibn Shaddaad al-Qurashee who said, ‘I saw the Messenger of Allaah (salallaahu ‘alayhi wasallam) rubbing between his toes with his little finger.’ He said, ‘This hadeeth is sound; I had not heard of it at all until now.’ Afterwards, I heard him being asked about the same thing, on which he ordered cleaning between the toes.”

Imaam Ash-Shaafi’ee (rahimahullaah)

As for Imaam as Shaafi’ee, the quotations from him are most numerous and beautiful, and his followers were the best in sticking to them:

1. “The sunnahs of the Messenger of Allaah (salallaahu ‘alayhi wasallam) reach, as well as escape from, every one of us. So whenever I voice my opinion, or formulate a principle, where something contrary to my view exists on the authority of the Messenger of Allaah (salallaahu ‘alayhi wasallam), then the correct view is what the Messenger of Allaah (salallaahu ‘alayhi wasallam) has said, and it is my view.”

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Sixthly – General books on some areas:

Nahoo (Arabic grammar) -

1. متن الآجر و ميية         – الصنهاجي

This is a short and simple book.

2. ألفية ابن مالك     – ابن مالك

This book is a summary of the rules of nahoo.

With respect to the life and times of the Messenger of Allaah (salallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam):

3. زاد المعاد        – ابن القيم

This is a very beneficial book. The author relates the life of the Messenger of Allaah (salallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) in all circumstances whereby he derives from them many rulings.

4. روضة العقلاء       – ابن حبان البستي

This is a beneficial and concise book in that it incorporates many points of benefit and traditions of the scholars, the muhaddithoon (scholar of hadeeth) and other than them.

5. سير أعلام النبلاء          – الذهبي

This book is beneficial and it is befitting for the student of knowledge to read and refer to it.

  • Transcribed from: The Book of Knowledge || Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (rahimahullaah)

Fifth point: Categorizing books.

Books are divided into three categories:

First category: Good books.

Second category: Evil books.

Third category: Books that are neither good nor evil.

So adhere to making your library free of any books which have no good in them or have evil in them. It is said that there are some books on good manners, however they waste time and bring about no benefit. And there are harmful books which have specific thoughts and a specific manhaj (methodology), so these books must also be excluded from your library despite them being on manhaj or ‘aqeedah.

For example, the books of the innovators which are harmful in ‘aqeedah, and the books of rebellion and revolution which are harmful to manhaj. Generally, all books that are harmful should be excluded from your library; since books are nourishment for the soul, like food and drink for the body. If you were nourished with that which is similar to these books, then you would be afflicted with great harm, and as a result, you would pursue a path differing to the manhaj of the upright student of knowledge.

Recommended books for students of knowledge:121

Firstly - ‘Aqeedah:

1.   ثلا ثة الا صو ل                        -      شيخ الاسلام الامام محمد بن عبد الو ها ب

2.   القواعد الأر بع                        -      شيخ الاسلام الامام محمد بن عبد الو ها ب

3.    كشف الشبهات -      شيخ الاسلام الامام محمد بن عبد الو ها ب

4.   كتاب التوحيد                       -      شيخ الاسلام الامام محمد بن عبد الو ها ب

العقيدوة الو اسطية –                          شيخ الاسلام ابن تيمية  .5

This book comprises the Tawheed of Allaah’s Asmaa (Names) and Sifaat (Attributes), and it is amongst the best that has been written in this field, and it is worthwhile reading it and referring to it.

العقيدة الحمو ية             –   شيخ الاسلام ابن تيمية    6.

7. العقيدة التدمرية              -   شيخ الاسلام ابن تيمية

These two treatises are broader than “العقيدة الو اسطية”

8. العقيدة الطحاوية – أبو جعفر حمد بن محمد الطحا وي

9. شرح العقدة الطحا وية – أبو الحسن على بن أبي العز

10. الدزر السنية في الاجوبة النجدية – عبد الرحمن بن قسم

Secondly - Hadeeth:

1. فتح الباري شرح صحيح البخاري – الحافض إبن حجر العسقلاني

2. سبل السبلام شرح بلوغ المرام – الصنعاني

This is a comprehensive book combining both hadeeth and fiqh.

3.  نيل الأوطار شرح منتقي الأخبار – الشوكاني

4. عمدة الأحكام – اشوكاني

This is a specialized book, in addition to the fact that all the ahadeeth mentioned are to be found in Saheeh Al-Bukhaaree and Saheeh Muslim, so there is no need to search into their authenticity.

5. الأربعين النووية – أبو زكرياتة النووي

This is a good book, because it mentions etiquette and its approach is also good, as well as it mentioning some very important rules, such as the saying of the Messenger of Allaah (salallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam):

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Fourth point: Adhering to the important books.

It is obligatory upon the student of knowledge to adhere more to the major books of the past, instead of those written recently. This is because some authors of today do not possess firm and well-rooted knowledge. As a result, if you read that which they write you will find it is shallow and superficial. They may transmit something in their own words distorting it into a long expression and rendering it absolute rubbish! So it is upon you to adhere to the major books of the Salaf, for certainly they are better and more blessed by far than the books of the successors.

In most cases the books of the later modern authors have little meaning and much wording and expression; you read a complete page and it is possible for you to summarize it in a line or two! However, with the books of the Salaf you will find them effortless to read, resilient, easy and satisfying. You will not find one word except that it has a purpose and meaning.

Amongst the most highly regarded and important books which are obligatory upon the student of knowledge to adhere to are the books of Shaykh al-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah and his student Ibn Al-Qayyim (rahimatullaahi ‘alayhum).

From that which is known is that the books of Ibn Al-Qayyim are much easier to read and understand whilst those of Shaykh al-Islaam ibn Taymiyyah are very high powered because of his more abundant knowledge and brilliance of mind. Despite being his foremost student, Ibn al-Qayyim was independent in his own right: If he saw his Shaykh differed with that which he felt was correct he would speak up.

Thus, he made clear his differing in opinion, and therefore he (rahimahullaah) is a distinct individual of independent thought. However, there is no surprise when he agrees with his Shaykh (rahimahullaah) in that which he saw as true and correct. Whilst there is no doubt if you carefully contemplate the general opinions of Shaykh al-Islaam you will find they are correct, and this is an issue for one who reflects on both their books will come to know of.

  • Transcribed from: The Book of Knowledge || Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (rahimahullaah)

Fourthly: Accompanying the Scholars.

It is obligatory upon the student of knowledge to seek assistance from Allaah (subhaanahu wa ta’aala), then from the people of knowledge, and seeking assistance from that which they have written in their books because confining oneself to sheer reading alone requires a lot of time, which is contrary to sitting with a scholar who explains and sheds light upon matters for him.

I am not saying he will not attain knowledge except by taking from the scholars, since a person is able to attain knowledge by reading and researching, however, in most cases if he does not persevere day and night and is not blessed with understanding, then he is liable to make many mistakes, and because of this it is said: One whose guide is his book, then his mistakes are more than his accuracies;

Having said this, in reality this is not always the case.

However, the most exemplary way is to take knowledge from the scholars. I also advise the student of knowledge not to “grab” from every scholar knowledge of the same subject. For example, to study fiqh with more than one scholar, since the scholars differ in their techniques of inference from the Qur’aan and the Sunnah, and they also differ in their opinions. So assign yourself a scholar from whom you can take knowledge in fiqh or balaaghah (poetry) and the like, i.e. take knowledge in one subject from one scholar. If the scholar has more than one field of knowledge, then continue with him, for if you took knowledge of fiqh for example from such-and-such and then such-and-such, and they differed in their opinions, what would be your position since you are still a student!? Your position would be that of confusion and doubt! However, your continuance with one scholar in a particular subject will lead to a peace of mind, inshaaAllaah.

  • Transcribed from: The Book of Knowledge || Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (rahimahullaah)

The eleventh point: Verification and Firmness.

From amongst the most important disciplines which are obligatory for the student of knowledge to possess is verification. Verification in transmitting news and verification in passing judgment. So, if information is transmitted, then it is imperative to verify it’s authenticity from the one whom it is being transmitted. If it is authenticated, and a religious verdict is issued, then quite possibly the information you have heard may be based upon a principle which you are unaware of, leading you to pass judgment that the religious verdict is a mistake, whilst in reality it is not a mistake!

So what is the remedy for such a situation?

The remedy is that you must call the one to whom this news is attributed and say to him: “such and such has been transmitted on your authority, is this correct?” Then, discuss the issue with him. It could be that your disagreement and subsequent alienation of him was due to what you heard which was alarming, because you do not know the reason for that which has been transmitted.

It is said: “if the reason is unknown, then there is no alarm.” So it is imperative to firstly verify the information and religious verdict, thereafter, call the one from whom it is being transmitted and ask him: “has this been authenticated or not?” Then discuss it with him; Either it will be that he is upon the truth and that which is correct, so you turn to it, or that which you are upon is the truth, so he will turn to it.

There is a difference between thabaat (firmness) and tathabbut (verification), and they are two words which are linguistically similar, yet differ in meaning.

As for thabaat, then it implies patience and perseverance and not to become tired nor bored and not to take a little from each and every book, nor take a little from each and every subject then leave it, as this harms the student of knowledge by wasting away days without benefit.

For example, some students study the subject of nahoo (grammar); sometimes they refer to the text of الاجرومية then to قطر ندى and then to ألفيةبن مالك. This is likewise the case in mustalah al-hadeeth (science of hadeeth terminology); sometimes they refer to نخبةالفكر then to ألفية العراقي. And this is likewise the case in fiqh (jurisprudence): sometimes they refer to زادالمستقنع then to عمدةالفقه then to المغني then to شرالمهذب.

Such is the case with all books and so on and so forth. Generally, this does not assist in seeking knowledge, and even if it does, then all that has been covered are (secondary) issues and not the principles. Acquiring the (secondary) issues is similar to the one who catches a locust – one after the other; however, that which is important to possess are the qualities of ta’seel (establishing), rusookh (steadfastness) and thaabat (firmness).

So have thabaat with regard to the books which you read or refer to and also thabaat with regard to the scholars from whom you seek knowledge. Do not be like the one who goes to a different scholar every week nor one who goes to another scholar every month, but instead, decide from which scholar you wish to seek knowledge, then, when you have decided, make firm your decision. Do not be undecided and go to different scholars every week nor every month. There is no harm in you taking a scholar for fiqh and continuing with him in this; another scholar in nahoo and continuing with him in this; and yet another scholar in ‘aqeedah and tawheed and continuing with him in this. The important thing is to continue and persevere, and not be undecided and drift from one scholar to another. This is like the man who is a persistent divorcer. Whenever he marries a woman, he spends some days with her then divorces her and then goes and finds another!

Also, tathabbut is an important matter because the transmitters sometimes have evil intentions. They deliberately transmit that which aims to discredit the transmission; sometimes they do not have evil intentions, but nevertheless, they understand a matter contrary to that which was intended. Because of this, it is obligatory to seek tathabbut. So if the chain of narration serves to verify that which is transmitted, you arrive at a level of discussion with the one from whom it is being transmitted, before you pass judgement on the statement that it is a mistake or not. This is because it may quite possible become clear to you, after the discussion, that the truth is really with the one from whom the statement is transmitted.

In conclusion, if a statement is transmitted on the authority of such-and-such, and if you feel it is wrong, then follow the following three steps, in order:

Firstly: Verify the authenticity of the narration;

Secondly: Look into the issue to ascertain the correct ruling, and if it is correct, then support and uphold the position of the one from whom the narration is transmitted. However, if you find it is wrong, then proceed to step three;

Thirdly: Telephone the one from whom the narration is transmitted and discuss the issue with him calmly and respectfully.

  • Transcribed from: The Book of Knowledge || Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (rahimahullaah)

The tenth point: Holding Steadfast to the Qur’aan and the Sunnah.

It is obligatory upon the students of knowledge to adhere strictly to seeking knowledge from its authentic sources, without which there is no success. And these are:

1. The Noble Qur’aan: It is obligatory upon the student of knowledge to adhere strictly to reading, memorising, understanding and acting according to it. Certainly, the Qur’aan is the strong and firm rope to Allaah and it forms the basis for all Islaamic knowledge. The Salaf used to adhere strictly to it, making this their goal.

In mentioning astonishing about their strict adherence to the Qur’aan, you would find one of them had memorized the Qur’aan by the age of seven years, whilst others had memorized the Qur’aan in less than a month. In this there is a clear sign regarding the strict adherence to the Qur’aan by the Salaf (rahmatullaahi ‘alayhum). It is therefore obligatory upon the student of knowledge to adhere strictly to it, and memorize it under the guardianship of one of its teachers, because the Qur’aan is memorized through being instructed by a qualified teacher.

2. The Authentic Sunnah: This is the second of the two sources of the Sharee’ah, and it is the expounder of the Noble Qur’aan. So, it is obligatory upon the student of knowledge to combine the two and strictly adhere  to them both. And it is also upon the student of knowledge to memorize the Sunnah, either by memorising the nusoos (texts) of the ahadeeth or by studying the asaaneed (chains of narration) and it’s mutoon (texts) and differentiating the saheeh (authentic) from the da’eef (weak). Likewise, memorising the Sunnah is done by protecting it and refuting the doubts of the innovators of the Sunnah.

So it is obligatory upon the student of knowledge to adhere strictly to the Qur’aan and the authentic Sunnah, because they are for him like two wings of a bird: if one of them becomes damaged then it is unable to fly.

Because of this, do not adhere to the Sunnah and be neglectful of the Qur’aan, nor adhere to the Qur’aan and be neglectful of the Sunnah, because many of the students of knowledge devote their total attention to the Sunnah and its exegeses and knowledge of its narrators and its technical terms. However, if you were to ask him a verse from the Book of Allah you will find him to be completely ignorant of it, and this is a great mistake. Therefore it is imperative for the Qur’aan and the Sunnah to be two wings for you O student of knowledge.

Here I would like to mention a third and very important matter, and that is the statements of the scholars.

Do not overlook and be neglectful of the statements of the scholars, because the scholars are more firm and steadfast than you in knowledge, since they possess knowledge of the rules of the Sharee’ah and its principles. Quite simply, that which you do not possess.

It is therefore obligatory upon the student of knowledge to resort to the Book of Allaah and the Sunnah of His  Messenger (salallaahu ‘alayhi wasallam) and make use of the statements of the scholars.

Resorting to the Book of Allaah is done by memorizing it and reflecting over it and acting according to it, because Allaah (subhaanahu wa ta’aala) says:

A Book which We have sent down to you, full of blessings that they may ponder over its Verses, and that men of understanding may remember.62

…that they may ponder over its Verses…

So reflecting upon the verses will lead to an understanding of their meanings.

…and that men of understanding may remember.

And remembrance is acting in accordance to the Qur’aan.

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The seventh point: Wisdom.

That he is distinguished with wisdom, as Allaah (subhaanahu wa ta’aala) says:

He grants Hikmah (wisdom) to whom He pleases, and he, to whom Hikmah is granted, is indeed granted abundant good.49

And wisdom is that the student of knowledge becomes a teacher of others with what he possesses of good manners and invites to the Religion of Allaah (subhaanahu wa ta’aala), such that he addresses everyone according to that which befits their level of understanding. And if we were to pursue this path, we would acquire much good as our Lord (subhaanahu wa ta’aala) says:

…and he, to whom Hikmah is granted, is indeed granted abundant good.50

And the hakeem (wise person) is he who adapts matters to their appropriate level, because the word hakeem comes from the word ihkaam, and that is agreement and mastery of a thing whereby he adapts a matter in such a way as to bring it to its required level. It is therefore befitting, moreover, obligatory upon the student of knowledge to be wise in his da’wah.

Allaah (subhaanahu wa ta’aala) has mentioned the principles of da’wah in His (subhaanaahu wa ta’aala) saying:

Invite to the Way of your Lord with wisdom and fair preaching, and argue with them in a way that is better.51

And Allaah (subhaanahu wa ta’aala) has mentioned a fourth principle in debating with the People of the Book, by saying:

And argue not with the people of the Scripture, unless it be in that which is better, except with such of them as do wrong…52

So the student of knowledge should select from the techniques of giving da’wah, that which is the closest to acceptance. An example of this is the da’wah of the Messenger (salallaahu ‘alayhi wasallam), whereby a bedouin Arab came and urinated in a part of the masjid. The companions stood to rebuke him, but the Prophet (salallaahu ‘alayhi wasallam) forbade them from doing so. When the bedouin Arab had finished urinating, the Prophet (salallaahu ‘alayhi wasallam) called him over and said:

These mosques are not the places meant for urine and filth, rather, they are only for the remembrance of Allaah, prayer and the recitation of the Qur’an.”53 or the Prophet (salallaahu ‘alayhi wasallam) said that which was similar to this.

Have you seen better wisdom than this?

So this Bedouin Arab became so delighted and content, that he said: “O Allaah! Have mercy upon me and Muhammad, and do not be Merciful to anyone else.

And in another story, that of Mu’aawiyah ibn al-Hakam as-Sulamee, who said: “Whilst we were praying with the Messenger of Allaah (salallaahu ‘alayhi wasallam), one of the men sneezed. So I said: “May Allaah have mercy upon you!” So the people all looked at me intensely with piercing eyes. So I said: “What’s the matter with you all, looking at me like that?” Then they began beating their thighs with their hands. When I saw them attempting to silence me, I became quiet. When the Messenger of Allaah (salallaahu ‘alayhi wasallam) had finished praying, (May Allaah sacrifice my Father and my Mother for His Sake!) I have not seen a teacher since better than him. By Allaah!  He did not alienate me nor strike me nor insult me, rather he (salallaahu ‘alayhi wasallam) said:

“Certainly nothing of the speech of the people is permitted in this prayer, rather, that which is permitted is the glorification and proclamation of the greatness of Allaah and the reciting of the Qur’an.”54

And from this, we find it is obligatory to undertake the da’wah to Allaah with wisdom as Allaah has commanded.

And yet another example, is when the Prophet (salallaahu ‘alayhi wasallam) saw a man and on his hand he had a gold ring, and the gold ring is haraam (prohibited) for the men. So the Prophet (salallaahu ‘alayhi wasallam) took it off his hand and threw it away, then said: “One of you is wishing for live coal from Hell, and putting it on his hand.”55

So when the Prophet (salallaahu ‘alayhi wasallam) left, it was said to the man: “Take your gold ring and derive benefit from it (i.e. sell it).” So he said: No! By Allaah, I will not take it when Allaah’s Messenger (salallaahu ‘alayhi wasallam) has thrown it away.”

So the manner of advising here is more severe, since every situation has its own particular way of being addressed. Similarly, it is befitting for everyone who invites to the Path of Allaah to adapt every matter in such a manner as to bring it to any required level and not to consider the people all on one and the same level, since the desired result is to achieve benefit for all concerned.

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The fourth point: Tolerance and Patience in Matters of Differences of Opinion.

That his heart is most tolerate and patient in matters of differences of opinion which originate from itjihaad (qualified independent reasoning). Matters of differences of opinion between the scholars are either from that which there is no scope for ijtihaad as the issue is so clear that there is no excuse for anyone to have any differences of opinion; Or that there is scope for ijtihaad and this provides an excuse for one who has a difference of opinion. Your opinion does not become proof against one who differs with you, because if we were to accept this, then we would also accept the opposite: that his statement is a proof against you.

As for he who differs in opinion to the way of the Salaf in such matters as ‘aqeedah (creed), then this difference of opinion is not accepted from anyone. However, in other matters in which there is scope for opinions, then it is not befitting to undertake a verbal attack against those who differ in opinion nor take this as an opportunity to breed hostility and hate.

The companions used to differ in opinion in many matters. So those who wish to read about their differences of opinion, then refer to those traditions which are available regarding them, and you will find many differences of opinion amongst them. And those issues were greater than that which people differ in these days, such that  the people of today adopt hizbiyyah (partisanship) by saying: I am with such-and-such and I am with such-and-such, as if the matter is a matter of hizbiyyah. Indeed, this is a grave mistake.

For example, one says when rising from the rukoo’ (bowing) that you do not place your right hand over the left. Rather, you place your hands by either side, and if you do not do so, then you are a mubtadi’ (innovator).

The term innovator is not easy upon the soul. If someone were to call me an innovator, there will develop in my heart some ill feeling, since man is only human. So we say, this issue is so open that one may place them (the right over the left) or let them fall (by either side).

Due to this difference of opinion, Imaam Ahmad stipulated a choice between placing one’s right hand over the left and letting them fall by either side, because this issue is quite open. However, what is the Sunnah in this issue?

The answer: The Sunnah is to place the right hand over the left when rising from the rukoo‘ position, just as you place them when you are standing (qiyaam). And the evidence is what Imaam Al-Bukhaaree narrated on the authority of Sahl ibn Sa’d who said: “The people were ordered to place the right hand on the left forearm in the prayer.”36

Then note, is this what is required in the sujood (prostration) position? Or is it the rukoo‘ position? Or is it the qu’ood (sitting) position? No! Rather this is what is required in the qiyaam, and that is similar to the qiyaam before the rukoo’ and the qiyaam after the rukoo‘.

So it is obligatory that we do not seek from this difference of opinion between the scholars a reason for disunity and dispute.

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