Differences between al-Albani, Ibn ‘Uthaymin and Ibn Baz – In Fiqh and Aqida
10 Feb, 2014
This is a compilation in over 800 pages highlighting both the minor and major differences of opinion that came about from the neo-ijtihadic positions of the three most well known proponents of the modern day “Salafi” sect – namely, the three recent father figures of the movement: Nasir al-Albani (d.1999), Muhammad ibn Salih al-‘Uthaymin (d.2001) and ‘Abd al-‘Aziz ibn Baz (d.1999). All three were (and still are) held in high regard by most forms of contemporary “Salafism”, which itself is a movement that has copious subdivisions and rival factions – with conflict ridden disunity ubiquitously present amongst themselves. They started out (and factions among them still continue) calling for the abandonment of the Four Sunni Schools of Islamic Law, namely, the Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi’i and Hanbali Madhhabs; all of which emanated from the tangible time of the pious predecessors (al-Salaf al-Salihin), and continue to flourish vibrantly right up till this very day, all over the Muslim world, by the decree of Allah ta’ala. Indeed, most Sunni scholars and lay people are still attached to these acknowledged Madhhabs that have stood via the test of time. Most scholars, especially, since the post-Salaf period have also been linked to the adherence of these recognised Sunni Madhhabs.
Their call to abandon taqlid, which is in reality the following of, and placing trust in the qualified scholarship of the leading and recognised Madhhabs (and not simply “blind following” of random or incompetent individuals), has lead them to use the slogan: “A return to the Qur’an and the ‘authentic’ Sunna”. This catchphrase may sound alluring to the laity who have not generally had the intense training to comprehend how major scholars of the past and present came to derive rulings (ijtihad) from the Sources of the Shari’a (Qur’an, Sunna, Ijma’ and Qiyas), or the precise and nuanced methodology (Usul) utilised by the most elite of scholars (Mujtahid Imams). Indeed, a little thought would have lead the sound mind to conclude that all the Mujtahid Imams, and their leading followers, not only had full access to the Qur’an and Sunna over time, but also had the acknowledged, qualified scholarship, academic rigour, and piety to extract rulings from the named Sources of Shari’a.
The question is – ‘Was there ever a need to make an endeavour to try and reinvent the wheel, when more than 1200 years have passed since the inception of the leading Sunni Madhhabs with their affiliated scholarship, century after century?’ The opponents of the Sunni Madhhabs imprudently contend that this is not only a “good idea”, but something which is a must and an absolute necessity. Such a mentality thus leads to the blustering call to abandon taqlid of all the recognised Madhhabs. The natural and thought provoking question that arises for the advocates of this incongruous call is - ‘Why do the very authorities you look up to so much – without much analytical verification (tahqiq) on an individual basis – have such a colossal amount of divergence of opinion (ikhtilaf) between themselves, if they are the major references and authorities who promoted this very call of adhering to the “Qur’an and Sunna” in their time?!’
The work below is by proponents linked to Salafism and so it is to be regarded as being an accurate representation of where and why these three named authorities of theirs differed on many legal questions (masa’il) as well as some matters linked to Islamic beliefs (‘aqa’id). The very fact that these individuals had such a great number of differences in extracting rulings from the Sources of the Shari’a should lead to alarm bells ringing in the inquisitive readers’ minds, for the simple reason that, it has never been possible to unite all Muslim scholars on just one specific, unified opinion, on every single legal question that has ever arisen in the past, or will be in need of answering in the future. This call to reject the Sunni Madhhabs and attempt to reformulate all opinions on the mantra of following the “strongest opinion” as propounded by contemporaries attached to “Salafism” is thus not only a fallacy but an abysmal failure on their part, and it is in effect a call that was non-existent, even in the time of the pious Imams from the generation of the Salaf as-Salihin. Those who are keen to see how and why the major Imams of early times themselves came to derive legal rulings and what lead to agreement or disagreement may consult the work known as Bidayatul Mujtahid wa Nihaytul Muqtasid by Qadi ibn Rushd (d. 595 AH). The link provided for the Bidayatul-Mujtahid is to the English, printed edition. One may wish to read the English rendition of the Bidayatul Mujtahid as uploaded in the public domain by others:
The work showing the vast array of differences between the three named, contemporary head-figures of “Salafism” is called – al-Ijaz fi ba’dh ma Ikhtalafa fihi al-Albani wa ibn ‘Uthaymin wa ibn Baz (A Brief Summary with regards to some of that in which al-Albani, ibn ‘Uthaymin, and ibn Baz differed).