Nasir al-Albani (d. 1999 CE), who was one of the major proponents and outspoken representatives of a modern day sect that describes itself as “Salafiyya”, spoke with some beneficial truth regarding a fact that was well known about many of those attached to his very own sect; namely that his sect has very few capable scholars, and many general followers lack good manners and upbringing, as well as the fact that his sect is in total disarray and filled with subdivisions.
The following is his description and judgement as translated and propagated by one of his own admirers on the disarray and downright shallowness of many of those linked to pseudo-Salafism. Note also that he was describing the situation before his death in 1999, and since that time Salafism has gone via more turbulent disintegration into further factionalism which is often at odds with each other and waging written and oral attacks against each other has become a daily reality. This is especially visible to any simple researcher who visits Arabic or English websites and forums run by subdivisons within its ranks globally.
It is indeed a bitter reality of how many of these Salafi sect members behave and strut around pompously in various parts of the world with the catch phrase – “A return to the Qur’an and Sunna”, while acting as though they have been given the divine right to spread their ideology, methodology and distorted creed (aqida) on certain matters, with their warped and distorted understandings of the sources of Islamic law (Qur’an, Sunna, Ijma and Qiyas), and all the while misleading their own souls as well as many unsuspecting Muslims into the false sense of belief that they can do away with the real and classically accepted Mujtahid Imams like Abu Hanifa, Malik ibn Anas, Muhammad ibn Idris al-Shafi’i and Ahmed ibn Hanbal, and thousands upon thousands of scholars attached to these 4 Madhhabs for well over 12 long centuries of Islamic History, who truly explained the Shari’a with the right tools of taqwa (God-fearingness), qualified scholarship and abstention (zuhd) from this temporal world.
Before one reads al-Albani’s own words, it is recommended that the readers also take a look at the following links to see more on why this sect callings itself “Salafi” as well as hijacking the name of the real Ahlus Sunna wal Jama’a for its ends should not be taken seriously or accepted in any way as representing the way of the Saved Sect (Firqatun Najiyya) in this age:
It is pertinent to note that al-Albani himself quoted the following in one of his responses that is applicable to many of those linked to Salafism and other deviated sects of this era:
And he ﷺ said as is reported in Saheeh al-Bukhaari and Muslim, from the hadith of ’Abdullaah ibn ’Amr ibn al-’Aas, “Verily, Allah does not take away knowledge by snatching it from the people but He takes away knowledge by taking away the scholars, so that when no scholar remains, the people turn to the ignorant as their leaders. Then they are asked to deliver religious verdicts and they deliver them without knowledge—so they go astray [themselves], and lead others astray.”
The following is from a blog on al-Albani:
Questioner: What is your Excellency’s opinion about … the Salafi da’wah in general, and specifically in Kuwait, Egypt and Saudi?
Al-Albaani: I say that unfortunately the Salafi Da’wah is now in disarray, and I attribute the cause of that to the hastiness of many of the Muslim youth to claim knowledge: so he will have the audacity to pass fatwas, and to declare things to be haram and halaal before he knows.
Some of them, as I have heard on numerous occasions, can’t even recite an aayah from the Quraan properly—even if the Noble Mushaf were [open] in front of them—let alone the fact that he will make many mistakes when [simply] reading a hadith of the Prophet ﷺ. And so that proverb that is well-known in some countries is applicable to him:
إنه تزبب قبل أن يتحصرم
“He became a raisin before [even becoming] a sour grape.”
You know what الحصرم is, is this word used amongst you? When a grape starts out it becomes a green berry, this is what الحصرم is referring to, and it is very sour, so before he even reaches this stage of being a sour grape, he makes himself out to be a raisin.
Thus for many of these people to prop up their heads and be hasty in [both] claiming knowledge and writing when they haven’t even traversed half the way on the path to knowledge is what now unfortunately makes those who attribute themselves to the Salafi da’wah split into groups and factions.
And so there is no cure for this except for these Muslims to fear their Lord, the Mighty and Majestic, and for them to know that it is not for everyone who starts off seeking knowledge to take the lead in declaring fatwas about things being halaal and haram, or declaring hadiths to be authentic or weak except after a long lifetime, a lifetime in which he practices learning how fatwas are delivered and how [verdicts] are derived from the Book and the Sunnah.
And in this respect these callers or Salafis must comply with that third check which I mentioned before when speaking about beneficial knowledge and righteous actions, saying that beneficial knowledge must be according to the methodology of the Salaf as-Saalih.
So nowadays when many of the Islamic callers depart from this check, the third check which Imaam Ibn al-Qayyim, may Allaah have mercy on him, indicated in his poetry when he said:
“Knowledge is, ‘Allaah said … His Messenger said …
The Companions said …’ and it is not hidden.”
Not paying heed to what our Salaf as-Saalih were upon makes the people go back, after having been united, to disunity which separates them as it had done with many Muslims before, turning them into groups and factions, each faction pleased with what it has. This is my opinion of the situation.
So if, as we hope, they are sincere they must cling to the correct knowledge-based principles, and that the person who has not reached the level of having correct knowledge does not have the audacity to … that he keeps himself out of sight from [delving into] that and he entrusts knowledge to the one who knows it [i.e., the scholars].
… in this regard [there] is a narration which has been reported in the books of hadith, I think it was ’Abdur-Rahmaan ibn Abi Layla, may Allaah have mercy on him, who was one of the major scholars of the Salaf as-Saalih, he said, “In this mosque …” and maybe he was referring to the Prophet’s Mosque, “… I met …” and then he mentioned a [specific] number of Companions, I forget the number now, “… so when one of them would be asked …”
Al-Albaani: Maybe it was. “I met seventy Companions in this mosque, when one of them would be asked a question or asked for a fatwa, he would wish that another one of the scholars from those Companions who were present would shoulder the responsibility for it,” and the reason for that was because they feared that they would make a mistake and thus [as a result] would cause other people to fall into making a mistake. So they would wish to not have to take this responsibility and that someone else would.
As for now, then the situation, most unfortunately, is the polar opposite.
And that is because of one reason, which is something I always mention: that this blooming which we now see for the Book and the Sunnah and the Salafi Da’wah is something new, this blossoming which they call an awakening has not been going on for a long time such that these people can reap the fruits of this awakening or blossoming in themselves, namely, by being nurtured on the foundations of the Book and the Sunnah and for them to then inundate, with this correct nurturing based upon the Book and the Sunnah, others who are around them, [calling] those closest [to them firstly] and then those after them.
So the cause is that the effects of this da’wah have not become apparent because it is new to this time in which we live, for this reason we find the situation to be the opposite of what ’Abdur-Rahmaan ibn Abi Layla reported about those Companions who would be cautious of being asked questions and who would wish that someone else would be asked, and the only reason that would make them answer a question would be because they knew that it was not allowed for them to hide knowledge—but in the depths of their hearts they used to wish that someone else would bear that responsibility.
As for now, in many Salafi gatherings let alone non-Salafi ones, a person who it is assumed has more knowledge than other people present is asked a question, and all of a sudden you will see that so and so has started to speak even though he wasn’t asked, and so and so has started to speak even though he wasn’t asked—what makes these people do that?
It is the love of fame. It is self-centredness, “I am here,” i.e., “I have knowledge. Maa shaa Allaah about me.”
This shows that we have not had a Salafi tarbiyyah. We have grown up with Salafi knowledge, each according to his efforts and striving towards that knowledge, but as for tarbiyyah, then we have not yet acquired it as an Islamic, Salafi community …
… so we are now in an awakening in terms of knowledge but we are not in an awakening of correct upbringing [tarbiyyah]. That is why many times we find individuals, some callers, that can be benefitted from in terms of knowledge but not in manners—because he brought himself up on knowledge but was not in a righteous environment in which he was raised from childhood, and for this reason he lives carrying the manners which he inherited from that society in which he exists and in which he is found, and it is a society which without doubt is not an Islamic one, but he was able to, by himself or with the direction of some of the people of knowledge, follow the path of [obtaining] correct knowledge, but the effects of this knowledge are not seen in his manners, in his behaviour, in his actions.
The cause of this manifestation which we are talking about now is that we have not matured/fully developed in knowledge except a few individuals.
And secondly, individuals, even more so, have not been brought up according to a correct Islamic upbringing and that is why you will find that many of the beginners in seeking knowledge will prop themselves up as a head … the head of a Jamaa’ah or faction, and it is here that an old piece of wisdom which expresses this manifestation applies, it says, “The love of fame will break one’s back,” so the cause of [all of] this goes back to a lack of a correct upbringing on that correct knowledge.
Al-Hudaa wan-Noor, 188.
Is there a solution for this type of disarray and pompousity in behaving like the real people of ilm (knowledge) according to the words of Nasir al-Albani himself? Indeed, in another post by his admirer the following were the words of al-Albani:
“Everyone who hears a statement from the Book or the Sunnah … not understanding anything from the Book and the Sunnah except a few phrases and words which he hears from some of the callers [daa’ees]–words which may be true and some of which may be incorrect … because of that [i.e., the few phrases he may have picked up, some of which are correct and some of which are not] he sees himself as having become a scholar, it being permissible [now] for him to say, ‘I think that … my opinion is that … I think that this statement is incorrect …’ and he interferes in every major and minor issue–all the while not being able to read a hadith correctly.
This [situation] has its dangers. And if the affair, and this is my personal opinion, if the affair hinges between following one of the four madhhabs and being rigid on it and between every Muslim becoming a claimant to knowledge and to ijtihaad, then there is no doubt that remaining upon what the forefathers were upon in following the madhhabs and discarding the opinions of the ignorant ones who have not studied any knowledge, is better. And this is by way of choosing the lesser of two evils.”
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