The End - 2000 to 2009

Al-Albani’s Revolutionary Approach to Hadith

Nasir al-Din al-Albani

By Stéphane Lacroix

When on the first of October 1999 Shaykh Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani passed away at the age of 85, he was mourned by virtually everyone in the world of Salafi Islam. To many, he represented its third main contemporary reference, after ‘Abd al-‘Aziz bin Baz (who himself had died a few months before) and Muhammad bin ‘Uthaymin (who would pass away in January 2001), both leading figures of the Saudi religious establishment. Salafi newspapers, journals, and websites celebrated this Syrian son of an Albanian clock-maker—whose family left Albania in 1923, when he was nine years old, and re-established itself in Damascus—who had become known as the muhaddith al-‘asr (traditionist of the era), that is, the greatest hadith scholar of his generation.

How did al-Albani, with his undistinguished social and ethnic origins, come to occupy such a prestigious position in a field long monopolized by a religious elite from the Saudi region of Najd—The answer is, as we shall see through the example of al-Albani himself and some of his disciples, lies in his revolutionary approach to hadith.

The Wahhabi paradox

Common knowledge considers Shaykh Nasir al-Din al-Albani to be staunch proponent of Wahhabism, the discourse produced and upheld by the official Saudi religious establishment.1 This is undoubtedly true in terms of ‘aqidah (creed), yet al-Albani strongly disagrees with the Wahhabis—and especially with their chief representatives, the ulama of the Saudi religious establishment—when it comes to fiqh (law). There, al-Albani points to a fundamental contradiction within the Wahhabi tradition: the latter’s proponents have advocated exclusive reliance on the Quran, the Sunna, and the consensus of al-salaf al-salih (the pious ancestors), yet they have almost exclusively relied on Hanbali jurisprudence for their fatwas—acting therefore as proponents of a particular school of jurisprudence, namely Hanbalism. According to al-Albani, this also applies to Muhammad bin ‘Abd al-Wahhab whom he describes as “salafi in creed, but not in fiqh.”

For al-Albani, moreover, being a proper “salafi in fiqh” implies making hadith the central pillar of the juridical process, for hadith alone may provide answers to matters not found in the Quran without relying on the school of jurisprudence. The mother of all religious sciences therefore becomes the “science of hadith,” which aims at re-evaluating the authenticity of known hadiths. According to al-Albani, hoever, independent reasoning must be excluded from the process: the critique of the matn (the content of the hadith) should be exclusively formal, i.e. grammatical or linguistic; only the sanad (the hadith’s chain of transmitters) may be properly put into question. As a consequence, the central focus of the science of hadith becomes ‘ilm al-rijal (the science of men), also known as ‘ilm al-jarh wa-l-ta’dil (the science of critique and fair evaluation), which evaluates the morality—deemed equivalent to the reliability—of the transmitters. At the same time—and contrary to earlier practices—al-Albani insists that the scope of this re-evaluation must encompass all existing hadiths, even those included in the canonical collections of Bukhari and Muslim, some of which al-Albani went so far as to declare weak.2

Revolutionary interpretations

As a consequence of the peculiarirty of this method, al-Albani ended up pronouncing fatwas that ran counter to the wider Islamic consensus and more specifically to Hanbali/Wahhabi jurisprudence. For instance, he wrote a book in which he redefined the proper gestures and formulae that constitute the Muslim prayer ritual “according to the Prophet’s practice”—and contrary to the prescriptions of all established schools of jurisprudence. Also, he stated that mihrabs—the niche found in a mosques indicating the direction of Mecca—were bid’a (an innovation) and declared licit to pray in a mosque with one’s shoes. Another controversial position was his call for Palestinians to leave the occupied territories since, he claimed, they were unable to practice their faith there as they should—something which is much more important than a piece of land. Finally, al-Albani took a strong stance against indulging in politics, repeating that “the good policy is to abandon politics”—a phrase implicitly aimed at the Muslim Brotherhood, whose political views he consistently denounced.

The presence of al-Albani in Saudi Arabia—where he was invited in 1961 by his good friend Shaykh ‘Abd al-‘Aziz bin Baz to teach at the Islamic University of Medina—prompted embarrassed reactions from the core of the Wahhabi establishment, who disagreed with him but could hardly attack him because of his impeccable Wahhabi credentials in terms of creed. The controversy sparked by his book The Veil of the Muslim Woman, in which he argued that Muslim women should not cover their face—a position unacceptable by Saudi standards—, finally gave the Wahhabi establishment the justification needed to get him out of the Kingdom in 1963. He then re-established himself in his country of birth, Syria, before leaving for Jordan in 1979.3

However, the opposition al-Albani encountered from the Wahhabi religious establishment was not merely intellectual. By putting into question the methodological foundations upon which the Wahhabis had built their legitimacy, he was also challenging their position in the Saudi religious field.

From its inception, Wahhabism had established itself as a religious tradition—at the core of which laid a number of key books, both in creed and law. This tradition had been monopolized by a small religious aristocracy from Najd, first centered around Muhammad bin ‘Abd al-Wahhab and his descendants (known as the Al al-Shaykh) before opening up to a small number of other families. In the Saudi system as it took shape, the members of aristocracy would become the only legitimate transmitters of the Wahhabi tradition; in this context independent scholars were excluded because they had not received “proper ‘ilm” from “qualified” ulama.

Traditional Wahhabi ‘ilm, therefore, was the fruit of a process of transmission and depended on the number of ijazas—a certificate by which a scholar acknowledges the transmission of his knowledge (or part of it) to one of his pupils, and authorizes him to transmit it further—given by respected Wahhabi scholars. This is the very logic of al-Albani—who, himself, owned very few of these certificates—would challenge by promoting his critical approach. As a matter of fact, according to al-Albani, transmission has no importance whatsoever, because, every hadith being suspect, the fact that it was narrated by a respected scholar cannot guarantee its authenticity. On the contrary, the important process of accumulation—a good scholar of hadith being someone who has memorized a large sum of hadith and, more importantly, the biographies of a large number of transmitters. Thus, the science of hadith can be measured according to the objective criteria unrelated to family, tribe, or regional descent, allowing for a previously absent measure of meritocracy. More importantly, al-Albani claims of being more faithful to the spirit of Wahhabism than ‘Abd al-Wahhab himself made the former’s ideas very popular among Salafi youth.

Religious entrepreneurs

For all these reasons, al-Albani’s ideas would rapidly become a means for Salafi religious entrepreneurs from outside the Wahhabi aristocracy to challenge the existing hierarchy. Al-Albani himself quickly gathered a large following, in Saudi Arabia and beyond. He would soon have to be recognized, despite the initial hostility of the Wahhabi religious establishment, as one of the leading figures in Salafism.

In the mid-1960s, a number of al-Albani’s disciples in Medina founded al-Jamaa al-Salafiyya al-Muhtasiba (The Salafi Group which Commands Good and Forbids Evil), a radical faction of which, led by Juhayman al-‘Utaybi, would storm the grand mosque in Mecca in November 1979. Many of the group’s members—and especially its scholars—were either of Bedouin descent or non-Saudi residents, and were thus marginalized in the religious field. Their activism came, in part at least, as a response to their marginalization.4 One of the main religious figures of this group—who was “lucky” enough to have been thrown out of the Kingdom in 1978 and therefore did not take part in the 1979—was Muqbil al-Wadi’i, who subsequently re-established himself in his native Yemen and became the country’s most prominent Salafi scholar.

In the late 1980s, some of al-Albani’s pupils, led by Medinan shaykh called Rabi’ al-Madkhali, formed an informal religious network generally referred to as al-Jamiyya (“the Jamis”, named after one of their key members, Muhammad Aman al-Jami). Beyond their focus on hadith, the Jamis became known as emphasizing al-Albani’s calls not to indulge in politics and for denouncing those who did. Again, many of the Jamis were peripheral origin (al-Madkhali was from Jazan, on the Yemeni border, while al-Jami was from Ethiopia) and had therefore been excluded from all leading positions in the religious field. They would finally gain prominence in the early 1990s, when the Saudi government supported them financially and institutionally, in the hope of creating an apolitical ideological counterweight to the Islamist opposition led by the al-Sahwa al-Islamiyya (the Islamic Awakening), an informal religio-political movement which appeared in Saudi Arabia in the 1960s as the result of a hybridization between Wahhabism, on religious issues, and on the ideas of the Muslim Brotherhood, on political issues.5

In the 1990s, a few students of al-Albani would go so far as to challenge both the Wahhabi religious aristocracy and al-Albani himself. Following the teachings of an Indian shaykh called Hamza al-Milibari,6 they would promote the centrality of hadith, while criticizing al-Albani for relying, in his critique of hadith, on the methods used by late traditionists—at least so they claimed. On the contrary, they would pride themselves for relying exclusively on the methodology of the early traditionists (that is those anterior to al-Dar Qutni (917-995)) and would therefore name their approach manhaj al-mutaqad-dimin (the methodology of the early ones). Again, most of these scholars were peripheral figures, such as Sulayman al-‘Alwan, a very young—al-‘Alwan was born in 1970 and started to become known as a scholars while he was in his twenties—shaykh of non-tribal descent, and ‘Abdallah al-Sa’d, whose family had come from the city of Zubayr in Modern Iraq. The two of them would later become key figures in the Saudi Jihadi trend, challenging the political order after they had challenged the religious order. As a consequence, they would be arrested and jailed after the May 2003 bombings.

Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani’s denunciation of the “Wahhabi paradox” and his promotion of a new approach to the critique of hadtih as the pillar of religious knowledge have prompted a revolution within Salafism, challenging the very monopoly of the Wahhabi religious aristocracy. As a consequence, al-Albani’s ideas have given independent Salafi religious entrepreneurs a weapon with which to fight their way into previously closed circles. Although none have yet achieved al-Albani’s prestige, some have become recognized scholars. Interestingly enough, al-Albani’s rise to prominence as a de facto part of an establishment he once rejected has encouraged some of disciples, proponents of the “methodology of the early ones,” to call—along al-Albani’s earlier line—for an even “purer” approach to the critique of hadith. As this shows, the revolutionary power of his methods remains intact.

Notes:

  1. As opposed to Wahhabism, Salafism refers here to all hybridations that have taken place since the 1960s between the teachings of Muhammad bin ‘Abd al-Wahhab and other Islamic schools of thought. Al-Albani’s discourse can therefore be a form of Salafism, while being critical of Wahhabism.
  2. Stéphane Lacroix, “Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani’s Contribution to Contemporary Salafism,” in Global Salafism: Islam’s New Religious Movement, ed. Roel Meijer (London/New York: Hurst/Columbia University Press, 2008 (forthcoming)).
  3. On the controversies surrounding al-Albani, see ibid.
  4. See Thomas Hegghammer and Stéphane Lacroix, “Rejectionist Islamism in Saudi Arabia: The Story of Juhayman al-‘Utaybi Revisited,” International Journal of Middle East Studies 39, no. 1 (2007):103-122.
  5. For more details, see ibid.
  6. The book is called Al-muwazana bayna al-mutaqaddimin wa-l-muta’akhkhirin fi tashih al-ahadith wa ta’liliha [The balance between the early ones and the late ones regarding the identification of authentic and weak hadiths].

Source: International Institute for the Study of Islam in the Modern World – ISIM Review 21, Spring 2008 (exact PDF)


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  • 50 Responses for "Al-Albani’s Revolutionary Approach to Hadith"

    1. Asim June 11th, 2008 at 10:56 pm

      interesting…

    2. Yaser June 11th, 2008 at 11:27 pm

      quite a good read. my bengali (tamzid!) shared this with me a little a while go, quite interesting

    3. IslamLover June 11th, 2008 at 11:33 pm

      Great Article…a well balanced approach to the topic by an orientalist..whether or not one agrees with albani…the man was a scholar in his own right….

    4. tr June 12th, 2008 at 12:05 am

      what makes you think he is an orientalist?

    5. tr June 12th, 2008 at 12:06 am

      also
      here is the original source of the article

      http://www.isim.nl/content/content_page.asp?n1=4&n2=21&n3=17

    6. Dawud Israel June 12th, 2008 at 12:24 am

      Orientalist’s are fun to read lol.

      One of the things about any new groups is how much they can escape their history. First Salafis escaped Kalami aqidah, then traditional Fiqh and then pushed it further to Tasawwuf.

      Kinda related to how Salafis came out from Sufism–beyond Sh. Abdul-Wahabb (rahimullah) and Ibn Taymiyyah (rahimullah):
      http://muslimology.wordpress.com/2008/05/29/the-salafi-sufi/

      Now I would wonder how much longer this can go on. This is not specific to Salafis (as this article shows certain ulama are more of a dynasty now…) but just about ANY GROUP. Follow the pattern among the development of Fiqh, certain schools of Aqidah, and most notably the hundreds of Tariqahs and you begin to wonder–how much longer are they going to redefine things and is it really, truly needed?

      This is not to say, “we should all be just Muslim” because change is inevitable–even if we were all one group–we would eventually fragment.

      No, what I am saying is consider certain factors that have NEVER occurred before:

      1) Globalization–what is said here goes across the world
      2) Wealth of Knowledge in our age–how easy it is to LEARN now compared to the scholars of the past who had to travel far to find just one book. We can do it much more easily, even on the Internet

      And you begin to wonder if you’ll see ONE United Super-Madhab/Aqidah/Tariqah–completely uniform

      OR

      more likely, we will see hundreds more mini-groups emerge–because there is even more knowledge than there was before and we have even more approaches…maybe Salafis are just the beginning.

    7. mujahid7ia June 12th, 2008 at 12:51 am

      Jazak Allahu khayra, enjoyed the article. The publication in note 2 looks interesting: Stéphane Lacroix, “Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani’s Contribution to Contemporary Salafism,” in Global Salafism: Islam’s New Religious Movement, ed. Roel Meijer (London/New York: Hurst/Columbia University Press, 2008 (forthcoming)).

    8. » Al-Albani’s Revolutionary Approach to Hadith online rihla June 12th, 2008 at 9:11 am

      […] ISIM via MR: By Stéphane […]

    9. Yaser June 12th, 2008 at 10:48 am

      Yea I was interested by that footnote as well. And yes IslamLover, nobody can deny he was a scholar in his own right. And I think we should also be quick to assume anything about orientalists. The classical strain did have that vehement disgust towards Islam even though they did do amazing research albeit tainted with that bias. But there were still some amongst the crowd who were a bit more honest (most likely due to academic integrity and a push for the truth rather than any religious imperative) like Annemarrie Schimmel and W.M. Watts and nowadays there are many more today who are just pure historians who give very interesting syntheses from different angles (like Bulliet) which haven’t been explored thoroughly.

      I especially liked how they connected and explained many present day scholars’ connection with Albani, like Muqbil al Hadi’, Rabi’ al Madkhali and others who I knew of their association with him but could not easily place how they fit in. Lastly they finally shed light on what charge (although I knew he was an eyesore for a long time for them) the Saudis expelled him which I hadn’t been able to get a straight answer in a long time.

      wallahu a’lam wa habiyahu wa ni’mal wakeel

    10. Al-Albani?s Revolutionary Approach to Hadith - Forums - Islamica Community June 12th, 2008 at 12:44 pm

      […] Revolutionary Approach to Hadith Al-Albani?s Revolutionary Approach to Hadith By St?phane Lacroix When on the first of October 1999 Shaykh Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani […]

    11. Mostafa June 12th, 2008 at 2:13 pm

      Brother, Please take down his picture, specially one of the greatest Shykhs of our recent time who has deceased.

      ‘Abdullaah ibn Mas’ood (may Allaah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Those who will be most severely punished by Allaah on the Day of Resurrection will be the image-makers.” (Reported by al-Bukhaari, see al-Fath, 10/382).

      Abu Hurayrah (may Allaah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Allaah, may He be exalted, says: ‘Who does more wrong than the one who tries to create something like My creation? Let him create a grain of wheat or a kernel of corn.'” (Reported by al-Bukhaari, see Fath al-Baari, 10/385

    12. Stupid June 12th, 2008 at 2:24 pm

      First of all MR didn’t create the images. Second of all he copied it form the source which is linked at the bottom of the post. Third of all, enjoy these pics also:

      al-albani

      I didn’t create that image either, I just asked Shaykh Google for it.

    13. Mostafa June 12th, 2008 at 2:31 pm

      Here you are STUPID, and also for MR, please follow the words of the Noble Prophet (Sallahu Aleyhi Wasallam) and of the Knowledgable scholars and take down the pic, if it is possible:

      In the book Al-I’laam bi naqd kitaab al-halaal wa’l-haraam, the author says: “Photography is even more of an imitation of the creation of Allaah than pictures which are engraved or drawn, so it is even more deserving of being prohibited… There is nothing that could exclude photography from the general meaning of the reports.” (p. 42, see also Fataawa Islamiyyah, 4/355).

      Some of them explain how this photography is done, and summarize that no less than eleven different actions are involved in the making of a picture. In spite of all this, they say that this picture is not the result of human action! Can it be permissible to hang up a picture of a man, for example, if it is produced by photography, but not if it is drawn by hand?

      Those who say that photography is permitted have “frozen” the meaning of the word “tasweer,” restriciting it only to the meaning known at the time of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and not adding the meaning of photography, which is “tasweer” or “picture-making” in every sense – linguistic, legal, and in its harmful effects, and as is clear from the definition mentioned above. Years ago, I said to one of them, By the same token, you could allow idols which have not been carved but have been made by pressing a button on some machine that turns out idols by the dozen. What do you say to that?”
      (Aadaab al-Zafaaf by al-Albaani, p. 38)

    14. Stupid June 12th, 2008 at 2:45 pm

      Can you show me where the photography is shown on this post? I just see static images on a computer screen? Are you telling me MR took these photos of Sh. Al-Albaani (raheemullaah)? MR, how old are you? Seriously akhee Mostafa, why don’t you read the article instead of complaining about some photo.

      I’m pretty sure Sh. Al-Albaani would have put his hands over his face and told the cameraman not to take his photo, if he was against it. Maybe Allaah (az wa jaal) willed his picture to be available for us so we can see what an imitator of the Prophet (s) looked like.

      If photography was so haram according to the Salafee manhaj, then how can so many Salafee scholars allow photos and even VIDEOS (which is much more ‘worse’ according to your view of creating images)?

    15. Iboo June 12th, 2008 at 3:39 pm

      I dont know about you, but it looks to me like Shaykh al Albaani knew his picture was being taken and he posed for it, hence, the ikhtilaaf

    16. Mostafa June 12th, 2008 at 4:00 pm

      I cannot argue with somebody who calls himself Stupid. I did my Nasihah, may Allah Subhanuhu Wa Ta’ala guide you to the straight path, and protect you from the Bid’a which is thrown in Hell Fire. As Salam U Alaikum

    17. Al-Albani?s Revolutionary Approach to Hadith - Forums - Islamica Community June 12th, 2008 at 6:50 pm

      […] Revolutionary Approach to Hadith Al-Albani?s Revolutionary Approach to Hadith By St?phane Lacroix When on the first of October 1999 Shaykh Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani […]

    18. Khadija June 12th, 2008 at 7:50 pm

      malikis are allowed to use pictures…

      \

    19. Mostafa June 12th, 2008 at 8:56 pm

      Really? Thats interesting, can you give a reference, or a hadith please. Im not trying to be smart, I actually really want to know the information. Imam Malik ibn Anas was an amazing scholar.

    20. Musa Franco June 12th, 2008 at 10:16 pm

      It’s funny because Mr. Nuh Ha Mim Keller does not like pictures. Yet you seem not to respect the wishes of mashaykh who would of not wanted their picture up in the first place. Allah will all hold you accountable for that.

      Ma’ Salaam

    21. Musa Franco June 12th, 2008 at 10:16 pm

      and sisters which malikis are you referring to. Ibn Abi Zayd Al Aqyrawanee??? Or whom???

    22. Ilyas Lahoz June 12th, 2008 at 10:42 pm

      From the Muwatta of Imam Malik:

      54.3 Pictures and Images

      6 Malik related to me from Ishaq ibn ‘Abdullah ibn Abi Talha that
      Rafi’ ibn Ishaq, the mawla of ash-Shifa’, informed him that he and
      ‘Abdullah ibn Abi Talha had gone to visit Abu Sa’id al-Khudri while he
      was ill. Abu Sa’id said to them, “The Messenger of Allah, may Allah
      bless him and grant him peace, informed us, ‘The angels do not enter a
      house which contains pictures or images.'”

      Ishaq was not sure which of them Abu Sa’id said.

      7 Malik related to me from Abu’n-Nasr that ‘Ubaydullah ibn ‘Abdullah
      ibn ‘Utba ibn Mas’ud went to visit Abu Talha al-Ansari when he was
      ill. He said, “I found Sahl ibn Hunayf with him. Abu Talha summoned a
      man and removed a rug which was under him. Sahl ibn Hunayf asked him,
      ‘Why did you remove it?’ He replied, ‘Because there were pictures on
      it and the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him
      peace, said you know what about them,’ Sahl said, ‘Didn’t the
      Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, say,
      “except for markings on a garment”?’ (A rug was considered to be a
      garment.) He said, ‘Yes, but it is more pleasing to me.'”

      8 Malik related to me from Nafi’ from al-Qasim ibn Muhammad from
      ‘A’isha, the wife of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him
      peace, that she bought a cushion which had pictures on it. When the
      Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, saw it,
      he stopped at the door and did not enter. She recognised disapproval
      on his face and said, “Messenger of Allah, I turn in repentance to
      Allah and His Messenger. What have I done wrong?” The Messenger of
      Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “What is the
      meaning of this cushion?” She said, “I bought it for you to sit and
      recline on.” The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him
      peace, said, “Those who make such pictures will be punished on the Day
      of Rising. They will be told, ‘Bring to life what you have created.'”
      Then he added, “The angels do not enter a house in which there are
      pictures.”

    23. Ilyas Lahoz June 12th, 2008 at 10:54 pm

      That said, later Maliki scholars have differed on the issue of 2D pictures. Though even those who allowed thme did so with the stuipulation that they cannot be hung on walls or other places of honor but may be used on rugs (that are walked on) etc.

      The safer position is, of course, to refrain from all pictures, as cogently explained by Sheikh Nuh Keller, hafidhahullah:

      http://suhba.org/pub/lessons_faq.php?linklokauth=cHVibGljL0ZBUS9QaWN0dXJlc19hbmRfUGhvdG9ncmFoc19QYXJ0MS5tcDMsMCw2Ny44My4yMDguMTM4LDAsMSxMTF8wLCw1N2RmOWYwOWYxMGQxN2VjYzA0OGVmM2NkMWEyMzgzZg%3D%3D/Pictures_and_Photograhs_Part1.mp3

      http://suhba.org/pub/lessons_faq.php?linklokauth=cHVibGljL0ZBUS9QaWN0dXJlc19hbmRfUGhvdG9ncmFoc19QYXJ0Mi5tcDMsMCw2Ny44My4yMDguMTM4LDAsMSxMTF8wLCw0ZmIzNTEwMTdlYWMxMjE1YzY1YjZlNTgxNjdmYTRhMQ%3D%3D/Pictures_and_Photograhs_Part2.mp3

    24. Mostafa June 12th, 2008 at 11:00 pm

      Jazakallah Brother Ilyas Lahoz, I admire how you brought Evidence and Proof.

    25. Stupid June 12th, 2008 at 11:04 pm

      Hey Musa, why don’t you show us a picture of Nuh Ha Meem Keller, becuase I haven’t seen one.

    26. Salam June 13th, 2008 at 1:05 am

      Al-Albani was not a scholar according to the scholars of Ahl Sunnah. I encourage everyone to read Albani & his friends by Shaykh Gibril Haddad, and you can also read this article: http://www.masud.co.uk/ISLAM/nuh/masudq6.htm
      For my Arab brothers, I can only ask you to seek knowledge. One of my friends worked at a school in Jordan with scholars where they looked at the mistakes of Albani. For ie. Albani would do something called “tahqeeq” (to make true) for hadith books of Imam Ahmad, Abu Dawud, Imam Nawawi, etc, … if anything did not agree with his “Aqeedah”, then he would find any slight weakness in the hadith and declare it daif, and therefore get rid of it. However, there are many other hadiths that had the same “weakness”, but b/c it did not disagree with his Aqeedah, he left it in. My friend told me there were hundreds of examples of this. However, this is only for my Arab brothers (or those who can read/understand Arabic). When you see any hadith book with “tahqeeq” on it & signed by Albani, then know that this is not the original text, it has been tampered with. Unfortunately, these “new” books are being taught in Saudi Arabia, and the students are not even aware of the “original” books written by the great hadith scholars themselves. Another great example is that Imam Nawawi wrote a book and an entire chapter is dedicated on the merits of visiting the grave of the Prophet (peace be upon him), Albani took this entire chapter out! Did Imam Nawawi have the wrong Aqeedah? Did all these scholars have the wrong Aqeedah? It amazes me when these people say Taqleed is wrong, we should follow the Quran & Sunnah, yet still they are doing taqleed of Albani! May Allah guide us on the straight path, Ameen.

    27. Redwan June 13th, 2008 at 12:14 pm

      jazakallahu khairan

    28. Rasheed Moore June 13th, 2008 at 3:25 pm

      @ MR,

      Thanks for sharing that Rahmatullah 3ala Shaykh Al Albaani Mujtahidul 3asr….

    29. biryani June 13th, 2008 at 4:55 pm

      amazing that out of this article all anyone got out of it was a debate over photographs…… sign of the times, may Allah help us all.

    30. M June 13th, 2008 at 5:44 pm

      Asalamu Alaykum,

      I want to ask the brothers who rudely respond to people on this message board – why did you read this article for? What peaked your interest? This question is more of a general question for anyone studying anything in islam. Any topic, whether it be Aqidah, Fiqh, History or anything. What is your purpose? What is your goal and benefit?

      Rude bahavior and responses, mocking people by naming yourself “stupid” or being sarcastic to be demeaning to someone are not proper or acceptable ways to communicate with your muslims brothers or sisters. This type of behavior will earn punishment in the afterlife. Aren’t there too many things you are already trying to tackle and battle in your life to avoid punishment from Almighty Allah in the hereafter? Isn’t it difficult enough to be kind to your parents 24/7, to respect elders, to lower your graze, to make sure you are eating prohibited things, to make it to the masjid for salah? Really, what in the world is the purpose of being rude to someone else – ESPECIALLY when he is on an internet blog? I mean it wasn’t like you were saving the deen from some misguidance or something.

      Back to my original question – what is the purpose of you wanting to learn about Sh. Al Albani? Is it for entertainment? Is it to gain more knowledge and evidence to fight other muslims who disagree with his methodologies? Is it just to read an article on the internet? Are you just bored?

      Or is it for the RIGHT reason? To find the Haqq – to better yourself as a person so you can try to please Almighty Allah. Do you read about the Shaykh to find out how you can please Almighty Allah and to find out how honorable and noble and respectable and amazing it is to be in the Ummah of the greatest Prophet of the Prophets? Do you read articles and discuss them to learn how to practice your religion better?

      It doesn’t seem like it to me. It seems like you are just a bunch of american kids, who get attached to things like cults and frats, and sports team for no sincere reasons. You join a group and you love to bash other groups because thats part of being in a group. You feel like you are a part of “something”. Except, the “something” you chose was religion. And you are doing a great disservice to it by just rudely replying to another brother. The brother asked everyone on the forum to take off the photo because it might be wrong. Allah knows best, but the photo is not necessary is it? And even if you don’ t agree with taking it off, do you understand that by calling yourself “stupid” and mocking or just completely being insincere to the other brother just makes you look like an american schooled brat? (that is not meant to be offensive, its meant to awaken you and me both).

      You know why, when people, especially mothers and shaykhs say that the internet is the devil, they are COMPLETELY RIGHT. (And just to let you know one thing, I am a 25 year old, professional who was raised in the U.S. and I have experienced all different types of cultures and ways of life here in the states. – I’m not son outsider) – I have never seen the benefit outway the harm it causes. Ask yourself one thing – have any of you been immune to the pornography of the internet? From the waste of time? From the laziness it causes you? Lets put pornography to the side, how about images that are not XXX but still are haraam to see. And NOW, what is the internet doing? It is giving muslims a forum where it is easier than EVER for them to backbite, curse and be rude to their other muslims brothers. Just like guided missles make it so easy for Bush and his boys to destroy countries while sitting back and relaxing, the internet just opened up the door for muslims to just be horrible to each other and to misguide each other, but in the safe comfort of their homes.

      The more I run into things like this, the more I feel like just completely logging off, although I don’t want to because of so many of the lectures and information available on the net. But the thing is, the more I think about it, the more I am coming closer to the realization that I would be a better muslim if I was just off of it.

      And one extra comment, a brother made a comment about how we have access to more knowledge these days because back then scholars had to travel hundreds of miles, just to satisfy their DOUBTS about certain hadiths.
      The thing is, we DON’t have more knowledge. Because having access to all this information DIDN’t make us smarter. The test to this fact is that, IF someone told you you would have to travel on a horse or a camel for two weeks to read ONE hadith, would you do it?
      Knowledge is not just in books. It is much more deeper than this.

      Allah knows best.

    31. Mostafa June 13th, 2008 at 10:33 pm

      Jazakallah Khair Brother M fro that reality check akhi.

      As Salam ALykum

    32. Ellicott Citi'ite June 14th, 2008 at 2:30 am

      Iboo, I think Sheikh Al Albani traveled beyond Syrian border so he must have possessed a passport. That might be the reason we have his pictures. Allahu Alam

      Somebody said that Sheikh Al Albaani wasn’t a scholar. Uhmmm sorry to pinch your nerve here but when did GF Haddad become a scholar? Was it when he mastered the art of sufisticated trance, and that now he can intoxicate himself and teach others how to, also? Do you have to enter a local Naqshbandi cult squadron to achieve such eminence?
      And Nuh Hameem Keller, bravo! Let me give him an applaud *clap clap*

      May be it didn’t occur to you that many scholars declare hadiths weak which conflict with their principles. I think we can agree that even in Bukhari and Muslim, scholars had tough time not disregarding authenticity of reporters. Just to be fair, let’s allow room for mistakes and not predict their intentions to misguide ignorant Muslims, like you and I.

      Just to settle the confusion, I don’t aspire any one particular outlook and method because it is what’s ‘in’. And I certainly do not find excuses for scholars’ mistakes because frankly, my discernment or deduction of text is quite inept. Face it, children, your criticism is thus disingenuous and deceitful too. What do you think, you can fool someone by highlighting an article from a website belonging to chauvinist Masud La-La Khan Al-Pathaani? Nice try! “Oh! The scholars of Ahle Sunnat wal Jamat!” Oh yeah, baby, it’s gotta be true! It has the Indo-Pak twist on the tongue (you know, the “Ahle sunnat”). Oh and how about this one, “Rahmatullah alayhi”? Yeah, so if I hear these pronunciations, I’m on the right track. And you know that the other side has their own version.

      Ok, look, I don’t mean to lash out at anyone, but this is bizzare now! We are being categorized in the media as representatives of a certain movement or ‘brand’ of Islam? Now once we are isolated from one another, we too are then attacked. Who would have thought ISNA and CAir would be of a concern to politicians and bigots? Pshhht I didn’t. The point is, yes, we differ in theological segments. I for one am not in par with Asharis and Maturidis’ aqeedah. I don’t agree with their aqeedah. But I think the current climate should at least sharpen the interaction outside of the overindulged debates.

      Final point, if I see next Kabbani wannabe on FoxNews, something is going to happen. No, it’s not a warning, dear friends. It is a threat! 😉 Arrrrrgggggg!

      Forgive me for causing any anger, please. I am your disgruntled brother in Islam. :)

    33. Yaser June 14th, 2008 at 6:27 pm

      I am not sure what is going on here…nobody has discussed the contents.

      I believe the best thing is to respect the position of the person’s photo opinion at hand – and I believe Shaykh Albani did not permit photos but as pointed out – I’m sure passport photos and ID photos have been taken of him – as with many shuyukh who’s photos exist almost only due to that reason. So I will kindly ask if you could take his photo down, if they want to see it they can go to the original PDF or website.

      As for Albani’s status, of course he was a scholar, but one that generally has been differed upon greatly by many scholars of our time. Some believed him to be the mujaddid, others the reverse and all in between. For now why don’t we all just read and try to increase in a little bit of knowledge and adab in shaa` Allah. The article is interesting in many ways but instead we’ve mostly resorted to mudslinging rather than discussing. Apologies in advance if I’ve offended you personally, not my intention. Wallahu a’lamu wa hasbiyahu wa ni’mal wakeel.

    34. Salam June 15th, 2008 at 12:01 am

      Ellicott Citi’ite: Please be careful with your sarcasm, please discuss facts only. Everything I said was facts stated by the scholars of Islam. THERE ARE MANY CORRUPTED SO-CALLED SUFIS, but for your own sake, be respectful towards the Ulama (like Sh. Haddad & Sh. Nuh). If you have “facts” against them by “scholars”, then please share them. For you to say that you disagree with both the Ashari & the Maturidi schools of Aqeedah, is really a deep sign of ignorance, and Imam Malik said the greatest response to ignorance is silence. I thought bros/sis who posted on this blog has “some” type of “basic” knowledge, but if ignorant comments like this persist, then I definitely believe this is a waste of time. MR, no offence, I like many of your posts.

      Yaser: Albani cannot be a scholar if he was self-taught, plain & simple. The secret of this deen is “isnad”.

      M: you are right, scholars in the past had more knowledge. Imam Bukhari said himself “I did not include the majority of Sahih hadiths in this collection”. So the bros/sis who have more knowledge today, what hadiths are they using???

      May Allah guide all of us, Ameen.

    35. Yaser June 15th, 2008 at 12:44 am

      I should have been more specific – Scholar not in the Islamic sense of an unbroken chain back to the Prophet, upon him blessings and peace, [although how to judge ‘scholarship’ sometimes can be fuzzy considering one can have many ijazas (in this day and age due to how some ijazas are sometimes given [of course this is not in reference to real authentic traditional scholars) and still be dumb as a doornail and also have only a few and be something of great benefit – and in this regard Shaykh Albani has (although it is debatable) at least an ‘ammi ijaza on narrating ahadith but this does not amount to what we look for in scholars] but in the sense he had some knowledge. Just as I respect some non-Muslims who have done amazing work in various fields of knowledge that were unexplored or unsynthesized before (or synthesized in a different fashion). In that fashion, I respect his work and only Allah knows our intentions.

      As for where I take my knowledge to get to Allah, one must rely on authentic solid scholars with sound beliefs, reliance upon the established schools, tawfiq from Allah in their own path and an unbroken chain back to the most beloved of creation, upon him blessings and peace. I hope that makes it clear and this isn’t a rebuttal as it is a clarification. wallahu a’lamu wa hasbiyahu wa ni’mal wakeel.

    36. Yaser June 15th, 2008 at 12:45 am

      Oh and ameen to the du’aa sidi.

    37. Ellicott Citi'ite June 15th, 2008 at 7:02 am

      Salam salam salam: and some of the praiseworthy comments made by scholars are what? Are they not scholars of Islam?
      I have no problem with the scholars. I only like to point out the way some of their admirers exaggerate their status, and I particularly am astonished by the way their words are taken as revelation of truth.

      I tried to make a point by using Ashari/Maturidi mumbo jumbo in a context of my concern, and you have to judge my ignorance. Great! So the people who take another direction are mindless and need to get some knowledge… from SunniPath… otherwise they’re doomed. Thanks man, I appreciate that.

      I think MR, although I don’t know him personally, seems so different than an average guy like myself. It is overwhelming to maintain brotherhood if people, despeite differences, don’t compromise to a point where they can’t trust one another. It becomes a growing animosity. To top it all, it is usually the young bloods who become ardently opposed to all opposite understandings. I mean, why don’t we at least shake hands, study independently, and yet respect one another and care for one another? I am frustrated by the personal vendetta some of us consistently hold. I especially don’t understand how we, amateurs, include ourselves to this type of discussion while the scholars themselves who devote their lives to learning and educating about Islam have done for centuries?

      Anyway, my thought.

      And don’t blame MR’s blog only because one guy appears to be ‘degrading’ scholars’ well reputed positions.

      Take it easy, amigo.

    38. brother June 23rd, 2008 at 4:49 pm

      Very prominent scholars have written books on the mistakes of al-Abani (rahmatullahi alayh) in hadith. Yet, some refer to him as muhaddith al-asr, which baffles me.

    39. Muslim August 26th, 2008 at 8:27 am

      **** Saudi Arabia and Everyone it produces. And **** whoever recognizes the Saudi Kingdom as ANY religions authority in Islam. And **** their fake *** scholars who are destroying Islam.

    40. Mostafa August 26th, 2008 at 11:23 am

      Muslim, watch your language buddy. And EVERY scholar makes mistakes! They are not infallable. Every scholar makes mistakes including the 4 great imams, and ESPECIALLY Al-Ghazzali, ibn taymiyya, and so on. If you look down to the reality, and Wallahi I’m not trying to offend anyone, but the people that really attack him are Todays “Sufis.” This is because his Manhaj in Salafiyah. And this hatred of Arabia and Salafi creed has a lot to do with the Salafis’ referring to todays “sufis” as Ahlul-Bid’a. I am not stating my opinion, because I am not anywhere close to having the right to an opinion in Islamic issues, but this conflict is evident from the Surface.

    41. Mehdi September 26th, 2008 at 1:57 pm

      There are many factual mistakes here, especialy in Shaykh Al-Albanis supposed relation to Juhaymaan, the idiot. Shaykh Muqbil was falsly accused as being part of that group for which he had held a gruge against the Saudi establishment until the last few years of his life.

      The polemic against Wahhabism in this article is unfounded. Even though there are certain fiqh issues where salafis differ, its unreasonable to think that there is any blind following of the Hanbali madhab. There are numerous fatwa by the “Wahhabi” shuyookh that show them differing from the Hanbali stance.

      Good article, but need alot of fact checking and less bias.

    42. Muhammad December 26th, 2008 at 12:37 pm

      Vcd: Sufi Ki Toubah
      Description: Ex Sufi repented from Sufism by reading books of Sheikh Nasir-ud-deen Albani and Imam Ibn-Taymiyaa Rahimullah and relates his story Inshallah will try to upload complete video
      Version: vcd Filesize: 12.40 MB

      http://www.ahlulhadeeth.net/php/modules.php?name=Downloads&d_op=getit&lid=645

    43. Muhammad December 26th, 2008 at 12:41 pm
    44. Muhammad December 26th, 2008 at 12:42 pm

    45. Husam Mohd Khalil February 26th, 2009 at 8:34 am

      Assalamu’alaikum.

      Well, I tend to follow Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi who says that drawing pictures of living things with a soul is haram, but using a camera is only capturing an image and thus not haram. His reasoning, at least from what I could understand, is that it is drawing which is the problem.

      Also, cameras don’t need to be pressed to take pictures. High tech cameras can be set to take your own picture without any need to have someone hold the camera.

      My question is why some scholars are allowing videotape/videodisc/DVD, etc, but not paper photographs?

      I really *do not understand* why videos are allowed, because I am an amateur photographer. I know that films produce 24 to 30 photographs per second, but this is doubled to create “motion blur” so it appears to be in motion and not so “jerky” if you know what I mean.

      When we watch a video, it is basically a series of pictures being run past our eyes at at rate of 24 to 30 frames (still shots/pictures) per second, to give us the *illusion* that this is motion.

      What is specifically wrong with photographs on paper?

      Not to disparage the scholars as I respect Salafi scholars too and take their views into account, but how can they say paper is bad but not video?

      Videos are produced from a film negative which is a form of waxy paper. The image is captured by the film camera and the negative picks this up. Chemicals are used to cause the image to appear on the negative, then paper is used and the image is projected onto special photographic paper.
      It’s amazing how this works, and really it does not require any human intervention. It just works. It’s as simple as that. It is a series of chemical reactions.

      Anyway, more to the point: Film negatives are on waxy paper and then run through a film negative scanner to produce the final product on DVD.

      I think the problem is more along the lines of drawing (making some effort) with your hands, attempting to imitate (if drawing a picture of your wife/husband/children) for example, or people that don’t exist, such as what a lot of artists do.

      They are using their pen and pencil to try to draw images.

      A camera is just like a human eye. All it does it capture what is there exactly as we see it. There is no human intervention except mixing chemicals to develop the picture. There’s *no drawing* involved.

      I guess some think that it depends on how closely you are trying to copy the creation. But if this was the case, then videotapes and DVDs would be haram, because DVDs, especially high definition (HD-DVD or Blu-ray) digital videos as they make everything look as if it were live (not prerecorded) and 99.9% exactly what the person looks like.

      In other words, the high resolution of videos today, especially DVD and high definition DVD are much clearer than photographic film still images (prints) on photographic paper.

      To me this is an “either or” issue. You can’t have both. Either photography (films, videotapes, prints) is all halal, or it is all haram.

      I really cannot respect a scholar who says that videos are halal but prints (i.e. paper pictures you have in your photo album) are not because the video is not “tangible”. lol. No disrespect, but this does not make any sense to me.

      Why is paper so bad? Is it because artists use paper to draw things?

      Artists often make films too and use video to accomplish new art, instead of just drawing on paper (canvas).

      Qaradawi just makes more sense to me. As he said, the camera is only capturing an image. No drawing is going on. His explanation is very easy to understand.

      Be aware though, that video often contains images of women without hijab (ever watch the evening news and see the female news anchor?). That’s just one example. There are tons of images of women and men improperly dressed on TV. Even if you watch only a sermon made by a scholar on video, it is still 30 frames (pictures) per second.

      If video is halal but prints are haram, then what about someone who scans all his film negatives and prints onto DVD discs and then decides to watch them on his TV because it is no longer “tangible”.

      See what I mean? C’mon guys.

      Film or digital, it makes no difference. This reminds me of the Jews arguing over what type of cow they were supposed to slaughter. They kept asking more detailed questions until Allah (SWT) became angry with them.

      Isn’t it the _intent_ that matters? Film or digital, it is a picture. Doesn’t matter. I’m a photographer. Surely what I say holds some sway (not as a fatwa) because I have knowledge about the photographic process.

      I think it is cheating to scan all your images onto discs and then view them on your computer or DVD player and then say “Wow, magically these images are now all halal…because they are digitized!”. Paper prints being haram but digitizing them somehow removes the sin from them. lol.

      C’mon. I’m being serious here. Some scholar somewhere is playing around with the rules.

      It is either all haram or all halal. And if it is halal, then photos of vulgar scenes would undoubtedly be haram. Anything halal can be abused to the point it can become haram or produce things which are haram. Photography may be halal, but pornography is not. Grapes are halal, but wine is not.

      Sorry for the long-winded post and my English. I haven’t lived in the West for 8 years, so my English grammar has gone downhill as I am surrounded by non-English speakers.

      Wassalam,
      Husam Mohd. Khalil

    46. Husam Mohd Khalil February 26th, 2009 at 10:15 am

      Assalamu’alaikum again. By the way, Mujahideen Ryder, you have a great forum here for freedom of expression. This is good to have a healthy debate. We realize we are not scholars and we are not making fatwas. Discussing about matters that may have implications under Shari’a law is definitely far better than idle talk.

      I copied all of Yusuf Qaradawi’s “The Lawful and the Prohibited in Islam” to a Microsoft Word 2007 file (.docx) archived on my computer, so if you would like a free copy, please let me know here and I will give it to you insha’Allah.

      I read more about what Sheikh Qaradawi was trying to say. He says it is the intent that matters more than anything.

      If someone takes a picture of something other than an animal or a human, such as a rock, but yet he has the intent of trying to compete with Allah (swt) in His creation or make the like of it, then that person is a kaffir (disbeliever) already, even before he takes the picture. See?

      I wish I could post everything Qaradawi had to say as he explained it far better than I could ever hope to. He cleared up the issue, but I think if I posted it here it would be far too long. If you would like to dedicated an entire blog post to his section on photography and drawings, then please let me know and I can email you the file I have where he gives his fatwa.

      I certainly don’t have any intention of trying to compete against Allah (swt). Astaghfirullah hal adzim that anyone could ever think such an evil thought! Not to forget that is impossible anyway to compete with Allah (swt). Only a true fool who is mesmerized by the arrogant (and loser) Shaitaan/Iblis would have intent like that.

      I bet most artists don’t even know about this prohibition in some places. They probably think they are just making art and have no evil intent.

      All I do is take pictures so I will have memories of my family and friends and also of my garden. I do it to keep a journal of my life..to have something to look at and enjoy from time to time. I have no ill will or evil intentions by taking snapshots of my family.

      Only Allah (swt) can create as He is the Creator of us all. He has a magnificent creation and it is nice to take pictures of it.

      We can’t create anything. In fact, even when we build something, for example, a car or a house, we did not “create” that car or house. Far from it. We only utilized the knowledge that Allah (swt) gave us. Knowledge that was with Allah (swt) and only because of Allah (swt) we are given that knowledge. Then we design something if He permits us, but it is not creating anything.

      Allah (swt) is the only Creator. I think that those taking pictures or videos and thinking they are creating what Allah (swt) can create or competing with Him, are crazy people who will burn in the Hellfire. I don’t know that such people exist, but there are idiots everywhere in this world.

      As an amateur photographer, I have no ill will or bad intention.

      May Allah (swt) forgive me for anything wrong I have done or anything wrong I have said or if it has offended anyone. I am truly sorry if anything I have said offended anyone.

      May Allah (swt) forgive us all and accept all the Muslims into Jannah. Insha’Allah.

      Amin.

      Take care my brothers and sisters.

      Wassalam,
      Husam

    47. Abu Firdaws June 1st, 2009 at 9:49 pm

      Wa Alaykum Salaam,

      The Ulema of Ahlus-Sunnah Wal-Jamaa’ah were always known to be hated by ignorant ones.

      They have so much hatred for the Shaykh raheemahullah?

      Yet whenever they read a hadeeth which is not in the Saheehayn (Bukhari and Muslim) and then they see “Al-Albanee declared it Saheeh” they put their trust in it.

      Critize YOURSELF before others and call YOURSELF to account before YOUR brought to account.

      People with no knowledge insulting the Mashaykh from behind a computer screen!!!

      And ask the real people of knowledge about affairs of the Deen, not Qardawee, who says the Christians are our brothers!!!!!!!

      May Allaah grant Muhammad Naasir-ud-Deen Al-Albaanee peace and comfort while he is in his grave and allow him to be submitted into Jannatul-Firdaws. Ameen.

      May Allaah forgive the Muslimeen for our minor and major sins and for what our tongue utters, our actions and beliefs and guide us and the Muslim Rulers towards the Siraatul-Mustaqeem. Ameen.

      Wassalaamu Alaykum,

    48. dawud farquhar March 11th, 2010 at 5:36 am

      I think the term “wahabi” has become abused, the term “salafi” has been manipulated and used for various agendas.

      The correct term for those who call to the way of the early generations (in all their affairs) is “Ahl al Hadeeth”. The legitimacy of the Ahl al Hadeeth is one that is intertwined with Islam itself. From the time of the Sahabah til the present, they are the single most maslak that follows right way.

    49. Mohammad March 11th, 2010 at 10:39 pm

      wow!!!! this article has so many incorrect statments it is amazing. It is like the shaytaan that lies 100 lies and has one truth hid amongst them so when the person hears that one truth he thinks everything is said is true. Not sure about the credentials of the author but if I were you I would not trust him let alone post his articles.

    50. Abdurrasool May 30th, 2010 at 7:39 am

      re. dawud farquhar –
      brother it is not right for you to say that the ahl-e-hadith are the only group which follows the right way. this in itself is arrogance. i bet you do not know everything regarding hadeeth and quran.

      anyway – salaam – i better get of this forum as it strictly for ahl-e-hadith.
      may allah give us more ulamaa, like shaikh albaanee (RH) who was a great servant of islam.

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