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Clearly it is established that the claims that the Qur'an (and a Shari'ah) 'replaces' what went before it and 'remains' as 'Allah's Eternally Comprehensible Witness' are not only untrue but that they are a total distortion.

As we consider thoughtfully what we have just seen, the question comes to mind as to how Islam carried on portraying itself as 'a revealed religion'. What was able to convince the people that despite all the obvious contradictions and inconsistencies they should consider this as a 'revealed religion'?

It is not that this became sorted out in a hurry. But over a period of time it came to be accepted that the legal scholars had established a 'reconciling' factor. By making a ruling claimed to be based on one Sunnah in particular, Shafi'i managed to include as broad a spectrum of 'Believers' as possible under the guise of being 'without error'. 

Through such methods the confusion found among the community by those who were trying to document 'the true form of the religion' was made to appear to be 'the religion as it was intended'.

"In The Community As A Whole There Is No Error Concerning The Meaning Of The Qur'an And Sunnah"?

We note that Shafi'i came to a conclusion (ruling) over the content of the Hadith which 

speaks of the '4 righteous generations' for which it is obvious that he had no basis. 

In this conclusion he went far beyond the Hadith's simple assertion and created a 'covering theology' which the later followers of Islam came to love. Through this all the conflicting perceptions of the Qur'an and Sunnah were declared acceptable as 'Islam'.1 His assertion was as follows: 

"(15) Imam Shafi'i (Rahimahullah) stated in al-Rasala (p. 286-87):
"And Sufyan (also) told us from `Abd Allah ibn Abi Labid from... from his father who said: `Umar ibn al-Khattab (Allah be pleased with him) made a speech at al-Jabiya in which he said: The Apostle of God (Peace be upon him) stood among us by an order from God, as I am now standing among you, and said: Believe my Companions, then those who succeed them (the Successors), and after that those who succeed the Successors; but after them untruthfulness will prevail when people will swear (in support of their saying) without having been asked to swear, and will testify without having been asked to testify. Only those who seek the pleasure of Paradise will follow the community, for the devil can pursue one person but stands far away from two. ...'" (see also Musnad

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al-Shafi'i, vol. 2, pg. 187; and vol. 1, pg. 112-13, 176-81). Imam Shafi'i said in conclusion to this Hadith: "He who holds what the Muslim community (Jama'ah) holds shall be regarded as following the community, and he who holds differently shall be regarded as opposing the community he was ordered to follow. So the error comes from separation; but in the community as a whole there is no error concerning the meaning of the Qur'an, the Sunnah, and the analogy (qiyas)."
(Al-Albani Unveiled, p. 140f; emphasis added)

We noticed earlier that Shafi'i had been taught by Malik at Medina, had learned from the Hanafites at Baghdad, and had finally retired to Egypt where he taught and wrote out his thoughts. He was not ignorant of the divergences among the people and the inability to reconcile them through the Qur'an and Sunnah in a normal fashion. 

As we noted before:

"This careful articulation of the methods of resolving conflicting source-texts, so vital to the accurate derivation of the Shariah from the revealed sources, was primarily the work of Imam al-Shafi'i. Confronted by the confusion and disagreement among the jurists of his day, and determined to lay down a consistent methodology which would enable a fiqh to be established in which the possibility of error was excluded as far as was humanly possible, Shafi'i wrote his brilliant Risala (Treatise on Islamic jurisprudence). His ideas were soon taken up, in varying ways, by jurists of the other major traditions of law; and today they are fundamental to the formal application of the Shariah." (Internet article; UNDERSTANDING THE FOUR MADHHABS the problem with anti-madhhabism [revised edition] ©Abdal-Hakim Murad; 

It is obvious, then, that Shafi'i's conclusion "but in the community as a whole there is no error concerning the meaning of the Qur'an, the Sunnah, and the analogy (qiyas)", was something arrived at with the 'solution' of the problem condition of Islam in mind. It was certainly not something based upon the content of the Hadith, the Sunnah he should have been looking for, but only that he was so trying to find a way to give life to Islam that he went over the top. 

One can perceive clearly that his desire was to create from this Hadith sufficient reason ('Proof') to accept the religion as 'forever valid'. 

However, one cannot find any rational reason to do so since it is obvious that several things speak against it's validity.

First, the very aim of that i - to declare the testimony of the first 3 generations as 'trustworthy' - has not been able to be fulfilled in Islam since the testimony of the first 3 generations conflict! It was these 3 generations who the Hadith intended to point the people to as a 'testimony' yet their testimony is in a shambles!

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Secondly, in Shafi'i's declaration the 'authority' was shifted from 'the Proof of the Sunnah' to 'Divine liberality' and 'the community's present practice' - without the blink of any eye!! 

And look at the consequences! Because he had established such a precedent the confusion that existed was able to be rationalised as 'the true and allowed religion' instead of as 'error' and 'disunity' without a Sunnah or Qur'an to back it up!! 

Thirdly, despite Safi'i's 'ruling' declaring "but in the community as a whole there is no error concerning the meaning of ... the Sunnah", it is admitted that later scholars of the Madhabs tried to correct what they saw as errors in the scholarly assessments of their predecessors - men like Shafi'i on the Qur'an and Sunnah. They even rejected some of the Sunnah they had earlier accepted as being the true ones. Finally on this third point, not only did the Madhabs disagree over which were the true Sunnah, but on the interpretation of them and the Qur'an as well.

Perhaps this is another application of what our Madhabi scholar asserted "they did not explain away the nass unless there was a necessity to do so". Again the 'necessity' is obvious.

'Error' was out of necessity 'redefined' to be 'something outside of the community', not 'something which deviated from its intended meaning.' 

If the frame of mind found among modern followers of Islam was also that of these early scholars, then we can believe that Shafi'i was simply a scholar who is determined to make things 'work', and so he found an easy 'remedy'. He interpreted the nass so that Islam could be conceived of as encompassing everything, called it a 'ruling according to the Divine Shari'ah' - and all was well. This seems to be what Shafi'i did - and what Islam did in the centuries to follow.

"The Main Body" Reinterpreted As "The Scholars"?

However, despite Shafi'i's ruling we cannot ignore the fact that other early-collected Ahadith declare only that people were to adhere to the "main body". We note three Ahadith from Ahmad and others:

"184 Mua'sh b. Jabal reported Allah's Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) as saying: Verily the satan is the wolf of a man just as the wolf is (the enemy) of flock. He seizes the solitary sheep going astray from the flock or going aside from the flock, so avoid the branching paths and it is essential for you to remain along with the community. (Ahmad)" (Mishkat, Saddiqui, Vol. 1, p. 116; underlining added)

Again we read:

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"185 Abu Dharr reported Allah's Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) as saying: He who separates from the main body (of Ummah) by even a hand's breadth from the community he throws off Islam from his neck. (Ahmad and Abu Dawud)" (Mishkat, Saddiqui, Vol. 1, p. 117; underlining added)

We find Shafi'i with a more extensive version of another Hadith also transmitted by Ahmad:

"228 Ibn Mas'ud reported Allah's Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) as saying: May Allah be well pleased with the servant who heard our words, remembered them, retained them well and then passed them on to others. And how many scholars are there who are scholars of the religion without having understanding of it and how many scholars of religion convey knowledge to those who are more well versed as compared to them. There are three things on account of which no rancour enters a Muslim heart, the sincerity of purpose for Allah's sake, seeking goodness for the Muslims and sticking to their main body, for their prayers encompass them all around. (Shafi'i reported it and also Baihaqi in Al-Madkhal) 

229 Ahmad, Tirmidhi, Abu Dawud, Ibn Majah, Darimi transmitted it from Zaid b. Thabit but Tirmidhi and Abu Dawud did not mention: There are three things on account of which no rancour enters to the end." (Mishkat, Saddiqui, Vol. 1, p. 138, 139; underlining added)

Yet, what group do we think the content of these would have meant in their original context? Surely it could only have meant that group perceived to be clinging closely to Muhammad. This is upheld by another Hadith which states: 

"171 'Abdullah b. 'Amr reported Allah's Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) as saying: There would exactly befall my Ummah (all those) evils which had befallen the people of Israel, so much so that ...if the people of Israel were fragmented into seventy-two sects my Ummah would be fragmented into seventy-three sects. All of them would be in Hell Fire except one sect. They (the companions) said: Allah's Messenger, which is that? Whereupon he said: It is the one to which I and my Companions belong." (Tirmidhi)" (Mishkat, Saddiqui, Vol. 1, p. 111; underlining added)

One cannot perceive anything in the wording of this Hadith that should encourage a person of later generations to ignore the fact that the people had lost track of what the Qur'an (and Sunnah) let alone what they were 'supposed' to be telling them, and that at that point they could collectively simply consider themselves 'part of the Ummah' and so all right - but have no certified 'truth'! 

In fact, we note concerning this Hadith that one of our Shi'ah scholars (A Probe...,al-Askari, p. 15-18) has cited fourteen Ahadith in the Sunni sources which declare that the followers of Islam would 'follow the deeds of the Jews an Christians in bitter and sweet deeds' and then he used these

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to assert that it meant "alterations to the Books"!! Of course he wanted to 'preserve' the Qur'an from the effects of this and so he asserted 'but the Qur'an is protected and so they only tampered with the Sunnah' - but we know different. 

It is obvious that the content of this type of Hadith can as easily be used to assert 'overall corruption by the followers of Islam' since that is what Islam asserts were the 'bitter deeds' of the Jews and Christians!!

The truth is that in the above mentioned Hadith we find only a warning that there will be many sects in Islam and only one will not "be in Hell Fire"! This again is interpreted in many ways!

While Islamic writers wooing the West to Islam assert that means the Sunnis (the Ahl as-Sunnah), a Hanafite acquaintance has assured me that his is 'the sect' that is intended here!! The Madhabs thus actually perceive themselves as the ones who fulfil this Hadith and as actively vying with one another to be 'the one sect'!!

But, with the scholars adding new Sunnah from collections like Sunnan Ibn Maja, and interpreting what is or is not 'the truth' for Islam, it is not surprising, that later they gradually had to confuse the issue of exactly what the "main body" referred to was, as the following from ibn Maja shows:

"174 It is reported on the same authority [i.e. Ibn 'Umar] that Allah's Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) said: Follow the great mass for he who kept himself away from it in fact would be thrown in Hell Fire. (Ibn Majah)" (Mishkat, Saddiqui, p. 112; underlining added)

The footnote attached to the words "great mass" shows the need to be cautious as it is a declaration of the scholars broadening their own powers(!):

"1. There is a good deal of difference of opinion as to what the term SawAd Azam implies. The overwhelming majority of the scholars is of the view that As-SawAd al-Azam means the largest group of the learned scholars and pious persons whose opinions are held in high esteem in Islam." (p. 113; bold added)

We can understand why there would be such "difference of opinion". However, surely no-one would be so naive as to follow scholars ('popes', 'priests and monks') who think all the confusion of Islam can simply be swept under the carpet and called 'a revelation' by re-channelling all authority to themselves and then making obedience to such a declaration as that mentioned above binding on all future generations? 

No wonder the Islamic writers are always wagging their fingers at the 'Popes' and saying 'we're not like them!' - to draw attention away from the true origins of 'Islam' - their own 'popes' the ulema!

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"To Them, Sunnah Is Only A Name"

Most likely it is because of rulings like Shafi'i's which went far beyond the Hadith's content, that we find it is easy for increasing numbers in modern Islam to accept the Salafiyyah accusation of corruption attributed to the scholars:

"Al-Khalaf (Later Generations) Judged the Sunnah Instead of Judging With the Sunnah. 
After the righteous generations, came generations that ignored the Sunnah of the prophet and lost their grip on it. This happened because later generations adopted rules and basics that some people of Al-Kalam (philosophers), and some scholars of Fiqh and Usul (those who establish general rules comprised of numerous minor rules) adopted. As a result of these adopted rules, the Sunnah, or at least a major part of it, was ignored and doubted. A part of the Sunnah was even rejected because this part was in opposition to the general rules that Al-Khalaf established!! The Ayah was changed: Instead of referring to the Sunnah for judgement, they did the opposite. They referred the Sunnah to their own rules and regulations for judgment!! Whenever their rules agreed, they accepted the Sunnah. Otherwise, the Sunnah was rejected!! As a result, the strong ties between Muslims, from among Al-Khalaf, and the Sunnah, were severed. ...
This disease, that we explained above, has become widespread in the Muslim world today. It even touched the majority of religious magazines and books. Very few refer to the Qur'an and the Sunnah when issuing Fatwas. The majority depend on one of the four Mathaheb (schools of thought of Abu Hanifah, Malik, Ash-Shafi'i and Ahmad)." (Hadith is Proof, al-Albani, p. 33f; underlining added)

And in the same publication the charge is made against the followers of the Madhabs:

"To them, Sunnah is only a name, and something else (Qiyas and opinions) is obeyed; Sunnah has the reputation and people speak in its name, but the obeyed order or prohibition is for something else (Qiyas and opinions)." (The Hadith is Proof, al-Albani p. 43) 

The Salafiyyah thus charge that the Madhabis have not been dispensing a 'revealed Law', but were establishing 'rules' which disagreed with the Sunnah and consequently they have actually rejected the Sunnah. This is certainly justifiable from the examples we have seen. 

One can understand how people would feel the religion was no longer 'original' and that Shafi'i's ruling is no more than an attempt at creating 'safety' ['Divine Protection'] for the religion.

The four Madhabs are thus declared to be 'corrupt' bodies of teaching yet the ulema have declared them 'the only vehicles through which the Shari`ah is allowed to be disseminated'.

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Somebody has to be wrong! Yet, to distract the followers from this obvious fact, our one Madhabi writer tries to plead that Islam's 'lost' and 'corrupt' condition is "not wilful corruption" - the kind of thing the Jews and Christians have been accused of:

"So please ask yourselves, "Were these great scholars the enemies of Islam (Allah forbid), who imitated the ways of corrupt Christians and Jews?" I say, never could these madhabs have ever existed if the well known scholars did not spread them; is this not the basic and fundamental truth?" (Al-Albani Unveiled, p.96; emphasis added)

In real terms though, since Islam itself has suffered the loss of what it claims is 'Allah's eternal witness against mankind' this accusation about the Jews and the Christians is in reality another attempt at 'slight of mind'. If Islam is corrupt, what does it matter whether or not others are or are not 'corrupt'? The fact is that there is 'PROOF' that Islam is unable to produce what it claims is its 'eternally incorruptible replacement'! 

For this reason one finds confusion:

" Today in some Arab capitals, especially where the indigenous tradition of orthodox scholarship has been weakened, it is common to see young Arabs filling their homes with every hadith collection they can lay their hands upon, and poring over them in the apparent belief that they are less likely to misinterpret this vast and complex literature than Imam al-Shafi'i, Imam Ahmad, and the other great Imams. This irresponsible approach, although still not widespread, is predictably opening the door to sharply divergent opinions, which have seriously damaged the unity, credibility and effectiveness of the Islamic movement, and provoked sharp arguments over issues settled by the great Imams over a thousand years ago. It is common now to see young activists prowling the mosques, criticising other worshippers for what they believe to be defects in their worship, even when their victims are following the verdicts of some of the great Imams of Islam. The unpleasant, Pharisaic atmosphere generated by this activity has the effect of discouraging many less committed Muslims from attending the mosque at all. No-one now recalls the view of the early ulama, which was that Muslims should tolerate divergent interpretations of the Sunnah as long as these interpretations have been held by reputable scholars. As Sufyan al-Thawri said: If you see a man doing something over which there is a debate among the scholars, and which you yourself believe to be forbidden, you should not forbid him from doing it. The alternative to this policy is, of course, a disunity and rancour which will poison and cripple the Muslim community from within." (Internet article; UNDERSTANDING THE FOUR MADHHABS the problem with anti-madhhabism [revised edition] ©Abdal-Hakim Murad; 

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''Ijtihad' & "My Ummah Will Not Agree Upon Error & Allah's Hand Is Over The Group"

Islam admits also that two vitally important beliefs about its 'eternal acceptability' are founded upon other 'unauthenticated' Hadith.

Firstly, we find that its acceptance of the practice of i, the very cornerstone of its existence [being the sole authority for allowing the Companion discrepancies over the 'Commands and Prohibitions' to be eliminated, to say nothing of 'allowing' the later derivation of conflicting perceptions of the Qur'an from the Sunnah] is based upon a Hadith which scholars of Hadith do not authenticate, while scholars of Law accept it! This is the same 'Traditionists' vs 'Legislators' we noted earlier. 

Secondly, and equally as great in terms of its enormous confidence in a 'Protected' state, is the "Allah's hand is over the group" belief, something based on the content of a late-accepted Hadith

We find these both mentioned in the following passage which also enlightens us more concerning the 'Traditionists' vs 'Legislators' perspectives:2

"Ibn Hajar `Asqalani says: "Among the characteristics that necessitate acceptance is for scholars of Sacred Law to have concurred on applying implications of a Hadith. Such a Hadith is acceptable, even obligatory to apply, as a number of the Imams of fundamentals of Islam (usul) have explicitly stated. Shafi`i, for example, says, 'What I have said about water when its taste, odour, and colour change, has been related from the Prophet (Allah bless and give him peace) through a channel of transmission that Hadith scholars do not confirm the like of, but it is a position of all scholars without a dissenting voice I know of.' And he said of the Hadith, 'There is no bequest to an estate division heir' - 'Scholars of Hadith do not corroborate it, but all scholars receive it with acceptance and apply it.'" 
Ibn al-Qayyim, in his I`lam al-muwaqqi'in, when discussing the Hadith of Mu'adh about judgements (Shaykh Abdal Wakil Durubi: in which the Prophet (Allah bless and give him peace) asked Mu'adh ibn Jabal when dispatching him to Yemen how he would judge, to which Mu'adh replied that he would judge first by the Kor'an, then the Sunnah, and then by his own reasoning (ijtihad)), says, "Legal scholars accept it and employ it as evidence, from which we learn that they hold it to be rigorously authenticated (sahih), just as we learn of the Prophet's saying (Allah bless and give him peace):
(1) "'There is no bequest to an estate division heir.'
(2) "'[The Hadith about the sea,] Its water is purifying.'
(3) "'When buyer and seller differ about the price they have agreed upon and the merchandise still exists, each swears [Shayk Nuh Ali Salman: that his side of the story is correct] and [Shaykh Nuh Ali Salman: they cannot agree] they cancel the sale.'

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(4) "'The killer's extended family is responsible for the indemnity.'
"Even if these Hadiths are unauthenticated in their chains of transmission, since virtually all scholars have related them, the Hadith's authenticity, which they accept, eliminates their need to verify the channels of transmission, and so it is too with the Hadith of Mu`adh: the fact that all scholars have adduced it as evidence eliminates the need for their checking its means of transmission."
And Ibn `Abd al-Barr says in al-Istidhar, concerning Tirmidhi's having related that Bukhari said of the Hadith of the sea "Its water is purifying" that it was rigorously authenticated (sahih) - "Hadith scholars do not consider Hadiths with the like of its chain of transmission to be rigorously authenticated (sahih), though I hold it to be so, because scholars have received it with acceptance" (al-Isaba fi nusra al-Khulafa ' al-Rashidin wa al-Sahaba, 11. 8-9).
(Shaykh Abdal Wakil Durubi:) Among the primary textual evidence for the admissibility of such Hadiths is the word of the Prophet (Allah bless and give him peace): "Allah will never make my Community concur upon misguidance, and Allah's hand is over the group." (This is sahih Hadith related by Imam al-Hakim)."" (Al-Albani Unveiled, p. 74f; underlining added)
Elsewhere our Madhabi writer notes that the original collector of this last Hadith is not al-Hakim (d. 405 A.H.):
(17) Imam al-Tirmidhi (4/2167) reported on the authority of Ibn Umar (Allah be pleased with him) from the Prophet (Allah bless and give him peace), who said: "Verily my Ummah would not agree upon error and Allah's hand is over the group and whoever dissents from them departs to Hell." (see also Mishkat, 1/173)
Imam al-Azizib (d. 1070/1660; Rahimahullah) quoted Imam al-Munawi's (d. 1031/1622; Rahimahullah) commentary to the last Hadith in his al-Siraj al-munir sharh al-Jami al-saghir (3.449), as follows:-
Allah's hand is over the group
(al-Azizi:) Munawi says, 'Meaning his protection and preservation of them, signifying that the collectivity of the people of Islam are in Allah's fold, so be also in Allah's shelter, in the midst of them, and do not separate yourselves from them." The rest of the Hadith, according to the one who first recorded it (Tirmidhi), is:-

and whoever descents from them departs to hell. 

Meaning that whoever diverges from the overwhelming majority concerning what is lawful or unlawful and on which the Community does not differ has slipped off the path of guidance and this will lead him to hell." (vide: The Reliance of the traveller, p. 25)" (Al-Albani Unveiled, p. 140f; emphasis added)

Thus: (1) A late collected, and late accepted Sunnah (as it came from both at-Tirmidhi's and al-Hakim's collections) became "the primary textual evidence" for the acceptance of unauthenticated Ahadith

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in general for the purpose of establishing the religion! 

(2) Furthermore, the Hadith "Allah will never make my Community concur upon misguidance, and Allah's hand is over the group." - now declared to be 'sahih' by the denial of the need for verification by the 'Legislators' - is used to declare that the existing behaviour of the followers of Islam must 'of necessity' be authentic! 

(3) The same late Hadith is "among the primary textual evidence" for accepting the 'unauthenticated' Hadith which says that 'Ijtihad was endorsed by Muhammad. 

(4) And finally, the same 'evidence' is used to the declaration that he who leaves the main fold of Islam "departs to Hell"!

Yet this late-accepted Hadith itself proposes to be the sole 'textual evidence' for 

something as immense as "Allah will never make my Community concur upon misguidance and Allah's hand is over the group" - the safekeeping (or rather acceptance) of all the beliefs of the Ummah, the main body of the Islamic community!! 

Not bad for one new Sunnah. No wonder they also wanted the 1339 new ones3 presented by Sunnan Ibn Maja! What could they do with all that!


1/ The author of Al-Albani Unveiled cites a large number of Ahadith which make general remarks only concerning how in times of duress the followers of Islam should stick to the main body of Islam. From this he tries to extend the belief system by using the late accepted Hadith "Allah's hand is over the group" as an 'extension' of the early belief. This is not a reality.

2/ The citations are from a section introduced by a paragraph stating: "The following has been derived from the English translation of Umdat al-Salik wa Uddat al-Nasik (The Reliance of the Traveller and Tools of the Worshipper, by Shaykh Ahmad ibn Naqib al-Misri [d. 769/1368; Rahimahullah], trans. by Noah Ha Mim Keller W48.0, p.954-957)." (p. 72). 

The writer of Al-Albani Unveiled used abbreviations instead of the names of certain shaykhs; we have used the names which he abbreviates by letters, A= Shaykh Abdal Wakil Durubi, and N= Shaykh Nuh Ali Salman.

3/ See citation above from Criticism of Hadith..., p. 139.

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