Sheikh Al-Albani’s Works Reply To Stephan Lacroix' Revolutionary Lie

Sheikh Al-Albani’s Works Reply To Stephan Lacroix' Revolutionary Lie

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Unformatted text preview: Sheikh Al-Albani's Works Reply to Stephane Lacroix' Revolutionary Lie ! Throughout its four year rule under Nicolas Sarkozy, France has not only witnessed an outburst of Islamophobia in its mass media and on the political scene, even its most `prestigious' universities have been contaminated with the new century's plague. Sarkozysm has produced a large number of self proclaimed `Islam experts' who are openly waging a campaign aimed at discrediting the French Muslim community. Western articles on Islam and its various groups have clearly revealed that any ignoramus can thrust himself headlong into the complex field of Islamic sects and their religious differences without having the slightest idea of what they're writing about. While studying the works of these so-called islamologists and pseudo Middle East specialists, one can only conclude that the overwhelming majority of them are incompetent charlatans exploiting valuable research money from universities like Cambridge, Oxford and Sciences-Po by issuing amateurish articles that often contain self-invented stories. In France, an elite of liberal fundamentalists1 have engaged upon a media vendetta against Muslims who refuse to assimilate to French culture and abide by its norms. Often exploiting the ignorance of the masses, these new generation orientalists have succeeded in demonizing a specific part of France's Muslim community, describing them in French mainstream media as Islamists, fanatics or fundamentalists. Reporting on Islam and its sects has become a "profit guaranteed" business; but amazingly, almost every single one of these `Islam experts' is unable to perform routine academic research in the original Arabic books and studies which are the prime source for anyone who wishes to study the origins, influence and development of contemporary Islamic sects. There is probably no other domain of specialization in academic circles where illiteracy of the primal language on which its study is based doesn't seem to pose a problem with becoming an "expert" in the field. Moreover, their incapacity to perform basic or proper research doesn't seem to bother them in the least. The militants of French Islamophobia mainly recycle the old ambiguities of their orientalist predecessors, adding their own personal touch and setting out farfetched argumentations. They are well aware that they can write down fairytale articles without having to either justify themselves for it, or take into consideration the feelings of the Muslims they write about as they have become France's new second-class citizens. Today we're taking a closer look into the works of Stephane Lacroix, who is a well-known and fervent opponent of the Saudi Royal family and of French Salafis, since they all refuse to blindly comply with French liberalism and Western values. As many Sciences-Po teachers, Mister Lacroix has a problem with Islam, and even more with those practicing it. In his articles, he often portrays Muslims who put their religion into practice as intellectually retarded people who have left behind rational thinking. On the other hand, he describes Arab liberals who have blindly assimilated themselves into Western ideals as very courageous and daring intellectuals. While scrutinizing the writings of Stephane Lacroix, one regrettably comes to the conclusion that this teaching assistant at Science Po is an imposter and a blatant liar who feels no qualms about fabricating stories in order to sustain his distorted Islamophobic ideologies... 1 Amongst the most active French Islamophobes we count Jacques Myard, Andr Gerin, Jean-Marie Le Pen, Bernard Rougier, Caroline Forrest, George Freche, Jean-Franois Cop, Bernard Henry Lvy, Alain Finkielkraut, Siham Habchi... DEFENDING THE DEEN SERIES (1) PAGE 2 WWW.TAALIB.COM Sheikh Al-Albani's Works Reply to Stephane Lacroix' Revolutionary Lie The Revenge of Sheikh Naser El-Din Al-Albani Mohammed Ibn Nouh Nadjati, better known as Sheikh Mohammed Naser El-Din al-Albani was undoubtedly one of the most cherished Islamic scholars of the 20th century. As a young boy, he fled Albania due to the religious oppression of the brutal dictator Ahmed Zogolli2 in much the same way French Muslims who wish to openly practice their religion are currently emigrating to Muslim countries to escape Sarkozy's anti-Muslim policies3. Al-Albani's family chose Syria to be their new homeland and very soon Mohammed Naser El-Din buried himself in the study of hadith sciences. In Damascus, he eventually became known for his tremendous zeal in the field of hadith research to such a degree that the administration of the Thahiriya-library placed a private room at the sheikh's disposal and granted him a key to the library in which he spent most of his time4. Al-Albani, who became a world recognized scholar in the field of hadith sciences, later traveled to Saudi Arabia, where he taught at the esteemed Medina University, and eventually to Jordan where he finally died in the midst of his books doing that which was more precious to him: researching hadith. As al-Albani passed away, Muslims from all over the world lost one of their greatest men of knowledge and thousands of mourners turned out for the funeral of this exceptional scholar. During his life, Sheikh al-Albani was harassed by numerous Islamophobes, polytheists and sectarian fanatics for calling to the prophetic tradition and exposing the false teachings of deviant Islamic sects. In his books, al-Albani spent quite some time defending himself against the numerous false allegations he had to cope with and which, as he stated on many occasions, took a lot of his precious time: "It has now been more than half a century that we notice the slander taking on a new form every year. Each year something repeats itself, something is again made up (against me) and none of these people ever come to me directly..."5 Regrettably, the slander against Sheikh al-Albani also continued after his death. A few years ago, an attempt was made to indirectly link him to the cruel 1979 Muhammed El Qahtani attack of the Mecca Mosque6. Others portrayed this significant scholar as someone refusing independent reasoning, and in France the Albanian scholar has been viciously libeled in a critique written by Stephane Lacroix entitled "Al-Albani's Revolutionary Approach to Hadith"7. The works of Sheikh al-Albani provide sufficient material to unravel the slanderous accusations in Lacroix' article. This reply shall therefore mainly be confined to the words of Sheikh al-Albani which, even after his death, still prove to be a strong refutation of islamophobic articles written by the bigoted proponents of French liberalism. 2 This Albanian dictator, known to have his political rivals assassinated, pursued a policy of close collaboration with Fascist Italy. His royal dictatorship was characterized by a combination of despotism and Western reform in which he practiced oppressive policies adopting Western-style civil, commercial, and penal codes. 3 French citizens adhering to Salafiya also suffer persecution for their beliefs abroad. In Mauritania, Egypt and Yemen, French Salafis are being jailed and tortured on a regular basis by the local state security department on request of the French authorities. The Saudi newspaper `Al-Hayat' is the only newspaper to have addressed the issue so far. 4 See Official Biography of Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani: www.alalbany.net/albany_serah.php 5 Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, "As-Salafiya wal Madhahib" [Salafiya and Madhabs], p.103 6 See `Part 1' of the "Thomas Hegghammer under the Sledgehammer"-series (forthcoming). 7 See ISIM Review 21, p.6-7 DEFENDING THE DEEN SERIES (1) PAGE 3 WWW.TAALIB.COM Sheikh Al-Albani's Works Reply to Stephane Lacroix' Revolutionary Lie Origins of Salafism...? As most Islamophobes, Mister Lacroix labels orthodox Islam as `Wahhabism', thus portraying it to be an Islamic sect based on the teachings of Sheikh Muhammad Abdel-Wahhab. In his article, he described `Wahhabism' as: "...the discourse produced and upheld by the official Saudi religious establishment." In the first instance, Stephane Lacroix considers `Wahhabism' a discourse produced by the official Saudi religious establishment, He then makes a distinction with Salafism and states: "As opposed to Wahhabism, Salafism refers here to all the hybridations that have taken place since the 1960s between the teachings of Muhammad bin `Abdel-Wahhab and other Islamic schools of thought." So `Wahhabism' is a school of thought and Salafism took place in the 1960's...very interesting. This reminds me of an earth-shattering statement made by Dounia Bouzar8 when invited to speak in front of the 2008 fact-finding mission9 set up to deprive French Muslim women of their right to dress according to their religion. In her declaration, she stated, that the niqab10 was an innovation that was forced upon women by certain Saudi scholars at the beginning of the 20th century! Islamophobia and the documented history of Islam clearly don't go together and this explains why Islamophobes are unable to place Salafism in a historical context. In several of his articles, Mr. Lacroix uses the term `Wahhabi jurisprudence'. For him to come up with a newly invented madhab which is not mentioned in a single book of Islamic jurisprudence is putting his reputation of `Islam-researcher' at stake. It becomes clear that due to their lack of serious study and thorough research, many `Middle East and Islam historians' are confusing their readers even more when attempting to describe Salafism. Therefore, let us leave behind Stephane and Dounia in liberal-wonderland and see what the true specialists from within the Islamic sciences have to say on the issue. In his works, Sheikh al-Albani made it clear on many occasions that the origins of Salafiya historically go way back: "In past and present, many scholars have used the nomination of `The call to Salafiya'. Some might call it the Call of those who advocate the prophetic Sunnah, others may name it the Call of Ahl El Hadith. And these are all nominations that indicate a single meaning. A lot of people in the Muslim community, today as well in the past, have often been unmindful of it; or maybe they were aware of it but didn't foster it in the way it deserved to be."11 Indeed, the affiliation to Salafiya is very ancient; it is widely known and can be traced back in the works of the earliest scholars as well as in present-day Islamic literature. But if Salafism doesn't refer to Lacroix' imaginary hybrids that took place since the 1960s, then what is it? Sheikh al-Albani explains it in a simple and very clear manner: "Salafiya is Islam in its correct understanding; it invites people to hold on to their original Islamic belief and doesn't single out one group without the other. In its call to the Quran and the prophetic tradition, it doesn't distinguish between the cultivated person and the illiterate, between the educated person and the uneducated"12 8 Dounia Bouzar is a former youth leader who became `Islam-specialist' thanks to her experience with French Suburban juvenile delinquents. 9 In June 2009 the French National Assembly appointed an assembly of 32 MPs to a six-month fact-finding mission which turned into a modern day inquisition Tribunal in which a group of fanatic xenophobes demonized niqab-wearing women in order to justify an anti-niqab law. Not a single Muslima was asked to defend her choice of wearing of the niqab. 10 The niqab is what is currently being described as the Islamic full-body veil 11 Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, "Ousoul El Da'wa El Salafiya" [Principles in the Call of Salafiya], p. 13 12 Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, "Shubah Hawl Al-Salafiya" [Ambiguities about Salafiya] p.130 DEFENDING THE DEEN SERIES (1) PAGE 4 WWW.TAALIB.COM Sheikh Al-Albani's Works Reply to Stephane Lacroix' Revolutionary Lie Indeed, Salafiya is nothing new. Al-Albani explains the misconception of many who consider that the origins Salafism go back to Sheikh Muhammad Ibn Adel-Wahhab or Ibn Taymiya: "Some might say that the call of Salafism is new, or a development, and that the first person who affiliated himself to it was Sheikh al-Islam Ibn Taymiya and after him Ibn Abdel-Wahhab in the present era. And this conception is entirely wrong. Rather, it is a fabrication since the call of Salafism is the correct original call of Islam itself..."13 Salafiya and Sectarianism Salafism differs with Islamic sects in the fact that it refers back to the understanding of the prophet's companions and major scholars in the first three centuries after the revelation14: "The Call of Salafiya is based upon the knowledge of the Quran and the Sunnah following the understanding of the pious predecessors who were present during the (first) three centuries and of whom the prophet has testified their righteousness in the famous hadith: `The best of people are those of my generation, then the generation following them and then the generation after them'. The four Imams15 and the other scholars who lived before, during or a little after their time all belong to the great scholars of the pious predecessors. And they are the ones we follow in our call to Islam."16 Hence, Salafiya can simply be defined as orthodoxy or as Islam in its original form since it is based on the understanding of the people who were closest to the period of revelation. Ever since the three first centuries passed, Islamic sects have increased in number and have developed their own specific way of understanding the Quran and the prophetic Sunnah. But, as Sheikh al-Albani explains, all Islamic sects will still always claim their adherence to the two sources of Islamic revelation: "The characteristic of this group of people (Ahl El Sunnah) is not restricted to their adherence to the application of the Quran and Sunnah because not a single of those sects, in past and present, can ever generally deny adhering to the Quran and the Sunnah...and therefore I say that all the Islamic groups and sects mentioned by the prophet or to whom he referred in the (previous) hadith, all of them agree upon the fact that they adhere to the Quran and the Sunnah"17 There indeed seems to be no difference amongst sects as far as their attachment to the Quran and Sunnah. However, they greatly differ in their comprehension: "In today's society we live with many groups which all pretend adherence to the religion of Islam and all believe that Islam is based upon the Quran and the Sunnah. However, the vast majority of them do not agree on following the way of the companions and those who followed them in righteousness..."18 Typical of Islamic sects is that they follow their founder in their understanding of Islam; Salafis, on the other hand, do not only base their comprehension on the most authentic of Islamic sources, they also study the works of the scholars in the three first generations so as to attain the proper and original understanding of their religion. They don't blindly follow these scholars but use their works in order to attain a correct understanding of Islam: 13 14 15 16 17 18 Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, "Durus Lil Sheikh Nasir Al-Din Al-Albani" (Shabaka Al-Islamiya) Several Islamic sects also adhere to Salafiya, but their actions nullify their claim of correct adherence. Imam Ahmed, Shafi'i, Malek and Abou Hanifa. Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, "Shubah Hawl Al-Salafiya" [Ambiguities about Salafiya] p.113 Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, "Ousoul El Da'wa El Salafiya" [Principles in the Call of Salafiya], p.18 Ibid, p.35 DEFENDING THE DEEN SERIES (1) PAGE 5 WWW.TAALIB.COM Sheikh Al-Albani's Works Reply to Stephane Lacroix' Revolutionary Lie "We consider the great scholars as being a means and we see them as intermediaries who convey knowledge of Allah and his prophet. We do not follow them for who they are. Moreover, we do not consider following them as one of our objectives since the only intention is to know what the prophet was upon. Meaning that the objective is to know what has been revealed to him in the Quran or what he has clarified in his Sunnah."19 According to al-Albani, all these different ways of understanding the two religious sources have led to the Muslim community being divided as it is today: "Therefore I say that the lack in returning to the understanding, the ideas and views of our pious predecessors, constitutes the main factor in the division of the Muslims into various `Madhabs' and different sects."20 Al-Albani repeatedly stated that the reason why the Islamic community needs to return to the understanding of the three first generations is because they are the ones who conveyed Islam to the rest of the world in its correct and original form21. He understood that, in order to avoid division and friction in the Muslim Ummah, it is essential to have one united way of understanding Islam. It needs to be stressed that this way of understanding Islam has always been present and can be found in the works of the famous Islamic scholars throughout the past fourteen centuries. Returning to the understanding of the three first generations is indeed nothing new and Sheikh al-Albani often referred back to the statement of Imam Malik in which he said: "What hasn't been part of the religion in the first period, will not be part of the religion today, and the later generations of our community will only be rectified by that which has rectified the first generations"22. Al-Albani saw that this was the only way the Muslim community would remove itself from its wretched situation. But if Salafiya is as old as the religion of Islam itself, or indeed the original form of the religion itself, then why are Muslims so unfamiliar with it these days? Sheikh al-Albani explains that the causes primarily lay in the fact that so many are blindly following a particular school of thought: "The reason for this is that our community underwent many centuries in which a solidified form of `Madhabic' blindly following got embedded into the hearts of the people who affiliate themselves with Ahl El-Sunnah."23 Sheikh al-Albani often complained about the widespread ignorance amongst his fellow Muslims which occurred after having neglected their religion and its study. He stated that many have fallen into deep ignorance to such an extent that they are no longer affected while reading the Quran or studying the source texts of prophetic Sunnah.24 It needs to be said that ignorance in the Muslim society always had pernicious and historic consequences and even facilitated Western colonization of the Muslim world. Sheikh al-Albani explained that it is not permissible for Muslims to be satisfied with their situation in which they are unaware of their fundamental religious beliefs. Following the teachings in the Quran and Sunnah, al-Albani always asserted that today's ignorance within the Muslim community is what is keeping them in humiliation.25 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, "Shubah Hawl Al-Salafiya" [Ambiguities about Salafiya] p.120 Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, "Ousoul El Da'wa El Salafiya" [Principles in the Call of Salafiya], p.35 Ibid, p.46 Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, "Al-Fatawa Al-Manhadjihya Lil-Albany" [Al-Abani's Fatawa on Manhadj issues] p.85 Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, "Ousoul El Da'wa El Salafiya" [Principles in the Call of Salafiya], p. 14 Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, "As-Salafiya wal Madhahib" [Salafiya and Madhabs], p.101 Ibid, p.106 DEFENDING THE DEEN SERIES (1) PAGE 6 WWW.TAALIB.COM Sheikh Al-Albani's Works Reply to Stephane Lacroix' Revolutionary Lie Debunking the Wahhabi Myth Stephane Lacroix would have done a much better job in writing his article on Sheikh al-Albani had he at least systematically read some of his books. He probably would've avoided all the trouble in falsely defining Salafiya and certainly wouldn't have attributed the statements of Sheikh al-Albani relating to `Wahhabism' which Lacroix describes as an Islamic sect founded by Muhammad Ibn Abdel-Wahhab and his heirs: "Wahhabism initially refers to the religious tradition developed over the centuries by the ulama of the official Saudi religious establishment founded by the heirs of Muhammad Ibn Abdel-Wahhab." If `Wahhabism' is a religious tradition developed over the centuries after Sheikh Ibn Abdel-Wahhab, then it would be interesting to know in what way it is different from the original teachings of Islam conveyed by the prophet and in which aspects it contradicts the Quran and prophetic Sunnah. Islamophobes have always refused to address this issue and are accused by many of labeling orthodox Islam as `Wahhabism' as it allows them to obliquely denigrate the Muslim belief without having to mention the term Islam. It isn't surprising that the modern origins of the term Wahhabism26 can be traced back to the insulting poetry of the Deobandee sect in Pakistan and India in the beginning of the 20th century27. Sheikh al-Albani went even further back in history and mentioned that the term `Wahhabi' was used as a propaganda tool by the Ottomans: "The use of this term was part of the politics conducted by the Ottoman Empire after a man of knowledge and reform named Mohamed Ibn Abdel Wahhab started to call the people in some parts of the Najd region"28 The use of `Wahhabism' was later adopted within the bigoted works of Islamophobes and modern-day orientalists. It has become a very popular term in the today's anti-Islam propaganda machine. Some use the term to describe Takfiris, those who wrongly declare others disbelievers without using the guidelines of Islam, others use it in general to label bearded men and niqab-wearing women, and a few even consider it to be a political system. Every `islamologist' has his personal way of describing and understanding what they call `Wahhabism'. In his article, Stephane Lacroix begins by portraying al-Albani as a Wahhabi and states: "Common knowledge considers Sheikh Nasir al-Din al-Albani to be a staunch proponent of Wahhabism." Rather, it is common knowledge that this statement is simply preposterous. Sheikh al-Albani, and all other Sunni scholars don't use the term Wahhabi and see it to be an offense. In his well-known explication of `Tahawiya' Sheikh al-Albani mentions: "And amongst the prime evidences that prove the Sheikh (Al-Tahawi) to be a salafi, is that his enemies call him a `Wahhabi'. This term is a premade accusation directed towards anyone who follows the path of the predecessors, calls to the prophetic tradition and rejects blind following."29 In his `Silsila Al-Ahadith Al-Da'ifa', Sheikh al-Albani mentions a fragment of a letter dating back to 1959 in which one of his opponents described him as follows: 26 Previously, the term Wahhabiya had already been used in the 9th century to describe the followers of the Moroccan Kharidji Abdel Wahhab Ibn Abdel Rahmen Ibn Rustum who lead the Ibadiya sect in Morocco. 27 The enmity of the Deobandi-sect towards Sheikh Abdel-Wahhab lies in the fact that the sheikh established that Islam forbids the worshipping of graves, trees etc. 28 Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, "Fatawa Al Sheikh Al-Albani wa Muqaranatuha bi Fatawa Al-Ulema" [Sheikh Al-Albani's Fatwa's compared to those of other scholars], p. 12 29 Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, "Sharh Aqida Al-Tahawiya" [Explanation of the Creed of Tahawi], p.53 DEFENDING THE DEEN SERIES (1) PAGE 7 WWW.TAALIB.COM Sheikh Al-Albani's Works Reply to Stephane Lacroix' Revolutionary Lie "Nasir El Din al-Albani then arrived in Damascus where he learned Arabic and began studying the science of Hadith in which he gained mastery. He greatly benefitted from a library that contained precious Hadith manuscripts. Last year, when I paid a visit to this library, he was the one who provided me the books I requested and he informed of what they dealt with. And he, Sheikh al-Albani, is a wicked man and a pure Wahhabi Taymi...And if it were not for his vicious madhab and stubbornness, he would've been one of the unique people in his time in the field of Hadith science, despite the fact that he is still running a watch repair store..."30 Sheikh al-Albani and all other orthodox scholars of Islam have regularly been named Wahhabi's by their enemies. Equally, in his book "Tahdhir al-Sajid Min Ittigadh al-Qubur Masajid", al-Albani illustrated how some of today's Orientalists describe the people of the Sunnah as Wahhabi's.31 The Swindle of a French Neo-Orientalist Charlatan... A little further on, Stephane Lacroix attributes the following statement to Sheikh al-Albani: "More importantly, al-Albani's claim of being more faithful to the spirit of Wahhabism than `Abdel-Wahhab himself made the former's ideas very popular among Salafi youth." First of all, Salafi youth totally reject the term Wahhabi making it impossible for this statement to be true. Secondly, Sheikh al-Albani never pronounced these words and anyone who is acquainted with the writings of Sheikh al-Albani knows that this could never have been one of his claims. So where did Mister Lacroix get this statement from? Since he never mentioned any references of Sheikh al-Albani's statements, I personally contacted him to ask where he found this statement. I repeated my demand several times. Unfortunately, Stephane Lacroix stubbornly refused to provide his sources. I therefore performed additional research into the works of al-Albani and came across one of his statements in which he complains about some grotesque slurs of Ahmed al-Ghomari32 that were aimed at him. Sheikh al-Albani concluded this section in his book by mentioning the following denigrating statement of al-Ghomari: "The one who considers Sheikh al-Albani to be a Wahhabi is wrong, since he is more partial to the spirit of Wahhabism than `Abdel-Wahhab himself and more stubborn..."33 Here, Sheikh al-Albani explains that one of his biggest opponents accuses him of being `more partial to the spirit of Wahhabism than `Abdel-Wahhab himself '. Mister Lacroix intentionally distorted this statement and presented it as being a claim of al-Albani himself. Our French `researcher' simply took an insult of El Ghomari which he then attributed to Sheikh al-Albani to persuade the reader that Sheikh al-Albani considered himself a Wahhabi. The reason Lacroix didn't reply to my request for a reference of Sheikh al-Albani's statement is because he deliberately made up a lie which he then used to trick the reader into believing that Salafi youth were fond of Sheikh al-Albani because he called himself more faithful to the spirit of Wahhabism than `Abdel-Wahhab himself. In France, apparently, if you steal from one author it is called plagiarism, if you steal from many, it is research and if you make up statements the author never said, it becomes "specialization". But why would Stephane Lacroix tell such a flat-out lie? Simply because he is obsessed with the term `Wahhabism' and without depicting al-Albani as a self-declared Wahhabi, the core message in his article would become meaningless and his imaginary conjectures would all fall apart. 30 Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, "Silsila Al-Ahadith Al-Da'ifa Wal Madou'a Wa Atharouha Al-Sayyi' Fil Umma" [Collection of weak or invented hadiths and their evil effects on the Muslim community] 4/6 31 Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, "Tahdhir Al-Sajid Min Ittigadh El-Qubur Masajid" [Warning the Muslims against Turning the Graves into Mosques], p. 102 32 Moroccan Sheikh who, according to Al-Albani, leaned towards the Shia-ideology. See Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, "Silsila Al Ahadith Al-Da'ifa...", Vol.6, p.212 33 Ibid, Vol.3, p. 15 DEFENDING THE DEEN SERIES (1) PAGE 8 WWW.TAALIB.COM Sheikh Al-Albani's Works Reply to Stephane Lacroix' Revolutionary Lie One might wonder what Sheikh al-Albani's reaction would've been to this French assistant teacher who dared to call him a staunch proponent of Wahhabism and attributed the insults of the Sheikh's enemies to the Sheikh himself. It is important to understand that the scholars of Saudi Arabia fully agree with al-Albani in his disapproval of the use of the term `Wahhabism'. For instance, the previous Mufti of the Saudi Kingdom, Sheikh Adbel-Aziz Bin Baz, said that the term `Wahhabi' is only used by the biased and ignorant opponents of Islam34. Sheikh Saleh al-Fawzan, another major Saudi scholar, explicitly stated that `Wahhabism' doesn't exist due to the fact that Sheikh Muhammad Ibn Abdel-Wahhab didn't come up with anything of his own as to attribute this call to him. As a result, it is clear that Wahhabism is merely an invented surname to alienate people from the works of Muhammad Ibn Abdel-Wahhab and to portray him as someone contradicting the previous imams and having his own madhab35. Wahhabism has today become a very popular myth in Islamophobic circles. One of the apparent reasons why islamologists are making up these new terms unknown to Muslim scholars is simply because they aren't scholastically able to carry out comparative studies between the ideologies of Islamic sects on one hand and the historic works of Muslim scholars in past and present on the other. History shows that Muhammad Ibn Abdel-Wahhab didn't come with a new religious tradition as many still seem to think. To understand the reality of Muhammad Ibn Abdel-Wahhab's call to Islam, one first needs to go back in history and study the situation of the Arabian Peninsula in his time. The Call of Muhammad Ibn Abdel-Wahhab al-Najdi Prior to the call of Sheikh Muhammad Ibn Abdel-Wahhab, the Najd-region found itself in a state of widespread ignorance of some of Islam's fundamental teachings. These were Arabia's `Dark Ages', as many of Islam's core beliefs were scarcely taught and illiteracy widely spread. People worshipped graves, statues and trees, they used the dead as intermediaries between them and their Lord and as a whole, their situation was in many ways very similar to the original pre-Islamic period of paganism36. It seems islamologists deliberately refuse to comment on this era and if they do, they might describe it as `richly cultural'. This of course, constitutes an easy way to simply ignore the fabulous achievements of Sheikh Muhammad Ibn AbdelWahhab on an educational, structural and political level. Yet, it is in this historical context that Ibn Abdel-Wahhab revived the prophetic Sunnah, brought back the original teachings of Islam and started educating his people. Creed, jurisprudence, hadith, tafsir and all other religious sciences were revived and taught again and greatly benefited the community37. Just like Imam Ahmed, Ibn Taymiya and others, Ibn AbdelWahhab was one of Islam's revivers who strived to get his community back to the correct practice and understanding of Islam. Al-Albani mentions: "It was Sheikh Al-Islam Muhammad Ibn Abdel-Wahhab who then revived this call in Najd, at a time the region found itself in a state of tenebrous wickedness with paganism being predominant throughout the country. The region became enlightened due to the teachings of Sheikh Al-Islam who he benefited from by reading his books... "38 Looking at the these developments in the Najd-region within a historical context, the call of Ibn Abdel-Wahhab appears to be no more than an extension of the long succession of Ahl El Sunnah scholars starting out from the prophet's companions, the major scholars in the three first generations, the four Imams, the Muhaddithin and then continuing on through Ibn Taymiya and his students and all other major Islamic scholars39. The teachings of all these scholars stand upon the same 34 Abdel Aziz Ibn Baz, "Fatawa Al-Sheikh Ibn Baz" [Fatwa collection of Sheikh Ibn Baz], 3/1306 35 See: http://www.alfawzan.ws/AlFawzan/FatawaSearch/tabid/70/Default.aspx?PageID=2838 36 Madiha Darwish, "Tarigh Al-Dawal Al-Sa'udiya" [History of the Saudi State] 37 Dr. Abdel-Aziz Ibn Muhammad El-Hujaylan, "Al-Fiqh Wal-Fuqaha Fil-Mamlaka Al-Arabiya Al-Sa'udiya..." [Jurisprudence and Fiqh-Scholars in The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia], p.37 38 Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, "Haqiqatou Al-Da'wa Al-Salafiya" [The Reality of the Call to Salafiya] p.156 39 Saleh Ibn Muhammad Aal El-Sheikh, "Al-Minhaj El-Fiqhi Li A'imma El-Da'wa El-Salafiya Fi Najd" [The Jurisprudence-Methodology of the DEFENDING THE DEEN SERIES (1) PAGE 9 WWW.TAALIB.COM Sheikh Al-Albani's Works Reply to Stephane Lacroix' Revolutionary Lie fundamental ideological foundation to such a degree that several Western `Islam specialists' have described scholars like Ibn Taymiya and Al-Souyouti as Wahhabis despite Sheikh Ibn Abdel-Wahhab being born several centuries after them40! If the call to Islam of all these scholars is identified as Wahhabism, then the prophet Muhammad and his companions may as well be called Wahhabis. Nevertheless, Mister Lacroix has another way of seeing things. In his article, he builds up a conspiracy theory by claiming that Sheikh al-Albani got into trouble with the Saudi scholars because he supposedly questioned their methodological foundations: "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." Here we see that as Lacroix' scholastic hallucinations or deceptions get more intense, Sheikh al-Albani is being portrayed as having challenged the position of the Saudi scholars by questioning their foundations. Were they afraid that this Albanian scholar was going to become the Mufti of Saudi Arabia, the minister of religious affairs, or did they see him as a potential heir to the throne? In any case, let's have a closer look at the methodological foundations Mister Lacroix is talking about. Sheikh Muhammad Ibn Abdel-Wahhab, the successive Najd-scholars as well as all other Saudi scholars didn't have independent principles; rather, they merely followed the well-known methodological foundations41 cherished by the Companions, the four Imams and the scholars of Ahl El Sunnah in the past42. These happen to be exactly the same principles Sheikh al-Albani followed. `Wahhabi' Foundations... The achievements of Sheikh Ibn Abdel-Wahhab will not be understood by those who haven't studied the basic teachings of Islam since they are unable to analyze the works of the Islamic scholars in every succeeding century afterwards in a comparative manner. This leads many simple-minded analysts to consider the works of Sheikh Ibn Abdel-Wahhab to be a new religion which they then label as `wahhabism'. Due to their disregard for a comprehensive study of the texts of revelation, they see the call of Ibn Abdel-Wahhab as being a religious tradition that wasn't based on the major Islamic references but on some other later books. Stephane Lacroix mentions that: "From its inception, Wahhabism has established itself as a religious tradition--at the core of which laid a number of key books, both in creed and law." Mister Lacroix is depicting the legacy of Ibn Abdel-Wahhab as a new independent religious tradition based on his own works and those of his heirs. Sheikh Ibn Abdel-Wahhab was definitely a reformer who revived the Islamic sciences in the Arabian Peninsula, but most of the books that lay at the core of the call of the Saudi scholars, from the time of Sheikh Muhammad Ibn Abdel-Wahhab until this very day, are works that date back prior to the time of Ibn Abdel-Wahhab. As a whole, the scholars of Najd benefited from the Ahl El Hadith scholars43 as can easily be deducted from their writings, fatwas and statements44. Major Salafi Scholars in Najd], p. 93 40 Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, "Silsila Al Ahadith Al-Sahiha" [Collection of Correct Hadiths], 8/1 41 These foundations are: the Quran and Sunnah, the Consensus, Rulings of the Compagnions and juristic reasoning deduction by analogy, See Saleh Ibn Muhammad Aal El-Sheikh, "Al-Minhaj El-Fiqhi...", p.252-268 42 Saleh Ibn Muhammad Aal El-Sheikh, "Al-Minhaj El-Fiqhi Li A'imma El-Da'wa El-Salafiya Fi Najd" [The Jurisprudence-Methodology of the Major Salafi Scholars in Najd], p. 251-256 43 Shafi'i, Malek, Ahmed, Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawud, El-Tirmidhi, al-Awza'i, al-Darimi, al-Dar al-Qutni, al-Bayhaqi, Ibn Hazm, Ibn Hajr, Ibn Abdel-Bar, Ibn Taymiya, Ibn Qayim and other scholars who showed consideration to hadith 44 Saleh Ibn Muhammad Aal al-Sheikh, "Al-Minhaj El-Fiqhi Li A'imma El-Da'wa El-Salafiya Fi Najd" [The Jurisprudence-Methodology of the Major Salafi Scholars in Najd], p. 241-242 DEFENDING THE DEEN SERIES (1) PAGE 10 WWW.TAALIB.COM Sheikh Al-Albani's Works Reply to Stephane Lacroix' Revolutionary Lie More specifically, the books that are being taught in the Kingdom are from major scholars all over the world. In creed they didn't only rely on the works of Ibn Abdel-Wahhab but also greatly depended on Ibn Taymiya (Syria 13th century) and his student Ibn Qayim as those who carried and upheld the original beliefs of Islaam. In the Arabic language one of their main references is "Al-Ajrumiya" written by the famous Moroccan scholar Muhammad Ibn Ajurrum (14th century C.E.) and in jurisprudence they depended significantly on the works of the Palestinian Sheikh Abdel-Ghani al-Maqdisi (12th century C.E.). In hadith they returned to the works of the Syrian scholar An-Nawawi (13th century C.E.) and the Egyptian Muhaddith Ibn Hajar El Asqalani (15th century C.E.) and in the science of heritage they primarily relied on "Al-Rahabiya" of the Iraqi scholar Muhammad Al Rahabi (12th century C.E.).45 This shows that the works of the Islamic scholars throughout history have always had an international dimension and weren't restricted, as mistakenly claimed, to some key books of a Saudi religious tradition. A Tribal Mob Taking Control of the Arabian Peninsula? Yet Stephane Lacroix stubbornly persists in his misrepresentation and explains how the conspiracy of the Saudi scholars took off with an aristocracy: "This tradition had been monopolized by a small religious aristocracy from Najd, first centered around Muhammad bin `Abdel-Wahhab and his descendants (known as the Al al-Sheikh) before opening up to a small number of other families... the members of this 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." He further implies that al-Albani's revolutionary approach to hadith was contrary to Saudi standards since it led to the fact that: "...the science of hadith can be measured according to objective criteria unrelated to family, tribe, or regional descent, allowing for a previously absent measure of meritocracy." Stephane Lacroix portrays the revival of Islam in Najd as a religious aristocracy formed by an upper class family endeavoring to monopolize Islam by favoring local tribes. Hence, the Saudi state is all but a meritocracy due to the self-imposed control of the religious `Wahhabi mafia'. For sure, imagination can lead to many things and then any means become acceptable in order to demonize the Saudi scholars. However, history disputes this claim, since records of the Najd-scholars clearly establish that the only criterion for achievement amongst the ulema has always been knowledge in the different sciences of Islam. Tribal descent or family connections have never turned anyone into a religious scholar. We might for instance mention King Abul-Aziz who had great respect for the people of knowledge and was known to give preference to the scholars over his own brothers and sons.46 45 Dr. Abdel-Aziz Ibn Muhammad al-Hujaylan, "Al-Fiqh Wal-Fuqaha Fil-Mamlaka Al-Arabiya Al-Sa'udiya..." [Jurisprudence and Fiqh-Scholars in The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia], p.39, 44. 46 Al-Zarkali, "Al-Wajiz", p.197 DEFENDING THE DEEN SERIES (1) PAGE 11 WWW.TAALIB.COM Sheikh Al-Albani's Works Reply to Stephane Lacroix' Revolutionary Lie Likewise, the large number of foreign scholars who made it up to the highest ranks of the Saudi religious establishment is a clear proof that tribalism and regional descent play no role in being accepted as a scholar in Saudi-Arabia47. And Mister Lacroix is well aware that the Sorbonne and all other French universities would never accept a Saudi-Arabian professor teaching in their institute. Islamophobes often try to `arabise' the religion of Islam by representing it as being based on nationalism or tribalism. Yet, never in the history of Islam has the science of hadith been measured according to family, tribe, social class, origin or descent. The greatest Islamic scholars and hadith-narrators are a perfect illustration of this since the majority of them were non-Arab and often very poor. This however, hasn't kept them from becoming the holders and transmitters of the prophetic tradition. They are the ones who conveyed hadith and other Islamic knowledge to the rest of the world. El Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawud, al-Tirmidhi, Al-Nassa'i, Ibn Majih were all non-Arabs who laid down the foundational books of hadith on which the entire Islamic Ummah depends today. The Haddadi Critique of Lacroix: Al-Albani vs. the Saudis In proceeding to examine his article's many claims we see that Lacroix is now coming to the core message of his article in which his conspiracy takes form throughout a profound conflict between al-Albani and the Saudi scholars: "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)." As a whole, Sheikh al-Albani didn't disagree with the Saudi scholars when it comes to fiqh, since their methodology in proof-deduction was identical48. He definitely did differ with them in certain fatwas in the same way all Sunni scholars differ with each other in some affairs of jurisprudence. This is nothing exceptional to anyone who has a cursory knowledge of Islamic scholarship through the centuries, and merely shows that they make their own ijtihad and are not blind-followers of a certain historical school of juristic principles or madhab. Moreover, these differences didn't lead to any enmity between al-Albani and his Saudi co-scholars of Ahl El Sunnah as becomes clear in the praise of the two chief representatives of the Saudi `religious establishment' in al-Albani's time. The first one is Sheikh Ibn Baz who stated that he never saw a hadith scholar in his time like Sheikh al-Albani, whom he even considered the renewer of the science in this century. The second one is Sheikh Ibn Utheymin who called him the Muhaddith of the Sham-region49 and praised him for his works in both creed and jurisprudence. The scholars in the Saudi Kingdom who refuted al-Albani all explicitly made it clear in their responses that their differences weren't based on fundamental contradictions and that they respected and loved Sheikh al-Albani50. One of them, Sheikh Muhammad Aman El Jami, stated in his two-tape refutation against al-Albani: `Allah, the angels, and those who are present bear witness for me that I state that I love Sheikh al-Albani for the sake of Allah'51. 47 Sheikh Muhammed Aman al-Jami (Ethiopia), Sheikh Abdel-Razzaq al-A'fifi (Egypt), Sheikh Muhammed Aman al-Shinqiti (Mauretania), Sheikh Muhammed Nasir al-Din al-Albani (Albania), Sheikh Hammad al-Ansari (Mali), Sheikh Wasiyullah A'bbas (India), Sheikh Mohammed al-Harras (Egypt) ... 48 Saleh Ibn Muhammed Aal El-Sheikh, "Al-Minhaj El-Fiqhi Li A'imma El-Da'wa El-Salafiya Fi Najd" [The Jurisprudence-Methodology of the Major Salafi Scholars in Najd], p. 90 49 The Sham-countries are Lebanon, Palestine, Syria and Jordan 50 See Rabi' Bin Hadi El Madkhali, "A Lighthouse of Knowledge from a Guardian of the Sunnah", p.41 51 Ibid, p.39 DEFENDING THE DEEN SERIES (1) PAGE 12 WWW.TAALIB.COM Sheikh Al-Albani's Works Reply to Stephane Lacroix' Revolutionary Lie Likewise, Sheikh Al-Tuwayjari stated while refuting the Albanian scholar, that `speaking against al-Albani facilitates speaking against the Sunnah'52. Despite refuting al-Albani, these scholars all shared his methodology and never accused him of having a revolutionary approach to hadith. More than a decade ago, a notorious Haddadi53 and ruthless enemy of Sheikh al-Albani named Abdul-Lateef Bashmel attempted to exploit the refutations of some Saudi scholars against the Albanian Muhaddith to tarnish his image and turn people away from him. He tried to deceive people into believing that the Saudi scholars proceeded in their refutations of Sheikh al-Albani from the starting point and foundation of enmity and total opposition towards al-Albani. In doing so, he vigorously strove to divide the unity amongst Salafi scholars54. The latter scholars exposed Abdul-Lateef Bashmel's deviations and openly warned against him. Today, Stephane Lacroix is walking in the footsteps of Abdul-Lateef Bashmel following indistinguishable Haddadi principles. In the same way, he is keen on emphasizing the differences between al-Albani and the Saudi scholars as to tarnish their image. On one hand the Saudi scholars are portrayed as being bigoted evildoers who do not tolerate differences in opinion while al-Albani is represented as a scholar whose revolutionary approach to hadith formed an ideological basis for extremists who end up committing terrorist attacks. One might also wonder why Mister Lacroix insists on portraying all this `Saudi hostility' that stretches all imagination without ever making any mention on how al-Albani truly clashed with the Syrian religious establishment. Muhammad Nasir El-Din al-Albani was jailed twice in Syria after his opponents slanderously reported him to the authorities. In the beginning of the sixties he was imprisoned for a one month-period in the fortress of Damascus, the very same place Ibn Taymiya had been locked up seven centuries before. In 1967, al-Albani was incarcerated for a second time, doing eight months in the prison of north-eastern Damascus. All this seems to be of no importance to Mister Lacroix who only slanders the Saudi Kingdom in his articles while praising westernized Saudis who advocate the import of an occidental constitution as to get rid of Islamic values in the Saudi Kingdom. Understanding Ibn Adel-Wahhab's Adherence to Hanbalism Stephane Lacroix considers that al-Albani differed with his Saudi co-scholars due to their reliance on Hanbalism: "There, al-Albani points to a fundamental contradiction within the Wahhabi tradition: the latter's proponents have advocated exclusive reliance on the Quran, the Sunnah, 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." In another article of his he even alleges that al-Albani reproaches blind-following Hanblism to the Saudi scholars: "The late Hanbalis, however, increasingly tended to imitate (taqlid) former rulings by members of their school, instead of practicing their own interpretation (ijtihad) based on the Qur'an and the Sunna. This was one of Albani's main reproaches to the Wahhabis who claimed ijtihad but tended to act as Hanbalis..."55 52 53 54 55 Ibid The Haddadi sect was founded by the Mahmoud El Haddad, an Egyptian accountant who was mainly known to libel the Sounni scholars Ibid, p.41 S. Lacroix and T. Hegghammer, "Rejectionist Islamism in Saudi Arabia: The Story of Juhayman al-`Utaybi Revisited", p.4 DEFENDING THE DEEN SERIES (1) PAGE 13 WWW.TAALIB.COM Sheikh Al-Albani's Works Reply to Stephane Lacroix' Revolutionary Lie From the 16th C.E. century onwards, the scholars in the Saudi Kingdom have been adhering to the madhab of Imam Ahmed Ibn Hanbal concerning fiqh, while taking into consideration the verdicts of Ibn Taymiya and Ibn Qayim56. Initially, the influence of Hanbalism was due to the easy travel conditions encountered by the Saudi students who, prior to Ibn Abdel-Wahhab, traveled to Damascus (Syria) and Nablus (Palestine) where they took knowledge from Hanbali scholars. They then returned to the Najd-region to teach their people57. However, one needs to understand what is meant by their adherence to Hanbalism. In a letter from Sheikh Abdullah El Sana'ni to Sheikh Muhammad Ibn Abdel-Wahhab, the Yemeni scholar asked him in which way the Najd-scholars adhered to the Hanbali madhab: "What do you mean when you say that you are upon the madhab of Imam Ahmed? Do you blindly follow him or do you follow his methodology in making ijtihad?" Sheikh Muhammad Ibn Abdel-Wahhab replied by saying that: "All statements and actions should be measured by the words and deeds of the prophet. That which agrees with it is accepted, and that which opposes it is rejected, no matter who it comes from. There should be no precedence of anyone's opinion over the Quran and prophetic Sunnah...We follow the principles of Imam Ahmed in the way Ibn Qayim has mentioned in his book I'lam El Muwaqi'in...this is what we mean when we say that our madhab is the madhab of Imam Ahmed"58 Although the scholars of the Arabian Peninsula have always given a lot of scholastic consideration to the works of Imam Ahmed, they didn't blindly follow his madhab. Historic records all point to the fact that they would abandon the Madhabicruling if it was in contradiction with a hadith or any other clear proof59. The Hanbali madhab was used as a foundation in jurisprudence since this was considered to be a facilitating factor or mechanism. However, Sheikh Ibn Abdel-Wahhab explicitly stated that his fatwas weren't restricted to a specific madhab: "We do not confine ourselves to a specific madhab. If we discover a solid proof in any of the four Madhabs, we accept it and cling to it."60 He also mentioned that precedence should be given to the Quran and prophetic Sunnah over the rulings of his madhab: "If we come across a clear text from the Quran or Sunnah that hasn't been abrogated nor specified, a text that doesn't contradict anything more substantial and has been consented to by one of the four Imams61, than we accept this ruling and abandon the madhab...we do not blindly follow the scholars in any issue because everybody's statement may be accepted or rejected, except the words of the prophet."62 56 Dr. Abdel-Aziz Ibn Muhammad al-Hujaylan, "Al-Fiqh Wal-Fuqaha Fil-Mamlaka Al-Arabiya Al-Sa'udiya..." [Jurisprudence and Fiqh-Scholars in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia], p.223 57 Dr. Abd-Allah al-Turki, "Al-Madhab Al-Hanbali" [The Hanbali Madhab], Vol.1, p.291-295 58 Sheikh Muhammad Ibn Abdel-Wahhab, "Al-Durar Al-Saniya Fil Ajwiba Al-Najdiya", [Exalted pearls in the replies of Najd] Vol.4, p.21 59 Dr. Abdel-Aziz Ibn Muhammad al-Hujaylan, "Al-Fiqh Wal-Fuqaha Fil-Mamlaka Al-Arabiya Al-Sa'udiya..." [Jurisprudence and Fiqh-Scholars in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia], p.43 and Saleh Ibn Muhammad Aal El-Sheikh, "Al-Minhaj El-Fiqhi Li A'imma El-Da'wa El-Salafiya Fi Najd" [The Jurisprudence-Methodology of the Major Salafi Scholars in Najd], p. 361 60 Sheikh Muhammad Ibn Abdel-Wahhab, "Al-Qada Fil-Mamlaka Al-Arabiya Al-Sa'udiya" [The Judiciary in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia], p.68 61 Sheikh al-Albani didn't see this part to be a condition. However, the fatwa's in which al-Albani contradicted the four madhads all together are so few that they never could have led to a profound conflict with theSaudi scholars. 62 Sheikh Muhammad Ibn Abdel-Wahhab, "Al-Durar Al-Saniya Fil Ajwiba Al-Najdiya", [Exalted pearls in the replies of Najd] Vol.4, p.10 DEFENDING THE DEEN SERIES (1) PAGE 14 WWW.TAALIB.COM Sheikh Al-Albani's Works Reply to Stephane Lacroix' Revolutionary Lie Ibn Abdel-Wahhab was followed by the scholars of the Saudi Kingdom who required their students to abandon the madhab if any conflicting religious proof had become clear to them63.This coincided with methodology of Sheikh alAlbani who mentioned: "We therefore say that by clinging on to everything of the Sunnah that proves to be correct, even if it contradicts some rulings of the imams, one cannot be accused of intentionally contradicting their Madhab, nor their methodology ..."64 Just like al-Albani65, Ibn Abdel-Wahhab would benefit from all of the four madhabs and just like Sheikh al-Albani66, he rejected the narrow-mindedness of Madhabic blind-following by always giving precedence to the proofs of the Quran and Sunnah over the madhab-ruling. His books contain many fatwas in which he opposed the rulings of the Hanbali School67; and this is also the methodology of the Saudi scholars who came after him until this very day68. They adhered to Hanbalism as a general framework of juristic principles without zealotry or blindly following and their concluding reference would always be the Quran and the hadiths of the prophetic Sunnah following the understanding of the pious predecessors69. All this invalidates Lacroix' allegation that al-Albani pointed to a fundamental contradiction within the `Wahhabi' tradition. The aspect that the Albanian scholar reproved was the trend in which people blindly follow a Madhab without diverging from it in any aspect and without asking for any proof while abandoning interpretative judgment (ijtihad).70 There surely would've been a fundamental contradiction between al-Albani and the Saudi scholars had the latter been blind-followers of the Hanbali-madhab. But this wasn't the case with Sheikh Ibn Abdel-Wahhab who reopened the doors of ijtihad after they had been closed with the fall of Bagdad during the first half of the 13th century C.E. Ironically, in his lifetime the sheikh was accused of making ijtihad71 and it was only after he passed away that his enemies falsely accused him of blindly following a madhab. There are two groups of people adhering to the Hanbali madhab. The first ones to whom the Saudi scholars belong make their own ijtihad and give precedence to the religious proofs over the Madhab-rulings if they contradict them. The second category consists of individuals who are bound to the methodology of madhabic blind-following72. Given Mister Lacroix hasn't been able to perceive this distinction, he imagined that the methodology of Sheikh al-Albani was in fundamental contradiction with the approach of the Saudi scholars due to their adherence to the Hanbali School. Had Mister Lacroix read a basic overview of some of the fatwas of the Saudi scholars he's talking about or looked into the foundations of Hanbali jurisprudence, these misconceptions wouldn't have taken place. But clearly that goes back to the question of whether or not he in fact possesses the fundamental ability to study Arabic source texts of the subject he claims to comprehend the historical trends of, which I touched on previously. 63 Saleh Ibn Muhammad Aal El-Sheikh, "Al-Minhaj El-Fiqhi Li A'imma El-Da'wa El-Salafiya Fi Najd" [The Jurisprudence-Methodology of the Major Salafi Scholars in Najd], p.364-366 64 Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, "Asl Sifat Salat Al-Nabi", [The Description of the Prophet's Prayer, Original Version], p.32 65 Ibid, p.23 66 See Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, "Haqiqatou Al-Da'wa Al-Salafiya" [The Reality of the Call to Salafiya] p.170 67 Saleh Ibn Muhammad Aal al-Sheikh, "Al-Minhaj El-Fiqhi Li A'imma El-Da'wa El-Salafiya Fi Najd" [The Jurisprudence-Methodology of the Major Salafi Scholars in Najd], p.363 and "Al-Durar...", Vol.7, p.285 68 Sayid Muhammad Ibn Ibrahim, "Tarigh Al-Mamlaka El-Sa'udiya", [History of the Saudi Kingdom], p.136 69 Dr. Abdel-Aziz Ibn Muhammad al-Hujaylan, "Al-Fiqh Wal-Fuqaha Fil-Mamlaka Al-Arabiya Al-Sa'udiya..." [Jurisprudence and Fiqh-Scholars in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia], p. 227 70 Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, "Haqiqatou Al-Da'wa Al-Salafiya" [The Reality of the Call to Salafiya] p.170 71 Saleh Ibn Muhammad Aal al-Sheikh, "Al-Minhaj El-Fiqhi Li A'imma El-Da'wa El-Salafiya Fi Najd" [The Jurisprudence-Methodology of the Major Salafi Scholars in Najd], p. 406 72 Ibid, p. 172,173 DEFENDING THE DEEN SERIES (1) PAGE 15 WWW.TAALIB.COM Sheikh Al-Albani's Works Reply to Stephane Lacroix' Revolutionary Lie Al-Albani's Conveniently Forgotten Recantation Mister Lacroix then brings an argument that should prove the alleged `fundamental contradiction' between al-Albani and the Saudi scholars: "According to al-Albani, this also applies to Muhammad bin `Abdel-Wahhab whom he describes as "salafi in creed, but not in fiqh." On one single occasion, Sheikh al-Albani stated that Sheikh Ibn Abdel-Wahhab's engagement in his call to Tawheed in a region utterly infected with polytheism was so time-consuming; he wasn't able to pay enough attention to the science of hadith. According to al-Albani, he therefore would've given incorrect hadith-judgments in the field of jurisprudence. To sustain his claim, al-Albani reprimanded Sheikh Ibn Abdel-Wahhab for rendering a hadith strong (sahih)73 that the vast majority of Hadith scholars had weakened74 and of which al-Albani criticized both chains of narrators and content (matn). He further stated that he didn't intend to slur the character of the sheikh since this could only be expected from the enemies of Islam75. However, Sheikh al-Albani later realized these words from him were incorrect. He apologized for what he said about Sheikh Ibn Abdel-Wahhab and recanted his statement76. In the past, several hadith scholars attested that the works of Ibn Abdel-Wahhab are a proof that he did pay a lot of attention to hadith in all his rulings77. And until this very day the Muhaddithin still bear witness to the sheikh's hadith-knowledge78. In his works, Sheikh al-Albani wouldn't miss an opportunity to praise Ibn Abdel-Wahhab. On numerous occasions, he called him the reviver of Tawheed in the Arabian Peninsula and defended him against those who would criticize him79. Curiously, Lacroix neglected all these positive statements about Ibn Abdel-Wahhab and picked out the only statement in which al-Albani criticized Ibn Abdel-Wahhab and later recanted from to make it the central argument in his article. By emphasizing this criticism of Sheikh al-Albani, Lacroix portrayed a fictional conflict between Sheikh al-Albani and Sheikh Ibn Abdel-Wahhab based on fundamental contradictions in the approach of hadith. But Stephane Lacroix proceeds further, continuing to build castles in the air: "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." As we already mentioned, Sheikh Ibn Abdel-Wahhab and all other Saudi scholars considered hadith together with the Quran the central pillar of all religious verdicts. However in issues of fiqh where there wasn't any clear proof in the prophetic hadiths or Quranic verses, they would rely on the different rulings within the Hanbali school of jurisprudence. Stephane Lacroix claims that this was the sticking point between the Saudi scholars and al-Albani. This is an obvious misconception since we're talking about a situation of a religious issue in which there are no clear hadiths that would deliver the requested decisive proof. The Saudi scholars, as well as al-Albani, all made hadith the central pillar of fiqh for clarifying rulings; the only difference being that, in cases where a decisive hadith-proof wasn't found, the Saudi scholars would first rely on the rulings within the madhabs whereas al-Albani would also refer to the rulings of other scholars besides the four imams, but without ever contradicting the established consensus in any issues. This has nothing to do with making hadith the central pillar or with hadith providing answers not found in the Quran since we're talking about a specific situation in which there are no decisive hadiths available to provide a clear answer to a juridical matter. 73 See Muhammad Ibn Abdel-Wahhab, "Adab Al-Mashy Ila Al-Masjid" [The etiquette of walking to the Mosque] 74 Other scholars as El Hafidh Ibn Hajr and El Hafidh Al-Dimiata preceded Ibn Abdel-Wahhab in rendering this hadith strong. 75 Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, "Haqiqatou Al-Da'wa Al-Salafiya" [The Reality of the Call to Salafiya] p.183-186 76 See Sheikh Rabi' Bin Hadi El-Madkhali, "Sharh Kitab El-Iman Li Sahih El-Boukhari", Tape #2, side B 77 Saleh Ibn Muhammad Aal al-Sheikh, "Al-Minhaj El-Fiqhi Li A'imma El-Da'wa El-Salafiya Fi Najd" [The Jurisprudence-Methodology of the Major Salafi Scholars in Najd], p. 244-246 78 The hadith-scholar of this era, Sheikh Abdel-Mohsin El-Abbad is one amongst many contemporary hadith scholars who declared Ibn AbdelWahhab to be amongst the Muhaddithin. 79 Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, "Silsila Al Ahadith Al-Sahiha" [Collection of Correct Hadiths], Vol.5., p.302, Vol.1, p.8, etc. DEFENDING THE DEEN SERIES (1) PAGE 16 WWW.TAALIB.COM Sheikh Al-Albani's Works Reply to Stephane Lacroix' Revolutionary Lie It is also known that in his refutations, Sheikh al-Albani always mentioned the specific deficiencies in the methodology of the people he was refuting. Had the Saudi scholars' secondary reliance on the Hanbali madhab, in this case, been a fundamental contradiction or deficiency, than al-Albani certainly would've pointed this out in one of his refutations. Yet this never happened. Finally, it needs to be mentioned that the ijtihad-rulings in which al-Albani opposed the conclusions of all four madhabs are so few that it is very implausible this ever could've lead to any form of alleged conflict. A Revolutionary Approach to Hadith? After having claimed to have established the Albani-Wahhabi conflict based on the alleged differences in hadithmethodology, Lacroix makes an attempt to prove al-Albani had a revolutionary approach to hadith: "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, as we shall see through the example of alAlbani himself and some of his disciples, lies in his revolutionary approach to hadith." He then claims that al-Albani promoted `a new approach to the critique of hadith' which would challenge `the very monopoly of the Wahhabi religious aristocracy' and that his method had `revolutionary power'. Yet, the reality is that perhaps Mister Lacroix is truly going out of his mind. In comparatively analyzing the methodology of the great hadith scholars, it can easily be said that al-Albani never had a revolutionary approach to hadith. He didn't come up with any new principles in the science of Hadith, nor did he invent new rules in the methodology of the critique of hadith. However, Lacroix mentions a number of arguments which he thinks prove his claim. He first states: "The mother of all religious sciences therefore becomes the "science of hadith," which aims at re-evaluating the authenticity of known hadiths." In his works Sheikh al-Albani always mentioned that all religious sciences are based on the Quran and the prophetic Sunnah (hadith) according to the understanding of the pious predecessors. As for what he considered the most important of sciences, then Sheikh al-Albani considered it to be the science of Tawheed80. He therefore composed a book entitled "Tawheed comes first"81 in which he explains that the mother of all religious sciences is the study of the issue of the necessity of the unique worship of Allah without attributing any partners in all forms of worship. The Quranic verses, hadith and all other religious sciences were all considered by him as merely a means to fulfill the objective of men's creation: the unique worship of Allah. Therefore, since Mister Lacroix repeatedly fails to bring forth explicit statements of Sheikh al-Albani elevating hadith science above the study of the Quran, its explanation, and so forth regarding the many other sciences of Islam, either he is ignorant of Sheikh al-Albani's actual position and words or scholastically deceitful. This is not even to mention the literally hundreds of statements of Sheikh al-Albani affirming the specific conclusions and general methodology of the leading hadith scholars throughout the centuries which his books are filled with- all clearly proving the obviously fabricated claim of an alleged "revolutionary approach to hadeeth". 80 Singling out Allah in worship without associating anything in this worship. The call to Tawheed was the core-message of all monotheistic religions. It is the first of five Islamic pillars and the first of ten commandments in Christianity (You shall worship no other gods besides me). 81 Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, "Al-Tawheed Awalan Ya Du'at El-Islam" [Preachers of Islam: Tawheed comes First], p.6-11 DEFENDING THE DEEN SERIES (1) PAGE 17 WWW.TAALIB.COM Sheikh Al-Albani's Works Reply to Stephane Lacroix' Revolutionary Lie Al-Albani and Independent Reasoning According to Mister Lacroix, the first aspect of al-Albani's revolutionary approach to hadith is the omission of reason: "According to al-Albani, however, 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." These again, are a series of fictitious allegations. Sheikh al-Albani has always been a proponent of independent reasoning, both generally in the scope of Islamic science as well as within the sciences of hadith. It is widely known that al-Albani incited his students not to blindly follow him but to conduct their proper independent research. The sheikh would then compare the results of his students with his own and they'd all benefit from each other82. More specifically, Stephane Lacroix continues to talk about things he simply doesn't comprehend. By stating that Sheikh al-Albani, did not analyze the hadith content83 (matn) in the prophetic tradition, Mister Lacroix is only recycling an old element of orientalist propaganda against the Muhaddithin. Indeed, this was a way for orientalists like Ignc Goldziher84 and Alfred Guillaume85 to depict hadith scholars as being people who do not use independent reasoning and always and indiscriminately adopt the matn as long as the chain of narrators (sanad) is correct86. At first sight, it might appear that the efforts of the Muhaddithin were directed only towards the chain of narrators and that they spoke very little on the matn. Or to put it in another way: They made very little use of their reason in the critique of the matn. Yet, this is contrary to the reality since every critique of the hadith content or text (matn) can only be made through the proper use of reasoning87. A basic study into the science of hadith will staunchly uphold that during the past fourteen centuries, the methodology of the Muhaddithin in judging hadiths has always encompassed an analysis of the chain of narration as well as an analysis of the matn88. The critiques of the chain and matn each have different conditions and are evaluated in an independent way89. Moreover, the critique of the matn is far from being simply grammatical90 as Stephane Lacroix presumes. Hence, the matn may be put into question scholastically and empirically just as the sanad and this can only be done as a result of independent reasoning91. And this was exactly the methodology of Sheikh al-Albani who, in his collection of weak hadiths, has judged numerous hadiths to be weak solely because of a flaw in the matn92. 82 Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, "Al-Rawda Al-Dani Fil Fawa'id El-Hadithiya Lil-Allama Al-Albani", p.9 83 In the prophetic Sounnah every Hadith is preceded by a chain of narrators going from the last Mouhaddith who compiled the hadiths (like Bukhari or Muslim) all the way up to the companions and finally to the prophet Muhammad. 84 Ignc `Yitzhaq Yehuda' Goldziher was a Jewish Hungarian orientalist who rejected the methodology of the Muhaddithin pretending it didn't deal with the study of the matn. He therefore invented his own personal approach in analyzing the matn weakening the hadith that mentions the virtues of visiting the sacred Aqsa Mosque. See "Muhammedanische Studien", 2nd imp. Hildesheim 1961. 85 An English Orientalist whose critique of the matn led him to the fantastic `discovery' that the Al-Aqsa Mosque isn't located in Jerusalem but in Jirana (40 kilometers from Mecca). See "Where was Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa?" Al-Andaluse, Madrid, 1953 p. 323-336. The matn-critique of both Goldziher and Guillaume were religiously motivated since they weakened hadiths in order to depict Palestine as having no Islamic heritage whatsoever. Other bigoted orientalists like Joseph Schacht and Arent Jan Wensinck also developed a self-imposed critique of the matn by which they affronted the Muslim belief. 86 Dr. Muhammad Mustafa Al-A'thami, "Minhadj El-Naqd A'nd El-Muhaddithin" [The Methodology of Critique used by The Muhadithin], p. 127-149. 87 Ibid, p. 81, 83 88 Ibid, p. 82 89 Dr. Abdoullah Bin Dayfoullah Al-Rouhayli, "Manhadj Al-Mouhadditheen Fi Naqd Al-Riwayat Sanadan wa Matnan". [The methodology of the Muhaddithin in the Critique of Narrations in Chain and Matn], p.14. 90 Ibid, p.24-25. 91 Ibid, p.22. 92 Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, "Silsila Al Ahadith Al-Da'ifa Wal Madou'a Wa Atharouha Al-Sayyi' Fil Umma" DEFENDING THE DEEN SERIES (1) PAGE 18 WWW.TAALIB.COM Sheikh Al-Albani's Works Reply to Stephane Lacroix' Revolutionary Lie Additionally, the scholars of Hadith have always applied the rule which states that the correctness of the chain doesn't necessarily imply the correctness of the content93. And al-Albani was also of this opinion94. Likewise, al-Albani and other hadith scholars detailed several situations in which a hadith can be judged as invented (mawdou') basing this solely upon the matn95, despite having evaluated the chain as being correct. As such, Lacroix' claim that Sheikh al-Albani's critique of the matn was restricted to a linguistic perspective is another fantasy or skillful deception of our new French Muhaddith since the works of al-Albani's, which have been published for several decades, and many of which are free on the internet, are overwhelmed with examples that fully contradict this claim96. It is very strange that Stephane Lacroix isn't aware that Sheikh al-Albani weakened hadiths due to their content because in his same article he mentions that Sheikh al-Albani weakened hadiths in the canonical collections of Bukhari and Muslim. Anyone who has made even a brief reading of Sheikh al-Albani's critique of the selected hadiths found in the collections of Bukhari & Muslim, knows that he criticized quite a few of them due to a weakness in the matn, not the sanad! This again shows us that Stephane Lacroix is utterly unable to conduct proper research and limits himself to blindly parroting some statements from others, totally ignoring the content and veracity, which could easily be affirmed or disproved, of what he finally puts into writing. Another example of this can be found in this statement from Lacroix: "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." This is likewise a gross attempt at deceit as the science of men or `I'lm al-rijal' has always been the central focus of hadith to all Muhaddithin in all times. It protected the Sunnah from distortion and exposed the inclusion of liars or people with a bad memory in the chain of hadith-narrators of the various transmitted texts. Al-Albani's Critique of Bukhari and Muslim Lacroix continues by mentioning that al-Albani had a unique approach to hadith because he weakened hadiths of Bukhari and Muslim: "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." Sheikh Muhammad al-Albani did indeed re-evaluate some narrations in the collections of Bukhari and Muslim but Lacroix' allegation that he weakened some of their hadiths is false. After having given a lengthy explanation of a hadith in his `Silsila Al Ahadith Al-Sahiha', al-Albani mentions: "I deliberately took some extra time to comment on this hadith and its narrators. I did this in order to defend the prophetic Sunnah so that nobody will fabricate lies against me and so that the ignoramus, envious or biased person won't say: `Al-Albani defamed `Sahih El Bukhari' and weakened its hadiths'..."97 93 Dr. Abdoullah Bin Dayfoullah Al-Rouhayli, "Manhadj Al-Mouhadditheen Fi Naqd Al-Riwayat Sanadan wa Matnan". [The methodology of the Muhaddithin in the Critique of Narrations in Chain and Matn], p.21. 94 Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, "Silsila Al Ahadith Al-Sahiha" [Collection of Correct Hadiths], See introduction 95 Dr. Abdoullah Bin Dayfoullah Al-Rouhayli, "Manhadj Al-Mouhadditheen Fi Naqd Al-Riwayat Sanadan wa Matnan". [The methodology of the Muhaddithin in the Critique of Narrations in Chain and Matn], p.42. 96 Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, "Silsila Al Ahadith Al-Da'ifa..." "Rhayatoul Maram" "Ta'liqat A'la Moukhtasir Sahih Muslim LilMoundhiri", etc. 97 Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, "Silsila Al-Ahadith Al-Da'ifa", Vol.4, p.465. DEFENDING THE DEEN SERIES (1) PAGE 19 WWW.TAALIB.COM Sheikh Al-Albani's Works Reply to Stephane Lacroix' Revolutionary Lie The allegation that al-Albani weakened hadiths in Bukhari and Muslim can only come from an ignoramus, someone envious or a biased person- and I surely don't consider Mister Lacroix to be envious. Sheikh al-Albani greatly esteemed the Bukhari and Muslim collections and praised them for their accuracy: "The collections of Bukhari and Muslim are the two most accurate books ever written after the Book of Allah according to the consensus of the Islamic hadith scholars and others. They have an advantage over other hadith collections due to their distinction in collecting the most authentic of correct hadiths and omitting the weak hadiths and those with a very weak matn...It has become generally known that all the hadiths in the collections of Bukhari and Muslim, or in either one of them, have reached the highest possible level and are considered to be sound and correct without any doubt. That is our basic stance on these two books. However, this doesn't mean that every letter, word or expression in Bukhari and Muslim should be placed at the same level (of correctness) as the Quran. It is possible that some hadiths contain a false impression or an error in some aspect by some of its narrators. Indeed, we do not consider any book to be infallible except for the Quran..."98 This shows us that Sheikh al-Albani didn't weaken any hadiths in Bukhari and Muslim; he only criticized a few terms and expressions in the matn of the hadith and also criticized a few chains of narrators. One needs to understand that there is a distinct difference between weakening narration as a whole and criticizing a specific hadith narration from the aspect of defects in its chain. For example, a chain of a specific hadith may be criticized due to a certain form of criticism of one of its narrators but this wouldn't make the hadith text weak because other hadiths with the same content and a different chain would consolidate the strength of the first hadith, which would therefore reach the level of `Hassan' (good) or `Sahih' (correct) despite the criticism of its chain. This holds for all the hadiths Sheikh al-Albani has criticized in Bukhari and Muslim since he always concluded that they were correct in their textual context. This is how al-Albani explained this form of criticism: "A hadith which is found in `Sahih El Bukhari' isn't easy to challenge in its correctness only because of a certain weakness in its chain since there is a possibility that the hadith has been narrated with another chain by which they will consolidate each other."99 The second allegation of Stephane Lacroix is that Sheikh al-Albani's critique or re-evaluation, contrary to earlier practices, encompasses all existing hadiths. Let's have a look to what last century's Muhaddith had to say about those earlier practices of previous hadith scholars. In several of his books Sheikh al-Albani mentioned the following: "One needs to know that Sahih El Bukhari, despite its magnificence and the scholars' consensus over its acceptance as we mentioned in the introduction, the book has been criticized in the past by some of the scholars..."100 Indeed, al-Albani has been preceded in the re-evaluation of the canonical collections of Bukhari and Muslim by more than sixty different Hadith scholars101. Amongst the early scholars, several Muhaddithin have composed independent books in which they re-evaluated the Bukhari and Muslim-hadiths. The most famous amongst them is al-Dar al-Qutni (10th century C.E.) who wrote the famous "Al-Ilzamat wal Tattabu'". Others like Muhammed Al-Shaheed102 (9th century C.E.), Yehya Al-Attar103 (13th century C.E.), Abdel-Rahim El-Iraqi104 (14th century C.E.) and Abu Zura' Al-Iraqi105 (15th century C.E.) also compiled separate critical works on the same issue. Moreover, amongst the scholars who criticized certain hadiths in Bukhari or Muslim we find quite some famous ones like Imam Ahmed, Ibn Ghuzeyma, Ibn Hazm, Al-Nawawi, 98 Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, "Sharh Aqida Al-Tahawiya" [Explanation of the Creed of Tahawi], p.22-23 99 Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, "Silsila Al-Ahadith Al-Sahiha" [Collection of Correct Hadiths], Vol.4, p.185 100 Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, "Moukhtasir Sahih El-Boukhari" [Summary of Sahih El-Boukhari], 2/4 101 Muhyi Al-Din Al-Samarqandy, "Naqd Matn Al-Hadith Fi Daw Nata'ij El-Ulum El-Tajribiya" [The critique of the Matn in Hadith in the Light of Experimental Sciences], p.113 102 Muhammed Ammar Al-Shaheed, "I'lal Sahih Muslim", [Deficiencies in Sahih Muslim] 103 Yahya Ali al-Rasheed al-Attar, "Gharar El Fawa'id al-Majmou'a fi Bayan ma Waqa'a fi Sahih Muslim..." 104 Abdel-Rahim Ibn al-Hussein al-Iraqi, "Al-Ahadith al-Mughrija fil Sahihayn Allati Takallama fiha" [Selected Hadiths of Bukhari and Muslim that have been criticised] 105 Abu Zura' Ahmed Ibn Abdel-Rahim Al-Iraqi, "Al-Bayan wal Tawdih Liman Kharaja lahu fil Sahih wa Qad Massa Bi Darb Min Al-Tajrih" [Clarification Of the Hadiths in Sahih El Bukhari that are subject to a certain form of Critisism] DEFENDING THE DEEN SERIES (1) PAGE 20 WWW.TAALIB.COM Sheikh Al-Albani's Works Reply to Stephane Lacroix' Revolutionary Lie al-Qortobi, Ibn al-Qayim, Ibn Hajr, Ibn Taymiya, Imam al-Dhahabi, al-Zarqashi, al-Suyuti and Ibn Kathir106. These are all recognized scholars of hadeeth from the scholars of the previous centuries of Islamic scholarship. Additionally, al-Albani certainly wasn't alone in his time, meaning this century, since more than a few contemporary hadith scholars preceded him in his critique: al-Kawthari, al-Mu'allimi, Shu'ayb al-Arna'out, Hassan al-Saqqaf, Tariq Ibn I'wadillah...107. Once again, simple research confirms that there is nothing ground-breaking about Sheikh al-Albani's approach to the science of Hadith as was falsely claimed, since all the hadiths of Bukhari and Muslim that he criticized had already undergone a form of criticism in the past by other hadith scholars! When al-Albani was asked about a certain person who, just like Mister Lacroix, pretended that the Hadiths of Bukhari and Muslim were no longer subject to criticism and that their re-evaluation was contrary to earlier practices, this was his reply: "This statement by itself is enough to convince the reader of the ignorance of this clever trickster and proves his slander of the earlier scholars and contemporary ones by pretending that there is a consensus on this issue. As until this very day, the scholars still criticize some of the Hadiths in the collections of Bukhari and Muslim..."108 Lacroix' Revolutionary Misconceptions Stephane Lacroix then quotes a list of what he calls `Revolutionary interpretations' by Sheikh al-Albani. He started off by saying: "As a consequence of the peculiarity of his method, al-Albani ended up pronouncing fatwas that ran counter to the wider Islamic consensus, and more specifically to Hanbali/Wahhabi jurisprudence." Mister Lacroix' imagination seems to be boundless. He first grasps onto the idea that al-Albani's approach to Hadith was peculiar, and he then exploits and builds upon this initial false claim to make another hollow assertion in which he accuses al-Albani of having pronounced fatwas that ran counter to the wider Islamic consensus of the scholars. Some critics have already preceded Lacroix in this claim which would tremendously upset Sheikh al-Albani. In his book "The Etiquette of Marriage", al-Albani responded to Isma'il Al-Ansari who accused him of contradicting the Islamic consensus: "In the beginning of his book "Al-Ibaha", this poor man accused me of contradicting the Islamic consensus. On page 57, he even explicitly mentions that I reject the authority of consensus..."109 It is unfeasible for al-Albani to have pronounced fatwas contradicting the established consensus amongst the scholars, since he himself used to consider the Islamic consensus as being an irrefutable proof in the derivation of rulings. What Mister Lacroix wasn't able to grasp due to his lack of research, is that al-Albani would put into question the claimed consensus pronounced by some scholars. Due to his remarkable knowledge, Sheikh al-Albani was able to put forth evidence showing that the proclaimed consensus in certain issues was void and did not in fact occur110. Furthermore, what was considered to fall under the Islamic consensus in these specific issues was therefore no longer seen as being an accepted consensus as al-Albani established that they had been contradicted and questioned by scholars in the past: 106 Muhyi Al-Din Al-Samarqandy, "Naqd Matn al-Hadith Fi Daw Nata'ij al-Ulum al-Tajribiya" [The critique of the Matn in Hadith in the Light of Experimental Sciences], p.115-140 107 Ibid, p.144-148 108 Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, "Aadab Al-Zifaf " [The Etiquette of Marriage], p. 54 109 Ibid, p.41-42. 110 Ibid, p.44-47 p.238-239 DEFENDING THE DEEN SERIES (1) PAGE 21 WWW.TAALIB.COM Sheikh Al-Albani's Works Reply to Stephane Lacroix' Revolutionary Lie "I certainly did examine numerous issues in which a consensus has been related and I found that these were known issues the scholars differed about. I even found that the opinion of the vast majority of scholars would run counter to the alleged consensus in these issues."111 People unaware of the differences between scholars where consensus has been claimed will therefore have the misconception that al-Albani would challenge the recognized Islamic consensus. As for Lacroix' claim that al-Albani pronounced fatwas running counter to the Hanbali jurisprudence, we know there is nothing revolutionary about this since the Saudi scholars would also do the same. In his quest for revolutionary examples of al-Albani's approach to hadith, Lacroix comes up with this one: "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." The book in question here is "The Description of the Prophet's Prayer" and it certainly would've been nice had Mister Lacroix at least skimmed through this masterwork before commenting on it in this ludicrous manner. The reality is that in this study, Sheikh al-Albani only contradicted the collective judgments of the four schools altogether in a few cases112. In his introduction, al-Albani confirms that there is an established consensus in many aspects of the Muslim prayer113. This alone is enough to debunk Lacroix' claim that al-Albani, while redefining the proper prayer-gestures, contradicted the prescriptions of all established schools of jurisprudence. At the end of his introduction, he explicitly states that his work doesn't contain a single ruling by which he hasn't been preceded in the past by another scholar, nor which runs counter to what the scholars have agreed upon114. Furthermore, Sheikh al-Albani mentions the following in the introduction: "This book will gather all dispersed elements from the books of Hadith and jurisprudence including the differences amongst the Madhabs which are related to this subject"115 Al-Albani strongly criticized those who, just like Lacroix, accused him of contradicting the rulings of the four imams as a whole: "This accusation is as farfetched as is possible. It is a false accusation in every aspect as became clear through my previous statements which all indicate the contrary to be true. All we ask is to no longer turn a certain madhab into religion by elevating that madhab to the status of the Quran and Sunnah..."116 In following the methodology of the previous Hadith scholars, al-Albani refused to blindly follow a specific madhab but would take the best of each madhab basing himself first and foremost on direct proof from the Sunnah. In his book, alAlbani first makes a judgment on each separate issue and then compares it to the ruling of the four different schools in order to conclude which were correct and which would oppose his investigative conclusion: "I believe that this is the best approach since it is the way Allah has ordered the believers and his prophet Mohamed to follow. This is the methodology of the pious predecessors who include the companions and the generations after them amongst whom we find the four Imams. They all agreed on the obligation of returning and clinging to the Sunnah and agreed that every claim contradicting it should be renounced."117 111 Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, "Ahkam al-Jana'iz wa Bida'uha", [Judgments concerning funeral processions and their innovations], p.219 112 In his book, the rulings of Al-Albani's coincide for over 90% with at least one of the four schools 113 Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, "Asl Sifat Salat al-Nabi", [The Description of the Prophet's Prayer, Original Version], p.21 114 Ibid, p.52 115 Ibid, p.22 116 Ibid, p.48 117 Ibid, p.23 DEFENDING THE DEEN SERIES (1) PAGE 22 WWW.TAALIB.COM Sheikh Al-Albani's Works Reply to Stephane Lacroix' Revolutionary Lie To support his statement, al-Albani then mentions numerous statements of the four Imams in which they admonish those who blindly follow their rulings or madhab without balancing them against the Quran and Sunnah118. This was an ingenious way for the Albanian Muhaddith to prove that those who follow a specific Madhab in each and every single fiqh judgement weren't following the teachings of any of the four imams. These very statements of Ahmed, Shafi'i, Malek and Abu Hanifah also provided a justification for the methodology of Sheikh al-Albani and the Muhaddithin: "We therefore say that by clinging on to everything of the Sunnah that proves to be correct, even if it contradicts some rulings of the imams, one cannot be accused of contradicting their madhab, nor their methodology. Rather by doing so, one will then be following the distinct methodology they were all upon...This cannot be said of those who abandon that which is correct of the Sunnah by blindly following one of their rulings from their school of jurisprudence..."119 As a result, al-Albani's decisions were in perfect harmony with the methodology of the four imams who today each have their madhab attributed to them. Lacroix' Self-invented Consensuses One of Sheikh al-Albani's fatwas Mister Lacroix deemed to be running counter to the Islamic consensus is this one: "Also, he stated that mihrabs--the niche found in mosques indicating the direction of Mecca--were bid`a (an innovation) ..." Al-Albani's statement that mihrabs are an innovation120 is far from being revolutionary since numerous scholars have preceded him in this judgment. Nothing to be amazed about since the mihrab was adopted from the curved flexure present in the Christian churches of Egypt and Najran121. Numerous scholars and historians mention that the mihrab-mosques were only established after Prophet Mohammed's time122. Al-Albani was therefore already preceded some fourteen centuries ago by the companion Ibn Masu'd who said it wasn't permissible to pray in a mosque that contained a mihrab123. He was followed by numerous scholars throughout the centuries like Salim Ibn Abd al-Dja'd124 (7th century), Sufyan al-Thawri125 (7th century), Ibrahim al-Nakha'i126 (8th century), Ibn Hazm127 (11th century), Ibn Taymiya128 (13th century), al-Zarqashi129 (14th century), Ali al-Qari130 (16th century), etc. In the 15th century the famous scholar Abder-Rahman al-Souyouti even composed a small booklet he named "Resourceful Information Concerning the Occurrence of the Mihrab Innovation"131. Also in his own present time, al-Albani had scholars like Sheikh Moqbil132 and Abdoullah al-Ghomari133 agreeing with his judgment on mihrabs. However, according to Stephane Lacroix, declaring mihrabs to be an innovation is a revolutionary interpretation that runs counter to the Islamic consensus! Had Mister Lacroix conducted a little research, his readers wouldn't have to cope with this errant nonsense. Lacroix is well aware that he belongs to a small group of people who, as the old Arabic saying goes, `are as one-eyed men amongst the blind'134. And describing Mister Lacroix as one-eyed might 118 Ibid, p.23-32 119 Ibid, p.32 120 Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, "Silsila Al-Ahadith Al-Da'ifa Wal Madou'a Wa Atharouha Al-Sayyi' Fil Umma", Vol.1, p.452. 121 Dr. Ibrahim Ibn Saleh El-Khodeir, "Ahkam Al-Masajid Fil Sharee'a El-Islamiya" [Rulings concerning Mosques in Islamic Legislation], Vol.1, p.339. 122 Dr. Hussein Mou'nis, "Al-Masajid" [Mosques], p.77-79 123 Al-Bazzar, "Kashf El-Astar", no. 416 124 Narrated by Ibn Abi Shayba, "Musannaf Ibn Abi Shayba", Vol.1, p.408 125 Ibid, p.413 126 Narrated by Abdel-Razaq al-Sana'ani, "Musannaf Abdel-Razaq", Vol.2, p.412 127 Ibn Hazm, "al-Muhalla", Vol.4, p.239-240 128 Sheikh al-Islam Ibn Taymiya, "Iqtida al-Sirat al-Moustaqim", p.215-225 129 Mohamed Bin Abdillah al-Zarqashi, "I'lam Al-Masajid Bi Ahkam El-Masajid", p.258 130 Ali Ibn Sultan Mohamed al-Qari, "Marqat Al-Mafatih Sharh Mishkat Al-Masabih", Vol.2, p.223. 131 Abder-Rahman Jalal El-Din al-Souyouti, "I'lam El Arib Bi Huduth Bid'a El Maharib" 132 Mohamed Ibn Abdel-Wahhab al-Wasabi, "Al-Qawl al-Sawab Fi Hukm al-Mihrab" [The Correct Opinion in the Ruling on Mihrabs], p.5152 133 Abdoullah Ibn Mohammed El-Ghomari, see his annotations to "I'lam El Arib Bi Huduth Bid'a El Maharib", p.20 134 This is just one of the numerous well-known Arabic proverbs that have been absorbed into western languages where it has been altered to: DEFENDING THE DEEN SERIES (1) PAGE 23 WWW.TAALIB.COM Sheikh Al-Albani's Works Reply to Stephane Lacroix' Revolutionary Lie be an overstatement, especially considering the fact he stated that al-Albani...: "...declared licit to pray in a mosque with one's shoes." Again, there is nothing exceptional about this. In declaring it permissible to pray in a mosque with one's shoes, al-Albani was preceded by the prophet of Islam himself, the Companions and all the Islamic scholars- as there is an established consensus amongst them on the permissibility on praying with one's shoes. If this ruling of al-Albani coincides with the consensus of Islamic scholars, then how can it be described as revolutionary? Praying with shoes is indeed part of the prophetic tradition135 since the prophet used to pray with his shoes on, as has been narrated by Bukhari136 who even titled the chapter on this issue "Praying with shoes". Does he consider Bukhari was a revolutionary also?!? It is even a recommendation in Islam since the prophet ordered his community to differ from the Jews who were known to pray without shoes137. It needs to be mentioned that al-Albani and all the other scholars only declared it licit to pray in a mosque with one's shoes under certain conditions138. Claiming that this prophetic tradition which is mentioned in almost every hadith-collection139 is running counter to the Islamic consensus is what Sheikh al-Albani used to describe as impossible: "It is impossible to have a correct Islamic consensus that contradicts a correct Hadith, unless the Hadith is correctly abrogated"140 In his deceptive or inept approach to the works of al-Albani, Mister Lacroix confined himself to picking up a few fatwas of Sheikh al-Albani and then imagined them to be revolutionary. He went so far as to make up self-declared consensuses only to accuse al-Albani of contradicting them. Isn't it wonderful to be working as an `Islamologist' in present-day France? Just cook up a few stories, add some Arabic words to them, make it look academic and get paid handsomely for it! Mister Lacroix didn't perform the slightest research in any of the books of jurisprudence in order to compare al-Albani statements with other fatwas of his fellow Muhaddithin. Consequently, these fatwas became revolutionary to Mister Lacroix in his own personal view. In one of his books141, Sheikh Mohamed al-Albani sought to address those who, just like Stephane Lacroix, write on issues they don't comprehend: "I advise them not to write in any field of science until they have mastered it and after having gained some experience in it for a certain time..." Lacroix continues by saying: "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." What does this fatwa have to do with Sheikh al-Albani's so called revolutionary approach to hadith? This position of the sheikh becomes much less controversial if one understands that in this fatwa, Sheikh al-Albani based himself on the `hijra' (emigration) of the prophet who left Mecca, his most beloved city, in order to practice Islam in Medina. This is also the basic position of many scholars throughout the centuries in regard to anyone in the same situation. Mister Lacroix shouldn't see this as being controversial since in his own country thousands of Muslims are trying to flee oppression to attain religious freedom in the face of a slowly increasing war against the personal practice of Islam throughout the country142. "In the country of the blind, the one-eyed man is king". 135 Isma'il Ibn Marshud Al-Rumayh, "Ahkam El-Ni'al" [Rulings concerning Shoes], p.18 136 Sahih El Boukhari, "Kitab El-Salat El-Salat Fil-Ni'al" [Chapter of Prayer Praying with Shoes], Vol.1, p.102. 137 Sounan Abi Dawud, "Kitab El-Salat El-Salat Fil-Ni'al" [Chapter of Prayer Praying with Shoes], Vol.1, p.176, no. 652. 138 One should make sure his shoes are clean before entering the mosque. Also, one shouldn't pray with his shoes in a Masjid if the common people who ignore this Sunnah would react in a way causing trouble. 139 Bukhari (1/102), Abu Dawud (1/176), El-Tirmidhi (2/247), Ibn Majah (1/330), Al-Dar El-Qutni (1/313), Musnad El-Imam Ahmed (11/241)... 140 Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, "Aadab Al-Zifaf " [The Etiquette of Marriage], p. 42. 141 Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, "Difa' A'n Al-Hadith Al-Nabawi Wal-Sira" [In Defense of The Prophetic Tradition and Biography], p. 60 142 See Kareem El Hidjaazi, "The French Suburban House and Field Negro" DEFENDING THE DEEN SERIES (1) PAGE 24 WWW.TAALIB.COM Sheikh Al-Albani's Works Reply to Stephane Lacroix' Revolutionary Lie A little further, Lacroix states: "Finally, al-Albani took a strong stance against indulging in politics, repeating that "the good policy is to abandon politics"--a Salafism phrase..." This statement is also arguable since al-Albani only objected to indulging in politics that are not based on Islamic values: "Despite the fact that politics are needed beyond any doubt, I believe this isn't the right time to take part in politics."143 Al-Albani often stated that, before taking part in politics, people should first acquire knowledge of their religion and go through the necessary process of `Tarbiya wa Tasfiya' (Education and Purification). Meaning that people's understanding of Islam should first be purified of everything that entered it which isn't part of it. Secondly, he considered that the Muslims should study their creed144. But again, what does not indulging in politics have to do with al-Albani's `revolutionary approach to hadith'? Al-Albani and Schools of Thought Lacroix' goes on by saying: "In spite of his undistinguished social background al-Albani became known as the greatest hadith scholar of his generation. His reliance on hadith as the central pillar of law at the expense of the schools of jurisprudence caused him to take up controversial positions." In a previous article, Lacroix went further and mentioned: "Al-Albani, in return, rejected all the schools of jurisprudence, calling for direct and exclusive reliance on the Qur'an and the Sunna..." Another distortion and pure fabrication of our French amateur is his claim that Sheikh al-Albani's call was incompatible with those of the schools of jurisprudence due to his reliance on hadith. Anyone who gained some fundamental insight into the works of the four Imams knows that all schools of jurisprudence initially relied on hadith. The four Imams would explicitly prohibit others from giving precedence to their rulings if these contradicted a hadith. Abu Hanifah stated: "If my words contradict the book of Allah or a hadith of the prophet, then abandon my words"145. Imam Malek stated: "Accept everything that corresponds to the Quran and the prophetic tradition and discard everything that contradicts the Quran and Sunnah."146 Likewise, Imam Shafi'I said: "If the hadith is correct, then that is my madhab"147. Finally, Imam Ahmed also stressed the importance of relying on hadith by saying: "The one who rejects the hadiths of the prophet of Allah finds himself on the verge of destruction"148. Hence, all schools of jurisprudence generally relied on hadith as the central pillar of law. It is only in the past few centuries that a large number of people have stopped giving precedence to hadith by blindly following the rulings of a certain madhab. And this is what al-Albani disapproved of: 143 144 145 146 147 148 Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, "Al-Fatawa Al-Manhadjihya Lil-Albany" [Al-Abani's Fatawa on Manhadj issues] p. 20-21 Ibid Al-Fulani, "El-Iqath", p.50 Ibn Abdel-Bar, "Al-Jami'", 2/32 Al-Nawawi, "Al-Majmou'", 1/63 Ibn al-Djawzi, "Al-Manaqib", p.182 DEFENDING THE DEEN SERIES (1) PAGE 25 WWW.TAALIB.COM Sheikh Al-Albani's Works Reply to Stephane Lacroix' Revolutionary Lie "It has become widespread amongst people in these last centuries that if a person reaches the age of adulthood, he is forced to follow one of the four madhabs. He'll follow the madhab of his father for example which he will then entirely accept. He will stick to it without diverging from it in any aspect. He will blindly follow that madhab and won't ask for any proof. He will not seek any interpretative judgment (ijtihad) since he considers the doors of ijtihad to be closed..."149 To uphold his disapproval of `Madhabic blind-following', al-Albani proved how, in the past, major scholars of a certain madhab would abandon the rulings of their Imam150 if they considered them to be in contradiction with the Sunnah151. Other than that, al-Albani always had a great esteem of the different Madhabs and didn't tolerate any criticism of them as he stated himself: "Some people who affiliate themselves to the call of Salafiya directly or indirectly criticize one of the madhabs. We say that this is not permissible in our religion and belief..."152 Mister Lacroix then claims that al-Albani's reliance on hadith (supposedly at the expense of the four Madhabs) caused him to take up controversial positions which would have started a conflict with the Saudi scholars: "This brought him into conflict with the Saudi religious establishment but also made him popular in Salafi circles." The majority of scholars in the `Saudi religious establishment' are considered Salafis, even by Sheikh al-Albani. So how is it conceivable for anyone to gain popularity in Salafi circles if he is in conflict with the Saudi scholars? Lacroix' misconception in this part of his article is based on his notion that the Saudi scholars are blindly following the Hanbali Madhab. If this was true, al-Albani certainly would've had a serious conflict with the Saudi scholars and would never have been allowed into the country by them in the first place- not to speak of being invited by them. The differences of opinion that occurred between al-Albani and other scholars weren't due to the fact that al-Albani relied on hadith as the central pillar of law since the scholars in the Kingdom did the same. This becomes crystal clear in the numerous discussions Sheikh al-Albani had with his Saudi colleagues; everything was based on proof taken directly from the Quran and prophetic Sunnah. In these debates, the ulema of Saudi Arabia would never take the madhab-ruling as a proof. The scholastic differences between al-Albani and the other scholars shouldn't be taken out of proportion. Those who were closest to Sheikh al-Albani testified that their sheikh used to refute his own students and those of his closest friends without anyone ever conceiving this as a conflict153. These are differences of opinion that have always existed amongst the scholars of Ahl El Sunnah. In his writings, al-Albani mentioned that even the four Imams disagreed in many issues: "And I know for a fact that the major Imams were those who considered each other sometimes in error and that they did refute each other..."154 The laymen or someone with a hidden agenda will likely interpret these differences of opinion as an internal clash leading to major conflicts based on fundamental contradictions. Therefore, the conspiracy-theory where `Wahhabi's' on one side are intensely at odds with Salafi's on the other side only exists in Lacroix' imagination. 149 150 151 152 153 154 Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, "Haqiqatou Al-Da'wa Al-Salafiya" [The Reality of the Call to Salafiya] p.170 Muhammed Ibn al-Hassan and Abu Yousouf were two Hanafi scholars who contradicted Abu Hanifa in one third of his Madhab Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, "Asl Sifat Salat Al-Nabi", [The Description of the Prophet's Prayer, Original Version], p.35 Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, "Shubah Hawl Al-Salafiya" [Ambiguities about Salafiya] p.128 Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, "Al-Rawda al-Dani Fil Fawa'id al-Hadithiya Lil-Allama al-Albani", p.9 Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, "Asl Sifat Salat al-Nabi", [The Description of the Prophet's Prayer, Original Version], p. 50 DEFENDING THE DEEN SERIES (1) PAGE 26 WWW.TAALIB.COM Sheikh Al-Albani's Works Reply to Stephane Lacroix' Revolutionary Lie If there really had been a conflict between al-Albani and the Saudi scholars based on fundamental incongruities, he never would've urged his readers to rely on the understanding of Sheikh Abdel-Wahhab and the current Saudi scholars who he called his trustworthy Hanbali brothers155. Moreover, Sheikh al-Albani has been rewarded for the magnificent achievements he accomplished in the Kingdom. Many years after his departure from the Kingdom, the `King Faysal International Board of Rewards for Islamic Studies' awarded him a prize for his scientific efforts in the field of hadith. Is this how a recognized body of Saudi religious knowledge would reward a person with whom they have fundamental contradictions in the approach of hadith? In his will, al-Albani offered his entire personal library to the University of Medina because he recognized its position in spreading knowledge, and because this was the place of which he had very nice memories of his call to Islam. The Kingdom : Arrival and Departure of Sheikh Al-Albani Mister Lacroix' fabrications seem inexhaustible as he addresses al-Albani's arrival in the Kingdom: "The presence of al-Albani in Saudi Arabia--where he was invited in 1961 by his good friend Sheikh `Abd al-`Aziz bin Baz to teach at the Islamic University of Medina--prompted embarrassed reactions from the core of the Wahhabi establishment..." In mentioning that al-Albani entered the Kingdom due to favoritism, Lacroix accuses the previous Mufti of the Saudi Kingdom of cronyism. This of course is pathetic because Sheikh al-Albani had already been invited to the Saudi Kingdom prior to this. In 1957 the Saudi Minister of education Sheikh Hassan Ibn Abdoullah Aal al-Sheikh asked him to be in charge of Higher Islamic Studies Department in the University of Mecca. But owing to certain circumstances, al-Albani had to turn down this marvelous offer only to get a new one four years later. If al-Albani was so sought-after in Saudi Arabia, why would his arrival have prompted hostility and embarrassed reactions in the Kingdom? And more important than this, where are Lacroix' references of his claim? He doesn't mention any since most of his writings are apparently based on stolen ideas he translated from the writing of Mansur al-Nuqaidan who is a leading figure amongst westernized Saudis who see themselves to be `Liberals'. It is al-Nuqaidan who mentioned that al-Albani entered the Kingdom thanks to Sheikh Abd al-Aziz bin Baz's preferential treatment. However, taking al-Nuqaidan as a reference poses a problem. First of all the man never benefited from any education. It is an established fact that he dropped out of school due to his mental instability. He then tried to study Islam but again, failed miserably. Mansur al-Nuqaidan ended up as a wild Takfiri hooligan burning down shops in the streets of Riyadh and in one of his articles he even admitted burning down a charitable institution for widows and orphans. Al-Nuqaidan was sentenced for two years and eight months to prison where he finally came to the conclusion he was a total loser at every endeavor. He didn't make it in any kind of studies and his aspiration of becoming a leader in the Takfiri movement faded away. Dr. Istifham explains in his account on al-Nuqaidan entitled "Mansur al-Nuqaidan, Djawla fi radahat nafsi wa damirihi"156 that he is a very unbalanced person who takes an opinion at night only to let it go in the morning157. Indeed, al-Nuqaidan went from being an extreme takfiri to an extreme neo-con liberal fundamentalist- slandering the religious scholars of the Kingdom. He was sued for libel and defamation and convicted a second time by the Saudi government. Mansur will later exploit this conviction to get attention in bigoted Western media alleging he was convicted because he fights for freedom158. 155 Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani's annotations in "Mukhtasir al-Uluw Lil-Dhahabi", p. 64 156 http://www.saaid.net/mktarat/almani/46.htm 157 Dr. Istifham pointed out how al-Nuqaidan, time after time, fell from one extreme to the other. In his Takfiri days, he refused to pray behind a Sunni Imam who he accused of being a member of the Murjiya-sect. One year later, Mansur al-Nuqaidan himself openly started calling to the ideology of the Murjiyas. Likewise, a few months before his conversion to liberalism al-Nuqaidan bashed a sheikh who contradicted him in his opinion by saying: "This is disbelief!" while today he's accusing all the Saudi scholars of making the Muslims disbelievers. 158 Mansur al-Nuqaidan "Telling the Truth, Facing the Whip", New York Times DEFENDING THE DEEN SERIES (1) PAGE 27 WWW.TAALIB.COM Sheikh Al-Albani's Works Reply to Stephane Lacroix' Revolutionary Lie Dr. Istifham explains Masnur is extremely egocentric and in need of continual attention. It is, of course people like Mister Lacroix and other western islamophobes who are very gladly giving him this attention. In some of his articles, Lacroix attempted to promote this convicted felon and notorious liar by calling him a daring intellectual. Lacroix' lack of knowledge or scholastic integrity becomes, once more, very apparent in yet another statement of his concerning Sheikh Al-Albani: "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." Mister Lacroix discusses another topic in one of al-Albani's works and yet again, he clearly hasn't read the book. In "The Veil of the Muslim Women", the sheikh concludes that Muslim women should cover their face but concludes that it isn't an obligation. Like the majority of Islamic scholars, he considered it to be part of the Sunnah and falling under the `mustahab'-category of acts of worship159. Therefore it doesn't come as a surprise to know that the women in al-Albani's own family all wore the niqab. Lacroix' statement that `Muslim women shouldn't cover their face' implies that al-Albani saw it to be un-proscribed (mubah), detestable (makruh) or forbidden (haram). The four Imams (Ahmed, Malek, Shafi'I and Abu Hanifa) all saw the niqab to be a religious recommendation and not an obligation160. This shows that the Saudi scholars do sometimes contradict the verdict of the majority of the Islamic scholars and even the four schools of thought. Lacroix' allegation that this book gave the `Wahhabi establishment' the justification needed to kick al-Albani out of the Kingdom in 1963 is impossible because the book was written in 1949, twelve years before the sheikh's arrival in Saudi Arabia. On the contrary, it shows that al-Albani's stance on the niqab clearly didn't prevent the highest representatives of the `Wahhabi establishment' to invite him over to teach in their most prestigious universities. Moreover, previous articles of Mister Lacroix show that he is simply speculating and guessing about things without being able to bring any references for his foolish tales. In another hilarious article of his, he mentions the following: "In his well-known book "Characteristics of the Prophet's Prayer" (sifat salat al-nabi), al-Albani presented a number of peculiar views on Islamic rituals, which raised controversy with other scholars. Some say these controversies led to his expulsion from Medina in 1963..."161 This again is impossible because Sheikh al-Albani wrote this book in Damascus before he traveled to Saudi Arabia. So one day al-Albani's departure from the Kingdom is due to his stance on the veil of Muslim women and another day it is the because of his stances on the Islamic rituals of the prayer. Is Lacroix' astounding incompetence ascribable to his islamophobic dishonesty or just to his utter confusion? One thing is sure; he seizes every pretext for portraying the Saudi scholars as evil intolerant individuals who do not accept other opinions. Sheikh al-Albani was never officially expelled from the Saudi Arabia but decided to leave by himself for reasons unknown to everybody. He never mentioned why he left the Kingdom and this remains a well-kept secret until this very day162. It is deplorable that Lacroix is using this event to criticize the Saudi scholars of Islam, something al-Albani has never done. 159 Meaning that it is highly recommended 160 Imam Ahmed has two narrations in this issue. In one narration he considered is to be an obligation, in another narration he saw it to be mustahab (religiously recommended). 161 S. Lacroix and T. Hegghammer, "Rejectionist Islamism in Saudi Arabia: The Story of Juhayman al-`Utaybi Revisited", p.4 162 The most plausible reason why Al-Albani was pressured to leave Saudi Arabia is his fatwa in which he declared it permissible to destroy the dome above the prophet's grave. DEFENDING THE DEEN SERIES (1) PAGE 28 WWW.TAALIB.COM Sheikh Al-Albani's Works Reply to Stephane Lacroix' Revolutionary Lie Mister Lacroix concludes this part of his article with another blooper: "He then re-established himself in his country of birth, Syria, before leaving for Jordan in 1979." Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani was born in 1914 in Shkodr near the Montenegrin border in northwestern Albania, not Syria. While portraying the life of the greatest hadith scholar in the past century, Stephane Lacroix has been unable to even correctly determine his country of birth! The idea that Mister Lacroix is being paid for his clumsy articles is truly chilling. Ijaza's and Other Misconceptions Lacroix' article on Sheikh al-Albani turns into a total mess. There isn't a single sentence that seems to be free of errors, fabrications and misconceptions. Here's another one: "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." Ijaza's are nothing typical of what Lacroix calls `Wahhabism', they have always existed since the time of the very first Muhaddithin. These certificates were based on the `hadith-hearings with a Sheikh'163 which were very frequent in the time of the first hadith scholars. Today, these hearings still exist but these kinds of ijaza's are no longer considered as crucial due to the prevalence of printed copies of the source books. Mister Lacroix again shows his ignorance of the field he claims to be able to inform others about, as there are several types of ijazas. One form gives permission to transmit a specific work of knowledge though a specific chain of transmission, while another type is related to one's mastery of a certain work or ability to teach it to others. The contemporary Saudi scholars have almost entirely quit attaching the previous level of importance to the ijaza's although they are still being used to different degrees by different scholars, keeping alive this practice of the predecessors164. In these days, having a lot of ijazas is no longer a proof that the person is qualified to teach165. By introducing al-Albani's stance to ijazas as a new element in his revolutionary approach to hadith, Lacroix imagines he has found a new proof of his farfetched deduction: "This is the very logic 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." In the time of the hadith narrators, Ijazas were one of the accepted forms of hadith-transmission and it is absurd to state that they were of no importance to al-Albani. His books contain plenty of examples wherein he mentions how certain narrators transmit correct hadiths with an ijaza166. Likewise, his `Silsila Al Ahadith Al-Sahiha' is filled with examples of this kind. Al-Albani for example states: "I say that this chain of narrators is good and that the hadith is correct because it is consolidated by other hadiths by way of ijaza"167 163 Meaning that the student would present a body of knowledge to a sheikh in one of several ways who would then give him an `ijaza' or permission to narrate them to others. 164 Without the presence of the strong conditions imposed by the Muhaddithin 165 Abdullah Ibn Muhammed al-Shamrani, "Thabt Mu'allafat Al-Albani", p. 97-98 166 See Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani's comments in "Al-Tankil Bima Fi Ta'nib El-Kawthary Min El-Abatil" 167 Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, "Silsila Al-Ahadith Al-Sahiha" [Collection of Correct Hadiths], 1/8 DEFENDING THE DEEN SERIES (1) PAGE 29 WWW.TAALIB.COM Sheikh Al-Albani's Works Reply to Stephane Lacroix' Revolutionary Lie How can Lacroix then state that al-Albani considered this critical approach of being of no importance? What Lacroix deems to be important is this: "On the contrary, the important process is 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." Mister Lacroix is again putting forth fabricated claims. This is what al-Albani said concerning the conditions of the hadith scholar: "To sum up we say that the only required condition to judge hadiths as being strong or weak is that the person should possess the competence to do so. As for memorization, then that is something else. If the person possesses a large sum of memorized hadiths, then that is better. And if he doesn't, than it is no condition. And this has been established by the previous scholars."168 Al-Albani also stated that there is a consensus amongst scholars in the issue: "The great scholars all agreed that the one and only condition for the one who wished to judge hadiths by making them weak or strong, is that he is well-acquainted with the science of hadith..."169 But to Mister Lacroix, the claimed important process is accumulation and memorization. Lacroix comes up with all these fantasies merely to finish off by saying that the `Saudi Wahhabis' only became scholars due to their family descent, not their knowledge: "Thus, the science of hadith can be measured according to objective criteria unrelated to family, tribe, or regional descent, allowing for a previously absent measure of meritocracy." It certainly isn't the first time Lacroix has depicted the Saudis as ignorant people and their society as being non-meritocratic. This is the typical racist perception Islamophobes have been fostering in Western media over many decades. The Lacroix-Bin Laden Connection In his article, Mister Lacroix has gathered the criticism of all the enemies Sheikh al-Albani had in his lifetime. After having exploited the false claims of the liberals, Haddadis and orientalists, Lacroix now takes on the critique of the Takfiri-sect: "In the late 1980s, some of al-Albani's pupils, led by a Medinan Sheikh 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)." The term `Al-Jamiyya' was introduced by the Takfiris and members of the Khawarij sect after the Gulf War as a negative reaction to the fatwas of major scholars like Sheikh Ibn Baz and Muhammad Aman al-Jami in which they declared it permissible to make use of American troops to defend Saudi interests. The scholars of Ahl El Sunnah who pronounced this fatwa were severely cursed by the Takfiris, who called them the "scholars of America". Sheikh Muhammad Aman alJami refuted the ambiguities of these hot-headed people, who then decided to describe all those who didn't reject the US military presence in the Saudi Kingdom as `Jamis'. The term is also used by the enemies of the call to Tawheed in order to alienate people from Islam170. There is of course no sect or religious network by the name of al-Jamiyya and no one has ever declared belonging to this fictitious group171. Moreover, Muhammad Aman Al-Jami has always condemned the formation 168 Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, "Al-Rad A'la Ta'aqub El-Hadith", p.60 169 Ibid, p.57 170 Abdul Aziz Bin Rayyis, "El-Jamiyya wa El Wahhabiyya wa El Hachwiyya Alqab Tanfiriya", [Jami's, Wahabi's, Hachwiya, terms of alienation], p.7 171 Bilal Ibn Abdul-Ghani al-Salimi "Abra'a Ila Allah min El-Jamiyya wal Madkhaliyya", [I seek refuge in Allah from al-Jamiyya and al-Madkhaliyya], p. 81-82 DEFENDING THE DEEN SERIES (1) PAGE 30 WWW.TAALIB.COM Sheikh Al-Albani's Works Reply to Stephane Lacroix' Revolutionary Lie of groups and sects and he would never have permitted that people associate themselves with a group that is derived from his name172. But to Lacroix, the sheikh was a key member in this so-called organization. In using the term `al-Jamiyya', Stephane Lacroix has joined the followers of Osama Bin Laden in their attacks on Ahl El Sunna. Let us just hope this apparent link to Al-Qaida isn't going to induce American troops to bomb the Science-Po University in Paris where Lacroix is employed. Some places on this planet have already been devastated by the US for much less obvious connections to terrorists than this one. It is sad to see that Lacroix never did any of the necessary research on the origins of the term al-Jamiyya and simply limited himself to blindly following his Saudi guru Mansur al-Nuqaidan who repeatedly used this term when he was still hanging around with his old Takfiri buddies. But Lacroix has gone even further than al-Nuqaidan as he is exploiting this forged terminology as a new argument in his concocted allegation and representation of the Saudi scholars as being a bunch of racists: "Beyond their focus on hadith, the Jamis became known for emphasizing al-Albani's calls not to indulge in politics and for denouncing those who did. Again, many of the Jamis were of 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." As we already mentioned, the Jami-designation was based on the rejection of pronounced fatwas during the Gulf War which the Khawarij didn't agree with and not on any tribal or racial criteria. Accordingly, Muhammad Aman al-Jami has never been excluded from any leading position in the religious field, despite his foreign origins. And this is also true for the numerous non-Saudi scholars who achieved high ranks in the Saudi Kingdom. Lacroix then claims that the Saudi government funded this imaginary `al-Jamiyya' group: "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 a the result of a hybridization between Wahhabism, on religious issues, and the ideas of the Muslim Brotherhood, on political issues." When scholars as Sheikh Rabi' Bin Hadi al-Madkhali and Sheikh al-Jami refuted the astray individuals that adhered to the `Sahwa-movement', the latter accused them of being bootlickers of the Saudi government and even went so far to say that that they were agents working for them. In alleging that these scholars are being influenced in their fatwas by government finance, Lacroix has again joined the Takfiris in their slanderous attacks against the established Salafi scholars. Did it really take the Saudi government three decades to counter the Sahwa movement by financing a few scholars of `peripheral origin'? Lacroix' conspiracy theory gets very intricate. Where does he get his information from and if these scholars were supported institutionally then where are their organizations and where are their buildings and institutions? It is well known that the Saudi government doesn't need to favor the country's scholars money-wise since they are all well paid anyway. 172 Ibid, p.87, 117 DEFENDING THE DEEN SERIES (1) PAGE 31 WWW.TAALIB.COM Sheikh Al-Albani's Works Reply to Stephane Lacroix' Revolutionary Lie Depicting al-Albani as a Takfiri While reading the Lacroix fables in this article, one comes to the question: what is the point in inventing all this? AlAlbani's `revolutionary' approach to hadith, his so-called conflict with the Saudi scholars, his `adherence to Wahhabism' as well as his `critique' of Ibn Abdel Wahhab supposedly all led to independent religious entrepreneurs who now challenge the `Wahhabi's'. This is how Lacroix rounds up his article: "As a consequence, al-Albani's ideas have given independent Salafi religious entrepreneurs a weapon with which to fight their way into previously very closed circles..." and "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." The point Lacroix is trying to make, is that the legacy of al-Albani consists of a bunch of youngsters with madcap ideas opposing the Saudi scholars. Lacroix hasn't realized that the very same people who in practice challenge the Saudi scholars all belong to the Takfiri or Khawarij-sects who are well-known for excommunicating Sheikh al-Albani, not his supporters! But this presumed `challenge' of the existing `Wahhabi hierarchy' was only the initial phase of a movement that would later result in terrorist attacks: "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 of Mecca in November 1979." Islamophobic Middle East specialists are well-aware that by linking Muslims to terrorism they will always draw significant attention. In expanding the imaginary Al-Qaida network and demonizing the Muslim community, their articles will have a greater chance of being published. The Juhayman attack on the grand mosque of Mecca had nothing to do with Sheikh al-Albani and even less with his creed or ideas. The attack was entirely based on the alleged dream of a few Juhayman members in which they saw Muhammad alQahtani to be the mahdi. This was followed by numerous witnesses of people in the Arab world who all pretended they had the same dream in which al-Qahtani was seen as the long awaited mahdi. The Juhayman group exploited the recurrence of these so-called dreams in different countries to prove to the world that the mahdi really had arrived. The Egyptian scholar Dr. Muhammad El Muqaddam explains in his book "al-Mahdi" that the followers of Juhayman had at this stage become impregnated by the Sufi ideology in which dreams are as reliable and accurate as divine revelation173. It is important to note that these followers fell into total blind following and were therefore entirely opposing to the teachings of al-Albani. Likewise, their ideology of `khuruj' and `takfir' was entirely opposed to the salafi principles of Sheikh al-Albani. In his article on Juhayman174, Lacroix himself stated that the group of Juhayman was political175 while he asserts that alAlbani wasn't interested in politics and quoted him saying "the good policy is to abandon politics". But somehow they are the followers of Sheikh Albani?!? At the time of the attack, Juhayman and his followers had nothing left in common with the creed of Salafiya nor with the Salafi scholars. Moreover, they weren't al-Albani's disciples but just a group of novices who used to assist to some of his classes in the same way they assisted classes of many other scholars. They went astray many years before the 1979 attack and were advised by many Salafi scholars to return to the correct understanding of Islam. Alleging that this cruel attack which took place 16 years after al-Albani's departure from the kingdom has anything to do with his ideas or ideology is as farfetched as linking Saddam Hussein to al-Qaida. But how could we expect Mister Lacroix to understand Sheikh al-Albani's ideas if he isn't even able to- as shown previously- accurately determine his country of birth? 173 Dr. Muhammad Ahmed Isma'il al-Muqaddam, "Al-Mahdi", p.557-559 174 Lacroix has cowritten "Rejectionist Islamism in Saudi Arabia: The Story of Juhayman al-`Utaybi Revisited" with Thomas Hegghammer. The two made it seem as if their article on Juhyaman was based on their proper research whereas most of it is plagiarism with ideas taken from the article "Juhayman El-Uteybi, Maqati' min Hayat Astura" written in Arabic by Mansur al-Nuqaidan who many consider the Saudi version of Hirshi Ali. 175 S. Lacroix and T. Hegghammer, "Rejectionist Islamism in Saudi Arabia: The Story of Juhayman al-`Utaybi Revisited", p.12 DEFENDING THE DEEN SERIES (1) PAGE 32 WWW.TAALIB.COM Sheikh Al-Albani's Works Reply to Stephane Lacroix' Revolutionary Lie The final conclusion in Lacroix' article is that a few of al-Albani's students who promoted the centrality of hadith had challenged the Wahhabi religious aristocracy and ended up by committing terror attacks. Lacroix states that: " 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 scholar while he was in his twenties--Sheikh 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." Et voila! Lacroix began his article by attributing a self invented `revolutionary approach' of hadith to Sheikh al-Albani; he then falsely claimed that this led to frictions with the scholars of the Saudi Kingdom and concludes by implying that the May 2003 bombings are part of Sheikh al-Albani's legacy. Linking any act of terrorism, directly or indirectly, to al-Albani is simply outrageous. What is the sense in mentioning these cruel bombings committed by people who excommunicated al-Albani? Simply because the dirty and perverted methods of fanatic Islamophobes consist in linking everything that goes back to the original Islamic teachings to terrorism. Al-Albani's True Legacy Albania, Europe's poorest country is only known in the Muslim world due to Sheikh Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani and his magnificent legacy. The Albanian dictator Ahmed Zogolli would never have been quoted in any Arabic book wasn't it for al-Albani's biography mentioning how he and his family had to flee his oppressive regime. In Europe, Stephane Lacroix is being presented as an Islam and Saudi Arabia specialist. However, his articles are blatantly fraudulent compilations of lies, distortions and misconceptions in which he has taken a revolutionary approach in slandering Islam and its major scholars. In addition, he is incapable of conducting proper scholastic research of the issues he deals with and his `academic' examination seems to be based on Google searches, plagiarism and bastardized Orientalist ambiguities. Lacroix is well aware that he can publish articles with apparent impunity as long as he deals with issues people are unacquainted with. And as many other Sciences-Po employees, he is taking full advantage of the Islamophobia cash cow industry. One thing, however, should be acknowledged: Mister Lacroix has a lot of imagination when it comes to writing on Islam. He's creative in concocting the most unbelievable stories that contain detailed plots and his fertile imagination often leads to unprecedented misconceptions. There is no doubt that Stephane Lacroix would be excellent at writing science-fiction novels and I truly believe he could make a nice career as a stand-up comedian. One can only conclude that people who are unable to analyze the foundations of the Islamic belief, the works of the great Muhaddithin and the influence and spread of Islamic sects in a historical context will come up with the most improbable statements. But in France, you don't need to be an expert on the subject matter to get attention. Khalida Messaoudi is a perfect illustration of how French media absorb and accept every form of defamation against Islam and its Muslim community, no matter how absurd it may sound. Messaoudi conceitedly proclaimed that kneeling in the Islamic prayer is `a position of slavery invented by Bedouin slave traders in Saudi Arabia'. At the same time, Muslim authors who have the ability to conduct academic research are entirely excluded of taking part in any mainstream media. Until this day, France doesn't have a law forbidding hatred of Islam, or any form of Islam-bashing. This has allowed the icons of French Islamophobia to present themselves as Good Samaritans defending the civilized world from the evils of Islam. Some of them proudly revealed and justified their hatred towards Islam on French national television. Every day, France resembles a little more Nazi Germany... DEFENDING THE DEEN SERIES (1) - PAGE 33 - WWW.TAALIB.COM Sheikh Al-Albani's Works Reply to Stephane Lacroix' Revolutionary Lie When in 1999, Sheikh al-Albani passed away, millions of people mourned his death. However, his works live on and he will be remembered and loved forever. As for Stephane Lacroix, then he is just one of the numerous charlatans of French secular fundamentalism who has wasted his life in slandering Islam and Muslims who stick to their religion. He will be forgotten, his bigoted articles will continue to be known as scams and dissolve in the midst of cheap Islamophobic propaganda...176 Kareem Ibn Raheeb El Hidjaazi All rights reserved to original author and www.taalib.com. No duplication is permitted, except scholastic citation when accompanied by the required reference to original , as generally defined within the boundaries of established `fair use' conditions that conform to Islamic guidelines. 176 Research for this article has been conducted in the library of `Dal El Hadith Ma'bar' (Yemen), I would therefore like to thank Sheikh Mohamed El Imam for letting me use the library of his precious institute... DEFENDING THE DEEN SERIES (1) PAGE 34 WWW.TAALIB.COM ...
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This note was uploaded on 03/19/2012 for the course REL 101 taught by Professor Professorsunni during the Spring '12 term at N.C. State.

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