Written by: Aboo Aamir Ishaaq bin AbdirRaheem
First published: Jumaadath-Thaaniyyah, 1439 [February, 2018]
The general maxim in the knowledge annals of Islam is that ‘mistakes are permissible for other than the Prophets.’
That one makes a mistake is part of the nature of human beings irrespective of his status in life.
كُلُّ بَنِي آدَمَ خَطَّاءٌ
“Every son of Aadam commits errors…” [Saheeh Ibn Maajah]
Only the Prophets and Messengers of Allaah are protected from errors in their callings. All other human beings are not protected. No matter how beautiful a disposition to Sunnah is, the subscriber is prone to errors. The scholars of the Deen in history have been held to have one error or the other with respect to their Da’wah. ‘Every Aalim has auhaam [misconstructions]’ is the agelong saying in the circles of knowledge. So the next time you sit before a scholar, don’t ever think you are sitting before an immaculate being. Only Allaah has the Attributes of Perfection. And He extends it to His Prophets in their Da’wah.
This is one of the pivots of the Salafee Da’wah, please register it somewhere. If you know this, you will never be saddened when an otherwise error of your revered teacher becomes manifest to you. You are not a student on a better footing when you are yet to discern what is right from what is wrong in statements of Ulamaa – this level, Allaah knows better, is a rare feat, only a few has been able to get there. May Allaah make you and me get there.
And know that it is a rare privilege to connect your knowledge back to the Messenger of Allaah through his heirs – the Ulamaa. It is a gross misrepresentation to undermine the importance of the scholars in transmitting the legacies of the Best of mankind, or to undermine learning under them.
الْعُلَمَاءَ هُمْ وَرَثَةُ الْأَنْبِيَاءِ
“The scholars are the heirs of the Prophets…” [Saheeh Al-Bukaaree]
Can there be anyone who lays claim to knowledge yet did not learn under a teacher? Ayhaat! How did the person know an ‘Alif’ is called an ‘Alif’ and a ‘Baa’ is called a ‘Baa’? Perhaps, a jinn taught him. If that is the case, he belongs to the devil. The beauty of one’s knowledge is that one should have people one ascribes it to.
Abu Hayyan has said: ‘A foolish one might think books alone can guide…he does not know that there are in-depth matters that even confound the well-grounded ones…when you assail knowledge without a teacher, you will go astray from the right path.’
By Allaah, there are some aspects of the Islamic knowledge you can never grasp by mere reading of the books even if you are very sound in Arabic Language. Let us take the field of Qira’aat as an example. No matter how sound you might be, you can never know what is tas’heel, ishmaam, raum, ikhtilaas, etc. unless you take them from a qualified teacher. Please underline ‘a qualified teacher.’ You might be deceived that you have known the makhaarij and the sifaat of letters, but when you sit before a qualified teacher, you will fault your knowledge. The same thing applies to virtually all the branches of the Islamic knowledge. Books are your treasures too, go and know that.
So it is a combination of teachers and books, though the former takes precedence. You can become a scholar, by the taufeeq of Allaah, if you pass through only the scholars live and direct, there is evidence in the Companions from the Prophet, then the Taabioon from the Companions, then Atbaau-Taabieen from the Taabioon, down to many centuries.
You hardly become a scholar, if you rely on books alone. You will crash out along the way except if Allaah wills. ‘Whoever goes into knowledge alone will come out of it alone’. How many are the bookish individuals who are nowhere to be found today, people who used to quote pages and volumes of Majmuu Fatawa of Shaykul-Islam verbatim and off hand! If you see any Salafee Daaee in the field today making imprints, he came through the teachers.
May Allaah safeguard all the Duaat everywhere in Nigeria, and beyond, may He unite their hearts and close their ranks.
But know it; your teachers are not perfect. That is the theme, don’t forget. You will never know the worth of your teacher until you sit before another teacher. You cannot have just a teacher all your life; seek teachers, with manners anyway. Don’t discard teachers as you discard your wears. When you are through with a teacher, seek another one. If you can take a permission from the former, the better. Let your teacher be a Salafee.
The Salafee is therefore not like the wretched hizbee, and the other diehard heretics such as the Sufis, whose organ of sight is forever and ever blurred until he comes out from the dungeon of darkness he has plunged himself. Haven’t you seen an academically sound hizbee, in the Western sense, being very stupid under his partisanship? If they tell him black is white that is his view. Just like the Christian academics who are perpetually foolish to believe three ‘ones’ are still ‘one.’
So the hizbees think when the Salafees emphasize the return to the way of the Salaf, they want to make all the community to become error-free and super-humans. Salafiyyah is perfect, no doubt, because that is quintessential Islam (you may puff up and jump down a cliff, O hizbee) but the Salafees are not. Hear that again, the Call upon which the Salafees stand is absolutely perfect but the Salafees as individuals on that Call are not perfect.
The Salafees are variegated, we have the whites among them, so also are the blacks, Arabs and non-Arabs, rich and poor, men and women, adult and young ones, city dwellers and villagers, literate and illiterate, soft and hard (you may say we belong to the hard ones, thank you), gentle (like Abu Bakr As-Siddeeq) and stern (like ‘Umar bn Al-Khattaab), those who are prone to sins and temptations and those who shun sins, etc.
As for the Call, it is to Manhaj, Aqeedah, Ibaadah, Da’wah, Akhlaaq, Suluuk, etc, of the Salaf, starting from the person of the Noble Prophet Muhammad –sallaLlaahu alahyi wa sallam. A good Salafee must strive to conform to all those parameters. He will have to try his utmost. While if he is found wanting in Akhlaaq and Suluuk, he is pardonable, though he is not a good one, failure in Manhaj, Aqeedah, Ibaadah and Da’wah are major determinants of his being a claimant not a Salafee. He might not be perfect in the Manhaj and Aqeedah (if we view them from being two entities otherwise both are one; ‘when they are mentioned together they have different meanings when they are mentioned separately they mean the same thing’ just as it is usually said about ‘Islam and Eemaan’). A serious error in both however will take him out of the circle. A serious error like if he has a wrong belief and he is corrected and fails to make amends. That is an area for the scholars anyway.
So it is foolhardiness when the hizbees bask on certain mistakes from the Salafees, jumping about that so-and-so Salafee made so-and-so grammatical blunder, as an example. The case of the hizbees is like the drowning man clutching at anything that can save his life.
One of those things that bring happiness to the hizbees is when there is a misunderstanding among the Salafees. They are always happy. The moment they observe the wrangling is dying, they return to their sadness.
مُوتُوا بِغَيْظِكُمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلِيمٌ بِذَاتِ الصُّدُورِ
"Perish in your rage. Certainly, Allâh knows what is in the breasts (all the secrets)." [Aal-Imraan: 119]
One thing they have failed to notice about the Salafees is that any in-fighting among the Salafees, though is not something that is desired because it is a Fitnah, always comes round to benefit the Ummah. The outcome is always a good one. One, it makes the Salafees to always check their facts and of course watch their steps. It makes them be on guard for the truth and being ready to defend it. So at the end of the day the hizbees are the losers.
And the in-fighting often reminds all that the Salafees are after all human beings that came make mistakes. They are not perfect but their Da’wah is perfect.
Therefore does anybody still say the Salafees are perfect?
(Once again, this article was first published February 2018).