Part 3: To Abandon Innovations, Hizbiyyah (Partisanship), Differing, Sectarianism, and Establishing the Call to Unity: Imām Ahmad bin Hanbal’s Usūl As-Sunnah (The Foundations of the Sunnah) with the explanation of Shaikh An-Najmi.

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The Imām of Ahlus-Sunnah wal-Jamā’ah, Ahmad ibn Hanbal (d.241H) stated:

وترك البدع

“[From the foundations of the Sunnah is to] abandon innovations.”

This means that from the foundations of the religion (in addition to that which we have already mentioned) is to abandon innovations. Sheikh Ahmad bin Yahya an-Najmi (rahimahullah) in his explanation of these words of Imām Ahmad bin Hanbal says, ’We should know that the abandonment of innovations is obligatory upon every Muslim ― and upon the students of knowledge, and upon the callers to Allah it is even more of an obligation.’ This is because the general Muslim is not followed by the people, whereas the students of knowledge who are callers to the path of Allah are followed by the people, therefore it is more incumbent upon them to be far removed from innovations in the religion. We know that the abandonment of innovations is from the most important duties upon a Muslim, and unfortunately, the innovations are numerous and many of them have been mentioned in the previous lessons.

Warning against Hizbiyyah (Partisanship)

The most destructive and the most dangerous of innovations in this era is that which has been cast into the arena of da’wah from the innovations of the hizbiyyāt (parties and groups). Their love and hate and their calling are not for Allah, rather their call is to their group or party, or their political ideology or to their sheikh whose word is taken without question. Their love and hate are not for the establishment of the Sunnah, nor is it based upon ‘Aqeedah or Tawheed, rather their love, hate, enmity and their disavowal is based upon their group, sect, faction or party. This tahazzub (partisanship) is something that Allah (Most High) has rebuked and condemned in more than one place in His Book. Allah (the Most High) has commanded us to be a single Ummah and not to divide on the lines of partisanship. If a person opposes the ‘Aqeedah, then we separate from him; if he opposes the methodology of the Sunnah and the way of the Sahābah, then we separate from him; but we do not separate from a person based on the partisan call of a group or sect that has been innovated by their founders.

When a person says that he loves the Salafis and hates the people of Bid’ah, this does not mean that he loves everyone who claims to be a Salafi, rather it means that he loves the believers who follow the Kitāb and the Sunnah and the way of the Sahābah (radiAllahu ‘anhum). It means that he loves the believers whose ‘Aqeedah is sound and they follow the Sunnah, and they understand the religion in accordance with the understanding of the Sahābah (radiAllahu ‘anhum), and he dislikes the one who corrupts and opposes the ‘Aqeedah, Tawheed, Sunnah and the way of the Sahābah. So the claim of Ahlul Bid’ah needs to be distinguished from that of Ahlus Sunnah – these claims are not merely the usage of terms; rather they carry meanings. Loving the Salafis means loving Ahlus Sunnah wal Jamā’ah, and hating Ahlul Bid’ah is due to that which they oppose from the Kitāb and the Sunnah – not due to personal enmity based upon affairs of the Dunya.

If Ahlul Bid’ah were to repent and hold fast to the Kitāb and the Sunnah and the way of the Sahābah (radiAllahu ‘anhum), and abandon their innovations, then this hatred would turn to love – because this hatred was not due to any personal reasons, nor due to their race, colour, height, tribe, wealth, prosperity or poverty – rather our loving and hatred of people is based upon their adherence to or distance from the Kitāb and Sunnah. The various partisan groups are not upon this – their love and hate are based upon their sect, group, and party. The Ashā’irah and Deobandiyyah despise and refute those who say that Allah is above the seven heavens and above His Throne, separate and high above His creation – although this was the way of the Prophet (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) and the Sahābah!

All these groups and parties hold onto principles which are in opposition to the Kitāb, the Sunnah and the way of the Sahābah, and they make walā and barā (allegiance and enmity) upon these invented principles. Like al-Ikhwān al-Muslimeen; despite their principles being against the Kitāb and the Sunnah, they will still hate and fight against those who refute them or call for their rectification. This is also the case with Jamāt ut -Tabligh, and the Sufis whose love and hate are based upon their ‘sheikh’, grave worship and their innovated adhkār, The Mu’tazilah, the Murji’a, the Qadariyyah, the Khawārij, the Shee’ah, the Barelawis, the Deobandiyyah – they all have principles in their books and writings that were you to oppose or refute them, they would become your avowed enemies. Such is the case except for the one whom Allah guides – in whose heart enters the Truth, and he adopts it and abandons the innovations and falsehood that he was upon.

The Command for Unity

Allah (the Most High) has commanded us with unity, and that is because the Ummah of Allah’s Messenger (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) are upon one religion; they worship one Lord and they follow one Messenger, so it is obligatory upon all of them to abandon these innovations that bring about the division of the Ummah and tear it apart into groups and parties. Allah (the Most High) has mentioned this important affair in the Qur’ān in His command to the final Messenger of Allah (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam), and in His command to the previous Messengers and Prophets, saying:

شَرَعَ لَكُم مِّنَ الدِّينِ مَا وَصَّىٰ بِهِ نُوحًا وَالَّذِي أَوْحَيْنَا إِلَيْكَ وَمَا وَصَّيْنَا بِهِ إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَمُوسَىٰ وَعِيسَىٰ ۖ أَنْ أَقِيمُوا الدِّينَ وَلَا تَتَفَرَّقُوا فِيهِ ۚ كَبُرَ عَلَى الْمُشْرِكِينَ مَا تَدْعُوهُمْ إِلَيْهِ ۚ اللَّهُ يَجْتَبِي إِلَيْهِ مَن يَشَاءُ وَيَهْدِي إِلَيْهِ مَن يُنِيبُ

“He (Allah) has ordained for you the same religion which He ordained for Nuh and that which We have revealed to you, and that which We ordained for Ibraheem, Musa and Isa, saying you should establish the religion and make no divisions in it. Intolerable for the Mushrikeen is that to which you call them. Allah chooses for Himself whom He wills, and guides to Himself who turns to Him in repentance and in obedience.” (Surah Ash-Shura 42:13)

This is what Allah (the Most High) commanded the Messengers with. This āyah affirms that the foundation of the religion, that which Allah has legislated and commanded the best of the Messengers, and the most excellent of them (ulul-‘azam) is built upon two affairs:

1. Establishing the religion upon the Tawheed of Allah ― to single out Allah alone with ‘ibādah. This was the call of all the Prophets and Messengers, as Allah says:

وَلَقَدْ بَعَثْنَا فِي كُلِّ أُمَّةٍ رَّسُولًا أَنِ اعْبُدُوا اللَّهَ وَاجْتَنِبُوا الطَّاغُوتَ

“And verily, We have sent among every nation a Messenger proclaiming: “Worship Allah alone and avoid all false deities (i.e. do not worship anything besides Allah).” (Surah an-Nahl 16:36)

This was the call of all of the messengers who were sent to their nations – to establish the religion – to establish Tawheed. Everything that was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) from the Qur’ān and the Sunnah; all of it is Deen which he was commanded to establish. This is the same religion that was sent to ‘Isa (‘alaihisalām) who was given the Injeel and his Sunnah which his nation had to follow. Likewise, Musa (‘alaihisalām) who was given the Tawrāt and the Sunnah of Musa (‘alaihisalām) which his nation (Bani Isrā’il) had to follow. Similarly, all of the Prophets were commanded with the establishment of the deen of Allah.

2. Do not divide, this Ummah is one Ummah and it does not divide. So Allah informs us in the noble ayah in Surah Ash-Shura, that this is what He has revealed to all of the messengers; and at the head of them, these five messengers mentioned in the ayah: Nuh, Ibrāheem, Musa, ‘Isa and Muhammad (‘alaihim us-salātu wasalām). Our Prophet Muhammad (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) completed their number, so he was the finality of the best of the five, and he was the best of all the prophets and messengers.

So if it is the case that these revelations that were sent to the prophets and messengers gathered these two important affairs: (1) establishing the religion that Allah sent, and (2) not dividing, then we realise the great importance of these affairs, and that they are from the most obligatory of all the obligations. They are from the most important of affairs, and it is for this reason that Allah (the Most High) mentions throughout the Qur’ān about the oneness of this Ummah:

إِنَّ هَٰذِهِ أُمَّتُكُمْ أُمَّةً وَاحِدَةً وَأَنَا رَبُّكُمْ فَاعْبُدُونِ

“Verily, this, your Ummah is one, and I am your Lord, so worship Me (alone).” (Surah al-Anbiyā 21:92)

وَإِنَّ هَٰذِهِ أُمَّتُكُمْ أُمَّةً وَاحِدَةً وَأَنَا رَبُّكُمْ فَاتَّقُونِ. فَتَقَطَّعُوا أَمْرَهُم بَيْنَهُمْ زُبُرًا ۖ كُلُّ حِزْبٍ بِمَا لَدَيْهِمْ فَرِحُونَ

‘And verily, this, your Ummah is one, and I am your Lord, so fear Me (keep your duty to me). But they (men) have broken their religion among them into sects, each group rejoicing in what is with it.’ (Surah al-Mu’minun 23:52-53)

So in the first ayah in Surah al-Anbiyā, Allah commands us to remain united as one Ummah because our Lord is one, and He alone is to be worshipped upon pure Tawheed. In the second ayah in Surah al-Mu’minun, Allah rebukes and censures the people who divide and break the religion into sects, each one rejoicing in what it has. This is what we see clearly: when you look at the sects today, each one is divided upon their Bid’ah or their sheikh or group. None of them is upon the ‘Aqeedah of the early Salaf, or they may have some of their ‘Aqeedah (in Asma was-Sifāt, etc) but not the rest of their Usūl and Manhaj – this is not following the Prophet (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam), this is taking part of the religion and abandoning another part.

They say that when the Sahābah (radiAllahu ‘anhum) or the Tābi’een or the Atbā at-Tābi’een or the Imāms of guidance spoke about matters of the unseen, then we agree with them, but as it relates to the methodology, affairs of rulership, rebellion, unity and co-operation, then we will invent our own methodology for our times. They say that the Sahābah were living in a different time, and as for the solutions for the modern era, dealing with liberal, western societies, for dealing with gender issues, social problems etc, then they do not need the Salaf. They are content with finding their own solutions. This mentality has led them astray and has led them to break away from the religion and turn themselves into sects; each sect rejoicing with what it has.

Jam’iyyat Ihyā at-Turāth and ‘Abdur Rahmān ‘Abdul Khāliq

One example of the callers to partisanship and hizbiyyah is the individual who died recently, ‘Abdur Rahmān ‘Abdul Khāliq. He was the ideologue of the Jam’iyyah that was founded in Kuwait known as ‘Jam’iyyat Ihyā at-Turāth al-Islāmi’ whose influence stretches across the globe. A group of them came in the garb of Salafiyyah claiming that they are Salafis; quoting from Ibn Taymiyyah and Bin Bāz when it suited them; but also quoting from Sayyid Qutb and Mawdoodi when the situation required. They work with the Rāfidhah and the Sufis when it suits them, and they seek to corrupt the Salafi youth with wealth.

The scholars such as the Imām and Muhadith Sheikh Muqbil bin Hādi al-Wādi’i, Al-’Alāmah Sheikh al-Islam Al-Albāni, the Imām of al-Jarh wat-Ta’deel Sheikh Rabee’ bin Hādi al-Madkhali, and many others have refuted ‘Abdur Rahmān ‘Abdul  Khāliq and Ihyā at-Turāth.

As an example of his deviation: The following question was posed to ‘Abdur Rahmān ‘Abdul Khāliq by his followers, ”O Sheikh, in relation to the multiplicity of the Islamic groups in the Islamic world and their abundance, such as Ikhwān ul-Muslimeen, Jamāt ut-Tabligh, Hizb ut-Tahrir and others, we hear two views. One says that this multiplicity of groups is a good thing because the good points outweigh the bad, the other says that this differing and this splitting is not allowed because the evil outweighs any good. So what is your opinion?”

‘Abdur Rahmān ‘Abdul Khāliq replied by saying: “Indeed this multiplicity of groups is something which is good, absolutely ― and there is nothing negative in this type of dividing.” He then continued to defend his position regarding this point. This was quoted by Sheikh Rabee’ (hafidhahullah), with its sources, in his refutation of ‘Abdur Rahmān ‘Abdul Khāliq in his book ‘An-Nasr ul ‘Aziz,’ pages 163-164.

Sheikh al-Albāni (rahimahullah) likewise refuted him and referred to him as an Ikhwāni. He said (in summary): When he came to us at the Islamic University he was upon the methodology of Ikhwān ul-Muslimeen, so we gave him da’wah and he came to the way of Salafiyyah. Then he left us and went to Ihyā at-Turāth, and went back to the ways of Ikhwān ul-Muslimeen, which is to gather the people together irrespective of what they are upon.

Ihyā at-Turāth is a hizb and their love and hate are not for the Deen of Allah and the Sunnah, but it is just for their group, and party ― and for this reason you will find that they are very careful not to refute or speak ill of ‘Abdur Rahmān ‘Abdul Khāliq because this would go against their group mentality and partisan indoctrination. They want to amass large numbers because to them this will lead to political power.

The scholars of the Salaf from the past and in this era warn against having partisanship (tahazzub) even towards the opinions of men who may be right or wrong.

The scholar one who is correct in his ijtihād is given two rewards, and the one who is mistaken is given one reward. Sheikh al-Albāni and Sheikh Bin Bāz would differ in various issues, but we do not condemn either of them. In these cases, the tālib al-’ilm (student of knowledge) looks at the views of the scholars who differ from each other, and he takes the position that he sees to be stronger. As for the general people, then they take the position of the trusted Mufti of Sunnah and Salafiyyah because they do not have the ability to decipher between the different positions.

Warning Against Intolerance in Ijtihād

However such differences in masā’il (matters where differing is tolerated) should not lead to enmity between Ahlus Sunnah. Sheikh ul-Islām Ibn Taymiyyah stated in Majmoo’ al-Fatawa (volume 10, page 333): There is no one from the scholars except that he has sayings and actions that are not to be followed, alongside the fact that he is not to be censured or rebuked due to those positions. There are statements and actions that are not known to be in clear cut contradiction to the Book and the Sunnah, rather they are affairs open to ijtihād, regarding which there is differing among the People of Knowledge and Eemān. It is possible that these affairs may be clear cut to some, whom Allah has made the Truth clear to, however it is not allowed for him to make binding upon the people that which is clear to him, but not clear to them. (end)

There are many matters over which the scholars have differed, such as the number of rak’ahs of the taraweeh prayers, the issue of niqāb, various actions of salāh and other issues, however, the scholars are not condemned for the opposing positions that they hold. The issue of tārik us-salāh (the one who abandons the prayer) involves the kufr or Eemān of a person. One group of scholars said that the person who abandons the prayer out of laziness is a kāfir who has exited the fold of Islām. Another group (who are in fact the majority, although in our times they are the minority) say that the one who abandons the prayer out of laziness (not out of denying its obligation) is a Muslim, weak in Eemān, and a major sinner. Sheikh al-Albāni held this view in opposition to Sheikh Bin Bāz, Sheikh al-’Uthaymeen, Sheikh Fawzān and the Committee of Major Scholars in Saudi Arabia. This was also the view of Abu Haneefa, Imām ash-Shāfi’ee and Imām Mālik. It is also one of the sayings of Imām Ahmad, although he also has another saying. However, these scholars who have opposing opinions are not to be censured or rebuked, and the student of knowledge is allowed to take the position that is supported strongly in his eyes, by the Kitāb and the Sunnah, even if it affects the Eemān and kufr of a person.

The above saying of Ibn Taymiyyah (rahimahullāh) is an important point, and it is significant that he did not say that you do not correct what you see to be mistaken. In Majmoo’ al-Fatawa (volume 28, page 233 and 234) he says: For this reason, it is obligatory to make clear the condition of the one who errs in Hadeeth and he errs in narrating, or the one who errs in opinion, the one who errs in fatwa, the one who errs in zuhd, and the one who errs in worship. That is the case even if the mistaken person is a mujtahid scholar who is forgiven for his error, and is rewarded for his ijtihād. Clarifying speech and action proven by the Book and the Sunnah is obligatory, even if that means opposing the mujtahid in his speech and his action. As for the one from whom it is known that ijtihād is admissible, then it is not permissible to mention him from the viewpoint of vilification and sin because Allah has forgiven him his mistake. Rather it is obligatory due to what he possesses of Eemān and taqwa, to have allegiance for him, and to love him, and to establish that which Allah has obligated from his rights, such as mentioning him with good and making dua for him. (End)

This speech of Sheikh ul-Islām shows that a Salafi, a person of Sunnah and a person of knowledge, should be very careful in his approach to differing. He should make allowances for those who differ with him, in matters where it is known that the early Salaf differed based upon their understanding and their reading of the texts. If someone holds the viewpoint of certain scholars, based upon evidence, then this must be respected, even if it differs from other opinions. If the issue in its origin is differed over, then the student understands that those with varying opinions are speaking from the viewpoint of ‘ilm and not to deliberately oppose the scholars or the rulers, so this must be respected in order to maintain our unity.

Sheikh Ahmad an-Najmi’s concluding Words on Splitting and Differing

Sheikh Ahmad an-Najmi finishes off this section saying: “Concerning this ayah which we have mentioned regarding those who split up their religion, every sect rejoicing in what is with them (23:53), then this ayah condemns tahazzub (partisanship), and Allah has commanded the Ummah to be united and to oppose splitting and differing in the religion.”

At the end of Surah al-An’ām, Allah the Most High mentions:

إِنَّ الَّذِينَ فَرَّقُوا دِينَهُمْ وَكَانُوا شِيَعًا لَّسْتَ مِنْهُمْ فِي شَيْءٍ ۚ إِنَّمَا أَمْرُهُمْ إِلَى اللَّهِ ثُمَّ يُنَبِّئُهُم بِمَا كَانُوا يَفْعَلُونَ

“Verily those who divide their religion and break up into sects, you have no concern with them in the least. Their affair is only with Allah, Who then will tell them what they used to do.” (Surah al-An’ām 6:159)

This ayah is a severe threat to the callers of separation and division, the people of these parties and sects. This is especially the case when we know that Allah (the Most High) freed His Messenger (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) from them, in His saying, “You have no concern with them in the least.” From this, we come to know that all of this innovated partisanship is misguidance, a disease, and that salvation lies in following the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of His Messenger (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam), and the Sunnah of the Rightly Guided Caliphs (radiAllahu ‘anhum), and to act upon that which the Sahabah (radiAllahu ‘anhum) were upon.

The above is based upon the explanation of Al-‘Allāmah Ahmad Ibn Najmī with additions from myself.

سبحانك اللهم وبحمدك أشهد أن لا إله إلا أنت، أستغفرك وأتوب إليك

Abu Khadeejah


This article was transcribed by Umm Maryam (may Allah reward her) from the classes of Abu Khadeejah ( Please share it with others.

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