Ibn Taymiyyah (d. 728H), Ibn As-Salāh (d. 643H) and the early Salaf on the Jihad of defending the Sunnah: Refuting and repelling the Misguided Sects and Ahlul-Bidʿah is more virtuous than regaining a town in Palestine from the Christian Crusaders.

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In the name of Allah, Most Merciful, the Bestower of Mercy

Shaikhul-Islām Ibn Taymiyyah (died 728H) said in his Majmūʿ al-Fatāwā (28/232):

“From the well-known narrations that have reached us is that Shaikh Abu ʿAmr Ibn Aṣ-Ṣalāh (died 643H) commanded that the school that was in the hands of Abul-Hasan Al-Āmidī (died 631) be seized. He said: ‘Seizing it from him is more virtuous than seizing control of the city of Acre [from the Christian Crusaders].’

Acre (Arabic: عكّا‎, ʿAkkā) is a city in the northern coastal region of Palestine. The city sits on the coast of the Mediterranean, linking the waterways and commercial activity with the Levant. Historically, it was a strategic coastal link to the Levant. In crusader times it was known as St. John d’Acre after the Knights Hospitaller of the St. John order who had their headquarters there.

  • Ibn Aṣ-Ṣalāh was an imām and scholar of hadīth, and author of the famous ‘Muqaddimah Ibn As-Ṣalāh fī ʿUlūm il-Hadīth’.
  • Abul-Hasan Al-Āmidee was a misguided Sufi, a philosopher and an astray doubter.

The Salaf (i.e., the pious earlier generations of this Ummah) understood that the spread of innovations and misguidance weakens Islām and weakens the strength of the Muslims. Furthermore, innovations divide the Muslims, split their ranks and cause enmity between them. That is why the great Scholars of the past would refute the innovators and regard their refutations as a type of Jihād in the path of Allāh.

Imām Adh-Dhahabī (d. 748 AH / 1348 CE) who was a protege of Ibn Taymiyyah, stated in his Siyar Aʿlām An-Nubalā (10/518) that Muhammad Ibn Yahyā Adh-Dhuhlī (d. 258 AH, rahimahullāh)1From his students are Al-Bukhārī, Abu Dawūd, At-Tirmidhī, An-Nasā’ī and Ibn Majah. said: I heard Yahyā Ibn Maʿīn (d. 233 AH)2He was from the contemporaries of Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, ʿAlī Al-Madīnī, Ishāq Ibn Rāhawaih, Abu Bakr Ibn Abī Shaybah, and Abu Khaythamah. say:

“Defending the Sunnah is more virtuous than fighting Jihād in the Path of Allāh.” So I said to him: “A man spends from his wealth, he tires himself out and fights, yet this one [who defends the Sunnah] is better than him?!” He replied: “Yes, by a great deal.”

So whilst the Muslims in their great numbers are drowned in misguidance, innovations and sins and are far from the correct Creed, Belief (ʿAqīdah) and far from Sunnah of the Prophet (salallāhu ʿalaihi wasallam) and his Companions (may Allāh be pleased with them), they will see the blessings bestowed upon them diminish and their calamities and trials become great, and they shall taste humiliation and disgrace―and we ask Allāh for safety from trials. The Messenger (salallāhu ʿalaihi wasallam) said:

“When you partake in interest (ribā), and you hold on to the tails of cattle, and you become satisfied with cultivation, and you abandon Jihād in Allāh’s path, then Allāh will send down upon you humiliation―and He will not lift it until you return back to your Religion.” (Reported by Abu Dawūd in his Sunan, and it is authentic)

The Messenger (ﷺ) stated that the cure is to return back to the Religion, i.e., to Islām. And the call to Islām begins with understanding Tawhīd (the Oneness of Allāh in His Lordship, His worship and His Names and Attributes), the rectification of the Belief (ʿAqīdah) and Methodology (Manhaj)―and this is the basis of Jihād as Imām As-Saʿdī explained.

It is not the great numbers of Muslims in their various deviations and sectarianism that will bring honour and glory to the Ummah―rather it is their united ʿAqeedah, their adherence to it, their obedience to Allāh, their fear of Him and their righteousness―this is what brings honour. Allāh’s Messenger (ﷺ) said: “The nations are soon to invite one another and gather against you just as those eating invite others to share in their platter of food.” Someone asked: “Will that be due to our small numbers on that day?” He (ﷺ) replied: “Rather you will be great in number, but you will be like the scourge that is carried upon the flood―and Allāh will remove the fear of you from the hearts of the enemy and cast a weakness into your hearts.” So someone asked: “What is that weakness?” He responded: “Love of this world and hatred of death.” (Abu Dawūd, no. 4296)

So the affair of rectification is achieved by returning to the Religion of Allāh, holding fast to the correct Creed (ʿAqeedah), to the Methodology (Manhaj) of the Sunnah and the Path of the Sahābah, and avoiding innovations because they cause enmity and hatred―and to keep well away from deviation and from the groups of innovation (Ahlul-Bidʿah). So, a Muslim should be dutiful to Allāh, follow the Sunnah, avoid sins, be sincere to Allāh, and have patience with the harms and trials that result from that. Therein lies success in this life and the next. Allāh (the Most High) said:

إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يُغَيِّرُ مَا بِقَوْمٍ حَتَّىٰ يُغَيِّرُوا مَا بِأَنفُسِهِمْ وَإِذَا أَرَادَ اللَّهُ بِقَوْمٍ سُوءًا فَلَا مَرَدَّ لَهُ وَمَا لَهُم مِّن دُونِهِ مِن وَالٍ

“Verily, Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves. When Allāh intends misfortune for a people, there is no repelling it and there is not besides Him any patron for them.” (Sūrah Ar-Raʿd 13:11)

Allāh blesses those who do good and are upon His worship, He aids them and supports them. When they disobey Him, oppose His Book and His Prophet, and change His Religion with alien beliefs and newly introduced acts of worship, then Allāh sends humiliation upon them, and it does not cease until they return back to the pure Religion that was revealed to Muhammad (ﷺ) upon the way of the Companions (radiyallāhu ʿanhum).


  • 1
    From his students are Al-Bukhārī, Abu Dawūd, At-Tirmidhī, An-Nasā’ī and Ibn Majah.
  • 2
    He was from the contemporaries of Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, ʿAlī Al-Madīnī, Ishāq Ibn Rāhawaih, Abu Bakr Ibn Abī Shaybah, and Abu Khaythamah.

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