Question: We hear much in this age of the Islamic Jama’āt in the different parts of the world – so what is the origin of this term and its usage? And is it allowed to go along with these groups and join them if they don’t have innovations with them?
Answer: Allah’s Messenger (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) informed us and explained to us how we are to conduct ourselves. He did not leave any affair that would draw his Ummah closer to Allah except that he explained it and clarified it. And he did not leave any affair that would distance them from Allah except that he (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) clarified it.
The proof for this is the saying of Allah’s Messenger (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam): “I have not left anything that will bring you closer to Allah except that I have commanded you with it. And I have not left anything which brings you closer to the Fire except that I have prohibited you from it.” (Reported Abdur-Razzāq in Al-Musannaf, 11/125; Al-Bayhaqi in Ma’rifah As-Sunan wal-Āthār, 1/20)
Ahmad and Ibn Khuzaymah reported that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said: “By Him in whose hand is my soul, I have not left anything which brings you closer to Paradise and distances you from the Fire except that I have commanded you with it. And I have not left anything which brings you closer to the Fire and distances you from Paradise except that I have prohibited you from it.” (Declared saheeh by Shaikh Al-Albānī)
And from those affairs he (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) explained is this affair (under discussion). Allah’s Messenger (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) said: “Whoever from among you lives for long will see great differing.” So what is the cure when this befalls? The Prophet (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) said: “Upon you is my Sunnah and the Sunnah of the Rightly Guided Caliphs; so cling to it, and bite onto that with your molar teeth. And beware of the newly introduced matters for every newly introduced matter (in Religion) is a bid’ah and every bid’ah is misguidance.” (Abu Dawūd, no. 4607, Ibn Mājah, no. 42) So these jama’āt; then whichever among them is upon the guidance of the Messenger (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) and the Sahābah, in particular upon the way the Rightly Guided Caliphs, and the most excellent of generations. So, every group that is upon this Manhaj (methodology), then we are with this group; we ascribe ourselves to them, and we work with them.
It is appropriate that we label any group that opposes the Book and Sunnah and the Manhaj of the Righteous Salaf as a “sect” (singular: firqah, plural: firaq). That is the Sharī’ah term for them just as the Messenger of Allah (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) named them in the hadeeth of the seventy-three sects. As for using the term Jamā’ah, then there is only one Jamā’ah – and they are the Saved Sect, the people of Truth, they are Ahlus-Sunnah wal-Jamā’ah, the Salafis, because they follow the path of the Sahābah and the Salaf in truth, even if they are separated by their lands, tribes, races and times. The Prophet (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) said
أَلاَ إِنَّ مَنْ قَبْلَكُمْ مِنْ أَهْلِ الْكِتَابِ افْتَرَقُوا عَلَى ثِنْتَيْنِ وَسَبْعِينَ مِلَّةً وَإِنَّ هَذِهِ الْمِلَّةَ سَتَفْتَرِقُ عَلَى ثَلاَثٍ وَسَبْعِينَ ثِنْتَانِ وَسَبْعُونَ فِي النَّارِ وَوَاحِدَةٌ فِي الْجَنَّةِ وَهِيَ الْجَمَاعَةُ
“Indeed those who came before you from the People of the Book divided into 72 sects. And this nation will divide into 73 sects; 72 will enter the Fire, and one will be in Paradise, and that is the Jamā’ah.” (Abu Dawūd, no. 4597, graded hasan by Al-Albānī) There is an addition in this same report of Abu Dawūd from Ibn Yahyā and ‘Amr that the Prophet said:
وَإِنَّهُ سَيَخْرُجُ مِنْ أُمَّتِي أَقْوَامٌ تَجَارَى بِهِمْ تِلْكَ الأَهْوَاءُ كَمَا يَتَجَارَى الْكَلْبُ لِصَاحِبِهِ وَقَالَ عَمْرٌو الْكَلْبُ بِصَاحِبِهِ لاَ يَبْقَى مِنْهُ عِرْقٌ وَلاَ مَفْصِلٌ إِلاَّ دَخَلَهُ
“There will come out from my Ummah people who will have desires that overtake them just as rabies overtakes its victim.” In the wording of ‘Amr, the Prophet (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) said: “Rabies penetrates its victim leaving neither a vein nor a joint except that it is penetrated.”
So this proves that the Jamā’ah is one, and they are the Saved Sect, those who closely emulate the Companions of Allah’s Messenger, may Allah be pleased with them.
So, whatever opposes the guidance of Allah’s Messenger (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam), then we abandon it even if they call themselves a Jamā’ah Islāmiyyah (i.e. an Islamic Group). Consideration is not given to titles but to realities. It is possible that these groups have names and titles that are grandiose and impressive but within they are hollow and devoid of substance, or they are futile and false. Allah’s Messenger (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) said: “The Jews divided into seventy-one sects; the Christians divided into seventy-two sects. And this Ummah will divide into seventy-three sects. All of them are in the Fire except for one.” We asked: “Which is it O Messenger of Allah?” He responded: “Whoever is upon what I and my Companions are upon today.” (Abu Dawūd, no. 4607, At-Tirmidhī no. 2676, and others).
The path is clear and apparent –– the Jamā’ah that has this characteristic, that is the one we are with – those who are upon that which Allah’s Messenger (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) and his Companions were upon, they are truly the Islamic Jamā’ah.
As for the one who abandons this Methodology (Manhaj), and traverses some other methodology, then he is not from us and we are not from him. We do not affiliate with him and he is not ascribed to us. And they are not called Jamā’ah, rather they are called a sect (firqah) from the misguided sects. That is because the Jamā’ah cannot be except upon the truth, and that is what the people unite upon. As for falsehood, then that disunites and divides the people and does not unite them. Allah (the Most High) said: “And if they turn away (from the creed of the Companions), then they are the ones who are in a state of division.” (Al-Baqarah: 137)