By Shaykh Muhammad ibn ‘Umar Bazmol
In the name of Allah, the most Gracious, the most Merciful And May His Peace and Blessings be on His Prophet [peace be upon him],
After which [I say]:
Al-Albani [May Allah shower him with mercy] the [great] Scholar of Hadith of this time, known as Muhadith Al-Shaam (Syria/Damascus), and if it was said that he is the Muhadith of the Dunia [during his life], we wouldn’t be far of. He [May Allah shower him with mercy] faced, like many other scholars, many false accusations and allegations. These lies and allegations can be summarized in the following nine points:
1 – That he is a Muhadith not a Faqeeh
2 – That he has no knowledge of the Usool [of Fiqh]
3 – He has no Shyookh (He did not learn under Scholars)
4 – Takes strange opinions, contrary to what people are on
5 – He has no respect for scholars, and does not know their status
6 – He is Zahiri (Dhahiri) in his Mazhab
7 – He is lenient in authenticating traditions
8 – He is self-contradictory when evaluating traditions
9 – He does not give consideration to evaluating the Matn (Text of the tradition)
These issues are, to the most part, what Ahl Alhdeeth (People and Scholars of Hadith) of all time were accused of, and I saw it beneficial to present these accusations and refute them and give a reply to all of them, defending the People of Hadith of all time. This is the least I can do for them [May Allah have Mercy on them all].
1 – Their claim: That he is a Muhadith not a Faqeeh
If what is meant by this statement is to just describe him as one of Ahl Alhdeeth (the People of Hadith), who have excelled and surpassed others in it, and it did not consist of stripping him of any of the blessing of Fiqh, then we would have no objection in that. That is because Al-Imam Al-Albani [May Allah shower him with Mercy] is truly from the [great] scholars of hadith of our time, who was commended for his deep knowledge in this field, and many have attested to this. That – by the Grace of Allah – is something no two can dispute about as far as I am concerned.
If, however, what was meant by this statement is to devalue the Fiqh and understanding of [Shaykh] Al-Albani to Prophetic traditions, and devalue his explanation of its meanings, and his choices and preferences in issues pertaining to knowledge [and Fiqh], then this is a false and rejected meaning, that we can reply to by the following:
We ask them: What is Fiqh according to you? If what you mean by Fiqh is the memorization of different rulings, Mutoon, and dwelling in possibilities, without returning back to the authentic proofs, then this is what we say that Imam Al-Albani [May Allah have mercy on him] is furthest away from.
However, if what you meant by Fiqh is: the [proper] understanding and application of the Book of Allah and the Sunnah in accordance to the understanding of the companions [May Allah be pleased with them and those that followed them] without bias to anyone except to the authentic evidence, then we ask for any proof that shows that the Imam [May Allah have mercy on him] was not like this!
That word: “Muhadith and not a Faqeeh”, with that false meaning is a devilish statement, the purpose behind it is to devalue the status and rank of Ahl Alhdeeth, and [to attempt to establish] that a Faqeeh (Jurist) can do without Hadith.
That statement in its beginning is a flaw and an innovation, and at its end is Zandaqah (heresy/disbelief) and complete rejection of all Islamic rulings. As for it being an innovation is because we did not hear any such statements from the Salaf (Righteous Predecessors of the Ummah). As for it ending in disbelief and heresy is because it can lead to the rejection of all the works and teachings of the people of knowledge, thus the rejection and the dissociation from all Islamic rulings, where someone could say: “that ruling was stated by so-and-so and he is a Muhadith (scholar of hadith) and not a Jurist, thus it can’t be accepted”, and another time it would be said: “that ruling was stated by so-and-so, and he is a Jurist not a Scholar of Hadith thus it can’t be accepted”. Leading finally to the dissociation from and the rejection of all the rulings of the Religion!!!
2 – As for their claim that: he has no knowledge of the Usool [of Fiqh]
That is an allegation, that we ask where is the proof for it? On the contrary, what can be seen in the books of the Shaykh is a strong proof against this claim. That and what is known from the life of the Shaykh [May Allah have mercy on him] is that he used to give two lectures every week, which students of knowledge as well as University professors used to attend, and among the books that he used to teach in his lectures is the book of: “Usool Al-Fiqh” by ‘Abdulwahab Khalaf.
That lie – which is denying the knowledge of the Usool of Fiqh – might be used by some of them to defame Ahl Alhdeeth altogether.
To those we say: It is important here to note the following issues:
1 – The Prophetic Sunnah [and tradition] is the guide to the proper understanding of the Quran, as was mentioned by Imam Ahmad [May Allah shower him with mercy] in his treatise on the Sunnah, the narration of ‘Abdous. Every ruling in the Quran was guided to by the Sunnah, it clarifies it and indicates what is the purpose behind it.
2 – The Science of the Usool is built on the overall guidance [derived from] the Holy Quran, and the Noble Sunnah, in accordance to the Arabic tongue, with the observation of the circumstances present in the time of revelation and the reasons behind the revelation, and that is something that was delivered and observed first hand by the companions, and no one else shared this [knowledge] with them except through them.
If this is established, then know that Ahl Alhdeeth (the people of Hadith) are the happiest of people with all of this, since there is no one that is more knowledgeable than them in what has been transmitted from Prophet Muhammad [peace be upon him], and there is no one with more knowledge about what was transmitted from the companions [May Allah be pleased with them] then they are. So in reality they are the People of Usool, and from there manners is to make the Texts of the Quran and the Sunnah a foundation on which they built [everything else], and isn’t this what the Scholars of the Usool aimed for?
From that you should realize that the Scholars of Ahl Alhdeeth are the Scholars of the Islamic Usool and the Scholars of the basis of derivation [of rulings]. They attained this by following and looking after what came and was delivered from the companions and their followers (the Tabi’een).
3 – As for their claim that: He has no Shyookh (He did not learn under Scholars)
That is a haste unfound statement, Shaykh Al-Albani [May Allah have mercy on him] learned under his father some sciences (‘Uloom Al-Ala like Sarf), as well as some books of the Hanafi Fiqh (Mukhtasar Al-Qadouri), and he learned from him the Holy Quran, and completed it under him by the recitation of Hafs.
He also learned under Shaykh Sa’eed Al-Burhani the books “Maraqi Al-Falah” in Hanafi Fiqh, and “Shuzoor Al-Zahab” in Nahw, and some books of Balaghah. He also used to attend the sittings of Al-‘Alamah Muhammad Bahjat Al-‘Ataar [May Allah have mercy on him] with some of the teachers of Al-Magmaa’ Al-‘Ilmi in Damascus, and among those that used to attend these sittings are: ’Izz Al-Din Al-Tanoukhi [May Allah have mercy on him] where they used to read “Al-Hamasah” by Abu Tammam.
Shaykh Albani [May Allah have mercy on him] met during his beginning with Shaykh Muhammad Raghib Al-Tabaakh [May Allah have mercy on him], where Al-Shaykh Al-Tabaakh showed his admiration with Shaykh Al-Albani and gave him “Al-Anwaar Al-Ghaliya fee Mukhtasar Al-Athbaat Al-Hanbaliyah”.
So once you know this, you would realize how baseless their saying that: He had no Shyookh, and how far away from reality it is.
It does not even harm the Shaykh if he did not have a large number of Shyookh. How great a number of Scholars had only a few Shyookh, and that did not affect their knowledge. Rather, even among the narrators of hadith you will see among them narrators that did not narrate except from two or three Shaykhs, [and some] even one, and yet this did not stop the Imams from attesting and declaring their Dabt (ability to preserve the knowledge they gained), Hifz (memorization), and Itqaan (precision), and that did not prevent from listening to them and taking from their knowledge.
From this category is, Abu ‘Umar Ahmad ibn Abdullah ibn Muhammad Al-Lakhmi who is known as ibn Al-Baghi (died 400 H) from the people of Ashbilia. He was described as the most unique scholar of his time, and the most knowledgeable scholar of his age, he gathered Fiqh, Hadith, and Virtues. He memorized several books of Sunnah, as well as books of Gharib in a good manner.
4 – As for their claim that he: Takes strange opinions, contrary to what people are on.
That is a very incoherent claim, rather Ahl Alhdeeth and Al-Albani [May Allah have mercy on him] are among the Ghuraba’, who revive what the people abandoned from the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad [Peace be upon him].
Their saying: “So-and-so is alone in that opinion” does not negate from him Fiqh, and does not attribute him to Shuzooz. Abu Muhammad ibn Hazm [May Allah have mercy on him] said in “Al-Ihkam fee Usool Al-Ahkam” (5/661-662): “The boundary [and meaning] of Shuzooz (oddness) is going astray from the Truth, thus everyone that went against what is right in whatever matter then he is the Shaaz in it, whether they were all the people of this world, or a few of them. The Jama’ah are the people of Haqq (Truth), even if there wasn’t among them from the people of the world except one, then he is the Jama’ah. And Abu Bakr and Khadija [May Allah be pleased with them] entered Islam alone, and were at that point [in time] the Jama’ah, and all the other people of the world, apart from them and the Messenger [Peace be upon him], were people of Shuzooz (Strangeness/Oddness) and Firqah (division)”.
Thus Shuzooz is not when someone from amongst the scholars go against what the other group are on. Similarly, Shuzooz is not to go against what is commonly acted on, or what is popular among the people. How many matters did the great Imams Abu Hanifa, Shafi’i, Malik, and Ahmad take a lone stance on, and that was not counted as something that shames them, and did not take away from their Fiqh, or negate it, or was not a reason to class them [May Allah shower them with mercy] to Shuzooz and loneness (Tafarud)!
How can someone be described as Shaaz and strange when he has restricted his following and imitation to the Ma’soum [peace be upon him]. Rather some great scholars have taken some opinions that were later found to be against the Sunnah and Athar, and no one from the people of knowledge said about them, that they are Shaaz or odd.
And here you see Al-Hafiz Ibn Abi Shaybah (died 235 H) writes a chapter in his Musanaf and titles it “A Reply on Abu Hanifa”, and starts his chapter by saying: “This is where Abu Hanifa went against the traditions that came from the Prophet [peace be upon him]”.
And here is Al-Layth ibn Sa’d [May Allah have mercy on him] saying: “I have counted for Malik seventy issues, all of which are against the Sunnah of the Prophet [Peace be upon him], where Malik gave his own opinion”, and Al-Layth then says: “… and I wrote to him about them”, and that narration is mentioned in “Jami’ Bayan Al-‘Ilm wa Fadlih” (2/148).
Then when were people’s actions an ultimate balance and an absolute criterion in knowing the rulings of Allah, that we can leave the Texts because of it?
What sin did Ahl Alhdeeth and Albani [May Allah have mercy on him] commit when they took by a tradition that they saw its authenticity, and did not find anything that goes against it, so they acted upon it, and called the people to act upon reviving this Sunnah that was found in this tradition.
Rather then being thanked for what they have done they are criticized and blamed, and attributed to Shuzooz (taking strange and odd opinions) and that they are being alone in their opinions!
5 – As for their claim that: He has no respect for scholars, and does not know their status
That is a false claim that is lacking any evidence, and the reality is to its contrary. All what is in this matter is that some people got the delusion that since Al-Shaykh Al-Albani [May Allah shower him with mercy], decided to act upon the authentic tradition that has nothing opposing it [or preventing from acting upon it], that he by this wasted and neglected all the scholars who did not act upon this tradition, and did not respect their ranks and status. That is a delusion that has no basis because of the following:
– There is a difference between: setting your imitation solely to the Ma’soum Prophet Muhammad [Peace be upon him] and wasting the teachings and words of scholars.
Having your imitation set to Prophet Muhammad [Peace be upon him] means not to favor anyone else’s words or actions over his own, whoever that might be. Rather, you look at the authenticity of the tradition first, if it happens to be authentic you then look at the meaning, [understanding, and proper application that came with it].
When that is made clear to you, you should not abandon it, even if those between the East and West opposed you.
From the precious words of Al-Albani [May Allah have mercy on him] in “Al-Silsilah Al-Sahihah” commenting on tradition number 321:
“Hold on to it [i.e. the Prophetic tradition], and grip/bite on it with your teeth, and leave the views of men, since once [an authentic] tradition appears, one’s own view and opinion [in the matter] will be void …”
Now for your knowledge: There is not – as far as I know – any matter or issue that Al-Imam Al-Albani [May Allah have mercy on him] chose a view that no one from the scholars before him were on (i.e. he has a predecessor in all the views he holds), and he is always careful to mention who was his predecessor, in what he chose to act upon from the words [and views] that he saw that they are in agreement to the Texts.
The Shaykh [May Allah have mercy on him] returns back to what scholars have said, and considers what they said and benefits from it, without intolerance [to others] or blind imitations. He said in the introduction of his book “Sifat Salat Al-Nabi [Salah Allah ‘Alaihi wa Salam]”:
“As for returning back to their (i.e. the scholars) words, benefiting from it, and using it to assist us in properly understand the truth that they differed in, in the cases where there is no Text from the Quran or the Sunnah, or to [go back to their words] to understand what needs explanation, this is a matter that we do not reject. Rather, we order [others] to this, and encourage others to it, since the benefit from it is hoped, for those who took the Quran and the Sunnah as their source of guidance”.
What is left to comment on, is the issue of the roughness attributed to the Shaykh [May Allah have mercy on him] in his replies to his Mukhalifeen. In reality, this is a relative issue that differs from one to another. Some might call it subjectivity in research, and solely seeking what is the Truth without giving compliments, while others call it harshness and a lack of gentleness. In any case, you should always remember the following:
1 – Some ask from the Shaykh to be lenient when replying on them and refuting them, while they do not abide by what they asked the Shaykh to do when replying on and refuting others [that differed with them].
2 – Harshness when declaring the Truth does not mean that it is falsehood.
3 – Gentleness when stating falsehood does not mean that it is the Truth.
4 – Roughness might be in some cases the wiser way in Da’wah.
And the Shaykh [May Allah have mercy on him] gave a comment about the Harshness that was attributed to him, so refer back to “Al-Silsilah Al-Da’eefah” 1/27.
6 – Their claim that: He is Zahiri (Dhahiri) in his Mazhab
That accusation too is lacking any evidence. The reality is that describing the People of Hadith (Ahl Alhdeeth) as people of Zahir, is from the words that we hear from time to time, which is why describing Shaykh Al-Albani by it is not that surprising since he is from Ahl Alhdeeth!
And to get rid of the confusion that might be stuck to the minds of a few, we have to raise the following questions:
Did the Shaykh declare in any of his books that he is a follower of the Zahiri Mazhab?
Is just the fact that the Shaykh references the books of Ibn Hazm enough to mean that he is a Dhahiri?
That and Shaykh Al-Albani [May Allah have mercy on him] in many instances would blame [and refute] Ibn Hazm Al-Dhahiri [for holding certain opinions]. In “Tamam Al-Minah” for example, p. 160, [Shaykh Al-Albani] said: “Contrary to what Ibn Hazm clattered around …”
And in the same book p.162, he said: “And Ibn Hazm took an odd stance as he usually does by clenching to his Dhahiria”.
And from the books of Al-Albani [May Allah have mercy on him] is a book where he replies and refutes Ibn Hazm in the matter of musical instruments.
That is why Ahl Alhdeeth – and Al-Albani from amongst them – are the furthest away from all the flaws that the scholars have recorded on the Dhahiria.
However, as the Shaykh [May Allah have mercy on him] stated in many occasions, among them in his book “Sifat Salat Al-Nabi” that part of his methodology is that he follows the Hadith and the Athaar, and does not abandon them, while having respect for all the scholars and benefiting from their Fiqh and understanding.
7 – Their claim that: He is lenient in authenticating traditions.
That too is something relative, which differs depending on people, so whoever was strict would view others as being lenient, and whoever was lenient would view others as being strict. The reference to arriving to the Truth [in this matter] is Istiqraa’ (comprehensive reading and research), and comparing [him] to others. As for the matters that led to attributing the Shaykh [May Allah have mercy on him] to leniency [in authenticating]:
1 – Tahseen (Ranking as Hasan) the weak tradition that came through multiple ways (T’adud Al-Turuq).
2 – Accepting the narrator whose reliability is unknown (Majhoul Al-Hal), and depending on the declaration of reliability of Ibn Hiban.
3 – Accepting some weak narrators.
All the different types of weak traditions are acceptable for consideration and mending, and can be strengthened if they came through multiple ways, with the exception of those whose chain contains a narrator who is a liar (Kazab) or a fabricator (Wadaa’), the narration of he who is accused of lying (Mutaham Bi Al-Kazib), the narration of a narrator whose in the rank of those who are left (Fee Martabat Al-Tark), like those whose memory worsened a lot, and the Shaaz and Munkar tradition.
Now as for accepting the narration of a narrator of unknown reliability (Majhoul Al-Hal), and depending on the declarations of reliability given by Ibn Hiban, that is one of the issues that were attributed to Al-Albani [May Allah have mercy on him] without a correct proof on it! Since, in reality the shaykh replied in many places on those who depended on Ibn Hiban’s declaration of reliability, and described them as being too lenient! He also set in the introduction of his book (Tamam Al-Minah) p.20-26 a rule that he called: “Not depending on the Tawtheeq (Declaration of Reliability) of Ibn Hiban”.
[Finally,] as for him accepting some weak narrators, then that is [only] a claim, since they cannot produce one narrator that there is an agreement that he should be left, and then Al-Albani [May Allah have mercy on him] came and accepted him!
8 – As for their claim that: He is self-contradictory when evaluating traditions
This claim came either from ignorance or from ignoring the reality of the matter. Know – my respected brother [& sister] [May Allah preserve you] – that from the basics according to Ahl Al-Sunnah wa Al-Jama’ah that ‘Ismah (infallibility) is not for anyone of this Ummah apart from the Prophet of Allah [Peace be upon him], and we – By the Grace of Allah – are followers to that basic foundational principle, and do not believe in or even say that Al-Albani [May Allah have mercy on him] is infallible, just as we do not declare it to any other from the People of Knowledge.
Is the fact that a mistake was done by a scholar, or a contradiction occurred a reason to drop him and a reason to strip him from the description of knowledge?
I do not think that anyone unbiased would say such a thing!
Yes, whoever his mistakes were too much, and what he got wrong was more than what he got correct, we would not use him as a reference, and we would drop from him the attribute/description of Dabt.
Once this has been established, know that all the traditions that Al-Albani [May Allah have mercy on him] was attributed to contradiction in his ruling over, does not by the Grace of Allah affect his reliability or knowledge, to whoever was unbiased, since the percentage of traditions that Al-Albani was attributed to contradiction because of, when compared to those that he was not attributed to contradiction because of is very small, that are not worth noticing, since it does not affect his ocean of knowledge.
Now this accusation of contradiction is an envious allegation, and an evil deception for its most part, and does not even pass after proper examination except for very little, rather very very little, it is usually one of the following cases:
1 – Traditions that the Shaykh’s ruling on changed after new circumstances and stipulations appeared, that he was unaware of.
2 – Traditions that the Shaykh ruled on by looking at one way (chain), and then he discovered a different way (chain).
3 – Traditions that he ruled on based on what he believed the reliability of the narrator was, and then he renewed his Ijtihad in the status of that narrator, so he changed his ruling.
4 – A Tradition that he was unaware of the ‘Ilah (hidden flaw or defect), which he later became aware of.
5 – Traditions that he was unaware of another Mutabi’ or Shahid, and then became aware of.
And I wish to reference you, O dear reader, to the book: “Al-Anwar Al-Kashifah Li Tanaqudat Al-Khasaf Al-Zaifah, wa Kashf Ma Feeha min Al-Zaygh wa Al-Tahreef wa Al-Mughazafah”.
9 – As for their claim that: He does not give consideration to evaluating the Matn (Text of the tradition)
This claim as they say has horns and is a void [claim] that has no basis, and what can be seen in his books [May Allah have mercy on him] contradicts it.
Which is why I will just deliver one tradition and point out how the Shaykh [May Allah have mercy on him] evaluated the Text of the tradition, after evaluating the Chain. From that is the second tradition in “Silsilat Al-Ahadeeth Al-Da’eefa” (Whosoever Prayer does not prohibit him from the excessive and the disapproved, has no increase from Allah except of distance), after evaluating the Shaykh the chain of this tradition, he [May Allah have mercy on him] started evaluating the Matn (text), and said:
“As for the Text of the tradition, it is not correct either, since its apparent meaning also includes those who prayed a prayer fulfilling its conditions and pillars, in such a way that it is acceptable. So if that worshipper is in anyway still committing some disapproved act, how can it be said that because of it he will not increase because of that prayer except of distance? That is from what does not make sense, and cannot be proven in this religion etc …” to the end of what he said [May Allah shower him with mercy].
And with this, the purpose behind [why we wrote] this has been fulfilled, and All Thanks is due to Allah who by His Grace righteousness is completed.
Taken from Shaykh Muhammad ibn ‘Umar Bazmool explaination of Prophet’s Prayer Described.