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The Obligation of Understanding the Proof According to the Understanding of the Salaf as-Salih

Zakareeyah bin Ghulam Qadir
Translated by Abbas Abu Yahya

‘Allaah Ta’ala gave proofs in His Noble Book concerning the excellence of the Salaf as-Salih, and following their way, Allaah Ta’ala said:

<<And the first to embrace Islaam of the Muhajirun and the Ansar and also those who followed them exactly. Allaah is well pleased with them, as they are well pleased with Him. He has prepared for them Gardens under which rivers flow (Paradise), to dwell therein forever. That is the supreme success.>>   [Tawbah: 100]

From Ibn Mas’ood that the Prophet  said:

‘The best people are my generation then those who will come after them and then those after them.’

[Collected by Bukhari & Muslim]

Therefore, the Companions are the example and they are the ones to follow. It is obligatory upon every Muslim to follow them in what they understood from the evidences of the Book and the Sunnah, because they were the most knowledgeable of the people and they had the most correct understanding of the Sharia’ texts out of all the people.  Consequently, if a Muslim takes other than their understanding then he will deviate away from the straight path, since the Companions stood with insight, and they viewed everything with their perceptive knowledge.

Ibn Abu Zayed al-Qayrawani said in his book ‘al-Jaama’ (117):

‘Submission to the Sunnan (plural of Sunnah) cannot be opposed with opinion, nor is it repelled with Qiyas (analogy).  As for the interpretation of the Salaf as-Salihthen that is how we interpret, and what they acted upon is which we act upon, what they left off is what we leave.  It is sufficient to adhere to what they adhered to, and that we follow them in that what they clarified.  We take them as an example in what they extracted and viewed from the hadeeth. We do not rebel against the Salaf as-Salih in what they differed or what they interpreted, and everything that we have just mentioned is the stance of the Ahl-ul-Sunnah and the Imams of the people in Fiqh and hadeeth.’

As-Sama’ani said in ‘Sown al-Mantiq’ (158):

‘Indeed we have been ordered to follow and been encouraged to do so.  And we have been prohibited from innovating and we have been rebuked concerning Bida’. The flag/sign of the Ahl-ul-Sunnah is their following the Salaf as-Salih, and them leaving everything that is innovated and heresy.’

The supporter of the Sunnah al-Asbhaani said in his book ‘al-Hujjah Fee Bayaan al-Muhajjah’ (2/437-440):

‘Knowledge is not having lots of narrations; rather it is following and using those narrations. It is to take the Companions and the Ta’abieen (the Successors of the Companions) as exemplary, even if it means having a little knowledge.  Whoever opposes the Companions and the Ta’abieen then he is misguided, even if he has a lot of knowledge.’

al-Asbhaani continues:

‘And that is to clarify for the people the matter of their Deen, so it is upon us to follow the Companions because indeed the Deen came from Allaah Ta’ala and it did not come from the intellects and opinions of men, but rather the Messenger  clarified the Sunnahfor his Ummah. And he explained it to his Companions.  Therefore, whoever opposed the Companions of the Messenger of Allaah  in anything from the Deen then he has become misguided.’

Ibn Rajab said in the book ‘Fadl Ilm as-Salaf ‘ala Ilm al-Khalaf’ (72):

‘The beneficial knowledge from these sciences, are all precisely connected to the texts with the Book and the Sunnah, the understanding of the meaning of these sciences and their restrictions are with what has been narrated from the Companions and the Successors and those who followed them, regarding the meanings of the Qur’aan and the hadeeth.  Likewise, what has been mentioned from them of what they said regarding issues of Halaal and Haraam, as well as Zuhd, softening of the heart and knowledge and other issues.’

Ibn Taymeeyah said in ‘Kitab al-Eemaan’ (p.114):

‘To understand this principle of al-Eemaan the Murjia’ turned away from the explanation of the Book and the Sunnah, and the statements of the Companions, and the Successors who followed them in goodness. The Murjia’ relied upon their own opinions and they interpreted this principle with their own understanding of Arabic language.  This is the way of the people of Bida’. This is why Imam Ahmad said: ‘The people mainly make mistakes regarding interpretation and analogy.’

This is why we find the Mu’tazilah[1], Murjia’[2], Rafidah[3] and other than them from the Ahl-ul-Bida’ explain the Qur’aan with their own intellect, as well as what they interpreted with Arabic language.  This is why you find them not relying upon the Ahadeeth of the Prophet , the Companions, and the Ta’abieen and the Imams of the Muslims.  So the Ahl-ul-Bida’ do not rely upon the Sunnah, or upon the consensus of the Salaf or their Aathaar, rather they rely upon the intellect and language, and we find that they do not rely upon the books of Tafseer based upon narrations, and upon hadeeth and Aathaar of the Salaf.

And Ibn Taymeeyah also said in ‘Majmoo Fatawa’ (10/362):

‘So knowledge which has been legislated and the rituals of worship which have been legislated are taken from the Companions of the Messenger of Allaah , as for what came from those after them, then it is not befitting that we take that as a foundation even though they are excused for their mistakes, rather they will be rewarded for theirIjtihad (exertion in deriving a ruling) or due to Taqleed (blind acceptance).

Therefore, whoever establishes speech regarding the science of Usool (principles) and its branches upon the Book and the Sunnah and the Athaar narrated from the previous generations then he has achieved the Prophetic way.

Likewise, whoever establishes his purpose, worship, good deeds and an understanding connected to the principles of righteous actions and its branches of circumstances of the heart and physical actions upon al-Eeman and the Sunnahand the guidance, which Muhammad  and his Companions were upon, then he has achieved the Prophetic way. And this is the way of the Imams of guidance; you find that Imam Ahmad would say when the principles of the Sunnah were mentioned:

‘The principles of the Sunnah are adhering to what the Companions of the Messenger of Allaah  were upon and the books of Tafseer which have narrations from the Prophet  and the Companions and the successors. This is what is relied upon in its knowledge based principles and its branches………………..’

Likewise, regarding ZuhdRaqaaiq (softening of the heart) and matters of the heart since its knowledge is relied upon the book of Zuhd which has narrations about the Prophets -salawaatAllaah alaihim- from Adam to Muhammad, then upon the way of the Companions and successors and those after them were not mentioned.’

[Taken from ‘Tawdeeh Usool al-Fiqh ‘ala Manhaj Ahl-ul-Hadeeth’ p.41]

All Praise belongs to Allaah, may His peace and blessings be upon our final Prophet Muhammad, his family, his companions and all those who follow his guidance.

[1] – Those who preferred the intellect to the Book & the Sunnah.

[2] – Those who say that Eemaan stays at a constant.

[3] – Those who rejected the Sunnah.

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