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itiqad sufyan

The Creed of Imam Sufyan Ath-Thawri

Abu Sinan
Checked & Revised
Abu Khuzaimah Ansaari

His Biography

He is Abu ‘Abdillah Sufyan bin Sa’id bin Masruq Ath-Thawri. He was born in the year 98H and passed away in 161H, may Allah have mercy upon him.

Imam Adh-Dhahabi said regarding him,

“He is Shaykh Al-Islam, Imam Al-Huffadh, Sayyid Al-‘Ulama fi Zamanih (chief of the scholars of his time), Abu ‘Abdillah Ath-Thawri Al-Kufi, Al-Mujtahid, Author of the book ‘Al-Jami’.”

Shu’bah, Ibn ‘Uyaynah, Abu ‘Asim and Yahya bin Ma’in said,

“Sufyan Ath-Thawri is Amir Al-Mu’minin (Leader of the Believers) in Hadith.”

Bishr Al-Hafi said,

“According to us, Ath-Thawri was Imam An-Nas (Leader of the People).”

Al-Marudhi narrated from Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal that he said,

“Do you know who the Imam is? Sufyan Ath-Thawri is the Imam, no one precedes him in my heart.”

Al-Awza’i said,

“No one remains upon whom the general people have gathered with pleasure and correctness except for one man from Kufa – meaning: Sufyan.”

(Hafidh Al-Mizzi, Tadhib Al-Kamal 11:154
Beirut: Muassasat Ar-Risalah, 2nd Edition, 1403H/1983CE,
Hafidh Adh-Dhahabi, Siyar A’lam An-Nubala 7:229,
Beirut: Muassasat Ar-Risalah, 1402H/1982CE)

I’tiqad of Sufyan Ath-Thawri

Imam Al-Lalaka’i said: Muhammad bin ‘Abdur-Rahman bin Al-‘Abbas informed us, who said: Abu’l Fadhl Shu’ayb bin Muhammad bin Ar-Rajiyan narrated to us, who said: ‘Ali bin Harb Al-Mausuli narrated to us in the year 257H, who said: I heard Shu’ayb bin Harb saying:

I said to Abi ‘Abdillah Sufyan bin Sa’id Ath-Thawri: Narrate to me a Hadith from the Sunnah by which Allah, Mighty and Majestic, will benefit me with. Then, when I am standing in front of Allah, Blessed and Exalted is He, and He questions me about it, and He will say: “From where did you take this [Hadith]?” I will say: “O Rabb! Sufyan Ath-Thawri narrated this Hadith to me, and I took it from him.” So then I will be saved, and you will be taken [to account]. So he said to me:

“O Shu’ayb! This is an affirmation, and what affirmation [is better than this]? Write:

In the Name of Allah, Ar-Rahman, Ar-Rahim

  1. The Qur’an is the uncreated speech of Allah, from Him it originated and to Him it will return, and [as for] whoever says other than this – then he is a disbeliever.
  2. And Iman is: speech, action, intention, and it increases and it decreases – it increases with obedience and it decreases with disobedience.
  3. And speech is not accepted except with action, and speech and action is not accepted except with intention, and speech and action and intention is not accepted except by what is in accordance with the Sunnah.”
  4. Shu’ayb said: So I said to him, ‘O Aba ‘Abdillah! And what is in accordance with the Sunnah?’ He said: “Giving precedence to the Shaykhayn – Abu Bakr and ‘Umar.
  5. O Shu’ayb! What you have written will not benefit you until you give precedence to ‘Uthman and ‘Ali over the rest of them.
  6. O Shu’ayb bin Harb! What you have written will not benefit you until you do not testify to someone being in Paradise or the Hellfire except for the Ten for whom the Messenger of Allah testified for, and all of them were from Quraysh.¹
  7. O Shu’ayb bin Harb! What you have written will not benefit you until you view wiping over the Khuffayn without taking them off as being superior to washing your feet.²
  8. O Shu’ayb bin Harb! What you have written will not benefit you until reciting ‘Bismillah Ar-Rahman Ar-Rahim’ silently in the Prayer is more virtuous according to you than reciting it loudly.³
  9. O Shu’ayb bin Harb! That which you have written will not benefit you until you believe in Al-Qadr (the Divine Decree), its good and its evil, its sweetness and its bitterness, all of it is from Allah, Mighty and Majestic.
  10. O Shu’ayb bin Harb! By Allah! The Qadariyyah do not say that which Allah has said, nor that which the Angels have said, nor that which the Prophets have said, nor that which the People of Paradise have said, nor that which the People of the Hellfire have said, nor that which their brother Iblis said – may Allah curse him. 
    • And Allah, Mighty and Majestic said: “So have you seen the one that takes his desires as a God? And Allah knowing [him as such] left him misguided, and sealed his hearting and his heart, and placed a veil over his sight – so who can guide him after Allah? Will you not then take heed?” [Surah Al-Jathiyah, 45:23]
    • And He, Exalted is He, said: “And you will not, except that [which] Allah wills.” [Surah At-Takwir, 81:29]
    • And the Angels said: “Glory be to you! We have no knowledge except what You have taught us. Verily you are Al-‘Alim, Al-Hakim.” [Surah Al-Baqarah, 2:32]
    • And Musa, Peace be upon him, said: “It is only Your trial by which You lead astray those whom you will, and by which You guide whom you will.” [Surah Al-A’raf, 7:155]
    • And Nuh, Peace be upon him, said: “And my advice will not benefit you even if I wish to give you good counsel, if Allah wills to leave you astray; He is your Rabb and to Him you shall return.” [Surah Hud, 11:34]
    • And Shu’ayb, Peace be upon him, said: “And it is not for us to return to it except if Allah, our Rabb, wills – our Rabb encompasses all things with His Knowledge.” [Surah Al-A’raf, 7:89]
    • And the People of Paradise said: “All praise is for Allah, Who guided us to this, and we would have never found guidance if it were not that Allah guided us.” [Surah Al-A’raf, 7:43]
    • And the People of the Hellfire said: “Our wretchedness overcame us and we were a misguided people.” [Surah Al-Mu’minun, 23:106]
    • And their brother, Iblis, said: “Rabb, due to which you lead me astray […]” [Surah Al-Hijr, 15:39]
  11. O Shu’ayb! What you have written will not benefit you until you hold the opinion that the Prayer [is performed] behind every righteous or every sinful person.
  12. And that Jihad will remain until the Day of Resurrection.
  13. And that patience [is obligatory] under the banner of the Sultan, whether he is tyrannical or acts justly.”
  14. Shu’ayb said: So I said to Sufyan, ‘O Aba ‘Abdillah! Is it every Prayer?’ He said: “No, rather it is Salat Al-Jumu’ah, and the two ‘Eid [prayers], pray behind whoever you reach; and as for the rest of them, then it is your decision – do not pray except behind one that you trust and you know to be from Ahlus-Sunnah w’al-Jama’ah.
  15. O Shu’ayb bin Harb! When you stand before Allah, Mighty and Majestic, and He questions you about this Hadith, then say: ‘O Rabb! Sufyan bin Sa’id Ath-Thawri narrated this Hadith to me.’ Then create a friendship between me and my Rabb, Mighty and Majestic.”
(Imam Al-Hafidh Abu’l Qasim Al-Lalaka’i, Sharh Usul Al-I’tiqad 1:241-247
Dar Al-Lu’lua, 1st Edition, 1443H/2022CE)

¹ [TN:] What is not intended here is that one does not testify to someone being in Paradise/Hellfire whom the Prophet ﷺ testified for from other than these Ten, rather what is intended is a refutation of the Rafidha who reject the Hadith of the Ten Promised Paradise.

² [TN:] Many scholars included this issue in their books of creed as it is a hallmark of the People of the Sunnah established from the Mutawatir (mass-transmitted) Ahadith of the Prophet ﷺ – Shaykh Salih Aal Ash-Shaykh said, “And this issue, as it is explicit – the matter of wiping over the Khuffayn (leather socks), is from the issues of Fiqh and not from the issues of Creed. However, it enters into the issues of Creed because Ahlus-Sunnah  differentiate [themselves] from a number of sects by their view on wiping over the Khuffayn, and those that oppose it are the Khawarij – I mean a group from them – and the Rafidha, as well as a number of people that oppose this issue in their respective lands that do not ascribe to a sect from the [various] sects.” (Sharh Al-‘Aqidah At-Tahawiyyah of Shaykh Salih Aal Ash-Shaykh 2/694)

³ [TN:] This is an issue of dispute between Ahlus-Sunnah, however, as for the reason for it being mentioned in the books of ‘Aqidah, then Shaykh Al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah explained, “[…] and likewise reciting the Basmalah out loud is the Madhab of the Rafidha, and some of the people criticised Shafi’i due to that reason, and the reason of [his view on] Qunut, and its attribution is to the position of the Rafidha and the Qadariyyah, for verily it is well known that in ‘Iraq that [reciting the Basmalah] loudly was from the signs of the Rafidha […]” (Minhaj As-Sunnah An-Nabawiyyah 4/150,151)

Likewise, Imam Ahmad was asked about the Prayer behind the person that recites ‘Bismillah Ar-Rahman Ar-Rahim’ out loud, to which he replied, “No problem, if he is not a Person of Bid’ah.” (Masa’il Harb Al-Kirmani p. 169)


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