The Creed of the Ahlus-Sunnah wal-Jama'ah
Indeed all praise is for Allah. We praise Him; seek His aid; seek his forgiveness; and seek refuge with Allah from the evil prompting of our souls and the bad consequences of our actions. Whomsoever Allah guides, there is none to set him astray; and whomsoever Allah sets astray, there is no guide for him. And I testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah alone, He has no partner; and I testify that Muhammad is His Slave and His Messenger.
This is a brief tract concerning the fundamentals of the creed of the Ahlus-Sunnah wal-Jama'ah. It was prepared and published in response to many readers - students of knowledge and average Muslims - who have expressed the need for a concise and clear presentation of the fundamentals and rules of the Creed of the Salaf (pious early forefathers of Islam and their followers), while, at the same time, adhering - whenever possible - to the wording employed by the shari'ah as handed down from the scholars of the Salaf. For this reason, this discussion is free from the details, definitions, evidences, personalities, quotes and footnotes that are often necessary in a work of this nature. For the desire to achieve such an aim in a small paperback was not possible at this time. Perhaps this work - Allah willing - may become the basis for a specialist to fill in the gaps, thereby responding to the needs of those desiring more.
I have presented this work to his eminence Shaykh 'Abdur-Rahman ibn Nasir al-Barak, Dr. Hamzah ibn Husayn al-Fi'r, and Dr. Safar ibn 'Abdul-Rahman al-Hawali. Each of them - may Allah reward them - have added their suggestions. I ask Allah, Most High to make this task pure for His Face and may He mention among His angels our Prophet Muhammad - who was sent as a mercy to the worlds - his family, companions, and all those who have followed them, preserve them from any harm, and bless them.
Linguistically, the word 'aqidah means, "to know, bind, fasten tightly, fortify, consolidate and cement." By convention, the word 'aqidahmeans, "a firm, unwavering belief which is not open to any doubt with its beholder."
The Islamic Creed ('Aqidah)
The Islamic Creed therefore refers to a firm, unwavering faith (iman) in the following:
- Allah, Most High, and what is due to Him from tauhid in one's belief and worship and obedience to Him.;
- His Angels;
- His Scriptures;
- His Messengers;
- The Last Day;
- Allah's Decree (qadr);
- What is confirmed from the remaining matters of the Unseen and reports concerning the previous nations; and
- All absolute issues - whether pertaining to matters of knowledge or action.
The Salaf are the initial era of the Muslim nation ('Ummah): the Companions of the Prophet, their Followers, and the scolars of guidance among the initial three chosen generations of this nation ('Ummah).
The appellation "Salafi", in reference to them, is designated upon all those who follow them and traverse their path from the remaining eras of this nation.
Ahlus-Sunnah wal-Jama'ah are all those who are upon that which the Prophet (peace be upon him) and his Companions were upon.
They are named "Ahlus-Sunnah" due to their adherence and following of the Sunnah of the Prophet (peace be upon him). They are named the "Jama'ah" because they are those who have gathered upon the Truth and have not divided into sects in the religion among themselves; they have gathered around the lawful rulers and have not revolted against them; and they have followed that which the Salaf of this nation have unanimously agreed upon. As they alone in exclusion to all others are the followers of the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him), following his path, they are also known as "Ahlul-Hadith", "Ahlul-Athar" and "Ahlul-Ittiba" meaning "The people who follow the hadith", "The people who follow the narrated reports" and "the people who follow the Prophet".
They are in this world "the Victorious Group" and in the hereafter "the Saved Sect".
I. THE METHODOLOGY EMPLOYED BY AHLUS-SUNNAH WAL-JAMA'AH IN THE ACQUISITION AND DERIVATION OF MATTERS OF CREED
- The source upon which the creed is based is restricted solely to the Book of Allah (the Qur'an), the authentic Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him), and the consensus (ijma') of the righteous salaf.
- It is required to accept all which is authentic from the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) even when its mode of transmission is ahad or non-mutawatir. (A mutawatir report is one which fulfills four conditions: (i) It is reported by such a large number of narrators that under normal circumstances it would be impossible for them to gather upon a lie; (ii) that such a number exists throughout the chain of narration; (iii) that the report is based upon something heard or seen, etc.; and (iv) that the narration necessitates knowledge by he who hears it.)
- The point of reference for understanding the Book of Allah and the Sunnah is those texts (nusus) that clarify their meaning and the understanding of the righteous Salaf and those scholars who have traversed upon their methodology. This is to be followed by what is authentic from the language of the Arabs. One may not, however, contradict what has been affirmed by the above due to mere linguistic possibilities.
- The Prophet (peace be upon him) has explained all the fundamentals of the religion. It is therefore impermissible for anyone to innovate something claiming that his innovation is something from the religion.
- One must submit both inwardly and outwardly to Allah and His Messenger (peace be upon him). Therefore, one may not oppose anything from the Book of Allah, and the authentic Sunnah by analogy (qiyas), sensation (dhawq) and unveiling (kashf) of a mystic, opinion of a scholar (shaykh or imam), or anything similar.
- Sound reasoning is always in agreement with correct transmission of revelation. No two absolute proofs among reason and revelation can ever contradict one another. When contradiction is supposed between the two, one must put revelation first over reasoning.
- In matters of 'aqidah, it is required to adhere to the wording employed by the shari'ah and to avoid all inovated wording. As for any equivocal non-shari'ah wording which connotate both incorrect and correct meanings, one must inquire into the context in which it was employed. That meaning which is then found to be true and correct is affirmed, and that which is found to be false is negated.
- Infallibility from committing sin and error is only affirmed for the Prophet (peace be upon him). The Muslim nation, as a whole, is also infallible from agreeing upon any deviation. There is no infallibility for any single individual of the nation. In those matters concerning which the scholars and others have differed, the reference is the Book of Allah and the Sunnah - with the advancement of an excuse for the errant among those scholars of the Muslim Nation exercising ijtihad (i.e., spending one's utmost ability in trying to reach the judgement of the shari'ah in a particular issue).
- Existing among the Muslim Nation are those individuals who are spoken to and whom recieve inspiration. Furthermore, the existence of a righteous dream is a reality and is part of Prophethood. Similarly the existence of perspicacity (farasah) is a reality. When found to be in agreement with the shari'ah, all of these matters are forms of miracles (karamat) and glad tidings from Allah. They are not a source of 'aqidah or shari'ah though.es and Distinguishing Characteristics of the Ahl al-S
- To argue falsely in matters of religion is blameworthy. As for "arguing in a manner which is best", this is allowed by the shari'ah. of Creed II. Tawheed in One's Belief and Knowledge III. TawThose matters where there exists an authentic prohibition from delving into, it is required to comply with that prohibition. It is also required for a Muslim to refrain from speaking about those matters of which he has no knowledge. He should instead resign knowledge of that matter to Allah who knows all matters.
- When refuting, it is required to adhere to the methodology employed by the Inspiration - as it is required to adhere to that same methodology in matters of beliefs and when acknowledging those beliefs as true. One may therefore not refute a heresy with another, nor may one face negligence with extremism or vice-versa.
- Every innovation in the religion is a bid'ah, and every bid'ah is a deviation, and every deviation is in the Hell-Fire.
II. TAWHID IN ONE'S BELIEF AND KNOWLEDGE
- The foundation upon which faith in Allah's Names and attributes is based is to affirm for Allah what He has affirmed for Himself or His Messenger (peace be upon him) has affirmed for Him without likening His Names and Attributes to those of His creation (tamthil) or saying how the modality of His Names and Attributes are takyif; and to negate from Allah what He has negated from Himself or His Messenger (peace be upon him) has negated from Him without distorting (tahrif) or negating (ta'til) the literal meanings of His Names and Attributes. Allah has said, "Nothing is as His likeness and He is the All-Hearing, the All-Seeing." This means faith in the literal meanings of those texts which mention Allah's Names and Attributes and what they point to in meaning.
- Likening Allah's Names and Attributes with those of His creation (tamthil) and denial of His Names and Attributes (ta'til) constitutes disbelief (kufr). As for distortion of the literal meanings of His Names and Attributes (tahrif) - which some of the heretics call ta'wil - some forms constitute kufr, like the metaphorical interpretations of the Batiniyyah, while other forms constitute heresy (bid'ah), like the metaphorical interpretations of those who negate Allah's Attributes. And yet other forms occur by mistake.
- The beliefs in a single universal existence identified with Allah (wahdat al-wujud), Allah's incarnation (hulul) into or His unifying (ittihad) with any of His creatures are all beliefs that constitute kufr, expelling one from the Nation of Islam.
- A general faith in the existence of the Noble Angels is required. A specific faith, according to the extent of one's knowledge, in the names, attributes, actions of those Angels concerning which evidence has been authentic is also required.
- Faith in all the Scriptures sent down by Allah is required. Faith that the Noble Qur'an is the best of all Scriptures, and has abrogated all the Scriptures sent down before it is required. Faith in the occurence of distortion to the text and meanings of all the Scriptures sent down prior to the Qur'an is required. For these reasons, it is required solely to follow the Qur'an in exclusion to all previous Scriptures.
- Faith in all of Allah's Prophets and Messengers (peace be upon them all) is required. Faith that they are the best of mankind is required. Whoever claims other than that is an infidel (kafir). It is required to specifically have faith in whoever the evidence is authentic in identifying as being a Prophet or Messenger. As for the remaining Prophets and Messengers; it is required to have a general faith in their existence. Faith that Muhammad (peace be upon him) is the best among all the Prophets and Messengers, the last of them, and that Allah has sent them to all of mankind is required.
- Faith in the termination of revelation (wahi) after the Prophet (peace be upon him) and that he is the Seal and Final Prophet and Messenger is required. Whoever believes other than that has disbelieved.
- Faith in the occurrence of the Last Day, all the reports transmitted in the Book of Allah and the Sunnah concerning that Day, and what will proceed it among the various Signs and conditions heralding its approached is required.
- Faith in what Allah has decreed, the good and evil outcome thereof, is required. Namely this includes faith that Allah knew what would occur before it came into existence, that He has written that in the Preserved Tablet, that what Allah wills is and what He does not will is not and will never be, thus nothing occurs except by His will, that Allah is capable of everything, and that He is the Creator of everything, the Doer of what He pleases.
- Faith, without allegorical interpretation (ta'wil), in the matters of the Unseen which have been authenticated by evidence, such as the Throne, the Footstool, the Garden, the Fire, the Pleasure and Punishment in the Grave, the Bridge, the Balance and all other matters of the Unseen is a must.
- Faith, as its details have been mentioned in the authentic evidence, in the intercession of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and the intercession of the other Prophets, the Angels, the righteous, and others on the Day of Resurrection is required.
- It is true that the believers will see their Lord on the Day of Resurrection in Paradise and while standing on the plains on the land of gathering. Whoever rejects its occurrence in the Hereafter is astray. It is impossible to see Allah in this world.
- The existence of miracles (karamat) by those near to Allah (awliya') and the righteous is a reality. The mere occurrence of an extraordinary incident is not necessarily indicative of an occurrence of a miracle. Rather such an event might have occurred as a deluding by Allah of that individual into destruction or by the abilities of the devils and sorcerers. The standard for distinguishing between all of that is whether that incident and individual is in agreement or not with the Book and the Sunnah.
- All the believers are among those near to Allah (awliya'). Every believer possesses a degree of nearness to Allah in accordance to the level of faith.
III. TAWHID IN ONE'S INTENT AND AIM (TAWHID AL-'ULUHIYAH)
- Allah is One, Alone. He has no partner in His Actions (rububiyah) and right of worship ('uluhiyah) or equal in His Names and Attributes. He is the Lord of the Worlds who alone deserves all forms of worship.
- To direct any act of worship to other than Allah - such as invocation, seeking help, seeking aid, vowing, slaughtering, reliance and trust, fear, hope, love, and similar acts - is shirk (idolatry) no matter to whom that worship is directed to - be he an angel, a sent prophet, a righteous slave of Allah or any other.
- Among the fundamentals upon which worship (ibadah) is based is that Allah is to be worshipped out of love, fear and hope. To worship Allah out of any single aspect of these in exclusion to the other aspects is a deviation. Indeed some scholars have said,"Whoever worships Allah by his love of Allah alone is a hypocrite (zindiq); whoever worships Allah out of fear of His Punshment alone is a Haruri [A group of Khawarij who were extremists]; and whoever worships Allah out of hope of His Mercy alone is a Murji'i [A heretical group that believed that a person's actions could not harm him once he had faith]."
- Submission to, pleasure with, and absolute obedience are to be given only to Allah and His Messenger. Faith that Allah is alone Judge is part of faith that He alone is Lord and He alone is to be worshipped. He has no partner in His Judgement or His Command. To legislate by what Allah has not permitted, to judge by laws devised by men and men who rule by such laws (taghut), to follow other than the shari'ah of Muhammad (peace be upon him) or to replace any of the shari'ah is all disbelief.its L
- To judge by other than what Allah has sent down is greater kufr (kufr akbar), and at times is a kufr less than actual kufr (kufr duna kufr). An example of the former is to adhere to or permit judgement by a shari'ah other than Allah's. An example of the latter is to turn away from Allah's shari'ah in a specific incident due to one's desires, yet with one's overall adherence to the shari'ah.
- To divide the religion into an esoteric reality (haqiqah) to which the select distinguish themselves by adhering to in exclusion to the general body of Muslims and an exoteric shari'ah to which the general body of Muslims must adhere to in exclusion to the elite or to divorce politics or other matters from the religion is all falsehood. Indeed whatever opposes the shari'ah, be it an esoteric reality, politics or other than that, is either disbelief (kufr) or deviation depending upon the extent to which it is at variance with the shari'ah.n [One's] Intent and Aim (Tawheed al-Uluhiyah) IV. Faith (Iman) The Qur'ân and Allâh's Attr
- None knows the Unseen but Allah. The belief that anyone but Allah knows the Unseen constitutes disbelief - with our faith that Allah has manifested some matters of the Unseen to His Messengers.
- To believe in the truthfulness of the predictions of an astrologer or soothsayer is disbelief (kufr). To merely approach and question him concerning the future is a grave sin.
- The means of approach to Allah (al-wasilah), which we have been ordered in the Qur'an to seek, is to draw close to Allah by the various acts of obedience legislated by the shari'ah. Drawing near to Allah (at-tawassul) is of three types: (a) A manner legislated by the shari'ah: Namely, to invoke Allah by calling upon His Names and mentioning His attributes, or by mentioning one's righteous deeds, or by mentioning the invocation of a righteous living person on one's behalf; (b) A manner which constitues heresy (bid'ah): Namely to draw near to Allah by any means not mentioned in the shari'ah, like invoking Allah by the persons of the Prophets and righteous, their positions with Him, their right upon Him, or any manner similar to this; and (c) A manner which constitues shirk: Namely, to take the dead as intermediaries between oneself and Allah in worship, by praying to them, calling upon them in seeking the resolution of ones need's, seeking thier assistance and similar acts.
- The existence of barakah (the affirmation, increase, and continuance of much good) in an object occurs from Allah. He selects whom He wants among His creatures with what He wants from that. One may not, therefore, affirm the existence of barakah [in some object or person] except with an evidence confirming that. It is found at certain times (like "The Night of Power"), places (like the three mosques), objects (like the Zamzam well), actions (every righteous action is blessed) and individuals (like the persons of the Prophets). It is impermissible to seek the barakah of any individual, by their bodies or relics, except that of the Prophet (peace be upon him) for there exists no evidence to the existence of barakah with any specific individual in this nation besides him. To seekbarakah through him has ceased after his death (peace be upon him) and the disappearance of his relics.
- Seeking barakah is among the matters established by the shari'ah alone (tawqif). It is therefore impermissible to seek barakah except in that which the evidence is mentioned.
- Three types of actions occur by the visitors to graves: (a) Actions which are legislated by the shari'ah: Namely, to visit the graves with the intent of remembering the Hereafter, greeting and praying for the dead; (b) Actions which constitute heresy (bid'ah): Namely any action which negates the perfection of (tawhid) and is in and of itself a means leading to shirk. For example, to seek to worship and draw near to Allah at the graves of the righteous, to seek the barakah of the dead, to offer the rewards of one's good deeds to the dead, to set out and journey to the graves of the righteous or any similar act which its prohibition is confirmed or has no basis in theshari'ah; and cteristics of the Ahl al-S(c) Actions which constitute shirk and negate one's tawhid: Namely, to direct any act of worship to the dead, by praying to them, seeking their assistance, circumambulating thier graves, slaughtering and vowing to them, etc.
- Means carry the ruling of their aims. It is therefore required to forbid any means which leads to shirk in the worship of Allah or to a heresy in the religion. For every innovation is a heresy (bid'ah) and every heresy is a deviation.
IV. FAITH (IMAN)
- Faith consists of both statement and deed. It increases through acts of obedience and decreases through acts of disobedience. It consists of the statements of the heart and tongue, and the deeds performed by the heart, tongue and lip. The statement of the heart is its beliefs and its confirming [those beliefs] as true. The statement of the tongue is the acknowledgement of these beliefs. The deeds of the heart are its surrendering to Allah, its worship to Allah alone, its submissiveness to Him, its love and desiring of righteous actions. The deeds of the limbs is to do what Allah has ordered and to forsake what Allah has ordered and to forsake what He has prohibited.
- Whoever divorces actions from faith is a Murji'i. Whoever adds into faith what is not part of it is a heretic.
- The title of faith is not applied to those who do not acknowledge the two testimonies, nor is its ruling affirmed for those individuals in this world or the Hereafter.
- "Islam" and "Iman" are two terms employed by the shari'ah. Lying between these two terms is a shared meaning in one sense and specific meaning in another sense.
- Ahlul-Qiblah ("Those who face the qiblah in their prayers") are to be called Muslims.
- The perpetrator of a grave sin (kabirah) does not step outside the fold of faith (i.e., he is not an infidel). In this world, he is to be called a believer possessing an incomplete faith. In the Hereafter, he stands under under Allah's will, who may forgive him if He pleases or punish him if He pleases.
- One cannot unequivocally claim that any specific individual from Ahlul-Qiblah is destined to Paradise or Hell except for those individuals concerning whom a specific text exists affirming such for him.
- The term "kufr" as employed by the wording of the shari'ah consists of two types: a greater "kufr" which expels one from the fold of Islam and a lesser "kufr" which does not expel one from the fold of Islam and is often referred to as kufr in deed (kufr 'amali) (as opposed to belief).
- To charge an individual as an infidel (kafir) is among the rulings of the shari'ah. Its underlying factors are therefore to be found in the Book of Allah and the Sunnah. It is therefore impermissible to charge a Muslim as an infidel (kafir) due to any of his statements or actions, unless there exists an evidence from the shari'ah which points to that constituting disbelief.
- Furthermore, the designation by the shari'ah upon any statement or action constituting disbelief does not necessitate the affirmation of its consequences (namely, that person being an infidel) in the right of any specific individual unless all the conditions for that ruling have been met and all impediments (such as ignorance and coercion) have been negated. Since charging a Muslim as an infidel (takfir) is among the most dangerous rulings of the shari'ah, caution and ascertainment is therefore required prior to ruling against someone with that.
THE QUR'AN AND ALLAH'S ATTRIBUTE OF SPEECH
- The Qur'an is the literal speech of Allah in both its wording and meanings. It was sent down and is uncreated. From Allah it has proceeded and before the Day of Judgement it will be raised from the earth and returned to Him. It is an irreproducible miracle indicative of the truthfulness of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Its text and meaning is preserved from any corruption until the Day of Resurrection.
- Allah speaks what he wills, when He wills, and in the manner He wills. His speech occuring through letters and with a Voice is a reality. We do not possess knowledge of the modality of His Speech nor do we delve into that.
- The statements that Allah's Speech consisits of the meanings of the Qur'an in exclusion to its wording, that the Qur'an is only a reflex (hikayah or 'ibarah) of Allah's Speech, that the Qur'an is Allah's Speech only in a figurative sense, that the Qur'an is an outpouring from the Active Intellect (fayd) or statements that resemble those are all deviations and, at times, disbelief.
- Whoever denies anything of the Qur'an or claims that deletion, addition or corruption of its text has occured is an infidel.
- It is required to explain the Qur'an in accordance with the recognized methodology of the Salaf (i.e., by the Qur'an and Sunnah, then by the statements of the Prophet's Companions, and then by the statements of their followers). It is impermissible to explain theQur'an by sheer opinion, as such is speaking about Allah without knowledge. To explain the Qur'an by the allegorical esoteric interpretations of the Batiniyyah or in a similar manner is disbelief.
ALLAH'S DECREE AND FOREMEASUREMENT (QADR)
- Among the pillars of faith is faith in what Allah has decreed, the good and evil outcome thereof. This is inclusive of faith in the following matters - Faith in all the texts mentioning qadr. Faith in four levels of Allah's decree (qadr): (i) Allah's semptineral knowledge, (ii) Allah's writing in the Preserved Tablet all that will occur until the day of judgement, (iii) Allah's all-Embracing Will, and (iv) Allah's creating everything. Faith that there is none who can repel Allah's Decree or amend His Judgement is also a must.
- Allah's intending and commanding something something as mentioned in the Book and Sunnah is two types:(a) a creative (qadri kawni) Intent and Command, meaning He has willed such a thing into being; (b) a religious (shari') Intent and Command, which necessitates Allah's loving compliance to what He has intended and commanded, but not necessarily His willing such into being. While a created being does possess both an intent and a will, his intent and will is subordinate to the Intent and Will of the Creator.
- Guiding and setting astray the slaves is in Allah's Hand alone. There are those whom Allah has guided, by His Merit towards them, and those who deserve to be set astray, by His justice with them.
- Both the slaves and their acts are creations of Allah, Whom there is no Creator besides Him. Allah is therefore the Author of the acts of man and they are the literal performers of their deeds.
- Affirmation that Allah's actions are due to a Wisdom. Affirmation of the effects of causes existing by the Will of Allah.
- The life-spans of all men are written and the amount of their sustenance apportioned. Happiness or sorrow in the Hereafter has been written upon mankind before they were created.
- While one may justify the occurence of catastrophes and pangs by Allah's decree (qadr), it is however impermissible to justify one's faults and sins by Allah's decree (qadr). Rather one must repent from his faults and sins and the perpetrator of that sin is to be blamed for his act.
- To turn towards, rely and trust solely upon causes is shirk in one's Tawhid; to turn away in totality from taking the proper causes by claiming to rely and trust solely upon Allah is to belittle the shari'ah; to deny the effects of causes opposes both the shari'ah and reason. Reliance and trust upon Allah (tawakkul) does not negate embracing the proper causes necessary.
THE MUSLIM COMMUNITY (JAMA'AH) AND ITS LEADERSHIP (IMAMAH)
- The meaning of Community in this context is the Companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and their followers until the Day of Resurrection who have held to their way. They are the "Saved Sect". Whoever adheres to their methodology is from the community (Jama'ah), even if he has erred in some specific issues.
- It is impermissible to divide into sects in the religion or to cause discord between the Muslims. In those matters in which Muslims differ, it is required to refer to the Book of Allah, the Sunnah of His Messenger (peace be upon him) and that which the righteous Salaffollowed.
- Whoever steps outside of the community (Jama'ah) is required to be advised, invited and argued with "in a manner which is best", and to have the evidence established against him. If he repents, fine; otherwise, he is to be punished according to what he deserves according to the shari'ah.
- (4) It is required to hold the general body of Muslims responsible for the established meanings of the Book of Allah, the Sunnah and the consensus of the Salaf. It is impermissible to test the general body of the Muslims with subtle matters and profound meanings of the religion.
- The general rule concerning all Muslims is that they possess both good intent and sound belief until the opposite manifests. The general rule is to construe their words in the best manner. However, whoever manifests his resistance to the truth and evil intent, it is impermissible to bend over backwards to find a sound explanation for his words and deeds.
- The Muslim sects (Ahlul-Qiblah) which stand outside the fold of the Sunnah are all threatened with destruction in this world and punishment in the Hereafter. With the exception of he among them who inwardly is an infidel, the ruling concerning any particular individual among them is similar to those who stand under the threat of Allah's punishment. However, the followers of those pseudo-Muslim sects which stand outside the fold of Islam are, in general, to be considered infidels. The ruling concerning any individual among them is like that of the apostates.
- The Friday and Congregational prayers are among the greatest outward symbols of Islam. The prayer performed behind a Muslim whose true nature is hidden is valid. Not to pray behind him claiming ignorance of his true nature is a heresy.
- When one is able to pray behind someone else, it is impermissible to pray behind someone who openly manifests heresy or impiety. If prayer behind such an individual does occur, it is valid and the performer of that prayer has sinned, unless he intended by praying behind such an individual to restrain a greater evil. However, if one cannot find any individual to pray behind except one who is similar or more evil, under such circumstances it becomes permissible to pray behind such individuals. It is impermissible under any circumstance to forsake the congregational and Friday prayers. It is impermissible under all circumstances to pray behind someone judged to be an infidel.
- Leadership of the Muslims (al-imamah) is decided by either the consensus of the Muslim nation or by the oath of allegiance given by those among the Muslim nation who possess the right to place or remove a ruler (ahl al-hall wa al-'aqd). It is similarly required to obey, in what constitutes obedience to Allah, and give advice to whoever seizes power by force, gathering the Muslim nation behind him. It is forbidden under all circumstances to revolt against the ruler unless he openly manifests his disbelief (kufr) concerning which there is evidence from Allah.
- It is required to perform prayer, pilgrimage and jihad with the leaders of the Muslims even when they are tyrannical.
- It is forbidden for the Muslims to fight between themselves out of wordly motivations or jahiliyah partisian pride. Such actions are among the greatest of sins. It is however permissible to fight the heretics, those who revolt against the ruler and their likes when one cannot stop them with lesser measures. While at other times it becomes required to fight these groups. This is determined according to the benefits acheived and the situation at hand.
- All the noble Companions of the Prophet are trustworthy ('adul). They arthe best of this Muslim nation. To testify to their faith and their merit over the rest of the Muslim nation is an absolute fundamental point known by necessity to be part of the religion. To love them is religion and faith while to hate them is disbelief and hypocrisy. It is required to refrain from entering into what befell them of arguments and to forsake delving into that topic which diminishes their standing. The best among them were Abu Bakr, then 'Umar, then 'Uthman, then Ali. They are the rightly guided successors to the Prophet (peace be upon him). The right of each of them to Successorship was as the historical order.
- From the religion is to love and support the Family of the Household of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him), to glorify the standing and recognize the merit of his wives, who are the Mothers of the Faithful, to love the leaders among the Salaf, the scholars of the Sunnah and those who follow them, and to steer clear from the heretics and their desires.
- To wage jihad in the path of Allah is the apex of Islam. It will remain lawful until the establishment of the Hour.
- To command good (al-ma'ruf) and forbid evil (al-munkar) is among the greatest outward symbols of Islam. It is among the causes which preserves the Muslim community. Such an act is required according to one's ability and by taking into consideration the benefits achieved by that act.
THE MOST IMPORTANT QUALITIES AND DISTINGUISHING CHARATERISTICS OF THE AHLUS-SUNNAH WAL-JAMA'AH
Ahlus-Sunnah wal-Jama'ah are the "Saved Sect" in the Hereafter and the "Victorious Group" in this world.
Despite the disparity which exists between them, they possess certain qualities and characteristics which distinguish them from all others. These include:
- They attach importance to the Book of Allah by their memorization, recitation, and explanation of the Qur'an and to the Prophetic Narrations by their knowledge of them, their comprehension of their meanings, and their distinguishing between the authentic from the weak among the narrations. For both the Book of Allah and the Prophetic hadith are the source for the acquisition of the Creed and the Law. Furthermore, they follow up their knowledge with action in accordance to their knowledge.
- They enter completely into the religion. They have faith in all of the Scripture. They therefore believe in those texts which mention Allah's promise of reward, as well as those which mention His threat of punishment. And they believe in those texts which affirm Allah's Attributes and those which negate any resemblance to His creation. They join between faith in Allah's decree (qadr) and affirming the possession of a desire, will and action for the slave of Allah. They also gather between knowledge and action, the qualities of strength and mercy, taking the necessary measures and renouncing the world (zuhd).
- They adhere to the Sunnah and repudiate all heresy. They spurn sectarianism and any disagreement in matters of religion.
- They follow the guidance of the trustworthy scholars - namely, the Companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and all those who travelled upon their path - in matters of belief, action and in the manner of calling others to Allah. They remain clear from those who are at variance to the path of the Companions of the Prophet.
- They adhere to a median position. They, therefore, adhere in matters of belief to a median position between the sects at either end. While in acts of worship and their conduct, they adhere to a median position between the extremists and the negligent.
- They strive to gather the word of the Muslims upon the truth, to unify their ranks upon Tawhid and obedience to the Prophet (al-ittiba'), and to eliminate all causes leading to argument and difference between them. From this standpoint, they do not distinguish themselves from the rest of the Muslim nation, in the fundamentals of the religion, with any name other than that of "as-Sunnah wal-Jama'ah". Nor do they befriend or show enmity towards anyone due to any other bond other than that of Islam and the Sunnah.
- They call others to Allah, command good and prohibit evil, wage jihad, revive the Sunnah, act to renew the religion, establish Allah'sshari'ah and Rule, in all matters, minor or major.
- They have equity and justice in dealing with others. Hence they observe the right of Allah in dealing with people, not self desires or the desires of their group. For this reason, they do not exploit or wrong others, or belittle those who deserve esteem no matter what they may be.
- Notwithstanding the great distances between their lands and times, they possess a conformity in understanding and similarity in position. This is from the fruits of their possessing a single source for their religion and a single methodology for its aquisition.
- They show kindness, mercy and good character towards all people.
- They show sincerity (nasihah) to Allah, His Book, His Messenger, the leaders and general body of the Muslims.
- They show concern with the affairs of the Muslims, aid them, discharge their rights and prevent any injury from reaching them.
(t) Ali Al-Timimi