Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Nobody Has The Right To Criticise Imam Shafi'i Rh

Assalaamu'alaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh

I have received many forwarded emails giving new "unique" and so-felt "intelligent" ways to approach Islamic juristic laws. I am no expert myself, and have always regarded that the Ulama (scholars) are my guides and means of myself being protected from the Fire of Jahannam.

When I read these entries / posts - it fumes me with rage, firstly because of my own weakness of being unable to contain my anger against blasphemous claims of righteousness; but more secondly and primarily - due to the fact that these claims are actually tools of Shaytaan to destroy our Deen of Islam, and hence our practice of our Deen, and hence our spiralling down into the pit of Jahannam. May Allah protect us all. Ameen.

In my humble mind, I find it extraordinarily dubious that people who claim to be knowledgeable say things that directly or indirectly attack the credibility of Imam Shafi'i Rahmatullahu 'Alaih. These people go about looking for Dalils (evidences) from Hadith, and they do not stop. Even "better" they back their Hadith evidences with "certification" - claiming that their evidences either come from the collections of Bukhari, Muslim, Tirmidhi, Abu Dawud, Nasa'i, Ibn Majah, and so forth. This is actually very comical; because little do they know that these illustrious Imams of Hadith are all Shafi'is in practice themselves. It is absolutely hillarious. In other words, they follow, abide and carbon copy the methodology of Imam Shafi'i Rh in deriving, abiding, following and conveying the Laws of Shari'ah.

Infact, many illustrious scholars are Shafi'is. If we were to spend our post here to name them all, then I guess I would have to use up an extra hour for the time I spend in crafting this email response. But anyway, let us just list some of our frontliners, to give a taste of reality...and of course - Ilm (knowledge).

Among the glorious Scholars of Islam who were Shafi'is in their juristic practices are:

(Imam of Aqidah)
1. Abu Al-Hasan Ash'ari Rh

(Imams of Hadith)
2. Imam Muhammad ibn Ismail Al-Bukhari Rh
3. Imam Muslim ibn al-Hajjaj Rh
4. Imam Nasa'i Rh
5. Imam Bayhaqi Rh
6. Imam Tirmidhi Rh
7. Imam Ibn Majah Rh
8. Imam Ibn Hibban Rh
9. Imam Daraqutni Rh
10. Imam Al-Hafiz Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani Rh
11. Imam Abu Dawud Rh
12. Imam Nawawi Rh
13. Imam As-Suyuti Rh
14. Imam Ibn Kathir Rh
15. Imam Dhahabi Rh
16. Imam Al-Hakim Rh

(Imams of Fiqh)
17. Sheikh Khatib Shirbini Rh
18. Ibn Hajar Haytami Rh
19. Imam Al-Rafi'i Rh
20. Imam An-Nawawi Rh
21. Al-Hafiz Izzuddin Abdus-Salam Rh
22. Imam Daqiiqul-Eid Rh

(Imams of Tafsir & Sirah)
23. Imam Mawardi Rh
24. Imam Al-Baghawi Rh
25. Imam Fakhruddin Ar-Razi Rh
26. Al-Hafiz Ibn Kathir Rh
27. Shaykh Khatib Al-Baghdadi Rh
28. Imam Al-Baydhawi Rh

(Other Leading Scholars and Religious Experts)

29. Imam Jalaluddin Al-Mahally Rh
30. Imam Taqiyuddin As-Subki Rh
31. Imam Tajuddin As-Subki Rh
32. Shaykhull-Islam Zakariyya Al-Ansari Rh
33. Imam Ramli Rh
34. Imam Al-Ghazali Rh
35. Imam Tabari Rh (who later became an independent Mujtahid)

See - it is a colourful, magnificent, glorious and supreme list of Ulama - who are the flagbearers and legacy of Rasulullah SAW.

Now - one may ask in irony - how come Bukhari, Muslim, Tirmidhi, Abu Dawud, Nasa'i, Ibn Majah - are all Shafi'is?

Were they not capable too?

Were they not pious?

Were they not accessible to the various sources of Deen?

Were they not closer in their time to Rasulullah SAW?

Were they not in an age when the reasonings in Islamic Law and the Arabic medium was understood crystal clear?

I tell you now - if there were Imam Bukhari Rh standing in front of me here on one side, and the other side was a charismatic critique-blogger from year 2009 with a loose tongue also in front of me - then of course I would want to follow Imam Bukhari Rh. Default selection by using the minutest basic intelligence.

And then I think I will want to ask Imam Bukhari Rh - why is it that you are following Imam Shafi'i Rh although you are a Hadith Master, the most authentic in nature, the strictest in requirements, and when you sit in Hadith readings during your glorious time, you didn't even need to use a pen to jot down notes, yet you memorised the narrations; you can memorise each hadith text, and their narrators right up to Rasulullah SAW; and you know the qualities, strengths and weaknesses of these narrators as if you knew them like your own family - then why still do you follow the juristic requirements of Imam Shafi'i Rh?

Why O Imam Bukhari Rh?

I can imagine, that the realistic answer from Imam Bukhari Rh to this hypothetical question would be:

"I am an expert in the collection of authentic narrations of Hadith, but the best integrator, systemiser of the evidences we have in the forray of Islamic Jurisprudence - so that every Muslim can abide by the rules of the Lord Almighty was Imam Shafi'i Rh.

Imam Shafi'i Rh is the scholar of Islam who developed established, integrated, and documented the systematised and cohesive form of fundamentals / origins for Islamic legal reasoning. This helped to further eradicate the problem when various sources of Hadith gave conflicting conclusions or so-seemed confusing / inconsistent."

The A-B-C for any Muslim who plans to understand the core-ultra-basics of Islamic Law is to firstly understand the term: Usul-ul-Fiqh.

What is it?

Well, Usul-ul-Fiqh, literally translates in Arabic as "The Origins / Fundamentals of the Laws" - which is the study of the origins, sources, and principles upon which Islamic Jurisprudence is based.

In narrow terms, it simply refers to the question of - what are the sources of Islamic Law?

In an extended sense, it includes the study of the philosophy and rationale of Islamic Law and the procedures by which the law applicable to particular cases is derived from the sources.

Thus, Imam Shafi'i Rh was responsible to raise the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad SAW to a place of prominence and fixed its position for legal use - that is to say - only practices directly passed down from the Prophet Muhammad SAW were valid. Imam Shafi'i Rh is best known for writing Al-Risalah, which is a prime example of applying logic and order to Islamic Jurisprudence.

Imam Shafi'i Rh was the one who established that there are basically four major sources of jurisprudence: that is -

(i) the Qur'an,
That is - Imam Shafi'i Rh established that the first source of law covers those duties made clear in the Qur'an. For example, Al-Risalah says that in the Qur'an men must "perform the Solat, pay the Zakat, perform the Hajj, and observe the Sawm (fast)". On the other hand, in the Qur'an, men are forbidden from "adultery, (the drinking of wine), eating (the flesh of) dead things and of blood and pork."

(ii) the Sunnah (Hadith) of the Prophet Muhammad SAW,
That is - the Sunnah covers those duties which are required by the Qur'an, but whose methods are made clear only through the words and practice of Muhammad SAW. Extending the examples cited for the first source, Al-Risalah describes "the number of Solah (each day) and the (amount of) Zakat and their time (of fulfillment)" as examples of issues that may be clarified through the Sunnah.

(iii) the Ijma' (consensus), and
Then, for those issues that are addressed by neither the Qur'an nor the Sunnah, the Ulama (Islamic Scholars) can be consulted in order to arrive at an Ijma (i.e. scholarly consensus).

(iv) Qiyas (analogy).
Finally, as a last resort, Ijtihad (personal reasoning) may be used to seek the truth. This personal reasoning entails the use of analogy (qiyas) to relate a specific issue to something that has already been addressed by any of the other three sources of Sacred Law.

In this day and age, this kitab is not easy to find. I was extremely fortunate to purchase this book, ironically in an "Islamic" bookstore in London porported by those who were rejecters of the Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jama'ah. Still, although being very hard-headed in their juristic preferences, they still cannot deny the legitimacy of Al-Risalah - as being a core reference for finding the means in deriving Islamic Law.

An example of the contribution of Imam Shafi'i Rh is as follows:

"If anyone does or says something before Rasulullah SAW, and Rasulullah SAW does not stop or rebuke the act / words, then this serves a proof as to the permissibility of this act, and this was solely to the undisputed fact that Rasulullah SAW was infallible. Others beside Rasulullah SAW cannot rely on this, as they are not infallible."

In the foray of Hadith sciences, Imam Bukhari Rh, who was also Shafi'ite said:

"Other than Rasulullah (SAW), the silence of someone cannot be advanced as proof."

Hence, all of the above is through the rigorous application of legal principles as opposed to speculation or conjecture. It is considered one of the most conservative and most systematic of the four schools of Islamic Jurisprudence.

For this reason, Imam Shafi'i Rh is also known as the "First Among Equals" for his exhaustive knowledge and systematic methodology to religious science. His approach to Islamic Jurisprudence has become the standard reference of the scholars not only among his School but among others as well.

There is hence - the famous Fiqh saying:

"The Shafi'is Are The Pillars of Our Religion (of Islam)."

May This Be Beneficial and A Means of Guidance.

Jazakamullahu Khairan Katheer.


Anonymous said...

What is the SAW on the very top? Please don't tell me that you really condensed the whole Salalahu 'Alayhi Wasallam into those three letters. I can hardly see how that is fair.

Harun said...


Nice title but you don't give a single (good) reason why nobody has the right to criticise imam Shafi'i rahmatullahi aleyhi. Why is criticism wrong if brought in a proper way? You give leeway for blind following and not using your mind.

What is your evidence/proof imam al-Bukhari rahmatullahi aleyhi was a Shafi'i? Have you read Sunna Notes from G.F. Haddad? I think you aren't correct because he had his own school of law which is extinct.

Imam Shafi'i's book al-Risalah is very easy to find, you can buy it in several islamic bookstores all over London for example and online it is widely available in English and Arabic so what you are stating is not correct.

It is the Salafi's that stress the importance of this book more than the traditional Sunni's, in fact they are the only ones left who still teach from this book as it the traditional Sunni's who left it.



Abu Khadijah Damansari said...

Salam Brother Harun

My view is as follows:

Criticism is okay when brought in a proper way. However the question is - nobody has the right to criticise Imam Shafi'i Rh because nobody in this day and age has the same ability. You should practice good opinion on the intentions of this post before responding, because it will reduce conflict.

It is a well-known fact that Imam Bukhari Rh was Shafi;i in practice - in the manner he approached jurisprudence. If there are minor departures that is normal, even Imam Nawawi Rh and Imam Ghazali Rh had different views in certain issues - but the core manner in deriving Islamic law is the same as that established by Imam Shafi'i. Sunna Notes from G.F. Haddad is not the only source, strong enough to negate this fact.

Well I am very happy that Al-Risalah is now very easy to find. When I was in th UK - it was very difficult. Extremely difficult. This was around year 2002. Again - if you practice good opinion of your Muslim brothers before barging with comments, then I'm sure the Ummah will stay united.


Harun said...

Salam brother,

I agree with you to a certain extent but also differ with you.

Imam Shafi'i rahimullah was but a human, he was not someone like our Prophet s.a.w.s. (who was only human too of course) and thus he will have his words rejected, which means also that he will be criticized. I don't see why nobody has the right to criticize him. Didn't he say something like this: if you find a hadith which is contrary to my opinion than leave my opinion and take that hadith because that is my madhhab? To me this means he allowed criticism himself. You make it sound like there was nobody after him who had more knowledge than he had and that's why nobody has the right to criticize him? This is not correct I feel. He was very knowledgeable, on of the biggest scholars and I have deep respect for him as such. I'm not saying there is anyone today who has more knowledge than he had.

You can't judge my intentions. Besides I do have good intentions and don't want a conflict but we should be critical and use our minds and not give imam Shafi'i a position which is not justified. In fact he was criticized a lot for his Risala if you read a little more on the biography of imam Shafi'i.

If you would do some research you will find that there have been scholars who also said that imam Bukhari was a Hanbali so it isn't sure at all he was a Shafi'i. I'm of the opinion he was a mujtahid mutlaq and that he had his own school/madhhab of fiqh. This can also be read in other sources than Sunna Notes, I just gave you one reference.

Dear brother may Allah reward you but you really misjudge my intentions with my reply. I'm not out to refute you and your log is masha'Allah but I just feel you can do your research a little bit better. Furthermore I'm also posting these comments to let other people benefit.

your brother,


Abu Khadijah Damansari said...


Alhamdulillah Bro Harun - see you if you observe - your second post sounds a lot better. It was crafted with better mannerism, patience and Akhlaq. Of course - my post does not intend to elevate Imam Shafi'i Rh to nonsensically superhuman levels. However, today in a situation where Muslims are already divided, lack of faith, lack of knowledge, lack of experience etc - I believe that it is not proper that people in this day and age give harsh opinions on Imam Shafi'i Rh. Imam Shafi'i Rh himself was Imam Hanbali Rh's teacher. And Imam Hanbali Rh - out of respect of Imam Shafi'i Rh and concern for unity in the Ummah did not pass any independent Ijtihad until they both agreed to part ways i.e. when Imam Shafi'i Rh made Hijrah to Egypt in the West, and Imam Hanbali Rh remained in Iraq. But today you see brother, we get really hyped-up about correcting others that we begin to cancel out each other. This is the problem. When I received your first post, I did not bother to write long because - (a) firstly it will take multitudes of pages to explaibn; and (b) I am very familiar with that tone of voice. I was Salafi once. I know how Salafi's think. It is also incorrect that Al-Risalah is not used in Traditional Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jamaah institutes. The best way is to visit the various Madrasahs around the world and ask the fellow Muhadditheen and 'Aalims; and many more issues I would like to clarify, because I am now busy, my third child / first son is born - and I have many things to do. I know you mean well brother, we all mean well - at least those in our dimension of thought - may Allah SWT accept our efforts - but we have to think of implications - deep implications brother, for the sake of the Ummah. In year 200 I was fortunate to be in Amsterdam in a masjid which was a former synagogue - now used by the so-called Tablighi Jamaat. I was there for Fajr prayers. It so happened that a Jamaat from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia was in the Jamat - and within that Jamaat was grand-scholar - Shaykh Abu Bakr Al-Jaizari. After he spent forty days with that Jamaat, he became very supportive of the Tablighi Jamaat and more connected with the traditional schools of the Ahlus Sunnah. Firstly because he realised the many similarities in Muslims around the world, but secondly, he realised that the differences was not worth the argument - because the negative implications outshadow the positive.



Harun said...

Salam akhi,

Forgive me my bad adaab, tabarakallah for pointing that out.

I'm not a Salafi though if you might have had the impression I am, although I'm influenced by them in the way I think on some issues. I'm a student of the Shafi'i madhhab mainly but don't call myself a Shafi'i, still a beginner. If you have read my log you know I'm not a Salafi although I take knowledge from some of them. I like Suhaib Webb a lot actually because he represents a balanced way of approaching things.

Masha'Allah, congrats with your son, may Allah bless him and keep him on the straight path.

I know what you mean akhi. I didn't mean to argue with you, I don't like arguments and don't see the need to argue with anyone because of minor issues / differences.

Akhi, may I ask where you live at the moment if it is not too impolite? Is that the Abu Bakr al-Jaza'iri from the book Minhaj al-Muslim? I don't live near Amsterdam so I don't know that mosque and I have never heard the shaykh was here. I sat a lot with the Tablighi's in Kenya and went with them once. I have not seen them a lot in my country though because a lot of people - read: Salafi's/ a great part of the younger generation - don't like them because of the several fatwa that circulate on the net. I have nothing but praise for them to be honest.

You can send me a mail if you want, my pm is harunverstaen@yahoo.com

Hope to hear from you insha'Allah.

I heard from my Salafi teacher and also read somewhere online that the Risala is not taught a lot anymore but instead some other works are being taught more. Isn't it strange there are no existing commentaries on the Risala anymore and no recent commentaries?

I am deeply concerned about the unity of our ummah, you can read the post on my log that is called "Ramadhan reflections from Kenya" and you will we share the same view.

Take care,

your brother Harun

Abu Khadijah Damansari said...

Salams Bro Harun

MashaAllah it is good that we both are trying to progress within the remits of the Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jama'ah - and yes it is true that we should not be Taksub (fanatical) about our own madhabs. May Allah accept our efforts, and forgive our shortcomings. Ameen.

Currently Bro Harun, I am based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Almost half of my life has been in the UK (mostly London) and the rest in Malaysia. I shifted to Malaysia at the end of year 2005.

And yes, brother - it is the grand gem amongst the Ulama - As-Shaykh Abu Bakr al-Jaza'iri who penned Minhaj al-Muslim that I was talking about. Indeed his charisma comes not from his rhetorics, but from his spirituality. MashaAllah. I was extremely fortunate that Allah SWT gave me a chance to sit with him in Summer 2000 in Amsterdam that year.

Ameen. Brother. Ameen. My hopes are that my son - Muhammad Umar will be of grand service to the Deen of Allah Ta'ala.

The effort of Da'wah and Tabligh in Holland is mostly porported by the Algerian and Morrocan settlers there. There are also Turks. In Hoogezand I think - it is the Javan-Malay-Senegalese-Guyanans based there.

In my humble opinion and little knowledge, there are commentaries on Al-Risalah - not so much in the mode of criticising it, but to elaborate on its purpose. You may refer to commentaries on Al-Risalah by Ulama e.g. Abu Bakr Al-Sayrafi Rh(d 330), Abu Al-Walid Al-Nisaburi Rh (d 365 or 363), Abu Bakr Al-Jawzaqi Rh(d 388) and Abu Muhammad Al-Juwayni Rh - who is the father of the grand Imam Al Haramayn, teacher to Al Imam Al-Ghazali. Others include: Abu Zayd Al-Jazuli Rh, Yusuf ibn 'Umar Rh, Jamal Al-Din Al-Afqahsi Rh, Ibn Fakihani Rh, and Abu Al-Qasim 'Isa ibn Naji Rh.

Yes, the above are mostly classical Ulama. Modern Ulama in my humble opinion do not further elaborate on Al-Risalah because (a) the elaboration within Al-Risalah is already very compact; (b) the Al-Risalah is a book of Usul, hence core principles in derivation of Islamic Law, hence it will be brief, sharp and concise, unlike Al-Umm; and (c) the elaborations upon elaborations of second, third and fourth generation 'Aalims after Imam Shafi'i Rh is probably enough to elaborate on these principles.

I find it quite natural that Salafis will be enthusiastic with Al-Risalah because in this mode of thought people are encouraged to be DIY Mujtahids. If you have not covered this work before - I strongly recommend that "Al-Albani Unveiled" is read - which is a condensed / compact work of an intensive study of the modern frontliner Ulama of Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jama'ah of the four Madhabs on Salafism. After reading the summary (the book) - I left Salafism.

We will be in touch. Happy to know we have kalifahs in Holland. MashaAllah.

JazakamullahuKhaira & Wassalam.



Harun said...

Wa aleykum salam bro Abu Khadijah,

Jazzak Allah for your answer. Amin to your du'a's!

I knew about the classical commentaries. I actually translated the Risala to Dutch (from English) and it is at the publisher's now.

I haven't read "al-Albani Unveiled", still have to but I am also aware of some refutations by the Salafi side of this book which seem also credible, w'Allahu 'alam.

Were you in A'dam for study purpose?

What do you do for a living? Are you a talib ul'-ilm?

Suppose I would like to come to Malaysia to study Arabic and islam, is this possible there, with a family, next to having a part-time job? I know about the Islamic University.

Hope to hear from you.

Friendly greetings,


I just heard yesterday from a Turkish brother the Tablighi's hardly visit Turkey actually, it is not allowed to sleep in the mosques there he said. I was surprised to hear this because they go any place.

Abu Khadijah Damansari said...

Salam Bro Harun

I was in Amsterdam during my Summer break when I was studying in University of London.

I currently work in People Strategy in Communications; I have digressed so far from my intended field - civil engineering. I also teach Fiqh, Usuluddin and Tasawwuf at PERKIM (Islamic Welfare Society of Malaysia. In my past time I also write books, and do Da'wah.

Malaysia overall is a nice place to live. But I must say that the Deeni environment is not as good as the UK - at least in the community I used to live in. But other than that it is a very peaceful country, the weather is warm year round, different races live together in Harmony.

The Malay race - which makes the majority of Muslims in Malaysia are known for their good mannerism, Akhlaq and politeness. Many Arabs and those from Indo-Pak get affected by this, and become better Muslims. Masjids here are beautiful and big, universities are well-equipped. The only thing missing is thirst and passion for Deen. There is lack of passion I feel. But you know what - I think if it were as good as wished - it would be too perfect a place in the world, especially in this day and age. :D

Perhaps it would be worth it for you to check the Malaysian Government website to know more about opportunities in Malaysia. The government is one of the few in the world that practices e-governance (i.e. through the internet, etc.)


Harun said...

Salam bro Ezrin,

Masha'Allah, I'm impressed brother. Malaysia is still on my list for the future insha'Allah, only He knows where we will end up. A Dutch convert brother here went to Malaysia for 3 months and he revived islam in the village he stayed in, the mosque was packed when he left. Insha'Allah we keep in touch and may be we once meet. I'll keep following your log and added you to my log.

Take care,


Harun said...

Salam again bro Ezrin,

I'm writing a post on the Shafi'i fiqh work Mabadi al-Fiqhiyyah, you most probably know it, with a translation of the paragraphs. Can you provide me with a link with the book online if possible? I would appreciate.

If you have some more info on this work I would like to know, also about the author insha'Allah.

Hope to hear from you. Just send me a mail instead if you can.

Friendly greetings,


Anonymous said...

assalamualaikum , can you please quote the references of this comment brother: I am an expert in the collection of authentic narrations of Hadith, but the best integrator, systemiser of the evidences we have in the forray of Islamic Jurisprudence - so that every Muslim can abide by the rules of the Lord Almighty was Imam Shafi'i Rh.

Anonymous said...

Assalamo Alaikum

Please explain if it is according to Sunnah when many Shafii do extravagant praise on Iman Shafii, especially in their witr prayer?

IT Buff: said...

Assalamu alaikum,

I don't see the point you are making. No one (i.e. no layman) has the right to criticize any imam. Not only Imam Shafi'. Moreover every imam made mistakes so we cannot elevate them to the level of infallibility that they cannot be criticized by other scholars. The so called traditionalists laymen sometimes heavily criticize Ibn Taymiyah, ra, but even that is not justified. Scholars are allowed to bring up criticisms.
The Shafi' imam Imam Juwayni himself criticized both Imam Abu Hanifa and Imam Malik and the criticism by Imam Bukhari and Imam Ibn Abi Shayba of Imam Abu Hanifa is well know. Allamah Kawthari (the pride of the traditionalists) also criticized Imam Shafi.
Moreover brother I think you included some scholars on your list who were not Shafis. Definitely not Imam Bukhari - he was an independent mujtahid if anything and relied on hadith rather than fiqh. If his usuls closely match Imam Shafis that is a different issue and a coincidence. That does not prove he is Shafi. Neither was Imam Muslim with all probability.

Zeeshan Parvez said...

Another personality worshiper. Everyone is and always will be open to criticism.

The only man free of all criticism is the best of creation, the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam).

Your beloved Imaam made mistakes as pointed out by the likes of al-BayhaQi and others. The same holds true for all other Imaams.

Get your head out of worshiping human and learn to follow the Qur'aan and Sunnah.

This is the religion of Allaah. It will be protected and those who spoke regarding legal matters will always be criticized.

Keep fuming. No one cares.