Al-Albaani and his father debating while they worked
in his father’s shop
Al-Huwaini: Did your father notice that you had turned to [the study of] the science of hadith and its like?
Al-Albaani: Naturally, he had a very negative effect, but Allaah, the Mighty and Majestic, made me stand firm. What used to happen in reality, and thanks are for Allaah, the Mighty and Majestic, for the sittings He decreed for me in his shop and for [the fact that I] learnt my father’s profession such that he and I would work and debate [at the same time]–me [debating] with what would appear to me [to be the truth] from the Sunnah and the hadith, and him with what he had studied in Istanbul and other places, study in which he had spent a long time.
So when we would debate I would do so with the hadith and the Sunnah and he would say [i.e., debate with], ‘The madhhab.’ And when such research would become unbearable–and I had a lot of endurance for it, add to that the fact that I was a youth and he was middle-aged, an old man [shaikh] rather–he would say, “The science of hadith is the profession of the bankrupt!” May Allaah have mercy on him and forgive us and him.
Most of our time in the shop was like this, [spent] debating. And by continuing to study the Sunnah and the hadith the common mistakes of the people and the Shaikhs of the time became clear to me.
From all of my brothers I was the one son who would always go with his father to the mosque.
And from his habits, may Allaah have mercy upon him, was to go and pray in the Bani Umayyah mosque, and he was influenced by some of the sayings and narrations in the books of the Hanafis regarding the excellence of prayer in the Bani Umayyah mosque. From them, for example, is what occurs in the last book from the books which the Hanafis rely upon, Haashiyah Ibn Aabideen, in it he mentioned [a narration] from Sufyaan ath-Thawri that prayer in the Bani Umayyah mosque is equivalent to seventy thousand prayers.
I could not conceive of such excellence for a mosque such as it which was made after the Prophet, عليه الصلاة والسلام, and I was, instinctively, not prepared to accept this exaggeration regarding its excellence.
Then days turned into years, and my research and study led me to study the biggest known [collection] on Islamic history, ‘The History of Damascus,’ by Ibn Asaakir, and this narration is present in, ‘The Commentary of Ibn Aabideen,’ in [the section about] the excellence of the Amawi mosque attributed back to Ibn Asaakir, and this is how the learned people of the end of time are, it satisfies them that the hadith is just attributed [to someone], even Ibn Asaakir, so that the narration can become, as the masses say, ‘An established hadith.’
So when I became sure of this, and naturally, this was years later [and by then] the time had come when I was studying all of the manuscripts in the Dhaahiriyyah library. And when, through my research and study I came to [the book], ‘The History of Damascus’ of Ibn Asaakir, I read all of it—and that which was present from it in the library was seventeen volumes, each one was huge, I came across this narration [i.e., regarding the excellence of the mosque of Bani Umayyah], and behold, its chain of narration was darkness upon darkness.
So I said [to myself]: Subhaanallaah, how these scholars of fiqh, due to their negligence of studying hadith, report a narration, which, firstly, if attributing to him is correct then [still] in the science of hadith it is a mu’adal narration. So what is the case when attributing the narration back to him is darkness upon darkness, so for this reason they do bad whereas they intend to do good.
Then I had a look at the story of the burial of Yahya, عليه والسلام, or the presumed grave of Yahya, عليه السلام, in the Bani Umayyah mosque, I read that in the history of Ibn Asaakir too. The important thing is that the research led me to the conclusion that praying in the Bani Umayyah mosque was not allowed.
So I wanted to get the opinion of some of the Shaikhs, from them my father and Shaikh al-Burhaani, so one day I [think] maybe [it was ] Dhuhr I prayed with him and Allaah knows best, I secretly confided in him that it had become clear to me that praying in a mosque in which there is a grave was not correct …
Al-Imaam al-Albaani, Hayaatuhu, Da’watuhu, Juhooduhoo fee Khidmatis-Sunnah, of Muhammad Bayyoomi, pp. 14-16.
 Bayyoomi’s footnote: And this shows the very high resolve of Shaikh al-Albaani, may Allaah have mercy upon him, for this history of Ibn Asaakir has now been printed in seventy-four volumes, and it is well known that reading through a manuscript is much, much harder than reading a printed book.
 Trans. note: A mu’adal narration is one in which two or more people in a row are missing from the chain of narration.