Questioner: The fourth question: there are some people who are bigoted/fanatical about some Shaikhs, what do you say to them?
Al-Albaani: There is no doubt that it is not allowed for a Muslim to show bigotry/fanatacism for any person in the world except our Prophet صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم because he is the one who was sent as a mercy and guide for the worlds and he is the only one عليه الصلاة والسلام who we have been ordered to take as an excellent example to be followed.
And all of the scholars whose knowledge we benefit from, we only do so not because of them themselves or their persons but only because they are the guides who show us the light and guidance that our Prophet صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم was upon.
So when a Muslim becomes bigoted for one of the Shaikhs, whether he is alive or dead, then the meaning of that is that he has forgotten the message of the Prophet عليه السلام and he has [instead] stuck/clung to this person who it is not allowed to couple with the Messenger صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم in knowledge or manners or perfection—so there is nothing strange when I say that verily, a Muslim’s bigotry for one person or Shaikh is indeed a breach/violation on his part of his testimony that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allaah.
For this reason, when I explain the testimony that Allaah is One, having no partner, and that Muhammad is His Slave and Messenger I say that indeed the first [part of the] testimony necessitates that a Muslim not worship anything else with Allaah for if he does then it is pure shirk, and that likewise, regarding the second testimony, [i.e.,] that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allaah, His Slave and Messenger—[I say that] whoever in this life takes an example or model to follow other than Allaah’s Messenger صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم as many of the bigots today do [then it is a breach/violation of this part of the testimony].
As is the madhhab of the Sufis who take their Shaikhs as examples and some of them have gone to extremes and laid out this major misguidance [I’m about to mention] for their followers: that they do not take another example to follow along with the Shaikh, so they said without any embarrassment or shame, ‘The example of the follower [mureed] who has two Shaikhs is like a woman who has two husbands.’ And so they enslaved the followers, making them their slaves such that we used to hear from some of them that they would not carry out any of their worldly affairs except after consulting with his Shaikh.
They have taken [the] Shaikhs as examples to be followed more than the Messenger’s Companions صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم—and that is [shown] because the Prophet’s Companions صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم used to ask him عليه السلام about things connected to their religion relating to selling, buying, business transactions, [as for whether] they should go [here or there], should they travel or not, [then] no, they were free, because from the completion of the Prophet’s call صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم, and [the completion of] his conveyance of his Lord’s Sharee’ah was that he said to them, ‘Whatever I have ordered you to do concerning your religion then do as much of it as you can, and whatever I have ordered you with concerning your worldly affairs, then you know better about your worldly affairs. ’
The Prophet صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم clarified to his Companions that he had not come to teach them about their worldly affairs, or about their striving and travel through the lands in search of sustenance, but on the contrary that he had come to teach them the acts of obedience and worship and avoidance of forbidden things which they could fear Allaah the Blessed and Most High with.
As for the Shaikhs of the Sufis, they have enslaved their followers [mureeds] completely and made them believe that they must consult with them in every issue related to their worldly affairs let alone their religious ones.
There were people we knew by name who would not get married except according to the Shaikh’s opinion, [people] who would not travel except under his counsel: if he told him to travel he would, if he told him not to, he wouldn’t—an enslavement which overtook any enslavement done by the disbelievers, however big. Because the disbelievers enslave the people from a monetary angle, as for these people, they do so from a psychological angle–and so they are more subservient than [normal] slaves are with their masters.
And I will tell you a story in which there is a lesson for whoever wants to take heed. One of the Shaikhs in a mosque in one of the most famous markets in Damascus, Syria, I don’t recall the name of the mosque right now, [it] was in the middle of the marketplace, maybe later its name will come to me, [the Shaikh there] mentioned the following story.
A Shaikh of a Sufi Path [Tariqah] said to his follower one day, ‘Go and bring me your father’s head.’ So he did, coming to the Shaikh happy and joyful at having carried out his order. Then the Shaikh but smiled at him, laughing, and said, ‘You think you really killed your father?’ He said, ‘Of course.’ To which he replied, ‘I’m [really] going to tell you to kill your father? I only ordered you to kill that man because he was your mother’s boyfriend. As for your father, he is absent, travelling.’
He related this story and the people were sitting down listening mesmerised as though they were under a spell. No one said a statement [like], ‘How is it possible to say this? The Shaikh tells his follower to go and kill his father and he carries out the order …’ no one said a word.
So he relates this story and then bases a legislative ruling upon it, saying, ‘From here we learn that when a Shaikh orders his follower with a ruling which apparently opposes the Legislation it is obligatory to obey him. Why? Because the Shaikh sees what the follower does not. Don’t you see in the story how he ordered the follower to kill his father but later it became clear to him that he was in fact his mother’s boyfriend, and based upon this, if one of you were to see a cross hanging on the Shaikh’s neck, it is not permissible for him to be reprimanded,’ because the Shaikh sees what the follower does not.
The lesson was concluded and in those days we used to pray taraweeh in a mosque that was upon the Sunnah and we would gather in a shop where I would repair watches, we would get together there every night in Ramadaan. A young man from our brothers came to me and told me the story, he had been present at the sitting [where it was told].
And [then] for a wisdom which Allaah wanted, a person passed by the shop who was a relative of [this] friend of mine. So he [i.e., the first youth who came to the shop and who was a friend of the Shaikh] went after him and called him saying, ‘O Abu Yusuf! Come here!’ So he came in and he [i.e., the first youth] opened up the topic about the Shaikh and his follower with him, [saying], ‘What do you think, Abu Yusuf, about today’s lesson?’
[These Sufis are] miskeens, he replied, ‘Maa shaa Allaah! …’ saying [in reply] such things which are normal over there [amongst such people]. So he [i.e., the first youth] started to debate with him, ‘How can the Shaikh order for him to kill his father?’ He replied, ‘You people reject the miracles [karaamaat] of the Allies of Allaah.’ He said some things until finally I entered the discussion with him … it’s a long story … if you were to explain an aayah or a hadith to a wall and it understands you, then that guy would’ve understood, he didn’t understand anything we said.
Finally I said to myself, let me touch a sensitive spot with this person who is not conscious of the Speech of Allaah nor a hadith of His Messenger, touch on a sensitive spot as they say nowadays, so I said—and here is the point of this story, ‘O Abu Yusuf! Let us be frank and open with each other. If your Shaikh ordered you to slaughter your father, would you?’
What do you think a person who has an atom’s weight of intellect or faith would say apart from, ‘I seek refuge with Allaah! No!’ [But] he didn’t say that, he said, ‘I haven’t reached that level yet.’
Look what they have done to these people, they have really made their intellects fizzle out, they have influenced their minds such that they cannot differentiate between the haraam and the halaal anymore, [or between] what is permissible and what is not.
In fact, they have reached that level where … he acknowledged that he hopes to reach that level where if the Shaikh told him to, ‘Kill your father,’ he would do it. When he [i.e., Abu Yusuf] said to me, ‘I haven’t reached that level yet,’ I said to him in the Syrian tongue, ‘Inshaa Allaah, you never will! You never will reach that level.’ [You can find another post where the Shaikh mentions this story and refutes the falsehood it contains in further detail here.]
So look at how breaching/violating the [testimony] that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allaah, sincerity in following him alone and not associating partners with him in following him, [lead to] the people falling into shirk and misguidance because they committed shirk in following the Prophet of Allaah صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم by following someone else along with him.
For this reason, it is not allowed for someone in this world who believes in Allaah and the Last Day to take one Shaikh no matter how lofty and exalted he is, no matter how much of a scholar or how righteous and so on he thinks him to be, but rather he should be like a bee, which visits all the trees and flowers, taking from its stomach the honey which has been testified as being a cure for mankind.
This is how it is fitting for a Muslim to be, he takes from every scholar the knowledge that he has as the scholars of the Salaf, may Allaah be pleased with them, were, for in the biographies of many of the scholars they wrote that they had hundreds of Shaikhs, for example, they mentioned that Abu Hanifah, may Allaah have mercy on him, had a thousand Shaikhs, and it doesn’t concern/worry me whether this narration is authentic in its chain and riwaayah, but this [i.e., such a thing as someone having so many Shaikhs] was present.
For in the book, Ar-Rawdan-Nadhir fee Tarteeb wa Takhreej Mu’jam at-Tabaraani as-Sagheer … his method in it … and this method has [great] skill … in it is ingenuity … to memorise the names of his Shaikhs he arranged their names in alphabetical order, alif, baa … the letters of the alphabet, and he reported one hadith from each one of these Shaikhs, how many were his Shaikhs in number?
More than a thousand, this is recorded in his book called, Mu’jam at-Tabaraani as-Sagheer, more than a thousand Shaikhs, from each Shaikh mentioned in this book he reported one hadith only, he wanted to gather and memorise the names of his Shaikhs.
He has three books: Mu’jam at-Tabaraani as-Sagheer, Mu’jam at-Tabaraani al-Awsat and Mu’jam at-Tabaraani al-Kabeer. The first and second employ the same method where he arranged the names of the Shaikhs [in alphabetical order], but the second [does] differ from the first in that in it he mentions more than one hadith for one Shaikh, as for the first, he only mentions one hadith … so he has more than one thousand Shaikhs.
This is how the scholars of the past were, because in reality each scholar is set apart from another in terms of knowledge, or manners, or deen, or righteousness and so on.
As for Al-Mu’jam al-Kabir, the third one, then his method in it completely differs from the first and second books, and the summary of that is that it is done according to the method of the Musnad collections, those of you who know the Musnad of Imaam Ahmad and that of at-Tayaalisi and those Musnads like them which have now begun to become apparent in the printed world [will know what I mean in terms of the method employed].
So he arranged the Mu’jam at-Tabaraani al-Kabeer according to the names of the Companions, he started with the ten who were given the glad-tidings of Paradise and then he started with alif, baa, [mentioning, for example] Ubayy ibn Ka’b [whose name begins with an alif] and so on, and he mentions many hadith there for each Companion and all of their hadith cannot be taken in [due to their numerousness] … and in this much there is sufficiency, and all praise is due to Allaah, the Lord of the Worlds.
Fataawaa Raabigh, 5.