The Albaani Site

Translation from the Works of the Reviver of this Century

Tag: innovators

On The Difference Between the Dialogue that Takes Place Between Ahlus-Sunnah Among Themselves and the Speech Directed From Ahlus-Sunnah to the People of Innovation


Questioner: The first question, are there differences between the discussions that take place between Ahlus-Sunnah and the addresses that are directed from a Sunni to an innovator? And what are they?

Al-Albaani: Are there differences …

Questioner: Yes …

Al-Albaani: Are there differences between what goes on between Ahlus-Sunnah

Questioner: … between the discussions that take place between Ahlus-Sunnah and the addresses that are directed at an innovator from a Sunni? And what are they?

Al-Albaani: Without doubt the differences may sometimes exist and the difference is clear between the dialogue and discussions that go on between Ahlus-Sunnah themselves and what goes on between Ahlus-Sunnah on one hand and the innovators on the other, [and] that is that the discussions, dialogues and refutations between Ahlus-Sunnah themselves are only done based upon statements of His, the Blessed and Most High, like:

“By time. Verily, mankind is in loss. Except for those who have believed and done righteous deeds and advised each other to truth and advised each other to patience.” [Asr 103:1-3]

So the starting point of any discussion or dialogue that goes on between Ahlus-Sunnah must spring forth from aayahs like this:

“… and advised each other to truth and advised each other to patience.

And the issue should be likewise between Ahlus-Sunnah on one hand and those who oppose them in the Sunnah, and they are the innovators, on the other. But the method [employed] between Ahlus-Sunnah amongst themselves and between Ahlus-Sunnah on one hand and the innovators on the other may differ.

And that is because when a debate takes place between Ahlus-Sunnah themselves they are supposed to bear His Statement, the Most High, in mind, [a statement] which He characterised the Muslims in general with:

“… merciful among themselves …” [Fath 48:29]

As for when a debate takes place between these Muslims from Ahlus-Sunnah and the people of innovation then there may be some harshness and severity in the method [employed] which is appropriate to the persistence of the people of innovation in their innovations—this is the distinguishing factor between Ahlus-Sunnah among themselves on one hand and Ahlus-Sunnah when they debate or refute the people of innovations on the other.

But it is fitting that in both these [people] and those we take note of an issue [which is that] we do not vindicate one group over another with it, or slander one group instead of another, the reason for this being that [doing so] is a breach of the principle [laid down] in His Saying, the Blessed and Most High:

“Invite to the way of your Lord with wisdom and good instruction, and argue with them in a way that is best.” [Nahl 16:125]

Thus many times when a Sunni responds to another Sunni it so happens that the wisdom [as mentioned in the aayah] was not stuck to in the rebuttal—in fact, that which is even more important than that is not adhered to which is what our Lord, the Mighty and Majestic indicated in His Statement, the Blessed and Most High:

“… and do not let the hatred of a people prevent you from being just—be just, that is nearer to righteousness.” [Maa’idah 5:8]

So, many times what happens firstly is evil/bad methods are used when a Sunni refutes/responds to another—and even more than that: not observing trustworthiness and truthfulness in rebutting each other.

So unfortunately this occurred in the past and is becoming obvious now in this present time anew in a form which we had hoped we would not see occurring in the Sunni community, the one we call the Salafi community.

This is what has presented itself to me as an answer to this question.

Al-Hudaa wan-Noor, 698. [2/6/274]

Praying Behind the People of Innovation | 6 | ‘To pray behind every righteous person or wicked sinner’


Questioner: Many of the practising brothers who are keen in sticking to the Sunnah frequently ask about praying behind Imaams who are innovators, from the Ash’aris or, if the term is correct, the extreme Sufis, those who say that it is permissible to seek succour from other than Allaah in those things which only Allaah is capable of, and that leaving off praying behind them will at most times lead to an abandonment of the Jamaa’ah, because most of the Imaams with us are from the people of innovation, except for a few.

Another Person: Allaah’s Aid is sought.

Al-Albaani to someone who entered the gathering: Welcome.

Questioner: So what do you say, may your excellence continue.

Al-Albaani: We’ve answered this more than one time, [saying] that prayer …

Questioner: Yes.

Someone who enters: As-Salaamu alaikum.

Al-Albaani: Wa alaikumus-Salaam wa rahmatullaahi wa barakaatuhu.

I hold, and knowledge is with Allaah, following on from what those who came after inherited from the Salaf, that it is legislated to pray behind every righteous person and wicked sinner, and to pray over every righteous person and wicked sinner and that the prayer performed behind such Imaams is correct.

As long as we, or at the very least as long as the one who is praying [behind that person], holds–and we stipulate the [following] condition–that whatever innovation or innovations the Imaam is upon, he has not left the fold of Islaam and [has not left being regarded as from amongst] the Muslims.  He is an innovator, but without doubt and for a surety, not every innovator is a disbeliever, this is for sure. And if the situation is as such, then the one giving the the question [which you put] must place a check there and he must be precise, and this is what I am doing, so I say:

If the one praying behind an Imaam who is an innovator, whether that Imaam is a Sufi, or a Maaturidi, or an Ash’ari or … or, and so on to whatever other names the groups and parties have, if the one praying [behind such a person] holds that this Imaam who is an innovator has not left [the state of] being a Muslim, then the previous principle is employed, ‘To pray behind every righteous person or wicked sinner.’

And if he holds the opposite, that the Imaam has disbelieved, then it clearly goes without saying that praying behind him is not allowed.

But at the same time we warn [the people] from rushing to issue fatwas declaring a [single] Muslim to be a disbeliever, let alone Muslims, just because they fell into an innovation even if this innovation, as they say today, is one connected to aqidah. So one must take one’s time and be patient and not rush into issuing fatwas declaring others to be disbelievers.

Yet at the same time, we say that it is upon a Muslim to choose that the Imaam he prays behind is upon the Sunnah and correct aqidah and worship and manners, if he is able to, and if not, if the situation is that he has to choose between praying alone at home or praying behind that Imaam who has his innovations, then praying behind that Imaam is more fitting than praying alone …

Questioner: In order to preserve what is good …

Al-Albaani: Yes, thereafter along with that I say that if the person really is asking this question out of piety and devoutness, then I say, the door to devoutness is vast, when you come back from the mosque pray it again with your family.

Questioner: As occurred with some of the Salaf in times past.

Al-Albaani: Yes.

Questioner: He said, ‘Those who delay the prayers from their appointed times …’

Al-Albaani: It is as such, [delaying] the prayer from its time. This is our answer in this issue.

Questioner: And the one he prayed behind the Imaam would be counted as optional.

Al-Albaani: Optional, yes.

Questioner: May Allaah bless you.

Al-Albaani: And you.

Al-Hudaa wan-Noor, 754.

Praying Behind the People of Innovation | 5 |


Questioner: What is the situation with an Imaam who leads the people in prayer and is upon innovation, and all the time whenever we advise him he does not listen, in fact he hates us and is spiteful towards us, is it allowed to pray behind him or not, or does the innovation differ in terms of its … being whatever it is, ya’ni … [i.e., does praying behind him depend on what type of innovation he is upon]

Al-Albaani: Namely, whether it is an innovation which makes one a disbeliever or not?

Questioner: Whether it is an innovation which makes one a disbeliever or not, may Allaah reward you with good.

Al-Albaani: Firstly, I don’t know whether you were present at the previous sitting where we spoke about the Shee’ah?

Questioner: Yes.

Al-Albaani: And that it is not allowed for a Muslim to rush to declare the Shee’ah or others to be disbelievers just because they are Shee’ah, do you remember?

Questioner: Yes.

Al-Albaani: So it is even more the case that it is not allowed for us to declare someone who at the very least is regarded as being from us and amongst us, from the Ahlus-Sunnah wal-Jamaa’ah, to be a disbeliever except if we see open and manifest disbelief from him.

Especially when, my brother, we live, as I think is clear to you from the previous gathering and this one–and I hope that we are able to have another such gathering or sittings and that is in Allaah the Mighty and Majestic’s Hands–[so I think it is clear] that you understand well that the people are as described by the Lord of the Worlds, “But most of mankind know not …” [Al-A’raaf 7:187]

For this reason it is not allowed for a Muslim to rush into declaring an individual from the Muslims to be a disbeliever as long as he is praying, and you now put forward a question about an Imaam who leads the people in prayer, so, in an authentic hadith it occurs that–and for this reason we encourage the Muslim youth to study the Sunnah and everyone who doesn’t study the Sunnah is in misguidance but the extent [of just how misguided] differs totally [from individual to individual]–in the authentic Sunnah it occurs that [the Prophet said], ‘I have been prohibited from killing those who pray.’

Is it not an analogy a fortiori [qiyaas awlawi] that [consequently] we say that I have been forbidden from declaring the Muslims to be disbelievers, this is an argument a fortiori, like His Saying, the Most High, “And your Lord has decreed that you not worship except Him, and to parents, good treatment. Whether one or both of them reach old age [while] with you, say not to them [so much as], ‘uff,’ and do not repel them …” [Israa 17:23] to the end of the aayah, so is it allowed for a son to hit his father? It is even less permissible, saying ‘uff’ is haraam so hitting him with your hand is even more severe in harm, this is called qiyas awlawi.

No one denies this, even Ibn Hazm fell into using this analogy sometimes even though he totally rejects [the use of] analogy [qiyaas]. The point is that it has been authentically reported that he عليه السلام said, ‘I have been prohibited from killing those who pray,’ so it is even more correct to [say that] I have been forbidden from declaring those who pray to be disbelievers.

May Allaah forbid it, but when we see open disbelief from someone who prays, whether he is an Imaam or not–and that [is something which] in reality [would] need to be researched specifically–then maybe it would be correct for me to say … rather, then it would not be permissible to declare him to be a disbeliever even if we saw open disbelief from him except after having established the proof against him, and [if] after having done so he [still] was not deterred or inhibited [from that disbelief], it is then that you would not pray behind him and it would not be permissible for you to deal with him as a Muslim.

As for the generality of those who pray now, whether the Imaams or the followers, then the foundational principle is that they are Muslims and it is not allowed to declare them to be disbelievers.

As for the prayer, then no matter what you don’t like about his prayer, whether you are right [in that] or mistaken, your prayer behind him is correct, i.e., let us assume that he prays incorrectly, he is the one who is incorrect in his innovation and you are correct in your judgement that he is an innovator but you have not declared him to be a disbeliever alhamdulillaah, even with this your prayer behind him is correct.

And you will not find this answer in the books of the madhhabs at all, if you have studied one of those madhhabs that are followed today, like the Hanafi [madhhab], or the Shaafi’i one …  the agreement/contract of the Muslims would be dissolved and that which befell the Muslims of the previous generations would befall the Muslims of today, these are tragedies which happened in past Islamic history, and it has been reported that a bigot, and I don’t want to mention which madhhab [he was from], came to a mosque in which the Muslims were praying but not according to his madhhab, so he said, ‘Isn’t it time that this church closed its doors?’

It’s a mosque, the Muslims are praying in it according to one of the four madhhabs, not shee’ah, not khawaarij, not Zaidiyyah and so on, [they were praying according to] one of the four madhhabs, so this bigot says, ‘Isn’t it time that this church closed its doors?’

Similarly another of them who was a Qaadi judging according to the Sharee’ah, so he thought, said, ‘If it were up to me, I would have taken the jizyah from the Shaafi’is,’ just like that.

If we now wanted to implement some of the subsidiary issues present even till today in some of these books, [the result would be that] a Shaafi’i wouldn’t pray behind a Hanafi, and nor a Hanafi behind a Shaafi’i, because from the Hanafi texts [it is stated that], ’It is disliked to pray behind someone who opposes the madhhab.

[Addressing those present] have any of you studied Hanafi or Shaafi’i fiqh so that we can discuss this issue with him?

‘It is disliked to pray behind someone who opposes the madhhab,’ in fact it could be nullified if the one praying behind a certain Imaam knows that the Imaam’s ablution is not correct and they gave examples of that, [like] if a Hanafi saw a Shaafi’i perform ablution completely and then he touched his wife then such a person’s ablution would be broken, sorry, I made a mistake …  if there were a Hanafi who performed ablution and then touched his wife, his ablution according to the Hanafi madhhabs is correct, but not so according to the Shaafi’i one.

So the Shaafi’i does not hold the prayer to be correct behind him because he regards the ablution to have been broken.  And the total opposite is true if the Hanafi were to perform ablution and then he bled, according to his madhhab his ablution would have been broken, such a prayer would be invalid in the eyes of someone who holds that view. So if there was a Hanafi who adopted the madhhab of Imaam ash-Shaafi’i that no matter how much blood comes out then the ablution is still correct, [a person who holds the other view] will not pray behind him.

Questioner: The Maaliki madhhab or the Hanafi madhhab?

Al-Albaani: No, I’m saying that now we’re talking about two madhhabs, the Hanafis who hold that if someone bleeds, no matter how little, the ablution is broken but if he touches a woman his ablution is sound, and conversely you have the Shaafi’is who say that touching a woman breaks the ablution but bleeding, no matter how plentiful, does not.

Salvation is found in embarking on the ship of salvation, the Sunnah.

Listen now to the answer from the Sunnah.

He عليه الصلاة والسلام said concerning the Imaams who lead us in prayer, “If they lead the prayer correctly then they and you will receive the rewards, but if they make a mistake, then you will receive the reward for the prayer and the sin will be theirs.” [Bukhaari, no. 694].

No answer or ruling more comprehensive then this can be found.

So I wanted to show that through such meaning and such a ruling it is possible to bring the Muslims together.

Wallaahi, as for [one person saying], ‘Your madhhab is such and such but my madhhab says this,’ then this is division which we have been prohibited from, “And do not be of those who associate others with Allaah. [Or] of those who have divided their religion and become sects, every faction rejoicing in what it has.” [Rum 30:31-32]

Perhaps you have obtained your answer, inshaa Allaah.

Let us have another question …

Al-Hudaa wan-Noor, 539.

Praying Behind the People of Innovation | 4 | Al-Albaani Asked About Praying Behind the Quburis [People Who Fall Into Shirk Connected to the Graves]


Questioner: Another cassette reached us which had some of your statements regarding the fighting in Afghanistan and your fatwa about the permissibility of praying behind the grave-worshippers [Qaburis], so the people differed [after hearing this fatwa of yours], O Shaikh.

Al-Albaani: “… and they will not cease to differ, except whom your Lord has given mercy …” [Hud 118-119], this is the text of the Noble Quraan, “And if your Lord had willed, He could have made mankind one community; but they will not cease to differ, except whom your Lord has given mercy.” [Hud 118-119]

So differing is something very normal and there is no escape nor deliverance from it except by sticking to the Book and the Sunnah, for this reason, if some differing does occur then two things are obligatory on those who have differed:

The first is that this differing should not be a cause for disunity [and that it should not be] differing which leads to disunion/separation.

The second thing is that they should return to Allaah and His Messenger in that [issue], as Allaah the Mighty and Majestic said in the Quraan, “… and if you disagree over anything, refer it to Allaah and the Messenger, if you should believe in Allaah and the Last Day. That is the best [way] and best in result.” [Nisaa 4:59] And I believe that in many issues [people either] go too far or fall short.

In many issues there is excessiveness and negligence. Many of our brothers who cling to the Sunnah hold that one should not pray behind innovators but I say: these innovators, in our ruling about them based upon what is apparent to us, are either disbelievers or Muslims. So if they are disbelievers then praying behind them is not correct unanimously. And if they are Muslims then the prayer behind them is correct even if they are from the innovators or are misguided in some issues which they have left the Sunnah in.

And we have a hadith in Sahih Bukhari from Abu Hurairah, may Allaah the Most High be pleased with him, where he said that Allaah’s Messenger صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم said concerning the Imaams, “If they lead the prayer correctly then they and you will receive the rewards, but if they make a mistake, then you will receive the reward for the prayer and the sin will be theirs.” [Bukhaari, no. 694].

And another hadith also from Sahih Bukhari that a ruler in one of the cities, I think it was Medinah, during the time of the Amawis, his name was Uqbah ibn al-Walid as far as I recall, led the people in the morning prayer one day with four rak’ahs [instead of two]–because he was drunk, having drunk alcohol, so he didn’t know what he had prayed, and from his misguidance was that after he gave salaam to end the prayer he said [to the people], ‘Shall I give you some more [i.e., make it even longer]?’ He prayed four rak’ahs for fajr and yet along with that he said, ‘Shall I give you some more?’

The hadith is in Sahih Bukhari, [and Imaam Bukhaari is] the one who narrates the hadiths exactly as they are, and he didn’t relate to us that those Salaf repeated the prayer which that man led them in as four rak’ahs, why? Because of that first hadith [I mentioned to you, i.e.,], “If they lead the prayer correctly then they and you will receive the rewards, but if they make a mistake, then you will receive the reward for the prayer and the sin will be theirs.”

This is from one angle. The other angle is that there is no doubt that many of these innovators wanted what was correct but missed it, for this reason our obligation is to try to direct and guide them and not to take them as our opponents and enemies. And this issue is contingent upon what I mentioned just now: that as long as they are Muslims then they have the same rights as us and the same responsibilities.

And if they leave the fold of Islaam and become disbelievers like those who believe in Wahdatul-Wujood, for example, then it is not correct to pray behind them, but such people are not called innovators. The innovators are those like the Khawaarij, the Mu’tazilah, the Murji’ah–the Imaams of Hadith used to report hadith from them with the condition that they be truthful in that which they were reporting and had memorised their narrations and they did not declare them to be outside the fold of Islaam but gave them the ruling they deserved which was that they had left the Sunnah.

For this reason we do not become enthusiastic in warning the people from praying behind innovators, rather, many times I am asked openly, ‘Imaam so and so seeks intercession with the Awliyaa and the righteous, should we pray behind him?’ I say: yes, has he left the fold of Islaam through that … [tape cuts off here] …

And through this method, in my view, it is possible to bring together the views and differences [found] amongst the Muslims. As for if we were to pass the judgement that the one who innovated one innovation or many in Islaam has left Islaam then the distance [caused by] differing will increase between us and the Muslims, and this, without doubt is not allowed.

This is my opinion concerning praying behind the innovators, I don’t know if you have any comments that we can listen to and benefit from?

Questioner: May Allaah reward you with good, O Shaikh.

Al-Albaani: And you.

Questioner: Because … your old or previous stance … and it was a stance which … ya’ni, was strong concerning them, this became the foundation of those youth with us, it became a foundation which is difficult for them to leave.

Al-Albaani: The previous stance? What was it?

Questioner: Shaikh it was the categorical stance towards the innovators, even with us our stance regarding the innovators [became such] that everyone who seeks intercession is an innovator, everyone who seeks succour [with the Awliyaa] is an innovator, in fact, it reached such an extent that everyone who doesn’t move his finger in tashahhud [is an innovator] … i.e., a stance which was not good in this affair …

Al-Albaani: Yes.

Questioner: So it has become, O Shaikh, ya’ni, the foundation of the youth’s stance is that there should be severity towards the grave-worshippers, towards those who seek intercession [through the righteous etc.], total severity.

Because frankly, O Shaikh, the situation of the grave-worshippers where we are is clear and manifest, and their seeking aid from other than Allaah is clear and none of them hide it, in fact they show enmity to the Ahlus-Sunnah through that, indeed they sometimes plot against the Ahlus-Sunnah, as is present now, and this has resulted in problems, so when they [i.e., those youth] heard this fatwa [of yours], the reality was that some of them were looking left and right [not knowing what to do], except that, alhamdulillaah, the stance of the people of knowledge with us was clear and they understood what you meant, O Shaikh, so alhamdulillaah, they clarified the situation.

Al-Albaani: Whatever the case, may Allaah bless you. What you mention concerning your country is in all countries, i.e., that the people of innovation fight the Ahlus-Sunnah.

Al-Hudaa wan-Noor, 337.

Praying Behind the People of Innovation | 3 | The Ruling on Praying in Mosques Which Have Many Innovations in Them and on Praying Behind an Imaam Who is an Innovator

Questioner: What is the ruling on praying in mosques which have many innovations in them, and following on from that, [what is the ruling on] praying behind an Imaam who is an innovator?

Al-Albaani: This is a question which is asked very often these days, and even though from one angle it shows signs of something good from another it bodes evil.

It shows signs of being something good in that those people who are keen on [implementing] the Sunnah are increasing day by day, alhamdulillaah, and they have started to pay attention to the many innovations found in the mosques and Imaams and muezzins and so on and for this reason they avoid praying in those mosques that are full of innovations and [avoid] following the Imaams who oppose the Sunnah in many of the things they do in their prayers.

So this is something good–but for how long will we carry on asking questions like this?

And I always and forever repeat two things: the first is related to following [i.e., praying behind] an Imaam who is an innovator and that it is from the Sunnah to pray behind every righteous or sinful person, this is a point of creed, mentioned in the aqidah of Ahlus-Sunnah wal-Jamaa’ah, [i.e.,] praying behind every righteous or wicked person, which is something contrary to what the Shee’ah do.

For the Shee’ah do not hold it to be valid to pray behind anyone except–[and here] I will not only say that they do not hold it to be valid to pray behind anyone except the Shee’ah–no, they are even more misguided than that, [for they say that prayer is not valid] except behind an infallible Imaam and naturally in their eyes such an Imaam can only be from the Shee’ah, from the Ahlul-Bait.

So the Salaf laid this principle down for us: that we even pray behind a wicked sinner, why?

Because in many hadiths it has been reported that prayer behind the tyrannical or oppressive Imaams is permissible, like his saying عليه السلام reported in Sahih Muslim, “There will be rulers over you who delay the prayer from its correct time, so if you meet them, pray the prayer at its correct time and then pray it with them, for it will be an optional prayer for you.”

And in another hadith which is more important, encompassing and greater, he said about the Imaams, “If they lead the prayer correctly then they and you will receive the rewards, but if they make a mistake, then you will receive the reward for the prayer and the sin will be theirs.” [Bukhaari, no. 694]. [Thus] what concern is it of a person’s when he is praying behind an innovator whether he [i.e., the Imaam] is praying according to the Sunnah or opposing it?

If he [i.e., the Imaam] is correct in his prayer then the reward is for him and us and if he makes a mistake then the sin is on him and the reward is for us, so we gain in both situations, just like [a person using] a saw, [whether  he] pushes forward with it or pulls it back [on what he is cutting, either way it will cut and so he gains].  If we pray behind a Sunni Imaam then the reward is for us and if we pray behind an innovating Imaam then the reward is [still] for us–but his innovation is on his head and none of its sin reaches us. I always and forever repeat this regarding following these Imaams.

So this is an issue which I have constantly addressed and have mentioned that each Muslim is required to distance himself from praying in mosques that are decorated and full of innovations–but Allaah’s Prophet صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم spoke the truth when he said, ‘Indeed Islaam began as something strange and will return to being strange …’ nowadays it is rare that you will find a mosque which does not have an innovation or decorations by which they seek nearness, so they think, to Allaah, the Blessed and Most High.

If both types of mosque were present [i.e., ones with decorations and innovations and others without], I would have said that you should not pray in those mosques that are decorated and which have those innovations for it has been established from Ibn Umar, may Allaah be pleased with him, that he entered a mosque to pray the midday prayer when [all of a sudden] he was taken aback by a man calling out and saying, ‘The Prayer! The Prayer!’ after the actual call to prayer had been announced, so Ibn Umar said to the person with him, ‘Let us leave this mosque for there is innovation in it.’

If we wanted to copy this action of Ibn Umar’s in this age of ours we would have to stick to our houses for hardly a mosque can be found except that it is decorated … the carpets/prayer rugs and the images they are full of is enough, sometimes they have forbidden images, either they will have a forbidden image like a horse or something like that, a lion, or two crosses or something which resembles that.  So there is hardly any mosque except that it has that which distracts [a person]–but, ‘Some evil is less than others [in severity].’

If the matter centres around us praying on our own at home and praying in decorated mosques in which the Imaams are innovators then we repel the greater evil with the lesser evil, especially when we are not responsible for that greater evil and nor did it emanate from us, it having done so from those other people.

If we hold back from the congregational prayer then we have sinned and opposed the Saying of our Lord, “And establish the prayer and give zakah and bow with those who bow [in worship and obedience].” [Baqarah 2:43]

This is a point we must not forget, “And establish the prayer and give zakah and bow with those who bow [in worship and obedience].” And what is that point [which we must not forget]? ‘Establish the prayer …’ i.e., perform it perfectly, ‘… and bow with those who bow …’ i.e., with the Muslim congregation.

So if we leave the congregational prayer in those mosques–[bearing in mind that] we are not responsible for the decorations in them or for the incorrect way that some of the Imaams perform the prayer therein, we are not responsible for both of these wrongs–but if we pray at home we will be responsible for having opposed our Lord’s Saying, i.e., ‘… and bow with those who bow …

Al-Hudaa wan-Noor, 190.

Praying Behind the People of Innovation | 1 | There is a Distinction Between Praying Behind Innovators and Mixing with Them

Questioner: How do you deal with a dissenter [i.e., someone who opposes the Sunnah], between those who are too lenient which can lead to tamyee’ in practising the Sunnah, and those who are too harsh/strict which can lead to that which we have heard you mention many times, i.e., the lack of establishing the proof against the dissenter and other things, and I say this so as to not tire you by repeating what you have already mentioned.

But a doubt crops up based upon some actions of the Salaf, like the statement of some of them, ‘The hearts are weak, and sitting with the innovators snatches them away …’ and likewise, the fact that Imaam Ahmad, may Allaah have mercy on him, would drive the people away from al-Haarith al-Muhaasibi.

Al-Albaani: Yes, yes.

Someone Else: He prohibited that his books be read.

Al-Albaani: Yes.

Questioner: … and dealing with this dissenter according to the scale of his good and bad deeds, i.e., there is a principle which says, ‘We look at the person’s good and bad actions,’ [but] then we have the statements of some of the Salaf regarding driving the innovators away even if they have some good deeds?

Al-Albaani: Yes. That which I hold, and Allaah knows best, is that the statements of the Salaf, are related regarding a Salafi environment, i.e., an environment that is full of strong faith and the correct following of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم and the Companions.

And [this issue you mentioned] is totally like that of boycotting, where a Muslim boycotts another to educate and discipline him, this is a well-known Sunnah. But my conviction, and how many times I’m asked about this, is that I say: our day and age is not right for boycotting, our day and age is not right for boycotting the innovators, because that means that you will have to go and live on the peak of a mountain, that you isolate yourself from the people and seclude yourself from them.

And that is because if you do boycott the people due to their sins or innovations then you will not have the effect which the Salaf used to have when they made those statements encouraging the people to avoid the people of innovation. There is no doubt that that is something which is derived from the directions of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم amongst which is his well-known saying, “The example of a good companion (who sits with you) in comparison with a bad one, is like that of the musk seller and the blacksmith’s bellows (or furnace); from the first you will either buy musk or enjoy its good smell while the bellows will either burn your clothes or your house, or you get a bad nasty smell thereof,” [Bukhaari], the well-known hadith, this is like what is mentioned in some places, ‘Your friend pulls/draws you [to whatever he/she is upon],’ ‘Your friend pulls/draws you [to whatever he/she is upon].’

But accompanying/associating with innovators is one thing and distancing yourself from them to such an extent … like that which is asked about often, for example [people will ask], ‘So and so is a Sufi who uses the Prophets and Messengers as intermediaries [instead of calling upon Allaah directly themselves],’ and so on, ‘… and he leads the people in prayer, should I pray behind him?’ I say: pray behind him, so this is one thing and [actually] accompanying and associating with him and benefitting from him is something else.

And I think that which will support me in this distinction and which comes together/agrees with the guidance of the Salaf stated in those words I just mentioned, is that it has reached us that from the aqidah of the Salaf as-Saalih is to pray behind and over every righteous person and sinner, so it will be from harshness that we take these statements to drive the people away from praying behind these Imaams [who lead the prayers in the mosques], Imaams amongst whom it is very rare to find those upon the Sunnah.  The result of doing so would be that the people would have to stick to their houses and suspend the Jamaa’ah of the Muslims, such a thing goes against the statement of the Salaf that it is from aqidah to pray behind every righteous person or sinner.

But what is correct is that we warn these people from mixing with the people of innovation and the Sufis due to what we just mentioned in the hadith and [due to] the example which is a summary of the hadith, that, ‘Your friend pulls/draws you [to whatever he/she is upon].’

This is my opinion, and Allaah knows best.

Al-Hudaa wan-Noor, 511.

Boycotting Another Muslim | 10 | Is it Correct that Innovators should not be Boycotted in this Day and Age?


Questioner: Is what we hear correct that in this day and age boycotting the innovators should not be implemented?

Al-Albaani: He wants to say that it is not right that it should be implemented.  Is it correct that it should not be implemented?  It is not implemented, because the innovators and the disobedient Muslims sinners [faasiqs] and criminals [faajirs] are the majority today, but he is trying to say that it is not right that it is implemented, and it is as though the first person the questioner is referring to is me: so I say yes, it is as such, it is not right to implement it, and I have said this openly just now when I gave you that Syrian proverb, ‘You are closed and I have a day off,’ yes.

Questioner: But, for example, when an environment is found, and the majority in it are from Ahlus-Sunnah, for example, and thereafter some people who have deviated from the path of truth [nawaabidh] are found who innovated into the Religion of Allaah, the Mighty and Majestic, in that situation is it implemented or not?

Al-Albaani: In the Jamaa’ah itself?

Questioner: In that environment which the people of truth dominate and then innovation became apparent in it, what do you say about this situation?

Al-Albaani: It is obligatory here to use wisdom. The strong, uppermost group, if it boycotts the group which has deviated from the Jamaa’ah–going back to what we already said–will that defend/aid the group which is clinging to the Truth or will it harm them? This is as regards them [i.e., the group on the truth].

Thereafter, will it benefit those being boycotted by the Aided Group or will it harm them, the answer to this has preceded, i.e., it is not right that we act upon these affairs based upon zealousness and emotions but rather with careful deliberation, tolerance and wisdom.

Because we, for example … [imagine] one of these people deviated [from the truth], he opposed the Jamaa’ah, … [and then the reaction from those who want to cut him off will be], ‘Boycott him! Don’t be kind to him!’ [Rather you should] advise him, guide him, and so on, accompany him for a while, then when you, firstly, despair of him and, secondly, think that his infection will spread to Zaid and Bakr [i.e., other people], then he is cut off when it is believed that boycotting will be the cure, and as is said, the last cure one resorts to is cauterization [i.e., boycotting is the last resort].

Generally, nowadays, I do not advise the use of boycotting whatsoever, because it harms more than it benefits.

And the greatest proof of that is the fitnah that is on-going now in the Hijaz. The call of tawheed and the call of the Book and the Sunnah unites all of them but some of them have specific activities, whether in politics or other views which are not known from any of the people of knowledge before, and it [i.e., what they say] may be correct and it may be wrong. [But] we cannot tolerate anything new that we hear especially if it appears to us to be something which, at first suggestion [i.e., without giving it any careful thought], we don’t recognize. We attack it straight away, this is a mistake, my brother:

You want a friend with no faults
And does aloes wood [Oud] give off its fragrance without smoke?

We [earnestly] hope that the Ikhwaan al-Muslimoon are with us on Tawheed alone [if nothing else], so that we can be with them, for they are not pleased with us even in aqidah and they say that rousing these differences splits the ranks and divides the people … and so on.

These brothers [in the Hijaaz] who a group have split away from or who split away from a group [themselves], and Allaah knows best … they are with us all the way regarding the Book, the Sunnah and the methodology of the Salaf as-Saalih, but they came with something new, some of it is wrong and some of it is correct.

So why do we spread dissension, partisanship and bigotry amongst ourselves, such that whereas once we were a single block we became two, three, they became … became Surooris … and so on, Allaahu Akbar.

And nothing divided them which deserved to be split over: there is no difference in the major issues which it cannot be imagined the Salafis would differ in. We all know that the Companions differed in some issues, but their methodology was one.

For this reason if you take it that some individuals from the Ahlus-Sunnah wal-Jamaa’ah and the Aided Sect have deviated, then we deal with them with kindness and tenderness, Yaa akhi, and we try to keep them with the Jamaa’ah and we don’t ostracise them nor boycott them except when we fear something from them–and this does not become apparent straight away, i.e., just because someone has an opinion in which he disagrees [with the Jamaa’ah] and has strayed from the Jamaa’ah it is not fitting that we immediately ostracise and boycott him.

But rather we should wait and be patient until maybe Allaah, the Mighty and Majestic, guides his heart or it becomes clear to us that leaving him is better.

Al-Hudaa wan-Noor, 666.

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