3 Important Principles in studying Aqeedah
1. Ahlus Sunnah wal Jama’ah does not have I’tiqad on anything save that which is based on the Quran and Sunnah.
أَهْلُ السُّنَّةِ وَالجَمَاعَةِ لَا يَأْخُذُونَ مُعْتَقَدَاتِهِم إِلَّا مِنَ الكِتَابِ وَالسُّنَّة
This is the main differentiator between Ahlus Sunnah and Ahlul Bida’h.
a. Most of the innovative strands go back to or build upon the teachings of Jahm Ibn Safwan, who studied under a Christian priest who was well versed under Greek kalam and philosophy. For Ahlus Sunnah, the Naql makes the decision and the Aql follows. This is contrary to the understanding of the deviant sects that give preference to the Aql over the Naql.
b. Other deviant sects like the Sufis went a step further with Mukashafa and taking from dreams etc.
c. The third type of a deviant sects are those that take from fabricated texts and stories.
On the authority of Abu Najeeh al-’Irbaad ibn Saariyah who said: The Messenger of Allah ﷺ gave us a sermon by which our hearts were filled with fear and tears came to our eyes. So we said, “O Messenger of Allah! It is as though this is a farewell sermon, so counsel us.” He ﷺ said,
أُوصِيكُمْ بِتَقْوَى اللَّهِ، وَالسَّمْعِ وَالطَّاعَةِ وَإِنْ تَأَمَّرَ عَلَيْكُمْ عَبْدٌ، فَإِنَّهُ مَنْ يَعِشْ مِنْكُمْ فَسَيَرَى اخْتِلَافًا كَثِيرًا، فَعَلَيْكُمْ بِسُنَّتِي وَسُنَّةِ الْخُلَفَاءِ الرَّاشِدِينَ الْمَهْدِيينَ، عَضُّوا عَلَيْهَا بِالنَّوَاجِذِ، وَإِيَّاكُمْ وَمُحْدَثَاتِ الْأُمُورِ؛ فَإِنَّ كُلَّ بِدْعَةٍ ضَلَالَةٌ”
“I counsel you to have taqwa (fear) of Allah, and to listen and obey [your leader], even if a slave were to become your ameer. Verily he among you who lives long will see great controversy, so you must keep to my Sunnah and to the Sunnah of the Khulafa ar-Rashideen (the rightly guided caliphs), those who guide to the right way. Cling to it stubbornly [literally: with your molar teeth]. Beware of newly invented matters [in the religion], for verily every bidah (innovation) is misguidance.” [Abu Dawud]
It was related by at-Tirmidhi, who said that it was a good and sound hadeeth.
New matters include theology, jurisprudence, and mannerism. It foretells that people will come and want to change or corrupt the original teachings of Islam.
2. Any understanding that goes against the understanding of the Salaf in terms of their Aqeedah and practices will be rejected.
كُلُّ فَهْمٍ يُخَالِفُ فَهْمَ سَلَفِ الأُمَّةِ فِي العَقِيدَة وَالعَمَل فَإْنَّهُ بَاطِل
We have strands who call themselves Ahlus Sunnah but are so far away from the Sunnah. All the deviated sects will bring Quran and Sunnah to support their deviated understanding. That is why it is very important to check with them on who preceded them with these opinions.
The Prophet ﷺ said,
فَعَلَيْكُمْ بِسُنَّتِي وَسُنَّةِ الْخُلَفَاءِ الرَّاشِدِينَ الْمَهْدِيينَ
Narrated Abdullah: The Prophet (ﷺ) said,
خَيْرُ النَّاسِ قَرْنِي، ثُمَّ الَّذِينَ يَلُونَهُمْ، ثُمَّ الَّذِينَ يَلُونَهُمْ، ثُمَّ يَجِيءُ مِنْ بَعْدِهِمْ قَوْمٌ تَسْبِقُ شَهَادَتُهُمْ أَيْمَانَهُمْ وَأَيْمَانُهُمْ شَهَادَتَهُمْ
“The best people are those of my generation, and then those who will come after them (the next generation), and then those who will come after them (i.e. the next generation), and then after them, there will come people whose witness will precede their oaths, and whose oaths will precede their witness.” [Bukhari]
Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said, “All my followers will enter Paradise except those who refuse.” They said, “O Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ)! Who will refuse?” He said,
مَنْ أَطَاعَنِي دَخَلَ الْجَنَّةَ، وَمَنْ عَصَانِي فَقَدْ أَبَى
“Whoever obeys me will enter Paradise, and whoever disobeys me is the one who refuses (to enter it).” [Bukhari]
3. There is no allowance for Aql to establish something regarding the Aqeedah on its own.
لَا مَدْخَلَ لِلعَقَلِ فِي بَابِ الغَيبِيَّات اِسْتِْقلَالاً
It cannot be an exclusive way to establish any matter in Aqeedah. The Aql is limited. Aql has to follow the Naql in a supportive manner.
Allah tells us,
وَلَا تَقْفُ مَا لَيْسَ لَكَ بِهِ عِلْمٌ
And do not pursue that of which you have no knowledge [Surah al-Isra, 36]
The author of this book is Abu Muhammad Abdullah Ibn Abdur Rahman Ibn Abi Zayd al-Qayrawani. was born in 310 AH in Qayrawan in Tunisia and died in 386 AH. He was from the scholars of the 4 century. He is one the foremost and famous scholars from the Maliki madhab. The Imam had become a peak in the Madhab. He had reached the pinnacle. He is considered to be a Mujtahid in the Madhab. He was a contemporary of Imam Tabarani, Imam ar-Razi, Imam al-Ajurri, Imam al-Barbahari, Imam Daraqutni, Imam Ibn Batta, Imam Ibn Mandah, Imam al-Hakim al-Naysaburi to name a few.
Imam Ibn Abi Zayd is counted among the 4 most famous Maghribi scholars who spread the teachings of the Aqeedah of the Salaf and the Manhaj of the Messenger of Allah. These 4 including Imam Ibn Abi Zayd are:
- Abu Umar Ahmad al-Talamanki al-Maliki (d 429AH)
- Abu Umar Yusuf Ibn Abdil Barr (d 463AH)
- Abu Abdullah Ibn Abi Zamaneen (d 399AH)
This section of Aqeedah, dealt with in the Muqaddimah is an introduction to a larger work that deals with Fiqh. Many of the previous explanations of this Aqeedah in recent times, including that of Al-Adawi was not upon the understanding of the Salaf. They take the statement of the Imam and explain what he meant in a different or twisted manner based on what they want. One of the best explanations we have is that of Sheikh Abdul Muhsin al-Abbad al-Badr.
Sheikh Abdul Muhsin al-Abbad says, “The elders amongst the people of knowledge recognized his status. He was known as Malik as-Sagheer (young Malik) because of his adherence to the Sunnah. Al-Qaabisi said, “He is a trustworthy Imam in his religion and narrations.
He gathered the qualities of knowledge, piety, honour and intellect. He is well known and quick to comply with the truth and return to it. He learnt from the scholars in his country and heard from their scholars such as Abu Bakr ibn Labaad and Abu Fadl al-Qaysi. Many had benefited from him and later he died in the year 386 AH.
He has books numbering more than 100 volumes. Imam ad-Dahabi said about him, “He is an Imam, a beacon (to be followed), an example, a learned man, a scholar from the people of al-Maghrib”
This book was written for children when the author was 17 years old. He had a sense of urgency to write this book. He lived in a time when Andlaus was shaking. The Germans, French and other parties were coming in to influence the region. Muslims were crumbling from inside. The Mu’tazila, the Ahlul Kalam, and the Sufi were also an issue to be dealt with.
Imam Ibn Abi Zayd was a Quran teacher for kids. He was approached to pen a book to teach Aqeedah and other sciences for the children. He wrote the book in 327 AH. Atleast 100 commentaries have been written on this as we write this. If you compare this work to the works of Imam at-Tahawi, we see that this book is more purer in terms of the terminology used. He is closer to using the methodology and wordings of the Quran. Imam Ibn Abi Zayd did not resort to doing the ta’weel of the Attributes of Allah.
The Risalah includes:
- Usul al-Fiqh
The book has around 4000 issues of fiqh being discussed in this. Remember that he wrote this for children. Likewise in the Alfiyyah of Ibn Malik, he had written it to correct and teach the innovators. We need to reflect upon the level of our scholarship and efforts in seeking knowledge.
The Section on Aqeedah primarily deals with:
- Methodology in Affirming Names and Attributes of Allah as per the understanding of the Salaf
- The Speech of Allah
- Definition of Iman as per Ahlus Sunnah
- Rulings on those who commit major sins
- Our attitude towards the Sahaba
- Obligation of Adhereing to Commands of Wali al-Amr
- Ruling of Debating and Arguing in matters of the Deen
DISCLAIMER: The following is based on the explanation by Sheikh Dr. Saalih Ibn Sa’d As-Suhaimi who is a former Professor from the Islamic University of Madinah and currently a teacher in the Prophet’s Masjid (at the time of writing) and Supervisor of the Da’wah Centers in Madinah.
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