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Secret behind Spread of Sunni Schools

One who pursues history books and the writing of the ancestors, will undaubtedly come to know that the prevalence of four Sunni scchool during those eras, was by the will and mangement of the ruling authoity, and that is why their follower have been in great number, as people follow the religion of their kings.

Also any reseach will see that tens of school have become extinct and dissolved due to not attainting the ruler's consent, like schools of al-'Awza'i Hasan al-Basari, abu Uyaynah, ibn Abi Dhu'ayb and many others.

As example, Layth ibn Sa'd was friend of Malik ibn Anas, and was more knowledgeable and of more fiqh than him, as admitted by al-shafi'i 83 but his school has became extinct and his fiqh has been dissolved and obliterated, due to not attaining the consent of the ruling authority.

Ahmad ibn Hanbal has said: "Ibn Abi Dhu'ayb was superior to Malik ibn Anas, but Malik was more acute in selecting and picking out the men (rijal)"84

If we go through history, we notice that Malik, the school leader, has approached and reconciled with the rulers and followed their guide he became a man of diginity and the well-known scholar, and his school has spread abroad through means of threatening and temptation, especialy in Andalusia, where his disciple Yahaya ibn Yahaya has supported its ruler, become thus one of his closet subjects. That the judges (qudat), and he never assigned anyone to the post of judgeship except the Malikis, of his followmen.

Further, the reason behind the spread of Abu Hanifah's school after his demise, lies in that Abu Yusuf and al-shaybani, who were followers of Abu Hanifah and his staunchest disciples, were at the same time the closets courties of Harun al-Rashid the Abbasid Caliph, and played an effective rule in stablizing his sovereignty and supporting him, to the extent that he couldn't admit anyone to the post of judgeship and giving legal verdict (futya) but after attaining their approval.

In this way have not appointed anyone for the post of judgeship but that who was following the Abu Hanifah rendering him thus to be the greatest scholar, and making of his school the greatest legal ever followed, though he was charged with disbelief and being zindiq by his contemporary ulama like Ahmed ibn Hanbal and al-Imam Abu al-Hasan Al-'Ash'ari.

The other school that spread and got strength was the Shafi'i school, after it was about to be oblitereted and that was when the despotic uthority supported him. After Egypt was wholly a Shi'i Fatimid country, it turned out to be Shafi'i during the time of salah l-Din al-'Ayyubi, who slew and slaughtered the Shi'ah like female sheep.

The Hanbali school too was to be totally ignored had not the support of the Abbsid authorities been there, during al-Mu'tasim's reign, when Ibn Hanbal withdrew his word about fabrication of the Qur'an, and he became an outstading school during the reign of al-Mutawakkil, the nasib (enemy of Ahl al-Bayt).

The Hanbali school got strength and spread abroad when the colonialist authorities supported al-Shaykh Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab during the past centuary. The letter has made a deal with Al-Sa'ud who immediately becked and supported him, and helped him propagate his school in the Hijaz Arab peninsula.

Then the Hanbali school came to led by three Imams, the first of whom being Ahmad ibn Hanbali who never claimed of being a faqih, but was a traditionist. The second one was Ibn Taymiyyah, who was called Shaykh al-Islam and revivalist of the Sunnah Mujaddid al-Sunnah), and was charged with impiety by ulama of his time, due to his pronouncing all Muslims to be polytheists, since they used to seek the blesing of and beseech the prophet (S). Then came the turn of Muhammad ibn Abd al-wahhab, the puppet shaped by the British colonialists in the Middle East, during the last century, who in turn did his utmost to revive the Hanbali school throughout the verdicts (fatawas) he got from Ibn Taymiyyah. So Ahmad ibn Hanbal was abandoned and lost his fame since the school has turned to be called by them nowadays the Wahabi school.

Undoubtedly those schools could never spread abroad and attain fame and high rank without the approval and suppport of the rulers.

It daubteless also that all those have decleared their hostility against Ahl al-Bayt, since they were, all the time, of the belief that these people (Ahl al-Bayt) constituted a danger against their very presence, threatening to topple their power and remove their thrones, so they strove always to separating them from the Ummah, degrading them and killing whoever followed their guide.

It is self-evident that those rulers would appoint some sycophant ulama; who would issue erdicts that go in line with their rule and existance, due to the continuous need of people for solutions for their legal (shar'i) matters, and answers for their inquiries. Since rulers of all ages were not awere of the Islamic Law (shari'ah) at all, not apprehending the fiqh, so it was inevitable for them to appoint a court scholar to give verdict on their behalf, misrepresenting the facts for people to think that politics being separate from religion and they are two incongrous concepts.

Thus the ruling caliph was statesmant and religion faqih, as practised nowadays by the President of any Islamic country, as he appoints one of the Ulama; close to the government, calling him the mufti of the republic, or any similar title, assingning him the responsibility of looking into affairs of futya (issuing verdicts), rituals (ibadat) and religious rites. In fact this man is not allowed to give any verdict or rule but as dictated by the ruling authority, and in the way that pleases the ruler, or at least does not contradict the policy of the government, and the Execution of its projects and plans.

This phenomenon has, in fact, emerged since the era of the Three Caliphs: AbuBakr, Umar and Uthman. Though they have not separated between religion and State (politics), but they granted themselves the right to ligistlate in a way that complie with the Caliphate interests with maintaining its diginity and perpetuity.

Since these Three Caliphs had company with the prophets (S), so they acquired from him some conducts (sunan) never contradicting their policy.

Mua'wiyah, according to the most authentic narrations, never embraced Islam but only in the ninth year of Hijrah, His company with prophet was too short, knowing nothing of his sunnah, so he had no choice but to appoint Abu Hurayrah and Amr ibn As with some other Companions, assigning them the task of giving fatwas that complied with his desires.

This "praisworthy sunnah" or this good horesy" was followed after him by the Umayyads and Abbasids, so beside avery ruler there used to be a cheif judge (qadi al-qudat) entrusted in turn with the task of appointing the judges deemed by him fit to serve the state, and strive to support and back it. Needless to say what was the nature of those judges seeking who appointed them.

Hence we can realize the secret behind secluding the Infallible Imams, of whom no one, throughout ages, had been appointed by those rulers or been granted the badge of ifta (giving verdict)

If we intend to investigate further about how the four Sunni scholar could spread by the rulers, we have to cite for this, one example through unveiling the fact of al-Imam malik's school, which is considered the most widely spread, greatest in rank and widest school in fiqh. Malik got his fame through his book al-Muwattah; which he authored himself, and is deemed by Ahl al-Sunna has the most authentic book after the Book of Allah, and some scholar consider it even more authentic and superior than the Sahih al-Bukhari.

Malik's fame has excelled all others, till it was said: 'Can anyone give fatwa while Malik being in al-Madinah?" He was called the Imam of migration house.

It is inevitable to mention that Malik gave a legal verdict in forbidding allegiance by coercion, for which Ja'far ibn Sulayman, governor of al-Madinah, lashed him seventy times. This was used by the Malikis as an argument proving Malik's opposition against the ruling authority, which is untrue as those who narrated this story have themselves narrated the next one, as elaborated below.

Ibn Qutaybah has said: "It is said that when Abu Ja'far al-Mansur heard of the story of lashing Malik ibn Anas by Ja'far ibn Sulayman, he attached great importance to it, and expressed his displeasure and denial against it, giving his orders to depose Ja'far ibn Sulayman from govenorship of al-Madianah, and to bring him to Baghdad on pack-saddle.

Then he summoned Malik to come to Baghdad, from which he refrained, sending a letter to Abu Ja'far wrote to him: "Come to see me during the season (of pilgrimage) next year, as I am going out to the gathering".85

In fact, the 'Abbasid Caliph Abu Ja'far al-Mansur's deposing of his cousin, Ja'far ibn Sulayman ibn al-'Abbas, from governorship of al-Madinah because of lashing Malik, is something doubtful and deserves reflection, since this act meant nothing but to support his cousin's caliphate and consolidate his rule and sovereignty. Since he expected from Abu Ja'far to honour and promote his post, not deposing and insulting him in that way, as he dethroned him and ordered to bring him hand-cuffed on pack-saddle, then the Caliph himself apologized to Malik seeking his consent! It is really a wonderful matter!

From this we can conclude that the governor of al-Madinah, Ja'far ibn Sulayman, behaved like foolish people, knowing nothing about politics and its sagacity, and could not realize that Malik was the Caliph's dependable man and his support in two Holy Sanctuarites. Otherwise, the Caliph was not coerced to depose his cousin from governorship due to beating Malik, who deserved this because of his fatwa that considered allegaince by coercion is unlawful (haram).

Nowadays we witness similar incidents, as when some governors try to humilate and imprison someone, for the sake of maintaining the state's dignity and safety of its security. Then that person desclose his real identity to be one of the kins of some ministers, or of the relations of the president's wife, whereat the governor will be deposed and tasked with another responsibility, that may be unknown even by the governor himself.


83. Manaqib al-Shafi, p. 524.

84. Tadhkirat al-huffaz, vol. i, p.176.

85.Ta'rikh al-Khulafa' by Ibn Qutaybah, vol.ii, p.149.

Adapted from the book: "The Shi'ah; The Real Followers of the Sunnah" by: "Dr. Muhamad al-Tijahi al-Samawi"

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