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Sources of Legislation for Ahl al-Sunnah wa al-Jama'ah

By tracing back the sources of legislation for Ahl al-Sunnah wa al-Jama'ah, we see that their number beings so large that they exceed the limits of the Book of Allah, and the Sunnah ordained by Allah and His Messenger.

The sources that they depend upon-beside the Book and Sunnah-include: The Sunnah of al-Khulafa'a al-Rashidun, sunnah of the Companions, sunnah of the Tabi'un who are the 'ulama' of trace, sunnah of the rulers which they call sawafi al-'umra', qiyas (anology), istihsan (approval), ijma' (unanimity), and sadd bab al-dhara'i (closing the door of pleas).

They constitute altogether ten sources which they regard to domineer Allah's religion. In order not to utter anything without a convincing evidence, or be accused of exaggeration, it is inevitable to cite some proofs taken from their own sayings and books, to manifest the truth for the dear reader.

We are not going to debate Ahl al-Sunnah regarding the first two sources, i.e. Book and the Sunnah, about which there is no disagreement, being the wajib that was reconized by naql (transmission), 'aql (reason) and ijma' (unanimity). It is as stated in the Al-Mighty's saying: "And whatever the Messenger giveth you, take it. And whatever he forbiddeth, abstain (from it)", (59:7) and His saying: "Obey Allah and obey the Messenger" (5:92), also His saying: "...when Allah and His Messenger have decided an affair" (33:36), beside other manifest verses indicating the wujub (obligation) of legislation the rules only from the Book of Allah and Sunnah of His Messenger, but we debbate them concerning the other sources that they have added from their fabrication.

First: The Sunnah of al-Khulafa' al-Rashidun:

They (Ahl al-Sunnah) have argued with the hadith "Adhere to my sunnah and the sunnah of the Rightly-guided successors after me. Hold on to it and cling on it stubbornly".114

We have stated in the Book 'Ma'a al-Sadiqin "that those who are meant by al-Khulafa' al-Rashidun (Rightly-guided successors) in this hadith are in fact the Imams of Ahl al-Bayt, and I intend here to mention more proofs for those who missed reading that Book.

It is reported by al-Bukhari and Muslim and other traditionists, that the Messenger of Allah has confined his successors in twelve ones, when he said: "The successors after me are twelve (men), all of whom are from Quraysh". This sahih hadith indicates explicity that he meant by them the Imams of Ahl al-Bayt (peace be upon them), not the Caliphs "rulers" who have userped the caliphate.

Someone may raise this question: Wheather by "the successors" are meant the Twelve Imams of Ahl al-Bayt as the Shi'ah believe, or the Four Guided Caliphs as Ahl al-Sunnah believe, the sources of legislation are only three: the Qur'an and the (Prophet's) Sunnah and the Calips' sunnah?

This is right in the opinion of Ahl al-Sunnah, but the Shi'ah never accept it, as the Imams of Ahl al-Bayt have never legislated (rules) according to their ijtihad and opinions, but whatever they uttered was but the sunnah of their grandfather the Messenger of Allah. They have learned it from him, and preserved it for manifesting it to people when necessary.

But the books of Ahl al-Sunnah are replete with inference from the sunnah of Abu Bakr and sunnah of 'Umar, as a source for the Islamic legislation, even if it contradicts the Book and the Sunnah.

We will be more certain that Abu Bakr and 'Umar were not meant by the Prophet's hadith, by knowing that 'Ali has refused to rule according to their sunnah when the Sahabah stipulated this as a condition for acknowledging him (as a caliph). Had the Prophet meant them by al-khulafa al-Rashidun, it would not have been permissible for 'Ali to refute the Prophet's hadith and reject their sunnah, so it is ascertained that Abu Bakr and 'Umar are not among al-Khulafa' al-Rashidun.

However, Ahl al-Sunnah wa al-Jama'ah mean by al-Khulafa' al-Rashidun: Abu Bakr and 'Uthman alone, since 'Ali had not been counted among them, but he was added to them lately as mentioned before. In fact he had been curesed over pulpits, so how could they follow his sunnah??!

This fact will be even more verified by reading what is reported by Jalal al-Din al-Sayuti in his book Ta'rikh al-Khulafa', when he quoted Hajib ibn Khalifah as saying: I heard the Caliph 'Umar ibn 'Abd al-'Aziz addressing the people saying:

"Whatever is prescribed by the Messenger of Allah (S) and his two companions is a religion we adopt and end at, and we put aside whatever is prescribed by others".115

In fact most of the Sahabah and Umayyad and 'Abbasid rulers were of the opinion that whatever was prescribed by Abu Bakr, 'Umar and 'Uthman being a religion they adopt and end at.

And as these three Caliphs have embarked on preventing the Messenger's Sunnah from reaching people as we realized earlier, so nothing is left then of the Sunnah except what they have prescribed, and of the rules except what they have confirmed.

Second: The Sahabah's Sunnah in General:

Many proofs and numerous evidences are available which attest the fact that Ahl al-Sunnah have been following the Sunnah of the Sahabah in general with no exception.

They argue with a false hadith, which we have elaborately discussed in the book 'Ma'a al-Sadiqin". The hadith reads thus: "My Companions are like the stars (nujum), whichever of them you follow, you shall be guided rightly", and Ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyyah has argued with this hadith against the argumentation of the Companion's opinion.116

This fact has also been admitted by al-Shaykh Abu Zuhrah, when he said: "We have found all of them (fuqaha' of Ahl al-Sunnah) adopt the fatwa' of the Sahabi". Then he adds another statement: To argue with the Companions 'sayings and fatawa, has been the conduct of the multitude (al-jamhur) of fuqaha, and they were contradicted by the Shi'ah,117 but Ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyyah has supported al-Jamhur with about forty-six aspects, all being strong arguments (hujaj)...".

We address al-Shaykh Abu Zuhrah, and question him: How could the argument (hujjah)--that contradicts the Book of Allah and sunnah of His Prophet--be strong?! All the arguments (hujaj) cited by Ibn al-Qayyim are as frail as the spider's house, and you (to Abu Zuhrah) have demolished them yourself when you said: "But we found al-Shawkani say: It is true that the companion's opinion is not a hujjah, as Allah --the Glorious and Exalted -- has never sent to this Ummah except our prophet Muhammad (S). We do not have but one messenger, and all the Companions and those who succeeded them are equally charged with following his Shar' in the Book and Sunnah, and whoever opines that the hujjah in God's religion can be established with other than them, he will be as that who has opined regarding God's religion with unaprovable belief, and has confirmed a law (shar') not commanded by Allah".118

Thus al-Shawkani has said the truth, and was never affected by the school of thought, so his utterance came to be in consonance with that of the Imams of guidance, the Pure 'Itrah...may God be pleased with him if his acts comply with his sayings.

Third:The Sunnah of Tabi'un (Ulama' al-'Athar):

The other source upon which Ahl al-Sunnah wa al-Jama'ah have depended (for deriving rules), used to be the opinions of the Tabi'un, whom they used to call as 'Ulama' al'Athar, who include: Al-Awza'i, Sufyan al-Thawri, Hasan al-Basri, Ibn 'Uyaynah, and many others. They also concur on adopting the interpretations (ijtihadat) of the Imams of four schools, and imitating them, though they being the followers of the followers.

The Companions themselves confess of committing errors many times, and of uttering what they know not.

When Abu Bakr, for instance, was asked about a matter, he would reply: "I will give my opinion in its regard, if I be right it is from Allah, but if I err it is from me or from Satan". 'Umar also has once said to his followers: "I may enjoy you to things that happen to be not for your convenience, and forbid you from things that happen to be for your benefit."119

So if this be their level of knowledge, and they just follow conjucture which assurely can by no means take the place of truth, so how can a Muslim, being aware of Islam, give himself the right to make the acts and sayings of such people as a sunnah to be followed, and as one of the sources of legislation? After this discussion will there remain any trace of the hadith "My Companions are like stars"?

If the Companions who attended the Prophet's majalis (meetings) and learned from him, utter such discourses, so what to say about those who succeeded them, adopted their opinions and took part in the sedition?

If the leaders of the four schools exert their opinions regarding God's religion, with explicity admitting the possibility of committing an error, as one of them says: I think this (rule) is correct, and may be any others opinion is correct, so what made the Muslims obligate themselves to follow and imitate them?!

Fourth: The Rulers' Sunnah:

Ahl al-Sunnah call it "Sawafi al-'umra" and they cites as an evidence for it the holy verse: "Obey Allah, and obey the Messenger and those of you who are in authority" (4:59).120

In their view, those in authority are the rulers even if they are controlling the rule by force and suppression, as they believe that Allah has invested them with authority over people, so it is incumbent upon everyone to obey them and adopt their sunnah.

Ibn Hazm al-Zahiri has vehemently refuted Ahl al-Sunnah, by saying: "On the basis of what you say, the rulers are authorized to annual from and increase in the shara'i' (laws) ordained by Allah and His Messenger as they desire, there being no difference between addition and deletion, in this respect. Surely this is infidelity on the part of whoever permits it".121

Al-Dhahabi has refuted Ibn Hazm by saying: "This is verily an invalid report and an exorbitant mistake, as it is unanimously agreed by all the Ummah --except Dawud ibn 'Ali and whoever followed him--that those in authority (Ulu al-'amr) have the right to rule according to opinion (ra'y) and (ijtihad), when there being no text revealed (in the Qur'an). And they say: It is unlawful for them (those in authority) to rule according to opinion and ijtihad, despite their awareness the of presence of a revealed text regarding the matter, thus they are allowed to increase in the shar' to the limit permitted by shar', but are allowed to invalidate from the shar' whatever they desire".

We ask al-Dhababi that: "How do you claim the unanimity of the Ummah, while you have excepted Dawud ibn 'Ali and whoever followed him?! Why haven't you identified those who followed him by names? Then whey haven't you excepted the Shi'ah and Imams of Ahl al-Bayt, is it because that they are not considered among the Islamic Ummah in your view?! Or that your sycophancy to the rulers has made you permit them to add to the shar', in order that they increase your gift and fame?

Have the rulers, who ruled over Muslims in the name of Islam, been aware of the Qur'anic and Prophetic texts (nusus) so that to stop at their limits?

Had the two Caliphs Abu Bakr and 'Umar deliberately contradicted the Qur'anic and Prophetic nusus, as we mentioned in previous chapters, how would those who succeeded them have adhered to those texts, which have been substituted, changed and obliterated?

If the fuqaha' of Ahl al-Sunnah give a verdict for the rulers to opine in God's religion whatever they will, so no wonder to see al-Dhahabi follow and imitate them.

It is reported in Tabaqat al-fuqaha', form sa'id ibn Jubayr that he said: I questioned 'Abd Allah ibn 'Umar about ila' (insertion)? He said: Do you intend to say: Ibn 'Umar said so, Ibn 'Umar said so?

I replied : Yes, and we accept whatever you say and are convinced with it, Ibn 'Umar then said: The opinion regarding this is as stated by al-'umara' (rulers), or rather as stated by Allah and His Messenger, and whoever reports from them.

It is also reported from Sa'id Jubayr that he said: "Rafa' ibn Hayat has been regarded the most knowledgeable faqih in Sham, but when you instigate him you find him to be a Shami, saying: 'Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan has issued a so and so ruling in such a mtter".122

It is also reported in Tabaqat Ibn Sa'd, from al-Musayyab ibn Rafi 'that he said: "If any question (mas'alah) is to be solved by the ruler, that it is not exposed in the Book (Qur'an) and Sunnah, it is called "Sawafi al-'umara', so it will be handed to them (rulers), and scholars will be gathered for (debating) it, whatever attains their unanimity will be counted as truth." 123

We say to them: "And if the Truth had followed their desires, verily the heavens and the earth had been corrupted ..." (23:71) and: "Nay, but he bringth them the Truth; and most of them are haters of the Truth".(23:70)

Fifth: Other Sources of Legislation (for Ahl al-Sunnah):

Of them we mention: qiyas (analogy), istihsan (approval), istishab (accompaniment), sadd bab al-dhara'i (closing the door of pleas), and ijma (unanimity) which are very well known and common among them.

Al-'Imam Abu Hanifah was so much known of applying qiyas and refuting the traditions (of the prophet). Al-'Imam Malik was known of resorting to the acts of Ahl al-Medinah and sadd bab al-dhara'i. Al-'Imam al-Shafi'i was known of acting according to the fatawa of the Companions whom he classified into divisions and ranks, in the following order:
-The priority for the ten promised with Paradise,
-Then the earlier Muhajirun (Emigrants),
-Then the Ansar (Helpers),
-Then come Muslimat al-Fath, with whom he means al-Tulaqa'(the set-free prisoners), who embraced Islam after Fath Makkah (conquest of Mecca).124

It was about Ahmad ibn Hanbal that he never practised ijtihad, and never issued fatwas but the adopted the opinion of any companion whosoever.

Al-Khatib al-Baghdadi has reported from him that: someone has inquired from him regarding a matter related to halal and haram, whereat Ahmad said to him (the question): May God protect you, you can ask some other one.The man said: O Abu 'Abd Allah, we wish to know your reply.Said he again: May God protect you, you may ask some other one, you can ask the fuqaha', ask Abu Thawr.125

Al-Maruzi has also reported from him his saying: Concerning the hadith we have been relieved of it, and regarding the masa'il (matters, questions), I have made up my mind not to give reply to anyone questioning me.126

Undoubtedly it was Ahmad ibn Hanbal who has insinuated the idea of the justice (adalah) of all the Sahabah with no exception, so his school has impressed Ahl al-Sunnah wa al-Jama'ah.

It is reported by al-Khatim in the second volume of his book Taraikh Baghdad through the chain (isnad) reaching to Muhammad ibn 'Abd al-Rahman al-Sayrafi that he said: We said to Ahmad ibn Hanbal: If the Prophet's Companions differ regarding a question, is it permissible for us to probe into their opinions to recognize with whom lies the truth (sawab), so that to follow him?

He replied : It is not permissible to probe into the opinions of the Prophet's Companions.I said : What to do then? He said : You can imitate whomever you like (of them) .

We say to him: Is it permissible to imitate one who cannot recognize truth from falsehood? How strange to see Ahmad (ibn Hanbal) issue a fatwa--while he avoids giving verdicts --to imitate any of the Companions without investigating their opinions, to realize where the truth is!

After presenting this brief survey about the sources of the Islamic legislation for the Shi'ah and Ahl al-Sunnah, we come to know explicity that the Shi'ah have been the true followers of and adherents to the Prophet's Sunnah and never thought of following other than it, till it has become a motto for them as admitted and witnessed by their opponents.

Whereas Ahl al-Sunnah, on the other hand, follow the sunnah of any Companion, any Tabi'i, and any ruler, whosover.

Their books and sayings are before us, give evidence against them,with which we suffice as a witness.God-willing we will, in a forthcoming chapter, discuss their acts and conduct to see that they have nothing to do with the sunnh.

I will leave to the reader to conclude and recognize for sure, who are Ahl al-Sunnah, and who are Ahl al-Bid'ah (heretics).


114. It is reported by al-Tirmidhi, Ibn Mjah, al-Bayhaqi, and Ahmad ibn Hanbal.

115. Al-Suyuti's Ta'rikh al-khulafa', p. 160.

116. A'lam al-muqi'in, vol. iv, p. 122.

117. This being another testimony from Al-Shaykh Abu Zuhrah, affriming our saying that the Shi'ah never acknowledge for legislation of Allah except the Qur'an and Prophetic Sunnah.

118. Kitab al-Shaykh Abi Zuhrah, p. 102.

119. Ta'rikh Baghdad, vol. xiv, p. 81.

120. We have explained with evidence in Ma'al-Sadiqin that Ulu al'amr (those authority), are the guidance Imams of Ahl al-Bayt, and not th usurping rulers, as it is not possible that Allah commands to obey the oppressors, debauchees and infidels.

121. Ibn Hazm's Mulakhkhas ibtal al-qiyas, p. 37.

122.Tabaqat al-fuqaha', translated by Sa'id ibn Jubayr.

123. Tabaqat Ibn Sa'd vol. vi, p. 179.

124. Manaqib al-'Imam al-Shafi'i, vol. i, p. 443.

125. Ta'rikh Baghdad, vol. ii, p. 66.

126. Manaqib al'-Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal, p. 57.

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

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