Gently, O People of the Sunnah! New Introduction

The following is the new introduction to Shaikh ‘Abdul-Muhsin al-‘Abbâd’s Rifqan Ahl as-Sunnah bi Ahl as-Sunnah. It contains a clarification of the shaikh’s intent behind writing the treatise and who his advice was intended for. The shaikh also forwards some more beneficial advice to his brothers from the People of the Sunnah, which I thought should also be conveyed to the English speaking brothers and sisters. I pray Allah allows those who read it to benefit.

The praise is for Allah, and may Allah send salutations, peace, and blessing upon our Prophet Muhammad, upon his family, his companions and whoever was a supporter of his, held to his Sunnah, and was guided by his guidance, until the Day of Reward.[1]

As for what follows, then a few years prior (after the death of our venerable shaikh, Shaikh of Islam ‘Abdul-‘Azîz bin ‘Abdillah bin Bâz, in the year 1420H and the death of the shaikh and great scholar,[2] Muhammad bin Sâlih bin ‘Uthaimîn, in the year 1421H—may Allah have mercy on them), division and separation occurred between some of the People of the Sunnah, [which] resulted from some of them undertaking the pursuit of the errors [by] some of their brothers from the People of the Sunnah then cautioning against them[3] while those they incriminated countered their speech with its like. The spreading of the tribulation of this division was assisted by the ease of obtaining these incriminations, cautionings and what countered them, from the network of internet information (on which all [those] whose slander was desired was slandered in any hour of the night or day). So all of those who desired it seized it. Thus, the rift of the division and separation was widened because of that and everyone took sides with whoever and whatever delighted them from the personalities and the speech. The matter did not stop with the incrimination of whoever was incriminated from the People of the Sunnah. Rather, that passed on to some of those who did not support that incrimination.

I wrote a treatise of advice regarding this topic with the title Rifqan Ahl as-Sunnah bi Ahl as-Sunnah[4] in the beginning of the year 1424H. In its introduction I said [that]

[t]here is no doubt that the obligation upon the People of the Sunnah in every time and place is mutual affection, compassion in what is between them, and cooperation upon righteousness and godliness.[5]

Surely from what one regrets in this time is what occurred of alienation and differing from some of the People of the Sunnah; from what was caused by some of them being occupied with disparaging, cautioning [against], and boycotting others. The obligation was that their efforts be collectively directed at others from the disbelievers and the People of Heresies hostile to the People of the Sunnah; that they be mutually affectionate and compassionate with regards to what is between them, mentioning one other with gentleness and leniency.

After the publication of this treatise, individuals from the People of the Sunnah objected to it—may Allah pardon us and them—and I pointed that out in what I wrote at the end of the treatise al-Hathth ‘alâ Ittibâ’ as-Sunnah wat-Tahdhîr min al-Bida’ wa Bayân Khatarihâ.[6] At the forefront of these [individuals] who objected to this treatise were those from whom I sought gentleness with their brothers from the People of the Sunnah. By ‘the People of the Sunnah’ in [the title] Rifqan Ahl as-Sunnah bi Ahl as-Sunnah I did not mean the sects and parties deviating from what the People of the Sunnah are upon; such as those whose party arose from al-Mansūrah in Egypt;[7] such as the squatters in London who wage war against the People of the Sunnah by what they spread in their magazine which they have called as-Sunnah;[8] and such as those whose call arose from Dihli[9] in India.[10]

Indeed, in this introduction, I emphasized the counsel for the youth of the People of the Sunnah; that they be concerned with being occupied with knowledge; that their times be occupied with its acquisition in order that they seize profit and are safe from the cheating that was mentioned in the Messenger’s statement (may Allah send salutations and peace upon him), «Two blessings which many of the people are cheated of: health and sparetime.»[11] From the most important books of the contemporary scholars that they should be concerned with reading are: Majmū’ al-Fatâwâ of our shaikh, the imam of the People of the Sunnah during his time, Shaikh ‘Abdul-‘Azîz bin ‘Abdillah bin Bâz (may Allah have mercy on him); the Fatâwâ of the Permanent Committee for Scholastic Researches and Verdicts [in Saudi Arabia]; the writings of our shaikh, the great scholar, Shaikh Muhammad al-Amîn ash-Shinqîtî (may Allah have mercy on him), especially Adwâ’ al-Bayân fî Îdâh al-Qur’ân bil-Qur’ân; and the writings of the two formidable scholars, Shaikh Muhammad bin Sâlih al-‘Uthaimîn and Shaikh Muhammad Nâsir ad-Dîn al-Albânî (may Allah have mercy on them).

I also counsel that the students of knowledge in every land benefit from those occupied with knowledge from the People of the Sunnah in that land; like Shaikh al-Albânî’s pupils in Jordan who established a centre in his name after him, like Shaikh Muhammad al-Maghrâwî in Morocco, Shaikh Muhammad ‘Alî Farkūs and Shaikh al-‘Îd Sharîfî in Algeria, and others from the People of the Sunnah. From the advice to the People of the Sunnah is that whoever of them is mistaken should be notified of his mistake, not pursued for it. Innocence from him should not be declared because of that [mistake], and benefit should be sought from him, especially if no one is found who is more prominent in knowledge and virtue than he.

I counsel that the youth be cautioned from being occupied with following the stumblings of the students of knowledge and following the internet sites concerned with gathering their slips and cautioning against them because of [these slips]. Shaikh Muhammad bin Sulaimân al-Ashqar had erred slanderously in the derogation of the companion Abî Bakrah (may Allah be pleased with him) and his narrations, and [in] his[12] concern with the issue of the woman’s guardianship and in her sharing in the appointment [as guardian] of others. I refuted him in a treatise titled ad-Difâ’ ‘an asSahâbî Abî Bakrah wa Marwiyâtih wal-Istidlâl li Man’ Wilâyah an-Nisâ’ ‘alâr-Rijâl[13] and when I cautioned against his repugnant slip I did not caution against his beneficial writings; and among the men of the two Sahîhs, as well as other [books], are narrators described with heresy whose narrations were accepted despite the People of Knowledge’s notification of those heresies in order to caution against them.

In the beginning of Ramadân of the year 1423H, six months before the publication of Rifqan Ahl as-Sunnah bi Ahl as-Sunnah, I forwarded a letter of advice to one of those who the youth of the People of the Sunnah were affected by.[14] He had replied with a polite letter in which he supplicated to Allah to benefit him with this advice and mentioned that he advised the one who I referred to in the letter.[15] I ask Allah (mighty and sublime is He) to grant him and I, as well as the rest of our brothers from the People of the Sunnah, success for all of what returns with good and the praiseworthy outcome; and that He keeps everybody away from all of what returns with harms and the disasterous outcome, in the wordly [life] and the Afterlife. Surely, He is hearing [and] respondant. What follows is what has come in this letter [of mine]:

And so surely, I write these words to your eminence in hopes that you accept them with an eye of consideration, while «the religion is [sincere] advice» and «the believer to the believer is like the building; they stregnthen one another.» And from the right of the Muslim upon the Muslim is his advice and cooperation with him upon the good.

1. You mentioned to me during the meeting with your eminence which recently came to an end, that you were greater than I in age; and in these days I had entered into the eightieth decade[16] and according to this, you had preceded in this decade. Accordingly then, surely my being from those who taught you during the year 1381H and what was after it is from the seniors’ narration from the minors.[17] The likes of you and I are in need of being distracted from all of what results in disunity between the People of the Sunnah by beneficial knowledge.

2. Some time ago, I had previously heard a word from you: that you were distracted from being occupied with the Qur’an and pondering on its meanings by being busy with Hadîth and its men.[18] I say now [that] you are distracted from the Qur’an and Hadîth by speaking about some of the People of the Sunnah, and others. From what has distracted you from being occupied with the knowledge of the Book and the Sunnah are battling with those who are not from the People of the Sunnah and [with] those who the traces of tribulations and the belittling the status of the scholars with the claim of their lack of comprehension of current [events] have occurred from—[which] without doubt, it is in its place. That which is not in its place, however, is the tendency for following up the mistakes of those who are from the People of the Sunnah and defaming them due to their lack of agreeing with you in some opinions; frequently being occupied with the likes of these is unbefitting. If the mention of some of their mistakes occurs, then being preoccupied with them, reiterating them, and making them the talk of sittings is unbefitting. Then with discussing them, you get angry and raise your voice—and surely that, with respect to what contains danger, has an affect on your health.

3. Mention of disparagement and accreditation, as well as talk about some of the People of the Sunnah and others has become common in these days. The spreading of that on the internet is from what caused the questions to [successively] arrive from Europe, America, North Africa, and other [countries], about some of those whose disparagement occurred from you and Shaikh …[19] along with Shaikh …’s[20] expanding the talk to the honours of the shaikhs and students of knowledge—domestic and foreign—whose lectures and writings Allah caused benefit with, and to cautioning against them, and what results from that of desserting [one another] and mutual aversion; and the Messenger, may Allah send salutations and peace upon him, said, «Be welcoming, do not be alienating. And be easy, do not be difficult.» The mistaken person from the People of the Sunnah’s encouragement to good should be desired, along with his notification of his error if his error is clear. Then he should not be opposed, nor abandoned, nor should seeking benefit from him be cautioned against.

Although I believe that you do not agree with him regarding some of his speech about individuals, because of the association which is between you and Shaikh …[21] and the connection of disparagement to you and to him, what is not from you could be thought to be attributed to you. Due to this, the hope for you is that you do not occupy yourself with the disparaging of those who are from the People of the Sunnah, and that you have a position with regards to him that is restricted to its limit, such that the students of knowledge and others—domestic and foreign—are safe from being occupied with ‘it was said’ and ‘it is said’[22] and the successive questions: What is your statement regarding the disparagement of so-and-so, or so-and-so by so-and-so, or so-and-so? although there is no connection between you and this person. You are well known for diligence in learning and teaching, you have beneficial writings, you surpassed your colleagues in the days of study and you have useful writings regarding knowledge. As for him,[23] then he was from the last of his colleagues and his grading at passing [the exam] was ‘good’.[24] He does not have seniority in knowledge, he does not have writings, and the bulk of his merchandise is being occupied with the honours of people; you have an example in the companions of Allah’s messenger (may Allah send salutations and peace upon him) where after those who regretted what eminated from them, some of them said, “O people, question opinion in the religion!”

I ask Allah, mighty and sublime is He, to make all successful in what He is pleased with, [to] show us the truth as truth and make us successful in adhering to it, and [to] show us falsehood as falsehood and make us successful in avoiding it; surely He is hearing [and] respondant.

The praise is Allah’s, Lord of the worlds; and may Allah send salutations, peace, and blessings upon His servant and messenger, our Prophet Muhammad, upon his family and his companions.

[1] [t] Ar. yawm ad-dîn – lit. the Day of Reward (also Ar. yawm al-jazâ’). See al-Qâmūs al-Muhît and Tafsîr al-Jalâlain. It refers to Judgement day, which is also referred to as the Last Day (Ar. yawm al-âkhir) and the Day of Standing (Ar. yawm al-qiyâmah). It is the day on which all of mankind will stand before their Lord and be judged and rewarded according to their beliefs and their deeds.

[2] [t] Ar. ‘allâmah – great scholar, extremely learned. It is a title given to the most knowledgeable Islamic scholars.

[3] [t] I.e., their brothers.

[4] [t] I.e., Gently, [O] People of the Sunnah, with the People of the Sunnah.

[5] [t] Ar. taqwâ – godliness, devoutness, piety, reverence.

[6] [t] I.e., Urging Adherence to the Sunnah, Cautioning from the Heresies, and the Clarification of Their Significance.

[7] [t] This footnote, along with footnotes nos. 7i, 7ii, 8, and 9 were originally part of the main text of the treatise. I have made them into footnotes to help the text’s flow and readability in English. [a] Addressing his followers, this party’s founder said, “Thus your call is more deserving of [having] the people come to it and not coming to anyone … since it is comprised of every good, while others are not free from deficiency.”[i] He also said,

Our position on the various calls which prevailed in this era, divided the hearts and troubled the thoughts is that we weigh them by the scale of our call. Thus, whatever agrees with it, then welcome! And whatever differs with it, then we are free of it. We believe that our call is universal and does not leave a righteous part of any call except that it touches on it briefly and points it out!!![ii]

This speech necessitates that they welcome the Râfidî if he agrees with them and that they free themselves from those who differ with them, even if they were Sunnîs upon the way of the Predecessors. [t] Here the shaikh is speaking of the Muslim Brothers (al-Ikhwân al-Muslimūn).

[i] al-Bannâ, Shaikh Hasan. Mudhakkirât ad-Da’wah wad-Dâ’iyyah. Dâr ash-Shihâb. pg. 232.

[ii] al-Bannâ, Shaikh Hasan. Majmū’ah Risâ’il Hasan al-Bannâ. Dâr ad-Da’wah, 1411H. pg. 240.

[8] And from that is their derogation of the scholars of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and their describing the callers who are like them in it as liberals due to their display of opposition of the scholars and derogation of them, especially the [ones in] authority amongst them!! And one of the distinguished [scholars] has written a treatise titled Mujallah as-Sunnah??? in which he gathered a sum of that from their magazine. [t] Here the shaikh is speaking of Muhammad Surūr Zain al-‘Âbidîn and his followers (i.e., Surūrîs).

[9] [t] Ar. dihli – Delhi, a city in Northern India.

[10] [This call] does not deviate from six points and ignorance and lack of comprehension in the religion prevail over its people. In their call, they do not turn to the most important of the important matters i.e., singling Allah out in worship and keeping away from polytheism; it is the call of the Messengers, collectively, as Allah, exalted is He, said, «And We had certainly dispatched in every nation a Messenger [preaching] that you worship Allah and avoid the false gods» (16:36). So indeed, those tested by supplicating to the companions of the graves, appealing for aid through them, and slaughtering for them, they (i.e., the Messengers) have no share in their call! [t] Here the shaikh is speaking of Tablighi Jamaat (Jamâ’ah at-Tablîgh).

[11] It was published by al-Bukhârî in his Sahîh (no. 6412) and is the first hadîth in Kitâb ar-Riqâq.

[12] [t] I.e., Shaikh Muhammad bin Sulaimân al-Ashqar’s.

[13] [t] I.e., Defending the Companion Abî Bakrah and His Narrations, and Evidence for the Prevention of the Women’s Guardianship Over Men.

[14] [t] I.e., Shaikh Rabî’ bin Hâdî al-Madkhalî.

[15] [t] I.e., Shaikh Fâlih bin Nâfi’ al-Harbî.

[16] [t] I.e., his 70s. While being one of Shaikh ‘Abdul-Muhsin’s students when he studied in the University of Madînah, Shaikh Rabî’ bin Hâdî is about a year or so older than Shaikh ‘Abdul-Muhsin. Shaikh Rabî’ mentioned this fact publicly during the height of the turmoil mentioned above and can probably still be found on some internet forums.

[17] [t] Ar. riwâyah al-akâbir ‘an al-asâghir – lit. the seniors’ narration from the minors. [a] Just as [is mentioned] in Nuzhah an-Nadhr Sharh Nukhbah al-Fikr by Hâfidh Ibn Hajar, the seniors’ narration from the minors is the narration of the narrator from those who are below him age, meeting i.e., meeting the shaikhs, or in degree.

[18] [t] I.e., its narrators.

[19] [t] See footnote no. 15. The periods (…) were used by the shaikh in place of the mentioned shaikh’s name.

[20] [t] Ibid.

[21] [t] Ibid.

[22] [t] Ar. al-qîl wal-qâl – lit. the ‘it was said’ and the ‘it is said’, referring to idle talk, gossip, etc.

[23] [t] See footnote no. 15.

[24] [t] Ar. jayyid – good, perfect; outstanding, excellent; good (as in examination grade as opposed to mumtâz – passing with distinction).

About Rasheed Gonzales
My name is Rasheed Gonzales. I’m a Muslim convert of Filipino descent. Born and raised in Toronto, Canada, I was guided to Islam through one of my younger brothers and a couple of friends, all of whom had converted to Islam sometime before me (may Allah reward them greatly). I am married with four children (and the praise is Allah’s) and also a volunteer for the Qur'an & Sunnah Society of Canada, based in Toronto.

3 Responses to Gently, O People of the Sunnah! New Introduction

  1. Pingback: A Brief Mention of Shaikh al-Maghrâwî of Morocco (Updated Again) « Rasheed Gonzales

  2. Abu Salma says:

    Alhamdulillah, all praise is due to Allaah
    I do also have translated this new introduction into Indonesian language in my web : Muqoddimah Rifqon
    After I put this translation in my web, some people with the sick heart againts me and said that I was trying to defend the innovator and mock Shaikh Rabee bin Hadi hafizhahullahu. They said that I put this translation to agints shaikh Rabee -wal’iyadhubillah-.
    After that, I posted some note about this and clarifyied some issues, that Shaikh Abdul Muhsin didn’t mean in this introduction to against Shaikh Rabee hafizhahumallahu. But he just made advice and disageement regarding some issues.
    هل الشيخ عبد المحسن العباد يطعن في حق الشيخ ربيع المدخلي
    may Alloh guide us all to the right path…

    Akhukum Abu Salma al-Indonesee

  3. Pingback: Gentleness, O People of the Sunnah (Full Translation) « Rasheed Gonzales

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