Moosaa’s Mountain Out of Bilal’s Molehill
April 18, 2010 94 Comments
The praise is for Allah, and it is sufficed. May peace be upon His slaves who He has chosen. As for what follows …
I recently received an email from the TROID mailing list with a link to an article on their site titled, Errors in the Writings of Bilal Philips: The One who Commits Suicide… . Its origin is a post on the salafitalk.net discussion forum written by Moosaa Richardson, which he says will be the first in a series of articles “clarifying some of the more dangerous of [Dr. Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips’s] mistakes … .” After reading the beginning of Moosaa’s article, I couldn’t help but laugh. Not only were Moosaa’s claims unfounded based on the evidence he brings forward, but the article is yet another example of the extent to which these brothers will go in order to criticize and defame others. As has become commonplace with these brothers, Moosaa reads into things what just isn’t there and makes a mountain out of a molehill; Bilal Philips himself commented on the article saying it’s “[a] classic case of ‘statements out of context’, choosing the ‘worst possible meaning’ and ‘putting words in people’s mouths’ which the Western media is famous for.”
The focus of Moosaa’s criticism is a quote taken from Bilal’s Islamic Studies Book 3, in which Moosaa claims that Bilal
contradicts the belief of Ahlus-Sunnah and supports the belief of the Khawaarij and the Mu’tazilah: that the one who commmits suicide is a kaafir who will remain in the Hellfire forever. They are harsh and go overboard (ghuluww) with regards to the texts warning of punishment. Ahlus-Sunnah are balanced and take positions based on all texts combined.
He quotes Bilal Philips as saying,
…Suicide has been classified as haram (forbidden) in Islam. In fact, the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) himself informed us that one who kills himself will find himself in the Hell-fire forever, killing himself over and over again in the same way that he did in this life.(2) The one who commits suicide implies by his act that Allah has unjustly burdened him beyond his God-given abilities, and such a concept is, in reality, equivalent to kufr (disbelief)…
Contrary to what Moosaa seems to think, there is absolutely nothing factually wrong with this statement from Bilal, especially given the fact that he’s merely repeating what Prophet Muhammad, may Allah send salutations and peace upon him, said in the hadîth, but it’s with respect to this quote that he sets up his straw man argument in order to build his case against Bilal, which should be plainly evident looking at the two statements just quoted.
In his subsequent post, Moosaa acknowledges his straw man argument in a meagre attempt to clarify things for his readers stating that he has “received numerous emails alerting [him] that there was no takfeer of someone who commits suicide in Dr. Philips’ words, only a ‘concept equivilent to kufr’ but no mention of him being outside Islaam.” He then thanks those who emailed him and apologizes “for not making that issue clearer in the original article”. He quotes Bilal again highlighting another point of contention, this time, it’s where Bilal states that the one who commits suicide will find himself in the Fire forever. He proceeds to mention many of the objections he’s received to his initial post regarding this supposed mistake of Bilal’s and says that he’d like to keep the discussion open with these “reactions” (as he calls them) and will “try to clear up some of the confusion that produced [them].” He then makes the assertion that “[t]his discussion is only for people seeking academic clarifications, not emotional rants,” that he, “can not[sic] do anything for someone blinded by their attachment to personalities except ask Allaah to remove that trial from his way.”
There are so many things one can say about the many flaws and holes in Moosaa’s posts to this discussion, but that’s not what I wish to focus on; in addition to Moosaa’s straw man argument, Bilal has already pointed out a few of the mistakes and fallacies that Moosaa made in the comments section to one of his blog posts. I also don’t really want to focus on what the correct view is regarding the one who commits suicide as I haven’t really looked too deeply into it to be able to confidently determine such. What I do wish to focus on, however, is related to the last statement of Moosaa’s I’ve quoted regarding academic clarifications, as Moosaa is only giving his readers and followers a tiny fraction of the whole picture, which is poor research and ignorance at best … and at worst, intellectual and academic dishonesty; and as the saying goes, the sweetest of the two is still bitter.
Let’s begin our look at Moosaa’s skewed presentation of this issue by taking a look at the hadîth Bilal alludes to in the quote brought by Moosaa. Abū Hurairah, may Allah be pleased with him, reports that Allah’s messenger, may Allah send salutations and peace upon him, said,
«Whoever fell off from a mountain and killed himself, then he is in the fire of Hell, perpetually falling in it, abiding in it forever. Whoever slurped up poison and killed himself, then his poison is in his hand, perpetually slurping it up in the fire of Hell, abiding in it forever. Whoever killed himself with an iron tool, then his iron tool is in his hand, perpetually bringing it to his stomach in the fire of Hell, abiding in it forever.»
The hadîth has a few different wordings and has been mentioned by many scholars in their discussions regarding suicide, including Imam Shams ad-Dîn adh-Dhahabî, may Allah have mercy on him, in his well renowned book, al-Kabâ’ir. Moosaa claims that the interpretation of this hadîth presented by Bilal is false and that the meaning of “perpetually [killing one’s self] in the fire of Hell, abiding in it forever” doesn’t mean what the wording implies, but that it merely means “for an extremely long period of time, but not forever, as understood by the scholars of Ahlus-Sunnah … .” Moosaa’s claim here is a perfect example where he doesn’t give his readers a fuller picture of the issue.
In his explanation of the meaning of the Prophet’s statement, may Allah send salutations and peace upon him, «then he is perpetually [killing himself] in the fire of Hell, abiding in it forever», Imam an-Nawawî, may Allah have mercy on him, states,
[Several] statements were said regarding it. The first of them is that it is taken [to mean that] whoever did that, legalizing it despite his knowledge of its forbiddance, then this one is a disbeliever and this is his penalty. The second is that the desired [meaning] of perpetuity is a long period of time and a lengthy stay, not true permanence, just like it is said Allah made the sultan’s dominion everlasting. The third is that this is his reward, but He, glorified and exalted is He, was generous and informed that whoever died a Muslim will not abide in the Fire.
Imam Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalânî mentions several statements from the People of the Sunnah regarding the desired meaning of this statement from Prophet Muḥammad, may Allah send salutations and peace upon him, in his Fat·h al-Bârî. In explaining Imam al-Bukhârî’s chapter “What Has Come Regarding the Killer of the Soul”, he mentions that
the compiler mentioned three hadîths in the chapter. The first of them is the hadîth of Thâbit bin ad–Dahhâk regarding someone who killed himself with an iron tool, and the words regarding it will come in full in [my explanation of the chapter on] oaths and vows […] .
The second of them is the hadîth of Jundub, i.e., Ibn ‘Abdillah al-Bajalî […] the beginning of which contains, «There was a man among those who came before you.» In it, he said, «he became anxious, so he took a knife and cut his hand; the blood did not cease flowing until he died,» and the words regarding it will come in full there and I have not come across the naming of this man.
The third of them is the hadîth of Abî Hurairah in raised form, «The one who strangles himself will strangle [himself] in the Fire and the one who stabs [himself] will stab [himself] in the Fire» and from this aspect, it is one of al-Bukhârî’s unique [narrations]. He has also published it [in an] extended [version] in the [chapter on] medicine from the route of al-A’mash from Abî Sâlih, from Abî Hurairah. Muslim published it from that aspect and it does not contain the mention of strangling. In terms of addition, it contains mention of poison and other [things]; its wording is, «then he is perpetually [killing himself] in the fire of Hell, abiding in it forever.» The Mu’tazilah and others, from those who speak of the perpetual [residence] in the Fire of the companions of disobedient acts, have clung to it.
The People of the Sunnah replied to that with [several] answers. From them is having doubts about this addtion. After publishing it, at-Tirmidhî said Muhammad bin ‘Ajlân narrated it from Sa’îd al-Maqburî, from Abî Hurairah and he did not mention «perpetually abiding». Abuz-Zinâd narrated it in this manner from al-A’raj, from Abî Hurairah alluding to the chapter’s narration. He said it is more correct, because the narrations were authentic in that the people of monotheism will be punished, then removed from it and not [perpetually] reside in it.
Others replied by taking [it to mean that] whoever regarded it lawful, then surely, with his legalizing it he becomes a disbeliever, and the disbeliever abides [in the Fire perpetually] without doubt.
It was said it was mentioned as a source of rebuke and roughness and its reality is not desired; it was said the meaning is that this is his reward, but Allah might be generous to the monotheists and expel them from the Fire for their monotheism; it was said the estimation [of time] of “abiding in it [perpetually]” is until [a time that] Allah wills; and it was said that the desired [meaning] of perpetuity is a long period of time, not the true permanence, just as he says he resides [perpetually] for a specific period of time; and this is the least likely [meaning]. Increased explanation will come for it with the words regarding the hadîths of the Intercession, if Allah, exalted is He, willed.
Elsewhere, in explaining another hadîth, Ibn Hajar, may Allah have mercy on him, states that
His statements “My slave accosted Me with his soul” and “I have forbidden Paradise for him” could be regarded as dubious, because the first necessitates that whoever was killed had died before his appointed time, because of the notion the context of the hadîth gives: that if he did not kill himself, he would have delayed [his death] beyond that time and lived, but he rushed and went before [it]; and the second necessitates the monotheists residing [perpetually] in the Fire.
[…] The reply to the second is from [various] aspects. The first of them is that he legalized that action and became a disbeliever. The second of them [is that] he was actually a disbeliever and was penalized with the disobedient act in addition to his disbelief. The third of them is that the desired [meaning] is that Paradise was forbidden for him during whatever time, like the time in which the Forerunners enter [Paradise] or the time in which the monotheists are punished in the Fire, then expelled. The fourth of them is that the desired [meaning] is a specific [level of] Paradise, like al-Firdaws for example. The fifth is that that was mentioned in the way of roughness and instilling fear and its apparent [meaning] is not desired. The sixth of them is that the estimation [of time] is “I have forbidden Paradise for him if I want the duration of that.” The seventh of them, an-Nawawî said it is taken [to mean] that that was a law of whoever passed that the companions of the greater sins disbelieved by doing them.
As Imams an-Nawawî and Ibn Hajar mention, the People of the Sunnah have come up with several explanations for these hadîths and what they could possibly imply, all in order to answer the doubts presented by the Mu’tazilah and the Khawârij who rely on these narrations to excommunicate those who fall into sins. Even if Bilal’s stance on the issue were clear from the quote given by Moosaa (which it isn’t), to claim, as Moosaa has, that Bilal “contradicts the belief of Ahlus-Sunnah and supports the belief of the Khawaarij and the Mu’tazilah,” is quite a stretch. I’d even go as far as to say that given the fact that Bilal has translated the short treatise, Mujmal Masâ’il al-Îmân al-‘Ilmiyyah fî Usūl al-‘Aqîdah as-Salafiyyah, by some of Shaikh al-Albânî’s Jordanian students, if Bilal holds similar views to those held and expressed by these Jordanian students of al-Albânî’s, may Allah have mercy on him,—and I think it’s pretty safe to assume that he does—then Moosaa’s claim against Bilal is quite ridiculous. This is made even more so by the fact that some exaggerators (falsely) accuse al-Albânî and his students of irjâ’, the polar opposite of the heresy the Khawârij are guilty of.
I wonder if Moosaa would make the same accusations and express the same zeal and concern to clarify these sorts of “dangerous mistakes” when they come from others. It should be noted that in both Imam adh-Dhahabî’s al-Kabâ’ir and Shaikh al-‘Abbâd’s Bi Ayy ‘Aql wa Dîn (mentioned earlier in the footnotes), the issue of suicide is presented in pretty much the same manner the quote from Bilal seems to portray it; all make mention of the texts without much further explanation or elaboration—if any at all. Moosaa’s friends over at Salafi Publications also have a verdict given by Shaikh Muhammad bin Salih bin ‘Uthaimîn on suicide translated on both their SPubs.com and FatwaIslam.com sites that practically says the same thing that the quote from Bilal Philips does.
Intellectual and academic honesty dictate that these things should be mentioned. Sadly, however, they’ve been hidden from Moosaa’s readers and the issue has been made to seem simpler and more cut and dry than it actually is, all under the pretext of warning people from the supposed dangerous errors made by someone they consider deviant.
 Ahmed, Hamza. “|troid.org| Article: Errors in the Writings of Bilal Philips: The One who Commits Suicide.” Email to Rasheed Gonzales. March 29, 2010. See Errors in the Writings of Bilal Philips: The One who Commits Suicide…. troid.org (accessed April 6, 2010).
 Moosaa. “Dr. Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips on Suicide.” Online posting. March 28, 2010. salafitalk.net (accessed April 6, 2010).
 Philips, Bilal. “Peace Conference Scandinavia 2010.” Online posting in comments section. April 2, 2010. blog.bilalphilips.com (accessed April 7, 2010).
 “Dr. Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips on Suicide” (accessed April 6, 2010).
 ibid. (emphasis Moosaa’s; he references the quote from Bilal to Islamic Studies Book 3, pg. 85 (2nd ed., 2005, IIPH, Riyadh)).
 ibid. (emphasis added).
 “Peace Conference Scandinavia 2010” (accessed April 7, 2010).
 Published by Imam al-Bukhârî in his Sahîh (no. 5778) and Imam Muslim in his Sahîh (no. 109); the wording quoted is al-Bukhârî’s.
 Muslim’s wording of this hadîth is, «Whoever killed himself with an iron tool, then his iron tool is in his hand perpetually thrusting it into his stomach in the fire of Hell, abiding in it forever. Whoever drank poison and killed himself, then his poison is in his hand perpetually slurping it up in the fire of Hell, abiding in it forever. Whoever fell off from a mountain and killed himself, then he is in the fire of Hell, perpetually falling in it, abiding in it forever.»
adh-Dhahabî’s al-Kabâ’ir has, «Whoever killed himself with an iron tool, then his iron tool is in his hand perpetually thrusting it into his stomach in the fire of Hell, abiding in it forever. Whoever killed himself with poison, then his poison is in his hand perpetually slurping it up in the fire of Hell, abiding in it forever» (see al-Kabâ’ir, ed. Abū ‘Ubaidah Mash·hūr bin Hasan Âl Salmân, Maktabah al-Furqân, 2003).
 In more recent times, Shaikh ‘Abdul-Muhsin bin Hamad al-‘Abbâd in his essay titled, Bi Ayy ‘Aql wa Dîn Yakūn at-Tafjîr wat-Tadmîr Jihâdan?! Waihakum … Ufîqū Yâ Shabâb!!, which I have translated with the title, With Which Intellect & Religion Are Bombing & Destruction Jihad?! Woe to You … Wake up, O Youth!!!, which can be found on my blog.
 an-Nawawî, Muhy ad-Dîn Abū Zakariyâ Yahyâ bin Sharaf (Ed. Khalîl Ma’mūn Shîhâ). Sahîh Muslim bi Sharh al-Imâm Muhy ad-Dîn an-Nawawî al-Musammâ al-Minhâj Sharh Sahîh Muslim bin al-Hajjâj (3rd ed.). Beirut, Lebanon: Dar el-Marefah, 1996. vol. 2, pg. 306.
 I.e., Imam al-Bukhârî.
 Sahîh al-Bukhârî, nos. 1363-1365.
 I.e., where Imam al-Bukhârî cites the hadîth in full (no. 3463); his citation of it in this particular chapter of his Sahîh is summarized. In the full citation of the hadîth, Jundub bin ‘Abdillah, may Allah be pleased with him, mentions that Prophet Muḥammad, may Allah send salutations and peace upon him, said, «There was a man from those who came before you with an injury. He grew anxious [about it] and took a knife and cut his hand with it; the blood did not cease flowing until he died. Allah, exalted is He, said, “My slave accosted Me with his soul, [thus] I have forbidden Paradise for him.”»
 Ar. marfū’ – raised. In Hadîth terminology it refers to a narration related by a Companion in which he or she informs of something that Prophet Muḥammad, may Allah send salutations and peace upon him, said or did. See Shaikh Ahmad Shâkir’s al-Bâ’ith al-Hathîth Sharh Ikhtisâr ‘Ulūm al-Hadîth, pg. 46 (Dâr al-Âthâr).
 See its reference in footnote no. 10.
 Interesting to note that this seems to be the opinion Moosaa is saying is the correct understanding held by the People of the Sunnah.
 al-‘Asqalânî, al-Hâfidh Ahmad bin ‘Alî bin Hajar. Fat·h al-Bârî bi Sharh Sahîh al-Bukhârî. Cairo, Egypt: Dâr ar-Rayyân, 1987. vol. 3, pg. 269 (with omission, emphasis added).
 Sahîh al-Bukhârî, no. 3463. See footnote no. 16 for the full text of this hadîth.
 Fat·h al-Bârî bi Sharh Sahîh al-Bukhârî, vol. 6, pg. 577 (with omission).
 Ar. takfîr – the act of declaring disbelief upon an individual or group, effectively expelling the individual or group from the fold of Islam rendering them disbelievers, non-Muslims. Although it’s a Christian term and one that does not convey the meaning of expelling someone from the religion entirely, it’s the closest English word in meaning, thus I have chosen to use it.
 General Issues of Faith From the Fundamentals of the Salafee Creed (Word format, accessed April 16, 2010). See Salafee Creed by Dr. Bilal Philips under the Publications Downloads section of Bilal Philips’s website.
 As expected, Moosaa’s made some additional posts replying to some of the contentions that were sent to him about his initial posts, one of which is concerning the issue of the summarized speech of an individual compared to his elaborate speech. Moosaa claims that “[t]his kind of interaction with people’s statements is actually one of the innovations brought by Abul-Hasan al-Ma’ribee, wherein the principle of ‘mujmal and mufassal’ is applied to the speech of people, to explain away clear errors.” I’ve already translated several statements from contemporary scholars from the People of the Sunnah to show that this claim of Moosaa’s is just plain retarded—and that doesn’t even take into account the several other statements from the imams and scholars of the past to prove this as well that weren’t included in the article. See The Summarized & the Elaborated on my blog.
 Ar. irjâ’ – deferment or postponement. It refers to the heretic belief held by the Murji’ah in which actions are not part faith; that a person either has faith or does not. They hold that no amount of sins, whether greater or lesser, have an effect on one’s faith, thus it does not increase, nor decrease. Because faith resides in the heart, the Murji’ah say that judgement on a person (e.g., his being a sinner or an disbeliever) is left to Allah and deferred until Judgement day.
Note (added at the time of publishing): Since I first read Moosaa’s posts and drafted this article, Moosaa’s edited his initial post and added numerous amendments to it in subsequent posts; I expect he’s going to continue doing so for quite some time as well. It’d be interesting to see what he says about these other opinions from the People of the Sunnah mentioned by an-Nawawî and Ibn Hajar.