Questioner: Praying behind Imaams who display polytheistic innovations, in Libya there are many ignorant Imaams, and some of them, even the students amongst them … but they have polytheistic innovations, and some of them reject some aayahs or some hadith.
Al-Albaani: Reject some aayahs?
Al-Albaani: How is that?
Questioner: For example, he rejects the night-journey [al-Israa], the story of the night-journey, he rejects it from its very foundation.
Al-Albaani: Don’t say that.
Questioner: This is present amongst us.
Al-Albaani: ‘Slow down! Slow down!’ as the Turks say [Trans. note: the Shaikh used a Turkish expression here for, ‘Slow down!’: ‘Yavaş! Yavaş!’].
You shouldn’t attribute to a Muslim that he rejects the night-journey, because what comes to mind from this … especially when I think you said, ‘some Quranic aayahs,’ then this is a mistake.
You want to say that he rejects some of the meanings of some Quranic aayahs, or are you insisting on your initial statement?
Questioner: Some of them reject ya’ni, the meaning of the exegesis [tafseer] of the aayah for example.
Al-Albaani: You’ve come to what I was saying, you’ve come to what I was saying … stay with me, stay with me it’s better for you: you want to say that they reject some of the meanings of some aayahs.
For you to say that some of them reject aayahs or some aayahs is a mistake, because the result will be very dangerous and there is a big difference between someone who misinterprets an aayah taking it away from its apparent meaning but who still believes that it was sent down from the sky, such a person is a misguided Muslim … [and between] the one who rejects the aayah from its very foundation, for he is a kaafir who has apostatized from his religion.
So I think that you mean some of those who misinterpret, some contemporaries who believe that the Prophet was taken on his night-journey in soul and not with his body, this is what you mean when you say, ‘They reject?’
Questioner: Yes, but some of them reject the hadiths from their very foundation.
Al-Albaani: I’m talking about the aayah.
Questioner: Yes, this is about the aayah, yes.
Al-Albaani: So, they believe in the aayah about the night-journey but they reject its meaning. What do they say about its meaning, how do they interpret it?
Questioner: That he was not taken on the night-journey, some of them reject that he was taken on the night-journey.
Al-Albaani: What do they say about the aayah? So long as they believe in the ayaah [they must have an interpretation for it]. What is the meaning they believe in concerning this aayah? Is it the meaning I mentioned to you?
Al-Albaani: That he was taken on his night-journey in soul only [and not bodily].
Al-Albaani: Or do they have something else [they interpret it with] which we don’t know?
Questioner: That is what they say.
Al-Albaani: Okay, so, I repeat that it is not permissible to say about these people that they reject the aayah of the night-journey. We correct our expression concerning them and say that they reject the correct meaning of this aayah, correct?
Al-Albaani: After this you can go back [to mentioning your other point] that they reject hadiths.
Al-Albaani: These people who reject the hadiths are in one of two states. They either reject the hadiths as the second reference after the Noble Quraan … an absolute rejection of hadith, such people are not Muslims, and I do not think that you mean this regarding the people you asked about? Is that right?
Questioner: They reject …
Al-Albaani: Is that right?
Al-Albaani: I’m putting you at ease, why do you want to give a lecture for your answer? [I asked you], ‘Is that so?’ Say, ‘Yes,’ or ‘No.’ Say what you want, what you believe …
I think that you do not want to say about these people that they reject all hadith?
Al-Albaani: So they reject some hadith?
Al-Albaani: From them are the hadith of the night-journey and ascension, correct?
What is the difference between rejecting all hadiths and rejecting part of them?
Rejecting all hadiths necessitates a rejection of the Quranic texts and I think this does not require any further elucidation, for this reason, whoever rejects the Sunnah is not a Muslim, because he does not believe in the Quraan, ‘And whatsoever the Messenger gives you, take it …’ [Al-Hashr:7] to the end of the aayah.
As for those people who reject some of the hadiths and this was present in the past and now … nowadays one of those who attributes himself to Ahlus-Sunnah and who has become famous for rejecting many authentic Prophetic hadiths is the Egyptian, Azhari Shaikh, Muhammad al-Ghazaali.
He does not reject the Sunnah [as a whole], he does not reject hadiths from their very foundation as far as is apparent and Allaah is his Judge, but he rejects many hadiths.
It is not allowed to declare him to be a disbeliever because he never rejected the Sunnah from its foundation, but without doubt, he is not upon guidance from his Lord when he rejected many authentic hadiths which the Ummah has met with acceptance, so he is in manifest misguidance in this regard.
And there is no doubt that when people like him fall into such misguidance he will have many followers in [differing] countries, and I think he used to be a teacher where you are or with some of your neighbour[ing countries], so his infection spread to those near him. So our stance regarding these people is that we advise them and argue with them in a manner that is best.
After we have fulfilled the obligation of advising, directing and educating and they still persist in their clear misguidance we describe them as being misguided and do not increase upon that, i.e., we do not declare them to be disbelievers.
Based upon this we go back to the answer [to your question]: is the prayer behind them correct or null and void?
The answer is that the prayer is correct because we pray behind every righteous or wicked Muslim so long as he is still in the fold of Islaam however far from us he may be in ideology or creed [and so long as] he has not opposed a text which the Muslims are united upon.
So if there is a text and they do not interpret it in a new way but with something which was well-known from some people in the past and the Muslims [who were correct in those times] did not declare them to be disbelievers because the issue may have the possibility of being interpreted in that way, and with the possibility [of it being interpreted that way] the deduction ceases to be valid … then we cannot declare this type from the Ummah to be disbelievers.
And so long as the issue is like that, then prayer behind them is correct–but naturally we advise the one who finds an Imaam better in aqidah and behaviour than this one, not to pray behind that [deviated] Imaam.
Questioner: Okay, the other type who has some shirk for example in Uluhiyyah, he worships or visits the graves and seeks blessings from them and so on?
Al-Albaani: There is no doubt that this is a type of shirk, but declaring them to be disbelievers does not happen until after the proof has been established.
So for example when you see an Imaam who does not believe in Tawheed al-Uluhiyyah [correctly], worshipping others along with Allaah by calling on other than Allaah for example at times of difficulty and taking an oath and sacrificing for other than Allaah the Mighty and Majestic at times of celebration–there is no doubt that this is disbelief, but we can’t say that he is a disbeliever except after making him understand especially if he is a foreigner [i.e., not an Arabic speaker].
Because [look at] our problem today with the Arabs who are supposed to understand the Quraan as the One who sent it down from the sky intended it to be, [and know] what do you think the case will be with non-Arabic speakers? What about those from the Arabs who became foreigners [and now don’t speak Arabic]?! They are like the foreigners who do not understand the Quraan.
Thus, before rushing to declare them to be disbelievers and emitting them from the fold of their religion, it is obligatory to establish the proof against them.
If they renounce it, then the Saying of our Lord the Blessed and Most High is true concerning them, “And they rejected them, while their [inner] selves were convinced thereof …” [Naml 27:14] [it is] then that we emit them from the fold of Islaam and care not.
Al-Hudaa wan-Noor, 547.