Shaikh al-Albaani

Translations From His Works

Category: Praying Behind the People of Innovation

Al-Albaani Praying Behind a Sufi


 

Shaikh Esaam Moosaa Haadi said, “And in 1990 and 1991 our Shaikh used to pray Fajr in the mosque at the service station close to where I live and we used to pray Fajr with him. The Imaam of that mosque had a stance against al-Albaani and the Salafi da’wah, infact he was a Sufi but not an extreme one, despite that our Shaikh would pray behind him even though he knew about that.”

Muhaddithul-Asr, Imaam Muhammad Naasirud-Deen al-Albaani Kamaa ’Araftuhu, p. 121.

For detailed answers by the Shaikh on this topic please refer to the following posts:

Praying Behind the People of Innovation.

Al-Albaani asked, ‘O Shaikh of Ours! Do You Know the ‘Aqeedah of this Imaam You Pray Behind?’


 

Shaikh Esaam Moosaa Haadi said, “In the late 80’s our Shaikh, may Allaah have mercy on him, used to pray fajr behind an Imaam in the An-Nuzhah district, the mosque was far from the Shaikh but he used to love the salaah and recitation of this Imaam. There was a group of us brothers who would stand [waiting] for the Shaikh on the street and when he’d pass us he’d pick us up in his car and we’d go to pray with him and then we’d come back with him. One time, a young guy new [to the da’wah] in those days got in with us, on the way back he said to the Shaikh, ‘O Shaikh of ours! Do you know the ’aqeedah of this Imaam you pray behind?’ So our Shaikh said:

‘I don’t know his ’aqeedah just like I don’t know yours.’”

Muhaddithul-Asr, Imaam Muhammad Naasirud-Deen al-Albaani Kamaa ’Araftuhu, p. 121.

Praying Behind the People of Innovation | End | Praying Behind Someone who May Have Some Shirk


Questioner: In addition to the brother’s question, if the Imaam has some form of shirk, like making amulets or making fun of the Prophet’s Sunnah صلى الله عليه وسلم like the beard or shortening the thawb and so on …

Al-Albaani: Yaa Akhi, the issue of the beard and other such issues, that sin is on him, but as for shirk then that is the dangerous thing, but we, Ahlus-Sunnah, have to know that not everyone who falls into shirk has the ruling of being a mushrik applied to him, and that is because shirk is divided into [differing] categories, two of which concern us now: shirk [which one believes] from the heart [shirk qalbee], and spoken shirk [shirk lafdhi].

So if a Muslim who prays and fasts falls into spoken shirk, this spoken shirk may reflect shirk of the heart and [yet] it may not. So it is not allowed to judge this person who has committed shirk in a statement to say that he is a mushrik at heart except after having asked him about it in detail and sought clarification from him.

So if we were to assume that his shirk is from the first type, then he is a Muslim, who has for him and against him whatever we [as Muslims] have for us and against us. And maybe you have heard the Prophet’s صلى الله عليه وآله سلم saying to that man who heard one of his sermons and, wanting to express his obedience to him, said, ‘Whatever Allaah and you have willed!’ So he عليه السلام said, ‘Have you made me a partner of Allaah’s? Say, ‘Whatever Allaah Alone has willed.’’

So this is shirk, but spoken. He should have said, ‘Whatever Allaah willed and then you willed,’ but he made a mistake and said, ‘Whatever Allaah and you have willed!’ and so made the Prophet a partner by making him a peer of his Lord.

Also from this type is that a man from his Companions صلى الله عليه وآله سلم saw a dream in which he was walking in some of Medinah’s alleyways when he met a Jew, and so said to him, ‘How excellent a people you would be if only you never committed shirk with Allaah by saying, ‘Uzair is the son of Allaah.’ So the Jew said, ‘How excellent a people you would be if only you never committed shirk with Allaah by saying, ‘Whatever Allaah and Muhammad have willed!’

Then he went on a little and met a Christian, and so said to him, ‘How excellent a people you would be if only you never committed shirk with Allaah by saying, ‘Jesus is the son of Allaah.’ So the Christian said, ‘How excellent a people you would be if only you never committed shirk with Allaah by saying, ‘Whatever Allaah and Muhammad have willed!’

In the morning he went to the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم and told him about his dream, so he said, ‘Have you related it to anyone?’ He said no and so the Prophet عليه الصلاة والسلام delivered a sermon to the people, saying, ‘O People! Oftentimes I would hear one of you say, ‘Whatever Allaah and Muhammad have willed!’ Verily, do not say, ‘Whatever Allaah and Muhammad have willed!’ but say, ‘Whatever Allaah Alone has willed …’ and in another narration [there occurs], ‘… whatever Allaah has willed and then you willed.’

So if the shirk of this person who you say is a mushrik is spoken, then he is a Muslim, and if it is revealed that his shirk is from the heart, then, too, we are not allowed to rush into declaring him to be a disbeliever as long as he testifies that none has the right to be worshipped except Allaah and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allaah except after the proof is established against him. If it is and he still persists on his shirk and misguidance then he is cast aside.

Without such a clarification it is not allowed to declare to be a disbeliever a Muslim who testifies that none has the right to be worshipped except Allaah and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allaah let alone one who prays the five daily prayers and leads the Muslims in that.

So we must pay heed to this detail.

Do you have anything else?

Questioner: And if he makes amulets?

Al-Albaani: It’s a mistake, O brother, this is a mistake, but we say that you must differentiate between disbelief in action [kufr amali] and disbelief that one actually believes in [kufr I’tiqadi], spoken disbelief and disbelief of the heart. [Making amulets] is haraam there is no doubt in that, but it is not allowed to declare him to be a disbeliever based only on these actions [i.e., without establishing the proof against him as the Shaikh mentioned above].

Questioner [asking a question on a different topic now]: After the tarawih prayer I heard them say, ‘Subhaanal-Malikil-Quddoos.’ Has this been reported from the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم?

Al-Albaani: Yes. This is an authentic Sunnah reported in Sunan an-Nisaa’i with an authentic chain of narration.

Questioner: May Allaah reward you with good.

Al-Albaani: And it is obligatory on us to revive these Sunnahs by virtue of the fact of the many things which are said in various countries and each country has its own customs and habits, the people have killed off the Sunnah.

Al-Hudaa wan-Noor, 574.

End

Praying Behind the People of Innovation | 9 | A Question from Holland: Brothers who Boycotted the Mosques Because the Imaams Oppose the Sunnah in Some Issues


Questioner: … when I said to you that a group of our brothers in a city in Holland boycott the mosques and that they were waiting for a fatwa from you such that if you said to them that it was permissible they, inshaa Allaah, would be totally ready to go to any mosque, and the reason they don’t go is because, as I mentioned to you, there are people of innovation there and that some of the Imaams there shave their beards and wear their thawbs below their ankles and other such things.

Al-Albaani: Ya’ni, this question is not connected to the Jamaa’ah of Takfeer and Hijrah?

Questioner: It’s as though they have left some of that thinking but other remnants from it still remain, from which is boycotting the mosques and not praying in them, and not establishing the Friday prayer.

Al-Albaani: If these people who have boycotted the mosques are from the Jamaa’ah of takfeer then the answer has preceded, but if they are from another group who have not been affected with their ideology then such people are very widespread in the Islamic world, such that they hold that it is not correct to pray behind people who oppose [the Sunnah] or innovate or things such as that.

So according to what we believe, this [stance of theirs] is taking the legislation to extremes and has no basis.

I don’t know if I mentioned some of the legislative texts in that [previous] gathering or a different one, from which is his saying عليه الصلاة والسلام about the Imaams, “If they lead the prayer correctly then they and you will receive the rewards, but if they make a mistake, then you will receive the reward for the prayer and the sin will be theirs.”  [Bukhaari, no. 694]. Do you remember if we mentioned this hadith?

Questioner: No, you didn’t mention it …

Al-Albaani: We didn’t mention it …

Questioner: I went over the tape [and you never mentioned it].

Al-Albaani: Ok, it is the answer, i.e., it is not allowed for any Muslim to keep away from praying in a mosque as long as a Muslim Imaam is leading the prayer [there], even if in that Imaam’s ideology, aqidah, behaviour and manners, there is some deviation from the [correct] legislated rulings [in those areas].

So as we all know, Islaam always and forever orders unity, oneness, and being distant from the causes of disunity, such that the issue reached the level where the Prophet عليه الصلاة والسلام said a hadith like this which is express in showing the correctness of the prayer of someone who prays behind an Imaam even if that Imaam has shortcomings in some areas, so he صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم said, as occurs in Sahih Bukhari, reported by Abu Hurairah, may Allaah the Most High be pleased with him, that the Prophet صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم said, ‘They will lead you in prayer. If they do so correctly then they and you will receive the rewards, but if they make a mistake, then you will receive the reward for the prayer and the sin will be theirs.”

So if I had an opinion, or order, or piece of advice to direct to these people who you mentioned [in the question], then we order them with the Prophet’s order صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم who said what you just heard about the Imaams, “They will lead you in prayer. If they do so correctly then they and you will receive the rewards, but if they make a mistake, then you will receive the reward for the prayer and the sin will be theirs.”

This is the answer.

Questioner: May Allaah reward you with good.

Al-Hudaa wan-Noor, 523.

Praying Behind the People of Innovation | 8 | Following the Imaam if He is Mistaken


Questioner: If the Imaam performs the Qunut supplication in the morning prayer, raising his hands, and the one praying behind him knows that he performs the Qunut in the morning prayer, does the one praying behind him have to raise his hands in order to follow the Imaam?

Al-Albaani: Yes. Because of the previous hadith, and in reality this is a precise/detailed issue, because in the first part of that hadith he عليه السلام said, ‘The Imam is only there to be followed, so when he says, ‘Allaahu Akbar,’ then you should say it, and when he recites, then listen, and when he bows then you should bow, and when he says, ‘Allaah has heard the one who praised him,’ then say, ‘Our Lord, all praise is for you,’ and when he prostrates then you should prostrate, and if he prays standing then pray standing, and if he prays sitting then you should pray sitting.’

This hadith is a very great text concerning the fact that the praying person has to follow the Imaam even if it means that he has to leave a pillar of the prayer, not just something obligatory or sunnah [but a pillar even], because we all know that from the pillars of the prayer, without which the prayer is not correct, is to pray whilst standing, as He, the Most High, said, ‘… and stand before Allaah, devoutly obedient.’ [Baqarah 2:238]

If a man performed an obligatory prayer whilst sitting when he could have done so standing, then his prayer is null and void, this is in contrast to the optional prayer which the Legislator has permitted one to pray sitting, but He made its reward equivalent to half of the one who prays whilst standing.

As for [praying] the obligatory prayer whilst sitting if one is not ill or does not have any other excuse, then such a prayer is null and void.

Yet even though that is the case [and to show how important following the Imaam is], if the Imaam prayed whilst sitting out of illness then all of those who are following him, even though they are healthy, have to pray whilst sitting along with him as a realisation of this general principle, that, ‘The Imam is only there to be followed …’

And the circumstance relating to this hadith is that the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم was riding an animal of his one day when he fell off and hurt a vein in the middle of his arm. The time for midday prayer approached and so he led them whilst sitting, since due to the severity of the impact he عليه السلام wasn’t able to do so standing. He عليه السلام noticed that the people behind him were praying standing, since firstly, this was what [in normal circumstances] was ordained for them and they always used to pray behind him عليه السلام standing, so he signalled for them to sit which they did and then he عليه السلام said, ‘You were almost about to do what the Persians do before their greats, they stand before their kings. ‘The Imam is only there to be followed, so when he says, ‘Allaahu Akbar,’ you should say it …’ until the end of the hadith.

So we notice here that the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم ordered his Companions who were strong and healthy to sit down, because he was. He was the one who couldn’t stand and so was excused, those following him were able to stand, but the Wise Legislator deemed them to be excused from having to pray standing in order to follow the Imaam who, due to a valid excuse, was praying sitting.

For this reason, we say that when the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said, ‘… when he bows then you should bow and when he prostrates you should prostrate …’ he did not do so to mean that following the Imaam was only to be limited to these things, but rather it was to give an example [of the things he is to be followed in], and there is a difference between those things being mentioned by way of limitation and between being mentioned as some examples, i.e., the Prophet عليه السلام mentioned them as examples to affirm the principle that, ‘The Imam is only there to be followed …’

And we know, for example, that when an Imaam forgets [to sit for] the first tashhahud and stands, it is upon some of those following him to remind him by saying, ‘Subhaanallaah!’  So if he remembers, he goes back and this has some elaboration which maybe I can mention soon, and if the Imaam doesn’t remember and stands, then he will have left this [first] tashhahud, [he will have left] the sitting for the first tashhahud and what is to be read therein mistakenly–but we [i.e., the people praying behind him] follow him in that mistake [i.e., we have to stand up with him and can’t remain sitting to recite the tashhahud], because he has an excuse [i.e., forgetfulness].

And in a similar way, elimate each issue where difference has occurred between the Imaams, so if the Imaam is performing a prayer in which he opposes the Sunnah while believing himself to be upon the Sunnah, then we do not oppose him.

But as we mentioned earlier, if he left the Sunnah out of negligence/disregard then following him is not applied here, because he is not following the Sunnah and not following an Imaam, here we oppose him because he has opposed the Sunnah and his Imaam, so he is a negligent, lazy person who does not have an excuse.

So the principle is that he [i.e., the Imaam] is followed in whatever breach he has an excuse for, and if he doesn’t [have an excuse] then no, the Sunnah.

Al-Hudaa wan-Noor, 75.

Praying Behind the People of Innovation | 7 | A Question from America: Can A Group of Brothers Establish the Prayer at Home if the Imaam is Upon Innovation?


Al-Albaani: Wa alaikum salaam.

Questioner: Is his eminence, the Shaikh present?

Al-Albaani [out of humility]: The old, aged, Shaikh is present.

Questioner: May Allaah reward you with good, O Shaikh.

Al-Albaani: And you.

Questioner: Can we ask some questions, O Shaikh?

Al-Albaani: Yes.

Questioner: We called you yesterday and didn’t find you, so the brother al-Khateeb gave us some answers about the issue.

Al-Albaani: Yes.

Questioner: And he asked us to call you today, so we are here in the city of Arlington in Texas, in the US, and we have a Mosque here with an Imaam …

Al-Albaani: He [i.e., al-Khateeb] explained the issue to me, so listen to the answer.

Any Imaam who leads the Muslims [in prayer], in any place, whether in a mosque or a musalla, or a house, or any other place, as long as the Muslims praying behind him hold that that Imaam is a Muslim, then their prayer behind him is correct–whatever their opinion about him is, whether in relation to aqidah or in terms of manners and actions.

So as long as his violation in aqidah or manners does not lead them to believe that he has disbelieved and left the fold of Islaam, then their prayer behind him is correct, due to his saying عليه الصلاة والسلام about the Imaams who lead you in prayer, “If they lead the prayer correctly then they and you will receive the rewards, but if they make a mistake, then you will receive the reward for the prayer and the sin will be theirs.”  This hadith is in Sahih Bukhari, what does it say? “If they lead the prayer correctly then they and you will receive the rewards, but if they make a mistake, then you will receive the reward for the prayer and the sin will be theirs.”  [Bukhaari, no. 694].

But in addition to this, if those who are being led in prayer are discontent with their Imaam in something related to aqidah or manners, then  I advise that they try to replace him with someone else, someone better than him, if that is within their ability, and if it isn’t, then Allaah does not burden any soul with more than it can bear.

So it is either within your control or power to distance this Imaam of yours from being the Imaam and to bring someone better than him … this is something obligatory on you, or if the other case is true [i.e., it is not within your power], then your prayer behind him is correct as I told you before.

And through this legislated ruling it is possible for the Muslims to come together despite their differences and for them not to cut off or turn away from each other, has the answer become clear for you?

Questioner: It’s clear.

Al-Albaani: Good, what else do you have?

Questioner: It’s not allowed after … [tape unclear] … to pray on our own, is it allowed?

Al-Albaani: If the mosque, if the congregation is in the mosque and not outside it and the mosque has an appointed Imaam and an appointed muezzin behind whom the Muslims are gathered, yes.

Questioner: There is an appointed Imaam but not an appointed muezzin.

Al-Albaani: There is an appointed Imaam but not an appointed muezzin? This is something we cannot picture except in the land of disbelief which you live in. For this reason, it is upon you to emigrate from there.

As for the legislated ruling [Transl. note: the person’s question seems to have been about repeating the prayer in the mosque], then repeating the prayer in a mosque which has an appointed muezzin and Imaam who the Muslims gather behind, then here it is not allowed to split the congregation with a second congregational prayer and then a third and so on. But if the two conditions [i.e., the presence of both an appointed Imaam and muezzin] or one of them is not met as you mentioned, then fleeing that country is obligatory.

Questioner: May Allaah reward you with good.

Al-Albaani: And you.

Questioner: Your eminence, Shaikh, in this situation, is it allowed to establish the congregation at home and not in the mosque, three or four brothers, for example, praying in a house?

Al-Albaani: Which situation do you mean?

Questioner: I don’t understand [your question], O Shaikh?

Al-Albaani: Which situation do you mean, you said, ‘In this situation …’

Questioner: In the situation where an Imaam has such things and such characteristics as lying and other things, we, for example, in … [unclear] …we are not innovators who would establish [a second, third etc.] congregation in the mosque, but, for example, we will establish it in a house, for example, three or four brothers or a number of brothers establish it in a house and do not pray behind that Imaam, and we pray the congregation in a house on our own, is that allowed or not?

Al-Albaani: Why won’t you pray behind him [i.e., the Imaam in the mosque]?

Questioner: Ya’ni, our prayer [behind him] is permissible even if he has those characteristics?

Al-Albaani: By Allaah, what did I just speak about [i.e., wasn’t my whole answer about that]?

Questioner: Yes, may Allaah reward you with good, O Shaikh, can I ask you a second question?

Al-Hudaa wan-Noor, 442.

Praying Behind the People of Innovation | 6 | ‘To pray behind every righteous person or wicked sinner’


 

Questioner: Many of the practising brothers who are keen in sticking to the Sunnah frequently ask about praying behind Imaams who are innovators, from the Ash’aris or, if the term is correct, the extreme Sufis, those who say that it is permissible to seek succour from other than Allaah in those things which only Allaah is capable of, and that leaving off praying behind them will at most times lead to an abandonment of the Jamaa’ah, because most of the Imaams with us are from the people of innovation, except for a few.

Another Person: Allaah’s Aid is sought.

Al-Albaani to someone who entered the gathering: Welcome.

Questioner: So what do you say, may your excellence continue.

Al-Albaani: We’ve answered this more than one time, [saying] that prayer …

Questioner: Yes.

Someone who enters: As-Salaamu alaikum.

Al-Albaani: Wa alaikumus-Salaam wa rahmatullaahi wa barakaatuhu.

I hold, and knowledge is with Allaah, following on from what those who came after inherited from the Salaf, that it is legislated to pray behind every righteous person and wicked sinner, and to pray over every righteous person and wicked sinner and that the prayer performed behind such Imaams is correct.

As long as we, or at the very least as long as the one who is praying [behind that person], holds–and we stipulate the [following] condition–that whatever innovation or innovations the Imaam is upon, he has not left the fold of Islaam and [has not left being regarded as from amongst] the Muslims.  He is an innovator, but without doubt and for a surety, not every innovator is a disbeliever, this is for sure. And if the situation is as such, then the one giving the

the question [which you put] must place a check there and he must be precise, and this is what I am doing, so I say:

If the one praying behind an Imaam who is an innovator, whether that Imaam is a Sufi, or a Maaturidi, or an Ash’ari or … or, and so on to whatever other names the groups and parties have, if the one praying [behind such a person] holds that this Imaam who is an innovator has not left [the state of] being a Muslim, then the previous principle is employed, ‘To pray behind every righteous person or wicked sinner.’

And if he holds the opposite, that the Imaam has disbelieved, then it clearly goes without saying that praying behind him is not allowed.

But at the same time we warn [the people] from rushing to issue fatwas declaring a [single] Muslim to be a disbeliever, let alone Muslims, just because they fell into an innovation even if this innovation, as they say today, is one connected to aqidah. So one must take one’s time and be patient and not rush into issuing fatwas declaring others to be disbelievers.

Yet at the same time, we say that it is upon a Muslim to choose that the Imaam he prays behind is upon the Sunnah and correct aqidah and worship and manners, if he is able to, and if not, if the situation is that he has to choose between praying alone at home or praying behind that Imaam who has his innovations, then praying behind that Imaam is more fitting than praying alone …

Questioner: In order to preserve what is good …

Al-Albaani: Yes, thereafter along with that I say that if the person really is asking this question out of piety and devoutness, then I say, the door to devoutness is vast, when you come back from the mosque pray it again with your family.

Questioner: As occurred with some of the Salaf in times past.

Al-Albaani: Yes.

Questioner: He said, ‘Those who delay the prayers from their appointed times …’

Al-Albaani: It is as such, [delaying] the prayer from its time. This is our answer in this issue.

Questioner: And the one he prayed behind the Imaam would be counted as optional.

Al-Albaani: Optional, yes.

Questioner: May Allaah bless you.

Al-Albaani: And you.

Al-Hudaa wan-Noor, 754.

Praying Behind the People of Innovation | 5 |


 

Questioner: What is the situation with an Imaam who leads the people in prayer and is upon innovation, and all the time whenever we advise him he does not listen, in fact he hates us and is spiteful towards us, is it allowed to pray behind him or not, or does the innovation differ in terms of its … being whatever it is, ya’ni … [i.e., does praying behind him depend on what type of innovation he is upon]

Al-Albaani: Namely, whether it is an innovation which makes one a disbeliever or not?

Questioner: Whether it is an innovation which makes one a disbeliever or not, may Allaah reward you with good.

Al-Albaani: Firstly, I don’t know whether you were present at the previous sitting where we spoke about the Shee’ah?

Questioner: Yes.

Al-Albaani: And that it is not allowed for a Muslim to rush to declare the Shee’ah or others to be disbelievers just because they are Shee’ah, do you remember?

Questioner: Yes.

Al-Albaani: So it is even more the case that it is not allowed for us to declare someone who at the very least is regarded as being from us and amongst us, from the Ahlus-Sunnah wal-Jamaa’ah, to be a disbeliever except if we see open and manifest disbelief from him.

Especially when, my brother, we live, as I think is clear to you from the previous gathering and this one–and I hope that we are able to have another such gathering or sittings and that is in Allaah the Mighty and Majestic’s Hands–[so I think it is clear] that you understand well that the people are as described by the Lord of the Worlds, “But most of mankind know not …” [Al-A’raaf 7:187]

For this reason it is not allowed for a Muslim to rush into declaring an individual from the Muslims to be a disbeliever as long as he is praying, and you now put forward a question about an Imaam who leads the people in prayer, so, in an authentic hadith it occurs that–and for this reason we encourage the Muslim youth to study the Sunnah and everyone who doesn’t study the Sunnah is in misguidance but the extent [of just how misguided] differs totally [from individual to individual]–in the authentic Sunnah it occurs that [the Prophet said], ‘I have been prohibited from killing those who pray.’

Is it not an analogy a fortiori [qiyaas awlawi] that [consequently] we say that I have been forbidden from declaring the Muslims to be disbelievers, this is an argument a fortiori, like His Saying, the Most High, “And your Lord has decreed that you not worship except Him, and to parents, good treatment. Whether one or both of them reach old age [while] with you, say not to them [so much as], ‘uff,’ and do not repel them …” [Israa 17:23] to the end of the aayah, so is it allowed for a son to hit his father? It is even less permissible, saying ‘uff’ is haraam so hitting him with your hand is even more severe in harm, this is called qiyas awlawi.

No one denies this, even Ibn Hazm fell into using this analogy sometimes even though he totally rejects [the use of] analogy [qiyaas]. The point is that it has been authentically reported that he عليه السلام said, ‘I have been prohibited from killing those who pray,’ so it is even more correct to [say that] I have been forbidden from declaring those who pray to be disbelievers.

May Allaah forbid it, but when we see open disbelief from someone who prays, whether he is an Imaam or not–and that [is something which] in reality [would] need to be researched specifically–then maybe it would be correct for me to say … rather, then it would not be permissible to declare him to be a disbeliever even if we saw open disbelief from him except after having established the proof against him, and [if] after having done so he [still] was not deterred or inhibited [from that disbelief], it is then that you would not pray behind him and it would not be permissible for you to deal with him as a Muslim.

As for the generality of those who pray now, whether the Imaams or the followers, then the foundational principle is that they are Muslims and it is not allowed to declare them to be disbelievers.

As for the prayer, then no matter what you don’t like about his prayer, whether you are right [in that] or mistaken, your prayer behind him is correct, i.e., let us assume that he prays incorrectly, he is the one who is incorrect in his innovation and you are correct in your judgement that he is an innovator but you have not declared him to be a disbeliever alhamdulillaah, even with this your prayer behind him is correct.

And you will not find this answer in the books of the madhhabs at all, if you have studied one of those madhhabs that are followed today, like the Hanafi [madhhab], or the Shaafi’i one …  the agreement/contract of the Muslims would be dissolved and that which befell the Muslims of the previous generations would befall the Muslims of today, these are tragedies which happened in past Islamic history, and it has been reported that a bigot, and I don’t want to mention which madhhab [he was from], came to a mosque in which the Muslims were praying but not according to his madhhab, so he said, ‘Isn’t it time that this church closed its doors?’

It’s a mosque, the Muslims are praying in it according to one of the four madhhabs, not shee’ah, not khawaarij, not Zaidiyyah and so on, [they were praying according to] one of the four madhhabs, so this bigot says, ‘Isn’t it time that this church closed its doors?’

Similarly another of them who was a Qaadi judging according to the Sharee’ah, so he thought, said, ‘If it were up to me, I would have taken the jizyah from the Shaafi’is,’ just like that.

If we now wanted to implement some of the subsidiary issues present even till today in some of these books, [the result would be that] a Shaafi’i wouldn’t pray behind a Hanafi, and nor a Hanafi behind a Shaafi’i, because from the Hanafi texts [it is stated that], ’It is disliked to pray behind someone who opposes the madhhab.

[Addressing those present] have any of you studied Hanafi or Shaafi’i fiqh so that we can discuss this issue with him?

‘It is disliked to pray behind someone who opposes the madhhab,’ in fact it could be nullified if the one praying behind a certain Imaam knows that the Imaam’s ablution is not correct and they gave examples of that, [like] if a Hanafi saw a Shaafi’i perform ablution completely and then he touched his wife then such a person’s ablution would be broken, sorry, I made a mistake …  if there were a Hanafi who performed ablution and then touched his wife, his ablution according to the Hanafi madhhabs is correct, but not so according to the Shaafi’i one.

So the Shaafi’i does not hold the prayer to be correct behind him because he regards the ablution to have been broken.  And the total opposite is true if the Hanafi were to perform ablution and then he bled, according to his madhhab his ablution would have been broken, such a prayer would be invalid in the eyes of someone who holds that view. So if there was a Hanafi who adopted the madhhab of Imaam ash-Shaafi’i that no matter how much blood comes out then the ablution is still correct, [a person who holds the other view] will not pray behind him.

Questioner: The Maaliki madhhab or the Hanafi madhhab?

Al-Albaani: No, I’m saying that now we’re talking about two madhhabs, the Hanafis who hold that if someone bleeds, no matter how little, the ablution is broken but if he touches a woman his ablution is sound, and conversely you have the Shaafi’is who say that touching a woman breaks the ablution but bleeding, no matter how plentiful, does not.

Salvation is found in embarking on the ship of salvation, the Sunnah.

Listen now to the answer from the Sunnah.

He عليه الصلاة والسلام said concerning the Imaams who lead us in prayer, “If they lead the prayer correctly then they and you will receive the rewards, but if they make a mistake, then you will receive the reward for the prayer and the sin will be theirs.” [Bukhaari, no. 694].

No answer or ruling more comprehensive then this can be found.

So I wanted to show that through such meaning and such a ruling it is possible to bring the Muslims together.

Wallaahi, as for [one person saying], ‘Your madhhab is such and such but my madhhab says this,’ then this is division which we have been prohibited from, “And do not be of those who associate others with Allaah. [Or] of those who have divided their religion and become sects, every faction rejoicing in what it has.” [Rum 30:31-32]

Perhaps you have obtained your answer, inshaa Allaah.

Let us have another question …

Al-Hudaa wan-Noor, 539.

Praying Behind the People of Innovation | 4 | Al-Albaani Asked About Praying Behind the Quburis [People Who Fall Into Shirk Connected to the Graves]


 

Questioner: Another cassette reached us which had some of your statements regarding the fighting in Afghanistan and your fatwa about the permissibility of praying behind the grave-worshippers [Qaburis], so the people differed [after hearing this fatwa of yours], O Shaikh.

Al-Albaani: “… and they will not cease to differ, except whom your Lord has given mercy …” [Hud 118-119], this is the text of the Noble Quraan, “And if your Lord had willed, He could have made mankind one community; but they will not cease to differ, except whom your Lord has given mercy.” [Hud 118-119]

So differing is something very normal and there is no escape nor deliverance from it except by sticking to the Book and the Sunnah, for this reason, if some differing does occur then two things are obligatory on those who have differed:

The first is that this differing should not be a cause for disunity [and that it should not be] differing which leads to disunion/separation.

The second thing is that they should return to Allaah and His Messenger in that [issue], as Allaah the Mighty and Majestic said in the Quraan, “… and if you disagree over anything, refer it to Allaah and the Messenger, if you should believe in Allaah and the Last Day. That is the best [way] and best in result.” [Nisaa 4:59] And I believe that in many issues [people either] go too far or fall short.

In many issues there is excessiveness and negligence. Many of our brothers who cling to the Sunnah hold that one should not pray behind innovators but I say: these innovators, in our ruling about them based upon what is apparent to us, are either disbelievers or Muslims. So if they are disbelievers then praying behind them is not correct unanimously. And if they are Muslims then the prayer behind them is correct even if they are from the innovators or are misguided in some issues which they have left the Sunnah in.

And we have a hadith in Sahih Bukhari from Abu Hurairah, may Allaah the Most High be pleased with him, where he said that Allaah’s Messenger صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم said concerning the Imaams, “If they lead the prayer correctly then they and you will receive the rewards, but if they make a mistake, then you will receive the reward for the prayer and the sin will be theirs.” [Bukhaari, no. 694].

And another hadith also from Sahih Bukhari that a ruler in one of the cities, I think it was Medinah, during the time of the Amawis, his name was Uqbah ibn al-Walid as far as I recall, led the people in the morning prayer one day with four rak’ahs [instead of two]–because he was drunk, having drunk alcohol, so he didn’t know what he had prayed, and from his misguidance was that after he gave salaam to end the prayer he said [to the people], ‘Shall I give you some more [i.e., make it even longer]?’ He prayed four rak’ahs for fajr and yet along with that he said, ‘Shall I give you some more?’

The hadith is in Sahih Bukhari, [and Imaam Bukhaari is] the one who narrates the hadiths exactly as they are, and he didn’t relate to us that those Salaf repeated the prayer which that man led them in as four rak’ahs, why? Because of that first hadith [I mentioned to you, i.e.,], “If they lead the prayer correctly then they and you will receive the rewards, but if they make a mistake, then you will receive the reward for the prayer and the sin will be theirs.”

This is from one angle. The other angle is that there is no doubt that many of these innovators wanted what was correct but missed it, for this reason our obligation is to try to direct and guide them and not to take them as our opponents and enemies. And this issue is contingent upon what I mentioned just now: that as long as they are Muslims then they have the same rights as us and the same responsibilities.

And if they leave the fold of Islaam and become disbelievers like those who believe in Wahdatul-Wujood, for example, then it is not correct to pray behind them, but such people are not called innovators. The innovators are those like the Khawaarij, the Mu’tazilah, the Murji’ah–the Imaams of Hadith used to report hadith from them with the condition that they be truthful in that which they were reporting and had memorised their narrations and they did not declare them to be outside the fold of Islaam but gave them the ruling they deserved which was that they had left the Sunnah.

For this reason we do not become enthusiastic in warning the people from praying behind innovators, rather, many times I am asked openly, ‘Imaam so and so seeks intercession with the Awliyaa and the righteous, should we pray behind him?’ I say: yes, has he left the fold of Islaam through that … [tape cuts off here] …

And through this method, in my view, it is possible to bring together the views and differences [found] amongst the Muslims. As for if we were to pass the judgement that the one who innovated one innovation or many in Islaam has left Islaam then the distance [caused by] differing will increase between us and the Muslims, and this, without doubt is not allowed.

This is my opinion concerning praying behind the innovators, I don’t know if you have any comments that we can listen to and benefit from?

Questioner: May Allaah reward you with good, O Shaikh.

Al-Albaani: And you.

Questioner: Because … your old or previous stance … and it was a stance which … ya’ni, was strong concerning them, this became the foundation of those youth with us, it became a foundation which is difficult for them to leave.

Al-Albaani: The previous stance? What was it?

Questioner: Shaikh it was the categorical stance towards the innovators, even with us our stance regarding the innovators [became such] that everyone who seeks intercession is an innovator, everyone who seeks succour [with the Awliyaa] is an innovator, in fact, it reached such an extent that everyone who doesn’t move his finger in tashahhud [is an innovator] … i.e., a stance which was not good in this affair …

Al-Albaani: Yes.

Questioner: So it has become, O Shaikh, ya’ni, the foundation of the youth’s stance is that there should be severity towards the grave-worshippers, towards those who seek intercession [through the righteous etc.], total severity.

Because frankly, O Shaikh, the situation of the grave-worshippers where we are is clear and manifest, and their seeking aid from other than Allaah is clear and none of them hide it, in fact they show enmity to the Ahlus-Sunnah through that, indeed they sometimes plot against the Ahlus-Sunnah, as is present now, and this has resulted in problems, so when they [i.e., those youth] heard this fatwa [of yours], the reality was that some of them were looking left and right [not knowing what to do], except that, alhamdulillaah, the stance of the people of knowledge with us was clear and they understood what you meant, O Shaikh, so alhamdulillaah, they clarified the situation.

Al-Albaani: Whatever the case, may Allaah bless you. What you mention concerning your country is in all countries, i.e., that the people of innovation fight the Ahlus-Sunnah.

Al-Hudaa wan-Noor, 337.

Praying Behind the People of Innovation | 3 | The Ruling on Praying in Mosques Which Have Many Innovations in Them and on Praying Behind an Imaam Who is an Innovator


Questioner: What is the ruling on praying in mosques which have many innovations in them, and following on from that, [what is the ruling on] praying behind an Imaam who is an innovator?

Al-Albaani: This is a question which is asked very often these days, and even though from one angle it shows signs of something good from another it bodes evil.

It shows signs of being something good in that those people who are keen on [implementing] the Sunnah are increasing day by day, alhamdulillaah, and they have started to pay attention to the many innovations found in the mosques and Imaams and muezzins and so on and for this reason they avoid praying in those mosques that are full of innovations and [avoid] following the Imaams who oppose the Sunnah in many of the things they do in their prayers.

So this is something good–but for how long will we carry on asking questions like this?

And I always and forever repeat two things: the first is related to following [i.e., praying behind] an Imaam who is an innovator and that it is from the Sunnah to pray behind every righteous or sinful person, this is a point of creed, mentioned in the aqidah of Ahlus-Sunnah wal-Jamaa’ah, [i.e.,] praying behind every righteous or wicked person, which is something contrary to what the Shee’ah do.

For the Shee’ah do not hold it to be valid to pray behind anyone except–[and here] I will not only say that they do not hold it to be valid to pray behind anyone except the Shee’ah–no, they are even more misguided than that, [for they say that prayer is not valid] except behind an infallible Imaam and naturally in their eyes such an Imaam can only be from the Shee’ah, from the Ahlul-Bait.

So the Salaf laid this principle down for us: that we even pray behind a wicked sinner, why?

Because in many hadiths it has been reported that prayer behind the tyrannical or oppressive Imaams is permissible, like his saying عليه السلام reported in Sahih Muslim, “There will be rulers over you who delay the prayer from its correct time, so if you meet them, pray the prayer at its correct time and then pray it with them, for it will be an optional prayer for you.”

And in another hadith which is more important, encompassing and greater, he said about the Imaams, “If they lead the prayer correctly then they and you will receive the rewards, but if they make a mistake, then you will receive the reward for the prayer and the sin will be theirs.” [Bukhaari, no. 694]. [Thus] what concern is it of a person’s when he is praying behind an innovator whether he [i.e., the Imaam] is praying according to the Sunnah or opposing it?

If he [i.e., the Imaam] is correct in his prayer then the reward is for him and us and if he makes a mistake then the sin is on him and the reward is for us, so we gain in both situations, just like [a person using] a saw, [whether  he] pushes forward with it or pulls it back [on what he is cutting, either way it will cut and so he gains].  If we pray behind a Sunni Imaam then the reward is for us and if we pray behind an innovating Imaam then the reward is [still] for us–but his innovation is on his head and none of its sin reaches us. I always and forever repeat this regarding following these Imaams.

So this is an issue which I have constantly addressed and have mentioned that each Muslim is required to distance himself from praying in mosques that are decorated and full of innovations–but Allaah’s Prophet صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم spoke the truth when he said, ‘Indeed Islaam began as something strange and will return to being strange …’ nowadays it is rare that you will find a mosque which does not have an innovation or decorations by which they seek nearness, so they think, to Allaah, the Blessed and Most High.

If both types of mosque were present [i.e., ones with decorations and innovations and others without], I would have said that you should not pray in those mosques that are decorated and which have those innovations for it has been established from Ibn Umar, may Allaah be pleased with him, that he entered a mosque to pray the midday prayer when [all of a sudden] he was taken aback by a man calling out and saying, ‘The Prayer! The Prayer!’ after the actual call to prayer had been announced, so Ibn Umar said to the person with him, ‘Let us leave this mosque for there is innovation in it.’

If we wanted to copy this action of Ibn Umar’s in this age of ours we would have to stick to our houses for hardly a mosque can be found except that it is decorated … the carpets/prayer rugs and the images they are full of is enough, sometimes they have forbidden images, either they will have a forbidden image like a horse or something like that, a lion, or two crosses or something which resembles that.  So there is hardly any mosque except that it has that which distracts [a person]–but, ‘Some evil is less than others [in severity].’

If the matter centres around us praying on our own at home and praying in decorated mosques in which the Imaams are innovators then we repel the greater evil with the lesser evil, especially when we are not responsible for that greater evil and nor did it emanate from us, it having done so from those other people.

If we hold back from the congregational prayer then we have sinned and opposed the Saying of our Lord, “And establish the prayer and give zakah and bow with those who bow [in worship and obedience].” [Baqarah 2:43]

This is a point we must not forget, “And establish the prayer and give zakah and bow with those who bow [in worship and obedience].” And what is that point [which we must not forget]? ‘Establish the prayer …’ i.e., perform it perfectly, ‘… and bow with those who bow …’ i.e., with the Muslim congregation.

So if we leave the congregational prayer in those mosques–[bearing in mind that] we are not responsible for the decorations in them or for the incorrect way that some of the Imaams perform the prayer therein, we are not responsible for both of these wrongs–but if we pray at home we will be responsible for having opposed our Lord’s Saying, i.e., ‘… and bow with those who bow …

Al-Hudaa wan-Noor, 190.

Praying Behind the People of Innovation | 2 | The Ruling Concerning the Youth Boycotting Those Mosques in Which the Imaams Fall Short in Implementing the Sunnah


Questioner: There are some youth in Morocco and Poland and other countries who boycott the mosques of the innovators, for example, [those who perform innovations such as] sending salaah on the Prophet of Allaah صلى الله عليه وسلم in unison, reading the Quraan in one voice, they do not give due attention to the Prophet’s Sunnah صلى الله عليه وسلم …

Al-Albaani: Like?

Questioner: … straightening the rows during prayer, saying Aameen loudly, and they also recite the Quraan in unison [as I mentioned above] and other things too.

Al-Albaani: From the mistakes of these Imaams boycotted by that group [of youths] you are speaking about is that they [i.e., those Imaams] do not establish the Sunnah, correct? [i.e., that is what you’re asking, right]?

Questioner: Yes.

Al-Albaani: This [itself] is something which is considered to be in opposition to the Sunnah: i.e., boycotting a mosque because of the shortcomings of the Imaams of these mosques in implementing the Sharee’ah rulings and their lack of due concern for the Prophetic Sunnah does not make it permissible for those keen on following the Sunnah to boycott those mosques–except if it is to leave a mosque which has innovations like those [you mentioned] for another mosque which does not.

As for boycotting in the manner described in the question, i.e., a total boycotting of all mosques, then the example of that is like someone who builds a palace but destroys a whole country in doing so.

Since establishing the prayer, establishing the five prayers with the Muslim congregation in the mosques is an obligation, and it is not permissible for a Muslim to turn away from or to be complacent in carrying it out except for a legislated excuse.

It is no excuse whatsoever that mosques should be completely abandoned because some of those who pray there, even if it be the Imaam himself, oppose the Sunnah in many or a few matters–except if it is like what I just mentioned, that a person leaves a mosque which is close to him and goes to another because it is free of innovation, this is something obligatory on those who want to cling to the Sunnah.

This is because in this day and age, if a Muslim wanted to go into such fine detail with the Imaams of the mosques he would have to seclude himself from all of the people, because you will hardly ever find a mosque today which is established on the Sunnah from all angles, this is something impossible.

And that is because firstly, all of the mosques, or most of them, are built with tainted money, and are built in a manner which opposes the Sunnah. You will hardly find a mosque today except that it is decorated and embellished, even Makkah and Madinah, as you know.

So if these people don’t want to pray in a mosque which has an innovation in it, where will they go? They will have to leave all the congregations of the Muslims and will remain in the corners of their homes, praying there. And as such many hadiths would apply to them about the one who opposes the jamaa’ah dying the death of the days of ignorance.

For we find an excuse for a person who leaves a certain mosque to go to another which has less innovations, I do not say that this other mosque does not have any innovations, this does not exist today, but as was said of old, ‘Some evil is less than others [in severity].’

So it is possible that a Muslim can find a mosque close or far from him which establishes the prayer on the Sunnah, but [still] it will be full of engravings and decorations, but he has no say in that.

So today the Muslim [should be] as the Prophet عليه السلام said in some authentic hadiths, ‘Be moderate and aim to do good …’ [Sahih Muslim, no. 7117], as for trying to find the Prophet’s Mosque as it was in his time عليه السلام, then he will not find it today–so will a person then isolate himself from the people by staying in his house and severing his ties between himself and the Muslims in the most sacred and pure of Allaah’s places as is mentioned in an authentic hadith that the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said about the best and worst of places, ‘The best places are the mosques and the worst are the markets.’

So if a Muslim wants a mosque which does not have a single breach of the Sharee’ah, it will mean that he will leave the best of places, i.e., the mosques–and this is not allowed, because as you know the Prophet صلى الله عليه وآله سلم, and I will not prolong this too much, encouraged and stressed that one should pray with the Muslim congregation in the mosques, rather, Allaah the Mighty and Majestic ordered that in the Noble Quran when He said, “And establish prayer and give zakah and bow with those who bow [in worship and obedience].” [Baqarah 2:43]

Thus, these people who stay away from or who boycott praying in the mosques–they are not doing so based upon any knowledge, for if they were upon knowledge they would have known the principle that when a Muslim is presented with two evils, he chooses the lesser of the two.

So they either pray in these mosques which they have no control over, except for ordering the good and forbidding the evil, they can’t change the evil there with their hands but they can say a good word–so if they leave off praying in these mosques and do so in their houses it would mean that they would have left the legislated principle which [as I just mentioned is that] when a Muslim is presented with two evils, he chooses the lesser of the two.

But I [also] said that if there is a mosque which opposes the Sunnah less [than another] and a Muslim goes there leaving the one close to him, then this is something we order and encourage as far as we are able to do so.

It may be that one of these beginners in knowledge may have read, for example, the narration which occurs in Sunan Abee Dawud that Ibn Umar entered a mosque and heard a man calling out to the prayer, saying, ‘The prayer! The prayer!’ … in Syria after the call to prayer is given they open a window and [a person calls out and] his voice can be heard in the street, saying, ‘O worshippers, the prayer! O worshippers, the prayer!’–when the muezzin said, ‘Come to prayer! Come to success!’ was it in vain [such that this man now has to say these extra words after the call to prayer?] [Calling out with these extra words after the adhaan] is a correction of the One who laid down the Sharee’ah [i.e., Allaah], for this reason [going back to that narration of Ibn Umar], when he entered the mosque and heard that man calling out, he said, ‘This is a mosque which has an innovation in it,’ and he left it.

But this does not mean that one should leave all mosques, but rather that one should go to a mosque which does not have innovations [if he can find one], for this reason these people [mentioned in the question] were only overcome due to their lack of knowledge and their extremism in following the Sunnah and worship, and the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said, sincerely advising his Ummah, ‘Indeed, for every action there is some vigor, and each [instance of] vigor has a certain time, so whoever’s period [of vigor] is towards my Sunnah then he has been rightly guided, and whoever’s is towards an innovation, then he has gone astray.’

They flee from some innovations which they do not have the power to rectify and instead fall into a bigger innovation which they do have the power to change, and thus they fell into the madhhab of Abu Nawwaas who said, ‘And cure me with the disease [itself] …’

Al-Hudaa wan-Noor, no. 574.

Praying Behind the People of Innovation | 1 | There is a Distinction Between Praying Behind Innovators and Mixing with Them


Questioner: How do you deal with a dissenter [i.e., someone who opposes the Sunnah], between those who are too lenient which can lead to tamyee’ in practising the Sunnah, and those who are too harsh/strict which can lead to that which we have heard you mention many times, i.e., the lack of establishing the proof against the dissenter and other things, and I say this so as to not tire you by repeating what you have already mentioned.

But a doubt crops up based upon some actions of the Salaf, like the statement of some of them, ‘The hearts are weak, and sitting with the innovators snatches them away …’ and likewise, the fact that Imaam Ahmad, may Allaah have mercy on him, would drive the people away from al-Haarith al-Muhaasibi.

Al-Albaani: Yes, yes.

Someone Else: He prohibited that his books be read.

Al-Albaani: Yes.

Questioner: … and dealing with this dissenter according to the scale of his good and bad deeds, i.e., there is a principle which says, ‘We look at the person’s good and bad actions,’ [but] then we have the statements of some of the Salaf regarding driving the innovators away even if they have some good deeds?

Al-Albaani: Yes. That which I hold, and Allaah knows best, is that the statements of the Salaf, are related regarding a Salafi environment, i.e., an environment that is full of strong faith and the correct following of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم and the Companions.

And [this issue you mentioned] is totally like that of boycotting, where a Muslim boycotts another to educate and discipline him, this is a well-known Sunnah. But my conviction, and how many times I’m asked about this, is that I say: our day and age is not right for boycotting, our day and age is not right for boycotting the innovators, because that means that you will have to go and live on the peak of a mountain, that you isolate yourself from the people and seclude yourself from them.

And that is because if you do boycott the people due to their sins or innovations then you will not have the effect which the Salaf used to have when they made those statements encouraging the people to avoid the people of innovation. There is no doubt that that is something which is derived from the directions of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم amongst which is his well-known saying, “The example of a good companion (who sits with you) in comparison with a bad one, is like that of the musk seller and the blacksmith’s bellows (or furnace); from the first you will either buy musk or enjoy its good smell while the bellows will either burn your clothes or your house, or you get a bad nasty smell thereof,” [Bukhaari], the well-known hadith, this is like what is mentioned in some places, ‘Your friend pulls/draws you [to whatever he/she is upon],’ ‘Your friend pulls/draws you [to whatever he/she is upon].’

But accompanying/associating with innovators is one thing and distancing yourself from them to such an extent … like that which is asked about often, for example [people will ask], ‘So and so is a Sufi who uses the Prophets and Messengers as intermediaries [instead of calling upon Allaah directly themselves],’ and so on, ‘… and he leads the people in prayer, should I pray behind him?’ I say: pray behind him, so this is one thing and [actually] accompanying and associating with him and benefitting from him is something else.

And I think that which will support me in this distinction and which comes together/agrees with the guidance of the Salaf stated in those words I just mentioned, is that it has reached us that from the aqidah of the Salaf as-Saalih is to pray behind and over every righteous person and sinner, so it will be from harshness that we take these statements to drive the people away from praying behind these Imaams [who lead the prayers in the mosques], Imaams amongst whom it is very rare to find those upon the Sunnah.  The result of doing so would be that the people would have to stick to their houses and suspend the Jamaa’ah of the Muslims, such a thing goes against the statement of the Salaf that it is from aqidah to pray behind every righteous person or sinner.

But what is correct is that we warn these people from mixing with the people of innovation and the Sufis due to what we just mentioned in the hadith and [due to] the example which is a summary of the hadith, that, ‘Your friend pulls/draws you [to whatever he/she is upon].’

This is my opinion, and Allaah knows best.

Al-Hudaa wan-Noor, 511.

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