Sheikh al albani’s works reply to stephan lacroix' revolutionary lie by kareem ibn raheeb


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Sheikh al albani’s works reply to stephan lacroix' revolutionary lie by kareem ibn raheeb

  1. 1. Sheikh Al-Albani’s Works Reply to Stephane Lacroix’ Revolutionary Lie !Throughout its four year rule under Nicolas Sarkozy, France has not only witnessed an outburst of Islamophobia inits mass media and on the political scene, even its most ‘prestigious’ universities have been contaminated with the newcentury’s plague. Sarkozysm has produced a large number of self proclaimed ‘Islam experts’ who are openly waging acampaign aimed at discrediting the French Muslim community.Western articles on Islam and its various groups have clearly revealed that any ignoramus can thrust himself headlong intothe complex field of Islamic sects and their religious differences without having the slightest idea of what they’re writingabout. While studying the works of these so-called islamologists and pseudo Middle East specialists, one can only concludethat the overwhelming majority of them are incompetent charlatans exploiting valuable research money from universitieslike Cambridge, Oxford and Sciences-Po by issuing amateurish articles that often contain self-invented stories. In France,an elite of liberal fundamentalists1 have engaged upon a media vendetta against Muslims who refuse to assimilate to Frenchculture and abide by its norms. Often exploiting the ignorance of the masses, these new generation orientalists havesucceeded in demonizing a specific part of France’s Muslim community, describing them in French mainstream media asIslamists, fanatics or fundamentalists.Reporting on Islam and its sects has become a “profit guaranteed” business; but amazingly, almost every single one of these‘Islam experts’ is unable to perform routine academic research in the original Arabic books and studies which are the primesource for anyone who wishes to study the origins, influence and development of contemporary Islamic sects. There isprobably no other domain of specialization in academic circles where illiteracy of the primal language on which its study isbased doesn’t seem to pose a problem with becoming an “expert” in the field. Moreover, their incapacity to perform basicor proper research doesn’t seem to bother them in the least. The militants of French Islamophobia mainly recycle the oldambiguities of their orientalist predecessors, adding their own personal touch and setting out farfetched argumentations.They are well aware that they can write down fairytale articles without having to either justify themselves for it, or takeinto consideration the feelings of the Muslims they write about as they have become France’s new second-class citizens.Today we’re taking a closer look into the works of Stephane Lacroix, who is a well-known and fervent opponent of theSaudi Royal family and of French Salafis, since they all refuse to blindly comply with French liberalism and Westernvalues. As many Sciences-Po teachers, Mister Lacroix has a problem with Islam, and even more with those practicing it.In his articles, he often portrays Muslims who put their religion into practice as intellectually retarded people who haveleft behind rational thinking. On the other hand, he describes Arab liberals who have blindly assimilated themselves intoWestern ideals as very courageous and daring intellectuals.While scrutinizing the writings of Stephane Lacroix, one regrettably comes to the conclusion that this teaching assistant atScience Po is an imposter and a blatant liar who feels no qualms about fabricating stories in order to sustain his distortedIslamophobic ideologies…1 Amongst the most active French Islamophobes we count Jacques Myard, André Gerin, Jean-Marie Le Pen, Bernard Rougier, Caroline Forrest,George Freche, Jean-François Copé, Bernard Henry Lévy, Alain Finkielkraut, Siham Habchi… DEFENDING THE DEEN SERIES (1) - PAGE 2 - WWW.TAALIB.COM
  2. 2. Sheikh Al-Albani’s Works Reply to Stephane Lacroix’ Revolutionary LieThe Revenge of Sheikh Naser El-Din Al-Albani Mohammed Ibn Nouh Nadjati, better known as Sheikh Mohammed Naser El-Din al-Albani was undoubtedly one ofthe most cherished Islamic scholars of the 20th century. As a young boy, he fled Albania due to the religious oppression ofthe brutal dictator Ahmed Zogolli2 in much the same way French Muslims who wish to openly practice their religion arecurrently emigrating to Muslim countries to escape Sarkozy’s anti-Muslim policies3. Al-Albani’s family chose Syria to betheir new homeland and very soon Mohammed Naser El-Din buried himself in the study of hadith sciences. In Damascus,he eventually became known for his tremendous zeal in the field of hadith research to such a degree that the administrationof the Thahiriya-library placed a private room at the sheikh’s disposal and granted him a key to the library in which hespent most of his time4. Al-Albani, who became a world recognized scholar in the field of hadith sciences, later traveled toSaudi Arabia, where he taught at the esteemed Medina University, and eventually to Jordan where he finally died in themidst of his books doing that which was more precious to him: researching hadith. As al-Albani passed away, Muslimsfrom all over the world lost one of their greatest men of knowledge and thousands of mourners turned out for the funeralof this exceptional scholar.During his life, Sheikh al-Albani was harassed by numerous Islamophobes, polytheists and sectarian fanatics for callingto the prophetic tradition and exposing the false teachings of deviant Islamic sects. In his books, al-Albani spent quitesome time defending himself against the numerous false allegations he had to cope with and which, as he stated on manyoccasions, took a lot of his precious time: “It has now been more than half a century that we notice the slander taking on a new form every year. Each year something repeats itself, something is again made up (against me) and none of these people ever come to me directly…”5Regrettably, the slander against Sheikh al-Albani also continued after his death. A few years ago, an attempt was madeto indirectly link him to the cruel 1979 Muhammed El Qahtani attack of the Mecca Mosque6. Others portrayed thissignificant scholar as someone refusing independent reasoning, and in France the Albanian scholar has been viciouslylibeled in a critique written by Stephane Lacroix entitled “Al-Albani’s Revolutionary Approach to Hadith”7.The works of Sheikh al-Albani provide sufficient material to unravel the slanderous accusations in Lacroix’ article. Thisreply shall therefore mainly be confined to the words of Sheikh al-Albani which, even after his death, still prove to be astrong refutation of islamophobic articles written by the bigoted proponents of French liberalism.2 This Albanian dictator, known to have his political rivals assassinated, pursued a policy of close collaboration with Fascist Italy. His royal dictator-ship was characterized by a combination of despotism and Western reform in which he practiced oppressive policies adopting Western-style civil,commercial, and penal codes.3 French citizens adhering to Salafiya also suffer persecution for their beliefs abroad. In Mauritania, Egypt and Yemen, French Salafis are beingjailed and tortured on a regular basis by the local state security department on request of the French authorities. The Saudi newspaper ‘Al-Hayat’ isthe only newspaper to have addressed the issue so far.4 See Official Biography of Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani: Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, “As-Salafiya wal Madhahib” [Salafiya and Madhabs], p.1036 See ‘Part 1’ of the “Thomas Hegghammer under the Sledgehammer”-series (forthcoming).7 See ISIM Review 21, p.6-7 DEFENDING THE DEEN SERIES (1) - PAGE 3 - WWW.TAALIB.COM
  3. 3. Sheikh Al-Albani’s Works Reply to Stephane Lacroix’ Revolutionary LieOrigins of Salafism…?As most Islamophobes, Mister Lacroix labels orthodox Islam as ‘Wahhabism’, thus portraying it to be an Islamic sect basedon the teachings of Sheikh Muhammad Abdel-Wahhab. In his article, he described ‘Wahhabism’ as: “…the discourse produced and upheld by the official Saudi religious establishment.”In the first instance, Stephane Lacroix considers ‘Wahhabism’ a discourse produced by the official Saudi religiousestablishment, He then makes a distinction with Salafism and states: “As opposed to Wahhabism, Salafism refers here to all the hybridations that have taken place since the 1960s between the teachings of Muhammad bin ‘Abdel-Wahhab and other Islamic schools of thought.”So ‘Wahhabism’ is a school of thought and Salafism took place in the 1960’s…very interesting. This reminds me of anearth-shattering statement made by Dounia Bouzar8 when invited to speak in front of the 2008 fact-finding mission9 setup to deprive French Muslim women of their right to dress according to their religion. In her declaration, she stated, thatthe niqab10 was an innovation that was forced upon women by certain Saudi scholars at the beginning of the 20th century!Islamophobia and the documented history of Islam clearly don’t go together and this explains why Islamophobes areunable to place Salafism in a historical context.In several of his articles, Mr. Lacroix uses the term ‘Wahhabi jurisprudence’. For him to come up with a newly inventedmadhab which is not mentioned in a single book of Islamic jurisprudence is putting his reputation of ‘Islam-researcher’at stake. It becomes clear that due to their lack of serious study and thorough research, many ‘Middle East and Islamhistorians’ are confusing their readers even more when attempting to describe Salafism. Therefore, let us leave behindStephane and Dounia in liberal-wonderland and see what the true specialists from within the Islamic sciences have to sayon the issue. In his works, Sheikh al-Albani made it clear on many occasions that the origins of Salafiya historically go wayback: “In past and present, many scholars have used the nomination of ‘The call to Salafiya’. Some might call it the Call of those who advocate the prophetic Sunnah, others may name it the Call of Ahl El Hadith. And these are all nominations that indicate a single meaning. A lot of people in the Muslim community, today as well in the past, have often been unmindful of it; or maybe they were aware of it but didn’t foster it in the way it deserved to be.”11Indeed, the affiliation to Salafiya is very ancient; it is widely known and can be traced back in the works of the earliestscholars as well as in present-day Islamic literature. But if Salafism doesn’t refer to Lacroix’ imaginary hybrids that tookplace since the 1960s, then what is it? Sheikh al-Albani explains it in a simple and very clear manner: “Salafiya is Islam in its correct understanding; it invites people to hold on to their original Islamic belief and doesn’t single out one group without the other. In its call to the Quran and the prophetic tradition, it doesn’t distinguish between the cultivated person and the illiterate, between the educated person and the uneducated”128 Dounia Bouzar is a former youth leader who became ‘Islam-specialist’ thanks to her experience with French Suburban juvenile delinquents.9 In June 2009 the French National Assembly appointed an assembly of 32 MPs to a six-month fact-finding mission which turned into a modernday inquisition Tribunal in which a group of fanatic xenophobes demonized niqab-wearing women in order to justify an anti-niqab law. Not asingle Muslima was asked to defend her choice of wearing of the niqab.10 The niqab is what is currently being described as the Islamic full-body veil11 Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, “Ousoul El Da’wa El Salafiya” [Principles in the Call of Salafiya], p. 1312 Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, “Shubah Hawl Al-Salafiya” [Ambiguities about Salafiya] p.130 DEFENDING THE DEEN SERIES (1) - PAGE 4 - WWW.TAALIB.COM
  4. 4. Sheikh Al-Albani’s Works Reply to Stephane Lacroix’ Revolutionary LieIndeed, Salafiya is nothing new. Al-Albani explains the misconception of many who consider that the origins Salafism goback to Sheikh Muhammad Ibn Adel-Wahhab or Ibn Taymiya: “Some might say that the call of Salafism is new, or a development, and that the first person who affiliated himself to it was Sheikh al-Islam Ibn Taymiya and after him Ibn Abdel-Wahhab in the present era. And this conception is entirely wrong. Rather, it is a fabrication since the call of Salafism is the correct original call of Islam itself...”13Salafiya and SectarianismSalafism differs with Islamic sects in the fact that it refers back to the understanding of the prophet’s companions andmajor scholars in the first three centuries after the revelation14: “The Call of Salafiya is based upon the knowledge of the Quran and the Sunnah following the understanding of the pious predecessors who were present during the (first) three centuries and of whom the prophet has testified their righteousness in the famous hadith: ‘The best of people are those of my generation, then the generation following them and then the generation after them’. The four Imams15 and the other scholars who lived before, during or a little after their time all belong to the great scholars of the pious predecessors. And they are the ones we follow in our call to Islam.”16Hence, Salafiya can simply be defined as orthodoxy or as Islam in its original form since it is based on the understandingof the people who were closest to the period of revelation. Ever since the three first centuries passed, Islamic sects haveincreased in number and have developed their own specific way of understanding the Quran and the prophetic Sunnah.But, as Sheikh al-Albani explains, all Islamic sects will still always claim their adherence to the two sources of Islamicrevelation: “The characteristic of this group of people (Ahl El Sunnah) is not restricted to their adherence to the application of the Quran and Sunnah because not a single of those sects, in past and present, can ever generally deny adhering to the Quran and the Sunnah…and therefore I say that all the Islamic groups and sects mentioned by the prophet or to whom he referred in the (previous) hadith, all of them agree upon the fact that they adhere to the Quran and the Sunnah”17There indeed seems to be no difference amongst sects as far as their attachment to the Quran and Sunnah. However, theygreatly differ in their comprehension: “In today’s society we live with many groups which all pretend adherence to the religion of Islam and all believe that Islam is based upon the Quran and the Sunnah. However, the vast majority of them do not agree on following the way of the companions and those who followed them in righteousness…”18Typical of Islamic sects is that they follow their founder in their understanding of Islam; Salafis, on the other hand, donot only base their comprehension on the most authentic of Islamic sources, they also study the works of the scholars inthe three first generations so as to attain the proper and original understanding of their religion. They don’t blindly followthese scholars but use their works in order to attain a correct understanding of Islam:13 Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, “Durus Lil Sheikh Nasir Al-Din Al-Albani” (Shabaka Al-Islamiya)14 Several Islamic sects also adhere to Salafiya, but their actions nullify their claim of correct adherence.15 Imam Ahmed, Shafi’i, Malek and Abou Hanifa.16 Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, “Shubah Hawl Al-Salafiya” [Ambiguities about Salafiya] p.11317 Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, “Ousoul El Da’wa El Salafiya” [Principles in the Call of Salafiya], p.1818 Ibid, p.35 DEFENDING THE DEEN SERIES (1) - PAGE 5 - WWW.TAALIB.COM
  5. 5. Sheikh Al-Albani’s Works Reply to Stephane Lacroix’ Revolutionary Lie “We consider the great scholars as being a means and we see them as intermediaries who convey knowledge of Allah and his prophet. We do not follow them for who they are. Moreover, we do not consider following them as one of our objectives since the only intention is to know what the prophet was upon. Meaning that the objective is to know what has been revealed to him in the Quran or what he has clarified in his Sunnah.”19According to al-Albani, all these different ways of understanding the two religious sources have led to the Muslimcommunity being divided as it is today: “Therefore I say that the lack in returning to the understanding, the ideas and views of our pious predecessors, constitutes the main factor in the division of the Muslims into various ‘Madhabs’ and different sects.”20Al-Albani repeatedly stated that the reason why the Islamic community needs to return to the understanding of the threefirst generations is because they are the ones who conveyed Islam to the rest of the world in its correct and original form21.He understood that, in order to avoid division and friction in the Muslim Ummah, it is essential to have one united wayof understanding Islam.It needs to be stressed that this way of understanding Islam has always been present and can be found in the works ofthe famous Islamic scholars throughout the past fourteen centuries. Returning to the understanding of the three firstgenerations is indeed nothing new and Sheikh al-Albani often referred back to the statement of Imam Malik in which hesaid: “What hasn’t been part of the religion in the first period, will not be part of the religion today, and the later generations ofour community will only be rectified by that which has rectified the first generations”22. Al-Albani saw that this was the onlyway the Muslim community would remove itself from its wretched situation.But if Salafiya is as old as the religion of Islam itself, or indeed the original form of the religion itself, then why are Muslimsso unfamiliar with it these days? Sheikh al-Albani explains that the causes primarily lay in the fact that so many are blindlyfollowing a particular school of thought: “The reason for this is that our community underwent many centuries in which a solidified form of ‘Madhabic’ blindly following got embedded into the hearts of the people who affiliate themselves with Ahl El-Sunnah.”23Sheikh al-Albani often complained about the widespread ignorance amongst his fellow Muslims which occurred afterhaving neglected their religion and its study. He stated that many have fallen into deep ignorance to such an extent thatthey are no longer affected while reading the Quran or studying the source texts of prophetic Sunnah.24It needs to be said that ignorance in the Muslim society always had pernicious and historic consequences and evenfacilitated Western colonization of the Muslim world. Sheikh al-Albani explained that it is not permissible for Muslims tobe satisfied with their situation in which they are unaware of their fundamental religious beliefs. Following the teachings inthe Quran and Sunnah, al-Albani always asserted that today’s ignorance within the Muslim community is what is keepingthem in humiliation.2519 Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, “Shubah Hawl Al-Salafiya” [Ambiguities about Salafiya] p.12020 Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, ”Ousoul El Da’wa El Salafiya” [Principles in the Call of Salafiya], p.3521 Ibid, p.4622 Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, “Al-Fatawa Al-Manhadjihya Lil-Albany” [Al-Abani’s Fatawa on Manhadj issues] p.8523 Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, “Ousoul El Da’wa El Salafiya” [Principles in the Call of Salafiya], p. 1424 Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, “As-Salafiya wal Madhahib” [Salafiya and Madhabs], p.10125 Ibid, p.106 DEFENDING THE DEEN SERIES (1) - PAGE 6 - WWW.TAALIB.COM
  6. 6. Sheikh Al-Albani’s Works Reply to Stephane Lacroix’ Revolutionary LieDebunking the Wahhabi MythStephane Lacroix would have done a much better job in writing his article on Sheikh al-Albani had he at least systematicallyread some of his books. He probably would’ve avoided all the trouble in falsely defining Salafiya and certainly wouldn’thave attributed the statements of Sheikh al-Albani relating to ‘Wahhabism’ which Lacroix describes as an Islamic sectfounded by Muhammad Ibn Abdel-Wahhab and his heirs: “Wahhabism initially refers to the religious tradition developed over the centuries by the ulama of the official Saudi religious establishment founded by the heirs of Muhammad Ibn Abdel-Wahhab.”If ‘Wahhabism’ is a religious tradition developed over the centuries after Sheikh Ibn Abdel-Wahhab, then it would beinteresting to know in what way it is different from the original teachings of Islam conveyed by the prophet and in whichaspects it contradicts the Quran and prophetic Sunnah. Islamophobes have always refused to address this issue and areaccused by many of labeling orthodox Islam as ‘Wahhabism’ as it allows them to obliquely denigrate the Muslim beliefwithout having to mention the term Islam. It isn’t surprising that the modern origins of the term Wahhabism26 can betraced back to the insulting poetry of the Deobandee sect in Pakistan and India in the beginning of the 20th century27.Sheikh al-Albani went even further back in history and mentioned that the term ‘Wahhabi’ was used as a propaganda toolby the Ottomans: “The use of this term was part of the politics conducted by the Ottoman Empire after a man of knowledge and reform named Mohamed Ibn Abdel Wahhab started to call the people in some parts of the Najd region”28The use of ‘Wahhabism’ was later adopted within the bigoted works of Islamophobes and modern-day orientalists. It hasbecome a very popular term in the today’s anti-Islam propaganda machine. Some use the term to describe Takfiris, thosewho wrongly declare others disbelievers without using the guidelines of Islam, others use it in general to label bearded menand niqab-wearing women, and a few even consider it to be a political system. Every ‘islamologist’ has his personal way ofdescribing and understanding what they call ‘Wahhabism’. In his article, Stephane Lacroix begins by portraying al-Albanias a Wahhabi and states: “Common knowledge considers Sheikh Nasir al-Din al-Albani to be a staunch proponent of Wahhabism.”Rather, it is common knowledge that this statement is simply preposterous. Sheikh al-Albani, and all other Sunni scholarsdon’t use the term Wahhabi and see it to be an offense. In his well-known explication of ‘Tahawiya’ Sheikh al-Albanimentions: “And amongst the prime evidences that prove the Sheikh (Al-Tahawi) to be a salafi, is that his enemies call him a ‘Wahhabi’. This term is a premade accusation directed towards anyone who follows the path of the predecessors, calls to the prophetic tradition and rejects blind following.”29In his ‘Silsila Al-Ahadith Al-Da’ifa’, Sheikh al-Albani mentions a fragment of a letter dating back to 1959 in which one ofhis opponents described him as follows:26 Previously, the term Wahhabiya had already been used in the 9th century to describe the followers of the Moroccan Kharidji Abdel WahhabIbn Abdel Rahmen Ibn Rustum who lead the Ibadiya sect in Morocco.27 The enmity of the Deobandi-sect towards Sheikh Abdel-Wahhab lies in the fact that the sheikh established that Islam forbids the worshippingof graves, trees etc.28 Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, “Fatawa Al Sheikh Al-Albani wa Muqaranatuha bi Fatawa Al-Ulema” [Sheikh Al-Albani’s Fatwa’s com-pared to those of other scholars], p. 1229 Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, “Sharh Aqida Al-Tahawiya” [Explanation of the Creed of Tahawi], p.53 DEFENDING THE DEEN SERIES (1) - PAGE 7 - WWW.TAALIB.COM
  7. 7. Sheikh Al-Albani’s Works Reply to Stephane Lacroix’ Revolutionary Lie “Nasir El Din al-Albani then arrived in Damascus where he learned Arabic and began studying the science of Hadith in which he gained mastery. He greatly benefitted from a library that contained precious Hadith manuscripts. Last year, when I paid a visit to this library, he was the one who provided me the books I requested and he informed of what they dealt with. And he, Sheikh al-Albani, is a wicked man and a pure Wahhabi Taymi…And if it were not for his vicious madhab and stubbornness, he would’ve been one of the unique people in his time in the field of Hadith science, despite the fact that he is still running a watch repair store…”30Sheikh al-Albani and all other orthodox scholars of Islam have regularly been named Wahhabi’s by their enemies. Equally,in his book “Tahdhir al-Sajid Min Ittigadh al-Qubur Masajid”, al-Albani illustrated how some of today’s Orientalistsdescribe the people of the Sunnah as Wahhabi’s.31The Swindle of a French Neo-Orientalist Charlatan…A little further on, Stephane Lacroix attributes the following statement to Sheikh al-Albani: “More importantly, al-Albani’s claim of being more faithful to the spirit of Wahhabism than ‘Abdel-Wahhab himself made the former’s ideas very popular among Salafi youth.”First of all, Salafi youth totally reject the term Wahhabi making it impossible for this statement to be true. Secondly,Sheikh al-Albani never pronounced these words and anyone who is acquainted with the writings of Sheikh al-Albaniknows that this could never have been one of his claims. So where did Mister Lacroix get this statement from? Since henever mentioned any references of Sheikh al-Albani’s statements, I personally contacted him to ask where he found thisstatement. I repeated my demand several times. Unfortunately, Stephane Lacroix stubbornly refused to provide his sources.I therefore performed additional research into the works of al-Albani and came across one of his statements in which hecomplains about some grotesque slurs of Ahmed al-Ghomari32 that were aimed at him. Sheikh al-Albani concluded thissection in his book by mentioning the following denigrating statement of al-Ghomari: “The one who considers Sheikh al-Albani to be a Wahhabi is wrong, since he is more partial to the spirit of Wahhabism than ‘Abdel-Wahhab himself and more stubborn…”33Here, Sheikh al-Albani explains that one of his biggest opponents accuses him of being ‘more partial to the spirit ofWahhabism than ‘Abdel-Wahhab himself ’. Mister Lacroix intentionally distorted this statement and presented it as being aclaim of al-Albani himself. Our French ‘researcher’ simply took an insult of El Ghomari which he then attributed to Sheikhal-Albani to persuade the reader that Sheikh al-Albani considered himself a Wahhabi. The reason Lacroix didn’t reply tomy request for a reference of Sheikh al-Albani’s statement is because he deliberately made up a lie which he then used totrick the reader into believing that Salafi youth were fond of Sheikh al-Albani because he called himself more faithful to thespirit of Wahhabism than ‘Abdel-Wahhab himself. In France, apparently, if you steal from one author it is called plagiarism,if you steal from many, it is research and if you make up statements the author never said, it becomes “specialization”.But why would Stephane Lacroix tell such a flat-out lie? Simply because he is obsessed with the term ‘Wahhabism’ andwithout depicting al-Albani as a self-declared Wahhabi, the core message in his article would become meaningless and hisimaginary conjectures would all fall apart.30 Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, “Silsila Al-Ahadith Al-Da’ifa Wal Madou’a Wa Atharouha Al-Sayyi’ Fil Umma” [Collection of weak or in-vented hadiths and their evil effects on the Muslim community] 4/631 Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, “Tahdhir Al-Sajid Min Ittigadh El-Qubur Masajid” [Warning the Muslims against Turning the Graves intoMosques], p. 10232 Moroccan Sheikh who, according to Al-Albani, leaned towards the Shia-ideology. See Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, “Silsila Al AhadithAl-Da’ifa...”, Vol.6, p.21233 Ibid, Vol.3, p. 15 DEFENDING THE DEEN SERIES (1) - PAGE 8 - WWW.TAALIB.COM
  8. 8. Sheikh Al-Albani’s Works Reply to Stephane Lacroix’ Revolutionary LieOne might wonder what Sheikh al-Albani’s reaction would’ve been to this French assistant teacher who dared to callhim a staunch proponent of Wahhabism and attributed the insults of the Sheikh’s enemies to the Sheikh himself. It isimportant to understand that the scholars of Saudi Arabia fully agree with al-Albani in his disapproval of the use of theterm ‘Wahhabism’. For instance, the previous Mufti of the Saudi Kingdom, Sheikh Adbel-Aziz Bin Baz, said that the term‘Wahhabi’ is only used by the biased and ignorant opponents of Islam34. Sheikh Saleh al-Fawzan, another major Saudischolar, explicitly stated that ‘Wahhabism’ doesn’t exist due to the fact that Sheikh Muhammad Ibn Abdel-Wahhab didn’tcome up with anything of his own as to attribute this call to him. As a result, it is clear that Wahhabism is merely aninvented surname to alienate people from the works of Muhammad Ibn Abdel-Wahhab and to portray him as someonecontradicting the previous imams and having his own madhab35.Wahhabism has today become a very popular myth in Islamophobic circles. One of the apparent reasons why islamologistsare making up these new terms unknown to Muslim scholars is simply because they aren’t scholastically able to carry outcomparative studies between the ideologies of Islamic sects on one hand and the historic works of Muslim scholars in pastand present on the other. History shows that Muhammad Ibn Abdel-Wahhab didn’t come with a new religious traditionas many still seem to think. To understand the reality of Muhammad Ibn Abdel-Wahhab’s call to Islam, one first needs togo back in history and study the situation of the Arabian Peninsula in his time.The Call of Muhammad Ibn Abdel-Wahhab al-NajdiPrior to the call of Sheikh Muhammad Ibn Abdel-Wahhab, the Najd-region found itself in a state of widespread ignoranceof some of Islam’s fundamental teachings. These were Arabia’s ‘Dark Ages’, as many of Islam’s core beliefs were scarcelytaught and illiteracy widely spread. People worshipped graves, statues and trees, they used the dead as intermediariesbetween them and their Lord and as a whole, their situation was in many ways very similar to the original pre-Islamicperiod of paganism36.It seems islamologists deliberately refuse to comment on this era and if they do, they might describe it as ‘richly cultural’.This of course, constitutes an easy way to simply ignore the fabulous achievements of Sheikh Muhammad Ibn Abdel-Wahhab on an educational, structural and political level.Yet, it is in this historical context that Ibn Abdel-Wahhab revived the prophetic Sunnah, brought back the original teachingsof Islam and started educating his people. Creed, jurisprudence, hadith, tafsir and all other religious sciences were revivedand taught again and greatly benefited the community37. Just like Imam Ahmed, Ibn Taymiya and others, Ibn Abdel-Wahhab was one of Islam’s revivers who strived to get his community back to the correct practice and understanding ofIslam. Al-Albani mentions: “It was Sheikh Al-Islam Muhammad Ibn Abdel-Wahhab who then revived this call in Najd, at a time the region found itself in a state of tenebrous wickedness with paganism being predominant throughout the country. The region became enlightened due to the teachings of Sheikh Al-Islam who he benefited from by reading his books… ”38Looking at the these developments in the Najd-region within a historical context, the call of Ibn Abdel-Wahhab appears tobe no more than an extension of the long succession of Ahl El Sunnah scholars starting out from the prophet’s companions,the major scholars in the three first generations, the four Imams, the Muhaddithin and then continuing on through IbnTaymiya and his students and all other major Islamic scholars39. The teachings of all these scholars stand upon the same34 Abdel Aziz Ibn Baz, “Fatawa Al-Sheikh Ibn Baz” [Fatwa collection of Sheikh Ibn Baz], 3/130635 See: Madiha Darwish, “Tarigh Al-Dawal Al-Sa’udiya” [History of the Saudi State]37 Dr. Abdel-Aziz Ibn Muhammad El-Hujaylan, “Al-Fiqh Wal-Fuqaha Fil-Mamlaka Al-Arabiya Al-Sa’udiya...” [Jurisprudence and Fiqh-Scholarsin The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia], p.3738 Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, “Haqiqatou Al-Da’wa Al-Salafiya” [The Reality of the Call to Salafiya] p.15639 Saleh Ibn Muhammad Aal El-Sheikh, “Al-Minhaj El-Fiqhi Li A’imma El-Da’wa El-Salafiya Fi Najd” [The Jurisprudence-Methodology of the DEFENDING THE DEEN SERIES (1) - PAGE 9 - WWW.TAALIB.COM
  9. 9. Sheikh Al-Albani’s Works Reply to Stephane Lacroix’ Revolutionary Liefundamental ideological foundation to such a degree that several Western ‘Islam specialists’ have described scholars likeIbn Taymiya and Al-Souyouti as Wahhabis despite Sheikh Ibn Abdel-Wahhab being born several centuries after them40! Ifthe call to Islam of all these scholars is identified as Wahhabism, then the prophet Muhammad and his companions mayas well be called Wahhabis.Nevertheless, Mister Lacroix has another way of seeing things. In his article, he builds up a conspiracy theory by claimingthat Sheikh al-Albani got into trouble with the Saudi scholars because he supposedly questioned their methodologicalfoundations: “However, the opposition al-Albani encountered from the Wahhabi religious establishment was not merely intellectual. By putting into question the methodological foundations upon which the Wahhabis had built their legitimacy, he was also challenging their position in the Saudi religious field.”Here we see that as Lacroix’ scholastic hallucinations or deceptions get more intense, Sheikh al-Albani is being portrayed ashaving challenged the position of the Saudi scholars by questioning their foundations. Were they afraid that this Albanianscholar was going to become the Mufti of Saudi Arabia, the minister of religious affairs, or did they see him as a potentialheir to the throne? In any case, let’s have a closer look at the methodological foundations Mister Lacroix is talking about.Sheikh Muhammad Ibn Abdel-Wahhab, the successive Najd-scholars as well as all other Saudi scholars didn’t haveindependent principles; rather, they merely followed the well-known methodological foundations41 cherished by theCompanions, the four Imams and the scholars of Ahl El Sunnah in the past42. These happen to be exactly the sameprinciples Sheikh al-Albani followed.‘Wahhabi’ Foundations…The achievements of Sheikh Ibn Abdel-Wahhab will not be understood by those who haven’t studied the basic teachingsof Islam since they are unable to analyze the works of the Islamic scholars in every succeeding century afterwards in acomparative manner. This leads many simple-minded analysts to consider the works of Sheikh Ibn Abdel-Wahhab tobe a new religion which they then label as ‘wahhabism’. Due to their disregard for a comprehensive study of the texts ofrevelation, they see the call of Ibn Abdel-Wahhab as being a religious tradition that wasn’t based on the major Islamicreferences but on some other later books. Stephane Lacroix mentions that: “From its inception, Wahhabism has established itself as a religious tradition—at the core of which laid a number of key books, both in creed and law.”Mister Lacroix is depicting the legacy of Ibn Abdel-Wahhab as a new independent religious tradition based on his ownworks and those of his heirs. Sheikh Ibn Abdel-Wahhab was definitely a reformer who revived the Islamic sciences in theArabian Peninsula, but most of the books that lay at the core of the call of the Saudi scholars, from the time of SheikhMuhammad Ibn Abdel-Wahhab until this very day, are works that date back prior to the time of Ibn Abdel-Wahhab. Asa whole, the scholars of Najd benefited from the Ahl El Hadith scholars43 as can easily be deducted from their writings,fatwas and statements44.Major Salafi Scholars in Najd], p. 9340 Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, “Silsila Al Ahadith Al-Sahiha” [Collection of Correct Hadiths], 8/141 These foundations are: the Quran and Sunnah, the Consensus, Rulings of the Compagnions and juristic reasoning deduction by analogy, SeeSaleh Ibn Muhammad Aal El-Sheikh, “Al-Minhaj El-Fiqhi…”, p.252-26842 Saleh Ibn Muhammad Aal El-Sheikh, “Al-Minhaj El-Fiqhi Li A’imma El-Da’wa El-Salafiya Fi Najd” [The Jurisprudence-Methodology of theMajor Salafi Scholars in Najd], p. 251-25643 Shafi’i, Malek, Ahmed, Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawud, El-Tirmidhi, al-Awza’i, al-Darimi, al-Dar al-Qutni, al-Bayhaqi, Ibn Hazm, Ibn Hajr,Ibn Abdel-Bar, Ibn Taymiya, Ibn Qayim and other scholars who showed consideration to hadith44 Saleh Ibn Muhammad Aal al-Sheikh, “Al-Minhaj El-Fiqhi Li A’imma El-Da’wa El-Salafiya Fi Najd” [The Jurisprudence-Methodology of theMajor Salafi Scholars in Najd], p. 241-242 DEFENDING THE DEEN SERIES (1) - PAGE 10 - WWW.TAALIB.COM
  10. 10. Sheikh Al-Albani’s Works Reply to Stephane Lacroix’ Revolutionary LieMore specifically, the books that are being taught in the Kingdom are from major scholars all over the world. In creed theydidn’t only rely on the works of Ibn Abdel-Wahhab but also greatly depended on Ibn Taymiya (Syria 13th century) andhis student Ibn Qayim as those who carried and upheld the original beliefs of Islaam. In the Arabic language one of theirmain references is “Al-Ajrumiya” written by the famous Moroccan scholar Muhammad Ibn Ajurrum (14th century C.E.)and in jurisprudence they depended significantly on the works of the Palestinian Sheikh Abdel-Ghani al-Maqdisi (12thcentury C.E.). In hadith they returned to the works of the Syrian scholar An-Nawawi (13th century C.E.) and the EgyptianMuhaddith Ibn Hajar El Asqalani (15th century C.E.) and in the science of heritage they primarily relied on “Al-Rahabiya”of the Iraqi scholar Muhammad Al Rahabi (12th century C.E.).45This shows that the works of the Islamic scholars throughout history have always had an international dimension andweren’t restricted, as mistakenly claimed, to some key books of a Saudi religious tradition.A Tribal Mob Taking Control of the Arabian Peninsula?Yet Stephane Lacroix stubbornly persists in his misrepresentation and explains how the conspiracy of the Saudi scholarstook off with an aristocracy: “This tradition had been monopolized by a small religious aristocracy from Najd, first centered around Muhammad bin ‘Abdel-Wahhab and his descendants (known as the Al al-Sheikh) before opening up to a small number of other families... the members of this aristocracy would become the only legitimate transmitters of the Wahhabi tradition; in this context, independent scholars were excluded because they had not received “proper ‘ilm” from “qualified” ulama.”He further implies that al-Albani’s revolutionary approach to hadith was contrary to Saudi standards since it led to the factthat: “...the science of hadith can be measured according to objective criteria unrelated to family, tribe, or regional descent, allowing for a previously absent measure of meritocracy.”Stephane Lacroix portrays the revival of Islam in Najd as a religious aristocracy formed by an upper class family endeavoringto monopolize Islam by favoring local tribes. Hence, the Saudi state is all but a meritocracy due to the self-imposed controlof the religious ‘Wahhabi mafia’. For sure, imagination can lead to many things and then any means become acceptable inorder to demonize the Saudi scholars.However, history disputes this claim, since records of the Najd-scholars clearly establish that the only criterion forachievement amongst the ulema has always been knowledge in the different sciences of Islam. Tribal descent or familyconnections have never turned anyone into a religious scholar. We might for instance mention King Abul-Aziz who hadgreat respect for the people of knowledge and was known to give preference to the scholars over his own brothers andsons.4645 Dr. Abdel-Aziz Ibn Muhammad al-Hujaylan, “Al-Fiqh Wal-Fuqaha Fil-Mamlaka Al-Arabiya Al-Sa’udiya...” [Jurisprudence and Fiqh-Scholarsin The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia], p.39, 44.46 Al-Zarkali, “Al-Wajiz”, p.197 DEFENDING THE DEEN SERIES (1) - PAGE 11 - WWW.TAALIB.COM
  11. 11. Sheikh Al-Albani’s Works Reply to Stephane Lacroix’ Revolutionary LieLikewise, the large number of foreign scholars who made it up to the highest ranks of the Saudi religious establishment isa clear proof that tribalism and regional descent play no role in being accepted as a scholar in Saudi-Arabia47. And MisterLacroix is well aware that the Sorbonne and all other French universities would never accept a Saudi-Arabian professorteaching in their institute.Islamophobes often try to ‘arabise’ the religion of Islam by representing it as being based on nationalism or tribalism.Yet, never in the history of Islam has the science of hadith been measured according to family, tribe, social class, originor descent. The greatest Islamic scholars and hadith-narrators are a perfect illustration of this since the majority of themwere non-Arab and often very poor. This however, hasn’t kept them from becoming the holders and transmitters of theprophetic tradition. They are the ones who conveyed hadith and other Islamic knowledge to the rest of the world. ElBukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawud, al-Tirmidhi, Al-Nassa’i, Ibn Majih were all non-Arabs who laid down the foundationalbooks of hadith on which the entire Islamic Ummah depends today.The Haddadi Critique of Lacroix: Al-Albani vs. the SaudisIn proceeding to examine his article’s many claims we see that Lacroix is now coming to the core message of his article inwhich his conspiracy takes form throughout a profound conflict between al-Albani and the Saudi scholars: “Al-Albani strongly disagrees with the Wahhabis—and especially with their chief representatives, the ulama of the Saudi religious establishment—when it comes to fiqh (law).”As a whole, Sheikh al-Albani didn’t disagree with the Saudi scholars when it comes to fiqh, since their methodology inproof-deduction was identical48. He definitely did differ with them in certain fatwas in the same way all Sunni scholarsdiffer with each other in some affairs of jurisprudence. This is nothing exceptional to anyone who has a cursory knowledgeof Islamic scholarship through the centuries, and merely shows that they make their own ijtihad and are not blind-followersof a certain historical school of juristic principles or madhab. Moreover, these differences didn’t lead to any enmity betweenal-Albani and his Saudi co-scholars of Ahl El Sunnah as becomes clear in the praise of the two chief representatives of theSaudi ‘religious establishment’ in al-Albani’s time. The first one is Sheikh Ibn Baz who stated that he never saw a hadithscholar in his time like Sheikh al-Albani, whom he even considered the renewer of the science in this century. The secondone is Sheikh Ibn Utheymin who called him the Muhaddith of the Sham-region49 and praised him for his works in bothcreed and jurisprudence.The scholars in the Saudi Kingdom who refuted al-Albani all explicitly made it clear in their responses that their differencesweren’t based on fundamental contradictions and that they respected and loved Sheikh al-Albani50. One of them, SheikhMuhammad Aman El Jami, stated in his two-tape refutation against al-Albani: ‘Allah, the angels, and those who are present bear witness for me that I state that I love Sheikh al-Albani for the sake of Allah’51.47 Sheikh Muhammed Aman al-Jami (Ethiopia), Sheikh Abdel-Razzaq al-A’fifi (Egypt), Sheikh Muhammed Aman al-Shinqiti (Mauretania),Sheikh Muhammed Nasir al-Din al-Albani (Albania), Sheikh Hammad al-Ansari (Mali), Sheikh Wasiyullah A’bbas (India), Sheikh Mohammedal-Harras (Egypt) ...48 Saleh Ibn Muhammed Aal El-Sheikh, “Al-Minhaj El-Fiqhi Li A’imma El-Da’wa El-Salafiya Fi Najd” [The Jurisprudence-Methodology of theMajor Salafi Scholars in Najd], p. 9049 The Sham-countries are Lebanon, Palestine, Syria and Jordan50 See Rabi’ Bin Hadi El Madkhali, “A Lighthouse of Knowledge from a Guardian of the Sunnah”, p.4151 Ibid, p.39 DEFENDING THE DEEN SERIES (1) - PAGE 12 - WWW.TAALIB.COM
  12. 12. Sheikh Al-Albani’s Works Reply to Stephane Lacroix’ Revolutionary LieLikewise, Sheikh Al-Tuwayjari stated while refuting the Albanian scholar, that ‘speaking against al-Albani facilitates speakingagainst the Sunnah’52. Despite refuting al-Albani, these scholars all shared his methodology and never accused him of havinga revolutionary approach to hadith.More than a decade ago, a notorious Haddadi53 and ruthless enemy of Sheikh al-Albani named Abdul-Lateef Bashmelattempted to exploit the refutations of some Saudi scholars against the Albanian Muhaddith to tarnish his image and turnpeople away from him. He tried to deceive people into believing that the Saudi scholars proceeded in their refutationsof Sheikh al-Albani from the starting point and foundation of enmity and total opposition towards al-Albani. In doingso, he vigorously strove to divide the unity amongst Salafi scholars54. The latter scholars exposed Abdul-Lateef Bashmel’sdeviations and openly warned against him.Today, Stephane Lacroix is walking in the footsteps of Abdul-Lateef Bashmel following indistinguishable Haddadiprinciples. In the same way, he is keen on emphasizing the differences between al-Albani and the Saudi scholars as to tarnishtheir image. On one hand the Saudi scholars are portrayed as being bigoted evildoers who do not tolerate differences inopinion while al-Albani is represented as a scholar whose revolutionary approach to hadith formed an ideological basis forextremists who end up committing terrorist attacks.One might also wonder why Mister Lacroix insists on portraying all this ‘Saudi hostility’ that stretches all imaginationwithout ever making any mention on how al-Albani truly clashed with the Syrian religious establishment. MuhammadNasir El-Din al-Albani was jailed twice in Syria after his opponents slanderously reported him to the authorities. In thebeginning of the sixties he was imprisoned for a one month-period in the fortress of Damascus, the very same place IbnTaymiya had been locked up seven centuries before. In 1967, al-Albani was incarcerated for a second time, doing eightmonths in the prison of north-eastern Damascus. All this seems to be of no importance to Mister Lacroix who onlyslanders the Saudi Kingdom in his articles while praising westernized Saudis who advocate the import of an occidentalconstitution as to get rid of Islamic values in the Saudi Kingdom.Understanding Ibn Adel-Wahhab’s Adherence to HanbalismStephane Lacroix considers that al-Albani differed with his Saudi co-scholars due to their reliance on Hanbalism: “There, al-Albani points to a fundamental contradiction within the Wahhabi tradition: the latter’s proponents have advocated exclusive reliance on the Quran, the Sunnah, and the consensus of al-salaf al-salih (the pious ancestors), yet they have almost exclusively relied on Hanbali jurisprudence for their fatwas—acting therefore as proponents of a particular school of jurisprudence, namely Hanbalism.”In another article of his he even alleges that al-Albani reproaches blind-following Hanblism to the Saudi scholars: “The late Hanbalis, however, increasingly tended to imitate (taqlid) former rulings by members of their school, instead of practicing their own interpretation (ijtihad) based on the Qur’an and the Sunna. This was one of Albani’s main reproaches to the Wahhabis who claimed ijtihad but tended to act as Hanbalis…”5552 Ibid53 The Haddadi sect was founded by the Mahmoud El Haddad, an Egyptian accountant who was mainly known to libel the Sounni scholars54 Ibid, p.4155 S. Lacroix and T. Hegghammer, “Rejectionist Islamism in Saudi Arabia: The Story of Juhayman al-‘Utaybi Revisited”, p.4 DEFENDING THE DEEN SERIES (1) - PAGE 13 - WWW.TAALIB.COM
  13. 13. Sheikh Al-Albani’s Works Reply to Stephane Lacroix’ Revolutionary LieFrom the 16th C.E. century onwards, the scholars in the Saudi Kingdom have been adhering to the madhab of ImamAhmed Ibn Hanbal concerning fiqh, while taking into consideration the verdicts of Ibn Taymiya and Ibn Qayim56. Initially,the influence of Hanbalism was due to the easy travel conditions encountered by the Saudi students who, prior to IbnAbdel-Wahhab, traveled to Damascus (Syria) and Nablus (Palestine) where they took knowledge from Hanbali scholars.They then returned to the Najd-region to teach their people57. However, one needs to understand what is meant by theiradherence to Hanbalism. In a letter from Sheikh Abdullah El Sana’ni to Sheikh Muhammad Ibn Abdel-Wahhab, theYemeni scholar asked him in which way the Najd-scholars adhered to the Hanbali madhab: “What do you mean when you say that you are upon the madhab of Imam Ahmed? Do you blindly follow him or do you follow his methodology in making ijtihad?”Sheikh Muhammad Ibn Abdel-Wahhab replied by saying that: “All statements and actions should be measured by the words and deeds of the prophet. That which agrees with it is accepted, and that which opposes it is rejected, no matter who it comes from. There should be no precedence of anyone’s opinion over the Quran and prophetic Sunnah…We follow the principles of Imam Ahmed in the way Ibn Qayim has mentioned in his book I’lam El Muwaqi’in…this is what we mean when we say that our madhab is the madhab of Imam Ahmed”58Although the scholars of the Arabian Peninsula have always given a lot of scholastic consideration to the works of ImamAhmed, they didn’t blindly follow his madhab. Historic records all point to the fact that they would abandon the Madhabic-ruling if it was in contradiction with a hadith or any other clear proof59. The Hanbali madhab was used as a foundationin jurisprudence since this was considered to be a facilitating factor or mechanism. However, Sheikh Ibn Abdel-Wahhabexplicitly stated that his fatwas weren’t restricted to a specific madhab: “We do not confine ourselves to a specific madhab. If we discover a solid proof in any of the four Madhabs, we accept it and cling to it.”60He also mentioned that precedence should be given to the Quran and prophetic Sunnah over the rulings of his madhab: “If we come across a clear text from the Quran or Sunnah that hasn’t been abrogated nor specified, a text that doesn’t contradict anything more substantial and has been consented to by one of the four Imams61, than we accept this ruling and abandon the madhab…we do not blindly follow the scholars in any issue because everybody’s statement may be accepted or rejected, except the words of the prophet.”6256 Dr. Abdel-Aziz Ibn Muhammad al-Hujaylan, “Al-Fiqh Wal-Fuqaha Fil-Mamlaka Al-Arabiya Al-Sa’udiya...” [Jurisprudence and Fiqh-Scholarsin the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia], p.22357 Dr. Abd-Allah al-Turki, “Al-Madhab Al-Hanbali” [The Hanbali Madhab], Vol.1, p.291-29558 Sheikh Muhammad Ibn Abdel-Wahhab, “Al-Durar Al-Saniya Fil Ajwiba Al-Najdiya”, [Exalted pearls in the replies of Najd] Vol.4, p.2159 Dr. Abdel-Aziz Ibn Muhammad al-Hujaylan, “Al-Fiqh Wal-Fuqaha Fil-Mamlaka Al-Arabiya Al-Sa’udiya...” [Jurisprudence and Fiqh-Scholarsin the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia], p.43 and Saleh Ibn Muhammad Aal El-Sheikh, “Al-Minhaj El-Fiqhi Li A’imma El-Da’wa El-Salafiya Fi Najd”[The Jurisprudence-Methodology of the Major Salafi Scholars in Najd], p. 36160 Sheikh Muhammad Ibn Abdel-Wahhab, “Al-Qada Fil-Mamlaka Al-Arabiya Al-Sa’udiya” [The Judiciary in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia], p.6861 Sheikh al-Albani didn’t see this part to be a condition. However, the fatwa’s in which al-Albani contradicted the four madhads all together areso few that they never could have led to a profound conflict with theSaudi scholars.62 Sheikh Muhammad Ibn Abdel-Wahhab, “Al-Durar Al-Saniya Fil Ajwiba Al-Najdiya”, [Exalted pearls in the replies of Najd] Vol.4, p.10 DEFENDING THE DEEN SERIES (1) - PAGE 14 - WWW.TAALIB.COM
  14. 14. Sheikh Al-Albani’s Works Reply to Stephane Lacroix’ Revolutionary LieIbn Abdel-Wahhab was followed by the scholars of the Saudi Kingdom who required their students to abandon themadhab if any conflicting religious proof had become clear to them63.This coincided with methodology of Sheikh al-Albani who mentioned: “We therefore say that by clinging on to everything of the Sunnah that proves to be correct, even if it contradicts some rulings of the imams, one cannot be accused of intentionally contradicting their Madhab, nor their methodology …”64Just like al-Albani65, Ibn Abdel-Wahhab would benefit from all of the four madhabs and just like Sheikh al-Albani66, herejected the narrow-mindedness of Madhabic blind-following by always giving precedence to the proofs of the Quran andSunnah over the madhab-ruling. His books contain many fatwas in which he opposed the rulings of the Hanbali School67;and this is also the methodology of the Saudi scholars who came after him until this very day68. They adhered to Hanbalismas a general framework of juristic principles without zealotry or blindly following and their concluding reference wouldalways be the Quran and the hadiths of the prophetic Sunnah following the understanding of the pious predecessors69.All this invalidates Lacroix’ allegation that al-Albani pointed to a fundamental contradiction within the ‘Wahhabi’ tradition.The aspect that the Albanian scholar reproved was the trend in which people blindly follow a Madhab without divergingfrom it in any aspect and without asking for any proof while abandoning interpretative judgment (ijtihad).70 There surelywould’ve been a fundamental contradiction between al-Albani and the Saudi scholars had the latter been blind-followersof the Hanbali-madhab. But this wasn’t the case with Sheikh Ibn Abdel-Wahhab who reopened the doors of ijtihad afterthey had been closed with the fall of Bagdad during the first half of the 13th century C.E. Ironically, in his lifetime thesheikh was accused of making ijtihad71 and it was only after he passed away that his enemies falsely accused him of blindlyfollowing a madhab.There are two groups of people adhering to the Hanbali madhab. The first ones – to whom the Saudi scholars belong–make their own ijtihad and give precedence to the religious proofs over the Madhab-rulings if they contradict them.The second category consists of individuals who are bound to the methodology of madhabic blind-following72. GivenMister Lacroix hasn’t been able to perceive this distinction, he imagined that the methodology of Sheikh al-Albani was infundamental contradiction with the approach of the Saudi scholars due to their adherence to the Hanbali School. HadMister Lacroix read a basic overview of some of the fatwas of the Saudi scholars he’s talking about or looked into thefoundations of Hanbali jurisprudence, these misconceptions wouldn’t have taken place. But clearly that goes back to thequestion of whether or not he in fact possesses the fundamental ability to study Arabic source texts of the subject he claimsto comprehend the historical trends of, which I touched on previously.63 Saleh Ibn Muhammad Aal El-Sheikh, “Al-Minhaj El-Fiqhi Li A’imma El-Da’wa El-Salafiya Fi Najd” [The Jurisprudence-Methodology of theMajor Salafi Scholars in Najd], p.364-36664 Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, “Asl Sifat Salat Al-Nabi”, [The Description of the Prophet’s Prayer, Original Version], p.3265 Ibid, p.2366 See Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, “Haqiqatou Al-Da’wa Al-Salafiya” [The Reality of the Call to Salafiya] p.17067 Saleh Ibn Muhammad Aal al-Sheikh, “Al-Minhaj El-Fiqhi Li A’imma El-Da’wa El-Salafiya Fi Najd” [The Jurisprudence-Methodology of theMajor Salafi Scholars in Najd], p.363 and “Al-Durar...”, Vol.7, p.28568 Sayid Muhammad Ibn Ibrahim, “Tarigh Al-Mamlaka El-Sa’udiya”, [History of the Saudi Kingdom], p.13669 Dr. Abdel-Aziz Ibn Muhammad al-Hujaylan, “Al-Fiqh Wal-Fuqaha Fil-Mamlaka Al-Arabiya Al-Sa’udiya...” [Jurisprudence and Fiqh-Scholarsin the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia], p. 22770 Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, “Haqiqatou Al-Da’wa Al-Salafiya” [The Reality of the Call to Salafiya] p.17071 Saleh Ibn Muhammad Aal al-Sheikh, “Al-Minhaj El-Fiqhi Li A’imma El-Da’wa El-Salafiya Fi Najd” [The Jurisprudence-Methodology of theMajor Salafi Scholars in Najd], p. 40672 Ibid, p. 172,173 DEFENDING THE DEEN SERIES (1) - PAGE 15 - WWW.TAALIB.COM
  15. 15. Sheikh Al-Albani’s Works Reply to Stephane Lacroix’ Revolutionary LieAl-Albani’s Conveniently Forgotten RecantationMister Lacroix then brings an argument that should prove the alleged ‘fundamental contradiction’ between al-Albani andthe Saudi scholars: “According to al-Albani, this also applies to Muhammad bin ‘Abdel-Wahhab whom he describes as “salafi in creed, but not in fiqh.”On one single occasion, Sheikh al-Albani stated that Sheikh Ibn Abdel-Wahhab’s engagement in his call to Tawheed ina region utterly infected with polytheism was so time-consuming; he wasn’t able to pay enough attention to the scienceof hadith. According to al-Albani, he therefore would’ve given incorrect hadith-judgments in the field of jurisprudence.To sustain his claim, al-Albani reprimanded Sheikh Ibn Abdel-Wahhab for rendering a hadith strong (sahih)73 that thevast majority of Hadith scholars had weakened74 and of which al-Albani criticized both chains of narrators and content(matn). He further stated that he didn’t intend to slur the character of the sheikh since this could only be expected from theenemies of Islam75. However, Sheikh al-Albani later realized these words from him were incorrect. He apologized for whathe said about Sheikh Ibn Abdel-Wahhab and recanted his statement76. In the past, several hadith scholars attested that theworks of Ibn Abdel-Wahhab are a proof that he did pay a lot of attention to hadith in all his rulings77. And until this veryday the Muhaddithin still bear witness to the sheikh’s hadith-knowledge78.In his works, Sheikh al-Albani wouldn’t miss an opportunity to praise Ibn Abdel-Wahhab. On numerous occasions, hecalled him the reviver of Tawheed in the Arabian Peninsula and defended him against those who would criticize him79.Curiously, Lacroix neglected all these positive statements about Ibn Abdel-Wahhab and picked out the only statement inwhich al-Albani criticized Ibn Abdel-Wahhab –and later recanted from– to make it the central argument in his article. Byemphasizing this criticism of Sheikh al-Albani, Lacroix portrayed a fictional conflict between Sheikh al-Albani and SheikhIbn Abdel-Wahhab based on fundamental contradictions in the approach of hadith.But Stephane Lacroix proceeds further, continuing to build castles in the air: “For al-Albani, moreover, being a proper “salafi in fiqh” implies making hadith the central pillar of the juridical process, for hadith alone may provide answers to matters not found in the Quran without relying on the school of jurisprudence.”As we already mentioned, Sheikh Ibn Abdel-Wahhab and all other Saudi scholars considered hadith together with theQuran the central pillar of all religious verdicts. However in issues of fiqh where there wasn’t any clear proof in the prophetichadiths or Quranic verses, they would rely on the different rulings within the Hanbali school of jurisprudence. StephaneLacroix claims that this was the sticking point between the Saudi scholars and al-Albani. This is an obvious misconceptionsince we’re talking about a situation of a religious issue in which there are no clear hadiths that would deliver the requesteddecisive proof. The Saudi scholars, as well as al-Albani, all made hadith the central pillar of fiqh for clarifying rulings; theonly difference being that, in cases where a decisive hadith-proof wasn’t found, the Saudi scholars would first rely on therulings within the madhabs whereas al-Albani would also refer to the rulings of other scholars besides the four imams, butwithout ever contradicting the established consensus in any issues. This has nothing to do with making hadith the centralpillar or with hadith providing answers not found in the Quran since we’re talking about a specific situation in which thereare no decisive hadiths available to provide a clear answer to a juridical matter.73 See Muhammad Ibn Abdel-Wahhab, “Adab Al-Mashy Ila Al-Masjid” [The etiquette of walking to the Mosque]74 Other scholars as El Hafidh Ibn Hajr and El Hafidh Al-Dimiata preceded Ibn Abdel-Wahhab in rendering this hadith strong.75 Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, “Haqiqatou Al-Da’wa Al-Salafiya” [The Reality of the Call to Salafiya] p.183-18676 See Sheikh Rabi’ Bin Hadi El-Madkhali, “Sharh Kitab El-Iman Li Sahih El-Boukhari”, Tape #2, side B77 Saleh Ibn Muhammad Aal al-Sheikh, “Al-Minhaj El-Fiqhi Li A’imma El-Da’wa El-Salafiya Fi Najd” [The Jurisprudence-Methodology of theMajor Salafi Scholars in Najd], p. 244-24678 The hadith-scholar of this era, Sheikh Abdel-Mohsin El-Abbad is one amongst many contemporary hadith scholars who declared Ibn Abdel-Wahhab to be amongst the Muhaddithin.79 Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, “Silsila Al Ahadith Al-Sahiha” [Collection of Correct Hadiths], Vol.5., p.302, Vol.1, p.8, etc. DEFENDING THE DEEN SERIES (1) - PAGE 16 - WWW.TAALIB.COM
  16. 16. Sheikh Al-Albani’s Works Reply to Stephane Lacroix’ Revolutionary LieIt is also known that in his refutations, Sheikh al-Albani always mentioned the specific deficiencies in the methodologyof the people he was refuting. Had the Saudi scholars’ secondary reliance on the Hanbali madhab, in this case, been afundamental contradiction or deficiency, than al-Albani certainly would’ve pointed this out in one of his refutations. Yetthis never happened.Finally, it needs to be mentioned that the ijtihad-rulings in which al-Albani opposed the conclusions of all four madhabsare so few that it is very implausible this ever could’ve lead to any form of alleged conflict.A Revolutionary Approach to Hadith?After having claimed to have established the Albani-Wahhabi conflict based on the alleged differences in hadith-methodology, Lacroix makes an attempt to prove al-Albani had a revolutionary approach to hadith: “How did al-Albani, with his undistinguished social and ethnic origins, come to occupy such a prestigious position in a field long monopolized by a religious elite from the Saudi region of Najd? The answer, as we shall see through the example of al- Albani himself and some of his disciples, lies in his revolutionary approach to hadith.”He then claims that al-Albani promoted ‘a new approach to the critique of hadith’ which would challenge ‘the verymonopoly of the Wahhabi religious aristocracy’ and that his method had ‘revolutionary power’. Yet, the reality is thatperhaps Mister Lacroix is truly going out of his mind.In comparatively analyzing the methodology of the great hadith scholars, it can easily be said that al-Albani never had arevolutionary approach to hadith. He didn’t come up with any new principles in the science of Hadith, nor did he inventnew rules in the methodology of the critique of hadith. However, Lacroix mentions a number of arguments which hethinks prove his claim. He first states: “The mother of all religious sciences therefore becomes the “science of hadith,” which aims at re-evaluating the authenticity of known hadiths.”In his works Sheikh al-Albani always mentioned that all religious sciences are based on the Quran and the propheticSunnah (hadith) according to the understanding of the pious predecessors. As for what he considered the most importantof sciences, then Sheikh al-Albani considered it to be the science of Tawheed80. He therefore composed a book entitled“Tawheed comes first”81 in which he explains that the mother of all religious sciences is the study of the issue of the necessityof the unique worship of Allah without attributing any partners in all forms of worship. The Quranic verses, hadith andall other religious sciences were all considered by him as merely a means to fulfill the objective of men’s creation: theunique worship of Allah. Therefore, since Mister Lacroix repeatedly fails to bring forth explicit statements of Sheikhal-Albani elevating hadith science above the study of the Quran, its explanation, and so forth regarding the many othersciences of Islam, either he is ignorant of Sheikh al-Albani’s actual position and words or scholastically deceitful. This isnot even to mention the literally hundreds of statements of Sheikh al-Albani affirming the specific conclusions and generalmethodology of the leading hadith scholars throughout the centuries which his books are filled with- all clearly provingthe obviously fabricated claim of an alleged “revolutionary approach to hadeeth”.80 Singling out Allah in worship without associating anything in this worship. The call to Tawheed was the core-message of all monotheisticreligions. It is the first of five Islamic pillars and the first of ten commandments in Christianity (You shall worship no other gods besides me).81 Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, “Al-Tawheed Awalan Ya Du’at El-Islam” [Preachers of Islam: Tawheed comes First], p.6-11 DEFENDING THE DEEN SERIES (1) - PAGE 17 - WWW.TAALIB.COM
  17. 17. Sheikh Al-Albani’s Works Reply to Stephane Lacroix’ Revolutionary LieAl-Albani and Independent ReasoningAccording to Mister Lacroix, the first aspect of al-Albani’s revolutionary approach to hadith is the omission of reason: “According to al-Albani, however, independent reasoning must be excluded from the process: the critique of the matn (the content of the hadith) should be exclusively formal, i.e. grammatical or linguistic; only the sanad (the hadith’s chain of transmitters) may be properly put into question.”These again, are a series of fictitious allegations. Sheikh al-Albani has always been a proponent of independent reasoning,both generally in the scope of Islamic science as well as within the sciences of hadith. It is widely known that al-Albaniincited his students not to blindly follow him but to conduct their proper independent research. The sheikh would thencompare the results of his students with his own and they’d all benefit from each other82.More specifically, Stephane Lacroix continues to talk about things he simply doesn’t comprehend. By stating that Sheikhal-Albani, did not analyze the hadith content83 (matn) in the prophetic tradition, Mister Lacroix is only recycling an oldelement of orientalist propaganda against the Muhaddithin. Indeed, this was a way for orientalists like Ignác Goldziher84and Alfred Guillaume85 to depict hadith scholars as being people who do not use independent reasoning and always andindiscriminately adopt the matn as long as the chain of narrators (sanad) is correct86.At first sight, it might appear that the efforts of the Muhaddithin were directed only towards the chain of narrators andthat they spoke very little on the matn. Or to put it in another way: They made very little use of their reason in the critiqueof the matn. Yet, this is contrary to the reality since every critique of the hadith content or text (matn) can only be madethrough the proper use of reasoning87.A basic study into the science of hadith will staunchly uphold that during the past fourteen centuries, the methodologyof the Muhaddithin in judging hadiths has always encompassed an analysis of the chain of narration as well as an analysisof the matn88. The critiques of the chain and matn each have different conditions and are evaluated in an independentway89. Moreover, the critique of the matn is far from being simply grammatical90 as Stephane Lacroix presumes. Hence,the matn may be put into question scholastically and empirically just as the sanad and this can only be done as a result ofindependent reasoning91. And this was exactly the methodology of Sheikh al-Albani who, in his collection of weak hadiths,has judged numerous hadiths to be weak solely because of a flaw in the matn92.82 Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, “Al-Rawda Al-Dani Fil Fawa’id El-Hadithiya Lil-Allama Al-Albani”, p.983 In the prophetic Sounnah every Hadith is preceded by a chain of narrators going from the last Mouhaddith who compiled the hadiths (likeBukhari or Muslim) all the way up to the companions and finally to the prophet Muhammad.84 Ignác ‘Yitzhaq Yehuda’ Goldziher was a Jewish Hungarian orientalist who rejected the methodology of the Muhaddithin pretending it didn’tdeal with the study of the matn. He therefore invented his own personal approach in analyzing the matn weakening the hadith that mentions thevirtues of visiting the sacred Aqsa Mosque. See “Muhammedanische Studien”, 2nd imp. Hildesheim 1961.85 An English Orientalist whose critique of the matn led him to the fantastic ‘discovery’ that the Al-Aqsa Mosque isn’t located in Jerusalem but inJirana (40 kilometers from Mecca). See “Where was Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa?” Al-Andaluse, Madrid, 1953 p. 323-336. The matn-critique of both Gold-ziher and Guillaume were religiously motivated since they weakened hadiths in order to depict Palestine as having no Islamic heritage whatsoever.Other bigoted orientalists like Joseph Schacht and Arent Jan Wensinck also developed a self-imposed critique of the matn by which they affrontedthe Muslim belief.86 Dr. Muhammad Mustafa Al-A’thami, “Minhadj El-Naqd A’nd El-Muhaddithin” [The Methodology of Critique used by The Muhadithin], p.127-149.87 Ibid, p. 81, 8388 Ibid, p. 8289 Dr. Abdoullah Bin Dayfoullah Al-Rouhayli, “Manhadj Al-Mouhadditheen Fi Naqd Al-Riwayat Sanadan wa Matnan”. [The methodology of theMuhaddithin in the Critique of Narrations in Chain and Matn], p.14.90 Ibid, p.24-25.91 Ibid, p.22.92 Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, “Silsila Al Ahadith Al-Da’ifa Wal Madou’a Wa Atharouha Al-Sayyi’ Fil Umma” DEFENDING THE DEEN SERIES (1) - PAGE 18 - WWW.TAALIB.COM
  18. 18. Sheikh Al-Albani’s Works Reply to Stephane Lacroix’ Revolutionary LieAdditionally, the scholars of Hadith have always applied the rule which states that the correctness of the chain doesn’tnecessarily imply the correctness of the content93. And al-Albani was also of this opinion94. Likewise, al-Albani and otherhadith scholars detailed several situations in which a hadith can be judged as invented (mawdou’) basing this solely uponthe matn95, despite having evaluated the chain as being correct.As such, Lacroix’ claim that Sheikh al-Albani’s critique of the matn was restricted to a linguistic perspective is anotherfantasy or skillful deception of our new French Muhaddith since the works of al-Albani’s, which have been published forseveral decades, and many of which are free on the internet, are overwhelmed with examples that fully contradict thisclaim96.It is very strange that Stephane Lacroix isn’t aware that Sheikh al-Albani weakened hadiths due to their content because inhis same article he mentions that Sheikh al-Albani weakened hadiths in the canonical collections of Bukhari and Muslim.Anyone who has made even a brief reading of Sheikh al-Albani’s critique of the selected hadiths found in the collections ofBukhari & Muslim, knows that he criticized quite a few of them due to a weakness in the matn, not the sanad! This againshows us that Stephane Lacroix is utterly unable to conduct proper research and limits himself to blindly parroting somestatements from others, totally ignoring the content and veracity, which could easily be affirmed or disproved, of what hefinally puts into writing. Another example of this can be found in this statement from Lacroix: “As a consequence, the central focus of the science of hadith becomes ‘ilm al-rijal (the science of men), also known as ‘ilm al-jarh wa-l-ta‘dil (the science of critique and fair evaluation), which evaluates the morality—deemed equivalent to the reliability—of the transmitters.”This is likewise a gross attempt at deceit as the science of men or ‘I’lm al-rijal’ has always been the central focus of hadithto all Muhaddithin in all times. It protected the Sunnah from distortion and exposed the inclusion of liars or people witha bad memory in the chain of hadith-narrators of the various transmitted texts.Al-Albani’s Critique of Bukhari and MuslimLacroix continues by mentioning that al-Albani had a unique approach to hadith because he weakened hadiths of Bukhariand Muslim: “At the same time—and contrary to earlier practices—al-Albani insists that the scope of this re-evaluation must encompass all existing hadiths, even those included in the canonical collections of Bukhari and Muslim, some of which al-Albani went so far as to declare weak.”Sheikh Muhammad al-Albani did indeed re-evaluate some narrations in the collections of Bukhari and Muslim but Lacroix’allegation that he weakened some of their hadiths is false. After having given a lengthy explanation of a hadith in his ‘SilsilaAl Ahadith Al-Sahiha’, al-Albani mentions: “I deliberately took some extra time to comment on this hadith and its narrators. I did this in order to defend the prophetic Sunnah so that nobody will fabricate lies against me and so that the ignoramus, envious or biased person won’t say: ‘Al-Albani defamed ‘Sahih El Bukhari’ and weakened its hadiths’…”9793 Dr. Abdoullah Bin Dayfoullah Al-Rouhayli, “Manhadj Al-Mouhadditheen Fi Naqd Al-Riwayat Sanadan wa Matnan”. [The methodology of theMuhaddithin in the Critique of Narrations in Chain and Matn], p.21.94 Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, “Silsila Al Ahadith Al-Sahiha” [Collection of Correct Hadiths], See introduction95 Dr. Abdoullah Bin Dayfoullah Al-Rouhayli, “Manhadj Al-Mouhadditheen Fi Naqd Al-Riwayat Sanadan wa Matnan”. [The methodology of theMuhaddithin in the Critique of Narrations in Chain and Matn], p.42.96 Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, “Silsila Al Ahadith Al-Da’ifa…” – “Rhayatoul Maram” – “Ta’liqat A’la Moukhtasir Sahih Muslim Lil-Moundhiri”, etc.97 Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, “Silsila Al-Ahadith Al-Da’ifa”, Vol.4, p.465. DEFENDING THE DEEN SERIES (1) - PAGE 19 - WWW.TAALIB.COM
  19. 19. Sheikh Al-Albani’s Works Reply to Stephane Lacroix’ Revolutionary LieThe allegation that al-Albani weakened hadiths in Bukhari and Muslim can only come from an ignoramus, someoneenvious or a biased person- and I surely don’t consider Mister Lacroix to be envious. Sheikh al-Albani greatly esteemed theBukhari and Muslim collections and praised them for their accuracy: “The collections of Bukhari and Muslim are the two most accurate books ever written after the Book of Allah according to the consensus of the Islamic hadith scholars and others. They have an advantage over other hadith collections due to their distinction in collecting the most authentic of correct hadiths and omitting the weak hadiths and those with a very weak matn…It has become generally known that all the hadiths in the collections of Bukhari and Muslim, or in either one of them, have reached the highest possible level and are considered to be sound and correct without any doubt. That is our basic stance on these two books. However, this doesn’t mean that every letter, word or expression in Bukhari and Muslim should be placed at the same level (of correctness) as the Quran. It is possible that some hadiths contain a false impression or an error in some aspect by some of its narrators. Indeed, we do not consider any book to be infallible except for the Quran…”98This shows us that Sheikh al-Albani didn’t weaken any hadiths in Bukhari and Muslim; he only criticized a few terms andexpressions in the matn of the hadith and also criticized a few chains of narrators. One needs to understand that there isa distinct difference between weakening narration as a whole and criticizing a specific hadith narration from the aspectof defects in its chain. For example, a chain of a specific hadith may be criticized due to a certain form of criticism of oneof its narrators but this wouldn’t make the hadith text weak because other hadiths with the same content and a differentchain would consolidate the strength of the first hadith, which would therefore reach the level of ‘Hassan’ (good) or ‘Sahih’(correct) despite the criticism of its chain. This holds for all the hadiths Sheikh al-Albani has criticized in Bukhari andMuslim since he always concluded that they were correct in their textual context. This is how al-Albani explained this formof criticism: “A hadith which is found in ‘Sahih El Bukhari’ isn’t easy to challenge in its correctness only because of a certain weakness in its chain since there is a possibility that the hadith has been narrated with another chain by which they will consolidate each other.”99The second allegation of Stephane Lacroix is that Sheikh al-Albani’s critique or re-evaluation, contrary to earlier practices,encompasses all existing hadiths. Let’s have a look to what last century’s Muhaddith had to say about those earlier practicesof previous hadith scholars. In several of his books Sheikh al-Albani mentioned the following: “One needs to know that Sahih El Bukhari, despite its magnificence and the scholars’ consensus over its acceptance as we mentioned in the introduction, the book has been criticized in the past by some of the scholars…”100Indeed, al-Albani has been preceded in the re-evaluation of the canonical collections of Bukhari and Muslim by more thansixty different Hadith scholars101. Amongst the early scholars, several Muhaddithin have composed independent booksin which they re-evaluated the Bukhari and Muslim-hadiths. The most famous amongst them is al-Dar al-Qutni (10thcentury C.E.) who wrote the famous “Al-Ilzamat wal Tattabu’”. Others like Muhammed Al-Shaheed102 (9th century C.E.),Yehya Al-Attar103 (13th century C.E.), Abdel-Rahim El-Iraqi104 (14th century C.E.) and Abu Zura’ Al-Iraqi105 (15th centuryC.E.) also compiled separate critical works on the same issue. Moreover, amongst the scholars who criticized certainhadiths in Bukhari or Muslim we find quite some famous ones like Imam Ahmed, Ibn Ghuzeyma, Ibn Hazm, Al-Nawawi,98 Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, “Sharh Aqida Al-Tahawiya” [Explanation of the Creed of Tahawi], p.22-2399 Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, “Silsila Al-Ahadith Al-Sahiha” [Collection of Correct Hadiths], Vol.4, p.185100 Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, “Moukhtasir Sahih El-Boukhari” [Summary of Sahih El-Boukhari], 2/4101 Muhyi Al-Din Al-Samarqandy, “Naqd Matn Al-Hadith Fi Daw Nata’ij El-Ulum El-Tajribiya” [The critique of the Matn in Hadith in theLight of Experimental Sciences], p.113102 Muhammed Ammar Al-Shaheed, “I’lal Sahih Muslim”, [Deficiencies in Sahih Muslim]103 Yahya Ali al-Rasheed al-Attar, “Gharar El Fawa’id al-Majmou’a fi Bayan ma Waqa’a fi Sahih Muslim...”104 Abdel-Rahim Ibn al-Hussein al-Iraqi, “Al-Ahadith al-Mughrija fil Sahihayn Allati Takallama fiha” [Selected Hadiths of Bukhari and Muslimthat have been criticised]105 Abu Zura’ Ahmed Ibn Abdel-Rahim Al-Iraqi, “Al-Bayan wal Tawdih Liman Kharaja lahu fil Sahih wa Qad Massa Bi Darb Min Al-Tajrih”[Clarification Of the Hadiths in Sahih El Bukhari that are subject to a certain form of Critisism] DEFENDING THE DEEN SERIES (1) - PAGE 20 - WWW.TAALIB.COM
  20. 20. Sheikh Al-Albani’s Works Reply to Stephane Lacroix’ Revolutionary Lieal-Qortobi, Ibn al-Qayim, Ibn Hajr, Ibn Taymiya, Imam al-Dhahabi, al-Zarqashi, al-Suyuti and Ibn Kathir106. These areall recognized scholars of hadeeth from the scholars of the previous centuries of Islamic scholarship. Additionally, al-Albanicertainly wasn’t alone in his time, meaning this century, since more than a few contemporary hadith scholars preceded himin his critique: al-Kawthari, al-Mu’allimi, Shu’ayb al-Arna’out, Hassan al-Saqqaf, Tariq Ibn I’wadillah…107.Once again, simple research confirms that there is nothing ground-breaking about Sheikh al-Albani’s approach to thescience of Hadith as was falsely claimed, since all the hadiths of Bukhari and Muslim that he criticized had alreadyundergone a form of criticism in the past by other hadith scholars!When al-Albani was asked about a certain person who, just like Mister Lacroix, pretended that the Hadiths of Bukhari andMuslim were no longer subject to criticism and that their re-evaluation was contrary to earlier practices, this was his reply: “This statement by itself is enough to convince the reader of the ignorance of this clever trickster and proves his slander of the earlier scholars and contemporary ones by pretending that there is a consensus on this issue. As until this very day, the scholars still criticize some of the Hadiths in the collections of Bukhari and Muslim…”108Lacroix’ Revolutionary MisconceptionsStephane Lacroix then quotes a list of what he calls ‘Revolutionary interpretations’ by Sheikh al-Albani. He started off bysaying: “As a consequence of the peculiarity of his method, al-Albani ended up pronouncing fatwas that ran counter to the wider Islamic consensus, and more specifically to Hanbali/Wahhabi jurisprudence.”Mister Lacroix’ imagination seems to be boundless. He first grasps onto the idea that al-Albani’s approach to Hadith waspeculiar, and he then exploits and builds upon this initial false claim to make another hollow assertion in which he accusesal-Albani of having pronounced fatwas that ran counter to the wider Islamic consensus of the scholars.Some critics have already preceded Lacroix in this claim which would tremendously upset Sheikh al-Albani. In his book“The Etiquette of Marriage”, al-Albani responded to Isma’il Al-Ansari who accused him of contradicting the Islamicconsensus: “In the beginning of his book “Al-Ibaha”, this poor man accused me of contradicting the Islamic consensus. On page 57, he even explicitly mentions that I reject the authority of consensus…”109It is unfeasible for al-Albani to have pronounced fatwas contradicting the established consensus amongst the scholars, sincehe himself used to consider the Islamic consensus as being an irrefutable proof in the derivation of rulings.What Mister Lacroix wasn’t able to grasp due to his lack of research, is that al-Albani would put into question theclaimed consensus pronounced by some scholars. Due to his remarkable knowledge, Sheikh al-Albani was able to put forthevidence showing that the proclaimed consensus in certain issues was void and did not in fact occur110. Furthermore, whatwas considered to fall under the Islamic consensus in these specific issues was therefore no longer seen as being an acceptedconsensus as al-Albani established that they had been contradicted and questioned by scholars in the past:106 Muhyi Al-Din Al-Samarqandy, “Naqd Matn al-Hadith Fi Daw Nata’ij al-Ulum al-Tajribiya” [The critique of the Matn in Hadith in the Lightof Experimental Sciences], p.115-140107 Ibid, p.144-148108 Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, “Aadab Al-Zifaf ” [The Etiquette of Marriage], p. 54109 Ibid, p.41-42.110 Ibid, p.44-47 – p.238-239 DEFENDING THE DEEN SERIES (1) - PAGE 21 - WWW.TAALIB.COM
  21. 21. Sheikh Al-Albani’s Works Reply to Stephane Lacroix’ Revolutionary Lie “I certainly did examine numerous issues in which a consensus has been related and I found that these were known issues the scholars differed about. I even found that the opinion of the vast majority of scholars would run counter to the alleged consensus in these issues.”111People unaware of the differences between scholars where consensus has been claimed will therefore have the misconceptionthat al-Albani would challenge the recognized Islamic consensus. As for Lacroix’ claim that al-Albani pronounced fatwasrunning counter to the Hanbali jurisprudence, we know there is nothing revolutionary about this since the Saudi scholarswould also do the same.In his quest for revolutionary examples of al-Albani’s approach to hadith, Lacroix comes up with this one: “For instance, he wrote a book in which he redefined the proper gestures and formulae that constitute the Muslim prayer ritual “according to the Prophet’s practice”—and contrary to the prescriptions of all established schools of jurisprudence.”The book in question here is “The Description of the Prophet’s Prayer” and it certainly would’ve been nice had Mister Lacroixat least skimmed through this masterwork before commenting on it in this ludicrous manner. The reality is that in thisstudy, Sheikh al-Albani only contradicted the collective judgments of the four schools altogether in a few cases112. In hisintroduction, al-Albani confirms that there is an established consensus in many aspects of the Muslim prayer113. Thisalone is enough to debunk Lacroix’ claim that al-Albani, while redefining the proper prayer-gestures, contradicted theprescriptions of all established schools of jurisprudence. At the end of his introduction, he explicitly states that his workdoesn’t contain a single ruling by which he hasn’t been preceded in the past by another scholar, nor which runs counter towhat the scholars have agreed upon114. Furthermore, Sheikh al-Albani mentions the following in the introduction: “This book will gather all dispersed elements from the books of Hadith and jurisprudence including the differences amongst the Madhabs which are related to this subject”115Al-Albani strongly criticized those who, just like Lacroix, accused him of contradicting the rulings of the four imams as awhole: “This accusation is as farfetched as is possible. It is a false accusation in every aspect as became clear through my previous statements which all indicate the contrary to be true. All we ask is to no longer turn a certain madhab into religion by elevating that madhab to the status of the Quran and Sunnah…”116In following the methodology of the previous Hadith scholars, al-Albani refused to blindly follow a specific madhab butwould take the best of each madhab basing himself first and foremost on direct proof from the Sunnah. In his book, al-Albani first makes a judgment on each separate issue and then compares it to the ruling of the four different schools inorder to conclude which were correct and which would oppose his investigative conclusion: “I believe that this is the best approach since it is the way Allah has ordered the believers and his prophet Mohamed to follow. This is the methodology of the pious predecessors who include the companions and the generations after them amongst whom we find the four Imams. They all agreed on the obligation of returning and clinging to the Sunnah and agreed that every claim contradicting it should be renounced.”117111 Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, “Ahkam al-Jana’iz wa Bida’uha”, [Judgments concerning funeral processions and their innovations],p.219112 In his book, the rulings of Al-Albani’s coincide for over 90% with at least one of the four schools113 Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, “Asl Sifat Salat al-Nabi”, [The Description of the Prophet’s Prayer, Original Version], p.21114 Ibid, p.52115 Ibid, p.22116 Ibid, p.48117 Ibid, p.23 DEFENDING THE DEEN SERIES (1) - PAGE 22 - WWW.TAALIB.COM
  22. 22. Sheikh Al-Albani’s Works Reply to Stephane Lacroix’ Revolutionary LieTo support his statement, al-Albani then mentions numerous statements of the four Imams in which they admonishthose who blindly follow their rulings or madhab without balancing them against the Quran and Sunnah118. This was aningenious way for the Albanian Muhaddith to prove that those who follow a specific Madhab in each and every single fiqhjudgement weren’t following the teachings of any of the four imams. These very statements of Ahmed, Shafi’i, Malek andAbu Hanifah also provided a justification for the methodology of Sheikh al-Albani and the Muhaddithin: “We therefore say that by clinging on to everything of the Sunnah that proves to be correct, even if it contradicts some rulings of the imams, one cannot be accused of contradicting their madhab, nor their methodology. Rather by doing so, one will then be following the distinct methodology they were all upon...This cannot be said of those who abandon that which is correct of the Sunnah by blindly following one of their rulings from their school of jurisprudence…”119As a result, al-Albani’s decisions were in perfect harmony with the methodology of the four imams who today each havetheir madhab attributed to them.Lacroix’ Self-invented ConsensusesOne of Sheikh al-Albani’s fatwas Mister Lacroix deemed to be running counter to the Islamic consensus is this one: “Also, he stated that mihrabs—the niche found in mosques indicating the direction of Mecca—were bid‘a (an innovation) ...”Al-Albani’s statement that mihrabs are an innovation120 is far from being revolutionary since numerous scholars havepreceded him in this judgment. Nothing to be amazed about since the mihrab was adopted from the curved flexure presentin the Christian churches of Egypt and Najran121. Numerous scholars and historians mention that the mihrab-mosqueswere only established after Prophet Mohammed’s time122. Al-Albani was therefore already preceded some fourteen centuriesago by the companion Ibn Masu’d who said it wasn’t permissible to pray in a mosque that contained a mihrab123. He wasfollowed by numerous scholars throughout the centuries like Salim Ibn Abd al-Dja’d124 (7th century), Sufyan al-Thawri125(7th century), Ibrahim al-Nakha’i126 (8th century), Ibn Hazm127 (11th century), Ibn Taymiya128 (13th century), al-Zarqashi129(14th century), Ali al-Qari130 (16th century), etc. In the 15th century the famous scholar Abder-Rahman al-Souyouti evencomposed a small booklet he named “Resourceful Information Concerning the Occurrence of the Mihrab Innovation”131. Alsoin his own present time, al-Albani had scholars like Sheikh Moqbil132 and Abdoullah al-Ghomari133 agreeing with hisjudgment on mihrabs. However, according to Stephane Lacroix, declaring mihrabs to be an innovation is a revolutionaryinterpretation that runs counter to the Islamic consensus! Had Mister Lacroix conducted a little research, his readerswouldn’t have to cope with this errant nonsense. Lacroix is well aware that he belongs to a small group of people who, asthe old Arabic saying goes, ‘are as one-eyed men amongst the blind’134. And describing Mister Lacroix as one-eyed might118 Ibid, p.23-32119 Ibid, p.32120 Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, “Silsila Al-Ahadith Al-Da’ifa Wal Madou’a Wa Atharouha Al-Sayyi’ Fil Umma”, Vol.1, p.452.121 Dr. Ibrahim Ibn Saleh El-Khodeir, “Ahkam Al-Masajid Fil Sharee’a El-Islamiya” [Rulings concerning Mosques in Islamic Legislation], Vol.1,p.339.122 Dr. Hussein Mou’nis, “Al-Masajid” [Mosques], p.77-79123 Al-Bazzar, “Kashf El-Astar”, no. 416124 Narrated by Ibn Abi Shayba, “Musannaf Ibn Abi Shayba”, Vol.1, p.408125 Ibid, p.413126 Narrated by Abdel-Razaq al-Sana’ani, “Musannaf Abdel-Razaq”, Vol.2, p.412127 Ibn Hazm, “al-Muhalla”, Vol.4, p.239-240128 Sheikh al-Islam Ibn Taymiya, “Iqtida al-Sirat al-Moustaqim”, p.215-225129 Mohamed Bin Abdillah al-Zarqashi, “I’lam Al-Masajid Bi Ahkam El-Masajid”, p.258130 Ali Ibn Sultan Mohamed al-Qari, “Marqat Al-Mafatih Sharh Mishkat Al-Masabih”, Vol.2, p.223.131 Abder-Rahman Jalal El-Din al-Souyouti, “I’lam El Arib Bi Huduth Bid’a El Maharib”132 Mohamed Ibn Abdel-Wahhab al-Wasabi, “Al-Qawl al-Sawab Fi Hukm al-Mihrab” [The Correct Opinion in the Ruling on Mihrabs], p.51-52133 Abdoullah Ibn Mohammed El-Ghomari, see his annotations to “I’lam El Arib Bi Huduth Bid’a El Maharib”, p.20134 This is just one of the numerous well-known Arabic proverbs that have been absorbed into western languages where it has been altered to: DEFENDING THE DEEN SERIES (1) - PAGE 23 - WWW.TAALIB.COM