One of the tenets of "Salafi" philosophy is their disbelief in the hadiths of the Prophet which contradict their opinion. Thus they deny the reality of the abdal, Allah's great saints to whom He granted a rank of blessing and favor in creation through which all of creation benefits. They even adduce verses of Qur'an to justify their blind and irrational rejection of them. We find the following in the "Salafi" book of misguidance:
The Islaamic Belief [is]: Allaah is in charge of creation [because]
Allaah (Subhaanahuwata`ala) says "And Allaah is a Wakil (Guardian)
over all things" (11:12) [and] "He (Allaah) arranges
(every) affair from the heavens to the earth" (Qur'aan, Chapter
32, Verse 4) [But] The Naqshbandi Belief [is]: Shaykh is in charge
It is part of the belief of Muslims that the abdal or Substitute-saints exist -- so called because, as the Prophet said (see below), "None of them dies except Allah substitutes another in his place" -- and that they are among the religious leaders of the Community concerning whom there is no doubt among Muslims. No less than Ibn Taymiyya writes at the end of his `Aqida wasitiyya:
The true adherents of Islam in its pristine purity are Ahl al-Sunna wa al-Jama`a. In their ranks the truthful saints (siddiqin), the martyrs, and the righteous are to be found. Among them are the great men of guidance and illumination, of recorded integrity and celebrated virtue. The Substitutes (abdal) and the Imams of religion are to be found among them and the Muslims are in full accord concerning their guidance. These are the Victorious Group about whom the Prophet said: "A group within my Community manifestly continues to be in the truth. Neither those who oppose them nor those who abandon them can do them harm, from now on until the Day of Resurrection."
The Prophet emphasized in many authentic narrations the benefits brought to all creation through the intercession of Allah's saints and their standing with Him. Suyuti in his fatwa on the abdal in his Hawi li al-fatawi provided many examples of this type of universal intercession from which we quote the following:
1. Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal narrates in his Musnad (1:112):
... The people of Syria were mentioned in front of `Ali ibn Abi
Talib while he was in Iraq, and they said: "Curse them, O
Commander of the Believers." He replied: "No, I heard
the Messenger of Allah say: The Substitutes (al-abdal)
are in Syria and they are forty men, every time one of them dies,
Allah substitutes another in his place. By means of them Allah
brings down the rain, gives (Muslims) victory over their enemies,
and averts punishment from the people of Syria." al-Haythami
said: "The men in its chains are all those of the sahih
except for Sharih ibn `Ubayd, and he is trustworthy (thiqa)."
Sakhawi mentions this narration in his Maqasid (p. 33 #8)
and says the same. However, he is of the opinion that it is more
likely a saying of `Ali himself.
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It is noteworthy that despite its chain to the Prophet, which is sound without contest, Ibn Taymiyya in his book al-Furqan bayna awliya' al-Rahman wa awliya' al-shaytan nevertheless rejects the authenticity of the hadith on the grounds that the group of `Ali in Iraq was better than the group of Mu`awiya in Syria -- may Allah be pleased with both of them -- so he does not understand why the Abdal should be found among the latter! The truth is that the identification of the Abdal with Syria does not preclude the above, nor is it limited to the time of the Companions, as established by the statements of Qatada (see below, #3), Wahb ibn Munabbih (#6), Shafi`i, Bukhari, Nawawi (#7), and others. In fact, the Prophet mentioned (#5) that they would be found in Syria right up to the time of the Mahdi.
2. al-Hakim narrated the following which he graded sound (sahih), and al-Dhahabi confirmed him:
`Ali said: "Do not curse the people of Syria, for among them are the Substitutes (al-abdal), but curse their injustice."
The above is a narration of `Ali not attributed to the Prophet. Note, however, that any religious knowledge unattainable through ijtihad and authentically conveyed from one of the Companions is considered a hadith by the experts of that science.
3. Tabarani said in his Mu`jam al-awsat:
Anas said that the Prophet said: "The earth will never lack forty men similar to the Friend of the Merciful [Prophet Ibrahim], and through them people receive rain and are given help. None of them dies except Allah substitutes another in his place." Qatada said: "We do not doubt that al-Hasan [al-Basri] is one of them."
Ibn Hibban narrates it in al-Tarikh through Abu Hurayra as: "The earth will never lack forty men similar to Ibrahim the Friend of the Merciful, and through whom you are helped, receive your sustenance, and receive rain."
4. Imam Ahmad also narrated in the Musnad (5:322) through `Abd al-Wahhab ibn `Ata':
The Prophet said: "The Substitutes in this Community are
thirty like Ibrahim the Friend of the Merciful. Every time one
of them dies, Allah substitutes another one in his place."
Ahmad said: "Other than this is also narrated from `Abd al-Wahhab,
but it is denounced (munkar)."
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Hakim Tirmidhi cites it in Nawadir al-usul and Ahmad's student al-Khallal in his Karamat al-awliya'. Haythami said its men are those of the sahih except `Abd al-Wahid who was declared trustworthy by al-`Ijli and Abu Zar`a (as well as Yahya ibn Ma`in). He is one of the narrators of Imam Muslim and also Tirmidhi.
5. Abu Dawud through three different good chains the "Book of the Mahdi" in his Sunan (English #4273), Imam Ahmad in his Musnad (6:316), Ibn Abi Shayba in his Musannaf, Abu Ya`la, al-Hakim, and Bayhaqi narrated:
Umm Salama the wife of the Prophet related that the Prophet said:
"Disagreement will occur at the death of a Caliph and a man
of the people of Madina will come forth flying to Mecca. Some
of the people of Mecca will come to him, bring him out against
his will and swear allegiance to him between the Corner and the
Maqam. An expeditionary force will then be sent against
him from Syria but will be swallowed up in the desert between
Mecca and Madina, and when the people see that, the Substitutes
(abdal) of Syria and the best people (`asaba) of
Iraq will come to him and swear allegiance to him between the
rukn and the maqam..."
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6. Imam Ahmad cited in Kitab al-zuhd, also Ibn Abi al-Dunya, Abu Nu`aym, Bayhaqi, and Ibn `Asakir narrated from Julays:
Wahb ibn Munabbih said: I saw the Prophet in my sleep, so I said: "Ya Rasulallah, where are the Substitutes (budala') of your Community?" So he gestured with his hand towards Syria. I said: "Ya Rasulallah, aren't there any in Iraq?" He said: "Yes, Muhammad ibn Wasi`, Hassan ibn Abi Sinan, and Malik ibn Dinar, who walks among the people similarly to Abu Dharr in his time."
7. Nawawi in Bustan al-`arifin (1985 ed. p. 31) mentions that the hadith master Hammad ibn Salama ibn Dinar (d. 167) was considered to be one of the abdal. Sakhawi in his notice on the narrations of the abdal already referred to said:
What makes this hadith stronger and indicates its currency among the Imams is the statement of our Imam, al-Shafi`i, concerning a certain man: "We considered him one of the abdal," and Bukhari's statement concerning another: "They did not doubt that he was one of the abdal," and other than these two among the highly meticulous scholars, hadith masters, and imams [such as Qatada and Wahb, see above] also used this description for other people, stating that they were of the abdal.
It is extremely telling that in their derogatory references to the abdal, the "Salafis" never mention the above strong reports and evidence from the scholars, but only mention the weakest reports they can find, ignoring what is established as authentic (such as #1, 2, 4, 5, and 7 above) because it does not fit their opinion. They seem to think that their Imam, Ibn Taymiyya, erred in his assertion, in his fundamental `Aqida wasitiyya, that "The Substitutes (abdal) and the Imams of religion are to be found among them [the true adherents of Islam in its pristine purity], and the Muslims are in full accord concerning their guidance"! Truly, success is from Allah alone.
The hadiths of the Abdal of Syria is confirmed by the very high status of Syria in the hadiths of the Prophet's Isra' and Mi`raj. The Prophet called Syria the purest of Allah's lands, the place where Religion, belief and safety are found in the time of dissension, and the home of the saints for whose sake Allah sends sustenance to the people and victory to Muslims over their enemies:
8. Ibn `Asakir in Tahdhib tarikh Dimashq al-kabir relates from Ibn Mas`ud that the Prophet compared the world to a little rain water on a mountain plateau of which the safw had already been drunk and from which only the kadar or dregs remained. al-Huwjiri and al-Qushayri mention it in their chapters on tasawwuf, respectively in Kashf al-mahjub and al-Risala al-qushayriyya. Ibn al-Athir defines safw and safwa in his dictionary al-Nihaya as "the best of any matter, its quintessence, and purest part." The quintessence spoken of by the Prophet is Syria, because he called Syria "the quintessence of Allah's lands" (safwat Allah min biladih). Tabarani related it from `Irbad ibn Sariya and Haythami authenticated the chain of transmission in his book Majma` al-zawa'id, chapter entitled Bab fada'il al-sham.
9. Abu al-Darda' narrated that the Prophet said:
As I was sleeping I saw the Column of the Book being carried away from under my head. I feared lest it would be taken away, so I followed it with my eyes and saw that it was being planted in Syria. Verily, belief in the time of dissensions will be in Syria.
Haythami said that Ahmad narrated it with a chain whose narrators are all the men of the sahih -- sound narrations -- and that al-Bazzar narrated it with a chain whose narrators are the men of sound hadith except for Muhammad ibn `Amir al-Antaki, and he is thiqa -- trustworthy.
In the version Tabarani narrated from Ibn `Amr in al-Mu`jam al kabir and al-Mu`jam al-awsat the Prophet repeats three times: "When the dissensions take place, belief will be in Syria." One manuscript bears: "Safety will be in Syria." al-Haythami said the men in its chain are those of sound hadith except for Ibn Lahi`a, and he is fair (hasan).
10. al-Tabarani relates from `Abd Allah ibn Hawala that the Prophet said:
I saw on the night that I was enraptured a white column resembling a pearl, which the angels were carrying. I said to them: What are you carrying? They replied: The Column of the Book. We have been ordered to place it in Syria. Later, in my sleep, I saw that the Column of the Book was snatched away from under my headrest (wisadati). I began to fear lest Allah the Almighty had abandoned the people of the earth. My eyes followed where it went. It was a brilliant light in front of me. Then I saw it was placed in Syria." `Abd Allah ibn Hawala said: "O Messenger of Allah, choose for me (where I should go)." The Prophet said: alayka bi al-sham -- "You must go to Syria.
al-hafiz al-Haythami said in Majma` al-zawa'id:
"The narrators in its chain of transmission are all those
of sound hadith, except Salih ibn Rustum, and he is thiqa