A Response to the Readers’ Replies
Another member of MSA-Net responsed to the preceding two emails:
To: firstname.lastname@example.org From: email@example.com Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Re: msa: Sufism & Tassawuf — Sheikh Muhammad S.Adly Distribution: World
Bismillah ir-Rahman ir-Raheem
Dear fulan and Fulan,
wa alaikum salaam wa rahmatullah,
You have shown unfairness to Shaykh Hisham by calling him brother and calling Shaykh Adly “shaykh.” This means you have already reached a conclusion, so what is the need to hold a discussion with you, since you and your neighbor Fulan, have already come to your own conclusions. If as you said, Shaykh Adly is so knowledgeable, then why is he asking Shaykh Hisham these questions? Why didn’t he answer them himself? If he has given so many talks about Tasawwuf and its compliance with Shari’ah and Sunnah, that means he knows the answers to his questions, so he doesn’t need to ask them. And if his intention is to inform the people on the net of the answers, then he should be able to do that himself as well. However, if his intention, or your intention or brother Fulan’s intention is simply to test Shaykh Hisham, then it is a different story.
First of all, since Shaykh Hisham has been writing about the Mawlid for the past two months, why didn’t Shaykh Adly answer about Mawlid? We have asked many times for those with scholarly opinions, based on Qur’an and Sunnah, to state their objections to the Mawlid. Brother Fulan objected many times to the Mawlid and to many hadith that Shaykh Hisham quoted, including Sahih hadiths. But never did anyone bring a scholarly opinion to counter what Ibn Kathir, the student of Ibn Taymiyya, said about the Mawlid. So we have to wonder aloud, does Shaykh Adly think it is his job to test Shaykh Hisham? Or has brother Fulan misled Shaykh Adly to the position he is now in? We don’t like to attack, but since we are being attacked, we must respond.
I will say on his behalf, Shaykh Hisham is not a student to be tested and evaluated. Alhamdulillah, I may say that I know Shaykh Hisham, and he is humble enough to be happy to learn from anyone, but he is not responsible to Shaykh Adly or any other reader for what he says. He is a shaykh, just as Shaykh Adly is a shaykh, and that title carries with it special responsibility before Allah Almighty, which both have accepted to carry. It is not for you or me to judge them, as long as they uphold the Qur’an and Sunnah–and no one can say that Shaykh Hisham is saying anything against Qur’an or Sunnah. As Shaykh Adly is a shaykh with a degree, so too is Shaykh Hisham a shaykh with a degree. If anyone wants to make accusations, they must first address them to Shaykh ul-Islam Ibn Taymiyya and Shaykh ul-Islam Ibn Kathir, whom Shaykh Hisham has been referencing extensively and whose opinions on Tasawwuf and Mawlid he has been presenting.
What Shaykh Hisham wrote about Sufism, it was to respond to questions and accusations made by one person on the network. Shaykh Hisham can answer your questions, but why are no questions being asked of Ibn Taymiyya? Shaykh Hisham didn’t write from his own opinion on Sufism, he brought up Ibn Taymiyya’s opinions in answer to a question posed by Abu Mohammed, who made serious accusations against us, saying we were making shirk and bida’.
We didn’t put any information about Sufism on the Internet until Abu Mohammed attacked us and our shaykh. He asked about fana’, ittihad and so forth, in the same accusatory way that this last set of six questions was posed. So Shaykh Hisham quoted him what Ibn Taymiyya said on these subjects. These are not our personal ideas. We have yet to describe Tasawwuf and its deep basis in Qur’an and Sunnah and its support and explanation by Ibn Taymiyya and by other scholars more eminent than Ibn Taymiyya, who were in the time of the Tabi’een. One of these scholars was Imam Malik.
Our opinion is of no importance, because we are the students of great shaykhs and Imams. If anyone thinks he is above these great shaykhs and Imams then that is up to him. However, keep in mind that Allah said “at’i-ullah wa at’i ar-Rasul wa uwlil-amri minkum” which means “Obey Allah and obey the prophet and those in authority among you” (an-Nis’a, 59)
Those in authority include the scholars of Islam. If anyone says “I don’t need these scholars,” it means that person is disobeying Allah’s order. The Prophet (s) said, “‘ulama ummatti ka anbiya’i Bani Isra’il” which means “the scholars of my Nation are like the prophets of the Bani Isra’il.” And the Propet (s) said in another hadith “al-‘ulama warithat ul-anbiya,” (Ibn Majah and Tirmidhi) which means “the scholars are the inheritors of the prophets.” Therefore it is difficult to see a way in Islam which allows one to discard scholars and scholarship.
I don’t think Shaykh Adly, having himself mentioned in his resume that he studied with many great shaykhs at al-Azhar and in Mecca, would care for an opinion which was against shaykhs or would like to ignore what shaykhs and Imams said. Because never did scholars try to bring their own judgment or opinion, without founding it in the essentials of Islam, its sources of which are The Qur’an and the Sunnah. This is an essential under- standing of Islamic scholarship which seems to be ignored by too many of today’s youth.
When this opinion comes from a student, we can attribute it to the flush of youth. However, when such an opinion comes from a shaykh, then it is surprising. We then begin to question, where did that shaykh get his knowledge? Didn’t he get it from reading Qur’an and hadith and the opinions of the great scholars? Let us say he just read Qur’an and hadith –presupposing that he is such a great scholar that he is qualified to make his own ijtihad (I don’t want to enumerate here the requirements to make that grade, but it is not easy). Even then he is depending on the scholarship of the early scholars who brought those hadith to them and classified them into appropriate grades. So no one can stand by himself in Islam and say “I am going to only follow Qur’an and Hadith, I have nothing to do with scholars.” Hadiths would not exist without the very great scholars whose efforts brought them to us and classified them by grades. This makes everyone a follower (muqallid)of those hadith scholars!!!
We believe in the Ahl as-Sunnah wal-Jama’at credo. And it is well-known that all Ahl as-Sunnah wal-Jama’at scholars accepted, approved of and practiced Tasawwuf. We quoted Ibn Taymiyya to counter the attack of Abu Mohammed. Because Abu Mohammed asked and accused us on the subjects of fana’ and ittihad, and accused us of bida’, and pushed us to speak on that subject. We didn’t want to answer from our own definitions, but to keep it cool and as moderate as possible and to avoid offending anyone we only presented what Ibn Taymiyya said, showing what a scholar acceptable to many of the readers had mentioned on that subject.
Now you want to “check” Shaykh Hisham on this subject. We are not saying Shaykh Adly is not an important person, yet you praise him very much with high credentials, at the same time denigrating Shaykh Hisham by calling Adly “shaykh” and calling Shaykh Hisham ‘brother Kabbani.’ You don’t even have the courtesy to say ‘Shaykh Kabbani.’ How do you expect us to feel at ease when you are arranging your answers in a way to attack, not to debate us in a scholarly way? This shows the hatred that is behind what you are planning. Shaykh Hisham will answer when he feels like it, that is freedom of opinion and action, something I believe Islam guarantees within the Shari’ah.
This is the 20th Century in the United States. You and we have freedom, which Allah granted us, while we are here. We are not in Middle eastern countries, where everyone is forced to keep to one line by being threatened. We are in a Western country where there are human rights, as there should be in every Muslim country. Here everyone respects one another and gives the other the opportunity to voice his opinion. This is a country where Muslims are enjoying human rights, and are also enjoying the freedom to express what they like about their own countries as well as the West, and no one is preventing them. Why are you discriminating by trying to enforce your opinion and not to accept our opinion? Even the freedom to exchange information and opinions on the Internet is a privilege almost unavailable in the Middle East.
Shaykh Hisham always tries to keep respect in his method of addressing our brothers in his email and articles, and to keep the dignity of each person. On the other hand we see nothing but attacks against Shaykh Hisham and the unfairness is apparent in the arguments and questions. So we are saying again–Islam is for Muslims, it is the religion of love and peace. Don’t practice it as they do in the Middle East, where the stick comes down on the heads of people if they have a different idea or understanding than the “official” one.
Respecting one’s own and others’ opinions and keeping everyone’s dignity is an Islamic trait. Our brother Fulan, the initiator of these debates, wrote a long set of articles on Islamic good manners, the etiquette of disagreement and so on. Why did he write it if he isn’t going to practice it? When we feel people are being harsh and hard towards us we don’t like to be forced into anything. Islam came with love. The Prophet (s) brought Islam with love not with hatred. In the answer the shaykh is preparing he is trying to be very precise and simultaneously succinct. Meanwhile he is preparing an intermediate answer, that will follow this letter shortly. However, a full-fledged answer is not going to be made available immediately.
Brother fulan, is it Islamic etiquette, the manner you are using? If you think so, reprint your neighbor Fulan’s article on Islamic Good Manners and check. It appears to be clear unfairness and a direct attack. One should keep respect, as we are trying to keep respect. One cannot force another to do something. Previously we have been attacked by many people because we sent articles about Mawlid and what Ibn Taymiyya said about Sufism. It seems the same methods are being used again. However, we will simply continue to send information on the Ahl as- Sunnah wal-Jama’at’s decisions on subjects such as Tasawwuf, tawassul, Mawlid and other important matters of faith and fiqh.
Shaykh Hisham kept respect for the questions, and didn’t make any comment on them, even though they are very elementary. However, since they have been asked he doesn’t want to answer them in an elementary way, so he is preparing an intelligent answer, though the questions don’t deserve it. Now since Fulan is forcing us to say something about the questions, so I am saying it.
The level of the questions surprised me, as these questions appear to be to be written by a naive person. And we know Shaykh Adly is not a naive person, he is the Imam of a mosque and former chairman of Rabitah. “Was the Prophet a Sufi?”– is this a question? Should the Prophet (s) be named after a subject or is the Prophet (s) going to be the source of all subjects in Islam? It appears like a baited trap to cause us to speak improperly against the Prophet (s), and we hope this not the purpose. One cannot ask if the Prophet was a Sufi, it is like asking if he was a faqih or a muffassir or a muhaddith. If someone asks that, it means that person doesn’t know that the terms Tasawwuf and Sufi were not used in the time of the Prophet. The title for the Prophet is Prophet (s). As Shaykh Hisham is mentioning in his upcoming reply, the science of Hadith came after the Prophet, so you cannot say that the Prophet (s) was a muhaddith. No one should demean the Prophet (s) by using a term for him which is less than his station as Prophet (s). A muhaddith is one who has conveyed a story or happening that occurred in the past. One can say that people who came after the Prophet (s) are muhaddiths, but not the Prophet (s) himself. And this applies as well to Tasawwuf.
Not one single scholar in the entire history of Islam came against Tasawwuf, as long as it keeps the way of Shari’ah and Sunnah. Because Tasawwuf is Ihsan. The Prophet (s) defined Ihsan in the famous hadith of Jibril (as), so no one can say that Ihsan is not in Islam. Anyone who says that, is either either ignorant or stubborn. I only gave that short definition of Tasawwuf at this time. Instead of attacking Shaykh Hisham, why not wait for his response? We hope everyone will try to keep respect as much as possible. If anyone doesn’t like the above definition, then he or she can come up with his own, from his own sources.
© 2012 As-Sunnah Foundation of America