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The Fiqh of Shaykh al-Albani by Shaykh Mashoor Hasan

Indeed all praise is due to Allaah. We praise Him, seek His aid and forgiveness. We seek refuge with Allaah from the evils of ournselves and the evils of our actions. Whomsoever Allaah guides, they are guided and whomsoever He misguides there are none to guide.

 

I bear witness that there is no deity worthy of worship in truth except Allaah, alone, having no partners.

 

And I bear witness that Muhammad is His slave and messenger.

 

To Proceed:

 

Indeed there are few of the scholars of past and present that Allaah has provided with extensive knowledge in the two sciences of hadeeth and fiqh, combining them in such a way so as to show them both in a good light. And the fruits of those scholars, in their research and authoring is that their works become pillars for those who desire them, a source of guidance for those who seek it and the masses from all over and all ages compete to gain them. The tongues of the eloquent and pens of the writers cannot capture the joy of those who seek and desire these works of those who have been granted this success. And this is with the passing of years. And none feel this deep happiness save the serious and industrious students of knowledge.

 

From among those scholars who were blessed with extensive knowledge in these two branches of knowledge (fiqh and hadeeth) is the one who has left us, the distinguished personality of the Ummah, its Muhaddith and Faqeeh, the Shaykh Muhammad Naasir ud-Deen al-Albaani, may Allaah Most High have mercy upon him.

 

My words here are focussed on the fiqh aspect of the shaykh’s knowledge, summarised in the following points:

 

Firstly, the fiqh of the Shaykh, may Allah have mercy upon him, was rubbaani, as he used to honour the evidences and clarify the authentic from the weak – something that he had precedence in over the people of his era. He belonged to a time in which the blessing of acting upon ahadeeth was not found, despite the prevalence of teaching and reading. With his efforts, striving, earnestness and industry in this, he broke down the innovated separation between fiqh and hadeeth. If a hadeeth was found to be authentic in his view, he felt as though the messenger had spoken it with his lips, so grasped onto it with his molars. It would not concern him who differed with him, whosoever it may be.

 

Secondly, and he was in this following the guidance of the Sahaabah, as there were none among them who used to give precedence to anything over the texts of the messenger of Allaah sall Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam – not their intellects, analogies, tastes, politics or blond following. And Allaah ennobled their eyes to see the face of the one who was like this [the messenger] or to be in the era of those who were [the sahaabah].

 

As for the Shaykh, may Allaah have mercy upon him, he lived at a time of strangeness but was surrounded by the Salaf, to the point it would be correct to say that he was from the tabi’een, although the period of time in which he lived was too late.

 

Thirdly, despite what has preceded, the Shaykh was widely read, knowledgeable of the matters that were agreed upon and differed with regards to. He would often develop opinions, attributing them to those who held them, mentioning the supporting evidences, if they existed. And the fiqh-based principles [qawaa’id fiqhiyyah] or fundamentals [usool] that he would use, considering the intent of the Shariyyah would show that his choice [of opinions] and deeming most correct [in matters of differing] in an open and manifest way. He would not confine himself to one specific school of thought or source but follow the evidence from the authentic ahadeeth and athaar. In matters for which there was no text, he would largely follow the opinions of Shaykh al Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah and his student Ibn al-Qayyim, may Allaah have mercy upon them, due to their conformity in Usool and the fundamentals of deriving rulings.

 

Fourthly, for this reason, the Shaykh was keen never to hold an opinion by himself. I asked him why repeating prayer in congregation in the masjid that has a regular Imaam was not an innovation, as there is no textual evidence for it and none of the Salaf before us practised it. He answered, may Allaah have mercy upon him, that no one had preceded him in saying so.

 

I heard him say, more than once, that he never declared a hadeeth weak in the Saheehain, or one of them, expect that he had a predecessor in doing so.

 

He used to repeat the saying of Imaam Ahmad to his student, ‘Beware of the issue in which you do not have an Imaam’ but despite this, if a hadeeth was authentic in his view, and the Salaf acted upon it, he would adhere to it with his molars and not blindly follow the latter-day [scholars], even if their view was common.

 

May Allaah have mercy upon Imaam ath-Thahabi, who said in as-Siyar (18/91), commenting on the statement of Ibn Hazm ‘I follow the truth and make Ijtihaad. I do not restrict myself to a mathhab’: “I say: yes, whosoever reaches the level of ijtihaad and a number of scholars attest to it, it is not befitting for them to blindly follow – just as it is not befitting for the novice in fiqh or the layman who has memorised the Qur’aan, or much of it to ever make ijtihaad. How can they make ijtihaad? What would they say? What would they build upon? The third category is the proficient and aware faqeeh who is a muhaddith and has memorised a short work in furoo’ and a book in the fundamentals of Usool; who has read grammar and has virtues, aside from having memorised the Book of Allaah and being busy with its tafseer and having strength in debating. This is the station of the one who has achieved the rank of ijtihaad al-muqayyid [restricted ijtihaad]. They are qualified to delve into the Imaams’ using of the texts as evidences. So when the truth is manifest to them in an issue, the text regarding it is established and one of the distinguished imaams, such as Abu Haneefah, Maalik, ath-Thawree, al-Awzaa’ee, ash-Shaafi’ee, Abu Ubayd, Ahmad and Ishaaq, acted upon it, they follow the truth, not following concessions. And it is not befitting for them after the proof has been established for them to make taqleed.”

 

Fifthly, it is worth mentioning that the Shaykh, may Allaah have mercy upon him, was keen to publish that which he believed. He was often researching and looking into issues with the scholars and his distinguished students, in doing so adhering to the principles of tarjeeh [deeming one view stronger than another] not leaving the knowledge-based fundamentals observed by the scholars. He would repeat them, benefitting from them, explaining them so as to corroborate his opinions in research and ijtihaad with sincerity, truthfulness and strength in stating what the truth was.

 

However, the matters in which he differed with the verdicts of the renowned scholars of the day were few but those who had enmity for him hung onto them. If they were to be not considered, the Ummah would have consensus on his status as Imaam in this field – and this is to be considered from his virtues, may Allaah have mercy upon him. The believer is bound to have those who disparage and berate them – if the people had a consensus on the disparaging or praising of an individual it would be suspicious. This is from the signs of the status of the Imaamah in the religion that Shaykh Naasir ad-Deen achieved through patience and certainty. And all praise is due to Allaah, lord of all creation.

 

And he had predecessors in these issues we mentioned, unbeknown to those who were not widely read. An example of this is what the Shaykh spoke of in his latter sittings and was asked; the issue of the obligation of trimming the beard after it has reached a fistful. Eight narrations of the Salaf taking from their beards supported his fatwa – mentioned in his explanation of the weakness of the hadeeth ‘Trim from your beard and head’ in Silsilatu ad-Da’eefah 2355. And you will find Ibn Hamaam mentioning in Fat-hul Qadeer (2/347): He said in an-Nihaayah (one of the books of the Hanafiyyah) ‘…and what goes beyond that (a fistful) is obligatory to trim’.

 

And I have a dedicated treatise citing the some of the opinions our Shaykh held and their ascription to those who held them from the early scholars and mentioning their evidences. I have called it Nawaadir al-Albaani – may Allaah facilitate its completion well.

 

Sixthly, from that which should be mentioned is that the Shaykh had a number of fataawa in all areas of fiqh which were made during his sittings; invitations made to him; his journeys that he made – the majority of which in the latter stages of his life were made internally [within Jordan] and were like excursions for him. However, they were full of benefit, replete with giving and nurturing. In these sittings, the intellect and acumen of the Shaykh could be seen, as well as the quickness of his mind.

 

If a question was posed to him that had an inaccuracy or was lacking, he would, for the most part correct it or make it more precise, especially if it was asked by a student of knowledge. Or the Shaykh would repeat the intent of the question to the poser – and this was from the Shaykh’s precision and accuracy. While doing this, he was far from artificiality but did so out of love of giving an extended answer, clarity and ease. In this knowledge based approach he taught the students of knowledge precision in understanding the questioner’s intent. He would mention the evidences that related to the issue but would not be hesitant in making the well-known statement ‘Half of knowledge is [to say] “I do not know”’.

 

Many of his fataawa were related to calamities that had befallen the Ummah – from weakness and disease, especially in ‘aqeedah. Within them there was emphasis on the necessity to revive the manhaj of the Salaf in learning and teaching and also an important insight into the Shaykh’s manhaj in rectification.

 

Seventhly, from the words of wisdom the Shaykh would often cite; ‘Knowledge is research – it does not accept inanimateness and stillness’. For this reason, there was no barrier between the Shaykh and the truth. Whenever he saw the truth to be on a particular side of an issue, he would hastily return to the truth, stating he had done so.

 

So it was known of the Shaykh, especially through his sittings that he may have had more than one opinion in a particular issue – understanding is something that comes and goes. I hope to collect these issues in a dedicated treatise, may Allaah make that, by His generosity and blessing, easy[2].

 

Eighthly, just as the Shaykh gave great care over fiqh in his sittings and lessons, he also took care of it in his written works, as he authored a number of books under various beneficial chapters of fiqh that the Ummah was in need of and that the students of knowledge were overjoyed with. He collected the various views on a particular subject, mentioning their evidences, authenticating and deeming what was most correct, balancing, weighing and scrutinising minutiae within these chapters of fiqh – to the extent that it would shut off the idea of those who came after him authoring on the same subject.

 

In this way, these works became references for all – those close and far, from different opinions and schools of thought. Examples of these works include: his unique work that has been published approximately twenty times until now, The prophet’s prayer described; The Rulings of the Funeral Prayer; A Warning to the Prostrator; A Completion of the Blessing; The Hajj of the Prophet sall Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam; The Jilbaab of the Muslim Woman and other than these that have been published and those that have not yet.

 

Ninthly, and lastly, the Shaykh, may Allaah have mercy upon him, had a great affect upon the students of knowledge. His close students who gained fiqh through him were many – due to the Shaykh having lived in different lands – especially when he taught at the Islaamic University in Medina.

 

As for those who benefit and drink from his works, they are waves whose numbers extend to tens of thousands, if not more. And the effects of his works upon the most distinguished of these is plain, for you will rarely see a dissertation, book or treatise except that the Shaykh’s name is mentioned, in some cases due to his fiqh-based opinion.

 

So, indeed the passing of the noble Shaykh is an affliction and a great calamity. The sorrow about it is great and the tragedy far-reaching. The vacuum left by is death is vast.

 

May Allaah the High grant him His expansive Mercy.

 

He has passed but his impressions remain,

And among men, his mention life-long.

 

 

 

[1] Al-Asaalah 23 pp 33-36

 

[2] This desire has been made stronger by the desire of our Shaykh ‘Abdul-Muhsin al-‘Abbaad, may Allaah preserve him, for me to undertake this work

 

Translated by Akeel Ahmed

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