The Juristic Errors and Mistakes of the (Muslim) Scholars
By Abu Abdillaah
One of the meanings of Zalaat is when someone is walking and trips over unintentionally or accidentally.
Labeed ibn Rabia (one of the best Arab linguists) said (defined Zalaat) Az-Zalah is to go below the level. [Mu’jamal Buldaan volume 4 p.108]
Throughout history all Islamic scholars have been known to change their opinions or verdicts for a variety of reasons. To the extent they would pay to send criers to the marketplaces to make an announcement of their change, just to inform the people. This inconsistency is something that is healthy and not a defection if it is done to get closer to Allah (swt). Imam Abu Hanifah [d.150H] would give one answer in the morning and for the same case have a different answer in the evening. This was because he had come across authentic relevant evidence that would shine more light on the subject thereby giving a new verdict.
An example of this is 9/11 many qualified people initially felt it was something that could not be legislated from the Sharee'ah and started to denounce it. However as soon as the Islamic proofs were presented only the sincere scholars started to retract from their positions and claimed 9/11 to be a very noble and bold act that deserves to be ranked amongst the best.
The scholar that is consistent needs to be scrutinised. Sheikh ul-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah [d.728H] said if such a case exists then at least one out of two conclusions can be drawn
The person thinks he is infallible and can never make a mistake
The person has stopped studying the Deen and think they know it all
Imam Awza’i [d.179H] said Zalaat ul-Ulamaa' is to be diverted from the right thing via Ijtihaad from any topic away from his correct foundations and principles i.e. unintentionally.
Another example is to do with the great Imam Abu Hasan Al-Ashari [d.324H] who had three phases during his life. The first phase which lasted for 40 years consisted of preaching the Manhaj of the Mu’tazillah (rationalists). The second phase which lasted for 5 years was spent promoting the Manhaj of the Muowillah (interpreters). The last year of his life (some Ulamaa' say the last 16 months of his life) was devoted to propagating the Manhaj of the Muwahhidoon (Submitters). Unfortunately there are a people who still insist to follow his old teachings even though the great Imam denounced these teachings in his famous work titled Al-Ibaanah Al-Usul Al-Diyanah. This shows that people do not want to follow the truth rather they want to stick to an “ism” play about with the Deen and hide behind veils.
Imam Ghazalee [d.505H] said the mistakes of the scholar (Zalaat ul-'Aalim) is like a boat that starts to sink and when it sinks it will sink with it all those people who follow him. [Kitab Adab-e-Duniyah-e-Deen p.46]
Catastrophically we have bigoted people who believe that doing Taqleed (blind following) is something Islamic. Whereas it is one of the most destructive of all teachings and instead of following the Daleel (Islamic evidences) the Muslims follow personalities and assimilate the truth with an individual (s). This deficiency is one of the main characteristics of Ahl ul-Bid’ah (Sufis, Braelvis, Deobandis etc.) who have supported views of this nature leading to people circumbulating (going around e.g. like it Tawaaf) graves under the pretext of doing Taqleed. This is not an isolated case or an exaggerated view it’s something that is common throughout the Muslim world.
Ibn Abbaas (ra) said How dare they, a severe punishment (hellfire) for those followers of the juristic scholars; how is that the scholar will adopt an opinion and he will find a stronger opinion and change his adoption but his followers don’t change, dare them. [Imam Shaatibi [d.790H] Kitab-ul-Muwafaqaat volume 3 p.318 and Ibn Taymiyyah Kitab-ul-Fatawa Al-Qubra volume 6 p.96]
The classic case today is where the innovative Madhabees (people who insist to follow a school of thought (i.e. say it's Waajib)) will follow a ruling regardless of its weakness or fabrication. Just because it has been attributed to say Imam Shafi (rh) [d.204H] (even though it may have no Isnaad (chain) back to this Imam) they will be adamant in adhering to it. One common example is the ruling regarding you must read Surah Fatiha in every Rakat; the followers of the Hanafism (not the followers of Imam Abu Hanifah (rh)) openly say that the Fatiha does not have to be recited in the Janazah (funeral) prayer by the Imam or the Muslims praying behind him.
One person came to Muadh ibn Jabal (ra) on his deathbed and asked Muadh (ra) to advise him. Muadh (ra) said Do not follow the juristic error of the scholar, do not follow the juristic error of the scholar and then he cited what Ibn Abbaas (ra) said (in the Hadith Mawqoof (attributed to a Sahabi) above) [Musnad Imam Abu Hanifah volume 1 p.68]
Ziyad ibn Hudair (ra) said Umar ibn Khattab (ra) said Three things demolish the Deen firstly the juristic mistake of the scholar secondly the Munafiq who debates the Quranic verses and thirdly the Imams (corrupted rulers and scholars) who are misguided (Mudaliloon). [Tirmidhi, Sunan Darimi and Ibn Taymiyyah Kitab-ul-Fatawa Al-Qubra volume 6 p.95 and Abu Darda (ra) reported the same Hadith which is recorded in Imam Shatibi’s Kitab-ul-Muwafaqaat volume 4 p.17] Imam Haythami in his works volume 1 p.186 declared the Hadith to be Marfooa (attributed it to Muhammad (saw)) but Sheikh Albani in his works volume 1 p.89 claimed it was Mawqoof)
A time has come where there are many Mudaliloon; all the rulers of the Muslim world have embraced apostasy and the so called Imams that sit next to them have no shame in this. It doesn’t matter how many certificates or titles a scholar has or the number of sciences he or she has mastered the bottom line is if you accompany the regimes of today you are not to be trusted. This includes the likes of Yusuf Qardawi of Qatar, Mufti Taqi Usmani of Pakistan, Shaykh Saalih ibn Abdul Azeez Aal Shaykh of Saudi Arabia, Tantawi of Egypt, Ramadan Booty of Syria etc.
Ibnul Qayyim [d.751] said the scholars will make mistakes and that is beyond doubt (inevitable) because they are not infallible. You are not allowed to accept anything he said as being infallible (Ma’soom). This is what has been dispraised by every scholar on earth, they forbid it and dispraise the one who says the A’lim is Ma’soom. [I’laam-ul-Muwaqieen volume 2 p.173]
The heretical Shia Raafidah claim that their Imams are all infallible when it's well established from amongst Ahlus Sunnah none has the claim of infallibility on earth apart from the Messengers of Allah (swt).
The companion Muhammad ibn Yasir (ra) said Be careful from hypocrisy and from the time of ignorance or the time they (scholars) make errors and that’s when Shaytaan wants them to make errors. [Sunan Darimi Hadith Mawqoof]
We are being tested from all sides and the era of ignorance is facing us with fresh challenges everyday. Fitnah (commotion) is prevalent everywhere from the mosques to the markets. Fatwas (e.g. Halal mortgages and Islamic banking) are deliberately designed and marketed to appeal and convince the common folk when in reality they are far away from the teachings of the Salaf. They seem enticing and tempting the weak will fall prey to them whereas only the strong will reject them and see through their falseness.
Al-Fudayl ibn Iyaad [d.187H] said I feel pitiful (and sorry) for three types of people. One who was noble and lost his credibility and some people humiliate him; someone who was rich and has now become poor. The juristic scholar whom the Duniyah plays with (has no money, property etc. thereby always being tested) and the young people (childish mentality) who play with him.
The Maliki judge Qadi Ismaeel ibn Ishaaq Al-Azeedee (from Azad) said I entered to the Abassi Khaleefah Al-Muta’ad Billah he gave me quite a few books to look at and asked me to read them. These books had all the juristic errors of the scholars compiled in them with their evidences and the names of the scholars. i.e. Ibn Hazm said you can see the woman you are thinking of getting married to totally naked, Abu Jafar Tahawi said Khamr (wine) is allowed, Riba of transaction or excess (Fadl) is allowed (taking a superior thing of the same kind of goods by giving more of the same kind of goods of inferior quality), Mu’ta - temporary marriage is allowed etc.
After reading the books Qadi Ismaeel said the one who compiled these statements is a heretic. The Khaleef inquired aren’t these reports authentic. Qadi Ismaeel said the reports are correct but the one who permits Khamr doesn’t permit Mu’ta and the one that permits Mu’ta doesn’t permit Khamr etc. There is no scholar who has never made a mistake. Whoever takes these narrations (compiles them and follows them) has no Deen. At this point the Khaleef ordered the books to be destroyed (burnt). [Imam Zarkashi [d.392H] Al-Bahr-ul-Muheet (The Vast Ocean) volume 6 p.326]
With the advancement of technology and communications information can easily be obtained by a click of a button. This has caused many to read up on a subject and start to adopt and act upon what one has read. However the Deen was never acted upon by reading books and neither does Islam condemn reading. The books, the chapters, the paragraphs and the sentences all need to be explained and contextualised by someone qualified. That is why the Salaf used to say the one who doesn’t have a Sheikh then tell him his Sheikh is Shaytaan.
Imam Malik [d.179H] said, One man said to Imam Aamir ibn Sharajeel Sha’bee (top Muhadith from the Tabieen) I have saved and hidden for you Masaail (issues) that have got all the uniqueness and valuable Fiqh (rules). Imam Sha’bee read a few and said Keep them for Iblees when you meet him. [Kitab-ul-Adaab-e-Shariah volume 2 p.56]
We invite everyone to study the methodology of the Salaf (Usul Al Manhaj or Usul Al-I’tisaam) because that is our Hujjah (proof for us) on the Day of Judgement. The formula succinctly is simple (follow the Wahi based upon the understanding of the Sahabah (ra)) but needs to be strived upon and those who do will remain successful (in this life and the hereafter) Inshallah.
Our beloved Prophet Muhammad (saw) said Whosoever has been given the Fatwa and falls on the error of an A’lim his sin is on the neck of the scholar and not him. And whosoever advises his brother to take the old way (abrogated opinion) and he knows the good new way he has betrayed him. [Ibn Majah, Ibn Hibbaan and Abu Dawud]
I ask Allah (swt) to bless the Muslims with sincere scholars who follow the Salaf and who will carry forward the standard of Islam. I seek Allah (swt) forgiveness for myself and for you, my dear readers. May the peace and blessings of Allah (swt) be upon His Messenger, our Prophet Muhammad (saw) and upon all of his family and companions (ra).