Shaykh 'Abdul-Qadir al-Arna'ut hafidhahullah
Translated by Abu Taher
- Translator's Introduction
- A Glimpse at the Way of the Companions
- Definition of Manhaj
- Linguistic and legal definition of the word Salaf
- Matters concerning their Methodology
- Sources of the Dîn
- From their beliefs ...
- The Belief of the Pious Scholars of Islâm
All praise is for Allâh, we praise Him, seek His aid and ask for His forgiveness. We seek refuge in Allâh from the evils of ourselves and the evil of our actions. He whom Allâh guides then there is none who can misguide him, and he whom Allâh misguides then there is none who can guide him. I bear witness that none has the right to be worshipped (in truth) except Allâh alone, having no partners and I bear witness that Muhammad sallallâhu 'alayhi wa sallam, is His slave and Messenger.
This is an abridgement of a small treatise written by the renowned scholar Shaykh 'Abdul-Qâdir al-Arna'ût hafidhahullâh who has specialised in the field of Hadîth. His most famous works include the checking of Zâdul M'âd by Ibn al-Qayyim, Jâmi'-ul-Usûl by Ibn al-Athîr and al-Adhkâr by Imâm an-Nawawî.
This is the first treatise in a series regarding the Methodology of the Prophet sallallâhu 'alayhi wa sallam and his Companions (may Allâh be pleased with them). It is the Methodology that was implemented by the Prophet sallallâhu 'alayhi wa sallam and adhered to by the best of generations (the Companions), giving them success in this world and the ultimate success in the Hereafter. This series is entitled Tasfiyah wat Tarbiyah,  which are the two main instruments of this Prophetic Methodology that can be used to help us remain firmly established upon the Dîn of Islâm.
This treatise was written by Shaykh 'Abdul-Qâdir in response to the numerous questions that were posed to him and the general confusion concerning this important matter. In compiling this treatise the Shaykh relied upon classical works, due to the importance of returning to the understanding of the early scholars of this Ummah.
This treatise has been translated in an attempt to remove the confusion surrounding this crucial subject, concerning the methodology adopted by the Prophet sallallâhu 'alayhi wa sallam, and his Companions radiallâhu 'anhum, in establishing Islâm as a way of life.
Every Muslim desiring to return to Islâm in its true sense, must grasp what the Prophet sallallâhu 'alayhi wa sallam and his Companions were upon, in all aspects of life. Only then can we move further towards establishing Islâm as our way of life.
This treatise highlights the main principles governing the correct understanding of this topic, following the way of the early scholars in clarifying and expounding the Prophetic Methodology.
The treatise has been abridged in order to remove some of the unnecessary technical terms, and also wherever necessary, clarification of some terms and points have been included. A glossary has also been added to assist the reader.
We praise Allâh and ask Him to make this treatise beneficial to the Muslims and to guide us to the Straight Path, the Path of the Prophet sallallâhu 'alayhi wa sallam and his Companions. We ask Allâh to make this purely for His Face for verily He is All-Hearing, All-Knowing.
Linguistically and in the Sharî'ah: An-nahju, al-manhaj and al-minhâj mean the clear and manifest way. Allâh the Most High says in the glorious Qur'ân:
To each among you we have prescribed a law and a minhâj [al-Mâ'idah (5):48]
Meaning a law and a way which is clearly explained. Indeed Allâh, the Most High, prescribed for every nation a law and a clear way (a manhaj). Thus the people of the Taurât had a law and the people of the Injîl had a law and the people of the Qur'ân have a law.
These laws differ in their rules (ahkâm) but are united in the tawhîd of Allâh (uniqueness of Allâh) as Allâh's Messenger sallallâhu 'alayhi wa sallam said:
"I am the most worthy person to 'Îsa ibn Maryam in this world and the Hereafter. The Prophets are paternal brothers, their mothers are different, and their Dîn is one. There is no prophet between 'Îsa and myself." [Reported by al-Bukhârî in his Sahîh, the Book of Prophets, chapter 'Remember the Book of Maryam', Muslim in his Sahîh (no.2365), the Book of Merits, chapter 'Merits of 'Îsa peace be upon him'. From the hadîth of Abû Hurayrah radiallâhu 'anhu.]
The meaning of this is that they (the prophets) are united upon the fundamentals of uniqueness (tawhîd) of Allâh; as for the branches of (furû') of law and legislation, then differences occurred in them. Thus their laws are different.
Allâh the Most High says:
And We did not send any Messenger before you (O Muhammad) but We inspired to him that (say) There is none who has the right to be worshipped except I (Allâh), so worship Me (alone and none else). [al-Anbiyâ' (21):25]
Also, the Saying of Allâh the Most High:
And verily, We have sent among every nation (Ummah) a Messenger proclaiming: Worship Allâh alone and avoid the Tâghût (all false deities). [an-Nahl (16):36]
This is in respect of tawhîd (oneness) of Allâh, the One free from all defects. As for the laws, then they differed with respect to the commands and prohibitions.
1) As-Salaf - That which has past and preceded. Hence it is said Salafa shai Salafah to mean something which has passed; Salafa fulanan Salafan to mean someone has preceded; as-sâlif - a predecessor; as-salaf - a group of predecessors, and as-salaf - a people who have preceded us in conduct.
So when they angered Us, We punished them, and drowned them all, and made them a precedent - Salafan (as a lesson for those coming after them) and an example to later generations. [az-Zukhruf (43):55-56]
That is "when they angered Us, We punished them, drowning them all making them a precedent," predecessors for those who do action like theirs, so that the people coming after them can take heed and warn others by their example.
2) As-Salaf: Every good deed that one does. It is said: Qad salaf lahu amal sâlih meaning, verily he has good deeds that have preceded him.
3) As-Salaf: Those who precede you, from amongst your forefathers and relatives, who may be older than you or better than you in merit . The singular of this term is Sâlif.
Due to this the first generation (the Companions) were called as-Salaf as-Sâlih (the Pious Predecessors).
The Messenger of Allâh sallallâhu 'alayhi wa sallam and his Companions and those that follow them in Ihsân  are the Salaf of this Ummah. 
Everyone who calls to what the Messenger of Allâh sallallâhu 'alayhi wa sallam, his Companions and their successors called to, then he is upon the way of the Salaf as-Sâlih. It is obligatory upon all Muslims to follow the Noble Book (Qur'ân) and the pure Sunnah, by going back to the understanding the Pious Predecessors (Salaf as-Sâlih), may Allâh be pleased with them all. For verily they are the ones that deserve the most to be followed, as they were truthful in their faith, strong in their beliefs and sincere in their worship.
The leader (Imâm) of the Salaf as-Sâlih is Allâh's Messenger, Muhammad sallallâhu 'alayhi wa sallam, whom Allâh has ordered us, in His Book (the Qur'ân), to follow, in His saying:
And whatsoever the Messenger (Muhammad) gives you take it, and whatsoever he forbids you abstain from it. [al-Hashr (59):7]
The Prophet sallallâhu 'alayhi wa sallam is a beautiful example, and a righteous model to be followed, Allâh the Most High says:
Indeed in the Messenger of Allâh (Muhammad) you have a good example to follow, for him who hopes in meeting Allâh and the Last Day and remembers Allâh much. [al-Ahzâb (33):21]
The Prophet sallallâhu 'alayhi wa sallam is the one who speaks by revelation sent to him from the heavens:
Nor does he speak of his own desire. It is only an inspiration that is inspired. [an-Najm (53):3-4]
Allâh, the Most High, ordered that we judge by the Messenger sallallâhu 'alayhi wa sallam in all affairs in our life. Allâh, the One free of all defects, says:
But no by your Lord, they can have no faith, until they make you judge in all disputes between them, and find in themselves no resistance against your decision and accept them with full submission. [an-Nisâ' (4):65]
Allâh, the Most High, warned us about opposing the Prophet sallallâhu 'alayhi wa sallam saying:
So let those who oppose the Messenger's commandments (i.e. his Sunnah) beware lest some fitnah (disbelief, trials, afflictions, earthquakes, killing, overpowered by a tyrant, etc.) befall them or a painful torment be inflicted on them. [an-Nûr (24):63]
The reference point of the Salaf, whenever they have a disagreement, is the Book of Allâh, the Mighty and Majestic, and the Sunnah of the Messenger sallallâhu 'alayhi wa sallam.
Allâh, the Most High, says:
And if you differ in anything amongst yourselves refer it to Allâh and His Messenger, if you believe in Allâh and in the Last Day. That is better and more suitable for final determination. [an-Nisâ' (4):59]
The Messenger of Allâh sallallâhu 'alayhi wa sallam is the conveyer (of news) from his Lord and the one who explains His Book. Allâh the Most High says:
And We have sent down to you (Muhammad) the reminder and the advice (the Qur'ân) that you may explain clearly to men what is sent down to them. [an-Nahl (16):44]
The Messenger sallallâhu 'alayhi wa sallam said in a hadîth:
"Adhere to my Sunnah and the Sunnah of the rightly guided Khulafâ', bite on to it with your molar teeth and beware of newly invented matters, for verily every innovation (bid'ah) is a going astray." 
The best of the Salaf after the Messenger of Allâh sallallâhu 'alayhi wa sallam are the Companions, who took their Religion (Dîn) from the Messenger sallallâhu 'alayhi wa sallam with truthfulness and sincerity; just as Allâh has described them in His Book when He said:
Among the believers are men who have been true to their covenant with Allâh and showed not their backs to the disbelievers, of them some have fulfilled their obligations and some of them are still waiting, but they never changed (i.e. they never proved treacherous to their covenant which they concluded with Allâh) in the least. [al-Ahzâb (33):23]
They are the ones who did righteous deeds, which Allâh, the Most High, has mentioned in His Book, in His saying:
But righteousness is the quality of one who believes in Allâh, the Last Day, the Angels, the Book, the Prophets and gives his wealth, in spite of love for it, to the relative, to the orphans and to the poor who beg and to the wayfarer and to those who ask and to set slaves free, and offers the prayer perfectly (iqamat-as-Salat), and gives the zakat (obligatory charity) and who fulfill their covenant when they make it, and who are patient in extreme poverty and ailment (disease) and at the time of fighting (during battles); such are the people of the truth and they are the pious. [al-Baqarah (2):177]
This verse is the verse which professes the truth with which the Companions have been described with.
The Book of Allâh, the Most High, is their manual (dustûr) and their law then the Sunnah after  the Book of Allâh. The Sunnah is the most blessed of sources and the best of sciences, the most beneficial of all, in the Dîn and Dunyah (world), after the Book of Allâh, the One free of all defects. It is like the meadows and gardens, you will find in it all goodness and righteousness. After the Sunnah, their manual is that which the Salaf of this Ummah and it's A'immah have agreed upon.
The Salaf as-Sâlih are also: The Best Generation, about which the Messenger of Allâh sallallâhu 'alayhi wa sallam said in a hadîth:
"The best of the people are my generation, then those after them, then those after them ... " and he sallallâhu 'alayhi wa sallam said: " .. Then there will come a people giving witness when they are not asked to give witness. They will be dishonest and not be trusted. They will take vows but will not fulfill them. Fatness will appear amongst them." 
Thus the fundamentals of the Religion (Usûl ud-Dîn) which were adhered to by those that preceded from the leaders (a'immah) of the Dîn, the scholars of the Muslims and the Salaf as-Sâlih and what they called people to are:
That they believe in the Book and Sunnah;  the general and the detailed aspects of it. They attest to the oneness of Allâh the Mighty and Majestic, and attest to the Messengership of Muhammad sallallâhu 'alayhi wa sallam.
They know their Lord by the attributes (sifât) that His revelation has spoken of, or are attested to by the Messenger of Allâh sallallâhu 'alayhi wa sallam from that which is found in authentic ahadîth, narrated from him by just and reliable narrators.
They affirm for Allâh, the Most High, that which He affirmed for Himself in His Book, or upon the tongue of His Messenger sallallâhu 'alayhi wa sallam without making Tashbîh  (resembling) to His creation, without Tahrîf (changing), without Tabdîl and without Tamthîl. 
Allâh, the Most High, says:
There is nothing like unto Him, and He is the all Hearer, all Seer. [ash-Shûra (42):11]
Imâm az-Zuhrî  said: "Upon Allâh is the bayân (explaining), upon the Messenger is the balâgh (conveying) and upon us is taslîm (willingly accepting)." [This is reported by al-Bukhârî in mu'allaq form (13/503), by Ibn Abî Âsim in Kitâb al-Adâb and in Kitâb az-Zuhd (71) and by Abû Nu'aym in Hilyah (3/179)]
Imâm Sufyân ibn 'Uyaynah  said: "All that Allâh has described Himself with in His Book, then its tafsîr (explanation) is its reciting and keeping silent about it."
Imâm ash-Shâfi'î  said: "I believe in Allâh, and that which has come from Allâh, upon the intended meaning of Allâh. I believe in the Messenger of Allâh sallallâhu 'alayhi wa sallam and that which has come from the Messenger of Allâh upon the intended meaning of the Messenger of Allâh sallallâhu 'alayhi wa sallam."
The Salaf and leaders of the khalaf (those later generations after the Salaf) many Allâh be pleased with them, proceeded along this way. They are all agreed upon, affirming, asserting and confirming that which is found in the Book of Allâh, the Most High, and the Sunnah of His Messenger sallallâhu 'alayhi wa sallam, regarding Allâh's attribtutes without subjecting them to interpretation (ta'wîl).
Verily we have been ordered to follow their way and to be guided by their light. The Messenger of Allâh sallallâhu 'alayhi wa sallam has warned us of newly invented matters, and informed us that they are from misguidance. He said in a hadîth:
"Adhere to my Sunnah (way) and the the Sunnah of the rightly guided Khulafâ'. Bite on to it with your molar teeth, and beware of newly invented matters, for verily every bid'ah (innovation) is a going astray." Its reference (takhrîj) has preceded. (see footnote no. 6).
'Abdullâh bin Mas'ûd  radiallâhu 'anhumâ said: "Follow and do not innovate for verily you have been sufficed."
'Umar bin 'Abdul-'Azîz  said: "Do not go beyond where they stopped. For verily they stopped upon knowledge and with a perceiving view sufficed."
Imâm al-Awzâ'î  said: "Stick to the footsteps of the Salaf, even if people abandon you. Beware of the views of men, even if they beautify it for you with words."
From the 'aqîdah  (beliefs) of the Salaf as-Sâlih is their saying: Îmân is a saying of the tongue, an action by the limbs and a strong belief in the heart. Îmân increases with obedience to Allâh and decreases with disobedience to Allâh.
From the beliefs of the Salaf is that good and evil is by the Qadâ (decree) of Allâh the Most High and His Qadr (pre-estimation). However evil is not ordered by Allâh, as some of them say: "All of it is ordered by Allâh," since Allâh has ordered good and prohibited evil. He did not order us with abominable acts, indeed He prohibited us from them. The human is not forced, he chooses his acts and beliefs. He deserves punishment or reward, depending upon his choice and he is the chooser in (doing or leaving) the ordered and prohibited things.
Allâh, the Most High, says:
Then whosoever wills let him believe, and whosoever wills let him disbelieve. [al-Kahf (18):29]
From the beliefs of the Salaf is that they do not make takfîr  of anyone of the Muslim due to a sin, even if it is from the major sins. Except if he denies (rejects) a thing that is known in the religion by necessity and is known by the scholars as well as the generality of people, and is based firmly upon the Book and the Sunnah and Consensus (Ijmâ') of the Salaf of this Ummah and its leader.
From the beliefs of the Salaf as-Sâlih is that they worship Allâh, the Most High, and do not associate anything with Him. Thus they do not ask any one except Allâh, the Most High, of a need no one else can satisfy. They do not seek help (in which no one can help) from anyone except Allâh, the One free of all defects. They do not call upon anyone for aid (for an immediate need that no one can fulfil) except upon Allâh. They do not make tawassul (seeking nearness) to Allâh except by obeying Him, worshipping Him and doing good / righteous deeds.
This being taken from His saying:
O you who believe! Do your duty to Allâh and fear Him, seek the means of approach to Him. [al-Mâ'idah (5):35]
That is, draw close to Allâh by obedience to Him and by worship of Him.
From the beliefs of the Salaf as-Sâlih is that Prayer (Salât) behind all righteous people and sinners is permissible if the external nature of the prayer is correct. 
We do not certify with certainty for anyone, whoever he may be, of being in Paradise or in Hell; except whoever the Messenger of Allâh sallallâhu 'alayhi wa sallam testified for. However we hope Paradise for the righteous and fear Hell for the sinful.
We testify for the ten people given the glad tidings of Jannah (Paradise), that they will be in Jannah (Paradise); just as the Prophet sallallâhu 'alayhi wa sallam testified this for them. We testify, as being in Jannah, for everyone that the Prophet sallallâhu 'alayhi wa sallam testifies this for them. This is because the Prophet does not speak of his own desire. Indeed it is nothing but revelation revealed to him.
We take the Companions of Allâh's Messenger sallallâhu 'alayhi wa sallam as awliyâ (friends). We refrain from showing their defects  and that which happened between them. Their affair is with their Lord. We do not abuse anyone of the Companions. This is taken from the Prophet's sallallâhu 'alayhi wa sallam saying:
"Let none of you abuse (slander) my Companions. For by Him in whose Hand is my life, if one of you spent (in the way of Allâh) the equivalent of mount Uhud in gold it would not reach a handful nor half a handful of what they spent" 
Companions are not infallible from error. Infallibility is for Allâh,
the Most High, and for His Messenger sallallâhu 'alayhi wa
sallam in conveying the message. Allâh, the Most High, has
protected the collective Ummah from mistakes (and not
individuals) as the Prophet sallallâhu 'alayhi wa sallam said:
"Indeed Allâh will never unite this Ummah upon misguidance and the Hand of Allâh is upon the Jamâ'ah." 
We are pleased with the wives of the Messenger of Allâh sallallâhu 'alayhi wa sallam, they are the mothers of the believers and we believe that they are pure and innocent from all evil.
From the beliefs of the Pious Predecessors is that they do not make it obligatory upon any Muslim to restrict himself to a specific madhhab.  He can move from one madhhab to another, due to the strength of the evidence (in a particular point). The layman has no madhhab. Rather his madhhab is the madhhab of his mufti (scholar who gives religious verdicts).  If a student of knowledge (tâlibul-'ilm) has the ability to recognise the proofs and evidences of the Imâms, he should act by it, moving from a madhhab of an Imâm, in any issue, to the madhhab of another Imâm, due to the strength of the evidence, and the more correct understanding, in an issue. Thus he becomes a muttabi' (a follower) and not a mujtahid. [A mujtahid is one who is qualified to extract rulings from the Qur'ân and Sunnah, i.e. do Ijtihâd. (Translator)] For indeed Ijtihâd is the extracting of Islamic rulings from the Book and Sunnah, as the four Imâms and others Imâms of the fiqh (jurisprudence) and the muhaddithûn (scholars of hadîth) have done.
From the beliefs of the Salaf as-Sâlih is that the four Companions: Abû Bakr, 'Umar, 'Uthmân and 'Alî radiallâhu 'anhum are the rightly guided Khulafâ' and with them existed the Khilâfatun-Nabuwwah (Khilâfah upon the Prophetic Way) lasting for thirty years including the Khilâfah (ruling period) of Hasan radiallâhu 'anhu. This is taken from the saying of the Prophet sallallâhu 'alayhi wa sallam:
"The Khilâfah in my Ummah is for thirty years then after it is kingship." 
From the beliefs of the Salaf as-Sâlih is that it is obligatory to have îmân (faith) in all that the Qur'ân has come with, and what Allâh, the Most High, has ordered us with, and leaving all that Allâh, the Most High, has prohibited us from, the general and the detailed. We believe in all that the Prophet sallallâhu 'alayhi wa sallam has informed us of, when its transmission from him is authentic, in that which we witness or do not witness, regardless of whether we comprehend it, or are ignorant of it or we have not come across the reality of its meaning.
We carry out the orders of Allâh, the Most High, and the orders of his Messenger sallallâhu 'alayhi wa sallam. We refrain from what Allâh, the Most High, has prohibited us from and what the Messenger of Allâh sallallâhu 'alayhi wa sallam prohibited us from. We stop at the hudûd (boundaries) of the Book of Allâh, and the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allâh sallallâhu 'alayhi wa sallam and that which has come from the rightly guided Khulafâ. Our duty is to ittibâ' (following) of that which the Prophet sallallâhu 'alayhi wa sallam has come with: from beliefs, actions and sayings, to follow the way of Allâh's Messenger sallallâhu 'alayhi wa sallam, and the four rightly guided Khulafâ', in their beliefs, actions and sayings. This is the complete Sunnah, as the Sunnah of the rightly guided Khulafâ' is adhered to like the following of the Prophetic Sunnah.
'Umar ibn 'Abdul-'Azîz said:
"The Messenger of Allâh sallallâhu 'alayhi wa sallam and the leaders of the Muslims after him set examples (Sunnah), the taking of which is holding on to the Book of Allâh, the Most High, and strength upon the Dîn of Allâh. It is not for any one to change or alter it, nor to look at a matter in opposition to it. Whoever is guided by it then he is truly guide, and whoever seeks help by it then he is truly helped. Whoever leaves it and follows a way other than the way of the believers, Allâh will turn him to what he has chosen and burn him in hell what an evil abode!"
This is confirmed by the saying of Allâh's Messenger sallallâhu 'alayhi wa sallam:
" ... and beware of newly invented matters, for verily every bid'ah is a going astray."
This hadîth is a great principle from the principles of the Dîn and it resembles another saying of the Prophet sallallâhu 'alayhi wa sallam:
"Whoever invents into this Dîn of ours that which is not from it, then it is rejected." 
In it is a warning from following newly invented matters in the Dîn and worship. The meaning of bid'ah is that which has been invented and has no root in the Sharî'ah pointing to it. As for what has a root in the Sharî'ah pointing to it then it is not legally (technically) a bid'ah; even though linguistically the term bid'ah is may be applied to it. Thus whenever something new is introduced into the Dîn, having no root (in the Dîn) to return it to, then it is misguidance - deviation. The Dîn is free of it, regardless of whether it is connected to issues of belief, actions or sayings.
As for the istihsân (approval and condoning) of bid'ah, which occurred in the words of the Salaf, then that is in relation to bid'ah al-logawî (linguistic use of bid'ah) and not in the legal (technical) use of the term bid'ah. From these sayings is the saying of 'Umar bin al-Khattab, when he gathered the people in Qiyâm-ur-Ramadân - Tarâwîh prayers - behind one Imâm in the masjid. He went out and say them praying and said: "What a wonderful bid'ah."
This has a root in the Sharî'ah. Verily the Messenger of Allâh sallallâhu 'alayhi wa sallam prayed it (this prayer) in congregation in the masjid and then left it, fearing that it might become obligatory upon his Ummah and that they would be unable to perform it. Indeed they became free of this fear after the death of the Prophet sallallâhu 'alayhi wa sallam. So 'Umar radiallâhu 'anhu revived it. As for that which is a matter confirmed, in worship, then it is not permissible to make additions to it.
So, for example the adhân, remains the form in which it was legislated, without addition or subtraction. The Prayer remains upon the manner it was legislated as the Messenger of Allâh sallallâhu 'alayhi wa sallam said:
"Pray as you have seen me praying."
This is an authentic hadîth, reported by al-Bukhârî in his Sahîh.
Hajj remains upon the manner in which it was legislated, because the Messenger of Allâh sallallâhu 'alayhi wa sallam said:
"Take from me your rites (of Hajj)." [Reported by Muslim (no.1297) in the Book of Hajj]
Indeed the Muslims have done things that were not present in the time of the Messenger of Allâh sallallâhu 'alayhi wa sallam, due to them being darûrah (necessities) in preserving Islâm. Indeed they have permitted it and kept quiet about it. Like the gathering of the people to one mushaf (that which the Qur'ân is written upon), by 'Uthmân ibn 'Affan radiallâhu 'anhu, fearing the splitting of the Ummah. Indeed it was approved of by the Companions radiallâhu 'anhum and that was for a maslaha (benefit).
The example of writing down Prophetic traditions (hadîth) fearing its loss due to the death of its people. The writing of Tafsîr of the Qur'ân and the Hadîth. The compilation of 'Ilm-an-Nahw (science of grammar) to safeguard the Arabic language, which is a means of understanding Islâm. The formation of 'Ilm-al-Mustalah (science of hadîth). Thus, there are permissible to safeguard the Islâmic Sharî'ah. Verily Allâh, the Most High, has taken the responsibility of safeguarding His Law - from His saying:
Indeed it is We who have sent down the Dhikr (Qur'ân) and surely We will guard it (from corruption). [al-Hijr (15):9]
The Messenger of Allâh sallallâhu 'alayhi wa sallam said:
"This ilm (Dîn) will be carried by the trustworthy ones of each generation. Negating from it the tahrîf (alterations) of the ones going beyond bounds, the false assumptions of the liars, and the ta'wîl (false interpretations) of the ignorant."
This hadîth is hasan due to all its chains and shawâhids (supporting narrations).
This is the belief ('aqîdah) - of the first group of this Ummah (i.e. the Companions) radiallâhu 'anhum and it is a pure belief like the purity of fresh drinking water, strong as the firmly fixed mountains, firm as the firmed of hand holds. It is a flawless 'Aqîdah, a straight way, upon the methodology of the Book ad the Sunnah and the sayings of the Salaf of this Ummah and its A'immah (leaders). It is the way which revived the hearts of the pioneers of this Ummah.
It is 'Aqîdah of the Salaf as-Sâlih, Firqatun-Nâjiyah (saved sect) Ahl-Sunnah wal-Jamâ'ah. It is the 'Aqîdah of the four Imâms  - the founders of the well known and followed madhhabs and of most of their followers. It is the 'Aqîdah of the generality of the fuqahâ, the muhaddithîn, the scholars that act on what they know, and those that traverse along their way, to this day and until the Day of the Judgement.
Indeed the ones that differed are the ones that altered their (the imâms') sayings, from amongst those of the later generations (muta'akhirîn) who ascribe to their madhhabs.
So our duty is to return, with a pure 'Aqîdah, to the fountain which the best of our Pious Predecessors drank from. To keep quiet about that which they kept quiet about, to perform our 'Ibâdah (worship) the way they performed their worship, to adhere to the Book and Sunnah, the ijmâ of the Salaf of this Ummah and its A'immah, and the correct qiyâs in new matters. Imâm an-Nawawî rahimahullâh, said in al-Adhkâr. [In p137 of my (Shaykh Abdul Qâdir's) checking of al-Adhkâr in the book of Janâza, chapter 'What one who is walking with the Janâza says.']
" ... and know that the selected, correct way is that which the Salaf as-Sâlih were upon, and that is the truth. Do not be fooled by the large number that oppose it. For indeed Abû 'Alî Fudayl bin 'Iyâd said (the meaning of which it): "Stick to the ways of guidance and you will not be harmed by the smallness of numbers that follow it. Beware of the ways of misguidance and do not be fooled by the multitude of the ones that will be destroyed."
This is the only way that will reform the rest of the Ummah. Imâm Mâlik bin Anas rahimahullâh, the scholar of Madînah spoke the truth when he said:
"The latter part of the Ummah will never be reformed except by that which reformed the former part."
Never will good disappear from this Ummah, because the Messenger of Allâh sallallâhu 'alayhi wa sallam said in a hadîth:
"There will not cease to be a group from my Ummah manifestly upon the Haqq (Truth). The ones that abandon them will not harm them, until the Order of Allâh comes and they are like that (upon the Truth)." 
The Prophet sallallâhu 'alayhi wa sallam further said:
"The example of my Ummah is like of rain. It is not known whether the initial part (of the rain) is good or the latter part."  This is an authentic hadîth.
Indeed the 'Aqîdah of the Salaf as-Sâlih has been stipulated by a great many of the scholars.  From them, Abû Ja'far at-Tahâwî,  and his 'Aqîdah has been explained by Ibn Abil-'Izz al-Hanafî  one of the students of Ibn Kathîr al-Dimishqî naming Sharh al-'Aqîdah at-Tahâwiyyah and, from them is Abul-Hasan al-Ash'arî,  in his book al-Ibânah 'an Usûl ad-Diyânah. This being the 'Aqîdah which he finally settled upon. He said: " ... our saying, which we state, the Dîn which we profess belief in, is adherence to the Book of Allâh, the Sunnah of our Prophet sallallâhu 'alayhi wa sallam and that which is related from the Companions radiallâhu 'anhum, the Tâbi'ûn and Imâms of hadîth, we cling on to this, and we say that which Abû 'Abdullâh Ahmad bin Hanbal used to say and distance ourselves from ones that opposed his sayings."
From those that wrote about the 'Aqîdah of the Salaf as-Sâlih is as-Sâbûnî  in his book Aqîdat-us-Salaf and Muwaffiq-ud-Dîn ibn Qudâmah al-Maqdasî al-Hanbalî  in his book Luma'tul 'Itiqâd al-Hâdi ilâ Sabîl ar-Rashâd, and other glorious scholars, may Allâh reward them with good.
We ask Allâh to guide us to the pure 'Aqîdah (beliefs) and to a pure and clean heart, we ask for virtuous and pleasing manners, and to give us life as Muslims and to take our life while being upon the Sharî'ah of our Prophet, Muhammad sallallâhu 'alayhi wa sallam.
O Allâh let us die as Muslims as make us meet the Sâlihîn (righteous) without being disgraced or tried. Forgive us, our parents, and the believers on the Day of Judgement. We ask Allâh for inspiration to the correctness of sayings and actions. Indeed He is all powerful over all things and the most worthy of answering calls, and our final du'â is, all praise belongs to Allâh, Lord of all the worlds.
* The text has been kept as that published by al-Hidaayah. However, aa has been changed to â, ee to î and oo to û in keeping with the style of this website. Some smaller footnotes have also been incorporated into the main text.
1. Tasfiyah wat Tarbiyah: Restoration of the Dîn to its original pure form as it was revealed to the Prophet sallallâhu 'alayhi wa sallam by removal and rejection of false beliefs, innovated practices and the fabricated and unauthentic ahadîth introduced into it (tasfiyah). Educating and cultivating the Muslims upon this pure Dîn so that their beliefs, worship and manners become those that were taught by the Prophet sallallâhu 'alayhi wa sallam and held and practised by the Companions (tarbiyah). (Publisher's note)
2. The linguistic definitions of the word Salaf are many; here the author has mentioned a few of them. (Translator)
3. This definition can be found in Lisân ul-Arab, by Ibn Mandhûr al-Afrîqî. (Translator)
4. Ihsân, in this usage has been explained to mean following in terms of beliefs, sayings and actions. Refer to Taysîr al-Karîm ar-Rahmân fî Tafsîr Kalâmul-Mannân, the book of Tafsîr by Shaykh 'Abdur-Rahmân bin Nâsir as-Sa'dî. (Translator)
5. The technical (Islamic) meaning of the word Salaf, as understood by the majority of the scholars of Ahl-Sunnah wal-Jamâ'ah, has been defined as being the Companions, the Successors (tâbi'ûn) and the Successors to the Successors (atbâ at-tâbi'ûn) that is the first three generations. This has been taken from the saying of the Prophet sallallâhu 'alayhi wa sallam : "The best of people are my generation then those who come after them, then those who come after them, then there will come a people in whom there will be no good." Reported by at-Tabarânî from Ibn Mas'ûd and declared authentic by al-Albânî in Sahîh al-Jâmi', and there are many other similar ahadîth to the above, all of which have lead to the definition of the word Salaf being restricted to the first three generations.
6. Reported by Ahmad bin Hanbal in Musnad (4/126, 127) Abû Dâwûd in his Sunan (4607) in the Book of Sunnah, chapter 'Adhering to the Sunnah', at-Tirmidhî in his Sunan (no.2678) in the Book of Knowledge, Chapter '16', Ibn Majah, in his Sunan (no.42) in the Muqaddimah (introduction) and others. From the hadîth of 'Irbâd bin Sâriyah radiallâhu 'anhu, and it is an authentic hadîth. Refer to the detailed explanation of the hadîth in Jâmi' al-Ulûm wal-Hikâm by Hâfidh ibn Rajab al-Hanbalî rahimahullâh, for verily he has done extremely well in explaining it and benefited others in doing so.
7. The majority of the scholars of Ahl-Sunnah say the Qur'ân and the Sunnah go hand in hand, not one before the other. One does not refer to the Sunnah only when nothing is found in the Qur'ân. Rather whenever one needs to look for a verdict one goes back to the Qur'ân and Sunnah, together. Shaykh al-Albânî, in Silsilat-ul-Ahâdîth ad-Da'îfah (vol 2 no.881), says: " ... rather it is obligatory to refer to the Book and Sunnah, together, without differentiating between them, since the Sunnah explains the general (mujmal) verses of the Qur'ân, restricts its unrestricted verses, specificies its general verses, as is known ... "
There are many sayings from the Salaf showing that this view was held by them. Imâm al-Awzâ'î and Imâm Yahya bin Kathîr and others have said: "The Qur'ân is in more need of the Sunnah than the Sunnah is of the Book. The Sunnah is Qâdiatun (conclusive) over the Book and the Book is not conclusive over the Sunnah." Reported by ad-Dârimî (1/117). Similar narrations from the Salaf concerning this topic can be found in the books of the Salaf like al-Ibânah of Ibn Battah. (Translator)
8. Reported by al-Bukhârî (5/190) in the book of Witness, chapter 'Do not be a witness to injustice is asked that,' and in the book of Merits of the Companions of the Prophet, chapter 'Merits of the Companions of the Prophet', and in the book of Softening the Hearts, chapter 'Warning regarding worldly pleasures, amusements and competing with each other for the enjoyment thereof' Muslim (no.2535) in the book of Merits of the Companions, chapter 'Merits of the Companions then those after them then those after them' at-Tirmidhî (no.2222) in the book of Trials, chapter 'That which has come regarding the first three generations' and (no.2303) in the book of Witness, chapter 'Best generations.' Abû Dâwûd (no.4657) in the book of Sunnah, chapter 'Merits of the Companions of the Messenger.' An-Nasâ'î (7/17,18) in the book of Covenants and Vows, chapter 'Fulfilling Vows' all from the hadîth of 'Imrân bin Hussain. Also reported by al-Bukhârî (5/191) in the book of Witness, chapter 'Do not be a witness to injustice if asked to do that', the book of Merits of the Companions of the Prophet, chapter 'Merits of the Companions of the Prophet,' and in the book of softening the heart, chapter 'Covenants and Vows'. Muslim (no.2533) in the book of Merits of the Companions of the Prophet. At-Tirmidhî (no.3858) in the book of virtues. All from the hadîth of 'Abdullâh ibn Mas'ûd radiallâhu 'anhu.
9. This includes all authentic hadîth, whether it be a narration with numerous chains (mutawâtir) or a hadîth with just one, two or three chains (ahâd). The beliefs are based upon both, refer to the book by Abul Qâsim al-Asbahânî al-Hujjah fî Bayân al-Mahajjah wa Sharh 'Aqîdatul Ahl-Sunnah, ar-Risalâh by Imâm ash-Shâfi'î and Mukhtasar Sawâ'iqul Mursalah by Ibn al-Qayyim. (Translator)
10. Tashbîh: Tamthîl (resembling, comparing) the Sifât (attributes) of Allâh to the sifât (attributes) of creation; "so it is not said that the Essence of Allâh is like our essence neither does it resemble our essence and likewise the Sifât of Allâh - we do not say that His attributes are like our attributes, not resemble our attributes. Rather it is wâjib (obligatory) for a believer to stick to the saying of Allâh: "There is nothing like unto Him ... " (ash-Shûra 42:11).
Tahrîf: Changing the 'terms' of the names and attributes of Allâh or changing their 'meanings'; like the saying of the Jahmiyyah (a deviant sect) that istawâ (being high above the throne) means istawlâ (seizing power over something). Thus Ahlus-Sunnah do not do this.
Tabdîl: see tahrîf.
Tamthîl: see tashbîh.
Refer to Tambihât al-Lâtifah 'alâ 'Aqîdatul-Wâsitiyyah by Shaykh Sa'dî rahimahullâh. (Translator)
11. Shaykh-ul-Islâm ibn Taymiyyah says in 'Aqîdatul-Wasitiyyah when talking about îmân (belief) in Allâh's Sifât (attributes): "Îmân (belief) in all what Allâh has described Himself by, in His Book and in what His Messenger Muhammad sallallâhu 'alayhi wa sallam has described Him by - without doing tahrîf, ta'tîl, takyîf or tamthîl."
This statement shows two other principles held by Ahl-Sunnah wal-Jamâ'ah regarding îmân in Allâh and His Sifât (attributes); that is they do not do ta'tîl, which is to deny or reject the Sifât of Allâh; and takyîf - which is to ask how and question their manner.
Refer to 'Aqîdatul-Wâsitiyyah by Ibn Taymiyyah, and Qatful-Thamr fî-Bayân 'Aqîdatul Ahlul-Athar by Siddîq Hasan Khan, Mukhtasar Sawâ'iqul-Mursalah by Ibn al-Qayyim and Fatâwa al-Hamawiyyah al-Kubrah by Ibn Taymiyyah. (Translator)
12. Muhammad bin Muslim ibn 'Ubaidallah bin 'Abdullâh bin Shihâb bin Zahrah, Abû Bakr. A faqîh (jurist) and hâfidh. His high status of proficiency is agreed upon. He is a successor, from Madînah and one of the great Imâm, a scholar of Hijâz and Shâm. He died in 125H.
13. Sufyân bin 'Uyaynah, Hâfidh Abû Muhammad al-Hilâlî al-Kûfî. He was an imâm, a hâfidh, a proof (hujja), having immense knowledge, and of great ability. A muhaddith (scholar of hadîth) of the Haram of Makkah. Imâm ash-Shâfi'î said about him: "Were it not for Mâlik and Sufyân the knowledge would have disappeared from the Hijâz." He died whilst in Makkah in the year 198 hijrî.
14. Muhammad bin Idrîs bin al-'Abbâs bin Uthmân bin Shoafa ash-Shâfi'î al-Muttalibi; Abû 'Abdullâh. He was a mujaddid (reviver) of the Dîn at the beginning of 200 Hijrî, a well known imâm. He died in Egypt in the year 204 Hijrî.
15. 'Abdullâh bin Mas'odd ibn Ghâfil ibn Habîb al-Huthalî, Abû 'Abdur-Rahmân. From the first generation of Muslims and from the major Companions in merit and intellect. He migrated to Habasha (Ethiopia) and then to Madînah. He witnessed the battle of Badr, Uhud, Khandaq, the pledge of Ridwân and the remaining incidents with the Prophet sallallâhu 'alayhi wa sallam; he was from the fuqahâ (jurists) of the Companions - may Allâh be pleased with them - he died in Madînah in 32 hijrî.
16. Abû Hafs, 'Umar bin 'Abdul-'Azîz bin Marwân bin Hakam al-Amawî al-Qurashî. A righteous Khalîfah. Born and raised in Madînatul-Munawwarah. He took the position of Khalîfah in the year 99 Hijrî and died in the land of Shâm, in the year 101 Hijrî.
17. 'Abdur-Rahmân bin 'Amr bin Yuhmid al-Awzâ'î. A famous Imâm of Syria. He used to live in Damascus, outside Bab al-Frâdîs and then moved to Beirut and lived there, posted in the way of Allâh, until he died in the year 157 Hijrî.
18. The word 'aqîdah signifies the thing that one believes in (has îmân in), hence the two words ('aqîdah and îmân) are sometimes synonymous. The word 'aqîdah being taken from the Arabic root of 'aqada - to tie - to fasten. Thus 'aqîdah is those things that the heart is tied to or fastened to, worshipping Allâh by it and, getting closer to Allâh. Refer to classical Arabic dictionaries like Lisân ul-Arab by Ibn Mandhûr al-Afrîqî. (Translator)
19. Takfîr is the action of declaring a Muslim to have left Islâm. This is left for the people of knowledge ('ulamâ) to do and it must be done following strict guidelines. Refer to the book al-'Uzar bil-Jahal wa rad'alâ bid'atut Takfîr (The Excuse of Ignorance and the Refutation of the Innovation of Takfîr) by Ahmad Farîd. (Translator)
20. What is implied by the statement if the external nature of the prayer is correct is that all the pillars and obligatory actions of the prayer are enacted by the one leading the prayer. For example that he faces the Qiblah etc. (Translator)
21. The proof for this is abundant, found in the books of 'aqîdah and hadîth, like the saying of the Prophet sallallâhu 'alayhi wa sallam, "When my companions are mentioned then refrain." Reported in Hilyatul-Awliyâ (41108), at-Tabarânî in al-Kabîr (2/78/2) from the hadîth of Ibn Mas'ûd radiallâhu 'anhu. Also in Kitâb Sharh-us-Sunnah by Imâm al-Barbahârî, point 104, " ... and if you see a man criticising the Companions of the Prophet sallallâhu 'alayhi wa sallam then know that he is a person of wicked speech and desires, since Allâh's Messenger sallallâhu 'alayhi wa sallamsaid: "When my Companions ore mentioned then refrain." Since the Prophet sallallâhu 'alayhi wa sallamknew any slips they would make after his death yet still he did not speak about them except good and said: "Leave my Companions for me. For by Him in whose Hand is my soul, if you were to spend the like of Uhud or of the mountoins in gold, you would not reach their actions." Do not discuss about their slips or their wars, nor of that which the knowledge of which escapes you, and do not hear from anyone who speaks it, since your heart will not remain safe and sound if you hear it." Thus Ahl-Sunnah wal-Jamâ'ah do not talk about such things, knowing that Allâh has forgiven them (the Companions) their errors. (Translator)
22. Reported by al-Bukhârî (7/27,28) in the book of Merits of the Prophet's Companions, chapter 'If I was to take a Khalîl', Muslim (2541) in the book of Virtues of the Companions, chapter 'Prohibition of abusing the Companions'. Abû Dâwûd (4658) in the book of Sunnah chapter 'Prohibition of abusing the Companions', at-Tirmidhî (3860) in the book of Virtues. All from the hadîth of Abû Sa'îd al-Khudrî radiallâhu 'anhu. Also reported by Muslim (2540) in the book of Virtues of the Companions in the chapter 'Prohibition of abusing the Companions' from the hadîth of Abû Hurairah radiallâhu 'anhu.
23. Reported by at-Tirmidhî from the hadîth of Ibn 'Umar (No. 2168) in the book of Fitan, chapter 'That which has come in adhering to the Jamâ'ah'. Its chain has a weakness, however it has a shâhid (supporting narration) with at-Tirmidhî from the hadîth of Ibn 'Abbâs (no. 2167) and another supporting narration with Ibn Abî 'Âsim in as-Sunnah (no. 81) from the hadîth of Usâmah bin Shârik. Thus the hadîth is an authentic hadîth.
24. Madhhab is a school of thought or a position held by a scholar.
25. Refer to the book Risâlatul-Taqlîd by Ibn al-Qayyim for it is very important. The layman follows the scholars, as Allâh has ordered him to do in the verse:
Ask the people of knowledge if you do not know. [an-Nahl (16):43]
The layman by following the scholars is indeed following the Qur'ân and Sunnah and not doing taqlîd (blind following) rather this is called ittibâ' for him. However he does not follow the scholars in their mistakes, when it is made clear to him that it is a mistake. This is what is required of the layman, as Ibn al-Qayyim points out in his book. The one who has the ability to weigh up evidences, ie. a student of knowledge, he can look into the proofs and follow the strongest proof, but the one who does not have the ability, ie. a layman, then he follows the scholars, as Allâh has ordered him to do. (Translator)
Refer also to Blind Following of Madhhabs, by Shaykh Muhammad Sultân al-Ma'sûmî (Al-Hidâyah, 1993). [Publisher's note]
26. Reported by Ahmad in Musnad (5/220, 221), at-Tirmidhî (no.2227) in the book of Fitan, chapter 'That which has come regarding the Khilâfah', Abû Dâwûd (no. 4646 and 4647) in the book of as-Sunnah, chapter 'Khulafâ'. Ibn Hibbân (no. 1534 1535 - in Mawarid) in the book of 'Imârah, chapter of 'Khilâfah', al-Hâkim in al-Mustadrak (3/71, 145) from the hadîth of Safînah. It is an authentic hadîth and the thirty year period was the period of the rightly guided Khulafâ up to when Hasan abdicated from his Khilâfah.
27. Reported by al-Bukhârî in ta'lîq form (without mentioning the chain) (4/298) and in the full form (5/221), Muslim (no.1718), Abû Dâwûd in the book of Sunnah (no.4606), Ibn Majah (no.14).
28. Nu'mân bin Thâbit (Abû Hanîfah) - One of the Imâms of the Islâm and leading personalities. Born 80 Hijrî during the era of the young Companions, he saw Anas bin Mâlik radiallâhu 'anhu (at a young age). His main students are Abû Yûsuf and Muhammad al-Hasan ash-Shaybânî. The Hanafî madhhab is ascribed to him but more that a third of the madhhab is from other later scholars. He died 150 hijrî.
Mâlik bin Anas, Imâm of Dâr-ul-Hijrah (Madînah). Born 93 Hijrî, the year Anas bin Mâlik died. An Imâm of the Muslims and a leading scholar of Islâm. The Mâlikî madhhab is ascribed to him.
Muhammad bin Idrîs ash-Shâfi'î - see footnote (14).
Ahmad bin Hanbal, known as the Imâm of Ahl-Sunnah wal-Jamâ'ah. Born in Baghdad 164 hijrî. He was from the few who at his time preserved the way of the Companions, fighting away the innovations of the deviant sects and upholding the way of the Salaf. From amongst his students were Abû Dâwûd, 'Alî bin al-Madanî, Abû Zu'arah and Abû Hâtim and many more famous scholars of Ahl-Sunnah wal-Jamâ'ah. He died 241 hijrî.
May Allâh have mercy upon them, they are known as the four well followed Imâms. (Translator)
29. Reported by Muslim in his Sahîh (no.1920) in the book of 'Imârah, chapter 'The saying of the Prophet: There will not cease to be a group ... ' Abû Dâwûd (no.4252) in the book of Fitan, chapter 'Mention of the fitnah and its signs', at-Tirmidhî (no.2177) and (2230) in the book of Fitan. All from the hadîth of Thawbân radiallâhu 'anhu. The hadîth has various narrations from the hadîth of Mughîrah bin Shu'bah, Sa'd bin Abî Waqqâs, Mu'âwiyyah bin Abî Sufyân, 'Imrân bin Hussain and others radiallâhu 'anhum.
30. Reported by Ahmad in Musnad (3/130), at-Tirmidhî (no.2873). Also reported in Ahmad (4/319).
31. Here it is fitting to mention some of the early books, in which the early scholars have stipulated this pure 'aqîdah:
Kitâbul-Îmân by Abî 'Ubaydah Qâsim bin Sallâm (d.224).
Rad 'alâ Zanâdiqa wal-Jahmiyyah by Imâm Ahmad.
Rad 'alâ Jahmiyyah by Imâm al-Bukhârî.
Khalq Af'âl al-'Ibâd by Imâm al-Bukhârî.
Al-Îmân by Ibn Mandah (d.390).
As-Sunnah and Usûl as-Sunnah by Imâm Ahmad.
As-Sunnah by Abû Bakr bin Athrâm (d.272).
Kitâb us-Sunnah by 'Abdullâh Ibn Ahmad (d.290).
As-Sunnah by Nasr al-Marwazî (d.294).
As-Sunnah by al-Khallâl (a student of Imâm Ahmad) (d.311).
Kitâb Sharh us-Sunnah by Imâm al-Barbahârî (d.329).
Kitâb ut-Tawhîd by Imâm of the A'immah Ibn Khuzaimah (d.311).
Al-Ibânah al-Kubra and al-Ibânah as-Sughra by Ibn Battah (d.387).
Sharh Usûl al-'Ittiqâd Ahl-Sunnah wal-Jamâ'ah by Imâm al-Lâlakâ'î (d.418), which is in 9 parts, but printed in 5 volumes, containing the beliefs of the Salaf and many small treatises traced back by isnâd to the Salaf, it is a masterpiece and an essential reference book for all students of knowledge. [Translator]
32. Ahmad bin Muhammad bin Salâmah al-Azdî at-Tahâwî. Died in the year 320 hijrî in Egypt and is buried in Qarafa.
33. Abul-Hasan Sadruddîn 'Alî bin 'Alâ-uddîn Ibn Abil-'Izz al-Hanafî. He died in the year 792 hijrî.
34. 'Alî bin Ismâ'îl bin Ishâq from the descendants of Abû Mûsa al-Ash'arî radiallâhu 'anhu. Died in the year 323 hijrî.
35. Abû 'Uthmân bin 'Abdur-Rahmân as-Sâbûnî, Imâm, Muhaddith, Shaykh-ul-Islâm. He died in the year 449 hijrî.
36. Muwaffiq-ud-Dîn Abû Muhammad 'Abdullâh bin Ahmad ibn Qudâmah al-Maqdasî al-Hanbalî. Shaykh-ul-Islâm, a major faqîh, he died in the year 720 hijrî.