The virtues of Ramadaan

Q) What is RAMADAN ?.

A) Praise be to Allaah.

Ramadaan is one of the twelve Arabic months. It is a month which is venerated in the Islamic religion, and it is distinguished from the other months by a number of characteristics and virtues, including the following:

1 – Allaah has made fasting this month the fourth pillar of Islam, as He says (interpretation of the meaning):

“The month of Ramadan in which was revealed the Qur’aan, a guidance for mankind and clear proofs for the guidance and the criterion (between right and wrong). So whoever of you sights (the crescent on the first night of) the month (of Ramadan i.e. is present at his home), he must observe Sawm (fasts) that month…”

[al-Baqarah 2:185]

and it was narrated in al-Saheehayn (al-Bukhaari, 8; Muslim, 16) from the hadeeth of Ibn ‘Umar that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Islam is built on five (pillars): the testimony that there is no god except Allaah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allaah; establishing prayer; paying zakaah; fasting Ramadaan; and Hajj to the House (the Ka’bah).”

2 – Allaah revealed the Qur’aan in this month, as He says in the verse quoted above (interpretation of the meaning):

“The month of Ramadan in which was revealed the Qur’aan, a guidance for mankind and clear proofs for the guidance and the criterion (between right and wrong)…”

[al-Baqarah 2:185]

And Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

“Verily, We have sent it (this Qur’aan) down in the Night of Al-Qadr (Decree).”

[al-Qadr 97:1]

3 – Allaah has made Laylat al-Qadr in this month, which is better than a thousand months, as Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

“Verily, We have sent it (this Qur’aan) down in the Night of Al-Qadr (Decree).

And what will make you know what the Night of Al-Qadr (Decree) is?

The Night of Al-Qadr (Decree) is better than a thousand months (i.e. worshipping Allaah in that night is better than worshipping Him a thousand months, i.e. 83 years and 4 months).

Therein descend the angels and the Rooh [Jibreel (Gabriel)] by Allaah’s Permission with all Decrees,

(All that night), there is peace (and goodness from Allaah to His believing slaves) until the appearance of dawn”

[al-Qadar 97:1-5]

“We sent it (this Qur’aan) down on a blessed night [(i.e. the Night of Al-Qadr) in the month of Ramadan — the 9th month of the Islamic calendar]. Verily, We are ever warning [mankind that Our Torment will reach those who disbelieve in Our Oneness of Lordship and in Our Oneness of worship]”

[al-Dukhaan 44:3]

Allaah has blessed Ramadaan with Laylat al-Qadr. Explaining the great status of this blessed night, Soorat al-Qadr was revealed, and there are many ahaadeeth which also speak of that, such as the hadeeth of Abu Hurayrah (may Allaah be pleased with him) who said: The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “There has come to you Ramadaan, a blessed month which Allaah has enjoined you to fast, during which the gates of heaven are opened and the gates of Hell are closed, and the rebellious devils are chained up. In it there is a night which is better than a thousand months, and whoever is deprived of its goodness is indeed deprived.”

Narrated by al-Nasaa’i, 2106; Ahmad, 8769. classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Targheeb, 999.

And Abu Hurayrah (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whoever spends Laylat al-Qadr in prayer out of faith and in the hope of reward, will be forgiven his previous sins.” Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 1910; Muslim, 760.

4 – Allaah has made fasting Ramadaan and spending its nights in prayer out of faith and in the hope of reward a means of forgiveness of sins, as was proven in al-Saheehayn (al-Bukhaari, 2014; Muslim, 760) from the hadeeth of Abu Hurayrah according to which the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whoever fasts Ramadaan out of faith and in the hope of reward, his previous sins will be forgiven.” And al-Bukhaari (2008) and Muslim (174) also narrated from Abu Hurayrah that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whoever spends the nights of Ramadaan in prayer out of faith and in the hope of reward, his previous sins will be forgiven.”

The Muslims are unanimously agreed that it is Sunnah to pray qiyaam at night in Ramadaan. Al-Nawawi said that what is meant by praying qiyaam in Ramadaan is to pray Taraweeh, i.e., one achieves what is meant by qiyaam by praying Taraaweeh.

5 – In this month, Allaah opens the gates of Paradise and closes the gates of Hell, and chains up the devils, as is stated in al-Saheehayn (al-Bukhaari, 1898; Muslim, 1079),

6 – Every night Allaah has people whom He redeems from the Fire. Imam Ahmad (5/256) narrated from the hadeeth of Abu Umaamah that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “At every breaking of the fast, Allaah has people whom He redeems.” Al-Mundhiri said: there is nothing wrong with its isnaad; and it was classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Targheeb, 987.

Al-Bazzaar (Kashf 962) narrated that Abu Sa’eed said: The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Allaah has people whom He redeems every day and night – i.e., in Ramadaan – and every Muslim every day and night has a prayer that is answered.”

7 – Fasting Ramadaan is a means of expiation for the sins committed since the previous Ramadaan, so long as one avoids major sins. It was proven in Saheeh Muslim (233) that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “The five daily prayers, from one Jumu’ah to the next and from one Ramadaan to the next are expiation for (sins committed) in between, so long as you avoid major sins.”

8 – Fasting in Ramadaan is equivalent to fasting ten months, as is indicated by the hadeeth in Saheeh Muslim (1164) narrated from Abu Ayyoob al-Ansaari: “Whoever fasts Ramadaan then follows it with six days of Shawwaal, it will be like fasting for a lifetime.” Ahmad (21906) narrated that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whoever fasts Ramadaan, a month is like ten months, and fasting six days after al-Fitr will complete the year.”

9 – Whoever prays qiyaam in Ramadaan with the imam until he finishes, it will be recorded for him that he spent the whole night in prayer, because of the report narrated by Abu Dawood (1370) and others from the hadeeth of Abu Dharr (may Allaah be pleased with him) that the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whoever prays qiyaam with the imam until he finishes, it will be recorded for him that he spent the whole night in prayer.” Classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Salaat al-Taraaweeh, p. 15

10 – ‘Umrah in Ramadaan is equivalent to Hajj. Al-Bukhaari (1782) and Muslim (1256) narrated that Ibn ‘Abbaas said: The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said to a woman among the Ansaar, “What kept you from doing Hajj with us?” She said, “We only had two camels that we used for bringing water.” So her husband and son had gone for Hajj on one camel, and he left the other for them to use for bringing water.” He said, “When Ramadaan comes, go for ‘Umrah, for ‘Umrah in Ramadaan is equivalent to Hajj.” According to a report narrated by Muslim, “… is equivalent to doing Hajj with me.”

11 – It is Sunnah to observe i’tikaaf (retreat for the purpose of worship) in Ramadaan, because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) always did that, as it was narrated in the hadeeth of ‘Aa’ishah (may Allaah be pleased with her) that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) used to spend the last ten days of Ramadaan in i’tikaaf until he passed away, then his wives observed i’tikaaf after him.” Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 1922; Muslim, 1172.

12 – It is mustahabb in the sense of being strongly recommended in Ramadaan to study the Qur’aan together and to read it a great deal. You may study the Qur’aan together by reciting it to someone else and by having someone else recite it to you. The evidence that this is mustahabb is the fact that Jibreel used to meet the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) every night in Ramadaan and study the Qur’aan with him. Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 6; Muslim, 2308.

Reading Qur’aaan is mustahabb in general, but more so in Ramadaan.

13 – It is mustahabb in Ramadaan to offer iftaar to those who are fasting, because of the hadeeth of Zayd ibn Khaalid al-Juhani (may Allaah be pleased with him) who said: The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whoever gives iftaar to one who is fasting will have a reward like his, without that detracting from the fasting person’s reward in the slightest.” Narrated by al-Tirmidhi, 807; Ibn Maajah, 1746; classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Tirmidhi, 647.

And Allaah knows best.

Islam Q&A

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The Issue of ‘Raf al-yadayn’ (Raising the hands during prayer)

The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) used to raise his hands for takbeerat al-ihram (the takbeer at the beginning of the prayer), sometimes whilst saying the takbeer, sometimes after it and sometimes before. (al-Bukhari and al-Nisaa’i)
When he had finished reciting Qur’an, he would pause for a moment then raise his hands, say takbeer and do rukoo’. (Sifat Salaat al-Nabi (صلى الله عليه وسلم), p. 128).

He used to raise his hands when he stood up from rukoo’ (reported by al-Bukhari and Muslim), and this raising of the hands is mutawaatir (reported by so many to so many that it is inconceivable that they could all have agreed on a lie). It is the opinion of the majority of scholars and of some of the Hanafis. (Sifat Salaat al-Nabi (صلى الله عليه وسلم) by al-Albani, p. 136).

Narrated by al-Bukhari (no.735) and Muslim (no.390) from ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him), who said that the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه وسلم) used to raise his hands to shoulder level when he started to pray, when he said “Allahu akbar” before bowing in rukoo’, and when he raised his head from rukoo’.

What The Scholars Have Said:

The majority of scholars followed this hadeeth and said that it is mustahabb for the worshipper to raise his hands at the points mentioned in the hadeeth.

Imaam al-Bukhari (may Allah have mercy on him) wrote a separate book on this issue which he called Juz’ fi Raf’ al-Yadayn (Section on Raising the Hands), in which he proved that the hands should be raised at these two points on the prayer, and he strongly denounced those who go against that. He narrated that al-Hasan said: “The Companions of the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه وسلم) used to raise their hands during prayer when they bowed and when they stood up (from bowing).” Al-Bukhari said, “Al-Hasan did not exclude any of the Sahaba from that, and it was not proven that any one among the Sahaba did not raise his hands.”

Imaam al-Bukhari said: “Al-Hasan and Humayd ibn Hilaal said: ‘The Companions of the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه وسلم) all used to raise their hands, without exception.” (Juz’ raf’ al-yadayn, p. 26, ma’a jila’ al-‘aynayn).

Ibn al-Qayyim said: “Look at the practice at the time of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم), and the Sahaba after him. They used to raise their hands in prayer when doing rukoo’, and when standing up again. And in the time of the Sahaba, if ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar saw someone not raising his hands in prayer, he would throw a stone at him. [next phrase is unclear]. (I’laam al-Muwaqqi’een, 2/376).

Az-Zayla’I (who was a Hanafi Scholar) said: in Nasb ar-Rayah, quoting from Juz’ Raf‘i-l-Yadayn of al-Bukhari, “ibn al-Mubarak used to raise his hands and he is the most knowledgeable of the people of his time as far as is known.
Ibn al-Mubarak said, ‘I prayed beside Nu‘man (Abu Haneefah’s real name) and I raised my hands so he said to me, “I fear that you are trying to fly.” I replied to him saying, “if I did not try to fly at the first [raising] then I was not trying to fly at the second.” ’ al-Waki said, ‘may Allah have mercy upon ibn al-Mubarak, he used to have his answers ready.’ ”

Abu Eesa [at-Tirmidhi] said; al-Fadl bin as-Sabbah al-Baghdadi narrated to us; Sufyan bin Uyaynah narrated to us; az-Zuhrî narrated to us; the likes of the hadeeth of ibn ‘Umar (Bukhari no.735) with this isnad

Abu Eesa said: the hadeeth of ibn Umar (Sahih Bukhari #735 #736 #737 #738 #739 ) is hasan sahih and some of the People of Knowledge from the Companions of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) held this view [stated in the hadîth].
From amongst them were: ibn ‘Umar, Jabir bin ‘Abdullah, Abu Hurayrah, Anas, ibn ‘Abbas, ‘Abdullah bin Zubair and others.
From amongst the Tabi‘een were: Hasan al-Basri, Ata, Tawus, Mujahid, Nafi‘, Salim bin ‘Abdullah, Sa‘id bin Jubair and others
And of this opinion were Maalik, Ma‘mar, Awzaa’i, Sufyan ibn ‘Uyaynah, Abdullah Ibn Mubarak, ash-Shafi’ee, Ahmad and Is’haq

Ibn Hibban said :in as-Salah, ‘this is the best narration that the people of Kufah narrate with regards to negating raising the hands in prayer at the ruku’ and at rising from it. In reality it is the weakest of things to depend on because it has defects that invalidate it’

Ibn Taymiyyah Said: “If a man is following Abu Haneefah or Maalik or al-Shafi’ee or Ahmad (Ibn Hanbal), and he sees that the view of another madhhab concerning a given matter is stronger, and he follows that, then he has done well, and that does not detract from his religious commitment or good character. There is no scholarly dispute on this point. Rather this is more in accordance with the truth and is more beloved by Allah and His Messenger.”
(Said by Shaykh al-Islam – may Allah have mercy on him – in al-Fataawa, 22/247).

Concearning The Hanafis of The Indian Sub Continent

(note: There is a story which is widespread among the Hanafis in the Indian sub-continent that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) only raised his hand because the people praying behind him (صلى الله عليه وسلم) were munafiqs who had idols under their arms, as strange as it sounds majority of the Hanafi’s of India, Pakistan & Bangladesh still believe this story, obviously this story is fabricated and we have  debated with Deobandi Maulana’s who admitted they don’t have any evidence as to where this story came from)

We do not know whether the ahaadeeth about raising the hands reached Abu Haneefah (may Allah have mercy on him) or not, but they did reach his followers. But they did not follow them because they had other ahaadeeth and reports which said that the hands should not be raised except when saying “Allahu akbar” at the beginning of the prayer.
These ahaadeeth include the following:

1) The hadeeth narrated by Abu Dawood (749) from al-Baraa’ ibn ‘Aazib, which says that the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه وسلم) used to raise his hands almost to his ears when he started to pray, then he did not repeat (this action).
2) The hadeeth narrated by Abu Dawood (748) from ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ud (may Allah be pleased with him) who said: “Shall I not lead you in prayer as the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه وسلم) did?” Then he prayed and he only raised his hands once.
See Nasb al-Raayah by al-Zayla’i, 1/393-407.

But these ahaadeeth were classed as da’eef (weak) by overwhelming majority of the Imams of hadeeth.

The hadeeth of al-Baraa’ (Abu Dawud no.749) was classed as da’eef by Sufyaan ibn ‘Uyaynah, al-Shaafi’ee, al-Humaydi the shaykh of al-Bukhari, Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Yahya ibn Ma’een, al-Daarimi, al-Bukhari, and others.

The hadeeth of Ibn Mas’ud (Abu Dawud no.748) was classed as da’eef by ‘Abdullah ibn al-Mubarak, Ahmad ibn Hanbal,  Yahya bin A’dham, Abu Dawood, al-Bukhari, al-Bayhaqi, Ibn Hibban, al-Daaraqutni and others.

Similarly, the reports which were narrated from some of the Sahaba about not raising the hands are all da’eef.

Abdullah ibn al-Mubarak said: “the hadeeth of the one who raises his hands is established,” and he mentioned the hadeeth of Salim (Ibn Abdullah) from his father (Ibn Umar), “and the hadeeth of ibn Mas’ud is not established

We have quoted above the words of al-Bukhari (may Allah have mercy on him): “…it was not proven that any one among the Sahaba did not raise his hands.”
See Talkhees al-Habeer by al-Haafiz ibn Hajar, 1/221-223.

Once it is proven that these ahaadeeth and reports which say that the hands should not be raised are weak, then the ahaadeeth which say that the hands should be raised remain strong with no opposing reports.

Hence the believer should not fail to raise his hands at the points in prayer described in the Sunnah. He should strive to make his prayer like the prayer of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم)
who said, “Pray as you have seen me praying.” (Narrated by al-Bukhari, 631).

Hence ‘Ali ibn al-Madeeni, the Shaykh of al-Bukhari, said: “It is the duty of the Muslims to raise their hands when they bow in rukoo’ and when they stand up from rukoo’.” Al-Bukhari said: “ ‘Ali was the most knowledgeable of the people of his time.”

So what is proven in the Sunnah with regard to raising the hands in prayer is that they should be raised at four points in the prayer:
1.when pronouncing takbeerat al-ihraam,
2.when going for rukoo’,
3.when standing up from rukoo’,
4.after standing up from the first tashahhud.

And Allah knows best.

(Article compiled from the works of Shaykh Salih al-Munajjid & Abu al-Ala Muhammad al-Mubarakpuri)

Biography of Shaykh ‘Abdul-‘Azeez Ibn ‘Abdillaah Ibn Baaz

by Shaykh Muhammad Salih al-Munajjid

Praise be to Allaah, the Ever-Living, Who does not die, although mankind and jinn die, and peace and blessings be upon the Messenger of Allaah, concerning whom Allaah said (interpretation of the meaning):
“Verily, you [O Muhammad] will die, and verily, they (too) will die.” [al-Zumar 39:30]
Praise be to Allaah, Who is the only One Whom we praise, even when adversity strikes. He determines the length of people’s lifetimes, and has decreed all things. Everything with Him is in due proportion, All-Knower of the unseen and the seen, the Most Great, the Most High. Whatsoever is on earth will perish, and the Face of our Lord, full of Majesty and Honour, will abide forever.

The honour of the scholars is great indeed. Their Lord has made them witnesses to the greatest of truths and has mentioned their testimony alongside His own and that of His angels. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
Allaah bears witness that Laa ilaaha illa huwa (none has the right to be worshipped but He), and the angels, and those having knowledge (also give this witness); (He is always) maintaining His creation in Justice. Laa ilaaha illa huwa (none has the right to be worshipped but He), the All-Mighty, the All-Wise.” [Aal ‘Imraan 3:18]

Allaah has raised their status in this world and the next, as He says (interpretation of the meaning):
“… Allaah wll exalt in status those of you who believe and those who have been granted knowledge…” [al-Mujaadilah 58:11]
They are the heirs of the Prophets, who have assumed their role in conveying the Message and calling people to Islam. They are the people of abundant good fortune, as the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said:
“The scholars are the heirs of the Prophets, for the Prophets do not leave behind any dinars or dirhams (i.e., wealth), but they leave behind knowledge. Whoever receives this knowledge receives abundant good fortune.” (Reported by al-Tirmidhi, 2606).

Allaah wills good for the scholars, as the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said:
“Whoever Allaah wishes good for, He enables him to understand the religion properly.” (Reported by al-Bukhaari, 69).

They are the people who understand the words of Allaah, may He be glorified and exalted, as He says (interpretation of the meaning):
And these similitudes We put forward for mankind, but none will understand them except those who have knowledge…” [al-‘Ankaboot 29:43]

They are the people who truly fear Allaah, as He tells us (interpretation of the meaning):
“... It is only those who have knowledge among His slaves that fear Allaah…” [Faatir 35:28]

They are the most knowledgeable of people about evil and what leads to it, so they warn people of it. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
… Those who have been given the knowledge (about the Torment of Allaah for the disbelievers) will say: ‘Verily! Disgrace this Day and misery are upon the disbelievers.'”[al-Nahl 16:27]

“But those who had been given (religious) knowledge said: ‘Woe to you! The Reward of Allaah (in the Hereafter) is bteer for those who believe and do righteous good deeds, and this none shall attain except those who are patient (in following the truth).” [al-Qasas 28:80]

The salvation of people is connected to the presence of scholars; if the scholars are taken away then the people are doomed. ‘Abd-Allaah ibn ‘Amr ibn al-‘Aas said: “I heard the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) say,

‘Allaah does not take knowledge away by taking it away from people’s (hearts); He takes knowledge away by taking away the scholars (i.e., when scholars die), and when there is not one scholar left, the people will turn to ignorant leaders who, when they are consulted, will give fatwas without knowledge. They are misguided and they misguide others.'” (Reported by al-Bukhaari, 98).

The phrase “by taking it [knowledge] away from people’s (hearts)” implies wiping it from their hearts. During his Farewell Pilgrimage, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Learn before knowledge is taken away or lifted up.” A Bedouin said, “How will it be lifted up?” He said, “Knowledge disappears when its bearers disappear” three times. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said, “Allaah will not take away knowledge after it has been given to you.” According to another report, he said, “Knowledge will not be taken from the people” or “from the hearts of the people.” A Bedouin asked him, “O Prophet of Allaah, how will knowledge be taken up from among us when we have Masaahif (copies of the Qur’aan) among us and we have learned what is in the Qur’aan and have taught it to our children and womenfolk and servants?” The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) looked up at him angrily and said, “These Jews and Christians have the scripture among them and they don’t adhere to a single letter of what their Prophets brought them!” There are other corroborating reports that verify these additions to the hadeeth. It was reported that Abu al-Samah said:

“There will come a time when a man will fatten his mount in preparation for travel, and will travel through different countries asking for someone to give him knowledge of the Sunnah that he could follow, and he will not be able to find anyone to give him a fatwa except with uncertainty, and this has indeed happened.” (Adapted and summarized from Fath al-Baari).

‘Umar ibn ‘Abd al-‘Azeez wrote to Abu Bakr ibn Hazm to find out what was there of the hadeeth of the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him). He wrote,

“Find out what there is and write it down, for I am worried that knowledge will disappear when the scholars pass away… spread knowledge and sit down to teach the one who does not know, for knowledge does not disappear unless it is kept secret.” (Saheeh al-Bukhaari, Kitaab al-‘Ilm, Baab Kayfa yuqbad al-‘ilm).

Imaam Ahmad (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:
“People need knowledge more than they need food and drink, because they need food and drink two or three times a day, but they need knowledge all the time.” Thus the loss of scholars is a great calamity, “because the death of the entire tribe is less serious than the death of one scholar.” (Majma’ al-Zawaa’id, 1/201).

Today, Thursday 27 Muharram 1420 (May 13, 1999), Islam and its people have been grieved by the death of the great scholar, father and capable teacher, Shaykh ‘Abd al-‘Azeez ibn Baaz, and the end of a blessed life lasting eighty-nine years, one month and fifteen days, a life filled with obedience to Allaah and service to Islam and the Muslims.

Shaykh Ibn Baaz, may Allaah have mercy on him, was born in 1330 AH and grew up in a good family. He memorized the entire Qur’aan before the age of puberty and studied with the scholars in his homeland before travelling to seek knowledge in other countries. He lost his eyesight completely at the age of 19, because of illness. Allaah knows best, but I think that he is one of the people referred to in the hadeeth of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him):
Allaah says, ‘If I take away a person’s two beloved (eyes), and he bears it with patience and the hope of reward, he will have no less a reward than Paradise.'” (Reported by al-Tirmidhi, 2325. He said, this is a saheeh hasan hadeeth).

He was as strong as he could be when it came to issues of Islam. When one of the oppressive rulers said that there were myths in the Qur’aan, such as the People of the Cave and the staff of Moosa, Shaykh Ibn Baaz wrote to him explaining that this statement was tantamount to apostasy and unbelief. When the ruler’s secretary wrote to tell him that this is not what was intended, and that the man retracted what he had said, Shaykh Ibn Baaz wrote to him to tell him that if he was sincere, he should announce his repentance publicly just as he had announced his kufr openly. The Shaykh also denounced those who rejected the Sunnah, and the followers of falsehood and bid’ah, by refuting all their claims. He wrote warnings against observing innovated and unIslamic celebrations, such as celebrations of the Prophet’s birthday, the anniversary of the Isra’, the middle of Sha’baan, and other innovations that were not commemorated by the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) or his Companions.

He was a true leader, the Imaam of Ahl al-Sunnah wa’l-Jamaa’ah and the Renewer (Mujaddid) of the Religion in this age. How many Sunnahs did Allaah revive through him, and how many bid’ahs were done away with! How many people were stirred up from their state of negligence and guided away from error! He was one of the leaders of the pious referred to in the aayah (interpretation of the meaning):

‘… make us leaders for al-muttaqoon (the pious).'” [al-Furqaan 25:74]

He used to strive against evil, and how many evil things were done away with and how many bid’ahs put a stop to because of his efforts. He was known for this from an early age, may Allaah have mercy on him. His own Shaykh, Muhammad ibn Ibraaheem (may Allaah have mercy on him) praised him for his critical approach and exposing the falsehood of Arab nationalism (Fataawa Ibn Ibraaheem, 13/148), and wrote in support of his denunciation of the bid’ah of collective takbeer (ibid., 3/127). He himself wrote to his shaykh explaining the dangers of magazines such as al-Musaawar, Rose el-Youssef and Aakhir Saa’ah, which were widespread at that time (ibid., 13/119). The things that he denounced and wrote against are innumerable, and one cannot count how many letters and messages he wrote calling upon the followers of falsehood to discuss matters and provide evidence. I think in this regard he was acting in accordance with the words of Allaah (interpretation of the meaning):

Why do not the rabbis and the religious learned men forbid them from uttering sinful words and from eating illegal things. Evil indeed is that which they have been performing.” [al-Maa’idah 5:63]

He used to advise people and warn them against taking haraam employment and evil earnings.

He watched the signs of evil and issued warnings about them with no delay, such as satellite dishes and journeys abroad, and the harmful effects of music and movies on the youth of Islam. He wrote about the dangers of wanton display, unveiling and free mixing, out of a sense of jealousy and honour for the sake of Allaah and concern for the honour of the believing women. This and other writings showed his awareness of the ummah’s issues and his concern for the people’s wellbeing.

He was an imaam and mujtahid who, with the knowledge, understanding and insight that Allaah bestowed on him, gave fatwas on matters of major import and difficult, thorny issues. He was also the head of the Islamic Fiqh Council (Majma’ al-Fiqh al-Islami) which issues fatwas concerning serious contemporary matters. His fataawa on divorce are indicative of his depth of understanding and ability in making ijtihaad. His fatwas were based on compassion and understanding, and this was a great blessing to many people, male and female alike.

He was a mujaddid who combined knowledge of fiqh with knowledge of hadeeth. He knew about hadeeth and their degrees of soundness. He had memorized many volumes of ahaadeeth; he knew all about their narrators and the correct pronunciation of their names. Texts would be proofread and corrected with his help, even though he was blind. He was an ocean of knowledge, conversant with the opinions of different scholars and never at odds with any of them. One could hardly find any odd or strange fatwa from him. He took the middle path between two sides, those who focus on hadeeth and do not pay due attention to fiqh or the opinions of the scholars, and those who focus on fiqh and the opinions of the fuqaha’, and do not pay due attention to the hadeeth. He used to combine the advantages of both fields of knowledge, fiqh and hadeeth. He was the leader whose opinion was decisive; all disputing parties would accept his opinion. Scholars might engage in a discussion in his presence, but when he spoke, that would be the end of the dispute – they would accept and follow his opinion. They gave him two votes where other members of the Fatwa Committee (Lajnat al-Fatwa) had only one. With regard to the ordinary people, many of them would accept only Shaykh Ibn Baaz’s fatwa. If there were varying scholarly opinions on an issue. An ordinary man might say, “That is enough, give me a break! What does Ibn Baaz say?” One of the greatest blessings brought about through him is that the scholars and common people alike would accept him as a leader. This is a distinction which may not apply to anyone else in our time.

We are not claiming that the Shaykh was more knowledgeable than al-Shaafa’i or Ahmad or Ibn Taymiyah. Far from it! But his importance in our own time is no less than their importance in their own times; indeed, it may be greater, for the people’s need for him was greater, because of the paucity of scholars in this time as compared to earlier times.

He used to come down to the level of ordinary people to help them understand things; he did not address them in a highbrow manner. Very often he would speak to them in the colloquial so that they would understand him. He was like a mujaddid in the sphere of fatwas. His fatwas were based on making links between his ruling and the Qur’aan and Sunnah, and he might mention in his fatwas the opinions of some scholars. Many of the fatwas of scholars who came before him were distinguished by the fact that they were merely narrating comments from books of fiqh produced by the various madhhabs, but the fatwas of Ibn Baaz were based directly on the Qur’aan and Sunnah.

He loved to benefit people all the time, and he used to use every opportunity that arose to do this. For example, he would sit in the mosque and wait for the prayer, and sometimes he would listen to the person next to him reading Qur’aan. If he came to a difficult word, he would say to the reader, “Do you know what this word means?” then he would explain the meaning to him. I sat beside him a number of times in his house, and if he received a telephone call, when the conversation ended he would turn to me and say, “This person asked us such and such a question, and such and such was our answer.” If a question was particularly entertaining, he would tell us about it to put us at ease and be friendly.

He was extremely humble. One sign of his humility was that he would not often add comments of his own in his lessons; the words of the authors of the books were usually enough. It was as if this were a lesson for him, or a revision or reminder for his own benefit. His commentary on Fath al-Baari is very light – he only commented where he felt that it was absolutely necessary. He often used to mention his shaykhs and pray for mercy for them.

He used to write on his books, “By the one who is in need of the Mercy of his Lord, ‘Abd al-‘Azeez ibn Baaz, may Allaah forgive him.” Another sign of his humility was that he would get up and walk over to the women standing by his door, to try and help them by giving them money or answering their questions, etc. On one occasion, he interrupted a debate with some great scholars to answer a woman who was on the phone. When some of them passed a comment, he said, “She needs help.”

If he received an invitation from a janitor or guard in the Islamic University, at the time when he was the Dean of the University, he would accept. Even though he was so busy, he would be very keen to accept invitations to wedding parties, because the Sunnah urges us to accept such invitations.

A further sign of his humility was that he would sit on the floor to eat, and would dress simply. He wore a loose, colourless thobe that came down no further than mid-calf, and an inexpensive cloak (abayah). His clothes, shoes and cane indicated that he was an ascetic with no interest in the luxuries of this world.

He would spend his salary and even borrow money to help people in need. Once a letter came from the Philippines to His Eminence the Shaykh, may Allaah have mercy on him. It was a letter from a woman who said, “My husband was a Muslim. The Christians took him away and threw him into a well, and I have become a widow and my children orphans. I have no one apart from Allaah, may He be glorified and exalted. I said to myself, who can I write to in this world, who can help me after Allaah? There is no one but Shaykh ‘Abd al-‘Azeez ibn Baaz, so I hope that you will help me.” The Shaykh, may Allaah have mercy on him, wrote to the relevant authorities asking them to help her, and they replied that there was no clause that allowed for aid to a woman whose husband had been thrown into a well, and the financial resources were limited. So the Shaykh said to his scribe, “Write a letter for me to the trustee of the fund: ‘With greetings, deduct ten thousand riyals from my salary and send it to this woman.'”

He was very pious and trustworthy. He could be trusted with millions given in charity and zakaah by Muslims, which he would strive to dispense of in the appropriate ways. It is no exaggeration to say that what was spent through him was more than a thousand million. He used to take care of his students. When he taught in al-Kharj, he asked for accommodation and stipends for them. He would hold classes and halaqahs for them after Fajr, after Zuhr, after ‘Asr and between Maghrib and ‘Isha’. Some of his students who used to read Tafseer Ibn Katheer to him between Maghrib and ‘Isha’ mentioned that often he would be so moved by what was read that he would weep, and sometimes he would weep for so long that the lesson was prolonged, without him realizing it. As soon as he realized, he would end the lesson and they would pray ‘Isha’. He would engage in discussion with his students, especially in matters of inheritance. He would check on their circumstances and try to help them, and he would go with them on trips outside the city. He never forgot to pay attention to their need for physical exercise, such as running and having races, as was related in the Sunnah, in the hadeeth of ‘Aa’ishah and Salamah ibn al-Akwa’.

When the town of al-Dalam was overwhelmed by floods in 1360 AH, he went out to encourage its people to build barriers. He brought dates and coffee from his own house to serve to the people at the places where they were working. When a swarm of locusts hit the town, the Shaykh went out with the people to kill the insects with palm leaves. He was keen on managing Awqaaf (endowment funds) and establishing schools. When he was appointed to the administration of the Islamic University of Madeenah in 1381 AH and thereafter, he used to check on the classrooms and students. He took care of those who had come from other countries, providing them with books and teaching them Arabic. He used to borrow from the University’s funds – to be deducted from his salary – to help poor students. One day he found himself in debt to the University, owing 400 riyals from his next month’s salary, so he borrowed from some of the shaykhs to give money to poor people. When he was appointed as the head of the Bureau for Academic Research and Fatwas (Idarat al-Buhooth al-‘Ilmiyyah wa’l-Ifta) in 1395 AH, and left Madeenah for Riyaadh, he delivered a speech which moved his colleagues and students to tears. [poetry omitted]

There are very few people who can be appointed to positions of high rank without altering and becoming arrogant oppressors. He was a skillful administrator who was appointed to the administration of the Islamic University in Madeenah, the Bureau for Academic Research and Fatwas and the Organization of Major Scholars (Hay’at Kibaar al-‘Ulama’). He was a man who was well organized with regard to his time, work, lessons, food and meetings. He would pay due attention to all matters and all people.

He was behind many charitable projects such as building mosques and institutions for the memorization of Qur’aan, Islamic centres and Sharee’ah institutes. One of his greatest achievements was his effort to establish departments for religious affairs in all government departments and offices, to organize lectures and channel questions and requests for fatwas. Because of this, so much good was done, the true extent of which is known only to Allaah. We ask Allaah to make his good deeds weigh heavily in the Balance because of this.

He had a remarkable ability to distinguish voices even when there were many people around. He could recognize a speaker even if he had not heard his voice for years. He would remember details about people and would ask them about their circumstances and the state of affairs in their homelands and among their relatives, even though they were so many.

He used to remember Allaah very often, even when eating and between mouthfuls. He often used to say “Laa hawla wa laa quwwata illa Billaah (there is no strength and no power except with Allaah),” and he would send blessings on the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) very frequently. If someone spoke nonsense in his presence, he would tell him, “Sabbih, sabbih! (Glorify Allaah i.e., say Subhaan Allaah)”. He would often remain silent, deep in thought, and when he listened to someone, he would incline his head and listen intently. He had remarkable powers of discernment and could distinguish those who were telling the truth from those who were lying. He also made good choices when selecting people to do various jobs.

He would be very cautious when issuing fatwas. Often he would say things like, “We need to think about it” or “It needs some thought. I will write to the Committee for Issuing Fatwas so that we can discuss the matter with our brothers.” He told me this many times throughout twenty years when I asked him hundreds of questions. When holding a lesson in the courtyard of the Masjid al-Haraam in Makkah which was filled with people, he would never feel too shy to say, “The matter is not clear in my mind.”

He was filled with fear of Allaah; he would weep readily and be strongly moved, so much so that he would stop a lesson when he was overcome with emotion. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“... It is only those who have knowledge among His slaves that fear Allaah…” [Faatir 35:28]

He used to weep when discussing the story of Ka’b ibn Maalik, and the slander against ‘Aa’ishah (al-ifk), and the bay’ah (oath of allegiance) of the Ansaar, and the Bedouin whose riding-beast broke his neck, so although he had done little, he was given a great reward.

He used to worship Allaah continually and strive to obey his Lord. One of those who accompanied him from al-Taa’if to Riyaadh overland said: when it was the middle of the night, about 2 a.m., the Shaykh said to his companions, “It seems that we are tired. Let us break our journey and sleep.” So we stopped, and barely had our feet touched the ground but we fell asleep. The good ones amongst us prayed one rak’ah or three rak’ahs before sleeping. The Shaykh also started to pray, and when the people with him woke up before Fajr they saw him still praying.

I think – and Allaah knows best – that he was one of the three on whom Allaah will smile, as the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) mentioned in his hadeeth:
“A man who meets the enemy on the battlefield and faces them bravely until he is killed or he opens the way for his companions; people who are on a journey and have travelled for a good part of the night, until they long to touch the ground (i.e., stop and rest), so they stop, and one of them moves a short distance away from them and starts praying until he wakes them up at the time when they have to resume their journey; and a man who has a neighbour who disturbs him but he bears it patiently until they are separated either by death or by one of them moving away.” (Reported by Imaam Ahmad in al-Musnad, 20377; Saheeh al-Jaami’, 3074)

Allah blessed him with acceptance throughout the world. One of those who are involved in da’wah said that he went on a trip to one of the nations in central Africa. “We met an elderly woman who asked, ‘Where are you from?’ We told her through the interpreter that we were from Saudi, and she said, ‘Convey my salaams to Shaykh Ibn Baaz.'” Some of the poor people from Nepal who came to look for work in Saudi asked some contractors about Shaykh Ibn Baaz.

He was a great teacher who paid attention to priorities when teaching people, in accordance with the saying that people should be taught about the minor issues before the major issues.

He would stop answering questions when it was time to respond to the muezzin. If he omitted or forget something, he would put it right. He never omitted to make dhikr after salaah, despite the fact that there were so many people around him asking questions and making requests. He would interrupt his conversation to recite the dhikr for leaving the mosque.

He was always fair to his two wives, and would pray Sunnat al-Maghrib in the house of the wife in whose house he was spending the night. The number of times he interceded on behalf of others is uncountable. He paid the “zakaah” for his high standing, just as he paid the “zakaah” for his knowledge, in accordance with the words of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), “Intercede, and you will be rewarded.” He interceded for old and young and workers. How many students were accepted in universities, how many poor people were given charity and how many workers were able to bring their wives to the Kingdom because of his intercession.

He used to strive to reconcile between husbands and wives, and between any people who were engaged in a dispute.

He was very patient, tolerant and easy-going. One day when he was a qaadi (judge) in al-Dalam, a man came in swearing and insulted the Shaykh with obscene words, but the Shaykh kept quiet and did not respond. Then Shaykh ‘Abd al-‘Azeez travelled to go to Hajj, and that man died. When they brought him out for the funeral prayer, the imaam of the mosque refused to pray for him. He knew about the incident that had taken place, and said, “I will not pray for someone who insulted a scholar. You go ahead and pray for him.” When the Shaykh came back from Hajj and was told that the man had died and about what had happened, he prayed for mercy for him and rebuked the imaam. He asked them to take him to the man’s grave, where he offered the prayer for him and made du’aa’ for him. A few days before he died, I said to him, “O Shaykh, I want to ask you to forgive me, because there must be some mistake I have made or shortcomings in my behaviour towards you, or I must have misunderstood something you have said, or conveyed something from you inaccurately.” He said, “I forgive, I forgive, may Allaah forgive you.” He was very generous in giving. I have seen him give his abayah to someone who asked for it. He would never eat alone. He always had lots of guests and he would not eat unless there were others at his table with him. When he fell sick he said to us one time when the food was ready, “Please go ahead and eat, and excuse me.”

Allaah blessed him with a sharp mind, and he was not afflicted with senility. Even the slight forgetfulness that came to him with old age did not affect his ability to issue fatwas or to call evidence to mind and focus on things and understand them, even though he had entered his ninetieth year. A few days before he died, I asked him about a woman who had died before fulfilling her obligation to do sa’ee (running between al-Safa’ and al-Marwah as part of Hajj or ‘Umrah) – should her son do this on her behalf? He said, “You cannot do anything about death, it is inevitable. Her son can do sa’ee on her behalf, just as he can do Hajj on her behalf.” Then he added a qualifier: “But he has to be in a state of ritual ihraam when he does sa’ee on her behalf.” I said, “So he should enter ihraam for ‘umrah and do tawaaf and sa’ee, and before he cuts his hair he should do sa’ee on behalf of his mother?” He said, “Or before he does his own ‘umrah after he has entered ihraam.” This precision of thought stayed with him until the very end of his life.

He worked until his last breath, and his lessons continued until he fell sick. His lesson after Fajr on Thursday lasted for more than three hours.

He worked for fifty-eight years and never even took one holiday. He never slept for more than four or five hours in a day. He was entitled to retire with a full salary twenty years ago, but he continued to serve Islam and to strive in support of the religion. After he fell sick, whenever the pain got too much for him, once he recovered, he would say to the scribes and assistants around him, “Carry on and read to me what you have.” So they would read the letters, messages, issues of divorce and objectionable things, and pleas for intercession, etc., that would help the country and the people.

Last night, Wednesday night, he was sitting with his family and children until twelve o’clock, when he went to bed. At 2 a.m. his pain got worse, and his soul departed to meet its Maker at Fajr (dawn) on Thursday 27 Muharram 1420 AH, in the city of al-Taa’if, in the Western area of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

The Shaykh, may Allaah have mercy on him, had started to suffer from pain and infection in the oesophagus when fasting last Ramadaan. He had been to the hospital numerous times, but he never moaned or complained. When the pain was very bad, it could only be seen from a change in his face, and all he would do was put his hand on his chest where it hurt. His death is a great calamity, and the people of Tawheed have been stricken with the painful and grievous news, but all we can do is to accept with patience the will and decree of Allaah, and say only that which pleases our Lord:
Innaa Lillaahi wa innaa ilayhi raaji’oon. Allaahumma ajurnaa fi museebatinaa wakhluf lanaa khayran minhaa (To Allaah we belong and unto Him is our return. O Allaah, recompense us for our affliction and replace it for us with something better).

He will be missed by elderly women, who will weep much for him. Many women fell ill when they heard the news. He will be missed by his neighbours, who would be woken for Fajr every day by the sound of his cane banging on their doors as he left to go and pray, to let them know it was time for prayer. He will be missed in the corners of the mosques, in the mihrabs and minbars. He will be missed by the land over which he walked to and from his prayers and lessons, but it will give testimony in his favour, in sha Allaah, when the earth will speak of all things, good and evil, that were done on it.
That Day it [the earth] will declare its information (about all that happened on it of good or evil), because your Lord has inspired it.” [al-Zalzalah 99:4-5 – interpretation of the meaning].

Two kinds of enemies of Allaah will rejoice at the news of his death: the hypocrites who want to remove Islam from people’s lives, and the confused followers of bid’ah and desires.

He was a thorn in the sides of the munaafiqeen. His fatwas foiled their evil designs and by means of him Allaah warded off many evils. They were very irrated with him and hoped for his death, and some of them even used to say, “Women will be able to do such and such when the Shaykh dies, and we will have a break from his strict fatwas.” The Shaykh has died and they are still without hope. May Allaah never make them able to achieve what they want!

And now what…?

Our loss is great and our grief is overwhelming, but we may find consolation in the following:

Firstly: the death of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him). ‘Aa’ishah said: “The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) opened a door of his house or pulled back a curtain, and saw the people praying behind Abu Bakr. He gave thanks to Allaah because he saw that they were fine, hoping that Allaah would compensate them for their loss of him with something like what he could see. He said, ‘O people, when any one of the people or of the believers is stricken with a calamity, let him console himself with the thought that this calamity [i.e., the death of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him)] is greater than whatever he is going through. After my death, no member of my ummah will ever be stricken with a calamity greater than the loss of me.” (Reported by Ibn Maajah, 1588; Saheeh al-Jaami’, 7879).

Secondly: we know that Islam does not depend on any one person. Allaah is Merciful and He will provide for this ummah someone who will guide it and lead it in the way of knowledge, justice and the legacy of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him).

Thirdly: the students of the Shaykh, the scholars and seekers of knowledge whom he has left behind.

Fourthly: his “immortal children”, i.e., his books, fatwas, theses and recorded lectures. The knowledge left behind by the scholar is his “immortal child”.

Fifthly: the dreams that have been seen about him, which are a good sign about him and are one of the parts of Prophethood, as the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said. Just now I was told about a woman who dreamt, on the night that the Shaykh died, that she saw a light being taken from earth and raised up to heaven. When she woke on the morning ,she heard that the Shaykh had died.

We should not forget our duties towards the Shaykh now, which are: to ask for Allaah’s mercy for him, to make du’aa’ for him, to disseminate his works, to spread news of his virtues and character, and to follow his methodology, which was derived from the Qur’aan and Sunnah.

O Allaah, forgive ‘Abd al-‘Azeez ibn Baaz, have mercy on him, make his grave wide and fill it with light. Raise his status among the guided and above many of Your creation on the Day of Judgement. Forgive us and him, O Lord of the Worlds. Admit him to a place of honour on the Day of Resurrection. O Allaah, compensate the Muslims with good, for You are the All-Hearing Who answers prayers and You are Ever Near.

Written at noon on Thursday 27 Muharram 1420

What does it mean to bear witness to Tauhid?

What it means to bear witness that there is no god except Allaah is to deny that anyone other than Allaah has the right to be worshipped, and to affirm that this is the right of Allaah alone, with no partner or associate. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

“That is because Allaah He is the Truth (the only True God of all that exists, Who has no partners or rivals with Him), and what they (the polytheists) invoke besides Him, it is Baatil (falsehood). And verily, Allaah He is the Most High, the Most Great”[al-Hajj 22:62]

So the words laa ilaaha (there is no god) deny all things that are worshipped instead of Allaah, and the words illa Allaah (except Allaah) affirm that all kinds of worship are for Allaah alone. So what they mean is that there is none that is rightfully worshipped except Allaah.

Just as Allaah has no partner in His dominion, so too He has no partner in His worship.

What it means to bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allaah is tobelieve firmly, from the depths of one’s heart, and express it on one’s lips, that Muhammad is His slave and His Messenger to all of creation, mankind and the jinn alike. That means believing what he has told us about events in the past, what he has told us about things that are yet to come, what he has permitted of halaal things, what he has forbidden of haraam things; and it means obeying and following what he has commanded, and giving up and avoiding what he has forbidden, following his laws, adhering to his Sunnah in secret and in the open, accepting and submitting to his judgements, and knowing that obedience to him is obedience to Allaah, and disobedience to him is disobedience to Allaah, because he is the one who conveyed the Message from Allaah, and Allaah did not cause him to die until He had perfected the religion, and he conveyed it clearly. May Allaah reward him on behalf of us with the best reward that was ever given to any Prophet on behalf of his people and any Messenger on behalf of his nation.

A person can only enter Islam by uttering this twin testimony of faith; its two parts are intertwined and cannot be separated. For the conditions of testifying that there is no god but Allaah are the same as the conditions of testifying that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allaah.

And Allaah knows best.

Sheikh Muhammed Salih Al-Munajjid

All the followers of the various sects of the this Ummah will be in Hell apart from one

Question: I would be very grateful if you could advise me on the fundamental differences between the main sects of Islam, although I know that originally Islam was a unified religion. Thankyou.
Answer: Praise be to Allaah.
The answer to your question is lengthy and deserves a book to itself. We cannot answer in details here, but we can say the following in brief:

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) told us beforehand that this Ummah would be divided as the previous nations were divided, as stated in the saheeh hadeeth:

Wahb ibn Baqiyyah told us from Khaalid from Muhammad ibn ‘Amr from Abu Salamah from Abu Hurayrah who said: the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “The Jews were divided into seventy-one or seventy-two sects, and the Christians were divided into seventy-one or seventy-two sects, and my Ummah will be divided into seventy-three sects.” This was narrated by Abu Dawood in his Sunan, Kitaab al-Sunnah, Baab Sharh al-Sunnah.

It was reported from ‘Awf ibn Maalik who said: the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “The Jews were divided into seventy-one sects, one of which is in Paradise and seventy are in the Fire. The Christians were divided into seventy-two sects, seventy-one of which are in the Fire and one is in Paradise. By the One in Whose hand is the soul of Muhammad, my Ummah will be divided into seventy-three sects, one of which will be in Paradise and seventy-two will be in the Fire.” It was said, O Messenger of Allaah, who are they? He said, “Al-Jamaa’ah.”

Sunan Ibn Maajah, no. 3982.

What is meant by al-Jamaa’ah is the ‘aqeedah and actions of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and his Companions.

Among the sects that claim to belong to Islam are those who are misguided with regard to the Unity of Allaah (Tawheed) and His Names and Attributes; they say that everything that exists is Allaah and that He is incarnate or present in His creation – glorified be He far above what they say. On the contrary, He is above His heavens, settled on His throne, distinct from His creation.

Others are misguided with regard to eeman (faith) and say that deeds are separate from faith and that faith does not increase or decrease. The correct view is that faith consists of words and deeds; it increases when one does acts of obedience to Allaah and decreases when one commits sin.

Others are misguided by their declaring that the person who commits sin goes beyond the pale of Islam and is doomed to eternity in the Fire. The correct view is that the one who commits a major sin – apart from shirk and al-kufr al-akbar – does not go out of Islam.

Others are misguided with regard to the issue of al-qadaa’ wa’l-qadar (divine decree), and said that man has no choice in what he does. The correct view is that man has freedom of will on the basis of which he will be called to account and will bear the consequences of his deeds.

Others are misguided with regard to the Qur’aan, and say that it is created. The correct view is that it is the words of Allaah, revealed not created.

Others are misguided with regard to the Sahaabah, whom they revile and denounce as kaafirs even though they are the companions of the Prophet among whom the Wahy (Revelation) was revealed, and they are the most knowledgeable and the most devoted in worship among this Ummah, and they strove in jihaad for the sake of Allaah and Allaah supported this religion through them – may Allaah be pleased with them all.

And there are other groups who deviated from the path of Islam and innovated matters in the religion of Allaah; each of them rejoices in what they have, but they have followed the ways of the Shaytaan and gone against the words of Allaah (interpretation of the meaning):

“And verily, this is My straight path, so follow it, and follow not (other) paths, for they will separate you away from His path. This He has ordained for you that you may become Al-Muttaqoon (the pious)” [al-An’aam 6:153]

We ask Allaah to make us among the followers of the Sunnah who will be saved from the Fire, and to admit us to Paradise among the righteous. May Allaah bless our Prophet Muhammad.
Islam Q&A
Sheikh Muhammed Salih Al-Munajjid (May Allah preserve him)
FATWA 1393