The Obligation to Follow One of the Four Schools of Thought

By Shaykh Murābit al-Hājj al-Mālikī
Translated by: Hamza Yusuf

In the name of Allah, the Merciful, the Compassionate.

Amongst the most important replies that I have given, is my reply concerning the one who has deviated to the point where he censures the importance of studying the branches [furu’] of jurisprudence, and we seek refuge in Allah from the deviation of such a wandering deviant. Would that he simply had claimed independent reasoning (ijtihad) for himself only, and Allah is his reckoner, but abandoned the call of Muslims to leave that which is incumbent upon them. In our reply to such a one, we make mention what the scholars of the methodological bases of Islamic jurisprudence (usuli’un) and the Imams of jurisprudence themselves have said about such a matter. As for my labelling him a deviant, it is only because he has desired to impose upon common people the precious rank of absolute independent reasoning [ijtihad], about which Muhammad an-Nabigha  said,

And ijtihad in the land of the Moroccans,
The western phoenix has taken to flight with it.

I say in reply, that the following of qualified scholarship (taqlid) is an obligation on anyone other than an absolute mujtahid. I shall make mention of all his prerequisites if Allah wills. [Sidi Abdullah Ould Hajj Ibrahim] has said in his Maraqi as-Sa’ud:

“[taqlid] is necessary for other than the one who has achieved the rank of absolute ijtihad. Even if he is a limited [mujtahid] who is unable [to perform absolute ijtihad].”

Commenting on this line, [Sidi Abdullah] said in Nashru al-bunud,

“It means that taqlid is an obligation on anyone who is not an absolute mujtahid, even if he has achieved the limited rank of ijtihad muqayyad . . . [until he says], ‘And ask the people of the reminder, if you yourselves do not know.’”

By using the line of Muhammad an-Nabigha above, I am in no way claiming that all ijtihad has been severed in every land; how [could I say such a thing] when [Sidi Abdullah] says in Maraqi as-sa’ud:

“The earth will never be void of a mujtahid scholar until its very foundations shake.”

He also said,

“[Regarding] the necessity of binding to a specific madhhab, the [scholars] have mentioned its obligation upon anyone falling short [of the conditions of ijtihad].”

He says in Nashru al-bunud,

“It means that it is incumbent for whoever falls short of achieving the rank of absolute ijtihad to follow a particular madhhab.”

Again, in Maraqi as-Sa’ud, Sidi Abdullah says,

“The consensus today is on the four, and all have prohibited following [any] others.”

He says in Nashru al-bunud,

“This means that the consensus of the scholars today is on the four schools of thought, and I mean by the schools of Malik, Abu Hanifa, Shafi’i and Ahmad. Indeed, all of the scholars have prohibited following any other school of an independent and absolute mujtahid since the eighth century when the school of Dawud adh-Dhahiri died out and until the 12th Century and all subsequent ones.”

In the chapter concerning inferential reasoning, from Maraqi as-sa’ud, [Sidi Abdullah] says,

“As for the one who is not a mujtahid, then basing his actions on primary textual evidence [Qur’an and hadith] is not permissible.”

He says in Nashru al-bunud,

“It means that it is prohibited for other than a mujtahid to base his actions upon a direct text from either the Book or the Sunna even if its transmission was sound because of the sheer likelihood of there being other considerations such as abrogation, limitations, specificity to certain situations, and other such matters that none but the mujtahid fully comprehends with precision. Thus, nothing can save him from Allah the Exalted excepted following a mujtahid. Imām al-Qarāfī1 says,

‘And beware of doing what some students do when they reason directly from the hadith, and yet they don’t know their soundness, let alone what has been mentioned [by the Imams] concerning the subtleties involved in them; by doing this, they went astray and led others astray. And whoever interprets a verse or hadith in a manner that deviates from its intended meaning without proof [dalil] is a kafir.’”

As for the conditions of the absolute and independent ijtihad, they are mentioned in the Maraqi as-sa’ud in the following line and what follows:

“And that [word ‘faqīh2]  is synonymous with the [word] ‘mujtahid’ coupled with those things which bear upon [him] the burden of responsibility,

Such as his being of extreme intelligence by nature, and there is some debate about one who is known to reject juristic analogy [qiyas]

He knows the [juristic] responsibilities through intellectual proofs unless a clear transmitted proof indicates otherwise.

[Sidi Abdullah] says [in his commentary] Nashru al-bunud,

“This means that among the conditions of ijtihad is that [the mujtahid] knows that he must adhere to the intellectual proof which is the foundational condition [al-bara’atu al-asliyya3]  until a transmitted proof from a sacred law indicates otherwise.”

He then goes on to mention the other conditions of a mujtahid:

[The sciences of] grammar, prosody, philology, combined with those of usul and rhetoric he must master.

According to the people of precision, [he must know] where the judgements can be found without the condition of having memorized the actual texts.

[All of the above must be known] according to a middle ranked mastery at least. He must also know those matters upon which there is consensus.

[Moreover, he must know] things such as the condition of single hadiths and what carries the authority of great numbers of transmissions; also [knowledge of] what is sound and what is weak is necessary.

Furthermore, what has been abrogated and what abrogates, as well as the conditions under which a verse was revealed or a hadith was transmitted is a condition that must be met.

The states of the narrators and the companions [must also be known]. Therefore, you may follow anyone who fulfils these conditions mentioned above according to the soundest opinion.

So, consider all of the above-mentioned, and may Allah have mercy upon you, and [may you] see for yourself whether your companion is characterized by such qualities and fulfils these conditions—and I highly doubt it. More likely, he is just pointing people to himself in his demands that the people of this age take their judgements directly from the Book and Sunna. If, on the other hand, he does not possess the necessary conditions, then further discussion is useless.

In Muhammad ‘Illish’s, Fath al-‘Ali al-Malik, there are many strong rebukes for those who wish to force people to abandon the study of the judicial branches and take directly from the Book and the Sunna. The actual text of the question put to him is as follows:

“What do you say about someone who was following one of the four Imams, may Allah the Exalted be pleased with them, and then left claiming that he could derive his judgements directly form the Qur’an and the soundly transmitted hadiths, thus leaving the books of jurisprudence and inclining towards the view of Ahmad bin Idris? Moreover, he says to the one who clings to the speech of the Imams and their followers, “I say to you ‘Allah and His Messenger say’, and you reply ‘Malik said’ and ‘Ibn al-Qasim said’ or ‘Khalil said.’”

To this, Imam ‘Illish replies:

“My answer to this all this is as follows: Praise be to Allah, and Prayer and Safety be upon our Master Muhammad, the Messenger of Allah. It is not permissible for a common person to abandon following the four Imams and take directly from the textual sources of the Qur’an and the hadiths for the simple reason that this entails a great many conditions that have been clarified in the books of usul. Moreover, these conditions are rarely met by the great scholars, especially in these last days in which Islam has become a stranger just as it began a stranger.”

Ibn ‘Uyyana, may Allah be pleased with him, has said,

“The hadiths are a source of error except for the jurists.”

What he means is that people, other than the scholars, might interpret a tradition based on an apparent meaning, and yet [the hadith may] have another interpretation based on some other hadith that clarifies the meaning or some proof that remains hidden [to the common people]. After a long discussion, he remarks,

“That as for their saying, ‘How can you leave clear Qur’anic verses and sound hadiths and follow the Imams in their ijtihads, which have a clear probability of error,’”

His answer to them is as follows:

“Surely the following of our [rightly guided] Imams is not abandoning the Qur’anic verses or the sound hadiths; it is the very essence of adhering to them and taking our judgements from them. This is because the Qur’an has not come down to us except by means of these very Imams [who are more worthy of following] by virtue of being more knowledgeable than us in [the sciences of] the abrogating and abrogated, the absolute and the conditional, the equivocal and the clarifying, the probabilistic and the plain, the circumstances surrounding revelation and their various meanings, as well as their possible interpretations and various linguistic and philological considerations, [not to mention] the various other ancillary sciences [involved in understanding the Qur’an] needed.

“Also, they took all of that from the students of the companions (tabi’in) who received their instruction from the companions themselves, who received their instructions from the Lawgiver himself, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, divinely protected from every mistake, who bore witness that the first three generations of Muslims would be ones of virtue and righteousness. Furthermore, the prophetic traditions have also reached us through their means given that they were also more knowledgeable than us through their means given that they were also more knowledgeable than those who came after them concerning the rigorously authenticated (sahih), the well authenticated (hasan), and the weak (da’if) channels of transmission, as well as the marfu’u4, mursal5, mutawatir6, ahad7, mu’dal8 and gharid9 transmissions.

“Thus, as far as this little band of men is concerned, there is only one of two possibilities: either they are attributing ignorance to Imams whose knowledge is considered by consensus to have reached human perfection as witnessed in several traditions of the truthful Lawgiver, upon him be prayers and peace, or they are actually attributing misguidance and lack of din to Imams who are all from the best of generations by the testimony of the magnificent Messenger himself, may Allah bless him and grant him peace. Surely, it is not the eyes that are blind, but blind are the hearts in our breasts.

As for their saying to the one who imitates Malik, for example, “We say to you ‘Allah says’ or ‘the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, says’ and you reply, ‘Malik says’, or ‘Ibn al-Qasim says’, or ‘Khalil says’, for example,” our response is that the follower who says, “Malik says . . . etc.,” means that, “Malik says based on his deep understanding of the Word of Allah, or of the words of the Messenger, or of those firmly adhering to the actions of the companions, or of the tabi’in who understood clearly the Word of Allah and the word of the Messenger of Allah or took their example from the actions of His Messenger.” And the meaning of [a follower] saying “Ibn al-Qasim said . . .” is that he has [faithfully] transmitted what Malik said based on his understanding of the Word of Allah or of what Ibn al-Qasim himself understood from the word of Allah the Most Exalted. And the meaning of him saying, “Khalil said . . . .”, for example, is that he is transmitting only from those [Imams] aforementioned. As for Malik and Ibn al-Qasim, they are both Imams whose spiritual and judicial authority is agreed upon by unanimous consensus of this Umma; and they are both from the best of generations.

As for the one who leaves their leadership and says, “Allah said and His Messenger said . . . ,” he has relied solely on his own understanding despite the fact that he is incapable of having any precision in the verses and hadiths that he quotes since he is unable even to provide chains of transmission [with any authority], let alone that he lacks knowledge concerning the abrogated, the absolute and the conditional, the ambiguous and the clarifying, the apparent and the textual, the general and the specific, the dimensions of the Arabic and the cause for revelation, the various linguistic considerations, and other various ancillary sciences needed. So, consider for yourself which is preferable: the word of a follower who simply quotes the understanding of Malik, an Imam by consensus—or the word of this ignoramus who said “Allah said and His Messenger said . . . .” But it is not the sight that goes blind, but rather the hearts in our breasts.

Furthermore, know that the origin of this deviation is from the Dhahiriyya10 who appeared in Andalucia [Muslim Spain] and whose power waxed from a period until Allah obliterated all traces of them until this little band of men set about to revive their beliefs. Imam al-Barzuli said, “The first one ever to attack the Mudawwana11 was Sa’id bin al-Haddad .”

If you consider carefully the above-mentioned texts, you will realize that the one who censures you from following [the Imams] is truly a deviant. And I am using the word “deviant” to describe them only because the scholars [before me] have labelled this little band and their view (madhhab) as deviant. Moreover, you should know that those who condemn your adherence to the Imams have been fully refuted by Muhammad al-Khadir bin Mayyaba  with the most piercing of refutations, and he himself called them, in his book, “the people of deviation and heterodoxy.” He called his book, Refuting the people of deviation of heterodoxy who attack the following [taqlid] of the Imams of independent reasoning, and I used to have a copy but no longer do. So, my brother, I seriously warn you from following the madhhab of these people and even from sitting in their company, unless there is an absolute necessity, and certainly from listening to anything they have to say, because the scholars have declared their ideas deviant. Ibn al-Hajj  says in his book, al-Madkhal,

“;Umar ibn al-‘Aziz said, ‘Never give one whose heart is deviant access to your two ears, for surely you never know what may find fixity in you.’”

I ask Allah to make you and me from those who listen to matters and follow the best of them.

Murabtal Haaj, Mauritania
Source: Masud Ahmed Khan’s Blog


  1. Ahmad ibn Idris Shihabudin as-Sanhaji al-Qarafi al-Maliki was born in Egypt in the seventh Century, and died there in the year 684. He was one of the greatest Maliki scholars who ever lived and is especially known for his work in methodology and law (usul al-fiqh). He was a master of the Arabic language and has remarkable works in grammar. His book adh-Dhakhira is a magisterial 14 volume work recently published in the Emirates, that looks at Maliki fiqh with proofs from usuli sources. He is buried in Qarafi in Egypt near Imam as-Shafi’i. May Allah have mercy on them both.
  2. Sidi Abdullah says in his commentary on this line that the faqih is synonymous with mujtahid in the science of usul. There are different types of faqih. A faqih according to the scholars of usul is anyone who has achieved the rank of ijtihad. According to the scholars of furu’u, a faqih is anyone who has reached the level of knowledge in which he can give valid juristic opinion. This latter definition is important considering endowments that are given to fuqaha. See Nashur al-bunud `ala maraqi as-sa’udkitab al-ijtihad fi al-furu’u (1409 Hijrah. Beirut: Maktabat al-Kutub. p.309)
  3. The foundational condition is that a human being is not asked by Allah to do anything other than those things which have a firm proof through the transmission of the prophets, peace be upon them, and that the human being is only accountable for those things in which there is clear responsibility. All other matters are considered permissible because of the lack of a proof indicating their impermissibility.
  4. The transmission (sanad) goes to the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) the hadith came from the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace).
  5. tabi’i related it from the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace); a companion (sahabah) is missing from the line of the transmission.
  6. The hadith comes from so many sources that it is an absolute proof.
  7. A hadith, that at some point in the line of transmission, has only one narrator.
  8. Two people in a row are missing in the chain of narrators.
  9. The narrator of the hadith is trustworthy, but no one else related the hadith.
  10. The Dhahiriyya followed Daw’ud ad-Dhahiri’s madhhab.
  11. Mudawwana: Imam Malik’s work of fiqh.

Related Articles:
Understanding the Four Madhhabs – Abdal-Hakim Murad
What is a Madhhab and Why is it Necessary to Follow one? – Nuh Ha Mim Keller

What do the Ahlus Sunnah say regarding Mu’āwiyah ibn Abī Sufyān?

Bismillāh-ir-Rahmān-ir-Rahīm, Wal-Hamdu lillaāhi Rabb-il-‘Ālamīn. Was-Salātu Was-Salāmu ‘alā Sayyidinā Muhammadin Khātimin-Nabiyyīna wa Imām-il-Mursalīn.

One thing I will mention here, since a lot of Ash’arīs (associated with AICP and others influenced by them) are under the impression that Imām Abul Hasan al-Ash’arī called Sayyidinā Mu’āwiyah Radiallāhu ‘Anhu and Sayyidatinā ‘Āishah Radiallāhu ‘Anhā a rebel and a fāsiq (Major Sinner). That is not true, Shaykh ‘Abdullāh al-Hararī attributes that position to Imām al-Ash’arī, but that is a fabrication.

The AICP and Ninowites (Some of the followers of Muhammad ibn Yahyā an-Ninowy, however, I haven’t heard Shaykh Yahyā promote any such views himself) are only causing more fitnah by giving opinions contrary to the Jumhūr of Ahlus Sunnah. Imām at-Taftazānī mentions in his Sharh that he doesn’t know of any Sunni scholar in the entire history of Islām who cursed or allowed cursing Mu’āwiyah (Radiallāhu ‘Anhu).

Imām Abū al-Hasan al-Ash’arī said in his Maqālāt: 

“The position of Ahlus Sunnah is that ‘Alī (May Allāh be pleased with Him) was correct in the differences that existed between him and Mu’āwiyah (May Allāh be pleased with Him), and that these differences did not occur due to selfish desires or caprice but rather through each excercising their Ijtihād. Mu’āwiyah (MayAllāh be pleased with Him) erred, and thus has the reward of his Ijtihād, and he was not sinful for his error.”

The belief of Ahlus Sunnah is clear and has been codified. We don’t need to turn to AICP or Ninowites for it, as Ahlus Sunnah are complete without them.

‘Aqīdatut Tahāwiyyah:

“We love the companions of God’s Messenger ﷺ. We are not, however, extreme in our love for any one of them. Nor do we disassociate from any of them. We loathe those who loathe them, and we only mention their merits. Loving them is essential to religion, faith, and spiritual excellence, and hating them amounts to infidelity, hypocrisy and extremism.” It further says, “Whoever speaks well of the companions of the Messenger of God ﷺ, his chaste wives, and his purified progeny is absolved of hypocrisy.”

Imām Ibn Daqīq al-‘Īd said:

“What has been related regarding the conflicts between the Companions and their disagreement, some of it is fabricated and lies and should not be given any notice. That which is true is to be interpreted in the best possible way because the praise of Allāh for them has been revealed. The doubtful or imagined cannot invalidate the firmly established and well-known.”

Imām Mālik ibn Anas said:

“Whoever reviles any of the Companions of the Prophet ﷺ – Abū Bakr, ‘Umar, ‘Uthmān, Mu’āwiyah or ‘Amr ibn al-‘Ās – is killed if he says that they were subject to misguidance or disbelief. If he reviles them in another way as people curse each other, he is given a severe punishment.”

Note: It is not Imām Mālik’s position that the ones who curse the Sahābah are to be executed. They are to be punished by the Ijtihād of the Qādhī.

Lastly, the last chapter of Qādhī Iyādh’s ash-Shifā mentions the ruling against those who curse the Companions (any single companion): “they are to be disciplined”.

Legitimate Islamic Learning: Being People of Isnad

By Ustadh Abu Aaliyah

One cannot worship God with loving submission, save with sound sacred knowledge or ‘ilm. The Golden Rule in this regard was stated by Imam al-Bukhari in these terms:al-‘ilmu qabla’l-qawli wa’l-‘aml – ‘Knowledge comes before speech and action.’1 If we don’t possess sound knowledge, we may make something a part of the religion which should never be part of it – effectively introducing an innovation or bid‘ah into Islam. One hadith says: ‘Whoever does an act that we haven’t instructed, it shall be rejected.’ [Muslim, no.1718] The Qur’an itself says: Do they have partners who have made lawful for them in religion that which God has given no permission for? [42:21]

What follows are six points that summarise, God-willing, the issue of what constitutes legitimate Islamic learning:

1. The crux of how one seeks sacred knowledge is best expressed by a famous maxim: ‘Indeed this knowledge is religion, so look from whom you take your religion.’2 The upshot is that one avoids learning religion from those who are not Imams; or people not schooled, qualified or authorised in the traditional sciences: be it in theology, law, hadith, Qur’anic recital (tajwid), or any other discipline.

2. This qualification/authorisation (‘ijazah) must be part of an unbroken chain (isnad) of learning extending back to the Prophet, peace be upon him. One hadith says: ‘This knowledge will be carried by the trustworthy ones of every generation: they will expel from it the distortions of the extremists, the fabrications of the liars, and the mistaken interpretations of the ignorant.’ [Bayhaqi, Sunan, 10:209] If one takes knowledge from those outside of this unbroken chain, there is no telling what deviation can be passed-off as “the real deal” – as is all too often the case in these times.

3. To believe that the truths of Islam existed amongst the salaf; the pious predecessors, but then “sahih” or “authentic” Islam was lost or neglected for the next thousand years or so; until recently when it was rediscovered, is nothing but a dangerous myth which flies in the face of what God proclaimed in the Qur’an: Indeed, it was We who sent down the Remembrance, and of a surety We will preserve it. [15:9] Consider also these following hadiths: ‘My ummah shall never unite upon misguidance.’ [Al-Tirmidhi, no.2255] And: ‘There shall never cease to be a group of my ummah unmistakably upon the truth.’ [Al-Tirmidhi, no.2230; Muslim, no.1920] Also the hadith cited earlier: ‘This knowledge will be carried by the trustworthy ones of every generation.’ [Bayhaqi, Sunan, 10:209]

What these proof-texts collectively tell us is that God has promised that knowledge of Islam shall always be kept intact and be transmitted from one generation of scholars to the next, in an unbroken chain. While it is true that individual scholars can and do err; and while it is true that individual scholars can and do espouse aberrant (shadhdh) opinions that are excluded from the umbrella of legitimate scholarly differences; it is utterly preposterous to believe that many truths and sunnahs were unknown, lost or neglected by the entire scholarly community for many centuries (even a millenium), only to be revived or rediscovered by certain scholars in our time! Such a belief could only be held by one whose heart is plagued either with ignorance (jahalah), innovation (bid‘ah), hypocrisy (nifaq), deviation (zandaqah) or disbelief (kufr). And we seek refuge in God from such things.

4. In terms of fiqh (Islamic law and rulings; or to use its modern equivalent, “positive law”) the unbroken chain now only exists in the four remaining Sunni schools of law or madhhabs: Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi‘i and Hanbali. To the question as to why a person cannot follow other Imams or schools of fiqh besides these four, Ibn Rajab says: ‘It is said [in reply]: We have already alerted you to the reason for preventing this, which is that the schools of other than these [four] were not widely diffused, nor fully codified. At times views are ascribed to them which they never said, or their pronouncements are understood in ways they never intended. There is no [expert in] these schools to defend them or point out where such slips and errors lie – contrary to the case of the well-known madhhabs.’3 Hence it is from these four madhhabs and their relied-upon (mu‘tamad) manuals and teachers that fiqh must be taken.

5. As to a murajji‘, a “comparatist” (a highly-versed jurist qualified to evaluate the views of the mujtahid Imams and to then select the ruling he deems to be the ‘strongest’), al-Dhahabi wrote: ‘There is no doubt, one who has an intimate familiarity with fiqh, and whose knowledge is copious and intentions are sound, should not rigidly cling to one specific madhhab in all that it states. For maybe another madhhab has stronger proofs in a certain issue, or evidence may emerge by which the proof is established to him. In such a case, he must not follow his Imam, but must act by what the proof necessitates; following another mujtahid Imam whose view agrees with the evidence – doing so not out of pursuing whims and desires. However, he must not to give a fatwa to the public, except in accordance with the madhhab of his Imam.’4

6. Ibn al-Qayyim was asked about someone who possessed Sahih al-Bukhari, or Sahih Muslim, or one of the Sunans, and whether he may act on the hadiths in them, without first consulting a scholar. He replied thus: ‘The correct view in the matter is that there is some detail: If the textual indication in the hadith (dalalat al-hadith) is obvious and clear to whoever hears it, and allows for no other plausable reading, he should act on it and give fatwa according to it: he doesn’t need the approval of any jurist or Imam. The saying of the Prophet, peace be upon him, is proof in itself, no matter who it opposes. But if the indication is vague, or the intent is unclear, then it is unlawful for him to act on it or to give a fatwa based upon what he thinks it means, until he asks a scholar and gets clarity about the meaning of the hadith … This applies to one who is qualified, but has some shortcomings in his knowledge of fiqh, the principles of the legalists, and the Arabic language. If he isn’t of those who are qualified, his duty is simply to act on what God says: So ask the people of knowledge if you do not know. [16:43]‘5

Much more can be said about the subject, but what has preceeded should suffice. The sum and substance being that fiqh authority and orthodoxy resides in the four Sunni schools of law. The current ‘do-it-yourself’ fiqh culture which actively encourages the lay people, or those unschooled in fiqh, to dabble in the sacred texts and to ‘weigh-up’ the proofs (or the equally absurd ‘the-hadith-is-clear’ syndrome), are unwitting pawns who only serve to plunge this fragile ummah into even further religious anarchy. Such a methodology is to be seen for what it truly is: dal mudill: ’misguided and misguiding!’ Those holding such mistaken notions must correct them.

1. Al-Bukhari, Sahih al-Bukhari (Damascus: Dar Ibn Kathir, 2002), 29.

2. Muslim b. al-Hajjaj, Sahih Muslim (Beirut: Dar al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyyah, 1991), 14.

3. Al-Radd ala man Ittabaah Ghayra’l-Madhahib al-Arbaah (Makkah: Dar al-‘Alam al-Fuwa’id, 1997), 33-4.

4. Siyar A‘lam al-Nubala (Beirut: Mu’assasah al-Risalah, 1998), 8:93-4.

5. I‘lam al-Muwaqqi‘in (Jeddah: Dar Ibn al-Jawzi, 2002) 6:164.

Source: The Humble “I”

“Do not envy anyone who has not been harmed for the sake of Islam!”

“al-Harith ibn al-Miskin al-Maliki entered upon Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal while he was being tortured, and narrated:

“Yusuf bin ‘Umar bin Yazid narrated to me that Malik bin Anas said: “az-Zuhri was dragged away until he was beaten with a whip.” So, it was said to him: “But az-Zuhri was brought out in front of the people had has books hung from his neck!” So, Malik said: “Sa’id bin al-Musayyib was beaten with a whip, and his hair and beard were shaven off, and Abu az-Zinad was beaten with a whip, as was Muhammad bin al-Munkadir.””

And ‘Umar bin ‘Abd al-’Aziz said: “Do not envy anyone who has not been harmed for the sake of this affair (i.e., Islam)!””

So, Ahmad became pleased at these narrations of al-Harith’s.”

[‘Manaqib al-Imam Ahmad’; p. 321]

“And the people are still being put to trial for the Sake of Allah, and being patient upon that. For example, the Prophets would be killed, and the righteous people of the previous nations would be killed and burned alive. One of them would even have his flesh combed off of his body with a metal comb, and he would remain upon his religion, despite this.

The Messenger of Allah was poisoned, as was Abu Bakr. ‘Umar, ‘Uthman, and ‘Ali were all killed. al-Hasan was poisoned, and al-Husayn was killed. ‘Abdullah bin az-Zubayr, ad-Dahhak bin Qays, and an-Nu’man bin Bashir were also all killed, and Khubayb bin ‘Udayy was crucified.

al-Hajjaj killed ‘Abd ar-Rahman bin Abi Layla, ‘Abd ar-Rahman bin Ghalib al-Hidani, Sa’id bin Jubayr, Abu al-Bukhtari at-Ta’i, Kumayl bin Ziyad, and crucified Mahan al-Hanafi. He had also crucified ‘Abdullah bin az-Zubayr beforehand.

al-Wathiq killed Ahmad bin Nasr al-Khuza’i and crucified him.

As for those who were persecuted from the major scholars: ‘Abd ar-Rahman bin Abi Layla; he was whipped by al-Hajjaj over four hundred lashes, then al-Hajjaj killed him.

Abu az-Zinad was whipped by Banu Umayyah, and Abu ‘Amr bin al-’Ala’ was whipped by Banu Umayyah over five hundred lashes, and Rabi’ah ar-Ra’i was also whipped by Banu Umayyah.

‘Atiyyah al-’Awfi was whipped by al-Hajjaj over four hundred lashes, and Yazid ad-Dabiyy was also whipped over four hundred lashes by al-Hajjaj.

Thabit al-Binani was whipped by al-Jarud (the successor of Ibn Ziyad), and ‘Abdullah bin ‘Awn was whipped over seven hundred lashes by Bilal bin Abi Bardah.

al-Imam Malik bin Anas was whipped by al-Mansur over seventy lashes, and Abu as-Sawwar al-’Adawi and ‘Uqbah bin ‘Abd al-Ghafir were also lashed several times.”

[‘Manaqib al-Imam Ahmad’; p. 322]

Shabat (one of Ahmad’s torturers who later repented) said:

“I whipped Ahmad bin Hambal with over eighty lashes. If I had struck an elephant with these lashes, they would have caused it to collapse.”

[‘Manaqib al-Imam Ahmad’; p. 157]

The Honesty at Yarmouk

YarmoukThe green valley of Yarmouk, with its large river and lush vegetation, is a place unknown and forgotten. Yet, it was here that we see the army of Islam display such valour and heroism that even those who disbelieved were reduced to tears when witnessing the honesty of the Muslims. 

The year was 15 AH wherein Syria was ruled by the Roman emperor Heraclius, who on learning about the Muslims entering Syria became extremely frustrated. He failed to understand how an inferior army of the Muslims could challenge the mighty Roman Empire. However, indeed it was a man of his own kingdom who understood the reasons behind the victory of the Muslims. He explained:

“The morals of the Muslims are superior to ours. They pray at night and fast during the day. They do not oppress anyone. They regard themselves equal to others. We drink liquor, indulge in evil, do not keep our promises and oppress others. The result is that they are firm and enthusiastic in their ventures and we are weak and lax in what we do.”

The words of this man, who by no means was a Muslim, drove anger into the heart of Heraclius and he decided that he would never allow the Muslim army to get away from his clutches. He would swallow them like the tide when it comes in, taking everything and leaving nothing behind.

With this great rage, Heraclius sent his brother Tadharaq to lead the great army of 240,000 troops against the poorly equipped 3,000 Muslims. Heraclius’ army was both trained and well equipped, however this was fruitless without passion, and passion came from the Muslims – passion for Allah, passion for the Prophet (peace be upon him) and passion for the religion. The candle of faith was alive in the hearts of the Muslims. Their trust in Allah and love for the Prophet (peace be upon him) exceeded their love for worldly possessions, so much so that for them, even the entire force of Heraclius’ army would not cause them to grieve.

However, times did look bleak and the Muslims had to prepare for the worst. It was during this period, that Abu Ubaidah (May Allah be pleased with him) held mashwara (consultation) with the army. For every Muslim that was fighting, a force eight times greater was opposing him. It was therefore decided that the entire amount that the Jews and Christians had paid to the Muslims as Jizyah would be refunded back to them. Jizyah is a tax paid by the non-Muslims for protection. However protection could no longer be guaranteed. The honesty and trustworthiness shown by the Muslims brought tears to the inhabitants of Yarmouk, and on this day, the streets of Yarmouk were drowned by the sorrow of seeing such a civilised and great people leaving their vicinity. Yet Allah loves the honest, and as the Prophet (peace be upon him) has stated: “Remember, there is no faith in him who is not trustworthy; there is no place for him in religion who cares not for his pledged word or promise.”

The time drew close, and the two armies met. The situation was tense and each soldier was on guard. The Romans began by attempting to bribe the Muslim army,

Vahan: “We know that it is hardship and hunger that have brought you out of your lands. We will give every one of your men ten dinars, clothing and food if you return to your lands, and next year we will send you a similar amount.”

Yet this was immediately rejected by Khalid bin Waleed who said,

“Actually, what brought us out of our lands is that we are a people who drink blood, and it has reached us that there is no blood tastier than Roman blood.” He then offered the Romans to accept Islam and pay the Jizyah, or settle on the sword.
{Ibn Kathir, Al-Bidayah wan-Nihayah,  Vol. 7 P. 14}

The arrogance of the Romans prevented them from accepting the light of guidance and they opted for the sword. However, amongst their midst stood a man who desired to learn about such an impressive religion – a religion that turned men who used to bury girls alive to those who displayed outstanding characteristics. He was Jurjah bin Budhiyah, a Roman general. After listening to Khalid bin Waleed (May Allah be pleased with him), he immediately accepted the truth and decided to side with the Muslim army. Thereafter, he fought against the Romans with such courage and valour that only a strong believer in the truth could produce such results. He finally fell as a martyr.

It was the Romans who had made the first move, with an attack by 40,000 soldiers, which the Muslim army immediately countered. The fight had begun: swords were striked, daggers swept from right to left, and arrows flew overhead. The Muslims called to Allah, and the words of Surah Al-Anfaal were recited to inspire the Muslim forces. Martial songs were sung to encourage the army and even women joined the masses, proving their worth as Mujaahidahs. The Muslims fought with such zeal and passion that the Romans began to retreat. The Romans were up against not humans, but the army of Allah, and no power invested in them could challenge such an army.

It is in Yarmouk that we witness the bravery of the fighters for Islam. Khalid bin Waleed, Abu Ubaidah bin Jarrah, Shurabil bin Hasana, Yazid bin Abu Sufyan, Ikrimah bin Abu Jahl, Qa’qa bin Amr, Abu Sufyan, Abud-Darda, Amr bin ‘As, Harith bin Dirar and Jurjah bin Budhiyah (May Allah be pleased with them all) were at the forefront of the battle. Their heroic acts and abilities were beyond comparison as their swords swiped across in the blink of an eye.

To prevent the Romans from escaping, the generals were forced to chain their soldiers together. Day turned to night, yet the fighting continued. The Romans were failing, exhausted and tired; yet the spirit of Islam had not received even a dent. Fatigue and frustration settled into the midst of the Roman army, which continued to retreat until their backs were pushing against the mountain. Many soldiers then fell into the river, while others were killed, including Tadharaq. The result of truth versus falsehood was that 3,000 Muslims became martyrs and 100,000 Romans were destroyed. Amongst the Muslims who had been honoured with martyrdom were: Jurjah bin Bhudiyah, Ikrimah bin Abu Jahl, Amr bin Ikirimah, Salamah bin Hisham, Amr bin Saeed, Aban bin Saeed, Hisham bin Al-Aas, Habbar bin Sufyan and Tufail bin Amr (May Allah be pleased with them all).

Mark Walton says:

“Although Battle of Yarmouk is little known today, it is one of the most decisive battles in human history. If it wasn’t for Khalid and had Heraclius’ forces prevailed, the modern world would be so changed as to be unrecognisable.”

This battle was a victory for the Muslims – a victory achieved by their trust in Allah. Verily, Allah does not fail those who believe in Him. The honesty and trustworthiness in the Muslims’ dealings and their desire to become martyrs for Islam were strong enough to resist even one of the most well-equipped and well-known armies in the world. Victory is strength, but not the strength of money or armour; rather it is the strength of the passion in one’s heart.

Napoléon Bonaparte (d. 1821 CE) says about Khalid ibn al-Waleed (d. 642 CE):

‎”It could only be Khalid who thought to fight against Romans at that time and he was a great warrior whose name bacame a terror in the castles of Rome.”

Courtesy of Raeesa Nurani, – the quotes were my addition