THE THEOLOGY OF THE MAIN BODY OF MUSLIMS

I am often asked about the theology of the first three generations and what that entails. People will ask, “What is the Hanbali theology?” Or they will say, “What is Athari or Hambali?” I have answered these questions that many times that I think it would be of great benefit to put together an article that will put these pieces together for posterity. I have found that when two people have a question, then several others have it as well.

So what is Hanbali/Hambali?

Firstly, some pronounce it with an ‘m’ sound but it should not be spelled that way. The word is spelled with the letters ح ن ب ل ي

At no time should it be spelled with a ‘m.’ It is more often pronounced with a ‘n’ sound as making the ‘m’ sound is to do with tajwid and this word has nothing to do with that.

So what is Hanbali Creed?

This is the creed of the first three generations and continuously the creed of the most of the Ummah down through the ages.  The laity have been and always will have this theology based upon the nature of the Ummah. Most of the Ummah are not scholars, logicians or specialists in speculative theology.

The first one to ever describe the theology of the first three generations as ‘Hanbali’ was in the time of Abu Isma`il Al-Ansari (d. 481). He was passing through Ar-Ray in Persia and was asked his theology and he answered that his theology was that which had been defended by the Imam, Ahmad ibn Hanbal (d. 241 (AD 855). [1] Before this time, [2]  there was no name for our theology other that the First Three Generations. [3]

So what are the books of theology for the creed of the First Three Generations

The earliest books are:

Al-I`tiqad by Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal

Mujmal ul-I`tiqad by Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal

Qawl fil-I`tiqad by Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal

Al-Jama`ah by Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal

Kitab us-Sunnah Harb ibn Isma`il Al-Kirmani (d. 280)

As-Sunnah by Imam Abu Bakr Al-Athram (d. 281)

Nasikh ul-Hadith wa Mansukh by Imam Abu Bakr Al-Athram (d. 281)

Sharh us-Sunnah by Imam Abu Muhammad Al-Barbahari (d. 329)

Al-Ibanah by Imam Ibn Battah (d. 387)

Al-Mu`tamad by Imam Al-Qadi Abu Ya`la Al-Baghdadi (d. 458)

Ibtal ut-Ta’wilat by Imam Al-Qadi Abu Ya`la Al-Baghdadi (d. 458)

At-Tabsirah fi Usul id-Din Abul Faraj Ash-Shirazi (d. 487)

Al-Manzumah fil-I`tiqad by Imam Mahfuz Al-Kalwadhani (d. 510)

Al-Idah fi Usul id-Din by Imam Ibn Az-Zaghuni (d. 528)

Al-I`tiqad by Imam `Abdul Qadir Al-Jilani (d. 561)

Al-Ghunyah by Imam `Abdul Qadir Al-Jilani (d. 561)

Al-Iqtisad fil-I`tiqad  by Imam `Abdul Ghani ibn `Abdul Wahid Al-Maqdisi (d. 600)

Kitabut-Tawhid  by Imam `Abdul Ghani ibn `Abdul Wahid Al-Maqdisi (d. 600)

Lum`at ul-I`tiqad by Imam Muwaffaq ud-Din Ibn Qudamah (d. 620)

Riyad ul-Jannah li-Athari Ahl is-Sunnah by Imam Ibn `Abdul Baqi (d. 1071)

(Lum`at ul-I`tiqad is a summary of all of Imam Ahmad’s theological works reduced into poetry while the evidences have been kept in the form of one ayah/one hadith for each point of creed)

These are the most well-known and lauded texts from the elders of the way of Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal and their students.  These deal with the complete theology in detail. There are other books besides these but they tend to touch on one or two issues that were raised.

So if anyone notices that his particular scholar was not mentioned, I have not rejected them. It is merely based on the fact that a particular book or scholar wrote a book dealing with a particular subject. I haven’t even quoted all of Imam Muwaffaq ud-Din Ibn Qudamah’s theology works as after the Lum`at ul-I`tiqad, the rest touch on a particular subject or a few subjects. The most studied are the following.

So what did you study in this theology?

I was taught in the following capacity. I memorised Lum`at ul-I`tiqad. There are three narrations of it. I had to do all three of them. After this, I studied its first commentary, Najat ul-Khalaf fi I`tiqad is-Salaf by Imam Ibn Qa’id An-Najdi (d. 1097).

The second commentary I had to study was Al-I`tiqad by Imam Al-Balbani (d. 1083) (there is a smaller text called Qala’id ul-`Iqyan by Ibn Hamdan). Sometimes this creed is called the ” I`tiqad Al-Balbani” and then the third was the Nihayah by Imam Ibn Hamdan (d. 695)

Then there is the poetry by Imam Muhammad As-Saffarini (d. 1189) in which he combined all three texts together and shortened them into the poetry Ad-Durrat ul-Madiyyah fi `Aqd Ahli l-Firqat il-Mardiyyah. Then he wrote a commentary on that which is two volumes. And this was based upon questions asked of him by people of the Najd at the time that Muhammad ibn `Abdul Wahhab was causing his wickedness.

So the order of study is:

  1. Lum`at ul-I`tiqad (memorise it in first narration) with a teacher
  2. Najat ul-Khalaf (study this after memorising Lum`at ul-I`tiqad) with a teacher
  3. memorise the second narrative of Lum`at ul-I`tiqad with a teacher
  4. go through Al-Balbani I`tiqad with a teacher
  5. memorise third narrative of Lum`at ul-I`tiqad with a teacher
  6. go through Nihayah with a teacher with a teacher
  7. reference Ad-Durrat ul-Madiyyah and its commentary in full for a year along with Shatti’s notes on it with a teacher.

This is not only the most useful it is the same structure that was gone through by As-Saffarini (and what he based his commentary upon) and many of the Palestinian and Egyptian students of knowledge and scholars of that time and before.

So is Tahawi’s creed Athari/Hanbali?

No, At-Tahawi was Maturidi. His text has been commented upon by all of the three scholars (Hanbali, Maturidi and Ash`ari) but he is Maturidi. There are statements about Iman as well as other affairs that Imam Ahmad and his successors would have never uttered.

He is also never quoted in the foundational source literature. His text is sound but it is not the direct representation of the first three generations in theology. I memorised this text as well from a teacher and it is a good start for beginning the process of comparative theology within Muslim Orthodoxy and also Muslim Orthodoxy contrasted with the cults. It is a sound text.

Ash`aris and Maturidis?

They are from Muslim Orthodoxy as they base their statements on the point that they say they follow Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal in theology. The degree to which they do that and how true those statements are is under discussion depending upon speculative theology and which era of those scholars is being consulted.

So the commentary of At-Tahawi Ibn Abil `Izz is Athari/Hanbali

No. That commentary actually has a number of grievous errors in it regarding the Names and Attributes. One of the best and most lauded commentaries is Bayan us-Sunnah by Imam Al-Maydani (d. 1298).

And Adh-Dhahabi and Ibn Abi Zayd Al-Qayrawani?

No. They are never quoted as foundational sources in any of our books. This is folklore.

What about Taqi ud-Din Ibn Taymiyyah and Ibn ul-Qayyim?

In Taqi ud-Din’s final work, Kitab ul-Iman il-Kabir, this is sound. But the 37 vol. Majmu`a Fatawa has never been used as our scholars as a source or depended upon. He is weighed against all the other texts.

As an aside, Ibn Hamdan (d. 695) makes no reference to him in theology and neither does Ibn Qa’id An-Najdi, Al-Balbani. As-Saffarini does not cite him comparatively until his commentary. The same holds for Ibn ul-Qayyim in terms of citations in theology.

[1] Please see Adh-Dhail `ala Tabaqat il-Hanabilah, vol.3, pp. 43-44

[2] Please see Adh-Dhail `ala Tabaqat il-Hanabilah, vol.3, pp. 43-44

[3] Please see Adh-Dhail `ala Tabaqat il-Hanabilah, vol.3, pp. 43-44

ANNOUNCEMENT: THE WELL BALANCED WAY IN CREED IS CURRENTLY UNDER PRODUCTION

Dear readers,

Another breakthrough has come. We are currently under production and our second to last read through and cover design for the text The Well Balanced Way in Creed, authored by the grand Imam `Abdul Ghani ibn `Abdul Wahid Al-Maqdisi (d. 600), may Allah have mercy upon him, which shall have both Arabic and English text. We hope that this will be of benefit to readers. Again, this is not the final but the run up to it.

Until next time,

brother in Islam,

Al-Hajj Abu Ja`far Al-Hanbali

ANNOUNCEMENT: DIVINE LIGHTNING CURRENTLY UNDER PRODUCTION

To all of the readers, thank you for your patience. We continue to strive to work diligently to bring the best content. The Divine Lightning is as of today under review and revision. Please keep us in your supplications. We hope to complete the second edition in the future very soon.

 

was-Salaam,

brother in Islam

Al-Hajj Abu Ja`far Al-Hanbali

THE MONTH OF RABI` UL-AWWAL: THE FIRST SITTING IN MENTIONING THE BIRTH OF OUR MASTER, THE MESSENGER OF ALLAH

Kairo, Mausol. v. Imam Ash-Shafi’i 1211

Imam Ibn Rajab Al-Hanbali (d. 795), may Allah be pleased with him, said of the discussion around Rabi` ul-Awwal:

The Imam, Ahmad ibn Hanbal, collected a hadith from Al-`Irbad ibn Sariyah As-Sulami, may Allah be pleased with him, from the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, who said,

“Indeed I was the Slave of Allah written in the Preserved Book as the Seal of the Prophets while Adam was still needed in his clay. I will inform you of the reality of this matter: I am the supplication of my father, Ibrahim and the good news of `Isa to his people. My mother was shown a vision in which she saw that a light issued forth from her that illuminated the castles of Syria. And this likewise is what the mothers of all the other prophets saw.”

This same hadith was collected by Al-Hakim and he declared that it was authentic in chain of transmission. The meaning of this same hadith has been narrated from Abu Umamah Al-Bahili and from other transmissions that are mursal.

The intent of this hadith is that the prophecy of the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, was mentioned and known before Allah created him and brought him to life in the earthly realm.  So he was written in the Preserved Book before the soul was put in Adam, peace be upon him, and the Preserved Book is none other than the Preserved Tablet. And this has been mentioned in the Word of the Exalted One,

And Allah wipes away what He so wills and He establishes what He so wills and it is in His Presence in the Preserved Book.[1]

It is narrated from Ibn `Abbas, may Allah be pleased with both of them, that he asked Ka`b about the Mother of the Book or the Preserved Book. He said, “This is the Knowledge of Allah of what He created and what deeds he created. And he said to His Knowledge, ‘So be a book’. So it then became a book.”

There is no doubt that the Knowledge of Allah, Mighty and Majestic, is pre-eternal, uncreated and He has always been the All Knowing of what he brought about of His Creations. Then he, Exalted be He, wrote that in a book in His Presence before He created the skies and the Earth. This is just as he said, Exalted be He,

Nothing comes about in the Earth nor in yourselves except it is in a book before We brought it into being. Indeed that is easy for Allah.[2]

There is also in the Sahih of Al-Bukhari a narrative from `Imran ibn Husain, may Allah be pleased with him, from the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, who said, “Allah was and there was no thing before Him. Then His Throne was over the water. He wrote in the remembrance everything that was to be. Then He created the skies and the Earth.”

There is also the narrative collected in the Sahih of Imam Muslim from the narrative of `Abdullah ibn `Amr ibn Al-`As, may Allah be pleased with both of them, from the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, who said, “Indeed Allah wrote the ordained matters of the creation before He created the skies and the Earth by some 50,000 years while His Throne was over the water.”

So the generality of what he wrote in the remembrance, which is the Mother of the Book is the Muhammad is the Seal of the Prophets. And from that point, the creations went from the level of knowledge to the level of being written down as a branch of the branches of external existence. And it is due to this that Sa`id ibn Rashid asked `Ata, “Was the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, a prophet before he was created?”

`Ata’ said, “Yes, by Allah. And this was the case that he was prophet before the earthly realm was created by some 2,000 years.” Abu Bakr Al-Ajurri collected in his book, Kitab ush-Shari`ah, that `Ata’ Al-Khurasani and this is an indication of what we mentioned from the etching of his prophethood and prophecy, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, in the Mother of the Book at the time of the ordaining of all matters.

Remember the statement of the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, in this hadith, “Indeed I was the Slave of Allah written in the Preserved Book as the Seal of the Prophets while Adam was still needed in his clay.

The intent of it – and Allah knows best – is not that at that point he was written in the Mother of Book as his seal is upon the Prophets. The intent is that the narrations on him being written in the Mother of Book in that state before the soul was placed in Adam. He – the Prophet – is infact the first created from the human genus.

And there are other Ahadith that indicate in that state that his prophecy is declared. And this is a third rank. As it is his going from the rank of knowledge to the rank of being etched into the Preserved Book to the rank of the external existence.

And he, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, was brought out from the back of Adam and he was declared and his prophethood became present in the external after he was written down in the Mother of the Book. There is also the hadith of Maisarah Al-Fajr who remarked, “I said, ‘Messenger of Allah, when were you declared prophet?’ He said, ‘I was prophet while Adam was between the soul and body.’ ” This was collected by the Imam, Ahmad ibn Hanbal as well as Al-Hakim in Al-Mustadrak.

The Imam, Ahmad ibn Hanbal, said in the narration of Mahna and part of it runs, “When were you written down as a prophet?” He, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, remarked, “From the etching in the Preserved Book.”

So if this narrative is authentic, then it is held upon the understanding of the hadith of Al-`Irbad ibn Sariyah that his prophethood and its establishment and appearance was declared at the outset. So the etching is only used in that he has been brought about and decreed from the beginning.

And this stands in terms of the Revealed Law,

He has declared (Ar. lit. written) for you fasting.[3]

Or if he has been declared according to decree, as the Exalted One said,

Allah has declared,

Allah has written: I and My Messengers shall most certainly be victorious.[4]

There is also the hadith aof Abu Hurairah, may Allah be pleaed with him, from the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, that the people said to him, “Messenger of Allah, when was the prophecy begun for you?” He said, “When Adam was between the spirit and the body.” This was collected by At-Tirmidhi and declared as valid by him. And in one of the manuscripts he declared it authentic. This was also collected by Al-Hakim.

Ibn Sa`d narrated from the narrative of Jabir Al-Ja`fi from Ash-Sha`bi who said, “A man said to the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, ‘When were you declared as a prophet?’ He, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said, ‘When Adam was between the spirit and the body. And it was at this point that the covenant was taken from me.’

And this narrative is proof that the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, was taken from the back of Adam, declared and prophecied and the covenant taken. This suggests as an evidence that the progeny of Adam were extracted from his back and the covenant taken from them before the putting of the soul into Adam.

And this was also narrated from Salman Al-Farisi and others from the early generations and the external form of the ayah given by the Exalted One is,

So We have created you, then formed you, then We said to the angels: Prostrate to Adam.[5]

And the understanding of this was taken from Mujahid and others to mean that the progeny of Adam was taken from his back before he ordered the angels to prostrate to him; but most of the first three generations are of the understanding that the progeny of Adam being taken from his back was after the soul being put into him.

And most of the Ahadith indicate the matter and when this is all put together, it appears that the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, was taken out of the back of Adam before the putting of the soul into him. So indeed the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, is the deep seated intent of the creation of the human genus, the quintessence and centrepiece. It is not at all far-fetched that his being taken from the back of Adam occurred before the soul was put into Adam.

It was narrated that Adam, peace be upon him, saw the name of Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, written on the Throne and mentioned it and Allah, Mighty and Majestic, said to Adam, “Had it not been for Muhammad, I would not have created you.” This was collected by Al-Hakim in his Sahih.

So the moment that the clay form of Adam was made, Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, was taken out, the covenant taken from him and then he was placed back in the back. This would be the case until he came to be and appeared at the time that Allah so ordained.

That it witnessed according to a narrative from Qatadah that the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said, “I was the first of the prophets created and the last one sent.” There is another narration in which he said, “The first of people in creation.” This was collected by Ibn Sa`d and others.

There is another narrative collected by At-Tabarani from the narrative of Qatadah from Al-Hasan from Abu Hurairah in an attributable hadith and similar to that. There is another narrative from Qatadah with the same wording just mentioned and then the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, would recite the ayah,

When we took from the prophets their covenant and from you, Nuh, Ibrahim, Musa and `Isa ibn Maryam.[6]

Source: Lata’if ul-Ma`arif Fima Li-Mawasim il-`Ami Min Al-Waza’if, pp. 87-89

[1] Surat ur-Ra`d (13), ayah 40

[2] Surat ul-Hadid (57), ayah 21

[3] Surat ul-Baqarah (2), ayah 182

[4] Surat ul-Mujadilah (58), ayah 20

[5] Surat ul-A`raf (7), ayah 10

[6] Surat ul-Ahzab (33), ayah 7