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Imam Ash-Shafi’i on Evil and Good Bida’ah

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Imam Ash-Shafi’i on Evil and Good Bida’ah: A Refutation of the Pseudo-Salafi Weakening of His Narration | Seeking Ilm.com.

Compiled by Abu Layth

Alhamdulillah for the ability given to us to research the claims of the pseudo-salafis for ourselves, and having the chains of serfdom to pseudo-salafi “Shaykhs” removed from our necks! For our brethren shackled in pseudo-salafi Saudi Arabia do not have the ability to freely search out the truth! May Allah free them from the oppression of the Wahhabi propaganda machine funded by oil dollars, Amin! All of us reading this article should thank Allah ta’ala for this ability!

Several years ago we compiled statements of Imam Ash-Shafi’i (rahmatullah ‘alayh), the forefather of this Ummah that standardized Usul Al-Fiqh with his Risalah, in which he held that there existed good bida’ah and evil bida’ah. We recently came upon some quotes from some pseudo-salafi “Shaykhs”, particularly Salim Al-Hilali and ‘Ali Al-Halabi – students of al-Albani who claimed these reports were weak. In this article we will refute the baseless accusation and expose such ignorance in this science.

Imam Al-Bayhaqi, in what was called the greatest biographical work on Imam ash-Shafi’i by Taqiyud-Din As-Subki –Manaqib Al-Imam Ash-Shafi’i, narrates the following report from Imam Ash-Shafi’i:

“It was narrated to us by Muhammad ibn Musa ibn al-Fadl who had it narrated to him from Abul-Abbas Al-Asam who said Rabi’ ibn Sulayman narrated to us from Imam ash-Shafi’i that he said,

“Innovated matters in religion (min Al-Umur) are of two kinds: 1) Whatever is innovated and contravenes the Book, or the Sunnah, or a narration, or Ijma‘ (consensus) – then that is an innovation of misguidance. 2) Whatever is innovated of [any and all good things [min al-khayr] and that does not contradict any of these – then this is a novelty which is not blameworthy.  And ‘Umar (radiya Allahu ‘anhu) said concerning the night-prayer in the month of Ramadan: ‘ni’matu bida’at hadhihi‘ what a good innovation this is’ meaning it was innovated without having existed before and, even so, there was nothing in it that contradicted the above.”

This clearly refutes the claim by the pseudo-salafis that Imam Ash-Shafi’i only meant bida’ah “linguistically”, as here he clearly says  min al-Umur – which means ‘from the religion’ as it is an allusion to the hadith of The Nabi ‘alayhis salam where He stated ‘min amrinaa hadha – this affair [religion] of ours’. Furthermore he is utilizing it regarding an act of worship that was abandoned as well as not performed by the Prophet Muhammad; we mean here a) He abandoned tarawih as the Sahih hadith states b) he never gathered the people behind one Imam in doing this Salah, c) he did not read the entire Qur’an throughout the month of Ramadan etc. Furthermore, it proves that Imam Ash-Shafi’i utilized the statement of Umar ibn Al-Khattab to prove the existence of “good bida’ah”. So the question arises is this report Sahih from Imam ash-Shafi’i?

Claim of Weakness by Pseudo-Salafi:

The claim regarding this chain by Salim Al-Hilali and ‘Ali Al-Halabi,  pseudo-salafi propagandists and students of Muhammad al-Albani is that Muhammad ibn Musa ibn al-Fadl is that he is somehow unknown as ‘he did not find a biography for him فإني لم أجد له ترجمة‘ ((In the horrible work labeled “al-Bida’ah” of Hilali and Usul Al-Bid’ah by Al-Halabi, a work full of lies and distortions indeed! )) in the works of Jarh and Ta’dil.

The Sunni Response:

This chain is certainly Sahih by the standards of the Imams of Ahlus Sunnah. We truly wonder if Salim al-Hilali and co. truly ever looked for the biographical information on Muhammad ibn Musa ibn Al-Fadl as-Sayrafi! For it did not take long for a non-scholar, such as myself, to find his entry within the very well known work Siyar Al-’Alam An-Nubala’ of Imam Adh-Dhahabi. The entry, in its entirety is as follows:

click image to enlarge

“5901: Muhammad ibn Musa ibn Al-Fadl ibn Shadhan As-Sayrafi [died 412 A.H]

As-Sayrafi, The Shaykh, the Thiqah (trustworthy), The Ma’mun (the reliable), Abu Sa’id, Muhammad ibn Musa ibn Al-Fadl ibn Shadhan as-Sayrafi, ibn Abi ‘Amru An-Naysaburi. [He then mentions the narrating of him from al-‘Asamm – the one who he is narrating this from in this athar under review] [Those who] Reported from him, Abu Bakr Al-Bayhaqi, Al-Khatib, Abu Salih Al-Mu’adhdhin, Abu Isma’il Abdullah ibn Muhammad Al-Harawi […] “

This is not the only well known work his biographical data is recorded in. In Kitab Al-Wafi bil-Wafiyat of Shaykh Salahud-Din as-Safadi we also find his biographical entry:

Click Image to enlarge

[Excerpt taken from Vol. 5 page 59 of Al-Wafi bil-Wafiyat of Imam Salahud-Din Khalil ibn Aybak As-Safadi [764 A.H] published by Dar Al-Ihya At-turath al-Arabi]:

“Ibn Shadhan Muhammad ibn Musa ibn Al-Fadl ibn Shadhan, Abu Sa’id ibn ‘Amru An-Naysaburi As-Sayrafi, one of the well known trustworthy (thiqaat) scholars. Those who reported from him are al-Khatib, Al-Bayhaqi, and a large group [of scholars]. He died in the year 412 a.h.”

These are two well known works, available to the masses of Muslims by free download or by purchasing the multiple printed editions, and we thank Allah for allowing us the ability to find the truth!

The problem for Salim Al-Hilali and his cohorts in deception does not stop here however. For there is another completely different narration of this principle by Imam Ash-Shafi’i found in Hilyat al-Awliya:

[Click to Enlarge]

The difference here is the chain and the wording at the end the narration, “And he sought proof with the words of ‘Umar ibn Al-Khattab regarding the prayer in Ramadan: “This is a good bida’ah!”

Salim Al-Hilali says about this chain:

ففي سنده عبدالله بن محمد العطشي، ذكره الخطيب البغدادي في “تاريخه” والسمعاني في”الأنساب” ولم يذكرا فيه جرحاً ولا تعديلاً.

“In its chain is Abdullah ibn Muhammad al-’Atshi, he was mentioned by Al-Khatib Al-Baghdadi in his “Tarikh”, and As-Sam’ani in Al-Ansaab, and no criticism or praise was mentioned regarding him!”

Therefore, he is “unknown” for no Jarh or ta’dil has been mentioned regarding him! Imam As-Sam’ani in his Ansaab does mention him as the pseudo-salafis claim:

وأبو القاسم عبد الله بن محمد بن عبدوس العطشي المقرىء، من أهل بغداد، حدث عن إبراهيم بن عبد الله بن الجنيد، وحماد بن الحسن بن عنبسة الوراق، وعلي بن حرب الطائي، ومحمد بن إسحاق الصغاني. روى عنه أبو بكر محمد بن الحسين الآجري وأبو حفص بن شاهين، ويوسف بن عمر القواس وغيرهم. مات في ذي الحجة سنة سبع عشرة وثلاثمائة.

…He was from the people of Baghdad…those that reported from him were Abu Bakr [..] Al-Aajuri, Abu Hafs ibn Shahin and Yusuf ibn ‘Umar al-Qawwas, and other than them.

If the pseudo-salafis argue that he is “Majhul-Al-Haal“, for in such a case no one has criticized him nor has anyone praised him on record, then his unknowness (jahalah) is raised for there are more than two trustworthy narrators who narrate from him; Ibn Shahin and Abu Bakr Al-Aajuri – who is credited for many works that have been preserved throughout the generations, and Yusuf ibn ‘Umar al-Qawwas. As for Yusuf ibn ‘Umar al-Qawwas then Al-Khatib said he was a Hafith andThiqah, Dhahabi describes him as a “Master of Hadith, Thiqah!” [Siyar Al-‘Alam An-Nubala’: entry 6843]

Therefore his “majhul al-haal” is lifted from him. We have compiled many statements from the scholars of hadith who held this position to be sound; namely Ibn Abdul Barr, Ibn As-Salah, Al-Qastalani, Ad-Daraqutni, Ibn Hibban,  Imam Al-Bazzar, Imam An-Nawawi and many others.

What further strengthens the standing of Shaykh Abdullah ibn Muhammad Al-’Atshi is the fact that this is corroborated authentically through the chain of Imam Al-Bayhaqi that we mentioned above.

Conclusion and Warning

This text from Imam Ash-Shafi’i is preserved and Sahih. The Shafi’is have utilized this text as proof throughout their works defining bida’ah, and they have upheld the view of Imam Ash-Shafi’i throughout the ages. Even Ibn Taymiyyah – an arch enemy to the Sunni creed who died in Ahlus Sunnah’s prison for his deviance – held this text to be authentic in his Majmu’ Al-Fatawa [20/163] with the words:

رواه البيهقي باسناده الصحيح

“It is reported by Al-Bayhaqi with a Sahih chain!”

I call upon all of the pseudo-salafis to recant their position that this is not authentic upon Imam Ash-Shafi’i, and such includes the pseudo-salafis on the internet such as Sahab, Ahlul-Hadith, and in English the distorter, Umm Abdullah on her devious blog who wrote a misleading article quoting  her deviant and deceptive Imam, Salim Al-Hilali claiming these narrations were weak [as of Aug 1st 2010 she has said she will remove it]!

All of this shows that the deviant pseudo-salafi cult, as we have shown many times on SeekingIlm.com, will go to any means necessary to distort the Sunni understanding of Bida’ah. They will lie, cheat, and deceive the masses in their works labeling men who are established as trustworthy, weak, and those weak as trustworthy. We warn you all from their deviance and treachery and ask Allah to save you all from their propaganda Amin!

May Allah bless the Prophet Muhammad, His Family, and those that follow him Amin!

[updated Aug. 1st 2010]

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