1. Definitions
  2. Positive contributions of the Salafī trend
  3. Criticisms of Salafism
  4. Concluding remarks

1. Definitions: What is Salafī Islam?

What exactly is 'Salafism'? In the absence of a unanimously agreed upon definition, I propose to elucidate the modern Salafī phenomena via an outline of its beginnings, an assessment of its particular characteristics, manifestations of it in various contemporary groups, and a discussion of its positive and not so positive contributions to Islam and our global society.

Within the context of our modern World, or to be more precise over the last half a century, the term 'Salafī' has come to designate an Islamic methodology, the aspirational objective of which is the emulation of the Prophetic example via the practices and beliefs of the earliest generations of Islam. This is because the first three Islamic generations, in being closest to the era of Muḥammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) and the period of revelation, are understood to best embody the Prophetic Sunnah, and thus a pristine Islam.

Inasmuch as the term refers to a methodology, it would be fair to say that it does not specify any one particular or distinct community or group of believers. The generic nature of this term is further illustrated by the fact that more than a dozen distinct groups either identify themselves as Salafī, in that they believe themselves to be on the Salafī manhaj (methodology), or they do not object to the term being ascribed to them even if they themselves do not use it. Whilst saying this however, it is worth noting that every one of these groups considers the correct application of the term exclusive to itself, alleging that all other claimants are not representative of 'true Salafism'. This being the case, an outline of the various points of agreement and disagreement amongst the multiple strands of Salafī Islam is a prerequisite to a comprehensive understanding of 'Salafism'.

1.1 Points of consensus among Salafī movements

There are some general characteristics that are present in all manifestations of Salafism, without exception. In particular:

1)    they consider themselves alone as correctly espousing the teachings and beliefs of the salaf al-ṣāliḥ. In particular, they affirm the theological creed that was narrated from them (typically called the 'atharī' creed')

2)    they categorically reject any possibility of metaphoric or symbolic interpretation of the Divine Names and Attributes (tawḥīd al-asmāʾ wa'l-ṣifāt), a hallmark of the sects such as the Muʿtazilah and the Ashāʿirah

3)    they absolutely affirm God's exclusive right to be worshipped (tawḥīd al-ulūhiyyah) and refute anything that may compromise this directly, or lead to its being compromised. Hence, syncretic practices of certain Sufīs (e.g., extreme saint veneration, intercession of the dead, etc.) are condemned.

4)     they oppose all reprehensible innovations (bidʿa) and  dissociate from those who ascribe to them (ahl al-bidʿah). There is especially staunch opposition to Shīʿism, particularly because of the Shīʿite doctrine of dissociating from most of the Companions.

5)    they respect and take recourse to the legal and theological opinions of Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyya (d. 728/1328). It is important to note, however, that Ibn Taymiyya cannot, and is not, considered a progenitor for the modern Salafī movement, as they view themselves as having no one single founder after the Prophet Muḥammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him).

1.2 Points of contention among Salafī groups

While there is general agreement on the above, there are numerous issues in which disagreement abounds, and each point of contention is manifested in a spectrum of opinions. Foremost amongst these issues are:

  1. Position with respect to the validity and necessity of following one of the jurisprudential schools (madhāhib):

The numerous Salafī strands hold conflicting positions with regard to the ruling on adhering to a particular madhhab, so much so that it has been a source of tension amongst them.

a)  Impermissible: opposition to the canonization of the schools of law was historically a feature of the Ẓāhirī school (of Ibn Ḥazm, d. 456H). The modern revival of this 'anti-madhhab' trend can be traced back to Muḥammad Ḥayāt al-Sindhī (d. 1163) who influenced al-Ṣanʿānī (d. 1182), al-Shawkānī (d. 1250), Ṣiddīq Ḥasan Khān (d. 1307),[1] and, most recently, Nāṣir al-Dīn al-Albānī (d. 2000).  All of these individuals were decidedly anti-madhhabist.

b)  Discouraged but not invalid: some Salafī movements permit the lay person to follow a madhhab in times of necessity, obliging him to go with the dalīl (stronger evidence) when it is made known to him. [2]

c)  Permissible: By and large, Sunnī Islam has considered adherence to a madhhab recommended or obligatory for a lay Muslim, and this is also found in some strands of Salafī Islam. Muḥammad b. ʿAbd al-Wahhāb (d. 1206),[3] champion of the 'Najdi da'wah' was influenced by al-Sindhī in theology but remained a committed follower of the Ḥanbalī school of law, considering the practice of Islam's rites and rituals within the paradigm of a madhhab to be both valid and praiseworthy.

  1. Dissociation from ahl al-bidʿa.

Theoretically all Salafīs dissociate from religious innovations and those who adhere to and propagate them. However, the scope and method of how this dissociation is implemented at the practical level varies from group to group and from scholar to scholar.

Those with the strictest stance on this issue inevitably cast a wide net of 'guilt by association': if person B associates with known deviant A, then person B is declared deviant. If person C then associates with deviant B, now he too becomes a deviant, ad infinitum, ad nauseum. The unfortunate, though predictable, product of such disaffiliation and judgment is the precipitation of further division and splintering within this brand of the Salafī community.

This methodology is the defining group of the 'Madkhalīs' (students of the Saudi Shaykh Rabīʿ bin Hādī al-Madkhalī), who legitimise this practice by considering it an extension of the science of al-Jarh wa'l-taʿdīl (the science of 'ḥadīth criticism' whereby Ḥadīth specialists deem narrators to be reliable or not). While in recent years the popularity of the Madkhalī strand has waned considerably, many non-Madkhalī Salafīs continue to adopt a hardline attitude on this point, refusing even to invite persons of different viewpoints to their conferences and gatherings.

However, some Salafī scholars and groups adopt a more lenient stance in this regard, and are willing to allow co-operation with some non-Salafī communities (for example, allowing cooperation with Deobandis, but not Shīʿīs).

  1. Theological position on 'īmān' (faith) and whether actions constitute a requisite part of īmān or are subsidiary to it.

The discussion of īmān and what it connotes is a relatively modern question, one that arose in the latter part of the 90s when Sh. al-Albānī stated that he did not consider actions to be a necessary part of īmān.[4] The standard Salafī position prior to this, and the explicit position of Ibn Taymiyya and the scholars affirming Atharī theology, was that certain actions are a necessary requirement of faith and the absence of such actions contradicted the presence of īmān.

  1. The level of allegiance and obedience toward an Islamic ruler (ṭāʿat walī al-amr), and the amount of political activism allowed.

This point is a vast and convoluted one, and perhaps the most obvious issue of disagreement to those outside of the movement. The levels of political activism and political dissent, and the necessity of allegiance and loyalty to the Muslim rulers, and the 'Islam' of an illegitimate ruler, are theological 'grey' areas that various Salafī scholars have attempted to negotiate in today's ever-volatile political climate. The positions can be summarized as follows:

a)  Criticizing a legitimate ruling authority is doctrinally prohibited tantamount to sin and deviation. Some Salafīs, in particular the 'mainstream' Saudi Salafīs and Madkhalīs, are extremely pro-government.[5]

b)  Questioning and advising the ruling authority is an extension of al-amr bi'l-maʿrūf wa'l-nahy ʿan al-munkar ('advising the good and forbidding evil'). Some Salafīs view voicing opposition to government policy as a legitimate and necessary extension of the Islamic notion of enjoining the good and forbidding the evil, and equate it with the Islamic principle of attempting to prevent an oppressor from committing his oppression. Examples of this are the Ṣaḥwa scholars of Saudi Arabia, who will be discussed below.

c)  Questioning the legitimacy of all rulers of Muslim lands. There are some Salafī groups who consider all the rulers of Muslim lands (or: only those who do not rule by the Sharīʿah), to be illegitimate and regard them as disbelievers, whose legitimacy should be contested, perhaps by force.[6]

  1. The issue of takfīr (deeming the belief of a Muslim to be invalid) and in particular takfīr of the rulers who don't judge by the laws of the Sharīʿah (al-ḥukm bi ghayr mā anzal Allah).[7]

Once again, there is a spectrum of opinion[8]:

a)  rulers of Muslim lands who judge by secular laws are believers. Some scholars, such as the previous Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, Shaykh ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz b. Bāz (d. 1999) and Shaykh al-Albānī, held the view that a ruler who judged by secular laws is still a believer (unless certain conditions, difficult to verify, exist). They argued that this is a sin that does not in itself expel them from the fold of Islam.

b)  such rulers are treated as Muslim, and obeyed for the greater good of the community, but their action of ruling by other than Allah is major kufr. This is the view of many middle-of-the-road Salafīs, such as Shaykh Muḥammad b. Sāliḥ al-ʿUthaymīn (d. 2001).

c)  rulers of Muslim lands who rule by secular laws have fallen into kufr, and their rule is illegitimate and their belief negated; hence allegiance to them is null and void. This group consists of the hard-liners, represented by figures like Abū Muḥammad al-Maqdisī and Abū Musʿab al-Sūrī, whose writings inspire the jihadist-Salafī movements, which leads us to our next point.

  1. Position with respect to jihād. Whilst the majority of groups championing Salafism are pacifist, there are minority voices within the overall 'Salafī movement' who adopt a more 'militarist' position. They consider a military jihād a binding obligation, either on some segments of the Ummah, or on all eligible members of the Ummah. They focus on either or both of the following:

(i)  removing secular rulers from Muslim lands.

(ii)  maintaining perpetual conflict against non-Muslim governments that have militarily intervened in Muslim lands.

Typically, and understandably, the last three points (i.e., the question of ruling by other than Allah, challenging the belief of the Muslim non-Sharʿī ruler, and the issue of jihād) are intrinsically interconnected. Those holding the harshest views on the legitimacy and belief of a ruler who judges by other than the law of God inevitably adopt the most radical position in pronouncing takfīr and thus lay the foundations for necessitating military jihād.

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463 Responses

  1. Mahmud

    Assalamualaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh

    I skimmed through it, but I skim pretty well.

    Hat’s of, this is the very best full explanation of Salafism I’ve ever come across.

    1)I would put in the article that siding with the enemies of Islam (Sisi) is a sign of nifaq and I would add some more criticism of the various groups, especially the Madkhalee followers and takfiri inclined types.

    2)I would also add a section on how Muslims should deal with certain types. For example, when it comes to the followers of Rabee al Madkhalee, a man whose evil has spread so far and wide it’s a joke he’s given any good title(like Sheikh or Imam of Jarh), I would advise Muslims on how to deal with them
    E.g. the way I deal with them is whenever I find them slandering a righteous man, I defend that Muslim so I’ve defended a Muslims honor in his absence and I also call their manhaj deviated and evil and make a public dua the Ummah is protected from such deviants like them. I call them deviants because I know it hits their psyche. They are deviants. They follow a manhaj of lies and slander.
    So while defending the Muslim they’ve just slandered, I call them out for being deviants and innovators(I should call them blind followers and partisans/hizbis the next time I confront them-both apply to them and I know it gets to them), I wait for the barrage of attacks to focus on me. I remember that their disgusting behavior is a burden to them and I’m happy that I focused their nastiness on to me and turned it away from another Muslim. Then I leave and praise Allah aza wa jal I’m not anywhere in close proximity to them.

    Another toxic group are the Khawaarij like takfiris who will say ‘YOU ARE SLANDERING THE MUJAHIDEEN, WHY DON’T YOU GO FIGHT YOU COWARD” when I try to tell them killing innocent people is unacceptable and so is suicide bombing.

    I hope you have some tips on how to deal with that group…….saying “you are just a bunch of young men” doesn’t really cut it. I’m a young man. I’m 20. That’s not the best criticism. I need a way to deal with those aggressive guys(and girls.)

    But all in all, a wonderful piece. The only BIG thing I feel missing is tips on how to deal with them, especially the Madkhali followers(both the followers and those who act like them) and the takfiri types.

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    • Yasir Qadhi

      Thanks for your comments. This article wasn’t intended to address tips on how to deal with Salafis. And at this stage, I don’t foresee myself writing such an article. But feel free to do so yourself and insha Allah MM can look into publishing it.

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      • aliyaimadudeen

        Assalamu Alaykum Shaykh,

        Yesterday I’ve read your posts about studying in Medina (http://on.fb.me/LfSnSP), because I also have a target to get there, hopefully there can be a further article to discuss about it.

        Also want to ask, why did you choose Yale instead Oxford or Cambridge or continue doctoral in Medina?

        Thank you for the answer. :D

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      • Abdul Hameed

        Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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      • Yasir Qadhi

        Whatever good has come from me, is due to Allah and solely to Allah. Whatever bad has come from me, is from the whisperings of Shaytan, and from my sins, and Allah and His Messenger are free of it.

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      • Hassan

        Assalamu Shaykh Yasir
        I’d appreciate your thoughts on this. According to the Mardan fatwa by Ibn Taymiyyah he said it was permissible to use force to change rulers who arn’t ruling by the sharia.
        What is your opinion on this? Can the uprisings in Syria justified based on this fatwa or was Ibn Taymiyyah’s fatwa relevant only for his time?
        Please explain.

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      • Yasir Qadhi

        Salam

        Such fatwas are useful references, but we can’t and shouldn’t just cut/paste fatwas and re-apply them in our times. Scholars can and should benefits from such fatwas, but they also need to see what is the same and what is different in our times.

        Let each region’s scholars decide what is best for their peoples. As someone who has no experience living in Syria, I don’t feel qualified telling the Syrian people what exactly they should do.

        On the other hand, you don’t need any experience in Syria to state that the current non-Muslim anti-religious Pharoanic regime is one of the worst and most evil and brutal dictatorships the world has seen.

        Yasir

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      • Muhammad

        Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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      • Mahmud

        Muhammad-secularists are kuffar, and these secularists of yours don’t judge by Allah’s law. The mujahideen aren’t Zionist, no matter how much you slander them, they are Muslim. Yes, some like ISIL are Khaawarij and are spreading fasad but that is no excuse to support the secularists who are disbelievers and the Rafidhi Shia.

        And if by extremist you mean ISIL, well unfortunately all they have going for them is some sweet propaganda, some good looking buildings, slogans, dawah handouts but there are some very bloodthirsty Khaawarij among them. There were sincere Mujahideen among them who abandoned them(I think even judges, Kurds and so on) once they realized they were on the wrong side.

        And it’s the MUJAHIDEEN who are fighting these extremist Khaawarij-NOT Asad. Asad and these Khaaawarij don’t fight each other, they fight Muslims. They know if one of them goes, the full force of the mujahideen will be against them.

        And yes, even among the mujahideen we find some wrong actions like suicide bombing and we may find some mistakes. But even the Sahaba RA committed mistakes in war.

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      • Hassan

        Assalamu Alaikum Shaykh Yasir
        Jazakallah khair for your input, in fact I was reading the Mardan fatwa and it was said the word Ibn Taymiyya used was misquoted instead of ” should be fought” he implied ” should be treated” and the original manuscript can be found in the Azhariya Library in Cairo.
        What is your opinion on this? Please explain and keep up the good work.

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      • Arif Ahmad

        No, Mr. Qadhi, mainstream Sunni Islam, Ashari and Maturidi, has not “fallen into shirk” like the Wahabis have claimed. As for your saying that the Wahabis have been guarded themselves by not seeking the help of others than Allah, this is a lie:

        Saud and the scholars of the Saud dynasty have not only asked for madad from the kufaar, but they have allowed them to stay in the Hijaz, as their protectors. They have asked for madam from Britain when they fought the Caliphate as well.

        Tell me, then, Mr. Qadhi, is tawassul thought our Prophet, saw, “haram”, and the waseela of USA jaiz?

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      • Adem

        Aw brother Yasir ,yuo are commiting mistakes. Even if they are (salafists) making mistakes this is not the way to correct them. Your aim must be correcting the mistakes not insalting or propagation. I advice you to study sira and to understand the righteuos islam. Yuo should know tha Islam is devin religion you are not allowed to teach only by your opinion .
        My brothet yasir our in religion is to get jenah not supriority .
        Your brother Adem (theologist )

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      • OUSMANE

        oh my brother and dear Doctor Yasir,
        what can we say if not to say Alhamdulillah, may ALLAH rewards you immensely , we need people like you who help the Ummah who seem to be lost in the middle of all these movements.
        Allah called us muslims,that should be enough for us.
        Jazakallah khairan Dr

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    • Edward Kefas

      It doesn’t take much courage to attack the traditionalists / salafees at Yale or elsewhere, especially as it is a waning movement, whereas criticizing modern gender rights issues could cost you your ph.d or job. I’d like to see the YQs put their pensive pose repeatedly next to an article on the shariah ruling for the LGBTs.

      Loud Condemning of the murder of thousands of beardless MB youth peaceful protestors in egypt would also be a good move for the Bowering-Griffel mystics at Yale, and for the sheikhs at al azar.

      God willing.

      it seems Pharasaic Scholasticism marks the decline of the Islamic Civilization.The companions were men of action, not bookworms debating how many angels can fit on the end of a pin.

      But what do I know , I didn’t study at medina, nor could I have. I only wish to approach, get closer to, the teachings of an illiterate prophet.

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    • Kev

      :159 Those who have divided their system and become sects, you are not with them in anything. Their matter will be with God, then He will inform them of what they had done.
      Good luck to so called Muslims,most of you have strayed from the path,Keep reading your beloved Hadiths and stay separated.

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      • Ben The Moor

        @Kev ,at last just comment that made full sense ,, good job. praise be to God

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    • Umm Abdullaah

      Just a reminder: Based on the following statement “Rabee al Madkhalee, a man whose evil has spread so far and wide it’s a joke he’s given any good title(like Sheikh or Imam of Jarh),” The flesh of the scholar is poison…and Allaah (exposing) removing the cover from the one who belittles the scholar, this is well known. And talking about them in a manner in which they are innocent is a tremendous (horrendous) affair. And to eat of their honor with lies is a matter that is shameful. It is known that Allaah causes the heart (of the one who does this) to die before their body dies.

      And they only harm themselves, and they acquire humiliation, because Truly, Allaah defends those who believe. (Al-Hajj, ayah 38) And Allaah will not allow any good to come from the actions of the evil doers.

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  2. Abu Turab

    Wow! That’s a lot to digest. Finished reading once. Will need to read many times again :) Jazak-Allaah Sheikh for taking the initiative to document your views on the subject. May Allaah make us benefit from all the good in this, and protect us from the evil of what we might otherwise lead ourselves to.

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      • Hassan

        Assalamu Alaikum Dear Shaykh
        Could you please tell me if Ibn Taymiyyah was an Arab,Kurd or Turkish? Please shed some light on this?
        Jazakallah

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      • Hassan

        No it doesn’t matter I am a great admirer of Ibn Taymiyyah and I have been researching his materials.
        It was only out of curiosity and not for any other purpose.

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  3. ibnmasood

    I find this statement extremely unsettling as representative of the athari creed: “they categorically reject any possibility of metaphoric or symbolic interpretation of the Divine Names and Attributes”…I did read the entire article hoping you would clarify that the position is more clearly that they do not say beyond what is mentioned in the text, rather than accepting a *literal* interpretation with the caveat of “in a manner befitting God” which is hardly befitting at all and leads to many contradictions.

    Your example helps to illustrate my point. If you take verses such as Quran 7:54 to mean that God has literally established Himself upon the Throne “in a manner befitting to Him,” then you must take a different approach when reading 2:115 and 50:16 in order to avoid contradiction. There is simply no consistency in this sort of interpretative method.

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    • Yasir Qadhi

      This is not the place to elaborate on Athari versus Ashari versus Mutazili understandings of the Divine Attributes. Such discussions have occurred and continue to occur, and I beleive not much new can be added to those classical writings. The verses that you referenced have been discussed in detail by all of these groups.

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      • ibnmasood

        Well, I do believe you are appropriating/misrepresenting the athari position, and that was my only contention. You seem to ignore or fail to highlight the differences amongst the salafis on the Attributes, which would not be the case if the position of the atharis was better represented as “not going beyond the text” rather than literalism.

        I’ll just leave this here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Athari#Athari_views_on_the_Attributes_of_God

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      • Yasir Qadhi

        Oh I see what you are saying now, I didn’t understand your initial comment.

        Well you have raised another tangent, and it is very essential, but for this article I really do want to stick to the main thrust, which is a discussion of Salafism. It is true there was a spectrum of opinion, but from my reading its not as vast as what you might be implying.

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      • Silvia Ferreira Noor Farira

        I am not satisfied with the article, in order to understand whether you like or dislike the e’importante Salafismo.Isso because I think one of the great scholars of our time

        The experience I have of Salafism is here in Brazil where I see the reversed giving d on account of Salafist Islam approach

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  4. Muhammad Faisal

    Asalaamu alaikum,

    @Shaikh Yasir Qadhi

    As a Salafi I agree with some of your point (even some of the criticisms) and disagree with some.

    On an academic level I do see a flaw in your representation of the Salafi movement as “modern”. Isn’t the salafi movement an extension of the Ahlul Hadeeth movement which has been around since the time of the Taba’een?

    I also noticed that you left out the Salafi/Ahlul Hadeeth of Subcontinent- even though they have made major contributions in Hadtith sciences especially.

    Can you kindly address these two points?

    Jazakhullah khair

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    • Yasir Qadhi

      The Salafi movement is a modern manifestation of the classical Ahl al-Hadith (aka Athari) movement. It is causally linked, meaning that yes, it does have precedents in early Islam. Imagine a series of dominoes falling – the one that is currently falling is the ‘Salafi’ movement, but before it were other, different dominoes going all the way back to the Athari/Ahl al-Hadith movement of early Islam.

      Don’t confuse the last domino for the first one.

      So, as I mention in the article:
      1) the term ‘salafi’ is a modern one as a proper noun. Even the Najdi dawah did not use it for itself until al-Albani introduced it in the late 60s.
      2) it is impossible to claim the Salafi position on a modern issue as being the salafi position on a modern issue. (Read my article again if you didn’t understand this line).

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      • Muhammad Faisal

        I don’t understand your differentiation between salafis and ahlul hadith. Here in Pakistan for example, Ahlul Hadith have been around for ages. The scholars and the regular people use the terms ahlul hadith and salafi synonymously. Surely the adoption of the term salafi is a semantic change rather than an ideological one.

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      • muadhkhan

        Ya Shaykh, first the analogy for human evolution, now this- is dominoes a game you particularly like? :)

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  5. Umm Ayoub

    Assalamou alaykoum

    Very nice article jazakoum Allahu khrair to Sheikh Qadhi.

    I would add in the section of the critism of salafism, critics about the takfiris who claim that killing of innocent peoples is allowed and make apology of terrorism. This is very far from the Sunnah of the Prophet (SAWS) and the Salafs.

    You criticized the Salafis to be too much obedient and to stay silent in front of the bad ruler, i agree with this, but what is the correct solution? How to behave? The Salafi mouvement did not answered this question yet, except the Tafiris and it is a very extremist stand, and I think, we should really think about theses problems and issues, especially in Egypt, where I live, where peoples are killed in peaceful demonstrations, and where some bombs have explodes also. What is the middle way ?

    Jazakoum Allahu khrair
    Wassalam
    Umm Ayoub

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    • Yasir Qadhi

      Very true Umm Ayoub. And I hesitate to elaborate on my own personal thoughts regarding this issue. Suffice to say for now that Salafism as a whole has demonstrate two extremes regarding this position. The ‘middle-path’ is found amongst them, but severely decried by both of the extremes.

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  6. dawahtweet

    As a Student of knowledge studying under Salafi Sheikhs from Madina,As a person who starting practicing because of the help of Salafi brothers/duats/scholars…I find this article really balanced and academic.It resonates with my current viewpoint to a great extent(although i mat disagree with some points).
    Many of the the points that Sh.Yasir made,I have come to realise throughout my journey as a student of knowledge(I’m still taking baby steps :) )
    Great article,
    May Allah bless each and everyone of us.Ameen

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    • Yasir Qadhi

      More and more intelligent students of knowledge, in Madinah and elsewhere, are realizing this. One of the goals of the article was to make them feel that they are not alone, and take active measures to correct these mistakes.

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      • Ibrahim

        “More and more intelligent students of knowledge …” So those who don’t agree with you are not so intelligent or perhaps they are stupid. (No comments… though I’m tempted!!!)

        Alhamdulillah for my “stupidity”!!!!
        “Allah umma uhshurni fee zumrat al masakeen” ” O’ Allah join me with the group of maskeens, on the day of judgment”

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  7. Ibn Ya'qûb An Naijiree

    Baarak Allaahu Feek Abu Ammar Yasir Qadhi…You have been able to comprehensively put into pen arguments for and against Salafiyah. While we recognise that there may be flaws in the attitudes and behaviours of those of us who have an attachment to Salafiyah, but to completely say the term Salafiyah is a new term for this age isn’t correct, to mildly put too critical of you and probably laughable. I feel very reluctant to feel that the Term “Athari” isn’t synonymous with Salafi. While some advocates of Salafiyah may have glaring faults which clearly show they are fallible, Salafiyah itself is free from errors and it is the Pristine Islaam. We can all claim to be Salafis which will only be a claim if we do not follow the Manhaj of the Salaf. No doubt you have advanced some points which can’t easily be dismissed in all fairness but remember our affairs cannot be rectified by any means except the means which rectified the affairs of those before us. The Manhaj of the Sahaabah and those who came after them is inevitable in this Contemporary Dilemma and to attempt to say these times are different from theirs and so their should be completely new rulings might not entirely be the best to say, Scholars can derive rulings on Issues especially as the world advances in many fields and sometimes they are correct and other times they may be wrong, and these rulings are in consonance with texts from the Kitaab and Sunnah based on their understanding, and Fatwahs may change based on the needs of the time but to completely compromise our beliefs and methodologies because of the times we are in sound ridiculous and of course extremely liberal. May Allaah guide us all and grant us Istiqaamah. Assalaamu ‘alaikum. Ibn Ya’qûb An Naijiree, Republic of Uganda.

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    Reply
    • Jakub Maciagowski

      Assalaamu ‘alaykum. “Salafiyah itself is free from errors”. No, only Islaam itself is free of error. We are far from perfection, but salafies will not came out of their errors, unless they will be open minded and critical in their approach – unless Allah wills otherwise. This additude: take only from those and abandon these, even if there is benefit in their teachings will leave them where they are – unless Allaah wills otherwise. If you want to be like the sahabah, then treat scholars and even the sahabah as means to the goal, not as the ultimate goal, because only Allaah is the ultimate goal.

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      Reply
      • O H

        Salafiyyah is the way of the righteous predecessors which has been prescribed by the Prophet (peace be upon him)-not a cult movement which few people have a right to. The approach of Salafiyyah is the way of the Sunnah & Islam. However the current implementation of the people claiming to follow salafiyyah is obviously not free from errors as highlighted in the article.

        “The best of people is my generation, then those who come after them, then those who come after them (i.e. the first three generations of Muslims).” [Reported by Bukhari and Muslim

        This above hadeeth is what salafiyyah refers to. Salafiyyah is not the same as the statements,actions of modern day salafis.

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  8. Abdullah

    How did Muḥammad Ḥayāt al-Sindhī (d. 1163) influence al-Sanani, Shawkani ? Was Muhammad Hayat Sindi anti-madhhab like Ghumari brothers ?

    Thank you.

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  9. Ummyahyaa

    Salams Jzk khayran for the article sheikh Yasir, May Allah ta aala guide us all onto the right path the path to Him alone and to His beloved prophet Muhammed saas Aameen

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  10. Ismail Kamdar

    As Salaam Alaikum Wa Rahmatullah Wa Barakatuhu

    Firstly, I would like to thank you for writing this comprehensive piece which in many ways mirrors my own spiritual experience.

    To understand my comments and questions, please keep my background in mind:
    Until the age of 19 I was a hardcore Deobandi Sufi completing my Alim course. I then became a hardcore Salafi and remained so until I was around 23 years old. At that age, I spent two months in the company of staunch Ahl-Hadith members in India and got completely put off sectarianism. Since then, I do hold to the Salafi Aqeedah and the belief that revival of Ijtihad is necessary for dealing with contemporary issues but I have become averse to the sect/box-like mentality and prefer working with all Muslims in areas of mutual agreement, and staying away from labels.

    I am really happy that you raised the issue of Tazkiyya An-Nafs. When I first switched from Sufism to Salafism, I was really confused by the attitude I saw towards Tazkiyya. I never understood why Salafis are so distanced from Tazkiyya when it is clearly part of the Sunnah and the way of the Salaf.

    I noticed that whenever I talk about spirituality, getting closer to Allah, increasing Taqwa, etc. Many Salafis ask me if I’m a Sufi? What’s that got to do with Sufism! Many of my lectures and classes revolve around connecting with Allah the Sunnah Way, and I believe that is the way of the Salaf.

    Another issue I strongly agree with is the unity issue, and this is why I tell my History students:

    If Salahudeen Ayoubi was alive today leading the liberation of Palestine, how many Salafis would join, and how many instead would write refutations of him being an Ash’ari Shafi’ee, and miss the bigger picture.

    One issue I disagree with is the treatment of women. Coming from an ultra-conservative Deobandi background where women are banned from Masjids and hidden way, the Salafis in my community are far better in their treatment of women. But then again, that’s probably just the case in my country/culture.

    Overall, I agree with your list of positives and negatives and this is why I teach my students to stick to the understand of the first three generations in terms of Aqeedah and Usool, but without becoming a sect, group, gang or alternative math’hab. Rather, remain active members of your communities and be good to all of Allah’s Creation.

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      • Taha Ali

        Salaam Alaykum Shaikh !
        Jazak Allaah for the article !…very informative
        Could you please explain a bit
        #1 who are the deobandis ?
        Are they the same as Tableeghi ?
        #2 I have heard some Tableeghi call themselves Hanafi….
        So then…who are Tableeghi ?
        #3 Also…some Deobandis refuse that Deobandi is a sect…they say that it is only a label for those who graduate from Deoband University in India

        It would really be helpful if you could shed some light on these few issues or provide me a link where you have already answered this,
        Jazak Allah Khair
        wa Salaam !!

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      • mahmoud

        1. Deoband is a city in India, which is famous for a school that was established there in 1866. It is one of the oldest and most prestigious islamic institutions extant today. After the establishment of the madrasa, many of its graduates went on to establish their own schools and madaris, all of which followed a similar methodology to the original school. Almost all of the madaris in Pakistan, Bangladesh, and India are Deobandi in methodology (there is a small minority of Brelvi and ahl-e-hadith madrasas as well). This methodology involves: (1) a call to tawhid as opposed to the shirk that was being practiced in India at the time, (2) a move towards a more pristine practicing of Islam the way Rasulullah and his Sahaba and Tabi’in practiced it. (3) A revival of academic Islamic knowledge, particularly in hadith which was lacking in India at the time.

        It is this last point that distinguishes Deobandis and tablighis. Most Tablighis are Deobandis, but not all Deobandis are Tablighis since it was the ulama of Deoband (Maulana Ilyas Kandahlawi, Maulana Zakariyya Kandahlawi, etc) who popularized it, but tablighi jamat is a mass movement for laypeople, and does not encourage studying Islamic academia at all. Instead it teaches salah and siyam and basic ibadat. Deoband is an academic movement of ulama, unlike the tablighi movement which actually discourages excessive academic endeavors in lieu of more spirituality. That the two are tied is undeniable, though, but there has been some recent tension between the two.

        2. None of the purposes of the Deoband madrasa was to propagate Hanafi fiqh exclusively. Due to the predominance of the Hanafi maddhab in the Indian subcontinent, they adopted that for historical reasons. But there have always been non-Hanafi Deobandis, such as Maulana Taha Karan and his father, who is arguably one of the top five Shafi’i scholars living today. They are strictly pro-maddhab, though, and though the Nadawi movement (which stemmed from the Deobandis as well) has some Ahl al-hadith members within it, Deoband has come to exemplify the strand of strict pro-maddhabism that most Salafis oppose.

        3. Are the Deobandis a sect? They like to think that they follow “true” Islam, and are not a sect, but every group likes to think that. It is your perspective as to what you call them. The Brelvis call them Wahhabis, since they oppose bidah, and the salafis call them sufis for their adherence to maddhabs and refusal to denounce all forms of tawarruk and tawassul. They are really quite in the middle of those two groups.

        Pros: (1) Deoband as a movement really brought forth the best of the hadith scholarship of the subcontinent in a massive effort to defend the Hanafi maddhab against the ahl al-hadith. (the 18 volume Awjaz al masalik, a commentary on Imam Malik’s Muwatta, the 21 volume I’la as sunan, the 16 volume Badhl al-majhud, a commentary on Sunan Abi Dawud, Ma’arif as sunan sharh jami at tirmidhi, the countless works of Anwar Shah Kashmiri, and the list goes one. (I wish that these works were popularized so that the idea of the Deobandis having a lack of intellectual and academic prowess could be abolished, because they really are incredibly sophisticated, and demonstrate the ocean of knowledge these people had) (2) their wiping out many forms of bid’ah and shirk and movements like the Ahmadiyah and Quraniyyun (3) their popularizing the tabligh movement and opposition of secularism and materialism, and bringing their proponents back towards Islam

        Cons: (1) politics: have always remained on the fringe of Indian and Pakistani politics, and like the Salafis, have been tainted by it and marred by charges of corruption, (2) violence: many of the violent takfiri groups stemmed from the deobandis, (3) intolerance: varies amongst different Deobandis, but for the most part are very strongly opposed to doctrines that may actually be similar to theirs but do not match theirs exactly such as the jamat-e-islami (4) focus on minor issues similar to the Salafis, such as length of beard, etc. to an excessive point.

        For more on Deoband, read Muhammad Qasim Zaman of Princeton University’s excellent books The Ulama in Contemporary Islam, and Modern Islamic Thought in a Radical Age.

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      • Abu Dajana

        Mahmoud

        “but tablighi jamat is a mass movement for laypeople, and does not encourage studying Islamic academia at all”

        Hmmm. How do you know this for certainty. I got to start ascribing myself to salafiya through a salafi shaykh I met and learnt from Though the shaykh grew up in a sufi background, he was introduced to salafiya and the study of hadeeth through a tablighi scholar from India who was also his math teacher. During lessons, the teacher would use examples from the sunnah to illustrate math principles. He also gave his student- my scholar- a book as a gift. Guess what- that book was the first edition of sifaat salat nabiyy. By Shaykh Albaanee. It is tantamount to sheer arrogance by salafees and salafee-like elements to make absolute claims like “not encourage studying Islamic academia at all”. Do you have all-encompassing knowledge? I know tablighi brothers who purposely sent their children to the Islamic University in Madeenah. It is arrogance like this that makes what is called salafiyya and salafees a turn off. And what makes you think that Islamic academia, as it is today, is something praiseworthy? Seeking knowledge for the sake of Allah and only for the sake of Allah is not necessarily synonymous with the western-education backboned academic Islam we have in our times. In some respects, today’s academic Islam may not be too far from the way of the Xtians and Jews who study their former books but do not practice what it contains or even oppose it. As far back as the time of Bilal Philips in the Islamic University in Madina, students were cheating in their exams just to get a certificate. Now tell me where is the practical manifestation of the ikhlas and tawheed they learnt academically.

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      • Taha Ali

        Sorry to bother you again :p
        If you could also please give me a link on your lecture you gave in UK on Shiism Theology…
        I was interested to learn more about it after listening to your lecture on Massacre of Karbala…where you explained a little bit on how Theological Shias differ from Political Shiism
        Thank You once again !!
        Jazak Allaah Khair
        Barak Allaah Feekum !!
        :)

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    • Abu Yunus

      The three constants (Thawaabit) of Salafiyyah ARE:

      1. Tawheed;
      2. Ittibaa';
      3. Tazkiyyah.

      So, I am not sure how one can say that Salafiyyah does not emphasize Tazkiyyat-un-Nafs.

      Contrary to what Yasir Qadhi said that the term Salafi wasn’t used in earlier history of Islam, al-Sam’aanee used the term “Salafi” in 562 AH (circa 1166 CE).

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      • Yasir Qadhi

        Actions speak louder than words.

        Also I never claimed that the term ‘Salafi’ was never used in early Islam; be precise in your quotations. The term ‘Salafi’ was not in vogue, nor used as a proper noun. Yes, if one uses a fine-tooth comb, one finds one reference in al-Samani, one or two in al-Dhahabi, and a handful in Ibn Taymiyya’s writings, where the term is used as an adjective. But it was not in vogue, and you will never find al-Samani, or al-Dhahabi, or Ibn Taymiyya saying ‘I am a Salafi’. You will find al-Albani, and many modern Salafis, saying this.

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      • Mohammad

        I was just following some of Dr. Qadhi’s responses in this blog. Not sure what message he actually tried to convey by making these two contradictory comments in the very same blog.

        “You will find al-Albani, and many modern Salafis, saying this” (I am a Salafi)

        “In fact al-Albani has comments about him that he wasn’t fully salafi because he clung to a madhhab.”

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      • Yasir Qadhi

        You misunderstood those quotes.
        Al-Albani was the first Muslim scholar ever, in the history of Islam, to claim that it is wajib to call yourself a Salafi.

        Al-Albani, on some audio cassettes that I myself listened to, also claimed that Muhammad b. Abd al-Wahhab was a great reformer but wasn’t fully salafi because he followed a madhhab (note: I don’t remember the exact words he used but the gist of the verdict was what I said).

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      • abu Yunus

        How is this any different than a man saying, “I am Salafi”

        Imaam adh-Dhahabee (d.748H) – rahimahullaah – said: “It is authentically related from ad-Daaraqutnee that he said: There is nothing more despised by me than ‘ilm-ul-kalaam (theological rhetoric). I say: He never entered into ‘ilm-ul-kalaam, nor argumentation. Rather, was a Salafi (a follower of the Salaf).”[Siyar A'laam an-Nubalaa' 16/457]

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      • abu Yunus

        Ibn Taymiyyah (rahimahullah) said,

        “And there is combined in those who turn away from the Prophetic Salafi Way (الطريقة النبوية السلفية) both this and this, following the alluring desires and misguiding tribulations, thus there is misguidance and allurement within them to the extent of their departure from the way Allaah sent His Messenger with.” (Daar al-Ta’aarud, 1/166).

        Likewise, he said,

        “So everyone who turned away from the Divine, Legislated, Prophetic, Salafi Way (الطريقة السلفية النبوية الشرعية الالهية), then he will (by necessity) go astray and contradict (himself) and remain in ignorance, simple or compound.” (Daar al-Ta’aarud 5/356).

        Ibn al-Qayyim said in al-Safadiyyah (p. 168):

        “And whoever traverses the Salafi Prophetic paths (الطرق النبوية السلفية) will know that sound intellect agrees with authentic text…”

        Ibn Taymiyyah refers to 3rd, 4th and 5th century (hijri) scholars as “Salafis” and he actually uses the word “Salafiyyah” to indicate a faction often in his writings, he says, (وهو قول السلفية), “It is the saying of the Salafis” (Majmu’ 6/51).

        Someone might object by saying that he used “Salafiyyah” not “Salafiyoon”. However, this is similar to Hanaabilah which refers to Hanbalees not necessarily Hanbalism. The following two statements of Ibn Taymiyyah will clarify this fact,

        (وأما السلفية فعلى ما حكاه الخطابى وأبو بكر الخطيب وغيرهما), “As for the Salafis, then they are upon what is cited by al-Khattaabi and Abu Bakr al-Khateeb” (Majmu’ 33/177) and (السلفية الذين يقولون إنه فوق العرش), “… the Salafis, who say He is above the Throne.” (Bayan Talbis al-Jahmiyyah, 2 vols, 1/122).

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      • Shahab

        Salam Bro:

        With all due respects, your responses just demonstrate the problem with salafism today from an academic point of view (I won’t even bother wasting my time discussing the adaabi aspects of the movement).

        This is what is SO wrong with the “Salafi manhaj” (which in itself a gross aberration of the term as it used to be). You take quotes and show them completely out of context. When Ibn Taymiyyah, Ibn Qayyim et al use the word “Salafiyyah” or “Salafi” then the are not referring to a distinct group of Muslims. Rather, the term is used to mean “Predecessors”, period! This group includes the Hanabilah, Maliki, Shafi’i, Hanafi and all the other madhahib that form part of the Ahlus sunnah wal jama’ah (there were many schools like those of Imam Awza’i and Imam At-Tabari that didn’t continue past the 5th century AH).

        Similarly, when Ibn Taymiyyah speaks of the “manhaj as-Salafiyyah” then he is speaking of ALL the different madhhahib that the previous scholars adhered to (before and after the crystallization of fiqh). You take a quote from Siy’ar A’lam An-Nubala’ of Imam Dhahabi and base an entire argument on it not knowing the context of it. For example, when Imam Dhahabi refers to someone as a “salafi” in Tadhkirah Al-Huffaz or even in Siy’ar then he is simply referring to the persons proclivity to stay away completely from wranglings of kalam. For example, Ibn Qudamah Al-Maqdisi and Ibn As-Salah are 2 person that Imam Adh-Dhahhabi terms as “salafi”. However, he also states the madhahib that they followed (Hanbali for the former and Shafi’i for the latter). So, clearly, you have either not read the entire entry of Imam Dhahhabi or choose to not show those aspects that obviously weaken your claim.

        In fact, if only “Salafis” of today could be honest enough then you still have the manuscripts of Ibn Taymiyyah in tact today where you can CLEARLY see how he refers to himself as a HANBALI. That alone is enough to rubbish this claim that “Salafi” was a group distinct from the other madhahib at the time.

        Sp, to reiterate, every salaf had a madhhab; each madhhab has its own unique manhaj. Furthermore, the all the salaf who belong to a particular madhhab followed a particular school of ‘aqidah. The Shafi’is, for example, pre-dominantly followed the Ash’ari school. However, there were some of within the madhdhab who followed other schools of ‘aqidah. Suyuti, Nawawi, ibn Asakir, Al-‘Asqalani are examples of Shafi’i scholars who followed the Ash’ari school of ‘aqidah. Ibn As-Salah is one of the few examples of the Shafi’i you will find who didn’t indulge in kalam.

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      • Only a Muslim

        Dear Brother Abu Yunus,
        Regarding the above references to the word ‘salafiyya,’e.g: “And there is combined in those who turn away from the Prophetic Salafi Way (الطريقة النبوية السلفية)”
        Please consider the following:
        1. Logical: Shouldn’t the movement then be called the ‘an noubouwiyya as salafiyya’
        2. Arabic: I would read the term as salafiyya as an adjective (sifat) of the term at tariqa (mawsoof), and not a possessor (moodaaf ilaih). Else it would have been tariqaa -as-salafiyyati (tariqaa in undefined form). It means here ‘the prophetic ancestral way’ instead of ‘the prophetic way of the salafi’.
        3. Worst case scenario: Yet those scholars did not embody a complete movement and ascribed it to the name ‘salafi’
        4. Usool: The statement of a scholars does not have enough weight to be binding on the whole Ummah as Quran and Sunnah. [This reminds me of Sheik Yasir sentence "Salafīs take statements of the salaf regarding treatment of heretical groups as they would the Qur'an and Sunnah."] Therefore should such a movement be binding on the Ummah, it would have been legislated clearly by the Qur’an and Sunnah, and explained by the salafs clearly. We would not need to go with microscope to look for some statements of respected scholars and take them out of context or mistranslate them to justify an entire movement.

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      • Hassan

        Wow first time I am hearing him, how can people hate this guy?

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    • Muna Ga'al

      that really angers me, why do some people see the need to stop women studying the deen and banning them form the masjid isn’t the knowledge for them too

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    • Shahzad Alam

      I totally agree with your points bro, the present and coming generation must have to understand the pristine Aqeedah without having any association with sects or groups existing today. I personally found your comment almost similar to mine.

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  11. Nabil Salik

    When do we get to lay our hands on your dissertation? I have been waiting since eons :)

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      • Saad

        Salam Sheikh,
        Thank you for this great article. I have always admired you for keeping to the middle. Where would we find your email? I would very much like to read it too.

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      • Abdul Hakeem

        I’d love to take you up on that offer (assuming it’s extended to me as well), except that I don’t have you email address.

        Will you oblige to sharing it here? If not, where/how can I get it?

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      • ibn Ahmed

        Asalamu alaikum warahamatullahi wabaraktuhu Shaykh,

        Would you really send a copy of your PhD dissertation out? I’ve been trying to get my hands on it for a couple of weeks, and even tried requesting it through my university, but apparently it isn’t in circulation. Could I get a copy as well? JazakAllahu khairun!

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      • Nabil Salik

        Sent you an email on the address mentioned on your facebook page.

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      • Hilm

        can you explain this statement of yours: ‘the unfounded veneration of saints’

        in what way is the veneration of great Saliheen unfounded? your use of the word ‘saints’ throws many readers off. but what we are talking about is having huge respect for the Saliheen. why is this unfounded?
        also, your point 7 in your critique shows that Salafis are just like some Sufis in their veneration and total obedience to their Teachers.

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  12. Arif Kabir

    Masha’Allah, a lot of important points mentioned.

    I do genuinely hope though, that with this disassociation with Salafism, that there is thoughtful understanding of how you move forward.

    If a list of common words were generated from your recent discourses, Orthodoxy, Cleric, and other Christian terms come up much. There is historical baggage in using Christian terms that must be understood in a context beyond the ivory towers of Yale. When we let ourselves be defined by terms that do not completely reflect what our terms mean, we are letting an orientalist point of view dictate the way we may come to see our own selves.

    It also does seem rather problematic that Ibn Taymiyyah is almost exclusively mentioned by you, and that there still seems to be a disregard for non-Western ulama to have anything to do with the west in any manner. If left unchecked, we may see another clique developing where the most senior scholars that are deemed to be acceptable in the West are in their early adulthood (40s).

    I mention all this because nobody exists in a theoretical vacuum. Your words, both in choice and content, will have its own repercussions that I hope you are able to deal with.

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    • Yasir Qadhi

      Some very valid points Arif. And time will tell. And I pray that Allah guides me to that which He loves.

      BTW, my ‘solution’ to the lack of senior scholars in the West is that the the not-so-senior scholars of the West

      1) reach out to those senior scholars who are more culturally aware and in touch with differences in the world. Not all ‘senior scholars’ are disconnected from Western realities!

      2) congregate together and try to pass ideas around and within and amongst their own ranks (ie., the students of knowledge/scholars from the West should come together as much as possible and form ideas together).

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  13. um rayan

    I am wondering what the author has to say about very balanced scholars like Muhammad Hassan of Egypt and his brothers from the TV channel al-rahma. Verily they do not teach except that which reforms the character of muslims and improves it so that muslims can be become true representative of virtue wherever they are (in egypt, in the west, and everywhere). Yes they have had to take various stands in the context of political turmoil in their country but that is not to be held against them. What would we have done in a similar context? We would have taken whatever position we deem appropriate. It remains that these scholars call people to coming closer to Allah. I have never seen them preoccupied with refuting anyone. So if their methodology is called salafiya, then what a beautiful and beneficial methodology.

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    • Sara

      Jazaki allahu khayra. My Allah bless you. 100% right. I preferred your reply to the whole article!

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  14. Yasir Qadhi

    Before I begin answering some of the questions, has NO ONE noticed/commented on the irony of this article itself being available as a PDF ?!?!?

    :)

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  15. Hassan

    Salaam, surprisingly the negatives you mentioned also have presence in other groups. It may have to do with culture rather than Islam itself. For example a very dear brother (Pakistani, strict deobandi/tableeghi) objected to a sister name on the masjid big LCD for her class. He said, should have used Umm ABC etc. I (Pakistani, salafi), politely mentioned the hadith of Amr Ibn Al Aas where he asked prophet Muhammad PBUH whom he loved most, and he used his wife first name (Ayesha).

    And lack of spirituality is quite astonishing surprising criticism. When I was turning religious, the first thing I did was to go on jamaat (tableeghi) for 3 days, and came back with still spiritual voidness. Then your friend (and mine) Amad Shaikh invited me to TX Dawah conference in Austin, and it was huge emaan boast. Frankly I attend all al-maghrib classes (and never take notes, nor exams), just for emaan boast. I became salafi for tazkiyah-nafs and spirituality. So saying salafism lacks spirituality is something new to me.

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    • Yasir Qadhi

      You are right that in that many of these negatives do exist in other movements. That doesn’t justify their existence in Salafism!

      Also, TDC and al-Maghrib are two organization that have sprung from an initial salafi methodology, but have recognized the faults of the movement and actively worked to change them. Whether you wish to call them ‘salafi’ or not is up to you. I know for a fact that neither applies the label to itself.

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      • Hassan

        Salaam. So perhaps it is safe to say true knowledge is the right methodology. There is nothing more emaan boasting that knowledge (which includes knowing Allah in right way and His messenger). This is what attracts me to salafi or the organizations that we mentioned whether they call themselves anything else.

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      • Arif Kabir

        Sh. Yasir, it may be a good idea to mention these organizations as a category that do not call themselves by the Salafi term, but may represent moderate ‘Salafism’ (“If it looks like a duck…”) in that they are politically and civically active, give respect to women, and work with Muslims of other interpretations.

        One AlMaghrib instructor had mentioned to me how it was his opinion there was a need decades before to call oneself Salafi, but how that has changed. To me that was indicative of how the movement itself is evolving, and how that should be documented too. Umar Lee made good mention of this evolution in his own series of Salafism, and I think this is a big enough movement now to be mentioned.

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      • Saad

        Salam all,
        Would not ibn Uthaymeen and a great deal of the first category of Saudi salafis fall underneath this category too. They don’t identify themselves with the label salafi either.

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  16. hasnain

    salam shaykh Yasir,

    for the benefit of the ummah, i believe this article would have been better received if titled in the correct format. here is a suggestion:

    33 points on the correct understanding of salafism

    wallahualem.

    :) seriously though, JAK for bringing clarity to these titles/movements.it seems that us muslims in the west create our identities, many times, in reflection to our ummah in the east–without really knowing the context/history that lead to them.

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  17. Nihal Khan

    Enjoyed this thoroughly Shaykh sahab!

    Perhaps a series of articles highlighting the various known groups among the Sunni schools would be a good article series for MM? Just a thought.


    Nihal Khan

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      • Anum Hashmi

        Are you still working on a course on this material?

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      • Tadar Jihad Wazir

        As-Salaam-u alaikum, Sheikh Yasir jQadhi.

        When you research the info for these series of articles please include info on Bro. Imam W. Deen Mohammed (a.) who was guided by Allah to start the answer to His promise to Prophet Ibrahim a.k.a. Abram (a.) in the Bible: Genesis 15. According to the Bible in English it was Abram (a.) whose name Allah changed, just before promising Abram the birth of “another” son, to Abraham (Ibrahim, in Arabic) (a.) who is the father of Isma’il (Ishmael) (a.).

        His progeny are promised to be enslaved for 400 years and then to be brought out with great sustenance.

        Bro. Imam W. Deen Mohammed (a.) stressed individual scholarship based on The Qur’an and the Uswah of Prophet Muhammad (s.) which includes his sunnah. And he condemned the establishment of any madhdhab proclaiming him as its founder. He encouraged us to follow the laws of nature by following the fiqh of any madhdhab decision that would be best for us in our situation at the time. And he only insisted on us being known as Muslims, which is what Allah (h.) and Prophet Ibrahim (a.) calls and named us.

        In reading your article it dawned on me that a lot of what you say pertaining to what is a Salafi pertains to us. We were taught that words have meanings and it is in the application of the meaning that makes what it is, what it is.

        It is reported that almost 1/3 of the slaves brought to America were Muslims. This was due to the first few hundred years of the American Slave Trade the Christians refused to have any Christian to be a slave. That is part of the reason why the slaves were not allowed to have religious practices.

        Greed caused a change in the last hundred years so that a persons faith had no bearing on whether one could be a slave.

        May Allah’s Will, Word, and Way prove true during our lifetime? Ameen.

        Thanks!!!

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  18. Abu Turab

    Shaykh I have a few abstract queries with regards to your personal position. Please feel free to ignore any/all if you deem them inappropiate.

    From a taxonomic perspective does your dissociation with the Salafi movement (capital S), put you in another contemporary group of likeminded individuals? If yes then what is this group, what is their history and how are they represented using contemporary nomenclature. I know you have identified with the Athari creed and Imam Ibn Taymiyya, but to use your analogy what latter domino does that represent? Or is it a new domino altogether?

    Can you verify whether with respect to the points of consensus amidst the Salafis as you have outlined, do you also agree with all the points?

    Can you verify with respect to the points of contention, where does your personal position lie on each of the individual points?

    Finally, is your personal position a combination of the various opinions on the points of contention amidst the Salafis. In other words, does your position represent a unique combination of the opinions on the points of contention, yet still draws from the existing set of opinions? As an extension to this query if a Yasir Qadhi clone were to academically classify Yasir Qadhi, then would he be putting Yasir Qadhi I as belonging to a new and refreshing Salafi group, or to a group that is not Salafi?

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    • Yasir Qadhi

      This is a complicated question.

      If a cynic were to say ‘Yasir Qadhi has dissociated from the Salafi movement but in reality he is spearheading reform within the movement’ there would be an element of truth to this. Labels at some point are meaningless, and at other points are useful.

      I do admire the positives of Salafism, by and large. But some of those positives are not the priorities of the Ummah, and hence they don’t necessarily make my own list of priorities. It just make more sense to me, taxonomically, to merely break away from the movement, given all of the negatives that are associated with it and that I strongly object to, and given that its list of priorities does not mirror my own.

      As for my own views on the points of contention, I am speaking about them here and there in my lectures, and will continue to do so. They are too many to list here! Also, (and note how un-Salafi what I am about to say is!), THERE IS GREAT BENEFIT IN HAVING A SPECTRUM OF OPINION ABOUT GREY AREAS OF ISLAM, and there isn’t necessarily ‘one right opinion’ about how to proceed forward. It is healthy for the Ummah that people engage with politics in slightly different ways, for example. So, my opinion on any one issue is just that: my opinion!

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  19. Musa Hoda

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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      • Yasir Qadhi

        Salam Musa,

        Thank you for exemplifying Madkhalism. We still need people like you so that others can see and judge for themselves.

        Peace.

        Yasir

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      • Abdul Baasit Sullivan

        Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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      • Abu Zayd

        Let’s count the fallacies in that post:
        1) 2 Ad Hominem attacks (Attacking his profile pic, and accusing him of having love of fame. I will quote the prophet SAW and say “Did you open up his heart and see what is inside??”)
        2) 1 Red Herring (What does his pHD education at Yale have to do with the points he raised in his article?) – As well, even though your point was a red herring, it is a false premiss. In the Quran it says “Fas’aloo ahl dhikr in kuntum laa ta’lamoon” (Surah Nahl: 43). Ask ‘ahl dhikr’ if you do not know. Who does ahl dhikr refer to? Mujaahid and Ibn Abbas were both reported to ahve said it refers to the scholars of the ahl ul kitaab (Za’d al-Maseer, Ibn Jawzi). So there seems to be some proof from the nusoos.
        3) 1 Strawman Fallacy (LOL, you can’t be serious that you think Tony blair was relating Hadith to him and teaching him about Islam…sighhh )

        4 separate fallacies in 4 Sentences…impressive!

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      • Mahmud

        “All I need to know is that you learned Islamic studies from Non-Muslims, Sufis, Shi’ites etc. and THAT is something you can never bring proof for in the Qur’an and Sunnah. ”

        Really?

        1) You have no proof against it

        2) A Sahabi learned ayatul Kursi is a protection from Shaytan…….from IBLIS himself

        Yaneeeee, you deviation has been exposed to all and you are upon the manhaj of straying. May Allah protect the Ummah from you, Madkhali, and all your ilk. It’s is clear what you are upon!

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      • Sameel

        I guess you forgot to mention the fact that he has a undergraduate and graduate degree in islamic studies from the University of Medina part! And your etiquette or lack thereof is typical of you pious people claiming to follow our prophet.

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  20. Daarul Aman

    Aslalamualikum Warahmatullah,

    I must say, a very compelling and thought provoking piece but at the same time i find a part of it Incoherent and over-simplified

    1) While you rightly pointed out that the traditional Salafist scholarship has shown a passive approach towards understanding and grappling with contemporary ideologies and theories like Secularism, Darwinism, Feminism. I felt a certain disregard and trivializing of the Issues of creed. While I agree that there needs to be an earnest effort made to tackle the former issues, at the same time i certainly do feel it necessary to properly emphasize on the latter and make them the primary concern.

    2)Hasn’t the rejectionist approach been one of the reasons why Salafis have relatively remained immune to major heresies and Innovations (Eg. The Strict position against learning Kalaam)?

    3)Re Sh Albani’s anti Madhab stance, you mentioned it was a relatively new call, but his call already has a Precedence in the Ahlal Hadith, which is a very old movement, in fact one of the earliest.

    4) You refrained from delving on the Implications of figures like Sayyid Qutb, Mawdudi and Muhammad Suroor.had on shaping the Political ideology of some of the Modern Salafis particularly the Sahwists Preachers like Salman al Awdah. Safar al Hawwali, Mansur al Nuqaydan.and Jihadists like Al Maqdisi, Abu Qatadah, Zawahiri, Suri, Azzam etc, You describe the Sahwists as moderate while they spent efforts in courting Radical Shuaibi preachers like Sulaiman al Ulwaan, Ali al Khuzairi, Nasir al Fahd and became a spring board for Al Qaeda in Arabian Peninsula.

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    • Yasir Qadhi

      When you have such a wide-encompassing article, it is bound to be over-simplified at places. I agree with this judgment! To make it detailed would require a few dissertations; what I have accomplished in this one piece was, in itself insha Allah, a good survey.

      1) It was not my intention to trivialize aqeedah. And if you know me personally or have ever attending any course/class of mine, you would know this first-hand. But even something necessary/useful can be misused and abused: drinking too much water will eventually kill you!

      2) Yes, but that is not the solution. By merely being narrow-minded and intolerant of any change, that doesn’t make it the best way forward. Rather, it will lead to its own problems, such as ossification of thought.

      3) No I didn’t mention it was new; I said he ‘revived’ it in Arab Salafism. The Ahl-e-hadees are NOT an old phenomenon; they only go back around a hundred years in India.

      4) Surely you can’t seriously expect me to tackle all of these thinkers in this article!? Perhaps at another time and place.

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      • Daarul Aman

        Jazak’Allah for replying. No. i haven’t had a first hand experience of conversing with you. I came to know you through Peace Tv which is a popular channel here in Indian administered Kashmir.

        1) Building on the previous comments, i think Salafis have had a constructive impact on Muslim women by encouraging religious awareness and progression, particularly in South Asia. The Predominant Deobandis and Barelwis tend to be regressive in that regard

        2) Concerning the anti-madhab attitude of the Ahl-Hadith, One needs to understand it in the proper Context. The attitude was a response to the fanatical blind following and an ultra static approach towards Fiqh by Muslims in South Asia who overwhelmingly followed Hanafi Fiqh. In case of Albani and Shawkani, they encountered a similar situation in Syria and Yemen respectively. The Ahl Hadith movement has always intended an evidence based and comparative understanding of Fiqh

        3) While modern philosophies and contemporary issues need to be tackled, at the same time utmost caution must be exercised. Otherwise, these same ideologies might overwhelm those who are grappling with them like it happened with many individuals and groups before. This trend is very evident in Politically Inclined groups like the Ikhwan-ul-Muslimoon and Jamaat-e-Islmai in the Arab world and South Asia respectively. Most contemporary Modernist preachers like Ameen Eslahi, Javid Ghamidi and Wahid ud din Khan have come from the JeI

        4) Salafi/ Ahl Hadith/ Athari is an attributive name. Don’t see any harm in using it in that sense

        5) Regarding the quietist and subservient approach of Saudi Salafis,towards the ruling family, it is an enduring legacy of the second state of Saudi Arabia and also has a strong Islamic background(Obedience to the Ruler)

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  21. Tauqir

    Assalam alykum, although you make great points I just had to point out a few things; as someone who grew up in Saudi Arabia never hearing the word ‘salafi’, it’s only in India that I was exposed to this ideology. Salafis are the best thing which happened to women in India, firstly not only did they teach them the right aqeedah but they are the only ones who let them come into masajids for salah and to listen to khateebs and learn Islam. They run a number of institutions for young urban educated women, the type the other schools of thoughts have neglected. The whole repression of women’s rights (aka driving and such) is more a Saudi cultural phenomenon rather than a religious one . The Salafis generally tend to have a more evidence based approach and are much more open to being questioned, something the Muslims of India, especially the youth desperately needed as Islam there is treated more like unquestionable inheritance rather than a way of life.

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    • dawahtweet

      This is really true.As an Indian what i find is that the institutions that promote islamic education for women and allowing them greater participation in the masjid,most of the time are salafi or salafi minded institutions.
      In India the salafi masajid were the first to break the ‘NO women in the MOSQUE’ thing

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    • Yasir Qadhi

      Salam

      Yes these are valid points. Compared to Indian Deobandism, Salafism has indeed benefited women immensely. Also, in the Indian/Pakistani environment, where shirk and bida are far more rampant, no doubt it is necessary to start any Islamic activism with tawheed and an emphasis on the Sunnah.

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      • dude

        have not tableeghis done much to help combat shirk and bidaa in the subcontinent.

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  22. Ismail Kamdar

    Wa iyaak, Shaykh.

    Actually, we did meet. A long time back and very briefly.

    Remember your trip to Durban, South Africa in 2009? I was the young Maulana who you told to carry your bag when you made wudhu once during that conference. :P

    Your lecture on the hadith of the 73 sects at that conference changed my understanding of Islam, and I’ve been following your works closely ever since.

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    • Yasir Qadhi

      Wow… I actually remember that. Subhan Allah, yes thank you for reminding me :)
      But I didn’t ‘command’ you to carry my bag, I politely requested you as I needed to refresh my wudhu :)

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      • Ismail Kamdar

        Wow! I’m surprised you remembered as it was such a brief meeting so many years ago. Alhamdulillah!

        Your politeness was noted, Shaykh. It was your Adab that drew me to you, more than your lectures. :)

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  23. Sameer

    Jzk Sheikh Yasir. I think this is an excellent piece of work, and whilst there are numerous issues which consistently chip away at the morale of the Muslim living in the West, it seems that there is a revival of scholarship in the English language. I applaud you for your efforts, and pray that Allah rewards you immensely for putting this together.

    Obviously being a theologian yourself, you have grappled with this topic from that viewpoint. However, I would be really interested in reading a critique of the salafi movement from the eyes of someone who is a specialist in Islamic legal theory, focusing on the good/bad that they have bought to the field of Islamic jurisprudence, and their application of fiqh in various contexts (eg comparing their application of fiqh in Muslim majority countries vs muslim minorities). I am sure such a discussion would be equally as lengthy and as rich as the one you have provided.

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    • Yasir Qadhi

      There is no such thing as ‘Salafi fiqh’. It is a myth propagated by the hard-core Jordanian branch of Salafism.

      The Salafi attitude towards fiqh has really damaged its reputation and opened up a can of worms that has still not been solved.

      No doubt, blind adherence to one of the four madhhabs has its issues, but it is patently clear that the dangers of opening up fiqh to anyone and everyone (‘salafi fiqh’) causes far more tangible damage and brings chaos to the people. Between the two, I would say ‘Stick to a madhhab’ any day.

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      • Sameer Mallick

        Jzk Sheikh for your response, and I think everyone commenting should really appreciate the fact that you are taking the time out to respond to as many of us as you can.

        Obviously the term ‘Salafi Fiqh’ is a myth as you mention. But would you say that Salafism has actually had a detrimental effect on how the Hanbali Madhab is viewed in modern times? Because many Salafis study fiqh from Hanbali books, it is almost as if the two entities have become synonymous with one another, and as a result the Hanbali madhab has unfairly gained a reputation of being a very simplistic madhab which lacks the intellectual rigour of the other madhahib?

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      • Yasir Qadhi

        Completely agree with you. Even the Hanbali madhhab, one of the most sophisticated and rigorous madhhabs, has suffered as a result of the negatives of the modern Salafi movement.

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      • Abu al-Harith

        I agree that there is no such thing as ‘Salafi fiqh.’ However, I would say that what is commonly termed as such is more an exposition of the strongest opinion according to a particular scholar on a particular issue (tarjīḥ) than it is an attempt at founding a new mathhab explicitly referred to as salafī. I say this thinking more of al-Shawkānī, al-Qinawijī or al-Ṣanā`nī, for example, than al-Albānī.

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  24. Mobeen

    Excellent article Shaykh Yasir. A small point I would add is that almost every popular manifestation of Islam is, like Salafism, a byproduct of post-modern reform movements. Deoband/Darul Uloom, Tabligh Jamaat, the Ikhwan, Jamaatul Islam, etc. Even contemporary Traditionalists practice an Islam that has been deeply influenced by modernity and only vaguely resembles its traditionalist antecedents. I say this because historicizing these movements, though important, should not become an immediate cause for dismissal. At the risk of stating the obvious, Islam is and has always been impacted by the vicissitudes of time, place, and circumstance, and I know this is something that scholars such as yourself have made a point of emphasizing and embracing over the past several years.

    This fact only becomes problematic for groups that refuse to acknowledge it, insofar as they try to appropriate an exclusive preserve to authentically held tradition, and I think the Salafi movement certainly constitutes one of these groups. Jazak Allah khayr again for the detailed write up.

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    • Yasir Qadhi

      Jazak Allah Mobeen.

      And everything that you have written is what I firmly believe and have been, subtly at times and overtly at others, preaching and teaching, as you very well know :)

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  25. um rayan

    So if salafiya as a methodology is superior to any other one, the article is criticizing some misuse of the methodology. Is it the author’s position that this methodology in its “pure” form is to be favored and espoused over any other methodology? I have trouble understanding how being of the athari creed is different from using the salafi methodology? What does being of the athari creed entail specifically that is at odd with the salafi methodology? Note that I am talking about the methodology not particular uses that various groups make of it.

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    • Hassan

      So from article, it seems that all groups that uses salafi label have common aqeedah of athari, but then they have many differences. Similarly a person who does not call himself anything (infact may not know even what is athari vs ashari), by default may just have athari aqeeda without knowing the name,

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  26. mogreen88

    Asalam mu alaikum wr wb. Jazak Allahu khairan. Shaykh I would also like a copy of your dissertation, please forward me your email.

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  27. Waleed Ahmed

    Salamalaykum shaykh yasir. Nice to see a wonderful article from you on MM after a long time!

    I agree with your analysis overall, but would add one criticism which personally affected me the most. This would be the lack of a coherent or canonical presentation of Fiqh. Most salafees I’ve encountered indulge in some degree of tarjeeh in fiqh as apposed to sticking to one school. I personally found this quite confusing as I could never get a straight answer to a simple question. I would get the ‘most correct opinion’ response and, as it turns out, the ‘most correct opinion’ is different according to different shaykhs. This left me quite confused and I only got clarity once I studied a proper matn according to one school and followed it in my daily practices.

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    • Yasir Qadhi

      I wrote this for a comment above:
      “There is no such thing as ‘Salafi fiqh’. It is a myth propagated by the hard-core Jordanian branch of Salafism.

      The Salafi attitude towards fiqh has really damaged its reputation and opened up a can of worms that has still not been solved.

      No doubt, blind adherence to one of the four madhhabs has its issues, but it is patently clear that the dangers of opening up fiqh to anyone and everyone (‘salafi fiqh’) causes far more tangible damage and brings chaos to the people. Between the two, I would say ‘Stick to a madhhab’ any day.”

      And I’ll add here: what happened was the creation of multiple madhhabs (of al-Albani, or others of that background), and the presumption that an average student of knowledge was qualified to break away from agreed upon opinions.

      It is safer and better for an average Muslim to follow one of the accepted historic madhhabs. And this has been the standard methodology of the Ummah for most of its history.

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      • Chaplain Zain

        Many of my college friends who used to listen to you but are now madkhalis or still identify with salafism would liek to disagree and will say you changed your opinion.

        But I am glad to finally know where YOU stand.

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      • O H

        Assalamalaykum Shaykh

        I do agree with you regarding both extremes of blind following of a madhab and the danger of leaving opening up fiqh to anyone and everyone (‘salafi fiqh’). However I personally support the approach of ‘salafi’ scholars like Saalih al Uthaymeen, Salih al Munajjid, etc in not giving fatawa solely from a particular madhab which appeals to many people and appears to be a more comprehensive and more rounded approach. It’s not a perfect approach but it is perceived to not be as narrow as following one specific madhab. I am aware many of these scholars have studied a particular madhab (Hanbali for the salafi saudi scholars) and may have a slight tendency to lean towards it but it’s perceived to incorporate multiple schools of thought in a sense, not necessarily shunning all of the madhabs as some misunderstand. Obviously Taqleed is involved in both cases of a person following a madhab or following a salafi scholar they trust.

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  28. Basel

    This is monumental. Arguably a prerequisite for authentic North American scholarship and strong genuine independent authority for the North American Muslim body. It’s a post-Salafi era.

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  29. Siraaj

    Salaam alaykum Shaykh Yasir,

    Jazakallah khayr for writing up this paper, I think the community has been looking forward to a fair and objective presentation of this material for some time now, that recognizes both the good and the bad within the movement and humanizes all personalities involved. I believe another paper like this is in order about other influential movements in the community which covers both their good and their places for improvement.

    I continue to find the principles of remaining as close to the practice of the Prophet (SAW) and the Companions and the later generations what most resonates with me, as well the ability to continually critically evaluate what is stated from what has come from past scholars as well as present, not necessarily as a scholar would, but in terms of deciding eventually, as all people must do, what I will incorporate into my practice since, no matter how anyone frames it, even the layperson must make a choices eventually about who and what they will follow.

    Some questions for you:

    1. Do you find yourself more aligned with the sahwa strand in thought? Do you differ with them in any way?

    2. What are your thoughts about the place of AMJA within the continuum of salafi thought you’ve outlined as it relates to Western Muslim scholarship? Would you say this group of scholars more closely resemble the type of thought leader you see yourself to be now or in the future?

    3. Do you think there ought to be a mea culpa of sorts from Muslim teachers who led people previously down the path of avoiding certain groups and personalities and were harsh towards those personalities? I don’t mean owning up to the people maligned, but owning up to the students and hand-holding them through the thought process that brought about change?

    I ask because I find myself increasingly in the corner of laymuslims rather than muslim scholars or teachers because I find that they take the brunt of the stereotyped criticism of being shallow and without manners when it’s the case that they had teachers which took them down this path, teachers who may evolve and mature with time, but who have left behind them students who don’t understand how a person who passionately and stridently argued for one thing is now calling for it’s opposite. It’s something I see among our madinah brothers, quite a lot from our azhari brothers who seem to think differences of opinion are legitimate only when it’s convenient, and the same from our “theological cousins”, as you like to say ;)

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone take responsibility for these mistakes, only fingerpointing at followers.

    4. I do see a lot of “salafi” Muslims quietly stepping away from the label salafi and discarding the manners that are stereotypically associated with the group in favor of tazkiyyat an-nafs minus the eccentricities of the various tasawwuf movements. I think this is a positive development as well, and insha’Allah a part of the reform that needs to take place.

    Jazakallah khayr again for all that you’ve done and benefited us =)

    Siraaj

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    • Yasir Qadhi

      1) Yes…but they are obviously too Saudi-centric!

      2) AMJA has some great pros and cons…this is not the place to elaborate on them. I really wish that they were more English/Western friendly, and that Western Muslims were more aware of them.

      3) Yes. And I have been guilty of some of this in my earlier phases, and I believe it is essential that teachers acknowledge their mistakes as they move on.

      4) I agree!

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  30. Tariq Ahmed

    Reading this article was beneficial as well as unsettling. May Allah make those who rejoice in the divisions of the Ummah repent for or rue their laughter.

    I pray your work will help heal misunderstandings and encourage self-scrutiny. I pray that one result will be an emphasis on self-improvement in Islam over criticism of anyone else. That said, I also pray for you that Allah helps you to forgive those among the Muslims who have been unjust to you, and to deal with them mercifully. May Allah forgive me, you, and all the Muslims.

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  31. Abdullah

    Assalamu ‘alaykum Sh Yasir,

    Firstly, thank you for a balanced article on Salafism, which is a valuable contribution to the academic discussion on this movement.

    Secondly, I have a few questions which I hope you could shed some light on:

    1. Do you agree that the mindset that leads to quick and unjustified tabdee’ is the same as the mindset that leads to quick and unjustified takfeer. We see the followers of Rabee’ Al-Madkhali doing tabdee’ of practically everyone outside their narrow group, whereas we see takfeer from the likes of ISIS of other Syrian resistance groups (one of the excuses they used for takfeer was that one of the rebel groups “sat” with John McCain!).

    I feel that this tabdee’/takfeer mindset that afflicts the fringes of the Salafi movement actually at its core comes from parts of the Najdi da’wah. It is said that some of the scions of the Najdi da’wah made takfeer of the Ottomans, and Al-Maqdisi in his videos himself says that he studied the works of the Najdi scholars whilst in Madeenah. The fact that Al-Maqdisi is not a scholar or has any qualifications is altogether different matter, yet he bases his extreme brand of takfeer on the works of the Najdi da’wah with some justification.

    2. Ibn Taymiyyah (rahimahullah) is a giant among scholars whose virtue I’ve seen affirmed by Salafis and non-Salafis alike. Even those who disagree with him in points of theology duly respect him for this intellectually towering writings and his contributions to Islamic thought. I’m afraid the same cannot be said of Muhammad ibn Abdilwahhab (rahimahullah). Whilst the latter undoubtedly fought shirk and bid’ah, do you agree that the extreme tendencies in his movement alienated large sectors of the Ummah, who have used the false label “Wahhabi” to tar anyone who calls to tawheed.

    3. Sh Al-Albani rejected madhhabs but what we see in reality is that he has founded a madhhab himself, where his followers blindly follow his every opinion and engage in the same issues that they condemned the classical madhhabs and their followers for. The same extremism is rampant in the Ahl-e-Hadeeth movement in the subcontinent, to the point that they will fight among themselves over fiqhi issues. A friend relates how two groups of Salafis in India disgreed over moonsighting fataawa and the matter came to blows inside a masjid wallahul musta’aan.

    4. And finally, and this is a crucial point, since you yourself have disavowed the Salafi label, do you agree that the latter part of this Ummah cannot be reformed except by that which reformed the earlier part. I feel like there need to be major academic revisions carried out by sincere scholars affiliated with the movement, including explaining the mistakes in the Najdi scholars’ writings, mistakes in some of the works of Sayyid Qutb (rahimahullah) and a disavowal of the disease of tabdee’ and takfeer that tears communities apart. There is bid’ah and there is kufr but the application of these serious labels should be limited to senior scholars who get consensus on this, just like an Islamic court needs proof before pronouncing someone guilty and does not base its decisions on PDFs!

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    • Yasir Qadhi

      Salam Abdullah. Some very wise points ma sha Allah.

      1) Yes, I agree 100 %. This ‘aberration’ actually stems from standard modern Salafi dynamics of being obsesses with categorizing other people based on arcane beliefs.

      2) Yes.

      3) True; by rejecting the madhhabs he and his Salafism were forced to found their own.

      4) Hmmm…this requires more elaboration It is a cliche with some truth to say ‘the latter part of the Ummah will not be corrected except how the earlier part was.’ It is true in terms of rituals and theology and spirituality. But what does that cliche mean when it comes to an actual path forward? Politics? Palestine and Syria and Kashmir? Colonialism? American foreign policy? Darwinism and hedonism? And on and on. At some point, Salafis need to realize that being salafi is more than just talking about issues the salaf talking about. Had the salaf been alive now, their discourse would be about modern issues.

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  32. Abu Bilal (Swiss)

    In the beginning I would like to thank the author for this balanced article which is both, conclusive and very informative. As a student of knowledge who also studied at the prestigious Islamic University of Al-Madinah I would personally agree with most of the points mentioned in this essay. I particularly like the nuanced way of dealing with a very complex issue at hand and the reference to matters of tazkiyah.

    Certainly, the last couple of paragraphs may irritate a good number of fellow “salafi” students and du’at as it could be understood (if not read properly) as a blank endorsement of the “other” movements and groups. Hence it would have been helpful, in this respect, to further clarify the level of co-operation one should consider with fellow Muslims who may hold an intrinsically different creed or methodology (i.e. that working for the common good of the Muslim ummah, is not an option but a religious obligation; whilst at the same time, discussing and debating abstract issues still remains something which Muslim scholars, academics and students of knowledge should be engaged in, albeit whilst upholding Islamic adāb). To be fair, the author has elaborated on this issue in various talks and previous articles.

    Further, it would have been interesting to remark that the term “salaf” obviously predates Rashid Rida and was used in many classical Islamic texts. This fact was vaguely alluded to in the footnotes but should have, nevertheless, taken a more prominent description as it may have helped to clarify certain misconceptions many some practicing Muslims hold in that regard. It is true that Muslim scholar in the past have used the term “salaf” in order to refer to a methodology (i.e. how to follow the best of all generations in the way they have understood and applied the noble Qur’an and the sunnah) and not to define a particular group or sect. Nevertheless, I believe that whilst the student of knowledge is well aware of the term “salaf” others may need a more detailed linguistic and contextualized explanation of the term. In may humble opinion it would have completed this article and made it even more holistic. In the same way the author could have expanded on the term “athari” and explain that, ever since the formative period of Islam, many scholars who ascribed to the creed mentioned in the article have had a range of different denotations (e.g. At-Tāifah Al-Mansūrah, Ahlul-Ḥadīth, etc. but many of these terms have subsequently been high jacked). It is therefore vital that Muslims study the essence of creed and don’t lose sight of imān as an indispensable connecting factor between people pertaining to the same Islamic faith. Insofar, every attempt to label the highlighted pure creed with a “new” term (be it “orthodox” or other labels) will inevitably by misused and history repeats itself. It would be much more productive to academically demonstrate that the described creed and methodology was, in fact, the normative position of the early Muslim scholars and thence establish a productive dialogue with members of the Muslim community who may disagree with such a position.

    Finally, as an educator myself, I would like to point out that the original idea of establishing the madhāhib might have well been in order to establish a set pedagogical and academic curriculum to ease the learning of fiqh for the Muslim layman. Such is the job of most teachers and policymakers in education anyway and I would like to look at the Imāms of our ummah as our role-models in tarbiyyah and eructation. I personal believe that Muslims should start to look at (or choose) a particular “madhab” in order to follow a well-established curriculum in fiqh whilst being open-minded and receptive to other (established) opinions, especially if they seem closer to the way of the Prophet sall-Allahu ‘alaihi wa sallam. In the end of the day we will all be held responsible for the decision we make in this world!

    I pray to Allah ta’ala to make us realize the truth and thus guide us on the straight path so we can follow it.

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    • Yasir Qadhi

      Salam

      Read some of my previous comments where I deal with some of your issues.

      The issue of cooperation with other groups is not as complicated as Salafis typically portray it. Every student of knowledge and da’i has the right to judge pros and cons, and decide accordingly. As I said, Islam does not in itself preach guilt by association.

      I agree with you about the necessity of pure creed. But just be careful that you don’t mix the forest for the trees: true iman transcends a list of bulleted points.

      Once again, thanks for your comments. BTW were you in Madinah at my time?

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      • Abu Bilal (Swiss)

        We went together to some of the local shuyukh and I was among the “German group”. We met recently in the UK – Barak Allahu feek!

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  33. گنهگار

    Salaam Aleykum Shaykh Yasir Qadhi,

    In our University whenever there is a talk by a guest speaker/scholar during the Q/A time the sisters can not use the mic to ask questions but they are told to write their questions on the piece of paper and a brother will read it.

    I ask is this really Islamic?

    I read the Seerah of the Prophet (saw) and his Companions (ra) and Tabi’een women in their time would ask questions in the Masjid or in other places. The Question is are we more ‘religious’ than the early Muslims who knew more about the religion than us? Why are we acting more ‘pious’ and ‘religious’ than the Companions? Isn’t this going to extremes?

    Note: What I wrote above is not about any group because I don’t even know whether the bros who organize the events are Salafi or non-Salafi. I am just asking a question.

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  34. Abu Aadilaa Abdur Razzaq

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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  35. zahoor basha

    Assalamualaikum wa rahmatullahi wabarakatuhu
    This zahoor basha often writes queries to you , I hope many such queries has come to especially at this era of internet and technology it is difficult for a working individual to access knowedge just 1/2 hour Friday which he is busy with work schedule in the back of his mind.Indivdual like me who don’t have time to sit with scholar neither the scholars are like that in the east who teach us outside the 5 daily prayers.We learn a lot when we come to Saudi Arabia about aqeeda and basic practice of reliegions and from the books of standard publiations like darusalaam and iiph. But then in our free time in home we learn islam from internet. I hear lot of speeches and then come across your seerah which is very beneficial to our ummah you will not imagine inshallah what Ajar ALLAH will give you with sadaqa of knowledge you give people like us our imaan gets boost often my mind shakes feeling I am in that century. Alhamdirullah then we listen to other scholars like mufti menk good talking about present evil problems and scholar which affect the heart and then we strenght our knowledge in dawah with zakir bhai and we have nouman who explain some details of language of Arabic and often it goes above the head and sometime understandable and then we come across scholars of ahlul hadith of india teaching the importance of hadith and what I learn nowadays from site who are first category of pro government scholars put a long list of deviants including your name, zakir , dr israar who ideas of reforming islam and global thinking was very good disputed because some issue contradict with aqeedah that is correct what they say and then they carry on not to listen at all which is very difficult to live like that.i was totally confused when they criticize you on some matters of your thinking cannot able to understand and their only doing the job of criticizing nothing they have done to spread islam in India and third world country only people who work there will have acces to such knowledge. They criticize peace tv I asked why did u not brought before one such do they don’t have money to open a channel there are late and backward in present muslim problems in the world as u correctly pinpointed.At last I feel we can take the creed and practice of worship on the pillars of islam can be taken and other points are diversified in different scholars of around the globe each having some speciality we can take help of that and not only sticking everything to what they say-Jazhakhallah kahiran u have said what a common man can understand also.

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  36. Saiful Islam

    According to the Asharites, Tafweed is the mainstream Sunni position when it comes to the attributes of God.

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  37. Behar

    Salaam Alaykum,
    Why do you consider Takfeerees & Jihadists to be among salafis knowing that All of the shayks you mentioned above refuted them: Albanee, Bin Bazi, Uthaymin, Abdul Muhsin Al Abadi?
    Are they not from groups of Haawaareej?

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    • Yasir Qadhi

      Who gets to decide? You? Or them?

      As I wrote, each of the sub-sects views itself and itself alone as being ‘the correct Salafi group’. The group you criticized would view themselves as being ‘the correct Salafi group’. And you as well view yourself in the same way. Precisely my point.

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      • Ismail Kamdar

        Wa Alaikum Salaam

        I can add to this that 90% of the Takfeeris and Jihadists I interact with identify themselves as Salafi so listing them as a sub-sect of Salafism is quite legit.

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      • Behar

        Do you know any sect that don’t consider themselves as not calling in the methodology of salafusalih?
        The point that i’m trying to emphasise is that, when you proceed to explain the positive aspect of the Salafis, one might think that you see All of them as salafis, including Hawarij; and all of them have good/bad things.
        now another question; when in the history of islam Umah benefited from hawarij? it is not one of their misbeliefs that they don’t try understand the ayas of quran as sahabas understod? hence they deviated?
        this is definition of salafism as you explained

        Also if you listen to some tapes of Sheikh Albanee (even in albanian, in my mothers language) you’ll see that he expresses love for Everyone that tries to benefit ummah including Hasan Al Bana, Said Qutbi, even if he does not agree with their manhaj and he criticised Rabi al Madkhali for his book on Said Qutbi.

        I think that Sheikh Albanee was an ahlu sunnah doesn’t matter if he considered himself as salfi or not, and in his time happend things that never happend before but he trated those things with wisdom. But as you said none is free from error, saying this, yet you speak alot for errors of past that schoolars made.

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  38. Abu Yunus

    The article, despite attempting to assess Salafiyyah, is still devoid of any reference to many of the significant observations which have be leveled against Dr Yasir Qadhi by adherents of the Salafi tradition.

    There have been a number of valid criticisms against Dr Qadhi’s theories (such as his void assertion that the modern Salafi scholars “disorientated” the view of Ibn Taymiyyah in regards to ruling by other than what Allah has revealed and thus invented istihlal) yet these are all treated with either academic snobbery or a flagrant intellectual denial. For one operating in the field of academia Dr Qadhi has to take criticisms seriously and dispassionately otherwise his credibility as an impartial academic will always be questioned by those of the Salafi tradition.

    Let us take the issue of Istihlal, which Dr Qadhi has asserted was an invention and concoction of ‘the modern salafi scholars’ and nothing to do with Ibn Taymiyyah. The concept of istihlal is replete within the writings of Shaykh ul-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah, yet Dr Qadhi, instead of having the academic impartiality to rethink his 2009 paper, he has not even discussed it and neatly swept the matter under the carpet.

    Moreover, Dr Qadhi has been criticised for his apparent disgust of, and antipathy towards, Imam al-Albani and also, during his time at Madeenah University, asserting that Albani had “mistakes in the issue of eemaan”. This is to the extent that Dr Qadhi even holds, as noted in the poorly researched article above, that Imam al-Albani does not even hold actions to be from eemaan?! This is a blatant distortion of the creed of Imam al-Albani for which Qadhi provides no evidence for from the writings of Imam al-Albani whatsoever. This is an inappropriate method for an academic.

    Here are some matters regarding Imam al-Albani and the issue of eemaan, which Dr Yasir Qadhi would do well to ponder on:

    According to Imam al-Albani: eemaan is statement, action and belief. Righteous actions are from the reality of eemaan. See adh-Dhib ul-Ahmad, pp.23-33. Also according to Imam al-Albani: Actions are a foundational pillar of eemaan. See Muqaddimah Sharh ul-’Aqeedah at-Tahawiyyah, p.58. According to Imam al-Albani: Kufr can be with the tongue, heart and limbs. It is committed via takdheeb (denial), juhood (rejection), ’inaad (arrogance), nifaaq (hypocrisy), I’raad (turning away) and shakk (doubt). See at-Tahreer li-Masaa’il it-Takfeer and also as-Silsilah as-Saheehah, vol.7, p.134.

    According to Imam al-Albani: Ruling by other than what Allaah has revealed is kufr however it could either be minor kufr which does not expel the doer out of the religion (meaning it is fisq) if it is done as an action; or it could be major kufr which expels one from the religion when one makes it lawful with his heart and the likes. See at-Tahdheer min Fitnat-Takfeer and Silsilah as-Saheehah, vol.7, p.134.

    Therefore, Imam al-Albani (rahimahullah) accurately noted that the difference between Ahl us-Sunnah and the Murji’at ul-Fuquhaa is real, it is neither imaginary nor hypothetical. See Sharh ’Aqeedat ut-Tahawiyyah, pp.62-3.

    How Dr Yasir Qadhi can deny all of this, not only reeks of intellectual denial and academic snobbery, but is also unbecoming on one who is operating in the field of academia, this is not a matter in which Dr Qadhi can seriously expect people to follow what he says uncritically.

    It is for this reason that the criticisms leveled against some of the theories of Dr Qadhi are tangible and very serious, such as what has been documented here for instance:

    http://download.salafimanhaj.com/pdf/SalafiManhaj_Qadhi.pdf

    denial of them does not do Qadhi any favours.

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    • Yasir Qadhi

      Mr ‘Abu Yunus’.

      What reeks of intellectual arrogance and cowardice is the fact that you choose to attack me and single me out as if I am the one propagating such views. Why not take your anger out on the ‘kibar’ of the Kingdom who actually were the ones who went back and forth with al-Albani and Halabi et. al. on these issues? I was in Saudi in the late 90’s as a student in Madinah, and we followed each fatwa back and forth in explicit detail.

      At this stage of my life, I truly cannot be bothered to care about this issue enough to write about it in detail. Nonetheless, the position that I wrote above and which you so vehemently disagree with is the analysis of a whole cadre of Saudi ‘kibar’, from the current Mufti to Bakr Abu Zayd and so many others whom you would otherwise look up to. Don’t be selective in your anger and channel it only at me, go ahead and smear all of them as well, so as to be consistent.

      I might have my disagreements with the ‘kibar’, but I also recognize that they know Athari theology better than the Jordanian branch ever did. Shaykh al-Albani is someone whom I admire greatly (regardless of what you say) but he was human and had his errors, and theology was not his speciality. Clearly, he contradicted himself in a number of statements regarding this issue and he didn’t understand Ibn Taymiyya’s position. This is not *just* my analysis, this is the analysis of my own theology teachers at Madinah (in the Masters program!) and of the ‘Kibar’ of the Kingdom.

      In any case, this is all I will write about this issue, as the arguments for this are well-known and documented for those who care about this issue.

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      • Abu Yunus

        Again, utter sidetracking of the core issue. Your erroneous argument which you presented in your 2009 paper is again swept under the carpet and not addressed.

        The reason why you, Dr Qadhi, have been “singled-out”, as you argue, is not due to any personal agenda against yourself which is another strategy which is used by people in order to deflect valid criticisms.

        Rather Dr Qadhi, we have not seen the sources which support what you assert. Moreover we have not yet observed the citations wherein Shaykh Bakr Abu Zayd or the current Mufti of Saudi Arabia Shaykh ABdulAzeez Aal Shaykh have ever asserted what you proposed in your 2009 paper and in your statement above, namely:
        a. That Albani, Bin Baz and Uthaymeen emphasised Istihlal in the issue of ruling by other than God’s law and that this is contrary to the stance of Ibn Taymiyyah in the issue

        b. That Imam al-Albani had such errors in eemaan to render him as not even deeming actions to be from eemaan (!?).

        c. That Ibn Taymiyyah did not discuss istihlal in regards to the matter of ruing by other than God’s law

        The only one to make such venomous accusations against Albani, which may indicate your actual academic sources, was Safar al-Hawali. If this is your main citation for your theories about Imam al-Albani, and for your promotion that Albani was from the Murji’ah (another of the risible positions held by Dr Qadhi for which he has received justified critique) you would do well to clearly state that instead of trying to impute the Mufti Abdul’Azeez Ali Shaykh to that position.

        For an academic, not to mention one who is supposedly specialised in Islamic theology, Dr Qadhi is often lax in regards to source-referencing, and has not even addressed the Istihlal error which you asserted in 2009 at the University of Edinburgh. It would be the honorable thing to merely admit that what you hypothesised is absolutely incorrect.

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      • Mohammad

        I was just following some of Dr. Qadhi’s responses in this blog. Not sure what message he actually tried to convey by making these contradictory comments in the very same blog.

        “You will find al-Albani, and many modern Salafis, saying this” (I am a Salafi)

        “In fact al-Albani has comments about him that he wasn’t fully salafi because he clung to a madhhab.”

        Moreover, he has strongly agreed to the commentators here who said that al-Albani created (unconsciously) a new ‘madhhab’ (his blind followers) by not following one of the traditional madhhabs. It seems to me that he’s using al-Albani for both approving and disapproving his current stance. Honestly, I couldn’t believe when I heard one of the Salafi preachers called him a ‘liar’. After reading this article as well as his double-faced responses to the reader’s comments, I have started to believe so.

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    • Hassan

      May I ask the obsession of PDF format? I am not commenting on matter you described, I am just curious on excessive usage of PDF. I think HTML5 can be a good moving forward, it can be rendered easily on desktops/laptops and smart devices alike.

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      • Mahmud

        They are known for their PDF refutations and so that is the significance. It seems like they make refuting other Muslims 90% of their deen.

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      • Imran Kokar

        Is that all you have to say, “obsession of PDF”?! Seriously! The truth is the truth. Let that be your criterion, not whether it’s published as a PDF or not.

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      • salafimanhajadmin

        It’s my website. I have no “obsession” with PDF’s. We publish many PDFs for free, so this is to try and prevent people from easily copying the work and making a profit by selling it and re-branding it with their own details.

        Sorry if it’s an inconvenience for anyone.

        If enough people complain, I will consider making text only articles, in-sha Allah.

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  39. Sarah

    Assalamu alaykum!

    I am a young Muslim active on some social media and blogging sites such as Tumblr – and I was extremely shocked when I found that the ‘madkhali’ group of Salafis are very much ‘coming back to life’. They are quite influential over convert Muslims, or those who do not want to adhere to ‘blind’ Islam; basically, those who rely on the Internet for their learning due to not having reliable scholars or family members to rely on. What ended up warning me away from them was that I realized that they and those who hate Islam seem agree beautifully on what our religion is!

    I would love if you could clarify some of the points that they use as a form of ‘intellectual terrorism’ to scare people into joining them. For example, jarh wa ta3deel, and their repeated insistence that you cannot in any way, shape, or form learn from someone who has made a ‘problematic’ statement. For people who have access to Islamic knowledge, points such as ‘We distinguish between an incorrect statement, and the person who makes it’ would obviously warn away from such groups, and allow a person to understand the context of many scholarly statements. But to those who are new and learning, these online-madkhalis can be damning!

    Jazakallahukhairan.

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    • Yasir Qadhi

      Salam Sr. Sarah,

      I have first-hand experience with Madkhalis for the last 15 years. My experiences with them have shown me one simple fact: those with sincerity and intelligence amongst them eventually leave that understanding and move on to that which is more beneficial to the Ummah.

      So…you continue being productive and useful to the Ummah, and always, always be better than them in your manners and in your sincerity. As I said, those who are sincere and intelligent will move on. Those who are not sincere … well, they have bigger problems than this. And those who are not intelligent, inshaAllah Allah will forgive them for them misguided overzealousness.

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      • Mahmud

        “So…you continue being productive and useful to the Ummah, and always, always be better than them in your manners and in your sincerity. As I said, those who are sincere and intelligent will move on. Those who are not sincere … well, they have bigger problems than this. And those who are not intelligent, inshaAllah Allah will forgive them for them misguided overzealousness.”

        JazzakAllahu khair

        If we know what we are dealing with, we are better equipped to handle the situation.

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    • O H

      Madhkhalis have by far caused the biggest dent to the image of modern salafiyyah so much so that people assume Salafis=Madhkhalis. A clear distinction should be made between them so as to not harm those trying to adhere to the path of the salaf/righteous predecessors or those who are making these baseless accusations or incorrectly assuming such, hence being put off from salafi scholars upon the haqq.

      The Ummah has much to gain from the works of giants such as Ibn Baaz, Ibn Uthaymeen, Abdullah Ibn Jibreen, Saalih al Fawzaan who have vast knowledge of the Qur’an & Sunnah and strict adherence to it in their conduct and books/verdicts. A lot of credit goes to the salafi scholars who have taught Shaykh Yasir Qadhi and other western based Shuyookh enabling them to share the knowledge among the Muslims in the West. We owe them respect and fair judgement. Whatever criticisms & issues there are of modern day salafiyyah are dwarfed by the issues relating to scholars from Al Azhar (Egypt),Deobandi school of thought, Brelvies etc who have far more negative issues, both in terms of number and severity. I rather learn from a close minded salafi with proper ilm of aqeedah than a well mannered Deobandi scholar with an aqeedah understanding corrupted with bidah and shirk. Ideally I would learn from someone like the late Shaykh Saalih Ibn Uthaymeen, who in my opinion, was both knowledgeable and fair in his verdicts and views.

      Note: By the way I am not saying all deobandis hold views which may constitute shirk but a significant section of them do as per my experience as a person from a subcontinent background.

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  40. Maryam

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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    • Yasir Qadhi

      I wonder if you actually read the article carefully?

      This is actually one of my main criticisms of the movement: the ‘guilt-by-association’ syndrome that the movement instills.

      I have never supported Shi’ism or Shi’ite theology. I find it unpalatable and insulting. But merely by standing on a public stage, in a public forum with a large group of clerics, one of whom is Shi’ite is in no way, fashion or form endorsing Shi’ite theology. The whole notion of ‘associating with deviants’ needs to be re-looked at and re-taught in light of…wait for it… the Quran and Sunnah, and not JUST in light of specific statements of the salaf themselves.

      You have every right to disagree with me ‘standing next to’ someone whom you disapprove of, but your opinion and stance is not obligatory on me to follow, and even if you are correct, my opinion doesn’t make me an innovator. I might find there to be a specific benefit in ‘standing next to’ someone (even a non-Muslim!) for a greater need of the Ummah. Merely standing next to, or even cooperating on one project, or multiple projects, does not in itself imply tacit approval. What would be actual deviation is (god forbid) for someone to say that cursing the Companions is permissible or laudatory. I believe that cursing the Companions is a sign of hypocrisy; yet, at times and in certain places, I will indeed stand next to someone who does so, even as I hate the theology that this person is propagating. The Prophet salla Allah alayhi wa sallam cooperated with pagans for the greater good of the Ummah; surely Muslims of other sects are more worthy of such cooperation if the need calls for it?

      Again, this mindset is one of my main criticisms of the movement.

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      • Nafs Zakiya

        Salam, as a western Muslim it has been quite a joy to to witness your continued maturation of understanding–or to put it succinctly–your hikma. I do not mean this condescendingly, but out of respect

        One small note when speaking of shi’ism, as a scholar I’d request you be a bit more precise, it is 12vrs or Jaafari who engage in cursing, but others such as Zaidiya do not. I realize this seems like splitting hairs, but I feel it may be helpful for others to know this.

        Apologies in advance for giving your critics more fuel to denounce you by having a follower of Zaidiya say some kind words :-)

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  41. Imran Kokar

    Yasir, why are you being selective in what you allow and what you delete. Why are you deleting the detailed responses left by Salafis? Fine. Be prepared for a detailed response published very soon insha’Allaah.

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    • Yasir Qadhi

      As far as I know no comments are being deleted, but I will check and make sure that is not happening.

      As for refutations…make sure it is in PDF so that you are still ‘on the manhaj’ ;)

      Yasir

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  42. Jakub Maciagowski

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  43. jay

    Yasir, whatever praise for the salafis you feel you have portrayed doesn’t really matter at the end cause the theme of this article is criticism for salafis. Somehow, you’ve succeeded in creating waswas in the hearts of most people regarding the salafis, and the next time a salafi would advise such persons to for example, ask about the authenticity of hadiths, that advice and whatever else advice they give wouldn’t be taken so easily. Your saying you left the salafi movement at the end comes down to indirectly asking people to do same. And as you are knowledgeable enough to take some of their creed and methodology/theology which you see as justified, know that not everyone would understand that and take what’s good from them. Muslims make mistakes, that shouldn’t make people leave islam. Salifis are fallible, what they call to isn’t. They might have left some aspects lacking, but saying their views on the importance of proper understanding of Tawheed or where Allah is or aqeedah is over exaggerated is just bad. “Sects are parts and parcel of Islaam, and the one who denies that is deeply wallowing in Ignorance, Didn’t the Rasul Sallallaahu ‘alayh wa Salaam say ” The Jews and Christians have decided their religion into 72 Sects and you Muslims will divide yours into 73, but all these go to Jahannam except one”(Saheeh Bukhari)”. May Allah guide you and us brother. Maybe next you’ll take grave worshippers and people that ask help from their Shaykhs and say Glory be to those Shaykhs as your brothers all in the name of love and unity. Please next time don’t generalise your western world muslim challenges as that of the entire Ummah, where I come from, problems amongst the muslim youths and Ummah here don’t arise from temptations of secularism and materialism, the hearts and general beliefs of people are shaped by their aqeedah, manhaj n understanding of tawheed which you consider trivial. Bever underestimate the powers of thoughts or words, be more careful with them.

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    • Asdren Zajmi

      How can you claim yourself to be from the followers of salaf who did not debate neither call for good and prevent from the evil under fake names?

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  44. Haarith

    Salam ‘alaykum wa rahmatullah

    Thank you for this article, which has been written in lucid and engaging manner.

    If I then may advance a few brief questions for your attention please:

    1) it was stated in the article that salafism was promoted and popularised by Shk. Albani, and thereafter by the Nejdi counterparts.

    I am curious, how you came to this conclusion – and if we have any *academic* references to substantiate this claim? If so if you could furnish us with it, and may Allah reward you.

    2) Is it not the case that some, at the head of the movement, ironically, did not promote it as a group but with a more encompassing and indeed emancipating outlook?

    I am thinking of the likes of Shk B. ‘Uthaymin http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2v_qeMxc_vY – who herein said that the ‘saved sect’ is not the Salafi sect – though they may be the closest in doctrine, but embracing the overarching way of the earliest generations in terms of statement, deeds, piety and conduct. Presumably what you would in general terms agree with fully today?

    3) Following on from #2) above:

    Given we ought to accept certain sizeable sections of the salafi movement actually agree already with what has preceded in the paper, would you thus agree that factually there may be little/no difference in methodology between yourself and a sizeable portion of salafis almost letter-for-letter, even after your ‘exiting’ from salafism?

    4) In terms of reforming salafism, would you accept that doing so from within the movement would usually be expedient?

    5) Lastly, in your experience from days in the Islamic University of Medina – a predominantly Salafi university, instrumental in promulgation of salafi teachings – was you experience that teachers and lecturers from other continents and countries were brought over to the University to lecture in their given field of expertise?

    It seems in the article the implication is that scholarship was limited to one country.

    As a follow on from this, were this to be accepted for the sake of argument, that this is the case, then would you agree that at least from the point of scholars within a given country, it is fairly natural to sign post other students to scholars whom one is familiar with – who in a time of little internet access, is more likely than not to be local, rather than remote? This seems particular instinctive when it comes to recommending a scholar to one’s students for tarbiyyah (holistic Islamic development and nurturing).

    My apologies for the length of this communique and look forward to hearing your thoughts.

    Jazakum Allah khayran

    Wassalam

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    • Yasir Qadhi

      1) I am not aware of any academic references; however, the Najdi Dawah did not call itself ‘Salafi’ for the bulk of its existence. It is historically undeniable that the term was introduced by Rida, adopted by Albani, and then propagated by the Najdis as well. I would be interested if you can find evidence to the contrary!

      2) Yes. I had the great honor and privilege of sitting at the feet of Sh Ibn Uthaymeen the summer before he passed away, during his intensive summer program. I feel his understanding of ‘Salafism’ is far more in line with this article’s!

      3) To a certain extent, yes.

      4) For some. Not for me; as I said, I feel more comfortable concentrating on the broader Ummah. This article, while no doubt will cause some reform (insha Allah) is not meant to do that directly.

      5) I studied with over one hundred scholars at the University during my ten years there. Of these, exactly two were non-Saudis; Egyptians to be precise. One was an Indian naturalized-Saudi (Sh. Adhami). I also studied with a few outside the University – some of them were non -Saudis (Sh. Safi al-Rahman al-Mubarakfuri, for example). But by and large, the entire University during my time was Saudi, and from what I understand still predominantly remains so. This was not the case throughout the 60s, 70s, and 80s.

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  45. Haarith

    To add to the above, therefore: within the Western context, to what extent would you say the same holds true of Salafi *scholarship* with reference to not seeking to address issues relevant to the day?

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  46. p4rv3zkh4n

    Salam Sheikh Yasir Qadhi.

    Thank you for the informative article about Salafis.

    Is it possible for you or another Scholar to type an article about deobandis and barelvis?

    Since my family is from bangladesh, I want to know more about these two “groups”.

    Salam

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    • Hassan

      This is one disagreement I have with muslimmatters in general, they will not criticize anyone other than salafis for sake of unity of ummah etc.

      Of course Sh. Yasir is more aware of salafis, so he could critique them. But you will not get any article on any other movement from anyone on muslimmatters. You will only hear nice things about them.

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      • Umm.Esa

        I think enough of PDFs are available critiquing other groups :)

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      • Hassan

        Enough of salafi criticism is available over the internet as well, question is will muslimmatters single out salafis for criticism or they will have similar academic level article on other groups. I doubt though.

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      • Hassan

        What home? this is muslimmatters not salafimatters (as someone said many years ago). BTW it is interesting that you have articles in muslimmatters by deobandis and sufis (scholar level people who admit to being one), while you do not have any articles from people who claim to be salafis. It seems they are being kicked out from sunni or muslim umbrella.

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  47. Shahnawaz Baig

    Assallamu Alaikum ya Shiekh. JazaKAllah Khairun for this brilliant investigative and academic article on the evolution and current status of “Salafism” – Who’s Who and What is What and most importantly How did we come to this. I feel an immense form of brotherhood when I read your thought-provoking journey and how you arrived in your understanding through honesty, truth and fair justice – which I feel is a much bigger character trait than be smitten by being scholarly or philosophical about things. I understand that it would’ve been impossible to ask more of you as a contributing element to this article but as I was reaching the end I was gasping in anticipation that perhaps my “Dream” question is about to be answered. Wallahi, I would have loved and appreciated you and the article even more (for the sake of Allah) IF I had just a few more specifics spelled out. Although my knowledge was increased many folds Alhumdullilah of things which were a bit hazy and concepts/information where I was confused about. I understand and appreciate that perhaps there could be some Hikma’h of you withholding the “Creme de le Creme” Specifics (which I so much desired). A Wisdom which I cannot presently see.

    Whilst growing up when any Muslim gathers “Shao’or” – Consciousness of his / her deen – they are told to follow the Qura’an and Sunn’ah and implement the teachings in their daily lives and live by it. There have been many interpretations of the Qura’an in many Languages and perhaps many authentic Ahadeeth do provide an excellent interpretation or the best examples on how to implement that particular directive in the Qura’an. But where things are not that clear and when a practice or a ritual comes under questioning, we find conflicting interpretations (extracted wisdom) which seems to condone or condemn a practice, ritual, obedience, an action which are sometimes done with vested interests and sometimes regardless of the outcomes – politically, economically, egotistically – simply honestly. But Behold! These are carried out by Scholars who again proclaim to be on the right Manhaj. I say this because I haven’t met any scholar yet, who doesn’t proclaim so, or isn’t more confident of where he / she is heading / following.

    But for a Layman Muslim like me, the scholarly discussion about the existence of “Schisms” isn’t as important as the outstanding Question, which is, When we know that the Middle path of moderation needs to be applied – that we need to gain our knowledge from those scholars who are on the middle path, but how does one identify them? In Essence How much Middle is Middle anyway. What I am genuinely trying to ascertain is what if we, the layman Muslims (not the scholars) get it wrong in our selection process? And if we ask a Scholar – he definitely would invite us to what he understands in the best group or sect that is on the Middle and Moderate path based on his / her research. Is it even possible to clearly disembark the norm of being generalistic and specify exactly who today are the moderate and correct Scholars belonging to a certain methodology or a Tanzeem / group / sect of this day and age – where their internal differences of opinions are dwindling between the definition of “Schisms” or even worse their actual manifestations – Looking at this article, I cannot escape from the idea that it was a Minor difference of Opinion and then it’s gradual expounding (thanks to Shayta’n) that has led to the current state of dissensions that we find ourselves in today.

    This was my “Dream” question- about understanding those correct moderate Muslims and scholars of this day and age (constituting that sect, group, manhaj)- how do I identify them- who are they – what are they- How are they – where are they- and then knowing I am sure without causing any Fitna. Because this would make it so much easier for Muslims like me to unite and follow that one banner – Maybe unrealistic, romantic, naive, fairy-tale thinking (as the ultra-liberals and the ultra-orthodox would say) and not very scholarly of me or perhaps it is just too late in the day for Muslims where we need to simply have that patience and perseverance where we rely on our un-scholarly senses which Allah (swt) has given us to chose the best from that talk, baya’n, literary work, tafsir, article that scholar or sect or group or Manhaj has given. But then again, how do we know if we are even extracting the best?

    JazaKAllah Khair,Shk Yasir Qadhi (or anyone else)- if you do manage to find time in reading this comment this far. Please do a sequel to this article where there is some connection of dot’s, some coming together of art and science to identify if you are unable to specifically mention names, a gist of your Thumb-rules approach in the identification process, a gist of your own thought-process in your own journey, which still is on-going, but Alhumdullillah has reached a much more mature state of better realization of this wonderful Deen of Islam. I believe that our success in being good Muslims and having a fighting chance against the injustices and atrocities of this world, unleashed upon us, lies in a united Ummah which struggles with this question. I sincerely hope you understood my distressful question because Wallahi I must confess that I have fallen short of clearly articulating it (but it is the best I can do) and I sincerely hope that you will oblige, someday pretty soon, Insha-Allah!

    May Allah (swt) always keeps inspiring you to guide us correctly to the best of your abilities and May HE accepts our deeds and intentions and forgives our shortcomings- Ameen

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  48. Shameen Taj

    Dear Shayk Yasir Qadhi
    Assalamualikum
    Thanks for the immense knowledge of the article at correct time. After reading the article and comments below feel happy and pity.You have already said the Aqeeda and Pros of Saudi Salfism is enough to prove what you believe. Now the ummah is required of action there is no voice of ummah we are like scum in the sea.This the time of Technology and information everyone understand the creed of Salafi Saudi is authentic but in the actions there are backward feeling pain that the ummah is not united.Even there is no khilafah for which we all work for including Qadhi I think but to establish that atleast we should unite to form a union to raise our voices to the goverments when our muslim brother are hurt or when some calamity happens.We muslim should have a body of club in every city and country and then all together should raise the voice for any human injusctice today what I see the top clerics may pass on the road and if someone urine on the road he will not advice them also after he finish that please don’t do here but he thinks his job is over if he has refuted a scholar and wrote a big artice what a normal individual will not understand also common what this U have made ISLAM as something theory and not practical.
    Jazhakhallahu khairan -

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  49. Isa

    The Asharis (of today) often maintain that there are some differences between Salafi and Athari aqidah. For example, they will endorse the aqidah texts of Ibn Quddamah (as authentic Athari aqidah) but not accept the aqidah texts of Ibn Tayymiyyah (who will be likened to Salafi aqidah). Any thought on that dear shaykh?

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    • Yasir Qadhi

      I have a lot to say on this…but this is not the article to comment on intra-Athari disputes. Very succinctly: there is a narrow spectrum of opinion within the Athari creed. Ibn Qudama is ‘center-right’, not quite on one extreme. Perhaps Ibn al-Jawzi would represent that extreme. On the other extreme you have Abu Ya’la, and one shade less than him Ibn Khuzayma. Ibn Taymiyya is center but different, as he explains what his centrist position is in a manner that is unprecedented.

      Bottom line: to cling to one Hanbalite and ignore all other Athari specialists isn’t very academic.

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      • Isa

        Thank you Dr. Qadhi. I look forward to reading that article one day insha Allah.

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      • p4rv3zkh4n

        Salam Sheikh Yasir Qadhi,

        Is it possible for you to explain briefly the difference between ibn jawzi and abu ya’la ‘s creed?

        since you mentioned the word “extreme” and “centre” within the athari creed.

        thank you

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  50. The Salafi Feminist

    I would venture to say that one common issue amongst *many* Salafis is the lack of recognition regarding the importance of social work and grassroots activism… not merely holding duroos or teaching the masses about Tawheed, but in addressing social issues in a wise and relevant manner that still adheres to the Qur’an and Sunnah.

    So much time is spent on theology, fiqh, and politics that the struggles of the average (and even not-so-average) person are completely overlooked… leaving behind entire communities that are brow-beaten into listening only to the ‘kibaar al ‘Ulamaa’ and watching out for ‘deviance’, but are unable to function as holistic Muslims on even the most basic of levels – as individuals and within their own families.

    As a result, societal issues which are easily written off as ‘kaafir problems’ (domestic violence, sexual abuse, toxic marriages, bullying, and so on) fester even more amongst these groups, thus effectively destroying themselves and generations to come.

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    • Abu Yusuf

      Very well said Salafi Feminist, and this is an area where direction and leadership is lacking among many Salafi communities, especially in the west today. As a member of one such community, the negative effects of this social neglect has began to affect the next generation who, while cognisant of the correct aqeedah and all it entails (which is foundational and the first step) they are ill equipped to actualise it in social spheres.

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  51. shamreez

    Assalamu alaikum. Just wanted to bring one point, don’t you think there may be places where tawheed is the most important issue. There are places which are indulged in shirk and bidaa and therefore they paying attention to that could very well be justified. Allahu aalam. Informative article. Jazakumullahu khairan. May Allah guide us all. Ameen

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  52. Bahader from Sweden

    @YasirQadhi – SubbhanaAllah amazing article and what a deep insight. Ma sha Allah tabarakAllah.

    Although I wish that this article had been published few years earlier to save our youths from becoming zombies who lives in parallell society.

    As a former “salafi” myself I realized early on that this movement suits the rulers perfect in safeguarding their chair and oppose no threat at all to the political arena in the society, because it turns you into a quoting zombie with zero influence in the very same society your living in.

    I still have some friends that are stuck in this movement and when I look at them I feel sadness because they are physically living in west but their mentality is as if they’re living in Saudi. This movement have turned some of the most intellectual and brightest youth to zombies.

    Alhamdolilah I realized this early due to Ali AtTamimis lectures and due to the fact that my father is a politician himself.

    But I must say that I am still struggling with agree to disagree manners and as you said the spirituality concept because of the prints this movement made on my personality.

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  53. Abu Jibreel

    BarakAllahu Feeka Shaykh Yasir Qadhi. I would just like to add/modify the following points:

    (1) The maximum number of divisions within Salafiyyah are 3 or 4. They are: Moderate Salafi, Jihadi Salafi, Madkhali Salafi, and Conservative Salafi. This categorization is based off how many Salafi groups believe themselves to be the TRUE and ONLY Salafis. I believe the maximum there are is 3, and certainly no more than 4.

    (2) Like any other movement, be it the Deobandi movement, or Ikhwani movement, Salafiyyah is an EVOLVING movement, so I do believe it may have a positive future and positive reformation. And with all due respect (or praise, however you see it), I still consider you to be part of the Salafi movement. You’re a favorable type of Salafi.

    (3) I’m glad you mentioned the positives of the movement and its approach/methodology. Just picking up Kitab At-Tawhid by Sh. Muhammad ibn Abdul Wahhab yesterday, I felt it to be a classical book, though written only a few hundred years ago. If I’m not mistaken, Deobandis and Ikhwanis have praised the Shaykh (rahimullah). I’d like to add that the Salafi approach (with or without its label), I find it more traditional and classical than some of the neo-Sufi groups we see today, who sadly, have sometimes a very secular-liberal or pluralistic view of things.

    (4) And lastly, please stay focused on benefitting the Ummah, specifically two items:

    (a) Provoking Muslims to question their relationship with Allah subhana wa t’ala, and the state of our Ibadah

    (b) Ensuring that Muslims are more productive, effective, and efficient when it comes to contributing to the Ummah and Community

    (5) Finally, I’d like to see more cooperation between Deobandis, Ikhwanis, Tablighis, Salafis, etc. At the end of the day, we are Muslims, Ahlus Sunnah (in-sha-Allah), and these labels are nothing but descriptions for efforts/movements and methods of revival. We may be Salafi or Deobandi when it comes to scholarship, but we are partisan and Muslim when it comes to brotherhood and sisterhood and cooperating for the greater good and our priorities. And Allah knows best.

    JazakAllahu Khayr

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    • Abu Jibreel

      *Sorry, as for point #5 I meant: “we are non-partisan and Muslim”

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    • Yasir Qadhi

      1) Labels and categorizations are all subjective. You have the right to your own, and yes it does have some basis to it.

      2) Same as part (1) and also I’ve addressed this in other comments.

      3) No doubt, other movements have their fair share of problems as well. Some of them are worse than Salafis’ problems.

      4) That is what I’ve been doing for the last few years and hope to continue to do for as long as I live insha Allah.

      5) Again, I hope my own methodology is indicative of this as well.

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  54. Abu Milk Sheikh (@AbuMilkSheikh)

    Assalamu alaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh. Jazakumullahu khairan.

    I’m still going through the comments so I apolgize if this has been asked already. How would you deal with the fact that from the perspective of non-Salafis (particularly if they are anti-Salafi) you are still ‘Salafi’ in your ‘manhaj’, even if you say ‘I’m not a Salafi’?

    Yes the attitude is reductionist but it exists, even among the moderate Salafis who still identify with the label/idea. You’d be considered more of a liberal-leaning adherent of ‘salafiyyah ilmiyyah’ (academic salafism).

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    • Yasir Qadhi

      Labels, at some point, become meaningless. What others call me is of little concern to me, and yes, I do understand the cynicism of someone assuming that I’m just a more moderate/liberal Salafi.

      For me, Salafism was about emphasizing the Athari creed above and beyond anything else, including religiosity and iman itself! I am opposed to this misuse and exaggeration of aqidah, even if I subscribe to the Athari creed. Islam is more than just aqidah.

      From my perspective, I have a different set of priorities than Salafis, and a different vision of the Muslim world. If someone wishes to categorize me as a ‘liberal Salafi’, that’s his categorization, not mine.

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  55. Farrukh

    Assalaamoalaikum
    After reading your article, i’m bit afraid, there are two types of sunni in our country, first brailve, and 2nd deobandi.
    brailvi are on one extreme of polytheism, I was a brailvi when I was a child, but soon I realized their bid’at and left them.
    others are deobandi/wahabi who seem to have good Islamic believes but they have killed more than 50,000 people in Pakistan for enforcement of Islamic Law. in different masaajid of debandi, they ask for support for enforcement of Islamic law.
    As Dr. Zakir Naik often says there is no sunni shia thing in Islam, Quran teaches us to call ourselves Muslims, then why we label each and every Muslim with some sect? why can’t we call ourselves Muslims?
    why you used the word ‘Deobandi Tablighi Maturidi’ instead of Muslims?

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  56. Maria_Rus

    Assalamu alaikum.
    First of all, I would like to thank Shaikh for speaking out about the current situation of Salafism as many people of knowledge do feel the same but seem to be afraid to acknowledge their thoughts in public as they will be immediately blacklisted. May Allah reward you for speaking the truth as it is one of the biggest struggle of all. Also, after reading your article I felt a great relief as lots of questions and issues I had are finally answered.

    I would like to add few more issues I have personally encountered following modern Salafism myself. Being a European convert for more than 8 years now, I found mainstream Salafism quite ‘Saudisised’ especially when it comes to their fatwas regarding everyday life affairs. Certain way of life they propagate I find inapplicable, for instance, in Europe and their scholarship don’t seem to be concerned about it. Some people are literally confused after following some fatwas while living in the West i.e. to drive or not to drive; to study in universities or not and so on. There doesn’t seem much of understanding different of cultures, mentality and situations in their literature in overall.

    Secondly, I found that mainstream Salafism almost ignores the Islamic history and its relevance to current affairs. There is a lack of good historical literature with a profound analysis of certain historical events. Furthermore, certain historical facts seem to be even skewed and misrepresented (probably in order to match an ideology). To sum up, while reading the Saudi salafi literature sometimes I feel I have been placed into a bubble without links neither to the past nor present where I feel literally intellectually suffocated.

    May Allah forgive me if I said anything wrong while expressing what’s on my heart and mind.

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    • Yasir Qadhi

      It was precisely for people such as yourself that this article was written. You are not alone, my dear sister, and your concerns and fears were felt by many people, including myself in an earlier phase of my life.

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  57. abuhasna

    Jazakullah Sh. Yasir for your article. I was an active member of Islamic Societies at various UK Universities in the late Eighties & early Nineties. The Salafi group(s) in my experience only ever brought Fitna , Fire among the Muslims. They were self-declared Aqeedah policemen, suspicious of everyone & everything, and were always questioning everyone. They created a very nasty atmosphere on campus (-they were not alone in this, the Khilafa boys have a lot to answer for). For example they declared groups Kufr such as the Ikhwan, people who followed Mathab (-the Shia were to be burnt alive! Not Joking). My own position was always to look for excuses to bring Muslims together, including the Shia. The Salafi methodology was to look for excuses to break the JAMA, UNITY of Muslims EVERYWHERE. They made an utter, utter mockery of the noble institution of marriage (-it was merely a means to an end), and ironically made the Shia concept of Mutah appear as a veritable Island of Honour!. They never accepted our appointed Imams during Salat and many prayed in their own Jamah. I have also seen Burnout. Many decades have gone by, but they (including ex members) still carry a strong air of suspicion. In a recent DAWA event for non-muslims, a local Salafi visited us, he wanted to debate with us: Not help us. I personally advice my friends, relatives to keep well clear of them & their institutions: It need not have been like this-so much wasted energy. The Muslims lands are in a terrible state, we do not need (or ever needed in my opinion) more Fiqh, Aqeedah; what is needed is 99% humanity with !% Aqeedah. May Allah bless the Ulema to heal the Islamic Nation. And Muslims have to accept that the ISLAMIC nation is very, very, very diverse- and was ever thus.

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  58. sam

    Salam sheikh..very detailed article amidst an overwhelming reaction of debates….for the muslim layperson like myself who does not have the same amount of knowledge….there is a sea out there and its very daunting to get a grip of all the different mahabs and their historical perspectives….I sincerely pray that whatever form of Islam one connects to let it be…connection with Almighty and to follow in the way of our beloved prophet should prevail in the hearts of us Muslims…let us leave that judgement with Allah swt.
    It was a good read….please write about the status of women in islam…until we engage with women…and all the differences fiqh..adab…what women can or cannot do…our ummah will never make progress to engage them in the dawah and community.

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  59. farasat

    Regarding the issue of Sh Albanee, and whether he considered actions to be a necessary part of eemaan.

    Shaikh Albanee divided kufr into two types; kufr of belief and kufr of action. But he further divided kufr of action into: those actions which negate eemaan, and those actions that do not negate eemaan. As for the former he said; “among those actions are those on account of which a person actually disbelieves with the kufr of belief” (and he gave the example of intentionally kicking the Quran) {Fitnah of Takfeer, p72)

    Elsewhere Shaikh Albanee stated that “actions are a condition for the completeness of eemaan and not a condition for its existence”. (tape, Tah’reer li Usool at Takfeer, February 1996)

    So brother Yasir’s contention that Sh. Albanee did not consider actions to be a necessary part of eemaan is mistaken.

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  60. Ibn Masood

    Assalamualaikum

    JazakAllah khair for the amazing article. I only have one point which I found difficult to accept: That from among the positive aspects of Salafism is this:

    “A general and more comprehensive awareness of the branches of academic Islam. An average Salafī would be cognizant of the role of uṣūl al-fiqh, the importance of muṣtalaḥ al-ḥadīth, the basic structure and scope of ʿulūm al-Qurʾān, and so forth. It is safe to say that an average follower of Salafism is more aware of the academic disciplines underpinning Islam than an average follower of any other tradition.”

    Being a student also, I find this point quite contentious. I have found in general that Salafis are very weak when it comes to usul ul fiqh (which may be explained more the fact that most of them are Hanbali).

    Rather, fuqahaa from all spectrums of islam and all madhhaaib are usually very strong in usul ul fiqh, regardless of ideology.

    There are also quite a fair share of Ash’ari/’Sufi’ scholars who are very strong in hadeeth and its sciences.

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    • Hidayath

      Wa`alaikum ussalam warahmatullah

      The shaykh is talking about the “average” Salafi – not the scholar. Of course the actual scholars from all traditions will be stronger in usul, hadith, etc.

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  61. Abu Abu

    “Its relegation of theology to the mainly abstract and theoretical doctrines tangential to the message of Islam, to the point that abstract theology and man-made creeds eclipse each and every other aspect of Islam.”

    This is probably the most verbose and arcane sentence that I’ve read in years. There are at least a dozen ways of re-writing this in a more easy-to-digest manner. A good writer always writes to the level of their general audience.

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    • Yasir Qadhi

      Abu Abu (interesting kunya there!)

      It might be arcane and verbose, but it’s definitely not the most arcane that I’ve read in years! Try reading some Homi Bhabha and then tell me that my sentences are that bad!

      But feel free to suggest alternative wordings for our readers. :)

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    • O H

      Sorry to be naive but can someone tell me what that quote means :).

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      • Sarah

        Wow, my friend. If Yasir Qadhi is the definition of Baatil, misguiding the masses, and ‘ahlulahwa’, let’s ask God to save the 5 billion Muslims worldwide who live their lives in almost precisely the same manner and practice as Yasir Qadhi and many of those at Muslimmatters do!

        Extremism is first identified by how it sits on the fringes of society – you are so arrogant as to believe that you and your friends are the only saved sect in the entirety of the world, yet Allah would mislead all of the other Muslims? Think again, go back to the sunnah, and see what it says about the majority of the Muslims never agreeing on an error!

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    • Yasir Qadhi

      Shaykh Muhammad b. Hadi al-Madkhali is a teacher whom I benefitted from in Madinah. I pray that Allah blesses him to benefit the Ummah in the best way possible. If you do ever actually get in touch with him, you may inform him that I have nothing but the highest regard for his knowledge.

      May Allah guide him, and me, to all that He loves. Ay Na’am.

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      • Khala

        You made a contract with sofees, grave-worshippers etc, you denounced yourself from salafiyyah, your fellow colleague you went medinah university with all said you were arrogant and they advised you but you had your own agendas, you beautify your speech which Imaam Al-Awza’ee warned against, you brainwash the masses, you slander salafiyyah, Sheikh Muhammad bin Hadee said you are only considered a student of a sheikh if you are upon the same aqeedah and manhaj as the sheikh. you are an open enemy to salafiyyah. you don’t forbid the evil. you are upon the ways of innovation and desires and falsehood. you unite for the sake of unity rather islam only unites upon the haqq. haqq is unity. you propagate your own opinions and thoughts like your from the perminant comittee instead of going back to the reference point the quran and the sunnah upon the understanding of the best of generations the salaf-us-saalih. you cause disunity yet people think you are the cause of ‘unity’. you put your principles first then you look in the quran and sunnah to back up the points you made. the shia love you. the qubooris love you, the jahmees love you, the asharis love you. what is all this nonsense. you worried about your image? you have an ego so large it can reach mars. it seems you only went medinah just to show people ‘oh look i’ve got a certificate, i’m a great sheikh’. you share platforms with people who are deviants. anyway why you so indulged in ‘salafiyyah’. you’re an ex salafi like you said. take your own advise and don’t waste your time talking about the salafees.

        I’ll leave you with this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Berk-6Z0J2w

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      • O H

        Cmon man (or woman), objectively critique his viewpoint instead of launching lowly personal attacks. It’s posts/statements like this which give salafiyyah a bad name :@. I personally don’t support many of Shaykh Yasir Qadhi’s views but this approach is silly. It re-inforces the negative stereo types against salafis!

        Some tips:

        Go learn some adab before you gain ilm.

        The chances of people listening to your viewpoint or reflecting upon them are close to nil with such a negative attitude.

        na’am X2

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    • Amad

      My favorite part in this comment is the closing with “na’am”… it’s like the new pwned.
      yeah na’am.

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  62. Abu Adira

    AsSalaamu Alaikum Dr. Yasir,

    Please forgive any grammatical errors. I am typing on an iPhone and they tend to change words and make sentences non-sensical. JazakAllahu khair! I really appreciate your breakdown of this movement. It is greatly needed for the Ummah, to have some historical and regional sense of how our communities have become what they are for better or for worse. I have much to say, however, I will just ask your opinion about Islamic Studies and the athari creed.

    Is the creed of Imam At-Tahawi not an athari creed?

    I would like to discuss this topic of the Salafi movement and Islamic theology further with you at the moment my time is greatly restricted. JazakAllah khair! May Allah reward you for your efforts.

    AsSalaamu Alaikum.

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    • Yasir Qadhi

      The Creed of al-Tahawi (d. 310 AH) is neither purely Athari nor purely Ashari/Maturidi. It represents a trend that no longer exists in Sunni Islam; hence, when Salafis teach this creed, they need to ‘explain away’ certain statements, and when Asharis teach it, they do the same.

      But the Asharis in particular like this Creed because it is perhaps the earliest creed they can find that hints at metaphorical/symbolic interpretation of some of the Divine Attributes. There are plenty of Sunni creeds written and printed in the century before this and contemporaneous to this that are purely Athari. al-Ashari himself died a decade and a half after al-Tahawi.

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      • Shahab

        Salam Shaykh:

        I know that you have been in Madinah and learned from some of the teachers/Shuyookh there on the “Athari” (I have mentioned in a previous post to you how this word is nowhere to be found in Islamic literature, as a distinct school of ‘aqidah, until recently) take on things. However, I am wondering if you have spent time with some of the proponents of the Ash’ari/Maturidi ‘aqidah to understand their take on ‘aqidah? For example, Dar Al-‘Ulum Deoband in India might be a good place (they teach both Ash’ari and Maturidi).

        I suggest this because although you are right that ‘aqidah Tahawiyyah is a preferred document by the Ash’aris and Maturidis, it isn’t entirely correct that this is “the earliest” document where one finds evidence for metaphorical/allegorical interpretations of the Attributes of Allah (or the Mutashabihaat ayaat). In fact, a generation earlier than Imam Tahawi is Ibn Jarir At-Tabari (he died about 13-15 years before him). And even earlier than At-Tabari is the teacher of Imam Bukhari, Imam Abdur Razzaq As-San’ani (died 211 AH).

        In the works of both these erudite Imams you will find compelling evidence for the methaphorical/allegorical interpretation school of thought. In fact, both these Imams produce rigorously authenticated chains of narration where they prove that the Sahabah themselves indulged in metaphorical interpretations of the mutashabihaat and siffaat khabariyyah. As such, if it is the “athaar” of the Sahabah that is under discussion then these clear ahadith that these Imams reproduce are categorical proof for the usage of such ta’weelat. Also, please note that metaphorical explanations are only one of 2 different ways that the Asharis/Maturidis agreed on approaching these verses. I quote Shaykh Buti (rah) on this subject, which will settle the matter of what the Ash’ari creed is (hearing it from the horse’s mouth, as they say):

        — Start Quote —
        The consensus in place regarding these texts is the refraining from applying to them any meaning which establishes a sameness or likeness between Allah and His creatures, and the refraining from divesting their established lexical tenor.

        The obligatory way to proceed is either to explain these words according to their external meanings which conform with divine Transcendence above any like or partner, and this includes not explaining them as bodily appendages and other corporeal imagery. Therefore it will be said, for example: He has established Himself over the Throne as He has said, with an establishment which befits His Majesty and Oneness; and He has a Hand as He has said, which befits His Divinity and Majesty; etc.

        Or they can be explained figuratively according to the correct rules of language and in conformity with the customs of speech in their historical context. For example: the establishment is the establishment of dominion (istila’) and that of authority (tasallut); the hand of Allah is His strength in His saying: “The hand of Allah is over their hand” (48:10) and His generosity in His saying: “Nay, both His hands are spread wide, and He bestows as He wills”
        — End Quote —

        Was-salam alaykum

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      • Mahmud

        Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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      • Shahab

        Comments like yours, Mahmud, convince me that Allah (SWT) allows people like you to exist so that the rest of the ummah can see the path of i’tidaal clearly and distinct from your ghuluw.

        Your sad state is such that you:

        (a) are so petty that you can’t see Buti (rah) political opinion separate to his scholarly standing – it is people like you who slapped takfir on Shaykh bin Baz (rah) just because you couldn’t stomach his political opinion. It is a fact that the ‘ulama are going to disagree on matters of siyasah just as they do on all aspects of deen. Although Buti’s and bin Baz’s opinions on specific matters were unpopular, but they had a right to their opinion and based it on their relative, sound judgement.

        (b) you stoop to a ridiculously shameless level by calling his death a “disgraceful death”. You and I both have to die and I’d advise you that we both worry about our own deaths. If the manner in which a person dies determines his/her standing in Allah’s Eyes then what would you say about Hamza (RA) and Hussain (RA)? The gruesome manner of their deaths only extolled them to the highest ranks of the shuhada, Please take your ignorance to where it belongs – the gutter.

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      • Mahmud

        Comparing Bin Baz to Buti? Now that is quite interesting…..

        Butis death was disgraceful because he died and he was a defender of the Kaffir Bashar al Assad.
        I wasn’t talking about the physical method in which he died….

        And no, I haven’t made takfir on Bin Baz and people like me do not make takfir on Sheikh Bin Baz…..

        In any case, there is absolutely no compelling evidence(or even evidence for that matter) for anyone to follow Kalami beliefs, neither from Allah and His Messenger, nor from the Sahaba nor from the Salaf.

        I’ll wait for Sheikh Yasir Qadhi to respond to your tall claims.

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      • Edward Kefas

        sorry I am confused.

        please explain why fighting for hilary clinton, john kerry, and israel against assad / iran is a righteous deed?

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      • Mahmud

        Assalamualaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh

        You know Sheikh, my nafs prevented me from accepting Tahawi as a total. I was reading the translation and despite the impression people give you, that all of Ahlus-Sunnah accepts it, I just couldn’t bring myself to accept some of what was said.

        Especially

        “the six directions do not contain him”

        I think-why should I even say that? I’ll just stick to what Allah and His Messenger said and leave it at that.

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      • Abu Adira

        AsSalaamu Alaikum Dr. Yasir Qadhi,

        I really appreciate you answering my question. You have now entered the rabbit hole and I have plenty more questions for you. Please excuse my horrible attempt at humor. I do have further questions but I request that we discuss them privately. I am currently studying the creed of Imam At-Tahawi with commentary from an Scholar of the athari creed. I would rather not continue on this forum as I am not seeking debate, just the prospective from a learned brother in the deen. Thank you again for responding. JazakAllahu khairun!

        AsSalaamu Alaikum,

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      • p4rv3zkh4n

        Salam Sheikh Yasir Qadhi ,

        may I ask which of the Divine Attributes or Qualities did Imam Tahawi hinted at metaphorical/symbolic interpretation for the Attributes?

        salam.

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  63. Abdul Sattar

    salam Sh. Yasir,

    BarakAllahu feek for this awesome piece.

    I was wondering if you could help us understand something. From what I understand, madhaahib are essentially different from one another primarily due to their usul. Their ikhtilaf in usul, mean that even when you throw all the adilla at them (let’s say after the formative period of the madhab), they will prioritize some adilla over others, and interpret some in different ways, resulting in some form of tarjih.

    We know that there is ikhtilaf within a madhab itself on usul and on the final opinions often times but that generally, there are ‘mufta bihi’ positions which were taken are various times during the development of the madhab, that represented the normative opinion on an issue for a given historical period.

    I understand that madhabi fanaticism causes this “perfect picture” I’ve painted about madhabs to not always be true practically, but we would hope it was what a madhab was supposed to be – staying true to the usul while processing any adilla honestly. So:

    When Salafis use the phrase “strongest opinion”, and essentially do tarjih between the opinions of the madhaahib, what usul do they use? If tarjih is possible because of differing usul, wouldn’t the Salafis need to be using their own specific set of usul to perform it?

    If they are using a specific set of usul, and of course, those usul have to be initially codified and formulated by some human beings – isn’t that essentially a madhab? Instead of Alqama and Hammad and Abu Hanifa and Imam Muhammad etc, they’d simply have another set of individuals?

    I always found this to be greatest self-contradiction in the “strongest opinion” while carried with the “don’t pick a madhab” form of fiqh that was characteristic of Salafis, and wondered what exactly the academic reasoning is behind it. I found it to be nothing more than a fifth madhab (with all the problems that may come with such a claim). I have friends who are students at Madinah now who said they would ask their teachers but I haven’t gotten a final answer yet.

    jazakAllahu khairan,
    AS

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    • Hidayath

      I really hope Shaykh Yasir voices his thoughts on some of these questions. This is something that bothers me on and off as well.

      I’ve asked a number of people a similar question and tried to look into the historical development of fiqh to satisfy my curiosity. Here are some things that helped me with my dissonance (and I could be wrong on all of these):

      – The state of the madhahib is more chaotic than you describe above. Usul were developed retroactively after the fiqh rulings (furu`) already took shape. Precedence in each madh-hab thereafter was given to the tradition of the taught furu` rather than the usul (which themselves were sometimes disputed) and so the process of bringing the furu` into complete alignment with usul was stunted. Promulgators of a madh-hab are always torn between applying an ‘asl anew or sticking to the traditional ruling.

      – The main usul of the “strongest opinion” folks seems to be an emphasis on the text and authenticity of all the relevant evidence above anything else. Particularly above structural rules. This can be seen as a methodology in itself. It is also this that attracts criticism from traditional fuqaha who are much more used to operating in better-structured environments.

      – Most scholars who advance a “stronger opinion” do so after getting a good grip on their primary madh-hab (usually the Shafi`i and Hanbali scholars as far as I’ve seen) and comparative fiqh (fiqh muqaran), and then use their knowledge and wisdom to adjust or apply their usul when doing tarjih between opinions across madhahib (much like the progression of ibn Qudamah’s books on fiqh and usul)

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      • Yasir Qadhi

        Sorry to disappoint you guys, but again this is not the place to elaborate on the issue of madhhabib and ‘strongest evidence’. And btw hidaayath that’s not entirely true; for example al-Shafi wrote his own Usul work as well.

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  64. Abu Jibreel

    Shaykh Yasir:

    Regarding all the in-fighting, I feel since Muslims have forgotten their priorities and our common enemy, we begin to turn on each other. For example, I was just reading an article on AlJazeera about Nairobi’s Somalis living in Kenya and some of the women said they had been raped and impregnated in prison. We have more pertinent issue right now as you have pointed out many times Shaykh. It’s not about stirring up the Muslim masses in a Malcolm X style, rahimullah. But rather, making the Ummah aware of its priorities, whether it’s the social issues, spiritual issues, and psychological and military onslaught facing the Ummah, which I believe Malcolm X did as well, rahimullah. We need to focus more on our priorities, specifically that which the Qur’an and the Sunnah make priorities, as Ustadh Nouman Khan often says.

    BarakAllahu Feeka Shaykh., Allah increase you in ikhlaas, strengthen you with the courage to speak the truth, and allow you to be a means to spread this deen, and may we all be reunited in the hereafter. Ameen. Asalamu Alaykum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatahu.

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  65. Sameel Salim

    ASAK Sheikh,

    I’m not a scholar or even a student of knowledge, but i enjoy your talks and get great benefit from them. Just wanted to say JazakAllah to you and too all scholars who leave there families and are out and about doing gods work. It isn’t easy…And I especially enjoyed seeing you through the years and how it appears you grew as your knowledge grew. I would like to hear you thoughts on the transformation you have gone through as you grew older and wiser iA, one day…

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    • Yasir Qadhi

      Perhaps one day, when I actually *AM* older and wiser, I’ll consider your request.

      For now, I would like to delude myself into thinking that I’m young…and on the path to wisdom :)

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  66. Ali

    Asalam O Alaikum Shaikh, May Allah bless you and grant you a high position in Jannah and forgive you for your sins. Excellent article. I had most of it in my mind, but I did not have a decisive position on where I myself stood.

    I have certain concerns and questions.

    1. Please elaborate what the meaning of sticking to the ‘Jama’ah’ is ? and elaborate the meaning of the hadith that “a group of my ummah will remain victorious” in context of what you have written in regards to not one group having tenancy to the truth. Because I assumed that the Ahlul Hadith were Ahle Sunnah wal Jam’ah sticking to whom was part of our deen.

    1.5. In this context of question 1 is the Manhaj that is consistently stated in books like Usool us Sunnah, Sharh us Sunnah, talbees e iblees, Ghunyat al Talibeen, in the works of Ibn Taymiyya etc IJTIHADI in nature ?
    I am disturbed and hence having trouble leaving a methodology consistently followed by the salaf because it appears outdated.

    2. Isn’t taking a pluralist approach contrary to our singular understanding of Sirat al Mustaqim.

    3.how would you interpret this ayat in terms of the Asharis who split from the jamaah and formed their own sect ? 6.159
    “Indeed, those who divide their religion and break up into sects, you have no part with them in the least: their affair is with God: He will in the end tell them the truth of all that they used to do”

    4. How I see it in terms of you distancing yourself from all sects. Isn’t this similar to how an atheist claims to have no religion, even though technically atheism is his religion. Wonder if a-sect-ism is a word :D

    5. Could you sometime write an article on how deviance in asma o sifat affect a person. For example layman Deobandis in Pakistan have common aqeedahs of Allah being present everywhere and the Prophet(saw) being alive. Are these areas of kufr that I should address or ignore ? Some times Asma O siffat issues form a formidable basis to help shake people who are blindly strict upon the deobandi maslak.

    6.If creedal (asma o Sifaat) issues are man made opinions then should it not be classified in the ijtihadi issue section rather than the kufr section ? Have we blown semantics been blown out of proportion? What is their right place ?

    I hope you understand where i’m coming from, because what you say makes a lot of sense to the mind and it’s sweetness touches the heart, yet it is in some cases either lacking daleel or perhaps conflicting daleel that I may have misunderstood.

    Awaiting your response,
    Love, Ali.

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  67. Abu Muadh

    Sheikh Yasir Qadhi,

    Jazaka Allah khairan for putting in the time and effort to write this piece of work, which I think is one of the most informed of prespectives on modern day salafist movements and its branches.

    In the light of this paper, being a person who is attached to the salafi ‘methodology’, but not so much to the ‘title’ or the ‘hizbi’ side of things. I agree with many things you mentioned and I think I would disagree on some points raised but over all I do respect your informed point of view and the concerns you have for the ummah. I would like to sincerely ask, as Muslims we have been informed by our messenger (sala Allah alyhi wa salam), in the long hadeeth, “then it shall be a caliphate, upon the methodology of prophethood”. The use of the term “upon the methodology of prophethood” really makes me think at times, that we should love our fellow muslims and respect them even when we differ with them on points of aqeeda especially, but then is it possible that multiple difference of creed issues, especially matters to do with sainthood and calling on dead people, could fall under the methodology of prophethood? Being a layman who is eager to find the truth, I cannot comprehend that. How would you define the methodology of prophethood???, and should we not all strive to be followers of this methodology, rather than having to adhere to specific titles and groups?

    Also another point, in your conclusion you mentioned that you would prefer to be close to an ash3ari/maturidi or a sufi (with all due respect to all) and not a salafi who is hardcore. My question is on what basis would you take such a stance (from the quran and the sunnah) and can’t a person be in the middle, where he doesn’t have to associate himself with neither side (whilst keeping the due respect)???

    بارك الله فيكم
    والسلام

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  68. There seem many different “Islams”, some I have heard of like Shia, Alawites, Ismaeli, Sunni, Wahhabi and many others. Which one is the right one? | Social. Political. Economic. Religious | Seyed Ibrahim

    […] Dr. Yasir Qadhi wrote, “In as much as the term refers to a methodology, it would be fair to say that it does not specify any one particular or distinct community or group of believers. The generic nature of this term is further illustrated by the fact that more than a dozen distinct groups either identify themselves as Salafī, in that they believe themselves to be on the Salafī manhaj (methodology), or they do not object to the term being ascribed to them even if they themselves do not use it. Whilst saying this however, it is worth noting that every one of these groups considers the correct application of the term exclusive to itself, alleging that all other claimants are not representative of ‘true Salafism’” (http://muslimmatters.org/2014/04/22/on-salafi-islam-dr-yasir-qadhi/) […]

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  69. Omair

    I have a question. As a lay muslim, to what extent should I follow a particular Sunni sect within Islam? I sometimes feel that it becomes a burden to decide the right choice to make when presented with conflicting approaches towards (particularly in the matters of Fiqh), specially in cases where I am presented with strong evidences from different sects. To what extent am I allowed to exercise my logic in such conflicting matters?

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  70. Dawud

    Assalamu Alaykum… I just skimmed through this article, and I intend to come back to it inshallah so that I can examine the whole thing properly… But, just wanted to comment (although most times I’d rather not) and say that (mashallah) Shaykh Yasir Qadhi is a blessing for the Ummah. It’s very unfortunately to hear such brothers bash him… On one hand I totally agree with Abu Mussab’s lecture (in regards to what he said about not saying Merry Christmas, and his more recent lecture about “dissing the ulama”) but at the same time I agree with a lot of what Yasir Qadhi says… Subhanallah he’s preaching the truth! Inshallah may Allaah give Yasir Qadhi a more grander stage, in the sense that he will be heard by traditional Salafi’s…

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  71. Gufran Khan

    Thank you so much i have read this article and i want to know about 8 rakat of taraweeh, which ahle hadith aalim has started it and when?

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  72. Yasir Qadhi

    Which is exaclty what the real founders of the madhhabs did. Which implies that by doing the same thing, these scholars in essence founded their own madhhabs. Which is exactly what happened! Except that their madhhabs were never accepted as widely as the four madhhabs were.

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  73. Moosa Ali

    assalamualaykum Sh. Yaasir

    I read your article from beginning to end and thoroughly enjoyed it. It brought back memories from a transition similar to yours. I would make the following comments/ask the following questions:

    1. I would love to read your phd – any chance the public can access it?
    2. In your conclusion you locate the association of the term salafi (as in the modern group or phenomenon of salafism) with Shaykh Albani (at the top of page 5) – as opposed to one of his teachers, or the Saudi proponents such as bin Baz, Ibn Uthaymin or one of their teachers etc. Is this something your very confident about. If I was to say the same thing and someone asked me for proof I wouldn’t feel confident.
    3. My only contention – if I may call it that – is with your choice of title ‘salafi Islam’. You’re a professional theologian and if you use a term like that it legitimises similar terms such as ‘Sufi Islam’, ‘deobandi Islam’, ‘barelvi Islam’, ‘Shia Islam’, ‘Ash’ari Islam’, ‘jihadi Islam’, ‘British Islam’, ‘French Islam’, ‘Californian Islam’, ‘European Islam’ and a million other islams. It’s as if it’s an endorsement of aziz azmeh’s statement that there are ‘as many islams as situations that sustain it’. Surely you don’t believe that …. and surely it’s jarring for readers of the Qur’an to have to grapple with the concept of multiple islams when it’s always alluded to as a singularity. American scholars and speakers seem especially at ease with this – I think the Brits are less easy going with it. Especially a Brit such as me, a Londoner who ended up in Birmingham – which it seems is famous enough to make an appearance in your article :))) (albeit perhaps not for the right reasons).

    Thank your for brilliant article and taking the time to read my humble request that it be referred to as salafiyyah/salafism or even – to make use of Marshall Hodgson’s term – the salafi islamicate. With my Salam and kindest regards.

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    • Yasir Qadhi

      1) I’ve been bombarded with a ton of requests…am wondering whether I should actually publish. But time, time time!

      2) This is a historical fact; do the research yourself and see if the Najdi dawah called itself ‘Salafi’ before al-Albani came to Madinah in the 60s.

      3) Hmm…. sorry to dissapoint you but there is an element of truth to what Azmeh and others are saying. It is nice and dandy to say ‘There is only one Islam'; but the fact of the matter is that there are plenty of understandings of Islam. Look around you :)
      Even to claim ‘There is only one Islam that is correct’ needs some discussion. What do you mean…even the minutiae of fiqh? Even modern political stances?
      Perhaps one day I’ll give a longer lecture on this issue. But I don’t see any problem with calling this strand of Islam ‘Salafi Islam’. Because it is :)

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  74. Dawud

    Also wanted to say, that in the spirit of the new X-Men movie (Days of Futures Past), I decided to re-watch some of older movie X-Men clips… As I did I realized how interestingly enough we can relate well with the movie… Think about it, the whole movie surrounds itself around the idea that there are a “special” group of people (replace the idea of mutants with Muslims) who are being cast aside as freaks by the majority, simply because they are being misunderstood. On one side of the “special” group of people, you have those (replace Magneto and his group with the Islamic extremists) who don’t believe that it’s possible to co-exist, nor is it there job to try and make an effort to co-exist with the majority, since after all they are the “special” ones… and on the other side you have those from among the “special” group who believe that it is possible and are doing everything they can to try and find a more diplomatic civilized way to interact with the masses and educate them to build a sense of mutual understanding. They are referred to as the X-Men lead by Charles Xavier, but here we can replace the idea of Charles Xavier with non other than Yasir Qadhi llol… Cool huh

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    • Yasir Qadhi

      I have been called many things in my life…but I guess I needed a young, enthused, X-Men movie fan to call me ‘Charles Xavier’. :)

      So…out of curiosity…I assume you think you are the wolf character?!

      One last point: you might want to reconsider viewing and analyzing the world through Hollywood movies. I seriously doubt Hollywood producers intend to provoke intelligent thought in their viewership :)

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      • Chaplain Zain

        X-men were always about real life issues that minorities dealt with.

        Many books of literature, comics, and films give insight on culture and issues plaguing the people of a certain land :)

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  75. Abdurrahim

    Assalamu Alaikum,
    Thank you, and may Allah be pleased you. I like you dear Sheikh Yasir, and your opinions, views,
    I glanced your artikel very breafly, because it was difficult to understand for me, because it includes a lot of jargons, terms etc.

    But I want to share an idea with you, Usually I see that, some people who are claims themselves to be salafi, they boast, brag with themselves. Even more, most of religious grops claims they are better than the others and the others are in loss. I just want to say that, the only pride source is being a muslim. A muslim that obeys Qur’an and Sunnah.

    “Say : Bear witness that we are Muslims.” – Al-i İmran 64

    Wassalamu alaikum

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  76. Mohammed Sharjeel

    “A note to my detractors: It is un-Islamic to quote one sentence from this article and portray it as representative of my entire opinion. Context is crucial, otherwise even the Qur’an and Sunnah can easily be misunderstood. Feel free to differ, but please link to the entire article, and let educated readers decide my views for themselves as they read the complete article, and see my praise alongside my criticisms of the movement, and the disclaimers in the end.”

    On a lighter note, this should have been there on the top of the article. I did post one of the para before even completing the whole article. (Did share the link later) :)

    Really a nice article and I hope those you are addressing to take it as a Criticism for the sake of Islaah!

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  77. Andrew Booso

    As-salam alaykum

    Dear Dr Yasir

    Jazak Allah khairan for this brave and honest essay. The PDF option is most appreciated :) Even if one disagrees on certain individual points, as I do, I thank you firstly for enriching the discourse, and secondly for reaching out so beautifully to your other aspiring-Sunni brothers (as exemplified in the touching conclusion).

    My main point of contention was your point 5 on the benefits of the movement. Maybe it is just my experience of the movement in England and from outside of it, as well as my greater familiarity with other aspiring-Sunni groups, that makes me disagree on this point. But it is no big deal.

    Just a note on the term “Wahhabi”, Shaykh Jamal al-Din Zarabozo, in his Life of Abdul-Wahhaab (pp. 158-9), has an interesting discussion of the use of the term by those who consider themselves to be followers of Ibn Abd al-Wahhab. He portrays two camps in this regard: one who have no problem using it for themselves, and others who dismiss the term (like Salih al-Fawzan and Ibn Jibrin). My point is that the use of the term, even by opponents or just non-adherents, is not always derogatory (as it, perhaps, often is), but merely descriptive; although “Najdi” – as Zarabozo does quote some preferring – is perhaps better. I guess “salafi” works sometimes for “non-salafis”, as well :)

    Take care, and keep us your ever-increasing portfolio of brave and beneficial work, masha Allah

    Kind regards and requests for prayers,

    Andrew Booso

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      • Andrew Booso

        May God bless you. Not only have you provided an authoritative guide to the complex phenomenon that is “salafism”, but you have shown true leadership qualities to your fellow western Islamic leaders: how to be introspective, publicly open about such reflections and then engaging with the public at large (as so clearly evidenced by your caring and responsive interaction on this very site). Masha Allah. You have shown leaders in any of the many “superman groups” (those on the “my way or the highway” method, whether in word and deed, or just in deed) that every one of them is a human attempt at understanding the primary sources of Islam; and while many can construct good arguments on a variety of subjects, none of them can claim to have sole possession of the truth on each and every issue. Of course, I am here talking about differences on non-definitive matters of the faith only, which none of us can definitively prove, even when we are convinced of a position or have quite a host of great scholars backing our argument. It’s humble leadership like this which I pray increases in you and in others, bi idhnillah.

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  78. DMachineJMC

    Assalamu ‘Alaikum

    Jazakallah for the amazing article. As a youth living in NYC, I have grown up learning the Deobandi methodology and outlook on Islam, and most of my teachers are harshly critical of the Salafi movement and any opposition to the madhaahib. This article was very helpful for me in understanding what exactly this movement is, and its advantages and disadvantages, all given from (what I believe to be) a sincere and impartial source. I found the information in this article to be very beneficial in that it has expanded my horizons, outlook, and understanding of Islam.

    Is it possible for you to write a similar article on Sufism/Deobandis?

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  79. Hamza

    Asalam Alykum Sheikh, not sure if you remember but we met at the brothers’ night in Detroit. I sat to to your right by the sofa,representing non-Uzair-Nazir Hizb from Toronto :P. Can’t thank the brother enough for his hospitality. 1. Sheikh al Madkhalee has passed away, may Allah have mercy on him. http://turntoislam.com/community/threads/death-of-shaykh-zayd-al-madkhali-13-3-2014.95267/. 2. Some of the strands of Salafis that you describe are so minuscule to the point where I question even their mentioning. For example the serial-marriage predators of England and United States. In addition the militant strands of Salafis represent a very small but rather vocal and shock-based insurgents. Most of those involved in the several conflicts have nothing to do with their theological or religious understanding. Their original group which surfaced after high profile acts of murder were very media savy and made them look bigger than they actually were. But none the less you get my point even if they are visible don’t make them the majority or of significant influence on the over all theology or law of the group as a whole. As for the Egyptian movement, it is rather a cruel joke, more than anything else. 3. Now you are starting to wonder if I am “Salafi”… I am not. Never was and never will be, I was and am a central Asian Hanafi (fiqh wise lol). In fact I found the Fiqh courses in Al Maghrib more confused than anything else. (good thing I have started to learn Arabic which is a better usage of time and money, but I love courses of creed, tafsir). 4. Now you mentioned that some of the Salafi scholars are incapable of tackling modern issues. That is very understandable, but it isn’t the issue that is exclusively faced by those of the Salafi inclination, as the sciences of secular and non-have drifted miles a part. How can one fully master science (and which strand?) and then go on to be an authority in Islam as well? Furthermore, you mentioned that some non-Salafi trained people have better answers. Now I agree that some young professionals that you are dealing with are undoubtedly bright people, (By employing a team tactic to tackle issues like Imam al A’zam), but I am very skeptical of those brothers who haven’t been trained fully and under the supervision of known scholars in wholesome Islamic sciences. You spent years in Medina, and others like you have spent years in Deoband, Nadwa, Azhar etc, how can they be more qualified to tackle such issues with confidence? What do you have to say regarding that?

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  80. Br. K

    This is a very sad read but was always going to happen just like it did for the old JIMAS crew.
    I benefited a lot from all sides but articles like these are just the opposite of good manners in advising your brothers & just showing off others perceived mistakes and i do not think it is your place to judge in some of these matters. And Allah knows best.
    We ask Allah to keep our hearts steadfast on the deen

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    • Yasir Qadhi

      I am judging no one. If you read that anywhere in the article, you are mistaken.

      At the same time, it is necessary to learn from the mistakes of the past. Perhaps if I had been around back then, I too would have fallen into the same mistakes. And I fully expect, decades from now, for others to look back at me and others of my era, and see what mistakes we made, so that they can benefit and not fall into those same mistakes.

      No one is perfect. The wise one learns from the experiences of others, the good and the bad. And we create our own experiences as well, which others can learn from, if they are wise :)

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      • Br. K

        Shaykh, my point being there is very little benefit in this public laundry washing.

        Lets also me honest the salafi scholars you describe here made you the aalim that you are so this critque seems a bit out of place just like your praise of Sh Muhammad Madkhali.

        Your point about human movements is totally correct but you have to separate the practical implementation of the theory, this is where we fall short.

        For me the real issue is being salafi and making positive influences in the modern and western world where you have to cooperate and the world isnt as black & white as the theory would dictate but i can see many shaykhs such as Sh Tawfique, Sh Haytham and others on a ground level doing much khayr while following the salafi methodology and using ijtihad on these modern matters.

        Sometimes academics over analyze things rather than getting on with what needs to be done and focusing on beneficial matters. Carry on teaching and reminding the ummah on turning back to Allah and the deen and practicial matters like sh tawfique is doing with his NZF / charity right et al.

        Too much kalam on futile matters like these in my humble opinion

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      • Br. K

        ps – did you run this article past other al magrib instructors such as sh waleed & sh yasir as i think would of been good to check the impact of such an article before its release

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  81. Abdullah

    Salams Shk Yasir, may Allah swt reward you. I think Shk Yasir many Asharis / Maturidis have Athari tendencies – so many do Tafweed yet say they Ashari/Maturidi, i think labels in Aqeedah are very loose. Many contemporary duat/ulamah say they are Ashari but like yourself are reakky athari in principle…

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    • Yasir Qadhi

      Totally agreed. In fact let me add to this: in the 90s, with the harshness and overzealousness of the Salafi Dawah, many of these movements who would otherwise have been athari were prompted to rediscovering their roots and making their Asharite/Maturidite origins more pronounced.

      In other words, the fanaticism of the Salafis was a direct cause of the fanaticism of the Ashari Sufis. For every action…

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      • Mahmud

        I KNOW!!!!! ALLAHU AKBAR THIS WAS MY THOUGHT AS WELL!!!!

        Is they had just shut up as loads of Muslims don’t even know Ashari/Maturdi aqeeda anyways, and spread the truth silently, we probably would have almost annihalated the Kalami aqeeda from the Ummah!!!!

        BUT NO!!! They had to start calling everyone deviant and bringing their attention to their scholarly Ashari/Maturidi roots!!!!!

        Allahu akbar, it’s absolutely amazing.

        Nouman Ali Khan HARDLY talks about aqeedah, simply mentions “Allah rose over, balanced, established himself on the throne” and who in the audience now has the right aqeeda? Probably everyone!!! And without a fuss!

        I’ve been thinking, the way to win against these aged batil aqeedas is simply shut up about it and let the other groups save face by avoiding confrontation! Then after a while people will return to their fitrah/

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  82. Sulemana Issifu

    Assalamu alikum. I m Suleman Yussif from Ghana. Sheikh you are my role-model. i love your inductive and deductive analysis. may Allah grant you more insight so that you can continue to enlighten us. kindly email this post to my mail issifusulemana@yahoo.com or sulemanaissifu@gmail.com because i could download it with my device.

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    • Yasir Qadhi

      Thank you for you comments…but please don’t take me or any living scholar as a role model. The living can never be fully trusted, except those whom Allah has mercy on (and I pray I am amongst them). If you must take a role model, look to the scholars who have moved on and left solid legacies.

      And of course, there is no ultimate role model better than the one whom Allah sent in order for us to take him as a role model, salla Allah alayhi wa sallam.

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  83. Knzah

    Smashed it, Sheikh! May Allah protect you and keep you on the right path!

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  84. Abdur-rahman Ali

    OMG! I thought it was only the masjid that I attended that didn’t put rows in the carpet!! The imam of the masjid actually made dua and encouraged the others to make dua against one of my friends who actually put rows in the carpet one day.

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  85. Erkin Sidiq

    Dear Dr. Yasir Qadhi, I am an Uyghur Turk, and am a Senior Optical Engineer with a PhD in EE. I started to introduce your valuable lectures into our Uyghur Muslims. I can tell you that many of the 10 – 15 million Uyghur population now knows you. I want to ask you a question, and would appreciate it greatly if you can give me an email address to contact you in private. Thank you very much in advance. My email address is: bilimxumarmen@gmail.com

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    • Yasir Qadhi

      I’m very humbled…please give my salams to our Uyghur brothers.

      You are facing great challenges – remain firm and stick to your scholars whom you trust. I am living in a land far, far away, and my advice and methodology is more relevant to the Muslims in my part of the world.

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  86. Mohammad

    Dear Sheikh,

    Assalamu Alaikum

    I am neither a Salafi nor a scholar who is qualified to debate with a scholar like you, yet I cannot full-heartedly support many of your arguments in this article. I understand that this article is an aftermath of the recent controversy that has been going on between some of the Salafi preachers and you. So I don’t want to spend a lot of time in rigorous study and critical analysis of all the topics mentioned in this article. Rather I would like to specifically point out the 3rd section of your article regarding some criticisms of the movement. It seems that you have some doubts even in yourself since you have used the word ‘problems’ within the quotation marks which raises a question – whether these are real problems that, you think, need to be seriously dealt with. I have summarized the problems you described as follows:

    1. They give more stress on Aqeedah
    2. They give less stress on purification of souls
    3. They are harsh towards the people who practice Innovation
    4. They are harsh towards the people who practice Innovation
    5. They are harsh towards the people who practice Innovation
    6. They are harsh towards the women
    7. They blindly follow a specific group of scholars
    8. They have limited understanding of modern politics

    You described a total of eight significant ‘problems’, almost half of which (point#3-point#5) are just repetition of the same topic. By doing this, it seems that you attempted to stretch that criticism part of your article to prove them immensely wrong, or perhaps you attempted to label them as another deviated sect. It’s somehow true that some of the Salafis are harsh or rude towards the innovations and the innovators which, they think, is based on “They used not to forbid one another from Al-Munkar which they committed. Vile indeed was what they used to do” [Qur'an, 5:78-79]. While they should do it with kindness and patience, they also do not force or compel the innovators to follow their way, atleast not so without proper authority. There could be exceptions, but you have generalized it. While one of your sincere advice to the Salafis in this article is that they should be broad minded in many concurrent topics and think critically about these, I wonder how you could possibly neglect the importance of learning the abstract Aqeedah, even for the lay Muslims. I don’t think that you are unaware of what many of the Muslims do practice in the Indian subcontinent while they still think they would properly follow the Quran and the Sunnah. Many of them pray Salaah five times a day, yet they do associate partners with Allah Subhana Wa Ta’ala. Please visit the numerous shrines located over there and you will find the answer why the Salafi scholars put so much stress on the learning of the fundamental aspects of Aqeedah for every Muslim. I do agree with you that there are many other major problems or issues for this Ummah, yet Shirk is the greatest sin (Inna -al-shirka Zhulm al-azheem, Quran 31:14). While the Salafis do not deny the importance of soul purification and rectification in Islam, they firmly believe that it should be done according to the relevant and limited instructions found in the Quran and the Sunnah (please note that I am talking about the methodology), contrary to the innovated concepts or methods for the soul purification proposed and practiced by the Sufis. While I was reading your point#6 regarding the issues of women, I thought, for a while, this part of the article was written by a non-muslim critics. Subhanallah! The same ‘logics’ that are being used by the Islam haters who think Islam does not recognize the status of women. It is not entirely true that the Salafis blindly follow their senior scholars. Let me give an example. Sheikh Nasiruddin Albani believed that wearing Niqab is Mustahaab for the women, while many other Salafi scholars have disagreed with his view, referring the use of Niqab as Wajeeb. Where is the scope for the rigorous study and analysis of the local as well as global politics today where bulk of the world’s population, both muslims and non-muslims, think that democracy is the best and only acceptable form of government? Where is the democracy in the Quran and the Sunnah? As far as the recent situation in Egypt is concerned, their superficial stance on this cannot be denied so simply. Shaykh Uthaymeen said, “Even if we were to assume the extreme – that a leader is a disbeliever – does this then mean we can incite the people to oppose him, even if it causes revolt, chaos, and killing? This is definitely wrong. The kind of rectification and improvement desired will never come by this approach. Rather, the only thing it will bring is more corruption.”

    Overall, the article is well-written and I admit that I have learned some important things from it. However, I believe that, rather than refuting each other, both Salafis and you can spend time in doing some more useful things for this Ummah. Jazakallahu Khayran.

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  87. piedpiper2

    Was the claim by certain Salafees was that Albaani fell into Irja’a, what is your opinion ? This confuses me to this day ….. and that he was Murji in certain respects …

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    • Yasir Qadhi

      Don’t worry about the issue of whether scholar ‘X’ was ‘Y’ or ‘Z’…it is of absolutely no practical value to you as a Muslim in your daily life. Move on to that which benefits you.

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    • Mohammad

      Whatever the truth is, there are numerous occasions in where many Salafi scholars along with their followers would disagree with some of the senior scholars opinions. This essentially tells us that they are not blind followers of the senior scholars which Dr. Qadhi has mentioned in point#6, criticizing the movement. And who will become arbitrator in critical matters that can be appeared today? Do you think Allah Subhana Wa Ta’ala will send us another Messenger to act as an arbitrator among us to resolve the critical matters?

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  88. Abderazzaq

    A well-researched and balanced article that is very relevant for today’s Muslim, Dr Yasir Qadhi. thank you for taking time to write this and share it with us. There are many things that resonated with me, but I was particularly struck by the fact that age-old social ills that Islam came to eradicate still plague us. This makes me extremely sad. I totally agree with you on the point that any Islam that does not concern itself with the rights of the oppressed and downtrodden is far the Sunnah of our beloved Prophet ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him).

    May Allah give us the strength and patience to work together as one ummah to create a better and more compassionate society.

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    • Mohammad

      Narrated Anas (may Allah be pleased with him): Allah’s Apostle (peace and blessings upon him) said, “Help your brother, whether he is an oppressor or he is an oppressed one. People asked, “O Allah’s Apostle! It is all right to help him if he is oppressed, but how should we help him if he is an oppressor?” The Prophet said, “By preventing him from oppressing others.” [Sahih Al-Bukhari]

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  89. jihad elyoussef

    Barakallah w fik ya sheikh
    The by this publication lay or not the average man can see where the faults of the ummah as a whole are. Now that the problem has been addressed the next step is mending it.
    It is peer pressure and wanting to “fit in” to a group which creates the extreme versions of how we interprit certain texts. Surely soon enough experience with the bad and the good will set the middle path, because the only thinv that follows truth is lies.
    Surely with hardship there is relief.

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  90. Anis Gouissem

    While I might disagree with some minor points mentioned in this article, like a few generalisations made and some harshness (I know he mentioned these points, but I can’t help but point them out); I genuinely believe the author was truthful to his audience and was –in my opinion– as close to accuracy in his analysis and judgments as a “human” can be.
    I would also like here to emphasise to all brothers that such constructive criticism is not only needed but necessary to the very existence, continuation and eventually advance of the “Salafi” legacy as a methodology and a reformist movement rather than a mere label that one hotheadedly subscribes to.
    Even though, he now disassociates himself from “Salafism”; judging by his own definition of “Salafim” to be “…an Islamic methodology, the aspirational objective of which is the emulation of the Prophetic example via the practices and beliefs of the earliest generations of Islam” I believe that YQ is still –technically– “a Salafi” regardless of whether he chooses to call himself one or not.
    I must nonetheless accentuate that the title of “Muslim” given by Allah the Almighty should suffice as an affiliation and as a label, and that one should not voluntarily brand himself as “Salafi” or anything else for that matter.
    And Allah SWT knows best.

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    • Yasir Qadhi

      Again, that is a perspective, and I see where you are coming from. And if a person wishes to label this a Version 2.0 of Salafism, that is his prerogative. But from my perspective, Salafism took the science of aqidah too far, at the expense of everything else. If you look at it, all of the other problems stem from this one point: an over-emphasis on abstract creed (here I am not referring to basic tawhid which clears up grave-worship, I am referring to advanced concepts of Asma wa al-sifat and other such issues).

      Labels are not what’s important. Its genuine religiosity and attachment to Allah, and His Messenger.

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      • Mohammad

        Please read the renowned books written by the prominent scholars from the Deoband school of thought. No wonder it becomes essential for the scholars to clarify the basic concepts of Asma wa al-Sifat to refute the relevant concepts given by the Deobandis and the Sufis. I have heard many Salafi scholars quoting Imam Malik regarding Istiwa. Imam Malik said, “Istiwa is not unknown.” Therefore, I don’t think the Salafis would exceed the limits in this regard.

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      • Umm Abdullah

        I agree that labels are not important, and that’s one of the things that has bothered me about the Salafis I know: the insistence on using the label ‘Salafi’ (even though some of their scholars, like Ibn Uthaymeen, actually say not to use the label, from what I understand). It’s as if you’re not a true Muslim if you won’t call yourself a ‘Salafi’. Even though the salaf themselves didn’t call themselves ‘Salafis’!

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  91. ibn Ahmed

    Shaykh, when will we be able to gain access to your PhD dissertation? According to ProQuest, “At the request of the author, this graduate work is not available to view or purchase.” I would love to read it though!

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  92. Tasnim

    I think sheikh you are kind in avoiding discussion of how Saudi Salafism intersects with Western interests, and has been powerfully sponsored around the world. You mention that Egyptian Salafism in Al Noor Party is pro-Sisi, but I think it’s important to analyse why. What is going, how can Assalaf asSalih and secularist anti-Islamists align? I would have liked to go further and denounce these sell-out political groups and in Saudi the pro grovernment scholars as having an anti-Islam agenda cloaked in a strictly Islamic face, a controversial stance that Tariq Ramadan has recently provoked. We can’t keep treating them as within the ummah serving it, they are similar to hizbullah, just a mask.

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  93. محمود عارف

    Asalamu Alaikum,
    A very eloquently-written piece, as always. MashaAllah. It is interesting to see that the discourse on Salafism is slowly beginning to move on from seeing Salafis as a monolith and starting to make distinctions between the different (often opposing) groups that choose the same label.

    However, I have to say that I was expecting something different, something more academic. Although your writing always sounds academic, I always fail to see signs of empirical social research conducted. Despite the use of words like “observable”, it is unclear whether or not there were actual observations that have been done in order to reach such conclusions. And if so, are these conclusions generalizable to Muslim communities around the world? I’m not doubting the fact that you are well travelled, I’m sure you’ve been to numerous mosques around the globe, you’ve been involved with Salafi communities for a very long time in different countries, however, do you think that this substitutes for actual research? We often make false associations or overestimate their significance, and only realise this when we conduct an empirical study. I feel like it’s too risky to reach conclusions on Salafi groups based on everyday observations since these groups tend to be stigmatised and often profiled.

    There is an extreme lack of academic discourse within our communities on the topics that affect us. We give little to no importance to social research, making us reach baseless conclusions very often. We simply don’t know how to talk about ourselves without resorting to stereotyping, Othering and overestimating the significance of assumptions that have not been proven.

    I know this is not a dissertation and I’m not asking for a research paper, but for example, when I read that Madkhalism is typical amongst “immigrant Muslims of lower educational backgrounds” I wonder if this claim is based on a large sample of Madkhalis, and if it’s generalizable. Also, when Takfiris are said to have more intelligence and iman than Madkhalis, I’m perplexed to how intelligence and iman were measured, and how it has become a rule that Takfiris score significantly higher on both. Finally, when reading claims such as “It is safe to say that an average follower of Salafism is more aware of the academic disciplines underpinning Islam than an average follower of any other tradition”, it is unclear what is meant by an “average” Salafi, especially when you’ve defined the often opposing distinctions between the groups, and still I’m a bit uncertain on how this claim was reached.

    Excuse me if this comes off as a bit pedantic, this is not my intention. I have to admit that I do have high expectations when it comes to your writing. This is primarily due to the fact that I see your lectures and writings having a strong impact on a lot of people, and since we trust your academic background and abilities, we should expect the points you make to be grounded in strong academic research.

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    • Yasir Qadhi

      Akhi…in case you didn’t notice, this is a blog entry, not an academic journal :)

      Basically, all your points are somewhat valid. Which is why I’m publishing this in an online blog, and not in the Journal of Islamic Studies. So, yes, most of it is based on my own personal experiences, which, with as much modesty as possible, I would say is pretty extensive :)

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      • Hamza

        Assalamualkum, mashallah good article. I wanted to ask about one thing tho. The only sin that Allah does not forgive is shirk right? Isnt it true that groups like the deobandies for example practice shirk by practicing tawassul at the graves? also in the book of tabligh jammat there is somethings which seem like shirk? Now if one unites with them to do dawwah and such fine, but what if one prays behind them after its clear that they practice tawwasul at graves? wouldnt the prayer be invalid? I pretty much agree with you on most issues but shirk cant be ignored. so my point is that if you share stages with them and other people who practice shirk and you tell the common people that they are good muslims than what happens when they pray behind them and have in valid prayers? jazzakallahkhair.

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  94. Uhibbu

    Assalamu alaykum ! ya sheyh

    you have said a lot of truth that I hardly accept, and also I have to accept! Coz sometimes i found some pharadoxes in this Saudi arabia with what our shayh saying.
    as your schoolmate from islamic university of madinah,I wanna know, should I go to the westren universities as you do after graduate or it is better to centinue studying in middle east countries?

    by the way, I am an Uyghur guy from Turkish group who lives in westren China.

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    • Yasir Qadhi

      Salam fellow Madinah student!

      I cannot advise you about your course of action – you alone are the best judge for what you should do with your life. But I feel the Uyghur people will need you back home now, in order to help them with all of the trials they are currently facing. Of what use is a PhD to your people at this stage of their struggles? (I don’t know…maybe you feel that will be useful…I’m asking you to think about this).

      Pray istikhara, and ask your scholars whom you trust what your best course of action should be.

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  95. Asif

    Shaykh Yasir, amazing writeup. You are one of the few western academicians that I look up to. Few English speaking scholars can offer new insights and you are masha-allah one of them. Following your works closely, I can understand you are quite diverse in your research. May I know as a person free of any “organized” manhaj, how do you go about your research? If this is too broad a topic (perhaps you will write a piece on it someday), shortly can you name some of the individuals you always look up to? Specially from the contemporary scholars based in Arabic? It would be amazing if you could categorize your preference scholars in different fields (Aqeeda, Fiqh, etc).

    This is not just a curiosity question. I would like to study the works of the scholars you suggest. Sorry if the question seems a bit naive.

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  96. Aaron

    An interesting article. There are some points which I understand and which I do not (mainly about the some historical knowledge of this movement), as a a person who don’t really have a good historical background of this movement.

    But in general it is a good eye opener Alhamdulillah. And many I can relate to due to my experience.

    To be honest, a few years ago I haven’t got the slightest idea what this movement is. But after some strange series of events (mainly interracting with people who are follower of this movement) I adopted this understanding without realizing.

    There are a few things which I regret doing when I was in this period. Thinking that everyone’s wrong and I’m the only one who’s right was one of them (a bit like ‘me vs the world’ mentality).

    I didn’t realize how arrogant and ignorant that attitude was. During that period, I alienated everyone and everyone alienated me. It was a foolish move that I did.

    But Alhamdulillah, I feel like Allah has allowed me to see the error of my ways if I could say so. And a few things happened which led to this which I’d like to share with everyone as a food for thought:

    1. Studying Tafseer of Qur’an: Alhamdulillah there are many videos of tafseer available on youtube which helped me moderate what I could consider as my extreme stance. I realized how little I know of the Qur’an and that somehow brought me down to earth Alhamdulillah.

    2. Studying the seerah: Shaykh Yasir I would like to personally thank you for always doing the seerah videos. Jazakallah khayran. Because studying the seerah has also helped me moderate my extreme stance. I realized that many of the things I did which I thought was right has been proven wrong after studying the seerah. It helped me to know context of hadith and many ayats of the Qur’an which I believe protected me by Allah’s permission from misunderstanding them both as a result. On a tangent, studying the periods of the rightly guided caliphs also helped me Alhamdulillah. And if Shaykh Yasir doesn’t mind, if he has finished with telling the story of seerah insha Allah, I hope he won’t mind moving on right away to the story of rightly guided caliphs. :)

    3. Asking scholars live in person: If there is one dangerous shaykh that I know existed, it’s ‘Shaykh Google’ :D.One of my teacher said “it is okay to look for knowledge online as long as you know where to go”. And I admit there are many official, credible and reliable channels which people can look for knowledge. But we gotta know which ones are credible. And if we don’t know, and happened to choose just any channels that lack credibility, then we could be in for some serious trouble.

    However, while one can look for knowledge online (on the condition they know where to go) nothing can substitute the feeling and prescense of having Q&A session with scholars who live nearby. Because scholars who live nearby understand the locals better and know the curent conditions of where they live better than scholars who are not present. This could give some cutting edge in the answers or advices given to the people. Something that might not be likely (although not impossible) to be received from online Q&A session with scholars who are not local.

    This is by no means to discourage anyone who usually look for islamic knowledge online (I myself do). And In fact, listening to views from outside might be able to give a new and better perspective sometimes. But you could say that this is to remind people a little bit about ‘Shaykh Google’ and to remind ourselves to always to know where to go when looking for knowledge. And at the same time be grateful and appreciate the prescense of the local scholars who live around you because they can perhaps understand you and your problems better.

    4. The diversity of the ummah: the reality of the diversity of the ummah itself has helped me to moderate my former extreme stance. Alhamdulillah Allah has blessed me with the chance to interact with muslims from various places. And each of them practiced Islam with some differences here and there (Allah knows best). And I thought if I’m gonna consider kaafir (Allah forbid) all the people who understand and practice Islam differently than me, then who’s left for me to consider as muslims? I stopped right there. No way I’m gonna do that (may Allah protect us). Even if there are differences, I feel that this is an issue to be discussed with the respctive scholars. As a non-scholar, I thought the best I could do is just to love my brothers and sisters the best I can.

    Alhamdulillah, those are the four things that I feel have moderated me by Allah’s permission. And Allah knows best. I apologize if there are things I said here that offend anyone.

    I hope Allah would unite our hearts and make our love for each other stronger. And I hope that Allah would make us among those whom He make as ‘Ummatan Wasatha’. Aameen. :)

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    • Aaron

      Oh and I forgot to say, (before anyone misunderstood) I would not say that Salafi is bad, and all of the Salafi people are bad. (May Allah protect me). For me that would take me to the realm of judging people without right, something that I ask Allah to protect me from, especially considering that I am not a scholar myself. In other words, I personally am not qualified for that and I should keep my trap shut. :D

      But I would say that as brothers and sisters in Islam we should love each other and respect each other. There are many positive things we can learn from each other if we avoid the wrong attitude (the ‘me vs the world’ mentality, having bad assumptions etc). May Allah help us. :)

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      • Yasir Qadhi

        Great comment Aaron. It is clear you are a seeker of the truth, and insha Allah you will go far in life.

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  97. May Allah Guide Us All

    There’s something very harmful Dr. YQ picked up from academia, which is to analyze things in a way where you put everything on a level playing field, and get rid of all pedestals.

    That’s fine for STEM and other fields — it is NOT fine at all for deen, and he should know better then to opine abstractly about so and so scholar and so and so school of thought.

    On the other extreme, there are those who just call names and say “they are wrong because they are not us, and we’re right because we’re us” (i.e. make things very personal).

    However, there is a middle ground, and he fails to see it.

    For instance, look at what Allah says in the Qur’an

    وَقَالُوا اتَّخَذَ الرَّحْمَٰنُ وَلَدًا
    And they say, “The Most Merciful has taken [for Himself] a son.”

    لَّقَدْ جِئْتُمْ شَيْئًا إِدًّا
    You have done an atrocious thing.

    تَكَادُ السَّمَاوَاتُ يَتَفَطَّرْنَ مِنْهُ وَتَنشَقُّ الْأَرْضُ وَتَخِرُّ الْجِبَالُ هَدًّا
    Whereby the heavens are almost torn, and the earth is split asunder, and the mountains fall in ruins,

    أَن دَعَوْا لِلرَّحْمَٰنِ وَلَدًا
    That they attribute to the Most Merciful a son.

    وَمَا يَنبَغِي لِلرَّحْمَٰنِ أَن يَتَّخِذَ وَلَدًا
    And it is not appropriate for the Most Merciful that He should take a son.

    —-

    Those ayaat are so strong, powerful, strict, and absolute — not abstract at all. Look at the terminology Allah uses!

    However, in another place, Allah says:

    قُلْ إِن كَانَ لِلرَّحْمَٰنِ وَلَدٌ فَأَنَا أَوَّلُ الْعَابِدِينَ
    Say, [O Muhammad], “If the Most Merciful had a son, then I would be the first of [his] worshippers.”

    —-

    It’s almost shocking that those two verse are in the same book, the second is abstract, uninvolved, and makes things so impersonal (you can almost image our prophet (PBUH) shrugging his shoulders when he says this, unlike the first verses, where you would imagine the prophet to read those in a powerful, severe manner).

    —-

    So dear Dr. YQ is exclusively using the second approach, as it’s all what academia does. And it’s how academia should be. But the deen is much greater. Those who leave Islam and pronounce their kufr are to be killed, unlike if an economist changes his school of thought from Keynesian economics to Austrian economics.

    May Allah Guide us and him — American Muslims are in great need for people to teach them their religion.

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    • May Allah Guide Us All

      Addendum: the truth is tricky, and conveying it more so, and I’m sure Dr. YQ wants to clarify the truth — no more, and no less.

      اللهم أرنا الحق حقا وأرزقنا اتباعه وأرنا الباطل باطلا وأرزقنا اجتنابه‏
      O Allah! Show us Truth as Truth and give us ability to follow it and show us Falsehood as Falsehood and give us the ability to avoid it.

      May Allah guide us and him to straight path, and may we remain upon it until we meet him.

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      • Mahmud

        Assalamualaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh

        Wonderful, now, I would like you to explain yourself because all you have done is accused Yasir.

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  98. Amad

    Seems this has touched quite a nerve and I think people will look back at this article as a reference for salafi thought… jazakallahkhair.

    Thoughts from a simpleton:

    1) There probably could be more mention of “wahhabism” because usually used as synonym to salafism. My old post here on the subject: http://muslimmatters.org/2007/04/01/the-wahhabi-myth-debunking-the-bogeyman/

    and your comment on this, interesting isn’t it (from 5 years ago)
    Yasir Qadhi
    December 30, 2009 at 8:31 AM
    Great article Amad. I’ve been saying the same thing for years: when different people use the term ‘Wahhabi’ they actually mean totally different things. The term is simply like a bogeyman for ‘bad Muslim’.

    In fact even the tern ‘Salafi’ is now used by so many disparate groups that it is almost totally meaningless. Plus the negative connotations that come from that term are simply too many to count! I avoid it like the plague…

    2) Similarly in the common manifestations, respect of abdulwahhab is another

    3) Would you say that this article also reflects a personal journey, is that what you intended? I mean there is not enough of you in this, how you changed, or how you are changing. By the end of it, I don’t even know if and why you are not salafi anymore? :)

    4) Don’t know if many agree with me, but in this day and age, esp. among the Western crowd, polygamy has become a very much salafi thing? But seriously this should be added under section of women because the harm it has done in certain communities (I know of at least the Philly area), abusing women, and devastating families.

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    • Yasir Qadhi

      Amad…nice to see you on MM ;)

      1) Indeed!
      2) Not so much. In fact al-Albani has comments about him that he wasn’t fully salafi because he clung to a madhhab. And there are those who view him in a favorable light but not as exaggerated as the Saudi Salafis do. So there is more of a spectrum (but as far as I know, no Salafi views him in a negative light).
      3) It is somewhat of a personal journey, but that was not the main intent of the article. The main intent is to make people realise the human element of this, and every, movement, and to save them from fanaticism and overzealousness.

      I honestly don’t consider myself a part of any organized movement anymore. Each movement has its good and bad.

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      • Ibn Mohammed

        “I honestly don’t consider myself a part of any organized movement anymore.”

        Does this mean you are part of some disorganized movement?

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  99. Batman

    off topic: Plz help me with the theory of evolution, ya shaykh! My Muslim biology teacher didnt give us a halal option to believe bcz he said the theory of evolution will become law.