Aslamualikum Warhamtuallah, You have here the translated works of the Muhadith of our generation the Mujadid of our era and the Immam of the Muslimeen in our time; Al-Immam Muhammad Nasir Deen al-Albani Rahimuhu Allah.

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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Whoever Imitates A People then He Is Of Them

Prohabition of Immitating the Kuffar

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Bismillah ar-rahman araheem

Imitation of the Kuffar 2
I had not planned to speak to you, rather the plan was that we would have a brother of ours visiting us. This brother is with us in the da’wa salafiya from old times. When his brothers called him to submit to the book of Allah and the sunnah of his messenger, he submitted and came to it. We had planned that he should speak and give us a word that would benefit the Muslimeen in general, the Salafiyeen in specific. But as I was entering, another thought came upon me. I have decided to speak on a topic because this is an opportunity that I find.
It is concerning a brother of ours that we did not know before; rather he is a brother from the brothers that we did not see. He came and visited us a few days ago and he is here visiting once again tonight. That is that this brother had visited us and sat in some of our sittings. He saw the interaction between me and our brothers. He looked at me as their Sheikh and them as the students. As he saw this interaction between us, he criticized it, which lead me to have to explain to him that you will not find us like the Sheikh with his followers. The brother went on to say that I just do not find the interaction from the students with you similar to the other Shyookh and their students. The sheikh then explained to him, you will not find us like the followers of those Shyookh. In fact, we are about to enter into the sitting and you are going to see something else that you will not like. The brother said what is it? The Sheikh told him, wait and you will see. As the brother entered the sitting, no body moved. No one got up to give the Sheikh salam, as is the tradition in some of the sittings that this brother was speaking about. The answer to the sheikh was as he was used to, the anwer being, if you want to get up, then get up, if not, then you don’t have to.

            I decided to speak because I know he is soon leaving and there might not be an opportunity to sit down in a private sitting for me to explain this issue to him. Rather, I wanted to take this opportunity and I feared that it might pass me by. This is from one aspect, and the other aspect is that I know of some brothers, some good brothers that think they might have some Islamic knowledge and background, but in reality this is not from Islam or anything. Rather, it is certain traditions and cultural baggage that has leaked into our society from other people. Those people are the people from Persia and Rome.

            I will begin with the Hadeeth that is authentic collected in Saheeh Muslim, narrated from the side of Jaabir Abdullah Al-ansaree (radiya Allahu anhu): “The Prophet (peace be upon him) had prayed salatul Thuhr with his companions one day. He lead them in Salah while he was sitting. His companions were standing while he was sitting. While The Prophet (peace be upon him) was in his salah, he signaled to them to sit. After salah had finished, he turned to them and explained, that you had almost done the action of the Persians. They stand while their great ones sit, their leaders sit as they stand over them, and when their kings sit, they stand over them. Rather, the imam is appointed to be followed. If the imam makes takbeer then make takbeer, if he raises then raise, if he makes sujood then make sujood, if he prays standing, then pray standing, if he prays sitting, then pray sitting, all of you.”

            My place of proof and what I would like to point out from the hadeeth is that this is traditionally how the nations operate between each other. They take from one another and imitate one another. You see the weak following the strong, the weak imitating the mighty. This is our situation today. We have become a weak nation, even though we are Muslims, due to our weakness in our deen, and our ignorance of it, and our distancing from it. We imitate the strong, which are strong in tangible monetary wealth. We wish that we imitate those that are strong in their deen, in their aqeeda (belief), and in their manner and character. We imitate those people because we look at them as if they are great and honorable and something to be looked up toward. This is traditionally how the nations interact. The weak with the strong and the lowly with the mighty. Therefore, Islam has come with goals, fundamentals and principles prohibiting the Muslimeen from imitating and/or following the kafireen. That is because, imitating and following is a cause for the ummah to lose its character and its personality. It causes it to be watered down to another nation’s character and way. How many of the ahadith of the Prophet (peace be upon him) have come in multitude with different words but the same meaning? It is “Preserve your Islamic character, your Islamic personality, and do not imitate the kafireen in their way or traditions”.

            I don’t seek here to speak in depth about any one of those certain fundamentals and principles that I spoke about earlier. I have already gone in depth concerning these fundamentals and principles in my book The Muslim women’s proper covering. Rather, I want to speak about a specific topic and issue that has become widespread and common between the sittings of the Muslimeen today. This is built upon the statement of the brother previously, if the Sheikh enters the sitting, the people should get up if they want, or if they want they can remain seated. So, our saying is, if the Sheikh enters the sitting then it is not permissible for any one to stand for him. This is because this Sheikh, no matter how great or high he becomes, in comparison to the Prophet (peace be upon him), he is not something you would even mention. We know from the authentic sunnah, that the Prophet (peace be upon him) is the master, the leader, and the best of mankind. And his companions are the best, the most virtuous of the mankind after the Prophets and Messengers. Therefore, the companions are the most knowledgeable of people, of what the most revered, honored, admired, and esteemed of mankind deserved of their respect and he was Muhammad peace be upon him. How could this not be, when they are the ones that heard the Prophet (peace be upon him) repeat upon them many times:

“He is not from us that does not have mercy upon our young, the one that does not have respect for our old, and the one that does not know the right of our scholar.”

            This hadeeth was narrated by the imam of imams Muhammad ibn Ismael Al-bukhari (rahimahu Allah) in his book “Al-adab al mufrad” (The book of manners and morals of the muslim) in which he collected in many routes. He narrated this hadith from a group of the companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him). Like wise from the ahadith that he compiled (rahimahu Allah), was the hadith that is from glorifying Allah to show honor and respect to the one that has grown grey while in Islam. These companions that were raised upon the hands of Muhammad (peace be upon him), who graduated from the school of Muhammad (peace be upon him), who sat in the sittings of Muhammad (peace be upon him). It was only befitting of them to give do respect to the Prophet (peace be upon him), the respect that he deserves. It is not befitting for them except to give that do respect to the Prophet (peace be upon him), the respect that he truly deserves. So was it from respecting the Prophet (peace be upon him) that when he entered into a sitting like the sitting that we are in now, (there is no resemblance between our sitting and his as it is said) that they stood up for the Prophet (peace be upon him) as a form of respect? Did any of them used to stand the Sunnah if we return back to the authentic sunnah? We find that the answer is clear and that it is not their action to do so, rather it was prohibited. And from it, is the hadith that has been collected from the imam of the imams known as Imam Al-bukhari (rahimahu Allah) in the book that we stated “Al-adab al mufrad”, in which Anas ibn Malik (radiya Allahu anhu) said:

“There was not a person that was more beloved to them (the companions) more than the Prophet (peace be upon him), yet they would not stand up for him because they knew his hatred for this act.”

            So, they would not get up for him because they knew how he disliked it. Therefore, the companions did not get up for their master, the master of all of mankind. Was this disrespect on their part to the Prophet (peace be upon him)? Was this them falling short in honoring the Prophet (peace be upon him)? Or was it they submitting to his commands, orders, and teachings in which he taught them that this type of action and tradition if from the tradition of the foreigners?  Rather, they were prohibited, and they followed this command of prohibition as we noted in the beginning, and that is in the general realm of not imitating the kufar. There is no uncertainty that them not standing up for the Prophet (peace be upon him) was out of respect for him and honor. This is their respect toward him and honoring him, because Allah (subhanahu wa ta’la) says in the Quran:

“Say if you love me (meaning Allah subhanahu wa ta’la) then follow the Messanger of Allah”.

            By following the Prophet (peace be upon him), the true following, a person must leave off his desires, his whims, his emotions, and emotional tendencies. Instead, one should follow the commands of the Prophet (peace be upon him). This is how the companions of the (prophet peace be upon him) were. Therefore, they did not stand for him. Why? We find the answer in the hadith that noted that the companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him) knew that he disliked this act. Thus, the Prophet (peace be upon him) hated that his companions used to hate that they stood for him as he walked in to a sitting. Why is this? Some of the people that have been accustomed to opposing the sunnah, and those that stand for the others and the others stand for them explain this hadith to other than its true meaning. Even with their explanation of it, it is a proof against them and not for them. They say, the Prophet (peace be upon him) used to disliked the act of people standing for him because he was humble. There is obviously no doubt that he was a humble man, and from his humbleness that he hated that his companions stand for him. We do not submit to this argument, but we do submit to and acknowledge that the Prophet (peace be upon him) was extremely humble. But we will not acknowledge that that is the reason the Prophet (peace be upon him) disliked them standing for him. Let us note the real reason as to why he disliked it, but first, let us confront these explainers of this hadith in an improper way and ask them; what has kept you from being humble like the Prophet (peace be upon him) was humble? Are you not in more of a position to be humble than the Prophet (peace be upon him) (meaning your position is lesser than his)? Are you not more required to be humble than the Prophet (peace be upon him) due to your position? If the Prophet (peace be upon him) says to the people, send the salutations upon me, it means to ask Allah to increase me in honor, in place, in position, in might, and in highness. This might be something that contradicts humbleness, but we say that when the Prophet (peace be upon him) commands the people and orders them to make dua’a and salutations upon him (peace be upon him), he has done so because of the command of Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) to him to order the people to send the salutations upon him (peace be upon him). This is the least of what the Prophet (peace be upon him) deserves because he is the main reason and cause of the people’s guidance as Allah (subhanahu wa t a’ala) says:

“And verily you guide to the straight path”

            Thus, if he (peace be upon him) is not humble at a certain time, then there is no shame in that and there is no fault in him because of his high position. As for you, you are at fault when you are not humble. Rather, it is feared upon you that you might fall into the fitna, and you might get used to the people standing for you when you enter. This will lead to the shaytan entering into you, and we know that the shaytan goes through the person and flows through him similar to the blood flowing through the human body. The shaytan enters onto one of you, and he starts whispering to you, and changes your personality, character, and way so that when one of you enters into the sitting, and the person(s) does not stand up for you, it will be as if the person(s) has made kufur in Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) and his messenger. What did this person do? The least he really did was simply make a choice of standing up for the person entering the sitting or not. Therefore, when the person doesn’t stand up, why do you make it such a big deal? This is because the people have been accustomed to thinking and/or believing that standing for the person entering the sitting is showing respect for them. And not standing for them will be showing disrespect, humiliation, and dishonor. Do we see that the companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him) were like this? Did they disrespect him by not standing for him? Did they dishonor him by not standing for him? That was no the case. Rather, they did it because they knew how much the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) disliked it. But then the people’s mentality became crooked and they began saying that there was no problem standing for a person out of respect. Then we look at the companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and wonder why they did not stand for the Prophet (peace be upon him). Was it because of the humbleness of the Prophet (peace be upon him) as they say? Rather, we say to them, if this is your case and this is the position you would like to take, then follow the Prophet (peace be upon him), act upon the sunnah and be humble and do not let the people stand for you. Let them know that you dislike this act. The outcome will then be as the companions had with the Prophet (peace be upon him). The Prophet (peace be upon him) enters the sitting and it will clearly not represent disrespect towards him (peace be upon him) because the companions were raised to know this. So, if the people that we claim to be people of knowledge and men acting as shyookh uphold the way of the Prophet (peace be upon him), hold firm to it and spread it between the people, and show the hatred of the things the Prophet (peace be upon him) and/disliked of those that destroy the corrupt it, then we will not be in a society similar to the one we are in today. We would be in a society that did not have people who imitated the kafir culture and tradition.

            Let us go on to the correct explanation of the hadith of Ana ibn Malik that we previously stated. He said that they will not stand for him because they knew his dislike and hatred of it. This is a hatred that Prophet (peace be upon him) had that was based upon legislation. The prophet (peace be upon him) hated this standing up because this is the tradition of the people that are foreign to Islam. You also heard previously of Jabir (radiya Allahu anhu) where they stood behind the Prophet (peace be upon him). Who did they stand for and why did they stand? They stood in adherence to the command of Allah (subhanahu wa tala) “And stand for Allah in obedience.” They did not stand for the Prophet (peace be upon him) that was sitting down due to necessaty. Rather, they stood up due to the command of Allah, the lord of the world. Therefore, their intention was to glorify Allah (subhanahu wa tala) and submit to his commands. Since that was their intention, but what did the Prophet (peace be upon him) instruct them? He (peace be upon him) did not even wait to finish his prayer (salah). He hurried the ordering of good and forbidding the evil, and signaled to them to sit down. After prayer, he (peace be upon him) continued on to explain and/or clarify to them. He said you had almost done the actions of the Persians for their great ones and kings that stand up for their kings as their kings are sitting. Now there is a great difference for every person that hears this hadith. Between the kings of Persia and his people, the king sits upon his throne with all types of ornaments and trinkets, and around him are his counselors and viziers that are standing for him. As the king sits arrogantly on his throne, everyone stands for him as a means of respect. So where is this from the Prophet (peace be upon him)’s action where it was necessary for the Prophet (peace be upon him) to sit during prayer (salah)? Even when he sat during prayer, the companions (sahaba) did not stand for him, rather they were standing for their Lord in accordance to his command. There is no comparison between the two, in fact, the difference is vast. Even with this great difference, The Prophet (peace be upon him) told his companions “You have almost done what the foreigners and/or non-arabs do for their great ones”. They stand for their kings out of showing respect and honor to them. Look at the slaves of Allah that understand what has become prohibited (haram) in their essence and within themselves. They also understand what has become prohibited (haram) due to what it can get lead a person into. This is why Muslims are prohibited from following the kufaar in any way; because it will lead them to what is prohibited for them. From these traditions and cultural practices that are prohibited, specifically stating standing up for a guest that enters is what many of the Muslimeen today have been tested with. What is the reason? Rather you all know the reason. It is from being far away from the sunnah, far away from the understanding and actions of the salaf As-salih (wise predecessors).

This issue and/or topic can go on for much longer. As for now, we are going to open up the sitting for our honored guest so that he may present to you that which he has of benefit. I will end this sitting with a story, and in it we will find some amusement, wisdom, knowledge, and benefit:

            The historians note in the biography of Abu Abdullah ibn Bata that was a great scholar of hadith and a great scholar of hanabila how much he hated when people stood for him. One day Ibn bata and his companion went out into the market place (sooq) and they came past a scholar sitting in his shop. This was from the great manners of the scholars from before, that they would rely in their substance upon their own hard work and sweat. As Ibn bata and his companion were passing by the scholar, they gave salam just to find that the scholar stood up. Ibn bata began speaking to his companion that was a poet. The scholar knew that Ibn bata hated the action of standing up for him. The scholar said to Ibn bata in a poetic verse “Do not blame me for standing for the one that I love and honor. If there is one that I love and honor, then it is you. So do not blame me”. It is the right upon him that he honors those that deserve honor and respect those that deserve respect. Sheikh Albani then said, this is from the character of the muslim… he honors those that deserve honor and respect those that deserve respect an d knows the right of the scholar etc. But is this respect and honor that is being shown, opposing the sunnah? For instance, would you show respect and honor to a person by prostrating to that person? Everyone will answer with of course not, prostrating is only for Allah. Sheikh Albani then said, excuse me, all of the mashayikh would say of course not…prostrating is only for Allah. Except I only wish that I was correct in that statement. But it sorrows me to say, and unfortunately I must, it is not the reality that all of the shyookh say that prostration is only for Allah. Rather it is the tradition of the followers of some of the Shyookh in some of the paths of Sufiya for instance, that when they would like to excuse themselves from a sitting, before doing so they would make prostration to the Sheikh. After prostrating, they claim that this prostration is not a prostration of worship; rather it is a prostration of honor. We have read of this in many of the letters and books that have been written. For that reason, does a Muslim show respect or honor to somebody? Of course not, at least the majority of the Muslims would not.

            We have the hadith of Moadh ibn Jabal (radiya Allahu anhu). When Moadh Ibn Jabal took a tour of Al-sham (today, these countries consist of Syria, Jordan, Palestine, and Lebanon) saw the people prostrating to their leaders. So as soon as he saw the Prophet (peace be upon him), he knelt down in prostration to him (peace be upon him). The Prophet (peace be upon him) said “Don’t do this ya Moadh!”. He, Moadh ibn Jabal then said, “Oh Prophet of Allah I come to you from Al-sham where I saw the Christians do this to their great ones, and I see that you have more right to this then they do.”

Now this would be a correct argument if sujood (prostration) was permissible to other than Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala), then the Prophet (peace be uon him) would have more right to this than anyone. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said:

if I had ordered anyone to make sujood (prostration) to anyone else other than Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala), I would have ordered the wife to make sujood (prostration) to her husband.

But this prostration is not befitting except for Allah, most high. Therefore, it is not permissible for the Muslim to show respect and honor by making sujood (prostration) to anyone because this is something specific to Allah, most high. So is it permissible for a Muslim to make rukoo’ (bowing)? The answer is no, you cannot bow to show respect either. Except for these sufi paths that have made it permissible. We notice that if they have made sujood (prostration) permissible for other than Allah, then what do you think about rukoo’ (bowing)?

The hadith of the Anas ibn malik (radiya allahu anhu) which has come in Sunnan Al-Tirmidhi and other than it:

Anas ibn Malik asked the Prophet (peace be upon him) When one of us sees his brother, should he bring him close to him in a hug? The Prophet (peace be upon him) said no. He then asked, “Should he bow/lean toward him?” The Prophet (peace be upon him) said no. He then asked, “Should he shake his hand?” The Prophet (peace be upon him) said Yes. Therefore, form this hadith, we know that bowing or leaning towards a person is not permissible when greeting one another.

Thus when that scholar stood up for Ibn Bata in the previous hadith, we know that it is correct that one honors and shows respect to the people of honor, but in this matter, his action was not correct. It is not a correct means to a man that is a scholar or anyone in a higher stance. So Ibn Batta’s friend or poet knew Ibn Batta’s position on this imprecision. It also appeared that this poet was inherently good at his poetry and it came naturally to him. Therefore as soon as Ibn Batta told him to speak, he said:

You greet me, and you say you want to show respect but you stand. And I am sure of your love for me and you are sure of my love for you and the respect we have between one another. Therefore there is no need for us to stand. Why do we annoy each other with these types of things, in which there is opposition to the sunnah in it and sinfulness? So this is why I hate it, and leaving it off is better. Let us greet each other in a natural manner and it is enough for the both of us as we meet.