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The Importance of the Ahl Al-Sunnah

Harun Yahya

[The believers are] those who follow the Messenger, the unlettered Prophet, whom they find written down with them in the Torah and the Gospel, commanding them to do right and forbidding them to do wrong, making good things lawful for them and bad things forbidden for them, relieving them of their heavy loads and the chains that were around them. Those who believe in him, honor and help him, and follow the Light that has been sent down with him are successful. (Surat al-A‘raf, 157)

About the Author

Now writing under the pen-name of HARUN YAHYA, Adnan Oktar was born in Ankara in 1956. Having completed his primary and secondary education in Ankara, he studied arts at Istanbul's Mimar Sinan University and philosophy at Istanbul University. Since the 1980s, he has published many books on political, scientific, and faith-related issues. Harun Yahya is well-known as the author of important works disclosing the imposture of evolutionists, their invalid claims, and the dark liaisons between Darwinism and such bloody ideologies as fascism and communism.

Harun Yahya's works, translated into 57 different languages, constitute a collection for a total of more than 45,000 pages with 30,000 illustrations.

His pen-name is a composite of the names Harun (Aaron) and Yahya (John), in memory of the two esteemed prophets who fought against their peoples' lack of faith. The Prophet's seal on his books' covers is symbolic and is linked to their contents. It represents the Qur'an (the Final Scripture) and Prophet Muhammad (saas), last of the prophets. Under the guidance of the Qur'an and the Sunnah (teachings of the Prophet [saas]), the author makes it his purpose to disprove each fundamental tenet of irreligious ideologies and to have the "last word," so as to completely silence the objections raised against religion. He uses the seal of the final Prophet (saas), who attained ultimate wisdom and moral perfection, as a sign of his intention to offer the last word.

All of Harun Yahya's works share one single goal: to convey the Qur'an's message, encourage readers to consider basic faith-related issues such as Allah's existence and unity and the Hereafter; and to expose irreligious systems' feeble foundations and perverted ideologies.

Harun Yahya enjoys a wide readership in many countries, from India to America, England to Indonesia, Poland to Bosnia, Spain to Brazil, Malaysia to Italy, France to Bulgaria and Russia. Some of his books are available in English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Urdu, Arabic, Albanian, Chinese, Swahili, Hausa, Dhivehi (spoken in Mauritius), Russian, Serbo-Croat (Bosnian), Polish, Malay, Uygur Turkish, Indonesian, Bengali, Danish and Swedish.

Greatly appreciated all around the world, these works have been instrumental in many people recovering faith in Allah and gaining deeper insights into their faith. His books' wisdom and sincerity, together with a distinct style that's easy to understand, directly affect anyone who reads them. Those who seriously consider these books, can no longer advocate atheism or any other perverted ideology or materialistic philosophy, since these books are characterized by rapid effectiveness, definite results, and irrefutability. Even if they continue to do so, it will be only a sentimental insistence, since these books refute such ideologies from their very foundations. All contemporary movements of denial are now ideologically defeated, thanks to the books written by Harun Yahya.

This is no doubt a result of the Qur'an's wisdom and lucidity. The author modestly intends to serve as a means in humanity's search for Allah's right path. No material gain is sought in the publication of these works.

Those who encourage others to read these books, to open their minds and hearts and guide them to become more devoted servants of Allah, render an invaluable service.

Meanwhile, it would only be a waste of time and energy to propagate other books that create confusion in people's minds, lead them into ideological chaos, and that clearly have no strong and precise effects in removing the doubts in people's hearts, as also verified from previous experience. It is impossible for books devised to emphasize the author's literary power rather than the noble goal of saving people from loss of faith, to have such a great effect. Those who doubt this can readily see that the sole aim of Harun Yahya's books is to overcome disbelief and to disseminate the Qur'an's moral values. The success and impact of this service are manifested in the readers' conviction.

One point should be kept in mind: The main reason for the continuing cruelty, conflict, and other ordeals endured by the vast majority of people is the ideological prevalence of disbelief. This can be ended only with the ideological defeat of disbelief and by conveying the wonders of creation and Qur'anic morality so that people can live by it. Considering the state of the world today, leading into a downward spiral of violence, corruption and conflict, clearly this service must be provided speedily and effectively, or it may be too late.

In this effort, the books of Harun Yahya assume a leading role. by the will of Allah, these books will be a means through which people in the twenty-first century will attain the peace, justice, and happiness promised in the Qur'an.

Published by

Global Publishing

September, 2007

Talatpasa Mah. Emirgazi Caddesi

Ibrahim Elmas Ismerkezi

A Blok Kat 4 Okmeydani - Istanbul/Turkey

Phone: (+90 212) 222 00 88

Printed by Entegre Matbaacilik

Sanayi Cad. No: 17 Yenibosna- Istanbul/Turkey

Phone: (+90 212) 451 70 70

By Harun Yahya

Translated by Carl Nino Rossini

Edited by Jay Willoughby and Qaiser M. Talib

All translations from the Qur'an are from the Noble Qur'an: A New Rendering

of Its Meaning in English by Hajj Abdalhaqq and Aisha Bewley, published by Bookwork, Norwich, UK. 1420 CE/1999 AH.

Abbreviations used:

(swt - Subhanahu Wa Ta'ala): Glory be to Him (after the name of Almighty Allah)

(saas - sall-Allahu 'alyahi wa sallam): May Allah bless him and

grant him peace (following a reference to Prophet Muhammad)

(as - 'alayhi's-salam): Peace be upon him (following a reference

to the prophets)

(ra - Radiy Allahu Anhu or Anha): May Allah be pleased with him/her

(following a reference to the Companions of the Prophet Muhammad) -

To the Reader

•A special chapter is assigned to the collapse of the theory of evolution because this theory constitutes the basis of all anti-spiritual philosophies. Since Darwinism rejects the fact of creation-and therefore, Allah's existence-over the last 140 years it has caused many people to abandon their faith or fall into doubt. It is therefore an imperative service, a very important duty to show everyone that this theory is a deception. Since some readers may find the chance to read only one of our books, we think it appropriate to devote a chapter to summarize this subject.

•All the author's books explain faith-related issues in light of Qur'anic verses, and invite readers to learn Allah's words and to live by them. All the subjects concerning Allah's verses are explained so as to leave no doubt or room for questions in the reader's mind. The books' sincere, plain, and fluent style ensures that everyone of every age and from every social group can easily understand them. Thanks to their effective, lucid narrative, they can be read at one sitting. Even those who rigorously reject spirituality are influenced by the facts these books document and cannot refute the truthfulness of their contents.

•This and all the other books by the author can be read individually, or discussed in a group. Readers eager to profit from the books will find discussion very useful, letting them relate their reflections and experiences to one another.

•In addition, it will be a great service to Islam to contribute to the publication and reading of these books, written solely for the pleasure of Allah. The author's books are all extremely convincing. for this reason, to communicate true religion to others, one of the most effective methods is encouraging them to read these books.

•We hope the reader will look through the reviews of his other books at the back of this book. His rich source material on faith-related issues is very useful, and a pleasure to read.

•In these books, unlike some other books, you will not find the author's personal views, explanations based on dubious sources, styles that are unobservant of the respect and reverence due to sacred subjects, nor hopeless, pessimistic arguments that create doubts in the mind and deviations in the heart.


The Importance of the Ahl Al-Sunnah

Believers Are Told in the Qur'an to Obey the Sunnah of the Prophet (Saas)

The Belief (I`Tiqad) and Essentials of the Ahl Al-Sunnah

The Ahl Al-Sunnah's Schools

Defense of the Sunnah

Great Islamic Scholars and Some of Their Views

Fards in the Religion

The Excellent Model of the Prophet's (saas) Life

The Ummah's Sole Way to Salvation: Al-Firqah Al-Najiyyah

The end times and Glad Tidings for the Ahl Al-Sunnah

Appendix: The Deception of Evolution

The Fact of Creation


The Importance of the Ahl Al-Sunnah

Who Are the Ahl Al-Sunnah?

The Ahl al-Sunnah are those Muslims who believe and live according to the Qur’an and the Sunnah. Only possessing the faith of the Ahl al-Sunnah enables one to gain the knowledge of faith that will lead one to eternal salvation and knowledge of Allah (swt). In order to abide by the Sunnah, it is necessary to recognize and follow our Prophet’s (saas) application of the Qur’an and that of his Companions, who act as a bridge between us and the Sunnah. Our Prophet (saas) has stated the status of and need for his Companions:

My ummah will divide into seventy-three sects. and all of them will belong to Hell except for one (which will belong to Paradise).” the Companions asked him to identify the sect and he said, “The one that will follow the path on which I walk and my Companions walk.” (al-Tirmidhi)

This sect that attains salvation is known as “al-Firqah al-Najiyyah” (the Saved Sect). Another name for it is “Ahl al-Sunnah wal Jama‘ah” (those on the path of the Prophet [saas] and his companions).

All schools agree, in terms of theology and jurisprudence, on the line drawn by the teachings of the Qur’an and the Sunnah. These schools strive to understand, explain, and live by the will of Allah (swt) and His Prophet (saas).

When describing the Ahl al-Sunnah, it is also necessary to describe Salafism, a term derived from the word “salaf.” “Salaf” is the general name given to the Prophet’s (saas) Companions, who followed him in the finest possible manner, and to those who followed them. Al-`aqidah al-Salaf was the belief of all Muslims before the different schools of theology (i`tiqad) emerged. In other words, it is the aqidah of the generations of the Ashab al-Kiram and Tabi'un. Its fundamental doctrine is that the Qur’an’s verses and the hadiths are to be accepted literally. Over time, two schools of theology appeared: The Maturidiyyah and Ash`ariyyah.

Imam Abu Mansur al-Maturidi, the founder of the Maturidiyyah school, was born in the village of Maturid, Samarkand, in 238 AH (852 CE) and died in Samarkand in 333 AH (944 CE). His general approach was to employ reason together with revelation and to interpret verses and hadiths, when necessary, by using reason. Most Hanafis and Turks follow this school.

Abu al-Hasan al-Ash`ari, the imam of the Ash`ariyyah school, was born in Basra in 260 AH (873 CE) and died in Baghdad in 324 AH (936 CE). Since his lineage includes the Companion Abu al-Musa al-Ash`ari, he is referred to as al-Ash`ari. Since he was affiliated to the Shafi`i school in deeds, his views were more taken up and disseminated among the Shafi`is. The Malikis also followed his views. Members of the Maturidiyyah and Ash`ariyyah schools differ on very few matters.

The Maturidiyyah and Ash`ariyyah schools represent the Ahl al-Sunnah’s belief. Many other views and schools emerged, such as the Kharijites, Mu’tazilah, Murjiah, Jabriyyah, Mushabbihah, and others. These, in turn, have other subdivisions. These groups are not considered part of the Ahl al-Sunnah.

All of the schools within the Ahl al-Sunnah are in the circle of truth (haqq) and on the true path. The differences among them do not cause corruption (fitnah); rather, they bring mercy. Therefore, those who belong to one of these schools must also appreciate the other schools of truth.

The schools of truth that have emerged in the sphere of Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh) and theology (i`tiqad) do not deviate from the Qur’an and the Sunnah. Thus, they do not represent a new religion, but rather are branches that serve Islam in the fields of belief, religious observances, ethics and instruction. They are the expressions of Islam as it actually is. All emerged as the result of a serious need, and all are based on the Qur’an and the Sunnah.

Believers must reflect on Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh) and ethics just as they do on belief, because each one is a component and complement of the others. Fiqh enables people to know what will (and will not) benefit them in all areas of life. Religion is made up of faith, religious observance, and good manners.

Believers Are Told in the Qur’an to Obey the Sunnah of the Prophet (saas)

The Sunnah is indivisible from the Qur’an, for it is the living interpretation of the Qur’an by Prophet Muhammad (saas), the possessor of great moral values who had such great consideration for believers that he would become distressed when they were troubled and would relieve them of their burdens and chains of bigotry.

The Qur’an cannot be understood and implemented in one’s life without the Sunnah. for example, in the Qur’an Allah (swt) tells believers to be affectionate toward each other, speak good words, and behave modestly. Commanding the right, forbidding the wrong, communicating the moral values of Islam to all humanity are set out as obligatory duties (fara’id). Cleanliness has been made obligatory. However, such matters are explained in the Qur’an in certain ways. Believers learn about the examples how to actually implement all these commands in their lives by means of the practices of the Prophet (saas). In the Qur’an, Allah (swt) reveals:

You have an excellent model in the Messenger of Allah, for all who put their hope in Allah and the Last Day and remember Allah much. (Surat al-Ahzab, 21)

The Prophet (saas) is the best role model for all humanity. Believers look at his Sunnah and learn how to implement its precepts and practices in their lives. Indeed, as soon as one looks at the Sunnah, one can see that the Prophet (saas) instructed his community in all matters and showed them how to act befitting a Muslim’s honor. The Prophet’s (saas) entire life reveals a seriousness, responsibility, and sensitivity of which not even the slightest detail is neglected. This is the result of our Prophet (saas) having taught “wisdom,” alongside the Qur’an, to his community:

Allah showed great kindness to the believers when He sent a Messenger to them from among themselves to recite His Signs to them, purify them and teach them the Book and Wisdom, even though before that they were clearly misguided. (Surah Al ‘Imran, 164)

The Danger of Abandoning the Sunnah

The loss of the religion starts with the abandonment of the Sunnah. Just as a rope breaks fiber by fiber, so does religion vanish with one by one abandoning the Sunnah.” (ad-Darimi)

Various heresies have appeared during the history of Islam. Different sects have turned away from Islam’s essence and adopted heretical beliefs and un-Islamic practices.

In our day, too, some people reject the Sunnah of the Prophet (saas). “We read the Qur’an,” they say, “and interpret it for ourselves without the need for any clarification by the Prophet (saas).” They turn their backs on the Sunnah, the practical application and implementation of the Qur’an.

The fact is that these people who have abandoned the Sunnah in fact ignore the Qur’an’s commandments. That is because the Sunnah is an explanation of the Qur’an and more importantly, the Qur’an orders Muslims to follow it. Allah (swt) has not only made obeying the Qur’an obligatory, but also obeying the Prophet (saas).

For this reason, Islam can only be practiced together with the Sunnah and Muslims can only apply the Qur’an into real life with its help. The Sunnah, on the other hand, is the belief of the Ahl al-Sunnah, which is the totality of our Prophet’s (saas) authentic hadiths and their subsequent interpretations by the great Islamic scholars.

Complying with the Sunnah Means Obeying the Prophet (saas)

The vital importance of the Prophet (saas) to believers is emphasized, as follows, in the Qur’anic verses addressed to him:

We have sent you bearing witness, bringing good news, and warning so that you might all believe in Allah and His Messenger as well as honor, respect, and glorify Him in the morning and the evening. Those who pledge their allegiance to you pledge allegiance to Allah. Allah’s hand is over their hands. Those who break their pledge only break it against themselves. but as for those who fulfill the contract they have made with Allah, We will give them an immense reward. (Surat al-Fath, 8-10)

One who has taken a vow of allegiance to the Prophet (saas) has taken it to Allah (swt). Our Lord also tells us that:

Whoever obeys the Messenger has obeyed Allah. (Surat an-Nisa’, 80)

We can see from this verse just how important such obedience is. All Muslims are obliged to obey him due to his nature as a role model and his identity as a rule-maker. The Qur’an reveals that complying with our Prophet's (saas) commands and rules is just as obligatory as is complying with the verses in the Book of Allah (swt). Indeed, in another verse, our Lord tells us this with regard to the Prophet’s (saas) power of forbidding and commanding:

[The believers are] those who follow the Messenger, the unlettered Prophet, whom they find written down with them in the Torah and the Gospel, commanding them to do right and forbidding them to do wrong, making good things lawful for them and bad things forbidden for them, relieving them of their heavy loads and the chains that were around them. Those who believe in him, honor and help him, and follow the Light that has been sent down with him are successful. (Surat al-A‘raf, 157)

In another verse, our Lord states:

You should accept whatever the Messenger gives you and abandon whatever he tells you to abandon. Have taqwa of Allah... (Surat al-Hashr, 7)

These verses show that in addition to what the Qur’an prohibits, the Prophet (saas) can prohibit other things to his community. Therefore, our Prophet (saas) states in one hadith: “Avoid that which I forbid you to do and do that which I command you to do to the best of your capacity.” (Sahih Muslim, Book 30, Hadith No. 5818)

Other verses refer to the Prophet’s (saas) role as a rule-maker. Muslims take any matter on which they cannot agree to the Prophet (saas) and thereby obtain the best possible outcome.

O you who believe, obey Allah, the Messenger, and those in command among you. if you disagree about something, refer it back to Allah and the Messenger, if you believe in Allah and the Last Day. That is the best thing to do and gives the best result. (Surat an-Nisa’, 59)

So absolute is the Prophet’s (saas) status as rule-maker that Allah (swt) told believers to obey his decisions wholeheartedly and without any doubt:

No, by your Lord, they are not believers until they make you their judge in the disputes that break out between them and then do not resist what you decide and submit themselves [to you] completely. (Surat an-Nisa’, 65)

In another verse, the definitive nature of the Prophet’s (saas) judgment is set out in these terms:

When Allah and His Messenger have decided something, no believing man or woman has a choice about [following or not following] it. Anyone who disobeys Allah and His Messenger is clearly misguided. (Surat al-Ahzab, 36)

Opposing the Prophet’s (saas) role as rule-maker and disobeying his rules constitute denial:

But if anyone opposes the Messenger after the guidance has become clear to him, and follows a path other than that of the believers, We will hand him over to whatever he has turned to, and We will roast him in Hell. What an evil destination! (Surat an-Nisa’, 115)

Since the Prophet’s (saas) status as rule-maker and role model is set out in the Qur’an in such a clear and firm manner, to advocate turning one’s back on the Sunnah of the Prophet (saas) means opposing the Qur’an. Following him in everything he did and in every rule of his is the same as following Islam itself. Turning away from his Sunnah, on the other hand, means turning away from the essence of Islam.

Indeed, the Companions lived their lives in such a way that all of their actions and words were in perfect accord with both the Qur’an and the Prophet (saas). One Companion relayed the following quotation:

Allah (swt) sent us Muhammad (saas) as the prophet at a time when we knew nothing. Whatever we saw Muhammad do, we do the same, in the same way.” (al-Nasa’i, Taqsir 1)

Clearly, the idea of “let’s go back to the Qur’an, for we have no need of the Sunnah” is incompatible with Islam and stems from a profound ignorance of Islam. Those who hold such a view resemble people who want to enter a palace but are unwilling to use the key that opens its door. The Sunnah saves those who embrace it, for as Dahhak states: “Paradise and the Sunnah are in the same position, because those who enter Paradise in the Hereafter are saved, and those who cling to the Sunnah in this world [are also saved].” (Tafsir al-Qurtubi, XIII/365) Imam Malik compared the Sunnah to Noah’s (as) ark, for “whoever boards it will be saved, and whoever does not will drown.” (al-Suyuti, Miftah al-Jannah, pp. 53-54)

So great a vehicle of salvation is the Sunnah that in the Qur’an our Lord reveals that the Prophet’s (saas) commands and prohibitions “will bring people to life”:

O you who believe, respond to Allah and to the Messenger when He calls you to what will bring you to life. Know that Allah intervenes between a person and his heart and that you will be gathered to Him. (Surat al-Anfal, 24)

Islam is the totality of the Qur’an and the Prophet’s (saas) Sunnah; there is no question of eliminating either one.

The source that conveys to us the Prophet’s (saas) exemplary behavior, as well as his wisdom and judgments, is the Sunnah, the creed of the Ahl al-Sunnah.

The Prophets Call Believers to the Life-giving Path

O you who believe, respond to Allah and to the Messenger when He calls you to what will bring you to life. Know that Allah intervenes between a person and his heart and that you will be gathered to Him. (Surat al-Anfal, 24)

Looking at human history reveals that life began with the prophets. This is a true statement, for no religion can be comprehended and implemented in the absence of a prophet. for that reason, a messenger has been sent as a guide to every community.

As with the other prophets, Allah (swt) sent Prophet Muhammad (saas) with the perfect religion and the straight path. He has also made him a prophet for everyone until the Day of Judgment. Obeying, respecting, and loving him, in addition to imitating his lifestyle and abiding by his Sunnah, are responsibilities that all Muslims must try to fulfill.

Indeed, in the Qur’an obedience to the Prophet (saas) is considered as the same as obedience to Allah (swt). Believers are told to take the Qur’an and the Sunnah as their guides in matters on which they disagree. The following command is given in the Noble Qur’an:

No, by your Lord, they are not believers until they make you their judge in the disputes that break out between them and then do not resist what you decide and submit themselves [to you] completely. (Surat an-Nisa’, 65)

As this verse makes crystal clear, the Prophet’s (saas) Sunnah is an absolute and immaculate source of commands, because it is the way of “interpreting, explaining, and applying the Qur’an.” Therefore, no believer has the right to make interpretations (ta’wil) or be disobedient with regard to the Sunnah, the application of the Qur’an.

When Allah and His Messenger have decided something, no believing man or woman has a choice about [following or not following] it. Anyone who disobeys Allah and His Messenger is clearly misguided. (Surat al-Ahzab, 36)

In another verse, our Lord reveals:

The believers’ reply, when they are summoned to Allah and His Messenger so that he can judge between them, is to say, “We hear and we obey.” They are ones who are successful. (Surat an-Nur, 51)

Each verse in the Qur’an that deals with obeying the Prophet (saas) states that doing so is obligatory for believers. That is why the Prophet’s (saas) practices are impeccable and are under the protection of Allah (swt). to put it another way, everything in the Sunnah is, in essence, based upon revelation.

Nor does he speak from whim. It is nothing but Revelation revealed. (Surat al-Najm, 3-4)

Therefore, when disagreement arises, believers are obliged to turn to the Qur’an and the Sunnah, Islam’s two fundamental reference points:

If you disagree about something, refer it back to Allah and the Messenger, if you believe in Allah and the Last Day. That is the best thing to do and gives the best result. (Surat an-Nisa’, 59)

Not only did the Prophet (saas) transmit the verses he received from Allah (swt) to humanity, but he also explained them. Therefore, the Sunnah can be regarded as the interpretation of the Qur’an. Viewing it in this way will protect it from corruption, misunderstanding, and distortion and also facilitate its being understood.

Another verse reveals:

Say: “If you love Allah, then follow me and Allah will love you and forgive your sins.” (Surah Al ‘Imran, 31)

An indication of one’s love for Allah (swt), therefore, is following His Prophet (saas), for doing so reveals that he/she is a follower of Allah (swt). No believer can regard obedience to Allah (swt) as sufficient and abandon obedience to the Prophet (saas). The Prophet (saas) gives the following glad tidings to those who comply with the Sunnah: “Whoever gives life to my Sunnah certainly loves me, and whoever loves me is with me in Paradise." (al-Tirmidhi)

While the Prophet (saas) imparts the above glad tidings to those who adhere by the Sunnah, in the Qur’an, our Lord warns the terrible consequences that result from rebelling against the Prophet (saas):

As for those who disobey Allah and His Messenger and overstep His limits, We will admit them into a Fire, remaining in it timelessly, forever. They will have a humiliating punishment. (Surat an-Nisa’, 14)

Those who are unable to understand the Sunnah’s importance and who criticize it, despite what has been related above, are acting directly against the Prophet (saas).

The Prophet’s (saas) words and behavior, described as “conforming to sublime morality” by Allah (swt) in the Qur’an, and by Aisha (ra) in her words that “the Prophet's (saas) nature was the Qur'an,” constitute a role model for all human beings. Just as one cannot attain true virtue without taking him as a role model, neither can one attain happiness in this world and the Hereafter without doing so.

Those who abandon the Sunnah will lose a highly auspicious reward and be deprived of his intercession on the Day of Judgment. Moreover, turning one’s back on the Sunnah of the Prophet (saas), who was most affectionate toward his ummah and most sensitive to any harm that might befall them, is showing ingratitude to such a great blessing:

A Messenger has come to you from among yourselves. Your suffering is distressing to him. He is deeply concerned about you, and is gentle and merciful to the believers. (Surat at-Tawba, 128)

Those who hold mistaken opinions about the practices of the Prophet Muhammad (saas) fail to comprehend the importance of his role. The duty entrusted to him requires a sense of responsibility so great that even the slightest detail could not be ignored. That is why our Prophet (saas) has so much to tell us on so many subjects, from trade to health, and from solidarity to education.

The Sunnah’s fundamental principle is its applicability. “Treat the people with ease and don't be hard on them. Give them glad tidings and don't fill them with aversion” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 52, Hadith No. 275) is the clearest indication of this. His wife Aisha (ra) stated that he told his people to do that which they could easily accomplish. Therefore, everyone can adopt the Sunnah. His life is an example of applying the Qur’an to one’s daily life for every believer.

Another issue is the damaging results that arise when people abandon the Sunnah. Some Muslims, out of ignorance or idleness, have imposed heresy on the Islamic world by coming up with stipulations based on the speculations of people who essentially have no knowledge of Islam, or by following their own interpretations instead of the Sunnah’s guidance.

The Islamic world’s political and economic problems occurred because the Muslims abandoned the Qur’an and the Prophet’s (saas) Sunnah. The ensuing instability will continue until believers understand that they are members of the community of the same prophet and strive to develop a community worthy of him. The only road for Muslims, therefore, is to adhere tightly to the Qur’an and the Prophet’s (saas) Sunnah.

Any examination of the Prophet’s (saas) life shows that his attitude toward life was not one-dimensional. for example, many reliable hadiths discuss his various roles: A prophet, a head of state, an army commander, a soldier, and a trader. He prays, fasts, prays during the night, lives in a state of constant devout prayer and contemplation, and remembers Allah (swt). A modest leader, he also marries, buys things, treats and visits the sick, jokes with children, wrestles with his friends, and races his wife on the road.

Muslims can properly discharge their duties as Allah’s (swt) servants only by studying and observing the Prophet’s (saas) practices. The first source of information for this is the great hadith compilations of Muslim, al-Bukhari, and other classical-era hadith scholars. The vast collections of his words, deeds, and personal attributes, particularly those displayed during his prophethood, were collected with great care by narrators or reporters whom all Sunni scholars consider reliable.

The Belief (I`Tiqad) and Essentials of the Ahl Al-Sunnah

No school of thought (madhhab) was needed during the Age of Happiness and the time of the Four Rightly Guided Caliphs, because people learned the faith directly from Prophet Muhammad (saas) and his Companions.

As heretical movements and divisions based on un-Islamic ideas and practices (bid`ah) gradually emerged, devout scholars still following the path of the Prophet (saas) and his companions began to identify various measures in beliefs and deeds. They presented people with a purified form of Islam by distinguishing between truth and error. One outgrowth of this effort was the Ahl al-Sunnah schools.

Several important elements separate the Ahl al-Sunnah from heretical movements, some of which attracted gullible persons by opposing the Ahl al-Sunnah’s criteria. Therefore, those who follow our Prophet’s (saas) path must always be on guard against such types of corruption. Among the first things one needs to do is to learn about and bear in mind the essence of the Ahl al-Sunnah’s belief (i`tiqad).

Matters upon Which the Ahl Al-sunnah Wal Jama‘Ah Agree

1) Belief in Allah (swt)

Believing in Allah’s (swt) names, as referred to in the Qur’an and the Sunnah, is Islam’s basic tenet. It is impossible to bestow titles befitting human beings on Allah (swt), for He cannot be compared with His own creation. Each of His names has been mentioned in the Qur’an. Great care must be taken here, and no credence should be given to heretical views.

So long as people consider themselves Muslim, they must harbor no doubts about their faith and must not regard themselves as unbelievers due to any deficiencies they may have, so long as they have faith in their hearts. Having such a misguided perspective as regards their own faith is very harmful in terms of our belief. Indeed, our Lord reveals the following in the Qur’an:

Who could say anything better than someone who calls to Allah, acts rightly, and says: “I am a Muslim”? (Surah Fussilat, 33)

2) the Ahl Al-sunnah’s Belief in the Qur’an

The Qur’an is the word of Allah (swt). It came from Allah’s (swt) presence and will return to Him. It is the last and final Divine book, and the only book of truth that will remain valid until the Day of Judgment.

You receive the Qur’an directly from One Who is All-Wise, All-Knowing. (Surat an-Naml, 6)

3) Allah (swt) Cannot Be Seen in This World

Nowhere does Prophet Muhammad (saas) say that he actually saw Allah (swt) in this world. According to the Ahl al-Sunnah, anyone claiming to have seen Allah (swt) before they die is a liar. In one hadith, our Prophet (saas) states: “None of you will see our Lord before he dies.” (Sahih Muslim)

4) Believers Will See Our Lord in Paradise

Books of trustworthy hadiths refer to people actually seeing Allah (swt) with their eyes on the Day of Resurrection. However, the Jahmiyyah, Mu’tazilah, and Rafidah schools maintained the opposite.

Allah (swt) is not in any one space or on the Throne. Rather, He (swt) is exalted far above all space.

5) What Happens on the Day of Resurrection?

The Ahl al-Sunnah wal Jama‘ah believe in the Prophet’s (saas) literal words concerning the Hereafter and the punishment that will be meted out in the grave. According to the Ahl al-Sunnah, the grave is the garden of Paradise for the believers and one of the deepest pits of Hell for the unbelievers.

Questioning by Munkar and Nakir, the two angels who will question each person in the grave, is also a fact. On the Day of Judgment, people’s mutual rights in this world will be considered and the rights will be returned to their owners.

Omer Nasuhi Bilmen, a renowned Turkish scholar of tafsir and fiqh, says the following about the Day of Resurrection:

When people die, they will be questioned in the grave by two angels, Munkar and Nakir, who will ask: ‘Who is your Lord? Who is your prophet? What is your religion? What is your qiblah?’ This is called the questioning of the grave.

The book in which all deeds are written contains an account of all that a person did while alive. Written by angels, it will be given to its owner in the Hereafter. That person will be told to ‘take your book and read it,’ and thus nothing will remain hidden.

The Just Balance is a measure of justice by which everyone’s deeds are weighed and by which the levels of good and evil deeds can be established.

Al-Sirat, the bridge built over Hell, is by no means easy to cross. Righteous servants of Allah cross it with ease, so much so that some cross it as fast as lightning, and enter Paradise. The unbelievers and unforgiven believers will be unable to cross it and will fall into Hell. Unbelievers will remain there for eternity, while believers will enter Paradise once their punishment has ended.” (Omer Nasuhi Bilmen, the Great Islamic Catechism, pp. 32-33)

6) the Intercession (Shafa‘ah) of the Prophet (saas)

The prophets and the righteous, who occupy elevated stations in the sight of Allah (swt), will ask Him to forgive those believers who committed sins and to elevate those who are free of sin. This is known as shafa‘ah, and all Muslims must strive to be worthy of it. Omer Nasuhi Bilmen has said this about the intercession of the blessed Prophet (saas):

Intercession refers to our Prophet and some other individuals of high standing requesting Almighty Allah to forgive some believers and to raise the ranks of some obedient believers on the Day of Judgment. Our Prophet will make the greatest intercession for immediate reckoning of all people in the Hereafter. His intercession is known as al-Shafa‘at al-‘Uzma (the Greatest Intercession), and his elevated status in Paradise is known as al-Maqam al-Mahmud (the Praised Station).” (Omer Nasuhi Bilmen, the Great Islamic Catechism, p. 33)

7) Belief in Destiny

The Ahl al-Sunnah wal Jama‘ah believe in the good and evil of destiny. There are two degrees of belief in destiny:

The first degree is that Allah (swt) is fully aware of what every member of creation has done and will do. He knows their obedience and their rebellion before they ever take place. Almighty Allah (swt) has written the destiny of all that exists on al-Lawh al-Mahfuz (the Preserved Tablet). A person’s destiny is brought to him by an angel while he is still in an embryonic form, before his soul has been breathed into him.

The second one is that Allah’s (swt) will is superior to that of human beings. No one can be a believer or an unbeliever unless Allah (swt) wills it to be so. Muslims must be very sensitive on this subject.

8) the Ahl Al-qiblah Cannot Be Excommunicated (Takfir) Due to Sinning

Someone adhering to the Ahl al-Sunnah’s convictions does not excommunicate another believer who prays in the same direction (qiblah) as he does or claim that such a person is an unbeliever. Kharijism, Islamic history’s first heretical movement, produced its first corruption (fitnah) on this very subject.

No matter how many good works someone who has lapsed into denial may perform, he will not benefit from them. Similarly, no matter how many sins a Muslim may commit, he cannot be considered a denier until he says that what is actually allowed is prohibited and that what is actually prohibited is allowed.

9) the Wonders of the Awliya’ of Allah (swt) Are Accurate

Belief in the wonders (karamah) of the Awliya’ of Allah (swt), the extraordinary states to which Allah (swt) gives rise by their hand, and the discoveries they make in various spheres of knowledge are among the essence of the Ahl al-Sunnah’s convictions.

10) the Prophet’s (saas) Miraculous Journey

According to the Qur’an and the hadiths, our Prophet (saas) ascended to a world beyond the heavens in both body and soul. It is revealed in the Qur’an that our Prophet’s (saas) going to Bayt al-Maqdis (Jerusalem) is an absolute truth, and reliable hadiths confirm that he rose to the skies.

Glory be to Him Who took His servant on a night journey from the Masjid al-Haram [in Makkah] to the Masjid al-Aqsa [in Jerusalem], whose surroundings We have blessed, in order to show him some of Our signs. He is the All-Hearing, the All-Seeing. (Surat al-Isra’, 1)

In order to create corruption, the deniers and hypocrites, who did not believe in this miracle, dared to mock it, and tried to spread this corruption all over Makkah, for they told everyone that they met about it. One of them asked Abu Bakr (ra): “Muhammad (saas) claims to have gone from Makkah to Jerusalem in a single night. What do you say?” with his usual exemplary trust and submission, Abu Bakr (ra) ended this spreading corruption by replying: “If he says so, then it is true.”

11) the Day of Judgment

The Day of Judgment is the final day of life for the universe, as predetermined by Allah (swt). Everyone will be called to account on the Day of Judgment. No one will return to Earth in a second body, for all of the souls of everyone who has ever lived, from the time of Prophet Adam (as) right up until the Day of Judgment, were created beforehand. No soul will return to Earth with a different body.

12) Appreciating Those given the Glad Tidings of Paradise

Any inappropriate word spoken against a Companion of the Prophet (saas) who received the glad tidings of Paradise is not in line with the respect due to them and is a great sin toward those great individuals. These Companions are:

- Abu Bakr (ra)

- Umar (ra)

- Uthman (ra)

- Ali (ra)

- Talha ibn Ubaydullah (ra)

- Zubayr ibn Awwam (ra)

- Sa‘d ibn Abi Waqqas (ra)

- Sa‘id ibn Zayd (ra)

- Abd al-Rahman ibn Awf (ra), and

- Abu Ubaydah ibn Jarrah (ra).

The history of Islam’s early days is full of these superior individuals’ heroism. The Messenger of Allah (saas) praised these Muslims in his hadiths.

One of the common features of heretical sects is their attack on some of the Companions given the glad tidings of Paradise. There is no room for such views among the Ahl al-Sunnah.

13) to Make No Interpretation of the Qur’an and the Sunnah

Reason and analogy (qiyas) are not to be used to make different interpretations of the rulings that are clearly stated in the Qur’an and the Sunnah, because the Companions and the imams of the legal schools commanded so and themselves did so. Believers accept everything that is compatible with the Qur’an and the Sunnah and reject everything that violates them. The main feature distinguishing the Ahl al-Sunnah wal Jama‘ah from other groups is how they regard these two sources as the essential sources of all knowledge.

Believers interpret all matters in light of them, instead of following their presumption, whims, and desires. Nobody has the right to oppose the Qur’an and the Sunnah.

The Ahl Al-Sunnah’s Schools

Schools of Theology

In terms of theology, there are two schools:

1. The Maturidi school, founded by Imam Maturidi

2. The Ash`ariyyah school, founded by Imam Ash`ari

These two schools are essentially one. However, they differ in terms of about forty matters. These differences, however, consist only matters of detail.

The Maturidi School

The founder of the Maturidi school is Abu Mansur Muhammad ibn Mahmud al-Maturidi, who is commonly known as Imam Maturidi. He was born in Samarkand in 238 AH.

He was of Turkish origin and was taught by students of al-Imam al-Azam Abu Hanifah. He established a fine link between reason and communication in his works and erected an immovable wall against heretical ideas by training students who were highly devoted to the Ahl al-Sunnah’s beliefs. He made a considerable contribution to transmitting the Ahl al-Sunnah’s convictions to subsequent generations.

Imam Maturidi is the teacher on matters of faith to all Hanafi Muslims. His school is recognized by many Muslims, especially the Turks. Some of his books have survived to the present day, among them his Kitab al-Tawhid and Ta’wilat al-Qur’an.

Some of the basic tenets that constitute the essence of the Ahl al-Sunnah’s belief are:

- Allah’s (swt) existence and oneness: We are responsible for having faith in Allah (swt), Whose work is one with His Being. Allah (swt) has attributes that are part of His Divine essence. Allah’s attribute of Kalam exists together with His Being.

- Faith consists of confessing belief verbally and accepting in one’s heart. Nobody who confesses verbally but rejects this faith in his heart can be considered a believer. The place of faith is the heart, and no one can overcome it once it is fully established therein.

- Just as it is not right to say that someone who has faith is not a Muslim, it is equally improper and impermissible to say that anyone who fulfils all of Islam’s tenets is not a believer. Deeds are not part of faith.

- When a person decides to do something, Allah (swt) creates the power for it to be carried out. This created power accompanies the action. The resulting action causes the person to become worthy of receiving a reward or a punishment, depending on the underlying intention.

- Such serious sins as adultery, murder, or drinking alcohol do not remove a Muslim from the fold of Islam. Whoever commits such sins will be forgiven if he repents.

- Our Prophet (saas) will intercede for those people who belong to his community, even for those who have committed serious sins. This is a grace from Allah (swt).

The Ash`ariyyah School

Abu al-Hasan al-Ash`ari, the founder of this school, was born in Basra in 260 AH. He studied with Abu `Ali al-Jubba'i, a Mu’tazili scholar, until he was forty years old.

Imam al-Ash’ari wrote several books aimed at Mu’tazilah, who were Ahl al-Bid`ah (people of [un-Islamic] innovation), philosophers, naturalists, atheists, Jews, and Christians. The first two of his works that come to mind are the Risalat al-Iman and the Maqalat al-Islamiyyin. Some twenty of his works have come down to us. It is said that he performed the morning prayer for twenty years while in the same state of ablution with which he had performed the night prayer. He died in Baghdad in 324 AH.

Some members of the Shafi`i and Maliki schools of thought are linked to the Ash`ariyyah in terms of creed. The Ash’ariyyah school is widely accepted, especially in Iraq, Syria, and Egypt.

The views of Imam al-Ash`ari are very important in forming the Ahl al-Sunnah’s creed. Apart from the subject of free will, there was no great difference of opinion with al-Maturidi. Some of al-Ash`ari’s tenets are as follows:

- the reckoning in the grave (adhab al-qadr), the gathering of humanity on the Day of Resurrection (hashr), and as-sirat (bridge) and al-mizan (just balance) are true. The Qur’an is a miracle in terms of its literary style. No one can compose an equivalent document.

- It is essential that a prophet perform miracles. The Awliya’ can also exhibit wonders (karamah). Prophets perform their miracles to prove their prophethood. A wali, on the other hand, must not attain superiority and must conceal his karamah.

- Anyone who received Allah’s (swt) revelation through an angel and performs miracles that seem to violate the laws of nature is a nabi.

- by the will of Allah (swt), the Prophet (saas) will intercede on the believers’ behalf. Also, it is permissible for believers to see Allah (swt), the One and Incomparable, in the Hereafter. He sends good and evil to humanity, creates the deeds that they perform, and bestows upon people the necessary power to perform an action.

The Schools of Fiqh

The Ahl al-Sunnah contains four schools of fiqh:

1) the Hanafi school, founded by Imam Abu Hanifah

2) the Shafi`i school, founded by Imam al-Shafi`i

3) the Hanbali school, founded by Imam Hanbal

4) the Maliki school, founded by Imam Malik

This section shall concentrate on these four imams and their views.

The Hanafi School and Al-imam Al-A`zam Abu Hanifah

Al-Imam al-A`zam Abu Hanifah was born in Kufa in 80 AH. His given name was an-Nu`man ibn Thabit. Some historical accounts say that he was of Turkish origin. His father, a wealthy merchant, had presented himself to Ali ibn Abi Talib (ra), who gave him his blessing and prayed for his offspring.

Abu Hanifah memorized the Qur’an at an early age and taught himself Arabic language and literature, jurisprudence (fiqh), the hadiths, and theology (kalam). He debated people in the region who held heretical views and persuaded most of them. as a result, his reputation began to spread.

His knowledge, intelligence, virtue, and taqwa were very great. Nobility in his teaching and the ease and perfection in his school have met with the favor of all Muslims.

Back then there was a huge need for knowledge concerning fiqh, so al-Imam al-A`zam abandoned commerce and devoted himself to studying jurisprudential matters. at the same time, he continued his study of the Qur’an and the Sunnah and began deriving rulings from them. He also began researching the hadiths and examining those matters over which the Companions disagreed.

During his thirty years in the madrassah, he taught more than 4,000 students, among them such future mujtahids (a scholar who derives legal rulings) as Abu Yusuf, Muhammad ibn al-Hasan, and Hasan ibn Ziyad.

He told his students that their knowledge would be based on solid foundations as long as they adhered to the following basic tenets:

1) Attend a knowledge circle and assembly, whenever one is held, and understand its general line.

2) Spend time with people of knowledge and have contact with all of the intellectual movements of the age.

3) Stay with the teacher instructing in important matters.

After spending time with several Islamic scholars, he attached himself to Hammad ibn Abi Sulayman, one of the greatest scholars of that time. Following his death, all eyes turned in Abu Hanifah’s direction.

The governor of Iraq, Yazid ibn Amr, offered him the post of qadi (religious judge) to sever his influence over the public. When Abu Hanifah rejected this proposition, he was tortured for days and then imprisoned. However, he was soon released due to the government’s fear of the public’s reaction.

Abu Hanifah lived for many years in the Hijaz, and returned to Kufa after the Abbasids came to power. However, little changed under Abbasid rule. His response to Caliph al-Mansur’s request that he become qadi of Baghdad was: “If I am threatened with drowning in the River Euphrates in the event that I decline this proposal, then I prefer to drown. There are many around you who stand in need.” at this, al-Mansur had him tortured for several days. This event ruined his health, and he died in Baghdad in 150 AH. Hundreds of thousands of Muslims still visit his tomb every year.

Following al-Imam al-A`zam’s death, his students produced books by collecting his fatwas and the hadiths he had related, and presenting them in a systematic form. Deriving new rulings in the light of their teacher’s views, they spread his ideas throughout the Islamic world. as a result, his teachings gradually became the Hanafi school, which still has many active followers in Turkey, the Balkans, the Caucasus, Siberia, China, Pakistan, Albania, Egypt, Palestine, Syria and Iraq.

Some of al-Imam al-A`zam’s works that have come down to the present day are Al-Fiqh al-Akbar, ‘Alim wa al-Muta‘allim, Al-Risalah, five al-Hashiyyah books, al-Qasidat an-Nu’maniyyah, and Marifat al-Mazahib.

Some noteworthy extracts from his works are given below:

Show people as much love as you can. Greet everyone, even the very lowly. if you gather with others in an assembly and discuss various problems, during which someone expresses an idea to which you are opposed, do not oppose them. if they ask you, give your opinion, speak what is in your heart, and say that there are such and such opinions on this subject and the proof is as follows. Thus, they will listen to you and understand the degree of your knowledge.

Give knowledge to all who approach you and let each one learn something from you. Give them important things, not trivial ones. Be like a friend to them, even make witty remarks by way of jokes, because friendship and sincerity ensure the continuation of knowledge.

Treat them gently and be tolerant. Show no boredom or weariness to anyone. Comport yourself as like one of them.

Trust no one’s friendship until it has been proven. Do not be friends with anyone low or vulgar. Be virtuous, generous, and deep of heart. Your clothes should be clean and new. Have a good horse to ride. Use pleasant scents. Be generous when you give people food to eat and satisfy everyone. Whenever you hear of any strife or corruption, hasten to resolve it. Visit those who visit you and those who do not. Always do good, whether others wish you good or ill. Forgive and turn a blind eye to some things. Abandon those things that distress you and try to do what is right. Visit those of your companions who fall ill, and ask after those you do not see. Take an interest in those who do not come to you.” (From Abu Hanifah’s bequest to his student Abu Yusuf.)

Know that deeds go along with knowledge, just as the limbs move thanks to the vision of the eyes. A few good deeds with knowledge are better than much labor with ignorance. This resembles the following proverb: even if a man has little food with him, he will be saved if he knows the right path. That man is still in a better position than someone who has much food but does not know the way. as Allah (swt) tells us: ‘Are they the same – those who know and those who do not know? It is only people of intelligence who pay heed.’” (Osman Keskio¤lu, Abu Hanifah, M. Abu Zehra, p. 177)

Some of al-Imam al-A`zam’s advice to Abu Yusuf appears in Ibrahim Haqqi of Erzurum's Ma’rifatname, from which the following extracts have been taken:

Wish good on other people and give them advice. Go and converse with people when they see and approve of your behavior and wish to talk with you, so that you can discuss knowledge in their circles.

May each student consider him your son. Let labor directed toward [acquiring] knowledge increase every day. Do not chat with those who do not listen to you and people in the markets. Have no fear of speaking the truth to anyone. Perform more, not fewer, religious observances than the masses. Do not sit and talk with deniers and Ahl al-Bid`ah, but invite them to the religion when the circumstances are appropriate. I bequeath these things to you and to everyone. May you follow this path and lead the people to the true path.”

The Shafi`i School and Imam Al-shafi`i

Imam al-Shafi`i was born in Gaza in 150 AH. Islamic scholars have considered it significant that he was born in the same year that Abu Hanifah died. Imam al-Shafi`i lost his father at an early age and spent much of his childhood in poverty.

He moved to Makkah and began studying the hadiths. In addition, he memorized the Qur’an at an early age and subsequently attached himself to Imam Malik. From this point on, after this ground in Islamic learning, he devoted himself to the study of fiqh.

At the age of 34 he was unjustly accused of spreading Shiite propaganda by the governor of Yemen and imprisoned. Nine people affiliated to al-Shafi‘i were killed – the man himself was only spared after last-gasp interventions of a number of powerful supporters.

After two years studying and researching in Makkah he returned to Baghdad. by this time al-Shafi‘i’s fame had begun spreading throughout the Islamic world. He began looking for a more comfortable environment and chose Egypt as his adopted home.

The governor and people of Egypt welcomed al-Shafi‘i’s arrival. He was protected by the governor until the end of his lifetime and a share set aside for the line of the Prophet (saas) was given to him.

Imam al-Shafi‘i spent his life on the path of Islam, left many works for the subsequent generations and was responsible for training a great number of students as a legacy. In addition, he struggled relentlessly against such heretical sects as the Mu’tazila and other deviant organizations. He passed away in 204 AH in Egypt.

He left behind himself such invaluable works as the Ahqam al-Qur’an, As-Sunan, Kitab al-Umm and Musnad ash-Shafi‘i. Many Muslims in Iraq, Eastern Anatolia, India, Palestine, the Hijaz, the Philippines, Yemen, Egypt and Syria act according to the Shafi‘i school and his influence and contribution to Islamic learning and understanding is still felt in the Muslim world today.

Imam al-Shafi‘i describes the essence of the school he established in these terms: “Not everyone may know the hadiths of the Prophet. if I propose any idea or put forward any tenet without knowing that these are in contravention of the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah, then it is the word of the Messenger by which people must abide. That is my school. if I relate a hadith from the Messenger of Allah but do not act in its light, what earth will bear me and what sky will give me shade? the hadith of the Prophet is of sublime importance to me.”

Some of Imam al-Shafi‘i’s sayings:

If one of you wishes to content all the people, he cannot. The servant must be careful to have moral sincerity. Every good work he performs must remain between him and Allah.”

The pursuit of knowledge is better than supererogatory prayer. Because supererogatory prayer benefits only the individual, whereas knowledge benefits the entire community.”

If anyone gives secret advice to his brother in faith, he will have engaged in good counseling and adorned him with good manners. if he seeks to give advice openly in public it will have no effect. He will, in a sense, have condemned the other party, and thus shamed him.”

Let he who desires the bliss of the Hereafter have sincerity in knowledge.”

Whoever tries to give advice through his deeds is also a guidance.”

The following three conditions are signs of the genuine nature of one’s love for his brother in religion:

1) to tolerate a few small errors without reproaching the other party, and accept that person for what he is.

2) to cover up any unbecoming actions performed openly.

3) to forgive any wrong directed towards oneself.”

The Maliki School and Imam Malik

According to the most reliable accounts, Imam Malik ibn Anas was born in Madinah in 93 AH. as the son of a family steeped in the study of hadiths, he made considerable progress in this field in a very short space of time. He was placed at the side of the famous scholar Ibn Hurmuz at a young age and remained with him for the next 13 years. He began teaching at the age of 17, and the interest that onlookers shown in him actually proved to be greater than the interest his own teachers aroused. Despite being 13 years older, Abu Hanifah knelt before him and received instruction from him.

The works written about Imam Malik generally refer to his superior memory and intelligence and describe his patience, forbearance, sincerity, foresight, and grandeur as exemplary. This is what Imam Malik is renowned for. He occupies a critical position in the science of the hadiths and was well-respected for how scrupulous he was when determining the authenticity of the traditions. He carefully researched those reporting traditions and only accepted those which were completely reliable.

Imam Malik never acted in haste when issuing fatwas. When consulted about a problem he would say, “Go now and let me investigate this problem.” Asked why he behaved in this way, he would respond, “I shall have to account for fatwas. Because I have a sincere fear of the Day of Judgment.”

Like Imam Abu Hanifah, Imam Malik too attracted the wrath of Caliph al-Mansur, and was tortured in prisons for days on end. Years later, however, al-Mansur realized the error of his ways and apologized to Imam Malik. Imam Malik spent the final years of his life in sickness, dying in the blessed city of Madinah in 179 AH.

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