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Book review by GF Haddad

Kitāb al-Tawhīd

M. ibn ʿAbd al-Wahhāb

By Gibril F Haddad

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The whole title:
"Kitāb al-Tawh.īd al-Ladhī Huwa H.aqqullāh ‘alā al-‘Abīd"
by Muh.ammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhāb

Translated into English by Unknown
Ryadh: Darussalam Publications, 1996.

Muh.ammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhāb's "inelegant book… containing the acceptable and the inacceptable” – according to al-Shawkānī's student S.iddīq H.asan Khān al-Qinnawjī[1] – Kitāb al-Tawh.īd, has been raised, through the power of free distribution and "dumping” on the book market, to the perceived status of classic when it is in fact replete with strange statements and doctrinal errors such as the following:

– Calling the Ash‘arīs "Nullifiers of the Divine Attributes” (mu‘at.t.ila) [chapters 2, 16]

– Declaring the Lesser shirk an integral part of the Greater. [7]

– Deprecating the understanding of "the elite of people today” for tawh.īd. [15]

– Stating that Abu Jahl knows lā ilāha illā Allāh better than the Muslim Ulema. [18]

– Attributing the beginning of shirk on earth to the act of the people of knowledge and religion, caused by their love for saints. [19]

– Misinterpreting the h.adīth "do not make my grave an idol” to mean: do not pray even near it whereas the agreed-upon meaning is: Do not pray towards or on top of it. [20]

– Omitting the phrase "and that I am the Messenger of Allāh (swt) in quoting the h.adīth:
"When the Messenger of Allāh ﷺ sent Mu‘ādh (ra) to Yemen, he said: ‘You will come upon the People of the Book, so call them first to testify that there is no God but Allāh (swt) – although this phrase is narrated by the totality of the h.adīth Masters except for one (al-Bayhaqī). [5]

– Misrepresenting a very gharīb narration as being narrated from the Prophet ﷺ by T.āriq ibn Shihāb whereas it is a mawqūf report of the words of Salmān al-Fārisī narrated by T.āriq. [10] This blunder is due to the fact that Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhāb imitated the erroneous claim to that effect made by Ibn al-Qayyim in al-Jawāb al-Kāfī (p. 21) without checking the sources where this report is found such as Ibn Abī ‘ās.im's al-Zuhd, Abū Nu‘aym's H.ilya, and al-Khat.īb's Kifāya.

Worse, Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhāb references the report to "Ah.mad” (rawāhu Ah.mad), which means the Musnad of Imām Ah.mad ibn H.anbal in h.adīth terminology; however, the report is not found in any of the works of Imām Ah.mad, whether the Musnad, al-Zuhd, or others. It is true that the chain of the report comes through Ah.mad, but to reference the report to him is deception.

– Citing another weak narration that "a Companion” said: "Let us all go seek the help of the Messenger of Allāh ﷺ (qūmū binā nastaghīthu birasūlillah) against this hypocrite [‘Abd Allāh ibn Ubay ibn Salūl who challenged Abū Bakr to ask the Prophet ﷺ for a major miracle],” whereupon the Prophet ﷺ said: "Innahu lā yustaghāthu bī innamā yustaghāthu billāh – "Help is not sought with me, it is sought only with Allāh.” Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhāb references it to al-T.abarānī. [10]

First, neither the wording "nastaghīthu birasūlillah" nor "innahu lā yustaghāthu bī innamā yustaghāthu billāh" is found in any book of h.adīth and there is no chain for them! The reference to "al-T.abarānī” shows blind imitation of Ibn Taymiyya's incorrect referencing of these wordings to al-T.abarānī's al-Mu‘jam al-Kabīr in al-Radd ‘alā al-Bakrī and Majmū‘ al-Fatāwā.

Second, the correct wording in Ibn Sa‘d's T.abaqāt, the Musnad, and al-Jāmi‘ al-S.aghīr states that Abū Bakr said: "Let us rise to the Messenger of Allāh ﷺ to seek help (qūmū nastaghīthu ilā rasūlillah) against this hypocrite” whereupon the Prophet ﷺ replied: "Lā yuqāmu lī innamā yuqāmu lillāh – Not for me is redress sought but only for Allāh.” So the reply of the Prophet ﷺ does not address the means but the motivation and purpose of the Companions against the hypocrite. This is confirmed by another report in which ‘Umar asks permission to kill ‘Abd Allāh ibn Ubay ibn Salūl, whereupon the Prophet ﷺ said: "Leave him lest people say that Muh.ammad kills his companions!”[2]

Third, the chain of the report Lā yuqāmu lī innamā yuqāmu lillāh contains an unnamed narrator in addition to ‘Abd Allāh ibn Lahī‘a who is weak as indicated by al-Haythamī in Majma‘ al-Zawā'id (8:40), so the report is weak and wholly unfit to be adduced in matters of belief!

Fourth, the report is not found other than in very few of the h.adīth compilations and is long-winded and quite improbable in its complete wording, hence Ibn Kathīr declared it "extremely strange” (gharīb jiddan) in his Tafsīr (3:174).

Fifth, the Companion in question is Abū Bakr (ra), which would be a proof in itself – if the report were authentic – that istighātha from the Prophet ﷺ cannot be shirk, since Abū Bakr was of the most knowledgeable and strictest of Companions in Tawh.īd!

Sixth, the meaning of personal redress meant in Abū Bakr's phrase and the reply of the Prophet ﷺ is confirmed by the extraordinary words Abū Bakr spoke to Rabī‘a al-Aslamī – the Prophet's ﷺ servant – whom he regretted having insulted: "You will insult me back [in fair requital] or else I will seek the help of the Messenger of Allāh ﷺ against you! (aw la'asta‘diyanna ‘alayka Rasūlallāh).”[3]

– Stating verbatim: "The disbelievers who know their disbelief are better-guided than the believers.” (inna al-kuffār al-ladhīna ya‘rifūna kufrahum ahdā sabīlan min al-mu'minīn) [23]

– Stating: "Among the polytheists are those who love Allah with a tremendous love” [31].

– Stating: "The Muslim was named a worshipper of the dinar and dirham.” [37]

– Showing undisguised loathing of the Awliyā, the Ulema, and the generality of the Believers: "Conditions decayed to the point that, among most, worshipping the monks is the best deed and is called sainthood (wilāya), while worshipping the doctors of the Law is ‘knowledge' and ‘jurisprudence.' Then conditions decayed further, until those who were not even saints were worshipped besides Allah, and, in the second rank, those who were ignorant.” [38]

– Stating that "the two opposites [belief and disbelief] can be found in a single heart” [41] in contradiction of the verse { Allāh has not assigned unto any man two hearts within his body } (33:4). This and the previous four concepts are fundamental to understand the Wahhābī propagation of mutual suspicion among Muslims.

– Equating the poem al-Burda to setting up an equal to Allah (swt) [44].

– Assimilating the Islamic title qād.ī al-qud.āt, "Chief Judge,” to the prohibited title shāhān shāh, "King of kings.” [46]

– Citing Ibn H.azm to explain a verse on ‘aqīda, although Ibn H.azm is considered by them a Jahmī in ‘aqīda.[4] [50]

– Attributing shirk to Prophets "in name, not in reality.” [50]

– Stating that Allah (swt) is explicitly said to have two hands: the right holds the heaven and the other holds the earth, and the other is explicitly named the left hand. [67]

To Allāh we belong and to Him we shall return.

[1]In his Abjad al-‘Ulūm (3:198-199).

[2]Narrated from Jābir by Ibn Bashkuwāl in Ghawāmid. al-Asmā' al-Mubhama (1:101).

[3]Narrated from Rabī‘a ibn Ka‘b ibn Mālik by Ah.mad with a fair chain.

[4]Cf. al-Albānī's unprecedented description of Ibn H.azm in his notes on al-Alūsī's al-āyāt al-Bayyināt (p. 64) as "a staunch Jahmī on the Divine Names and Attributes.”

"In any case, what Westerners call civilization, the others would call barbarity, because it is precisely lacking in the essential, that is to say, a principle of a higher order."
René Guénon, East And West, 1924

صلّى الله على سيّدنا محمّد و على آله و صحبه و سلّم

The blessings and peace of Allah on the Prophet, his Family, and his Companions, ( sallAllahu `aleihi wa sallam ) .



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