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THE TALES OF LACROIX COMMENTED BY THE WORKS OF SHAIKH AL-ALBANI The Response the Sciences Po Institution does not want you to read… Clarifying the Islamophobic Fallacies of Stéphane Lacroix, self-proclaimed “Salafi-expert” and Professor at Sciences Po University


THE TALES OF LACROIX COMMENTED BY THE WORKS OF SHAIKH AL-ALBANI

domain of specialization in academic circles where illiteracy of the primal language on which its study is based doesn’t seem to pose a problem with becoming an “expert” in the field. Moreover, their incapacity to perform basic or proper research doesn't seem to bother them in the least. The militants of French islamophobia mainly recycle the old ambiguities of their orientalist predecessors, adding their own personal touch and setting out farfetched argumentations. They are well aware that they can write down unsubstantiated articles without having to either justify themselves for it, or take into consideration the feelings of the Muslims they write about as they have become France’s new second-class citizens.

hroughout Nicolas Sarkozy’s presidential term, France has not only witnessed an outburst of islamophobia in its mass media and on its political scene, even its most ‘prestigious’ universities have been contaminated with this century’s new plague. “Sarkozysm” has produced a large number of selfproclaimed ‘Islamic experts’ who are openly waging a campaign aimed at discrediting the French Muslim community.

T

Today, ‘academic articles’ on Islam and its various groups have clearly In this article we’re taking a closer revealed that any ignoramus can look into the works of French thrust himself headlong into the ‘political Islam specialist’ Stéphane complex field of Islamic sects and Lacroix, who is a well-known and their religious differences without fervent opponent of the Saudi Royal having the slightest idea of what family and of French Salafis, since they're writing about. While studying they all refuse to blindly comply with the works of these so-called islamologists and pseudo Middle East Here at Sciences-Po in Paris, professors have French secularism and Western specialists, one can only conclude been known to exploit the lucrative industry of values. As many Sciences-Po professors, Mr. Lacroix has a problem that the overwhelming majority of islamophobia to start off their careers with Islam, and even more with those them are incompetent charlatans 3 practicing it . In his articles, he often portrays Muslims exploiting valuable research money from universities like who put their religion into practice as intellectually Princeton, Cambridge, Oxford, la Sorbonne and Sciences-Po by issuing amateurish articles that often bankrupt people who have left behind rational thinking. contain self-invented stories, unverified facts or even On the other hand, he describes Arab secularists who ideals blatant lies. In France, an elite of secular have blindly assimilated themselves into Western 4 1 as very courageous and daring intellectuals . fundamentalists have engaged upon a media vendetta against Muslims who refuse to assimilate to the French über-culture and abide by its norms. Exploiting the While scrutinizing the writings of Stéphane Lacroix, one ignorance of the masses, these new generation regrettably comes to the conclusion that this Sciences-Po orientalists have succeeded in demonizing a specific part professor has no qualms about fabricating stories in order of France’s Muslim community, describing them in to sustain his distorted islamophobic ideologies… French mainstream media as Islamists, fanatics, fundamentalists etc.2 Reporting on Islam and its sects has become a “profit guaranteed” business; but amazingly, almost every single one of these ‘Islam experts’ is unable to perform routine academic research in the original Arabic books and studies which are the prime source for anyone who wishes to study the origins, influence and development of contemporary Islamic sects. There is probably no other 3

In March 2007, Stéphane Lacroix participated in the xenophobic and islamophobic seminar “The Role of Civil Society in Advocating Reform in the Arab World” organized by the Foreign Policy Centre (FPC) in London. As all good islamophobes, Lacroix claims “civil societies” have the right to impose reforms on the "primitive societies" of the Arabs. 4 In his crusade to liberalize the holy places occupied by the Muslims, Stéphane Lacroix gave a speech at the Norwegian Institute for International Affairs he named “The Prospects for Religious-Political Liberalization in Saudi Arabia”.

1

Considered from amongst the most active French islamophobes are Jacques Myard, André Gerin, Jean-Marie Le Pen, Manuel Valls, Bernard Rougier, Caroline Fourest, George Freche, Jean-François Copé, Bernard Henry Lévy, Nicolas Sarkozy, Alain Finkielkraut, Fadela Amara, Marine Le Pen and Siham Habchi. 2 Note that religious Jews, contrary to the Muslims who overtly practice Islam, are always described as ‘orthodox’, not as ‘fundamentalists’. 1


THE TALES OF LACROIX COMMENTED BY THE WORKS OF SHAIKH AL-ALBANI

The Revenge of Shaikh Nasir Al-Din Al-Albani

“It has now been more than half a century during which we notice the slander taking on a new form every year. Each year something repeats itself, something is again made up (against me) and none of these people ever come to me directly…”7

Muhammad Ibn Nuh Nadjati, better known as Shaikh Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani was undoubtedly one of the most cherished and notable Islamic scholars of the 20th century. As a young boy, he fled Albania with his family due to the religious oppression of the brutal Regrettably, the slander against Shaikh al-Albani also continued after his death. A few years dictator Ahmed Zogolli5 in much the ago, an attempt was made to same way French Muslims who wish indirectly link him to the cruel 1979 to openly practice their religion are Muhammad al-Qahtani attack of the currently emigrating to Muslim Mecca Mosque8. Others have countries to escape Sarkozy’s antiportrayed this erudite scholar as Muslim policies. Al-Albani’s family someone rejecting independent chose Syria to be their new homeland reasoning, and recently in France the and very soon Muhammad Nasir alAlbanian scholar has been viciously Din buried himself in the study of libeled in a critique written by hadith sciences. In Damascus, he Stéphane Lacroix entitled “Aleventually became known for his After having fled Albania, al-Albani’s family Albani’s Revolutionary Approach to tremendous zeal in the field of hadith first settled in this house in Damascus. Hadith”9. research to such a degree that the administration of the ThahiriyaThe works of Shaikh al-Albani library placed a private room at the provide sufficient material to unravel Shaikh’s disposal and granted him a the slanderous accusations in Lacroix' key to the library in which he spent 6 article. This reply shall therefore most of his time . Al-Albani, who mainly be confined to the words of became a world recognized scholar in Shaikh al-Albani which, even after his the field of hadith sciences, later death, still prove to be a strong traveled to Saudi Arabia, where he taught at the esteemed Medina …and this is the house in which Shaikh al-Albani refutation of islamophobic articles written by the bigoted proponents of University, and eventually to Jordan was raised as a child. French secularism who attempt to where he finally died in the midst of undermine the reputation of the Muslim faith by his books doing that which was most precious to him: slandering Islam’s leading lights. researching hadith. As al-Albani passed away, Muslims from all over the world lost one of the greatest men of knowledge and many mourners turned out for the funeral Origins of Salafism…? of this exceptional scholar. As most institutionalized islamophobes, Professor During his life, Shaikh al-Albani was harassed by Lacroix labels orthodox Islam as ‘Wahhabism’, thus numerous islamophobes, polytheists and sectarian portraying it to be an Islamic sect based on the teachings fanatics for calling to the prophetic tradition and of Shaikh Muhammad Abdul-Wahhab. In his article, he exposing the false teachings of deviant Islamic sects. In described ‘Wahhabism’ as: his books, al-Albani spent quite some time defending himself against the numerous false allegations he had to “…the discourse produced and upheld by the official cope with and which, as he stated on many occasions, Saudi religious establishment.” took a lot of his precious time: In the first instance, Stéphane Lacroix considers ‘Wahhabism’ a discourse produced by the official Saudi religious establishment, he then makes a distinction with Salafism and states: 5

This Albanian secularist dictator, known to have his political rivals assassinated, pursued a policy of close collaboration with Fascist Italy. His royal dictatorship was characterized by a combination of despotism and Western secularist reform in which he practiced oppressive policies adopting Western-style civil, commercial, and penal codes. 6 See Official Biography of Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani: www.alalbany.net/albany_serah.php

7

Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, “As-Salafiya wal Madhahib” [Salafiya and Madhabs], p.103 8 See ‘Part 1’ of the “Thomas Hegghammer under the Sledgehammer”-series (forthcoming). 9 See ISIM Review 21, p.6-7 2


THE TALES OF LACROIX COMMENTED BY THE WORKS OF SHAIKH AL-ALBANI

“As opposed to Wahhabism, Salafism refers here to all the hybridations that have taken place since the 1960s between the teachings of Muhammad bin ‘Abdul-Wahhab and other Islamic schools of thought.”

behind Stéphane and Dounia in secularist-wonderland and see what the true specialists from within the Islamic sciences have to say on the issue. In his works, Shaikh alAlbani made it clear on many occasions that the origins of Salafiya are historically anchored going all the way back to the beginning of Islam:

So ‘Wahhabism’ is a school of thought and Salafism took place in the 1960’s…very interesting10. This reminds me of an earth-shattering statement made by Dounia “In past and present, many scholars have used the Bouzar11 when invited to speak in nomination of ‘The call to Salafiya’. front of the 2009 fact-finding Some might call it the Call of those 12 mission set up to deprive French who advocate the prophetic Sunnah, Muslim women of their right to dress others may name it the Call of Ahl alaccording to their religion. In her Hadith. And these are all nominations declaration, she stated, that the niqab13 that indicate a single meaning. A lot was an innovation that was forced of people in the Muslim community, upon women by certain Saudi scholars today as well in the past, have often th at the beginning of the 20 century! been unmindful of it; or maybe they Islamophobia and the documented were aware of it but didn’t foster it in history of Islam are clearly the way it deserved to be.”14 The store of al-Albani’s father where the Shaikh incompatible and this explains why learned the trade of repairing watches. islamophobes are unable to place Indeed, the affiliation to Salafiya is Salafism in a historical context. very ancient; it is widely known and can be traced back in the works of the In several of his articles, Mr. Lacroix earliest scholars as well as in presentuses the term ‘Wahhabi day Islamic literature. But if Salafism jurisprudence’. For him to come up doesn’t refer to Lacroix’ imaginary with a newly invented madhab which hybrids that took place since the is not mentioned in a single book of 1960s, then what is it? Shaikh alIslamic jurisprudence is putting his Albani explains it in a simple and yet reputation of ‘Islam-researcher’ at Later on, al-Albani became independent and very clear manner: stake. It becomes clear that due to opened his own watch repair shop in their lack of serious study and Damascus. “Salafiya is Islam in its correct thorough research, many ‘Islamic and Middle East understanding; it invites people to hold on to their historians’ are confusing their readers even more when original Islamic belief and doesn’t single out one group attempting to describe Salafism. Therefore, let us leave without the other. In its call to the Quran and the prophetic tradition, it doesn’t distinguish between the cultivated person and the illiterate, between the educated 10 Lacroix’ claim that ‘Salafism refers to all the hybridations that have person and the uneducated”15 taken place since the 1960s’ is in contradiction with his own statement in an interview with the French islamophobic newspaper “Le Figaro” where he recently alleged that ‘Salafism’ was born in the 18th century (See article « Les Salafistes en France restent dans leur bulle » Le Figaro, 12/10/2012). This is only one of the numerous contradictions that shows the incompetence of professor Lacroix who, throughout his articles, falls further and further into a quagmire of confusion. 11 Dounia Bouzar is a former youth leader who became ‘Islamspecialist’ thanks to her experience with French Suburban juvenile delinquents. 12 In June 2009 the French National Assembly appointed an assembly of 32 MPs to a six-month fact-finding mission which turned into a modern day inquisition Tribunal in which a group of fanatic xenophobes demonized niqab-wearing women in order to justify an anti-niqab law. Eric Raoult, the person who shaped the fact-finding mission against the Islamic full-body veil, was arrested on October 12th 2012 after his wife lodged several complaints of domestic violence against him. During the fact-finding mission, Eric Raoult declared on several occasions he wanted to defend the ‘oppressed women under their niqab’. 13 The niqab is what is currently being described as the Islamic fullbody veil.

Indeed, Salafiya is nothing new. Al-Albani explains the misconception of many who consider that the origins of Salafism go back to Shaikh Muhammad Ibn AbdulWahhab or Ibn Taymiya: “Some might say that the call of Salafism is new, or a development, and that the first person who affiliated himself to it was Shaikh al-Islam Ibn Taymiya and after him Ibn Abdul-Wahhab in the present era. This conception is entirely wrong. Rather, it is a fabrication

14

Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, “Ousoul Al-Da’wa Al-Salafiya” [Principles in the Call of Salafiya], p. 13 15 Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, “Shubah Hawl Al-Salafiya” [Ambiguities about Salafiya] p.130 3


THE TALES OF LACROIX COMMENTED BY THE WORKS OF SHAIKH AL-ALBANI

since the call of Salafism is the correct original call of Islam itself...”16

hadith, all of them agree upon affiliating themselves to the Quran and the Sunnah”20

Salafiya and Sectarianism

There indeed seems to be no difference amongst sects as far as their attachment to the Quran and Sunnah. However, they greatly differ in their comprehension:

Salafism differs with Islamic sects in the fact that it refers back to the understanding of the Prophet’s companions and major scholars of the first three centuries after the revelation17: “The Call of Salafiya is based upon the knowledge of the Quran and the Sunnah following the understanding of the pious predecessors who were present during the (first) three generations of whom their righteousness the Prophet testified to in the famous hadith: ‘The best of people are those of my generation, then the generation following them and then the generation after them’. The four Imams18 and the other scholars who lived before, during or a little after their time all belong to the great scholars of the pious predecessors. And they are the ones we follow in our call to Islam.”19

“In today’s society we live with many groups which all claim true affiliation to the religion of Islam and all believe that Islam is based upon the Quran and the Sunnah. However, the vast majority of them do not agree on following the way of the companions and those who followed them in righteousness…”21

The entrance of the “al-Thahiriya” library in Damascus in which the Shaikh did his research.

A typical trait of Islamic sects is that they follow their founder in their understanding of Islam; Salafis, on the other hand, do not only base their comprehension on the most authentic of Islamic sources, they also study the works of the scholars in the first three generations so as to attain the proper and original understanding of their religion. They don’t blindly follow these scholars but use their works in order to attain a correct understanding of Islam:

Hence, Salafiya can simply be defined “We consider the great scholars as as orthodoxy or as Islam in its original form since it is based on the In the library-room that was put at Shaikh being a means and we see them as understanding of the people who were Al-Albani’s disposal, he would often spend intermediaries who convey knowledge of Allah and his Prophet . We do not closest to the period of revelation. more than 15 hours a day. follow them for who they are (but for However since the three first generations passed, Islamic sects have increased in what they were upon). Moreover, we do not consider number and have developed their own specific way of following them as one of our objectives since the only was upon. understanding the Quran and the prophetic Sunnah. But, intention is to know what the Prophet Meaning that the objective is to know what has been as Shaikh al-Albani explains, all Islamic sects will still revealed to him in the Quran or what he has clarified in always claim their affiliation to the two sources of 22 his Sunnah.” Islamic revelation: “The characteristic of this group of people (i.e. Ahl alSunnah) is not restricted to their affiliation of applying the Quran and Sunnah because not one sect, in the past or present, could ever disassociate themselves from being affiliated to the Quran and the Sunnah…and therefore I say that all the Islamic groups and sects mentioned by the Prophet or to whom he referred in the (previous)

According to al-Albani, all the alien ways of understanding the two religious sources have led to the Muslim community being divided as it is today: “Therefore I say that the lack in returning to the understanding, ideas and views of our pious

16

Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, “Durus Lil Shaikh Nasir AlDin Al-Albani” (Shabaka al-Islamiya) 17 Several Islamic sects also claim to adhere to Salafiya, but their actions nullify their claim of correct adherence. 18 Imam Abu Hanifa, Malik , al-Shafi’ee and Ahmed. 19 Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, “Shubah Hawl Al-Salafiya” [Ambiguities about Salafiya] p.113

20

Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, “Ousoul Al-Da’wa Al-Salafiya” [Principles in the Call of Salafiya], p.18 21 Ibid, p.35 22 Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, “Shubah Hawl Al-Salafiya” [Ambiguities about Salafiya] p.120 4


THE TALES OF LACROIX COMMENTED BY THE WORKS OF SHAIKH AL-ALBANI

predecessors, constitutes the main factor in the division of the Muslims into various sects and ‘madhabs’.”23

Shaikh al-Albani often complained about the widespread ignorance amongst his fellow Muslims which occurred after having neglected their religion and its study. He stated that many have fallen into deep ignorance to such an extent that they are no longer affected while reading the Quran or studying the source texts of the prophetic Sunnah.27

Al-Albani repeatedly stated that the reason why the Islamic community needs to return to the understanding of the first three generations is because they are the ones who conveyed Islam to the rest of the world in its correct and original form24. He understood that, in order to avoid division and friction in the Muslim Ummah, it is essential to have one united way of understanding Islam. It needs to be stressed that this way of understanding Islam has always been present and can be found in the works of the notable Islamic scholars throughout the past fourteen centuries. Returning to the understanding of the first three generations is indeed nothing new and Shaikh al-Albani often referred back to the statement of one of the earliest scholars of Islam, Imam Malik, in which he said: “What was not part of the religion in the past, cannot be part of the religion today, and the later generations of our community will only be rectified by that which has rectified the first generations”25. Al-Albani followed the traditional way of the salaf in knowing that this was the only way the Muslim community would remove itself from its wretched situation.

It needs to be said that ignorance in the Muslim society always had pernicious and historic consequences and even facilitated Western colonization of the Muslim world. Shaikh al-Albani explained that it is not permissible for Muslims to be satisfied with their situation in which they are unaware of their fundamental religious beliefs. Following the teachings in the Quran and Sunnah, alAlbani always asserted that today’s ignorance within the Muslim community is what is keeping them in humiliation.28

The primary school Shaikh al-Albani attended before his father taught him the Quran and the Hanafi madhab.

Debunking the Wahhabi Myth

Stéphane Lacroix would have done a much better job in writing his article had he at least read some of Shaikh alAlbani’s books. He probably would’ve avoided all the trouble in falsely defining Salafiya and certainly wouldn’t have attributed the statements of Shaikh al-Albani relating to The entrance of the same school in ‘Wahhabism’ which the professor Damascus which was initially an orphanage. But if Salafiya is as old as the religion describes as an Islamic sect founded by of Islam itself, or indeed the original Muhammad Ibn Abdul-Wahhab and his heirs: form of the religion itself, then why are Muslims so unfamiliar with it these days? Shaikh al-Albani explains “Wahhabism initially refers to the religious tradition that the causes of this primarily lay in the fact that so developed over the centuries by the ulama of the official many are blindly following a particular school of Saudi religious establishment founded by the heirs of thought: Muhammad Ibn Abdul-Wahhab.” “The reason for this is that our community underwent many centuries in which a solidified form of ‘Madhabic’ blindly following got embedded into the hearts of the people who affiliate themselves with Ahl al-Sunnah.”26

If ‘Wahhabism’ is a religious tradition developed over the centuries after Shaikh Ibn Abdul-Wahhab, then it would be interesting to know in what way it is different from the original teachings of Islam conveyed by the Prophet and in which aspects it contradicts the Quran and prophetic Sunnah. Islamophobes have always refused to address this issue and are accused by many of labeling orthodox Islam as ‘Wahhabism’ as it allows them to obliquely denigrate the Muslim belief without having to mention the term Islam. It isn’t surprising that the

23

Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, ”Ousoul Al-Da’wa Al-Salafiya” [Principles in the Call of Salafiya], p.35 24 Ibid, p.46 25 Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, “Al-Fatawa Al-Manhajihya LilAlbany” [al-Albani’s Fatawa on Manhaj issues] p.85 26 Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, “Ousoul Al-Da’wa Al-Salafiya” [Principles in the Call of Salafiya], p. 14

27

Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, “As-Salafiya wal Madhahib” [Salafiya and Madhabs], p.101 28 Ibid, p.106 5


THE TALES OF LACROIX COMMENTED BY THE WORKS OF SHAIKH AL-ALBANI

a ‘Wahhabi’. This term is a concocted accusation directed towards anyone who follows the path of the predecessors, calls to the prophetic tradition and rejects blindly following.”32

modern origins of the term Wahhabism29 can be traced back to the insulting poetry of the Deobandee sect in Pakistan and India in the beginning of the 20th century30. Shaikh al-Albani went even further back in history and mentioned that the term 'Wahhabi' was used as a propaganda tool by the Ottomans:

In his “Silsila al-Ahadith al-Da’ifa”, Shaikh al-Albani mentions a fragment of a letter dating back to 1959 in which one of his opponents described him as follows:

“The use of this term was part of the politics conducted by the Ottoman Empire after a man of knowledge and reform named Muhammad Ibn Abdul-Wahhab started to call the people in some parts of the Najd region”31 The use of ‘Wahhabism’ was later adopted within the bigoted works of Islamophobes and modern-day orientalists. It has become a very popular term in today’s anti-Islam propaganda machine. Some use the term to describe Takfiris, those who wrongly declare others disbelievers without using the guidelines of Islam, others use it in general to label bearded men and niqab-wearing women, and a few even consider it to be a political system. Every ‘islamologist’ has his own personal way of defining and understanding what they call ‘Wahhabism’. In his article, Stéphane Lacroix begins by portraying al-Albani as a Wahhabi and states:

The interior court of the “al-Thahiriya”-library where Shaikh al-Albani received al-Ghimari

“Nasir al-Din al-Albani then arrived in Damascus where he learned Arabic and began studying the science of Hadith in which he gained mastery. He greatly benefitted from a library that contained precious hadith manuscripts. Last year, when I paid a visit to this library, he was the one who provided me the books I requested and he informed of what they dealt with. And he, Shaikh al-Albani, is a wicked man and a pure Wahhabi Taymi…And if it were not for his vicious madhab and stubbornness, he would’ve been one of the unique people in his time in the field of Hadith science, despite the fact that he is still running a watch repair store…”33

Shaikh al-Albani and all other contemporary orthodox scholars of Here inside the library, al-Albani informed alGhimari of the contents of the books. Islam have regularly been named Wahhabis by their enemies. Equally, in his book “Tahdhir al-Sajid Min Ittigadh al-Qubur “Common knowledge considers Shaikh Nasir al-Din al- Masajid”, al-Albani illustrated how some of today’s Albani to be a staunch proponent of Wahhabism.” orientalists describe the people of the Sunnah as Wahhabis.34 Rather, it is common knowledge that Mister Lacroix is obviously mistaken in his statement. Shaikh al-Albani, The Swindle of a French Neo-Orientalist Professor and all other Sunni scholars do not use the term Wahhabi and see it to be an offense. In his well-known explication Further on, Stéphane Lacroix attributes the following of ‘Tahawiya’ Shaikh al-Albani mentions: statement to Shaikh al-Albani: “And amongst the prime evidences that prove the Shaikh (i.e. al-Tahawi) to be a salafi, is that his enemies call him

“More importantly, al-Albani’s claim of being more faithful to the spirit of Wahhabism than Ibn ‘AbdulWahhab himself made the former’s ideas very popular among Salafi youth.”

29

Previously, the term Wahhabiya had already been used in the 9th century to describe the followers of the Moroccan Kharidji AbdulWahhab Ibn Abdul-Rahman Ibn Rustum who lead the I’badiya sect in Morocco. 30 The enmity of the Deobandi-sect towards Shaikh Abdul-Wahhab lies in the fact that the Shaikh established that Islam forbids the worshipping of graves, trees etc. See al-Shams al-Salafi al-Afghani “Al-Maaturidya wa Mawqifuhum min Al-Asmaa wa Al-Sifaat” Vol.3, p.312, 313 31 Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, “Fatawa Al Shaikh Al-Albani wa Muqaranatuha bi Fatawa Al-Ulema” [Shaikh Al-Albani's Fatwa's compared to those of other scholars], p. 12

32

Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, “Sharh Aqida Al-Tahawiya” [Explanation of the Creed of Tahawi], p.53 33 Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, “Silsila Al-Ahadith Al-Da’ifa Wal Madou’a Wa Atharouha Al-Sayyi’ Fil Umma” [Collection of weak or invented hadiths and their evil effects on the Muslim community] 4/6 34 Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, “Tahdhir Al-Sajid Min Ittigadh Al-Qubur Masajid” [Warning the Muslims against Turning the Graves into Mosques], p. 102 6


THE TALES OF LACROIX COMMENTED BY THE WORKS OF SHAIKH AL-ALBANI

Firsty, Salafi youth totally reject the Wahhabi-term making it impossible for this statement to be true. Secondly, Shaikh al-Albani never pronounced these words and anyone who is acquainted with the writings of Shaikh al-Albani knows that this could never have been one of his claims. So where did Mr. Lacroix get this statement from? Since he never mentioned any references of Shaikh al-Albani’s statements, I personally contacted him to ask where he found this statement. I repeated my demand several times on several occasions35. Unfortunately, the professor stubbornly refused to provide his sources. I therefore performed additional research into the works of al-Albani and came across one of his statements in which he complains about some grotesque slurs of Ahmed al-Ghimari36 that were aimed at him. Shaikh al-Albani concluded this section in his book by mentioning the following denigrating statement of al-Ghimari:

‘Wahhabism’ and without depicting al-Albani as a selfdeclared Wahhabi, a major part of his article would become meaningless and his imaginary conjectures would all fall apart.

But why would Stéphane Lacroix tell such a flat-out lie? Simply because he is obsessed with the term

Prior to the call of Shaikh Muhammad Ibn AbdulWahhab, the Najd-region found itself in a state of widespread ignorance of most of Islam’s fundamental teachings. These were Arabia’s ‘Dark Ages’, as many of Islam’s core beliefs were scarcely taught and illiteracy

One might wonder what Shaikh al-Albani’s reaction would’ve been to this French professor who dared to call him a staunch proponent of ‘Wahhabism’ and attributed the insults of the Shaikh’s enemies to the Shaikh himself. It is important to understand that the scholars of Saudi Arabia fully agree with al-Albani in his disapproval of the use of the term ‘Wahhabism’. For instance, the previous Mufti of the Saudi Kingdom, Shaikh Adbul-Aziz Ibn Baz, said that the term ‘Wahhabi’ is only used by the biased and ignorant opponents of Islam38. Shaikh Saleh al-Fawzan, another major Saudi scholar, explicitly stated that ‘Wahhabism’ doesn’t exist due to the fact that Shaikh Muhammad Ibn Abdul-Wahhab didn’t come up “The one who considers Shaikh alwith anything of his own as to Albani to be a Wahhabi is wrong, since attribute this call to him. As a result, it he is more partial to the spirit of Manuscript of “al-Thamar al-Mustatâb fi is clear that ‘Wahhabism’ is merely an Wahhabism than Ibn Abdul-Wahhab Fiqh al-Sunnah wal Kitab”, the first hadith invented nickname to alienate people evaluated book of Shaikh al-Albani. himself and more stubborn…”37 from the works of Muhammad Ibn Abdul-Wahhab and to portray him as Here, Shaikh al-Albani explains that one of his biggest someone contradicting the previous Imams and having opponents accuses him of being ‘more partial to the spirit his own madhab39. of Wahhabism than Ibn Abdul-Wahhab himself’. Mr. Lacroix intentionally distorted this statement and Wahhabism has today become a very popular myth in presented it as being a claim of al-Albani himself. Our islamophobic circles. One of the apparent reasons why French ‘researcher’ simply took an insult of al-Ghimari these new unrecognized terms are being used by which he then attributed to Shaikh al-Albani to persuade islamologists is simply because they aren’t scholastically the reader that Shaikh al-Albani considered himself a able to carry out comparative studies between the Wahhabi. The reason Lacroix didn’t reply to my several ideologies of Islamic sects on one hand and the historic requests for a reference of Shaikh al-Albani’s statement works of Muslim scholars in past and present on the is because he deliberately made up a lie which he then other. History shows that Muhammad Ibn Abdul-Wahhab used to trick the reader into believing that Salafi youth didn’t come with a new religious tradition as many still were fond of Shaikh al-Albani since he called himself seem to think. To understand the reality of Muhammad more faithful to the spirit of ‘Wahhabism’ than Ibn Ibn Abdul-Wahhab’s call to Islam, one first needs to go Abdul-Wahhab himself. In France, if you steal from one back in history and study the condition of the Arabian author it is called plagiarism, if you steal from many, it is Peninsula in his time. research and if you make up statements the author never said, it becomes ‘specialization’. The Call of Muhammad Ibn Abdul-Wahhab al-Najdi

35

Professor Lacroix was contacted by email at stephane.lacroix@sciences-po.org 36 Moroccan Shaikh who, according to al-Albani, leaned towards the Shia-ideology. See Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, “Silsila Al Ahadith Al-Da’ifa...”, Vol.6, p.212 37 Ibid, Vol.3, p. 15

38

Abdul-Aziz Ibn Baz, “Fatawa Al-Shaikh Ibn Baz” [Fatwa collection of Shaikh Ibn Baz], 3/1306 39 See the official website of Shaikh al-Fawzan under think link. 7


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Western ‘Islam specialists’ have described scholars like Ibn Taymiya and al-Suyuti as Wahhabis despite Shaikh Ibn Abdul-Wahhab being born several centuries after them44! If the call to Islam of all these scholars is identified as Wahhabism, then the Prophet Muhammad and his companions may as well be called Wahhabis by such Islam specialists.

widely spread. People worshipped graves, statues and trees, they used the dead as intermediaries between them and their Lord and as a whole, their situation was in many ways very similar to the original pre-Islamic period of paganism40. It seems islamologists deliberately refuse to comment on this era and if they do, they might describe it as ‘culturally rich’. This of course, constitutes an easy way to simply ignore the fabulous achievements of Shaikh Muhammad Ibn Abdul-Wahhab on an educational, structural and political level.

Nevertheless, professor Lacroix has another way of seeing things. In his article, he builds up a conspiracy theory by claiming that Shaikh al-Albani got into trouble with the Saudi scholars because he supposedly questioned their methodological foundations:

Yet, it is in this historical context that Ibn Abdul-Wahhab revived the prophetic Sunnah, brought back the “However, the opposition al-Albani original teachings of Islam and encountered from the Wahhabi started educating his people. Creed, religious establishment was not jurisprudence, Hadith, Tafsir and all merely intellectual. By putting into other religious sciences were revived question the methodological and taught again and greatly foundations upon which the benefited the community41. Just like Wahhabis had built their Imam Ahmed, Ibn Taymiya and The Najd-region where Shaikh Muhammad Ibn legitimacy, he was also challenging others, Ibn Abdul-Wahhab was one Abdul-Wahhab revived the call to Islam. their position in the Saudi religious of Islam’s revivers who strived to field.” bring his community back to the correct practice and understanding of Islam. Al-Albani mentions: Here we see that as Lacroix’ scholastic hallucinations or deceptions get more intense, Shaikh al-Albani is being “It was Shaikh al-Islam Muhammad Ibn Abdul-Wahhab portrayed as having challenged the position of the Saudi who then revived this call in Najd, at a time the region ‘Wahhabi’ scholars by questioning their foundations and found itself in a state of tenebrous wickedness with this after allegedly being ‘more faithful to the spirit of paganism being predominant throughout the country. Wahhabism than Ibn Abdul-Wahhab himself’. Were they The region became enlightened due to the teachings of afraid that this Albanian scholar was going to become the Shaikh al-Islam (Ibn Taymiya) who he (i.e. Ibn Abdul- Mufti of Saudi Arabia, the Minister of Religious Affairs, Wahhab) benefited from by reading his books… ”42 or did they see him as a potential heir to the throne? In any case, let’s have a closer look at the methodological Looking at these developments in the Najd-region within foundations Mr. Lacroix is talking about. a historical context, the call of Ibn Abdul-Wahhab appears to be no more than an extension of the long Shaikh Muhammad Ibn Abdul-Wahhab, the successive succession of Ahl al-Sunnah scholars starting out from Najd-scholars as well as all other Saudi scholars didn’t the Prophet’s companions, the major scholars in the three have independent principles; rather, they merely followed first generations, the four Imams, the Muhaddithin and the well-known methodological foundations45 then continuing on through Ibn Taymiya and his students exemplified by the Companions, the four Imams and the and all other major Islamic scholars43. The teachings of scholars of Ahl al-Sunnah in the past46. These happen to these scholars stand upon the same fundamental be exactly the same principles Shaikh al-Albani ideological foundation to such a degree that several followed. 40

Madiha Darwish, “Tarigh Al-Dawal Al-Sa’udiya” [History of the Saudi State] 41 Dr. Abdul-Aziz Ibn Muhammad al-Hujaylan, “Al-Fiqh WalFuqaha Fil-Mamlaka Al-Arabiya Al-Sa’udiya...” [Jurisprudence and Fiqh-Scholars in The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia], p.37 42 Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, “Haqiqatu Al-Da’wa AlSalafiya” [The Reality of the Call to Salafiya] p.156 43 Saleh Ibn Muhammad Aal al-Shaikh, “Al-Minhaj Al-Fiqhi Li A’imma Al-Da’wa Al-Salafiya Fi Najd” [The JurisprudenceMethodology of the Major Salafi Scholars in Najd], p. 93

44

Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, “Silsila Al-Ahadith Al-Sahiha” [Collection of Correct Hadiths], 8/1 45 These foundations are: the Quran and Sunnah, the consensus, the rulings of the prophet’s companions and juristic reasoning deduction by analogy, See Saleh Ibn Muhammad Aal al-Shaikh, “Al-Minhaj AlFiqhi…”, p.252-268 46 Saleh Ibn Muhammad Aal al-Shaikh, “Al-Minhaj Al-Fiqhi Li A’imma Al-Da’wa Al-Salafiya Fi Najd” [The JurisprudenceMethodology of the Major Salafi Scholars in Najd], p. 251-256 8


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‘Wahhabi’ Foundations?

(14th century C.E.) and in jurisprudence they depended significantly on the works of the Palestinian Shaikh Abdul-Ghani al-Maqdisi (12th century C.E.). In hadith they returned to the works of the Syrian scholar alNawawi (13th century C.E.) and the Egyptian Muhaddith Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani (15th century C.E.) and in the science of inheritance they primarily relied on “alRahabiya” of the Iraqi scholar Muhammad al-Rahabi (12th century C.E.).49

The achievements of Shaikh Ibn Abdul-Wahhab will not be understood — never mind appreciated — by those who haven’t studied them along with the basic teachings of Islam through the works of the orthodox Islamic scholars by which proper correlation could be made between their indistinguishable creed and methodology. This leads many simple-minded analysts to consider the works of Shaikh Ibn Abdul-Wahhab to be a new religion which they then label as ‘Wahhabism’. Due to their disregard for a comprehensive study of the texts of revelation, they see the call of Ibn Abdul-Wahhab as being a religious tradition that wasn’t based on the major Islamic references but on some other later books. Stéphane Lacroix mentions that:

This shows that the works of Najd-scholars throughout time have always had an international dimension and weren’t restricted, as mistakenly claimed, to some key books of a Saudi religious tradition. A Tribal Mob Taking Control of the Arabian Peninsula!? Yet professor Lacroix stubbornly persists in his misrepresentation and explains how the conspiracy of the Saudi scholars took off with an aristocracy:

“From its inception, Wahhabism has established itself as a religious tradition—at the core of which laid a number of key books, both in creed and law.”

“This tradition had been Professor Lacroix is depicting the The front cover of the first Islamic review for which monopolized by a small religious legacy of Ibn Abdul-Wahhab as a Shaikh al-Albani wrote some articles. aristocracy from Najd, first centered new independent religious tradition around Muhammad bin ‘Abdulbased on his own works and those of his heirs. Shaikh Wahhab and his descendants (known as the Al al-Shaikh) Ibn Abdul-Wahhab was definitely a reformer who before opening up to a small number of other families... revived the Islamic sciences in the Arabian Peninsula, but the members of this aristocracy would become the only most of the books that lay at the core of the call of the legitimate transmitters of the Wahhabi tradition; in this Saudi scholars, from the time of Shaikh Muhammad Ibn context, independent scholars were excluded because Abdul-Wahhab until this very day, are works that date they had not received “proper ‘ilm” from “qualified” back prior to the time of Ibn Abdul-Wahhab. As a whole, ulama.” the scholars of Najd benefited from the Ahl al-Hadith scholars47 as can easily be deducted from their writings, He further implies that al-Albani’s “revolutionary fatwas and statements48. approach to hadith” was contrary to Saudi standards since it led to the fact that: More specifically, the books that are being taught in the Kingdom are from major scholars all over the world. In “...the science of hadith can be measured according to creed they didn’t only rely on the works of Ibn Abdul- objective criteria unrelated to family, tribe, or regional Wahhab but also greatly depended on Ibn Taymiya descent, allowing for a previously absent measure of (Syria 13th century C.E.) and his student Ibn Qayim meritocracy.” (Syria 13th century C.E.) as those who carried and upheld the original beliefs of Islam. In the Arabic language one Stéphane Lacroix portrays the revival of Islam in Najd as of their main references is “al-Ajurrumiya” written by a religious aristocracy formed by an upper class family the famous Moroccan scholar Muhammad Ibn Ajurrum endeavoring to monopolize Islam by favoring local tribes. Hence, the Saudi state is all but a meritocracy due to the self-imposed control of the religious ‘Wahhabi 47 Al-Shafi’ee, Malik, Ahmed, Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawud, almafia’. For sure, imagination can lead to many things and Tirmidhi, al-Awza’i, al-Darimi, al-Dar al-Qutni, al-Bayhaqi, Ibn Hazm, Ibn Hajr, Ibn Abdul-Bar, Ibn Taymiya, Ibn Qayim and other scholars who showed consideration to hadith 48 Saleh Ibn Muhammad Aal al-Shaikh, “Al-Minhaj Al-Fiqhi Li A’imma Al-Da’wa Al-Salafiya Fi Najd” [The JurisprudenceMethodology of the Major Salafi Scholars in Najd], p. 241-242

49

Dr. Abdul-Aziz Ibn Muhammad al-Hujaylan, “Al-Fiqh WalFuqaha Fil-Mamlaka Al-Arabiya Al-Sa’udiya...” [Jurisprudence and Fiqh-Scholars in The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia], p.39, 44. 9


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“Al-Albani strongly disagrees with the Wahhabis—and especially with their chief representatives, the ulama of the Saudi religious establishment—when it comes to fiqh (law).”

then any means become acceptable in order to demonize the Saudi scholars. However, history disputes this claim, since records of the Najd-scholars clearly establish that the only criterion for achievement amongst the ulema has always been knowledge of the various sciences of Islam. Tribal descent or family connections have never turned anyone into a religious scholar. We might for instance mention King Abdul-Aziz who had great respect for the people of knowledge and was known to give preference to the scholars over his own brothers and sons50.

As a whole, Shaikh al-Albani didn’t disagree with the Saudi scholars when it comes to fiqh, since their methodology in proof-deduction was identical52. He definitely did differ with them in certain fatwas in the same way all Sunni scholars differ with each other in affairs of jurisprudence. This is nothing exceptional to anyone who has a cursory knowledge of Islamic scholarship through the centuries, and Likewise, the large number of foreign merely shows that they make their own scholars who made it up to the highest ijtihad and are not blind-followers of a ranks of the Saudi religious certain historical school of juristic 51 establishment is a clear proof that principles or madhab. Moreover, these tribalism and regional descent play no differences didn’t lead to any enmity role in being accepted as a scholar in between al-Albani and his Saudi coSaudi-Arabia. Moreover, professor scholars of Ahl al-Sunnah as becomes Lacroix is well aware that Sorbonne and clear in the praise of the two chief all other French universities would never representatives of the Saudi ‘religious accept a Saudi-Arabian or Yemeni establishment’ in al-Albani’s time. The professor teaching in their institute. first one is Shaikh Ibn Baz who stated that he never saw a hadith scholar in his Islamophobes often try to 'arabize' the time like Shaikh al-Albani. The mufti Manuscript of al-Albani’s evaluation of religion of Islam by representing it as the hadith collection ‘Sahih Abu Dawud’ even admitted he benefitted a lot from being based on nationalism or tribalism. him and considered him to be as one of Yet, never in the history of Islam has its the best scholars of his era53. The second sciences been measured according to family, tribe, social one is Shaikh Ibn Uthaymin who called him the class, origin or descent. The greatest Islamic scholars and Muhaddith of his era54 as well as the Muhaddith of the hadith-narrators are a perfect illustration of this since the Sham-region55 and praised him for his works in both majority of them were non-Arab and often very poor. creed and jurisprudence56. This however, hasn’t kept them from becoming the holders and transmitters of the prophetic tradition. They The scholars in the Saudi Kingdom who refuted alare the ones who conveyed hadith and other Islamic Albani all explicitly made it clear in their responses that knowledge to the rest of the world. Al-Bukhari, Muslim, their differences weren’t based on fundamental Abu Dawud, al-Tirmidhi, al-Nassa’i, Ibn Majih were all contradictions and that they respected and loved Shaikh non-Arabs who laid down the foundational books of al-Albani57. One of them, Shaikh Muhammad Aman alhadith on which the entire Islamic Ummah depends Jami, stated in his two-tape refutation against al-Albani: today. “Allah, the angels, and those who are present bear witness for me that I state that I love Shaikh al-Albani for Lacroix’ Haddadi Critique: Al-Albani vs. the Saudis the sake of Allah”58. In proceeding to examine his article’s many claims we 52 Saleh Ibn Muhammad Aal al-Shaikh, “Al-Minhaj Al-Fiqhi Li see that Lacroix is now coming to the core message of his A’imma Al-Da’wa Al-Salafiya Fi Najd” [The Jurisprudencearticle in which his conspiracy takes form throughout a Methodology of the Major Salafi Scholars in Najd], p. 90 profound conflict between al-Albani and the Saudi 53 Shaikh Abdul-Aziz Ibn Baz, “Durus Lil Shaikh Abdul-Aziz Ibn scholars: Baz” (Shabaka al-Islamiya), Lesson 17 54

Muhammad Ibn Salih al-Uthaymin, “Sharh Aqidatul Safariniya” [Explanation of the Creed of Safarini] p.185 55 The Sham-countries are Lebanon, Palestine, Syria and Jordan 56 Muhammad Ibn Salih al-Uthaymin, “Al-Diya’ Al-Lami’ min Khutab Al-Jawami’” [Glittering Lights from Friday Sermons] p.446 57 See Rabi’ Bin Hadi al-Madkhali, “A Lighthouse of Knowledge from a Guardian of the Sunnah”, p.41 58 Ibid, p.39

50

Al-Zarkali, “Al-Wajiz”, p.197 Shaikh Muhammad Aman al-Jami (Ethiopia), Shaikh Abdul-Razzaq al-A’fifi (Egypt), Shaikh Muhammad Ameen al-Shinqiti (Mauretania), Shaikh Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani (Albania), Shaikh Hammad al-Ansari (Mali), Shaikh Badiuddin Shah Sindi (Pakistan), Shaikh Muhammad al-Harras (Egypt)... 51

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Likewise, Shaikh Al-Tuwayjari stated while refuting the Albanian scholar, that ‘speaking against al-Albani facilitates speaking against the Sunnah’59. Despite refuting al-Albani, these scholars all shared his methodology and never accused him of having a revolutionary approach to hadith.

the import of an occidental constitution to get rid of Islamic values in the Saudi Kingdom. Understanding Ibn Abdul-Wahhab’s Adherence to Hanbalism Stéphane Lacroix considers that al-Albani differed with his Saudi co-scholars due to their reliance on Hanbalism:

More than a decade ago, a notorious Haddadi60 and ruthless enemy of Shaikh al-Albani named Abdul-Lateef Bashmel attempted to exploit the refutations of some Saudi scholars against the Albanian Muhaddith to tarnish his image and turn people away from him. He tried to deceive people into believing that the refutations of the Saudi scholars against Shaikh al-Albani were motivated by enmity and total opposition. In doing so, he vigorously strove to divide the unity amongst Salafi scholars61. The latter scholars exposed Abdul-Lateef Bashmel’s deviations and openly warned against him.

“There, al-Albani points to a fundamental contradiction within the Wahhabi tradition: the latter’s proponents have advocated exclusive reliance on the Quran, the Sunnah, and the consensus of al-salaf al-salih (the pious ancestors), yet they have almost exclusively relied on Hanbali jurisprudence for their fatwas—acting therefore as proponents of a particular school of jurisprudence, namely Hanbalism.”

In another article of his he even alleges Today, Stéphane Lacroix is walking in Ibn Taymiya was confined in this fortress, that al-Albani reproaches blindthe footsteps of Abdul-Lateef Bashmel more than seven centuries prior to al- following Hanbalism to the Saudi following indistinguishable Haddadi Albani’s incarceration. scholars: principles. In the same way, he is keen on emphasizing the differences between al-Albani and “The late Hanbalis, however, increasingly tended to the Saudi scholars to tarnish their image. On one hand the imitate (taqlid) former rulings by members of their Saudi scholars are portrayed as being bigoted evildoers school, instead of practicing their own interpretation who do not tolerate differences in opinion while al- (ijtihad) based on the Quran and the Sunna. This was one Albani is represented as a scholar whose revolutionary of Albani’s main reproaches to the Wahhabis who approach to hadith formed an ideological basis for claimed ijtihad but tended to act as Hanbalis…”62 extremists who end up committing terrorist attacks. From the 16th C.E. century onwards, the scholars in the One might also wonder why Mr. Lacroix insists on Saudi Kingdom have been adhering to the madhab of portraying all this ‘Saudi hostility’ that stretches all Imam Ahmed Ibn Hanbal concerning fiqh, while taking imagination without ever making any mention on how al- into consideration the verdicts of Ibn Taymiya and Ibn Albani truly clashed with the Syrian religious Qayim63. Initially, the influence of Hanbalism was due to establishment. Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani was the easy travel conditions encountered by the Saudi jailed twice in Syria after his opponents slanderously students who, prior to Ibn Abdul-Wahhab, traveled to reported him to the authorities. In the beginning of the Damascus (Syria) and Nablus (Palestine) where they took sixties he was imprisoned for a one month-period in the knowledge from Hanbali scholars. They then returned to fortress of Damascus, the very same place Ibn Taymiya the Najd-region to teach their people64. However, one had been locked up seven centuries before. In 1967, al- needs to understand what is meant by their adherence to Albani was incarcerated for a second time, doing eight Hanbalism. In a letter from Shaikh Abdullah al-Sana’ni months in the prison of al-Hasakah in the north-east of to Shaikh Muhammad Ibn Abdul-Wahhab, the Yemeni Syria. All this seems to be of no importance to professor Lacroix who only slanders the Saudi Kingdom in his articles while praising westernized Saudis who advocate 62

S. Lacroix and T. Hegghammer, “Rejectionist Islamism in Saudi Arabia: The Story of Juhayman al-‘Utaybi Revisited”, p.4 63 Dr. Abdul-Aziz Ibn Muhammad al-Hujaylan, “Al-Fiqh WalFuqaha Fil-Mamlaka Al-Arabiya Al-Sa’udiya...” [Jurisprudence and Fiqh-Scholars in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia], p.223 64 Dr. Abd-Allah al-Turki, “Al-Madhab Al-Hanbali” [The Hanbali Madhab], Vol.1, p.291-295

59

Ibid The Haddadi sect was founded by the Mahmoud al-Haddad, an Egyptian accountant who was mainly known to libel the Sunni scholars 61 Ibid, p.41 60

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“If we come across a clear text from the Quran or Sunnah that hasn’t been abrogated nor specified, a text that doesn’t contradict anything more substantial and has been consented to by one of the four Imams68, then we accept this ruling and abandon the madhab…we do not blindly follow the scholars in any issue because everybody’s statement may be accepted or rejected, except the words of the Prophet .”69

scholar asked him in which way the Najd-scholars adhered to the Hanbali madhab: “What do you mean when you say that you are upon the madhab of Imam Ahmed? Do you blindly follow him or do you follow his methodology in making ijtihad?” Shaikh Muhammad Ibn Abdul-Wahhab replied by saying that: “All statements and actions should be measured by the words and deeds of the Prophet . That which agrees with it is accepted, and that which opposes it is rejected, no matter who it comes from. There should be no precedence of anyone’s opinion over the Quran and prophetic Sunnah…We follow the principles of Imam Ahmed in the way Ibn Qayim has mentioned in his book I’lam al-Muwaqi’in…this is what we mean when we say that our madhab is the madhab of Imam Ahmed.”65

Ibn Abdul-Wahhab was followed by the scholars of the Saudi Kingdom who required their students to abandon the madhab if any conflicting religious proof had become clear to them70.This coincided with the methodology of Shaikh al-Albani who mentioned:

Shaikh al-Albani’s manuscript of his “Collection of weak and invented hadiths”

Although the scholars of the Arabian Peninsula have always given a lot of scholastic consideration to the works of Imam Ahmed, they didn’t blindly follow his madhab. Historic records all point to the fact that they would abandon the madhab-ruling if it was in contradiction with a hadith or any other clear proof66. The Hanbali madhab was used as a foundation in jurisprudence since this was considered to be a facilitating factor or mechanism. However, Shaikh Ibn Abdul-Wahhab explicitly stated that his fatwas weren’t restricted to a specific madhab:

“We therefore say that by clinging on to everything of the Sunnah that proves to be correct, even if it contradicts some rulings of the imams, one cannot be accused of intentionally contradicting their madhab, nor their methodology …”71

Just like al-Albani72, Ibn Abdul-Wahhab would benefit from all of the four madhabs and just like Shaikh alAlbani73, he rejected the narrow-mindedness of madhabic blind-following by always giving precedence to the proofs of the Quran and Sunnah over the madhab-ruling. His books contain many fatwas in which he opposed the rulings of the Hanbali School74; and this is also the methodology of the Saudi scholars who came after him until this very day75. They adhered to Hanbalism as a general framework of juristic principles without zealotry or blindly following and their concluding reference would always be the Quran and the hadiths of the

“We do not confine ourselves to a specific madhab. If we discover a solid proof in any of the four madhabs, we accept it and cling to it.”67

68

Shaikh al-Albani didn’t see this part to be a condition. However, the fatwas in which al-Albani contradicted the four madhabs all together are so few that they never could have led to a profound conflict with the Saudi scholars. 69 Shaikh Muhammad Ibn Abdul-Wahhab, “Al-Durar Al-Saniya Fil Ajwiba Al-Najdiya”, [Exalted pearls in the replies of Najd] Vol.4, p.10 70 Saleh Ibn Muhammad Aal al-Shaikh, “Al-Minhaj Al-Fiqhi Li A’imma Al-Da’wa Al-Salafiya Fi Najd” [The JurisprudenceMethodology of the Major Salafi Scholars in Najd], p.364-366 71 Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, “Asl Sifat Salat Al-Nabi”, [The Description of the Prophet’s Prayer, Original Version], p.32 72 Ibid, p.23 73 See Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, “Haqiqatu Al-Da’wa AlSalafiya” [The Reality of the Call to Salafiya] p.170 74 Saleh Ibn Muhammad Aal al-Shaikh, “Al-Minhaj Al-Fiqhi Li A’imma Al-Da’wa Al-Salafiya Fi Najd” [The JurisprudenceMethodology of the Major Salafi Scholars in Najd], p.363 and “AlDurar...”, Vol.7, p.285 75 Sayid Muhammad Ibn Ibrahim, “Tarigh Al-Mamlaka Al-Sa’udiya”, [History of the Saudi Kingdom], p.136

He also mentioned that precedence should be given to the Quran and prophetic Sunnah over the rulings of his madhab:

65

Shaikh Muhammad Ibn Abdul-Wahhab, “Al-Durar Al-Saniya Fil Ajwiba Al-Najdiya”, [Exalted pearls in the replies of Najd] Vol.4, p.21 66 Dr. Abdul-Aziz Ibn Muhammad al-Hujaylan, “Al-Fiqh WalFuqaha Fil-Mamlaka Al-Arabiya Al-Sa’udiya...” [Jurisprudence and Fiqh-Scholars in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia], p.43 and Saleh Ibn Muhammad Aal al-Shaikh, “Al-Minhaj Al-Fiqhi Li A’imma Al-Da’wa Al-Salafiya Fi Najd” [The Jurisprudence-Methodology of the Major Salafi Scholars in Najd], p. 361 67 Dr. Abdul-Muni’m Abdul-Athim Khayrah, “Al-Qada Fil-Mamlaka Al-Arabiya Al-Sa’udiya” [The Judiciary in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia], p.68 12


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Al-Albani’s Conveniently Forgotten Recantation

prophetic Sunnah following the understanding of the pious predecessors76.

Mr. Lacroix then brings an argument that should prove the alleged ‘fundamental contradiction’ between alAlbani and the Saudi scholars:

All this invalidates Lacroix’ allegation that al-Albani pointed to a fundamental contradiction within the ‘Wahhabi’ tradition. The aspect that the Albanian scholar reproved was the trend in which people blindly follow a madhab without diverging from it in any aspect and without asking for any proof while abandoning objective interpretative judgment (ijtihad).77 There surely would’ve been a fundamental contradiction between al-Albani and the Saudi scholars had the latter been blind-followers of the Hanbali-madhab. But this wasn’t the case with Shaikh Ibn Abdul-Wahhab who paved the way for the reopening of the doors of ijtihad after they had been closed with the fall of Bagdad during the first half of the 13th century C.E. Ironically, in his lifetime the Shaikh was accused of making ijtihad and it was only after he passed away that his enemies falsely accused him of blindly following a madhab78.

“According to al-Albani, this also applies to Muhammad bin ‘Abdul-Wahhab whom he describes as “salafi in creed, but not in fiqh.”

On one single occasion, Shaikh al-Albani stated that Shaikh Ibn Abdul-Wahhab’s engagement in his call to Tawheed in a region utterly infected with polytheism was so time-consuming; he wasn't able to pay enough attention to the science of hadith80. According to al-Albani, he therefore would’ve given incorrect hadith-judgments in the field of jurisprudence. To sustain his claim, al-Albani reprimanded Shaikh Ibn Abdul-Wahhab for rendering a hadith authentic (sahih)81 that the vast majority of Hadith scholars had weakened82 and of which al-Albani Just like the Saudi scholars, al-Albani based One needs to understand that there are himself on the Quran and the Sunnah following criticized both the chain of narrators two groups of people adhering to the the understanding of the first generations. and its content (matn). He further Hanbali madhab. The first ones – to stated that he didn’t intend to slur the whom the Saudi scholars belong– make their own character of the Shaikh since this could only be expected objective ijtihad and give precedence to the religious from the enemies of Islam83. However, Shaikh al-Albani proofs over the madhab-rulings if they fall into later realized these words from him were incorrect84. He contradiction. The second category consists of individuals who are bound to the methodology of 80 Before the arrival of Shaikh Ibn Abdul-Wahhab, the main canonical madhabic blind-following79. Given professor Lacroix books of Hadith were absent in the Najd-region. It is only with the hasn’t been able to perceive this distinction, he imagined da’wa of the Shaikh that these books were massively spread in the that the methodology of Shaikh al-Albani was in region. Furthermore, the children of Shaikh Ibn Abdul-Wahhab were fundamental contradiction with the approach of the Saudi Muhaddithin who taught books of hadith like Sahih al-Bukhari. scholars due to their adherence to the Hanbali School. Therefore, the books of hadith have only been dispersed in Najd because the scholars of the region attached a major importance to Had Mr. Lacroix read a basic overview of some of the them. The reason why these scholars treated the fiqh-books more than fatwas of the Saudi scholars he’s talking about or looked the books of hadith is because the people at that time were more in into the foundations of Hanbali jurisprudence, these need of jurisprudence than of hadith-science. Source: Shaikh Saleh misconceptions wouldn’t have taken place. But clearly Aal al-Shaikh "Al-farq Bayn Kutub Al-fiqh Kutub wal Hadith" [The between the books of Jurisprudence and the books of that goes back to the question of whether or not he in fact Difference Hadith] possesses the fundamental ability to study Arabic source 81 The hadith in question has been narrated by Abu Said al-Khudri and texts of the subject he claims to comprehend the mentions the supplication of the one who leaves his home to go to the mosque (Ahmed 11156). Shaikh Muhammad Ibn Abdul-Wahhab historical trends of, which I touched on previously. mentioned this hadith in his book "Aadab Al-Machi Ila Al-Masjid" [The Etiquette of the one who Walks to the Mosque] 82 Shaikh al-Albani had criticized this hadith both in chain of narrators (sanad) and text (matn) ("Silsila Al-Ahadith Al-Da'ifa" no.24) 83 Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, “Haqiqatu Al-Da’wa AlSalafiya” [The Reality of the Call to Salafiya] p.183-186 84 Shaikh Saleh Aal al-Shaikh responded to the assertion of Shaikh alAlbani by explaining that this was the personal opinion of the Shaikh (al-Albani) and that other Muhaddithin of the past, like al-Hafidh Ibn Hajr (and al-Hafidh al-Dimyata), had also declared this hadith to be sound. Shaikh Saleh concluded by saying that these differences of assessment in hadith should not lead to this kind of critique. Source: Shaikh Saleh Aal al-Shaikh "Al-Farq Bayn Kutub Al-fiqh wa Kutub

76

Dr. Abdul-Aziz Ibn Muhammad al-Hujaylan, “Al-Fiqh WalFuqaha Fil-Mamlaka Al-Arabiya Al-Sa’udiya...” [Jurisprudence and Fiqh-Scholars in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia], p. 227 77 Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, “Haqiqatu Al-Da’wa AlSalafiya” [The Reality of the Call to Salafiya] p.170 78 Saleh Ibn Muhammad Aal al-Shaikh, “Al-Minhaj Al-Fiqhi Li A’imma Al-Da’wa Al-Salafiya Fi Najd” [The JurisprudenceMethodology of the Major Salafi Scholars in Najd], p. 406 79 Ibid, p. 172,173 13


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apologized for what he said about Shaikh Ibn AbdulWahhab and recanted his statement85. In the past, several hadith scholars attested that the works of Ibn AbdulWahhab are a proof that he did pay a lot of attention to hadith in all his rulings86. And until this very day the Muhaddithin still bear witness to the Shaikh’s hadithknowledge and prowess87.

would rely on the different rulings within the Hanbali school of jurisprudence whereas Shaikh al-Albani would widen his reliance to all of the recognized madhabs. Stéphane Lacroix interprets this difference of application in this specific – and very rare – scenario as a difference in methodology. This is an obvious misconception since we’re talking about a situation of a religious issue in which there are no clear hadiths that would deliver the requested decisive proof. Despite this difference, the Saudi scholars, as well as al-Albani, all used hadith as a principle tool in fiqh for clarifying rulings. Their difference had nothing to do with making hadith the central pillar or with hadith providing answers not found in the Quran since we’re talking about a specific situation in which there are no decisive hadiths available to provide a clear answer to a juridical matter.

In his works, Shaikh al-Albani wouldn’t miss an opportunity to praise Ibn AbdulWahhab. On numerous occasions, he called him the reviver of Tawheed in the Arabian Peninsula and defended him against those who would criticize him88. Curiously, Lacroix neglected all these positive statements about Ibn AbdulWahhab and picked out the only statement in which al-Albani criticized Ibn Abdul-Wahhab –and later recanted from– to make it the central argument in It is also known that in his refutations, his article. By emphasizing this criticism Scholars of Ahl al-Sunnah like Shaikh of Shaikh al-Albani, Lacroix portrayed a al-Albani all considered Hadith a Shaikh al-Albani always mentioned the specific deficiencies in the methodology fictional conflict between Shaikh al- major source of legislation in Islam. of the people he was refuting. Had the Albani and Shaikh Ibn Abdul-Wahhab based on fundamental contradictions in the approach of Saudi scholars’ secondary reliance on the Hanbali madhab, in this case, been a fundamental contradiction or hadith. deficiency, then al-Albani certainly would’ve pointed this But professor Lacroix proceeds further, indulging into out in one of his refutations. Yet this never happened. issues he is unable to grasp: Finally, it needs to be mentioned that the ijtihad-rulings “For al-Albani, moreover, being a proper “salafi in in which al-Albani opposed the conclusions of all four fiqh” implies making hadith the central pillar of the madhabs are so few that it is very implausible this ever juridical process, for hadith alone may provide answers could’ve led to any form of alleged conflict. to matters not found in the Quran without relying on the school of jurisprudence.” A Revolutionary Approach to Hadith?

After having claimed to have established the ‘AlbaniWahhabi conflict’ based on the alleged differences in hadith-methodology, Lacroix makes another attempt to prove al-Albani had a revolutionary approach to hadith:

As we already mentioned, Shaikh Ibn Abdul-Wahhab and all other Saudi scholars considered hadith together with the Quran the central pillar of all religious verdicts. Therefore, this cannot be seen as a distinctive ‘revolutionary’ trait of Shaikh al-Albani. However, in issues of fiqh where there wasn’t any clear proof in the prophetic hadiths or Quranic verses, the Saudi scholars

“How did al-Albani, with his undistinguished social and ethnic origins, come to occupy such a prestigious position in a field long monopolized by a religious elite from the Saudi region of Najd? The answer, as we shall see through the example of al-Albani himself and some of his disciples, lies in his revolutionary approach to hadith.”

Al-Hadith" [The Difference between the books of Jurisprudence and the books of Hadith] 85 See Shaikh Rabi’ Bin Hadi al-Madkhali, “Sharh Kitab Al-Iman Li Sahih Al-Boukhari”, Tape #2, side B 86 Saleh Ibn Muhammad Aal al-Shaikh, “Al-Minhaj Al-Fiqhi Li A’imma Al-Da’wa Al-Salafiya Fi Najd” [The JurisprudenceMethodology of the Major Salafi Scholars in Najd], p. 244-246 87 The hadith-scholar of this era, Shaikh Abdul-Mohsin al-Abbad is one amongst many contemporary hadith scholars who declared Ibn Abdul-Wahhab to be amongst the Muhaddithin. Another example is the statement of the great Muhaddith Badiuddin Shah Sindhi, see “History of Ahlul Hadeeth”. 88 Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, “Silsila Al-Ahadith Al-Sahiha” [Collection of Correct Hadiths], Vol.5, p.302, Vol.1, p.8, etc.

He then claims that al-Albani promoted ‘a new approach to the critique of hadith’ which would challenge ‘the very monopoly of the Wahhabi religious aristocracy’ and that his method had ‘revolutionary power’. This is all very impressive but, unfortunately, far from reality. 14


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Al-Albani and Independent Reasoning

In comparatively analyzing the methodology of the great hadith scholars, it can easily be said that al-Albani never had a revolutionary approach to hadith. He didn’t come up with any new principles in the science of Hadith, nor did he invent new rules in the methodology of the critique of hadith. However, Lacroix mentions a number of arguments which he thinks prove his claim. He first states:

According to professor Lacroix, the first aspect of alAlbani’s revolutionary approach to hadith is the omission of reason: “According to al-Albani, however, independent reasoning must be excluded from the process: the critique of the matn (the content of the hadith) should be exclusively formal, i.e. grammatical or linguistic; only the sanad (the hadith’s chain of transmitters) may be properly put into question.”

“The mother of all religious sciences therefore becomes the “science of hadith,” which aims at re-evaluating the authenticity of known hadiths.”

In his works Shaikh al-Albani always mentioned that all These again, are a series of fictitious allegations. Shaikh religious sciences are based on the Quran and the al-Albani has always been a proponent of independent prophetic Sunnah (hadith) according to reasoning, both generally in the scope the understanding of the pious of Islamic science as well as within the predecessors. As for what he sciences of hadith. It is widely known considered the most important of that al-Albani incited his students not sciences, then Shaikh al-Albani to blindly follow him but to conduct considered it to be the science of their proper independent research. The Tawheed89. He therefore composed a Shaikh would then compare the results book entitled “Tawheed comes first”90 of his students with his own and they’d in which he explains that the ‘mother’ all benefit from each other91. of all religious sciences is the study of monotheism, the exclusive worship of More specifically, Stéphane Lacroix Allah without attributing any partners continues to talk about things he simply in all forms of worship. The science of doesn’t comprehend. By stating that Quranic exegesis, hadith and all other Shaikh al-Albani, did not analyze the Islamic sciences were all considered by hadith content92 (matn) in the prophetic him as merely a means to fulfill the tradition, Mr. Lacroix is only recycling objective of man’s creation: Tawheed. In his book “Al-Tawheed Awalan”, al-Albani an old element of orientalist explained that Tawheed is the most Therefore, since Mr. Lacroix repeatedly important science. propaganda against the Muhaddithin. fails to bring forth explicit statements Indeed, this was a way for orientalists of Shaikh al-Albani elevating hadith science above the like Ignác Goldziher93 and Alfred Guillaume94 to depict study of the Quran, its explanation, and so forth hadith scholars as being people who do not use regarding the many other sciences of Islam, either he is ignorant of Shaikh al-Albani’s actual position and words or scholastically deceitful. This is not even to mention 91 Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, “Al-Rawda Al-Dani Fil the literally hundreds of statements of Shaikh al-Albani Fawa’id Al-Hadithiya Lil-Allama Al-Albani”, p.9 affirming the specific conclusions and general 92 In the prophetic Sunnah every hadith is preceded by a chain of methodology of the leading hadith scholars throughout narrators going from the last Muhaddith who compiled the hadiths the centuries which his books are filled with– all clearly (like Bukhari or Muslim) all the way up to the companions and finally to the prophet Muhammad . proving the obviously fabricated claim of an alleged 93 Ignác ‘Yitzhaq Yehuda’ Goldziher was a Jewish Hungarian “revolutionary approach to hadith”. orientalist who rejected the methodology of the Muhaddithin pretending it didn’t deal with the study of the matn. He therefore invented his own personal approach in analyzing the matn weakening the hadith that mentions the virtues of visiting the sacred Aqsa Mosque. See “Muhammedanische Studien”, 2nd imp. Hildesheim 1961. 94 An English Orientalist whose critique of the matn led him to the fantastic ‘discovery’ that the al-Aqsa Mosque isn’t located in Jerusalem but in Jirana (40 kilometers from Mecca). See “Where was Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa?” Al-Andaluse, Madrid, 1953 p. 323-336. The matn-critique of both Goldziher and Guillaume were religiously motivated since they weakened hadiths in order to depict Palestine as having no Islamic heritage whatsoever. Other bigoted orientalists like Joseph Schacht and Arent Jan Wensinck also developed a self-

89

Singling out Allah in worship without associating anything in this worship. The call to Tawheed was the core-message of all Prophets. It is the first of five Islamic pillars and the first of Ten Commandments in Christianity (Thou shall worship no other gods besides me). 90 Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, “Al-Tawheed Awalan Ya Du’at Al-Islam” [Preachers of Islam: Tawheed comes First], p.6-11 15


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independent reasoning and always and indiscriminately adopt the matn as long as the chain of narrators (sanad) is correct95.

several situations in which a hadith can be judged as invented (mawdu’) basing this solely upon the matn104, despite having evaluated the chain as being correct.

At first sight, it might appear that the efforts of the Muhaddithin were directed only towards the chain of narrators without addressing the matn. Orientalists would therefore accuse them of not using reason. Yet, this is contrary to the reality since the critique of the hadith content or text (matn) has always existed and can only be made through the proper use of sound reasoning96.

As such, Lacroix’ claim that Shaikh al-Albani’s critique of the matn was restricted to a linguistic perspective is another fantasy or skillful deception of our new French wannabe Muhaddith since the works of al-Albani’s, which have been published for several decades, and many of which are available on the internet, are filled with examples that fully contradict this claim105.

A basic study into the science of hadith It is very strange that our professor isn’t will staunchly uphold that during the aware that Shaikh al-Albani weakened past fourteen centuries, the methodology hadiths due to their content because in of the Muhaddithin in judging hadiths his same article he mentions that has always encompassed an analysis of Shaikh al-Albani weakened hadiths in the chain of narration as well as an the canonical collections of Bukhari analysis of the matn97. The critiques of and Muslim. Anyone who has made the chain and matn each have different A hadith contains a chain of narrators even a brief reading of Shaikh alconditions and are evaluated in an (sanad) and a text (matn) containing a Albani’s critique of the selected hadiths independent way98. Moreover, the narration of the Prophet’s Sunnah found in the collections of Bukhari and critique of the matn is far from being Muslim, knows that he criticized quite simply grammatical99 as Stéphane Lacroix presumes. a few of them due to a weakness in the matn, not the Hence, the matn may be put into question scholastically sanad! This again shows us that Stéphane Lacroix is and empirically just as the sanad and this can only be utterly unable to conduct proper research and limits done as a result of independent reasoning100. And this himself to blindly parroting statements from others, was exactly the methodology of Shaikh al-Albani who, in totally ignoring the content and veracity, which could his collection of weak hadiths, has judged numerous easily be affirmed or disproved. Another example of this hadiths to be weak solely because of a flaw in the can be found in this statement from Lacroix: matn101. “As a consequence, the central focus of the science of Additionally, the scholars of Hadith have always applied hadith becomes ‘ilm al-rijal (the science of men), also the rule which states that the correctness of the chain known as ‘ilm al-jarh wa-l-ta‘dil (the science of critique doesn’t necessarily imply the correctness of the and fair evaluation), which evaluates the morality— content102. And al-Albani was also of this opinion103. deemed equivalent to the reliability—of the Likewise, al-Albani and other hadith scholars detailed transmitters.” This is likewise a gross attempt at deceit as the science of men or ‘I’lm al-rijal’ has always been the central focus of hadith to all Muhaddithin in all times. It protected the Sunnah from distortion by exposing liars and unreliable hadith-narrators due to their memory deficiencies or immorality.

imposed critique of the matn by which they affronted the Muslim belief. 95 Dr. Muhammad Mustafa al-A’thami, “Minhadj Al-Naqd A’nd AlMuhaddithin” [The Methodology of Critique used by The Muhadithin], p. 127-149. 96 Ibid, p. 81, 83 97 Ibid, p. 82 98 Dr. Abdullah Bin Dayfullah al-Ruhayli, “Manhadj AlMuhadditheen Fi Naqd Al-Riwayat Sanadan wa Matnan”. [The Methodology of the Muhaddithin in the Critique of Narrations in Chain and Matn], p.14. 99 Ibid, p.24-25. 100 Ibid, p.22. 101 Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, “Silsila Al-Ahadith Al-Da’ifa Wal Madu’a Wa Atharuha Al-Sayyi’ Fil Umma” 102 Dr. Abdullah Bin Dayfullah al-Ruhayli, “Manhadj AlMuhadditheen Fi Naqd Al-Riwayat Sanadan wa Matnan”. [The Methodology of the Muhaddithin in the Critique of Narrations in Chain and Matn], p.21. 103 Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, “Silsila Al-Ahadith Al-Sahiha” [Collection of Correct Hadiths], See introduction

104

Dr. Abdullah Bin Dayfullah al-Ruhayli, “Manhadj AlMuhadditheen Fi Naqd Al-Riwayat Sanadan wa Matnan”. [The Methodology of the Muhaddithin in the Critique of Narrations in Chain and Matn], p.42. 105 Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, “Silsila Al-Ahadith AlDa’ifa…” – “Rhayatoul Maram” – “Ta’liqat A’la Mukhtasir Sahih Muslim Lil-Mundhiri”, etc. 16


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Al-Albani’s Critique of Bukhari and Muslim

Indeed, we do not consider any book to be infallible except for the Quran…”107

Lacroix continues by mentioning that al-Albani had a unique approach to hadith because he weakened hadiths of Bukhari and Muslim:

This shows us that Shaikh al-Albani didn’t weaken any hadiths in Bukhari and Muslim; he only criticized a few terms and expressions in the matn of the hadith and also criticized some chains of narrators. One needs to understand that there is a distinct difference between weakening a hadith as a whole and criticizing (not weakening!) a specific hadith narration from the aspect of defects in its chain. For example, a chain of a specific hadith may be criticized due to a certain form of criticism of one of its narrators but this wouldn’t make the hadith text weak because other hadiths with the same content and a different chain would consolidate and strengthen the first hadith, which would therefore reach the level of ‘Hassan’ (good) or ‘Sahih’ (correct) despite the criticism of its chain. This holds for all the hadiths Shaikh alAlbani has criticized in Bukhari and Muslim since he always concluded that they were correct in their textual context. This is how al-Albani explained this form of criticism:

“At the same time—and contrary to earlier practices— al-Albani insists that the scope of this re-evaluation must encompass all existing hadiths, even those included in the canonical collections of Bukhari and Muslim, some of which al-Albani went so far as to declare weak.” Shaikh al-Albani did indeed re-evaluate some narrations in the collections of Bukhari and Muslim but Lacroix’ allegation that he weakened some of them is false. After having given a lengthy explanation of a hadith in his ‘Silsila Al-Ahadith Al-Sahiha’, al-Albani mentions: “I deliberately took some extra time to comment on this hadith and its narrators. I did this in order to defend the prophetic Sunnah so that nobody will fabricate lies against me and so that the ignoramus, envious or biased person won’t say: ‘Al-Albani defamed ‘Sahih al-Bukhari’ and weakened its hadiths’…”106

“A hadith which is found in ‘Sahih alBukhari’ isn’t easy to challenge in its correctness only because of a certain weakness in its chain since there is a possibility that the hadith has been narrated with another chain by which they will consolidate each other.”108

The allegation that al-Albani weakened hadiths in Bukhari and Muslim can only come from an ignoramus, someone envious or a biased person and I surely don’t consider Mr. Lacroix to be envious. Shaikh al-Albani greatly esteemed the Bukhari and Muslim collections and praised them for their accuracy:

The second allegation of Stéphane Lacroix is that Shaikh al-Albani’s The collections of al-Bukhari and Muslim critique or re-evaluation, contrary to have been subjected to re-evaluation by earlier practices, encompasses all more than sixty Muhaddithin existing hadiths. Let’s have a look to “The collections of Bukhari and Muslim are the two most what the last century’s Muhaddith had to say about those authentic books after the Book of Allah according to the earlier practices of previous hadith scholars. In several of consensus of the Islamic hadith scholars and others. They his books Shaikh al-Albani mentioned the following: have an advantage over other hadith collections due to their distinction in collecting the most authentic of “One needs to know that Sahih al-Bukhari, despite its correct hadiths and omitting the weak hadiths and those magnificence and the scholars’ consensus over its with a very weak matn…It has become generally known acceptance as we mentioned in the introduction, the book that all the hadiths in the collections of Bukhari and has been criticized in the past by some of the 109 Muslim, or in either one of them, have reached the scholars…” highest possible level and are considered to be sound and correct without any doubt. That is our basic stance on these two books. However, this doesn’t mean that every letter, word or expression in Bukhari and Muslim should be placed at the same level (of correctness) as the Quran. It is possible that some hadiths contain a false impression 107 Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, “Sharh Aqida Al-Tahawiya” or an error in some aspect by some of its narrators. [Explanation of the Creed of Tahawi], p.22-23 108

Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, “Silsila Al-Ahadith Al-Sahiha” [Collection of Correct Hadiths], Vol.4, p.185 109 Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, “Mukhtasir Sahih AlBoukhari” [Summary of Sahih Al-Boukhari], 2/4

106

Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, “Silsila Al-Ahadith AlDa’ifa”, Vol.4, p.465. 17


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Indeed, al-Albani has been preceded in the re-evaluation When al-Albani was asked about a certain person who, of the canonical collections of Bukhari and Muslim by just like Mr. Lacroix, pretended that the hadiths of more than sixty different Hadith scholars110. Amongst the Bukhari and Muslim were no longer subject to criticism early scholars, several Muhaddithin have composed and that their re-evaluation was contrary to earlier independent books in which they re-evaluated the practices, this was his reply: Bukhari and Muslim-hadiths. The most famous amongst them is al-Dar al-Qutni (10th century C.E.) who wrote the “This statement by itself is enough to convince the reader famous “Al-Ilzamaat wal Tattabu’”. Others like of the ignorance of this clever trickster and proves his Muhammad al-Shaheed111 (9th century C.E.), Yahya al- slander of the earlier scholars and contemporary ones by Attar112 (13th century C.E.), Abdul-Rahim al-Iraqi113 (14th pretending that there is a consensus on this issue. As century C.E.) and Abu Zura’ al-Iraqi114 (15th century until this very day, the scholars still criticize some of the C.E.) also compiled separate critical works on the same hadiths in the collections of Bukhari and Muslim…”117 issue. Moreover, amongst some of the classical scholars who criticized certain hadiths in Bukhari or Muslim we find Imam Ahmed, Ibn Khuzayma, Ibn Hazm, al- Lacroix’ Revolutionary Misconceptions Nawawi, al-Qurtubi, Ibn al-Qayim, Ibn Hajr, Ibn Taymiya, Imam al-Dhahabi, al-Zarqashi, al-Suyuti and Stéphane Lacroix then quotes a list of what he calls Ibn Kathir115. These are all ‘revolutionary interpretations’ by recognized scholars of hadith from Shaikh al-Albani. He starts off by the scholars of the previous centuries saying: of Islamic scholarship. Additionally, al-Albani certainly wasn’t alone in his “As a consequence of the peculiarity time since more than a few of his method, al-Albani ended up contemporary hadith scholars, pronouncing fatwas that ran counter regardless of them being Sunni or not, to the wider Islamic consensus, and preceded or followed him in his more specifically to critique: al-Mu’allimi, Muqbil, Rabi’ Hanbali/Wahhabi jurisprudence.” Ibn Hadi, Shu’ayb al-Arna’out, Tariq Ibn I’wadillah, al-Kawthari, Hassan Shaikh al-Albani had proved, as others have, Mr. Lacroix’ imagination seems to be al-Saqqaf …116. So why did Lacroix that the opinion of the majority of scholars could boundless. He first grasps onto the sometimes be contrary to an alleged consensus see the critique of Bukhari and idea that al-Albani’s approach to Muslim as being unique to Shaikh al-Albani? Hadith was peculiar, and he then exploits and builds upon this initial false claim to make another hollow Once again, simple research confirms that there is assertion in which he accuses al-Albani of having nothing ground-breaking about Shaikh al-Albani’s pronounced fatwas that ran counter to the wider Islamic approach to the science of Hadith as was falsely claimed, consensus of the scholars. since all the hadiths of Bukhari and Muslim that he criticized had already undergone a form of criticism in Some critics have already preceded Lacroix in this claim the past by other hadith scholars. which would tremendously upset Shaikh al-Albani. In his book “The Etiquette of Marriage”, al-Albani responded to Isma’il al-Ansari who accused him of contradicting the 110 Muhyi al-Din al-Samarqandy, “Naqd Matn Al-Hadith Fi Daw Islamic consensus: Nata’ij Al-Ulum Al-Tajribiya” [The critique of the Matn in Hadith in the Light of Experimental Sciences], p.113 111 Muhammad Ammar al-Shaheed, “I’lal Sahih Muslim”, [Deficiencies in Sahih Muslim] 112 Yahya Ali al-Rasheed al-Attar, “Gharar al-Fawa’id al-Majmou’a fi Bayan ma Waqa’a fi Sahih Muslim...” 113 Abdul-Rahim Ibn al-Hussein al-Iraqi, “Al-Ahadith Al-Mughrija fil Sahihayn Allati Takallama fiha” [Selected Hadiths of Bukhari and Muslim that have been criticised] 114 Abu Zura’ Ahmed Ibn Abdul-Rahim al-Iraqi, “Al-Bayan wal Tawdih Liman Kharaja lahu fil Sahih wa Qad Massa Bi Darb Min AlTajrih” [Clarification Of the Hadiths in Sahih El Bukhari that are subject to a certain form of Critisism] 115 Muhyi al-Din al-Samarqandy, “Naqd Matn Al-Hadith Fi Daw Nata’ij Al-Ulum Al-Tajribiya” [The critique of the Matn in Hadith in the Light of Experimental Sciences], p.115-140 116 Ibid, p.144-148

“In the beginning of his book “Al-Ibaha”, this poor man accused me of contradicting the Islamic consensus. On page 57, he even explicitly mentions that I reprove the consensus…”118 It is unfeasible for al-Albani to have pronounced fatwas contradicting the established consensus amongst the scholars, since he himself used to consider the Islamic 117

Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, “Aadab Al-Zifaf” [The Etiquette of Marriage], p. 54 118 Ibid, p.41-42. 18


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schools altogether in a few cases121. In his introduction, al-Albani confirms that there is an established consensus in many aspects of the Muslim prayer122. This alone is enough to debunk Lacroix’ claim that al-Albani, while redefining the proper prayer-gestures, contradicted the prescriptions of all established schools of jurisprudence. At the end of his introduction, he explicitly states that his work doesn’t contain a single ruling by which he hasn’t been preceded in the past by another scholar, nor which runs counter to what the scholars have agreed upon123. Furthermore, Shaikh al-Albani mentions the following in the introduction:

consensus as being an irrefutable proof in the derivation of rulings. What professor Lacroix wasn’t able to grasp due to his lack of research, is that al-Albani would put into question the claimed consensus pronounced by some scholars. Due to his remarkable knowledge, Shaikh al-Albani was able to put forth evidence showing that the proclaimed consensus in certain issues was void and did not in fact occur119. Furthermore, what was considered to fall under the Islamic consensus in these specific issues was therefore no longer seen as being an accepted consensus as al-Albani established that they had been contradicted and questioned by scholars in the past:

“This book will gather all dispersed elements from the books of hadith and jurisprudence including the differences amongst the madhabs which are related to this subject”124

“I certainly did examine numerous issues in which a consensus has been related and I found that these were known issues the scholars differed about. I even found that the opinion of the vast majority of scholars would run counter to the alleged consensus in these issues.”120

Al-Albani strongly criticized those who, just like Lacroix, accused him of not considering the rulings of the four imams as a whole:

People unaware of the differences “This accusation is as farfetched as is between scholars where consensus has possible. It is a false accusation in every been claimed will therefore have the aspect as became clear through my misconception that al-Albani would In his book “Asl Sifat Salat al-Nabi”, al- previous statements which all indicate challenge the recognized Islamic Albani was preceded in all of his the contrary to be true. All we ask is to consensus. As for Lacroix’ claim that al- judgments by other scholars. no longer turn a certain madhab into Albani pronounced fatwas running religion by elevating that madhab to the counter to the Hanbali jurisprudence, we know there is status of the Quran and Sunnah…”125 nothing revolutionary about this since the Saudi scholars would also do the same. In following the methodology of the previous Hadith scholars, al-Albani refused to blindly follow a specific In his quest for revolutionary examples of al-Albani’s madhab but would take the best of each madhab basing approach to hadith, Lacroix comes up with this one: himself first and foremost on direct proof from the Sunnah. In his book, al-Albani first makes a judgment on “For instance, he wrote a book in which he redefined the each separate issue and then compares it to the ruling of proper gestures and formulae that constitute the Muslim the four different schools in order to conclude which prayer ritual “according to the Prophet’s practice”— were in agreement with and which would oppose his and contrary to the prescriptions of all established investigative conclusion: schools of jurisprudence.” “I believe that this is the best approach since it is the The book in question here is “The Description of the way Allah has ordered the believers and His Prophet Prophet’s Prayer” and it certainly would’ve been nice Muhammad to follow. This is the methodology of the had Mr. Lacroix at least skimmed through this pious predecessors who include the Companions and the masterpiece before commenting on it in this ludicrous generations after them amongst whom we find the four manner. The reality is that in this study, Shaikh al-Albani only contradicted the collective judgments of the four 121

In his book, over ninety percent of al-Albani’s rulings coincide with at least one of the four schools. 122 Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, “Asl Sifat Salat Al-Nabi”, [The Description of the Prophet’s Prayer, Original Version], p.21 123 Ibid, p.52 124 Ibid, p.22 125 Ibid, p.48

119

Ibid, p.44-47 – p.238-239 Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, “Ahkam Al-Jana’iz wa Bida’uha”, [Judgments concerning funeral processions and their innovations], p.219 120

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and Najran130. Numerous scholars and historians mention that the mihrab-mosques were only established after the Prophet Muhammad’s time131. Al-Albani was therefore already preceded some fourteen centuries ago by the To support his statement, al-Albani then mentions companion Ibn Masu’d who said it wasn’t permissible to numerous statements of the four Imams in which they pray in a mosque that contained a mihrab132. He was admonish those who blindly follow their rulings or followed by numerous scholars throughout the centuries madhab without balancing them against the Quran and like Salim Ibn Abd al-Ja’d133 (7th century), Ibrahim alSunnah127. This was an ingenious way for the Albanian Nakha’i134 (7th century), Sufyan al-Thawri135 (8th Muhaddith to prove that those who follow century), Ibn Hazm136 (11th century), Ibn a specific Madhab in each and every Taymiya137 (13th century), al-Zarqashi138 single fiqh judgment weren’t following (14th century), Ali al-Qari139 (16th century), the teachings of any of the four imams. etc. In the 15th century the famous scholar These very statements of Ahmed, alAbdul-Rahman al-Suyuti even composed a Shafi’ee, Malik and Abu Hanifah also small booklet he named “Resourceful provided a justification for the Information Concerning the Occurrence of methodology of Shaikh al-Albani and the the Mihrab Innovation”140. Also in his Muhaddithin: own present time, al-Albani had scholars like Shaikh Muqbil141 and his opponent “We therefore say that by clinging on to Abdullah al-Ghimari142 agreeing with this everything of the Sunnah that proves to be judgment on mihrabs. However, according correct, even if it contradicts some rulings to Stéphane Lacroix, declaring mihrabs to of the imams, one cannot be accused of be an innovation is a revolutionary contradicting their madhab, nor their Al-Albani and many other scholars interpretation that runs counter to the declared the mihrab to be an methodology. Rather by doing so, one will have Islamic consensus! Had Mr. Lacroix innovation in the religion. then be following the distinct methodology conducted a little research, his readers they were all upon...This cannot be said of those who wouldn’t have to cope with this errant nonsense. Lacroix abandon that which is correct of the Sunnah by blindly is well aware that he belongs to a small group of people following one of their rulings from their school of who, as the old Arabic saying goes, ‘are as one-eyed men jurisprudence…”128 amongst the blind’143. And describing Professor Lacroix as one-eyed might be an overstatement, especially As a result, al-Albani’s decisions were in perfect considering the fact he stated that al-Albani…: harmony with the methodology of the four imams who until today each have a madhab attributed to them. 130 Imams. They all agreed on the obligation of returning and clinging to the Sunnah and agreed that every claim contradicting it should be renounced.”126

Dr. Ibrahim Ibn Saleh al-Khodeir, “Ahkam Al-Masajid Fil Sharee’a Al-Islamiya” [Rulings concerning Mosques in Islamic Legislation], Vol.1, p.339. 131 Dr. Hussein Mou’nis, “Al-Masajid” [Mosques], p.77-79 132 Al-Bazzar, “Kashf Al-Astar”, no. 416 133 Narrated by Ibn Abi Shayba, “Musannaf Ibn Abi Shayba”, Vol.1, p.408 134 Narrated by Abdul-Razaq al-Sana’ani, “Musannaf Abdul-Razaq”, Vol.2, p.412 135 Ibid, p.413 136 Ibn Hazm, “al-Muhalla”, Vol.4, p.239-240 137 Shaikh al-Islam Ibn Taymiya, “Iqtida Al-Sirat Al-Moustaqim”, p.215-225 138 Muhammad Bin Abdillah al-Zarqashi, “I’lam Al-Masajid Bi Ahkam Al-Masajid”, p.258 139 Ali Ibn Sultan Muhammad al-Qari, “Marqat Al-Mafatih Sharh Mishkat Al-Masabih”, Vol.2, p.223. 140 Abdul-Rahman Jalal al-Din al-Souyouti, “I’lam Al-Arib Bi Huduth Bid’a Al-Maharib” 141 Muhammad Ibn Abdul-Wahhab al-Wasabi, “Al-Qawl Al-Sawab Fi Hukm al-Mihrab” [The Correct Opinion in the Ruling on Mihrabs], p.51-52 142 Abdullah Ibn Muhammad al-Ghimari, see his annotations to “I’lam Al-Arib Bi Huduth Bid’a Al-Maharib”, p.20 143 This is just one of the numerous well-known Arabic proverbs that have been absorbed into western languages where it has been altered to: "In the country of the blind, the one-eyed man is king".

Lacroix’ Self-invented Consensuses Here is one of Shaikh al-Albani’s fatwas professor Stéphane Lacroix, deemed to be running counter to the Islamic consensus: “Also, he stated that mihrabs—the niche found in mosques indicating the direction of Mecca—were bid‘a (an innovation) ...” Al-Albani’s statement that mihrabs are an innovation129 is far from being revolutionary since numerous scholars have preceded him in this judgment. Nothing to be amazed about since the mihrab was adopted from the curved flexure present in the Christian churches of Egypt 126

Ibid, p.23 Ibid, p.23-32 128 Ibid, p.32 129 Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, “Silsila Al-Ahadith Al-Da’ifa Wal Madou’a Wa Atharouha Al-Sayyi’ Fil Umma”, Vol.1, p.452. 127

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“…declared licit to pray in a mosque with one’s shoes.”

Lacroix didn’t perform the slightest bit of research in any of the books of jurisprudence in order to compare alAlbani statements with other fatwas of his fellow Muhaddithin. Consequently, these fatwas became revolutionary to Lacroix in his own personal view.

Again, there is nothing exceptional about this. In declaring it permissible to pray in a mosque with one’s shoes, al-Albani was preceded by the Prophet of Islam himself , the Companions and all the Islamic scholars 150 as there is an established consensus amongst them on the In one of his books , Shaikh al-Albani sought to address permissibility on praying with one’s shoes. If this ruling those who, just like Stéphane Lacroix, write on issues of al-Albani coincides with the consensus of Islamic they don’t comprehend: scholars, then how can it be described as revolutionary? Praying with shoes is indeed part of the prophetic “I advise them not to write in any field of science until tradition144 since the Prophet used to pray with his they have mastered it and after having gained some experience in it for a certain time...” shoes on, as has been related by Bukhari145 who even titled a chapter on this issue “Praying with shoes”. Does Lacroix continues by saying: he consider that Bukhari was also a revolutionary?!? Praying with shoes is “Another controversial position was even an Islamic recommendation since his call for Palestinians to leave the the Prophet ordered his community occupied territories since, he claimed, to differ from the Jews who were they were unable to practice their faith known to pray without shoes146. It there as they should—something which needs to be mentioned that al-Albani Following the Jewish massacres of is much more important than a piece of and all the other scholars only declared Palestinians in the occupied territories, al- land.” it licit to pray in a mosque with one’s Albani advised Palestinians to emigrate. shoes under certain conditions147. What does this fatwa have to do with Claiming that this prophetic tradition which is mentioned Shaikh al-Albani’s so called revolutionary approach to in almost every hadith-collection148 is running counter to hadith? This position of the Shaikh becomes much less the Islamic consensus is what Shaikh al-Albani used to controversial if one understands that in this fatwa, Shaikh describe as impossible: al-Albani based his fatwa on the ‘hijra’ (emigration) of the Prophet who left Mecca, his most beloved city, in “It is impossible to have a correct Islamic consensus that order to freely practice Islam in Medina. This is also the contradicts a correct Hadith, unless the Hadith is basic position of many scholars throughout the centuries legitimately abrogated”149 in regard to anyone in the same situation. Mr. Lacroix shouldn’t see this as being controversial since in his own In his deceptive or inept approach to the works of al- country thousands of Muslims are trying to flee Albani, Mr. Lacroix confined himself to picking up a few oppression to attain religious freedom in the face of a fatwas of Shaikh al-Albani and then imagined them to be slowly increasing war against the personal practice of revolutionary. He went so far as to make up self-declared Islam throughout the country151. consensuses only to accuse al-Albani of contradicting them. Isn’t it wonderful to be working as an A little further, the French professor states: ‘islamologist’ in present-day France? Just cook up a few stories, add some Arabic words to them, make it look “Finally, al-Albani took a strong stance against academic and get paid handsomely for it! Professor indulging in politics, repeating that “the good policy is to abandon politics”—a Salafism phrase…” 144

Isma’il Ibn Marshud al-Rumayh, “Ahkam Al-Ni’al” [Rulings concerning Shoes], p.18 145 Sahih al-Boukhari, “Kitab Al-Salat – Al-Salat Fil-Ni’al” [Chapter of Prayer – Praying with Shoes], Vol.1, p.102. 146 Sounan Abu Dawud, “Kitab Al-Salat– Al-Salat Fil-Ni’al” [Chapter of Prayer – Praying with Shoes], Vol.1, p.176, no. 652. 147 One should make sure his shoes are free of impurities before entering the mosque. Likewise, one shouldn’t pray with his shoes in a mosque if it would cause a negative reaction from the common folk. 148 Bukhari (1/102), Abu Dawud (1/176), al-Tirmidhi (2/247), Ibn Majah (1/330), al-Dar al-Qutni (1/313), Musnad al-Imam Ahmed (11/241)… 149 Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, “Aadab Al-Zifaf” [The Etiquette of Marriage], p. 42.

150

Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, “Difa’ A’n Al-Hadith AlNabawi Wal-Sira” [In Defense of The Prophetic Tradition and Biography], p. 60 151 See Kareem El Hidjaazi, “The French Suburban House and Field Negro” 21


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This statement is also questionable since Lacroix wrongly translated the words of al-Albani “min152 alsiyasa tark al-siyasa” which is correctly translated as “abandoning politics is (also) part of politics”. Al-Albani meant that, in some cases, it is better not to participate in politics. However, the translation of Lacroix implies that al-Albani was entirely opposed to politics, which is incorrect and another attempt of the professor to present the Salafi scholars as medieval people who are cut off from society. Al-Albani only opposed political involvement if it wasn’t based on Islamic principles:

however, the majority of the political systems in the Muslim world are not based upon Islam and therefore it isn’t religiously acceptable for Muslims to participate in them. The same way non-Muslims would refuse to participate in Islamic state politics, orthodox Muslims do not see it religiously allowable to participate in nonMuslim political systems. But again, what does not indulging in politics have to do with al-Albani’s ‘revolutionary approach to hadith’?

“Despite the fact that politics are needed beyond any doubt, I believe this isn’t the right time to take part in politics.”153

Professor Lacroix goes on by saying:

Al-Albani and Schools of Thought

“In spite of his undistinguished social background al-Albani became known as the greatest hadith scholar of his generation. His reliance on hadith as the central pillar of law at the expense of the schools of jurisprudence caused him to take up controversial positions.”

Al-Albani stated that, before taking part in Islamic politics, people should first acquire knowledge of their religion and go through the necessary process of ‘Tasfiya wa Tarbiya’ (Purification and Education):

In a previous article, Lacroix went “We do not say that politics (i.e. Islamic further and mentioned: politics) aren’t compulsory in Islam. On the contrary, it belongs to the Islamic Contrary to the notion of some “Al-Albani, in return, rejected all the collective duties. However, today we orientalists, the critique of Hadith also schools of jurisprudence, calling for know that by devoting oneself to politics includes the matn. direct and exclusive reliance on the the people in charge of the da’wa will Quran and the Sunna”156 turn away from these two central points which are ‘Purification and Education’…Therefore, we would like Another distortion and pure fabrication of our French for our brothers in the Islamic world who are amateur is his claim that Shaikh al-Albani’s call was participating in the call to the Quran and Sunnah incompatible with those of the schools of jurisprudence following the understanding of the pious predecessors, to due to his reliance on hadith. Anyone who gained some first get well-grounded before allocating their time to fundamental insight into the works of the four Imams politics.”154 knows that all schools of jurisprudence initially relied on hadith. The four Imams would explicitly prohibit others This means that people’s understanding of Islam should from giving precedence to their rulings if they first be purified from all alien elements that entered it and contradicted a hadith. Imam Abu Hanifah stated: “If my aren’t part of it. Secondly, al-Albani considered that the words contradict the book of Allah or a hadith of the Muslims should be educated and brought up according to Prophet , then abandon my words”157. Imam Malik the authentic and original creed of Islam155. Today, stated: “Accept everything that corresponds to the Quran and the prophetic tradition and discard everything that 152 The Arabic preposition ‘min’ here is ‘lil tab'eed’ meaning that the contradicts the Quran and Sunnah.”158 Likewise, Imam preposition expresses ‘a part of’ or ‘a portion of’ politics. It surely is al-Shafi’ee said: “If the hadith is correct, then that is my amazing that professor Lacroix wasn't able to get the meaning of this madhab”159. Lastly, Imam Ahmed also stressed the simple preposition, because in his CV, he pretends to be fluent in importance of relying on hadith by saying: “The one who Arabic and mentions he used to teach the language. As in the same rejects the hadiths of the Prophet of Allah finds way one could question his ability of conducting scientific research, 160 one could also question his knowledge of the Arabic language. Verily, himself on the verge of destruction” . someone who doesn't understand basic prepositions cannot be mastering a language, and even less be teaching it. 153 Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, “Al-Fatawa Al-Manhajihya Lil-Albany” [al-Albani’s Fatawa on Manhaj issues] p. 20-21 154 Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, “Durus Lil Shaikh Nasir AlDin Al-Albani” (Shabaka al-Islamiya), Lesson 20 155 Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, “Al-Fatawa Al-Manhajihya Lil-Albany” [Al-Albani’s Fatawa on Manhaj issues] p. 20-21

156

S. Lacroix and T. Hegghammer, “Rejectionist Islamism in Saudi Arabia: The Story of Juhayman al-‘Utaybi Revisited”, p.4 157 Al-Fulani, “Al-Iqath”, p.50 158 Ibn Abdul-Bar, “Al-Jami’”, 2/32 159 Al-Nawawi, “Al-Majmou’”, 1/63 160 Ibn al-Djawzi, “Al-Manaqib”, p.182 22


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Hence, all schools of jurisprudence relied on hadith as the central pillar of law. It is only in the last centuries that a large number of people have stopped giving precedence to hadith by blindly following the rulings of a certain madhab. And this is what al-Albani disapproved of:

popularity in Salafi circles if he is in conflict with the Saudi scholars? Lacroix’ misconception in this part of his article is based on his notion that the Saudi scholars are blindly following the Hanbali madhab. If this was true, al-Albani certainly would’ve had a serious conflict with the Saudi scholars and would never have been allowed into the country by them in the first place— not to speak of being invited by them.

“It has become widespread amongst people in the last centuries that if a person reaches the age of adulthood, he is forced to follow one of the four madhabs. He’ll follow the madhab of his father for example which he will then entirely accept. He will stick to it without diverging from it in any aspect. He will blindly follow that madhab and won’t ask for any proof. He will not seek any interpretative judgment (ijtihad) since he considers the doors of ijtihad to be closed…”161

The differences of opinion that occurred between alAlbani and other scholars weren’t due to the fact that al-Albani relied on hadith as the central pillar of law since the scholars in the Kingdom did the same. This becomes crystal clear To uphold his disapproval of in the numerous discussions Shaikh ‘Madhabic blind-following’, alal-Albani had with his Saudi Albani proved how, in the past, major colleagues; everything was based on scholars of a certain madhab would proof taken directly from the Quran abandon the rulings of their Imams162 and prophetic Sunnah. In these Shaikh al-Albani did not accept criticism against if they considered them to be in debates, the ulema of Saudi Arabia schools of jurisprudence. contradiction with the Sunnah163. would never take the madhab-ruling Other than that, al-Albani always had as a proof. a great esteem of the different madhabs and didn’t tolerate any criticism of them as he himself stated: Indeed, the scholastic differences between al-Albani and the other scholars shouldn’t be taken out of proportion. “Some people who affiliate themselves to the call of Shaikh al-Albani used to refute his own students and Salafiya directly or indirectly criticize one of the those of his closest friends without anyone ever madhabs. We say that this is not permissible in our conceiving this as a conflict165. These are differences of religion and belief…”164 opinion that have always existed amongst the scholars of Ahl al-Sunnah. In his writings, al-Albani mentioned that Mr. Lacroix then claims that al-Albani’s reliance on even the four Imams disagreed in many issues: hadith —supposedly at the expense of the four madhabs— caused him to take up controversial positions “And I know for a fact that the major Imams were those which would allegedly have ignited a conflict with the who considered each other sometimes in error and that Saudi scholars: they did refute each other…”166 “This brought him into conflict with the Saudi religious establishment but also made him popular in Salafi circles.”

The laymen or someone with a hidden agenda will likely interpret these differences of opinion as an internal clash leading to major conflicts based on fundamental contradictions. Therefore, the conspiracy-theory where ‘Wahhabis’ on one side are intensely at odds with Salafis on the other side only exists in Lacroix’ imagination.

The majority of scholars in the ‘Saudi religious establishment’ are considered Salafis, even by Shaikh alAlbani. So how is it conceivable for anyone to gain

If there really had been a conflict between al-Albani and the Saudi scholars based on fundamental incongruities, he never would’ve urged his readers to rely on the understanding of Shaikh Ibn Abdul-Wahhab and the current Saudi scholars who he called his trustworthy

161

Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, “Haqiqatu Al-Da’wa AlSalafiya” [The Reality of the Call to Salafiya] p.170 162 Muhammad Ibn al-Hassan al-Shaybani and Abu Yusuf were two Hanafi scholars and students of Imam Abu Hanifa who contradicted him in one third of his Madhab 163 Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, “Asl Sifat Salat Al-Nabi”, [The Description of the Prophet’s Prayer, Original Version], p.35 164 Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, “Shubah Hawl Al-Salafiya” [Ambiguities about Salafiya] p.128

165

Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, “Al-Rawda al-Dani Fil Fawa’id al-Hadithiya Lil-Allama al-Albani”, p.9 166 Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, “Asl Sifat Salat al-Nabi”, [The Description of the Prophet’s Prayer, Original Version], p. 50 23


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Hanbali brothers167. Moreover, Shaikh al-Albani has been rewarded for the magnificent achievements he accomplished in the Kingdom. Many years after his departure from the Kingdom, the ‘King Faysal International Board of Rewards for Islamic Studies’ awarded him a prize for his scientific efforts in the field of hadith. Is this how a recognized body of Saudi religious knowledge would reward a person with whom they have fundamental contradictions in the approach of hadith?

al-Nuqaidan as a reference poses a problem. First of all the man does not have an educational background whatsoever. It is an established fact that he dropped out of school due to his mental instability. He then tried to study Islam but again, failed miserably. Mansur alNuqaidan ended up as a wild Takfiri hooligan burning down shops in the streets of Riyadh and in one of his articles he even admitted burning down a charitable institution for widows and orphans. Al-Nuqaidan was sentenced to prison for two years and eight months where he finally came to the conclusion he was a total loser at every endeavor. He didn’t succeed in any kind of studies and never attained his aspiration of becoming a leader in the Takfiri movement. Dr. Istifham explains in his account on al-Nuqaidan168 that he is a very unbalanced person who takes an opinion at night only to let it go in the morning169. Indeed, al-Nuqaidan went from being an extreme Takfiri to an extreme neo-con secular fundamentalist- slandering the religious scholars of the Kingdom. He was sued for libel and defamation and convicted a second time by the Saudi government. Mansur will later exploit this conviction to get attention in bigoted Western media alleging he was convicted because he fights for freedom170.

In his will, al-Albani offered his entire personal library to the University of Medina because he recognized its position in spreading knowledge, and because this was the place of which he had very nice memories of his call to Islam. The Kingdom: Arrival and Departure of Al-Albani Professor Lacroix’ fabrications seem inexhaustible as he addresses alAlbani’s arrival in the Kingdom: “The presence of al-Albani in Saudi Arabia—where he was invited in 1961 by his good friend Shaikh ‘Abd al‘Aziz Ibn Baz to teach at the Islamic University of Medina—prompted embarrassed reactions from the core of the Wahhabi establishment...”

Dr. Istifham explains Mansur is extremely egocentric and in need of continual attention. It is, of course people like Mr. Lacroix and other western islamophobes who are very gladly giving him the desperate attention he needs. In some of his articles, Lacroix attempted to promote this convicted felon and notorious liar by calling him a daring intellectual171. In

Al-Albani was a professor at the Islamic University of Medina from 1961 to 1963

In mentioning that al-Albani entered the Kingdom due to favoritism, Lacroix accuses the previous Mufti of the Saudi Kingdom of cronyism. This of course is pathetic because Shaikh al-Albani had already been invited to the Saudi Kingdom prior to this. In 1957 the Saudi Minister of education Shaikh Hassan Ibn Abdullah Aal al-Shaikh asked him to be in charge of the Higher Islamic Studies Department in the University of Mecca. But owing to certain circumstances, al-Albani had to turn down this marvelous offer only to get a new one four years later. If al-Albani was so sought-after in Saudi Arabia, why would his arrival have prompted hostility and embarrassed reactions in the Kingdom? And more important than this, where are Lacroix’ references of his claims? He doesn’t mention any since most of his articles are apparently based on stolen ideas he translated from the writings of Mansur al-Nuqaidan who is a leading figure amongst westernized Saudis who see themselves to be ‘liberals’. It is al-Nuqaidan who mentioned that alAlbani entered the Kingdom thanks to Shaikh AbdulAziz Ibn Baz’s preferential treatment. However, taking

168

“Mansur al-Nuqaidan, Jawla fi Radahat Nafsi wa Damirihi” http://www.saaid.net/mktarat/almani/46.htm 169 Dr. Istifham pointed out how al-Nuqaidan, time after time, fell from one extreme to the other. In his Takfiri days, he refused to pray behind a Sunni Imam who he accused of being a member of the Murjiya-sect. One year later, Mansur al-Nuqaidan himself openly started calling to the ideology of the Murjiyas. Likewise, a few months before his conversion to secularism al-Nuqaidan bashed a Shaikh who contradicted him in his opinion by saying: “This is disbelief!” while today he’s accusing all the Saudi scholars of making the Muslims disbelievers. 170 Mansur al-Nuqaidan "Telling the Truth, Facing the Whip”, New York Times 171 Stéphane Lacroix is known to defend these kinds of uncultivated Arabs with obstinacy. During an islamophobic colloquium organized by ISIM, he gave a lecture called “Saudi Intellectuals and the IslamoLiberal Movement”. Indeed, racist anti Muslims only consider the Arabs to be intellectuals if they call to secularism in their country. On the other hand, Muslim scholars who studied for decades only obtained their title due to their adherence to a tribe that succeeded in monopolizing a part of the Arabian Desert. Moreover, they have so much knowledge that they abandoned all independent reasoning.

167

Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani’s annotations in “Mukhtasir alUluw Lil-Dhahabi”, p. 64 24


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“In his well-known book “Characteristics of the Prophet’s Prayer” (sifat salat al-nabi), al-Albani presented a number of peculiar views on Islamic rituals, which raised controversy with other scholars. Some say these controversies led to his expulsion from Medina in 1963…”174

the following statement of our French researcher, his scholastic integrity becomes, once more, very apparent: “The controversy sparked by his book The Veil of the Muslim Woman, in which he argued that Muslim women should not cover their face—a position unacceptable by Saudi standards—, finally gave the Wahhabi establishment the justification needed to get him out of the Kingdom in 1963.” Mr. Lacroix discusses another topic in one of al-Albani’s works and yet again, he clearly hasn’t read the book. In “The Veil of the Muslim Women”, the Shaikh concludes that Muslim women should cover their face but concludes that it isn’t an obligation. Like the majority of Islamic scholars, he considered it to be part of the Sunnah and falling under the ‘mustahab’category of acts of worship172. Therefore it doesn’t come as a surprise to know that the women in al-Albani’s own family all wore the niqab. Lacroix’ statement that ‘Muslim women shouldn’t cover their face’ implies that al-Albani saw it to be un-proscribed (mubah), detestable (makruh) or forbidden (haram). The four Imams (Ahmed, Malik, alShafi’ee and Abu Hanifa) all saw the niqab to be a religious recommendation and not an obligation173. This shows that the Saudi scholars do sometimes contradict the verdict of the majority of the Islamic scholars and even the four schools of thought.

This again is impossible because Shaikh al-Albani wrote this book in Damascus before he traveled to Saudi Arabia. So one day al-Albani’s departure from the Kingdom is due to his stance on the veil of Muslim women and another day it is the because of his stances on the Islamic rituals of the prayer. Is Lacroix’ astounding incompetence ascribable to his islamophobic dishonesty or just to his utter confusion and ignorance? One thing is sure; he seizes every pretext for portraying the Saudi Salafi scholars as evil intolerant individuals who do not accept other opinions.

Al-Albani was born in 1914 in Shkodër, north-west Albania.

Shaikh al-Albani was never officially expelled from Saudi Arabia but decided to leave by himself for reasons unknown to everybody. He never mentioned why he left the Kingdom. It is deplorable that Lacroix is using this event to criticize the Saudi scholars of Islam, something alAlbani has never done. Mr. Lacroix concludes this part of his article with another gaffe:

Shaikh al-Albani wasn’t born in Syria but near the Montenegrin border.

Lacroix’ allegation that this book gave the ‘Wahhabi establishment’ the justification needed to kick al-Albani out of the Kingdom in 1963 is impossible because the book was written in 1949, twelve years before the Shaikh’s arrival in Saudi Arabia. On the contrary, it shows that al-Albani’s stance on the niqab clearly didn’t prevent the highest representatives of the ‘Wahhabi establishment’ to invite him over to teach in their most prestigious universities. Moreover, previous articles of Professor Lacroix show that he is simply speculating and guessing about things without being able to bring any references for his foolish tales. In another hilarious article of his, he mentions the following:

“He then re-established himself in his country of birth, Syria, before leaving for Jordan in 1979.”

Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani was born in 1914 in Shkodër near the Montenegrin border in northwestern Albania, not Syria. While portraying the life of the greatest hadith scholar in the past century, Stéphane Lacroix has been unable to even correctly determine his country of birth! The idea that professor Lacroix is being paid for his clumsy articles is truly chilling.

172

Meaning that it is highly recommended Imam Ahmed has two narrations in this issue. In one narration he considered is to be an obligation, in another narration he saw it to be mustahab (religiously recommended). 173

174

S. Lacroix and T. Hegghammer, “Rejectionist Islamism in Saudi Arabia: The Story of Juhayman al-‘Utaybi Revisited”, p.4 25


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Ijaza’s and Other Misconceptions

grew up in a country with very limited Sunni scholars. Despite this, no one viewed him to be an unqualified scholar, not even the ‘Wahhabis’ who invited him to teach in their land. This also rebuts Lacroix’ initial claim that “the members of the ‘Wahhabi aristocracy’ would become the only legitimate transmitters of the Wahhabi tradition” and that “independent scholars were excluded because they had not received “proper ‘ilm’ from ‘qualified’ ulama”.

Lacroix’ article on Shaikh al-Albani turns into a total mess. There isn’t a single sentence that seems to be free of errors, fabrications and misconceptions. Here’s another one: “Traditional Wahhabi ‘ilm, therefore, was the fruit of a process of transmission and depended on the number of ijazas—a certificate by which a scholar acknowledges the transmission of his knowledge (or part of it) to one of his pupils, and authorizes him to transmit it further— given by respected Wahhabi scholars.”

By mentioning al-Albani’s alleged stance to ijazas as being a new element in his revolutionary approach to hadith, Lacroix falsely concludes that he has found a new proof of his farfetched deduction:

Ijaza’s are nothing typical of what “This is the very logic al-Albani— Lacroix calls ‘Wahhabism’, they who, himself, owned very few of these have always existed since the time of certificates—would challenge by the very first Muhaddithin and promoting his critical approach. As a scholars in general. Professor Lacroix matter of fact, according to al-Albani, again shows his unfamiliarity with transmission has no importance the field he claims to be able to whatsoever, because, every hadith inform others about, as there are being suspect, the fact that it was several types of ijazas. One form narrated by a respected scholar gives permission to transmit a cannot guarantee its authenticity.” specific collection of hadiths through Ijaza’s have always existed from the time of the a specific chain of transmission, first Muhaddithin As Lacroix continues on in his while another type is related to one’s argument, he mixes the two types of ijazas in the same mastery of a certain work or ability to teach it to others. context. After firstly describing the certificates of The former type of ijazas are authorizations which were knowledge transmission, he then mentions the other form based on the ‘hadith-hearings with a Shaikh’175 which of ijazas which is exclusively restricted to hadith were very frequent in the time of the first hadith scholars transmission. Cunningly, the professor gives the and contained much larger audiences176. Today, these impression that both types of ijaza are one and the same hearings still exist but these kinds of ijaza’s are no longer leading the reader to believe that al-Albani disregards considered as crucial due to the prevalence of printed ijazas. This is impossible since we’re talking about one copies of the source books. The contemporary Saudi of the recognized forms of hadith-transmission that is scholars have almost entirely quit attaching the previous universally accepted amongst the Muhaddithin. Allevel of importance to this type of ijaza’s although they Albani’s books contain plenty of examples wherein he are still being used to different degrees by different mentions how179certain narrators transmit correct hadiths scholars, keeping alive this practice of the with an ijaza . Likewise, his ‘Silsila Al-Ahadith Alpredecessors177. In these days, having a lot of ijazas of Sahiha’ is filled with examples of this kind. Al-Albani this type is no longer a proof that the person is qualified for example states: to teach178. On the other hand, the second type of ijaza is a certificate testifying the mastership of a certain field in “I say that this chain of narrators is good and that the Islamic sciences or of a certain book along with the hadith is correct because it is consolidated by other 180 authorization to teach it. The simple reason that al-Albani hadiths by way of ijaza” didn’t possess many of these certificates is because he How can Lacroix then state that al-Albani considered this 175 established approach of being of no importance? Another Meaning that the student would present a body of knowledge to a possible interpretation of Lacroix’ incoherent accounts, is Shaikh in one of several ways who would then give him an ‘ijaza’ or permission to narrate them to others. that he believes that the legacy of hadith-transmission 176 Sometimes the number of attendants of these sessions would exceed 200.000 people. 177 Without the presence of the strong conditions imposed by the Muhaddithin 178 Abdullah Ibn Muhammad al-Shamrani, “Thabt Mu’allafat AlAlbani”, p. 97-98

179

See Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani’s comments in “Al-Tankil Bima Fi Ta’nib Al-Kawthary Min Al-Abatil” 180 Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, “Silsila Al-Ahadith Al-Sahiha” [Collection of Correct Hadiths], 1/8 26


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“The great scholars all agreed that the one and only condition for the one who wished to judge hadiths by making them weak or strong, is that he has mastered the science of hadith…”182

through living narrators still exists today in an unbroken chain, all the more affirming his allegation of al-Albani’s revolutionary approach to Hadith. If this truly is his understanding, then it is well known that the era of personal narrative transmission ended with the universal recordings of hadith in the canonical collections in the 9th and 10th century C.E. But whether understood in the first manner or the second, his allegation is false in both cases.

But to professor Lacroix, accumulation and memorization is the condition. Lacroix comes up with all these fantasies merely to finish off by saying that the ‘Saudi Wahhabis’ only became scholars due to their family descent, not their knowledge:

While analyzing Mr. Lacroix’ following statement it seems more likely he is of the opinion that the contemporary Muhaddithin are still part of the hadith sanad:

“Thus, the science of hadith can be measured according to objective criteria unrelated to family, tribe, or regional descent, allowing for a previously absent measure of meritocracy.”

“On the contrary, the important process is accumulation—a good scholar of hadith being someone who has memorized a large sum of hadith and, more importantly, the biographies of a large number of transmitters.”

With this false allegation that serves to sustain al-Albani’s revolutionary approach to Hadith, it certainly isn’t the first time Lacroix has depicted the Saudis as ignorant people and their society as being nonmeritocratic. This is the typical racist perception many islamophobes have been fostering in Western media for many decades.

This is again an attempt to portray the Muhaddithin as people who do not use independent reasoning since ‘they only depend on memorization’. However, it is common knowledge that one can never The Lacroix-Bin Laden Connection become a true Muhaddith without being Mr. Lacroix seems to believe well versed in the other Islamic sciences just that the hadith chain of In his article, Mr. Lacroix has gathered the also includes today’s like one cannot be considered as an expert narrators criticism of the enemies of Shaikh al-Albani Muhaddithin. in Islamic sects if he doesn’t possess a in his lifetime. After having exploited the formal Islamic education or essential knowledge of false claims of the secularists, Haddadis, Sufis and Islam, its sciences and history. orientalists, Lacroix now takes on the critique of the Takfiri-sect: Once more, our confused professor is getting things mixed up. What he attributed to al-Albani is a description “In the late 1980s, some of al-Albani’s pupils, led by a of the reality of the Hadith scholars in the period prior to Medinan Shaikh called Rabi‘ al-Madkhali, formed an the Hadith recordings; whereas Lacroix interpreted that informal religious network generally referred to as alal-Albani saw it to be a condition for past and present Jamiyya (“the Jamis”, named after one of their key Muhaddithin. Here is what al-Albani said about the members, Muhammad Aman al-Jami).” conditions of a Hadith scholar: The term ‘Al-Jamiyya’ was coined by the Takfiris and “To sum up we say that the only required condition to members of the neo-Khawarij sect after the Gulf War as judge hadiths as being strong or weak is that the person a negative reaction to the fatwas of major scholars like should possess the competence to do so. As for Shaikh Ibn Baz and Muhammad Aman al-Jami in which memorization, then that is something else. If the person they declared it permissible to make use of American possesses a large sum of memorized hadiths, then that is troops to defend Saudi interests. The scholars of Ahl albetter. And if he doesn’t, than it is no condition. And this Sunnah who pronounced this fatwa were severely has been established by the previous scholars.”181 condemned by the Takfiris, who called them the “scholars of America”. Shaikh Muhammad Aman alAl-Albani also stated that there is a consensus amongst Jami refuted the ambiguities of these hot-headed people, scholars in the issue: who then decided to describe all those who didn’t reject the US military presence in the Saudi Kingdom as 181

Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, “Al-Rad A’la Ta’aqub AlHadith”, p.60

182

27

Ibid, p.57


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‘Jamis’. The term is also used by the secularists and other enemies of the call to Tawheed in order to alienate people from Islam183. There is of course no sect or religious network by the name of al-Jamiyya and no one has ever declared belonging to this fictitious group184. Moreover, Muhammad Aman Al-Jami has always condemned the formation of groups and sects and he would never have permitted that people associate themselves with a group that is derived from his name 185. But to Lacroix, the Shaikh was a key member in this socalled organization.

scholars of non-peripheral original (as Shaikh Saleh alFawzan) have also been accused of being members of this so called informal organization. Accordingly, Muhammad Aman al-Jami and Rabi’ al-Madkhali have never been excluded from any leading position in the religious field, despite their foreign or peripheral origins. To sustain this, it suffices to mention that Shaikh Muhammad Aman al-Jami was part of the religious elite that had the honor of teaching in the “Masjid al-Nabawi”, the Prophet's Mosque in Medina. Shaikh al-Jami was employed as an aqida-professor in the ‘al-Shari'a’faculty of the prestigious Islamic University of Medina and was also the Head of the Department of Aqida in Post Graduate Studies.

In using the term ‘al-Jamiyya’, Stéphane Lacroix has joined the ranks of Osama Bin Laden and his followers in their attacks on Ahl al-Sunna. Let us just hope this apparent link to alQaida isn’t going to initiate a US drone attack upon Lacroix’ headquarters at the Sciences-Po University.

Moreover, what proves without any doubt that he had never been excluded by the ‘religious Wahhabi establishment’ is that the Ethiopian Shaikh was a close friend to Shaikh Abdul-Aziz Ibn Baz, the Saudi mufti It is regrettable to see that Lacroix in his time, with whom he undertook never did any of the necessary several journeys186. He also had research on the origins of the term many personal meetings with the ‘al-Jamiyya’ and simply limited previous mufti Shaikh Muhammad his origins, Shaikh Muhammad Aman alhimself to blindly following his Despite Ibn Ibrahim Aal al-Shaikh187. Jami had the honor of teaching in the Grand Saudi guru Mansur al-Nuqaidan who Mosque of the Prophet in Medina. Likewise, Shaikh Rabi' al-Madkhali repeatedly used this term when he has never been excluded because of was upon the opposite polar of extremism that he is upon the fact he was raised on the Yemeni border. The Shaikh today. was the head of the department of ‘al-Sunnah’ at the Islamic University of Medina and was member of the But Lacroix has gone even further than al-Nuqaidan as he teaching faculty. There are, indeed, countless non-Saudi is exploiting this forged terminology as a new argument scholars and ‘scholars of peripheral origin’ who reached in his concocted allegation and misrepresentation of the some of the highest religious positions in the Saudi Saudi scholars as being a bunch of racists: Kingdom due to their Islamic knowledge, not their origin, family or tribe. “Beyond their focus on hadith, the Jamis became known for emphasizing al-Albani’s calls not to indulge in Lacroix then claims that the Saudi government funded politics and for denouncing those who did. Again, many this imaginary ‘al-Jamiyya’ group: of the Jamis were of peripheral origin (al-Madkhali was from Jazan, on the Yemeni border, while al-Jami was “They would finally gain prominence in the early 1990s, from Ethiopia) and had therefore been excluded from all when the Saudi government supported them financially leading positions in the religious field.” and institutionally, in the hope of creating an apolitical ideological counterweight to the Islamist opposition led As we already mentioned, the Jami-designation was by the al-Sahwa al-Islamiyya (the Islamic Awakening), based on the rejection of pronounced fatwas during the Gulf War which the neo-Khawarij didn’t agree with and 186 Shaikh Muhammad Aman al-Jami kept Shaikh Ibn Baz company not on any tribal or racial criteria since several Saudi during his journeys to Riyadh after the opening of the ‘Institute of Science’ (al-Ma'had al-I'lmi). He was also very close to the Mufti during his classes. 187 Now imagine an Ethiopian student landing in France and becoming a professor in one of the major universities of the country. Then, imagine that same African student becoming a close friend to an important person in the French government (like Sarko or Valls) with whom he then travels. Indeed, it is not even conceivable. However, Stéphane Lacroix had the audacity to pretend that Shaikh al-Jami was excluded by the Saudis due to his Ethiopian origins.

183

Abdul-Aziz Ibn Rayyis, “Al-Jamiyya wa Al-Wahhabiyya wa AlHachwiyya Alqab Tanfiriya”, [Jamis, Wahabis, Hachwiya, terms of alienation], p.7 184 Bilal Ibn Abdul-Ghani al-Salimi “Abra’a Ila Allah min Al-Jamiyya wal Madkhaliyya”, [I dissociate myself from al-Jamiyya and alMadkhaliyya in front of Allah], p. 81-82 185 Ibid, p.87, 117 28


THE TALES OF LACROIX COMMENTED BY THE WORKS OF SHAIKH AL-ALBANI

an informal religio-political movement which appeared in Saudi Arabia in the 1960s as a the result of a hybridization between Wahhabism, on religious issues, and the ideas of the Muslim Brotherhood, on political issues.”

that the very same people who in practice challenge the Saudi scholars all belong to the Takfiri and neoKhawarij-sects who are well-known for either pronouncing takfir on Shaikh al-Albani or calling him a “Murji”, not for being his supporters.

When scholars such as Shaikh al-Jami and Shaikh Rabi’ refuted the astray individuals that adhered to the ‘Sahwamovement’, the latter accused them of being bootlickers of the Saudi government and even went so far to say that that they were agents working for them. In alleging that these scholars are being influenced in their fatwas by government backing, Lacroix has again joined the Takfiris in their slanderous attacks against the established Salafi scholars.

But this presumed ‘challenge’ of the existing ‘Wahhabi hierarchy’ was only the initial phase of a movement that would later result in terrorist attacks: “In the mid-1960s, a number of al-Albani’s disciples in Medina founded al-Jamaa al-Salafiyya al-Muhtasiba (The Salafi Group which Commands Good and Forbids Evil), a radical faction of which, led by Juhayman al-‘Utaybi, would storm the grand mosque of Mecca in November 1979.”

Did it really take the Saudi government three decades to counter Professor Lacroix has displayed a the Sahwa movement by financing a biography of Shaikh Muhammad few scholars of ‘peripheral origin’, Nasir al-Din al-Albani filled with one of whom (i.e. Shaikh Rabi’) was fabrications and deceptive strongly opposed to the presence of arguments with the sole purpose of US military in the Arabian linking him to a terrorist movement. Peninsula? Here, Lacroix’ In his articles, professor Lacroix deceptively attempts to link Shaikh Ibn Baz, Muqbil and alconspiracy theory gets very intricate. Albani to the Juhayman attack of Mecca in 1979 Islamophobic Middle East Where does he get his information specialists are well-aware that by from and if these scholars were supported institutionally linking Muslims to terrorism they will always draw then where are their organizations, buildings and significant attention. In expanding the imaginary alinstitutions? It is well known that the Saudi government Qaida network and demonizing the Muslim community, doesn’t need to favor the country’s scholars money-wise their articles will have a greater chance of being since they are all well paid anyway. published. Depicting al-Albani as a Takfiri

The Juhayman attack on the grand mosque of Mecca had nothing to do with Shaikh al-Albani and even less with his creed or ideas. The attack was entirely based on the alleged dream of a few Juhayman’s supporters in which they saw Muhammad al-Qahtani to be the mahdi. This was followed by numerous witnesses of people in the Arab world who all claimed they had the same dream in which al-Qahtani was seen as the long awaited mahdi. The Juhayman group exploited the recurrence of these so-called dreams in different countries to prove to the world that the mahdi really had arrived. Al-Albani explained that, prior to Juhayman, several insane people had already made this false claim which then led to nefarious turmoil and seditions. He likewise explained that Juhaiman went astray due to his tremendous ignorance and stated his followers were simpleminded or evil people188. The Egyptian researcher Dr. Muhammad al-Muqaddam explains in his book “al-Mahdi” that the followers of Juhayman had at this stage become

While reading ‘the Lacroix fables’ in this article, one comes to the question: what is the point in inventing all this? Al-Albani’s ‘revolutionary’ approach to hadith, his so-called conflict with the Saudi scholars, his ‘adherence to Wahhabism’ as well as his ‘critique’ of Ibn AbdulWahhab supposedly all led to independent religious entrepreneurs who now challenge the ‘Wahhabis’. This is how Mr. Lacroix rounds up his article: “As a consequence, al-Albani’s ideas have given independent Salafi religious entrepreneurs a weapon with which to fight their way into previously very closed circles…” and “For all these reasons, al-Albani’s ideas would rapidly become a means for Salafi religious entrepreneurs from outside the Wahhabi aristocracy to challenge the existing hierarchy.” The point Lacroix is trying to make, is that the legacy of al-Albani consists of a bunch of youngsters with madcap ideas opposing the Saudi scholars. Lacroix hasn't realized

188

Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, “Silsila Al-Ahadith Al-Sahiha” [Collection of Correct Hadiths], Vol. 8 (Hadiths 1529, 1924 and 2236) 29


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impregnated by the Sufi ideology in which dreams are as reliable and accurate as divine revelation189. It is important to note that these followers fell into complete blindly following and were therefore entirely opposing to the teachings of al-Albani. Likewise, their ideology of ‘khuruj’ and ‘takfir’ was entirely opposed to the salafi principles of Shaikh al-Albani.

scholar while he was in his twenties—Shaikh of nontribal descent, and ‘Abdallah al-Sa‘d, whose family had come from the city of Zubayr in Modern Iraq. The two of them would later become key figures in the Saudi Jihadi trend, challenging the political order after they had challenged the religious order. As a consequence, they would be arrested and jailed after the May 2003 bombings.”193

In his article on Juhayman190, Lacroix himself stated that the group of Juhayman was political191 while he asserts Et voila! Lacroix began his article by attributing a selfthat al-Albani wasn’t interested in politics and quoted invented ‘revolutionary approach’ of hadith to Shaikh alhim as saying “the good policy is to abandon politics”. Albani; he then falsely claimed that this led to frictions But somehow they are the followers of Shaikh Albani?!? with the scholars of the Saudi Kingdom and concludes by At the time of the attack, Juhayman and his followers had implying that the May 2003 bombings are part of Shaikh nothing left in common with the al-Albani’s legacy. Linking any act creed of Salafiya nor with the Salafi of extremism, terrorism or violence, scholars. Moreover, they weren’t aldirectly or indirectly, to al-Albani is Albani’s disciples but merely a group simply outrageous. What is the sense of novices who used to attend some in mentioning these cruel bombings of his classes in the same way they committed by people who attended classes of other scholars192. excommunicated al-Albani? They went astray many years before Unfortunately, Mr. Lacroix is not the 1979 attack and were advised by alone in his attempt to link several Salafi Shaikhs not to form an everything that goes back to the According to Stéphane Lacroix, some independent group. original Islamic teachings to ‘Salafi scholars’ –in their twenties– where terrorism. involved in the terrorist attacks of Riyadh in 2003 Alleging that this cruel attack which took place 16 years after al-Albani’s departure from the Al-Albani’s True Legacy kingdom has anything to do with his ideas or ideology is as farfetched as linking Saddam Hussein to al-Qaida. But Albania, Europe’s poorest country is only known in the how could we expect professor Lacroix to understand Muslim world due to Shaikh Muhammad Nasir al-Din alShaikh al-Albani’s ideas if he isn’t even able to - as Albani and his magnificent legacy. The Albanian dictator shown previously - accurately determine his place of Ahmed Zogolli would never have been quoted in any birth? Arabic book if it wasn’t for al-Albani’s biography mentioning how he and his family had to flee his The final conclusion in Lacroix’ article is that a few of oppressive regime. al-Albani’s students who promoted the centrality of hadith had challenged the ‘Wahhabi religious In Europe, Stéphane Lacroix is being presented as an aristocracy’ and ended up by committing terror attacks. Islamic and Saudi Arabia specialist. However, his articles The nutty professor states that: are blatantly fraudulent compilations of lies, distortions and misconceptions in which he has taken a “Again, most of these scholars were peripheral figures, ‘revolutionary’ approach194 in slandering Islam and its such as Sulayman al-‘Alwan, a very young—al-‘Alwan major scholars. In addition, he is incapable of conducting was born in 1970 and started to become known as a proper scholastic research of the issues he deals with and his ‘academic’ examination seems to be based on Google 189 Dr. Muhammad Ahmed Isma’il al-Muqaddam, “Al-Mahdi”, searches, plagiarism and bastardized Orientalist p.557-559 ambiguities. Lacroix is well aware that he can publish 190 Lacroix has cowritten “Rejectionist Islamism in Saudi Arabia: The articles with apparent impunity as long as he deals with Story of Juhayman al-‘Utaybi Revisited” with the notorious Norwegian islamophobe Thomas Hegghammer. The two made it seem as if their article on Juhayman was based on their proper research whereas most of it is plagiarism with ideas taken from the article “Juhayman Al-Uteybi, Maqati’ min Hayat Astura” written in Arabic by Mansur al-Nuqaidan who many consider the Saudi version of Hirshi Ali. 191 S. Lacroix and T. Hegghammer, “Rejectionist Islamism in Saudi Arabia: The Story of Juhayman al-‘Utaybi Revisited”, p.12 192 See http://www.sahab.net/forums/index.php?showtopic=138172

193

According to Lacroix, some youth in their twenties became known as Salafi scholars. Moreover, these same young Salafi scholars ended up committing terrorist attacks. Indeed, there is no limit to Lacroix’ desperate tactics of deception. 194 Lacroix’ approach is, of course, not revolutionary since most of the self-proclaimed ‘Islamic specialists’ slander Islam by any possible means. 30


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issues people are unacquainted with. And as many other Sciences-Po professors, he is taking full advantage of the islamophobia cash cow industry. One thing, however, should be acknowledged: Mr. Lacroix has a lot of imagination when it comes to writing on Islam. He’s creative in concocting the most unbelievable stories that contain detailed plots and his fertile imagination often leads to unprecedented misconceptions. One can only conclude that people who are unable to analyze the foundations of the Islamic belief, the works of the great Muhaddithin and the influence and spread of Islamic sects in a historical context will come up with the most improbable suppositions. But in France, you don’t need to be an expert on the subject matter to get attention. Khalida Messaoudi is a perfect illustration of how French media absorb and accept every form of defamation against Islam and its Muslim community, no matter how absurd it may sound. Messaoudi conceitedly proclaimed that kneeling in the Islamic prayer is ‘a position of slavery invented by Bedouin slave traders in Saudi Arabia’. At the same time, Muslim authors who have the ability to conduct academic research are entirely excluded from taking part in any mainstream media.

allowed the icons of French Islamophobia to present themselves as Good Samaritans defending the ‘civilized world’ from the ‘evils of Islam’. Some of them proudly revealed and justified their hatred towards Islam on French national television. Indeed, France is no longer what it was in the time prior to Sarkozy’s political career. The passed and enforced laws against the freedom of Muslim women to dress according to their beliefs, the numerous profanities against mosques and Muslim cemeteries, the despicable caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad as well as the increasing slander by French politicians against practicing Muslims are only a few elements that The Albanian secular dictator Ahmed Zogolli collaborated prove that secular France is resembling closely with Fascist Italy Nazi Germany more and more, every day…

When in 1999, Shaikh al-Albani passed away, millions of people mourned his death. However, his works live on and he will be remembered and loved forever. As for Stéphane Lacroix, then he is just one of the numerous bigoted authors of French secular fundamentalism who has wasted his life in slandering Islam and Muslims In his articles, the French islamophobe, S. Lacroix, leads a who stick to their religion. He will be crusade to defame Muslims and forgotten, his bigoted articles will their faith. continue to be known as scams and dissolve in the midst of cheap Islamophobic propaganda... 195 Verily, politics and media in France are undeniably Kareem El Hidjaazi submerged in islamophobia as was, in the previous century, the anti-Semitic propaganda in Germany. In REMARK: After this response was posted on “stéphane-lacroix1933, German democracy allowed Hitler to popularize science-po.com”, Sciences Po lodged a complaint against this website that provided a platform for Muslims to respond to the professor’s anti-Jewish fascism in the same way French secularism scientific deceits. They requested our internet host to take down the has today allowed Sarkozy to disseminate a new form of website immediately pretending it contains “identity usurpation” anti-Islamic fascism. However, the French islamophobes which of course is untrue, since nowhere on the site has anyone have learned to avoid the propaganda mistakes of their pretended to be Stéphane Lacroix or Sciences Po. German precursors and wage their anti-Muslim hate While many were expecting a complaint to be lodged against campaign under the guise of “a fight for republican and Stéphane Lacroix for anti-Muslim racism, plagiarism and slander, secular principles” and “freedom of expression”. Sciences Po seems to be defending its islamophobic employees at any Furthermore, they transform designations to attenuate the cost. xenophobic character of their slanderous attacks. Hence, In their continuous attacks against the Muslim community, French in describing orthodox Muslims they no longer use the islamophobes are known to hide behind freedom of speech. However, terms ‘Muslim faith’ or ‘Muslim citizens’ — when Muslims desire to express and defend themselves against the designations that are exclusively reserved for westernized slander of Islam and the leading members of their community, Arabs—,but rather Islamists, Salafists, Wahhabis, freedom of speech and the right of self-defense no longer seem extremists, fanatics, fundamentalists and other ‘ist- applicable… ending’ words. 195

Research for this article has been conducted in the library of ‘Dar al-Hadith Ma’bar’ (Yemen), I would therefore like to thank Shaikh Muhammad al-Imam for letting me use the library of his precious institute.

Until this day, France doesn’t have a law forbidding hatred of Islam, or any form of Islam-bashing. This has 31


Is Stephane Lacroix truly an expert on Salafism?