Islamic Studies

A Sufi Salafi Connection: Sh. Abdul Wahab [ra] and Muhammad Hayyat al-Sindi [ra]

By  Dr. John Voll

Taken from shaukani’s blog

A powerful revivalist impulse emerged in the Islamic world of the eighteenth century. Some of the leaders, like Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahab or Shah Wali Allah in India, are well known. However, the foundations of this revivalism remain relatively obscure and personalities who inspired its leaders remain shadowy figures in history. One such person is Muhammad Hayyat al-Sindi, who was a teacher of the founder of the Wahabi movement. A closer examination of this Medinese scholar and the intellectual community of which he was a part can provide insight into the conditions which helped to inspire a prominent revivalist. Even more important, however, such analysis provides a basis for discerning some of the relationships among a number of the major eighteenth century movements. Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahab came to Madina as a relatively young scholar and studied under Muhammad Hayyat al-Sindi. He was introduced to this teacher by ‘Abdallah ibn Ibrahim ibn Sayf, another scholar with whom he had studied. Scholars have described Muhammad Hayyat as having an important influence on Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahab, encouraging him in his developing determination to denounce rigid imitation of medieval commentaries and to utilize informed individual analysis (ijithad).

Muhammad Hayyat also taught Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahab a rejection of popular religious practices associated with ‘ saints ‘ and their tombs that is similar to later Wahabi teaching. It is apparent, then, that Muhammad Hayyat, and his general intellectual milieu, have some importance for an understanding of the origins of at least the Wahabi revivalist impulse. Muhammad Hayyat appears to have had a modest fame in his day as a teacher of hadith. Major historians of his time like ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Jabarti and Muhammad Khalil al-Muradi gave him some notice, but he was not one of the dominant intellectual leaders of the period. He was, rather, a quiet scholar who attracted a variety of students and who participated in a vigorous community of hadith scholarship in Madina. Only a general outline of his life is given in the biography. He was born in a village in Sind, in present-day Pakistan and traveled in the province to get his basic education. From there he went to the holy cities in Arabia, where he settled, first as a student and then as a teacher, becoming, in the praise rhetoric of al-Muradi, the ‘bearer of the banner of the Sunna in Madina.

As a student, Muhammad Hayyat was associated with a number of the prominent teachers of his time. In terms of his own life, the most important of these was Abi al-Hasan Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Hadi al-Sindi, like himself an emigrant from Sind. Abi a1-Hasan had attained substantial fame as a teacher in the Prophet’s mosque and Muhammad Hayyat became his close associate, eventually taking over his teaching sessions after Abi al-Hasan’s death. Three other teachers are also mentioned: ‘Abdallah ibn Salim al-Bagri, Hasan ibn ‘li al-’Ajami, and Abi al-Tahir Muhammad ibn Ibrahim al-Kirini. In addition, it is noted that he was initiated into the Naqshabandiyys tariqa by ‘Abd al-Rahmin al-Saqqaf.

There is some diversity among the four ‘ academic ‘ teachers, but in certain respects they have basic similarities that help to define Muhammad Hayyat’s intellectual position. They are diverse in terms of madhhab and origin. Two are Hanafi and two are Shafi’i. One was born in India and, while the other three were born in the Hijaz, their families had come to the region relatively recently,’Abdallah’s from Basra, Aba al-Tahir’s from Persian and Hasan’s name could imply a foreign, possibly Persian, background. However, these men had a distinctive feature in common : they appear to have been strongly influenced, especially in hadith study, by the same general school of thought.

The most obvious feature in their common background is their relationship to Ibrahim ibn Hasan al-Kirini, a famous Medinese teacher of that time. Three of the four-’Abdallah, Abi al-Hasan, and Abd a1-Tahir-were students of Ibrahim. (Abi al-Tahir was his son.) The fourth, Hasan al-’Ajami, appears to have been older, and studied with Ibrahim’s major teacher Amad al-Qashashi,as well as other prominent teachers of Ibrahim. A more detailed examination of the instructors of Muhammad Hayyat’s teachers emphasizes their scholarly linkages even further. While Ibrahim al-Kirini seems to have been a dominant figure in this scholarly group in the holy cities, he is, in a broader picture, only a focal point within a larger web of intellectual interrelationships, which appear for this group to centre around two prominent teachers of an older generation, Ahmad al-Qashiishi in Arabia and Muhammad al-Babili in Egypt. All four of Muhammad Hayyii’s instructors have close links with these two men.

Three of the four were students of al-Babili, along with Ibrahim, and only Ibrahim’s son, Abi at-Tahir, did not have direct contact since he was too young. If one constructs an ‘ intellectual family tree ‘, Muhammad Hayyat had at least eight lines of connexion with al-Biibili. Similar ties can be seen with al-Qashashi. Ibrahim al-Kirini was his successor in his major teaching post, so the ties with Ibrahim lead to al-Qashashi. In addition to Hasan al-’Ajami’s direct connexion with al-Qashashi, there are at least four other instructors of Muhammad Hayyat’s teachers who were students of al-Qashashi. Thus, in the ‘ family tree ‘ there are at least six lines linking Muhammad Hayyat with al-Qashashi. The interconnected nature of this ‘ academic community ‘ is further emphasized by the fact that five of the six men who are parts of the linkage between Muhammad Hayyat and al-Qashashi were also links between him and al-Babili.

The picture that emerges from this pattern of student-teacher relationships is one of a relatively closely intertwined intellectual community. There is no evidence to show that this ‘ school ‘ was in any way formally organized. However, it seems safe to assume that these scholars had at least some basic common views and either knew each other personally or were well known to each other by reputation. This particular group or tradition was centred in Makka and Madina, although most of the men had relatively wide-ranging educations. The most common place to which they went for further education was Egypt, with the result of the close ties with the Egyptian teacher, al-Babili. In addition, many of the group took advantage of the educational opportunities provided by scholars coming to the holy cities on pilgrimage. Thus the names of prominent scholars from throughout the Islamic world appear on some of the teacher lists.

A total of names appear in biographies as either teachers of Muhammad Hayyat or their teachers. Of these, 16 appear as a part of the integrated ‘ family tree ‘ of student-teacher relations, while 11 appear as teacher of only one of the men and no other direct connexion is indicated in the biographies. This grouping of scholars as a whole has a number of interesting characteristics. The group is more broadly cosmopolitan than the five direct teachers of Muhammad Hayyat. Their birthplaces and areas of early study range from India and Persia to Algiers and Morocco. The group as a whole is widely traveled and very few received their full education in just one or two places. Some had direct dealings with political and military officials but none of them held a significant ‘ official ‘ religious post for any length of time, except for one teacher o f Hasan al-’Ajami. That man was the Hanafi Mufti of ‘ the Hijaz regions and al-Madina.

Perhaps related to this is the fact that out of the 24 scholars whose madhhab is given or can be reasonably inferred, 12 only three, including this mufti and al-’Ajami, are Hanafi. The third, Abi a1-Hasan al-Sindi, was of Indian origin. The prominence of the Hanafi madhhabin India may explain his position and also Muhammad Hayyat’s own atypicality in this regard, since he was also a Hanafi. The five scholars of Maghribi origin were Maliki in madhhab. All of the remaining 16 were Shafi’i. Especially in the light of the emphasis often given to the Hanbali background of Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab, it is remarkable to note that none of the teachers, or even the teachers of the teachers, of Muhammad Hayyat, is identified as Hanbali. Thus, while the group is not explicitly defined by madhhab affiliation, it does appear to have some relationship to the legal schools. The core of the group is Shafi’i, with a solid leaven of Maliki scholarship. It was not closed to other schools but their participation was limited.

It is also notable that most of these 27 scholars had some Shafi affiliations. This is most frequently described in general terms rather than having the name of a specific tariqa given. One order that is specifically mentioned is the Naqshabandiyya, into which Muhammad Hayyat was initiated. Perhaps the most notable Naqshabandiyya affiliates in the general group are Ibrahim al-Kirini and Ahmad al-Qashashi. Thus while little concrete can be said about the specific affiliations of this cluster of scholars, it is possible to note that they were not opposed to Sufism and at least some of them were affiliated with the reformist Naqshabandiyya tradition.

This community of scholars is the context within which Muhammad Hayyat taught. Available sources provide information about 20 students who studied under him in Madina. An examination of these men aids in providing a fuller picture of the educational background of Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab. In a broader sense it provides a case study in the spread of influence of the group of scholars of which Muhammad Hayyat was a part. The importance of being located in Madina is illustrated by the variety of the students. The Medinese scholarly community in general was able to contact people from throughout the world of Islam because of the Pilgrimage. This means, however, that a list of the students of any Hijazi scholar will tend to be heterogeneous and not from particular academic group, since many would only stay in Madina for a relatively short time before returning home. At the same time, it was thus possible for Medinese scholars to have at least some influence over the development of Islam in many different areas.

The list of students of Muhammad Hayyat under study here has a recognizable bias. It is compiled primarily on the basis of biographical information appearing in the works of al-Muriidi and al-Jabarti. As a result, all 20 men have some connection with the eastern Arabic-speaking world and none of the men listed by these two historians settled as mature scholars outside of that region. However, some hint of the broader nature of Muhammad Hayyat’s ’student body ‘ can be seen in the birthplaces. Three of them were born in the eastern Islamic world and three came from the regions of Rum. The remaining 14 all came from the eastern Arab world, but even here there is substantial diversity. Four were born in Madina and four came from Aleppo, and the other six came from different places : one each from Yaman, Najd, Jerusalem, Baghdad, Nablus, and Damascus. It is noteworthy that while a number of these students had North African teachers and Muhammad Hayyat himself appears to have had associations with North African scholars, none of his listed students are of North African origin. Since both al-Muradi and al-Jabarti are quite conscious of the activities of Maghribi scholars, this may indicate something more than just data bias. It is possible that a Hanafi teacher like Muhammad Hayyat with ‘ eastern ‘ connexions would not attract Maliki scholars in the same way that some of his Shafi’i colleagues would.

In general terms of madhhab affiliation, none of Muhammad Hayyat’s listed students were Maliki. In contrast to the general scholarly community of which he appears to have been a part, the majority of his students (twelve) were Hanafi and only five were Shafi’i. Out of the twelve Hanafis, seven either came to hold ‘ official’ religious positions or became in some way closely associated with the Ottoman state. Four of the other five were Shafi shaykhs or teachers of Sufism, and only one was a regular teacher of hadith. ls In contrast to this, all five of the Shafi’i students had little or no direct connexion with ‘religious officialdom ‘ and were basically scholar teachers in the various legal sciences. Among the three other students, one was a Sufi recluse, whose madhab given, the second was a prominent Hanbali teacher of madhab in Nablus, and the remaining student was Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab himself, a Hanbali whose family had had and maintained close connexions with local ruling princes in central Arabia.

Similar diversity can be seen in terms of the associations of this group of students with the Shafi tradition. Of the 20 scholars, 12 are explicitly noted as participating directly in some way in Sufism. Seven are identified as members of major tariqas, three either taught or wrote Sufi books, one was a miracle-working Sufi recluse, and one may said to be ‘ beloved of the people of the tariqas. Within this grouping there is no apparent correlation between Sufi affiliation and either geographic origin or madhhab. Even in the case of the two Hanbalis, one, Muhammad al-Saffiirini, had association with a tariqa. This was not unusual among eighteenth-century Hanbalis in the Syrian region.

There are relatively few tariqas that are explicitly mentioned. The most frequently noted is the Naqshabandiyya. Four of the seven are said to be members of this order. The second order of apparent importance in this group is the Khalwatiyya, with the other three men noted as affiliates. Although two of the students were mernbers of more than one order, none of the seven is said to have been a member of both the Khalwatiyya and the Naqshabandiyya. One man from each of these two orders was described as having Qadiriyya connexions. The only other orders mentioned by name are the ‘Aydarusiyya and the Wafii’iyya, which are other tariqas of the Naqshabandi/Qadiri, ‘Abd al-Rahman al-’Aydarisi.

Although the number of Khalwatiyya and Naqshabandiyya listed members is small, these particular students also help to define the religious scholarly community of which Muhammad Hayyat was a part. The Naqshabandi students are among the more prominent members of that period in the eastern Arab world: Ismail al-Uskandari was the ‘ shaykh of the Naqshabandi group in Madina ‘, while ‘Ali al-Muradi was the senior member of the leading Naqshabandi family in Syria and the Hanafi Mufti of Damascus for many years, had the Ottoman Sultan as a patron. ‘Abd al-Rahman al-’Aydarusi, a third Naqshabandi, was a prominent member of the great ‘Aydarus family which provided teachers and religious leaders for communities stretching from India to Cairo. The fourth listed member of the order was an Indian scholar who settled in Damascus under the patronage of the Muradi family. Thus Muhammad Hayyat, himself a Naqshabandi, can be said to have been associated, both through his teachers and his students, with some of the most prominent and influential groups within that tariqa as it was established in the eastern Arab world.

Although Muhammad Hayyat’s connexions with the Khalwatiyya do not appear to be as close, it is certainly worth noting that two of his three Khalwati students were associated with that order through the leading reviver of that tradition, Mustafa al-Bakri. One of these was Muhammad al-Samman, a leading student of al-Bakri. In addition, Mustafa himself studied under one of Muhammad Hayyat’s teachers, ‘Abdallah al-Basri, and one of the sons of Ibrahim al-Kiruni, as well as other men in the community of scholars with whom Muhammad Hayyat was associated. Thus, while the ties are more generalized, the new revivalist Khalwati tradition of Mustafa al-Bakri also appears to play a part in Muhammad Hayyat’s personal milieu. Through examining his students and his teachers, the position of Muhammad Hayyat al-Sindi thus becomes clearer. He was a quiet teacher of hadith in Madina but was in contact with and a part of some of the major movements of his day. Many of his students became men of some importance, as notables in the religious ‘ establishment, as tariqa leaders, or as teachers of hadith.

Although Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab is now the best-known ‘ revivalist among his students, he was not the only student with that approach. The others included Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Karim al-Samman, the student of al-Bakri whose own tariqa, the Sammaniyya, had influence in Yaman and the eastern Sudan, and Muhammad al-Saffarini, who came to dominate Hanbali scholarship in Nablus, one of the smaller centres of the madhhab. Al-Saffarini was said to have been ‘victorious for the Sunna and a suppressor of innovation. Scholars often search for possible sources of the ideas and inspirations of important historical figures. In terms of Islamic fundamentalism, many attempts have been made to show how the Wahhabis influenced other revivalist movements, but less has been done in analysing the context out of which Wahhabism itself grew. It certainly is possible to note the potential fundamentalism of the Hanbali tradition, especially as defined by Ibn Taymiyya.

It is, however, not at all clear that the spirit of Ibn Taymiyya was the dominant one among the Hanbalis of the eastern Arab world in the eighteenth century. It was a part of Muhammad Ibn Abd Wahab’s inspiratonib but one might also see inspiration for vigorous reform coining from the study of hadith as presented by Muhammad Hayyat. Through this teacher, Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab certainly must have had an introduction to a broader world of religious scholarship within which ideas of reform were developing. This picture is limited, however, if one simply looks at the brief information about Muhammad Hayaat himself. When the group of which he is a part is analysed, the point becomes stronger. Through Muhammad Hayyat, the founder of the Wahhabiyya can be seen in contact with the eighteenth-century revivalist impulses of the Naqshabandiyya and Khalwatiyya traditions. This line of analysis provides an even broader set of less direct connexions. The community of teachers in which Muhammad Hayyat participated played a quiet but important role in the Islamic world of that era. When the great Indian reformer Shah Wali Allah came to Arabia, he studied hadith under Muhammad Hayyat’s teacher, Abi ‘at-Tahir Muhammad ibn Ibrahim al-Kirrani. At a slightly earlier date, the students of Ibrghim al-Kiirani included Shaykh Yusuf, who later led a holy war against the Dutch in Indonesia and was exiled to South Africa, and ‘Abd al-Ra’iif of Singkel, who was a major influence in the revival of orthodox Sufism in Sumatra.

Thus, through Muhammad Hayyat al-Sindi and his scholarly tradition, one can place the founder of the Wahhabi movement in a world of Islamic revivalism that stretches from Indonesia to Africa. These various eighteenth-century movements assumed varying forms depending on local conditions and the personalities of the leaders. There is, however, a remarkable convergence of background around the small group of teachers of hadith in the holy cities. Men like Muhammad Hayyat do not often have a prominent place in history, but a careful analysis of their life and context can provide an opening to a better understanding of the major movements in history


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  • Any honest unbiased researcher of the history of Islamic Jurisprudence (madhahib) and thought (Fikr/turuq da’wiyyah) will find two interesting points regarding this article and the revivalist movement of Muhammad ibn Abdul Wahhab (ra).

    1- There was a period ranging between between 6 to 8 centuries according to different accounts where the vast majority of scholars among the 4 madhhabs fell into complete taqlid. This period is known for the time in which the doors of Ijtihad were closed. This created a block of rulings now seen in many taqleedy or comparitve fiqh books where it seems there was an agreed upon opinion or strong Jumhoor about many issues. In reality, it wouldn’t seem as such if Ijtihad was more prevelant throughout that huge block of time.

    2- As far as the common thought about how to be a better Muslim and what makes you a better da’ee or should I say the “Fikr” that had spread across the Muslim lands at that time was known as Sufism. Indiviually, although I have no problem with Sufi orders who are following the Qur’an and Sunnah, I still think all would be better off if we just called ourselves Muslims and that our scholars would all focus on the tarbiyyah of sound knowledge, akhlaq, dhikr, and the hope, fear, and love of Allah without calling it other than “the Sunnah”, thus leaving behind us the baggage of Sufism. At any rate back to the point at hand the fact of the matter is that man of these Sufi orders were led by uneducated and/or purposely following innovation and even in lesser cases Shirk for delusions of grandeur. *Wait a second my dear Sufi Brothers and Sisters before jumping into war with me read on*

    Now when looking at the thought (Fikr) of Muhammad ibn Abdul-Wahhab in light of these two points. He and his teachers (many of whom were following sufi reform tariqah’s) simply came to the realization that the danger in these forms of extreme taqleed has shown its ugly face in many facets of the weakness of our Ummah. The reality is that most of this taqleed stemmed from an innocent respect, esteem, and reverance for these great teachers that they learned from. But it was the Prophet who said “laa takunoo imm’ah”-Don’t be followers. This DOESN’T mean leave our vast legacy of scholarship and interpret Islam on your own as we some some doing incorrectly in the name of As-Salafiyyah. What it means is follow, respect and take from those of knowledge but always be on gaurd and tune into your own indivual heart of hearts with what you do know of the Qur’an and Sunnah and don’t blindly follow anyone. Don’t become carbon copies or clones. Follow Islam to the best of your ability and know that no one is on the Haqq but rasool Allah (saws) and his companions so follow their prevelant practices (manhaj) and don’t follow some twisted interpretation of one or two uncommon events because some Shaikh told you this is the way to worship. Regardless of the shaikhs knowledge or piety he remains a person who is fallable. Accounting the self (Muhasabatun-nafs) is not just in character- more importantly it is in understanding Islam, it’s pioneers and it’s texts.

    Excuse me for the rant. The fact is that there were many Sufi’s who were were sincere followers of the pure Islam according to clear authenitc texts and these students of knowledge leaned towards reform and as we see some of them were Abdul-Wahhab’s teachers. They saw the ignorance, bid’ah and shirk and wanted to do away with it.

    In conclusion Muhammad ibn Abdul-Wahhab was just a scholar like many others. He was not above mistake as in my humble opinion some of his postions have been clearly refuted. His call was for us to not enter/remain into these dangerous forms of taqleed and for this Ummah to purify itself from the influence of man and his innovative tendencies (look at the christians and jews) and review our thought and practice making sure it is in accordance with CLEAR authentic texts and the prevelant methodology of the early generations. Interestingly from reading his books i see a very simple approach to dealing with Islam that makes life and worship easy. This is contrary to what I thought about him from some “quotations (attacks)” I had heard before seeking the truth for myself.

    That being said I think many of his followers misunderstood him and took some of his ideas to the extreme thereby creating fitnah. I encourage anyone to read the introduction of durur as-siniyyah or usool ath-thalatha If you had a bad view of him you will see that your beef is not with him. Many presidents and congresses have used the US system unjustly and went to extremes, Do we blame, Washington, Jefforson, Franklin, and Adams???

  • Sheikh muhammad abdul wahhab was the mujadid rahimullah, May Allah grant him paradise forgive his sins. Ameen. We love the sheikh , he was imam dawah.

    May Allah reward him and people like him; who uphold the Tauhid&sunna and rejects shirk&bida and its allies

  • Sheikh muhammad abdul wahhab was the mujadid rahimullah, May Allah grant him paradise forgive his sins. Ameen. We love the sheikh , he was imam dawah.

    May Allah reward him and people like him; who uphold the Tauhid&sunna and rejects shirk&bida and its allies. stop using the term wahabi movement because there is no such a thing. Rather there is taking the quran andsunna with the understanding of pious predessors.

  • So Shaykh Abdul Wahhab’s teacher was a Desi? What what!!! Hehe 😛

    I remember once sitting with two bros, one of whom had issues with a certain Islamic educational organization.

    “(But I must know) do they or do they not ascribe to the books by Muhammad Ibn Abdul Wahhab?” he asked sincerely.

    I politely asked him, “Have you ever even read a book by Ibn Abdul Wahhab? Kitab at-Tawheed is literally a compilation of ayats from the Quran and Hadith…”

    Interesting post, Imam Suhaib. Stay strong.


  • While John Voll makes an interesting thesis, subsequent Western Academians have raised some very interesting objections to the notion that a small circle of hadeeth scholars in Madinah were responsible for connecting the major resistance/revivalist movements during the modern era. They point out that the very nature of the science of hadeeth scholarship is to create chains of transmission. However, merely being a link in such a chain did not necessarily result in a massive transmission of knowledge. Some authors point out that while many of these ‘Ulema held common chains of transmission, they had radically divergent paradigms of revival ranging from the scholarly tradition to politics to militant movements and differed on key core issues ranging from following a madhab, tasawwuf, bid’a, jihad, the role of Islam in politics, and even how to respond to European expansion and whether to respond at all.

    See “The Origins and Objectives of Islamic Revivalist Thought, 1750-1850” by Ahmed Dallal who compares Shaykh Muhammad ibn AbdulWahhab, Shah Waliullah, Imam Sanusi, and Shaykh Uthman Dan Fodio.

  • Jinnzaman said:

    On December 7, 2007 at 6:40 pm jinnzaman Said:

    While John Voll makes an interesting thesis, subsequent Western Academicians have raised some very interesting objections to the notion that a small circle of hadeeth scholars in Madinah were responsible for conecting the major resistance/revivalist movements during the modern era. They point out that the very nature of the science of hadeeth scholarship is to create chains of transmission. However, merely being a link in such a chain did not necessarily result in a massive transmission of knowledge. Some authors point out that while many of these ‘Ulema held common chains of transmission, they had radically divergent paradigms of revival ranging from the scholarly tradition to politics to militant movements and differed on key core issues ranging from following a madhab, tasawwuf, bid’a, jihad, the role of Islam in politics, and even how to respond to European expansion and whether to respond at all.

    See “The Origins and Objectives of Islamic Revivalist Thought, 1750-1850″ by Ahmed Dallal who compares Shaykh Muhammad ibn AbdulWahhab, Shah Waliullah, Imam Sanusi, and Shaykh Uthman Dan Fodio.

    Abul-Hussein said:


    While I can appreciate your remarks they do not fit very tightly with the reality and character of revival but are marked by a sociological analysis that is consumed by the fallacy of historicism and by holding to the idea of that revivers held “radically divergent paradigms of revival” we slide into relativity. If what you claim is true then there is no such thing as revival but rather what there is the assertion and dominance of various readings of Islam brought about by various figures. In fact, there is no Islam according to this logic there are Islams. So the Prophet (saw) did not bring constant principles that constitute Islam in this scenario (Naudhu Billah) but rather brought a version a reading of what Islam is.

    Given the problems that emerge from your reading we need to correct our understanding by way of clarifying some points.

    The first being most scholars who engaged in the revival effort of the 18th century had commonality in isnad meaning somewhere along the line of their scholarly career they studied with the same teachers or had a common link in their isnad. It surprises me that you would belittle the science of hadith by seemingly supporting a notion that its aim is to multiple chains. This is not correct the science of hadith is not aimed at multiplying chains it has other ends which are not the topic of this entry.

    Secondly, as a traditionalist I thought that you would see the value of isnad in Islamic scholarship but rather you went with a different interpretation of events one that is sociological.

    Thirdly, the article that you refer to, after reading it, I have to say it has no support for your claim regarding hadith scholars. Although it does outline some ideas of the Imam of revival it is a defense against the tendency in Western scholarship to label mujadideen of this period (18th century) as fundamentalists as Dallal himself pointed out. So his method is to emphasis the uniqueness of each scholar he deals with so as to finally isolate Shaikh Muhammad Bin Abul Wahab (r). One of the things that we learn from the masterpiece of Saviours Of Islamic Spirit is that revival consists of certain constant principles that are unchanging and we see this to be the case in the study of various diverse figures attributed to revivalism. So while you following Dallal in his emphasis on flux and change and disparity I emphasize congruity, constancy and interconnectedness after all at minimum he bunched a group of diverse figures and discusses them under the idea of revival they must have some commonality in order for this to be effected.

    It is quite clear that scholars involved in revival had some differences but not to the degree that you claim. They all agreed on the reality and aim of tasawwuf, ijtihad, and they all addressed bi’dah and they all dealt with the problem of outside influences and none were against madhabs but rather saw a problem in madhab bias these are all constants that permeate in the thought of these Imams of revival. Now maybe in detail they differed but that differing is not such that it dissolves the constants which show a common thread in their efforts.

    In addition, they are all tied together by scholarly isnad. Revival is not about producing knowledge it is about reviving what has gone into neglect. If you do a survey of the works of the Imams of Revival rather than read tertiary sources regarding their ideas it becomes clear that revival (tajdeed) is imprinted in their methods and ideas and there is more that unites their efforts than there is that makes them so unique that they have nothing in common.

    We must also mention that Islamically we hold tajdeed to be a spiritual phenomena as well as a human effort after the analysis is done it is inspired by Allah (swt). Sometimes the sociology of ideas misses this point in the name of objectivity and under the influence of positivism and materialism. Upon reading, the work of Shaikh Uthman Dan Fodio (r), Shah Wali Ullah, Muhammad Ibn Abdul Wahab and Imam Sanusi it is clear that there are common threads between these scholars. These threads connect them to others like Ahmad Sir Hindi, Shaukani, Hasan al Bannah, Imam Wazier, Said Nursi and a whole list of others so that what emerges is that the Ummah for the last three centuries has been pushed by a great number of revivers and this becomes clear upon doing the home work and looking at source texts.

    Jinnzaman if you are serious take another look at the articles and go to some primary sources then let us continue this exchange, inshAllah. Also listen to Shaikh Abdullah Hakim Quick lecture on Uthman Dan Fodio he did a Phd on him and he lists a scholarly isnad that ties most of the revivers together by way of isnad this in itself has nothing to do with hadith sciences directly but rather is a product of it. This chain that he mentions also shows the role of the scholars of Hind in the effort of revival and when we look a little deeper we learn of the interconnection between Yemen and Hind and when we look a little deeper we discover a connection between Egypt and Timbuktu and Iraq and Egypt and Iraq and Dehli and Turkey and we see a connection between Timbuktu and the Maghrib and Maghrib and Granada and Granada and Al Andalus and Al Andalus and the Hijaz etc. Revival is a continuous effort that happens every century, I believe.

    In Islamic sciences we have something called kulliyaat and juziyaat or as it is said in philosophy -Universals and Particulars there is also Substance and Accidents. You are focusing on particulars and accidents and leaving aside the crux -the constants. Contrary to the popular idea of “Islams” Traditional Islam, Political Islam, Radical Islam, Salafist Islam etc. there is only “Islam” this ideas of Islams is born in the halls of anthropology. We can’t find support for the idea of Islams in the Qur’an mention is made of Islam in the singular only. By reducing “revival” to the idea of revivalist projects what we get is the idea of Islams. In effect this translates into relativising Islam, reducing it to cultural phenomena and custom equal to any other culture or custom. This is one of the fundamental problems with using Western research methods to study Islam that is they are rooted in relativistic Western Philosophy which claims an objectivity which is non-existent.

    Allahu Al’am Wa Al-Aleem Wa Salatu Wa Salam Ala Al Mustafa


  • Assalamu alaikum

    Sidi, I’m not sure where you got the impression that I was questioning the role of the science of hadeeth itself, I was merely pointing out that John Voll’s thesis isn’t conclusively established in the Academic tradition and there are alternative views. If you are going to cite a thinker, it would be wise to give your readers a more balanced view by showing the arguments of people who criticized them. What I believe as a traditionalist is not the issue here, I obviously recognize the importance of the science of hadeeth and its contributions to Islamic revival. The issue is a historical claim.

    Dallal’s claim is that while some of the interactions between the various scholars of hadeeth was quite extensive, for others, it was minimal and even if they did interact, his argument is that it didn’t effect the paradigms which they espoused to revival which were entirely distinct. If one scrutinizes the ideas of bid’a, Shaykh Uthman Dan Fodio and Shaykh Muhammad Ibn AbdulWahhab were pretty diverse. Shaykh Muhammad Ibn Abdul Wahhab’s ideas regarding the Islamic sciences seemed to be more of rejection (ilm ul kalam, tasawwuf) rather than Shah Waliullah’s approach towards synthesis. Imam Sanusi’s seemingly apolitical views contrast with the views of the political-military actions of Shaykh Uthman Dan Fodio and Shaykh Muhammad Ibn Abdulwahhab. While the Sunnah played a clear role in all of the movements, they interpreted the Sunnah (and conversely, bid’a) differently as well. Moreover, it shouldn’t come to a surprise that they discussed the Sunnah so extensively in their works as they were scholars of hadeeth. So according to Dallal, the similarities are inherent within the nature of Islam itself and the science of hadeeth and the differences between these Scholars was too divergent to be classified as emanating from a single cause. His argument focuses on the causal disconnect, but he doesn’t reject a “but-for” causation connection. He merely states that its a bit of a stretch that the hadeeth scholarship circle in Madinah “caused” the other Islamic revivalist movements. His view is that it merely became a focal point for revivalist movements that were occurring anyway and it had more to do with geography (madinah) then with ideology. That’s Dallal’s argument in a nutshell.

    Again, what Dallal believes and what I believe are entirely different. I also wanted to reiterate that if you’re going to present Voll as a credible source, then you should present Dallal as well.

  • salaamu alaikum,

    Brother SaqibSaab, you have accidentally misrepresented (because you may have misunderstood) the context in which i was asking that question (if you are referring to me).

  • salamu alaikum ya ahlal qabri….
    we are the brothers…we are one nation as muslim,mu’min,muttaqin,solihin….came together follow Rasulullah…we have one Nabiyy….

  • How could anyone put radhiallahu anhum behind M. Ibn Abdul Wahhab’s name? Are you serious? After all the warnings scholars have given against him, we’re going to write comments in favor of him and even call him a mujaddid? Really?
    What is Shaykh SW’s opinion of this?

  • What, Mr. Abu Majeed, is a Taqleedy fiqh book?!

    Never came across anything like that. I’ve heard this several times that Ummah’s weakness lie in Taqleed but I’ve failed to understand how. General masses doing taqleed has never been a problem rather what causes problem is when people start practicing the opposite. Ijtihad in new issues a must but for competent scholars, not laities.

    Any extreme when when opposed violently, gives birth to another extreme and that’s what happened in the case of Sh. Muhammad Ibn Abdul Wahhab. A lot of problem we face today as an ummah are rooted in Shaikh’s ideas and his movement.

  • After reading this article i just confirmed about this hadees

    Hudhaifa Ibn al Yaman (ra) said that the Prophet (saw) said: Verily, I fear about a man from you who will read the Qur’an so much that his face will become enlightened and he will come to personify Islam. This will continue until Allah desires. Then these things will be taken away from him when he will disregard them by putting them all behind his back and will attack his neighbor with the sword accusing of Shirk (grave worshipers).

    The Prophet was asked – which of the two will be deserving of such an accusation? – The attacker or the attacked? The Prophet replied – the attacker (the one accusing the other of Shirk)

    [Narrated by Ibn Hibban in his Sahih, Tahqiq Nasir Albani, Volume 001, Page No. 200, Hadith Number 81] Nasir Albani said: ‘this hadith is hasan’ also see [Silsilat al-ahadith al-sahihah – Albani Volume 007-A, Page No. 605, Hadith Number 3201]

    History prove this hadees.

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