Response to Shaykh Ismail Batel Al Halafi
You have taken Shkh Zakarria to task for his use of weak hadith and rightfully so but can we expect the same criticism for Shaykh Hatim Shareef-Al-Awni for his recommendation of the Ihya as a form of tazkiyaa. Does this mean you are also a man of hypocricy and double standards or does that only apply to deomadkhalis or deobandits or whatever name your figment of an imagination can conjure in your not maulvi brain of yours.
*Advices imparted by Shaykh Hatim al-Awni at Jamiatul Ilm Wal Huda, Blackburn – 12/04/2017*
The Shaykh began by making very clear that every exegesis (tafseer) of the Qur’an has the *possibility* of being wrong with the exception of one exegesis, and that is *the Sunnah of the Prophet PBUH* – the Sunnah is the *best* and the *only* flawless exegesis of the Qur’an.
He then went on to emphasise the importance of following *every* aspect of the Prophet’s PBUH life and making his methodologies our ultimate and personal goal in life, he did not merely limit this to the external aspects of the Prophetic life, rather he summarised it as عمل الجوارح وعمل القلب , which means *the physical worship synthesised with the metaphysical*, and both of these must be achieved in conformity to the Prophetic approach.
He continued with the point that the obedience of the Prophet PBUH has been mentioned in *every* chapter of the Qur’an; be it explicitly or implicitly. This is even apparent in the verse of Surah al-Fatihah; _‘Guide us to the path of those people who you have blessed.’_ This poses the question, 'who else has been blessed more than the Prophet PBUH?'
He further clarified as to why at the time of trials, tribulations and confusions it is important to hold fast onto the Sunnah of the Prophet PBUH; the rationale being that his is the only life protected from all forms of error (‘ismah) and so *safety is in his way of life*, as even the great Companions (sahabah) are prone to error.
He also made it a point to emphasise to the *students and scholars* present in regards to the importance and relevance of *studying critically*, he was very firm in this regard and stressed that *‘true knowledge only comes with critical study and questioning.’*
He then opened the floor up to questions, and so one of the students asked, ‘how should one work to improve their metaphysical qualities ( عمل القلب ) according to the Prophetic method?’ He replied thus, ‘firstly, one should *contemplate* on the Qur’an and Sunnah, one should *study* the Prophetic life in every possible way, see how he lived a simple life with little wealth despite being given a lot of gifts (especially later on in his life), in this manner we should try to *adopt a life of simplicity*. One should analyse how the Prophet PBUH dealt with others, for this, one must *read his seerah* and then *strive to inculcate these qualities into his life*.’
He then indicated towards a few books; ‘the reading of the books of scholars who have had experiences in this field is also helpful such as the *Ihya’ of Imam Ghazzali*, and its abridgment by *ibn al-Jawzi (منهاج القاصدين) * and the abridgement of that by *ibn Qudaamah al-Maqdisi (مختصر منهاج القاصدين) *.‘
The Shaykh was then asked by another student in regards to *which books a student of hadeeth should read*, the Shaykh replied to the student, ‘your teachers (shuyookh) are present, it is better to ask them as they will know the level of each student. Indeed, a book intended for the specialist (advanced books) will be of little benefit (if any) for the beginner, and the book directed at the beginner will be of little benefit (if any) for the specialist. So the answer to this question *differs from person to person, depending on their capability and progress*. However, for the *true specialist* and not a mere specialist by name; *every single book is beneficial. He learns and takes some sort of benefit from every book*.’
The Shaykh was then asked a final question regarding the hadith of imitation (tashabbuh) and in regards to what extent tashabbuh can be applied. The Shaykh replied, ‘there are *extremes* on *both sides* in this matter, some people have allowed everything and some have prohibited everything in the name of tashabbuh. What I would say is that there are *two conditions* of tashabbuh, one of these must be present before one can make something impermissible (haram) on the basis of tashabbuh.
1. The action or deed be a *prominent part and parcel of a specific religion* and has *no additional benefits* such as beauty, ease etc.
He then went on to give examples of adorning oneself with a religious symbol that is specific to another religion or a donning a certain type of hat that is specific to a religious group – these are examples of using such items that have no additional benefits and are also a prominent part of a specific religion (thus falling under tashabbuh).
2. The action or deed that is done with the *specific intention of imitation*. However, if the action is not done with the intention of imitation, rather, it is done to adopt beauty or for any other reasons, then it is permissible to do that action, wear those clothes, adopt that style etc. – *the intention is crucial in this second point*.’
The Shaykh’s concluding remarks had a profound impact on the Shaykh himself and those present; he was indicating towards the *love, adoration and mutual respect* Allah and His Prophet PBUH shared with each other, he mentioned, ‘For as long as the Prophet PBUH was in Madinah, he had a deep yearning that Allah change the direction of the qiblah from the Masjidul Aqsa to the Ka’bah and so he would constantly gaze towards the heavens in hope of revelation approving of this desire of his. However, in all this time he *never once explicitly* made this request from Allah, this was because he was the *embodiment of an _’abd_* - he was a true slave and so always content with Allah’s command. Yet, Allah loved his beloved Messenger so much that he granted *not only on his requests but also his wants*, and Allah mentions that the reason for changing the direction of the qiblah was only *تَرْضَاهَا* – *_to please You, Oh Muhammad_*.’ It was at this point that the Shaykh’s voice broke and his eyes welled up.
May the Almighty Allah grant us the opportunity to take benefit from pious and learned scholars by spending time in their company, which are no doubt, a means of spiritual and academic blessings and benefit.