Thursday, June 18, 2009


In the name of Allah (SWT) the Most Beneficent and Most Compassionate


(Part 22)

What is Islamic Theology ?

Islamic theology is also known as (i) Ilm al-Usul (the science of basic principles of Islam) and (ii) Ilm At-Tawhid (the science of affirming the Unity of Allah -SWT). It is also known as Ilm al-Kalam (the Science of Debate). The meaning of Arabic word ‘Kalam’ is ‘speech’, but in Islamic theology, it means 'discussion', 'argument' or 'debate' on Correct Islamic Faith.

But I define Islamic theology as follows. ‘To know the facts of things, as they are, in the light of Quran and Sunnah, is Islamic theology’. In other words, Islamic theology is ‘Islamic Wisdom’.

Those who engage in discussions of Islamic faith, about Allah's (SWT) Unity and His attributes are known as ‘Islamic Theologians’ (Mutakallimun).

Who is Islamic Theologian ?

An Islamic scholar who impedes the assaults on Islamic beliefs and explains Correct Islamic Faith to the people with conclusive evidence from Quran and Hadith and exposes the ill gotten ‘ideas’ of Non-Muslim philosophers and some Muslim sects who mislead people in the name of religion. The main opponents of Islamic theologian are Non-Muslim philosophers and some misguided Muslim sects.

When the human body gets sick, it starts deteriorating fast. Gradually many complication occur in the functioning of vital internal organs that results in the death of the person. When we are sick, we refer to medical doctors, sometimes to specialists who conducts several medical tests and as per their experience suggest medicines and controlled food which helps us in fast recovery.

Human being is the combination of Human body and human soul. Like the human body, human soul also gets sick. The primary sources of sickness of human soul are faithlessness in Allah (SWT) and bad deeds. When human soul is sick, we need to first diagnose the problem of sickness by referring to the Doctor of Soul.

Faithlessness in Allah (SWT) is like cancer of Human soul. Tyranny, killing of human beings in the name of religion, caste, region; disregard for the fundamental rights of other human beings; love of more wealth, unnecessary comforts, lust, exploitation of women and men and all unlawful activities are sicknesses of human soul. People suffering from these ailments need treatment. Who can treat human soul’s ailments. A Quran conner (who has memorized Quran) cannot do anything about it. A Hadith Scholar cannot do much in this context. An Islamic Jurisprudential expert (Faqih) cannot do much. What a Faqih can do? At the most, he may order for the arrest of the criminal (if he is a judge) and punish him as per the law. Similarly, a scholar of Quran or Hadith can only advise the ailing person and try to explain issues in the light of Quran and Hadith. We all know that giving sermons to the people who are spiritually sick generally does not work. If we give a virtuous sermon to a serial killer, we know what effect it will have on him. A fraudulent faith healer or a look alike Sufi baba cheater complicates the ailment further.

Who are the professional doctors who can really make the difference and bring back the ailing soul to normalcy? They are Awliya Allah or Sufi Shaikhs of Ihsan. Their job is to cleans people's hearts and reform people's anima (tazkia nafs).

It is important to note that no Islamic sect (including Salafis and Shias) has ever denied the virtuous Islamic characters of Sufi Shaikhs. Ibn Taymiyyah, the founder of Salafi sect has praised Islamic virtues of Sufis of his time and before his time. All Islamic sects are united on the truthfulness and Islamic deeds of Sufis, accept them as Awliya Allah and regard them as real virtuous Muslims. Their dispute is with 'look alike Sufis' who cheat people in the name of religion. We also condemn all those who mislead people in the name of religion, try to impose their ill gotten views and take advantage of gullible Muslims.

Who is real Islamic Sufi or Shaikh of Ihsan or Wali Allah ?

He is the friend of Allah (SWT), an example in ‘theory and practice’ of Islam. He is inspired with Islamic Wisdom though he may not be knowing a few Islamic terms. His heart is purified and his mind is illuminated with Islamic light. He sees facts of things precisely, as they are. His perpetual focus of attention is the Unity of Allah (SWT). He walks on the foot steps of Prophet Mohammad (SAWS).

As an efficient Doctor of Islamic intrinsic reality, he diagnoses the ailments of our souls and suggests appropriate remedies. He shows people the rightful practices of Islam, purifies their hearts, cleanse them from worldly desires and helps them to get close to Allah (SWT) and His Apostle (SAWS).

He is Islamic doctor of theology who explains Islamic faith and practices to people with irrefutable evidence from Quran, Hadith and from apparent happenings in the Cosmos. He exposes the ill gotten ‘tricks’ of Non-Muslim theosophists and misguided Muslim sects. The main opponents of Sufi Shaikhs are Non-Muslim Theosophists, and some misguided Muslim Sects.

It is in Quran - ‘Behold the friends of Allah –SWT! On them shall come no fear, nor shall they grieve. These are they, who have believed in Allah –SWT and are mindful of Him (the feeling of closeness of Allah –SWT) and (have consequently abstained from everything evil). To them tidings come (from Allah-SWT) of a happy life both in this world and in Hereafter. The Word of Allah –SWT is never revoked. This in itself is a great felicity’ (Younus – 62- 64).

Let us look at this verse once again. Allah (SWT) is commanding the mankind to, ‘look at His friends (among the people). On them shall come ‘no fear’, ‘nor shall they grieve’. What is the meaning of this? It means, they are spiritually very strong and do not fear from any evil. What is the meaning of ‘nor shall they grieve’? It means that their souls do not fall sick. They may look frail physically, but they are bold and strong spiritually. They are favorites of Allah (SWT).

With the above, we come to know that there is one class of Muslims, whose beliefs are accepted by all Sects as truthful. Allah (SWT) also praises them in Quran. Thus, as per Prophet’s (SAWS) Hadith, out of 73 sects, they are the real Muslims who are on the right path of Islam. They will Inshallah get salvation on the Day of Judgment.

The rest of Muslim sects will also get salvation provided they correct their Islamic faith and follow the foot steps of Prophet Mohammad (SAWS), his companions and Sufi Shaikhs of Ihsan.

It is in Quran - ' And hold fast, all together, by the rope which Allah (SWT) (stretches out for you), and be not divided among yourselves; and remember with gratitude Allah’s (SWT) favor on you; for you were enemies and He joined your hearts in love, so that by His Grace, you became brethren; and you were on the brink of the pit of Fire, and He saved you from it. Thus Allah (SWT) makes His Signs clear to you so that you may be guided. (Aal-e-Imran – 103).

It is clearly evident that Sufi Shaikhs are holding on to the rope of Allah (SWT) firmly. Let us follow suit. Muslim sects are not enemies of each other. But they are the victims of misunderstanding of Islamic faith. They are misguided groups. Allah's (SWT) signs are clear for us. Let us come back to the right path of Islam.

It is in Hadith - Prophet Mohammad (SAWS) said, Allah (SWT) will not allow my entire Ummah to be united on faithlessness; and there will be a group of Muslims who will be under the mercy and beneficence of Allah (SWT). ( Tirmizi - Narrated by Hazrat Abdullah Bin Zubair -RU)

The entire Muslim Ummah and all Muslim sects are united that Sufi Shaikhs are pious Muslims. Therefore, it is abundantly clear that this is the group of Muslims who are on the right path and as per the Hadith, they are the beneficiary of Allah's (SWT) beneficence and mercy.

The question is, are there real Sufis existing in the World today?

Indeed, they do exist, though their numbers may be dwindling as we are heading close to the Day of Resurrection. The dooms day will not happen until one Sufi Shaikh of Ihsan is available in the World. We are living in this world, this itself is the testimony that Sufi Shaiks, the friends of Allah (SWT) are there among us. They generally remain hidden from people's eyes as they lead a simple life. It is difficult to recognize them among crowds. When there will not be a single friend of Allah (SWT) on this earth, the end of the world will be ordered. Because, at that time Allah (SWT) will not be interested to carry on with this universe.

How can we find real Sufis and and learn Islam in their Company?

The most important objective in front of us is to get salvation on the Day of Judgment. Let us forget about our sects' theories. The best way is to perform a 2 Rakah Salah at the end of any obligatory Salah, close our eyes, spend 5 minutes time, turning our total attention towards Allah (SWT) and praying Him to help us find one of these great teachers who can show us the practical side of Islam.

Finding right of path of Islam through books is very difficult because we have thousands of books, translations of Quran and Hadith done by people belonging to various sects. These books misguide us and take us away from the right path. We need an honest teacher, who is the 'friends of Allah -SWT' who could lead us to the right path. Continue this 5 minutes pray at least once during the day until you find this teacher. When you stumble upon him among the masses, your heart will testify that this is the teacher you were looking for. Beware, there are many dacoits and robbers of Islamic faith in the world who misguide you in the guise of a true Muslim. Be aware of them. They grow long beard, wear Islamic dress, talk fluently on Islamic issues but misguide you and take you away from the rightful Islamic path. O' our Lord, keep us safe from the dacoits of faith.

We need to study the life histories of prominent Sufis Shaikhs of Ihsan and find real Sufis among us and try to follow their foot steps. Because, they are the people who are on the right path.

Prophet Mohammad (SAWS) not only conveyed and taught to the people what was sent to him from Allah (SWT), but also showed the operational (practical) side of Islam by acting upon the commandments of Allah (SWT).

It is in Quran – (O’ Prophet – SAWS) Convey and teach people what is sent down to you’ (Al-Ma’ida – 67). At another place in Quran – ‘ The Apostle Mohammad (SAWS) is an exemplary model for all of you’ . (Al-Ahzab -21).

Conveying people what was sent down to the Prophet (SAWS) is Quran. Showing how to fulfill Allah (SWT) commandments is Sunnah. Prophet Mohammad (SAWS) cleansed, purified and reformed peoples’ animas (tazkia nufoos) from his personal attention. This is ‘Tazkia Nafs’ (reformation of anima).

As understanding capacity of people differs from person to person, Prophet Mohammad (SAWS) paid attention towards peoples’ comprehension and expanded their spiritual abilities to absorb the message of Islam. For this purpose, he often cleared the doubts of people on ‘one-on-one’ basis. Hadith books are full of occasions when Prophet Mohammad (SAWS) corrected individuals and answered their questions about correct Islamic faith.

Thus, Prophet Mohammad (SAWS) reformed Muslims in two ways.

(i) By teaching Quran and acting upon the Quranic commandments. These aspects are covered in the study of Quran and Hadith.

(ii) By cleansing and purifying peoples hearts and reforming their attributes (tazkia nafs) by personal attention. This aspect is covered in the study of Islamic Theology.

What is the difference between the (i) study of Quran, (ii) study of Hadith, (iii) Study of Islamic Jurisprudence (Fiqh) and (iv) Study of Islamic Theology?

Study of Quran and Hadith is common for all Muslims. But deducing Fiqh rules from these sources is the work of Doctors of Islamic Jurisprudence. Islamic Ummah has consensus opinion that the 4 Islamic School of thoughts (i) Hanafi, (ii) Maliki, (iii) Shafi’i, and (iv) Hanbali are the valid schools of thought who have deduced Islamic laws from Quran and Sunnah.

Islamic Jurisprudence (Fiqh) deals with Islamic Laws, while Islamic Theology or Islamic Wisdom deals with beliefs associated with the Islamic faith. The Jurisprudential rules are made to accommodate the entire community. Like we are required to pay in charity 2.5 per cent of our wealth as Zakah every year. This is rule. But look at the practical example, Prophet (SAWS) has presented to Muslims. He never kept anything for himself or his family that could make him eligible to pay Zakah as per Islamic laws. He used to give everything in alms and charity and many a times he did not have food for his house hold. This act of Prophet Mohammad (SAWS) is the act of Ihsan. History of Islam shows that real Sufis or the Shaikhs of Ihsan never kept anything for them or their families. They lived the life of simplicity. They are practicing people of Ihsan. They are the elevated followers of Prophet’s (SAWS) traditions.

There are many facets of Prophet Mohammad’s (SAWS) life which are left untouched in Islamic Jurisprudential laws. These are covered under Islamic Theology. Similarly, many things remained untouched from Quran as well. Like, a Muslim is required to do 5 times Salah in a day. This is an Islamic obligation for every Muslim. The law says, you will be Muslim if you do 5 times Salah per day. The law does not force people to do more than that. But if you want to follow the rules of Ihsan and be a better Muslim, how many more Salahs you should do? The law is silent on this. This issue is answered in Islamic Theology. Theology guides you how many more Salah Prophet Mohammad (SAWS) and his companions used to do beyond the minimum 5 times a day.

The study of Islamic Theology not only makes us a better Muslim, but it also helps us in becoming a Correct Muslim. As a matter of fact Islamic rules of Fiqh can only be understood correctly when we study Islamic Theology.

Islamic Theology is abundantly explained in the Hadith of Ihsan. It is in Hadith reported by Bukhari, Muslim and others. It is a long Hadith, therefore only the translation of a part is provided here.

It is narrated by Abu Huraira (RU) that one day the Messenger of Allah (SWT) was sitting with his companions and a stranger, in spotless white dress, came to him and sat in front of him like a pupil, and asked him, O’ Prophet (SAWS), tell me what is Iman? The Prophet (SAWS) replied that ‘it is the affirmation of your faith in Allah (SWT), His angels, His books, His meeting (on the Day of Judgment), His messengers, and that you affirm your faith in Resurrection’. The stranger testified it, and asked again, O’ Prophet (SAWS) what is Islam? The Prophet (SAWS) replied that ‘Islam signifies that you worship Allah (SWT) and do not associate anything with Him and you establish Obligatory Salah, and you pay the obligatory Zakah and you observe the fast of Ramadhan’. The stranger testified it, and asked again, O’ Prophet (SAWS) what is Ihsan? The Prophet (SAWS) replied that ‘ you worship Allah (SWT) seeing Him, and in case you fail to see Him, do your prayer knowing fully well that He is seeing you. The stranger testified and asked about the signs of Resurrection to which the Prophet (SAWS) replied in detail and later the stranger left quietly. The Prophet (SAWS) asked his companions to go and look for the stranger and bring him back. When the companions did not find him, the Prophet (SAWS) asked his companions who he was? The companions showed ignorance about his identity. Then, the Prophet (SAWS) himself replied saying “he was Jibreel (AS) who had come to teach you your religion”.

From this Hadith, following three important states of Muslims are described, (i) Iman – Islamic faith, (ii) Islam – Islamic deeds, and (iii) Ihsan – Visualization of Allah (SWT).

The aspects of Iman and Ihsan are studied under Islamic Theology. The aspect of Islam is studied under Islamic Jurisprudence. This shows the importance of Islamic theology over Islamic Jurisprudence.

What is cleansing and purification of hearts ( tazkia nafs )?

It is turning people’s attention away from the darkness of materialism to the light of Islam. What is light of Islam? It is people’s training in (i) sincerity of heart (Ikhlas), (ii) wisdom (Hikmah) of actions, and (iii) Islamic vision. What is Islamic vision? As per the Hadith of Ihsan, (Bukhari wo Muslim) people are commanded to see Allah (SWT) while doing Obligatory Salah. Can anyone visualize Allah’s (SWT) presence when his heart is covered with materialistic darkness? No, you need Islamic light. Prophet Mohammad (SAWS) trained his companions to see in Islamic light. Once you get Islamic vision you become stead fast in faith and you perform good deeds visualizing Allah’s (SWT) presence.

A person who does not have truthful beliefs in Islamic Faith (Iman) will not be treated as Muslim on the Day of Judgment. This is the reason, Prophet Mohammad (SAWS) said that out of 73 sects of Muslims, only one will be on the right path (Tirmizi). It is an irony that all these sects/sub groups claim they are on the right path. How could this be true? Muslims belonging to all sects should take note of it. They need to wake up fast from their deep slumber. The factual situation is horrendous. If we divide Muslim population in the world today, by 73, we come to know that out of 1000 people who claim themselves Muslims, only 4 could be on the right path. Who are these 4 people. As we have explained above, they are real Sufi Shaikhs of Ihsan. The rest 996 face the imminent danger of being thrown into hell fire on the Day of Judgment.

If you have rightful Islamic belief, you stand a chance to get salvation though you may be required to pay for your bad deeds.

If you have rightful belief plus good deeds, you will get rewards in Hereafter.

If your faith is not correct and your Islamic deeds are good, you will be thrown into hell fire because good deeds without Correct Islamic Faith will not help you in your salvation.

If your Iman is good and you are doing good deeds seeing Allah (SWT) (as per the Hadith of Ihsan), you become Allah’s (SWT) favorites who are referred to as ‘Awliya Allah’ in Quran and Sufis in the world.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


In the name of Allah (SWT) the Most Beneficent and Most Compassionate


(Part 21)

An Overview of Islamic Jurisprudential History

During the Caliphate of Hazrat Abu Bakr (RU) (632-634) and Omer (RU) (634-644) people trusted and acted upon the guidance of their Caliphs without any doubts. The atmosphere was contained and trust worthy. When Hazrat Abu Bakr (RU) (573-634) insisted upon collecting Zakah while Muslims were still mourning the death of Prophet Mohammad (SAWS), nobody revolted against him. Rather they trusted him and agreed to abide by this important Islamic obligation. When Hazrat Omer (RU) (581-644) asked Hazrat Khaled Ibn Al-Walid (RU) (592-642) (who won many battles against the then super powers - Sassanid Empire of Iran and Byzantine Empire of Rome) to step down from the position of Commander-in-Chief of the Muslim Army and appointed Hazrat Abu Obaida (RU) (583-639) in his place, not a single voice of dissent came out in open as people trusted Hazrat Omer (RU) in all the decisions he made. Similarly, when Hazrat Omer changed ‘divorce’ (Talaq) ruling, which was apparently not in line with the traditions of Prophet Mohammad (SAWS), people trusted him and no eyebrows were raised. Hazrat Omer’s ® divorce ruling is still continued through out the Muslim world. In the same way, when Hazrat Omer started Taraweeh prayer in congregation in mosques, nobody said anything against it. As a matter of fact, Hazrat Ali (RU) (598-661) is reported to have praised Hazrat Omer (RU) publicly.

Why was it so? Because people knew that their religious guides will never do anything which is contrary to Islamic teachings. Their trust in them was valid, which is testified by the events of Islamic history.

There are certain things that cannot be understood by common people. Like, Hazrat Omer’s action in starting congregative Taraweeh prayers and change of divorce ruling. Though these things are not mentioned prominently in Prophet’s (SAWS) tradition, but are completely in line with Quran and Sunnah. The Muslim Ummah has accepted these facts and are united on these issues.

It is a consensus opinion among Muslims that Hazrat Abu Bakr, Hazrat Omer, Hazrat Osman and Hazrat Ali (Raziallhu unhum) were rightly guided Caliphs. Then why the last two Caliphs were treated badly by some Muslims? It is because, during their times, some Muslims thought it was their right to suspect the actions of the Caliph. They started judging Caliph’s decisions as per their limited knowledge.

What was the reasons for suspecting Caliph’s actions? By the time Hazrat Osman’s (RU) became Caliph, many new territories were conquered by Muslim armies. New converts joined the Islamic nation. As the super powers were subdued, lot of wealth started pouring into Islamic nation. When the atmosphere changes, the look of the nation also changes. The new converts did not have the opportunity of training as the old As-hab-e-Rasulullah (SAWS) had. They carried with them their old conventions and ways of thinking. When these two groups mixed, the atmosphere was sure to change. In this changed scenario, even the old good Muslims got carried away by the propaganda campaigns of the neo Islamists.

It is a known fact that As-hab-e-Rasulullah (SAWS) are the best people among the entire Muslim Ummah. Among As-hab-e-Rasulullah (SAWS), the people who are associated with Badr are the best. Among them, the 10 companions (Ashra-e-Mubasshirah) are the best and among them, the 4 rightful Caliphs are the best in Muslim Ummah. This shows that the goodness and understanding of people differs from one another.

The goodness and understanding abilities of 4 rightly guided Caliphs is greater than the rest of the companions of Prophet Mohammad (SAWS). Then, why the earlier two caliphs (Hazrat Abu Bakr and Hazrat Omer – Raziallahu unhum) did not have the kind of trouble and challenges to their rule as faced by Hazrat Osman (RU) and Hazrat Ali (RU)? It is because the earlier Caliphs had to deal with Muslims who had the opportunity to have the company of Prophet Mohammad (SAWS). In addition, they ruled with iron hand as they knew the mindset and background of tribal Arabs. The last two Caliphs were moderate in their dealings with trouble makers and believed in the sincerity and judgmental abilities of their subordinates. It is important to read the trouble early and curb it before it becomes a major conflict. They gave time for trouble makers to correct themselves rather than taking decisive preventive actions.

Hazrat Omer (RU) appointed Maawiya Ibn Abi Sufyan (602-680) as Governor of Syria in 640 AD after the death of Maawiya’s brother Yazid Ibn Abi Sufyan, who was the Governor of Syria and died in Plague. Maawiya’s rule as Governor of Syria and later his actions of usurping power and declaring himself as Amir-ul-Momineen and appointing his son as his heir apparent are most controversial in Islamic history which show the changing scenario of the Muslim nation.

As has been described earlier, when new territories were conquered by Muslims, people in these territories accepted Islam, wealth started pouring in and the worldly defects started to show up in Islamic state. These things came out in open during Hazrat Osman’s (RU) Caliphate (644 – 656). People started doubting the Caliph. Many new conspiracies were hatched against Hazrat Osman (RU) (579-656) and finally he was martyred in his own home on July 17, 656 AD. After the death of Hazrat Osman (RU) a huge confusion was created among Muslims by vested interests. They divided the Muslim community vertically and convinced Hazrata Aisha (RA) (613-678) that the Caliph, Hazrat Ali (RU) (598-661) was hiding the assassins of Hazrat Osman (RU). When they took her into confidence, they formed an army in her name and attempted to overthrow the Caliphate and made it look like She was fighting against the Caliph. Soon Hazrata Aisha (RA) realized the plans of these vested interest and kept herself away from them for the rest of her life. When they did not succeed in their attempt, they declared open mutiny against the Central Authority of the Caliph and fought wars with him. By then, the disintegration of Muslims was complete and their downfall as pure religious entity was imminent.

The vested interest never allowed the central authority to take control of Islamic territory. Hazrat Ali (RU) (598-661) spent his six years of Caliphate (656-661 AD) in internal strife created by vested interests. Finally he was martyred in 661 AD. After the collapse of the Central Authority a dynastic rule was established which was known as Umayyed Caliphate. This dynasty eliminated all possible threats to their rule. In their eagerness for power, they did not spare even the grandsons of Prophet Mohammad (SAWS). Hazrat Imam Hassan (RU) (624-668) was poisoned and martyred and later the entire family of Hazrat Imam Hussain (RU) (626 - 680) was martyred in Karbala, Iraq in October 680 AD.

The turmoil in Islamic Governance also had its effects on the cultural and spiritual atmosphere of the nation. The respect of the members of the Prophet’s (SAWS) house hold and important Islamic icons was fast fading. Luckily we had some good towering personalities active during this tumultuous time who collected and preserved Prophet’s (SAWS) traditions in book forms for the following generations.

The first biggest blow came from traditionists (Ahle Hadith). In their inability to understand the wisdom of earlier Imams of Fiqh (Imam Abu Hanifa ® and Imam Malik ®), they alleged that these Imams depended more on their ‘own opinions, and analogical reasoning’ rather than Sunnah. The Traditionists failed to understand that these Imams were actually implementing Sunnah in all their actions. The traditionists debated with the adherents of the earlier Imams till Imam Shafi’i came on scene. Imam Shafi’i was the student of Imam Malik for several years but as per the requirements of the new times, he thought it necessary to write down the principles of ‘Islamic Jurisprudence’ in a booklet which satisfied both the traditionists and the adherents of old Imams.

Imam Abu Hanifah ® was born 19 years after the martyrdom of Imam Hussain (RU). This was the time of the first generation followers (ta’abaeen) of the companions of Prophet Mohammad (SAWS). The people in power were members of Umayyed dynastic rule. But Imam Abu Hanifah ® was lucky. He was close to the descendants of the Prophet’s (SAWS) household. His teachers, among others, included Imam Mohammad Al-Baqir (RU) (the second son of Hazrat Imam Hussain (RU) who survived the Karbla episode), Imam Ja'far Al-Sadiq (RU), the grandson of Hazrat Hussain (RU), Imam Zayd Ibn 'Ali (RU) and Hammad Ibn Sulayman ®.

Imam Abu Hanifa ® is the first Scholar, Scientist and Jurist of Islamic Jurisprudence who had been trained under the guidance of the members of Prophet’s (SAWS) household. Therefore, many Muslims refer him as Supreme Imam (Imam-e-Azam). He also had the opportunity to take guidance from first generation followers of the companions of Prophet Mohammad (SAWS) who were settled in Kufa, Iraq.

During Imam Abu Hanifa’s ® time, Muslims had not started documenting things in a written format. As a matter of fact, the most authentic Hadith collector, Imam Bukhari ® was the student of Imam Abu Hanifa ®. The earlier Imams; Malik ® and Abu Hanifa® both did not write on paper the ‘Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence’ (Usul-e-Fiqh) they were practicing because it was not felt necessary during their time.

Some historians say that Imam Shafi’i ® was born on the day when Imam Abu Hanifa ® died. Imam Shafi’i ® was the first scholar and Islamic Jurist who wrote the principles of Islamic Jurisprudence in a booklet and made it public.

When we look at the life history of Imam Abu Hanifa ®, we come to the conclusion that the objections of the Traditionists (Ahle Hadith) at that time were out of context. In addition, it is not possible for a Muslim to suspect that an Islamic scholar of Imam of Abu Hanifa’s ® caliber, who was trained directly under the guidance and education of Ahle Bait-e-Rasulullah (SAWS) and most prominent As-hab-e-Rasulullah (SAWS), would use his personal opinions that do not match with Prophet Mohammad’s (SAWS) traditions.

Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal was the student of Imam Shafi’i, but he was more inclined towards the traditionists point of view in certain respects. Therefore, he gave more emphasis on Ahadith of Prophet Mohammad (SAWS) than on ‘opinion and analogical reasoning’, However, he did no yield 100% towards the traditionists point of view.

Later on, a consensus opinion was evolved in Islamic nation that all the above Imams of Islamic Jurisprudence's points of views reflect the 4 corner borderline of Sharia. One end is held by Imam Abu Hanifa ® , the second one is held by Imam Malik ®, the third end is held by Imam Shafi’i, and the fourth end is held by Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal ®. The Sharia cannot be stretched further than this. Therefore, it was considered that a Muslim should adhere to any of the above Imams in his following.

Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal’s ® interpretation of Islam is the maximum that could be accommodated to implement traditionists and literalists points of view. If we go a bit further than that, we will be out of Islam. The Muslim nation was united on this issue for centuries. This shows that what traditionists and literalists (Zahiri) were contemplating could not be accommodated in full. Imam Shafi’i ® pondered over their points of view and accommodated a few of their contentions. Imam Ahmad ® went a step further and accommodated the maximum that could be done within the parameters of Islamic Sharia.

This is a consensus opinion of the Muslim nation that after Imam Hanbal ®, the nation did not produce Muslim Jurists of the caliber of the 4 accepted Imams. Therefore, whatever research is done in the area of Islamic Jurisprudence, it is done within the borderlines of the 4 Imams’ points of view. Why it is so? Because Muslims had realized that the Sharia cannot be stretched further than what has been described by the above 4 Imams. If we interpret more in the basic rules of Islam beyond what has been described by the 4 Imams, it is most likely that we will lose the right path of Islam.

The above consensus opinion was challenged by Ibn Taymiyyah (1263-1328) who described that the following of 4 Imams of Fiqh was their personal emulation (taqleed). He rejected all the 4 Imams of Fiqh en masse. He propagated his new thinking which was as per his interpretation of Quran and Sunnah. His new thinking was known as Salafism and his followers are known as Salafis. The followers of Salafism were very few for almost 5 centuries until the birth of Ibn Abdul Wahhab Najdi (1703-1792) who, on the back of military conquests of Sauds, the tribal lords of Najd, spread salafism in the whole of Arabian Peninsula. Sauds took control of the Arabian peninsula in early 20the Century and made Salafism as their official religion. Now, this sect has spread far and wide into the whole world.