The Ruling on Splitting Into Groups and Parties

The Ruling on Splitting Into Groups and Parties
Imaam Muhammad Naasirud-Deen Al-Albaanee
Source: Tape #602 of the Silsilah Al-Hudaa wan-Noor Series
Translated by Abul-‘Abbaas

QUESTIONER: All praise is due to Allaah, may His Salaah and Salaam be upon His trustworthy Messenger, and upon all of his family and companions, to proceed:

This is a question for our shaykh, the ‘Allaamah, Shaykh Naasir. The questioner asks, “What is the Sharee’ah’s ruling on these numerous Islaamic groups, sects, and organizations – as they are different from each other in their methodologies, styles, calls, and beliefs, the very foundations that they are established upon? In regards specifically to the hadeeth that proves that the group that adheres to the Truth is a single group?”

AL-ALBAANEE: We have made a great number of statements surrounding the answer to this question, so now let us bring forth something further about it.

We say: It is not hidden from any Muslim who knows the Book, the Sunnah, and what our righteous predecessors were upon (may Allaah be pleased with them all) that the division into parties and the gathering of the people upon their various ideas, firstly, and their various methodologies and styles, secondly [2], is not part of Islaam in any way. Rather this is from the things that our Lord, Mighty and Majestic, has prohibited us from, in more than one verse in the Noble Qur’aan, like the statement of Allaah, the Mighty and Majestic [3]:

( And do not be from the polytheists, from those who split up their religion and became sects, every sect rejoicing about what was with them )

And our Lord, the Mighty and Majestic, says [4]:

( And if your Lord so willed, He would have made the people into one nation, but they will go on differing, except those on whom your Lord has Mercy )

Allaah, the Glorified and Exalted, made an exception to this differing, this differing that we are going to see in reality, even though it is prohibited by the Sharee’ah. He exempted At-Taa’ifatul-Marhoomah (the group that will receive Mercy) from this differing, when He said:

( …except those on whom Allaah has Mercy )

And there is no uncertainty and no doubt that any group that wants to be truly sincere to Allaah, then they will try to become from the nation that receives Allaah’s Mercy, those exempted from this differing that is going to exist. Verily this differing is not going to be something to help them reach their goals and they will not accomplish anything practical within the Muslim societies except by returning to the Book of Allaah, the Sunnah of the Messenger (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam), and what our righteous predecessors (may Allaah be pleased with them all) were upon.

The Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) clarified the flawless methodology in more than one authentic hadeeth. The Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) drew a straight line on the ground one day. Then he drew short lines all around the straight line, on both sides of it. Then he recited Allaah’s Statement, Blessed and Exalted [5]:

( And verily this is My Straight Path – follow it! And do not follow the other paths, as they will cause you to break away from My Path! )

After the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) read the verse, he ran his finger along the straight path and said:

“This is the Path of Allaah, and these paths on its sides, the sides of the straight path, there is a Shaytaan at the head of every path, calling the people to it.” [6]

There is no doubt that these short lines were made to represent the numerous sects and groups. Therefore it is obligatory on every Muslim who sincerely longs to be part of the saved sect, that he sets out to follow this Straight Path and does not turn right or left. There will be no successful sect other than Allaah’s Sect, Blessed and Exalted, the one that He told us about in the Noble Qur’aan [7]:

( Verily it is the sect of Allaah that will be uppermost )

Therefore, every sect other than Allaah’s Sect, is only one of Shaytaan’s sects, and not the Sect of Ar-Rahmaan. And there is no uncertainty and no doubt that taking the Straight Path requires one to be firmly aware of what this Straight Path really is. This could never occur with blind partisanship or by blindly gathering the people together upon a statement, even a statement based on the Truth – Islaam, for they understand very little of Islaam. So this act of becoming a group will not be correct or successful unless it is coupled with awareness of Islaam – the same Islaam that Allaah revealed upon the heart of Muhammad (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam).

One sign of the saved sect, one that the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) described clearly when he was asked about it, is found in his statement:

“It is what I and my Companions are upon this day.” [8]

Therefore this hadeeth gives the concerned researcher a firm awareness that this Straight Path of Allaah must be sought upon knowledge of two very, very important affairs: (1) what the Messenger (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) was upon and (2) what his Companions were upon. That is firstly because the noble Companions were the ones who brought his guidance (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) to us, his Sunnah. Secondly, they were best of the people in truly applying this Sunnah of his. So when the affair is like this, it is not possible for us to properly understand the Sunnah of the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) in a way other than the way his Companions understood it.

As known to people of knowledge, the Sunnah is broken down into Al-Qowliyyah (statements), Al-Fi’liyyah (actions), and At-Taqreeriyyah (approvals). As for As-Sunnah Al-Qowliyyah, then it is easily understood, it is the statements that the Companions reported from him (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam). As-Sunnah Al-Fi’liyyah is what they reported regarding his actions (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam). As for As-Sunnah At-Taqreeriyyah, it is what the Companions reported about each other, not from his actions (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam), but he saw the action and remained silent about it. This silence is not considered from his statements (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam), nor from his actions, rather it is his approval.

From here, it is appropriate for me that I stress the importance of joining together these two affairs that we have mentioned here. It is not sufficient for any Islaamic group that ascribes to the Truth, claiming to work by the Qur’aan and the Sunnah, that they summarize Islaam to be based only on the Book and the Sunnah. Rather they must also have a clear awareness of how the Companions of the Messenger (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) implemented his Sunnah.

There are many, many examples that make the importance of combining of these two affairs easily understood. I have mentioned a conglomeration of them during previous speeches and in my answers to people’s questions. Another example has come to me now – verily it is what is found in Saheeh Al-Bukhaaree, the Sunan of Abee Daawood, and other books, and it comes by more than one route, that the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) used to order his Companions to straighten the lines during the establishment of the prayer. Nu’maan ibn Basheer and others said, “One of us would connect his foot to his companion’s foot and his shoulder to his companions shoulder.” [9] This is something that actually took place among the Companions; it was how they carried out the order of the Messenger (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) to straighten the rows.

There is no uncertainty and no doubt that the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) could not possibly have been unaware of what his Companions were doing directly behind him as they followed him in prayer. It was not possible for this consolidation that his Companions practiced to be hidden from him, as they were carrying out his order (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) to straighten and consolidate the rows. For verily, from the amazing things that were specific to him, from his miracles, he was able to see what was behind him just as he could see what was in front of him during the prayer. [10]

So if straightening and consolidating the rows in this fashion, connecting the feet and shoulders, had not been legislated, then it would have been takalluf (overburdening oneself, excessiveness). And if it was takalluf, then the Messenger (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) would have forbidden them from it. That is because, as in the authentic hadeeth, he prohibited takalluf. [11]

If it is said that maybe it was possible that this was done without his knowledge (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam), then I say that the avenues of ‘maybe’ are very expansive indeed, however this issue we are discussing can not be like that due to two reasons. I have mentioned one of them, that the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) used to see what was behind him just as he could see what was in front of him.

The second reason is that if it so happened that he (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) had not witnessed this thing that the Companions were doing behind him in prayer, then verily no secret affair on Earth nor in the Heavens was ever hidden from the Lord of the Messenger (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam). So, as I have said about our Messenger (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) before, he had no duty other than conveying Allaah’s Message. So, firstly and quite decisively, it should be said about the Lord of our Messenger, Blessed and Exalted – If He, the One whom no secret affair on Earth nor in the Heavens is hidden from, did not want to legislate this manner of straightening and consolidating the rows for His believing servants, then He would have ordered His Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) to prohibit them from this takalluf.

Therefore, it is not befitting for the Muslim to understand his silence (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) about something as anything other than something our Lord, the Mighty and Majestic, was aware of, and, furthermore, Allaah’s approval for His Prophet to allow that thing to take place.

From here let us move on to refer to some of the issues that have been the source of differing for a long time, issues related to some fiqh rulings between the Hanafees and Shaafi’ees. One side would bring a proof regarding something that happened in the time of the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam). The other side would refute that, saying that there is no clear indication in the report that what happened was made known to the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam), it does not say that he was informed about it and approved of it. This reply that some of the people of the math-habs gave is refuted by that which has preceded in our discussion.

Let me give you an example or two. As found in Saheeh Al-Bukhaaree, Mu’aath ibn Jabal (may Allaah be pleased with him) used to pray the last prayer (of the day), the ‘Eshaa’ prayer, behind the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) in his masjid. Then he used to go to his tribe and lead them in ‘Eshaa’ prayer as well.

One of the narrators of the hadeeth, Jaabir ibn ‘Abdillaah (may Allaah be pleased with him), said, “It was an optional prayer for him, and it was their obligatory prayer.” Some of the early imaams used this as a proof to say that it is permissible for a person to pray his obligatory prayer behind someone praying an optional prayer. So some of the people of the math-habs used to refute this, saying that there is no proof in this, as there is no mention that the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) knew that Mu’aath was returning to his people to pray with them after praying with him – an optional prayer for him, and their obligatory prayer. I think you all know the answer now.

For if we say that the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) truly did not know that Mu’aath was repeating this prayer optionally, then our Lord, the Mighty and Majestic, as I have said previously, knows the secret and hidden affairs. So if this action of Mu’aath was something not legislated, then the ruling would have came down from the Heavens clarifying that this is something not from the Sharee’ah.

Let me give you another example, and I will sum up our talk with this one. I am only bringing a lot of examples here because of the importance of this point, for I have seldom found it explained clearly and properly in the books of the scholars. In the Musnad of Al-Imaam Ahmad, the Mustadrak of Al-Haakim, the Sunan of Al-Bayhaqee, and other books of the Sunnah, there is another report on the authority of Jaabir (may Allaah be pleased with him) wherein he said, “We were out with the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) during a battle when we killed a woman from the polytheists…”

I need to make a side note here, and I hope it will be very brief: This hadeeth does not contradict the narration wherein the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) prohibited the killing of women and children. [12] That is because the prohibition has its proper place, and the killing mentioned here in the hadeeth of Jaabir has another place. The prohibition is applied to women that do not take part in the battlefield against the Muslims. This also applies to children, as they are also not part of the fighting armies.

Let us go back to Jaabir’s narration, “…we killed a woman from the polytheists…” meaning from those who were fighting. He went on, “…and her husband was absent. When he returned and was informed of what happened, he vowed not to enter the village until after he had taken revenge on the Companions of the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) for her killing. So he followed the Companions’ footsteps, tracking them down…”

It is well known that the Arabs used to know how to track people proficiently by following after their footsteps. They used to have this skill of tracing footsteps, in fact it is what led them to discover the hiding place of the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) in the cave the day he made hijrah from Makkah to Al-Madeenah. It was his footsteps that led them to know that the Messenger (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) had reached that place since the footsteps had disappeared. But Allaah blinded their vision so they could not see the Messenger (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) nor his companion in the cave.

When his companion (Aboo Bakr As-Siddeeq) saw the feet of the polytheists, he became afraid, not for his own self, but for the sake of his Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam). So he (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) said:

( Do not grieve, for verily Allaah is with us. )

Something must be said here about what has been mentioned in some books of hadeeth, and in books of seerah as well, that the disbelievers of Quraysh, after having tracked their fugitives to the cave, saw that a dove had made its nest at the entrance of the cave, and a spider had spun a web there as well, so they allegedly said, “It is not possible for anyone to be in this cave,” and departed.

This is not authentic. As for the chain of this hadeeth, it is not authentic. Furthermore there is a strong, authentic narration stating that Allaah, the Mighty and Majestic, ordered an angel to spread his wings over the cave’s entrance, and thus they did not see them. [13]

Let us return to our hadeeth of the polytheist that tracked the army waging war on the village. He reached their place of rest for the night, which was in a valley. As was the Prophet’s way in organizing the military, he (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) said to his Companions:

“Who will stand guard tonight?”

So two young men from the Ansaar stood up, one from the tribe of Al-Ows, the other from Al-Khazraj. They said, “We will, O Messenger of Allaah!” He (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) said to them:

“Take your places at the opening of the mountain passage.”

So they went off. The polytheist was watching them from afar, waiting for his chance to fulfill his vow to get revenge for his wife. When they got to their post, the place where they were to watch over the sleeping army, the two decided to split the duty. One of them would stand guard half the night while the other slept, then they would trade places.

So then an idea came to the first one on guard, he decided to combine two forms of worship at one time – the worship of guarding the Muslim army and the worship of prayer in the tranquility of the night. So he began to pray. This is when the polytheist who was hiding behind a rock took his opportunity. He threw a spear at the praying guard, placing it in his leg. So the Companion only removed the spear and tossed it on the ground, and the blood began to stream down his leg. When the polytheist saw that his target had not ceased standing, it made him know that he was still alive of course, so he struck him with another spear, placing it in his leg. Then he struck him with another, a total of three spears hitting his target.

From Jaabir’s precise use of words, he said that he “placed” [14] the spear in his leg, and “placing” is normally done by the hand. He used this word to stress the precision found in the throws, as if he placed the spear directly in him manually (without throwing it).

Even through all of this, the Companion continued his prayer without cutting it off, while the blood poured from him. He completed two rak’ahs. Then he either woke his companion up, or he woke up on his own. When his companion saw the blood, he inquired about it and asked what had caused it.

He said, “I swear by the One in whose Hand is my soul, verily I was in the middle of a soorah, and if I had not been afraid of failing to guard the passageway that the Messenger of Allaah assigned me to, then I would still be reading it.” Meaning that he remembered while praying that he was on duty to watch over the sleeping army, a duty that the Messenger (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) assigned him.

So if he would have continued his prayer, allowing the sweetness of his private discourse in front of Allaah to keep him, the polytheist would have continued to strike him, then he may have been killed during that prayer, thus not fulfilling his duty and possibly allowing the enemy to attack the Muslims. For that reason, he contented himself with only two rak’ahs of prayer. He did not do that fearing his own life – no! He only did that fearing the destruction of the Companions that would have followed his death, as the enemies would have been able to attack them due to his failure.

We have reached the end of this story. The reference point from it is that some of the imaams used it as a proof that wudhoo’ is not broken by bleeding, and rightly so. Since, if wudhoo’ is broken upon bleeding, this man would not have continued praying. Those who oppose them say that this was his personal action only. Those being refuted say, “Yes, but this was a man from the Companions of the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam).” So they reply, “There is nothing in the hadeeth indicating that the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) knew anything about this.”

We answer them with two things, and there is an answer for them in the story of Mu’aath (may Allaah be pleased with him) that has preceded as well. But there is something stronger than that in these two answers:

1 – This man was appointed to a duty by the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam). He suffered these injuries in such a situation, while worshipping, maintaining his good spirit. Is it possible for the commander of army to be ignorant about an event like this, any army commander?! So then what if that commander was the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam)? It is extremely, extremely unlikely that this could have happened without the Messenger of Allaah’s knowledge (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam).

Therefore, the correct position is that the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) was aware of this event. Built on this, if bleeding is something that breaks wudhoo’, then he (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) surely would have made it clear. As is well known in the fundamentals of fiqh, “It is not permissible to delay clarification beyond the time of need.”

2 – If those who oppose this continue in their stubbornness, in their claim that there is no mention in the text that Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) knew about this, then we say to them: It is sufficient for you that the Lord of the Messenger knew about it. This is something not possible for them to refute. So while He did not reveal anything in His Sharee’ah clarifying that blood is something that breaks wudhoo’, then this story is an additional proof for those who use it to say that bleeding does not break wudhoo’.

The reason why I have brought all these points is so that we understand that there is no way to reach the true, correct understanding of Islaam, except by knowing the seerah of the Companions and how they practiced this great Islaam, the religion that he (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) taught them personally, whether by his statements, actions, or approvals.

Based on this, we believe firmly that every group that does not build upon this foundation, the Book, the Sunnah, and the methodology of the righteous predecessors, with an expansive, studious approach that includes all of Islaam’s rulings, big and small, central issues and subsidiary ones, is not part of the saved sect, the one that treads the Straight Path that the Messenger (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) referred to in the authentic hadeeth.

If we took into account that there are various groups in the Muslim lands, all upon this same methodology, then these are not sects, rather they are only one group, their methodology is one methodology, their way is one way. Their division throughout the different lands is not a division because of fiqh issues, nor a division based upon different ‘aqeedahs, nor a division resulting from different methodologies. Verily this division is only due to their physical separation throughout the lands, as opposed to the differing between groups and sects all in the same land, with regards to that [15]:

( …every sect rejoicing about what was with them )

We do not believe that these sects are upon the Straight Path, rather we say quite decisively that they are upon those other paths, the ones that have a shaytaan at the head of each one of their paths calling to them.

I hope that there is an answer in this to the question that preceded.

[And Allaah knows best.]

This article was taken from BAKKAHnet (

FOOTNOTES (Abul-‘Abbaas)

[1] This tape, with a translation into English, is available for purchase.

[2] Look at how Al-Albaanee re-organizes the question here. The questioner blended together issues of belief and methodology, so before responding, the Shaykh distinguishes between then two, giving priority to the first, may Allaah have Mercy on him and benefit the Muslims by his knowledge and wisdom.

[3] the meaning of Soorah Ar-Room (30):31-32

[4] the meaning of Soorah Hood (11):118-119

[5] the meaning of Soorah Al-An’aam (6):153

[6] an authentic hadeeth collected by Ahmad and Ad-Daarimee.

[7] the meaning of Soorah Al-Maa’idah (5):56

[8] an authentic hadeeth collected by At-Tirmithee, see Saheeh Sunan At-Tirmithee (#2641) of Al-Albaanee.

[9] an authentic hadeeth collected by Aboo Daawood, see Saheeh Sunan Abee Daawood (#662). Al-Bukhaaree referred to it in the heading of his chapter, Joining Shoulders and Feet in the Row (Chapter #76 of the Book of the Athaan). A similar statement was also reported on Anas ibn Maalik in the same chapter, and Anas added, “If I did this with one of them today, he would flee like an untamed donkey!” See Fathul-Baaree (2/260).

[10] As he (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) said, on the authority of Anas:

“Establish your rows, for verily I see you from behind my back.”

It was collected by Al-Bukhaaree (#718, 2/255 of Fathul-Baaree). Also, it is important to mention that the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam), when ordering the Companions to straighten their rows and consolidate, he would turn and face them to ensure that their lines were straight, as found in Saheeh Muslim (#978) and Sunan Abee Daawood (#662 of Saheeh Sunan Abee Daawood) for example, and the reports are many. So this action of the Companions (placing their feet and shoulders together) was done as he faced them, for why would the Companions wait for him (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) to turn around and begin praying to implement his order? Can you imagine the Companions not carrying out an order from the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) immediately upon hearing it?! Therefore, firstly and foremostly, their action should be considered from As-Sunnah At-Taqreeriyyah, as it was their immediate, collective reaction to a command issued to them while he (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) was in front of them, looking at them. And for those who will not accept this, then it would still be considered As-Sunnah At-Taqreeriyyah due to this excellent point of the Shaykh, may Allaah have Mercy on him, that the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) could actually see them during the prayer from behind his back.

[11] As Anas (may Allaah be pleases with him) said, “We have been prohibited from takalluf,” in an authentic hadeeth collected by Al-Bukhaaree (#7293).

[12] an authentic hadeeth collected by Al-Bukhaaree (2/251), Muslim (5/144), Aboo Daawood (#2668), Ibn Maajah (#2841), At-Tirmithee (1/297), and others on the authority of ‘Abdullaah ibn Umar (may Allaah be pleased with him).

[13] I was unable to find a reference for this hadeeth. I exausted all the books of tafseer I could get my hands on. May Allaah generously reward the one who finds some information about this narration and e-mails it to me.

[14] in ‘Arabic: wadha’a

[15] the meaning of Soorah Ar-Room (30):32