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DARAH AHL AL-ZAHIR

Do the Zahirites reject the


methodology of the early
generations of Muslims?
Part 7 in a series of defenses of Zahirism
Ibn Tamim al-Zahiri
6/18/2013

Version 1.0 of the translation completed by Abu Nadm al-Zahiri on the above date. For any corrections
or questions about the word choices and accuracy of the translation, posting commentary on most
prominent Islamic discussion forums online is sufficient.

Table of Contents
Introduction .................................................................................................................................................. 2
Disagreement is a mercy? ............................................................................................................................. 4
How can we stick to only the apparent meanings of the text? .................................................................... 8
Points of contention with the Salafists. .................................................................................................. 12
Points of contention with the Traditional Islam movement ............................................................... 20
Did the first generation of Muslims mix revelation and reason? ............................................................... 25
Conclusion ................................................................................................................................................... 30

Introduction
All praise is due to the Lord of all creation, and may His peace and blessings be upon Muhammad, the
last of the prophets and messengers.
From the most severe and astonishing conditions upon which one might find an individual is that he
does not understand the Quran and Sunnah and is not aware of their texts, and that he does not
understand the statements of the Companions. Then, what is even beyond that, is the individual lies
upon the Zahiris in matters which he has not even comprehended or understood!
Indeed, some have lied and forged statements upon the Zahiris, thinking that they would be unable to
answer and unable to detect the dishonesty. Thus, they lied and said: the Zahiris have cast the
understanding of the pious predecessors aside, for they are a school of law which does not esteem the
Companions or their statements and in doing so has belittled their honor and status.
By Allah, by Allah, by Allah, such a statement is incredibly libelous, and if the person who makes it
doesnt repent then he must face his Lord with all of Ahl az-Zahir contending with him and his lying
against them.
This statement is in vain in and of itself, as the person making it is under the delusion that he is following
the Companions in matters of the religion. When an issue comes up in which the Companions differed
with one another and took differing views, this person ultimately chooses one of those views and
supports it at expense of other views held by the Companions without any form of evidence at all. That
is because a leader from the later scholars happened to take that specific view, or resorts to analogical
reason, juristic discretion or mere conjecture and legislates into the religion that which Allah did not
allow. Then, following that, he brags about what he has done and accuses the Zahiris of what he has
already done himself.
Such a liar pretends as though the difference of opinions among the Companions is nothing but
goodness for the Muslim world, that all of their differing opinions are simultaneously correct and that
the Muslim is to simply choose from those opinions that which he wishes and in doing so will only end
up selecting one of the multiple truths.
Is this the religion which such a liar follows? No, by God this isnt even a religion at all, except for those
who wish to play around with the word of God Almighty and His Messenger (peace be upon him), may
God forgive and pardon us. Rather, the statements of the Companions is only considered to comprise
part of the religion when they agree with the word of God and of His Messenger (peace be upon him);
not what this liar said, for he has permitted speaking about God without knowledge and has made what
was only one religion many different religions.
Were all of mankind and the devils to collude in order to find even one statement from one Companion
confirming what such a liar as this says, they would not ever be able to do so. They would not be able to
find a single statement linked to any Companion ruling by conjecture, pure reason or analogical reason
in matters of the true religion of God and certainly not to the word of God Himself, even by an
inauthentic chain of narration. Rather they will not even find from one of the second generation those

Successors following the Companions saying what such a liar has said, so what predecessor is such a
person following?
The person who holds such a belief is actually a nullifier of the understanding of the Companions and
the Pious Predecessors as-salaf as-salih whom they ramble about day and night. The person who
accepts the statement of such a liar will occasionally follow the opinion of Ibn Umar, at other times the
opinion of Ibn Abbas, a third time the opinion of Zaid son of Thabit, with no means of weighing the
validity of such opinions other than whatever suits his fancy at the time. Either that, or blindly following
one of the leaders of the four mainstream schools of law, and then pretends that in understanding the
religion, he follows the understanding of the Pious Predecessors from the Companions and their
Successors.
So from where did it dawn upon this person that the Companions supposedly ruled in religious matters
by pure reason and said: reason is the religion? And from where did it dawn upon this person that
disagreement upon the Companions prohibits us from going outside their opinions if we find an
authentic proof stating other than what they said?
He, the Most High, has said regarding disagreement: O you who believe! Obey God and obey the
Messenger, and those of you who are in authority. And if you differ in anything amongst yourselves,
refer it to God and His Messenger, if you believe in God and in the Last Day. That is better and more
1

suitable for final determination.

In other words: o people of Islam, if you differ in anything regarding your religion then return the matter
to God and His Messenger. He did not say: return the matter to the opinion of this one guy instead of
that other guy. Upon inspection, the verse indicates returning matters to that which is known with
absolute certainty and leaving off that which consists of conjecture or suspicion. That is because
something which is known with absolute certainty is obviously not disagreed over as opposed to
conjecture, whose root is disagreement between at least two people.

an-Nisa` verse 59

Disagreement is a mercy?
Such a liar will then say: no, we swear to God what we want is to return matters about which there was
disagreement back to the statements of the Companions. Likewise we want to return such matters to
the books of the established schools of law which are filled with rotten conjecture, one-sided pure
reason and this destructive reasoning by analogy. But I swear to God, they will never find any support
at all for these things among the Pious Predecessors.
Some of the fanatics will attempt to grandstand: disagreement is a mercy upon the believers, and the
fact that the Companions disagreed is a proof that disagreement is permissible until Judgment Day.
The person who utters such a statement did not actually understand the scriptural texts if they actually
did read them, and he certainly isnt following the statement of the Companions (may God be pleased
with them). In fact, whoever attempts to run with this statement and claim that disagreement among
the Companions proves that Almighty God has allowed disagreement hasnt understood the Quran at
all. A person with knowledge of Islamic law simply wont say this. God did not even legislate
disagreement for us to begin with; rather, God ordained us to solve disagreement if we cannot discern
for ourselves by way of the Quran and the Sunnah and to return matters of dispute to them in order
to rid ourselves of said disagreement. How is it, then, when God has ordered us to return matters to
those two sources in order to rid ourselves of disagreement that this liar permits disagreement until
Judgment Day? Such people dont draw the distinction between being excused due to a lack of
knowledge and permitting disagreement in a way which renders it the default state within this religion.
Almighty God has said: And they say, "The fires of Hell shall not touch us but for a few numbered days."
Say: "Have you taken a covenant from God, so that God will not break His covenant? Or is it that you say
of God what you know not?"2
Thus, it is prohibited for anybody to say about God that which they dont know, and knowledge is the
affirmation of a thing, and affirmation equals certainty and there is no place for conjecture within the
religion period.
God said as a condemnation for every libelous person who attributes to God that which He did not say:
And who can be more unjust than he who invents a lie against God, or says: "I have received
inspiration," whereas he is not inspired in anything; and who says, "I will reveal the like of what Allah has
revealed." And if you could but see when the wicked are in the agonies of death, while the angels are
stretching forth their hands saying: "Deliver your souls! This day you shall be recompensed with the
torment of degradation because of what you used to utter against God other than the truth. And you
used to reject His signs with disrespect!3
Have this liar and his contemporaries from the people of analogy, fanatical blind following and pure
reason done anything other than what Almighty God described in the above verse? They have
dishonestly forged statements upon God in the religion because their statements contain much in the
2
3

al-Baqarah verse 80
al-Anam verse 93

way of conjecture; conjecture is suspicion about a thing and a lack of affirmation of what it truly is. Thus,
whoever uses conjecture in the religion of God has, in reality, lied and forged a statement upon Almighty
God. The reason is that such a person has passed a ruling in the religion of God from the perspective of
conjecture and suspicion regarding the thing about which he rules. A thing is either proven or unproven,
and a thing is proven by certainty and affirmation. Whoever makes a statement and attributes it to the
religion of God, saying: this is permissible, that is sinful, is a doubter who does not truly know for sure
if the first thing is permissible and the second is sinful. If this speaker really attributes his own
statements in this case to Almighty God, then he has lied upon God Almighty. Woe to them when they
fanatically follow the opinions of their four leaders in such situations, as these four never, ever
attributed their own conjecture or independent reasoning directly to God. These people know the
consequences of attributing these things directly to the Lord in terms of bad deeds, but they do not truly
comprehend the word of God, or that of His Messenger (peace be upon him), or the words of the
leaders whom they fanatically follow. There is no true safety and refuge except with our Lord the Most
High.
Almighty God has said regarding the one who prefers his own conjecture over a clear scriptural text
such as a person who rejects a prophetic narration because it has only a single chain of narration in the
Quran: And when they commit an evil deed, they say: "We found our fathers doing it, and God has
commanded us of it." Say: "Nay, God never commands such acts. Do you say of Him what you know
not?4
What is it to truly know something other than to be certain about it? And what exists after certainty
other than speculation and conjecture? And how numerous are those who, when asked about the ruling
of Gods law on a matter, merely speculate based on their own personal views!
God has commanded us to accept the warning of an individual or a group, and to accept the report of an
individual of sound memory who can relate what he has learned without error; this is regardless of
whether or not such a report is also told by other trustworthy narrators or not. Thus if such a report
which is known through only a single chain of narration reaches the Muslims with an unbroken chain
consisting of one reliable narrator after another, then we accept it as this is how God has preserved His
religion for us. So if these ignoramuses come along and refuse to accept a prophetic narration because it
has only one chain of narration (this is known as a hadith ahad) due to their errant belief that
knowledge known through only one source is suspect, then they have essentially denied the Quran and
rejected a part of the religion without basis. They have disobeyed the clear meaning of the verses, and
they will get what they deserve on Judgment Day.
As for the Zahirites, then God has opened their hearts and minds and increased them in faith. They
accept every authentic prophetic narration from Muhammad (peace be upon him) saying: we hear, we
obey. We believe in these reports whether they relate to dogmatics, jurisprudence, ethics or anything
else. All of it is from our Lord, thus all of it is the truth.

al-Araf verse 28

I really dont know the difference between this liar and the one who speaks about God and His law
without knowledge, regardless of what aspects of the law they are addressing. God said: They say:
"God has begotten a son." Glory be to Him! He is free of all wants. His is all that is in the heavens and all
that is in the Earth. No warrant do you have for this. Do you say against God that which you know not?5
Is this not speech without knowledge? Is this not speech based solely on conjecture? God has plainly
stated that He does not accept people to speak on religious matters without knowledge, and there is
nothing in this world except knowledge or speculation the absence of knowledge. So let this liar and
those like him choose that which is more beloved to them!
There is no one dishonest enough to claim that the verse refers to non-Muslims only. And if they do
claim that, then it is said to them: do you not realize that you have no made the only single difference
between being a Muslim and not being a Muslim whether or not someone speaks about God without
knowledge?
Almighty God has said: When you were propagating it with your tongues, and uttering with your
mouths that whereof you had no knowledge, you counted it as a little thing, while with God it was very
great.6
I free myself in front of God from any and all speech about the religion based on speculation and
conjecture rather than knowledge. As for people who do the opposite, then their method in the religion
is very broad, they speak about God without knowledge and their habit is: I thinkthe way I see itI
expect that
This liar intends to aid his method of interpreting the religion by forging statements upon the first
generation of Muslims, the direct companions of the Prophet. He must then resort to lying upon the
Zahirites, accusing them of disrespecting those companions in order to justify their own heresies. Thus,
these types rule in religious matters by mere conjecture and claim things about the Lord which they
cannot support with the scripture, as though the religion itself is conjecture and the revelation which
God descended upon us from the heavens is conjecture.
The Zahirites in their entirety say: Almighty God brought us certainty as a religion, and everything which
is known with certainty is the truth and more deserving of being followed. As for conjecture, then it is
lying upon the religion of Islam; it is never to be turned to and has no place in Islam.
Its necessary for this idiot to know that the refusal of the Zahirites to rule by conjecture and speculation
is not because theyre unable as some of the blind followers claim. There is nothing easier than to speak
and judge by mere conjecture and speculation; doing so is possible for both the knowledgeable and the
ignorant. As for speaking and passing judgment based upon absolute certainty only, then it is solely the
domain of kings among men. Thus, the Zahirite only prohibit speech regarding religious matters based
on conjecture because God and His Messenger (peace be upon him) have prohibited it.

5
6

Yunus verse 68
an-Nur verse 15

The Prophet, when asked about a matter, wouldnt answer until revelation descended upon him
regarding said matter. Were talking about the most noble, understanding and knowledgeable of all
human beings here, and he would stay silent on an issue until he attained certainty via divine revelation
from the Divine.
The Zahirites do the same thing. They say: Islam has been completed. A new development or modernday issue does not arise for which Almighty God has passed judgment except that said judgment is
already found within the scripture. This is either by way of a generality among the modern-day issues
which falls under the name or meaning of something already in the scripture, or by way of the rule of
permissibility of the natural world with which God has blessed mankind. We reach such judgments from
the scripture either by way of an authentic report from a trustworthy and reliable narrator from another
like him and another like him until it reaches the Divine or His Prophet, or via the absence of a scriptural
text addressing the issue at hand. In this case, we only rule by that which we know for sure God
commanded. And if someone comes to us with another authentic scriptural text about which we did not
know before, then we act upon it; the ones who acts upon that which he knows, even if he doesnt know
all the relevant information and scripture, is still following the command of God.
As for the statements of men when they disagree whether they be direct companions of the Prophet
or those of the later generations then the Zahirites do not turn to them except to know historically
that which was said. In other words, this was the opinion of this one and that was the opinion of that
one to record history; but their statements alone are not a form of evidence for the judgment of God.
So what is the problem with these people? Why do they oppose the Zahirites for simply sticking to
certainty and revelation? There is no defect in the Zahirite approach to Islamic law except that they stop
and stay silent where their Lord ordered them to stop and stay silent! Their mistake, in the eyes of these
blind followers of the mainstream schools of law, is nothing other than saying: we hear, we obey. And
follow not that of which you have no knowledge. Verily! The hearing, and the sight, and the heart, of
each of those you will be questioned.7 The Zahirite does not say that about which he does not have
knowledge; that would be to lie and commit forgery upon the true religion of God.

al-Isra` verse 36

How can we stick to only the apparent meanings of the text?


And from the idiocy of these critics is their rhetorical question to the Zahirites: how can you only stick to
the Zahir, or apparent, meanings of the scriptural texts of the Quran and Sunnah?
This sort of idiotic question deserves the answer of the Zahirite scholar Muhammad ibn Tahir of
Caesarea, who said: Thus, it was agreed. These critics dont deserve any more of an answer than this.
Were it not for my concern that these lying critics will then try to spread among the people that the
Zahirites are unable to give a detailed answer, I would have stuck with this deserving response by Ibn
Tahir.
But I say, disappointed with these people as I seek refuge with God: the apparent meaning is the first
level which occurs to the intellect and understanding, with no difference between the Arabic language
or the specific terminologies of Islamic law unless someone can come with an authentic scriptural proof
that another scriptural text isnt supposed to be understood by the apparent meaning. In that case, the
first apparent meaning is left for the apparent meaning of a second, separate scriptural text.
Whoever claims anything other than this, then the burden of proof is upon him; and because these
types of people generally dont understand what that really means, I end up repeating the phrase sure
proof again and again. It almost seems like a donkey would have an easier time understanding this
point than many of these critics; as whoever claims that God has addressed man in the Quran by a way
in speaking which we dont truly understand has, in reality, doubted the truth of the Quran which
contains within it (as the Quran itself states) a clarification and source of guidance for all mankind.
And if the apparent meaning of the Quran and Sunnah isnt the default understanding for these people,
then theyve lost their minds and joined the ranks of Ibn Arabi, the one who received revelation from
Lucifer. This is the saying of the practitioners of Sufism as the root of it, this belief that the Quran has a
hidden inner meaning by which it should be understood, and the apparent meaning of the text is only
for laymen and the ignorant! This is essentially the path of these people claiming to follow the first
generation of Muslims (may God be pleased with them), and to hell with this false claim.
Thus the apparent meanings of the texts are the first truth known, and if another scriptural text is found
indicating that the first isnt intended to be understood upon the apparent, outward meaning, then it
also takes precedence and is followed according to its own apparent meaning. Thus to understand the
first text upon other than the outward meaning is to understand the second text upon its outward
meaning.
As for hidden meanings and figurative interpretation, then this comes after the apparent meaning both
in the speech of human beings and the speech of God, with the condition that a valid form of evidence
indicates that such an interpretation or hidden meaning is intended in a given case. And when this is
found to be the case, then that interpretation or hidden meaning IS the apparent meaning and is no
longer considered to be hidden or mystical. This is what many of these dishonest folk fail to understand
about the Zahirites, and hence they lie upon us and slander us with red herrings and strawman
arguments.

As for the people of desires and blind imitation, then they sacrifice the apparent meanings of the Quran
and Sunnah (prophetic tradition) for the sake of figurative interpretation based solely on conjecture and
desires, taking the statement of one of the early Muslims or later scholars while leaving the statements
of others at will. So if we take any normal statement for example, dont go to the store and decide
to understand it on other than the apparent meaning based solely on some suspicion or doubt in our
own minds, then we have not only left the apparent meanings of a mans speech but have robbed the
phenomenon of language in and of itself of any and all meaning and value.
Thus no statement has come in the Quran or Sunnah in which other than the apparent meaning is
intended except that another statement from the scripture, either alongside or after the
aforementioned one, comes to clarify the intended meaning. The Zahirites, in this case, do not take
issue with anyone resorting to figurative interpretation of the sacred texts as long as they have another
valid proof from the sacred texts to back up their claim. So if the persons interpretation is based on
another congruent sacred text indicating that the first one is to be understood by other than the
apparent meaning, then all Zahirites must agree with that interpretation. And if the persons
interpretation is not based on the sacred texts and thus not based on revelation from God, then we will
not leave off the default understanding of the truth of Gods word and accept the interpretation of an
imperfect human intellect with nothing else behind it at all. Were the religion not understood by the
apparent wording of the texts, then the Muslims would be in need of priests and clergy like the heretic
Ibn Arabi and the other practitioners of Sufism due to their expertise with making up hidden meanings
out of thin air.
Thus in every matter of the religion in which you find differing opinions, you will find that initially the
truth was as plain as day until people began playing games with the meanings of the words and deciding
all the different sides involved in such disputes to take one figurative interpretation over another,
every side doing so without any basis at all. So what is peoples problem with the Zahirites? Is it that we
find that which all the Muslims have agreed upon as a default and dont risk stepping further than
certainty? That we refuse to dub the mere interpretations of frail human minds as coming from Gods
word and His law?
If this is the cause of the problem these people have with us, then let them sit with their lies. Such
people dont truly consider what theyre saying, and were they requested to engage in an open debate
over these religious matters with the Zahirites then they would find any excuse not to do so, as the
baseless criticisms they made are indefensible.
Some of them say: the benefit in debates is very little.
Do these people not know of the challenge which God issued to the pagan Quraish in the Quran and
their inability to meet it? Do they not know that debating unveils both truth and falsehood, and exposes
people who deceive and play games with the true religion of God? By God, were these people to engage
in an open, honest debate the curtain which they used to conceal the foundations of their belief system
would be pulled down, and the inconsistency and indefensible nature of what they call to would be
revealed. I and others from the defenders of Zahirism have clarified the corruption of the beliefs of

these people time and time again and exposed their inconsistencies, yet time and time again they are
like those in the famous proverb: throwing a stick at somebody and then running away. I am not the
type who particularly cares for debating to begin with, and thus I dont debate except to reveal the
opponents whitewashing of history and the claim of defending the truth by one who spreads falsehood.
Thus the point of debating these issues isnt for love of debate at all, but rather to cut the head of a
snake forging statements about the Islamic faith which God Almighty did not permit.
As for the truth as it relates to the statements and actions of the companions of the Prophet, that first
generation of Muslims who witnessed revelation, then if they all reached a proven consensus on an
issue a real, proven consensus by way of authentic historical citation then it is the truth by which all
Zahirites must abide. This is, in fact, that which is known as a decisive, definitive consensus and even
approaches that which is known in the religion by necessity as supported by the Quran and Sunnah.
As for matters over which the first generation of Muslims differed, then the Zahirites do not accept the
statement of one over the other and do not act upon the statement of anybody other than the Prophet
(peace be upon him). If such statements are ever weighed, then it is only done in light of that which is
known from the sacred texts with certainty as is the underlying methodology of the Zahirites and no one
else. And this is what God commanded His servants to do in the verse regarding conflict and dispute.
Thus the Zahirites say as a principle in all of these religious affairs: our creed is that of the certain and
the convinced, and not of the doubtful and the skeptical. And we know historically that not one of the
companions of the Prophet ever passed judgment in matters over which they differed and compelled
the global Muslim community to all follow his own opinion, nor did any of them claim that their
judgments reached through informed discourse constituted the religion of God; they were above this
without a doubt. Whoever claims that the first generation of Muslims passed judgments in the religion
based on pure reason and then claimed that the conclusions reached this way were the rulings of God
has lied upon that first generation. Thus for every one of these Muslims of the first generation, then
their own independent, scholarly reasoning was nothing more than their own attempts to implement
their religion as they best understood it, NOT to force their own personal views on others. Thus these
transgressors now come to the views of this first generation of Muslims and they force these views upon
themselves, thus in reality opposing that first generation of Muslims in their understanding of the
religion and missing the point entirely. These transgressors come with their clerics and trick the
governments and rulers into implementing their conjecture-based schools of thought as official systems
of law when these schools of thought are nothing more than the mere opinions and personal viewpoints
of the given religious leader in the past who established the school. These are the people who have
turned their backs on Islam and contradicted the first generation of Muslims they paradoxically claim to
follow; not the Zahirites, who respect the first generation of Muslims within reason without going into
excess or extremes.
Thus the Zahirites do not take issue until someone attributes the pure reason or mere opinion of a
human being to God and His religion; this is what we reject from the blind followers of other schools of
thought. Every Zahirite affirms, of course, the favor and knowledge of the first generation of Muslims,
and likewise the second generation of Muslims, and we say that every one of them was capable of

independent scholarly reasoning, and every one of them will be rewarded by God in the afterlife for
their efforts regardless of whether their conclusions were correct or incorrect.

Points of contention with the Salafists.


Ibn Hazm composed an essay about those who were recognized for independent judgment and
scholarly discourse in the Islamic sciences up to his era. The Zahirites loves every single one of these
individuals, and we would never attribute to them lying or the proclivity to forge statements upon God.
But he who claims that the methodology of the pious predecessors al-salaf as-salih in Arabic was
to legislate into the religion based on their own independent reasoning, then in reality he has left the
methodology (manhaj in Arabic) of those predecessors and has innovated a new methodology from
his own feeble human intellect.
Thus it is obligatory to say regarding the judgment of a Companion or a Follower (one of the tabiun,
the second generation of Muslims): this is his statement, opinion and/or what he reasoned to be the
best choice. If said statement is based on a decisive scriptural text, then he has spoken with what he saw
to be the judgment of God on the given topic; and if the statement is not based on a scriptural text, then
it is merely his opinion and nobody is obliged to adhere to it and it is never, ever referred to as
comprising part of the religion. This is how the Zahirites deal with these judgments and answers from
the Companions and the Followers; what could be more objective than this, and what could be fairer to
the rights of these early generations? As for what those Companions and Followers did in terms of the
politics of judgment and ruling in other than issues of obligation and prohibition, then the Zahirites do
not chastise them for that. Rather, we only take issue when someone claims that the personal reasoning
and exercise of judgment by those Companions or Followers in matters of religious obligation or
prohibition constitutes a basis for the religion.
We also see that the salaf of this religion were more pious and God-fearing than these people of
conjecture and blind following. For when these pious predecessors spoke with their own opinions or
independent reasoning without the support of a scriptural, revealed text, they would only use phrases
such as: we dislike this, we dont prefer this, this doesnt please us. Not a single Companion or
Follower would ever dare to say this is permissible or this is prohibited while knowing that he is
making his statement without the support of a holy scripture. Rather, they had proper manners with the
Quran, learned from the way of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and knew that the religion is not built
upon conjecture and opinions. They knew that the latter two things were weightless within the true
religion of God.
Our Lord has said: Say: "Tell me, what provision God has sent down to you! And you have made of it
lawful and unlawful." Say: "Has God permitted you to do so, or do you invent a lie against Him?"8
And also: And say not concerning that which your tongues put forth falsely: "This is lawful and this is
forbidden," so as to invent lies against God. Verily, those who invent lies against Him will never
prosper.9
Look at what God saidspeaking about Him without knowledge amounts to lying. And look at His other
statement; its just like the behavior of the people of conjecture and opinions: this is mandatory, this
8
9

Younis verse 59
an-Nahl verse 116

isnt allowed. Ultimately, they end up lying about God by speaking about His will without knowledge in
these religious matters. By speaking about Gods religion without Gods permission, they end up both
lying upon God and even forging statements upon the religion; this is what the Zahirites oppose, not the
Companions or the Followers.
God condemned conjecture when addressing the false claim of the Jews and Christians that Jesus was
killed, saying: And because of their saying, "We killed the Messiah Jesus son of Mary, the Messenger of
God," - but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but the resemblance of Jesus was put over another
man, and those who differ therein are full of doubts. They have no certain knowledge, they follow
nothing but conjecture. For surely, they killed him not.10
The Prophet (peace be upon him) prohibited the people from listening to and believing in conjecture:
And if you obey most of those on earth, they will mislead you far away from Allah's Path. They follow
nothing but conjectures, and they do nothing but lie.11
And what is the condition of a person who speaks about God based on such conjecture except for that
which God said: Those who worshipped other than God will say: "If God had willed, we would not have
taken partners in worship with Him, nor would our fathers, and we would not have forbidden anything
against His will." Likewise they belied those who were before them, till they tasted of Our wrath. Say:
"Have you any knowledge that you can produce before us? Verily, you follow nothing but speculation
and you do nothing but lie."12
Or such as: No doubt! Verily, to God belongs all which is in the heavens and the Earth. And those who
worship and invoke others besides Him in fact follow not these partners; they follow only conjecture
and they only invent lies.13
God also said: And most of them follow nothing but conjecture. Certainly, conjecture can be of no avail
against the truth. Surely, God is aware of all that they do.14
And also: While they have no knowledge thereof. They follow but a conjecture, and verily, conjecture is
no substitute for the truth.15
And this is what every true Zahirite always says: conjecture and suspicion are nothing in light of the
truth, and we will oppose our brothers from other schools of thought as long as youre attributing to
God that which you reason with your fallible human intellects.
God also said, clarifying the sin of the one who speaks based upon conjecture: O you who believe!
Avoid conjecture, indeed some of it constitutes sin. And spy not, nor backbite one another. Would one

10

an-Nisa` verse 157


al-Anam verse 116
12
al-Anam verse 148
13
Younis verse 66
14
Younis verse 36
15
an-Najm verse 28
11

of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? You would hate it. And fear God, for He is the one who
accepts repentance, and is most merciful.16
The consequence of the method of the people of conjecture and blind following is to say: human beings
cannot accuse and pass judgment upon one another based on conjecture and suspicion, but as for the
true religion of God, His word and His revelation then its ok. What oddity is there in the universe more
curious than this; in fact, not even the leaders and predecessors whom these miscreants claim to blindly
follow ever said anything even remotely close to this. These people dare to speak about God in such a
way, calling them the people of qiyas or analogical reason; so where is the analogy of precedence in
the case of this abhorrent methodology of theirs? The usage of conjecture to rule in cases between
human beings is wrong, so how much worse is it to do so with the right of our Lord? These people have
actually given their own rights precedence over the rights of God. Thus they will become angry were a
judge to grant a verdict in a case involving them based solely on conjecture, yet they promote their
speech about God and His religion to the level of divine law! Lord, I and ever Zahrite free ourselves
completely from such audacity and insolence!
God reminds us of the corrupt nature of conjecture: They are but names which you have named, you
and your fathers, for which God has sent down no authority. They follow but a guess and that which
they themselves desire, whereas there has surely come to them the guidance from their Lord!17
Our Lord has come to us with a clear form of guidance which avails us of the need for speculation in the
religion. Without a shadow of a doubt, this was the creed of every Companion and Follower, and the
Muslim nation is not in need of the statements and personal views of any cleric or leader of a school of
thought or other than them. Our Lord has bestowed upon us the Quran contained His word and the
living example and tradition of His final messenger, and has informed us that He prohibited speculation
and conjecture in the religion as a form of mercy and ease upon us. Not everything which our feeble
human minds see as correct is correct according to God; thus, we are only obligated to follow the
revealed scripture, not the opinions or statements of any human being after the Prophet. All praise is
due to the one true God for this blessing. Thus every Zahirite is the ideological enemy of every person
who speculates about Islam via his own personal opinions, and a camel would pass through the eye of a
needle before the Zahirite would resort to such conjecture in the religion.
Thus the Zahirite does not ever operate based on conjecture or speculation, nor on reasonable doubt
or speculative or pure reason, as all of these things are baseless. Whoever utilizes these principles in
understanding the religion and then attributes himself to the Zahirites has not understood the meaning
of zahir or the apparent meaning to begin with. Rather, such a person is merely a blind follower of
later clerics just like all the others.
So after all this, we remember the original statement of the sort of liar in question: the Zahiris have
cast the understanding of the pious predecessors aside, for they are a school of law which does not
esteem the Companions or their statements and in doing so has belittled their honor and status. Yet
16
17

al-Hujurat verse 12
an-Najm verse 23

with all that we reviewed above, is the person who makes this statement himself adhering to the
methodology of the salaf?
The bottom line is that the Zahirite must ask this so called Salafist: from where did you hear that the
Companions obligated the Muslim generations after them to follow them in the religion? Do you have
proofs for your blind imitation of the Companions which can be authentically linked back to the
revelation? And from where did you hear that the Companions ever claimed that their own statements
based on opinions and personal views constituted sources of legislation in Islam? Do you have chains of
narration leading back to revelation in order to prove this methodology you attribute to the purest and
most God-fearing generation of mankind?
So from where did this salafi manhaj which you now claim come from what predecessors do you
have in the early generations for this methodology? There is nothing to be found in the statements of
the early generations obligating the later generations to make taqlid, or blind imitation of them. We
can see than in some matters, Companions would openly disagree with some of the four Rightly Guided
Caliphs and the Rightly Guided Caliphs would openly disagree with other Companions and not one of
them denied this right to the other. Rather, they would engage in discourse over disputed matters based
on the Quran descended from God, the prophetic tradition and the understood meanings of the Arabic
language. An example of this would be the disagreement and discussion between the Companion Ibn
Abbas and the Caliph Uthman ibn Affan, may God be pleased with them both.
We cannot find the pious predecessors of this Muslim nation obliging the later generations to blindly
follow some people and not other people. Were this blind following mandatory, then Umars
independent judgment would have been khurooj or rebellion against Abu Bakr due to his refusal to
take the Caliphs views as a basis for the religion. Were disagreeing with the independent reasoning of
the Companions prohibited, then some of them would not have mutually disagreed with others; do you
not see the contradictions we fall into via this path? Even among the people of analogical reason, some
of them disagree on the conclusions they reach or the bases of the analogies made by others, so if we
obligate the blind following of some of them we will ultimately end up contradicting the conclusions of
other scholars among them. This resembles none other than the analogy made by Lucifer and all his
corruption and distortion.
There is no option for this dishonest blind follower to say to the Zahirites: so how does the one who
pretends to follow the early generations weigh the various opinions of the Companions of many of them
would differ on a single religious issue? Does he follow speculation or certainty? The Zahirites know how
to answer this as their path is known, and that is certainty; they do not turn to any other path. As for the
people of opinions, speculation and conjecture then they will resort to those fallible sources as is their
habit and choose a view without weighing actual evidences. Or they will simply choose to blindly follow
a fallible cleric, at times deciding to follow the opinion of Ibn Umar, at other times that of Uthman ibn
Affan, until choosing one or the other view on a whim are suddenly both correct choices. These
principles lead to the destruction of our religious system as we know it.

All of these different clerics and leaders disagreed with the Companions on some issues and agreed with
them on others. Thus, the lying person about whom we began this discussion originally has in fact
opposed Malik ibn Anas, al-Shafii, Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Ishaq ibn Rahawayh, Ibn al-Mubarak, Dawud alZahiri, Ibn Jarir al-Tabari and other than them. All of them disagreed with blindly accepting the opinions
of a fallible human being, with the exception of Ahmad ibn Hanbal who saw specifically the blind
following of the Companions to count as following the Prophet due to weak, inauthentic, false reports
from him (peace be upon him), though for Ahmad himself he is given one reward in this case for
exercising scholarly judgment and erring.
Sunni Muslims have not seen anybody condemning these scholars for openly disagreeing with the
Companions in matter which the Companions themselves had not reached consensus over!
We all know the narrations from the four imams or famous religious leaders: if the prophetic narration
is authentic then its my school of thought, so throw my own statement against the wall.
So the person who accepts the opinions of these scholars without question falls into two situations: he
either blindly follows that scholar in an instance where he was correct and based his view on scriptural
proof, or he blindly follows that scholar in an instance where he was wrong and his view should be
thrown against the wall.
When these scholars made these statements, then, they intended to clarify the reality of their own
limits to the people. They intended to clarify that they had not studied or heard every single prophetic
tradition there is; rather, they could only base their verdicts on the traditions which they knew, and they
didnt claim the traditions they knew were the only ones authentically related from the Prophet. They
are, by way of these statements, excused if they erred. As for those who blindly followed them without
knowing the accuracy of these scholars views, then they arent truly following those scholars. This is
because these people did not reach those scholars level in terms of knowledge of Islamic law and were
sufficed with the statement of a fallible human being. God never asked this of the people.
So what is the definition of this so-called methodology of the pious predecessors other than refusing to
practice and understand Islam by means of conjecture and speculation, and that conjecture and
speculation cannot be attributed to God, nor can they form a basis for passing judgment on peoples
rights, property and dignity. Thus the person who speaks about the religion or our Lord based on
speculation testify to their own rejection of this methodology about which they speak, and about the
path of these learned religious men of guidance.
So if someone says that they take the deen upon the understanding of as-salaf as-salih and uses this
as a means to defend his sticking to their statements and opinions, then he has testified to his own lack
of understanding of his own statement its definition and its reason for being stated. And if a person
says something without even knowing why its being said, then how ignorant is that? And if the meaning
of this statement is that we take the religion based on the predecessors opinions and speculation, then
honestly, what kind of religion is this? Weve take our religion and made it multiple religions and
diverging paths.

So we say to these types of people: you claim that if the Muslims differ, then we return to the
understanding of the pious predecessors on the given issue, because we all follow this understanding
which is based textually on the Quran and Sunnah, and because God commanded us to act upon these
two sources and to obey those in authority among us from the scholars and the rulers. Our reply is that
nobody from any sect or group disagrees with this in principle, and nobody will reject an authentic,
proven consensus.
We do disagree with the Salafists when they say as they do that we return to the understanding of
the early generationson issues over which the early generations themselves disagreed. We will not
agree with them and we will not accept this from them ever, because it contradicts the clear
commandments of God. God commanded the Muslims to return matters to Him and His messenger in
the case of disagreement; will we obey the commandment of God or the methodology of the Salafists?
Absolute obedience to God is the central operating principle of Islam and the Muslim must not have any
hesitance about this at all. The true religion of God is exact, internally consistent and totally free of
differing and contradiction. God has testified that this does not occur and has guided us to a path of
certainty and surety, and as a mercy upon us has wanted us not to have differences of opinion; thus, it
isnt allowed for us to believe that God would lead us to that which increases us in differing. When we
want to correctly interpret the scriptural texts, then we first look to Ijma, or absolute consensus (NOT
a simple or even overwhelming majority). If we dont find that, then we interpret the scripture based on
other parts of the scripture. If we dont find that, then we return to the understood meanings in Arabic,
the language which God chose for revelation, based upon what the grammarians and lexicographers of
the time of the revelation recorded.
As for anything and everything not mentioned in the scriptural texts then it is pardoned; this is the true
religion of God, no more and no less. And if you speculate or speak from conjecture, then say openly
what you are doing and be truthful in clarifying that this is your opinion and not the judgment of God or
His messenger; if someone asks you a question about Islam, then answer with the sources of Islam and
nothing more. Ask the people of knowledge on the judgment of God, not their personal judgments, and
make clear Islams opposition to differing and disagreement, and dont make statements about the
religion which will lead to differing and disagreement. Rather, you must speak with certainty only. And if
you disagree with the people based on conjecture, then may God help you. What is upon the Muslims is
that we say as our predecessors and the Companions said: Islam is God said, the prophet said and I
dont know. Resign yourself to letting someone else answer questions if you dont know the answer
and understand that nobody is shy to say I dont know except the arrogant and the stubborn who
have allowed what little knowledge and information they have to cause them to think that they know all
that is wrong and right in the world. May God protect us from ever becoming one of those people.
It may be said to us: from where did you get the idea that pure reason and speculation are restricted
when it comes to the issues of compulsion and coercion? Do you have clear proofs from the Quran,
Sunnah or Ijma?

We must ask the questioner, then, if he has ever read of a Companion of the prophet (peace be upon
him) passing rulings and judgments based solely on reason and then compelling and obligating other
Muslims to follow his opinion. And if such an instance can be found, from where did this Companion find
revelation to back up his opinion? Let the asker search for such an instance first, and then I will answer
the question.
Does the asker think that the Companions were unaware of the Quranic verses and prophetic
injunctions prohibiting mankind from speaking about God based on speculation and conjecture and
without any proof? So if the Zahirites and all the other Muslims know about these verses and
injunctions, and the Companions obviously knew them better than any other generation of Muslims,
then does the asker think that they knowingly ruled in contradiction to these scriptural texts?
Lets ask another question: if one Companion rules on a given religious issue, and another Companion
rules differently, then are both rulings sources for Islamic law with them, with you and with all the
Muslims? If you choose one of the two answers as obviously being the sharia law while the other is
not, then you must know Islam even better than the Companions of our prophet Muhammad (peace be
upon him) who witnessed the revelation directly and learned from him personally! You have also forged
a statement upon at least one of them, as none of the Companions ever claimed their judgments were
the source of Islamic law.
If you say that theyre both sources of Islamic law and both correct, then youve invented a new, postIslamic law which not one of those Companions themselves ever believe in, practiced or even heard of.
The examples from these Companions asking one another is this your opinion or the Islamic ruling and
did you find this in the Quran or prophetic tradition are numerous.
If you say that neither of them constitutes sources of Islamic law, then youve spoken the truth. The
statement of no human being other than our prophet (peace be upon him) forms a basis for Islamic law,
not the Companions and not anyone who came after them. God did not allow people to legislate their
own sharia as He stated in the Quran. I am assuming youve memorized the verses in question by
now; if not, their mention above should be enough.
Some people have claimed that they understand from these Zahirite principles that understanding Islam
by way of reason rather than revelation and speaking about God without knowledge are not prohibited
until these false foundations are used for the purposes of compulsion and coercion; and that until that
point, theyre OK. This meaning is not found in our principles to begin with, however. Being OK or
permissible is from the five categories of rulings in Islamic law so once again, this claim becomes an
instance of speaking about God and his religion without knowledge. Speculation and speaking without
knowledge in regard to Islam is not ever permissible and thus it takes the ruling of prohibition, not
permissibility. As for speculation in other than Islam then nobody will oppose it on principle nor to any
of the Zahirites care to; everything Ive written thus far is only in regard to speculation in God, His
religion and His judgments and the attribution of this speculation to Islam. It is logically understood,
then, that this speculation is not permissible whether one forces it on others or not.

This also gives rise to another issue, and its the possibility of a man to speak about a religious issue
based on speculation but to make clear that its only his opinion and that it isnt attributable to God or
Islam. But when a person asks on the ruling of something in Islamic law, they arent asking for the
persons opinion to begin with, even if the person makes it clear that hes only giving his own opinion. If
the asker is asking about the Islamic ruling, them they didnt want a personal opinion regardless of how
its presented.
The people who criticize the Zahirites, by and large, do not behave as above; thus, the issue is more
severe. Islam does not allow anybody to speculate about God and His law and then attribute the result
of such speculation to God and His law. Thus we ultimately end up returning to the issue of compelling
people to act in a certain way, as issues of prohibition, obligation and permissibility are all Islamic
categories of rulings. The Muslim is the one who devotes him or herself to that which God commanded,
and the true religion which God commanded mankind to follow is Islam. Thus the person who speaks of
permissibility and prohibition is speaking about the religion, and thus such a person is compelling the
people whether he intends to or not.

Points of contention with the Traditional Islam movement


Were it not for the fact that the people of opinions, reason and conjecture allowed the results of their
speculative discourse and polemical rhetoric to be attributed to God and compel mankind to accept
these results and rule by them judicially, not a person on Earth would have opposed them. This is
because Islam includes a legal system in addition to dogma, and to enter into the judicial sphere is to
enter into the Islamic sphere, and to talk about Islamic law is to talk about the will of God. An Islamic
judge rules based upon truth, evidence and certainty as defined in Gods divine law. So where, then,
have these people found evidence in the revealed texts allowing an Islamic judge or ruler to judge or
rule based upon speculation?
As for the Zahirities, then we have found evidence for the prohibition of these things in the previously
quoted verses. We judge and rule based upon certainty and disregard all the rhetoric and conjecture,
and not one of our scholars or students dare to attribute to God and His religion that which is not known
from the scripture with certainty. This is the reality of the disagreement between us and our critics.
These dishonest critics sometimes say to us: you Zahirites have come to know the prohibition of
understanding Islam by way of pure reason after fourteen centuries while the Companions themselves
were unaware of this prohibition. At times, they will say that we rule by other than what God revealed!18
We must ask this person, of course, how he got the idea that the Companions didnt know about the
prohibition of understanding the religion by way of pure reason. Its a strange statement, as it surely
cant be understood from all the evidence we have brought so far!
The truth is that the Companions were very aware of the prohibition of understanding the religion
through pure reason, and it is because of that that you will not find a single one of them describing his
or her own opinion whether reached by way of reason or informed discourse as a source of Islamic
law or the judgment of God, nor will you find them claiming that any other human being is obligated to
accept and follow said opinion. And you will certainly not find them saying that disagreeing with their
view on a subject causes the one disagreeing to become a blaspheming heretic, unlike the followers of
the four mainstream schools of thought who have said things like that about their opponents
throughout history.
The Companions, those of the golden first generation of Muslims, differed over a plethora of topics and
inquiries yet you will not find a single one of them who allowed his or her own informed judgment or
educated opinion to be positively attributed to God or His law. The statements of the rightly guided
caliphs on this issue are numerous; lets take a well-known statement of the first caliph, Abu Bakr asSiddiq. He said: What Earth would carry me and what sky would cover me were I to speak about a
single verse of the word of God in light of my own personal viewpoint? After the prophets and
messengers, is there a human being who ever walked the face of the Earth and was as knowledgeable of

18

Translators note: the author is referring to a verse in the Quran referring to rulers who rule by other than
Islamic law are disbelievers. The criticism he is referring to is the occasional implied excommunication of Zahirites
from Islam.

Islam and as close to the prophet Muhammad as Abu Bakr? What more do you need to understand the
point after this statement?
As for you the proverbial you, not you the reader from the schools of thought based on blind
imitation of past clericsyou weigh two views within your school to find what is the strongest one
according to the clerics principles. You explore a statement of your chosen religious leader, returning to
the explanations of his later followers. You weigh the various explanations of the Quran and Sunnah
made by your clerics against one another to find what is more in tune with the original principle of the
founder of the school. You accept analogical reason as a means of applying the scripture to issues about
which it was silent, yet you accept one analogy and reject another not because the second failed to
follow your established principles, but because it contradicts the statement of your schools founder.
You will ultimately accept an analogy because it aids the statement of the founder.
The prohibition of speaking about God and His will by the way of conjecture and speculation isnt
specific to the Zahirites or the Companions and early generations of Muslims. Even in the case of the
founders of the four mainstream schools of thought and their students, there will not be found a major,
legitimate Muslim scholar allowing people to attribute the results of speculate discourse to God and His
religion. Were that the case, why is it that all of the classical Muslim jurists within the different schools
of thought said that speculative judgments are non-binding? Why did they all say nobody is rebuked or
condemned for their position in regard to theoretical issues? All of them acknowledged that the
personal opinion of one person is the same as the next persons, and all opinions which are not based on
divine revelation are equal.
If this person who accuses us of inventing a new way after fourteen centuries of Islamic scholarship
happens to be from the school of law founded by Malik ibn Anas, for example, then he must reconcile
between his blind partisanship for Malik and Maliks own statements. What is the reason that Malik
wept as he was on his deathbed? This is well known: he wept because in his lifetime, there are a single
instance in which he had passed a ruling based on his own personal opinion. His statement isnt a matter
of dispute he wished that he could have been punished with lashes as expiation for this single
instance. The seriousness of Maliks regret should be apparent from his words; he regretted ruling by his
own opinion instead of the scripture. Malik is from the major scholars and leaders of the Muslims; had
this single instance been acceptable to him, he wouldnt have evidenced regret!
When the Companions themselves differed, the only time they would take each other to account was
when one of them had a scriptural text to back up what they were saying. If they disagreed in regard to
a matter, then they returned the issues to God and His messenger, such as how Umar (may God be
pleased with him) did when the Companions discussed the issue of a man who was with his wife and
finished prematurely must he ritually bathe as is the case after normal intercourse or not? The
Companions all lined up behind two different opinions, some saying that bathing was obligatory and the
others saying that it isnt. Umar asked the mother of the believers, Aisha (peace be upon her), for the
decisive answer. Upon doing so, he discovered that the root of the disagreement was that half the
people knew of one prophetic narration while the other half knew of a second one neither side knew
what the other side knew. The first group of Companions was going by the prophetic narration that any

time a persons private part touches that of their spouse, ritually bathing is required. The second group
of Companions knew of the prophetic narration that ritual bathing is only required in the case of seminal
emission. So when Umar heard both the prophetic narrations from Aisha together, he took the first
narration and thus the first opinion as it was different from the default ruling, and thus rendered the
second narration to be abrogated.19 He even went as far as saying that anybody disagreeing with the
ruling at that point ought to be lashed.
Thus the people holding the first opinion were upon certaintyand the people holding the second
opinion were upon certainty as well! Certainty does not contradict itself, but rather the people involved
did not know which of the two narrations was abrogated, or each group didnt know there were two
separate narrations addressing the issue. Certainty indicated that the narration with the first group
abrogated that with the second group. God has not willed that two different narrations would be
revealed regarding one issue and then the truth of what is abrogated and abrogating would be hidden.
This is not a form of clarification, and Almighty God stated in the Quran that he sent the prophet (peace
be upon him) to bring mankind the final clarification. If it didnt explain clearly to mankind what is
abrogated and what is abrogating, then it wouldnt be a clarification.
Thus the ruling which Umar discovered after inquiry was correct, his obligating the people to follow that
ruling is correct, and his threat to anybody who still opposed the clear truth after clarification was
correct.
Another example is when Zaid and Ibn Abbas (may God be pleased with them all20) disagreed on a
number of issues. Ibn Abbas actually rejected Zaids opinions during their discussion and asked whether
or not Zaid was basing his opinions on the Quran and prophetic tradition. Zaid didnt pretend that his
opinions were the true religion of God or that he did find something in the Quran or prophetic tradition
indicating what he was saying. Were conjecture from Islam, Zaid wouldnt have hesitated to claim that
he found his opinion supported in the Quran. Zaid, however, knew the rejected status of conjecture in
Islam and that speaking about God and His religion could only take place as God had ordered it; thus,
Zaid didnt push that about which he had no knowledge. Thus, the truth was with Ibn Abbas in that issue
without a shadow of a doubt, as he was upon certainty and not speculation.
Some people will still often say: I have not found the restriction of imposing ones ruling on others in the
apparent meanings of the Quran and the prophetic tradition. How, then, do you Zahirites support that?
A sufficient answer to this can already be found in the aforementioned Quranic verses regarding
speculation in Islam and its prohibition. Speculation is to speak without sure knowledge, knowledge of
Islam is not ascertained unless it is certain, there is no speculation except that it is the antithesis of
knowledge, the command to do something is a prohibition of its antithesis and we are commanded to

19

Translators note: For more information, see the authors essay on Quranic science entitled Abrogation in the
Quran and his essays on Hadith science entitled Abrogation in the Prophetic Tradition and Abrogation of the
Narration Restricting Ritual Bathing to Seminal Emission.
20
Translators note: Ibn Abbas means son of Abbas, so his father is also included here; thus its with them all
and not with them both.

speak about God and His religion based upon knowledge only. Nobody from among the Muslims will
disagree with this in principle.
Ill add another point of benefit. Has this questioner not read the verse: Or have they partners with God
who have instituted for them a religion which He has not allowed? And had it not been for a decisive
word, the matter would have been judged between them. And verily, for the wicked there is a painful
torment.21
And the verse: Say: "Tell me, what provision God has sent down to you! And you have made of it lawful
and unlawful." Say: "Has God permitted you to do so, or do you invent a lie against Him?" And what
think those who invent lies against God, on Judgment Day? Truly, God is gracious to mankind, but most
of them are ungrateful.22
Also the verse: And follow not that of which you have no knowledge. Verily! The hearing, and the sight,
and the heart, of each of those you will be questioned.23
And the verse: And they say, "None shall enter Heaven unless he is a Jew or a Christian." These are
their own desires. Say: "Bring your proof if youre telling the truth."24
And finally: And if he had forged a false saying concerning Me, I surely would have seized him with
incredible force, and then certainly cut his aorta.25
All of these scriptural texts prohibit man to speak about God based on his own personal view. Thus, if
you want to attribute something to God Almighty, there is no way for you around these clear verses of
prohibition except that you can find another scriptural text clearly indicating that what youre
attributing is correct. If you are not able to do so and you still speak about God based upon your own
personal view, then you now fall under the ruling of these aforementioned verses. Thus the statement
of some people that the pure reason or juristic discretion of a given scholar constitutes legislation in
Islam and nobody can disagree with him is a false one and it strongly contradicts the verse prohibiting
one to speak about God without knowledge. Speaking about God is only done with a clear proof, and a
clear proof indicates knowledge, and knowledge indicates certainty. Can you find a single one of the
Companions ever saying the conclusion I reached based on independent reasoning is a source of
Islamic law? Thus the question of the people of truth and certainty to the one who speaks on religious
matters based on reason rather than revelation is what their clear proof is, just as God ordered. This is
what is done by the Zahirites and other than us from the people who dont tread further than what is
known to be true with certainty. Thus all who do this negate conjecture and speculation and refuse to
attribute the results of such lines of thinking to God; rather, we all clarify: this is the opinion of suchand-such, this is the reasoning of whats-his-face or this is how whats-his-name interprets Islamic law.

21

ash-Shoura verse 21
Younis verses 59-60
23
al-Isra` verse 36
24
al-Baqarah verse 111
25
al-Haqqah verses 44-46
22

We do not say this is the Islamic ruling on the matter, nor do we permit any ruler to rule by obligating
people to adhere to the mere opinions of men which God never obligated people to follow anyway.

Did the first generation of Muslims mix revelation and reason?


It again bears repeating: have you ever found any of the Companions obligating others to adhere to
their own personal views? Check out Mulakhkhas Ibtal al-Qiyas 26by Ibn Hazm; toward the end, you will
find statements from the Companions regarding pure reason and its status. You will even find
statements of the Followers actually, literally comparing the usefulness of pure reason in the religion to
a puddle of urine. The same author brings even more statements of the same nature in his longer books
Ibtal al-Qiyas and al-Ihkam wherein he narrates from a large number of scholars from the early
generations of Muslims in condemnation of pure reason and the act of attributing conclusions reached
by it to God and His religion.
At this point it may start to dawn on the critic of Ahl al-Zahir (the people of the apparent meanings) may
say ask: so what is the benefit in speculation if its recompense is so severe?
The answer is that there really isnt a benefit to speculation to begin with, except one, and thats to
realize the extent of the beauty of Islam and the mercy of our Creator. Knowledge of the antithesis aids
knowledge of the thesis; thus, when people realize the falsehood and dangers of speculation, conjecture
and pure reason in religious matters, the durability of Islam and Islamic law throughout the ages
becomes more apparent.
In fact, none of the Companions ever claimed that, in matters of the religion, reason possesses any
benefit to begin with. Thus speculation is nothing more than restriction upon the people after God
already brought ease; God created the prohibitions limited in scope, just like the obligations. That which
is Islamically permissible, however, is unlimited and uncountable until Judgment Day and this is another
example of Gods mercy and ease upon the people. Thus everything within the religion is known and
defined, either by a name or a description, until Judgment Day.27
The confused and bewildered from among the people of pure and analogical reason and speculative
theology will then say: we wish to take this permissible thing about which no scripture has been
revealed and prohibit it (or obligate it) because it resembles, in some way, a ruling established by the
revealed scripture.
This endeavor is baseless and not from what God commanded us to do, rather it is from what He
prohibited us from doing in every verse regarding the permissibility of what He created on the Earth, the
obligatory being that which Islamic law obligates, the prohibited being that which Islamic law prohibits,
and the prohibition of prohibiting that which is permissible and of permitting the prohibited. These
people want to exchange pardon and ease for restriction and hardship, and thus by way of their
analogies, conjecture, speculation and reasoning they place mankind in shackles.

26

A mulakhkhas is just an outline or cliff notes.


Translators note: for more information, see the authors article on defining the Zahirite methodology entitled
The Completeness of Islamic Law and his other article in defense of Zahirism entitled Is Zahirism Restriction and
Difficulty Upon the Muslim Nation?
27

Abu Hanifa may he rest in peace! is considered the first to implement analogical reason in Muslim
jurisprudence and he understood better than anybody the reality of reason and its place in Islam. And it
is Abu Hanifa who declared that any judge who rules in an Islamic court based on analogical reason to
not truly be a jurist and to have not comprehended a thing! He actually said whoever doesnt leave
analogical reason aside when judging in the courtroom hasnt comprehended a thing from
jurisprudence. This is because he understood that a court ruling is compulsory, and there is no
compulsion except from the Quran and the Sunnah!
The ease upon followers of Islam and the incredible benefit of this religion is found via rejection of the
reasoning of human beings, not by acting upon it. It is possible for a cleric to pass a judgment based
upon his own personal view which he sees as a matter of piety, yet Islam has not demanded that we
adhere to his version of piety; rather, Islam demands us to follow the established truth known through
the scriptures of the Quran and the Sunnah; practicing Islam based on anything other than them is a
fruitless endeavor undeserving of consideration.
Due to this, you will find the practical agreement among the early generations of Muslims is that
whoever leaves off speculation and refuses to act upon it either in favor of acting upon certainty or
acting upon nothing at all due to lack of knowledge of the scripture will not be held to account for that
by God on Judgment Day. This is because the proof of God is standing until that day, and the proof of
God upon all of mankind is clear. It isnt befitting of God to demand from us that we confirm all
statements of mortal human beings with clear scriptural proofs which reveal the truth with certainty,
but that He then takes us to account on Judgment Day based on other than certainty; this is a fate for
which the Creator of justice does not will His worshippers. Thus the practical, working agreement found
among the earliest Muslims is now clear, being based upon the aforementioned scriptural texts which
do not carry the possibility of doubt. So whoever contradicts the speculation of another person will not
ever be taken to account for that by God; were that not the case, God would have nullified his own
establishment of proof upon the disbelievers we find in the Quran; this is impossible by the grace of
God.
If it is then said: why didnt the Companions just say I dont know isnt that better than speaking
about God without knowledge?
The answer is that as long as the practical working agreement of the first generations of Muslims was
that speculative theology is not part of the religion and that an individual is not held to account due to
leaving it off, then whoever did speculate and act upon this due to what he felt was a pious behavior for
him or herself then fine, and its between them and God. That which is rejected is only speculating and
claiming that the results of ones own speculation and independent reasoning constitute a ruling in
Islamic law. So for example a person can perform the correct ablution before the ritual prayer knowing
that the Muslim is obligated to wash the feet, and that person then washes everything from the shin
down knowing that this isnt required but wanting to make absolutely sure that he or she managed to
get the feet entirely washed. Such a pious person knows that washing the shins isnt required and
doesnt claim that their act is from the religion; they simply know that this is their own personal piety
and fear that they might not fulfill the obligation properly. This piety from that person isnt required

from anyone else or even that person him or herself to begin with, because Islam is only known by
certainty. The person just washed everything from a certain point downward to ensure that they at least
fulfilled the obligation of washing the feet.
Ibn Umar, may God be pleased with them both, said that knowledge of the religion is the revealed book,
the established prophecy and saying I dont know. These types of statements are to be found among
the second generation of Muslims, the Followers, as well. Not a single one of the Companions ever
claimed that his or her reasoning was from the word of God, and due to that I said earlier: not one of the
Companions forged a single letter or syllable or phoneme upon God, and not a single one of them ever
attributed the viewpoints of mortal humans to God. This is because they were more aware than any
other generation of people of the gravely sinful nature of attributing anything to God which God did not
actually say, and that such an act constitutes lying upon God as He Himself revealed in His book.
It is then sometimes said in response to this that a Companion who follows his own personal view of
piety such as the example above falls into one of four categories. First, he could state his opinion based
on speculation and know it to be true with certainty (and if he knows with certainty from the scripture
then this isnt mere opinion or speculation to begin with, so he couldnt say this is my opinion).
Second, he could know that he doesnt know but he still speaks based on reason and this is a sin. Third,
he could hesitate somewhere between certainty and speculation. Fourth, he could think that he knows
when he doesnt.
As for the first possibility then it isnt related to this issue because a person who has a clear proof on a
religious issue from the Quran or the prophetic tradition doesnt need resort to pure reason as it is
speculation, not knowledge.
As for the second possibility then its flawed from the start, because the context of the above example is
someone speculating or resorting to pure reason without attributing the results of that to Islam. Failing
to have knowledge, and knowing that one doesnt have knowledge and thereafter resorting to pure
reason without attributing the conclusion reached thereby to Islam isnt a sin. Such a person,
Companion or otherwise, is free to make such statements based on pure reason as long as they dont
claim that their statement is from Islam.
As for a person who attributes the results of his own reasoning to Islam and compels the people to
accept and adhere to it, or claims that such results are from the true religion of God and whoever
disagrees is misguided and mistaken and will be taken to account on Judgment Day, then thats not
allowed but thats a totally different thing. Such people are like the clergy of the Christians whom God
described as being worshipped. Some of the Companions said that the worship of Christian leaders
wasnt overt, but rather these leaders legislated into the religion that which God did not permit and
altered divine law, and that by accepting that the common people accepted them as lords. These are the
sort of people being referred to in the discussion on someone explaining his fallible human reasoning
and telling people that its actually from Gods law, because he is speaking about God without
knowledge and legislating things which God didnt permit. This never occurred from even one of the
Companions; any supposed claim found is based upon historically inauthentic reports or, at times,

outright forgeries inserted by later narrators. The Companions, as the most favored of mankind after the
prophets and messengers, are far above attribution of what comes out of their own minds to God.
As for the third possibility, then it is like being in error as the person who proposes this possibility hasnt
fully grasped what I said in regard to such a view having no consideration and a person in such a
situation of hesitation being prohibited from attributing his view to God, declaring his opponents to be
misguided or mistaken and warning them that they will be taken to account on Judgment Day. A person
who hesitates between certainty and speculation and the result of such efforts is still doubt, not
certainty. This is the falsehood which I rejected here and which all other Zahirites before me have
rejected; its a falsehood whose falsity is not doubted and weve already gone through the issue at
length.
As for the fourth possibility of a Companion thinking that he knows the truth when he doesnt actually
know, then its absolutely irrelevant to the topic. If the Companion passed judgment and stated his view
upon knowledge but his knowledge was incorrect or deficient, then he still isnt granting his own
personal view; he is just stating what he erroneously thinks is a matter of fact.
Lets look at what this really means. When a Companion ruled by what he thought he knew, the
meaning is that he established the proofs which appeared to be decisive and clear and passed a
judgment which happened to be inaccurate. Its inaccurate because he found some of the clear,
apparent meanings in the scriptural texts and failed to learn some other parts of the scripture, and this
isnt a sin. In fact, this happens quite often with those theologians who have reached the level of
scholarly discourse, even Zahirites, and in the end those theologians arent falling into something
prohibited. This is because God did not burden us except for that which we know; we are not held to
account for that which we dont know, and we arent commanded to leave off what we know until we
realize we were mistaken. Were this not the case, then not a single person on Earth would really
understand the divine legislation. Every person knows some things and is ignorant of other things, and
because of that the Zahirites have often said: so-and-so went the right direction but didnt arrive to his
destination. The meaning is that the person was on the correct method of researching and studying the
scripture in the depths of the libraries or what have you, and when reading all of these revealed texts he
missed some of them.
In regard to the statement if I am correct then it is only from God, and if I err then it is only from me
and the Devil, then this is a quote the scholars have often repeated from Abu Bakr as-Siddiq because he
would never claim to know everything and perhaps he knew some of the prophetic tradition and the
issue in question could not be fully understood in the absence of another piece of that tradition which
he had never heard. Formulating a judgment based on an incomplete number of relevant traditions is
still considered operation upon some of the apparent meanings, while he missed other traditions
containing other apparent meanings. Those who are fallible are prone to error by definition, and due to
this Abu Bakr would make this comment even after expending the utmost effort in formulating a correct
judgment based on divine revelation he heard from the Prophet (peace be upon him).

Some people might retort that speculation in the religion is either permissible for all people with no
difference between the learned and the illiterate or the Companions and a non-Arabic speaking Muslim
today; or it is prohibited and this covers all people from all different walks of life at all different times; or
it is obligatory in which case this applies to all mankind equally as well.
The answer is that their statement is general and holds little benefit; so what exactly is speculation?
If by speculation the meaning is for somebody to make a statement without proof from the Quran and
Sunnah and then say that their statement is part of Islamic law and whoever disagrees with him is
misguided or even a heretic, and compels people to accept his statement as legislation which cannot be
opposed, then all the Muslim nation is prohibited from that with no differences at all. The reason is
simple: divine legislation is only from God and His messenger and no one else.
If by speculation the meaning is for somebody to make a statement in a matter not relating to Islam,
then this is governed by an entirely different set of principles; specifically, that which human beings
know from the universe around them. It isnt really befitting for all people to make statements about all
non-religious matters they want, unless their statement carries no impact upon the world. This basically
refers to the kind of speculation in matters outside the sphere of the religion and thus its outside the
sphere of our discussion.

Conclusion
In the end, there is no difference between the Companions and other than them in regard to the first
kind of speculation mentioned just before this section it isnt allowed with anybody from any
generation to begin with. There is not a single verse of the Quran or statement of the Prophet allowing
someone to pass judgments within Islam based on human reason and speculation, and to anyone who
says otherwise we merely reply: Bring your proof if youre telling the truth as God commanded us to
say. As for the specific focus on the Companions of the last prophet in this paper, then it only exists due
to the false claim of the people of conjecture that the Companions allowed pure or analogical reason or
any other form of speculation in the religion; thats the only reason for focusing so heavily on them
here. Were that not the case then such a focus would be unnecessary because the bottom line is that
speculative knowledge is not really knowledge in terms of the Muslim faith.
Thats the last which I have to say on the matter. In this paper weve seen support of the true religion of
God against the claims of the people of conjecture and speculation, as well as support for the Zahirites
against those who slander them without even taking a reality check and distinguishing between right
and wrong. This is just a reminder, so whoever wants to be reminded is free to do so. All thanks are due
to the Lord of the universe.
Your brother,
Ibn Tamim al-Zahiri
Wednesday, Rajab 2, 1433AH (May 23, 2012CE)
Edited from the original on the old Darah Ahl al-Zahir website al-Intisar li Ahl il-Zahir min Tashni Ahl alQiyas wa al-Ar. Translation was performed with the goal of paraphrasing (meaning) rather than
metaphrasing (word-for-word).

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