Al-Albani – A Concise Guide to the Chief Innovator of Our Time
al-Albani is a self-taught claimant to hadith scholarship who has no known teacher in any of the Islamic sciences and has admitted not to have memorized the Book of Allah nor any book of hadith, fiqh, aqida, usul, or grammar.
Al-Albani – A Concise Guide to the Chief Innovator of Our Time
Nasir al-Albani is the arch-innovator of the Wahhabis and “Salafis” in our time. A watch repairman by trade, al-Albani is a self-taught claimant to hadith scholarship who has no known teacher in any of the Islamic sciences and has admitted not to have memorized the Book of Allah nor any book of hadith, fiqh, `aqida, usul, or grammar. He achieved fame by attacking the great scholars of Ahl al-Sunna and reviling the science of fiqh with especial malice towards the school of his father who was a Hanafi jurist.
A rabid reviler of the Friends of Allah and the Sufis, he was expelled from Syria then Saudi Arabia and lived in Amman, Jordan under house arrest until his death in 1999. He remains the qibla of the people of Innovation, self-styled re-formers of Islam, and other “Salafi” and Wahhabi sympathizers, and the preferred author of book merchants and many uneducated Muslims. Most of the contemporary Sunni scholars warned of his heresy and many of them wrote articles or full-length works against him such as:
– The Indian hadith scholar Habib al-Rahman al-A`zami who wrote al-Albani Shudhudhuh wa Akhta’uh (“Al-Albani’s Aberrations and Errors”) in four volumes.
– The Syrian scholar Muhammad Sa`id Ramadan al-Buti who wrote the two classics al-Lamadhhabiyya Akhtaru Bid`atin Tuhaddidu al-Shari`a al-Islamiyya (“Not Following A School of Jurisprudence is the Most Dangerous Innovation Threatening Islamic Sacred Law”) and al-Salafiyya Marhalatun Zamaniyyatun Mubaraka La Madhhabun Islami (“The `Way of the Early Muslims’ Was A Blessed Historical Epoch, Not An Islamic School of Thought”)
– The Moroccan hadith scholar `Abd Allah ibn Muhammad ibn al-Siddiq al-Ghumari who wrote Irgham al-Mubtadi` al-Ghabi bi Jawaz al-Tawassul bi al-Nabi fi al-Radd `ala al-Albani al-Wabi (“The Coercion of the Unintelligent Innovator with the Licitness of Using the Prophet – Allah bless and greet him – as an Intermediary in Refutation of al-Albani the Baneful”), al-Qawl al-Muqni` fi al-Radd `ala al-Albani al-Mubtadi` (“The Persuasive Discourse in Refutation of al-Albani the Innovator”), and Itqan al-Sun`a fi Tahqiq Ma`na al-Bid`a (“Precise Handiwork in Ascertaining the Meaning of Innovation”).
– The Moroccan hadith scholar `Abd al-`Aziz ibn Muhammad ibn al-Siddiq al-Ghumari who wrote Bayan Nakth al-Nakith al-Mu`tadi (“The Exposition of the Treachery of the Rebel”).
– The Syrian hadith scholar `Abd al-Fattah Abu Ghudda who wrote Radd `ala Abatil wa Iftira’at Nasir al-Albani wa Sahibihi Sabiqan Zuhayr al-Shawish wa Mu’azirihima (“Refutation of the Falsehoods and Fabrications of Nasir al-Albani and his Former Friend Zuhayr al-Shawish and their Supporters”).
– The Egyptian Hadith scholar Muhammad `Awwama who wrote Adab al-Ikhtilaf (“The Proper Manners of Expressing Difference of Opinion”).
– The Egyptian hadith scholar Mahmud Sa`id Mamduh who wrote Wusul al-Tahani bi Ithbat Sunniyyat al-Subha wa al-Radd `ala al-Albani (“The Alighting of Mutual Benefit and Confirmation that the Dhikr-Beads are a Sunna in Refutation of al-Albani”) and Tanbih al-Muslim ila Ta`addi al-Albani `ala Sahih Muslim (“Warning to the Muslim Concerning al-Albani’s Attack on Sahih Muslim”).
– The Saudi hadith scholar Isma`il ibn Muhammad al-Ansar who wrote Ta`aqqubat `ala “Silsilat al-Ahadith al-Da`ifa wa al-Mawdu`a” li al-Albani (“Critique of al-Albani’s Book on Weak and Forged Hadiths”), Tashih Salat al-Tarawih `Ishrina Rak`atan wa al-Radd `ala al-Albani fi Tad`ifih (“Establishing as Correct the Tarawih Salat in Twenty Rak`as and the Refutation of Its Weakening by al-Albani”), and Ibahat al-Tahalli bi al-Dhahab al-Muhallaq li al-Nisa’ wa al-Radd `ala al-Albani fi Tahrimih (“The Licitness of Wearing Gold Jewelry for Women Contrary to al-Albani’s Prohibition of it”).
– The Syrian scholar Badr al-Din Hasan Diab who wrote Anwar al-Masabih `ala Zulumat al-Albani fi Salat al-Tarawih (“Illuminating the Darkness of al-Albani over the Tarawih Prayer”).
– The Director of Religious Endowments in Dubai, `Isa ibn `Abd Allah ibn Mani` al-Himyari who wrote al-I`lam bi Istihbab Shadd al-Rihal li Ziyarati Qabri Khayr al-Anam – Allah bless and greet him – (“The Notification Concerning the Recommendation of Travelling to Visit the Grave of the Best of Creation – Allah bless and greet him -) and al-Bid`a al-Hasana Aslun Min Usul al-Tashri` (“The Excellent Innovation Is One of the Sources of Islamic Legislation”).
– The Minister of Islamic Affairs and Religious Endowments in the United Arab Emirates Shaykh Muhammad ibn Ahmad al-Khazraji who wrote the article al-Albani: Tatarrufatuh (“Al-Albani’s Extremist Positions”).
– The Syrian scholar Firas Muhammad Walid Ways in his edition of Ibn al-Mulaqqin’s Sunniyyat al-Jumu`a al-Qabliyya (“The Sunna Prayers That Must Precede Salat al-Jumu`a”).
– The Syrian scholar Samer Islambuli who wrote al-Ahad, al-Ijma`, al-Naskh.
– The Jordanian scholar As`ad Salim Tayyim who wrote Bayan Awham al-Albani fi Tahqiqihi li Kitab Fadl al-Salat `ala al-Nabi – Allah bless and greet him -.
– The Jordanian scholar Hasan `Ali al-Saqqaf who wrote the two-volume Tanaqudat al-Albani al-Wadiha fi ma Waqa`a fi Tashih al-Ahadith wa Tad`ifiha min Akhta’ wa Ghaltat (“Albani’s Patent Self-Contradictions in the Mistakes and Blunders He Committed While Declaring Hadiths to be Sound or Weak”), Ihtijaj al-Kha’ib bi `Ibarat man Idda`a al-Ijma` fa Huwa Kadhib (“The Loser’s Recourse to the Phrase: `Whoever Claims Consensus Is a Liar!'”), al-Qawl al-Thabtu fi Siyami Yawm al-Sabt (“The Firm Discourse Concerning Fasting on Saturdays”), al-Lajif al-Dhu`af li al-Mutala`ib bi Ahkam al-I`tikaf (“The Lethal Strike Against Him Who Toys with the Rulings of I`tikaf), Sahih Sifat Salat al-Nabi Sallallahu `alayhi wa Sallam (“The Correct Description of the Prophet’s Prayer – Allah bless and greet him -“), I`lam al-Kha’id bi Tahrim al-Qur’an `ala al-Junub wa al-Ha’id (“The Appraisal of the Meddler in the Interdiction of the Qur’an to those in a State of Major Defilement and Menstruating Women”), Talqih al-Fuhum al-`Aliya (“The Inculcation of Lofty Discernment”), and Sahih Sharh al-`Aqida al-Tahawiyya (“The Correct Explanation of al-Tahawi’s Statement of Islamic Doctrine”).
Among Albani’s innovations in the Religion:
1- In his book Adab al-Zafaf he prohibits women from wearing gold jewelry – rings, bracelets, and chains – despite the Consensus of the Ulema permitting it.
2- He claims that 2.5% zakât is not due on money obtained from commerce, i.e. the main activity whereby money circulates among Muslims.
3- He absolutely prohibits fasting on Saturdays.
4- He prohibits retreat (i`tikaf) in any but the Three Mosques.
5- He claims that it is lawful to eat in Ramadan before Maghrib as defined by the Law, and similarly after the true dawn.
6- He compares Hanafi fiqh to the Gospel. 1
7- He calls people to imitate him rather than the Imams of the Salaf such as the founders of the Four Schools, and his followers invalidate the hadiths that contradict his views.
8- He prohibits the make-up performance of prayers missed intentionally.
9- He claims that it is permissible for menstruating women and those in a state of major defilement (junub) to recite, touch, and carry the Qur’an.
10- He claims over and over that among the innovations in religion existent in Madina is the persistence of the Prophet’s – Allah bless and greet him – grave in the mosque.
11- He claims that whoever travels intending to visit the Prophet – Allah bless and greet him – or to ask him for his intercession is a misguided innovator.
12- He claims that whoever carries dhikr-beads in his hand to remember Allah Most High is misguided and innovating.
13- He invented a location to Allah Most High above the Throne which he named al-makân al-`adamî – “the non-existent place.”
14- He claims in Tamam al-Minna that masturbation does not annul one’s fast.
15- He published “corrected” editions of the two Sahihs of al-Bukhari and Muslim, which he deceitfully called “Abridgments” (mukhtasar) in violation of the integrity of these motherbooks.
16- He published newly-styled editions of the Four Sunan, al-Bukhari’s al-Adab al-Mufrad, al-Mundhiri’s al-Targhib wa al-Tarhib, and al-Suyuti’s al-Jami` al-Saghir, each of which he split into two works, respectively prefixed Sahih and Da`if in violation of the integrity of these motherbooks.
17- He said: “Many of those who interpret figuratively [the Divine Attributes] are not heretics (zanâdiqa), but they say what heretics say,” and “figurative interpretation is the very same as nullification (al-ta’wîl `ayn al-ta`tîl).” 2
18- He suggests that al-Bukhari is a disbeliever for interpreting the Divine Face as dominion or sovereignty (mulk) in the verse “Everything will perish save His countenance” (28:88) in the book of Tafsir in his Sahih: “Except His wajh means except His mulk, and it is also said: Except whatever was for the sake of His countenance.” Albani blurts out: “No true believer would say such a thing” and “We should consider al-Bukhari innocent of that statement.” 3
19- In imitation of the Mu`tazila, tawassul (seeking means), istighâtha (asking for help), and tashaffu` (seeking intercession) through the Prophet – Allah bless and greet him – or one of the Awliyâ’ he declared prohibited acts in Islam (harâm) tantamount to idolatry (shirk) in his booklet al-Tawassul as did his friends Bin Baz and those who obey them such as al-Qahtani in al-Wala’ wa al-Bara’ and others, in flat rejection of the numerous sound and explicit narrations to that effect, such as al-Bukhari’s narration of the Prophet – Allah bless and greet him – from Ibn `Umar – Allah be well-pleased with him -: “Truly the sun shall draw so near on the Day of Resurrection that sweat shall reach to the mid-ear, whereupon they shall ask (istaghâthû) help from Adam – upon him peace -, then from Musa – upon him peace – , then from Muhammad – Allah bless and greet him – who will intercede (fa yashfa`u)… and that day Allah shall raise him to an Exalted Station, so that all those who are standing [including the unbelievers] shall glorify him (yahmaduhu ahlu al-jam`i kulluhum).”
20- He denies that the name of the Angel of death is `Azrâ’îl and claims such a name has no basis other than Israelite reports, although `Iyad reports the Consensus on the Umma on it in al-Shifa’.
21- Like the rest of Wahhabi and “Salafi” innovators he declares Ash`aris, Maturidis, and Sufis to be outside the fold of Ahl al-Sunna and even outside the fold of Islam, although Allah Most High and His Prophet – Allah bless and greet him – praised them! Upon revelation of the verse “Allah shall bring a people whom He loves and who love Him” (5:54), the Prophet – Allah bless and greet him – pointed to Abu Musa al-Ash`ari – Allah be well-pleased with him – and said: “They are that man’s People.” 4 Al-Qushayri, Ibn `Asakir, al-Bayhaqi, Ibn al-Subki, and others said that the followers of Abu al-Hasan al-Ash`ari – i.e. Ash`aris who were mostly Sufis – are included among Abu Musa’s People for in every place that a people are affiliated to a Prophet, what is meant is the followers of that Prophet.
As for Maturidis, they are referred to in the narration of the Prophet – Allah bless and greet him – from Bishr al-Khath`ami or al-Ghanawi with a sound (sahîh) chain according to al-Hakim, al-Dhahabi, al-Suyuti, and al-Haythami: “Truly you shall conquer Constantinople and truly what a wonderful leader will her leader be [Mehmet Fatih Sultan – Allah be well-pleased with him -], and truly what a wonderful army will that army be!” Both the leader and his army were classic Hanafi Maturidis and it is known that Mehmet Fatih loved and respected Sufis, practiced tawassul, and followed a Shaykh. Moreover, enmity against Ash`aris, Maturidis, and Sufis, is nifâq and enmity against the Umma of Islam as most of the Ulema of Islam are thus described.
22- In at least five of his books 5 he calls for the demolition of the Green Dome of the Prophet’s Mosque in al-Madina al-Munawwara and for taking the Prophet’s grave outside the Mosque.
23- He states: “I have found no evidence for the Prophet’s – Allah bless and greet him – hearing of the salaam of those who greet him at his grave” and “I do not know from where Ibn Taymiyya took his claim 6 that he – Allah bless and greet him – hears the salaam from someone near.” This and the previous item are among his greater enormities and bear the unmistakable signature of innovation and deviation. 7
24- He considers it an innovation to visit relatives, neighbors, or friends on the day of `Eid and prohibits it. 8
25- He gave the fatwa that Muslims should exit Palestine en masse and leave it to the Jews as it is part the Abode of War (dâr al-harb). 9
26- He advocates in his Salat al-Nabi – Allah bless and greet him -, the formula “Peace and blessings upon the Prophet” instead of “upon you, O Prophet” in the tashahhud in contradiction of the Four Sunni Schools, on the basis of a hadith of Ibn Mas`ud whereby the Companions used the indirect-speech formula after the passing of the Prophet – Allah bless and greet him -. But the Prophet – Allah bless and greet him – himself instructed them to pray exactly as he prayed saying: “Peace and blessings upon you, O Prophet” without telling them to change it after his death, nor did the major Companions (whose Sunna we were ordered to imitate together with that of the Prophet – Allah bless and greet him -), such as Abu Bakr and `Umar, teach the Companions and Successors otherwise!
27- He prohibits praying more than 11 rak`as in Tarawih prayers on the grounds that the Prophet – Allah bless and greet him – never did and in blatant rejection of his explicit command to follow the Sunna of the well-guided Caliphs after him.
28- He declares that adding more to 11 supererogatory rak`as in the late night prayer (tahajjud) is an innovation rather than an act of obedience on the grounds that the Prophet – Allah bless and greet him – “never ever prayed one hundred rak`as in his whole lifetime” 10 although the Ulema agree that there is no prescribed limit to something which the Prophet – Allah bless and greet him – commanded without specifically quantifying it, and he – Allah bless and greet him – said in three authentic narrations: “Know that the best of your good deeds is prayer,” 11 “Prayer is a light,” 12 and “The night prayer is in cycles of two [rak`as] and when one of you fears the rising of the dawn, let him pray a single one.” 13 It is also established in many authentic narrations collected by Imam `Abd al-Hayy al-Lacknawi in the second part of his Iqamat al-Hujja `ala anna al-Ikthar min al-Ta`abbudi Laysa bi Bid`a that the Companions and Salaf prayed hundreds if not thousands of rak`as in every twenty-four hours!
29- He considers it an innovation to pray four rak`as between the two adhâns of Jumu`a and before Salat, although it is authentically narrated that “the Prophet – Allah bless and greet him – prayed four rak`as before Jumu`a and four rak`as after it.” 14
30- He declares it prohibited (harâm) and an innovation to lengthen the beard over a fistful’s length although there is no proof for such a claim in the whole Law and none of the Ulema ever said it before him. 15
31- He gives free rein to his propensity to insult and vilify the Ulema of the past as well as his contemporaries. As a result it is difficult to wade through his writings without being affected by the nefarious spirit that permeates them. For example, he considers previous editors and commentators of al-Bukhari’s al-Adab al-Mufrad (“Book of Manners”!) “sinful,” “unbearably ignorant,” and even “liars” and “thieves.” Of one he says: “There are so many weak hadiths [in his choice]… that it is an unislamic practice”; of another: “It is ignorance which must not be tolerated”; of another: “Forgery and open lie… His edition is stolen [from a previous one].” 16 Such examples actually fill a book compiled by Shaykh Hasan `Ali al-Saqqaf and titled Qamus Shata’im al-Albani wa Alfazihi al-Munkara al-Lati Yatluquha `ala `Ulama’ al-Umma (“Dictionary of al-Albani’s Insults and the Heinous Words He Uses Against the Scholars of the Muslim Community”).
32- He revived Ibn Hazm’s anti-madhhabî claim that differences can never be a mercy in any case but are always a curse on the basis of the verse (If it had been from other than Allah they would have found therein much discrepancy( (4:82). 17 Imam al-Nawawi long since refuted this view in his commentary on Sahih Muslim where he said: “If something is a mercy, it is not necessary for its opposite to be the opposite of mercy. No-one makes this binding and no-one even says this, except an ignoramus or one who affects ignorance.” Similarly, al-Munawi said in Fayd al-Qadir: “This is a contrivance that showed up on the part of some of those who have sickness in their heart.”
33- He expresses hatred for those who read Imam al-Busiri’s masterpiece, Qasidat al-Burda, and calls them cretins (mahâbîl) 18, i.e. millions of Muslims past and present including the likes of Imams Ibn Hajar al-`Asqalani, al-Sakhawi, and al-Suyuti who all included it as required reading in the Islamic curriculum. 19
34- He perpetuates lies if they detract from Ash`aris, such as his remark that Imam Sayf al-Din al-Amidi did not pray, 20 although Dr. Hasan al-Shafi`i in his massive biography entitled al-Amidi wa Ara’uhu al-Kalamiyya showed that the story that al-Amidi did not pray was a forgery put into circulation during the campaign waged by Imam Ibn al-Salah against him for teaching logic and philosophy in Damascus.
35- He perpetuates the false claim first made by Munir Agha the founder of the Egyptian Salafiyya Press, that Imam Abu Muhammad al-Juwayni – the father of Imam al-Haramayn – “repented” from Ash`ari doctrine and supposedly authored a tract titled Risala fi Ithbat al-Istiwâ’ wa al-Fawqiyya (“Epistle on the Assertion of Establishment and Aboveness”). 21 This spurious attribution continues to be promoted without verification – for obvious reasons – by modern-day “Salafis” who adduce it to forward the claim that al-Juwayni embraced anthropomorphist concepts. The Risala in question is not mentioned in any of the bibliographical and biographical sources nor does al-Dhahabi cite it in his encyclopedia of anthropomorphist views entitled al-`Uluw. More conclusively, it is written in modern argumentative style and reflects typically contemporary anthropomorphist obsessions.
36- He derides the fuqahâ’ of the Umma for accepting – in their massive majority – the hadith of Mu`adh ibn Jabal on ijtihâd as authentic then rejects the definition of knowledge (`ilm) in Islam as pertaining to fiqh but claims that it pertains only to hadith, 22 although the Ulema of the Salaf explicitly said that a hadith master without fiqh is a misguided innovator! And he defines the `âlim as “meaning, of course, the `Salafi’ `âlim, not the `Khalafi [late Egyptian Shaykh] Ghazali’!” 23 Al-Qurtubi said: “One of the knowers of Allah said: A certain group that has not yet come up in our time but shall show up at the end of time, will curse the scholars and insult the jurists.” 24
1 In his commentary on al-Mundhiri’s Mukhtasar Sahih Muslim, 3rd ed. (Beirut: al-Maktab al-Islami, 1977, p. 548). This phrase was removed from later editions.
2 Fatawa (p. 522-523) and Mukhtasar al-`Uluw (p. 23f.).
3 Fatawa (p. 523).
4 Narrated from `Iyad by Ibn Abi Shayba and al-Hakim who said it is sahîh by Muslim’s criterion, and by al-Tabarani with a sound chain as stated by al-Haythami.
5 Ahkam al-Jana’iz wa Bida`uha, Talkhis Ahkam al-Jana’iz, Tahdhir al-Sajid, Hijjat al-Nabi, and Manasik al-Hajj wa al-`Umra.
6 In Majmu`a al-Fatawa (27:384).
7 In his notes on Nu`man al-Alusi’s al-Ayat al-Bayyinat (p. 80) and his Silsila Da`ifa (#203).
8 Fatawa (p. 61-63).
9 Fatawa (p. 18).
10 Fatawa (p. 315-316).
11 Narrated as part of a longer hadith from Thawban with sound chains by Ibn Majah and Ahmad. Malik cites it in his Muwatta’.
12 Part of a longer hadith narrated from Abu Malik al-Ash`ari (Ka`b ibn `Asim) by Muslim, al-Tirmidhi (hasan sahîh), al-Nasa’i, Ibn Majah, Ahmad, and al-Darimi.
13 Narrated from Ibn `Umar in the Nine Books.
14 With a fair chain from `Ali and Ibn `Abbas as stated by al-`Iraqi in Tarh al-Tathrib (3:42), Ibn Hajar in Talkhis al-Habir (2:74), and al-Tahanawi in I`la’ al-Sunan (7:9).
15 Fatawa (p. 53).
16 Sahih al-Adab al-Mufrad (Introduction, p. 15, 20, 26).
17 Al-Silsila al-Da`ifa (1:76 #57).
18 Introduction to al-San`ani’s Raf` al-Astar (p. 24-25).
19 Cf. al-Suyuti, Husn al-Muhadara (Cairo 1293 ed. 1:260) and al-Sakhawi, in A.J. Arberry, Sakhawiana: A Study Based on the Chester Beatty Ms. Arab. 773 (London: Emery Walker Ltd., 1951, p. 5-9).
20 In his notes to Nu`man al-Alusi’s al-Ayat al-Bayyinat (p. 88).
21 Mukhtasar al-`Uluw (p. 277).
22 In his notes on al-Qasimi’s al-Mash `ala al-Jawrabayn (p. 38). On the hadith of Mu`adh see our May 1999 post titled, “ Probativeness of the Sunna” and Note 5 in that post.
23 Tahrim Alat al-Tarab (p. 160).
24 Al-Qurtubi, Tafsir (7:191).