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CA TEAM
01-08-2013, 11:20 AM
بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرحْمَنِ الرحِيْمِ


As salam mu alaikum wa rahmat Ullah

Further to my recent response to the fatwa of Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa of Egypt[/URL] in which he stated that it was permissible to celebrate Christmas, I have received many messages requesting me to dispel the confusion caused by the famous American Imam, Suhaib Webb al-Azhari on his official facebook page.


After a brief analysis, it is clear that the esteemed Imam Suhaib al-Azhari has misrepresented certain facts that I will look to clarify in this article.

Owing to the urgency of this matter and the lack of a single scholar to openly and academically assess these statements, I have decided to fulfill this obligation in what may appear to some as a haphazard way, but I ask to be forgiven owing to commitments to more pressing issues such as familial suffering in Damascus as many of you are already aware.

First of all, Imam Webb's initial post on the subject that forms his basis of all future arguments on the subject. He writes:

“The European Fatwa Council; made up of 20 of the worlds greatest Muslim Jurists, stated that it is permissible to greet people on these days (exchange gifts even) as long as it does not involve approving any creedal differences between us, or open evil (drinking and so on).

In other words, a simple happy holidays is not a sin or going to take that person out of Islam. It is reported with authentic chains that Ali (ra) celebrated the Persian New Year, even eating ice cream with Imam Abu Hanifa's relative.

Many of the fatwa quoted by sincere folks are rooted in an age of empire and war (the crusades) or a social reality that does not fit ours in the West. Most importantly, a person should ask those who use words like "haram" "kufur" "Halal" and "encouraged" about their religious training. Yelling and over blown emotionalism does not equal training and scholarship. Allah knows best.”


Now, it would not be challenging to write a short book on the observations that I have regarding this short paragraph, but I doubt many would find the time to read it. For the purposes of brevity, I will not discuss his comments on the 'age of empire and war[i] nor steep to the depths of questioning the Imams 'training and scholarship', but my focus will remain on the statements that he has made or supported regarding the issue of celebrating non-Muslim festivals.

Let us start by discussing his flagrant misrepresentation of the narration surrounding Sayyiduna Ali (may Allah be pleased with him). He writes:

"It is reported with authentic chains that Ali (ra) celebrated the Persian New Year, even eating ice cream with Imam Abu Hanifa's relative."

When asked for the reference of this narration that he has used to base his own fatwa (not the EFC fatwa) in numerous places he states the work of Imam al-Dhahabi (RA) and these are some examples of those posts:

Suhaib Webb: “It is mentioned by the muhaddith al-thahabi in his Siyar al'alam al-nubala. I guess question arises: Do we understand the faith better than Ali (ra), or is there something wrong in our understanding? Between me and Ali (ra), I'm going with Ali (ra).”

Suhaib Webb: "Shukran for your posts. Imam al-Dhahabi mentions the ice cream (more like kul fi)."

Suhaib Webb: "Are you saying that Imam al-Dhahabi's was a Rafidi? The quote has been referenced above and I mentioned it myself…"

Investigating the narration of Imam al-Dhahabi from his Siyaar.

Now, let us look at this narration that has caused so much controversy. Is it possible that Imam Webb has made a ground-breaking discovery in the science of hadith that gives proof to all those Muslims who criticize others for not following a madhab, because they are following a madhab -not one of the four famous madhahib-, but the madhab of their own desires?

The narration:

مُكْرَمُ بنُ أَحْمَدَ القَاضِي: حَدَّثَنَا أَحْمَدُ بنُ عَبْدِ اللهِ بنِ شَاذَانَ المَرْوَزِيُّ، عَنْ أَبِيْهِ، عَنْ جَدِّهِ، سَمِعْتُ إِسْمَاعِيْلَ يَقُوْلُ: أَنْبَأَنَا إِسْمَاعِيْلُ بنُ حَمَّادِ بنِ أَبِي حَنِيْفَةَ النُّعْمَانِ بنِ ثَابِتِ بنِ المَرْزُبَانِ مِنْ أَبْنَاءِ فَارِسٍ الأَحرَارِ، وَاللهِ مَا وَقَعَ عَلَيْنَا رِقٌّ قَطُّ. وُلدَ جَدِّي فِي سَنَةِ ثَمَانِيْنَ، وَذَهَبَ ثَابِتٌ إِلَى عَلِيٍّ وَهُوَ صَغِيْرٌ، فَدَعَا لَهُ بِالبَرَكَةِ فِيْهِ وَفِي ذُرِّيَتِه، وَنَحْنُ نَرْجُو مِنَ اللهِ أَنْ يَكُوْنَ اسْتَجَابَ ذَلِكَ لِعَلِيٍّ -رَضِيَ اللهُ عَنْهُ- فِيْنَا. قَالَ: وَالنُّعْمَانُ بنُ المَرْزُبَانِ وَالِدُ ثَابِتٍ هُوَ الَّذِي أَهْدَى لِعَلِيٍّ الفَالُوْذَجَ فِي يَوْمِ النَّيْرُوْزِ. فَقَالَ عَلِيٌّ: نَوْرِزُوْنَا كُلَّ يَوْمٍ. وَقِيْلَ: كَانَ ذَلِكَ فِي المَهرجَانِ، فَقَالَ: مَهْرِجُوْنَا كُلَّ يَوْمٍ[ii].


With the Isnaad to Ismail ibn Hamad ibn Abu Hanifah who narrated that “Nu'man ibn Marzooban, the father of Thabit, the one that gifted Ali (RA) al-Faluwzaj on the day of Nowruz[iii]. Then Ali (RA) said, ‘Our Nowruz is everyday' It was also said to him, ‘This is also observed on Mihrajaan[iv] to which he replied ‘May Mihrajaan be every day!”

Analysis of the Sanad (chain of transmission)

Every novice student of Usool al-Hadith (Principles of Hadith) learns that there are two main reasons that cause a narration to be rejected and they are:

The Saqt (break/gap) in the Sanad (chain of narration)
The Tayn (aspersion) regarding the narrator of the hadith.

With that in mind, if we look at this narration we find that it contains numerous defects that encompasses both of the criteria above.

Saqt (break in the sanad)

The clearest defect is the clear break in the Sanad[v] between Imam al-Dhahabi and Mukaram al-Qadi who passed away at least 325 years before Imam al-Dhahabi was born.

The person who narrated this report is Ismail ibn Hamad ibn Abu Hanifah (RA). He narrates that his great-grandfather Thabit (RA) was young and that his great-great-grandfather Numan (RA) was the one who gave Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) the Iranian desert al-Faluwzaj. Again it is clear that there is a gap of well over 100 years between the narrator and the incident that occurred with Sayyiduna Ali (may Allah be pleased with him)

Tayn (aspersion) regarding the narrator of the hadith.

From the beginning of this Sanad we find that the narrator is Ismail ibn Hamad ibn Abu Hanifah (RA)[vi] and he is regarded as 'weak' and 'someone who cannot be trusted' owing to some of his actions and statements around the time, especially in relation to the dispute regarding the creation of the Quran. A few of the greatest muhaditheen that regarded him as such in their famous works are : Salih Jazara, Ibn Adi, Ibn Hajr al-Asqalani, al-Dhahabi and al-Khateeb al-Baghdadi, the last two of which brought this narration in their works and were fully aware of the reliability of the narrator.[vii]

It is therefore clear that with such huge gaps in the sanad of this narration and the weakness in the main narrator, that contrary to what Imam Webb would have us believe in his posts, this narration is very weak if not fabricated and by no stretch can it be regarded as 'authentic'.

Imam Webb states:

Suhaib Webb“… Secondly, there is no dispute about the soundness of the narration. As a student of knowledge, you should know that there is no jarh without tafsil. Secondly, your assumption that I did not do a proper jarh is in itself, as you well know, not the proper way to do research (adab al-bath wa al-munadhra) as assumptions of mistakes are not an evidence."

May we ask: according to whom is there no dispute regarding this narration? Did any of the Muhaditheen state this in the past? How did he come to this conclusion and could it have been his Ijtihad? For orthodox scholars of hadith, it is apparent that this statement is inaccurate and that is no 'assumption of mistake'.

Analysis of the Matn (text)

Allow us to assume that the sanad of the narration is in fact correct. Do we stop there and declare the hadith authentic? Well, for a narration that has such prestigious people in the sanad as the grandson of Imam Abu Hanifah (RA) but yet does not make it into any of the famous books of Hadith, rather being included many hundreds of years later in works that are not related to rulings (As Imam Webb is trying to use it) but biographies of famous Muslims for which it is well known that the conditions of authenticity are relaxed. This to a student of Hadith raises a red flag and causes one to ponder.

Now, pondering over the hadith we have to ask ourselves: does it have any 'illa (hidden defect) in the matn? The answer is yes. How could we consider for a moment that Imam Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) would be happy to engage in this celebration that has its origins in Zoroastrianism[viii] when he knew fully well that such an action would be tantamount to disobeying our beloved Prophet Mohammed (salahu alayhi wasalam) in the numerous narrations that have come forbidding Muslims to resemble non-Muslims which one may read in my other article on the subject.

Now, let us move on to the posts that he made to support this premise of his.

Suhaib Webb Abu Pakora, Allah continue to bless you and raise your status. Please read these comments form Sh. Shibli (who speak Persian), Do you realize that "Nawruz Fayruz" is how Persians greet each other on Nawruz even today?! It was pronounced "Piruz" or "Payruz" in early Persian. `Ali (may God be pleased with him) wasn't twisting the name! He was greeting the Persians with THEIR greeting VERY SPECIFICALLY. He said "May every day be as Nawruz" and this is what Persians say even today on Nawruz. They say:

نوروز پیروز هر روز نوروز
"Nawruz Piruz, Har ruz Nawruz!"
meaning: "Nawruz Piruz. May every day be as Nawruz!"

The scholars of Hadith did not know this. Their job is grading narrators and conditions of Hadith. They are not cultural sociologists!


If one were to say that these were not the words of Imam Webb, this does not detract from the fact that he actually relies on this and uses it as a defense against the criticism that he receives from several people who posted.

He further advises us to accept the statement of Shaikh Shibli (posted on his facebook page) that Sayyidna Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) was greeting them with their greeting. How can one even entertain the thought that Sayyiduna Ali (RA) would say 'May every day be as Nayrouz' when this is in clear contradiction with the numerous hadith on the subject as mentioned earlier.

Furthermore, the statement criticising the muhaditheen is somewhat rudimentary, many of the greatest Muhaditheen including Imam al-Bayhaqi (RA) who compiled this narration were from Persia and they would fully understand these words. Furthermore, Imam al-Bayhaqi (RA) was not just a 'Hadith scholar whose job was grading hadith', (which is no small task) but he was one of the greatest Fuqaha of the Shafi'ee madhab. This is stated by Imam al-Dhahabi in the same work that Imam Webb uses to prove this ice-cream narration. Imam al-Dhahabi (RA) states that the famous Shafi scholar Imam al-Haramayn al-Juwayni said

ما من فقيه شافعي إلا وللشافعي عليه منة إلا أبا بكر البيهقي ، فإن المنة له على الشافعي لتصانيفه في نصرة مذهبه

"There is no follower of the Shafi'ee madhab except that they are indebted to Imam al-Shafi'ee (RA) except Abu Bakr al-Bayhaqi, for indeed al-Shafi'ee is indebted to him for the works he contributed to support his madhab." Imam al-Dhahabi (RA) then adds: "This is correct. And if al-Bayhaqi desired to have his own madhab with which he would make ijtihad then he would have been capable of that because of the wide ranging understanding of sciences that he had as well as his knowledge of the differences…"

Now, Imam al-Bayhaqi (RA) also quoted Abu Usama (RA) as saying: He (Imam Ali) hated to say Nayrouz." This Abu Usama (RA) is none other than Hamad ibn Usuma ibn Zaid whose narrations appear in many of the famous hadith collections including the six canonical collections. He was very familiar with Persians and their customs as he was from Kufa and Imam Ahmed ibn Hanbal (RA) said about him:

"He was the most knowledgeable of all people regarding the affairs of the people and the happenings of the people of Kufa."

I think the above clearly demonstrates that both of these great scholars should be given more credit for their knowledge of the Persian customs and language and that their judgment on the narration does carry weight contrary to what others may have us believe. I am also quite certain from classical Arabic dictionaries, that they knew that the Persian dish Faluwzaj is not ice-cream or ‘Kul fi’ as has been mentioned by Imam Webb.[ix]

Another comment cementing the ‘authenticity’ of this narration.

Suhaib Webb: “It would appear that you failed to read what was written above? While I appreciate this scholarly effort. It is an opinion rooted in a problematic approach and understanding to the reality.” Furthermore, as I recall, the IslamQA site was censured by the scholars of the Kingdom. I'm sure you would not say Allhumust'an to 'Ali when he celebrated Naruz with the Persians as is authentically narrated by Imam al-Dhahabi in his Siyar.

Imam Webb is presented with an opinion from the well known Islamic website Islamqa.com.[x] He criticises the ruling which is acceptable using his scholarly prerogative, but he then states that the site was 'censured by the scholars of the Kingdom', giving the reader the impression that the credibility of the site was in question, when in reality it was a decree that affected all fatwa websites that were not part of the official apparatus of fatwa in Saudi Arabia.[xi]

Why did Imam Webb make these comments?

If we look back we find that that the context of these comments is a fatwa that was presented by the European Fatwa Council which is rather lengthy and deals with the importance of good character with non-Muslims.

They state:

"There is no issue then for a Muslim individual or organization to send them greetings verbally or through cards providing they do not include religious slogans or statements that would contradict the principles of Islam…"[xii]

Immediately after the Fatwa Council mentioned the above, they stated:

‘We do not forget to mention some of the Fuqaha such as Ibn Taymiyyah and Ibn al-Qayyim who were strict in regards to the festivals of the mushrikeen and we support them in their resistance against Muslims celebrating the religious festivals of the Mushrikeen and Ahl al-Kitab as we see some heedless Muslims celebrating Christmas as they celebrate Eid al-Fitr or Eid al-Adha and sometimes even more and this is not permissible as we have our festivals and they have their festivals...’

In closing, I would like to advise all scholars to be more attentive in matters of the deen as their statements and actions carry a huge bearing with those that take from them. One of the main problems that I find nowadays very much prevalent in the West, is that scholars 'cut and paste' parts of a text or ruling, many a time taking it out of context and not only is this inaccurate -as we have seen in this article- but it is also irresponsible. Scholars have a responsibility of presenting the complete truth to the laity and just because they are inundated with tools such as social networking sites this does not mean that they should be lackadaisical in their approach spreading nebulous statements and rulings that allow for people to come along and interpret things in line with their desires. It would be more wholesome, if scholars who claim to adhere to classical scholarship and the following of a madhab do just that, so that Allah forbid, they become astray and lead others astray as has been prophesised in authentic narrations.

This and what I have had taufeeq in saying is from Allah alone, and what is from mistakes, oversights and forgetfulness is from me and Shaytaan the accursed; Allah and his Rasul are free from them. I seek refuge in Allah in being a bridge utilised by others to enter Jannah, and then being thrown into the fire; thereafter I seek refuge in Allah from reminding others of this and forgetting myself.

Servant of Allah

Mohammed Daniel
Cordoba Academy

Note: This article and everything that has been written by Shaykh Mohammed Daniel on this forum or anywhere else may be copied and used anywhere for educational and non commercial purposes only. Rather we encourage you to use all halaal means to spread the truth to everyone you can.

For more view the original article.
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CA TEAM
03-15-2013, 04:31 AM
SECOND RESPONSE

بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرحْمَنِ الرحِيْمِ



All praises are for Allah, whomsoever he guides no one can misguide and whomsoever he allows to be misguided no one can guide. Peace and salutations be on the Messenger of Haq our master Mohammed ibn Abdullah (salahu alayhi wasalam)

And as to what follows:

Statement of Purpose:
Before I respond to Imam Suhaib Webb, I believe that it is important to state the motive for writing this and other articles of correction written in the recent past in order to dispel any notions amongst the masses that I am seeking to dishonor or wrestle scholars or worse still, for the purpose of fame and fortune. My sole intention is to ensure that incorrect notions –irrespective of them being extremist or modernist- do not enter and become accepted within the Ummah and through scholarly discussion and sincerity Allah may guide us to the truth. It is well known that no one, but our Beloved (salahu alayhi wasalam) enjoys infallibility or maintains a monopoly on constant guidance, rather we all, through His taufeeq, may be guided at times, and misguided at times. I ask Allah to guide me even if it be on the tongue of the one that I discuss with, for this is how the scholars of the past would perceive things when discussing with their peers[i]

Responding to Imam Webb
I was informed that Imam Suhaib Webb of the USA had posted some comments on his facebook page in a direct response to my correction of his widely circulated assertion that Sayyiduna Ali (RA) consumed ice-cream in celebration of the Persian New Year. This approach seems to be common with speakers n the USA and it was the same method used by Sister Yasmin Mogahed, however, It would have been better if the respectable Mufti approach the topic in an academic manner by providing a thorough response to the contentions I raised with regard to his claims. Nevertheless, I understand that it is sometimes a better face-saving strategy to provide a half-hearted facebook response to the article and move on stealthily to reduce any damage caused to one’s image.[ii]
Furthermore, it seems that Imam Webb, instead of dealing with my response in a scholarly manner tackling the many points that I raised, felt the need to make unfounded allegations against me, perhaps in an attempt to discredit the sound criticism he has received or to derail the discussion away from the subject at hand.
Before starting to look academically at this subject, I believe it is imperative that I address the slanderous allegations leveled against me.

Imam Webb’s First allegation

Suhaib Webb: stated: I find terms like "Celebrity Imams" and other such things against the clear agreed upon text that we should not call each other by nicknames.”… calling Imam's and activists names (or any Muslim for that matter) is an agreed upon prohibition that can only be violated by certain conditions. (See ATTH 1 below for Imam Webb’s original facebook post)

Response
There is not a single place in my entire article wherein I called Imam Webb a ‘celebrity Imam’ or any other nickname and I find these accusations and underhand tactics of character assasination completely abhorrent. Everyone who has read my initial article can see clearly that I have not used these terms anywhere in my article, but rather when bringing Imam Webb’s name within the text of my own response, I have always used the honourific ‘Imam’

Imam Webb’s second allegation

Suhaib Webb: stated: “"I reject the notion that I said Christmas is Halāl. I would challenge our brother to produce such an evidence? I never issued any fatwa, but posted a portion of a fatwa, noting where people could find it…”
(See ATTH 1 below for Imam Webb’s original facebook post)
Response
Everyone who has read my initial response to Imam Webb will know well that no where in the response did I say that he states that ‘Christmas is Halal”. This is an unfounded allegation and the respectable brother should read carefully when responding lest his emotions lead him to fall into that which he pretends to defend himself from, i.e. false accusations.

Request
I do not like to ‘challenge’ other scholars to anything because I do not think that it is the correct mindset required for peers to deal with issues of difference, however could I request Imam Webb to prove where I said these statements in my initial article. Upon the inability to provide evidence for these allegations, I request that he apologise and kindly focus on the academic discussion.

The Academic Discussion

A reminder of Imam Webb’s initial statement that was widely spread throughout the internet and was a source of confusion to many until Allah permitted this feeble one to expose the weakness of his argument in the first response.
Imam Webb said,
“…In other words, a simple happy holidays is not a sin or going to take that person out of Islam. It is reported with authentic chains that Ali (ra) celebrated the Persian New Year, even eating ice cream with Imam Abu Hanifa's relative.” (See ATTH 2 below for Imam Webb’s original facebook post)
Imam Webb defending the narrator Ismail ibn Hamad (RA)
Now, let us look at the facebook posts that were made by Imam Webb in his response to my initial post. We will start with the one in which my name is included so that no one can deny that I was the subject of these posts.

Suhaib Webb
: stated: “The other problem I have, is that when they quote that three of the narrators, as Sh. Muhammad Daniel as done, are weak. Then they are stating that Imam Abu Hanifa was weak!...”
(See ATTH 3 below for Imam Webb’s original facebook post)
First of all, we find that Imam Webb inserts ‘words on my pen’. When I discussed the aspersion of the narrator, I did not state ‘three of the narrators’ nor did I state that the father of all Fuqaha, ‘Imam al-Azam (RA) was weak’. I provided the ruling of five leading Muhaditheen in regards to his grandson Ismail ibn Hamad ibn Abu Hanifah. There was absolutely no need for me to discuss Imam Abu Hanifah (RA) because he was not one of the narrators in the sanad of the narration that Imam Webb vehemently claimed was authentic. I advise that we stay within the confines of the discussion at hand and not distract the laity with issues that are best left for the discussion of senior muhaditheen.

Furthermore Suhaib Webb: stated: “As for the narrator that Sh. Muhammad (ha) makes takhrij on, we find the following:

ولي قضاء الرصافة وهو من كبار الفقهاء

Also, it states:

قال محمد بن عبد الله الأنصاري ما ولي القضاء من لدن عمر رضي الله عنه إلى اليوم أعلم من إسماعيل بن حماد قيل ولا الحسن البصري قال ولا الحسنMentioned by al-Dhahabi (ra).

It is obvious that Imam Webb has made an effort to provide a defence for the narrator here, but what I find alarming in regards to his understanding of the science or lack of it as we have learnt it from our scholars, is that he provides two statements that have no direct relation to the reliability of the narrator as understood by the muhaditheen. Let us provide the translation of these statements:

“He was made the Qadi al-Rasafah and he is from the major jurists.”

“Mohammed ibn Abdullah al-Ansari said, There is no one since the time of Umar (RA) until this day that is more knowledgeable than Ismail ibn Hamad. When asked, “Not even Hasan al-Basri?” He said, not even Hasan.”
Now, we have to ask ourselves, what relation do the two above statements have to the reliability of the narrator as understood by the muhaditheen? Those who have studied Usool al-Hadith, know that the Muhaditheen are not necessarily concerned with job titles or the knowledge of a scholar, they are concerned with their Dabt (preservation of memory) and Adalah (trustworthiness). How often in the past and present have we seen that the chief judge appointed by government or a khalifah is corrupt or that extremely erudite scholars become misguided? It is for this reason that the senior muhaditheen of the past did not give consideration to this over the two criteria mentioned previously. If Imam Webb wanted to defend the narrator according to the standards of the muhaditheen, he should have provided similar pertinent statements to the ones that I provided with references. Unfortunately, Imam Webb brings the two above statements from Hafidh al-Dhahabi (RA), but he does not bring the conclusion of al-Dhahabi on the narrator which is what he should have done. Sadly, one continues to see the same pattern that I warned about in the last paragraph of my initial response, the unwholesome ‘cut and paste’ of parts of a text out of context in order to substantiate ‘the other view’ or prove rulings.
Furthermore, Imam Webb provides us with this hint:

“Sh. Abd al-Fatah Abu Ghuda wrote an excellent book on the status of Imam Abu Hanaifa as relator of hadith and I would encourage our sincere brothers and sisters to read it.” (See ATTH 3 below for Imam Webb’s original facebook post)
First of all, I have read the works of Shaykh Abu Ghuddah (RA) and he has not written a work on this subject, rather Imam Webb has wrongly ascribed the work of Shaykh al-Muhaddith Abdul Rasheed al-Numani to Shaykh Abu Ghuddah who served to edit the text only.
My advice to all students is not to read books related to the Hadith and Quran’ic sciences by oneself, but to take knowledge at the feet of the Ulama for it contains numerous benefits and safeguards one from numerous things such as falling into repeated errors, argumentativeness and arrogance such as we have from the likes of many self-read scholars.[iii] This I do not relate from my own words, but from those that I have inherited from my teachers through their teachers and as mentioned by Imam al-Shatibi (RA) and other luminaries.
Imam Webb defending his use of a weak narration to support his claims.
“Regarding the narration of 'Ali. I was wrong when I said there was no contention about it. I stand corrected and appreciate the feedback. That being said, I question the takhrij of some of our dear Imams done on some of the chains. The chains of al-Khātib, while possibly problematic, a strengthened by the narration of al-Bayhaqi that, according to my teacher, is mutasil and authentic.” (See ATTH 4 below for Imam Webb’s original facebook post)
A reminder of what Imam Webb said in his initial facebook posts:
Secondly, there is no dispute about the soundness of the narration. As a student of knowledge, you should know that there is no jarh without tafsil.

"It is reported with authentic chains that Ali (ra) celebrated the Persian New Year, even eating ice cream with Imam Abu Hanifa's relative."
It is indeed noble of Imam Webb that he should accept that he was wrong in stating that there ‘was no contention’ about the narration, however we find that he repeatedly pushed the fact that the narration was authentic without the least bit of doubt and based upon that he laid the foundation for the permissibility of celebrating festivals such as Nayrouz in the way that Ali (RA) had allegedly ‘celebrated’ it.

Imam Webb further states:

That being said, I question the takhrij of some of our dear Imams done on some of the chains. The chains of al-Khātib, while possibly problematic, a strengthened by the narration of al-Bayhaqi that, according to my teacher, is mutasil and authentic. (See ATTH 4 below for Imam Webb’s original facebook post)
First of all, may we ask who is Imam Suhaib Webb to ‘question the takhrij’ of these Imams? Based on repeated mistakes in the science of Hadith (that I may catalog in a future response time permitting), he is very far from having any mastery over the Hadith Sciences such that he should make these bold and irritating statements repeatedly criticizing the muhaditheen who dedicated their lives to this science.[iv] If he had studied the Siyar of Imam al-Dhahabi, he would have known that Imam Dhahabi frequently takes narrations from al-Khateeb al-Baghdadi’s Tarikh. If one, were to consult the 15th volume of al-Khatib’s text, they will find that the editor Shaykh Bashaar Awad Maaruf (a Hanafi scholar from whom I have read and received Ijazah) regards the hadith as weak owing to the Jahalah (unknown state) of more than one of its narrators.

Furthermore, the chains of al-Khateeb are not ‘possibly problematic’ they are not in the least bit acceptable for one to begin to assume that they can be used to base a ruling upon; such was the intention of Imam Webb who wanted to establish the permissibility of celebrating New Year’s by proving that Sayyiduna Ali (RA) ate ice-cream’ with Persians. I have not come across a single hadith scholar in the world past or present that has said that this narration is anything but weak or of a lesser grade which removes all certainty that this narration is ‘possibly problematic’ as stated by Imam Webb.

Imam Webb’s convenient use of Imam Bayhaqi’s narration

Imam Webb states: The chains of al-Khātib, while possibly problematic, a strengthened by the narration of al-Bayhaqi that, according to my teacher, is mutasil and authentic. (See ATTH 4 below for Imam Webb’s original facebook post)

Imam Webb in trying to defend his initial incorrect statement on hadith shows us again his aptitude to fall into another incorrectness stating that the narration of Imam Bayhaqi is ‘Mutasil and authentic’. Again, the reality is that this narration is not Mutasil (lit: connected) but it is Munqati (lit: broken) because Imam Mohammed Ibn Sireen (RA) did not directly hear it from Sayyiduna Ali (RA) and this is well known to students and scholars of Hadith. Furthermore, the muhaditheen have stated five conditions for a narration to be regarded as authentic and as this narration lacks complete connection in the chain (one of the conditions), it cannot therefore be regarded in itself as authentic. Nevertheless, Ibn Sireen (RA) was regarded as the most reliable when relaying narrations from scholars that he did not clearly state he heard from. Could this then be the loophole that Imam Webb would like to take advantage of to support the ostensible ‘New Year’s’ ruling? Unfortunately, Imam Webb cannot use the narration of Bayhaqi to prove his premise that Sayyiduna Ali (RA) ate ice-cream with the Persians because there is absolutely no mention of that in the narration of al-Bayhaqi (RA). Let us now produce and examine the narration that Imam Webb has brought in his defence:

Fayrouz (New Year’s) narration from Imam Bayhaqi’s Sunan al-Kubra

أخبرنا أبو عبد الله الحافظ ، ثنا أبو العباس محمد بن يعقوب ، ثنا الحسن بن علي بن عفان ، ثنا أبو أسامة ، عن حماد بن زيد ، عن هشام ، عن محمد بن سيرين قال : أتي علي - رضي الله عنه - بهدية النيروز ، فقال : ما هذه ؟ قالوا : يا أمير المؤمنين ، هذا يوم النيروز . قال : فاصنعوا كل يوم فيروز . قال أبو أسامة : كره أن يقول نيروز . ( قال الشيخ ) : وفي هذا كالكراهة لتخصيص يوم بذلك لم يجعله الشرع مخصوصا به .


With the chain of narration to Mohammed ibn Sireen who stated: Ali (RA) was given a gift for Nayrouz so he asked, “What is this?” They replied, “Oh, Leader of the Believers today is Nayrouz” so he said to them, Then make every day Fayrouz. Abu Usama (one of the narrators in the sanad) said, “Ali (RA) disliked to say Nayrouz.” The Shaykh (Imam Bayhaqi) said, “And in this we see the dislike to single out a day for this that was not set by the Shariah”

What we can conclude from this narration?
Therefore from this specific narration we can conclude the following:


  1. Contrary to what Imam Webb would have us believe Imam Ali (RA) did not celebrate the Persian New Year. In fact, Sayyiduna Ali (RA) did not initially know the occasion that warranted this gift.


  1. This narration does not confirm that Sayyiduna Ali (RA) accepted the gift even if some contemporary scholars would like to prove it from this narration.


  1. He never congratulated them on their day of Nayrouz, but said Fayrouz and what he meant by this as understood by Abu Usama[v] (a narrator) was that he disliked to say Nayrouz and Imam Bayhaqi[vi] one of the greatest Shafi’ee Fuqaha states: “And in this we see the dislike to single out a day for this that was not set by the Shariah”


  1. He did not eat ice-cream because no mention of ice-cream is made in this narration whatsoever. On the contrary, there are numerous narrations that prove that Sayyiduna Ali (RA) did not consume faloowzaj in his life.


A selection of narrations proving Sayyiduna Ali (RA) never consumed Faloozaj.

Imam Suhaib Webb is adamant that Imam Ali (RA) consumed ice-cream in celebration of the Persian New Year and is trying in any which way to support this with any narration that he may grasp. Let us ask, has he not come across the following narrations that have much stronger chains of narration than the one provided by Imam Webb and which categorically state that Sayyiduna Ali (RA) never consumed ‘faloowzaj’ in his entire life owing mainly to his Zuhd (aversion for the worldly embellishments).


  1. From Imam Ahmed ibn Hanbal’s (RA) book, “Virtues of the Sahabah”

حَدَّثَنَا عَبْدُ اللَّهِ , قَالَ : حَدَّثَنِي سُفْيَانُ بْنُ وَكِيعٍ ، قثنا أَبُو غَسَّانَ ، عَنْ أَبِي دَاوُدَ الْمَكْفُوفِ ، عَنْ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ شَرِيكٍ ، عَنْ حَبَّةَ وَهُوَ الْعُرَنِيُّ ، عَنْ عَلِيٍّ ، أَنَّهُ أُتِيَ بِفَالُوذَجَ فَوُضِعَ قُدَّامَهُ ، فَقَالَ : " إِنَّكَ لَطَيِّبُ الرِّيحِ ، حَسَنُ اللَّوْنِ ، طَيِّبُ الطَّعْمِ ، وَلَكِنِّي أَكْرَهُ أَنْ أُعَوِّدَ نَفْسِي مَا لَمْ تَعْتَدْ
"
حَدَّثَنَا عَبْدُ اللَّهِ , قَالَ : حَدَّثَنِي أَحْمَدُ بْنُ إِبْرَاهِيمَ الدَّوْرَقِيُّ ، قثنا عَبْدُ الرَّحْمَنِ بْنُ مَهْدِيٍّ ، قَالَ : قثنا سُفْيَانُ ، عَنْ عَمْرِو بْنِ قَيْسٍ ، عَنْ عَدِيِّ بْنِ ثَابِتٍ ، أَنَّ عَلِيًّا أُتِيَ بِفَالُوذَجَ ، فَلَمْ يَأْكُلْهُ ، قَالَ أَبُو عَبْدِ الرَّحْمَنِ : وَذَكَرَ الْفَالُوذَجَ ، قَالَ : مَا رَأَيْتُهُ أَكَلَهُ قَطُّ ، يَعْنِي أَبَاهُ رَحِمَهُ اللَّهُ


  1. Musannif of Ibn Abi Shaybah

حَدَّثَنَا حَدَّثَنَا وَكِيعٌ , عَنْ سفيان , عَنْ عَمْرِو بْنِ قَيْسٍ , عَنْ عَدِيِّ بْنِ ثَابِتٍ , قَالَ : " أُتِيَ عَلِيٌّ بِطِسْتِخِوَانٍ مِنْ فَالُوذَجٍ فَلَمْ يَأْكُلْ مِنْهُ "


  1. Hilya al-Awliyah of Abu Nu’aym

حَدَّثَنَا حَدَّثَنَا أَحْمَدُ بْنُ جَعْفَرِ بْنِ حَمْدَانَ ، حَدَّثَنَا عَبْدُ اللَّهِ بْنُ أَحْمَدَ بْنِ حَنْبَلٍ ، حَدَّثَنِي أَبِي ، حَدَّثَنِي سُفْيَانُ بْنُ وَكِيعٍ ، حَدَّثَنَا أَبُو غَسَّانَ ، عَنْ أَبِي دَاوُدَ الْمَكْفُوفِ ، عَنْ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ شَرِيكٍ ، عَنْ جَدِّهِ ، عَنْ عَلِيِّ بْنِ أَبِي طَالِبٍ ، أَنَّهُ أُتِيَ بِفَالُوذَجَ فَوُضِعَ قُدَّامَهُ بَيْنَ يَدَيْهِ ، فَقَالَ : " إِنَّكَ طَيِّبُ الرِّيحِ ، حَسَنُ اللَّوْنِ ، طَيِّبُ الطَّعْمِ ، لَكِنْ أَكْرَهُ أَنْ أُعَوِّدَ نَفْسِي مَا لَمْ تَعْتَدْهُ


Imam Bayhaqi’s narration in its wholesome context not standalone

As I stated in my last response to our brother Imam Webb, scholars today have to be particularly careful when producing statements of Ulama from the past or narrations from the hadith corpus. It does not suffice to bring a narration from here or there and establish a ruling on it when one is unsure of the authenticity of the narration or may not understand the context of the narration. Yet again, and it saddens me, but we find our dear brother Imam Webb falling into this trap. He chooses to bring the narration of Imam al-Bayhaqi to support his initial premise of ‘celebrating New Years’, but we ask him, why don’t you state the chapter (context) that Imam al-Bayhaqi (a great Shafi Faqih) used this narration as proof for? What were the other narrations that Imam al-Bayhaqi brought in this same chapter? Could you use those to prove it is permissible to greet non-Muslims and even celebrate with them? Well, let us now produce and examine those narrations.

Imam al-Bayhaqi presents the above narration of Sayyiduna Ali (RA) in the chapter entitled. “The Chapter of the Dislike for Visiting Ahl adh-Dhimmah in their Churches and imitating them on their New Years’ and Festivals.
باب كراهية الدخول على أهل الذمة في كنائسهم ، والتشبه بهم يوم نيروزهم ومهرجانهم


It is clear then to Imam al-Bayhaqi (RA) that visiting their churches and imitating them in their festivals is far from encouraged and is indeed greatly disliked. In support of this he provides five narrations which I have briefly translated below:

أخبرنا أبو طاهر الفقيه ، أنبأ أبو بكر القطان ، ثنا أحمد بن يوسف السلمي ، ثنا محمد بن يوسف ، ثنا سفيان ، عن ثور بن يزيد ، عن عطاء بن دينار قال : قال عمر - رضي الله عنه : لا تعلموا رطانة الأعاجم ، ولا تدخلوا على المشركين في كنائسهم يوم عيدهم ، فإن السخطة تنزل عليهم

Sayyiduna Umar (RA) said: “…Do not enter upon the mushrikeen in their churches on their festivals because the wrath of Allah descends upon them.”

أخبرنا أبو بكر الفارسي ، أنبأ أبو إسحاق الأصفهاني ، ثنا أبو أحمد بن فارس ، ثنا محمد بن إسماعيل قال : قال لي ابن أبي مريم : ثنا نافع بن يزيد ، سمع سليمان بن أبي زينب ، وعمرو بن الحارث ، سمع سعيد بن سلمة ، سمع أباه ، سمع عمر بن الخطاب - رضي الله عنه - قال : اجتنبوا أعداء الله في عيدهم

Sayyiduna Umar (RA) said: “…Stay away from the enemies of Allah on their festivals.”

أخبرنا أبو طاهر الفقيه ، أنبأ أبو بكر القطان ، ثنا أحمد بن يوسف ، ثنا محمد بن يوسف قال : ذكر سفيان ، عن عوف ، عن الوليد ، أو أبي الوليد ، عن عبد الله بن عمرو قال : من بنى ببلاد الأعاجم ، وصنع نيروزهم ، ومهرجانهم ، وتشبه بهم حتى يموت ، وهو كذلك حشر معهم يوم القيامة . ( قال الشيخ الإمام - رحمه الله ) : قال الشيخ أبو سليمان - رحمه الله : بنى هو الصواب

Sayyiduna Abdullah ibn Amr said: “Whoever lives in the land of the non-Arabs and celebrates their New Years’ and their festivals and imitates them until he dies in that state will be resurrected with them on the day of Qiyamah.”


أخبرنا أبو عبد الله الحافظ ، ثنا أبو العباس محمد بن يعقوب ، ثنا الحسن بن علي بن عفان ، ثنا أبو أسامة ، ثنا عوف ، عن أبي المغيرة ، عن عبد الله بن عمرو قال : من بنى في بلاد الأعاجم فصنع نوروزهم ومهرجانهم ، وتشبه بهم حتى يموت ، وهو كذلك حشر معهم يوم القيامة . وهكذا رواه يحيى بن سعيد ، وابن أبي عدي ، وغندر ، وعبد الوهاب ، عن عوف ، عن أبي المغيرة ، عن عبد الله بن عمرو من قوله


This narration is similar to the above, but with different chains of narration to strengthen the first narration and is a common practice of all muhaditheen.


أخبرنا أبو عبد الله الحافظ ، ثنا أبو العباس محمد بن يعقوب ، ثنا الحسن بن علي بن عفان ، ثنا أبو أسامة ، عن حماد بن زيد ، عن هشام ، عن محمد بن سيرين قال : أتي علي - رضي الله عنه - بهدية النيروز ، فقال : ما هذه ؟ قالوا : يا أمير المؤمنين ، هذا يوم النيروز . قال : فاصنعوا كل يوم فيروز . قال أبو أسامة : كره أن يقول نيروز . ( قال الشيخ ) : وفي هذا كالكراهة لتخصيص يوم بذلك لم يجعله الشرع مخصوصا به


The narration regarding Sayyiduna Ali (RA) above that we have already discussed.
Conclusion
While I feel that there is still much that can be addressed on this issue and in the writing of Imam Webb, I believe that the few academic observations that Allah has given me the taufeeq to present above will suffice for any unbiased Muslim to read and reach the truth. Again I reiterate that it is my sincere hope that our dear brother Imam Suhaib Webb and other western speakers and scholars adhere to the Quran and Sunnah as understood by those who proceeded us on the sacred path and those that we have inherited this knowledge from, for no sooner do we leave their path then we become disillusioned and Allah forbid that we become misguided like so many before. May Allah continue to guide us all especially in these troubling times which our Beloved (salahu alayhi wasalam) prophesied would come upon us.
الحق أبلج والباطل لجلج




And Allah (elevated is He) knows best.
Servant of the Deen
Mohammed Daniel

Cordoba Academy





[i] Imam Shafi’ee (RA) would say: ما ناظرني أحد فباليت أظهرت الحجة على لسانه أو على لساني
I have not debated a person except that it bothers me not, whether the proof is established on their tongue or on mine.
[ii] I had written this paragraph shortly before the facebook page of Imam Webb has returned to the internet after several weeks of absence. One distinct thing that a reader may notice is that contrary to before were one could go back and read posts from several months ago, now the posts only go back to the second week of January a few days after the my initial response appeared on his facebook page.
[iii] Can we not see the liberal Muslims in both the Arab world and the West who preach same-sex marriages, the taking off of the Hijab and other vices and who also feel that by doing a few Arabic language courses they have the authority to make Tafseer (exegesis) of the Quran.
[iv] See ATTH 5 for the criticism of hadith scholars and the initial response for a clarification.
[v] Abu Usama (RA) is none other than Hamad ibn Usuma ibn Zaid whose narrations appear in many of the famous hadith collections including the six canonical collections. He was very familiar with Persians and their customs as he was from Kufa and Imam Ahmed ibn Hanbal (RA) said about him: "He was the most knowledgeable of all people regarding the affairs of the people and the happenings of the people of Kufa."
[vi] Imam al-Dhahabi (RA) states that the famous Shafi scholar Imam al-Haramayn al-Juwayni said
ما من فقيه شافعي إلا وللشافعي عليه منة إلا أبا بكر البيهقي ، فإن المنة له على الشافعي لتصانيفه في نصرة مذهبه
"There is no follower of the Shafi'ee madhab except that they are indebted to Imam al-Shafi'ee (RA) except Abu Bakr al-Bayhaqi, for indeed al-Shafi'ee is indebted to him for the works he contributed to support his madhab."
Reply

tearose
03-15-2013, 07:35 PM
wa 3laikumu s-salamu wa ra7matullahi wa barakatuhu,

Thank you for posting this, it is good to see a critical examination of something I have been feeling uneasy about for a while. I have seen one or two modern scholars issuing similar fatwas and I feel there is a crucial problem. For example
Originally Posted by CA TEAM
“The European Fatwa Council; made up of 20 of the worlds greatest Muslim Jurists, stated that it is permissible to greet people on these days (exchange gifts even) as long as it does not involve approving any creedal differences between us, or open evil (drinking and so on).
I don't understand how it is possible to wish someone happiness/enjoyment without approving creedal differences, when the very thing they are celebrating is based on a creedal difference! If I tell someone 'happy holidays' instead of 'merry christmas' or 'happy new year', what difference does it make? All I am doing is unsuccessfully trying to avoid the reality that both of us are perfectly aware of. I know what that celebration is about, and they know I know it. So my greeting, even if it doesn't involve traditional or religious words, still implies approval of what they are going to do.

Furthermore, how many people in the West celebrate these festivals teetotal? It is very well-known in many European countries that people will drink alcohol on these occasions. It's almost impossible not to approve of it indirectly because it's so well-known.

Also, from my own personal experience, the consequences of this can be quite serious. This year I was living with my non-Muslim family for the first time since I reverted. At first they were upset that I didn't want to celebrate Christmas with them. Then they got over that. But what made them really angry was that I didn't tell them 'hope you enjoy your day'. We had some major arguments about that (well, I tried to avoid arguing, but they were all angry so it was hard for me on my own to keep things calm). Since then, my mother has brought up the same point several times about different issues. She doesn't want me to join in with her doing things that are haraam, however she does always try to get me to say that it's fine for her to do so. Her ideal situation would be to go out on a night out with her friends, and for me to tell her I can't do that, but that I think she looks great and that I hope she has a great night. Well, that's exactly what I can't do, because that means giving my approval to what she's doing.

You might think, she's already a non-Muslim, she doesn't believe, so what difference does it make if she does those things? That's true, but the problem is approving of it. That sends out the message that the Western lifestyle and way of thinking is acceptable. If all the Muslims around are giving greetings and smiling and approving these things, people start to relax and feel comfortable and think that there is no real need to seriously consider Islam as an option. No Muslim they know is warning them or telling them that Islam is necessary for their salvation.

People don't like getting the feeling that others disapprove of them. However, if we try to make them feel better about themselves, we are not passing on the message as required. People in the West are used to people who follow other religions but make no greater claim than 'it's the right path for me'. If we keep on getting involved in others' celebrations, even minimally, we risk giving the message that Muslims fall into that category, and that there is no need for others to change.

I am not trying to criticize the scholars who made these fatwas but I feel that it is much safer to go with the view of other scholars, that it is not permissible to get involved in these celebrations at all.
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