Clarifying the Doubts of Bashir Shiil
The late scholar and former Muftī of Jīzān, al-ʿAllāmah Aḥmad ibn Yaḥyá al-Najmī (raḥimahullāh), answers questions concerning the statements of Bashir Shiil, Imām of Khālid ibn al-Walīd Mosque in Toronto, Canada. The recording, which took place in 2003, clarifies the mistaken statements of Shiil and his opposition to the manhaj of the Salaf. This lesson with a true scholar shows how Shiil, and those like him, seek to cut off the connection between the (Ṣumālī) youth and the scholars of our time.
The following phone call took place in 2003 between TROID and al-ʿAllāmah Aḥmad ibn Yaḥyá al-Najmī (rahimahullāh). The sitting illustrated the strong will of the Salafīs in Toronto to connect with the scholars and the clear separation desired by Bashir Shiil, a takfīrī ḥizbī who has disdain for the Scholars of Islām, rather he wished to replace the body of scholarship with him and his like. Khālid ibn Walid Mosque went on a rampage at the time, desperately trying to confuse and disconnect the Ṣumālī youth in the city from the Salafī manhaj, they attempted this by defaming TROID and lying and making excuses when they invited ikhwānī ḥizbīs like Adnān al-ʿArʿūr 1 to Toronto. They did this because many of the Ṣumālī youth were (and continue to) leave them as they come to understand the Salafī manhaj.
Questioner: Al-salāmu ʿʿalaykum
Shaykh Aḥmad al-Najmī: Wa ʿʿalaykum al-salām
Questioner: ...I have the brothers with me here from Canada. We have a daʿwah centre here where we call the people to this daʿwah, we have classes and...
[Shaykh interjects to verify]
Shaykh Aḥmad al-Najmī: (Is it) daʿwah salafīyyah, by the will of Allāh?
Questioner: Yes, we are Salafīs al-hamdulilāh. There is a masjid here (Khālid ibn Walīd mosque), (some of us) were initially with them; in the beginning the masjid was thought to be a Salafī masjid but after some years their deviation became clear, to the point that they prohibited the (Salafī) brothers from entering the masjid. So we wanted some advice with regards to the Imām over there (in that masjid). He is Ṣumālī and they say about him that he is the muhaddith of North America, but what is known is that he is with the Hizbiyyūn. So we wanted advice on how we should interact with them.
From the things which have been mentioned in Bashīr's (the Imām at Khālid ibn Walīd Mosque) presence by one of the teachers at that masjid (Afraz Baksh) is: when we look at Imām Aḥmad ibn Ḥanbal, wAllāhi we respect him, we defend him and he is the Imām of Ahl al-Sunnah, how many times are we able to point out his mistakes?2 It is not for me to point out his mistakes, the scholars are the ones who point out that he has deviated from Ahl al-Sunnah in some aspects of ʿaqīdah. We don't hear people saying that Imām Aḥmad had mistakes, so why is it that when a person — who has led in the establishment of the daw'ah in North America — falls into a mistake, we hear all these names, we refute him etc.?
This speech was said in defence of Abū Muslimah3 when his speech was gathered and taken to Shaykh Rabiʿ. Also, Bashīr said in the same sitting, addressing the Salafīs, about calling the likes of Shaykh Rabīʿ and other than him:
All you have is refutations. I swear by Allāh! Learn! (the religion). We are the ones changing (the religion) and you are not changing! You are Salafīs and we are not Salafīs! WAllāhi, You have refutations only?!4 So and so said this, so and so said that, Shaykh Rabīʿ said this, and so and so said that?! What is (benefitted) from this? WAllāhi nobody brings (the people) to account except Allāh!
So we want your commentary on this.
Shaykh Aḥmad al-Najmī: In reality, the person, the Salafī student of knowledge when he says so and so said this and so and so said that whilst he means Ahl al-Sunnah and he wants to make apparent what they (Ahl al-Sunnah) are upon from uprightness upon the Book of Allāh and the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allāh (صلي الله عليه وسلم) and the manhaj of the righteous Salaf, if the intent is this whilst the reason for the repetitiveness and making apparent of this speech is so that the manhaj of the Salaf is spread, then there is no harm in this nor is there anything prohibiting it.
Also, denouncing repeating the speech of the Salafīs so that it doesn't spread or that it doesn't become clear to those from the people who have doubts in them, there is no doubt that this person is erroneous (in his approach).5
That which is obligatory upon us is that we take everything which comes from the Salafī manhaj, that we keep to it and that we publicize the good speech which talks about holding on to Salafī manhaj and denouncing those who oppose it. This is what is required from the Salafī student of knowledge.
The Salaf were not harmed by those who hid their innovations, the Salaf use to say: Whoever hides his innovation from us will not be able to hide his companionship from us.
This means that if a person were to believe in something and he manages to be secretive about it then later he sits with the people of innovation and he continues to be with them, he comes and goes with them; then this is a proof that he is an innovator (too). There are a lot of sayings from the Salaf (on this issue), to illustrate,
ʿUmar ibn ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz said: If you see a people quarrelling about a matter concerning their religion then know that they are bringing about misguidance.
Likewise, when it was mentioned to Aḥmad ibn Ḥanbal that Ibn Abū Qutaylah said: there is no goodness in the People of Ḥadīth
Imām Aḥmad stood up shaking off his thobe while saying: Zindīq! Zindīq! Zindīq!
These are some of many examples from the Salaf concerning these types of matters. So there should be no criticism against the students of knowledge when they speak with this speech. It is required as well that the students do not busy themselves too much with this and that they busy themselves with seeking knowledge, research and revision. If an issue opens up (which needs clarity) they should speak, there's no problem with this.
Questioner: Likewise he (Bashīr) said with regards to refutations:
Those who say 'go look at such and such website or such and such tape!' This is wasting time, the knowledge which is possessed by the youth today is either from tapes or books, this is not from knowledge! Refutation of so and so! Refutation of so and so! Refutation of so and so! This is distancing yourself from the religion of Allāh.
Shaykh Aḥmad al-Najmī: This speech is futile. If it were not for refutations, the truth would not be known. If the scholars were to remain silent from the ones who come with innovations and add to the religion of Allāh, when would the truth be known? It wouldn't be known! So the one who despises this (refutations), then this is a proof that he is an innovator, a deviant and a ḥizbī.
Questioner: Also he (bashīr) said:
America has their scholars, we are not in any need of them! (i.e. Saudi scholars) I swear by Allāh!6 The issue with Ghazālī, those who are aware are aware (of his situation), likewise Ibn Taymīyyah, advised the ummah — this advice is available to those who want it — that the person will have mistakes, all of mankind make mistakes and the best of those who fall into mistakes are those who repent. Nobody is infallible after the prophet (صلي الله عليه وسلم). So Shaykh Muqbil isn't infallible, Shaykh al-Albanī isn't infallible and Abū Bakr al-Sidīq isn't infallible.
Shaykh Aḥmad al-Najmī: In any case, we say that they are not infallible but is everybody equal in their mistakes (that they make)? No! The mistakes of the scholars are a few because their affairs are based upon knowledge. As for other than the scholars then their mistakes are many and they fall into many innovations. So this saying (Bashīr's saying) is not befitting. We say that nobody is infallible but also not everyone’s mistake is regarded as the same (in degree). If the people of knowledge fall into a mistake, it is done so after striving (to find the reality of the matter), and they will be rewarded for this. As for other than the people of knowledge, their mistakes are many because they are influenced by desires, to reach a goal, or by wanting to gain superiority over their peers and also for reasons similar to this.
However, the people of knowledge, specifically the seniors and the Salafīs, from amongst them: Shaykh al-Islām Ibn Taymīyyah, Ibn al-Qayyim, Muḥammad ibn ʿAbd al-Wahhāb, Shaykh ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz ibn Bāz, Ibn ʿUthaymīn, Ṣāliḥ and other than them from the Scholars. If a mistake were to occur from them which is possible that it may but it would be after ijtihād (much discretion) and they are for rewarded for it (this decision they have made after ijtihād). Unlike those who fall into affairs due to their ignorance.
Questioner: Yes, may Allāh bless you. Also, he (Bashīr) says:
Why do we have to always call the Scholars which reside outside America who do not know the reality of America, the brothers are talking about the reality whilst Shaykh Rabīʿ doesn't know the reality (of the affairs).7 This is important! The verdict (fatwá) is a proposition based on the question, how you word the question, I will answer you (in a like manner). [i.e. devaluing the worth of scholarly rulings.]
Shaykh Aḥmad al-Najmī: The reality is known from the speech of the questioner. The issue which requires a verdict, if there is a benefit to the question, and it needs enlightening, then it should be asked. As for the question that doesn't consist of any benefit, then it shouldn't be asked.
With regards to the affair of the reality and what the reality is, those who are claiming to know the reality, their claims are claims which are not suitable in this case. All of the people of knowledge who dedicated and devoted themselves to calling to Allāh, servicing Islām, replying to the inquiries of the people, clarifying to the people Allāh’s right upon them and their rights amongst themselves from the legislations of Allāh, there is no doubt that those people (the people of knowledge) do not answer a question except after having known the reality. As for the claims and allegations that say that they know the reality better than the Scholars, those claims are futile, not suitable.
Questioner: Lastly, we want some advice for the Salafī youth here in Canada, and in America generally.
Shaykh Aḥmad al-Najmī: I advise the Salafī youth to adhere to the Book of Allāh by memorizing it, reading it, learning it, and knowing its explanations from the books of tafsīr using ḥadīth, like the tafsīr of Ibn Jarīr, the tafsīr of Ibn Kathīr, tafsīr al-Baghawī, the tafsīr of the author of Adwāʾ al-Bayān, the tafsīr of al-Sʿadī and the likes of them and others from the explanations which are known to be upright and authors who ascribe to the Salafī manhaj.
I also advise them to cling to the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allāh (صلي الله عليه وسلم), holding onto it, learning it, knowing the authentic from the weak, returning back to it when differing occurs, returning back to the books of ḥadīth and the books of fiqh which source from the ḥadīth, the explanations of the ḥadīth like Fatḥ al-Bārī, the explanation of Sahīh Muslim and the likes of these books. [i.e. Imam al-Nawawī’s explanation of Sahīh Muslim]
Then I advise you to take up take up the books of ʿAqīdah which were authored in the past like al-Kitāb al-Tawḥīd by Ibn Khuzaymah, Sharḥ al-Sunnah by al-Lalakāʿī, al-Ibānah by Ibn Baṭtah and other than them from the books which were authored with the creed of the righteous Salaf. These books should be read, learned, constantly looked back at, and returned to when differing occurs. Then with this we actualize the manhaj of the righteous Salaf, from the Companions and the Tābiʿīn, knowing what they traversed upon, following them in sayings and actions which they did in order to follow the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allāh (صلي الله عليه وسلم), that you also strive in learning from the Salafīs and keep away from the innovators, this is what i advise you with.
[The shaykh concluded by making a general supplication and sending peace and blessings upon the Messenger of Allāh (صلي الله عليه وسلم)]
Summarised and Translated by Munīb Aden al-Ṣumālī
1. See the forum post entitled: The Fitnah of Abū Fajr (Bukhārī Centre) for some history on Adnān al-ʿArʿūr's visit to KBW and their dismissal of a cassette presented to them with 13 scholars criticising al-ʿArʿur.
2. See the audio entitled: Taming Wild and Haughty Claims against Imām Aḥmad Ibn Ḥanbal: Afraz Baksh. Afrāz Baksh was a teacher at KBW who split from them to pursue other ventures. He defended Bashir Shiil and criticised Scholars like Shaykh Rabīʿ and even the Imām, Aḥmad ibn Ḥanbal! He boasted that "students in Madīnah considered me a Ṣurūrī" and used to speak well of Safar al-Hawāli and Salmān al-ʿOudah.
3. Afrāz is referring to the humiliated ḥizbī Abū Muslimah, for more information on him, see: Manhaj Ahl al- Sunnah (Shaykh Rabīʿ Speaks about Abū Muslimah) and Uncovering the Hidden Ḥizbī, Abū Muslimah ʿAbdullāh Tawfīq, Imām of Masjid Ahl al-Sunnah, also There Are NO scholars in the West by the late Abū ʿUways (raḥimahullāh). Afrāz and Bashir and those like them rushed to support Abū Muslimah and his attempt to centralise a leadership amongst the Salafīs under the leadership of Muḥammad Said Adly and himself. This conquest was rebuked by every scholar contacted by the Salafīs in the West. TROID was the first organisation to publish the refutations against Abū Muslimah, Abū ʿUways (rahimahullāh), the first and the bravest of the men to stand up to him. If Abū Muslimah et. al were successful, it would have changed the dynamic of the daʿwah, making the figureheads American ḥizbīs instead of the noble scholars of our time. Salafī Publications, Masjid Raḥmah (Abū ʿUways' masjid), TROID, Righteous Path (website of Kāshiff Khān and those with him) worked vigorously to present the speech of the scholars on this issue, which angered the likes of Afrāz and Bashīr so they sought to attack the Salafīs accusing them of being elitists and people of refutation only.
6. So whilst Bashīr states his case for "America's scholars", Afrāz Baksh was busy making the case for Bashīr as the Scholar of Canada: That Shaykh Usāmah al-Qūsī (Ikwānī politician and [film] critic) have mentioned to us to his face, that in North America we have one who is regarded as a muhaddith and he is none other than our learned Shaykh and Imām at this Masjid Shaykh Bashīr. When we have other person(s) of knowledge saying about a person who is also knowledgeable, then we know that person satisfy [sic] the criteria to be called a scholar or an ʿālim in this dīn.” [Respect for the Scholars conference, Masjid Khālid Ibn al-Walīd, October 1999]. As the reader can observe, this was an obvious attempt to guide the youth at KBW to follow Bashīr instead of the Salafī scholars.
7. This point was echoed by Yahyá Ibrāhīm, a mostly self-educated speaker who mimicked the sermons of Muḥammad Hassān (from the heads of the Ikhwān in Egypt) for years, claiming to be his student. He said in a meeting between KBW and TROID (KBW represented by Bashīr Shiil, Afrāz Baksh, Yahyá Ibrahīm, Aḥmad Khalafe [now of the Bukhārī centre] and others from their shūrah, a meeting intended to admonish TROID and suggest that the centre's leadership be supervised by others such as the figureheads of KBW etc.), in Autumn of 1999: So now when you pick up the phone and you call Yemen or you call Saudia or [indiscernable] or America and the person doesn’t understand fully what is being asked. The fatwá́ is null and void. It’s something that you cannot take as a specific fatwá́, you could take it as a general fatwá́.
The reader can see the repetitive theme, 'cut the cord with the scholars, we are the points of reference in these lands'. More than 15 years on, the names and faces change, the theme remains the same. Look to the statements of Yāsir Qadhī in 2013 and compare them with Yaḥyá Ibrāhīm in 1999:
“Chose a scholar who is living your life, in your land, in your culture…we outsource our fatwás to back home…as if those scholars are the only ones who know our situation…you cannot get a fatwá́ about living in secular democracy from someone who never lived in a secular democracy, you cannot get a fatwá about your homosexual neighbour from someone who has never met a homosexual in his life, there has to be a human element….Wisdom, most of it comes from life, not books…so my advice to you - look local…there are scholars here in Detroit.”
For full details see: Yasir Qadhi: Do Not Outsource Scholarship - Insource It! Shaykh Fawzān Answers
For more insight see also: Yasir Qadhi Will Separate You From the Scholars
Also, take a look at the friends of Yaḥyá Ibrāhīm today: Who Yaḥyá Ibrāhīm 'follows' on Twitter, not surprisingly he follows Yāsir Qādhī.
So the call of the opponents of the Salafī daʿwah is premised on the same ideal: Don't refer back to those scholars, refer back to us. The reason for this is their hatred of the Salafī scholar and the Salafī daʿwah, for why would anyone wish to separate the common folk from the scholars, the sources of knowledge and guidance upon the Salafī methodology.