Advice to Jamāʿat al-Tablīgh
A lengthy transcript from a tape in which Imām al-Albānī discusses the various errors found amongst the sect of al-Tablīgh.
If you call to Islām – you have to know what it is, beginning with Imaan and perhaps the brothers will recall the Ḥadīth: "That a man came to the Prophet sallalahu ʿalayhi wa-sallam with very white clothes and black hair…
Shaykh Muḥammad Nāṣir al-Dīn al-Albānī
"Praise be to Allāh. Salams and Salat on the Prophet Muḥammad sallalahu ʿalayhi wa-sallam"
Q: Where do the Jamaa’at-Tableegh go wrong? What is the remedy for their situation?
A: The remedy is Knowledge, as we have always advised them. Instead of going out for this "Khurooj", which has no basis in the Sunnah, whereas they make it a Sunnah to be followed. Rather they should sit in the Mosques and learn the Ḥadīth and Fiqh and the manner of reading the Qur’an correctly as it was sent down – [since many of them who speak, and this is a wicked practice which they have established for the people (in that) they encourage them to speak -] and then (they) are not able to correctly read the Aāyah, not to mention the Aḥadīth of the Messenger, sallalahu ʿalayhi wa-sallam – [since he explains the Aāyah in a way that causes him to fall under the saying that occurs in the knowledge of the Sciences of Hadīyh (‘Ilm Uṣūlil Ḥadīth): "That the student must learn the "al-ʿArabīc language so that when he reads a Ḥadīth he does not introduce mistakes into it, but reads it as the Messenger, sallalahu ʿalayhi wa-sallam, said it"] – and if not then he falls under the saying of the Messenger, sallalahu ʿalayhi wa-sallam, "He who reports me that which I did not say, then let him take his place in the Fire"
Even when the Book is in front of him and he reads from it - [then he even cannot read it properly even though the Book is fully vowel pointed] – but even so those whom we hear in many of the Mosques cannot read the Ḥadīth of the Messenger, sallalahu ʿalayhi wa-sallam, properly, - not to mention the being able to explain them correctly, and not to mention explaining the rulings contained therein – whilst those sitting and listening are in dire need of this Fiqh taken from the Sunnah.
Therefore the cure for those people is for them to return to the circles of knowledge in the mosques and find a scholar who has knowledge of the different readings (Qiraa’aat), knowledge of Tajweed, knowledge of Fiqh, knowledge of Ḥadīth and knowledge of Tafsīr. – so that they can learn. Then, after that if any of them becomes able to call the people – then he has to call the people. However, they call themselves, "Jamaa’ath-Ul-daʿwah" and the "Daw’ah" is the call to Islām, ‘the group of spreading the Dīn’, but this Dīn of Islām has to be understood by the caller so that he may able to spread it correctly and properly – and if not then - <<the one who does not have something cannot give it>> and this is a well known truth.
Therefore we advise them, since in many of them we find sincerity of purpose, and that they are active in daʿwah, however, what was said of old of them was true, as follows: "Sa’d brought them in – leading them: That is not how you bring in camels, O Sa’d!>>: <<That is not how you give daʿwah to Islām O Jamaa’ath>> daʿwah to Islām requires scholars who are able – especially if they go out from their lands to the lands of Kufr and misguidance, such as Europe and America – as over there problems and doubts come to them which you would not even think about in the Muslim lands – so where will they find the answer to them – he who does not have something cannot give it.
I believe that they – Jamaa’at-Ut-Tableegh, if they really do wish to spread the Dīn of Islām – then it is not enough that they are students, rather they must be scholars and mujtahids – taking Islamic rulings from the Book and the Sunnah. Why? Because they go to a land where the habits, customs, usages, and problems are different to ours – so where will they get the answers from? They have no answer – rather one of them may mistakenly think that he has some knowledge – and therefore give Fatwa’s – just as the Companions gave Fatwas to the injured man and killed him – they gave Fatwaa without knowledge and so erred and led into error, just as the Messenger, sallalahu ʿalayhi wa-sallam, said in the ḥadīth recorded by Al-Bukhārī and Muslim, "verily Allāh does not take away the knowledge by removing it from the hearts of the scholars, but He takes the knowledge away by taking away the scholars – until there does not remain any scholars, so the people take ignorant ones as their leaders – and they are asked and give judgment without knowledge." This is exactly what is happening these days – that many people give fatwás without knowledge and therefore go astray and lead others astray – therefore for those who wish to give daʿwah – it is not enough that they are students, rather they must be scholars – deriving rulings from the Book and Sunnah – and if not, then they are not able to convey the message of Islām, particularly in those foreign lands.
I end this talk with a point noted by a famous scholar of Andalus – Ibn Rushd Al-Malikee – he gave an example for the mujtahid scholar and the muqalid scholar – a very good example – saying, "The example of the mujtahid and the muqalid is the example of the person who sells leather socks and the one who makes them. So a man comes to the seller of leather socks and asks him for a particular size [and maybe he wants an unusual size, small but wide] and he doesn’t find this size amongst his stock – so he has to go to the maker of the leather socks and say I want a leather sock of such and such a size – and he makes it. This is the example of the mujtahid and the other one, the muqalid."
So where will they find answers required in that land? Therefore we advise them strongly – since they have sincerity and feeling for Islām, and desire to spread it amongst the people – to seek knowledge. There is no other way than that; after that, perhaps, Allāh will grant them that knowledge and open the door of true daʿwah to them, and if not, then, the one who does not possess something cannot simply give it to others.
Our way, is that "the best of guidance is the guidance of Muḥammad sallalahu ʿalayhi wa-sallam", and this is the text agreed upon by all Jamāʿahs amongst Muslims throughout the world. No one says, "The best of guidance is the guidance oif Abū Ḥanīfah, or Malik, or Ash-Shafiee, or Aḥmad", and yet, all of them hold that they are people of knowledge and excellence and that their purpose is to follow the Messenger, sallalahu ʿalayhi wa-sallam, and his way.
Hence, all Muslims, irrespective of group or sect, agree upon this basic principle that "the best of guidance is the guidance of Muḥammad sallalahu ʿalayhi wa-sallam". Despite this agreement there is still some difference with regard to how that is put into practice and in making this Prophetic truth a fact upon the face of this earth. It is here that they differ, and we have just discussed about what is knowledge, which is "what is commanded by Allāh and His Messenger sallalahu ʿalayhi wa-sallam". There is also no disagreement about this fact. However, in practice today you hardly ever hear a scholar answer a question by saying, "Allāh Taʿālá says…." Or "The Prophet sallalahu ʿalayhi wa-sallam said…..". Instead they say "so and so says…", and that is NOT knowledge. So what is important for the Muslims today is that they come together upon the principles – and these are agreed amongst them – and stick to them and not leave them on one side and we say, "The best of guidance is the guidance of Muḥammad sallalahu ʿalayhi wa-sallam".
Then we also see, after that, that one person prays in a certain manner and another in a different way and another and so on………., and likewise in Wudoo, fasting, Ḥajj etc. etc. Why? What is the reason? The only reason is that they have NOT followed the simple basic principle of "the best of guidance is the guidance of Muḥammad sallalahu ʿalayhi wa-sallam" Why is this so? Because making this principle a reality in our religious life requires knowledge of what Allāh and His Messenger, sallalahu ʿalayhi wa-sallam, says. In particular what is authentically reported from the Messenger sallalahu ʿalayhi wa-sallam and keeping away from that which is NOT authentic from him (sallalahu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) – so where is this way, its method and application today?
Then we return to the question and say, "All of the Jamāʿahs amongst the Muslims say << the best of guidance is the guidance of Muḥammad sallalahu ʿalayhi wa-sallam>>, but the Jamaa’at-Ul-Tableegh and others – we do not particularize them alone since the problem is general – has their ʿAqīdah (belief) become one – and they have been in existence for many years.
So has the ʿAqīdah of its members become a single ʿAqīdah? Has their ‘ʿĪbādah (worship) become one? Etc. In my opinion the answer is "NO", since you will find amongst them, the Hanfī, the Shafi’ee, the Mālikee, and the Ḥanbalee, just as you would find outside the Jamāʿah, and so on in this way there is no difference between them and the other Jamāʿahs. Likewise within Jamaa’at-Ul-Tableegh you will find people who lean towards the Book and the Sunnah as we have just explained. However, you do not find amongst them scholars who guide these (people) to the Book and the Sunnah. Instead, they rely upon any scholar who will explain to them what is in the Book and the Sunnah since they believe that it is the Qur’an and the Sunnah that are to be acted upon. As for the great majority of them, they are not like that. The reason is that not all of them have that belief which would unite them if they possessed it. Therefore, you see them do many things at variance with the Sunnah. Eg; (this thing) which they alone do and have particulate themselves with, from amongst all of the various different Jamāʿahs.
This is what they call "khurūj" – going out in the way of Allāh – meaning going out with the Jamāʿah to various towns, cities, lands and even non-Muslim countries. So we always remind them that going out in the way of Allāh is a good thing since the Messenger sallalahu ʿalayhi wa-sallam said "He who takes a path seeking knowledge. Allāh makes it easy for him a path to Paradise". However, if they believe, along with us, that the best guidance is the guidance of Muḥammad sallalahu ʿalayhi wa-sallam, then (we ask), "had he (sallalahu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) and his noble companions used to go out in tens in that way to give daʿwah of Islām?" <<INTERRUPTION>> And the people in the time of the Messenger sallalahu ʿalayhi wa-sallam were in greater need of knowledge since they were surrounded by the unbelievers. So he, sallalahu ʿalayhi wa-sallam, would send a knowledgeable one and not send ten or twenty along with him who did not know anything. Rather they would learn from the people of knowledge in their own lands.
So I am sure you all know that he, sallalahu ʿalayhi wa-sallam, sent Muʿādh Ibn Jabal (raliAllāhu ʿʿanhu), alone, Abū Mousa (raliAllāhu ʿʿanhu) alone, and likewise ʿAlī (raliAllāhu ʿʿanhu), Abū ‘Ubaidhah (raliAllāhu ʿʿanhu) and Dihyah (raliAllāhu ʿʿanhu) etc. etc. all singly. We do not find at any time in his blessed life that he, sallalahu ʿalayhi wa-sallam, sent along with a scholar, people who were not scholars – to Yemen. What was in Yemen but Shirk and Kufr, and consider, there was need in the time of the Messenger, sallalahu ʿalayhi wa-sallam.
Therefore we say that the foundation of daʿwah is Knowledge – Knowledge of the Book and the Sunnah – and I would draw your attention to the fact that despite being around many years they still do not have a single unifying ʿAqīdah nor a single unifying worship, nor commonality in their prayers. So what is it you will convey to the people while you have not yet conveyed it to your ownselves? Begin with your ownselves first, then those around you. What will the Jamaa’at-Ut-Tableegh convey if they themselves have not still agreed in ʿAqīdah? As far as I know, Jamaa’at-Ut-Tableegh does not give any importance to the affairs of ʿAqīdah. Indeed, many of them state openly that, "we do not go into the affairs of ʿAqīdah since they cause differences amongst the Muslims", nor do they take care to correct their worship and Prayers and make that in accordance with the Sunnah. So he who does not possess something cannot give it to another.
They call to Islām. What is Islām? Prayer!, Fasting!, Zakāt! Etc. If a questioner comes and asks, "How did the Messenger of Allāh, sallalahu ʿalayhi wa-sallam, perform Salat?" to one of their callers (Daa’ee), not just one of their common followers, then he cannot answer. Why? Because from the beginning, from their first principles, they are NOT taught to, first of all, make sure that they are upon following the Book of Allāh and the Sunnah of the Messenger, sallalahu ʿalayhi wa-sallam, of Allāh. Either he will be restricted to a particular Madh‘hab or following a particular Ṣūfī order – about which some Ṣūfī’s speak openly and say, "The number of ways to Allāh are like the number of created beings". So, perhaps, this Shaykh belongs to one of those Ṣūfī orders about which the scholars are agreed that nothing of them ever existed in the first three generations after the Messenger, sallalahu ʿalayhi wa-sallam, whose excellence was testified to and Allāh Himself says, "Verily, this is My Way, leading Straight: follow it: follow not (other) paths: they will scatter you about from His (great) Path." [Al-Qurʾān 6:153]
And so if the head of the callers who established the Jamaa’at-Ut-Tableegh; he himself follows a particular Madh‘hab, blindly – Hanafī or Shafi’ee or any other; And he himself follows one of these Ṣūfī orders – then what is this Islām that they call to? Prayer only? We often hear and know that many people who had not used to pray have started to pray – we do not deny that. We know many extreme Ṣūfī’s in all the lands of Islām, and particularly Syria, where they have lived for many years – Shaykhs of the Ṣūfī’s who devour the people’s wealth and live upon the hunger of their followers – and yet people who were formerly drunkards become their followers and begin to pray. But is that what is wanted? That a person becomes like the example mentioned by the Messenger, sallalahu ʿalayhi wa-sallam, "The example of the scholar who does NOT act on his Knowledge is that of a lamp which gives light to the people and burns itself away." That is not what is wanted. What is wanted is that the Muslim gives daʿwah having a certain Knowledge of his Dīn – and where does he get that knowledge from? As we have said: Either he himself becomes a scholar by studying the Book and the Sunnah or he takes the Book and the Sunnah from one who is a scholar of that. We do not find that amongst the followers of Jamaa’at - Ut-Tableegh – and for all these years – and likewise for the Ikhwanul Muslimīn – and they have not come together in their thinking – so within the Ikhwan you find the Salafī, the Ṣūfī, the follower of a Madh‘hab, and in some lands even the Shi’ee – we know that from their long history – what Islām is it that they call to?
And know after mentioning their shortcomings – I advise them – that instead of going out for this "Khurooj" which was, firstly, not found in the time of the Prophet, sallalahu ʿalayhi wa-sallam, and secondly, that it is organized in a way that has no basis in Islām – three days, four days etc. – Instead of that "Khurooj", which did not exist in the first and best period of Islām, sit in the Mosques and study the Book of Allāh, either by yourselves if you are from the former group and if not, then, by asking the people of Knowledge if you do not know.
And we often hear them begin their lesson with the saying: "Our success lies in following the Sunnah". Fine, but if you ask, "What is the Sunnah in the Prayer that you have just performed?". He doesn’t know. The Imam sits after the prayer, opens "Riyadh-Us-Saliheen" – and what a good book it is – he reads two or three aḥadīth and does not explain them or make their meaning clear – reading only the text. Then the people go away not knowing anything. Why? Because the Shaykh didn’t explain. Why? Because he doesn’t have something, hence he cannot give it.
So, instead of wasting time reading aḥadīth which they do not understand – let one or two of them out of the thousands seek knowledge – tafsīr, ḥadīth, language etc. Then, let them call the people to Islām upon clear guidance. The Jamaa’at-ut-Tableegh in this form, what do they call to? To Islām, fine. Then what is the ʿAqīdah that a Muslim has to have? Is it the Ashʿarī ʿaqīdah, the maatureedee ʿaqīdah or the ʿaqīdah of Ahlul ḥadīth? Each is upon that which he found his father, mother, grandfather – or from Al-Azhar or the latest Islamic University etc. Otherwise his mind is completely empty, neither having this nor that – what is the reason?
Firstly, it is not part of their system that they teach their Jamāʿah the ʿAqīdah. Secondly, it is not part of their program to teach the people what is Sunnah and what is Bid’ah – and the Arab Muslim poet of old said: "I learnt what was bad not for its own sake but to avoid it: and he who does not know bad from good falls into it." And this poetic wisdom is taken from the ḥadīth of Hudaifah Ibn Al-Yamani (raliAllāhu ʿʿanhu) who said about himself: "The people used to ask Allāh’s Messenger, sallalahu ʿalayhi wa-sallam, about the good. And I used to ask about the bad fearing it would come to me…"
And as the poet said: "Sa’d brought in [the camels], leading them: O Sa’d – that is not how you bring camels in."
If you call to Islām – you have to know what it is, beginning with Imaan and perhaps the brothers will recall the Ḥadīth: "That a man came to the Prophet sallalahu ʿalayhi wa-sallam with very white clothes and black hair….. [the Ḥadīth of Jibrīl concerning Islām, Imaan and Iḥsān…]…"
Imaan in Allāh – I have never heard any of our brothers explain the word "Imaan in Allāh" – of which it is possible to write volumes about, and it is sufficient for us that Shaykhul-Islām Ibn Taimiyyah wrote a whole book called "Kitābul-Imaan" – and the muhaddithoon of old wrote such books such as Ibn Abī Shaibah and Abū ‘Ubaid Al-Qassim as Sallam – all of them writing books on Imaan.
What is "Imaan in Allāh? The Muslims believe in Allāh, the Christians believe in Allāh, the Jews believe in Allāh, everyone but the atheists believe in Allāh. But each one’s belief in Allāh is different from the other. So what is that Imaan (in Allāh) which is the first condition of Imaan? This topic is never studied. This Imaan contains the belief in the Oneness of Allāh’s self; it contains the Oneness of Allāh’s worship – that He alone is worshipped; it contains Allāh’s Uniqueness in his Attributes.
Jamaa’at-Ut-Tableegh do not speak about these at all – so then, what O Brother is this Islām that you call people to? And where are you with regard to his (sallalahu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) sayings, "Pray as you see me praying" and "Take your rites of Ḥajj from me for I do not know – perhaps I will not meet you after this year." Then, our advice is that some – not all thousands or millions of them – but tens or thousands of them should obtain knowledge of the Dīn who then can guide them to the following of Allāh’s Book and the Aḥadīth of Allāh’s messenger, sallalahu ʿalayhi wa-sallam.
As for the going out – then no one should go out except for the scholar – as shown in the guidance of Allāh’s Messenger, sallalahu ʿalayhi wa-sallam. As for spreading the Dīn – then each person passes on what he knows – but that is not to be in ordered form that people from Amman leave their families and children and go to Europe and America. Let them remain at home and learn Allāh’s Dīn as did the Companions of the Prophet, sallalahu ʿalayhi wa-sallam. We again repeat, :The best of guidance is the guidance of Muḥammad, sallalahuʿalayhi wa-sallam."
Where are those who best understand this rule? Without a doubt they were the Companions of the Prophet, sallalahu ʿalayhi wa-sallam, then those who came after them, then those who came even after them. Fourteen centuries have passed and whatever we might say about changing times or methods etc. – we are now in the 1400’s and never in these 1400 years did a group of scholars go out in hundreds in this way, traveling through the lands to give daʿwah. Why did they not do that? Therefore the scholars say, "And every good is in the following of those who came before, and every evil lies in the innovations of the latter people."
No one will argue about giving daʿwah since Allāh Taʿālá says: "watakun minkum ummah.." but the problem lies in the method of daʿwah and the way it is given, and what is introduced into that which had not been used to be in the time of the Prophet, sallalahu ʿalayhi wa-sallam, and that one having knowledge goes out – why does he go out? To learn! Brother, stay in your homes, the mosque is next door, sit there and learn from the scholars.
<INTERRUPTION> from someone in the audience asking what is wrong with going out to the mosques.
O beloved Brother, may Allāh be Pleased with you – this is NOT the point of discussion – do not enter us into issues which are not related to where the problem lies…. I say there is no problem – but the ones nearer to you have more right, your family, your neighbors etc. then to whom will you call? Have you taught your family the correct ʿAqīdah? And taught them how the Prophet, sallalahu ʿalayhi wa-sallam, used to pray? Jamaa’at-Ut-Tableegh do NOT learn or teach how the Prophet, sallalahu ʿalayhi wa-sallam, used to pray and make Ḥajj etc. So as a member of Jamaa’at-Ut-Tableegh have you taught that which is obligatory to your family whom you live with? They are the closest of people to you. So you leave them alone and go to another town and say to me "what is wrong?" – I say there is nothing wrong, but start with yourselves, then those closest to you. Do not leave your land – going here and there – he who does not have something cannot give it.
We in Ash_Sham (Syria), have an example which they mention – they say,: "That there was a Kurdish man, zealous for Islām, but knowing very little about it – he met a Jew on the road one day and said to him <<become a Muslim or I will kill you>>, so he replied; <<I will become a Muslim – what do I say?>> He said: <<By Allāh, I don’t know!>>"
What benefit is this type of enthusiasm – he doesn’t even know what to say to the Jew about Islām. So we say, - that before this enthusiasm – sit and learn what Islām is – then spread it amongst the people in the best way. And this is enough of a mention of the short-comings of Jamaa’at-Ut-Tableegh. And we do not wish to go further into the details since that requires research of their history – and what is correct and what is not – but that which is very clear. Is that this "Khurooj" in groups who hardly know anything about Islām?
<INTERRUPTION: This accusation you make….. that you say that they don’t pray in the way the Prophet, sallalahu ʿalayhi wa-sallam,>>
Brother, it is not an accusation – It is something we see. <Continuation of INTERRUPTION>
Then as I have said to you – if we do find someone amongst Jamaa’at-Ut-Tableegh praying according to the Sunnah, then this Sunnah has not come from them but from outside. So, in this case you are like the person mentioned in the Qurʾān:
"…And one of her household saw (this) and bore witness, (thus)…."[Al-Qurʾān Sūrah Yousoof 12:26]
Al-hamdulillah, And you pray according to the book, Salat Ṣalātin-Nabiee’,sallalahu ʿalayhi wa-sallam, - why don’t you pray according to a book produced by Jamaa’at-Ut-Tableegh? Because they haven’t produced any such book. Then – we return to what is most important – to ʿAqīdah – so do you say that we accuse them of not giving importance to ʿAqīdah? Well, they themselves clearly state that – they do not call to ʿAqīdah, nor to the Book and the Sunnah – everyone remains upon his madhab…
I say, as long as the Jamaa’at-Ut-Tableegh want to spread Islām and have this enthusiasm – then the Sunnah must come from them – not have to be taken from other Jamāʿaha. I know them from Syria and from sitting with them, and I know them here….. so I am not ignorant of them, so that you say that I accuse them. Rather you accuse us of accusing them – but I speak based on knowledge…
So, in brief, with regard to the Jamaa’at-Ut-Tableegh – we are thankful for their enthusiasm but not for the way in which they show it. This enthusiasm has to have knowledge attached to it – and knowledge as has preceded is "what Allāh and His Messenger, sallalahu ʿalayhi wa-sallam, say". This Ḥadīth is authentic. Is there any scholar amongst them who is able to say that this Ḥadīth is weak so that he can be upon clear guidance in his Dīn? They do not have such a one to this day. Why? Because their way is at variance with he correct way.:
"Verily, this is My Way, leading Straight: follow it: follow not (other) paths:" [Al-Qurʾān Sūrah Anʿām 6:153]