Questioner: What is the situation with an Imaam who leads the people in prayer and is upon innovation, and all the time whenever we advise him he does not listen, in fact he hates us and is spiteful towards us, is it allowed to pray behind him or not, or does the innovation differ in terms of its … being whatever it is, ya’ni … [i.e., does praying behind him depend on what type of innovation he is upon]
Al-Albaani: Namely, whether it is an innovation which makes one a disbeliever or not?
Questioner: Whether it is an innovation which makes one a disbeliever or not, may Allaah reward you with good.
Al-Albaani: Firstly, I don’t know whether you were present at the previous sitting where we spoke about the Shee’ah?
Al-Albaani: And that it is not allowed for a Muslim to rush to declare the Shee’ah or others to be disbelievers just because they are Shee’ah, do you remember?
Al-Albaani: So it is even more the case that it is not allowed for us to declare someone who at the very least is regarded as being from us and amongst us, from the Ahlus-Sunnah wal-Jamaa’ah, to be a disbeliever except if we see open and manifest disbelief from him.
Especially when, my brother, we live, as I think is clear to you from the previous gathering and this one–and I hope that we are able to have another such gathering or sittings and that is in Allaah the Mighty and Majestic’s Hands–[so I think it is clear] that you understand well that the people are as described by the Lord of the Worlds, “But most of mankind know not …” [Al-A’raaf 7:187]
For this reason it is not allowed for a Muslim to rush into declaring an individual from the Muslims to be a disbeliever as long as he is praying, and you now put forward a question about an Imaam who leads the people in prayer, so, in an authentic hadith it occurs that–and for this reason we encourage the Muslim youth to study the Sunnah and everyone who doesn’t study the Sunnah is in misguidance but the extent [of just how misguided] differs totally [from individual to individual]–in the authentic Sunnah it occurs that [the Prophet said], ‘I have been prohibited from killing those who pray.’
Is it not an analogy a fortiori [qiyaas awlawi] that [consequently] we say that I have been forbidden from declaring the Muslims to be disbelievers, this is an argument a fortiori, like His Saying, the Most High, “And your Lord has decreed that you not worship except Him, and to parents, good treatment. Whether one or both of them reach old age [while] with you, say not to them [so much as], ‘uff,’ and do not repel them …” [Israa 17:23] to the end of the aayah, so is it allowed for a son to hit his father? It is even less permissible, saying ‘uff’ is haraam so hitting him with your hand is even more severe in harm, this is called qiyas awlawi.
No one denies this, even Ibn Hazm fell into using this analogy sometimes even though he totally rejects [the use of] analogy [qiyaas]. The point is that it has been authentically reported that he عليه السلام said, ‘I have been prohibited from killing those who pray,’ so it is even more correct to [say that] I have been forbidden from declaring those who pray to be disbelievers.
May Allaah forbid it, but when we see open disbelief from someone who prays, whether he is an Imaam or not–and that [is something which] in reality [would] need to be researched specifically–then maybe it would be correct for me to say … rather, then it would not be permissible to declare him to be a disbeliever even if we saw open disbelief from him except after having established the proof against him, and [if] after having done so he [still] was not deterred or inhibited [from that disbelief], it is then that you would not pray behind him and it would not be permissible for you to deal with him as a Muslim.
As for the generality of those who pray now, whether the Imaams or the followers, then the foundational principle is that they are Muslims and it is not allowed to declare them to be disbelievers.
As for the prayer, then no matter what you don’t like about his prayer, whether you are right [in that] or mistaken, your prayer behind him is correct, i.e., let us assume that he prays incorrectly, he is the one who is incorrect in his innovation and you are correct in your judgement that he is an innovator but you have not declared him to be a disbeliever alhamdulillaah, even with this your prayer behind him is correct.
And you will not find this answer in the books of the madhhabs at all, if you have studied one of those madhhabs that are followed today, like the Hanafi [madhhab], or the Shaafi’i one … the agreement/contract of the Muslims would be dissolved and that which befell the Muslims of the previous generations would befall the Muslims of today, these are tragedies which happened in past Islamic history, and it has been reported that a bigot, and I don’t want to mention which madhhab [he was from], came to a mosque in which the Muslims were praying but not according to his madhhab, so he said, ‘Isn’t it time that this church closed its doors?’
It’s a mosque, the Muslims are praying in it according to one of the four madhhabs, not shee’ah, not khawaarij, not Zaidiyyah and so on, [they were praying according to] one of the four madhhabs, so this bigot says, ‘Isn’t it time that this church closed its doors?’
Similarly another of them who was a Qaadi judging according to the Sharee’ah, so he thought, said, ‘If it were up to me, I would have taken the jizyah from the Shaafi’is,’ just like that.
If we now wanted to implement some of the subsidiary issues present even till today in some of these books, [the result would be that] a Shaafi’i wouldn’t pray behind a Hanafi, and nor a Hanafi behind a Shaafi’i, because from the Hanafi texts [it is stated that], ’It is disliked to pray behind someone who opposes the madhhab.’
[Addressing those present] have any of you studied Hanafi or Shaafi’i fiqh so that we can discuss this issue with him?
‘It is disliked to pray behind someone who opposes the madhhab,’ in fact it could be nullified if the one praying behind a certain Imaam knows that the Imaam’s ablution is not correct and they gave examples of that, [like] if a Hanafi saw a Shaafi’i perform ablution completely and then he touched his wife then such a person’s ablution would be broken, sorry, I made a mistake … if there were a Hanafi who performed ablution and then touched his wife, his ablution according to the Hanafi madhhabs is correct, but not so according to the Shaafi’i one.
So the Shaafi’i does not hold the prayer to be correct behind him because he regards the ablution to have been broken. And the total opposite is true if the Hanafi were to perform ablution and then he bled, according to his madhhab his ablution would have been broken, such a prayer would be invalid in the eyes of someone who holds that view. So if there was a Hanafi who adopted the madhhab of Imaam ash-Shaafi’i that no matter how much blood comes out then the ablution is still correct, [a person who holds the other view] will not pray behind him.
Questioner: The Maaliki madhhab or the Hanafi madhhab?
Al-Albaani: No, I’m saying that now we’re talking about two madhhabs, the Hanafis who hold that if someone bleeds, no matter how little, the ablution is broken but if he touches a woman his ablution is sound, and conversely you have the Shaafi’is who say that touching a woman breaks the ablution but bleeding, no matter how plentiful, does not.
Salvation is found in embarking on the ship of salvation, the Sunnah.
Listen now to the answer from the Sunnah.
He عليه الصلاة والسلام said concerning the Imaams who lead us in prayer, “If they lead the prayer correctly then they and you will receive the rewards, but if they make a mistake, then you will receive the reward for the prayer and the sin will be theirs.” [Bukhaari, no. 694].
No answer or ruling more comprehensive then this can be found.
So I wanted to show that through such meaning and such a ruling it is possible to bring the Muslims together.
Wallaahi, as for [one person saying], ‘Your madhhab is such and such but my madhhab says this,’ then this is division which we have been prohibited from, “And do not be of those who associate others with Allaah. [Or] of those who have divided their religion and become sects, every faction rejoicing in what it has.” [Rum 30:31-32]
Perhaps you have obtained your answer, inshaa Allaah.
Let us have another question …
Al-Hudaa wan-Noor, 539.