Translated by Ahmed Abu Turaab
His Following the Book and the Sunnah and Abandoning Blind Following
“When I laid down this methodology for myself, i.e., holding fast to the authentic Sunnah, and implemented it in this and other books which will soon spread among the people, if Allaah so wills, I was upon certain knowledge that it would not please all groups and sects. Rather that some if not most of them would direct their verbal attacks at me along with their written reproach. And there is no problem in that, since I know that pleasing the people is an unattainable goal, and that, “Whoever pleases the people through the displeasure of Allaah will be left by Allaah in the trust of the people,” as the Prophet, صلى الله عليه وسلم, said. How excellent was the saying of the one who said, “And I will never be safe from the abusive saying, even if I were in a cave on a rugged mountain; and who is it that can escape from the people safe and sound, even if he disappeared between the wings of an eagle.”
So it is sufficient for me that I hold this to be the most upright path which Allaah, the Most High, ordered the believers with and which Muhammad, the Chief of the Prophets clarified, and which the Pious Predecessors from the Companions, their students and those who followed them, traversed upon. Included among them are the four Imaams to whose schools of thought the majority of Muslims associate themselves today. All of them were in agreement concerning the obligation of sticking to the Sunnah and returning to it and abandoning every statement that opposed it, no matter how great the one who made it was since his, صلى الله عليه وسلم. stature is greater, his path more upright. Thus, I followed their guidance and their footsteps, implementing their orders to stick to the sayings of the Prophet, صلى الله عليه وسلم. even if the hadith opposed what they [themselves] said. These orders had the greatest impact in my perusal of this straight way and my turning away from blind following. So may Allaah, the Most High, reward them with good on my behalf [for the benefit I received from them].
His taking books as his company and companions
So I say: Never! These judgements are not off-handed, but are the fruits of devoting myself to this noble branch of knowledge and specialising in it for more than half a century for the sake of Allaah, the Blessed and Most High–full of interest and desire and painstaking effort to acquire it, made successful by His permission, the Mighty and Majestic. Toiling day and night, with a broad ranging, precise and rare pursuance of the texts of hadiths, their wordings and paths from numerous books where those hadiths are mentioned with their chains of narrations; such as books of Quranic exegesis [tafsir], biographies, history, heart softening narrations and abstinence from the world, not to mention the books which are specific to hadiths, whether manuscripts or in other forms. And nothing proves this more than ‘the story of the lost paper’ which I mentioned in the introduction to my book, ‘The Index of Manuscripts of the Dhaahiriyyah Library,’ which the Arabic Academy of Damascus printed, so refer to it [for this story] (pp. 4-7), for in it is a testimony and a lesson for one who will take heed. [Translators note: this story will follow in the next post, inshaa Allaah].
Part of this is that Allaah gave me the opportunity, through His Grace and Bounty, to accompany hundreds, rather thousands of the people of knowledge and excellence in different fields; enjoying their company all those blessed years, such gatherings whose worth and pleasure none can know except those who have experienced it themselves. And the one who said the following [lines of poetry] about them has spoken the truth:
“We have sitting companions whose speech we never tire of; wise, trustworthy whether they are present or not; benefitting us with their knowledge, knowledge of what has passed by; intellectual, disciplined and of sound opinion; without fear of any commotion or evil companionship; not fearing from them an [evil] tongue or a [striking] hand; so if you said, ‘[They are] dead!’ You would not have lied; and if you said, ‘[They are] alive!’ You would not be disproved.”
I have not ceased to take from their knowledge and pick from their fruits–especially the people of hadith and narrations [Ahlul-Hadith wal-athar] from them such that, with Allaah’s Bounty and granting of success, I was able to gather thousands of hadith and narrations, [along with their] paths and chains of narration, weak and very weak chains, [and this was] something which was a great help in recognising their defects and differentiating between the authentic and the weak from them. So the result of all this were those books I authored which I spent numerous years upon.”
Hayaatul-Allaamah al-Albaani, rahimahullaah, bi qalamihi, pp. 31-34.