Stance of Sheikh Sulayman ibn abd al wahab


Q. Question is that it is well known that Sulayman Ibn Abd al-Wahaab rejected his brothers misguidence and wrote against the wahaabi regime. A salafi brother pointed out that he repented from going against his brother before he died. I needed some clairty on that issue too. 

A. Bakr Abu Zayd and `Abd al-Rahman `Uthaymin, the two Wahhabi editors of Ibn Humayd al-Najdi’s Hanbali bio-dictionary _al-Suhub al-Wabila `ala Dara’ih al-Hanabila_ (Risala ed. 2:679), consider the report of that repentence spurious and say there is no proof that Sulayman ever changed his mind. 

What is agreed upon is that when his father died, Sulayman ibn `Abd al-Wahhab ibn Sulayman al-Tamimi al-Najdi (d. 1210?) succeeded him as qadi of Huraymila’ in 1153. Twelve years later, in 1165, Sulayman led the people of that town and `Uyayna, another nearby town, in a rebellion against his brother Muhammad ibn `Abd al-Wahhab ibn Sulayman’s (d. 1207) Wahhabi forces which lasted for three years. The towns were overrun in 1168 and Sulayman fled to Sudayr where he was left alone. Twenty years later he was brought against his will to Dir`iyya, the capital of his brother and `Abd al-`Aziz ibn Muhammad ibn Sa`ud, where Muhammad kept him under a sumptuous but strict house arrest until they both died. 

Sources: Ibn Bishr, _`Unwan al-Majd bi-Tarikh Najd_ (years 1165 and 1168); _Tarikh Ibn La`bun_ (year 1190); Ibn Ghannam, _ Tarikh_ (1:142), all as cited in the marginalia of Ibn Humayd, _al-Suhub al-Wabila_ (2:678-679). 

It is in the context of his losing battle against his brother that Sulayman wrote his famous book against the Wahhhabi sect titled: 

_Fasl al-Khitab min Kitab Allah wa-Hadith al-Rasul (salla Allahu `alayhi wa-Sallam) wa-Kalam Uli al-Albab fi Madhhab Ibn `Abd al-Wahhab_ (“The Final Word from the Qur’an, the Hadith, and the Sayings of the Scholars Concerning the School of Ibn `Abd al-Wahhab”), 

also known as: 

_al-Sawa`iq al-Ilahiyya fi Madhhab al-Wahhabiyya_ (“The Divine Thunderbolts Concerning the Wahhabi School”). 

This book is among the first and earliest refutations of the Wahhabi sect in print, consisting in over forty-five concise chapters spanning 120 pages that aim to show the divergence of the Wahhabi school, not only from the Consensus and usûl of Ahl al-Sunna wal-Jama`a and the fiqh of the Hanbali Madhhab, but also from their putative Imams, Ibn Taymiyya and Ibn al-Qayyim on most or all the issues reviewed. 

The biographer of the Hanbali School, Ibn Humayd al-Najdi (1236-1295) said in _al-Suhub al-Wabila `ala Dara’ih al-Hanabila_ (2:675-679 §415): 

<<`ABD AL-WAHHAB ibn Sulayman ibn `Ali ibn Musharraf al-Tamimi al-Najdi. He read fiqh with his father the author of the famous _Mansak_ and with others. He obtained learning and fiqh, taught, and wrote excellent epistles on various legal issues. He died in the year 1153. He is the father of MUHAMMAD, the founder of the Da`wah whose evil has spread to / every horizon, but there is a vast difference between the two of them…. / He was angry with his son Muhammad because he would not study fiqh as his predecessors and peers did. His premonition concerning him was that he would bring upon a calamity. He would say to the people, ‘One day you will see Muhammad cause evil.’ Then Allah decreed that whatever happened happened. 

Similarly his son, SULAYMAN, the brother of Shaykh Muhammad, opposed the latter and his Da`wah and refuted him with a fine refutation with Qur’anic verses / and reports, since the one being refuted put no credence in anything else and lent no ear to the discourse of any of the Ulema whether old or late, whoever they may be, except Shaykh Taqi al-Din Ibn Taymiyya and his student Ibn al-Qayyim. He considered their words uninterpretable scripture and would hammer the people on the head with it / even if what they said differed from his understanding. Shaykh Sulayman titled his refutation of his brother _Fasl al-Khitab fil-Radd `ala Muhammad ibn `Abd al-Wahhab_.>> 

The Fasl/Sawa`iq received the following editions: 

1st edition: Bombay: Matba`a Nukhbat al-Akhbar, 1306/1889. 2nd edition: Cairo (date?). 3rd edition: Istanbul: Ishik reprints at Wakf Ihlas, 1399/1979. 4th edition: (Annotated) Damascus, 1420/1999. 

The claim that Sulayman repented apparently originates under the pen of the contemporary literary historian of Arabia, `Ali Jawad Tahir in his eight-volume history published in Baghdad in the Fifties, _Tarikh al-`Arab qabl al-Islam_ (‘Pre-islamic History of the Arabs’) 7:227. What gave this claim circulation is its endorsement by the Syrian historian Nur al-Din al-Zirikli (d. 1410/1990) in his much more famous biographical dictionary _al-A`lam_ (3:130). 

Al-Zirikli says in his snippet on Sulayman ibn `Abd al-Wahhab: 

‘Sulayman ibn `Abd al-Wahhab: the brother of the Shaykh and leader of the reformist revival Muhammad ibn `Abd al-Wahhab. His brother opposed him in the Call (al-da`wah) and wrote epistles voicing this [opposition], among them _al-Radd `ala man Kaffara al-Muslimin bi-Sababi al-Nadhri li-Ghayr Allah_ (‘Refutation of Him Who Pronounced Apostasy against the Muslims for Vows to Other than Allah’) in Baghdad’s Awqaf archives, manuscript 6805. Then he abandoned his position and proclaimed he was sorry. He authored an epistle to that effect, in print. [FOOTNOTE:] _Al-Kashif_ by Talas (p. 126-127) [a catalogue of manuscripts] which misattributes to him the book _al-Tawdih `an Tawhid al-Khallaq_. See also the periodical _al-`Arab_ (7:227).’ 

The latter is a sourcing mistake and elsewhere al-Zirikli shows that he means `Ali Jawad’s book _Tarikh al-`Arab_ rather than the periodical, as the latter obviously requires a different type of sourcing than volume and page number. 

There are many problems with the above claim in addition to its being rejeted by the Wahhabis themselves as already mentioned: 

1. Why does the author of the claim not cite the title of the supposed pro-Wahhabi ‘repentence epistle’ of Sulayman and who printed it and where? 

2. Why is there no record of this supposed pro-Wahhabi position of Sulayman even among the Wahhabis? If he had really authored such a book one would expect the many supporters of the Wahhabi movement to have made sure it never got lost to the Muslim world but, on the contrary, no one ever heard of it other than an Iraqi literary historian and the Syrian biographer who cites him. 

3. Why does the great bio-bibliographer `Umar Rida Kahhala not mention any such pro-Wahhabi recanting in his entry on Sulayman ibn`Abd al-Wahhab in his much more detailed eight-volume _Mu`jam al-Mu’allifin_ (‘Dictionary of Authors’), other than Sulayman’s known anti-Wahhabi work? 

4. The style of Sulayman’s anti-Wahhabi epistle typifies staunchness and a systematic refutation style with complete mastery of the Usul and `Aqida literature that a Hanbali debater is expected to possess. He also states that he waited eight years before deciding to speak out against the deviations of his little brother’s followers. It is unlikely that he would then back up and change his mind. 

5. In 1995 the Jordanian Wahhabi, Mashhur Hasan Salman published in Ryadh a 2-volume work he titled _Kutubun Hadhdhara al-`Ulama’u Minha_ (‘Books the Ulema [supposedly] Warned Against’), a ‘Salafi’ equivalent of the Vatican’s _Index Librorum Prohibitorum_, a guide listing books that the Roman Catholic Church forbade its members to read (except by special permission) because they were judged dangerous to faith or morals. He included Sulayman ibn `Abd al-Wahhab’s _Fasl/Sawa`iq_ in his pompous censorship manual. To us, of course, the fact that Salman includes Sulayman ibn `Abd al-Wahhab’s classic refutation in his index is in fact a thumbs-up and a proof that it is a Sunni book. The point, however, is that Salman makes no mention of a supposed repentence of Sulayman nor of his supposed pro-Wahhabi book. If there had truly been such a repentence and book he would have not missed it nor would he have omitted mentioning it. 

The above are internal and external circumstancial evidence that Sulayman ibn `Abd al-Wahhab never changed his anti-Wahhabi position nor authored a pro-Wahhabi epistle

A selected chronology of other early condemnations of Wahhabism in print: 

1. Shaykh Muhammad ibn Sulayman al-Shafi`i al-Kurdi al-Madani, said to be one of Muhammad ibn `Abd al-Wahhab’s former teachers, wrote a fatwa condemning the Wahhabi movement in general terms. It is reproduced at the end of Sayyid `Alawi ibn Ahmad al-Haddad’s Misbah al-Anam (1908 edition; see below) and is also found at the beginning of the Waqf Ihlas offset reprint of Sulayman IAW’s _Sawa`iq_. 

2. Al-San`ani (d. 1182) the famous author of _Subul al-Salam_ at first wrote Muhammad IAW a panegyric which he sent him. Then he changed his mind and wrote an epistle denouncing him titled _Irshad Dhawi al-Albab ila Haqiqat Aqwal Muhammad ibn `Abd al-Wahhab._ See on this Imam al-Kawthari’s _Maqalat_ (article ‘IAW and Muhammad `Abduh’), al-Shawkani’s _al-Badr al-Tali`_, s.v. ‘Muhammad ibn Isma`il al-Yamani,’ and Siddiq Hasan Khan al-Qinnawji’s _Abjad al-`Ulum_, introduction, and his _Taj al-Mukallal_. 

3. Al-Habib `Alawî ibn Ahmad al-Haddad, _Misbah al-Anam fi Raddi Shubah al-Najdi al-Bid`i al-Lati Adalla biha al-`Awamm_ (‘The Luminary of Mankind Concerning the Refutation of the Fallacies of the Innovator from Najd by which He Has Misguided the Common Public’ written 1216/1801 but long out of print!) of which I translated and published the introduction [see outline in a separate post] together with the translation of al-Sayyid Yûsuf al-Rifa`i’s _Advice to Our Brothers the Scholars of Najd_ (1420/1999); 

4. Al-Sawi (d. 1241) in his _Hashiya `ala al-Jalalayn_ for Surat 35:6 mentions the Wahhabis and refers to them as Khawârij. NOTE that this phrase and the word ‘Wahhabiyya’ was excised from all present-day editions of this Tafsir! 

5. Ibn `Abidin (d. 1243) said the same in his famous Hashiya, Book of Iman, Bab al-Bughât. 

6. The Mufti of Makka, Sayyid Ahmad Zayni Dahlan (d. 1304/1886) with several works: _al-Durar al-Saniyya fî al-Radd alâ al-Wahhabiyya_ (‘The Pure Pearls in Refuting the Wahhabis’) (Cairo, 1319 and 1347), _Fitnat al-Wahhabiyya_ (‘The Wahhabi Tribulation’), and _Khulâsat al-Kalâm fî Bayân Umarâ’ al-Balad al-Harâm_ (‘The Summation Concerning the Leaders of the Holy Land,’ whose evidence is quoted in full by al-Nabhânî in _Shawâhid al-Haqq_ p. 151-177), the last two a history of the Wahhabi movement in Najd and the Hijâz

7. Imam Ahmad Rida Khan (1272-1340) states in his _Fatawa al-Haramayn_ (Waqf Ikhlas offset ed. p. 11-12): 

‘As for the Wahhabis they are a misguided sect (firqa dalla) and volumes were compiled – both in Arabic and other languages – declaring them heretics. Among them is the book of our teacher in Hadith, our Master `Allama Ahmad ibn Zaini Dahlan al-Makki ‘ Allah sanctify his secret – titled _al-Durar al-Saniyya fi al-Radd `ala al-Wahhabiyya_. The best word ever said about them is that of the Mufti of al-Madinat al-Munawwara, Mawlana Abu al-Su`ud – Allah have mercy on all of them: {The devil has engrossed them and so has caused them to forget remembrance of Allah. They are the devil’s party. Lo! is it not the devil’s party who will be the losers’} (58:18-19).’ 

Al-Sawi al-Maliki adduced the same verse against them in his Hashiya on Tafsir al-Jalalayn.

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