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The Scholars of the Najdî Da’wah on the Differentiation Between Establishing the Hujjah (Proof) and Understanding the Hujjah (Proof)

At-Tibyân Publications

The Scholars of the Da’wah of Najd, may Allâh be merciful to them, spoke about this often. Their Fatâwâ and letters on this issue are also mentioned often, yet they are mentioned unrestrictedly without a clear explanation of what is meant. Below is one of the more famous letters of Imâm Muhammad ibn ‘Abd Al-Wahhâb, may Allâh be merciful to him, on this issue. Included afterwards are excerpts which help clarify what is meant by this issue.

Imâm Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhâb, may Allâh be merciful to him, stated:

“In the Name of Allâh, the Beneficent, the Most-Merciful

To the Brothers… [1]

Salâmun ‘Alaykum Wa Rahmatullâhi Wa Barakâtuh,

And to proceed…

What you mentioned of the Shaykh’s statement, “Everyone who rejects such and such, while the Hujjah has been established upon him” and you are doubtful regarding those Tawâghît and their followers, has the Hujjah been established upon them?

This is indeed strange! How can you have doubt about this when I have clarified it for you repeatedly?!

For indeed, the one upon whom the Hujjah has not been established:

He is the one who is new to Islâm, and the one who was raised in a distant wilderness; or this is the case when the matter is hidden, like Sarf [2] and ‘Atf. [3]

So he does not disbelieve until it is made known to him.

And as for the foundations of the religion (Usûl Ad-Dîn) that Allâh has clarified and solidified in His Book, then indeed the Hujjah of Allâh is the Qur’ân. So if the Qur’ân has reached a person, then the Hujjah has reached him.

But the source of dispute is that you have not differentiated between establishing the Hujjah and understanding the Hujjah.

For indeed, most of the disbelievers and the hypocrites from amongst the Muslims did not understand the Hujjah of Allâh though it has been established upon them, as Allâh, Ta’âlâ, said,

أَمْ تَحْسَبُ أَنَّ أَكْثَرَهُمْ يَسْمَعُونَ أَوْ يَعْقِلُونَ إِنْ هُمْ إِلَّا كَالْأَنْعَامِ بَلْ هُمْ أَضَلُّ سَبِيلًا
“Or do you think that most of them hear or understand? They are only like cattle; nay, they are even farther astray from the Path” (al-Furqân, 44)

And the establishment of the Hujjah is something, and it reaching (the people) is something (else), while it has been established upon them. And their understanding it is something else. And their (falling into) disbelief is by it reaching them, even if they do not understand it.

If this has confused you, then look at his, صلى الله عليه وسلم,’s statement about the Khawârij, “Wherever you find them, kill them,” [4] and his statement “They are the worst killed under the heaven.” [5] And this is despite that they were present in the era of the Sahâbah, and a person would look down upon the Sahâbah’s acts of worship compared to theirs, and with the consensus of the people that what expelled them from the Religion is inflexibility, extremism and interpretive judgment (Ijtihâd), yet they believe that they are obeying Allâh, and the Hujjah had reached them but they did not understand it.

And likewise ‘Alî, رضي الله عنه,’s killing of the ones who believed in him (as their god), and (him) burning them with the fire, this despite the fact that they were the students of the Sahâbah, and despite their worship, their prayers and their fasting, and they believed they were upon truth.

And likewise the consensus of the Salaf on the Takfîr of the extreme Qadariyyah and others, despite their knowledge and their intense worship, and the fact that they believed that they were doing good, but none of the Salaf stopped from pronouncing Takfîr on them due to the fact that they did not understand.

For indeed all of them did not understand.

If you know this, then this which you are upon is disbelief. The people are worshipping the Tawâghît, and opposing the religion of Islâm, and they claim it is not apostasy because perhaps they did not understand the Hujjah. All of this is obvious.

And the most apparent of what has preceded is [the situation] of those that ‘Alî burned, for it resembles this.

As for sending the words of the Shâfi’îs and others, then it is not imaginable that you will be reached by more than what has already reached you. So if you have some doubts, then seek that Allâh, Ta’âlâ, removes them from you.

Was-Salâm.” [6]

And Shaykh Sulaymân ibn Sahmân an-Najdî, may Allâh be merciful to him, said, “Our Shaykh, the Shaykh ‘Abd al-Latîf, may Allâh be merciful to him, said, ‘And the difference between the establishment of the Hujjah and the understanding of the Hujjah must be known. As whoever has been reached by the Da’wah of the Messengers, then the Hujjah has been established upon him, if he was in a state in which knowledge was possible. And it is not a condition in the establishment of the Hujjah that he understands what is understood about Allâh and His Messenger by the people of faith, acceptance and following of what the Messenger came with. So understand this, as it will remove off of you many misunderstandings regarding the issue of establishing the Hujjah. Allâh, Ta’âlâ, said,

أَمْ تَحْسَبُ أَنَّ أَكْثَرَهُمْ يَسْمَعُونَ أَوْ يَعْقِلُونَ إِنْ هُمْ إِلَّا كَالْأَنْعَامِ بَلْ هُمْ أَضَلُّ سَبِيلًا
“Or do you think that most of them hear or understand? They are only like cattle; nay, they are even farther astray from the Path” (al-Furqân, 44)

And He, Ta’âlâ, said,

خَتَمَ اللّهُ عَلَى قُلُوبِهمْ وَعَلَى سَمْعِهِمْ وَعَلَى أَبْصَارِهِمْ غِشَاوَةٌ
“Allâh has set a seal on their hearts and on their hearings, and on their eyes there is a covering…” (al-Baqarah, 7)’ End Quote.

I say: And the meaning of his statement, may Allâh, Ta’âlâ, be merciful to him, ‘…if he was in a state in which knowledge was possible.’ Then what is meant by it is that he is not lacking a sound mind and the ability to differentiate, like the child and the insane one. Or that he is from those who do not understand what is being addressed to him, and there is no translator present to translate for him, and the likes of those. So whoever is reached by the Message of Muhammad, صلى الله عليه وسلم, and reached by the Qur’ân, then the Hujjah has been established upon him. Allâh, Ta’âlâ, said,

لأُنذِرَكُم بِهِ وَمَن بَلَغَ
“…that I may therewith warn you and whomsoever it may reach…” (al-An’âm, 19)

And He, Ta’âlâ, said,

لِئَلاَّ يَكُونَ لِلنَّاسِ عَلَى اللّهِ حُجَّةٌ بَعْدَ الرُّسُلِ
“…in order that mankind should have no plea against Allâh after the Messengers…” (an-Nis’a’, 165)

So no one is excused for not believing in Allâh, His Angels, His Books, His Messengers and the Last Day. So he has no excuse of ignorance after that. And Allâh, Subhânahu, has informed (us) of the ignorance of many of the disbelievers, while (at the same time) clearly stating their disbelief.” [7]

And Ibn Taymiyyah, may Allâh be merciful to him, despite not being from the Imâms of Najd, nor from their time, explained this issue, so his words are included for clarity. He said, “And His, Ta’âlâ’s, statement,

فَأَجِرْهُ حَتَّى يَسْمَعَ كَلاَمَ اللّهِ
“…then grant him protection, so that he may hear the Word of Allâh (the Qur’ân)…” (at-Tawbah, 6)

It is known that what is meant is that he hears it with a hearing by which he would be able to understand its meaning. As the goal would not be fulfilled by hearing phrases alone and not being able to understand the meaning. So if he was a non-Arab, it would be obligatory to have translated for him the likes of with which the Hujjah would be established upon him. And if he was an Arab, but there were uncommon phrases in the Qur’ân which were not from his dialect, it is obligatory upon us to clarify their meaning to him. And if he heard the phrase the way many of the people hear it and he does not understand the meaning, and he requests from us to explain it to him and clarify its meaning to him, then that is (obligatory) upon us. And if he asks us about a question that tarnishes the Qur’ân, we answer it for him, just as, if the Prophet, صلى الله عليه وسلم, was presented with a question from the polytheists, the People of the Book or the Muslims, which they asked about the Qur’ân, he would answer it for them.” [8]

This is best understood if we understand that there are two types of hearing, two types of intellect and two types of guidance. One of each has been negated off of the disbelievers, while the other has been affirmed for them.

About the hearing, Allâh, Ta’âlâ, stated,

وَإِذَا تُتْلَى عَلَيْهِمْ آيَاتُنَا قَالُواْ قَدْ سَمِعْنَا لَوْ نَشَاء لَقُلْنَا مِثْلَ هَـذَا إِنْ هَـذَا إِلاَّ أَسَاطِيرُ الأوَّلِينَ
“And when Our Verses are recited to them, they say: ‘We have heard this; if we wish we can say the like of this. This is nothing but the tales of the ancients.’” (al-Anfâl, 31)

While He also said,

وَقَالُوا لَوْ كُنَّا نَسْمَعُ أَوْ نَعْقِلُ مَا كُنَّا فِي أَصْحَابِالسَّعِيرِ
“And they will say: ‘Had we but listened or used our intelligence, we would not have been among the dwellers of the blazing Fire!’” (al-Mulk, 10)

And about the intellect, He, Ta’âlâ, said,

أَفَتَطْمَعُونَ أَن يُؤْمِنُواْ لَكُمْ وَقَدْ كَانَ فَرِيقٌ مِّنْهُمْ يَسْمَعُونَ كَلاَمَ اللّهِ ثُمَّ يُحَرِّفُونَهُ مِن بَعْدِ مَا عَقَلُوهُ وَهُمْ يَعْلَمُونَ
“Do you covet that they will believe in your religion in spite of the fact that a party of them used to hear the Word of Allâh, then they used to change it knowingly after they understood it?” (al-Baqarah, 75)

While He also said,

وَمَنْ أَظْلَمُ مِمَّن ذُكِّرَ بِآيَاتِ رَبِّهِ فَأَعْرَضَ عَنْهَا وَنَسِيَ مَا قَدَّمَتْ يَدَاهُ إِنَّا جَعَلْنَا عَلَى قُلُوبِهِمْ أَكِنَّةً أَن يَفْقَهُوهُ وَفِي آذَانِهِمْ وَقْرًا وَإِن تَدْعُهُمْ إِلَى الْهُدَى فَلَن يَهْتَدُوا إِذًا أَبَدًا
“And who does more wrong than he who is reminded of the Ayât (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) of his Lord, but turns away from them forgetting what (deeds) his hands have sent forth. Truly, We have set veils over their hearts lest they should understand this (the Qur’ân), and in their ears, deafness. And if you call them to guidance, even then they will never be guided.” (al-Kahf, 57)

And about the guidance, He, Ta’âlâ, said,

وَأَمَّا ثَمُودُ فَهَدَيْنَاهُمْ فَاسْتَحَبُّوا الْعَمَى عَلَى الْهُدَى
“And as for Thamûd, We showed them the way of guidance, but they preferred blindness to guidance…” (Fussilat, 17)

While He also said,

إِنَّكَ لَا تَهْدِي مَنْ أَحْبَبْتَ وَلَكِنَّ اللَّهَ يَهْدِي مَن يَشَاء وَهُوَ أَعْلَمُ بِالْمُهْتَدِينَ
“Verily! You (O Muhammad) guide not whom you like, but Allâh guides whom He wills.” (Al-Qasas, 57)

So it is proven that the disbelievers did have some level of understanding and hearing. So it shouldn’t be understood that no understanding or intelligence is needed whatsoever. At the same time, not everyone can say that because someone doesn’t understand the Hujjah, they are protected from leaving Islâm.

For more on this topic, look to “Majmû’ Fatâwâ Ibn Taymiyyah”, Vol. 1/208-209, Vol. 7/24, Vol. 9/286-287, and Vol. 16/8-15

“Madârij as-Sâlikîn” by Ibn al-Qayyim, Vol. 1/51-58, and 518-520, publication of “Dâr al-Fikr”.

“Miftâh Dâr as-Sa’âdah” by Ibn al-Qayyim, Vol. 1/101-102, publication of “Dâr al-Fikr”.


[1] Is’hâq ibn ‘Abd ar-Rahmân ibn Hasan Âl ash-Shaykh, may Allâh be merciful to them, mentioned that the ones being answered are ‘Îsâ ibn Qâsim and Ahmad ibn Suwaylim. There question was about some statements of Shaykh al-Islâm Ibn Taymiyyah. Look to “Takfîr al-Mu’ayyin wal-Farq Bayna Qiyâm al-Hujjah wa Fihm al-Hujjah” pg. 32-33, with the verification of Shaykh Ahmad ibn Hamûd al-Khâlidî, may Allâh free him.

[2] Sarf: A type of magic through which a person is turned away from something that they like. For example, a man being made to hate his wife whom he loved beforehand.

[3] ‘Atf: A type of magic through which a person is made to like something that they disliked beforehand. For example, a man being made to fall in love with a woman that he hated beforehand.

[4] Narrated by al-Bukhârî in his “Sahîh”, (#5,057) and (#6,930), from ‘Alî ibn Abî Tâlib, رضي الله عنه.

[5] Narrated by at-Tirmithî in his “Jâmi’”, (#3,000), and he declared it “Hasan”. It was declared likewise by al-Albânî in “Mishkât al-Masâbîh”, (#3,485) and al-Wâdi’î in “As-Sahîh al-Musnad Mimmâ Laysa fis-Sahîhayn”, (#486). All from Abû Umâmah al-Bâhilî, رضي الله عنه.

[6] “Ad-Durar as-Saniyyah fil-Ajwibah an-Najdiyyah”, Vol. 10/93-95, 5th Edition, 1416 H.

[7] “Kashf ash-Shubhatayn” by Sulaymân ibn Sahmân, pg. 91-92.

[8] “Al-Jawâb as-Sahîh Liman Baddala Dîn al-Masîh”, Vol. 1/221-222, publication of “Dâr al-‘Âsimah”; Riyadh, 2nd Edition, 1419 H.


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