First some of the history behind this debate.
Soon after Sa`eed Ramadaan al-Bootee had written his ‘Fiqh
as-Seerah’ in which he accused Ahlus Sunnah, the Salafees, of that which
they are free of, Shaykh Naasir [al-Albaanee] asked to open a discussion with
al-Bootee. The topic was to be these accusations and some more specific ones
levelled at Shaykh Naasir himself.
However, for various reasons this discussion never occurred. Then when
al-Bootee wrote his book ‘laa madh-habiyyah’ in which he launched
even more attacks against Ahlus Sunnah, Shaykh Naasir renewed his efforts to
open a discussion with al-Bootee, writing a letter to him which commenced with
This meeting did take place and took more than three hours. The following is
a summarised transcript of this meeting reproduced in the book ‘Bid`atut
Ta`ssub al-Madh-habee’ of Shaykh Eed al-Abbaasee, may Allaah preserve him,
who states that he would soon, insha`Allaah, produce a separate booklet with the
transcript to the whole discussion. He states, "this is [the discussion] O
brother reader, I have quoted it truthfully and sincerely, highlighting its
important points. If you wish to ascertain this for yourself then listen to the
tapes which [you will find] in the possession of either party."
The First Issue:
Shaykh Naasir mentioned what occurred in some of the Mosques wherein a number
of congregational prayers were held for the same prayer and the blind-followers
of one madh-hab preventing them from praying behind a blind-follower of another
madh-hab. This led him to declare the point to be incorrect that al-Bootee made
[in his ‘Laa Madh-habiyyah’] that there was a consensus that the
prayer of a blind-follower of one School behind a blind-follower of another
School was valid. The reality is that there is a great deal of difference over
this issue and in fact the weightiest opinion in the Hanafee and Shaafi`ee
Schools is that it is disliked to pray behind an adherent to another madh-hab.
He asked al-Bootee to prove the correctness of his quote and assertion.
Al-Bootee objected to the words of Shaykh Naasir by saying, ‘the
dislike of a thing does not negate its validity.’
Shaykh Naasir refuted this by saying that it was established in the Books of
Shaafi`ee Fiqh that if a Shaafi`ee follower comes to know that his Hanafee Imaam
has touched an ajnabee woman and that Hanafee led the prayer without performing
wudu` then the prayer of the [Shaafi`ee] follower is invalid.
Al-Bootee replied by saying that this was not what he intended by his words.
What he meant was that the prayer was valid behind an Imaam with the condition
that the Imaam being followed had not done something that invalidated the wudu`
or prayer according to the madh-hab of the follower.
Shaykh Naasir objected to this by saying [that this could not be understood
from his words in his book] because his words were general and hence would
remain upon their generality until some [text] occurred that restricted their
At this juncture there arose a discussion concerning Usul in which the
meaning of general and restricted was discussed wherein al-Bootee fruitlessly
tried to avoid the point that Shaykh Naasir made. His father [who was also
present] aided him in this even though he admitted that the words of Shaykh
Naasir spoke the truth and his son had no idea how to respond!
The discussion concluded with it being agreed that it would have been upon
Dr. al-Bootee to bring some form of restriction to his words by saying: The
scholars have agreed that the prayer of a Shaafi`ee behind a Hanafee and
vice-versa is valid with the condition that the follower not know of anything
the Imaam may have done that invalidated the wudu` or prayer according to the
madh-hab of the follower.
The Second Issue:
Shaykh Naasir asked Dr. Bootee to furnish him with the evidence that would
justify the correctness of the title of his book that the Laa Madh-habiyyah
[Anti-Madh-habees] were the most dangerous innovation destroying the Islaamic
Al-Bootee replied by saying that the evidence lay in his book in that the
Sahaabah used to stick to the madh-habs of their scholars. Likewise those who
followed them, then those who followed them until this day of ours.
This astonished Shaykh Naasir who said: It becomes clear to me that you [he
refers to al-Bootee in the plural] intend by the word madh-habiyyah a meaning
other then what commonly crosses ones mind. For the understood meaning of it is
that the Muslim sticks to one specific Imaam for the entirety of his life in all
of the matters related to his religion. This was never present amongst the
Companions, for they were never divided into different groups wherein each group
followed its specific Mujtahid from amongst the Mujtahid Companions.
Dr. Bootee replied by saying: Amongst the Sahaabah were the muqallid and the
mujtahid. The Muqallid Sahaabah used to follow one of the Mujtahid Sahaabah
whose ruling he felt comfortable with.
Shaykh Naasir replied: The Muqallid Sahaabah used to adhere to the opinion of
every Mujtahid amongst them and did not restrict themselves to just one (i.e.
they asked any Mujtahid they found easy to go to at the time they needed a
ruling). So sometimes if they found it easy to go to Abu Bakr they would take to
his legal verdict without then clinging to him [in all matters of the religion].
Similarly if they found it easy to go to Umar they would take to his legal
verdict and so on. There was never this clinging to one Imaam present amongst
them, however you claim there is so I ask you to furnish me with evidence.
At this juncture al-Bootee tried to escape the strong point that Shaykh
Naasir made and rejected that he had ever made such a statement, and then gave a
whole new definition to al-Madhhabiyyah.
He said: al-Madh-habiyyah is that one person who has not reached the level of
ijtihaad follow an Imaam from amongst the Imaams, regardless of whether this
Imaam changes or the number [of Imaams asked] be more than one or he does not
change and there not be a number of [Imaams being asked]. As for the Laa
Madh-habee then he does not go to a single Imaam for a legal verdict and neither
does he go to a number of Imaams (i.e. neither does he not stick to just one).
Hence such a person is from the most dangerous of innovators.
At this Shaykh Naasir expressed his utter astonishment and said: upon this
definition you will not find a Muslim on the face of this earth except that he
is a madh-habee! So who are you refuting in your book? And why did you not make
clear what you meant by al-Madh-habiyyah so that the people could
The Discussion Now Digressed into talking about al-Ma`soomees book
[translated into English as The Blind Following of Madh-habs
this book was the initial reason behind al-Bootee authoring Laa
Al-Bootee understood from this book that the author took it upon every Muslim
to perform Ijtihaad and to take [directly] from the Book and Sunnah.
Shaykh Naasir asked him to furnish evidence from the book that would justify
his understanding. So al-Bootee quoted some sentences that mentioned that the
Prophet (sallallaahu `alaihi wasallam) was sinless (ma`soom), that the Madh-habs were an innovated
matter, that Imaams were not sinless, that the Madh-habs consisted of the
opinions of some of the Mujtahids in some issues, and that neither Allaah or His
Messenger (sallallaahu `alaihi wasallam) had obligated following them.
Shaykh Naasir stated that these statements were restricted [and to be
understood in the light of] other statements that [al-Ma`soomee] made in his
book, such statements that al-Bootee had overlooked and had not indicated to in
the slightest way.
Al-Bootee asked Shaykh Naasir to quotes some of these.
Shaykh Naasir mentioned some of them, for example on page 29 where
al-Ma`soomee said, "know that taking to the opinions of the Scholars and
their analogies is like performing tayammum. One only does it when one cannot
find water. In the case that a text from the Book, Sunnah or statements of the
Sahaabah are found then taking to them is obligatory and one should not then
turn to the opinions of the Scholars."
[The meaning of the words of al-Ma`soomee can be found articulated by
ash-Shaafi`ee in his Risaalah (pg. 599 tahqeeq Ahmad Shaakir). It is
strange that al-Bootee, who claims to be a follower of ash-Shaafi`ee refutes
these words [of al-Ma`soomee] understanding them in this strange way that they
necessitate that everyone must perform ijtihaad. For sure if these words were to
have been quoted to him as the words of ash-Shaafi`ee then he would have
directed them towards their correct meaning (with no problem)!]
Shaykh Naasir asked al-Bootee: Do these words not restrict the generality of
his words [that you quote]?
Al-Bootee replied that al-Ma`soomee had mixed truth with falsehood. For if
these words of his are compared to what he states on page 40 that
understanding the Book and Sunnah is easy and does not require more than
the Six Books of Hadeeth then his words are contradictory.
Shaykh Naasir remarked that al-Bootee had not fully quoted the words of
al-Ma`soomee and asked him to read from beginning of al-Ma`soomees words
that said, "O Muslim! When you delve and excel in knowledge and your
strength of resolve increases through taqwaa then strive in understanding the
clear [texts] of the Book and the clear Sunnah and the actions/understanding of
the majority of the People of Knowledge
So Shaykh Naasir asked al-Bootee: So did al-Ma`soomee require every Muslim to
understand the Book and Sunnah or did he restrict it to a specific group of
Again al-Bootee tried to avoid Shaykh Naasirs point and claimed that
al-Ma`soomee [began by] addressing all the Muslims with those words.
Shaykh Naasir then said: however he has set two conditions "when you
delve and excel in knowledge and your strength of resolve increases through
taqwaa" so is he addressing those who have no knowledge or those who have
Al-Bootee did not reply, instead he quoted again from Ma`soomee claiming that
his words required every Muslim, including the ignorant, to perform ijtihaad. He
quoted from page 5 where al-Ma`soomee quotes some ahaadeeth proving the ease of
Islaam and the ease of understanding it such as the hadeeth of Jibreel and the
hadeeth of ibn Umar concerning the five pillars.
Shaykh Naasir replied by saying: It is necessary to understand these hadeeth
in their correct context for the author did not intend by quoting these two
hadeeth what al-Bootee understood from them. This is because al-Ma`soomee
mentions in his introduction the reason why he wrote this book. This being that
some Japanese Muslims had written a letter to him mentioning that some Japanese
desired to enter Islaam in the year 1357H. This was presented to the Jam`iyyah
of Muslims in Tokyo and some of these Muslims asked these Japanese to become
Hanafee and others asked them to become Shaafi`ee. This confused the Japanese
and became the cause for them not to enter into Islaam! So the people who wrote
al-Ma`soomee the letter asked him to clarify his views on this issue. So
al-Ma`soomee wrote them this book explaining that entering into Islaam was easy,
by articulating the Shahaadah and establishing the remaining four pillars and
that it was not necessary to follow a specific madh-hab.
Al-Bootee objected to this by quoting al-Ma`soomee on page 6 as saying,
"as for the madh-habs then they consist of the opinions and the
understanding of the People of Knowledge in some issues and neither Allaah or
His Messenger have obligated anyone to follow them."
Shaykh Naasir explained that al-Ma`soomee had restricted the meaning of his
words when he said, "in some issues" and it is known that there are
some opinions that are purely ijtihaadi [not having any text to support them]
and it is these that al-Ma`soomee intended.
At this point al-Bootee accused al-Ma`soomee of having a bad convention in
Shaykh Naasir replied by saying that al-Ma`soomee was to be excused for this
because he was a non-Arab, a Turk, and that the important point was to take note
of the meaning of his words and not the sentence construction. Indeed that which
was to be understood from the book of al-Ma`soomee was the opposite to what
The Discussion now digressed to Ijtihaad
At this point the father of al-Bootee interjected saying that the analogy
that al-Ma`soomee made to water and tayammum was correct. However this was for
the Mujtahid scholar who fulfilled the well-known and many conditions. He stated
that the Hanafee, Shaafi`ee and Maalikee madh-habs are agreed that the door to
ijtihaad closed after the fifth century to the extent that they considered
an-Nawawee and ar-Raafi`ee to scholars who merely decided what the strongest
opinion [of already existing opinions] was.
Dr. Bootee, realising that this was a point of difference between himself and
his father tried to change the subject. However Shaykh Naasir mentioned that Dr.
Bootee differed with him on this issue and that he endorsed the fact that the
door to ijtihaad remained open. The father thought this was to be very strange.
Dr. Bootee again interjected trying to return the discussion back to the book of
al-Ma`soomee claiming that the analogy of water and tayammum meant that
al-Ma`soomee required everyone to perform ijtihaad because it required everyone
to leave the words of the scholars except in those issues for which there was no
Shaykh Naasir refuted him by saying that this was an erroneous understanding
and he mentioned other texts from the book endorsing this in which al-Ma`soomee
explained the obligation of taqleed upon the ignorant.
Then al-Bootee found no further room for arguing except through claiming that
the words of al-Ma`soomee were self-contradictory.
The Discussion now Digressed to Whether one could call the religion of
Muhammad (sallallaahu `alaihi wasallam) a madh-hab.
Both al-Bootee and his father rejected this. Shaykh Naasir stated that from a
linguistic point of view there was nothing preventing this however he agreed to
The Discussion then Digressed to whether an incorrect ijtihaad could be
called (or taken as) deen
Shaykh Naasir was of the opinion that to do so was erroneous, however
al-Bootee and his father were of the opinion that to do so was correct. After
some discussion they conceded to Shaykh Naasirs stance.
The Discussion digressed to the issue of Ittibaa` (following) and whether or
not it was an independent level that a person could reach
Shaykh Naasir was of the opinion that it was an independent station falling
between the station of taqleed and ijtihaad because its [state] differs from the
[state] of the other two. Dr. Bootee was of the opinion that it falls within
taqleed. A number of those present agreed with Shaykh Naasir because he quoted a
number of the People of Knowledge in their affirming the station of ittibaa`.
The discussion on this went on for a long time ending with both sticking to
their opinion. However there was a weakening in al-Bootees stance for he
stated that this was an issue over which there was a difference of opinion.
The Discussion ended with a Vile word from al-Bootee
Finally Shaykh Naasir asked al-Bootee for another sitting but he refused and
so Shaykh Naasir asked permission to leave. He stood and moved towards the door.
Al-Bootee realising that he had been defeated [in a number of his stances] then
called out, "By Allaah! Shaykh Naasir you state what is not in your
Shaykh Naasir rejected this vile accusation, as did those who were present
and then the discussion was over.