What Group Should I Follow?
This is a translated transcription of a lecture delivered by Sheikh Muhammad Nasiruddin Al-Albani (may Allah have mercy upon his soul) that was recorded and distributed under the title “Hadhihi Da’watunaa” (This is Our Call). The present translation was translated directly from the Arabic audio.
In this lecture, Sheikh Al-Albani explains the basis of the Salafee Manhaj, which is following the way, understanding and practical application of the Salaf, who were namely the first three generations of Muslims: The Sahaabah, Taabi’een and Atbaa’ at-Taabi’een. They are the ones who the Prophet ﷺ referred to when he said:
“The best of mankind is my generation, then those that come after them, then those that come after them.”
[Sahih Al-Bukhari, Sahih Muslim]
This is the basis that distinguishes the true call to Islam from all other false and erroneous calls, regardless if they claim to be “upon the Qur’an and the Sunnah.” Sheikh Al-Albani goes into depth discussing this fact, that one cannot truly understand and apply the Qur’an and Sunnah unless he follows the understanding and application of the Salaf. We ask Allah to accept this effort and benefit the Muslims with it. Ameen.
Quotes from the Book:
The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said:
“Those who came before you of the people of the Book split into seventy-two sects, and this ummah will split into seventy-three: seventy-two in Hell and one in Paradise, and that is the jamaa’ah .”
In another version
“My ummah will split into seventy-three sects, all of whom will be in Hell except one group.” They said: Who are they, O Messenger of Allaah? He said: “(Those who follow) that which I and my companions follow.”
[Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi]
The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said:
“After I am gone, you will see great conflict. I urge you to adhere to my Sunnah and the path of the Rightly-Guided Caliphs, and cling stubbornly to it. And beware of newly-invented matters, for every innovation is a going astray.”
“And whoever opposes the Messenger after guidance has become clear to him and follows other than the way of the believers – We will give him what he has taken and drive him into Hell, and evil it is as a destination.”
“So here we have given the answer from the ayah and the two hadeeth, we just mentioned. Follow the way of the Believers! The way of those believers from present times? The answer is no, we mean the Believers from the past – the first era – the era of the Companions – the Salaf As-Saalih (pious predecessors). These are the people whom we should take as our example and as the ones whom we follow. And there is absolutely no one equal to them on the face of the earth. Therefore, the essence of our call is based on three pillars:
Following the Salaf As-Saalih (pious predecessors).
“So, everyone claims to follow the Qur’an and the Sunnah, and how often have we heard this kind of talk from the youth who are in confusion, when they say:
‘Ya akhee, these people claim to follow the Qur’an and the Sunnah and those people claim to follow the Qur’an and the Sunnah.’
So, what is the clear and decisive distinction? It is the Qur’an and the Sunnah and the Methodology of the Salaf As-Saalih. So, whoever follows the Qur’an and the Sunnah without following the Salaf As-Saalih, he in fact has not followed the Qur’an and the Sunnah, rather he has only followed his intellect, if not his desire.”
“After making clear this important condition of “upon the methodology of the Salaf As-Saalih”, I must give you some examples.
In the past, the Muslims split up into many sects. You hear about the Mu’tazilah, you hear about the Murji’ah, you hear about the Khawaarij, you hear about the Zaidiyyah, not to mention the Shi’a and the Raafidah and so on. There is no one amongst these groups, no matter how deep in misguidance they are, that does not share the same saying as the rest of the Muslims, which is that:
“We are on the Qur’an and the Sunnah.”
No one amongst them says: “We don’t follow the Qur’an and the Sunnah.” And if one of them were to say that, he would completely leave the fold of Islam. So then why did they split up so long as all of them rely on the Qur’an and the Sunnah? – and I bear witness that they do rely on the Qur’an and the Sunnah for support. But how is this relying done? It is done without relying on the third foundation, which is what the Salaf As-Saalih were upon.”