TAWFEEQ AL-MUSLIMEEN OF SHEHU UTHMAN DAN FODIO
The Success of the Muslims Concerning the Legal Judgement of Following the Schools of Thought of the Scholars of Independent Judgement
Annotated & Translated
by Shaykh Muhammad Shareef bin Farid
In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent the Merciful; may Allah bless our master Muhammad and grant him abundant peace. Says the poor slave in need of the mercy of his Lord, Shaykh Abu Alfa Umar, Muhammad Shareef bin Farid, may GOD engulf him in His mercy Amen. All praises are due to Allah who has favored us with the blessings of Iman, Islam and has guided us on the path of Ihsan by means of our master and chief, the Seal of the Prophets and Messengers, Muhammad ibn Abdallah ibn Abd’l-Muttalib ibn Hashim, upon him, his family and Companions be the most perfect blessings and most abundant peace.
This is an annotation of the concise but brilliant work the Tawfeeq al-Muslimeen `Ala Hukm Madhaahib al-Mujtahideen Alladheena Kaanu Min Ahli as-Sunna al-Muwafiqeen of my spiritual master, the Light of the age, the mujaddid of the religion, the Sword of Truth, the Imam of the Awliyya, the 11th Righteous Caliph, the Amir ‘l-Mumineen Shehu Uthman ibn Fuduye Muhammad ibn Uthman ibn Saalih, may Allah engulf him in His mercy Amen. My objective and intent in this annotation is to reference brief biographies of the scholars cited in this work; by giving their full names, a concise excerpt of their intellectual lives, place and date of birth and demise. The aim being to garner blessings; since remembering the friends of GOD causes mercy and blessings to descend. I will also endeavor to reference and define each of the technical terms the Shehu deploys in the text in order to demarcate their meanings for the reader. Success in this is from Allah, and it is upon Him that I rely. I have named it Ta`leeq Li’t-Tullab ar-Raaghibeen `Ala Kitaab Tawfeeq Muslimeen (An Annotation for the Interested Students Upon the Book the Success of the Muslims).
I was given ijaaza for this work as well as all the works of Shehu Uthman Dan Fuduye` by my master and father of meaning, Shaykh Muhammad al-Amin ibn Adam Kari`angha al-Khateeb ibn Muhammad Tukur ibn Muhammad Sanbu ibn Muhammad Leeli ibn Abi Bakr ibn Mai Hadajiya Muhammad Sanbu Darneema. He received license from his father, Shaykh Adam al-Khateeb; who received it from Mallam Musa al-Muhajir; who received it from the gnostic sage, Shaykh Ali Dinba ibn Abi Bakr Mallami; who received it from the author, Shehu Uthman ibn Fuduye, may Allah be pleased with all of them and benefit us by their baraka.
This work, the Tawfeeq al-Muslimeen was composed by Shehu Uthman ibn Fuduye, as he states in its conclusion, on the 5th of Jumad’l-Akhir in 1228 A.H. (June 18, 1813 C.E.); while he was in Sifawa. This was the tenth year of the hijra of the Jamaat of the Shehu from Degel; and it was the most productive intellectual period in the life of the Shehu, when he composed his most forward looking researches. As the title of the text indicates, it concerns the legal rulings regarding the ‘madhaahib’ (legal schools of thought) of the ‘mujtahiduun’ (the scholars of independent judgment). The Shehu arranges the text into fourteen chapters in the form of questions and answers, in which he covers the entire scope of the legal schools of thought (madhaahib) in Islam.
While many Sunni scholars assert that after the 3rd century of the hijra (9th century C.E.) there was a closing of the door of ‘ijtihaad’ (insidaad baab ‘l-ijtihaad), Shehu Uthman indicates in this text that any jurist who meets the qualifications of mutjahid can practice ‘ijtihaad’. In fact, the prophetic traditions regarding the emergence of a mujaddid at the head of every century in Islam is evidence that ‘ijtihaad’ is not closed.
Shaykh Abd’l-Qaadir ibn Mustafa asserted that the Shehu himself had reached the rank of ‘mujtahid’ in his Kitaab ‘l-Khilaaf where he said: “He (the Shehu) was a ‘mujtahid’ (scholar of independent judgement) in this issue; who had attained the truth in his ‘ijtihaad’. What becomes apparent to you in that, is his bounty, the completion of his rank and the height of his station above all the scholars of his time. It also reveals to you the sign of his ‘mahdiyya’ (rightly guidedness); since it has reached us regarding the description of the attributes of the Mahdi is that he will be opposed by the scholars in many of his legal decisions. This is clear with regard to the Shehu in this issue. The Shehu, may Allah be merciful to him reached the rank of ‘ijtihaad’ in his capacity to deduce legal decisions from problematic issues. Whoever peruses his books will realize this. Therefore, examine his Mir’at at-Tullab, his Sawq al-Umma Ila Ittibai` as-Sunna and you will discover that, may Allah reward you with good for the sake of Islam.”
Thus, the Tawfeeq al-Muslimeen was composed by the Shehu in order to evidence that Muslims should adhere to the schools of thought of the mujtahid Imams of the Umma; but also that the adherence to their schools of thought should be ‘open ended’, in the since that the differences of the schools of thought, while they constitute a mercy, they are not a part of the infallible conclusive Divine law (shar`ia qaati`a ma`suuma). The only aspect of the schools of thought that are infallible, conclusive and obligatory to adhere to is their consensus (ijma`). This is because the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace said: “My Umma cannot agree upon an error.” This means that the people of knowledge capable of making ‘ijtihaad’ cannot agree on an error, and thus the consensus of their schools of thought are included within the conclusive infallibility of the shari`a.
In the Tawfeeq al-Muslimeen, the Shehu carefully lays out the evidence that the aspect of the schools of thought which every responsible person is obligated to act upon and about which they will be questioned on the Day of Judgement, is that which is in conformity with the Book, the Sunna and the Ijma`.
The Shehu said in his Tarweeh al-Umma: “This is the knowledge which the servant will be questioned about in the Hereafter. In all of this, there is no harm nor is there any difficulty in anyone acquiring it, since it comprises of you simply performing something and avoiding something. Nothing hampers the least of the common people from understanding this, which is contrary to what has been enacted by the scholars of independent judgment (al-mujtahiduun) from among the imams. For no one will be questioned about these issues in the Hereafter. Further in them is much difficulties and hardship and one needs to expend a lifetime and the suspension of causative factors in achieving this level of knowledge as is well known. Thus, there is no blame to the one who acts contrary to this.”
Thus, the Shehu advocated for an ‘open ended’ adherence to the madhaahib and condemned those who adhered to their specific school of thought as it were the religion of Islam in total and considered other schools of thought as if there were outside of the religion. Because it is a part of the `aqeeda of the Ahl’s-Sunna wa’l-Jamaat to believe that all the schools of thought are on the truth and are paths that lead to Paradise; it thus, becomes a violation of faith to believe that a single school of thought is on the Truth and that others are not.
Throughout the text of the Tawfeeq al-Muslimeen, the Shehu advocates the obligation of believing that all the recognized schools of thought are sound, the lawfulness of following all of them and that it is not an obligation to only adhere to one among them.
To corroborate this view, in his Tarweeh al-Umma, the Shehu cited Shaykh Abd’l-Wahaab as-Sha`raani from his ar-Risaalat al-Mubaaraka: “So from where did this obligation come from when all of the Imams are free of commanding others to follow them? For they, may Allah be pleased with all of them, have said: “When a prophetic tradition reaches you, then act in accordance with it and show little regard for our words.” Imam Abu Hanifa used to say: “It is inappropriate for anyone who knows a legal proof (daleelan) to make a legal decision (yaftaa) based upon my words.” Malik and Rabi`a, may Allah be pleased with both of them, used to say: “We are not from among the people of infallibility in what we say.” As-Shafi`, may Allah be pleased with him used to say: “When you hear from me ideas which are contrary to the words of the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, then act in accordance with the words of Allah and show little regard to my words.” As for as Imam Ahmad, may Allah be pleased with him, his ordering people to adhere to the sunna is famous, even to the point that he did not compose (laa yudawwinu) any jurisprudential ideas himself except in certain issues of prayer. He used to say: “No one has words next to the Book of Allah and the Sunna of Muhammad, may Allah bless him and grant him peace.”
After reading this the reader will assume that the Shehu believed in the abandonment of all the schools of thought similar to the so called Salafist; however below in the tenth issue of the Tawfeeq al-Muslimeen, the Shehu says the following: “Withdrawing (al-khuruuj) from following all the schools of thought is forbidden (haraam), rather it is unlawful (fisq) because it is exceeding (kharq) the limits of the consensus (al-ijma`).”
Finally, one of the key reasons that the Shehu held to this open-ended view of the schools of thought of the mujtahid Imams, is since their differences were not a part of the infallible conclusive shari`a, that their remained the possibility of these differences being eradicated in the future. This is true because the Shehu who claimed to be the mujaddid of the 12th century of Hijra, openly advocated that he and the social revolution that he ignited in the central Bilad as-Sudan were the precursors and heralders of the Awaited Mahdi; who will be an absolute scholar of independent judgement (mujtahid mutlaq), that will abrogate all the past ‘madhaahib’; in the same manner that the religion which our master Muhammad, may Allah bless him and grant him peace abrogated the past religions.
Shaykh al-Akbar Muhy’d-Deen ibn Arabi corroborated this view in his al-Fuutuhaat al-Makiyya where he gives a description of the Awaited Mahdi saying: “He (the Awaited Mahdi) will manifest the religion as the religion actually is in itself, as if the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace were giving judgment in it. He will lift the legal rulings of the different legal schools of thought from the earth (yarfa`u ‘l-madhaahib min ‘l-ard); and there will only remain the pure unadulterated religion. For this reason, he will encounter enmity from the followers (muqallida) from among the scholars of the people of ‘ijtihaad’ from what they will see in his judgments which contradict the legal views of their Imams. These jurists will enter by force underneath his judgments out of fear of his sword, and his sovereignty and out of greed for the worldly blessings Allah will grant him. On the other hand the common of the Muslims will be far more joyful with his appearance than will be the elite among the scholars. The Knowers of Allah from the People of the Divine Realities (ahl ‘l-haqaa’iq) will give the oath of allegiance to him based upon their direct witnessing (shuhuud) and spiritual unveiling (kashf) of his Divine knowledge.”
It is because the Shehu saw himself and his reform movement as the precursor and heralder of the Awaited Mahdi, his approach to the legal schools of thought of the mujtahid Imams was expedient and open ended, with the understanding that they will eventually be rescinded. This is a delicate point regarding Shehu Uthman ibn Fuduye`’s understanding and approach to the different legal schools of thought which many modern scholars and academics have failed to grasp; leaving many to assert that the Shehu remained Maliki and others to assert that he had abandoned all the schools of thought, and had become a Salafist. The reality is that the Shehu had attained the level of mujtahid where he knew the legal sources of all the different legal schools of thought and utilized them in passing legal decisions. While this legal approach was unique it was not novel as the Tawfeeq al-Muslimeen substantiates.
I have, with the help of Allah ta`ala, set forth in this book fourteen descriptions from the issues of the schools of thought (madhaahib) in the form of questions and answers.
One: What is the Legal Judgement of the Schools of Thought of the Mujtahideen?
Two: What is the Legal Judgement of One Who Follows Them?
Three: What is the Legal Judgement of Adherance to a Particular School of Thought From Them?
Four: What is the Legal Judgement of Non-Adherance to a Particular School of Thought From Them?
Five: What is the Legal Judgement of Transfering From One School of Thought to Another From Among Them Under Any Circumstances?
Six: What is the Legal Judgement of Transfering From One School of Thought to Another From Among Them However in Certain Issues?
Seven: What is the Legal Judgement of Merging the Schools of Thought Which is Called the Concoction of Imitation (talfeeq’ t-Taqleed) in the Issues of Disagreement (khilaaf)?
Eight: What is the Legal Judgement of Choosing the Strongest Within the Schools of Thought?
Nine: What is the Legal Judgement of Choosing the Weakest Within the Schools of Thought?
Ten: What is the Legal Judgement of Withdrawing From All the Schools of Thought?
Eleven: What is the Legal Judgement of Adherance to a Particular School of Thought in the School of Thought of Imam Malik, (may Allah be pleased with him) Specifically – Is It Obligatory or Not?
Twelve: What is the Legal Judgement of Transfering From One School of Thought to Another in an Issue Within the School of Thought of Our Imam Malik (may Allah be pleased with him) Specifically – Is it Permissable or Not?
Thirteen: What is the Number of the Foundational Principles of Our Imam Malik, (may Allah be pleased with him)?
Fourteen: What is Our Chain of Authority (sanad) in the Jurisprudence (fiqh) of Our Imam Malik, (may Allah bless him and grant him peace)?