The Seventy-Three Sects: Is Most of this Ummah Deviant?
The Qur’an goes to great lengths to stress the need and obligation of Muslim unity. For instance, it states in a celebrated verse: Hold fast, altogether, to the rope of God and be not divided. [3:102] It also says: Be not like the idolaters; who split up their religion and become sects, each party rejoicing in what it has. [30:31-32]
Given these verses; and given the many demands in the Sunnah for Muslim unity; and given the great virtue, rank and status this ummah is depicted with in the Revelation; those hadiths that speak of the Muslims splitting into seventy-odd sects, all except one destined for Hell, seem to contradict that spirit of honour and unity.
Understandable, then, why some scholars deem these hadiths on iftiraq or “splitting-up” as awkward; struggling to fit them into the general spirit of excellence the ummah is distinguished by. For what merit is there in a nation so riddled with divisions and schism and where, seemingly, the great bulk of its followers are heading for Hell!
This post looks at the hadiths on the ummah splitting-up: discussing their soundness, what this splitting means, and whether this implies that the majority of the ummah are innovators destined for Hell.
This posting is culled from a more detailed paper I penned on the subject last year, entitled The Seventy-Three Sects: Are the Majority of Muslims Innovators? – which can be read and downloaded here. This discussion shall be broken down into the following ten points:
1. The Qur’an insists that the Muslim nation (ummah) is the best of all nations: You are the best nation ever raised for mankind; you enjoin the good, forbid the wrong and believe in God. [3:110] The same tribute may be heard reverberating in the following hadith: ‘You are the last of seventy nations; you are the best of them and the noblest of them in the sight of God.’ [Al-Tirmidhi, no.3001] Another hadith has these tidings: ‘The people of Paradise are composed of one-hundred and twenty ranks; eighty of them from this nation, forty from the other nations.’ [Al-Tirmidhi, no.2546]
2. Something of the size or magnitude of this ummah can be gauged by the following hadith: ‘Nations were presented to me and I saw a prophet with one or two followers; another prophet who had a few followers; and another with no followers at all. Then I saw a huge multitude of people filling the horizon, and hoped that this was my nation. But it was said to me that this was Moses and his people. I was then told to look, and I saw another great multitude of people filling the horizon. I was told to look here, and here as well, and [again] I saw huge multitudes who filled the horizon. It was then said to me: These are your nation. Along with them, seventy-thousand shall enter Paradise without reckoning or punishment.’ [Al-Bukhari, no.5752]
3. Zooming in with a theologian’s lens, we see further details of the ummah’s overall number in Paradise. The Prophet, peace be upon him, said in an addition to the above hadith: ‘I asked my Lord for increase, so He increased it. So with every thousand there would be another seventy-thousand.’ [Ahmad, Musnad, no.2:359] Thus the numbers to enter Paradise from this ummah, without reckoning, are huge; whereas those who will enter Paradise upon their deeds being weighed-up and reckoned is far far greater still. Subhana’Llah!
4. There are a number of reports in the hadith canons related about the splitting-up of the ummah. Among the: (i) Abu Hurayrah relates that the Prophet, peace be upon him, told us: ‘The Jews split-up into seventy-one or seventy-two sects. The Christians split-up into seventy-one or seventy-two sects. And my ummah will split into seventy-three sects.‘ [Al-Tirmidhi, no.2640.] (ii) The hadith of Mu‘awiyah, which states: ‘… and indeed this ummah will split into seventy-three sects, seventy-two in the Fire and one in Paradise: the Main Body (al-jama‘ah).‘ [Abu Dawud, no.4597] (iii) The hadith of ‘Abd Allah b. ‘Amr has this response as to who is the one saved-sect: ‘It is that which I and my Companions are upon (ma ana ‘alayhi wa ashabi).‘ [Al-Tirmidhi, no.2641] (iv) While the hadith of Abu Umamah depicts the saved-sect as: ‘The Great Majority (al-sawad al-a‘zam).‘ [Ibn Abi ‘Asim, Kitab al-Sunnah, no.68]
5. While it is true that some of the above hadiths are not free from having weaknesses in their chains, or isnads, they collectively strengthen each other to yield a final ruling of being either sound (hasan) or authentic (sahih). After recording the first hadith, Imam al-Tirmidhi declared: ‘The hadith of Abu Hurayrah is a hasan sahih hadith.’1 Al-Hakim said of the same hadith: ‘These chains stand as a proof for the authenticity of this hadith.’2 Ibn Taymiyyah said: ‘The hadith is authentic and widely accepted (sahih mashhur).’3 Ibn Kathir mentions that they are related ‘via chains that strengthen one another.’4 While al-‘Iraqi said about the hadith of Mu‘awiyah and two similar hadiths: ‘Their chains are excellent.’5
6. To whom or what does this splitting or iftiraq refer? Al-Khattabi stated: ‘His words: “my ummah will split into seventy-three sects” is an indication that these sects are not beyond the fold of the religion; for the Prophet, peace be upon him, included them all as part of the ummah.’6 Al-Bayhaqi said something similar: ‘The report is understood to mean that they will be punished in the Fire for a while; not for eternity. The proof against their excommunication (takfirihim) is taken from the Prophet’s saying, peace be upon him: “My ummah will split-up”. Hence he made them all a part of his ummah, despite their splitting.’7 One fatwa sums the matter up, thus: ‘What is intended by the term ummah in this hadith are the Muslims who will split-up into seventy-three sects; seventy-two of them being deviant innovators whose innovations do not expel them from the fold of Islam. So they will be punished for their innovation and heresy, save those who God forgives and pardons; but will finally enter Paradise. As for the saved-sect, it is ahl al-sunnah wa’l-jama‘ah: the followers of the sunnah of the Prophet, peace be upon him, and adherents to what he and his Companions were upon.’8
7. Though it is consoling to learn that the seventy-two sects are Muslims, are we then to lament over the seemingly stark implication that the great majority of Muslims are misguided innovators? Ibn Taymiyyah wrote: ‘The saved-sect is described as being ahl al-sunnah wa’l-jama‘ah. They are the overwhelming multitude (al-jumhur al-akbar) and the great majority (al-sawad al-a‘zam). The other sects are followers of aberrant views, schism, innovations and deviant desires. None even comes near to the number of the saved-sect, let alone its calibre. Instead, each such sect is extremely small [in number] (bal qad takunu’l-firqatu minha fi ghayati’l-qillah).’9
8. That the total number of innovators in the ummah is minimal in contrast to that of the saved-sect is fleshed out in some detail by Salih al-Maqbali; a Yemeni scholar who died at the beginning of the twelfth Islamic century. He said: ‘In summary: the people consist of the masses (‘ammah) and the elite (khassah). As for the masses, then the later generations are like the earlier ones. Thus women, slaves, shepherds, farmers, traders and their like are those who have noting at all to do with the elite. There is no doubt at all that the last of them are free of being innovators, just as the first of them are.’10 He then goes on to divide the elite into four groups: (i) The true innovators who originate the innovation. (ii) Followers of such innovation, who aid and abet it. Yet their aim could have been to follow the truth, but the reality of the innovation was unclear to them. (iii) Those poor in knowledge and research who, being content with learning what was handed down to them, fall into innovation. (iv) The rightly-guided, orthodox scholars. He then goes on to say: ‘The first group of the elite are definitely innovators; the second, possibly innovators; the third, judged as if they are innovators …From the elite is a fourth group … the true Sunnis and the saved-sect, to whom the masses turn. [This group further includes] whoever your Lord wills from the aforementioned three groups of the elite, according to the level of the innovation and their intention.’11 In conclusion, he said: ‘So if you have understood all that we have said, then the worrying question – the ruination of most of this ummah – need not be asked. For the numerical majority, past and present, are the masses; and also the [fourth group from the] elite of earlier generations; and possibly the middle two groups. Likewise, those from the first group whose innovation was unclear to them, then God’s mercy shall save them from being innovators, according to the requital of the Afterlife. For God’s mercy abounds for each Muslim. But we have been discussing the implications of the hadith and who it refers to, and that the individuals from these innovated sects, even if these sects are many, their total number does not amount to even a thousandth part of the Muslims. Thus consider this carefully and you will be saved from believing that this hadith is at odds with all those hadiths that speak of the virtues of this ummah of many mercies.’12
9. More than just a cliché; more than a claim; more than even a name, the saved-sect (al-firqat an-najiyah) is identified with what may be termed as ijma‘ theology – a set of beliefs and practices rooted in the Qur’an, the Sunnah and the consensus or ijma‘ of the Muslims scholars. Issues wherein a consensus exists constitute the fundamentals (usul) of Islamic orthodoxy, from which it is unlawful to differ. In fact, differing from the usul is considered iftiraq or splitting from orthodoxy. Ibn Taymiyyah hits the nail on the head when he observes about the innovated sects: ‘The hallmark of these sects is their splitting from the Book, the Sunnah and scholarly consensus (ijma‘). Whoever speaks with the Book, the Sunnah and scholarly consensus is from ahl al-sunnah wa’l-jama‘ah.‘13 Al-Bayhaqi stipulates: ‘We have already stated in the book al-Madkhal, and elsewhere, that the blameworthy differing (al-khilaf al-madhmum) is whatever differs from the Book, the authentic Sunnah, or a scholarly consensus.’14 As for those issues which are open to more than one legitimate reading or interpretation, or about which no consensus exists, they are not part of orthodoxy’s usul. Instead, they constitute the furu‘ – the detailed rulings or positive law – wherein differences aren’t just tolerated; they are welcomed and celebrated.
10. Despite the above, some people are struck with an insufferable anxiety when told that the saved-sect encompasses the greater part of the ummah. Some of their mental block stems from misreading the words of certain early scholars in their explanation of who the jama‘ah is. Take, for instance, the words of the venerable Companion ‘Abd Allah b. Mas‘ud: ‘The jama‘ah are the followers of the truth, even if it be one person (al-jama‘ah ahl al-haqq wa in kunta wahdaka).’15 Some imagine that reports of this nature bespeak of the saved-sect being a tiny clique of people, with all other Muslims being deviants. But as the above discussion shows, this is not so. The following words about the jama‘ah, by Imam al-Tirmidhi, should help shed further light on the matter. He wrote: ‘The explanation of the jama‘ah with the scholars is that they are the people of jurisprudence, knowledge, and hadith (hum ahl al-fiqh wa’l-‘ilm wa’l-hadith). I heard al-Jarud b. Mu‘adh say; I heard ‘Ali b al-Husayn saying: I asked ‘Abd Allah b. al-Mubarak who the jama‘ah was, and he replied: Abu Bakr and ‘Umar. It was said to him that they have died, so he said: so-and-so and so-and-so. He was told that they too have passed away. So he said: Abu Hamzah al-Sukkari is the jama‘ah.’16
Of course, when Ibn al-Mubarak responded by saying that Abu Bakr and ‘Umar were the jama‘ah in their time, he wasn’t negating right-guidance from the other sahabah or Companions. Likewise, when he points to the pious Khurasani scholar Abu Hamza al-Sukkari as being the jama‘ah, he wasn’t denying the orthodox credentials of other scholars of the same era – those like Sufyan al-Thawri, al-Awza‘i, Malik, Abu Hanifah or Ibn ‘Uyaynah. Such a reading would beggar belief! Rather this report simply talks of the pivotal role of the scholars in defining right-guidance and orthodoxy. Thus the masses, by virtue of them following the scholars, are part of the jama‘ah; not separate from it. So in this sense the jama‘ah is al-sawad al-a‘zam – the Great Majority. It is the scholars, though, who are the actual leaders of the jama‘ah.
Furthermore, mentioning a specific scholar by name as being the jama‘ah was simply a way of showcasing that such scholars are those who best exemplified the jama‘ah in their respective times or locales, and were most worthy of emulation. Other scholars also epitomised the jama‘ah, but perhaps not quite to the same degree.
Nas’alul’Lah an yaj‘aluna min al-firqati’l-najiyah wa alla yuzigha qulubana
ba‘da idh hadana. wa sallal’Lahu ‘ala muhammadin
wa alihi wa sahbihi wa sallama
1. Jami‘ al-Tirmidhi (Riyadh: Darussalam, 1999), 600, no.2640.
2. Al-Mustadrak ‘ala Sahihayn (Cairo: Dar al-Haramayn, 1997), 1:207, no.443.
3. Majmu‘ Fatawa (Riyadh: Dar ‘Alam al-Kutub, 1991), 3:345.
4. Tafsir Qur’an al-‘Azim (Beirut: Dar al-Ma‘rifah, 1987), 2:481-2.
5. Al-Mughni ‘an Haml al-Asfar (Riyadh: Maktabah Tabariyyah, 1995), 2:884-5, no.3240.
6. Ma‘alim al-Sunan (Alleppo: Matba‘ah al-‘Alamiyyah, 1934), 4:295.
7. Al-I‘tiqad wa’l-Hidayatu ila Sabil al-Rashad (Damascus: al-Yamamah, 2002), 357.
8. Fatawa li’l-Lajnat al-Da’imah li’l-Buhuth al-‘Ilmiyyah wa’l-Ifta (Riyadh: Dar al-Maw‘id, 2002), 2:157-8, no.4246, then presided over by Shaykh ‘Abd al-‘Aziz b. Baz.
9. Majmu‘ Fatawa, 3:345-6.
10. Maqbali, al-‘Alam al-Shamikh fi Ithar al-Haqq ‘ala’l-Aba wa’l-Mashayikh (Egypt: n.p., 1910), 417.
11. ibid., 417-18.
12. ibid., 418. Al-Albani said – having cited the above, and more, from Maqbali: ‘These words are superb, demonstrating the man’s erudition, virtue and discernment.’ See: Silsilat al-Ahadith al-Sahihah (Riyadh: Maktabah al-Ma‘arif, 1995), 1:1:413.
13. Majmu‘ Fatawa, 3:345.
14. Al-I‘tiqad, 354.
15. Cited in al-Khatib al-Baghdadi, al-Faqih wa’l-Mutafaqqih (Saudi Arabia: Dar Ibn al-Jawzi, 1996), 2:404, no.1176.
16. Jami‘ al-Tirmidhi (Riyadh: Darussalam, 1999), 498, as part of his gloss to hadith no.2167: ‘Indeed God will not unite my ummah upon misguidance, and the hand of God is over the jama‘ah.’
Mashallah a thoroughly enjoyable and informative read – it cleared up several question that always lingered at the back of my head whenever I read material on this concept. I am looking forward to reading the full article (when I have time inshallah!). Ws.
Barakallahu fikum. I am glad it helped clear up some lingering cobwebs. May Allah guide us to establishing our lives upon Islam and the Sunnah, and sealing our lives with it too.
JezakAllahu khairan for your response. I found it very helpful and it has resolved many misunderstandings that I have had previously.
Could you help clarify one aspect of the piece that wasn’t very explicit/clear to ME. Although the overwhelming majority of Muslims follow Ashari, Maturidi or Athari views on theology, does different theological views amongst those 3 count amongst the legitimate differences (even at a scholarly level – not lay person)? It would be helpful if you could elaborate on that matter slightly. For myself in matters of aqeedah, the fatihah and surah al-ikhlas are sufficient. Nevertheless, I tend to avoid this matter of theological differing out of Islamic academic ignorance and a desire to avoid controversy.
I hope that you understood my question and are not offended and can assist me in further resolving my misunderstandings.
May Allah bless and reward you
It is a very good question, which can best be answered by understanding the three levels of Muslim belief or ‘aqidah:
Level 1: Essential beliefs – those which, if denied, expel a person from the fold of Islam. Such essentials come under the rubric of al-ma’lum min al-din bi’l-darurah – “those matters that are known to be part of Islam by necessity”. The six pillars of belief are examples of this, as is belief that the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, was sent as the final prophet, as would be the belief that God knows all things in general and in detail, or the belief that no other religion or way of worship is accepted by God other than Islam.
Level 2: Orthodox beliefs. These are beliefs that if one rejects, one still remains a Muslim, but leaves the fold of orthodoxy and enters the deviant innovated sects. An example of this would be to deny punishment in the grave, or the preeminent status of Abu Bakr and ‘Umar over the rest of the Companions.
Level 3: Personal beliefs: These are beliefs whose affirmation or denial have no bearing on one’s soundness of faith or orthodoxy. An example would be: was the first thing created the Pen of the ‘Arsh. Whatever view one takes, will not take them outside Sunni orthodoxy. In fact, refraining from taking a stance in such issues would also keep one within the Sunni fold.
As for the above three schools, many of the differences between them are of the third level. Some (particularly between the Athari school and the other two kalam-based schools) are more serious, whereby one represents the Sunni creed and the other an innovation – with the understanding that the mujtahid scholar who holds the erring belief is excused and not considered an innovator. An example of such a belief would be that – having agreed the Qur’an is the Speech of God, uncreated, and that nothing resembles God – is God’s speech composed of letters and sounds or not? Atharis affirm letters and sound and hold that denying it is an innovation. Ash’aris reject letters and sounds, deeming it an innovation to hold such a belief. Likewise, can God’s Attributes be given a figurative meaning or not? One says no, and to do so is an innovation; the others say yes, it is allowed (needed, even).
Surah Ikhlas and Fatihah are certainly sufficient for Essential beliefs. But the Sunni way urges the learning and acceptance of a few more Orthodox beliefs. The ‘Aqidah Tahawiyyah is an excellent summary of these beliefs, easily digestible and accessible.
Finally, judging someone to be an apostate or an innovator should be left to the scholars. One focuses on correcting their own beliefs and acting by their implied demands. As for those who have strayed, or are on the verge of straying, in terms of beliefs, it is those possessed of firm and adequate learning who should engage such people.
And Allah knows best.
Mashallah – another clarifier of the cobwebs! Jazakallah for this response. One quick question – are these 3 levels an established mechanism for defining ‘aqidah? Who initially ascertained these or are they levels which have evolved through the ages of Sunni orthodox scholarship? Jazakallah.
Aside from the actual wordings of the levels (essential, orthodox, personal – which is my way of teaching the issue), the actual concept has been firmly rooted in Sunni Islam from the time of the salaf. That is to say, the Companions, and the Imams who followed them in goodness, understood that some deviations constituted innovations, whilst other amounted to disbelief or kufr; that certain misinterpretations were excusable (but still within the boundaries of Islam, if not orthodoxy) and that others were not. This had to do with the strength of the evidence being differed with, in terms of its authenticity and textual indicant, as well as with how well-known or widespread such proofs were.
JezakAllahu khayr – that’s excellent
So are all of these 3 aqeedah groups a part of ahle sunnah?
Great article and comments, may Allah reward you immensely!
Barakallahu fikum – may Allah bless you.
Jazak Allahu khayran for this.
The answer regarding the three levels of aqeedah was very interesting.
I really enjoyed the actual pdf you wrote on the 73 sects. To be honest it was a killer article. Clarified so many “claims” certain people make.
It was well researched, well referenced and I really hope it circulates widely,
May I ask though- why did Shaykh al Muqbali say that women were from the عامة? Surely some were in the elite – possibly even in the fourth category too?
Also what would be the difference between عامة and the third category of خاصة?
Barak Allahu feek
Barakillahu fikum: may Allah make it of benefit to Islam and the Muslims.
As for women being from the ‘ammah, this does not preclude women from being scholars and thus from the khassah – and Islam has a glorious tradition of that. Rather, it is just the pre-modern reality of most women not being literate or very educated, but instead diverting all their energies to maintaining homes, rearing children and being the backbone of family life.
The difference between the third category of the khassah and the ‘ammah is that the third category are literate and educated in the Islamic sciences to some degree: whilst the ‘ammah is generally not.
Jazak Allahu khayran
Ameen to it benefiting Islam and the Muslims.
Salaam Sheikh Abu Aaliyah, and jazakAllahu khayrun for the article AND for the detailed paper. I am going to print the paper off with your permission to refer back to it now and again, as I believe it to be a goldmine hidden within easy sight. The main article has given me more understanding (and dare I say hope) about the 73 sect hadith, and the mind is amazed at the mercy of the Most Merciful and of this religion. JazakAllahu khayr again!
Barakillahu fikum; I’m glad you found it of benefit. May Allah increase you in understanding of the din, JustAlayWoman. May He cause us to be of benefit to Islam and the Muslims, and not a harm or a hammer against them. May he also grant us the courage and wisdom to be corrective where necessary, along with being of sincere service (khidmah) to our brothers and sisters in faith.
Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh.
Sheikh, Jazakallah for writing this article, it addresses an issue that I personally dealt with and dealing with. It came to a point that my faith seemed to shake, putting my Aqeedah into question. Out of eagerness to fully live up to Islam, I decided to familiarize myself with the Deen and its many branches – not for anything personal, but for Ibadah. And I found myself subscribing to a movement which calls for exclusivity in being the saved sect, and many youths are also very zealous in their adherence and Da’wah to the movement – which, Alhamdulillah, is truly praiseworthy for the Muslim youth. But alongside with that, there are also groups of young Muslims who, compared to the ones who are very active in the movement, seem to take on a middle ground, and evoked an attitude of consideration to the other schools of thought.
I had a discussion with a young imam who told me that the movement I had first referred to is relatively new, and aside from it, there had been many other Manhaj and schools of law in the past and present which had exerted efforts on living up to the correct Aqeedah of the Deen. I made mention of certain practices like the innovations in religion and actions which result in being removed in the fold of Islam, with proofs from the Qur’an and Hadith – which are being practiced by some Muslims and which we should avoid doing – and then he said that we should be careful in declaring something as bid’ah or an act of disbelief (kufr). I then said that what I was telling him is my concern of adhering to the straight Aqeedah and avoiding what is innovated and prohibited.
At the end of our discussion, he seemed to have taken my concern out of context and because of that I soon became filled with doubt. I began to ask myself if what I had been subscribing to is a new movement, then what about those other Muslims who are not aware of that movement and their school of thought? Are they misguided? What will happen to those Muslims who disagree on their interpretations and rulings, and the ones with whom they openly criticize of many other issues? How could it be ‘new’ when it presents itself as the sect upon which the Prophet (SAWS) and his Companions are upon? Does that mean that the ones who chose to stay away from their group but still intended to stay upon the path of the Prophet (SAWS) – they will disregard or criticize?
It is very sad to see fellow Muslims, especially the younger generation of Muslims criticizing one another, of saying ill-things of older Muslims and scholars who are still living and who had passed away, some even accuse others of terrorism and extremism, and Astaghfirullah, of misguidance. And the act of calling fellow Muslims misguided and treating ones group to be the only one guided is very unsightly and evokes an attitude of self-righteousness and arrogance. They ill-judge fellow Muslims, and quote strictness in adherence to their Manhaj, but looking closely, there are contradictions between their statements and actions.
Within that process, I then became critical of what I read and come to know and not to blindly accept interpretations – unlike before, out of zealousness, my judgment is to absorb everything like a sponge. I would like guidance to be shown by Allah SWT, not something influenced by personal interpretations.
Say, “Each works according to his Shakilatihi (intent, manner) but your Lord is most knowing of who is best guided in way.
– Qur’an (Surah Al Isra: 84)
Indeed, your efforts are diverse.
– Qur’an (Surah Al Layl: 4)
…Indeed, your Lord is vast in forgiveness. He was most knowing of you when He produced you from the earth and when you were fetuses in the wombs of your mothers. So do not claim yourselves to be pure; He is most knowing of who fears Him.
– Qur’an (Surah An Najm: 32)
Wa alaykum al-salam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu,
The saved-sect issue can be very traumatising, especially with the intra-Muslim bickering where each group claims to be the saved sect to the exclusion of all others. Many a well-intended person has gone caught-up in its snares; often to the detriment of their own soul and to the chaos it causes to Muslim cohesion.
Rather than look at it in terms of names, I find it best to discuss it in terms of concepts. The saved-sect is nothing less than an ijma’ theology: that is to say, whatever issue there is a scholarly consensus (ijma’) about, then that forms part of the great fundamentals (usul) wherein differences are not allowed. As for those issues the jurists have legitimately differed over, they form part of the details or furu’ for which differing is a mercy.
Viewing the array of Islamic issues from this perspective should help to steer one aright inshallah. Whenever someone makes a big deal out of any issue, we need to ask ourselves: is this an issue of ijma’ for which I need to wholeheartedly accept and bind myself tightly to, or is it from the legitimate differences in which there is some flexibility of views.
May Allah grant us all a sound understanding of His religion and the wisdom to perceive what can and cannot be differed over between Muslims. Amin.
Very well written yet concise. Jzk
Barakallahu fikum. May Allah cause us to live under the shade of Islam and the Sunnah, and take us in that state, and raise us up under His shade; on the Day there is no shade but His ahade.
just a (long) question..
If the saved sect are the masses of the ummah and not 1 certain sect or a few certain groups, which seems to be the main point of your article, does this mean the masses of each time period or the masses since 1400 years ago until now?
Because if you mean the masses now, there are ~1.5 billion Muslims in the world, and I don’t think anyone would disagree that probably well over 60 or 70 (or even more) percent do not pray 5 times, go to hajj, fast, ( the 5 pillars), wear hijab,etc. Whereas, I am sure 500 years ago or 1000 years ago, most of the masses prayed 5 times, fasted, etc.
Doesn’t this negate point 7 and 8 above? One can make the argument that the vast majority of Muslims these days are barely/not even Muslim ( according to Imam Ahmad and obviously many other imams).
Just seeking to clarify this point.. If this hadith does refer to the masses, would it not apply now, seeing how the masses do not even implement the 5 pillars, let alone going over and above that to truly be saved?
Wa alaykum al-salam wa rahmatullah.
Jazakallahu khayran for your question. I understand how this issue can be a little tricky. So let me start by reiterating the crux of the matter which I mentioned at the end of Point 10:
“Thus the masses, by virtue of them following the scholars, are part of the jama‘ah; not separate from it. So in this sense the jama‘ah is al-sawad al-a‘zam – the Great Majority. It is the scholars, though, who are the actual leaders of the jama‘ah.”
The masses are part of the saved-sect only because they keep themselves under the umbrella of the scholars. As for them committing sins, falling into haram, or leaving off obligations – then sins do not take a person outside the path of Sunni orthodoxy. It makes such people sinful, orthodox Muslims, who must repent from their sins.
But whoever knowingly violates one of the agreed upon fundamentals (usul) of the saved-sect, after the proof has been established to them, and they continue to persist upon such an innovation, then that individual has left the path of the saved-sect.
Bottom line: being sinful is one thing; while sins that reach the level of major innovations in the usul are another thing entirely. The masses, and all praise be to Allah, are generally shielded from this level of innovation. And even if some do fall into it, the proofs haven’t been established against them.
And Allah knows best.
It’s a logical fallacy to assume that 72/73 sects = majority of Ummah. It says nothing about the size of each of the sects.
Asalaamu alaykum, the link to the more detailed paper on the issue is no longer active – is there another way to find the longer paper?
Wa alaykum as-salam wa rahmatullah. I’ve just fixed the link. Please try again.
Sorry for the delay.
Barakallahu fikum. I hope you find it of benefit.
Masha Allah, May Allah help us and guide us to right path. You very beautifully described the Hadith. I invite all Muslim to learn Islamic teaching at home with Online Quran Tutors. QuranHost is Online Quran Academy which offer Quran Classes.
Assalam o Alikum
Masa Allah very nice. This article beautifully described the Hadith.
Asalam alaikom dear shk…
Apologies first of all for my constant current questioning n posting comments etc
Read a little while ago on islamic sunlight WordPress site an article on who the saved saved sect were….it quoted ibn Taymayah n abdal Qadir Jilani along with others rahimhom Allah saying the victorious saved sect were the ashabul al hadith…n cant remember entirely what was mentioned but they r those who like the shk alluded to too.,quran sunnah n ijmaa but with addition to not just writing ,memorizing deen texts but actually also implementing with knowledge inwardly n outwardly the deen…sorry just wished to add that even tho bit unclear…need to go back n re-read my self…there is also a gr8 article there on ibn Taymayah n al Ghazali quotes..n how all took from each other n praised one another…ibn Qudamah al hanbali for example using n summarizing I think al Ghazali usool fiqh book al Mustasfa n which is now used in al Hijaz deen schools…but that off subject by miles…
As to subject at hand dear shk..jzak Allah khairan..have been reading a few articles on humble i now n without burying u prematurely with praises. .am so happy to have found this site. ,it surely has opened my mind n educated me a lot. .alhamdullah..n realise still far behind on the journey etc
Plz dear shk…can u clarify the 3 levels of aqida, along with what the usul r amongst the fuqaha as well as what the furu could b with further examples…etc.?
Also, as to salafism..n the term or word Athari….how they interlink?mainly on its historic usage etc
Barak Allah feek dear shk…may Allah protect n preserve u n increase u n us all in all good…dunyia w akhirah..ameen