Shaykh Muḥammad ibn Hādī al-Madkhalī:
Indeed, we praise Allah ﷻ for this favour that He has bestowed upon you and I in the form of this meeting tonight, the night of Friday corresponding to the 11th of Shaʿbān 1436 AH. We invoke Allah through His perfect Names and Attributes to grant us correctness in our statements and actions – as I ask Him to afford us with beneficial and righteous knowledge, for He is the Magnanimous. We wish to congratulate our sons in advance for their anticipated graduation and we ask Allah ﷻ to grant them and us success.
There is something I would like to remind you and I of, and it is the issue of staying in contact amongst yourselves – after your graduation and after each of you returns back to their respective countries, homelands or any other country if it is not your own.
I advise you to maintain contact amongst yourselves, since it was these gatherings of lessons and knowledge in the presence of the scholars of Sunnah and Athār that was a reason for your coming together. So you came together by the virtue of Allah ﷻ at the hands of the scholars and benefited from them; thus, I advise you to uphold this brotherhood, togetherness and connection amongst yourselves. It should not be the case that these sittings are the last union amongst yourselves, of which this particular one could be the last, so beware of this!
Long ago, the people of knowledge and the students of ḥadīth would exchange letters and correspond with one another through writing when one of them found someone travelling to that particular land where some of his brothers or peers who were with him during his period of seeking knowledge reside. They would ask how they were, inform them of his own situation, he would also inform them of the situation in his own country pertaining to the Sunnah and knowledge. Or, in the case of a major event arising, he would inform them of whatever has occurred in his country and the position that the people of knowledge have taken regarding it, and so on.
Through this, the relationship remains, and the brotherly link is upheld and one remains in contact with his brothers. Similarly, I advise you to maintain communication with your scholars, the scholars of the Sunnah and Athār whom you have received this knowledge from and benefited from. This can be achieved by either visiting them, if Allah ﷻ permits that you return, or by writing to them or by conveying a message to them through any of the viable and available channels that you can convey your news to them, to ask about them and how they are. This way you remain in contact with them by asking them about the major events that happen in your country. As a result the closeness between you remains, the connection remains between you and your brothers, and your scholars are aware of your situation. Each one knows the condition of his brother. He is aware of the major events that take place in his brothers’ country and his brothers’ condition therein. In which case he remains plainly aware of his brothers’ condition; but if he loses contact and becomes absent from him for years not knowing what his situation is, and loses contact with his scholars for years without them having knowledge of his situation after they were once well acquainted, then he returns to them after much time has passed and perhaps returning after the occurrence of a number of trials and incidents whilst catastrophes continue to affect Ahl al-Sunnah, perhaps even having affected him; so the scholars are then approached and asked about this individual when in fact the case is that the scholar no longer knows this individual even if he once studied under him for a period of time.
However this long period of time that has passed wherein there was a halt in communication causes them to hold the position of refraining from making any comment! This is fair, because they do not know his situation and all news about him has ceased, while the devastating trials and tribulations continue to devastate! Adversities remould themselves and his scholars do not receive any news about him.
Therefore, justice in their regard is that the scholar neither dispraises or praises, rather they remain impartial. We have heard something related to this from some of our scholars, and we have found that some of those who are asked about now hold a position within themselves against their scholars when it is them who have erred in reality.
The reason which has led me to speak about this topic is because today I was reading the biography of al-Hāfiẓ Abū Muḥammad ʿAbdullāh bin ʿAbd al-Raḥmān al-Dārimī, the Imām from Samarqand.
Within the biography I came across a statement that suits our need for this sitting, so I brought it along with me in order to read it to you all in summary so that you may witness how this pure methodology is now being dispraised by those who once deceptively crept into it, even if they claimed to ascribe to it! And has now begun to oppose its adherents and malign them with such vilifications. All of which does not harm us if we convey whatever we say through ‘ḥaddathanā‘ and ‘akhbaranā‘ because that is real knowledge, and anything other than that is ignorance. So if we convey from those Imāms who are rightly emulated, then those in opposition to them are of no consideration.
The following can be found in ‘Tarīkh Baghdad‘, V.11 page 211. Al-Khaṭīb transmits the narration on the authority of Is`ḥāq bin Dāwūd al-Samarqandi who said;
“A near relative of mine arrived from al-Shash” – Meaning the land of al-Shash -; I urge you to listen to this story and listen carefully – Whose near relative is this? A relative of Is`ḥāq bin Dāwūd al-Samarqandi – He said: “I went to see Ibn Ḥanbal and began to describe Abul Munthir to him“; – Personally I do not know who Abul Munthir is but it is evident Aḥmad knew him- He goes on, “So I began to praise him. Ibn Ḥanbal then said to me, ‘I do not know of him! Our brother’s absence from us has been a long one, I do not know him! Our brothers absence from us has been a long one.‘
– This means, I do not know of his situation now due to the long absence and any news of him being cut off from us. Thus, I do not know of his situation. –
He continued, ‘I do not know of him, our brother’s absence from us has has been a long one, but what is your position towards ʿAbdullāh bin ʿAbd al-Raḥmān al-Dārimī? I recommend that honourable man to you. I recommend that honourable man to you. I recommend that honourable man to you, ʿAbdullāh bin ʿAbd al-Raḥmān.’
Here you see that Aḥmad refrained from speaking about this man, and how did he justify this? With the long absence between our brothers and us. Therefore, if your brother remains absent from you whilst the years pass by without any contact, and incidents arise and tribulations devastate, then he suddenly appears and desires that you commend him – what are you to say?! You are unaware of his current situation.
You are unaware of any new developments, so you do not have any choice but to say similar to what Aḥmad said; ‘Yes I know him, but I do not know what has become of him throughout this long period of time.’ But if you were to say this nowadays, there will be an uproar against you, an uproar against you.
[They will claim]:
“No one is safe from his tongue!” And, “Even when he is unable to make a comment about him, he says something like this!” Or, “Even the one he knows is not safe from him.”
Here do you see the statements of Aḥmad forthright, or not? He said, “Our brother’s absence from us has been a long one“, this means that there is no form of communication between us, we do not know what they are up to, we do not know what they have done; we do not know what has happened to them – whether they have changed or remained steadfast, we simply do not know.
Aḥmad was impartial – Allah ﷻ have mercy on him and be pleased with him – he neither disparaged nor did he commend, the man [who approached him] came commending this person ‘Abul-Munthir’ but Aḥmad said “Our brother’s absence from us has been a long one.”
If your brother, or more specifically your student goes through ten years whilst these tribulations devastate or have even struck his particular land without hearing any news from him, what are you supposed to say? You do not have a choice but to say something similar to what Aḥmad said,
“Our brother’s absence from us has been a long one! What is your position with regards to that noble man?” Who is he referring to?
ʿAbdullah bin ʿAbd al-Raḥmān al-Dārimī, the Imām – Allah ﷻ have mercy on him.
You are only to commend those whom you are in contact with! As you are aware of them being upon the Sunnah and he is aware that you are likewise upon the Sunnah; he knows your position in championing the Sunnah, and when tribulations arise and unsettling times arise, your delightful and pleasant news regarding your championing of the Sunnah, quashing of innovation and clarification as it relates to those in opposition [to the Sunnah] can be conveyed to him.
This is how ʿAbdullah bin ʿAbd al-Raḥmān al-Dārimī was. He was an Imam, and one of the four Huffāẓ [حفاظ] to emerge from the Eastern region of the Muslim world. Aḥmad directed to him. Therefore if you are asked in a particular country about a student of yours, even if he was amongst the earlier students to study under you but you no longer have any news about him and there is no connection between yourself and him, but you have news of someone else, you refer him to the one you are in contact with. As for the other one, you refrain. Due to this my beloved ones, the connection between yourselves must be maintained, likewise the connection with your scholars must be maintained so that they are aware of you once you have made the move back to your countries and so they are aware of the positions you hold and your gallant stances become established knowledge in their eyes, and your actions as far as it relates to the Sunnah that you have grasped from them and in championing it and rebuking those in opposition to it. If you perform as such, and this circulates amongst your brothers and news of this reaches your scholars via some of your brothers, it therefore becomes sound knowledge to them. If they are asked about that particular student or that brother whom you have travelled from, his news becomes known to you whilst you have knowledge of his steadfastness, strength upon the Sunnah, his defence of it, his call towards it and teaching it to the people; this is what reassures the heart. But the one who becomes absent from you, resulting in a disconnection between yourself and him after you were once his nearest and dearest brother, or you were his shaykh and he was the one constantly by your side, to then have all communication cease completely, while the tribulations continue to devastate and no news is heard from him. Here, this necessitates refraining in his regard. It is why in such a situation Aḥmad said ‘Our brother’s absence from us has been a long one.‘
I have been drawn to mention this because nowadays some people are maligning Ahl al-Sunnah, they say;
‘They want us to be constantly attached to them, always in their presence so they know what we are up to!‘
That is never the case ! We seek refuge in Allah ﷻ from this. That is not what they intended; your brothers do not seek this from you. Rather, they only desire to know your pleasant and good news. But if you are a student of knowledge and you go back to your country only to become disconnected from your scholars and peers, this certainly sparks doubt. In this case, the best scenario is the one of Al-Imām Aḥmad رحمه الله for your scholars to say ‘Our brother’s absence from us has been a long one‘, before eventually directing you to who? They direct to the one who is propagating the daʿwah, actively educating, actively teaching, encouraging with the Sunnah and actively defending it. This is the one they will refer to. Both will come to a realisation, but what has the one who pursued and maintained contact with his brothers and scholars come to realise, and what will the other one come to realise?
We ask Allah ﷻ to not make this our last acquaintance and to make our relationship for His sake. I also ask Him to divert any trial and tribulation away from us, our brothers and those whom we love, whether [these trials] be apparent or hidden, and to grant us steadfastness upon the truth and guidance until we meet Him, indeed He is The Magnanimous.