Wahhabism: Pure Islam or extremism? Major Differences Between the Hanafi & Wahabi (Ahle Hadith), By Maulana Yusuf Ludhianvi Shaheed

Compiled By: Mufti Umar Anwar Badakhshani

Few important points about Theoretical Differences & Exercise of Judgment Differences (Ijtihadi ikhtilaf):

The difference that you have requested about is the one between the Hanafis and Wahabis. You also wanted to know which of the two is on Haqq. To understand the particulars of this difference it is important that you first understand a few points:

  • 1. I had mentioned at the offset that the “theoretical differences” (Nazaryati Ikhtilaf) of the Ummat is without doubt a Fitnah. But, “Ijtihadi Ikhtilaf” (the difference regarding interpretations of legal points), is not only inevitable and natural, in fact, it is a source of mercy for this Ummat. This will be so on this condition that no hardness is attached to it, thereby making it a source of trouble.
  • 2. You have also been made aware that those seniors of the Ummat that have been accepted as the Aimmah-e-Ijtihad, they were not merely experts in the field of Quran and Sunnah, they had excellent critical ability with regard the Shariah than all of the Ummat which followed them. No member of this Ummat, that followed them had surpassed them in knowledge, virtue, honour, trustworthiness, understanding, foresight, abstinence, piety or recognition of Allah Ta`ala. This is the reason why those pious personalities who are regarded as being bestowed with mountains of knowledge and oceans of Kashf and ilhaam, are all the followers of these Aimmah-e-Ijtihad. The mere fact that all these pious buzrugs follow these Aimmah is proof of their lofty status.
  • 3. There were numerous Aimmah-e-Ijtihad, but Allaah Ta`ala in His Infinite Wisdom has chosen and selected the Ijtihad of four from amongst the multitudes in the Ummat – that is, Imam Abu Hanifah, Imam Shafi, Imam Maalik and Imam Ahmed Bin Hanbal (rahmatullahi alaihim). After the fourth century, however many Ulama and mashaikh there were, all of them followed one of these four Imams. It was as though the entire Ummat were unanimous in following these noble personalities with regard to knowledge, virtue, etc. One will not find a single Aalim or buzrug, worth mentioning, who was not a follower of one of these Imams.
  • 4. There are numerous differences with regard to Sub-issues between the Imams. However, each one in his own right is on the Haqq. Therefore, for anyone to practice upon the pure Shariah, it will be inevitable to follow the Ijtihad of one of these Imams. But to slur and disrespect any one of them is not permissible. Because disrespect to any Aalim is in actual fact a degradation of ilm. In the Sight of Allaah Taala, disdain shown towards the Knowledge of Shariah is an unforgivable act.
  • 5. The major part of the Shariah comprises of that upon which these Imams are unanimous on. According to Shah Waliullaah Muhaddith Dehlwi (rahmatullahi alaih) if these pious personalities agree on any matter then it is a sign of Consensus of Ummat (Ijma-e-Ummah). That is, if these four Imams are unanimous on any issue, then understand that right from the time of the Companions (radhiAllaahu anhum) until the present day, the entire Ummat were unanimous upon this ruling. It is for this reason that it is not permissible to exceed any issue whereupon there is a consensus of the four Imams. I always cite the example of the four high courts of Pakistan, that is if all of them rule unanimously on any particular promulgation, then its implementation become binding on all, and this ruling is accepted as being the most correct. No citizen of Pakistan then has the scope of changing this unanimous ruling. If any person does re-evaluate and change this ruling then no town in Pakistan will accept it. Understand the four Madhhabs as being the four high courts of the Muslim Ummat. None has the right to exceed the unanimous ruling of these four. The Hanafi Wahabi differences are of two types:

1) Sub-issue Differences

The first being a difference in a few Sub-issues, for example, where to place the hands in Salat? How far apart must the feet be in Salat? At which junctures must Raf`e Yadain (lifting hands to ears for different postures in Salat) take place? Is “Ameen” to be said loudly of softly? Must Surah Fatihah be read behind the Imam or not? Etc. These type of issues, regardless of how many they are, I regard them as being sub-issue differences. It is necessary for each of these groups to practice upon whatever their research shows them. If the “Ahl e Hadith” are not satisfied with the research and rulings of our Imam Abu Hanifah (rahmatullahi alaih), then why must they be forced to do so? The same applies to us, in that if we are not satisfied with their research and rulings, then it is not necessary for us to follow their rulings. Just as I had mentioned earlier on that such differences in Sub-issues existed between the Companions, the pious predecessors and Aimmah-e-Mujtahiddeen.

If such differences remain within their bounds then it is regarded as a blessing for the Ummat. Every Sunnah of Nabi (sallAllaahu alaihi wasallam) is alive in some way or form in some group or the other – however I do not regard these differences to be in such a serious light that the one group foul-mouths the other or that the one group, due to these differences, condemns the other as being astray. If such extremities come about because of such differences, then it is no longer regarded as a mercy, but rather as a calamity. The practical strength of this Ummat will then be annihilated due to our wasting time in quibbling about such differences. If everything remains within its prescribed limits and bounds then it will be fine. When they start transgressing these bounds then it becomes objectionable. This, then, is the condition with these corollaries.

2) Theoretical Differences

The second type of difference between the Hanafis and Wahabis is that of “theoretical differences”. In this regard I differ with the view of the Ahl e Hadith (whom you refer to as “Wahabis” and they are also usually referred to as “Ghair Muqallid”. In fact, I regard their stand as being incorrect. In principle, there are two points to this difference: firstly, according to the Ahl e Hadith, there is no need to follow any one specific Imaam, in fact (they believe) that every person should practice upon whatever he understands from the Quran and Hadith. This issue is famous under the discussion of “Taqlid and abandoning of Taqlid”. This is one issue with great diverse opinions.

Derived From: Differences in the Ummah & the straight path

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