The Ahl al-Sunnah wa al-Jama’ah generally boycott the teachings of the Twelve Imams of the Ahl al-Bayt, ‘alaihim al-salam. In fact, our Shaykh, Ibn Taymiyyah (d. 728 H), seems to be very proud about this:
قال الرافضي و في الفقه الفقهاء يرجعون إليه
و الجواب أن هذا كذب بين فليس في الأئمة الأربعة و لا غيرهم من أئمة الفقهاء من يرجع إليه في فقهه
أما مالك فان علمه عن أهل المدينة و أهل المدينة لا يكادون يأخذون بقول علي بل اخذوا فقههم عن الفقهاء السبعة عن زيد و عمر و ابن عمر و نحوهم
أما الشافعي فانه تفقه أولا على المكيين أصحاب ابن جريج كسعيد بن سالم القداح و مسلم بن خالد الزنجي و ابن جريج اخذ ذلك عن أصحاب ابن عباس كعطاء و غيره و ابن عباس كان مجتهدا مستقلا و كان إذا أفتى بقول الصحابة أفتى بقول أبي بكر و عمر لا بقول علي و كان ينكر على علي أشياء ثم أن الشافعي اخذ عن مالك ثم كتب كتب أهل العراق و اخذ مذاهب أهل الحديث و اختار لنفسه
و أما أبو حنيفة فشيخه الذي اختص به حماد بن أبي سليمان و حماد عن إبراهيم و إبراهيم عن علقمة و علقمة عن ابن مسعود و قد اخذ أبو حنيفة عن عطاء و غيره
و أما الإمام احمد فكان على مذهب أهل الحديث اخذ عن ابن عيينة و ابن عيينة عن عمرو بن دينار عن ابن عباس و ابن عمر و اخذ عن هشام بن بشير و هشام عن أصحاب الحسن و إبراهيم النخعي و اخذ عن عبد الرحمن بن مهدي و وكيع بن الجراح و أمثالهما و جالس الشافعي و اخذ عن أبي يوسف و اختار لنفسه قولا و كذلك إسحاق بن راهويه وابو عبيد ونحوهم
و الاوزاعي و الليث اكثر فقههما عن أهل المدينة و أمثالهم لا عن الكوفيين
The Rafidhi said: “In fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence), the (Sunni) jurists used to reference him (i.e. ‘Ali).”
The answer is that this is a plain lie. There was none among the four Imams and others from the Imams of the jurists who referenced him (i.e. ‘Ali) in his fiqh.
As for Malik, his knowledge was from the people of al-Madinah, and the people of al-Madinah barely took the words of ‘Ali. Rather, they took their fiqh from the seven jurists: from Zayd, ‘Umar, Ibn ‘Umar, and their likes.
As for al-Shafi’i, he learnt fiqh primarily came from the Makkans, the companions of Ibn Jurayj, such as Sa’id b. Salim al-Qadah and Muslim b. Khalid al-Zanji. Meanwhile, Ibn Jurayj took that from the companions of Ibn ‘Abbas, like ‘Ata and others; and Ibn ‘Abbas was an independent mujtahid who used to rely upon the words of Abu Bakr and ‘Umar, and not upon those of ‘Ali, whenever he passed fatwas with the words of the Sahabah. Moreover, he (Ibn ‘Abbas) used to reject things from ‘Ali. Besides, al-Shafi’i took from Malik, (and) then wrote the books of the people of Iraq, and followed the schools of the Ahl al-Hadith, and chose (them) for himself.
As for Abu Hanifah, his special shaykh was Hammad b. Abi Sulayman; and Hammad learnt from Ibrahim; and Ibrahim learnt from ‘Alqamah; and Alqamah learned from Ibn Mas’ud. Abu Hanifah also took from ‘Ata and others.
As for Imam Ahmad, he followed the school of the Ahl al-Hadith. He took from Ibn ‘Uyaynah; and Ibn ‘Uyaynah took from ‘Amr b. Dinar, who took from Ibn ‘Abbas and Ibn ‘Umar. He (i.e. Ahmad) also took from Hisham b. Bashir; and Hisham took from the companions of al-Hasan (al-Basri) and Ibrahim al-Nakha’i. He (i.e. Ahmad) further took from ‘Abd al-Rahman b. Mahdi, Waki’ b. al-Jarrah and similar people. He (i.e. Ahmad) equally attended the assemblies of al-Shafi’i, and took from Abu Yusuf and adopted a statement for himself, and also Ishaq b. Rahwayh, Abu ‘Ubayd and others like them.
As for al-Awza’i and al-Layth, most of their fiqh was from the people of al-Madinah and their likes, and not from the people of Kufah.1
In simpler words, none of the Sunni schools of jurisprudence contains the teachings of ‘Ali, al-Hasan, al-Husayn and the other Imams from the offspring of the Prophet, ‘alaihim al-salam ajma’in. The Sunni Imams generally shunned their inputs and riwayat in al-fiqh.
But, the Sunni boycott was not limited to al-fiqh. Even in the reportage of tafasir and ahadith, the Ahl al-Sunnah boycott the Ahl al-Bayt. Ibn Taymiyyah confirms:
وهذه كتب الحديث والتفسير مملوءة بالآثار عن الصحابة والتابعين والذي فيها عن علي قليل جدا
These are books of hadith and tafsir, filled with reports from the Sahabah and Tabi’in. What is recorded in them from ‘Ali is very little.2
He also submits:
قال الرافضي أما المالكية فاخذوا علمهم عنه و عن أولاده
و الجواب أن هنا كذب ظاهر فهذا موطأ مالك ليس فيه عنه و لا عن أحد أولاده إلا قليل جدا و جمهور ما فيه عن غيرهم فيه عن جعفر تسعة أحاديث و لم يرو مالك عن أحد من ذريته إلا عن جعفر و كذلك الأحاديث التي في الصحاح و السنن و المساند منها قليل عن ولده و جمهور ما فيها عن غيرهم
The Rafidhi said: “As for the Malikis, they took their knowledge from him (i.e. ‘Ali) and from his (i.e. ‘Ali’s) offspring.”
The answer is that there is an apparent lie here. This is Muwatta of Malik. What is recorded in it from him (i.e. ‘Ali) or any of his offspring is very little. Most of what is in it is from other than them. There are nine ahadith from Ja’far (al-Sadiq) in it, and Malik did not record from ANY of his (i.e. ‘Ali’s) offspring except from Ja’far. This is also the case with what is recorded in the Sahih books, the Sunan books, and the Musnad books. What is recorded in them from his (i.e. ‘Ali’s) offspring is little. The generality of what is recorded in them is from others.3
Shaykh Ibn Taymiyyah still has more words about the Ahl al-Bayt:
والمتقدمون منهم كعلى بن الحسين وابنه أبي جعفر وابنه جعفر بن محمد قد نقل عنهم من العلم قطعة معروفة وأخذ عن غيرهم أكثر من ذلك بكثير كثير وأما من بعدهم فالعلم المأخوذ عنهم قليل جدا
The early ones among them, such as ‘Ali b. al-Husayn (Zayn al-‘Abidin) and his son, Abu Ja’far (al-Baqir), and his son, Ja’far b. Muhammad (al-Sadiq), a known FRACTION of knowledge was transmitted from them. However, what is recorded from other than them is far, far more than that. As for those after them (from the Ahl al-Bayt), the knowledge that was taken from them was very little.4
It was indeed a very widespread, and very deep, boycott of the Ahl al-Bayt by the Ahl al-Sunnah. Meanwhile, even if a Sunni today decided to follow the Ahl al-Bayt, he would be unable to do so through the Sunni books. There is “very little” of their teachings and narrations in the books of the Ahl al-Sunnah.
The dilemma here gets even more serious when one considers that the Messenger of Allah had ordered his whole Ummah – including all his Sahabah, the Tabi’in, the Tabi’ al-Tabi’in - to take ‘Ali and his offspring - his Ahl al-Bayt – as khalifahs after him, and to follow them in absolutely everything, in order to remain truly upon the Kitab and the Sunnah. But, how does a Sunni adhere to these Prophetic decrees without abandoning the Sunni school? The answer seems impossible to determine. Sunni Islam, apparently, feeds upon disobedience of the said decrees. So, what does a Sunni do in this confusion?
The ‘ulama of the Ahl al-Sunnah have adopted four different attitudes to the decrees – contained in Hadith al-Thaqalayn and its branch, Hadith al-Khalifatayn. Some of them, such as our own Shaykh Ibn Taymiyyah, have taken the easy way by denying the authenticity of the ahadith in the Sunni books. This seemingly saves them the trouble of dealing with the consequences of the apparent Sunni boycott of the Ahl al-Bayt. Some other Sunni ‘ulama however accept the authenticity of the riwayat but prefer to rather re-interpret “hold fast to” in them as meaning to simply “love” the Messenger’s offspring and to “be kind to” them!
The third category of Sunni scholars agree that the ahadith are sahih, and that they really command the whole Ummah to obey and follow the blessed offspring of Muhammad. But, they insist that the Ahl al-Sunnah are actually followers and subjects of the Ahl al-Bayt! The fourth group within the Sunni clergy, meanwhile, calmly ply the cheapest route: dead silence on the ahadith. They simply never mention, talk or write about Hadith al-Thaqalayn and Hadith al-Khalifatayn under any circumstance! This obviously reduces the “threat” posed by the riwayat and keeps the Sunni ride smooth and steady.
This research work of ours addresses all four Sunni positions on the hadiths, with particular emphasis on the claims and submissions of Ibn Taymiyyah. We prove, with abundant references, the existence and authenticity of Hadith al-Thaqalayn and Hadith al-Khalifatayn, in the most authentic Sunni books – including Sahih Muslim – with perfectly authentic chains of narration! We thoroughly investigate the various chains of the riwayat, and also quote certifications of their authenticity by top Sunni hadithists like ‘Allamah al-Albani, Shaykh al-Arnaut and others. We equally carefully analyze the texts of the two hadiths, as well as those of relevant others, in order to determine their true messages. Our aim, obviously, is to leave no one with any excuse before Allah on the Day of al-Qiyamah.
We sincerely hope that this work will be highly beneficial to every human being who is truthfully searching for the only correct Path to Allah. In this book, we have used the same strict investigative and transparent research methodology which we employed in our first, second and third books. We implore Allah to forgive us all our mistakes, and to accept this as a worthy act of ‘ibadah. And may Allah send His salawat and barakat upon our master, Muhammad b. ‘Abd Allah, and upon his purified offspring.