What is the manhajification of fiqh? This brief study will discuss the ideological framework that was constructed to produce this process. This is so the reader can understand the entire psyche of a madkhali.
There is a vast amount of material found from sources like SPUBS, Troid, and their affiliates regarding the topic, or rather the word “manhaj”. What is manhaj? The extremely loose meaning of the term simply means “a way”. A much more common usage of the meaning in discussions is typically translated as “methodology”. This is linguistically correct. However, there is a more technical meaning to it. Before I embark on providing further information on the topic, I think it is best to explain what was the exact provocation to perform this small synopsis to clarify the meaning of manhaj.
There is a fundamental problem with the madkhali dissemination of the meaning of the term “manhaj” and this problem yielded possibly some unexpected errors in their blind followers. This is me giving the madkhali leadership the benefit of the doubt, something bereft from their “manhaj” (pun intended) in applying on their own salafi elders in knowledge like Ustadh Abdur-Rahman Hasan, shaykh Tahir Wyatt and many others that needs no mention here.
The best comprehensive yet concise answer to this was explained by shaykh Salih al-Fawzan when he was asked the following question
“Is there a difference between the Aqeedah and the Manhaj?
So he answered
The Manhaj is more general [and or broader] than the Aqeedah; the Manhaj is in Aqeedah [beliefs] and in the Sulook [mannerism] and in the Akhlaaq [morals] and in the Mu’amalaat [mutual relations and business transactions] in the life of every Muslim and in every field in which the Muslim traverses is called the Manhaj. As for Aqeedah, then what is intended by it, is the foundation of Imaan [what the Muslim believes] and the meaning of the Shahadatain [Testification] and that which it comprises of and this is what is meant by Aqeedah.”
This is a great definition and it is the one from which we all understand manhaj is derived from and it is the basis for which Alamah Abu Bakr al-Jazaa’iri wrote his masterpiece for the ordinary Muslim to be a good Muslim. In fact the title of this masterpiece is called “Manhajul-Muslim” i.e. The methodology of a Muslim. The book, highlights ALL of Islam. All of it. From A to Z. Its starts off with tawhid and then with aqida and then with adab and suluk and then with the basics that a muslim needs with fiqh and then what to do in mu’amallat. In fact it is enough to say that any muslim who becomes muslim or one who has been muslim and simply wipes his slate clean and only reads that book, internalizes it, and tries to uphold its framework in his or her life will ipso facto conform to the entirety of the salafi manhaj without even having to profess that they are salafi. They will be athari (salafi/sunni) in their understanding of aqida (issues of tawhid, sifat, eman and kufr, etc) and in the rest of Islam.
Now moving along, so what exactly is the problem of their educational process? Well, there are actually multiple problems. I will try to knock out the easiest one first, and then move on and then to progress to the final and primary apex of the conundrum of salafi fiqh intolerence.
1. Firstly, there are a couple of scholars, included among them, Imam al-Albani رحمه الله who made statements which indicates a contradictory stance to the above, and was even used and promoted by madkhalis to destroy, in that time, people like Safar al-Hawali and others. Now, the reason why this will be quick and not something to dwell over is because the madkhali platform of spubs use to promote a distinction between aqida and manhaj. They use to promote the saying that said about Abdur-Rahman Abdul-Khaliq or Safar al-Hawali that they were salafi in aqida but ikhwani in manhaj. However when this fiasco imploded for them, it seems like they altered their previous position and have now sided with everyone else that manhaj is broad and it is linked with aqida.
However, many of us who know of madkhali history knows their obfuscation of truth and realities.
Shaykh Haytham Haddad said it rather nicely. He says
“Manhaj refers to the methodology of receiving, analyzing and applying knowledge. So, if you go by the correct understanding of the Quran and Sunnah then you are on the correct Manhaj. The correct understanding of the Quran and Sunnah is that of the righteous predecessors. This has always been the meaning of the term Manhaj (Manhaj Al-Talaqqee). As you can see, it does not make sense to say that someone has a correct ‘aqida but a false Manhaj!” If his Manhaj were false, how did he arrive at the aqida of the Salaf based on Quran and Sunnah!
This distinction between ‘aqida on one side, and other Islamic sciences on the other side, is a Bid’a adopted by the “super salafis”! A correct Manhaj means following the way of the salaf in ‘aqida, hadith, fiqh, tafsir … etc.”
However, to give the SPUBS madkhalis credit, this view was mostly promulgated by the al-Albani sector of madkhalis, those whom the SPUBS Troid network have deemed “mumayy’a” like QSS, and everyone who did not agree to the view of Shaykh Rab’i on Abul-Hasan al-M’arabi. This sub group, while much more reasonable, knowledgeable, and tolerable than the SPUBS madkhalis, are still overall Madkhali in their frame of thinking. However this is beyond the discussion here. The conclusion here is that when I speak vehemently against Madkhalis, it is the SPUBS faction of the madkhali cult AND those who went into further extremes from this faction and split into yet another faction, the HajUri faction or the Ubaydi faction. These are the madkhalis I have in mind in most of my discussions on them.
2. Secondly, the more profound and fundamental problem with madkhali perceptions of the term “manhaj” is that their preposterous methods of learning the religion has corrupted their ability to learn and understand. They apply the term to things that it doesn’t apply and they don’t know what they are doing with the term. This requires demonstration instead of just speaking on it.
Manhaj for a madkhali has different meanings when they want to use it to prove an argument. The result is contradiction. I had a long discussion one time with a madkhali on various issues of “manhaj”. We arrived on the topic about al-M’arabi and those who shaykh Rab’i had refuted. I then said other major scholars disagreed with Rab’i al-Madkhali’s stance. This madkhali’s response was
“Yeah but you have to refer to the ulema of the manhaj”
Wallahul-musta’an. I was flabbergasted at first. The implication of this statement whether this madkhali realized or not is that the senior scholars are ipso facto outside the manhaj since they are not classified as “ulema of the manhaj”. However, since I, Ali Boriqee, know the internal psyche of how a madkhali perceives the world, I understood what he meant. When he used “manhaj” in this usage here, he meant “jarh wa t’adil”. But he used the word manhaj as something synonymous with jarh wa t’adil.
However, one more thing to point out about this rather asinine statement of this madkhali is the underlying essence of the statement. Since the statement was made as a reaction to directly revealing that other more senior scholars to Shaykh Rab’i had opined differently, and then tying in what he said here, the base essence of this statement leads to the whole issue that salafis should resort to their scholars i.e. the scholars madkhalis confide in the most since those particular handful of scholars (and I do mean a handful, not much) are the only scholars that these madkhalis feel are qualified to speak on such topics. In other words, one should resort to their scholars and not the senior scholars or any scholar that a Muslim should go to. Again, the matter goes back to partisan politics.
As if such ignorance was not enough, there is more to add here. Many madkhali muqalids, when they dont like the Imam they have (who happens to be salafi) for not destroying “ahlul-bida” on the minbar during the Friday sermons, or blasting individuals in these sermons, they say things like “he’s not laying down the manhaj“. For the world of madkhalism, manhaj is a phenomenon mostly quarantined into the world of proliferating ahlu-sunnah and speaking against ahlul-bida in all times, shapes, places, and forms. And ahlu-sunnah here means them, and ahl-bid’a here means everyone other than them. In many cases, manhaj refers to jarh wa t’adil.
There is even more. The idea of manhaj is so glorified in Madkhali circles, that they think that it is some science that is to be learned like the classical sciences of tafsir, usulul-fiqh, fiqh, shariah, usulu-deen (aqida), ilmul-hadith. There was an incident where one madkhali had culture shock when they decided to go to Madinah University to study, that they did not have a “college of manhaj” as an accredited science. He literally had in mind that he was either going to graduate with a B.A. in manhaj or at least that the University would offer a curriculum of “Manhaj”. What a way to get hoodwinked. But the question remains, how does the facilitation of this form of hoodwinkism take place? Simple! Madkhali propaganda advocated by SPUBS, Troid, and their sister affiliates who tie everything about salafiyyah to the understanding espoused by SPUBS and Troid.
In those issues where madkhalis do not mean the above perception of manhaj, then it actually enters the world of fiqh, which leads me to my next and last point
3. Thirdly, 90% of the madkhali usage of manhaj outside of aqida, is actually a fiqh stance and they dont know it, too ignorant to understand it, or too arrogant to accept it. The following material is going to be interesting for people who have never been madkhali and are trying to understand why madkhalis are extremely intolerant and behave literally like hooligans when dealing with other Muslims on non creedal issues where differing is acceptable.
For madkhalis, because of their lack of madhab following (in spite of the senior scholars they claim to follow who are mostly Hanbali, and some of whom are Maliki), while they acknowledge the term fiqh, they almost have it erased from their vocabulary, and substituted in its place is guess guess……. “manhaj“. How does this affect their fiqh, and in turn their extremism in intolerance? Well, when their is a valid fiqh difference in how to perform something, while Muslims naturally identify the topic as “the fiqh of such and such”, madkhalis will instead term the issue as “the salafi manhaj is like this” for example. So how exactly is intolerance linked to this one might ask? Simple. In the world of madkhalism, since fiqh is omitted from usage and manhaj is substituted in its place, now the issue transcends from one of valid differing, and now it enters into the realm of sunnah vs bid’a. This is why when normal Muslims discuss with a madkhali about such issues, the madkhali has in his or her mind that “I’m upon the sunnah and you are upon innovation” because they have adopted thee sunnah and their opponent has not followed the sunnah.
Now, combine this already arrogant and anarchic perception of fiqh, and link it to the constant misapplication and drilled propaganda of old narrations from the salaf on “destroying the innovators” and treating the people of bid’a with harshness (shiddah) and refuting, and you get one of the most polemical partisan muslims ever devised in the history of Islam. This answer to this equation is your standard typical madkhali and their main perception of the term “manhaj”. So someone who does not apply their Islam in this havoc-ridden behavior is someone who in their eyes “opposes the manhaj of the salaf” or “salafi manhaj”. Or they will say “he is not strong on the manhaj”
Now, it is extremely necessary to identify two diverging factions of madkhalis here. The SPUBS faction and then the more saner mild mannered QSS faction of the madkhali ideology. What separates the thought processes of each of these factions is the extent of this fiqh perspective. For the milder QSS faction, they would only have the first part of this fiqh perspective of viewing such issues as “manhaj” and thus quarantining the Islamic issue as a sunnah vs bid’a issue and therefore viewing themselves as upon the sunnah and those who won’t adopt their views as not upon the sunnah. But that is the extent that the QSS faction will go. The SPUBS faction will take it further and apply the harshness factor added to extremity on the matter and make fiery declarations of bid’a and mubtad’i on those who oppose them, lengths which the QSS faction won’t go. Since the QSS faction does not go to that extreme, the SPUBS faction reviles the QSS faction as “softening the manhaj” and thus describing them as “Mumayyi’a” (those who liquify/soften what they perceive is the manhaj of the salaf in treating ahlul-bid’a).
So there you have it. The formula that produces intolerant fiqh perspectives. This is what I call “the manhajification of fiqh”. The formula is simple. Transform a fiqh matter into a “sunnah versus bid’a” conception of any fiqh topic in Islam. Once someone do this, they are then able to sanctify themselves by holding that they are the saved orthodoxy and that those who have an opposing view are the ahlul-bida who “contend with the sunnah”.