The Over Emphasis of an Ijazah and a Tazkiyah
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
All praises belong to Allah the Most High and We ask Allah to guide us to the straight path. May Allah’s peace and blessings be upon his final and last Messenger .Allah (The Most High) said in the Opening Chapter: Praise belongs to Allah. In this verse Allah praises Himself as proof for His complete attributes and His complete blessings for His slaves. Praises are given to those who deserve it. Umar (radi Allahu anhu) said: “Praise is slaughter”. Praising a person can kill his heart and cause a person to be arrogant. In this article I’ve mentioned the over emphasis of an Ijazah and Tazkiyah, in a simple question and answer format with answers taken from various scholars who specialize in Usul-Al-Fiqh, Aqeedah and Hadith. For reference please pay close attention to the footnotes for each question.
Abu Aaliyah Abdullah ibn Dwight Lamont Battle
PhD student (Hadith and its Sciences)
Doha, Qatar © 1437H
- Is there a difference between an Ijazah and Tazkiyah?
- What is an Ijazah ?
Answer: An Ijazah is permission from the Shaykh to narrate on him. This is either given verbally or by a written approval.
- What is the Islamic ruling for acting by and accepting narrations conveyed to us by way of Ijazah ?
Answer: The majority of the scholars from Ahlil Hadith accept knowledge and reports conveyed through the Ijazah.
- Scholars can grant an Ijazah to their students to narrate their reports and books so, is there only one kind of Ijazah ?
Answer: There are numerous kinds of Ijazah. Shaykh Muhammad Rslan mentioned 9. I will mention the top 3 only and how they are awarded to their students.
- The shaykh gives permission for a specific book to someone specifically by name. i.e The Shaykh says, “ I grant Fulan ibn Fulan to narrate Sahih Al-Bukhari from me.”
- The Shaykh grants permission to a particular Muslim by name without restricting what he’s allowed to convey from him. For example the Shaykh says, “ I award you permission to narrate everything I have heard from the scholars.”
Imam An-Nawawi said the majority of the scholars of Fiqh and Hadith allow these 2 kinds of Ijazah and hold it obligatory to act by them.
- The shaykh awards a person the permission to narrate from him by a general description. This occurs when the Shaykh says phrases like , “ I grant permission for everyone who met me to recount my reports, or I allow every student of knowledge to narrate my hadith, or I permit every student who read to me and heard my narrations to spread them…etc” even sometimes the Shaykh might say I allow every Muslim to narrate my reports.
- Are Ijazahs a sign that a person has knowledge? Some people try and pass them around to show they have knowledge.
Answer: No! just because a person has an Ijazah this doesn’t mean that he possess knowledge ,nor does it mean he’s trustworthy. There are some Ijazahs given to unknown people or even unborn. Ibn As-Salah mentioned this kind in his Muqadammah as the 6th type. For example the Shaykh says, “ I grant permission for Fulan, his children, his grandchildren and every child born to his family to narrate on me.”
- Is the person who teaches people Islam required to have an Ijazah or Tazkiyah?
Answer: The person who people learn from must have a Tazkiyah. The Tazkiyah can be affirmed by one of three routes.
- One or more credible scholars write this person is worthy to be learned from.
- His knowledge and information has spread thoroughly around the globe and no scholar has censured him. This is called Tazkiyah Sukuti (The silent praise )
- His knowledge affirms his trustworthiness. This means he’s only known for the circulation of sound information ( the books of Ahl Sunnah). He’s free from speech, actions and belief that warrant criticism. Hence he isn’t blamed by Ahlus Sunnah. This is a Tazkiyah through knowledge. Now if the person has been disparaged, has some confusion in areas of knowledge, is unknown from every angle of the religion, then no one should learn from this person.
- What if a person says , “ I’m Salafi” is this a Tazkiyyah?
Answer: If a person says it honoring himself then this isn’t correct. On the other hand if he says it in order to clarify his belief as there are other cults and groups around him and he doesn’t agree with them and wants to distance himself from their beliefs and actions, then he says, “ I am Salafi” or I follow the Salafi Methodology.
- There are some people who aren’t known to certain scholars. Does this mean he’s unknown and knowledge can’t be acquired from him?
Answer: Every valuable student of knowledge isn’t known to the scholars. Therefore in this case we look at his message he sends out. Is he teaching the sunnah. Does he respect the opinions of the scholars? Does he convey the speech from the scholars of the Sunnah? If that’s the case then his knowledge is a tazkiyah for him and he can be learned from.
- There are some people who say you can’t learn from a person unless the scholars give him Tazkiyah, is this belief correct?
Answer: This speech closes the doors of goodness. There are many countries where students of knowledge teach the Sunnah, explain it and educate others based on the knowledge they have. Although they don’t have a Tazkiyah from a particular scholar, there isn’t anything in the knowledge they teach which deserves criticism. So, if we say that people can’t learn from them then knowledge in many countries wouldn’t remain and this would shut the doors of good. Then the people of Bid’ah would begin to teach and the people of the Sunnah would be restricted. Following this the people of the Sunnah would learn from the people of innovation or from the internet or any other mediums. This is incorrect.
- Can we just have good faith in person to teach us since he says ,He’s Salafi or hangs with the Salafis, or appears of their flyers?
Answer: NO! a Tazkiyah is required. It’s incorrect to be negligent in this regard, thus we learn from any and everyone. Therefore we say the person must have a Tazkiyah by one of the three routes mentioned in question number 6.
- There are some people who make short visits yearly to scholars and wear one face in front of that scholar and as a result of his speech and what he presents the scholars make a general praise. How do we interact with this praise?
Answer: If the people of his community where he resides know the person’s reality then their speech takes precedence. Shaykh Muqbil (may Allah rest him in paradise) said: “The countrymen know the condition of their citiziens the best. Their speech takes precedence over others. A person might go to another country beautify his speech and say the right things, thus that scholar praises him. This is similar to some of the people that Yahya ibn Ma’een praised while the people in his country considered him to be weak and unreliable.
An example is Abdur Rahmah ibn Mua’wiyah. Imam Ibn Ma’een praised him, but Imam Malik criticized him. Abdur Rahman was from Madinah and therefore Imam Malik’s speech displaces Imam Yahya ibn Ma’een’s praise.
- What if a person hangs out with Salafis , attends their classes, and prays at their masjids, isn’t this a Tazkiyah?
Answer: Allah’s help is sought. Shaykh Abdullah Al-Bukhari (may Allah preserve him) was asked the same exact question.
Question: Can we attest to everyone who attends the classes of Salafi scholars’ credibility and integrity?
Shaykh Abdullah Al-Bukhari (may Allah preserve him) said: These kinds of questions shouldn’t be asked. A person’s integrity and credibility is measure by his actions, his adherence to the Sunnah, His practice of it along with his aide and support for it. Moreover we judge a person’s veracity by his striving to maintain firm by the Sunnah and his invitation for others to follow it. The implementation of the Sunnah in his speech, deeds, actions and belief is what benefits him. When he is strongly attached to the scholars’ of the Sunnah sincerely with love and affection (then this benefits him). He doesn’t exit and deviate from their path. Furthermore he doesn’t oppose the actions, belief and speech of Ahlus Sunnah and so forth. These kinds of actions affirm his credibility and integrity. If some scholars praise this person based on what they know of his condition and in reality he’s the total opposite, even if you brought forth praises from the heavens and the Earth while your deeds are in opposition to truth and the Sunnah, they won’t benefit you whatsoever. None of those certificates, degrees, and praises that you gathered and collected to gain closeness to others will help you. So, what praises a person? His deeds do. This is not an attack on the status of scholars’ praises. The person who hold these praises and Tazkiyah from Ahlis Sunnah must be absolutely worthy of those praises and Tazkiyah. If a praise or Tazkiya comes from a scholar we honor and respect it, and if one doesn’t we don’t get bent out of shape over it. May Allah Bless you. This is what should be asked about. Half of the comprehension is included in the question. May Allah bless you.
- Shaykh Abdullah’s speech is clear. It places a great importance on the actions of a person. We must be mindful of a person’s actions. There might be some confusion that a person not praying at a particular masjid with a specific group of people remains in question, even though he calls to Salafiyah.
Answer: Abu’d-Darda wrote to Salman al-Farsi, “Come immediately to the holy land.” Salman wrote back to him, “Land does not make anyone holy. A man’s deeds make him holy. I have heard that you were put up as a doctor to treat and cure people. If you are innocent, then may you have delight! If you are a quack, then beware lest you kill a man and enter the Fire!” When Abu’d-Darda judged between two men, and they turned from him to go, he would look at them and say, “Come back to me, and tell me your story again.
There are benefits from this athar.
- A person’s true tazkiyah and purity is measured by his actions, although his community has some praises from some and criticism from others. Between those praises and criticisms there must be a balance. The praise and dispraise for a community is based on the condition of the majority of the people residing therein.
- Abu Darda wrote a letter to Salman Al-Farasi (may Allah be pleased with them both) inviting him to come and live in the Holy land. The Holy Land in the Arabic language refers to an area that is pure and purifies others. The community he was referring to is Sham(Jerusalem). People call the masjid there Baitul Maqdis and they had it in their mind that this masjid cleanses a person ,who lived in other places where disbelief existed. Abu Darda used Holy land to show that a person living there has a Tazkiyah. This is established from Salman Al-Farasi’s response,” Land does not make anyone holy.The land doesn’t remove sins from a person, but a person’s deeds do. During that time that Masjid was called Baitul Maqdis because people living there were obedient to Allah, many Prophets were known to have prayed there, and many of the Prophets’ followers still visited it. Therefore, many people were ordered to migrate there the same way the Muslims were ordered to make Hijra to Madina.
- “ I have heard that you were put up as a doctor to treat and cure people.” Salman is referring to his position as a Mufti. Abu Darda is asked questions and he issues legal opinions which people act by. This is similar to how people take the orders from a doctor for medicine. So if you diagnose the people correct this is excellent and the correct diagnosis here refers to attaining the truth and repelling falsehood. Because falsehood is what contradicts the Shariah. Falsehood is an illness that the Mufti is asked about in order to expel it with the truth that Allah ordered.
- “If you are a quack, then beware lest you kill a man and enter the Fire!” Salman Al-Farasi means you judge by what’s incorrect, thus a falsehood increases due to your verdicts. Consequently a person becomes so engulfed in falsehood it’s impossible for him to return to what is correct. This is similar to how a doctor kills someone.
- The Tazkiyah for our teachers, Imams and friends plays an important role in every society. How about in a judicial system where people are asked for their testimony in regards to other people’s rights. i.e property, disputes, honor etc.?
Answer: The description for a Tazkiyah varies between the four schools of Jurisprudence.
- The Hanafi school- If a judge wants to know about the trustworthiness of the witness he sends out a letter to someone reliable asking him about the witness’s condition. If he is known to be trustworthy and reliable then it’s written on the bottom of the paper that he is steadfast and trustworthy, so his testimony is allowed. However, if he is a sinner the reply to request goes unanswered or the person writes, “ I don’t know”. What’s more, if this person is unknown then the reply at the bottom of the paper reads, “ he has a blameless recorded”. Once these steps are carried out the person goes in front of the Judge and gives the witness a Tazkiyah.
- The Malaki School- The judge writes the name of the witness on a piece of paper and sends it to the person to certify his character and integrity. The judge orders him to answer the question about the witness. Following this the person granting the Tazkiyah about the witness must appear in court and attest to the witness’s integrity and honor verbally. He says, “He is trustworthy.”
- The Shafa’i School – The Judge writes the name of the witness with a few details about him. He then sends it to those who can attest to his honor starting with his neighbors. Following this those who want to vouch for him must appear in court to praise the person verbally in front of the Judge by pledge.
- The Hanbali School- The Judicial system that follows the Hanbali school of law follows the same blueprint of the Shafa’I School. The person must appear in court and give a verbally testimony acknowledging the person’s honest and reliable as a witness.
When people rely on Ijazahs and Tazkiyah they tend to neglect one’s actions. Or when a person is criticized they republish an outdated praise or show an Ijazah. A person loves to be praised or hear others say good things about him. If that wasn’t the case then why do we retweet other people’s praises of our deeds, or monitor the likes of a Facebook page or a Youtube Channel. The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) was asked: “Tell us about a person who does some good deed and people praise him, will this be considered as showing off?” He replied, “This is the glad tidings which a believer receives (in this life).”
Running behind scholars or doing deeds to earn other’s people acceptance or build your honor is dangerous. Allah the Most high said: “Think not that those who rejoice in what they have done (or brought about), and love to be praised for what they have not done,- think not you that they are rescued from the torment, and for them is a painful torment” Al-Imran 188.
When reflecting over verses from the Quran we find broadcasting self-praises is considered blameworthy.
Allah the Most High said: Have you not seen those who claim sanctity for themselves. Nay – but Allah sanctifies whom He pleases, and they will not be dealt with injustice even equal to the extent of a Fatila (A scalish thread in the long slit of a date-stone).[ An-Nisa’ 49]
Allah the Most Wise said: “So ascribe not purity to yourselves. He knows best him who fears Allah and keep his duty to Him. [An-Najm 32]
In order to truly measure the value of the praises we receive and their dangers we must look at the areas we fall short in regards to our obedience to Allah. Then look at the one who praised us, would they say the same thing if they knew what was hidden from them or the amount of deeds we do that are displeasing to Allah.
The Prophet said: ‘The angels are the witnesses of Allah in heaven, and you are the witnesses of Allah on Earth.”‘
We Ask Allah the Most High to grant us deeds and that earn His Pleasure Alone even if it earns the displeasure of others. We Ask Allah the Most Forgiving to shower His Mercy and Forgiveness on us in this life, the grave and on the Day of Reckoning.
 Refer to the Muqaddamah of Ibn As-Salah, page 244
 Ibid page 333
Al-Ilma’ Qadi Iyyad, page 98
Dawabitu Ar-Riwiyah, Shaykh Muhammad Rslan, vol1/287
 Shaykh Sulayman Ar-Ruhayli, http://www.sahab.net/forums/index.php?showtopic=139356
 Refer to the Fatwa from Shayh Salih Al-Fowzan. http://www.sahab.net/forums/?showtopic=136196
 Al-Muqtarah ,pg 87-88, Hasheeyah Al-Mustsdark 1/332, by Imam Muqbil ibn Hady
 Muwatta imam Malik 2842
 Al-Isthakar, 9/473, by Ibn Abdul Barr
 Al-Muntaqa of the Muwatta of Imam Malik #1261
 Ahkamu Ash-Shahadati fi Al-Muthahibi Al-Arba’, pg 189-190, by Muhammad ibn Uthman Al-Munay’ee
 Sahih Muslim #1621
 Sunan An-Nisa’I 1933.