أهل السنة والجماعة
Ahlul Sunnah wal Jama`a
Shaykh Muhammad Masum:
Ahl as-Sunna wal-Jama`at Must Unite
On July 26th, 1997, the annual Naqshbandiyya- sponsored Milad Un-Nabi (s) Conferencein Chicago, saw a great challenge go forth to the believers of Ahl as-Sunna wal-Jama‘at. The day-long conference was concluded by a powerful appeal from Shaykh Muhammad Ma’sum to all Muslims to join hands in supporting the resurgence of Ahl-Sunnah wa Jama’at, and to unite in reclaiming our priceless Islamic Heritage. The 87-year old Kurdish Shaykh Ma’sum, one of the greatest contemporary `ulama from Baghdad, urged the large audience gathered at the University of Illinois, to follow the distinguished ‘ulama of Ahl as-Sunna wal-Jama‘at, such as Shaykh Hisham Kabbani, Shaykh Ja’far Qadiri, Shaykh Abdul Sattar Khan, Mawlana Madani al-Qadiri, Mufti Abdul Rahman Qamar from Washington, and others in re-establishing the noble traditions of Ahl-Sunnah was Jama’at. Many were heard afterwards to express gratefulness and relief that what had been kept locked in so many hearts for so long had finally been spoken in public. They declared themselves eager to work together to establish a powerful organization to speak for the majority of Muslims. Not only scholars, but many prominent business-persons and professionals joined in the call for action to cleanse our communities of the neo-"Salafi" innovations which have infiltrated them and which are destroying the fiber of our youth.
One speaker said, "These ‘Salafi’ people are trying to brainwash our children against us. I’m afraid one day that our children are going to accuse their parents of being ‘kufaar’ for following our traditional Islamic beliefs. This has been the pattern repeated throughout the world by evil regimes and we must band together to keep it from happening here."
Thus the ‘ulama present issued the strongest challenge ever to all Islamic organizations in the United States and Canada to stand up and speak with one voice to prevent their precious spiritual heritage from being destroyed from within by the new ideas which are running rampart through our communities. They called for unity of Muslims to be re-established by opening the doors of the Muslim organizations to those who accept and follow the way of Ahl as-Sunna wal-Jama‘at, who for too long have been excluded from participation in these organizations. The neo-"Salafi" Movement, which has for centuries been a discredited and banned theology, has come in recent years, due to the weakening of our Islamic institutions, to be spread once again throughout mosques and Islamic schools in North America.
"We must wake up!" urged Shaykh Hisham Kabbani, chairman of As-Sunna Foundation of America. "The silent majority who still hold dear the doctrines of Ahl-Sunnah wa Jama’at, mainly the pure Islam taught by our beloved Prophet (s) and his noble Followers and Companions (r), which is the doctrine supported by the overwhelming majority of ‘ulamaand pious believers throughout 14 centuries of Islam - that silent majority must unite and speak out in one voice before it is too late, and generations of Muslim youth are lost." The shaykh continued, "the neo-Salafi movement has tried its worst to cut the heart out of Islamic belief and practice!" The shaykh thundered from the podium, "and what it that heart?" Answering his own question he said, "the heart of our belief and practice is the love of our Beloved Prophet Muhammad (s). He is the symbol of Islam, and they are trying to destroy Islam by taking that symbol away."
Shaykh Kabbani then gestured to the distinguished panel of speakers seated beside him on the dais, which included Mawlana Shaykh As-Sayyid Muhammad Ma‘sum, Dr. Ja’far Qadiri, Shaykh Abdul Sattar an-Naqshbandi, Mufti Abdul Rahman Qamar of Pakistan, Dr. Ahmed Mirza, and many other distinguished scholars and workers for da’wa and declared, "Why are these honorable scholars of Islam, whose opinions represent the majority of Muslims, not permitted to speak in our masajid? Why are they prevented from appearing at the big Islamic conferences that are being held annually by different Muslim organizations? Why is only a minority group allowed to present their views but not the majority? Is this justice? We call for unity among the whole Muslim community without discrimination. They are free to hold their beliefs, but they must not call others ‘unbelievers’ and ‘polytheists!’"
Shaykh Kabbani went on to describe the bases of agreement and disagreement in Islamic thought. "It is well known that throughout Islamic history there have been differences in thinking between the various authentic schools of Islam. But these are differences only in‘furu`’, the branches (e.g. practice of ‘ibadat’) but not in the ‘usul’, the fundamental principles of belief. ‘Usul’ must be kept pure. But sincere believers may disagree through the‘ijtihad’ of qualified scholars on certain details related to practice." The shaykh stated that despite these differences, Muslims must respect one another and not slander each other. He demanded that the practice of calling 'kafir' those who disagree with their school stop. "The views of all respected schools must be allowed to be presented freely in our masajid." The shaykh described the current state of Islam in North America saying, "we are sending millions of dollars overseas to help Muslims in difficulties, but we are overlooking our Muslims here at home! They are in difficulties for holding to their correct beliefs and no one is raising their voice or their hand to help."
Shaykh Hisham then nominated the distinguished Shaykh As-Sayyid Muhammad Ma’sum, given his incalculable experience and wisdom, to be the chairman of a new organization which will represent the views of ahl-Sunnah wa Jama’at and carry their voice to every Islamic organization and institution. The shaykh then asked the gathered assembly, "Who will join me in this important and urgent cause?" A huge show of hands and a spontaneous outburst of "Takbir!" evidenced the crowd's willingness to support this long-awaited breakthrough.
In support of the call for a resurgent Ahl-Sunna wa Jama’at organization, Shaykh Hisham Kabbani issued a challenge to the American Muslim Council (AMC) through its chairman, Dr. Mohammed Chema who was present at the conference, to sponsor a series of debates, which will enable these important subjects to be aired in a public forum. "Let them [the neo-Salafi’s] bring their evidences, and we the Ahl-Sunnah wal-Jama’at will bring our own evidences and let the people hear all sides for a change. Let them decide on a suitable venue for this debate." Once again the loud outburst of "Takbir" evidenced the support of the majority for the shaykh’s proposition. He declared, "The ‘ball is now in the court’ of the many Muslim organizations in North America. Are they going to allow the overwhelming ‘silent’ majority to be heard, or continue to ignore them, while supporting the discredited but well-financed views of a handful?"
Mohammed Chema greets Shaykh Muhammad Masum,
newly nominated to lead a new Ahl as-Sunna wal-Jama`at organization.
Sheikh Salih bin Fawzan al-Fawzan
on how to unite the Ummah