Muhammad Nasiruddin al-Albani
- See Albani for other uses of that name.
|Islamic scholar, Muhaddith
Muhammad Naasiruddeen al-Albani
محمد ناصر الدين الألباني
|Died||October 4, 1999 (aged 85)
|Nationality||Albania, later Syria|
|Occupation||Historiographer, bibliographer, watch repairman|
|Main interest(s)||Hadith studies|
Muhammad Nasiruddin al-Albani (Arabic: محمد ناصر الدين الألباني) (1914 – October 2, 1999) was an Albanian Islamic scholar of the 20th century; he specialised in the fields of hadith and fiqh. He was a watch repairman by trade, and a prolific writer and speaker, in addition to an artisan and was one of the first scholars to use word salafi as a sect symbol.
Albani was born into a poor family in the city of Shkodër in northwestern Albania. During the reign of the secularist Albanian leader Ahmet Zogu, al-Albani's family migrated to Damascus, Syria, due to their displeasure with the Western-influenced views of the Albanian government. In Damascus, Albani completed his early education - initially taught by his father - in the Quran, Tajwid, Arabic linguistic sciences, Hanafi Fiqh and further branches of the Islamic faith with the help of native Syrian scholars. In the meantime, he earned a modest living as a carpenter before joining his father as a watchmaker, a trade he was to master.
Beginning of hadith studies
By the age of twenty Al-Albani began specializing in the field of hadith and its related sciences, becoming influenced by articles in Al-Manaar magazine. He began work in this field by transcribing Abd al-Rahim ibn al-Husain al-'Iraqi's monumental Al-Mughnee 'an-hamlil-Asfar fil-Asfar fee takhrej maa fil-lhyaa min al-Akhbar.
Becoming famous for his knowledge of Hadith studies, Albani began delivering informal weekly lessons starting in 1954. By 1960, his popularity began to worry the government of Syria despite Albani's apolitical nature, and he was placed under surveillance. After a number of his works appeared in print, he was invited to teach Hadith at the Islamic University of Madinah by the University's then-vice president, Ibn Baz. Shortly upon his arrival, Albani's anti-traditionalist stances in Muslim jurisprudence angered the Wahhabi elite in Saudi Arabia, who were alarmed at Albani's intellectual challenges to the ruling Hanbali school of law but unable to challenge him openly due to his popularity. When Albani authored a book in support of his view that the Niqab, or full face-veil, was not a binding obligation upon Muslim women, he caused a minor uproar in the country and gave his opponents justification for allowing his contract with the university to lapse without renewal. In 1963, he left Saudi Arabia and returned to his studies and work in the Az-Zahiriyah library, leaving his watch shop in the hands of one of his brothers.
In 1967, Albani was seized by Syrian government authorities in a sweep of Sunni clerics and spent a month in prison before they were all released. After Bin Baz's intervention with Saudi educational management, Albani was invited to Saudi Arabia a second time in order to serve as the head of higher education in Islamic law in Mecca. This did not last due to controversy among the Saudi establishment regarding Albani's views; he returned to Syria where he was again jailed briefly in 1979, at which point he moved to Jordan.
He visited various countries for preaching and lectures – amongst them Qatar, Egypt, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Spain and the United Kingdom. He was forced to emigrate a number of times moving from Syria to Jordan, then Syria again, then Beirut, then the UAE, then again to Amman, Jordan.
Albani was a well-known proponent of Salafism, and is considered one of the movements primary figureheads in the 20th century. He was critical of what he viewed as the stagnation of Muslim civilization, blaming blind fanaticism to old traditions and the stifling of free thought and inquiry. This led Albani to criticism of the four mainstream schools of Islamic law, in addition to the spread of Sufism and the Tariqa system. Despite Salafism's frequent association with Wahhabism, Albani was a critic of the latter while a proponent of the former, and held a complex relationship with both movements.
Albani's own views on jurisprudence and dogma are a matter of some discussion. During a 1989 visit to Saudi Arabia, Albani was asked if he adhered to the lesser-known Zahiri school of Islamic law, to which he replied in the affirmative. Albani's opponents among the mainstream have affirmed this as a point of criticism, though a number of Albani's students have denied his association with any formal school of jurisprudence.
The commentator Zayd Ibn Fayad said about him:
- Indeed, Sheikh Muhammad Nasiruddin Al-Albani is from the most prominent and distinguished personalities of this era. He had great concern for the Hadith – its paths of transmission, its reporters and its levels of authenticity or weakness. This is an honorable task from the best things in which hours can be spent and efforts can be made. And he was like any other of the scholars – those who are correct in some matters and err in other matters. However, his devotion to this great science is from that which requires that his prestige be acknowledged and his endeavors in it be appreciated.
- And from the callers to the Sunnah who devoted their lives to reviving it was our brother Muhammad Nasiruddin Nooh Najati Al-Albani.
Albani was not without detractors, either. Fellow hadith scholars Ahmad al-Ghumari and Abdullah al-Ghumari, though acknowledging Albani's status as a scholar of the field, engaged in a heated debate with Albani regarding the issue of building mosques over the Mausoleums of Muslim religious figures.
Criticism & Controversy
Albani has no known teachers in either the fields of hadith or fiqh. Most of his scholarship was derived from his self-reading of manuscripts at the Dhahiriyya Library and in reading works to students; however, he did not attend anyone else’s lessons. He is known amongst the majority of Muslims scholars for his attack on mainstream, Sunni scholarship, the science of fiqh, especially the Hanafi school. Although he has achieved global recognition; there is a significant number of works criticizing his conclusions on the rating of hadith and the fiqh rulings. Most the contemporary Sunni scholars have warned of his works, and many of them wrote articles or full-length works against him such as:
- The Indian hadith scholar Habib al-Rahman al-A`zami who wrote al-Albani Shudhudhuh wa Akhta'uh ("Al-Albani's Aberrations and Errors") in four volumes.
- The Syrian scholar Muhammad Sa`id Ramadan al-Buti who wrote the two classics al-Lamadhhabiyya Akhtaru Bid`atin Tuhaddidu al-Shari`a al-Islamiyya ("Not Following A School of Jurisprudence is the Most Dangerous Innovation Threatening Islamic Sacred Law") and al-Salafiyya Marhalatun Zamaniyyatun Mubaraka La Madhhabun Islami ("The `Way of the Early Muslims' Was A Blessed Historical Epoch, Not An Islamic School of Thought")
- The Moroccan hadith scholar `Abd Allah ibn Muhammad ibn al-Siddiq al-Ghumari who wrote Irgham al-Mubtadi` al-Ghabi bi Jawaz al-Tawassul bi al-Nabi fi al-Radd `ala al-Albani al-Wabi ("The Coercion of the Unintelligent Innovator with the Licitness of Using the Prophet - Allah bless and greet him - as an Intermediary in Refutation of al-Albani the Baneful"), al-Qawl al-Muqni` fi al-Radd `ala al-Albani al-Mubtadi` ("The Persuasive Discourse in Refutation of al-Albani the Innovator"), and Itqan al-Sun`a fi Tahqiq Ma`na al-Bid`a ("Precise Handiwork in Ascertaining the Meaning of Innovation").
- The Moroccan hadith scholar `Abd al-`Aziz ibn Muhammad ibn al-Siddiq al-Ghumari who wrote Bayan Nakth al-Nakith al-Mu`tadi ("The Exposition of the Treachery of the Rebel").
- The Syrian hadith scholar `Abd al-Fattah Abu Ghudda who wrote Radd `ala Abatil wa Iftira'at Nasir al-Albani wa Sahibihi Sabiqan Zuhayr al-Shawish wa Mu'azirihima ("Refutation of the Falsehoods and Fabrications of Nasir al-Albani and his Former Friend Zuhayr al-Shawish and their Supporters").
- The Egyptian Hadith scholar Muhammad `Awwama who wrote Adab al-Ikhtilaf ("The Proper Manners of Expressing Difference of Opinion").
- The Egyptian hadith scholar Mahmud Sa`id Mamduh who wrote Wusul al-Tahani bi Ithbat Sunniyyat al-Subha wa al-Radd `ala al-Albani ("The Alighting of Mutual Benefit and Confirmation that the Dhikr-Beads are a Sunna in Refutation of al-Albani") and Tanbih al-Muslim ila Ta`addi al-Albani `ala Sahih Muslim ("Warning to the Muslim Concerning al-Albani's Attack on Sahih Muslim").
- The Saudi hadith scholar Isma`il ibn Muhammad al-Ansar who wrote Ta`aqqubat `ala "Silsilat al-Ahadith al-Da`ifa wa al-Mawdu`a" li al-Albani ("Critique of al-Albani's Book on Weak and Forged Hadiths"), Tashih Salat al-Tarawih `Ishrina Rak`atan wa al-Radd `ala al-Albani fi Tad`ifih ("Establishing as Correct the Tarawih Salat in Twenty Rak`as and the Refutation of Its Weakening by al-Albani"), and Ibahat al-Tahalli bi al-Dhahab al-Muhallaq li al-Nisa' wa al-Radd `ala al-Albani fi Tahrimih ("The Licitness of Wearing Gold Jewelry for Women Contrary to al-Albani's Prohibition of it").
- The Syrian scholar Badr al-Din Hasan Diab who wrote Anwar al-Masabih `ala Zulumat al-Albani fi Salat al-Tarawih ("Illuminating the Darkness of al-Albani over the Tarawih Prayer").
- The Director of Religious Endowments in Dubai, `Isa ibn `Abd Allah ibn Mani` al-Himyari who wrote al-I`lam bi Istihbab Shadd al-Rihal li Ziyarati Qabri Khayr al-Anam - Allah bless and greet him - ("The Notification Concerning the Recommendation of Travelling to Visit the Grave of the Best of Creation - Allah bless and greet him -) and al-Bid`a al-Hasana Aslun Min Usul al-Tashri` ("The Excellent Innovation Is One of the Sources of Islamic Legislation").
- The Minister of Islamic Affairs and Religious Endowments in the United Arab Emirates Shaykh Muhammad ibn Ahmad al-Khazraji who wrote the article al-Albani: Tatarrufatuh ("Al-Albani's Extremist Positions").
- The Syrian scholar Firas Muhammad Walid Ways in his edition of Ibn al-Mulaqqin's Sunniyyat al-Jumu`a al-Qabliyya ("The Sunna Prayers That Must Precede Salat al-Jumu`a").
- The Syrian scholar Samer Islambuli who wrote al-Ahad, al-Ijma`, al-Naskh.
- The Jordanian scholar As`ad Salim Tayyim who wrote Bayan Awham al-Albani fi Tahqiqihi li Kitab Fadl al-Salat `ala al-Nabi - Allah bless and greet him -.
- The Jordanian scholar Hasan `Ali al-Saqqaf who wrote the two-volume Tanaqudat al-Albani al-Wadiha fi ma Waqa`a fi Tashih al-Ahadith wa Tad`ifiha min Akhta' wa Ghaltat ("Albani's Patent Self-Contradictions in the Mistakes and Blunders He Committed While Declaring Hadiths to be Sound or Weak"), Ihtijaj al-Kha'ib bi `Ibarat man Idda`a al-Ijma` fa Huwa Kadhib ("The Loser's Recourse to the Phrase: `Whoever Claims Consensus Is a Liar!'"), al-Qawl al-Thabtu fi Siyami Yawm al-Sabt ("The Firm Discourse Concerning Fasting on Saturdays"), al-Lajif al-Dhu`af li al-Mutala`ib bi Ahkam al-I`tikaf ("The Lethal Strike Against Him Who Toys with the Rulings of I`tikaf), Sahih Sifat Salat al-Nabi Sallallahu `alayhi wa Sallam ("The Correct Description of the Prophet's Prayer - Allah bless and greet him -"), I`lam al-Kha'id bi Tahrim al-Qur'an `ala al-Junub wa al-Ha'id ("The Appraisal of the Meddler in the Interdiction of the Qur'an to those in a State of Major Defilement and Menstruating Women"), Talqih al-Fuhum al-`Aliya ("The Inculcation of Lofty Discernment"), and Sahih Sharh al-`Aqida al-Tahawiyya ("The Correct Explanation of al-Tahawi's Statement of Islamic Doctrine").
- At-Targhib wa't-Tarhib (Volumes 1–4)
- At-Tasfiyah wa't-Tarbiya
- At-Tawassulu: Anwa'uhu wa Ahkamuhu (Tawassul: Its Types & Its Rulings) (link to english translation)
- Irwa al-Ghalil (Volumes 1–9)
- Talkhis Ahkam al-Jana'iz
- Sahih wa Da'if Sunan Abu Dawood (Volumes 1–4)
- Sahih wa Da'if Sunan at-Tirmidhi (Volumes 1–4)
- Sahih wa Da'if Sunan ibn Majah (Volumes 1–4)
- Al-Aqidah at-Tahawiyyah Sharh wa Ta'liq
- Sifatu Salati An-Nabiyy (link to English translation)
- Silsalat al-Hadith ad-Da'ifa (Volumes 1–14)
- Silsalat al-Hadith as-Sahiha (Volumes 1–11)
- Salat ut-Tarawih (later an abridgement of this book was published by al-Albani – Qiyamu Ramadhan)
- Salat an-Nabawi (the prayer of the prophet in the light of authentic hadiths) (link to english translation)
- Rashid Rida
- Ibn Taymiyyah
- Ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyya
- Abd al-Aziz ibn Abd Allah ibn Baaz
- Muhammad ibn al Uthaymeen
- Muhammad Asadullah Al-Ghalib
- Roel Meijer, Global Salafism: Islam's New Religious Movement, pg. 63. New York: Columbia University Press, 2009.
- A Brief Biography of Ash-Shaikh Al-Muhaddith Abu 'Abdir-Rahmaan Muhammad Naasir-ud-Deen Al-Albaani by Dr. 'Aasim 'Abdullaah al-Qaryooti
- Meijer, Global Salafism, pg. 65.
- Meijer, Global Salafism, pg. 66.
- Meijer, Global Salafism, pg. 67.
- Stephane Lacroix, Awakening Islam, pg. 220. Trns. George Holoch. Cambridge: President and Fellows of Harvard College, 2011.
- Stephane Lacroix, Al-Albani's Revolutionary Approach to Hadith. Leiden University's ISIM Review, Spring 2008, #21.
- Meijer, Global Salafism, pg. 68.
- al-Albani, "Shareet al-Khobar," tape #4, 1989: Khobar, Saudi Arabia.
- al-Asalaah, Issue #23, Pg. 76–77
- Biography of Shaikh Muhammad Naasiruddin al-Albaani by Shaykh 'Ali Hasan al-Halabi
- Muhammad Moin, "Ahmed Al-Ghumari on Al-Albani". Al-Sunnah: 8 March 2011.
- Dr. G. F. Haddad, " AL-ALBANI A Concise Guide to the Chief Innovator of Our Time". sunna.org
- Nuh Ha Memm Keller, " The Ijazas of Ibn Baz and al-Albani". masud.co.uk
- Professor A.R. Momin, " Albani’s Aberrations & Errors – Shaykh Habibur Rahman A’zami. Darul Tahqiq
- The Albaani Site - Translations from His Works - Updated Regularly
- Official Website of Sheikh Al-Albani
- Jewels of Guidance (selected words and incidents from the life of Shaykh al-Albani)
- Imam Al-Albani's Subjugation Of Al-Buti
- Comprehensive collection of al-Albani articles and books in English
- Refutation of the book 'Al-Albani Unveiled'
- An Albanian fervent scholar of Prophetic Tradition
- Collected English Translations from the Works of Sh al-Albaanee
- Precious Gems from the Works of Sh al-Albaanee - in English
- *[http://immamalbani.blogspot.com/ Sh al-Albaanee - Audio in English]