Muhammad Nasiruddin al-Albani

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Muhammad Nāsir al-Dīn al-Albanī
Personal Details
Title Shaykh
Born 1914
Shkodër, Albania
Died October 4, 1999 (aged 85)
Amman, Jordan
Nationality Albanian, Syrian
Ethnicity Albanian
Occupation Faqih, historiographer, bibliographer, watch repairman
Religion Islam
Denomination Sunni
Main interest(s) Hadith studies
Awards King Faisal International Prize, 1999
Website Memorial website

Muhammad Nasir-ud-Dīn al-Albani (1914 – October 2, 1999) was an Albanian Islamic scholar who specialised in the fields of hadith and fiqh. He is considered to be a major figure of the purist Salafi movement.[1] Al-Albani did not advocate violence, preferring quietism and obedience to established governments.[2] He was a watchmaker by trade, and was also active as a writer and speaker.


Early life[edit]

Albani was born into a poor family in the city of Shkodër in northern Albania in 1914.[3] During the reign of the secularist Albanian leader Ahmet Zogu, al-Albani's family migrated to Damascus, Syria. 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.[4][5] In the meantime, he earned a modest living as a carpenter before joining his father as a watchmaker.[5]

Albani began to specialize in hadith studies in the 1930s. Though he was largely self-taught,[6][7][8] he transcribed and commented on Abd al-Rahim ibn al-Husain al-'Iraqi's Al-Mughnee 'an-hamlil-Asfar fil-Asfar fee takhrej maa fil-lhyaa min al-Akhbar.[5] He followed this with a series of lectures and books as well as articles in Al-Manar magazine.[3]

Scholastic career[edit]

Albani began delivering informal weekly lessons starting in 1954. By 1960, his popularity began to worry the government of Syria, and he was placed under surveillance by the Hafiz al-Asad government and was imprisoned twice in 1969[9] and under house arrest in the late 1970s.[10] 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, Abd al-Aziz 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.[11] 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.[11] 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.[5][page needed]

Imprisonment in Syria[edit]

Albani was arrested twice in Syria in the 1960s and was placed under house arrest in the 1970s by the Ba'ath regime of Hafez al-Assad.[9] and under house arrest in the late 1970s.[12] Among the accusations against al-Albani by the Syrian government was 'one that accused him of promoting the Wahhabi da’wa, which distorted Islam and confused Muslims.'[12][additional citation needed]

He was jailed in May 1967 and released a month later, in June 1967. During his imprisonment, al-Albani edited Al-Hafiz al-Munziri’s Mukhtasar Sahih Muslim.[3][additional citation needed]

Later life[edit]

Albani visited various countries for preaching and lectures – amongst them Qatar, Egypt, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Spain and the United Kingdom. He moved a number of times from Syria to Jordan, then Syria again, then Beirut, then the UAE, then again to Amman, Jordan.[5]

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.[13] 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 died in 1999 at the age of 85, the same year when he won the King Faisal International Prize for his contributions to scholarship in Islamic studies.[3]


Albani was a well-known proponent of Salafism, and is considered one of the movement's 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.[14][15]

Albani was amongst some leading Salafi scholars who had been preaching against the warped literalism of extremists for decades. They were politically quietists who rejected vigilantism and rebellion against the state. They believed that Muslims should focus on purifying their beliefs and practice and that, in time, "God would bring victory over the forces of falsehood and unbelief."[16]

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.[17] 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.[citation needed]


Albani held a number of controversial views that ran counter to the wider Islamic consensus, and more specifically to Hanbali/Wahhabi jurisprudence.[18] These include:

  • his view that mihrabs — the niche found in a mosques indicating the direction of Mecca — were bida (an innovation).[18]
  • his view that it was permissible to pray in a mosque with one’s shoes[18]
  • his call for Palestinians to leave the occupied territories since, according to him, they were unable to practice their faith there as they should[18][19]This view was also controversial within the Salafi movement.[20]
  • his view that it is prohibited for women to wear gold bracelets.[21]
  • his view that it was not necessary for women to cover their faces.[21]
  • his view that the Muslim ruler must be from the tribe of al-Quraysh.[22]

Additionally, Albani wrote a book in which he redefined the proper gestures and formulae that constitute the Muslim prayer ritual “according to the Prophet’s sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallams practice”—and contrary to the prescriptions of all established schools of jurisprudence.[18] This book caused much unease as it argued that several details of the concrete prayer that have been taught from generation to generation are based on dubious hadith.[23] On the performance of the Tahajjud and Taraweeh prayer Albani's descriptions deviated considerably from established practice.[23]

Albani openly criticized Syed Qutb after his execution. He claimed that Qutb had deviated in creed and held the belief of "Oneness of Being". Further, Albani accused Hassan al-Banna, the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, of not being a religious scholar and holding "positions contrary to the Sunna".[24]


Albani was criticized by a number of contemporary Sunni scholars. Safar Al-Hawali criticized Albani for his "categorical condemnation of Taqlid" and his "radical hadith based revisionism".[25]

In the early 1970s Syrian Hadith scholar Abd al-Fattah Abu Ghudda published a tract against al-Albani's reevaluation of Sahih al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim.[26] In 1987 the Egyptian hadith scholar Mahmud Sa'id Mamduh published a work entitled Alerting the Muslim to al-Albani's Transgression upon Sahih Muslim.[26] He stated that:

Indeed, I have concluded that his methods disagree with those of the jurists and hadith scholars, and that his methods are creating great disarray and evident disruption in the proofs of jurisprudence both generally and specifically. He lacks trust in the Imams of law and hadith, as well as in the rich hadith and law tradition handed down to us, in which the umma has taken great pride.[27]

Syrian hadith scholar Nur al-Din 'Itr rebutted some of al-Albani's views.[28] His contemporary, the Syrian scholar Said Ramadan al-Bouti took issue with Albani's well-known call for all Palestinians to leave Israel, the West Bank and Gaza.[29] He also wrote two rebuttals of al-Albani entitled Anti-Madhabism: the dangers of an innovation that threaten the Sharia and Salafiyya: a blessed historical period, not a school of fiqh.[28] Lebanese scholar Gibril Fouad Haddad has dubbed al-Albani "the chief innovator of our time" and accused him of bida.[26]

The "reformed" jihadist Sayyed Imam Al-Sharif considered Albani to be "wrapped in evil" and "not suitable to be a sheikh" for his alleged claim that Jihad is defined as forgiveness, education and prayer.[30]


Over a period of sixty years, Albani's lectures and published books were highly influential in the field of Islamic studies and many of his works became reference points for other Islamic scholars.[3]Muhibb-ud-Deen Al-Khatib, a contemporary scholar said of him that:

"And from the callers to the Sunnah who devoted their lives to reviving it was our brother Muhammad Nasiruddin Nooh Najati Al-Albani."[31][32]

Albani was awarded the King Faisal International Prize in 1999 for Islamic studies. The award committee described him to be "considered by many academics as probably the greatest Islamic scholar of the 20th Century."[3][33]

In 2015, the Huffington Post remarked that Albani's movement of "'Quietist Salafism' with its strong opposition to tafkirism (doctrine of excommunication and declaring other Muslims of being heretics) and violence may provide the rhetoric that could prevent youth from being drawn to the apocalyptic rubbish of ISIS."[34]


His works, mainly in the field of Hadith and its sciences, number over 100 and include:[5]

  1. At-Targhib wa't-Tarhib (Volumes 1–4)
  2. At-Tasfiyah wa't-Tarbiya
  3. At-Tawassulu: Anwa'uhu wa Ahkamuhu (Tawassul: Its Types & Its Rulings) (link to english translation)
  4. Irwa al-Ghalil (Volumes 1–9)
  5. Talkhis Ahkam al-Jana'iz
  6. Sahih wa Da'if Sunan Abu Dawood (Volumes 1–4)
  7. Sahih wa Da'if Sunan at-Tirmidhi (Volumes 1–4)
  8. Sahih wa Da'if Sunan ibn Majah (Volumes 1–4)
  9. Al-Aqidah at-Tahawiyyah Sharh wa Ta'liq
  10. Sifatu Salati An-Nabiyy (link to English translation)
  11. Silsalat al-Hadith ad-Da'ifa (Volumes 1–14)
  12. Silsalat al-Hadith as-Sahiha (Volumes 1–11)
  13. Salat ut-Tarawih (later an abridgement of this book was published by al-Albani – Qiyamu Ramadhan)
  14. Salat an-Nabawi (the prayer of the prophet in the light of authentic hadiths) (link to english translation)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Lauzière, Henri (2015). The Making of Salafism: Islamic Reform in the Twentieth Century. Columbia University Press. p. 10 – via De Gruyter. (subscription required (help)). 
  2. ^ Haykel, Bernard (2009). "Salafī Groups". In John L. Esposito. The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Islamic World. Oxford: Oxford University Press. (subscription required (help)). 
  3. ^ a b c d e f Sheikh Mohammad Nasir Ad-Din Al-Albani at the official King Faisal International Prize website. Accessed November 26, 2014.
  4. ^ Roel Meijer, Global Salafism: Islam's New Religious Movement, pg. 63. New York: Columbia University Press, 2009.
  5. ^ a b c d e f A Brief Biography of Ash-Shaikh Al-Muhaddith Abu 'Abdir-Rahmaan Muhammad Naasir-ud-Deen Al-Albaani by Dr. 'Aasim 'Abdullaah al-Qaryooti
  6. ^ Lacroix, Stephane; Holoch, George (2011-08-15). Awakening Islam. Harvard University Press. p. 119. ISBN 9780674061071. 
  7. ^ Bruinessen, Martin van; Allievi, Stefano (2013-06-17). Producing Islamic Knowledge: Transmission and dissemination in Western Europe. Routledge. ISBN 9781136932854. 
  8. ^ Meijer, Roel (2009-10-01). Global Salafism: Islam's new religious movement. Hurst & Co. p. 63. In this way he became a self-taught expert on Islam, learning from the books rather then the ulema. One of his biographers even states that al-Albani was distinguished in religious circles by how few ijazats (certificates) he possessed. 
  9. ^ a b Jacob Olidort, [1]. Brookings Institution, Analysis Paper No.18, February 2015, "The Politics of “Quietist” Salafism", pg 14
  10. ^ Meijer, Global Salafism, pg. 65.
  11. ^ a b Meijer, Global Salafism, pg. 66.
  12. ^ a b Abu Rumman, Mohammad; Abu Hanieh, Hassan. Jordanian Salafism: A Strategy for the "Islamization of Society"and an Ambiguous Relationship with the State (PDF). Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung. p. 43. ISBN 9780674049642.  Dec 2010
  13. ^ Meijer, Global Salafism, pg. 67.
  14. ^ Stephane Lacroix, Awakening Islam, pg. 220. Trns. George Holoch. Cambridge: President and Fellows of Harvard College, 2011.
  15. ^ Meijer, Global Salafism, pg. 68.
  16. ^ A.C. Brown, Jonathan (2014). Misquoting Muhammad: The Challenge and Choices of Interpreting the Prophet's Legacy. Oneworld Publications. p. 129. ISBN 978-1780744209. 
  17. ^ al-Albani, "Shareet al-Khobar," tape #4, 1989: Khobar, Saudi Arabia.
  18. ^ a b c d e Stephane Lacroix, Al-Albani's Revolutionary Approach to Hadith. Leiden University's ISIM Review, Spring 2008, #21. Page 6
  19. ^ Lacroix, Stephane; Holoch, George (2011-01-01). Awakening Islam. Harvard University Press. p. 87. ISBN 9780674049642. 
  20. ^ Batrawi, Samar (28 October 2015). "What ISIS Talks About When It Talks About Palestine". Foreign Affairs. Foreign Affairs. Retrieved 5 June 2016. 
  21. ^ a b Brown, Jonathan (2007-06-05). The Canonization of Al-Bukhari and Muslim: The Formation and Function of the Sunni Hadith Canon. BRILL. p. 325. ISBN 9004158391. 
  22. ^ Kahn, Jonathan; Lloyd, Vincent (2016-03-22). Race and Secularism in America. Columbia University Press. p. 130. ISBN 9780231541275. 
  23. ^ a b Bruinessen, Martin van; Allievi, Stefano (2013-06-17). Producing Islamic Knowledge: Transmission and Dissemination in Western Europe. Routledge. p. 5. ISBN 9781136932861. 
  24. ^ Lacroix, Stephane; Holoch, George (2011-01-01). Awakening Islam. Harvard University Press. p. 86. ISBN 9780674049642. 
  25. ^ Lav, Daniel (2012-02-29). Radical Islam and the Revival of Medieval Theology. Cambridge University Press. p. 117. ISBN 9781107009646. 
  26. ^ a b c Brown, Jonathan (2007-06-05). The Canonization of Al-Bukhari and Muslim: The Formation and Function of the Sunni Hadith Canon. BRILL. p. 327. ISBN 9004158391. 
  27. ^ Brown, Jonathan (2007-06-05). The Canonization of Al-Bukhari and Muslim: The Formation and Function of the Sunni Hadith Canon. BRILL. p. 328. ISBN 9004158391. 
  28. ^ a b Pierret, Thomas (2013-03-25). Religion and State in Syria: The Sunni Ulama from Coup to Revolution. Cambridge University Press. p. 106. ISBN 9781107026414. 
  29. ^ Cook, David (2015-09-01). Understanding Jihad. Univ of California Press. p. 123. ISBN 9780520962491. 
  30. ^ Brachman, Jarret M. (2008-09-03). Global Jihadism: Theory and Practice. Routledge. p. 33. ISBN 9781134055418. 
  31. ^ al-Asalaah, Issue #23, Pg. 76–77
  32. ^ Biography of Shaikh Muhammad Naasiruddin al-Albaani by Shaykh 'Ali Hasan al-Halabi
  33. ^ ["Albani 1999 KFIP winner"]
  34. ^ Tariq, Khwaja Khusro (17 December 2015). "Want to Defeat ISIS? Try Muslim Ownership — Part 2" (1). Huffington Post. Huffington Post. Retrieved 5 June 2016. 

External links[edit]