Dr. Bilal Philips : Tashahhud was changed !

About one week ago, I was youtubing Dr. Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips, the reknown Jemaican wahabi scholar from the States. I stumbled across a clip of one of his many talks where he impudently mocks the accepted form of tashahhud where “Assalamu’alaiaka ayyuhan nabi …” is uttered and equates it with the saying of Ya Muhammad which he claimed to be an act of shirk. Below is the fatwa of Sheikh GF Haddad about the issue.

Was The Tashahhud Changed After The Prophet’s Death?

Answered by Shaykh Gibril F Haddad

Was the tashahhud (at-tahiyyatu lillahi…) changed after the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) passed away? I read this hadith: Volume 8, Book 74, Number 281: Narrated Ibn Mas’ud: Allah’s Apostle taught me the tashahhud as he taught me a sura from the Qur’an, while my hand was between his hands. (Tashahhud was) all the best compliments and the prayers and the good things are for Allah. Peace and Allah’s Mercy and Blessings be on you, O Prophet! Peace be on us and on the pious slaves of Allah, I testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah, and I also testify that Muhammad is Allah’s slave and His Apostle. (We used to recite this in the prayer) during the lifetime of the Prophet, but when he died, we used to say, “Peace be on the Prophet.” What did the ulama say about this hadith?

In the name of Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful,

As-Salamu `alaykum,

No, the tashahhud was not changed after the Holy Prophet passed away, blessings and peace be upon him. The ulama knew this hadith and did not consider it good enough evidence to change what many, many other hadiths said to the contrary. I have detailed this reply in a few points below.

1. The translation above is wrong. The correct translation is as follows:

`Abd Allah ibn Sakhbara: I heard Ibn Mas’ud say: “The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless and greet him) taught me, [as he held] my hand in his two hands, exactly the way he would teach me a sura from the Qur’an: al-tahiyyaat… [etc.]. As-Salamu `alayka ayyuha al-Nabi, wa-rahmatullah, wa-barakatuh…. [etc.] while he was among us. Then, when his soul was seized, we [still] said: as-Salamu; meaning, on the Prophet. This means: even after he passed away, we continued to give him the Salam as we did before, when he was among us. It would be incorrect from the viewpoint of Arabic to say that it means a switch to the indirect-speech formula after the passing of the Prophet.

2. This exact understanding is confirmed by Muslim’s narration – and he is more meticulous than al-Bukhari in the precision of the terms narrated – from the same `Abd Allah ibn Sakhbara, from Ibn Mas`ud: “The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless and greet him) taught me tashahhud [as he held] my hand in his two hands, exactly the way he would teach me a sura from the Qur’an…” Then Muslim said: “Then he recounted the tashahhud in the same terms as they did.” He means by “they” all other four chains for this hadith which he had narrated through Abu Wa’il Shaqiq ibn Salama from Ibn Mas`ud and which have the direct-speech formula (`alayka) as explicited in the next paragraph. So Ibn Mas`ud, even in Ibn Sakhbara’s narration from him, only meant: We continued to say: As-Salamu `alayka ayyuha al-Nabi even after the passing of the Prophet, upon him blessings and peace.

3. This exact understanding is further confirmed by al-Nasa’i’s narration from the same `Abd Allah ibn Sakhbara, from Ibn Mas`ud: “The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless and greet him) taught us tashahhud exactly the way he would teach us a sura from the Qur’an, [as he held] his [Ibn Mas‘ud’s] hand in his two hands: …. As-Salamu ‘alayka ayyuha al-Nabi…..”

4. More importantly than all the preceding, the Prophet himself taught the Companions to say: “Peace and blessings upon you, O Prophet” without telling them to change it after his death. This is narrated from (a) Ibn Mas`ud himself as well as from others of Ahl al-Fatwa among the Companions after the time of the Prophet upon him peace, some more senior than him such as our liege-lord (b) `Umar ibn al-Khattab (Muwatta’), also (c) Abu Musa al-Ash`ari (Muslim, Four Sunan); and others such as (d) our Mother ‘A’isha (Muwatta’, al-Tirmidhi) (e) Ibn ‘Umar (al-Tirmidhi, Abu Dawud), (f) Jabir (al-Tirmidhi, al-Nasa’i, Ibn Majah), (e) Ibn `Abbas (Muslim and the Four Sunan)!

5. As mentioned, Ibn Mas`ud himself says that the Prophet, upon him peace, taught them to say in the tashahhud: As-Salamu `alayka ayyuha al-Nabi and not otherwise whatsoever. His senior student Shaqiq narrates it from Ibn Mas`ud, from the Prophet upon him blessings and peace, in al-Bukhari in four places and in Muslim in four places as well as in al-Nasa’i in five places, Ibn Majah with four chains, and Abu Dawud.

6. Another senior student of Ibn Mas‘ud, ‘Alqama, also narrates it thus from Ibn Mas‘ud in al-Nasa’i (with 3 chains) who adds that ‘Alqama said: “Ibn Mas‘ud would teach us those words just as [meticulously as] he would teach us Qur’an.” And in Abu Dawud, this is exactly how ‘Alqama would teach tashahhud to his students.

7. Another senior student of Ibn Mas‘ud, al-Aswad ibn Yazid, also narrates it thus from Ibn Mas‘ud in al-Nasa’i, Ibn Majah, and al-Tirmidhi who adds: “This is the most authentic wording of the tashahhud.”

8. Another major student also narrates it thus from Ibn Mas‘ud: Abu al-Ahwas ‘Awf ibn Malik (four Sunan). Are all of the above (Shaqiq, ‘Alqama, al-Aswad, Abu al-Ahwas) wrong in what Ibn Mas‘ud taught them, and only a single man (`Abd Allah ibn Sakhbara) knew?

9. Nor did the major Companions whose Sunna we were ordered to imitate together with that of the Prophet e, such as Abû Bakr and ‘Umar, teach the Companions and Successors otherwise, nor did the rest of the Companions, nor did any of the Four Sunni Schools, nor does any authentic book of fiqh teach otherwise except a modernist person of bid`a who published an unauthorized and unauthoritative book he titled “The Prophet’s Prayer.”

10. Just supposing that Ibn Sakhbara’s narration from Ibn Mas`ud is actually different (as the Hafiz Ibn Hajar in Fath al-Bari believed), then there are many reasons why it could not have precedence over the other version. Among them: First, strength from the hadithic perspective. The familiar version is both in al-Bukhari with four chains and in Muslim with four chains as well as the Sunan and the Muwatta’, while Ibn Sakhbara’s version is only in al-Bukhari with one chain.

11. Second, fiqh-based strength and history from the hadithic perspective. None of the major students of Ibn Mas`ud narrate this divergent understanding from him. This divergent understanding is narrated from Ibn Mas`ud only by a minor student who met Ibn Mas`ud for a short while, `Abd Allah ibn Sakhbara. The totality of the hadiths he narrates from Ibn Mas`ud in the Nine Books is 40 including this one. Whereas the senior students all narrate in the hundreds such as `Alqama (273), al-Aswad (143), Shaqiq (385), Masruq (112), Abu al-Ahwas (162). It makes no sense that a junior alone knew from Ibn Mas`ud what the others did not know and it is even stranger that it should be about something so fundamental as the salat! Unless what he relates DOES NOT CONTRADICT BUT RATHER CONFIRMS what the others narrate in this regard, as is quite clear.

12. Third, it would be folly for us to leave the Prophet’s teaching on tashahhud as narrated and practiced by the totality of the Companions (except one, supposedly) and as understood by all Four Sunni Schools, in order to follow, 14 centuries later, a modern understanding which could very well be – and assuredly is – skewed and innovative. Such a choice is idiotic because the probability that it is wrong is enormous.

13. Abu ‘Ubayd al-Qasim ibn Sallam said: “Among the immense marks of honor from Allah to His Prophet [i.e. the exclusive special attributes (khasa’is) of the Prophet, upon him blessings and peace] is that he be addressed with Salam in the same manner before and after his earthly life.” The author of Mu‘tasar al-Mukhtasar (1:53) mentioned it then said: “The entire clause, ‘while he was among us, then, when his soul was seized, we said: as-Salamu, meaning, on the Prophet’” is disclaimed (munkar) because it presupposes that the tashahhud inside the prayer be different after the lifetime of the Prophet than it was during it and this contrary to universal practice and to what Abu Bakr and ‘Umar used to teach the people.”

14. This innovated controversy is a good example for the golden rule that the Religion is not taken from the books but from the qualified ulama teachers all the way to the Prophet, upon him blessings and peace. Nor are the Qur’an and Sunna approached in a vacuum but only through the understanding of the ulama of this umma beginning with the Companions then their Successors and so forth to our time. This umma has a lineage and is not an orphaned umma like the other Communities. Another rule is that not every sound hadith necessarily forms evidence as we were warned by Ibrahim al-Nakha‘i, Ibn Abi Layla, Ibn Mahdi, Malik, and many others.

Allah knows best and from Him comes all success.

Gibril Haddad

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2 Comments on “Dr. Bilal Philips : Tashahhud was changed !”

  1. thank you ancle bilal for witing this

  2. Bash manchester Says:

    Slaam brothers, sorry i cannot add much to your on going discussion but all i know is may Allah help these lost Wahabi’s

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