On Deviancy and Sectarianism

On Deviancy and Sectarianism

The greatest deviance, the greatest injustice and the worst sin, as mentioned in all of Allah’s books, the Torah, Psalms, Gospel, and the Quran is to associate partners with Allah in idolatry and take His name in blasphemy and disbelief.  The reason is that idolatry stands in opposition and contradiction to the purpose of creation and the basis of all good in life as Allah our Lord and Creator, the Most Exalted in truth and justice, said:

﴿ وَمَا خَلَقْتُ الْجِنَّ وَالْإِنسَ إِلَّا لِيَعْبُدُونِ () مَا أُرِيدُ مِنْهُم مِّن رِّزْقٍ وَمَا أُرِيدُ أَن يُطْعِمُونِ () إِنَّ اللَّهَ هُوَ الرَّزَّاقُ ذُو الْقُوَّةِ الْمَتِينُ ﴾

“And I have not created man and jinn except to worship Me (Alone). I do not seek any provision from them, nor do I ask that they should feed Me. Verily; Allah is the All-Provider, Owner of Power, the Most Strong. (51:56-58)


Worship of course is not mere rites and rituals, but all good deeds are worship when fulfilling the two conditions mentioned above.


The purpose of any ultimate victory over those that would stop the worship of Allah and the glorification of His Name, the enemies of Allah and the enemies of the believers is to establish worship and the known goodness as Allah the Most Exalted said:

﴿ وَلَيَنصُرَنَّ اللَّهُ مَن يَنصُرُهُ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَقَوِيٌّ عَزِيزٌ () الَّذِينَ إِن مَّكَّنَّاهُمْ فِي الْأَرْضِ أَقَامُوا الصَّلوةَ وَآتَوُا الزَّكَوةَ

وَأَمَرُوا بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَنَهَوْا عَنِ الْمُنكَرِ وَلِلَّهِ عَاقِبَةُ الْأُمُورِ ﴾

“Verily Allah helps and gives victory to those one who help and give victory to Him. Lo! Allah is Strong, Almighty. Those who, if We give them power in the land, establish regular prayer and give regular charity and enjoin virtue and forbid evil. And with Allah is the sequel of events.” (22: 40-41)

The Prophet of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, explained the purpose of all our wealth and possession in the words of a divine tradition (Hadith Qudsi), that they are to be used for worship, when he said:

: “إن الله عز وجل قال : إنا أنزلنا المال لإقام الصلاة ، وايتاء الزكاة ….”

“Allah the Almighty and Majestic said: ‘I have made wealth to descend for the establishment of prayer and the paying of charity …’”[1] This explains that our sustenance, and all that we are given of our wealth by Allah, should be utilized to fulfill our purpose in life, which is to worship Him and Him alone by offering prayer and thanks and glorification to Him, our Creator, and to give in charity gifts and assistance from ourselves and our wealth for the benefit of other creatures.


If someone worships Allah but also worships other idols along with Allah, he is a polytheist.  Allah the Supreme said explaining that idolatry is the greatest sin and falsehood:

﴿  إِنَّ اللّهَ لاَ يَغْفِرُ أَن يُشْرَكَ بِهِ وَيَغْفِرُ مَا دُونَ ذَلِكَ لِمَن يَشَاء وَمَن يُشْرِكْ بِاللّهِ فَقَدِ افْتَرَى إِثْمًا عَظِيمًا ﴾

“Allah does not forgive that partners should be set up with him in worship; but He forgives anything else to whom He pleases, and whoever associates partners with Allah has fabricated a great evil.” [4:48]  And Allah the Almighty says:

﴿ إِنَّهُ مَن يُشْرِكْ بِاللّهِ فَقَدْ حَرَّمَ اللّهُ عَلَيهِ الْجَنَّةَ وَمَأْوَاهُ النَّارُ وَمَا لِلظَّالِمِينَ مِنْ أَنصَارٍ ﴾

“Truly, whosoever sets up partners with Allah, then Allah has forbidden Paradise for him, and the Fire will be his abode. And for the wrongdoers there are no helpers.” [5:72].


Idolatry is basically the result of ignorance, for Allah says:

﴿ قُلْ أَفَغَيْرَ اللَّهِ تَأْمُرُونِّي أَعْبُدُ أَيُّهَا الْجَاهِلُونَ ﴿﴾ وَلَقَدْ أُوحِيَ إِلَيْكَ وَإِلَى الَّذِينَ مِنْ قَبْلِكَ لَئِنْ أَشْرَكْتَ

لَيَحْبَطَنَّ عَمَلُكَ وَلَتَكُونَنَّ مِنَ الْخَاسِرِينَ ﴾

“Say, is it other than Allah you order me to worship Oh you ignorant people? And indeed it has been revealed to you as it was to those before you (O Muhammad), that if you join others in worship with Allah in idolatry then surely all your deeds will be in vain, and you will certainly be among the losers.’” (39:64-5)


The ignorance of the polytheists is explained in the words of the companion Abdullah ibn Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him:

« صَارَتِ الأوْثَانُ الَّتِي كَانَتْ فِي قَوْمِ نُوحٍ فِي الْعَرَبِ بَعْدُ، أَمَّا وَدٌّ فكَانَتْ لِكَلْبٍ بِدُوْمَةِ الْجَنْدَلِ، وَأَمَّا سُوَاعٌ فكَانَتْ لِهُذَيْلٍ، وَأَمَّا يَغُوثُ فَكَانَتْ لِمُرَادٍ ثُمَّ لِبَنِي غُطَيْفٍ بِالْجَوْفِ عِنْدَ سَبَأٍ، وَأَمَّا يَعُوقُ فَكَانَتْ لِهَمْدَانَ، وَأَمَّا نَسْرٌ فَكَانَتْ لِحِمْيَرَ لآلِ ذِي الْكَلاعِ؛ أَسْمَاءُ رِجَالٍ صَالِحِينَ مِنْ قَوْمِ نُوحٍ، فَلَمَّا هَلَكُوا أَوْحَى الشَّيْطَانُ إِلَى قَوْمِهِمْ أَنِِ انْصِبُوا إِلَى مَجَالِسِهِمْ الَّتِي كَانُوا يَجْلِسُونَ أَنْصَابًا وَسَمُّوهَا بِأَسْمَائِهِمْ ، فَفَعَلُوا فَلَمْ تُعْبَدْ، حَتَّى إِذَا هَلَكَ أُولَئِكَ وَتَنَسَّخَ الْعِلْمُ عُبِدَتْ » البخاري.

Ibn Abbas may Allah be pleased with them, said: “These are the names of the idols that were in the time of Noah and then the Arabs afterwards. As for Wadd, he was idol for the tribe of “Kalb”, located at Doomata-al-Jandal; Suwa’a was for Hudthail; Yaghuth was for Murad at first then for Bani Ghutaif located at Jauf near Saba`a; Ya’uq was for Hamdan; and Nasr was for Himyar, the children of Dthil-Kila’a. These are the names of some pious persons of the people of Noah. When they died the Satan inspired the people to set up statues of them in their meeting place and call them by their names. They did this but the statues were not worshipped yet. Then when the time lapsed and those people died and the knowledge of the affair was abrogated, they were worshipped.”


Fabrication of lies about Allah is of those evils Allah has forbidden at all times:

((قُلْ إِنَّمَا حَرَّمَ رَبِّيَ الْفَوَاحِشَ مَا ظَهَرَ مِنْهَا وَمَا بَطَنَ وَالإِثْمَ وَالْبَغْيَ بِغَيْرِ الْحَقِّ وَأَن تُشْرِكُواْ بِاللّهِ

مَا لَمْ يُنَزِّلْ بِهِ سُلْطَانًا وَأَن تَقُولُواْ عَلَى اللّهِ مَا لاَ تَعْلَمُونَ))

“Say: the things that my Lord hath indeed forbidden are: shameful deeds, whether open or secret; sins and oppressive injustices (and trespasses against rights); assigning of partners to Allah for which He hath given no authority; and saying things about Allah of which ye have no knowledge.” (7:33)


In relation to this verse the scholars explain that Allah has forbidden the above mentioned acts upon all of the communities of faithful of all prophets since Adam, may Allah’s peace be upon him. The prohibitions mentioned are graded from the personal sins, to the greater sins or violations against one’s self and others, to the greater crimes of aggression and oppression, to associating partners with Allah in idolatry, and then the most severe sin is saying something about Allah of which one has no knowledge. The reason this is the gravest sin is that this kind of ignorance, along with its supreme arrogance, is the basis of all idolatry and all falsehood, from which all the sins emanate along with evil desires.


Even if man does worship and prostrates to Allah sometimes, if at any other times he worships and prostrates to another besides Allah, he has fallen into idolatry and polytheism. If he denies Allah outrightly and refuses to worship Him, he is an atheist or an arrogant renegade. Arrogance was the sin of Ibless (Lucifer, Satan) as Allah the Almighty and Sublime said:

﴿وَإِذْ قُلْنَا لِلْمَلَائِكَةِ اسْجُدُوا لِآَدَمَ فَسَجَدُوا إِلَّا إِبْلِيسَ أَبَى وَاسْتَكْبَرَ وَكَانَ مِنَ الْكَافِرِينَ ﴾

“And when We said to the angels, ‘Prostrate to Adam’ so they all prostrated except for Iblees (Satan): he refused, was arrogant, and was of the disbelievers.” (2:34) And if man follows him in arrogance he is like him, for as Allah said:

﴿إِنَّمَا يُؤْمِنُ بِآيَاتِنَا الَّذِينَ إِذَا ذُكِّرُوا بِهَا خَرُّوا سُجَّدًا وَسَبَّحُوا بِحَمْدِ رَبِّهِمْ وَهُمْ لَا يَسْتَكْبِرُونَ ﴾

“Only those believe in Our signs and revelations who, when they are reminded of them, fall down prostrate, and glorify the Praises of their Lord, and they are not proud.” [32:15]

And He said:

﴿ وَلِلَّهِ يَسْجُدُ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَا فِي الْأَرْضِ مِنْ دَابَّةٍ وَالْمَلَائِكَةُ وَهُمْ لَا يَسْتَكْبِرُونَ ﴾

“And to Allah prostrates whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth, of creatures and the angels, and they are not arrogant.” (16:49)


This means that they do not refuse to prostrate arrogantly, as Iblees did, for Abu Hurairah narrates that the Prophet said, may the peace and blessing of Allah be upon him:

“إذا قرأ ابن آدم السجدة اعتزل الشيطان فبكى يقول يا ويلي من آدم أمر بالسجود فسجد

فله الجنة وأمرت بالسجود فأبيت فلي النار

“If the son of Adam reads as-Sajdah [(Surat of the Quran 32] the Shaitan (Satan) cries and says: ‘Woe to me from Adam, He was ordered to prostate and prostrated and he gets Paradise, and I was ordered to prostrate and I refused so I get the Hellfire.’”[2]


After idolatry, the next greatest kind of sin is innovation in religion since by this one fabricates and makes things up about what Allah likes and dislikes and legislates various forms of worships and laws from whims and misunderstandings.  If a person thinks he is doing good deeds how will he ever realize his mistake and repent? Allah the Exalted said:

{هُوَ الَّذِيَ أَنزَلَ عَلَيْكَ الْكِتَابَ مِنْهُ آيَاتٌ مُّحْكَمَاتٌ هُنَّ أُمُّ الْكِتَابِ وَأُخَرُ مُتَشَابِهَاتٌ فَأَمَّا الَّذِينَ في قُلُوبِهِمْ

زَيْغٌ فَيَتَّبِعُونَ مَا تَشَابَهَ مِنْهُ ابْتِغَاء الْفِتْنَةِ وَابْتِغَاءَ تَأْوِيلِهِ وَمَا يَعْلَمُ تَأْوِيلَهُ إِلاَّ اللَّهُ}

“It is He who has sent down to you the Book within which are verses clear and precise: they are the foundation of the Book; and others are less clear and specific.  As for those in whose hearts is deviation, they follow the less clear ones seeking discord and seeking an interpretation. And no one knows its interpretation except Allah.  But those who are firm in knowledge say, We believe in it.  All is from our Lord.  And no one will be reminded except those of understanding.” (3:7) The Prophet explained this verse, peace and blessings be upon him:

إذا رأيتم الذين يتبعون ما تشابه منه فأولئك الذين سمى الله فاحذروهم

“If you see those who follow the less clear of it then these are the ones about whom Allah has indicated, so beware of them.”[3]


And Allah the Glorious and Majestic said:

{وَأَنَّ هَـذَا صِرَاطِي مُسْتَقِيمًا فَاتَّبِعُوهُ وَلاَ تَتَّبِعُواْ السُّبُلَ فَتَفَرَّقَ بِكُمْ عَن سَبِيلِهِ ذَلِكُمْ وَصَّاكُم بِهِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ}

“And this is My straight path so follow it and do not follow other ways, for you will be scattered from His way.  He has instructed you so that you may become God fearing.” (6: 153)  Abduallah ibn Mas’ud may Allah be pleased with him, said, that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him, drew a line with his hand and said: “This is Allah’s Straight Path.” Then he drew many lines to the right and left of that line and said: “And these paths, each one of them has a Satan on it inviting (the people to trod it).  Then he recited (the verse): “And verily this is My straight path so follow it and do not follow other ways for you will be scattered from His way.” (6:153) [4]


The straight path is the way of Allah to which He has called the people, and it is the Sunnah of the Prophet, peace be upon him. The other ways are the ways of the people of dissention and deviation who are the innovators and those who deviate into the sectarianism


The companion Auf ibn Malik, may Allah be pleased with him, said that the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

”افترقت اليهودُ على إحدى وسبعين فرقةً فواحدة في الجنة وسبعون في النار، وافترقت النصارى على ثنتين وسبعين فرقة فإحدى وسبعين فرقة في النار وواحدة في الجنة، والذي نفسُ محمدٍ بيده

لَتَفْتَرِقَنَّ أمتي على ثلاثٍ وسبعين فرقة، واحدةٌ في الجنة واثنتان وسبعون في النار“

قيل: يا رسول الله، من هم؟ قال: ”الجماعة“

“The Jews split into seventy-one sects, one will enter Paradise and seventy will enter Hellfire. The Christians split into seventy-two sects, seventy-one will enter Hellfire and one will enter Paradise. By Him in Whose hand is my soul, my community (Ummah) will split into seventy three sects, one will enter Paradise and seventy-two will enter Hellfire.  Someone asked, O Messenger of Allah who are they? He replied: Al-Jamaa’ah (the Unified Group).” And in another version of Ahmad and at-Tirmidthi narrated by Abdullah ibn Amr, may Allah be pleased with him, the wording ends as follows:

قالوا: ومن هي يا رسول الله؟ قال: ”ما أنا عليه وأصحابي“

“They asked, ‘Who are they O Messenger of Allah? He replied: Upon what I and my companions are.” [5]


These sects separate themselves from the unified group of believers and divide the religion according to their innovated notions and invented dogmas. For this reason we are commanded by Allah the Almighty, for our salvation from all deviation, to adhere strictly to Allah’s Book and to the Sunnah of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, and the Sunnah of the rightly guided leaders. Allah the Exalted said:

﴿وَاعْتَصِمُوا بِحَبْلِ اللَّهِ جَمِيعًا وَلَا تَفَرَّقُوا ﴾

“And hold fast to the Rope of Allah altogether and do not become divided.” (3:103) And He said

﴿وَمَنْ يُشَاقِقِ الرَّسُولَ مِنْ بَعْدِ مَا تَبَيَّنَ لَهُ الْهُدَى وَيَتَّبِعْ غَيْرَ سَبِيلِ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ نُوَلِّهِ مَا تَوَلَّى وَنُصْلِهِ جَهَنَّمَ وَسَاءَتْ مَصِيرًا ﴾

“And whoever opposes the Messenger after guidance has become clear to him and follows other than the way of the believers, We will give him accordingly and burn him in Hellfire, and it is an evil destination.” (4: 115)


This way is the way of the companions and faithful followers. It is appropriate here to mention some of the sayings of the companions and eminent scholars in this regard. For instance the companion and first Caliph Abu Bakr, may Allah be pleased with him, said:

أيها الناس إنما أنا متبع ولست بمبتدع، فإن أحسنت فأعينوني وإن زغت فقوِّموني

“O people I am only a follower and not an innovator, and thus if I do good then assist me and if I go astray, straighten me.”  [6]


The companion and the second Caliph, Umar ibn al-Khattab, may Allah be pleased with him, said:

“إياكم وأصحاب الرأي فإنهم أعداء السنن أعيتهم الأحاديث أن يحفظوها فقالوا بالرأي فضلوا وأضلوا

“Beware of the people of opinion, for they are the enemies of the Sunan (plural of Sunnah). They are too weak and lazy to memorize the narrations (of the Prophet) and thus they speak by their opinions and go astray and lead others astray.” [7]


The companion Abdullah bn Mas’ud said, may Allah be pleased with him:

اتبعوا ولا تبتدعوا فقد كفيتم، كل بدعة ضلالة

“Follow and do not innovate for (the way) has been made sufficient for you: every innovation is misguidance.” [8]


The famous Umayyad Caliph considered of the rightly guided leaders Umar ibn Abdul-Aziz, may Allah’s mercy be upon him: He wrote to a man saying: “Proceeding: I instruct you to fear Allah and have moderation in the command, and to adhere to the Sunnah of our Prophet, peace and blessing be upon him, and to leave all that the people have innovated after his Sunnah has been established.”[9]


The follower Hasan al-Basri, may Allah’s mercy be upon him, said: “The saying is not correct without right action, and the right action is not correct without right intention, and the right intention is not correct without (adherence to) the Sunnah.”[10]


And the eminent Imam in jurisprudence Malik, may Allah’s mercy be upon him, said:  “Whoever innovates an innovation in Islam and deems it good then he has claimed that Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, has not conveyed the message because Allah said, (الْيَوْمَ أَكْمَلْتُ لَكُمْ دِينَكُمْ) (5:3) ‘today I have completed your religion’ therefore what was not the religion on that day is not the religion today.”  [11]


After disbelief and idolatry which is the greatest sin, and innovation in religion which is the next greatest, comes the generality of all sins of anger and passion and greed, like murder, aggression, stealing, cheating, fornicating, adultery, intoxication, slandering, lying etc, and Allah mentioned all of these as hateful to the believer in the comprehensive verse when He said:

﴿ وَاعْلَمُوا أَنَّ فِيكُمْ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ لَوْ يُطِيعُكُمْ فِي كَثِيرٍ مِنَ الْأَمْرِ لَعَنِتُّمْ وَلَكِنَّ اللَّهَ حَبَّبَ إِلَيْكُمُ الْإِيمَانَ وَزَيَّنَهُ فِي قُلُوبِكُمْ وَكَرَّهَ إِلَيْكُمُ الْكُفْرَ وَالْفُسُوقَ وَالْعِصْيَانَ أُولَئِكَ هُمُ الرَّاشِدُونَ ﴾

“And know that among you is the Messenger of Allah: if he were to obey you in much of the affairs, you would certainly be in difficulty, but Allah has made it believed to you the faith, and has made it pleasing in your hearts, and He has made disbelief, defiance and disobedience hateful to you.  Those are the rightly guided.” (49:7)

[1] Reported by Imam Ahmad and at-Tabrani, and authenticated by Sheikh al-Albani in JS 1781

[2] Reported by Muslim

[3] Reported by al-Bukhari and Muslim.

[4] Imam Ahmed, an-Nasa’e, ad-Daarami, Ibn Abi Hatimi, and al-Haakim at-Tayaalasi, Ibn Waddah, Ibn Abi Aasim, Ibn Nasr, Ibn Jareer, Al-Ajuri have all reported these words on Ibn Mas’ud. And see ash-Shaatabi, in his book al-I’itisam 1/76for an explanation of the importance of this principle.

[5] Reported by Ibn Majah 2/13 no. 3992, and this is his wording, and Abu Da`ud 4/194, no. 4596. Al-Albani verified it as authentic in Sahih ibn Majah 2/364.  Another version is of Ahmad and at-Tirmidthi.

[6] Ibn Sa’ad, at-Tabaqaat 3/136.

[7] Al-Lalaka`e, Sharh Usool I’itiqaad Ahl-as-Sunnah 1/139, no.201, ad-Daarami 1/47 and Ibn Abdul Birr, Jame’ Bayaan-al-‘Ilm wa Fadhlihi 2/1041. no. 2001, 2003, 2005.

[8] Reported by Ibn Waddah, Ma Ja`a fi Bid’ah p.43, no. 12. 14, and at-Tabarani, Mu’jam al-Kabeer 9/154, no. 8770, and al-Haithami said in Majma’a-az-Zawaa`id 1/181: the people in the chain of narrators are trustworthy. Reported also by al-Lalaka`e, Sharh Usool I’itiqad Ahl-as-Sunnah 1/91, no.102, and for more on Ibn Mas’ud about innovations see Ibn Waddah, and al-Haithami.

[9] Reported by Abu Da`ud, 4/203, no. 4612 and verified by al-Albani in Sahih Abi Da`ud 3/873.

[10] Reported by al-Lalaka`e, Sharh Usool I’itiqad Ahl-as-Sunnah 1/63, no.18.

[11] See ash-Shaatabi, al-I’itisam 1/65.


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