Why Study the Sayings of the Salaf?: Muhammad Bazmool

Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool, a professor at Umm al-Qura University in Mecca, wrote the following beneficial note:

ما فائدة الآثار الواردة عن السلف وعندنا القرآن والسنة ؟ ـ
What is the Benefit of the Transmitted Saying of the Salaf when We Already Have the Qur’an and the Sunnah?

ـ ◇سؤال : ما فائدة الآثار الواردة عن السلف وعندنا القرآن والسنة ؟ ـ

Question: What is the benefit of the transmitted sayings of the salaf when we already have the Qur’an and the Sunnah?

ـ ◇الجواب : الآثار الواردة على السلف على أنواع؛ ـ

Response: There are a number of different types of the transmitted sayings of the salaf:

ـ #النوع_الأول : آثار موقوفة أو مقطوعة ولها حكم الرفع، يعني يأتي قول صحابي أو أثر عن تابعي له حكم الحديث المرفوع، فهذا حكمه حكم الحديث المروي. وجملة كثيرة من الأحاديث النبوية نقلت على هذه الصورة. فالاهتمام بالآثار فيه حفظ جملة كثيرة قد تكون ثلث أو ربع أو خمس الأحاديث فيها، والله اعلم. ـ

1) Mawqoof or Maqtoo’ narrations that take a Marfoo’ ruling – meaning that there is the saying of a Companion or the saying of a Tabi’ee which takes the ruling of a Marfoo’ hadith, so it is treated in the same way as a saying attributed to the Prophet. In fact, a large number of Prophetic hadith narrations have been conveyed in this manner. So by giving attention and importance to these sayings we preserve a large body of hadith narrations, maybe even as big as a third or a fourth or a fifth of them, and Allah knows best.

ـ #النوع_الثاني : آثار ينقل فيها فقه السلف للآية أو الحديث، في تفسيره وبيان معناه، ومعلوم ن الراوي أدرى بمرويه، وأنهم أقرب عهداً من غيرهم بزمن البعثة والوحي، بل وشاهد الصحابة نزول القرآن العظيم، وعلموا قرائن الأحوال التي حفت به، فهم أعلم منا بالقرآن وبالسنة، وفقههم هو المعتبر في فقه الشريعة. وهذه فائدة ثانية نحصلها بالاهتمام بالآثار. ـ

2) Sayings that convey some of the understanding that the salaf had of an ayah of a hadith in terms of the explanation and interpretation of its meaning. As is well-known, the narrator has more knowledge than the one to whom he is narrating, and the salaf were closer than anyone else to the time in which the Prophet and the revelation were sent. Even more to the point, the Sahabah were witnesses to the revelation of the Qur’an and knew the surrounding context and events. Therefore they were more knowledgeable than us regarding the Qur’an and the Sunnah and it is their understanding that is taken as the proper understanding of the Sharee’ah. So this is a second benefit that we gain from giving attention to the sayings of the salaf.

ـ #النوع_الثالث : آثار ينقل فيها اختلافهم في المسألة، وهذا النوع يهتم به وبمعرفته لمعرفة الاختلاف، فإن العلماء من قاعدتهم أن لا يخرج الباحث في المسألة عن خلافهم ولا يحدث قولا خارجاً عن أقوالهم. وهذه فائدة للاهتمام بآثار السلف. ـ

3) Sayings that convey their differences of opinion about a certain issue. Attending to and understanding this category is important because it provides an understanding of the differences of opinion, for there is a principle among the scholars that when looking into an issue one should not look outside of the different positions the salaf held nor should he produce a new position that falls outside of their stances. This is another benefit that comes from focusing on the sayings of the salaf.

ـ #النوع_الرابع : آثار يعرف منها اجماعهم سكوتياً على القول. وهذه فائدتها معرفة مسائل الإجماع السكوتي. ـ

4) Sayings through which one comes to know that they were all united in tacit approval of a certain position. [I.e., only one position is voiced, which means that those who did not voice an opposing position were in agreement with the voiced position.] So this aids us to recognize those issues which the salaf were agreed in even when that agreement is not explicitly stated.

ـ #النوع_الخامس : آثار يعرف منها طريقتهم في الاستنباط والاستدلال ، وهذه فائدتها أن نعرف ذلك ونقتبس منه في منهج الفقه للكتاب والسنة. ـ

5) Sayings through which one comes to know their method and approach to deriving benefits and extracting evidence from the source texts. This enables us to know these benefits and evidences, and it also aids us to extract and adopt their way of understanding the Qur’an and the Sunnah.

ـ #فهذه خمس فوائد لمعرفة الآثار وجمعها ودراستها،فإذا اضفت إليها أن في ذلك #امتثالا لأمر الله لنا باتباع سبيل المؤمنين [وَمَنْ يُشَاقِقِ الرَّسُولَ مِنْ بَعْدِ مَا تَبَيَّنَ لَهُ الهُدَى وَيَتَّبِعْ غَيْرَ سَبِيلِ المُؤْمِنِينَ نُوَلِّهِ مَا تَوَلَّى وَنُصْلِهِ جَهَنَّمَ وَسَاءَتْ مَصِيرًا] (النساء:)١١٥ ـ

So these are five benefits of knowing, compiling and studying the sayings of the salaf. And I would further add that doing so is in fact complying with Allah’s command to follow the way of the believers:

وَمَن يُشَاقِقِ الرَّسُولَ مِن بَعْدِ مَا تَبَيَّنَ لَهُ الْهُدَىٰ وَيَتَّبِعْ غَيْرَ سَبِيلِ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ نُوَلِّهِ مَا تَوَلَّىٰ 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 what he has taken and drive him into Hell, and what an evil destination that is! [4:115]

ـ #وأن في اتباعهم العصمة من الاختلاف المذموم، والدخول في الفرقة الناجية والطائفة المنصورة، قال صلى الله عليه وسلم: “وستفترق أمتي على ثلاث وسبعين فرقة كلها في النار إلا واحدة. قيل: من هي يارسول الله؟ قال: الجماعة”، وفي رواية قال: “ما أنا عليه واصحابي” #زاد عدد الفوائد وعظم نفع الآثار. ـ

I would also add that through following them, we find protection from blameworthy differing and in fact become part of the Saved Sect and the Victorious Party. The Prophet said, “My Ummah will split into seventy-three sects, all of them in the fire except for one.” He was asked, “And who are they, O Messenger of Allah?” He replied, “The Jamaa’ah,” and in another narration he said, “What I and my companions are upon.” So this just adds to the number of benefits and the great good of these sayings.

فالاهتمام بالآثار يحصل فيه المسلم طالب العلم هذه الفوائد السبعة، وهي أصول الفوائد وأصول العلم ، والله الموفق. ـ

So giving importance and paying attention to the sayings of the salaf enables the Muslim student of knowledge to attain these seven benefits. And these seven benefits are in fact the very foundation of all other benefits and the very foundation of knowledge. And Allah is One who grants success.

[Original Arabic as published by Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool on his official Facebook page here]

See also: Five Distinguishing Features of the Tafsir of the Companions: Sheikh Saalih Aal al-Sheikh

See also: The Importance of Tafsir and its Sources: Sheikh al-Fawzan

See also: Turning Away from the Sources of Tafsir: Ibn Taymiyah

See also: On Modern Readings of the Qur’an and Sunnah: Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool

See also: Narration-based Tafsir before Opinion-based Tafsir: Sheikh Saalih Aal al-Sheikh

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3 thoughts on “Why Study the Sayings of the Salaf?: Muhammad Bazmool

  1. Pingback: Five Distinguishing Features of the Tafsir of the Companions: Sheikh Saalih Aal al-Sheikh | Tulayhah

  2. Pingback: On Modern Readings of the Qur’an and Sunnah: Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool | Tulayhah

  3. Pingback: The Forerunners in Faith: Tafsir al-Baghawi | Tulayhah

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