'Al-Bootee versus a leading Salafee Teacher' is a debate translated by Nuh Ha Meem Keller from the book 'Laa Madh-habiyyah' of Sa`eed Ramadaan al-Bootee in which he apparently makes this Salafee Teacher look like a fool. The full text can be found on Mas`ud Khan's Homepage.
Ever since I first read this debate I remember being astonished at some of the answers that this Salafee Teacher gave, knowing that even a beginner in Salafeeyyah would not have answered in some of the ways these questions put by al-Bootee were answered. I therefore concluded that this narrative must have been grossly exaggerated by al-Bootee, especially since it was obvious that he was quoting from memory and not from a tape or book, however I kept my suspicions quiet as I had no proof.
Recently while reading through the book 'Bid`atut Ta`assub al-Madh-habiyyah' by Shaykh Eed al-Abbaasee I came to realise that the Salafee Teacher mentioned above was none other then this noble Shaykh! This because he presents a chapter in his book devoted to this debate in which he outlines the gross lies that al-Bootee leveled against him. In one of the points he brings [which will be translated later insha`Allaah] he openly calls al-Bootee to a Mubaahalah to show which of the two is lying.
What follows is a translation from the book [pp. 291+]
I have included excerpts from relevant passages from Kellers translation and then listed the comments of the Shaykh.
Al-Bootee concluded 'Laa Madh-habiyyah' by narrating a specific debate that occurred between myself and him claiming that this section was more important than all of the previous sections [of his book] because it clearly showed a sectarianism that would not be found in any intelligent person.
Then he narrated this debate in a distorted fashion and a way that was far removed from what actually occurred. We have already seen a glimpse at the lies he directed against al-Ma`soomee, may Allaah have mercy upon him, and the Salafees in general while his book and the books of the Salafees are freely available! So after this it is not strange that he should lie against me when this debate was not public, neither was it recorded and no one witnessed it except a few people. However these people are still alive so whosoever wishes to establish what follows then let him ask them.
THE FIRST LIE:
Al-Bootee wrote as translated by Keller:
Bootee: I dropped the question and said, "all right. Is it obligatory upon every Muslim to examine the evidences for the positions of the Imams and adopt the closest of them to the Qur`aan and Sunnah?"
Salafee [i.e. al-Abbaasee]: "yes."
Shaykh Eed al-Abbaasee says:
I bring Allaah, the Mighty and Magnificent, to witness that this quote is a complete and utter lie, totally concocted! For I never answered in this fashion and neither is it conceivable that I would give this answer! Rather I said to him what he quoted from me after the next sentence, "the people are divided into three categories - the Muqallid, the Muttabi` and the Mujtahid...."
Furthermore this second quote he brings goes to show the fallacy of his first quote for it in no way conforms to it. Again I bring Allaah to witness that I repeatedly mentioned to him that I agreed with him in that the one incapable of investigating and studying [in a scholarly fashion] must perform taqleed and that this was not the topic of our discussion. The difference occurred in the case of the one who was capable of studying and investigating from those who were included in the level of Mujtahid and Muttabi`, however he kept on returning to the case of the one who was incapable of investigation. Then after all of this he lies and writes in his book this fabricated response from me. Indeed Allaah will bring him to account!
THE SECOND LIE:
Al-Bootee wrote as translated by Keller:
Bootee: "That is something else, and is true without a doubt and without any disagreement among the scholars. But is there any problem with him following a particular mujtahid, knowing that Allaah has not obliged him to do that?"
Salafee: "There is no problem."
Bootee: [Al-Khajnadi's] al-Karras, which you teach from, contradicts you. It says that this is unlawful, in some places actually asserting that someone who adheres to a particular Imam and no other is an unbeliever (kafir)."
Salafee: He said, "where?" and began looking at the Karras, considering its texts and expressions, reflecting on the words of the author "Whoever follows one of them in particular in all questions is a blind, imitating, mistaken bigot and is "among those who have divided their religion and are parties" [Qur`an 30:32]. He said, "By follows, he means someone who believes it legally obligatory for him to do so. The wording is a little incomplete."
Bootee: I said, "What evidence is there that that's what he meant? Why don't you just say the author was mistaken?"
Salafee: He insisted that the expression was correct, that it should be understood as containing an unexpressed condition and he exonerated the reader from any mistake in it.
Let us read what really happened. Shaykh Eed writes:
Al-Bootee asked me about my opinion concerning the words of al-Ma`soomee in his book: that whosoever clings firmly to a specific madh-hab in every issue is a partisan and mistaken, performing taqleed in a blind fashion.
My reply to him was: "What I understand from this book [as a whole], in the light of various evidences, that al-Ma`soomee meant that whosoever follows a specific madh-hab in every issue while believing that Allaah had obligated this upon him [then he is a partisan...]. One part of his book explains the other and as a whole it shows that he is attacking partisanship to a particular madh-hab and rejecting the condition of those who have come across that which contradicts the Book and Sunnah in their madh-hab and they are from those people who have the ability to investigate and study [in a scholarly fashion] yet despite this they turn away from the Book and Sunnah and stick to the stance of their madh-hab." Even after all of this I said to him: "It would have been upon al-Ma`soomee to further clarify this for in this sentence of his there is [some] deficiency."
However this is what he quoted from me: "there is [some] deficiency in this sentence" and said after this: "but the man persisted in claiming that the sentence was correct and that it was to be understood in the sense that the governing words had been omitted and that al-Ma`soomee was free of any error in it."
I bring Allaah to witness that this is a complete lie and I do not know how his contradictory quotes from me could ever stand in the mind of an intelligent person, especially when they are only two lines apart! Does al-Bootee not give any respect to the minds of the intelligent who would clearly see this contradictory [quote] and reject it?! Is it possible that a Muslim would say that anyone other than the Messengers and Prophets were free of any error?!
THE THIRD LIE:
Al-Bootee writes as quoted by Keller:
Bootee: "A young man, newly religious, without any Islaamic education, reads the word of Allaah Most High, "To Allaah belongs the place where the sun rises and where it sets: wherever you turn there is the countenance of Allaah. Verily Allaah is the All-encompassing, the All-knowing." [Qur`an 2:115] and gathers from it that a Muslim may face any direction he wishes in his prescribed prayers as the ostensive purport of the verse implies. But he has heard that the four Imams unanimously concur upon the necessity of his facing the Kaaba, and he knows that they have evidences for it that he is unaware of. What should he do when he wants to pray? Should he follow the Imams who unanimously concur on the contrary of what he understood?"
Salafee: "He should follow his conviction."
Bootee: "And pray towards the east for example. And his prayer would be legally valid?"
Salafee: "Yes. He is morally responsible for following his personal conviction."
Bootee: "I intend to publish these remarks of yours. They are dangerous and strange."
Salafee: "Publish whatever you want. I'm not afraid."
Bootee: "How should you be afraid of me when you are not afraid of Allaah Mighty and Majestic, utterly discarding by these words the word of Allaah Might and Majestic 'Ask those who recall if you know not.' [Qur`an 16:43]"
Let us see what really was said. Shaykh Eed writes:
The example that al-Bootee brought, in which he exaggerated and shouted, was to consider the case of a youth who recited the saying of Allaah, "To Allaah belongs the East and West so wheresoever you turn there is the Face of Allaah." He distorted the discussion, omitted part of it and deliberately distorted the understanding of my answer such that he totally altered the context of this discussion.
To explain, he asked me about the ruling of the one who heard the above mentioned verse and understood from it that he could face any direction in prayer. It reached him that the Four Imaams had said that it was obligatory to face the Qiblah only, however their evidence for this did not reach him. Then he stood to pray - where should he face?
I asked: does this youth understand Arabic well? He [al-Bootee] said: "yes, like yourself."
I said: then let him look just a little after this verse for he will find His saying, "so turn your face in the direction of the Holy Mosque."
He said: Let us assume that he has only heard this verse and he does not have the Mus-haf with him.
I said: Let him ask a scholar for the evidences and to reconcile what he has read with the opinion of the Four Madh-habs.
He said: Lets assume he is in the desert, there is no scholar or jurist with him.
I said: This is an imaginary example that would not occur in reality so there is no need to busy ourselves with it.
He said: Let it be an imaginary circumstance, what is the ruling?
I said: He should follow what seems more obvious to him arising from his personal ijtihaad. If I was in his place I would have followed the verse and were I later to find that I was in error then my belief is that Allaah would not bring me to account for this because I did all that I could in that situation and fulfilled my obligation. However the youth can also follow the opinion of the Four madh-habs that has reached him and I see no harm in this if this is what he decides to be the stronger course. However the best course is to follow the verse because it is the Speech of Allaah and constitutes evidence in and of itself and should not be left for doubt or error. The Four Imaams on the other hand are men and it is possible that they err even if their errors occur rarely.
At this point al-Bootee began to rant and rave, raising his voice, fuming with rage and exclaimed: "There is no harm in your view that he prays in a direction other than the Qiblah, leaves the saying of the Four Imaams and you consider his prayer to be valid?!"
I said: Yes, because the circumstances that you put him in [in this example] and imagined do not allow him to come to know the Sharee`ah ruling with certainty and therefore he has to exert himself in trying to ascertain it to his utmost ability. He believes that the noble verse shows that he can pray in any direction and that this is the stronger course because the Qur`aan constitutes proof in and of itself. On the other hand he has the mere saying of these Imaams and their proof has not reached him and therefore [under these circumstances] it constitutes only opinion. Evidence takes precedence over opinion in the eyes of all the People of Knowledge. Imaam Ahmad, may Allaah have mercy upon him said, 'the opinion of al-Awzaa`ee, Maalik, Abu Haneefah is only opinion and it is all the same to me. The proof lies with the hadeeth.'"
The debate on this point continued for some time and al-Bootee was unable to bring a single evidence that would prove that the prayer of this youth was invalid in these circumstances. All he did was to shout and exaggerate, threatening to publish my words to the people in order to frighten me.
I said to him: spread my words as you like for I do not fear your publishing what I believe to be correct and the truth.
His reply was vile and I have no doubt that Allaah will bring him to a painful account for it.
He said: you do not fear Allaah so how can you fear me?
The meaning of this is that he has accused me of that which resembles disbelief for I do not believe that you will find a Muslim who does not fear Allaah, the Mighty and Magnificent.
I reminded him of the danger of this accusation and the severity of its sin in the Sight of Allaah, the Mighty and Magnificent. I reminded him of the hadeeth of the hadeeth of Usaamah bin Zayd wherein the anger of the Prophet () was severe when he learned of his killing the disbeliever even after he had uttered the Shahaadatayn. Usaamah tried to excuse himself saying that he only said out of fear for his life. The Prophet () said: Did you split open his heart?
Instead of retracting after hearing this hadeeth, al-Bootee only increased in arrogance and repeated the last sentence 'did you split open his heart' in a vile fashion. He mockingly repeated it, mimicking my voice such that even those who were listening objected!
Then I said to him: Allaah will call you to account for this.
He said: Let Him take me to account!
These are the manners of al-Bootee O noble reader! [Then follows some emphatic advice to al-Bootee to correct his manners and know his standing.]
He mentions further lies, that I will insha`Allaah translate soon, commencing with the section I have omitted from the last quote of Kellers translation. Some of these even exceed what we have seen above!!
For a related debate refer to the article 'Al-Albaanee versus Bootee.'
And Our Lord Most High Knows best.