(My Words) This article will look into the issue of mujmal and mufassal speech of the scholars.
Mujmal speech is unclear and ambiguous speech which may comprise falsehood and may comprise truth, so it is a statement from a scholar which can be taken to support the sunnah and ahlus sunnah or it can be read into his words that they support a particular innovation and ahlu bidah.
Mufassal speech is clear explained speech, which when originates from a scholar or student of knowledge from Ahluus Sunnah, it is speech on any islamic topic which is in accordance to the stance of Ahlus Sunnah on that topic.
Now it is clear what mujmal and mufassal speech is. The question aries why is this topic important. this topic is of extreme importance because it is connected to making tabdi (declaring a person a innovator) of a scholar or student of knowledge in.
The reason it is connected to tabdi is because some people have held that if a scholar makes a statements which is mujmal (i.e. speech that can be understood to carry words supporting ahlus sunnah or it could be understood as words of falsehood supporting ahlu bidah) it is not only incorrect to use such unclear wording but they have gone beyond that ruling. They hold that this mujmal statement shall be taken upon the understanding that it is speech in that is supporting ahlu bidah and bidah. So due to this they rush to rule this scholar or student of knowledge to be a innovator and out of the fold of ahlus sunnah. They claim this mujmal speech indicates that the person supports ahlu bidah and whatever particular bidah his speech could possibly be made to seem in support of.
This action is incorrect and in fact leads to some scholars and students of knowledge unjustly being labeled innovators.
Ahlus Sunnah advocate that when a scholar or student of knowledge from Ahlus Sunnah discusses a issue in which his speech is mujmal (unclear – ambiguous (which may comprise falsehood and may comprise truth)), and he also has some speech on the same issue which is mufassal (clear and explained), which is in line with ahlus sunnahs stance on this issue. Then in such cases the rule of thumb is, Ahlus Sunnah return the scholars (mumjmal) unclear speech to his (mufassal) clear speech. So in other words the scholars Mujmal words are to be explained by his Mufassar words on the same topic. Thus we take a scholar or student of knowledge (from ahlus sunnah) mujmal words to be in line with ahlus sunnah on that issue and not inline with ahlu bidah on that issue. This stance prevents incorrect and hasty tabdi of Ahlus Sunnah upon others from Ahlus Sunnah due to a persons mujmal speech.
Therefore taking the mujmal words of scholars according to their mufassal words is the way of Ahlus Sunnah and not an innovation.
But those who rush to make tabdi based upon a scholars mujmal speech have claimed that this principle taking the mujmal words of a scholar according to his mufassal words on the same topic, is a incorrect baseless principle, which is a innovation.
So the aim of this article is to establish that this principle is in fact established by and act upon by scholars of ahlus sunnah.
Below is the speech of Shaykh Al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah taken from various places establishing the principle that ‘taking the mujmal words of scholars according to their mufassal words on the same topic’ is the way of Ahlus Sunnah.
1) Shaykh Al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah said in “Rad ‘alal Bakri” “…it is known that the Mufassar (detailed, explaining) Kalam of the speaker is given precedence over his Mujmal (words), and his clear speech is given precedence over his Kinayah (allusions, infered meanings), and when there occurs a clear word in the meaning, and the Mujmal words are opposed to this (clear) meaning or not opposed, then they (the mujmal words) are not taken to the opposite meaning (i.e. the mujmal words are not taken upon the meaning that the scholar is surrpoting ahlu bidah or a bidah) with certainty…”
2) Also Shaykh Al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah said in in “Sarim Al-Maslul” : “And taking the absolute words (i.e. the mujmal words) of the Fuqahah without turning to what they made tafsir in from their words (i.e. without turning to their muffasral words) and to what their Usul (foundation principles) necessicate to, leads to the ugly Madhahib”
3) In addition Shaykh Al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah said in his “Jawab As-Sahih liman Baddala din Al-Masih” 4/44 : “It is obligatory to make tafsir (explanation) of the speaker’s kalam (speech) with some parts explaining others, and his kalam is taken here and there, and we should know what is his use (‘Adat), what he intends or desires with this word he spoke, and we should know the meanings (of his speech)known from what he intended in another place, and when his ‘Urf (custom) and ‘Adat (habit) in meanings and words are known, then this is taken to know what he meant.
And if his words are taken by a meaning that is not according to his ‘Adat in which he uses them, and if the meanings corresponding to his ‘Adat in which he uses them are left and his words are taken contrary to the meanings that are known to be intended with these words, by making his words contradictory, and leaving taking them according to what suits the intend of his words, this would constitute alteration of his words from their places, a change (tabdil) to his aims, and lies upon him, this is the basis of those who went astray in their Tawil of the words of Prophets from what they meant”
(MY WORDS – The above speech of the shaykh may seem hard to understand so I have broken it down it simpler speech inshallah,
(Paragraph 1 made easy inshallah) What the shaykh is saying here is that it is obligatory to explain any islamic speakers speech with his own speech on the same topic that he has done in other places (i.e. in other books or lectures etc).
To make this tafsir (explanation) of the speakers speech with his own speech on the same topic he has done in other places, we most know what is this speakers customary and habitual speech on this topic intend to be (i.e. when he speaks on this topic is his habit and intent behind his words to use speech in line with ahlus sunnah on this topic or is it to use speech in line with ahlu bidah on this topic).
When the speakers customary and habitual speech in this topic is known (i.e. it is known when he speaks on this topic that his words are in line with ahlus sunnah or ahlu bidah), then we know what he intents when he speaks on this topic (i.e. we know if intents to be in line with ahlus sunnah when he speaks on this topic or to be inline with ahlu bidah).
(Paragraph 2 made easy inshallah) So if a speaker speaks upon a certain topic using words in line with ahlus sunnah normally but he has some very limited little speech upon that topic that could be understood to go inline with ahlu bidah, then his normal habitual speech which is in line with ahlus sunnah upon that issue is taken over his very little limited speech on that topic that could possible be inline with ahlu bidah.
But if his very little limited speech upon that topic which gives the possibility of being inline with ahlu bidah is taken over is vast habitual regular normal speech on that topic which is in line with ahlus sunnah then this is considered changing his intended goal when he speaks on that topic and lies upon that speaker.)
Scholars of this era, verdicts in taking a scholars mufassal speech (i.e. clear speech which is in accordance to ahlus sunnah) over his mujmal speech (i.e. unclear – ambiguous speech (which can be taken to back ahlus sunnah stance in that issue or to back ahlu bidahs stance on that issue), on the same topic:
1) Shaykh Abdul Mohsin Al-‘Abbad was asked in his dars on Abu Dawud on 26 Safar 1423
Third question : If we find a Mujmal speech (unclear – ambiguous speech (which may comprise falsehood and may comprise truth)) of a scholar in a place, in any issue, and this speech is mujmal, its apparent meaning (Zahir) shows a mistaken matter, and we find another speech of him, in another place, mufassal (detailed) in this issue, and that is according to the Manhaj of the Salaf, so should we take the Mujmal from the words of scholars according to its Mufassal place.
The shaykh answered : yes, it is taken according the the Mufassal. As long as the thing gives false indication, the clear evident thing is the one taken into account.
2) Shaykh Al-Fawzaan said in his tape entitled “At-Tawhid Ya ‘Ibadallahi” answer number 6 :
Q : Is the Mujam taken according to the mufassal in the speech of people or is this restricted to the Book and the Sunnah ? we hope explanation, may Allah protect you
A : The basis is to take the Mujmal according to the Mufassal, the basis (asl) is in the texts of Shar’ from the Book and the Sunnah, but with this we take the Mujmal words of the scholars according to the Mufassal ones, and we do not attribute a Mujmal saying to the scholars until we turn to the Tafseel (division, explanation) in their words, until we turn to the Tafseel in their words. If they have a Mujmal saying and a Mufassal, we should turn to the Mufassal, and we do not take the Mujmal”
3) Shaykh Abdul Azeez Ar-Rajihi was asked in his tape “Iqtisad fil I’tiqad” about taking the Mujmal (words) on the Mufassal and he answered : “The Mujmal should be taken according to the Mufassal in the words of Allah, the words of His Messenger and the words of the scholar”
And he was asked about the one who says that the Mujmal words of scholars should not be taken according to the Mufassal ones, he replied : “This is not correct”
4) Shaykh Muhammad Aman Al-Jami said in his tape on Sharh Tahawiyah 8, in refutation of those who accused Shaykh Al Islam Ibn Taymiyah of saying of pre-existence of the universe :
“And in the same way for the words of people of knowledge, specially if they are known with good creed and call to the right creed, and call to the Sunnah, and the call to stick to the Book and the Sunnah. So if they are known with this (correct) creed and with these noble positions, and if we find in their words what opposes this, then it is obligatory to turn them to what is clear from their words (i.e. mufassal speech)”
Two examples of Shaykh Al-Fawzaan using the above principle (taking a scholars mufassal statements over his mujmal statements)
1) Shaykh Fawzaan also said in his notes on Tahawiyah on the pont 76 of Tahawi saying : “He is elevated from limits, directions…” : “What we get from this is that the words used by the author contain Ijmal, but they are taken according to the truth, because he, may Allah have mercy on him, is from the Ahlus Sunnah wal Jama’ah, and he is from Aimah of Muhadithin, and it is not possible that he meant wrong meanings, but he intended correct meanings, if only he had made Tafseel of this and clarified it, and did not left it mujmal with this Ijmal”
2) Shaykh Fawzaan said on point 77 of Tahawi’s saying : “He is not submitted to the six directions…” : “We say : this contains Ijmal, if the created directions are intended, then Allah is purified from that, none of the creation encompasses Him. And if the direction of ‘Uluw is intended, then He is above all his creatures, and this is the truth, and denying this is falshood. And maybe the author intended with six directions the created directions and not the direction uf ‘Uluw, because he, may Allah have mercy on him, is someone establishing Al-‘Uluw and establishing Al-Istiwa”
How do the mashaykh of ahlus sunnah deal with a scholar when he makes a mujmal statement and we take his muffasal statemnt over this mujmal statement on the same topic:
Shaykh Moosa Nasr, Shaykh Alee al-Halabee, Shaykh Saleem al-Hilaalee, Shaykh Muhammad ‘Umar Bazmool on the night of Sunday 12/9/1423H, gathered in the house of Shaykh Abu Muhammad Rabee bin Haadee al-Madkhalee and listened to, accpted and agreed upon Shaykh Rabees words about the scholar who has some speech which is mujmal and this speech is then returned to his muffasal speech on that issue, (ref:http://www.salafitalk.net/st/viewmessages.cfm?Forum=14&Topic=660) “And the investigation of this matter, with respect to the words of the scholars is called “Itlaaqaat al-Ulamaa” (the Absolutions of the Scholars) – as Shaykh ul-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah (rahimahullaah) has mentioned.
An erroneous absolution (i.e. a mujmal staement) which is clarified and explained by other speech [emanating] from the same person [elsewhere], is treated in the following way:
a) Declaring this absolution (mujmal staement) to be an error, in accordance with its nature, [which is] either an innovation or an error.
b) Accepting this clarification and explanation (i.e. the one who made this mujmal statement, he must accept this clarification and explanation of his error)
c) Not passing a judgement upon this erring one who made this absolution (mujmal statement) that he is an Innovator ‘ayniyyan (i.e. he is specifically a person of innovation), unless he is a person of Innovation (i.e. he was a Takfeeri, Sufi, Ashari, Shia or any other type of innovator), or a person of desires.
d) And as for a Salafee student of knowledge who is well known with for his Salafiyyah and his [sound] manhaj, then when he falls into anything of that (i.e. he makes a mujmal statement in a issue), then we declare him to be in error in his absolution (mujmal statement), and we make what he is manifestly correct in to be the major consideration (i.e. his vast amounts of muffasal statments in this issue, which are clear statemnts in line with ahlus sunnah on this issue are given consideration over his limted mujmal statements in the issue which could be used to support ahlus sunnah stance or ahlu bidahs stance in this issue). Alongside advising him, reminding him, explaining the truth to him, unless their appears his stubborn opposition and his persistence [in this falsehood] is unveiled.
Posted & Written By Abdul Kareem Ibn Ozzie