Shaykh Albani said, “…Many people differentiate between mistake in the subsidiary issues [furoo – fiqh] and those in the fundamentals [usool – aqeedah], saying, ‘Mistakes in the subsidiary issues are forgiven if they emanate from ijtihaad [scholarly research of the Quran and Sunnah to find answers to unclear matters relating to the religion or worldly affairs], but as for those which occur in the fundamentals [aqeedah] then they are not forgiven,’–this is incorrect.
The first reason [for this being incorrect] is that there is no proof for this categorization, i.e., splitting the Sharee’ah into fundamentals and subsidiary issues and then basing judgements on this categorization has no basis.
The second is that the proofs, or some of them at the very least, confirm that even if a person makes a mistake in things connected to aqidah he is also excused.
The greatest proofs for that are the two hadiths which I will quote now. The first is the one of that man who gathered his children when he was about to die and said to them, ‘What kind of a father have I been to you?’ They said, ‘The best father.’ He said, ‘Verily, I have sinned against my Lord. After my death, burn me and then crush me, and scatter half the powder in the air and the sea, for by Allah, if Allah has control over me, He will give me such a punishment as He has never given anyone else.’
So when he died they carried out his request, a request whose injustice and distance from the legislation may not have an equivalent.
So Allaah the Mighty and Majestic said to his particles, ‘Be so and so.’ And then Allaah the Mighty and Majestic asked him, ‘My servant! What made you do that?’ He said, ‘My Lord! I was afraid of You.’ So He said, ‘Go, for I have forgiven you.’
So he disbelieved, there is no doubt that he disbelieved, because he made that unjust will thinking that he would be able to get away from his Lord, which reminds us of the Most High’s Saying, “And he presents for Us an example and forgets his [own] creation. He says, “Who will give life to bones while they are disintegrated?” [Yaa Seen 36:78]
Therefore this man, [what] his will [contains] says that Allaah the Mighty and Majestic is unable to resurrect him to be the fully formed man that he was, but Allaah did, saying, ‘Be so and so,’ and then addressed him.
But Allaah the Mighty and Majestic who is the One who knows what man’s breast conceals, knew that this person in doing that action was not denying the Resurrection and that it was only the fear of the impending punishment [which made him do what he did], and he admitted that it would happen and that he would deserve it, [so it was these things] that blinded his insight and thus he left that unjust will.
The second hadith is his saying–and this is also very important and has a connection to the issue of the Ahlul-Fitrah (people who did not hear of the call of the Prophet Mohammed and died as disbelievers) , and many sittings concerning this topic have preceded–he said, “There is no man from this Ummah, whether Jew or Christian, who hears about me yet does not believe in me except that he will enter the Fire.”
So, these people who did not hear of the Prophet and died as disbelievers, as polytheists, will not be punished because of their shirk and misguidance–in fact I will go even further and, taking the understanding from his saying, “…who hears about me …” say that it means, ‘… [who hears about] me truly/my true reality …’ because if we picture some of these Europeans, like the British or the Germans and their like, those who have been affected by the call of the Qadiyanis and who have believed that there are other Prophets after the Messenger of Allaah and that one of them was sent to Qadian [in India], the one who was initially well-known as Mirza Ghulam Ahmad al-Qadiyani, and who then changed his name to Ahmad for a reason well-known…the point is that these Germans and British people who were led astray in the name of the call to Islaam, [being led to believe that] Islaam acknowledges the coming of messengers after the Messenger and that one of them was called Mirza Ghulam Ahmad al-Qadiyani and that Islam denies the existence of a creation called the Jinn–which have well-known characteristics in the Book and the Sunnah–there is no doubt that these people have gone astray: but did they really hear about him [the prophet Mohammed] truly? The answer is no.
Thus, this hadith teaches us that:
Firstly, those whom the message does not reach at all will not be punished. They will be dealt with in that well-known manner on the Day of Resurrection.
Secondly, if Islaam’s message reaches them in a distorted manner, altered, changed, and they believe in it, then they will also not be held to account over that.
Thus, differentiating between fundamentals [usool – aqeedah] and subsidiary issues [furoo – fiqh] is a deviance from the Book and the Sunnah…
Therefore fact that a noble scholar erred in an aqeedah issue like [Allaah’s] Names and Attributes and other such things which some of the Ash’aris [a misguided group who among their many deviations deny majority of Allah’s names and attributes] and Maaturidis [a misguided sect whose devotions a very similar to those of the Ash’aris] fell into … then it is possible that that could have been based upon their ijtihaad and not because of any evil intent on their behalf–so it is not allowed to make such a statement [that if a scholar errors in the fundamentals (usool – aqeedah) he is not excused but in the subsidiary issues (furoo – fiqh) his errors are excused] unrestrictedly except with a restriction [like the following]: whoever comes to know the truth and then deviates from it then he is such and such.
[And following on from this] there is no difference between someone who deviates from what is right in the issue of [Allaah’s] Names and Attributes or anything [else] connected to aqidah and someone who deviates in a legislative ruling.
For example, someone who knows that the truth is that bleeding does not break one’s ablution but who still goes astray and insists [on the opposite] arrogantly [going against] the proofs [then the case is clear], and you can judge the rest based upon this [example].
And how many subsidiary issues there are which the scholars have differed in and whose effect on the community can be much worse than some issues which are only connected to aqeedah.
I wonder, do you think those who deny the punishment of the grave like some of the groups found in the Islamic world today, would you say that the harm of denying the punishment of the grave is greater than that fiqh opinion which says that it is permissible for a Muslim girl who reaches the age of discernment to get married herself without her guardians consent, in opposition to the hadeeth?
Which of the two opinions has a greater effect in corrupting the community?
Is it the first which denies the punishment of the grave or this one which denies the condition of the guardian’s consent?
There is no doubt that this [i.e., denying the guardian’s consent] causes more corruption, but this issue is a subsidiary one [furoo] and that other one [i.e., denying the punishment in the grave] is a fundamental [usool], “They are not but [mere] names you have named–you and your forefathers for which Allaah has sent down no authority.” [An-Najm 53:23].
Ref: Al-Hudaa wan-Noor, 635.
Posted by Abdul Kareem Ibn Ozzie