islamic books for student of knowledge

Four Principles #3: Explanation of Knowledge and Haneefiyyah

islamic books for student of knowledge

In the name of Allaah The BeneficentThe Merciful

This is the third article in our commentary on The Four Principles by Sheikh Muhammad bn AbdilWahhaab. In the last article we commenced discussion on the author’s preface. In this article we will continue our discussion of the author’s preface.

We ask Allaah, The Exalted and Sublime, to accept it from us as an act of worship and forgive our shortcomings therein. He is indeed the Merciful and Generous.

The author (Allaah’s mercy be upon him) said:

Know: -may Allah guide you to His obedience- that Al-haneefiyyah, path of Ibrahim (peace be upon him), is to worship Allaah alone (and) purifying the religion for him as He The Exalted said:

And I (Allaah) created not the jinns and humans except they should worship Me (Alone).

(Surah Dhaariyaat: 56)


This is another prayer from the sheikh which emphasizes his goodwill and compassion for the seeker of knowledge and guidance.

Note: the sheikh’s prayers are for religious benefits not for worldly or material possessions. We should try to emulate this. Many of us pray for the worldly life and neglect the hereafter. Although the complete prayer is to seek the worldly goods along with the hereafter but if you will pray for only one of the two then it should be the hereafter. Allaah knows best.


Explanation and Importance of Knowledge

 This is a word of encouragement and guidance from the sheikh. The sheikh said: “know” meaning that one must possess knowledge of the things that are to follow. You should not assume, guess or think in these matters. Rather you must possess knowledge and certainty in these matters else you have not fulfilled the obligation on you.

The scholars of Islam classified conceptualization into five levels:

Knowledge (‘ilm):

Which is to conceptualize something correctly. When you conceive a thing in accordance with the way the thing is in reality then you have possessed knowledge. “E.g. how many children does Allaah have?” if your answer is “None!” then you have answered with knowledge.

Doubt (Shakk):

This is when the correct and wrong both have the same magnitude in the heart of a person. “E.g. how many rakats are in magrib?” if your answer is “two or three!” then you have answered with doubt and have not passed.

Thought and illusion (Dhann and wahm):

When either of the two thoughts in a person’s mind looks more correct to him than the other, the one that he thinks is more correct is called a thought while the one that looks less correct is called illusion (wahm). E.g. How many rakats did you perform in your prayer? “I performed three… but it could be four.”

Simple Ignorance (Al-jahlul baseet):

Complete absence of any idea. E.g. how many tekbeer are in the Eid prayer? If your answer is “I don’t know” then this is simple ignorance.

Compounded ignorance (Al-jahlul murakkab):

When a person doesn’t know but he doesn’t know that he doesn’t know. Some scholars define it as conceptualizing a thing wrongly. For example: “Where is Allaah?” If your answer is “everywhere” then you belong to this category and need help!”.

The last category is the worse. We ask Allaah for safety.

Our point of reference is that the Muslim must conceptualize the issues that will be discussed in this book correctly and certainly. That is because guessing and thinking are not beneficial in matters of creed. Let alone ignorance and compounded ignorance. Only certainty and clear proof are beneficial.

However, in issues of fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) thought is beneficial especially when it is accompanied by some external factors that give it more weight in your heart. E.g. I am in doubt whether I have performed ablution or not but I found out that my sleeves and beards are wet. I can conclude that I have performed ablution. After all, I haven’t been to the restroom in the few hours so how else could water have gotten there other than ablution.

Allaah knows best.

The Path of prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him)

The sheikh (may Allaah shower him with mercy) explains the path of prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him). This is because virtually everybody accepts that prophet Ibrahim is a righteous and steadfast servant of Allaah. The sheikh is therefore being gradual in his explanation. He is using what the reader knows or acknowledges to explain what he is ignorant of or denies.

This is a soft skill that we should imbibe when we are calling to Allaah. Don’t start from what they deny or are ignorant of, rather start from what they know and acknowledge. It is easier for them to comprehend your points that way and flow along with you. And Allaah knows best.

What is Al-Haneefiyyah

The Arabs basically call anything or person that deviates and bends haneef. But the word later became popularly used among the Arabs for the path of prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him).

It says in An-Nihayah fee Ghareebil Athar:

Al-Hunafaa is the plural of al-haneef and it refers to whoever bends towards Islam and remains steadfast upon it. Haneef, according to the Arabs is: whoever is on the religion of prophet Ibrahim-peace be upon him-. And the origin of haneef is deviation.

(page 237 of Sheikh Alee Al- Halabee’s annotation).


Why did they refer to the path of prophet Ibrahim as Haneef?

They did so because prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him) deviated from all the idolatry that his father and people practiced and remained steadfast upon the creed of Islamic monotheism. This is why they called him haneef and they call his path Al-haneefiyyah i.e being haneef.

So we can translate the words of the sheikh as:

…being divergent is the path of prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him)…

Meaning that diverging from disbelief and idolatry is the path of our father Ibrahim (peace be upon him).

So you cannot be a true follower of prophet Ibrahim until you turn away from all forms of disbelief and polytheism. If you haven’t done that then you are yet to be a follower of prophet Ibrahim.

The worship of Allaah alone

If you understand the above, it becomes easy for you to know why the sheikh described the path of prophet Ibrahim as:

…to worship Allaah alone (and) purifying the religion for him…

This is the explanation of the shahaadah that made you a Muslim and makes you remain in the fold of Islam.

You are not a believer until you worship Allaah alone. If a person worships Allaah but also associates partners with Him then his worship will not benefit him in any way rather it will be an evidence against him.

Please read our articles on the creed of Islamic monotheism, concept of worship and concept of sincerity for better explanation.


We will conclude this session with the verse the sheikh mentioned from suratu-dh-Dhaariyaat:

And I (Allaah) created not the jinns and humans except they should worship Me (Alone)5.

(Surah Dhaariyaat: 56)

Imam Sa’dee said in his exegesis of the above verse:

This is the end which Allaah created the Jinn and mankind for, and sent all the messengers to call to. And it is His worship which entails knowing Him, loving Him, returning to Him, turning to Him and turning away from other than Him. And that requires knowing Allaah the Exalted, because the perfection of worship requires knowing Allaah. Rather, the more a slave increases in knowing his Lord the more complete his worship becomes. And this is the reason why Allaah created the entrusted ones (jinn and mankind)[1], so He did not create them for some benefits to derive from them.

(Tayseerul Kareemi-r-Rahmaan)

However, this worship will only be accepted if it is free from disbelief and is done as Allaah has commanded in His book and on the tongue of His messenger (commendations and peace of Allaah be upon him).

  • If worship is not sincerely for Allaah it becomes Shirk (major or minor)
  • if it is not as Allaah has commanded it becomes bid’ah (innovation).
As-Suddee said:

Some types of worship are beneficial while some others are not

And if you (O Muhammad) ask them: “Who has created the heavens and the earth,” they will certainly say: “Allaah.”

(Suratul Luqman:25)

This is worship to them (i.e the polytheist Arabs) but it will not benefit them as it is mixed with shirk.

All praise be to Allaah who has made it easy for us to compile this. We ask Him to forgive any shortcomings therein and purify our intentions and deeds for Him alone. Indeed His Oft-Forgiving Most-Merciful.

Allaah knows best.


[1]The Arabic word translated here as entrusted is ‘mukallaf’ The Jinn and mankind are called entrusted ones because they have freewill and will be questioned on the day of recompense about how they used it. Allaah knows best.

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