By Raheem Hameed.
Towards the end of Ramadan, Muslim scholars gathered to discuss one of the aspects of worship that they differed on; “Adkhar jamaa’iy (remembrance of Allah in congregation) and loudly.
This discussion is between two sets of Muslim groups which are: Muslim Students Society of Nigeria (MSSN), Iponri Branch and the Salafi group in the same community. They debated this issue under the panel of Chief Imam of Iponri Estate, Lagos State, Imam Gazali Adepoju and the chairman of the occasion, Alhaji AbduRazaq Kolawole Osho.
This dialogue, without prejudice, is one of the matured ways that Muslims should adopt in fixing many issues that set them apart instead of throwing banters on social media, which is rife among youths today.
The scholars that represented each group were Ustadh Abdulwasii Ahmad, Ustadh Ibrahim Ahmad, and Ustadh Ahmad Zubayr (Darul-Qalam) representing Muslim Students Society of Nigeria, Iponri Branch while Imam Saheed Hamzah of Markaz Ahlus-Sunnah, Amukoko, Ustadh Moshood Sa’ad and Ustadh Ibrahim Abu Aisha were representing the Salafiyyah group in the dialogue.
During the dialogue; the Salafi affirmed that before a Muslim can claim that an act is a form of worship, there must be a sound evidence from the Quran and the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Also, there should be history of such act in the lives of the companions.
On this issue, doing chorus remembrance known as dhikru jamaa’iy and raising voice while doing it cannot be seen in the life history of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) , the companions and the righteous predecessors.
Imam Saheed Hamzah noted that the idea of chorus remembrance originated among the Shi’a sect who are believed not to be Muslims by majority of Ahlus-Sunnah wal-Jamaa’ah. According to him, the Shi’a copied this act from Catholic Church. He further said that ibn Umar chased some Muslims Who did that away from mosque during his life time.
In continuation, Imam Saheed Hamzah further cited Imam Shaafi’i Who supported congregational adhkar with the intention of teaching the congregation on how to recite some of the adhkar. Imam Maalik on the other hand, declared that there is nothing like congregational remembrance in Islam.
In conclusion, he urged all Muslims to stay far away from the practice of congregational adhkar because there is no practical instance of congregational remembrance during the life time of Prophet Muhammad.
Also, such cannot be seen in Saudi Arabia where we have many scholars.
In response to the claim of the Salafi scholars, Ustadh Abdulwasii Ahmad representing MSSN, Iponri Branch refuted the arguments of the Salafiyyah scholars by citing the exegeses of the Quran, Chapter 18, verse 28 by Ibn Kathir and Tabrani to have meant those who are doing remembrance of Allah in same gathering. He further debunked the claim of the first speaker that Imam Maalik stated that remembrance of Allah in congregation was an innovation. Rather, what Imam Maalik said was that he disliked it.
Ustadh Abdulwasii further cited the hadith of Abu Hurairah where it was reported that the prophet said ” if a group of Muslims gather in the house of Allah, reading the book of Allah, teaching themselves the saying of the prophet and doing the remembrance of Allah, Allah will also be remembering them in His place”.
Speaking further on this Hadith, he said: ‘Imam Nawwawi said that there is reference of gathering to recite Quran together as this is our school of thought, and this is what majority of scholars support. Though, some said that Imam Maalik hated this, but some of the students of Imam Maalik said that it has an explanation’. Ustadh Abdul Wasii used this reference to state that remembering Allah in congregation, supplicating collectively and uttering remembering of Allah in chorus is valid in the sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
In his contribution, the Chief Imam of Iponri Estate explained that without doubt, the controversy on either remembering Allah in congregation is allowed or not is not new in Islam; it is an issue the early scholars in Islam have dialogued about in peace. As a result of this, Muslims should abide by what they convinced to be islamically right and beneficial to them and the Ummah at large. Also, this should not result in condemning each other. He noted that the audience can easily judge from the two divides of the debate where to pitch their own stand.
Adding to this, the chairman of the occasion, urged Muslims to be civilized in their approach and avoid condemning those who are making Islam beneficial to others. “The benefit of reciting adhkar in Jamaa’ah is that those who are not knowledgeable will be able to benefit immensely from it by learning how to supplicate to their Lord in the way of the Prophet (PBUH). If they are denied this opportunity, how will they benefit?”,he concluded.
As a rounding off note, Ustadh Ahmad Zubayr from MSSN appreciated how the debate was handled in a matured way, he then applauded those who presented their points with evidences. He urged others not to baselessly condemn people mainly due to personal dislike or hatred.