Book Review: The Divine Texts by Shaykh Mustafa ash-Shatti
Blurb: “The Salafi Call has been preached in earnest to Orthodox Muslims for more than 200 years. But what is this call? And what does it mean? Who is Muhammad ibn `Abdul Wahhab and should Muslims be concerned for themselves or their children? The author, Imam Mustafa ash-Shatti, answers these questions and gives well rounded answers. And with more than 300 footnotes, the common Muslim will accurately be able to assess Salafi yyah’s goals and what side he or she should be on.”
The blurb says it all really.
From my own experiences as a young Muslim, when I wanted to learn more about my faith, I went looking for answers. Unfortunately what you usually find are the results of Shaykh Google or the mass printed drones of English Islamic literature. Both of which are plagued by the Saudi oil fuelled religious establishment, which in turn is based largely on the teachings of Muhammad ibn Abdul Wahhab. As a result, particularly in the Arab world and the west we have a generation of young people being raised to believe their past generations, and the Muslim nation as a whole are committing innovations, heresies, and even leaving the fold of Islam.
What Shaykh ash-Shatti does in his text is break down some of the ideas of Muhammad ibn Abdul Wahhab, and essentially destroy them. So as to leave the reader without any doubt that his teachings are not part of orthodoxy and the evidences as to why. This kind of work is deeply needed for Muslims today, especially with the Salafi motto of “only Qur’an and Sunnah” ringing around the Muslim world fooling believers into thinking that they represent the “true form” of Ahl Sunnah wa’al Jama’ah. The only real down side of the book I would have is the section that defends tasawwuf (Sufism). This section largely deals with defending the ideas of Ibn al-Arabi, I personally found it quite difficult to read and grasp all the ideas being presented, but I suppose that comes hand in hand with anything related to ibn al-Arabi. It shouldn’t shadow the rest of the book, but it is something to be aware of. Another thing is the repetition of footnotes, the translator uses the same evidence for a point repeatedly, whether this is intentional or not I do not know. It may be he was trying to hammer home a point so as to leave no doubt about it. Admittedly it did work in the end.
Shaykh Abu Ja’far al-Hanbali has followed up his great work with a translation of Sulayman ibn Abdul Wahhab’s work “The Divine Lightning”, a work more in depth and detailed than Shaykh ash-Shatti’s work. Sulayman is the very brother of Muhammad, who wrote an entire text refuting his younger brother’s ideas, both he and his father denounced him and his teachings. The fact they were both orthodox Hanbali scholars who refused to accept his teachings and instead went head on against him should be evidence enough for anyone to see that his ideas were way off the mark.
This is recommended reading for anyone who wants to learn about Salafism or gain a more solid grounding in orthodoxy. Which for many Muslims in the west, particularly the young, is sorely needed.