Book Review: ‘Notions that must be Corrected’ – by Shaykh Muhammad bin ‘Alawi al-Maliki
Shaykh Muhammad bin ‘Alawi (d. 2004) came from a family of scholars based in Makkah, for generations he and his forefathers had taught in the holy sanctuary before and during the Saudi state. With the publication of this book in the 70s Shaykh Muhammad was removed from his teaching position in the Haram, and many of the state sponsored Salafi scholars declared him to have left the faith and decreed his blood lawful. The reason being Shaykh Muhammad in a clear and concise manner addresses some of the accusations of heresy made by members of the Salafi school against orthodox Muslims in this work. The vast majority of his book deals with the rank of the Prophet (ﷺ) and the esteem held of him by his companions and the early generations of Muslims. Throughout the work he quotes numerous texts to support his statements, despite the fact the Shaykh was Maliki in fiqh, he quotes extensively from Hanbali texts, proving the depth of his knowledge and supporting the well regarded opinion that he was the greatest scholar of the Hejaz in his time (Given the fact that the Hanbali and Maliki schools are the most prominent in that area of the Muslim world).
What makes his book unique in literature that deals with Salafi theology is the fact the author was a Saudi citizen, and he in essence was dealing with the thorny ground that is the official version of Islam as apparently adopted by the government. (I say apparently because of the fact Shaykh Muhammad remained highly respected by members of the Saudi royal family even after his exclusion from teaching in the Haram). So as he progresses through the work he remains calm and does not use harsh language or level accusations against Salafiyyah, he remains highly respectful of the kings of Saudi Arabia, and refers to Muhammad bin Abdul Wahhab as ‘Shaykh’, something that is unique in this subject of Islamic literature.
Many of the things found in this book are discussed in other translations I have read and reviewed on this blog, what makes it different is the Shaykh’s easy style of writing, and his skill in explaining complex and fundamental realities in a logical and sensical way, something I discovered in this short video before reading this book. One will find that due to the budget constraints of many orthodox Islamic publishers, books on this topic are lacklustre in their quality and make reading them difficult. Sunni Publications in translating and publishing this work do an excellent job, the translation is not complex, and the typesetting and style makes it easier for the reader to digest and comprehend, which is important as they may be delving into a difficult topic for them.
For someone who wants to learn about the true realities and rank of the Prophet (ﷺ) in the context of erroneous Salafi beliefs I would recommend this work. For learning about the rank of the Prophet (ﷺ) in general I would recommend Qadi Iyad’s al-Shifa’a. For someone who wants to learn about the difference between Hanbali and Salafi fiqh and aqeedah I would recommend Shaykh Sulayman bin Abdul Wahhab’s The Divine Lightning.
Allah have mercy on all our scholars, and guide us to the straight path. To Him is our return.