محمد ناصر الدين الألباني
Muhammad Nasiruddin al-Albani (Arabic: محمد ناصر الدين الألباني) (1914 – October 2, 1999) was an Albanian Islamic scholar of the 20th century; he specialised in the fields of hadith and fiqh. He was a watch repairman by trade, and a prolific writer and speaker, in addition to an artisan and was one of the first scholars to use word salafi as a sect symbol. Albani was considered by many contemporary academics as the greatest Islamic scholar of the 20th century.
Islamic scholar, Muhaddith
Muhammad Naasiruddeen al-Albani – محمد ناصر الدين الألباني
- Born: 1914 Shkodër, Albania
- Died: October 4, 1999 (aged 85) Amman, Jordan
- Nationality: Albania, later Syria
- Ethnicity: Albanian
- Occupation: Historiographer, bibliographer, watch repairman
- Denomination: Sunni
- Creed: Athari
- Movement: Salafi
- Main interest(s): Hadith studies
- Awards: King Faisal International Prize, 1999
Biography | Early life
Albani was born into a poor family in the city of Shkodër in northwestern Albania in 1914. During the reign of the secularist Albanian leader Ahmet Zogu, al-Albani’s family migrated to Damascus, Syria, due to their displeasure with the Western-influenced views of the Albanian government.
In Damascus, Albani completed his early education – initially taught by his father – in the Quran, Tajwid, Arabic linguistic sciences, Hanafi Fiqh and further branches of the Islamic faith with the help of native Syrian scholars. In the meantime, he earned a modest living as a carpenter before joining his father as a watchmaker, a trade he was to master.
Albani began to specialize in hadith studies in the 1930s and by the age of twenty, he transcribed and commented on Abd al-Rahim ibn al-Husain al-‘Iraqi’s monumental Al-Mughnee ‘an-hamlil-Asfar fil-Asfar fee takhrej maa fil-lhyaa min al-Akhbar. He followed this with a series of influential lectures and books as well as articles in Al-Manar magazine.
Becoming famous for his knowledge of Hadith studies, Albani began delivering informal weekly lessons starting in 1954. By 1960, his popularity began to worry the government of Syria despite Albani’s apolitical nature, and he was placed under surveillance.
After a number of his works appeared in print, he was invited to teach Hadith at the Islamic University of Madinah by the University’s then-vice president, Abd al-Aziz ibn Baz. Shortly upon his arrival, Albani’s anti-traditionalist stances in Muslim jurisprudence angered the Wahhabi elite in Saudi Arabia, who were alarmed at Albani’s intellectual challenges to the ruling Hanbali school of law but unable to challenge him openly due to his popularity.
When Albani authored a book in support of his view that the Niqab, or full face-veil, was not a binding obligation upon Muslim women, he caused a minor uproar in the country and gave his opponents justification for allowing his contract with the university to lapse without renewal. In 1963, he left Saudi Arabia and returned to his studies and work in the Az-Zahiriyah library, leaving his watch shop in the hands of one of his brothers.
He visited various countries for preaching and lectures – amongst them Qatar, Egypt, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Spain and the United Kingdom. He was forced to emigrate a number of times moving from Syria to Jordan, then Syria again, then Beirut, then the UAE, then again to Amman, Jordan.
Despite Albani’s apolitical nature, he was still harassed several times by the Syrian regime. In 1967, Albani was seized by Syrian government authorities in a sweep of Sunni clerics and spent a month in prison before they were all released.
After Bin Baz’s intervention with Saudi educational management, Albani was invited to Saudi Arabia a second time in order to serve as the head of higher education in Islamic law in Mecca.
This did not last due to controversy among the Saudi establishment regarding Albani’s views; he returned to Syria where he was again jailed briefly in 1979, at which point he moved to Jordan. He died in 1999 at the age of 89, the same year when he won the King Faisal International Prize for his contributions to scholarship in Islamic studies.
Albani was a well-known proponent of Salafism, and is considered one of the movements primary figureheads in the 20th century. He was critical of what he viewed as the stagnation of Muslim civilization, blaming blind fanaticism to old traditions and the stifling of free thought and inquiry.
This led Albani to criticism of the four mainstream schools of Islamic law, in addition to the spread of Sufism and the Tariqa system. Despite Salafism’s frequent association with Wahhabism, Albani was a critic of the latter while a proponent of the former, and held a complex relationship with both movements.
Albani’s own views on jurisprudence and dogma are a matter of some discussion. During a 1989 visit to Saudi Arabia, Albani was asked if he adhered to the lesser-known Zahiri school of Islamic law, to which he replied in the affirmative. Albani’s opponents among the mainstream have affirmed this as a point of criticism, though a number of Albani’s students have denied his association with any formal school of jurisprudence.
Over a period of sixty years, Albani’s lectures and published books were highly influential in the field of Islamic studies and many of his works became reference points for other Islamic scholars. Commentator Zayd Ibn Fayad said about him:
Indeed, Sheikh Muhammad Nasiruddin Al-Albani is from the most prominent and distinguished personalities of this era. He had great concern for the Hadith – its paths of transmission, its reporters and its levels of authenticity or weakness.
This is an honorable task from the best things in which hours can be spent and efforts can be made. And he was like any other of the scholars – those who are correct in some matters and err in other matters. However, his devotion to this great science is from that which requires that his prestige be acknowledged and his endeavors in it be appreciated.
Another scholar and teacher, Muhibb-ud-Deen Al-Khatib, said:
And from the callers to the Sunnah who devoted their lives to reviving it was our brother Muhammad Nasiruddin Nooh Najati Al-Albani.
Albani was not without detractors, either. Fellow hadith scholars Ahmad al-Ghumari and Abdullah al-Ghumari, though acknowledging Albani’s status as a scholar of the field, engaged in a heated debate with Albani regarding the issue of building mosques over the Mausoleums of Muslim religious figures.
- His works, mainly in the field of Hadith and its sciences, number over 100 and include:
- At-Targhib wa’t-Tarhib (Volumes 1–4)
- At-Tasfiyah wa’t-Tarbiya
- At-Tawassulu: Anwa’uhu wa Ahkamuhu (Tawassul: Its Types & Its Rulings) (link to english translation)
- Irwa al-Ghalil (Volumes 1–9)
- Talkhis Ahkam al-Jana’iz
- Sahih wa Da’if Sunan Abu Dawood (Volumes 1–4)
- Sahih wa Da’if Sunan at-Tirmidhi (Volumes 1–4)
- Sahih wa Da’if Sunan ibn Majah (Volumes 1–4)
- Al-Aqidah at-Tahawiyyah Sharh wa Ta’liq
- Sifatu Salati An-Nabiyy (link to English translation)
- Silsalat al-Hadith ad-Da’ifa (Volumes 1–14)
- Silsalat al-Hadith as-Sahiha (Volumes 1–11)
- Salat ut-Tarawih (later an abridgement of this book was published by al-Albani – Qiyamu Ramadhan)
- Salat an-Nabawi (the prayer of the prophet in the light of authentic hadiths) (link to english translation)