Muhammad Nasiruddin al-Albani

Last updated
Muhammad Nāsir al-Dīn al-Albanī
DiedOctober 4, 1999 (aged 85)
Religion Islam
Nationality Albanian, Syrian
Ethnicity Albanian
Denomination Sunni
Jurisprudence Zahiri [1]
Creed Athari
Movement Salafi
Main interest(s) Hadith
Occupation Muhaddith, Faqih, historiographer, bibliographer, watchmaker
Senior posting
Awards King Faisal International Prize, 1999
Website Memorial website

Muhammad Nasir-ud-Dīn al-Albani(1914 – October 2, 1999) was an Albanian Islamic scholar who specialised in the fields of hadith and fiqh. He established his reputation in Syria, where his family had moved when he was a child and where he was educated. [4]

Albanians people of Southeast Europe

The Albanians are an ethnic group native to the Balkan Peninsula and are identified by a common Albanian ancestry, culture, history and language. They primarily live in Albania, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia as well as in Croatia, Greece and Italy. They also constitute a diaspora with several communities established in the Americas, Europe and Oceania.

Ulama class of Muslim legal scholars

In Sunni Islam, the ulama, are the guardians, transmitters and interpreters of religious knowledge, of Islamic doctrine and law.

Hadith collections of sayings and teachings of Muhammad

Ḥadīth in Islam are the record of the words, actions, and the silent approval, of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. Within Islam the authority of Ḥadīth as a source for religious law and moral guidance ranks second only to that of the Qur'an. Quranic verses enjoin Muslims to emulate Muhammad and obey his judgements, providing scriptural authority for ahadith. While the number of verses pertaining to law in the Quran is relatively few, ahadith give direction on everything from details of religious obligations, to the correct forms of salutations and the importance of benevolence to slaves. Thus the "great bulk" of the rules of Sharia are derived from ahadith, rather than the Qur'an.


Largely self-taught in the study of Islamic texts, Albani is considered to be a major figure of the purist Salafi movement which developed in the 20th century. [5] Al-Albani did not advocate violence, preferring quietism and obedience to established governments. [6]

In the context of political aspects of Islam, the term political quietism has been used for the religiously motivated withdrawal from political affairs, or skepticism that mere mortals can establish true Islamic government. As such it would be the opposite of political Islam, which holds that religion (Islam) and politics are inseparable. It has also been used to describe Muslims who believe that Muslims should support Islamic government, but that it is “forbidden to rebel against a Muslim ruler”; and Muslims who support Islamic government at the right time in the future when,, a consensus of scholars or twelfth imam call for it. The Wahhabi of Saudi Arabia and Salafi are sometimes described as having "quietist" and "radical" wings.

A watchmaker by trade, al-Albani was active as a writer, publishing chiefly on hadith and its sciences. He also lectured widely in the Mideast, Spain and the United Kingdom on the Salafist movement.

Watchmaker artisan who makes and repairs watches

A watchmaker is an artisan who makes and repairs watches. Since a majority of watches are now factory made, most modern watchmakers only repair watches. However, originally they were master craftsmen who built watches, including all their parts, by hand. Modern watchmakers, when required to repair older watches, for which replacement parts may not be available, must have fabrication skills, and can typically manufacture replacements for many of the parts found in a watch. The term clockmaker refers to an equivalent occupation specializing in clocks.

In the 1960s, Albani was invited to teach at the Islamic University of Madinah in Saudi Arabia. His views were opposed by numerous traditional clerics and his contract allowed to lapse. He later returned from Syria for a brief time in the 1970s as the head of higher education in Islamic law in Mecca. He again aroused too much opposition, and returned to Syria. After serving time under house arrest by the Syrian government in 1979, Albani moved to Jordan, where he resided for the rest of his life.

Islamic University of Madinah university

The Islamic University of Madinah was founded by the government of Saudi Arabia by a royal decree in 1961 in the Islamic holy city of Medina. It follows the Salafi ideology which is prevalent in Saudi Arabia. It received institutional academic accreditation without exceptions from the National Commission for Academic Accreditation and Assessment in April 2017.

Mecca Saudi Arabian city and capital of the Makkah province

Mecca (; Arabic: مكة‎ Makkah is a city in the Hejazi region of the Arabian Peninsula, and the plain of Tihamah in Saudi Arabia, and is also the capital and administrative headquarters of the Makkah Region. The city is located 70 km inland from Jeddah in a narrow valley at a height of 277 m above sea level, and 340 kilometres south of Medina. Its resident population in 2012 was roughly 2 million, although visitors more than triple this number every year during the Ḥajj period held in the twelfth Muslim lunar month of Dhūl-Ḥijjah.


Early life

Albani was born into a poor Muslim family in the city of Shkodër in northern Albania in 1914. [7] [8] During the reign of the secularist Albanian leader Ahmet Zogu, al-Albani's family migrated to Damascus, Syria. 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, also helped by native Syrian scholars. [9] In the meantime, he earned a modest living as a carpenter before joining his father as a watchmaker.[ citation needed ]

Shkodër Municipality in Albania

Shkodër or Shkodra, historically known as Scutari or Scodra, is a city in the Republic of Albania. It is the capital of the surrounding county of Shkodër, one of 12 constituent counties of the republic. The city is one of the most ancient cities in the Balkans and the fourth most populous city in the country and exerts strong influences in culture, religion, arts and entertainment of northern Albania.

Damascus City in Syria

Damascus is the capital of the Syrian Arab Republic; it is also the country's largest city, following the decline in population of Aleppo due to the battle for the city. It is colloquially known in Syria as ash-Sham and titled the City of Jasmine. In addition to being one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, Damascus is a major cultural center of the Levant and the Arab world. The city has an estimated population of 1,711,000 as of 2009.

Syria Country in Western Asia

Syria, officially the Syrian Arab Republic, is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon to the southwest, the Mediterranean Sea to the west, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest. A country of fertile plains, high mountains, and deserts, Syria is home to diverse ethnic and religious groups, including Syrian Arabs, Greeks, Armenians, Assyrians, Kurds, Circassians, Mandeans and Turks. Religious groups include Sunnis, Christians, Alawites, Druze, Isma'ilis, Mandeans, Shiites, Salafis, Yazidis, and Jews. Sunni make up the largest religious group in Syria.

Albani began to specialize in hadith studies in the 1930s. Though he was largely self-taught, [10] [11] [12] he transcribed and commented on Abd al-Rahim ibn al-Husain al-'Iraqi's Al-Mughnee 'an-hamlil-Asfar fil-Asfar fee takhrej maa fil-lhyaa min al-Akhbar. He followed this writing a series of lectures and books, as well as publishing articles in Al-Manar magazine. [8]

Hadith studies

Hadith studies consist of several religious disciplines used in the study and evaluation of the Islamic hadith — i.e. the record of the words, actions, and the silent approval of the Islamic prophet, Muhammad, by Muslim scholars. The sciences seeks to determine the authenticity (sihha) of ahadith, primarily by attempting to determine whether there are "other identical reports from other transmitters"; the reliability of the transmitters of the report; and "the continuity of the chain of transmission".

Scholastic career

Starting in 1954, Albani began delivering informal weekly lessons. By 1960, his popularity began to worry the government of Syria, and he was placed under surveillance by the Hafiz al-Asad government. He was imprisoned twice in 1969. [13] In the late 1970s, the government placed him under house arrest more than once. [14]

After a number of his works were published, Albani was invited to teach Hadith at the Islamic University of Madinah in Saudi Arabia by the University's then-vice president, Abd al-Aziz ibn Baz. Shortly upon his arrival, Albani angered the Wahhabi elite in Saudi Arabia, who did not like his anti-traditionalist stances in Muslim jurisprudence. They were alarmed by Albani's intellectual challenges to the ruling Hanbali school of law but were unable to challenge him openly due to his popularity. [15] When Albani wrote a book supporting 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. His opponents ensured that his contract with the university was allowed to lapse without renewal. [15]

In 1963, Albani left Saudi Arabia and returned to his studies and work in the Az-Zahiriyah library in Syria. He left his watch shop in the hands of one of his brothers. He was later invited back to Saudi Arabia in the 1970s but did not remain long because of opposition from clerics.[ citation needed ]

Imprisonment in Syria

He was placed under house arrest more than once in the 1970s by the Ba'ath regime of Hafez al-Assad. [13] [16] The Syrian government accused Albani of "promoting the Wahhabi da'wa, which distorted Islam and confused Muslims." [16] [ additional citation(s) needed ]

Later life

Albani visited various countries for preaching and lectures – amongst them Qatar, Egypt, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Spain, and the United Kingdom. He moved a number of times between Syria and a couple of cities in Jordan. He also lived in the UAE.[ citation needed ]

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. [17] This did not last due to controversy among the Saudi establishment regarding Albani's views.

Albani returned to Syria, where he was briefly jailed again in 1979. He moved to Jordan, living there for the remainder of his time. He died in 1999 at the age of 85. [8]


Albani was a proponent of Salafism and is considered one of the movement's primary figureheads in the 20th century. Albani criticised the four mainstream schools of Islamic law and rejected the traditional Sunni view that Muslims should automatically turn to a Madhhab for fiqh (jurisprudence). [18] [19] Instead, he spent much of his life critically re-evaluating hadith literature and felt that numerous previously accepted hadiths were unsound. [19] This led him to produce rulings that were at odds with the Islamic majority. [19] Although Salafism has frequently been associated with Wahhabism, Albani distinguished between the two movements, and he criticised the latter while supporting the former. He had a complex relationship to each movement. [20] [21]

Albani was amongst some leading Salafi scholars who were preaching for decades against what they considered the warped literalism of extremists. Politically they were quietists who rejected vigilantism and rebellion against the state. They believed that Muslims should focus on purifying their beliefs and practice and that, in time, "God would bring victory over the forces of falsehood and unbelief." [22]

Albani's own views on jurisprudence and dogma have been a matter of debate and discussion. During a 1989 visit to Saudi Arabia, Albani was asked if he adhered to the lesser-known Zahiri school of Islamic law; he responded affirmatively. [1] Albani's opponents among the mainstream have affirmed this as a point of criticism. A number of Albani's students have denied his association with any formal school of jurisprudence.[ citation needed ]


Albani held a number of controversial views that ran counter to the wider Islamic consensus, and more specifically to Hanbali jurisprudence. [23] These include:

Additionally, Albani wrote a book in which he redefined the proper gestures and formulae that constitute the Muslim prayer ritual "according to the Prophet's sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallams practice." These were contrary to the prescriptions of all established schools of jurisprudence. [23] As he argued that several details of the concrete prayer that have been taught from generation to generation were based on dubious hadith, his book caused considerable unease. [28] Albani's descriptions for the performance of the Tahajjud and Taraweeh prayer deviated considerably from established practice. [28]

Albani openly criticized Syed Qutb after the leader was executed. He claimed that Qutb had deviated in creed and held the belief of Oneness of Being. Further, Albani accused Hassan al-Banna, the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, of not being a religious scholar and holding "positions contrary to the Sunna". [29]


Albani was criticized by a number of contemporary Sunni scholars. Safar Al-Hawali criticized Albani for his "categorical condemnation of Taqlid" and his "radical hadith based revisionism". [30]

In the early 1970s Syrian Hadith scholar Abd al-Fattah Abu Ghudda published a tract against al-Albani's reevaluation of Sahih al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim. [31] In 1987 the Egyptian hadith scholar Mahmud Sa'id Mamduh published a work entitled Alerting the Muslim to al-Albani's Transgression upon Sahih Muslim. [31]

He stated that:

Indeed, I have concluded that his methods disagree with those of the jurists and hadith scholars, and that his methods are creating great disarray and evident disruption in the proofs of jurisprudence both generally and specifically. He lacks trust in the Imams of law and hadith, as well as in the rich hadith and law tradition handed down to us, in which the umma has taken great pride. [32]

Syrian hadith scholar Nur al-Din 'Itr rebutted some of al-Albani's views. [33] His contemporary, the Syrian scholar Said Ramadan al-Bouti, took issue with Albani's well-known call for all Palestinians to leave Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza. [34] He wrote two rebuttals of al-Albani entitled Anti-Madhabism: the dangers of an innovation that threaten the Sharia and Salafiyya: a blessed historical period, not a school of fiqh. [33]

Lebanese scholar Gibril Fouad Haddad dubbed al-Albani "the chief innovator of our time" and accused him of bid'ah. [31] The "reformed" jihadist Sayyed Imam Al-Sharif considered Albani to be "wrapped in evil" and "not suitable to be a sheikh" for his alleged claim that Jihad is defined as forgiveness, education and prayer. [35]

Legacy and honors

Albani was awarded the King Faisal International Prize in 1999 before his death for his contributions to Islamic studies. The award committee described him as "considered by many academics as probably the greatest Islamic scholar of the 20th Century." [8] [36]

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 widely referred to by other Islamic scholars. [8] Muhibb-ud-Deen Al-Khatib, a contemporary scholar, said of him: "And from the callers to the Sunnah who devoted their lives to reviving it was our brother Muhammad Nasiruddin Nooh Najati Al-Albani." [37]

In 2015, the Huffington Post remarked that Albani's movement of "'Quietist Salafism' with its strong opposition to takfirism (doctrine of excommunication and declaring other Muslims of being heretics) and violence may provide the rhetoric that could prevent youth from being drawn to the apocalyptic rubbish of ISIS." [38]


Albani's works, mainly in the field of Hadith and its sciences, include:

See also

Related Research Articles

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  1. 1 2 al-Albani, "Shareet al-Khobar," tape No. 4, 1989: Khobar, Saudi Arabia.
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