Difference between Aqeedah and Manhaj
Imaam Naasiruddin al-Albaani (rahimahullah) was asked, “Some of the youth differentiate between the aqidah of the Salaf and the manhaj of the Salaf so you see some of them upon the aqidah of the Salaf yet they allow themselves to work with some of the methodologies that exist today, even though there maybe what opposes the manhaj of the Salaf within them in terms of practice. So is there a binding link between the aqidah and manhaj of the Salaf in the practical implementation of the Salafi manhaj?“
The Shaikh replied: “That which I believe and worship Allaah with is that there are both generalities (in similarity) and specific (aspects) between the Salafi manhaj and aqidah. Aqidah is more specific than manhaj as all of you know. Aqidah has a link with what is called, in the view of many of the Jurists the “knowledge of tawhid”, and this is the chief and fundamental aspect of Islaam. However, manhaj is more vast than aqidah or tawhid. As for those who claim that the differentiation that has come in this question (between aqidah and manhaj), then they desire by this to make it permissible for themselves to adopt ways and means in their dawýah to Islaam which the Salaf us-Salih were not upon. To say this in a different way, they consider that they have the liberty to adopt whatever ways and means they think will help them to convey (and actualise) Islaam, and you are aware of the examples of this type or these types of means.
For example, open demonstrations and rallies in order to force the rulers to turn their attention to what the society complains about and similar matters. So we say that what has come in the Book and the Sunnah and what the Salaf us-Salih were upon with respect to objectives, goals and ways and means are sufficient for the Ummah. However, the reason which leads some of the people to permit themselves to adopt these ways and means, in fact it is correct for me to say that they permit themselves to blindly-follow the disbelievers in the ways that they have adopted in order to actualise what they call either democracy or social justice and other such words which have no reality to them. So they, I mean these Muslims, permit themselves to blindly follow the disbelievers in these ways and means.
We say, our Lord, the Mighty and Majestic has made removed us from having any need, by our Shari’ah, of this separation which has been explained (i.e. between aqidah and manhaj) and that we should be needy of the disbelievers and that we should take from their ways and means, which might be good for them, (but) only because they have no Shari’ah by which they guide themselves. It is for this reason that we say that manhaj is more vast than aqidah and tawhid, hence it is necessary to adhere to what the Salaf us-Salih were upon with respect to both these affairs; the one that is vast (manhaj) first and foremost and the one that is more narrow (tawhid), meaning aqidah.”
Source: Al-Asaalah Magazine, Vol 22.
Shaykh Salih al-Fawzan (hafidhahullaah) was asked the following question pertaining to aqidah (creed) and manhaj (methodology):
هل هناك فرق بين العقيدة والمنهج؟
Is there a difference between aqidah and manhaj?
The Shaykh replied:
المنهج أعم من العقيدة ، المنهج يكون في العقيدة وفي السلوك والأخلاق والمعاملات وفي كل حياة المسلم، كل الخطة التي يسير عليها المسلم تسمى المنهج. أما العقيدة فيراد بها أصل الأيمان ، ومعنى الشهادتين ومقتضاهما هذه هي العقيدة
Manhaj is broader than aqidah, manhaj (methodology) occurs in aqidah, and in sulook (behaviour) and in akhlaaq (manners) and in mu’aamalaat (dealings), and in all the life of a Muslim. As for aqidah, then the foundation of eemaan (faith) is intended by it, and the meaning of the two testimonials and whatever is required by them both, this is aqidah.
Source: Al-Ajwibah al-Mufidah, p. 123 (3rd edition).
Permanent Committee for Scholarly Research and Ifta’ was asked:
Q 1: There is a current debate about the difference between `Aqidah (creed) and Manhaj (methodology) and people have started to say that so-and-so adopts the `Aqidah of Ahl-ul-Sunnah wal-Jama`ah (those adhering to the Sunnah and the Muslim main body) or the Salafiyyah (those following the way of the righteous predecessors) although their Manhaj is not that of Ahl-ul-Sunnah wal-Jama`ah. Similar words are said about some of the followers of Tabligh Group (a group calling to Islam), the Muslim Brotherhood, and some other groups. What differentiates between the Manhaj of Ahl-ul-Sunnah wal-Jama`ah and that of Salafiyyah? Is it correct to differentiate between `Aqidah and Manhaj?
Answer: There is no difference between `Aqidah and Manhaj. Both terms refer to what a person believes in their hearts, confesses with their tongues, and acts accordingly with their bodily members. They encompass believing in the Oneness of Allah’s Lordship, Worship, His Names and Attributes, worshipping Him Alone, abiding by His Shari`ah (Islamic law) in words and deeds, and following the Qur’an and the Sunnah (whatever is reported from the Prophet) as adopted by the Salaf (righteous predecessors) and Imams (initiators of Schools of Jurisprudence). Accordingly, there is no difference between `Aqidah and Manhaj; they refer to the same thing which all Muslims must observe and hold fast to.
Source: Permanent Committee for Scholarly Research and Ifta’: The first and fourth questions of Fatwa no. 18870 (Part No. 2; Page No. 41)
Shaikh Rabee’ Bin Haadee Al Madkhalee (hafidhahullaah) was asked a question, “What is the difference between ‘Aqeedah and Minhaj?”
The Shaykh replied,
The issue of differentiating between ’Aqeedah and Minhaj came about in this (modern) time. (Before this time) the people never separated between ’Aqeedah and Minhaj; but this Fitnah came and some of the people of the Sunnah obliged to separate between ‘Aqeedah and Minhaj. Sheikh Bin Baaz (Rahimahu Allahu Ta’aala) never separated between ‘Aqeedah and Minhaj, he said, “Aqeedah and Minhaj are one.”
(Furthermore) I’m compelled to say Minhaj is broader than ‘Aqeedah and ‘Aqeedah enters into Minhaj, (for example) the Minhaj of Ahlus-Sunnah in the belief in the names and attributes of Allah as it came in the Book and the Sunnah is such and such, the Minhaj of Ahlus-Sunnah in utilizing proofs and evidences is such and such, the Minhaj of Ahlus-Sunnah regarding the narrations is such and such. This is their Minhaj. The way in which they derive and utilize proofs and evidences is Minhaj. How do they receive and treat the narrations is Minhaj.
Source: Thabaat A’laa-Sunnah Pg 4
All the well known Mashyakh explain a difference between aqidah and manhaj in terms of what they relate to (i.e. the subject matter), whilst affirming the inextricable link between aqidah and manhaj. This is very different to what is attempted by the biased partisans and Innovators who try to portray that so long as one’s aqidah is sound, one can follow whatever manhaj he likes, and he will not be harmed. However, a Muslim is obligated to follow the Sharee’ah in everything, in all affairs, upon the way of the Salaf, without distinguishing between any of the affairs of the religion, and all the various aspects of the religion have methodologies that relate to them, that are founded upon the revealed texts, methodologies in deriving and understanding aqidah, methodologies in da’wah, methodologies in rectification, methodologies in fiqh and fataawaa and so on. So trying to separate manhaj from the affairs of aqidah and da’wah, or the religion in general is futile.