The Ummah of Islaam is in a state of disagreement and divergence in many different areas, both with regard to aqidah and other matters besides, and they have taken divergent paths. Then a number of calamities have befallen them as a result of this divergence, and due to the fact that in matters of disagreement they do not refer back for their resolution to the Book of their Lord and the Sunnah of their Prophet. As a result, there emerged the appearance of ideologies in the Islamic field having their own particular programmes and methodologies to rescue and rectify the condition of the ummah. Some are political, some are intellectual, some are spiritual. The followers of each of these ideologies claim that their ideology is the true methodology of Islaam which must be followed and which can alone save the ummah. In order to sustain this argument, the proponents of these ideologies often attempt to distinguish between aqidah and manhaj with a view to justifying the permissibility of the method they have adopted and made as part of their group’s mode of operation. In reality, they try to make such distinctions to allow them to abandon the ways and means found in the revealed texts and instead follow what their intellects deem to be better and sounder ways towards rectification.
Shaykh al-Albaanee on Differentiating Between Aqidah and Manhaj
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.
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 daw’ah 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, Volume 22.