Imaam Ibn Abee Dawood as-Sijistaanee’s Poetry in the Creed
His name is Abu Bakr Abdullaah bin Sulaimaan bin al-Ash’ath as-Sijistaanee, well-known as Ibn Abee Dawood, the son of the Imaam and hadeeth Scholar, the compiler of the “Sunan”, Abu Dawood (rahimahullaah). He was born in 230AH and died in 316AH (rahimahullaah). He travelled extensively in pursuit of knowledge and hadeeth and sat with many scholars. He had many students, from them: ad-Daarqutnee, Ibn Shaaheen, Ibn Abee Haatim, Ibn Battah and others. What follows is the first in a series of articles in explanation of the “Al-Haa’iyyah” of this great Scholar, by Shaikh Saalih al-Fawzaan (may Allaah preserve him), entitled: “The Explanation of the Poem of al-Haa’iyyah Regarding the Creed of Ahlus-Sunnah wal-Jamaa’ah”.
Explanation of the Poem of al-Haa’iyyah: The Creed of Ahlus-Sunnah wal-Jamaa’ah
“Sharh al-Mandhoomatil-Haa’iyyah Fee ‘Aqeedati Ahlis-Sunnati wal-Jamaa’ah” of the Imaam Abu Bakr ‘Abdullaah Ibn Abee Dawood as-Sijistaanee (died 316H), explicated by Ash-Shaikh al-‘Allaamah Dr. Saalih ibn Fawzaan ibn ‘Abdullaah al-Fawzaan, p. 43.
Part 1 – Slightly edited translated by Abu Khadeejah Abdul-Waahid
Introduction to the book by the Explainer: The Noble Shaikh, the Scholar, Sālih al-Fawzān
All praise is due to Allāh, Lord of the worlds – may the salutations of Allāh and His peace be upon our Prophet Muhammad, upon his family and his Companions.
This is the explanation of the poetry of Abu Bakr Ibn Abee Dawood as-Sijistaanee (rahimahullaah). It encompasses his creed and that which he was upon – he was a follower of the Salaf in that regard. The Muslims of the first era, the era of the Companions, and those who came after them from the most virtuous of generations believed in whatever was revealed in the Qur’aan and Sunnah without any uncertainty or doubt. This was because they believed in Allaah and His Messenger (salallaahu ‘alaihi wassallam) with a true and strong belief. They believed in everything the Qur’aan included and encompassed and in everything the Sunnah of His Messenger (salallaahu ‘alaihi wassallam) included and encompassed from the affairs of Religion. So they were believers in that, and they would never doubt in that, regardless of whether it related to the ‘aqeedah (belief), or to worship, or to interactions and transactions, or to manners and etiquette – or whether it related to the Sharee’ah legislations such as the permissible and impermissible matters. They would not opt-out of anything from these affairs of Religion because it comprises Imaan (faith) and they had true and sincere faith. They would not be hesitant or uncertain in that which was established in the Book of Allaah and in the Sunnah of His Messenger (salallaahu ‘alaihi wassallam) regardless of subject matter. They would not doubt the information contained therein, regardless of whether it was related to the past or the future events. They would not excuse themselves from anything that was in the Book or Sunnah, rather they would believe in it with a binding and necessary Imaan, not afflicted by any doubts.
Thereafter appeared the sects of misguidance at the end of the era of the Companions, such as the Khawaarij , the Shee’ah , the Murji’ah , and the Qadariyyah . In that time, their adherents kept themselves concealed, and they would not openly make known their oppositions. And if anyone did make apparent anything from deviation, then such a person would be taken by his hand and prevented, and if the deviation reached the level of apostasy, then such a one would be executed [by those in authority] as a protection of the Religion from the mischief-makers.
So when the earliest virtuous generations came to an end and there entered into the lands of the Muslims foreign cultures (doctrines) such as the Byzantine and Persian cultures there occurred something of disorder and chaos. The callers to misguidance became energetic in circulating these deviated ideologies. In the face of this the people of knowledge also became energetic in clarifying the correct ‘aqeedah of Ahlus-Sunnah wal-Jamaa’ah, that which the Companions of Allaah’s Messenger (salallaahu ‘alaihi wassallam) were upon, and likewise the two generations that followed in their footsteps. They precisely penned down and recorded it in books that were named with various titles such as: “al-Imaan”, “ash-Sharee’ah”, “as-Sunnah” and “at-Tawheed”. In these books they would refute the misguided opposers. And this was from the kindness of Allaah for this Ummah, so that their Religion would remain and continue. So Allaah singled out for this Religion protectors in every era who would preserve it.
Imaam Ahmad bin Hanbal (rahimahullaah, d. 241H) said:
“All praise is due to Allaah who raised in every age between the Messengers people of knowledge who call the misguided to guidance and they remain patient with the harm they receive. They give life to the dead with the Book of Allaah. They give sight to the blind with the light of Allaah. How many a person killed by Shaitaan have they given life to? How many misguided strayers have they lead aright? How beautiful has been their effect upon the people, and how despicable the people have been to them! They remove from the Book of Allaah the distortions of those who go beyond bounds, the false assertions of the liars and the faulty interpretations of the ignorant – these people who raise the banner of innovations [in matters of religion], they let loose the shackles of tribulation (fitnah). They differ regarding the Book [of Allaah], they oppose the Book and they are united in their opposition and separating from the Book. They speak concerning Allaah without knowledge. They speak with ambiguities and unclarity – and they deceive the ignorant people with ambiguities – we seek refuge with Allaah from the trials of the misguided.” 
Thereafter these books of ‘aqeedah (belief and methodology) were inherited by the Muslims and they transmitted them. They selected from them the books of ‘aqeedah and they circulated them and spoke about that which those earlier scholars had penned down. So these books of ‘aqeedah were present and they encompassed all the affairs of ‘aqeedah and that which the Pious Predecessors of this Ummah were upon.
Then there were some scholars who gave attention to the textual works of ‘aqeedah and they wrote pros and poems around them. The reason for this is that a poem is lighter upon the soul, quicker to remember and takes root in the memory. So they put these texts concerning the Creed into poetry form to make it easy for one to memorize. And from these poems, we have this one that is before us: “The Haa’iyyah of Ibn Abee Dawood”.
It was called “The Haa’iyyah” because it rhymes upon the Arabic letter Haa (ح). This is just like “The Meemiyya” that rhymes upon the letter Meem (م) or “The Nooniyyah” that rhymes upon the letter Noon (ن), both works of Ibnul-Qayyim (d. 752H).
The point being that a poem is good because it is easy to remember and that which is memorized remains.
Acquaintance with the Author:
He is Abu Bakr, Abdullaah bin Abee Dawood (Sulaimaan) bin al-Ash‘ath as-Sijistaanee. His father was Abu Dawood, Sulaimaan bin al-Ash’ath, the compiler of the Sunan, which is one of the four Sunan of the important hadeeth collections. He was from the companions of Imaam Ahmad bin Hanbal and his student. He has a “Masaa’il” of various issues posed to Imaam Ahmad which he narrated – it has been published and entitled “Masaa’il Abee Dawood”.
As for his son, then he is the composer of these lines, his name is Abdullaah, and his kunyah (or nickname) is Abu Bakr. He was an illustrious Imaam and he attained knowledge from his father and others from the scholars of his era. He was great in terms of knowledge and narration and hadeeth. He has a great station in knowledge, no less than his father or at least close to his father (W). So these lines of poetry encompass the ‘aqeedah of the Salaf.
Footnotes: They were called the Khawaarij (Renegades) due to them exiting the united body of the Muslims and their ruler, and because they rebel against the Muslim rulers based upon claims of tyranny and oppression. They declare Muslims who commit major sins or those rulers who sinfully oppose Allaah’s command to be unbelievers. They divided into over twenty sub-sects. There are many statements of direct condemnation of this sect from Allaah’s Messenger (salallaahu ‘alaihi wassallam) and his Companions (radiyallaahu ‘anhum). They first rebelled against the rule of ‘Alee bin Abee Taalib (radiyallaahu ‘anhu) and they have not ceased till this day.  The Shee’ah first appeared in the time of the noble Companions claiming divinity for ‘Alee ibn Abee Taalib (radiyallaahu ‘anhu). Within a few years they established a doctrine far removed from Islaam. They claim that Alee was the first rightful Caliph and virtually all the other Companions conspired against ‘Alee and oppressed him. This led the Raafidah Shee’ah to declare nearly all the Companions including the wives of the Messenger (salallaahu ‘alaihi wassallam) to be apostates and unbelievers. Till this day they offer acts of worship to ‘Alee (radiyallaahu ‘anhu) and to others they consider divine such as Hasan the son of ‘Alee (radiyallaahu ‘anhumaa). The Shee’ah split into many splinter groups over the centuries.  The Murji’ah appeared in the very early generations claiming that outward actions are not from Imaan and that Imaan does not increase nor decrease – rather the Imaan of the most sinful Muslim is the same as the most pious Prophet. They broke into several groups with varying beliefs and remain till this day and their teachings are still taught.  The Qadariyyah sect appeared in the time of the Companions. They denied the pre-decree (Qadr) of Allaah. They claimed that Allaah does not know of an affair until it takes place, and that the servant creates his own actions. They were refuted severely.  Ar-Radd ‘alal-Jahmiyyah wal-Zanaadiqah, p. 85.