In The Name of Allaah, The Most Merciful, The Bestower of Mercy
The Correct Stance towards the differing of the scholars concerning Jarh Wat-Tadeel
Question to Shaikh Ubaid Al-Jaabiri [may Allaah preserve him]:
If I heard the statement of a scholar in a cassette or read it in a book concerning some person that he is indeed an innovator, but I did not see the evidence, is it then binding upon me to be cautious of this person and be satisfied that he is indeed an innovator, or do I wait until I find evidence for that?
All praise is due to Allaah the Lord of the Aalameen and may Allaah send His Salutations of peace and blessings upon our prophet Muhammad, his family and companions. To proceed: I say: Indeed Ahlus Sunnah do not pass judgement of Bidah (i.e. declare one to be from ahlul bidah) against anyone unless they are fully acquainted with him and completely examine what he is upon and know his methodology perfectly, in general and in detail. And from this point (in our discussion), this affair leads us to two standpoints:
The first standpoint: It is about the one against whom a scholar or scholars have passed a judgement that he is an innovator, whilst other scholars from Ahlus Sunnah like them do not differ (about this judgement). Beware, I say: Others from Ahlus Sunnah do not differ with them; so we accept their criticism against him (i.e. the one declared a man of bidah). We accept their speech and are cautious about him. So as long as a Sunni Scholar passed judgement against him and he was criticised by a Sunni scholar, whilst the rest of Ahlus Sunnah amongst the contemporaries of this scholar–his brothers and sons amongst the scholars–did not raise (an opposition), then his speech must be accepted. That is because this Sunni Scholar who criticised a man did not do so except based on an affair that is clear to him and established upon proof. This is something related to the religion of Allaah–the one who criticises or commends knows that he is responsible for what he says and for the ruling or judgement he gives. He knows that he is held accountable by Allaah (The Most High) even before the people question him.
The Second Standpoint: If this person who has been criticized by a scholar or scholars and they passed a judgement against him with what drops his status, and it became obligatory to be cautious of him; but then they are opposed by others who judged him to be trustworthy and that he is upon the Sunnah, or gave other judgements in opposition to the judgements of those other (scholars) who criticized him; then in this case, as long as these (scholars) and those (scholars) are upon the Sunnah and all of them are trustworthy and people of integrity in our view, we should look to the evidence. This is why they (i.e. the scholars) say: “The one who knows is a proof against the one who does not know.”
A criticizer who stated about such and such person that he is an innovator and a deviant, whilst producing evidence from the books of the criticized person or from his cassette tapes, or from the transmissions of the reliable narrators about him, then this obligates on us to accept his speech and abandon the (speech) of those who gave commendations in opposition to the one who criticized. That is because those who criticized him presented evidences that are hidden from the others due some reasons, or due to the fact that the one who commended did not read or hear (anything or something negative) about the criticized; rather he based his commendation upon what he knew about him previously and that he was upon the Sunnah. Therefore, this criticized person against whom evidence is established is truly declared unreliable and the proof is with the one who established the evidence. And it is incumbent upon the one who seeks the truth to follow the evidence and he does not seek to take a path to the right or the left, or saying: “I abstain of my own accord.” That is because we have not been obligated with this from the Salaf. Indeed, it is a prescribed obligation to accept the speech of the one who established the evidence. And the Sunni Scholar who opposed those who criticized (based on clear proofs) is excused and his status and honour are maintained in our eyes. We recognize what –by the will of Allaah–he possesses of virtue and exalted status.
A scholar from Ahlus Sunnah is only a human. He can be distracted and forgetful, and he can be deceived by evil people; or he used to consider a man to be trustworthy–who has now been declared untrustworthy–and he deceives him. The witnesses to this affair are many because many of those whose status has been dropped– due to being declared unreliable based on evidence–are in reality people who wage war against the Sunnah and its people. So they come along with copies of their books and read it to the distinguished scholars–those considered to be people of leadership and virtue in the religion- whilst the affair of this trickster and plotter is hidden from that noble scholar, which had he known of it the status of this person would have dropped in his eyes. So this scholar gives praise based on what he heard. And if the book (of this trickster) is printed, it is disseminated and transmitted by his supporters and they spread a good reputation about him. Thus there are those who argue saying, “such and such praised him-Al-Albaanee (rahimahullaah), or Ibn Baaz (rahimahullaah), or Ibn Al-Uthaymeen (rahimahullaah) praised this book. However these scholars are excused; rather this trickster was hidden from that scholar.
So, what remains? We establish the evidence against this ‘deceiver, trickster and plotter’ based on what is found in his books. We establish the manifest clarifications against him from his books and we say to the one who argues with us, “Take it, this is his speech.” Therefore, it is obligated on you to be fair and to be free from that wild and zealous attachment, and from the desires that blinds a person. It is obligatory upon you that your search should be for the truth.
Question to Shaikh Ubaid [may Allaah preserve him]:
What is the obligation upon the common Salafis concerning those du’aat (callers) about whom the scholars differ in their commendations and criticisms, regardless whether they (i.e. the common Salafis) are aware or unaware of their mistakes (i.e. the mistakes of those callers)?
I say: I advise you; neither accept cassettes nor books except those of a person whom you know to be upon the Sunnah and a witness of that is established for him—the one well-known to be upon the Sunnah and an opposition to it is not manifested from him. This is an (abiding) general principle applied to him whilst he is alive and after his death. The one who passed away and we regarded him to be upon the Sunnah, then in our view he is upon the Sunnah and we ask Allaah to keep him firm upon it in the afterlife [i.e. Allaah grants him firmness to answer the questions in the grave due to adherence to the Sunnah (Tawheed and following the Messenger) and resurrects him in the afterlife as a person of Sunnah] just as he was kept firm upon it whilst he was alive…aameen. This is the first affair.
If the affair of a person is hidden from you–the one whose books and cassettes are famous and his fame is widespread–then ask those who are well acquainted with him and those who know about his state of affairs. That is because neither is the Sunnah hidden nor are its people. A man’s Tazkiyah (i.e. the clear witness that he is upright upon the Sunnah) are his own actions. His Tazkiyah are his own actions that he is upon the Sunnah. It is the witness and the people mention him with it during his life and after his death.
There is none who hides behind the Sunnah– the people beguiled by him, gathered around him to learn, adhered to him, became dependent on him and accepted everything he said–except that Allaah will reveal his affair, uncover and expose his concealed state of affairs to specific individuals and to the general public, regarding what was hidden and apparent of his deception, his mixing truth with falsehood, his plots and deceitful practices. Allaah facilitates men of virtue, intelligence, wisdom, strength and exceptional natural ability–possessors of knowledge, skill and sound understanding of the religion–through whom He (Allaah) unveils the affair of that trickster, dubious and deceitful person.
Therefore, it is incumbent upon you that when the state of that person is made clear–the one whose fame is widespread etc.–then you should be cautious of him as long as he was warned against by those people of knowledge and Imaan who are upon the Sunnah; for indeed they will unveil his affair with evidences. And there is no hindrance in unveiling the state of that person who has been warned against by a scholar or scholars with the appropriate etiquettes and in a good manner because that scholar will say to you: “I saw this and that in him, and I saw this and that in the book of such and such, or I heard this or that in the cassette of such and such.” Therefore, you have clear evidence that will unveil what was hidden from you, and that the one whose fame is widespread and his speech is pleasant is one who hides something of innovation and plotting, which cannot be compared to what he manifests from the Sunnah.
The one who knows of a mistake and it is clear to him, then it is not permissible for him to blindly follow a scholar to whom an affair is hidden. And indeed you already heard yesterday that the scholars are not infallible in their Ijtihaadaat. Therefore, it is not permissible to adopt them (i.e. the mistakes of the scholars) as a methodology (to follow).
Slightly Paraphrased and Abridged. See Link: www.sahab.net/home/?p=329