In The Name of Allaah, The Most Merciful, The Bestower of Mercy.
Going Beyond Bounds – [Exaggeration]
The Messenger [sallal-laahu-alayhi-wasallam] said: “The over-stringent ones are destroyed.” Imaam Nawawi [rahimahullaah] said: “The over-stringent ones are those who look too deeply (into affairs) and are excessive- those who exceed the Hudood (prescribed legislated sharia boundaries) in their statements and actions”. [Ref 1]
Caution Against Passing Judgements Haphazardly or Whilst Not Fully Understanding The Subject Matter
The Prophet [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him] said: “The judges are three: one will go to Paradise and two to Hell. A man who knows the truth and judges with it will enter paradise; a man who knows the truth but judges with the opposite of it will enter the fire, and a man who judges for the people based on ignorance will enter the fire’’. [Reported by Imaam Abu Dawud 3573]
Shaikhul Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah [rahimahullaah] said: And when it is the case that the one who judges between the people in [affairs] of wealth, blood [i.e. murder cases, physical violence etc] and honour will enter the hell fire if he is not a just scholar, then how about the one who passes judgements – without knowledge and justice – on creeds, religions, the fundamentals of belief, divine knowledge and the general fundamental principles related to different subject matters. [Ref 2]
Caution Against Attributing to a Scholar What He Has Not Stated
Shaikh Uthaymeen [rahimahullaah] was asked about those people [may Allaah guide them] who say, ‘’I have heard some of the scholars saying such and such, or given a Fatwa’’; then he [i.e. the one who attributes such a statement to a scholar or scholars] uses this as a basis for his statement or action.
Shaikh Uthaymeen [rahimahullaah] replied: Lying about the scholars in affairs related to the Sharee’ah is a great danger. And because of this, it has been reported in a hadeeth that he [i.e. The Messenger of Allaah (Alayhis- Salaatu- Was-Salaam)] said, ‘’Whoever tells a lie against me [intentionally] then let him occupy his seat in Hell-fire.’’ [Bukhaari 107]
Therefore, telling lies against the scholars in affairs related to the Sharee’ah [i.e. falsely saying that they said this or that, or gave a Fatwa about this or that] is a great danger because it is tantamount to lying against the Sharee’ah. [There are] some people – may Allaah guide them – who when his soul finds something suitable for himself and he knows that people will not accept (what he will say or do), he chooses a scholar whom the people trust and then forges a false statement concerning the scholar – whether he is right [i.e. regarding the statement or deed he wants the people to accept and for which he sought to transmit a forged statement] or upon falsehood. [Ref 3]
Ignoring Proofs And Deliberately Failing to Bear Witness to The Truthful Testimony of a Person Who Disagrees With You
Allaah [The Most High] said:
يَـٰٓأَيُّہَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ كُونُواْ قَوَّٲمِينَ بِٱلۡقِسۡطِ شُہَدَآءَ لِلَّهِ وَلَوۡ عَلَىٰٓ أَنفُسِكُمۡ أَوِ ٱلۡوَٲلِدَيۡنِ وَٱلۡأَقۡرَبِينَۚ إِن يَكُنۡ غَنِيًّا أَوۡ فَقِيرً۬ا فَٱللَّهُ أَوۡلَىٰ بِہِمَاۖ فَلَا تَتَّبِعُواْ ٱلۡهَوَىٰٓ أَن تَعۡدِلُواْۚ وَإِن تَلۡوُ ۥۤاْ أَوۡ تُعۡرِضُواْ فَإِنَّ ٱللَّهَ كَانَ بِمَا تَعۡمَلُونَ خَبِيرً۬ا
O you who believe! Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allah; even though it be against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, be he rich or poor, Allah is a Better Protector to both (than you). So follow not the lusts (of your hearts), lest you may avoid justice, and if you distort your witness or refuse to give it, verily, Allah is Ever Well-Acquainted with what you do. [Surah An-Nisaa. Ayah 135]
Imaam Ibnul Qayyim [rahimahullaah] said: Allaah [Glorified be He and free is He from all uimperfections] commanded His servants to stand out firmly for justice on behalf of everyone – be it an enemy or an ally. And the affair that is most worthy of being established with justice -by a person- are the [sound and upright] statements, views and methodology related to the commands of Allaah as well as everything that Allaah has informed [His slaves in the Qur’aan and the authentic Sunnah]. Therefore, to establish these affairs based on desires and disobedience is contrary to the command of Allaah and a negation [i.e. either intentionally or unintentionally] of that which Allaah’s Messenger [sallal-laahu-alayhi-wasallam] was sent with [i.e. the Qur’aan and the authentic Sunnah].
The establishment of justice [i.e. based on the Qur’aan and authentic Sunnah] is the responsibility of those entrusted with the task to convey Islaam after the death of the Messenger [sallal-laahu-alayhi-wasallam], and this task cannot become a reality unless when one establishes it based on pure justice and sincerity to Allaah- [sincerity] to Allaah’s Book, to Allaah’s Messenger and out of sincere advice to Allaah’s servants. These people are the true inheritors [i.e. inheritors of the knowledge left behind by the Prophets], but not that one who merely makes his companions, sect and school of thought the determinant of truth and the distinction between [truth and falsehood]- by showing enmity towards the one who opposes him and allies with the one who agrees with him, merely based on being opposed or agreed with [i.e. without sound proofs based on the Book and the authentic Sunnah]; because where is that [application of the] command to stand out firmly for justice on behalf of everyone, even though standing out firmly for justice is the greatest command and obligation?!
Then Allaah (The Most High) says: [شُہَدَآءَ لِلَّهِ – As witnesses to Allah]: A witness is that one who presents information about something; so if he presents credible information, he is a just witness and his [statement] is accepted; but if he gives false information, he is a false witness. Allaah [The Most High] command us to stand out firmly as just witnesses for His sake, therefore it has to be carried out for the Sake of Allaah and not for other than Allaah.
And in [Surah Al-Maa’idah Ayah 8, Allaah (The Most High) said]: [كُونُواْ قَوَّٲمِينَ لِلَّهِ شُہَدَآءَ بِٱلۡقِسۡطِۖ – Stand out firmly for Allah and be just witnesses]: This Aayah establishes four affairs: One should stand out firmly for justice and carries that out for sake of Allaah; witness to justice and carries that out for the Sake of Allaah. Then Allaah [The Most High] said: [وَلَوۡ عَلَىٰٓ أَنفُسِكُمۡ أَوِ ٱلۡوَٲلِدَيۡنِ وَٱلۡأَقۡرَبِينَۚ – Even though it be against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin].
Allaah [Glorified Be He and Free is He from all imperfections] commands us to stand out firmly for justice and testify [for or against] everyone, even if it were someone who is the most beloved person to us. A person should stand out firmly for justice [whether it is for or against] himself, his two parents, his other close relatives and his best friend amongst the people. If a person’s love for himself, his parents and his relatives prevents him from standing out firmly for the truth against them, especially if the truth is with someone he hates and regards as an enemy due to them, then indeed none will stand out firmly for justice in such circumstances except one whose love for Allaah and His Messenger is more than their love for everyone else.
On the other hand, a person has to establish justice when dealing with his enemies and [when dealing with] that one who deprives him of his rights; for indeed it is not permissible that hatred for his enemies leads him to be unjust towards them, just as it is not permissible [to allow] love of himself, his parents and relatives to make him abandon standing firmly for justice against them. Therefore, hatred harboured against someone should not lead him to falsehood, and love [of himself, parents and relatives] should not make him fall short in establishing truth, just as some of the Salaf said, “The just person is that one who when angry, his anger does not lead him to falsehood, and when he is pleased, it does not remove him from truth”.
The two verses of the Qur’aan [i.e. 4:135 & 5:8] convey two rulings and they are: Standing out firmly for justice and making a truthful testimony on behalf of one’s allies and enemies.
Then Allaah [The Most High] said: [إِن يَكُنۡ غَنِيًّا أَوۡ فَقِيرً۬ا فَٱللَّهُ أَوۡلَىٰ بِہِمَاۖ – Be he rich or poor, Allah is a Better Protector to both (than you)]- Meaning: Allaah is the Lord of both of them and their Protector, and they are both His slaves. It may be that you become fearful of standing firmly for justice by testifying against a rich person or a poor person – either fearing that the rich person might lose his wealth or because the poor person has nothing, so your hearts become lackadaisical towards standing out firmly for the truth.
Therefore, it should be said to them [i.e. the people]: Allah is a Better Protector to both the rich and poor person. Allaah knows the affair of the rich person more than you and He is more Merciful to the poor than you, so do not refrain from standing out firmly for the truth and from giving testimony [for or against] the rich or the poor.
Then Allaah said: [فَلَا تَتَّبِعُواْ ٱلۡهَوَىٰٓ أَن تَعۡدِلُواْۚ – So follow not the lusts (of your hearts), lest you may avoid justice]-Meaning: Allaah forbids [His slaves] from following desires, which will lead them to abandon justice.
Then Allaah [The Most High] said: [وَإِن تَلۡوُ ۥۤاْ أَوۡ تُعۡرِضُواْ فَإِنَّ ٱللَّهَ كَانَ بِمَا تَعۡمَلُونَ خَبِيرً۬ا – and if you distort your witness or refuse to give it, verily, Allah is Ever Well-Acquainted with what you do]- Meaning: Allaah [Glorified Be He and Free is He from all imperfections] mentions two reasons that will inevitably lead to concealment of truth, then He warned against them and issued a threat:
The first of them is distortion and the second is to turn away from giving truthful witness. That is because when a proof that supports the truth is manifested and the one who wants to repel it finds no way of doing so, he refrains from mentioning it and thus becomes a silent devil, and sometimes he distorts it. Distortion is of two types: Distorting words and distorting meanings. Distorting words is when one utters a word in a context in which it does not establish the truth – either adding to the word or omitting something from it, or substituting it with something else- to the extent that the listener is made to believe something, whilst something else is intended by it, just as the Yahood [i.e. those Yahood who disbelieved in the Prophet & hated him] used to distort words when giving Salaam to the Prophet [i.e. saying As-Saamu Alayka (death be upon you), instead of saying Assalaamu alaykum)]. This is one type of distortion.
The second type of distortion is related to meanings – distorting the wording; giving it an interpretation that is not intended by the one who uttered it and pretending not to know its unintended meaning; or dropping other meanings intended by it etc. Allaah [The Most High] said: [وَإِن تَلۡوُ ۥۤاْ أَوۡ تُعۡرِضُواْ فَإِنَّ ٱللَّهَ كَانَ بِمَا تَعۡمَلُونَ خَبِيرً۬ا – and if you distort your witness or refuse to give it, verily, Allah is Ever Well-Acquainted with what you do].
And when it is the case that a witness is required to bear witness based on what the affair should be [i.e. the complete truth], therefore neither should he hide nor change it. Turning away from the testimony is tantamount to concealment, and distortion is tantamount to alteration and substitution. Therefore, contemplate on this ayah and the treasures of knowledge it contains. The Eemaan of a person cannot be complete, except by way of accepting the texts of the sharee’ah and calling the people to them – neither turning away from them at times nor distorting them at other times. [Ref 4]
A Reminder Regarding Verification
Verification is one of the most important affairs, if not the most important. Verifying what is transmitted from others is an important affair, because sometimes the transmitters harbour evil intentions, so they transmit – intentionally and deliberately – that which will tarnish the reputation of the one they transmit from. And sometimes they do not harbour an evil intention, but they understand something in a manner that is opposite to what is intended by it.
Therefore, it is obligatory to verify. So, when the proof [sound source] of the transmission is established, then the one from whom the statement was transmitted is engaged in a discussion [or his statement is examined] before a judgement is passed as to whether it is a mistake or not. That is because it may become clear to you – by way of discussion [or observation] – that the one from whom the statement was transmitted is correct. And if not, then what is known is that if a person were to immediately pass a judgement merely based on what he hears, he will transmit things [i.e. statements, views, opinions etc] from some of the scholars – those considered to be the beacons of [Sharee’ah] knowledge – that which the souls will dislike; but when one verifies, contemplates and establishes contact with this Shaikh, the affair will become clarified [or clear to him]. [Ref 5]
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[Ref 1: Saheeh Muslim Number:2670. Sharh Saheeh Muslim: Vol 16. Page:180 or page:220]
[Ref 2: Al-Jawaabus Saheeh Liman Baddala Deenul Maseeh. 1/26-30. Slightly paraphrased]
[Ref 3: Sharh Hilyati Taalibil Ilm’ page 224.Paraphrased]
[Ref 4: An Excerpt from ‘Badaa’i At-Tafseer Al-Jaami Limaa Fassarahu Al-Imaam Ibnul Qayyim (rahimahullaah). Vol 1. Page 300-303. Slightly paraphrased]
[Ref 5: An Excerpt from Sharh Hilyatil Taalibil Ilm Pages 75-76. By Shaikh Uthaymeen (rahimahullaah). Paraphrased, see Arabic text below]