In The Name of Allaah, The Most Merciful, The Bestower of Mercy.
Allaah [The Exalted] said: [ وَكَذَٰلِكَ نُفَصِّلُ الْآيَاتِ وَلِتَسْتَبِينَ سَبِيلُ الْمُجْرِمِينَ – And thus do We explain the signs (to you O Muḥammad) in detail, and so that the way of the criminals may become evident (to you)] [Surah Al-An’aam. Aayah 55] (1)
Imaam Ibn Katheer [may Allaah have mercy upon him] stated regarding this Aayah: “Allaah [The Exalted] stated that just as He explained what was previously explained of the arguments and evidence on the path of guidance and sound judgement, and censured argumentation and stubbornness; likewise He explain the signs (proofs, evidences, lessons), which those being addressed are in need of; [ولتستبين سبيل المجرمين – and so that the way of the criminals may become evident (to you)], Meaning, so that the path of the criminals – those who oppose the Messengers – may become evident”. (2)
Imaam At-Tabari [may Allaah have mercy upon him] stated regarding the statement of Allaah: [وكذلك نفصل الآيات – And thus do We explain the signs (to you O Muḥammad) in detail]- Meaning, O Muhammad! Just as We have detailed for you in this Surah – from its beginning and introduction up to this point – our proofs and evidences against the idolaters and worshippers of images, and distinguished and clarified it for you; likewise, We explain to you our signs and evidences for every truth denied by the people of falsehood, the sects and other than them, until its truth is distinguished from its falsehood, and its right is distinguished from its wrong. (3)
Imaam Ibnul Qayyim [may Allaah have mercy upon him] said: Those who know Allaah, His Book and His Religion are acquainted with the path of the believers and that of the criminals in detail- the two paths are clearly visible to them, just as a path leading to its destination and the path leading to destruction are made clearly visible. They are the most knowledgeable amongst the creation- the ones who benefit [the people] the most, the ones with the most useful advice and they are evidence of right guidance. This is why the Sahaabah (companions of Prophet) have excelled all those to come after them until the Day of Judgment, for indeed they were brought up upon the path of misguidance, shirk and paths leading to destruction, and they knew them in detail; then the Messenger [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him] came to them and took them out from darkness [an entered them] into complete light- from shirk (polytheism) into Tawheed (pure islamic Montheism); from ignorance into knowledge; from misguidance into guidance; from injustice into justice; from confusion and blindness into guidance and clear-sightedness. They knew the worth of that which they received and were triumphant by way of it. [They knew the worth] of that which was contained in what they [received], since what is in opposition to the [truth and right guidance] reveals the goodness of what it opposes, because [upright] affairs are made clear by way of their opposites. So they increased in desire and love of that which they embraced, disliked and hated that which they had turned away from. And of all the people, they had the most love for Tawheed, Imaan and Islaam, and had the most hatred for that which was in opposition to it. They were the most knowledgeable of the path in detail. As for those who came after the Sahaabah, amongst them is that one who was brought up in Islaam but knows not what is in opposition to it. Therefore, some of the details of the path of the believers and that of the criminals became confusing to him, for indeed confusion occurs due to the weakness of one’s knowledge regarding both paths or one of them, as Umar Ibnul Khattaab [may Allaah be pleased with him] said: “The robust signposts of Islaam will be undone one after the other when a people who grew up in Islaam know not what Jaahiliyyah [Pre-Islamic Ignorance] is.’’ This [statement shows an aspect of] Umar’s perfect knowledge [of Islaam]. And there is that one who is neither acquainted with the path of the criminals nor has it been made clear to him, or he has doubts and thus thinks that some of their ways are from the ways of the believers. This has occurred in this Ummah in many affairs of Creed, Knowledge and deeds regarding the path of the criminals, the disbelievers and the enemies of the Messengers, [which] was brought into the path of the believers by the one who does not know the [detailed distinction between] the path of believers and the path of the criminals, so he called to [this path], excommunicate the one in opposition and declares lawful that which Allaah and His Messenger made unlawful, just as what has occurred with many of the people of bidah, such as the Jahmiyyah, the Qadariyyah, the Khawaarij, the Rawaafid and their ilk- among those who initiated an innovation, called to it and excommunicated those who opposed it. The people are four categories in this subject matter [i.e. the obligation of having knowledge of the path of the believers and that of the criminals in detail].
The First Group: They are those who know the path of the believers and that of the criminals in detail-in both knowledge and action. They are the most knowledgeable amongst the creation.
The Second Group: They are those who are blind to both paths-those resembling animals. The path of the criminals comes [to them] and they follow it.
The Third Group: It is that one who concerns himself with (seeking) knowledge of the path of the believers and not its opposite. He only knows (the path of the criminals) by way of its opposition to the (path of the believers) and in a general way, and [holds] that all that is in opposition to the path of the believers is falsehood, even though that is not illustrated to him in detail. Rather, when he hears some of that which contradicts the path of the believers, he turns away and does not preoccupy himself in understanding and knowing its falsity. This person is in a state (similar) to one who is safeguarded from following desires- whose heart is neither put at risk nor is he called to (such desires), as opposed to those who are aware of (such desires) and their souls are inclined towards them, but they strive against it for the Sake of Allaah. A letter was written to Umar Ibnul Khattaab and he was asked about this affair, as to which of the two men is the better- a man who is not put at risk by way of desires and does not go through its difficulties, or a man who is pushed towards it but abandons it for the Sake of Allaah? Umar wrote back saying: The one who is desirous of sin but abandons it for the Sake of Allaah is from ‘those whose hearts Allaah has tested for piety. For them there is forgiveness and a great reward.’ [Surah Hujuraat. Ayah: 3]
The Fourth Group: This group knows the path of evil, bidah and kufr in detail and the path of the believers in general. This is the situation of many of those who concern themselves with the beliefs of the previous nations and that of the people of bidah (proponents of religious innovation). They are acquainted with (these affairs) in detail, but not with what the Messenger came with; rather they are acquainted with it in general even though they may know some of its affairs in detail. Whoever examines their books will see that. Likewise, those who know the paths of evil, oppression and corruption in detail and are followers of it; if they repent, abandon these (affairs) and return to the path of the pious believers, then their knowledge of it will only be general. They will not be acquainted with it in that detailed manner known to those who spend their lives (studying) its regulations and ways. The Objective: Indeed, Allaah (Glorified be He) loves that one should know the path of His enemies to avoid and hate it, just as the path of the His awliyaa (close friends) is known and followed. (4)
Imaam Barbahaaree [may Allaah have mercy upon him] said: Know that leaving the correct path occurs in two ways. Firstly: that a man strays from the correct path intending nothing but good, so his error is not to be followed since it leads to destruction. Secondly, a man who deliberately opposes the truth and acts contrary to the Pious ones who came before him, he is astray, leading others astray, a rebellious devil within the Ummah. It is a duty upon those who know of him to warn the people against him and to explain his condition to them so that no one falls into his innovation and is destroyed.
Al-Allaamah Saaleh Al-Fawzaan [may Allaah preserve him] commented on the above statement of Imaam Barbahaaree [may Allaah have mercy upon him] saying: After the Shaikh [i.e. Imaam Barbahaaree] described the correct path in his previous statement-the correct path that is obligated on the Muslim to follow in his (sound) Creed and Religion- he then mentioned that the one who leaves the correct path is one of two men: The First Man: it is the one who leaves the [correct path] without the intention [to do so], rather he intended good but followed other than the path of good. Striving [alone] is not sufficient, and even if the person has a righteous intention and a good aim, then that must be upon the correct path. Therefore, this [person] is considered mistaken and whoever agrees with him upon that and follows with him upon error will be destroyed; because this is a path of destruction even though the [person] did not intend leaving [the correct path]; rather his quest was [to reach something] good. This is the state of many of those who initiate newly invented affairs -from themselves – in the knowledge of Aqeedah (Creed). This affair is not permissible, and they should not adhere to it. The person [upon this path] is not upon correctness. Allah [The Mighty and Majestic] said: [ وَأَنَّ هَٰذَا صِرَاطِي مُسْتَقِيمًا فَاتَّبِعُوهُ ۖ وَلَا تَتَّبِعُوا السُّبُلَ فَتَفَرَّقَ بِكُمْ عَنْ سَبِيلِهِ – And verily, this is my Straight Path, so follow it, and follow not (other) paths, for they will separate you away from His Path]. [6:153]
So we reject any path that exits us from the Straight Path even if the one who [calls] to it aims for good and has a good intention. We do not follow him upon that whilst he continues upon his error, eventually leading to destruction; because whoever abandons the correct path in his journey and takes a path of ruin will be destroyed.
As for the second person: It is the one who intends to leave [the correct path]. He knows the truth and that what he embarks upon is falsehood, but he intends to leave the truth with the intention of misguiding the people. So the intention of the first [person] is to bring about benefit for the people, but he did not follow the correct path. The second [person] intended to misguide the people and to turn them away from the correct path. So this one [i.e. the one who intends misguidance for the people] is a devil, because the devils take the people away from the Straight Path. [Allaah informed us that] Iblees said: [لَأَقْعُدَنَّ لَهُمْ صِرَاطَكَ الْمُسْتَقِيمَ -Surely, I will sit in wait against them (human beings) on Your Straight Path]. [7:16] So he intends to turn them away from it [i.e. the straight path] and [direct them] towards the deviated paths. The Prophet [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him] gave us an example when he drew a straight line and drew other lines on its sides, he then said about the straight line: ‘This is the path of Allaah’ and he said about the other lines, ‘These are the other paths, and on each path is a devil calling to it.’ This is a clear example that agrees to that which the Shaikh [i.e. Imaam Barbahaaree] has mentioned here. So the one who takes the people away from the Straight Path [and direct them] to the innovated paths of the innovators is not one who intends good for them; rather he intends destruction for them. He is a devil, be it that he is a devil from amongst the Jinn or the People. It is obligated on us to be more careful of this [second] than the first one [i.e. the person who intends good but was mistaken]; because this one [i.e. the intentionally deviated one] intends to misguide the people.
And regarding the statement of Imaam Barbahaaree: “He is astray, leading others astray, a rebellious devil”, Al-Allaamah Saaleh Al-Fawzaan commented on the above statement, saying: He is misguided and misguiding others. He is a rebellious devil, a rebel intending to turn the people from the Straight Path. And regarding the statement of Imaam Barbahaaree:” It is a duty upon those who know of him to warn the people against him and to explain his condition to them so that no one falls into his innovation and is destroyed.’ Al-Allaamah Saaleh Al-Fawzaan commented on the above statement, saying: It is not permissible to keep quiet about this one who leaves the truth intentionally; rather it is obligatory to unveil his affair and uncover his vileness until the people are warned about him. And it is not to be said that the people are free to hold views, freedom of speech and respecting the views of others, as say present with regards to [having] respect for the views of others. The affair is not about views; [rather] the affair is about Ittibaa [i.e. following the authentic proofs narrated from the Messenger accompanied with the understanding of the pious predecessors]. Allah has outlined a clear path for us, and He told us to adhere to it, when He [Glorified be He] stated: [وَأَنَّ هَٰذَا صِرَاطِي مُسْتَقِيمًا فَاتَّبِعُوهُ] ‘And verily, this is my Straight Path, so follow it’ [6:153]
So any person comes to us and wants us to leave this straight path, then firstly we reject his statement. Secondly, we clarify and warn the people against him and we do not keep quiet about him; because if we keep quiet about him, the people will be deceived by him, especially if he is an eloquent person, [with] good speech, [skilful] writing and is educated; for indeed the people will be deceived by him and will say, ”this one is competent, this one is from the thinkers,” as is taking place today.
So, the affair is very dangerous and regarding this is a reason to refute the one in opposition, as opposed to what those ones say: [that]” Abandon the refutations, leave the people, everyone has his own views and have respect for him.” By way of this [having] respect for the views and freedom of speech the Ummah will be destroyed. The Salaf (pious predecessors) did not keep quiet about the likes of these people; rather they exposed and refuted them due to their knowledge of their danger upon Ummah. We do not keep quiet about their evil; rather that which Allaah has revealed must be clarified. And unless [we do that], we will be from those who conceal the truth-those whom Allah spoke of (saying): [إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يَكْتُمُونَ مَا أَنْزَلْنَا مِنَ الْبَيِّنَاتِ وَالْهُدَىٰ مِنْ بَعْدِ مَا بَيَّنَّاهُ لِلنَّاسِ فِي الْكِتَابِ ۙ أُولَٰئِكَ يَلْعَنُهُمُ اللَّهُ وَيَلْعَنُهُمُ اللَّاعِنُونَ – Verily, those who conceal the clear proofs, evidences and the guidance, which We have sent down, after We have made it clear for the people in the Book, they are the ones cursed by Allaah and cursed by the cursers].'[2:159] A
nd the affair is not limited to the innovator, rather it is extended to the one who keeps quiet about him, for indeed rebuke and punishment is extended to him; because it is obligatory to clarify and made clear for the people…..up until the Sheikh said: So our intention is to clarify the truth. Our intention is not to [merely] disparage the people or to speak about the people. The intent is to clarify the truth, and this is a trust entrusted upon the Scholars. It is not permissible to keep quiet about these people. (5)
Al-Allaamah Abdur Rahmaan Bin Yahyah Al-Mu’allimee Al-Yamaanee [may Allaah have mercy upon him] said: Some of the scholars hold that when the Christians first exaggerated the status of Eesaa [alayhis salaam], the extremists used to accuse everyone who rebuke them that he [i.e. the one who rebutted their extremism] is one who hates Eesaa and belittles him, so this became the greatest means to spreading extremism because the small group of people who followed the truth saw that if they rebuke the extremists, they would be attributed to something that is more repugnant to the people, such as the accusation that they hate Eesaa and belittle him, as well as being hated by the majority of the people and harmed. Therefore, this held them back from rebuking the extremists and thus shaytaan was free to do what he wanted. The situation of the extremists amongst the Rawaafid, the grave worshippers and the proponents of (blameworthy) blind following is very similar to this”. (6)
Ibn Aqeel [may Allaah have mercy upon him] said: If the truthful ones were to keep silent and the falsifiers speak, then the creation would have relinquished what they have witnessed (of truth) and reject what they have not witnessed. So when the devout one’s desire to revive the Prophetic path, the people would reject it and think that it is religious innovation. (7)
Imaam Abdul Azeez Bin Baz [may Allaah have mercy upon him] said: The student of knowledge is very eager not to hide anything he knows. He is eager to clarify the truth and refute the opponents of the Religion of Islaam. He is neither lackadaisical nor does he seek to escape. He is always manifesting due to his endurance.
So when the opponents of Islaam appear with that which obscures and defames Islaam, he brings forth refutation against them by writing, and by word of mouth, and other than that. He is neither lackadaisical nor does he say,” these affairs are for other than me”, rather he says,” it is for me, it is for me”. Even if there are other scholars, he still fears that the affair will slip away.
So he is constantly salient and does not seek to escape, rather he comes forward at the appropriate time to aid the truth and refute the opponents of Islaam by writing and other than it…by means of the radio, or the newspapers, or TV, or through any means he can.
He also does not hide what he has of knowledge, rather he writes, gives khutbah and refutes the people of innovation and other than them from the opponents of Islaam, with what Allaah has bestowed upon him of strength, in accordance with his knowledge, and with that which Allaah has made easy for him of various capabilities. Allaah [The Exalted] said:
إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يَكْتُمُونَ مَا أَنزَلْنَا مِنْ الْبَيِّنَاتِ وَالْهُدَى مِنْ بَعْدِ مَا بَيَّنَّاهُ لِلنَّاسِ فِي الْكِتَابِ أُوْلَئِكَ يَلْعَنُهُمْ اللَّهُ وَيَلْعَنُهُمْ اللاَّعِنُونَ
إِلاَّ الَّذِينَ تَابُوا وَأَصْلَحُوا وَبَيَّنُوا فَأُوْلَئِكَ أَتُوبُ عَلَيْهِمْ وَأَنَا التَّوَّابُ الرَّحِيمُ
Verily, those who conceal the clear proofs, evidences and the guidance, which WE have sent down, after WE have made it clear for the people in the Book, they are the ones cursed by Allaah and cursed by the cursers. Except those who repent and do righteous deeds, and openly declare (the truth which they concealed). These, I will accept their repentance. And I am the One Who accepts repentance, the Most Merciful” (2:159-160) (8)
Allaah’s Messenger [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him] said:
إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَبْعَثُ لِهَذِهِ الأُمَّةِ عَلَى رَأْسِ كُلِّ مِائَةِ سَنَةٍ مَنْ يُجَدِّدُ لَهَا دِينَهَا
Allaah will raise for this Ummah at the end of every hundred years the one who will revive its religion for it. (9)
[إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَبْعَثُ لِهَذِهِ الأُمَّةِ – Allaah will raise for this Ummah]- meaning the Ummatul Ijaabah [i.e. the Muslims].
[عَلَى رَأْسِ كُلِّ مِائَةِ سَنَةٍ – At the end of every hundred years]- meaning at the end of every hundred years when there is little knowledge of the Islamic legislation and the authentic Prophetic Tradition, whilst ignorance and religious innovation is rife. [مَنْ يُجَدِّدُ لَهَا دِينَهَا – One who will revive its religion for it]- meaning a scholar who is alive and well known. He will clarify the authentic Prophetic Tradition and distinguish it from the religious innovations. knowledge will be abundant again and its adherents will be aided, and the proponents of religious will be overcome and degraded.
This reviver is non else but a scholar who has sound understanding of the religious sciences that deal with acts of worship, the underlying wisdoms of the religion and the texts that deal with beliefs of the heart. (10)
[Ref 1: Translation by Shaikh Abu Iyaad: https://www.thenoblequran.com/q/#/search/6_55%5D
[Ref 2: Tafseer ibn Katheer]
[Ref 3: Tafseer at-Tabari]
[Ref 4: An Excerpt from ‘Al-Fawaa’d pages 167-180. slightly paraphrased]
[Ref 5: An Excerpt from It-haaful Qaaree Bitta’liqaat Alaa Sharhis Sunnah Lil Imaam Barbahaaree, Vol 1, page: 110-115. slightly paraphrased]
[Ref 6: At-tankeel Bimaa Fee Ta’neeb Al-Kawtharee Minal Abaateel. Page 8. Vol 10. Slightly paraphrased. Publisher: Daar Aalam Al-Fawaa’id]
[Ref 7: Shifaa As-Sudoor Fee Ziyaaratil Mashaahid Wal-Quboor page: 148]
[Ref 8: The Responsibilities of the Student of Knowledge. page: 15-16]
[Ref 9: Al-Bidaayah Wan-Nihaayah. Vol 9. Pages 303-309. Publisher: Maktabah Al-Ma’aarif and Daar ibn Hazm. 9th Edition. 1414 AH (1994)]
[Ref 10: Sunan Abee Daawud. Hadeeth Number 4291. Declared authentic by Imaam Al-Albaanee [rahimahullaah] in Saheeh Abi Daawud. Publisher, Maktabah Al-Ma’aarif. Awnul Ma’bood Sharh Sunan Abee Daawud. Vol 11. Pages 259-260. Publisher: Daar Al-Kutub Al-Ilmiyyah. 1st Edition 1419AH (Year 1998). Slightly paraphrased]