A FACT ABOUT PEOPLE AND GROUPS
Imaam Jamaalud-Deen al-Qaasimee (d.1288H) - rahimahullaah - said:
From that which is well-known about what occurs when people gather together upon some matter, is that any group which becomes strong and has many followers, then you will definitely find in them the pure and the impure, the justly-balanced and the imbalanced, the extreme and the moderate. And a well established fact is that the extremists are more vocal and have greater acceptance, since the ones who are justly-balanced follow a middle course. And those who seek this balanced approach are few in number, in every age and plate. As for extremism, then this is what most people thrive upon, and what the over-whelming majority incline towards - and this has been the path of the various sects and religions as well. So the extremists try to monopolise their being mention amongst people and to be single in their da'wah. And they did not find any way to gain a monopoly over people except by extremism, which they achieve by degrading people and belittling them at every possible opportunity; either by their tongues, or other than that. And the first to open this door - the door of unleashing their tongues against there who oppose them - were the Khawaarij. And this is the route by which they came to the masses, through the door of takfeer (declaring a Muslim to be an unbeliever), in order that the masses would flee from other than them, so that they could then secure a relationship with the masses for themselves. Then this disease was transmitted to others, such that the extreme elements of each group started unjustly declaring Muslims to be either unbelievers, sinners, innovators or deviants ..."1
DEALING WITH THOSE WHO ERR OR DEVIATE
Shaykhul-lslaam Ibn Taymiyyah (d.728H) - rahimahullaah - said: "The Imaams of the Sunnah and the Jamaa'ah, and the people of knowledge and eemaan (faith) have in them 'adl (justice), 'ilm (knowledge) and rahmah (mercy), and they know the truth which conforms to the Sunnah and which is free from innovations. They do justice to those who depart from the Sunnah and the Jamaa'ah, even if they have been wronged, just as Allaah - the Most High - said: "O you who believe!! Stand out firmly for Allaah and be witnesses, and do not let the hatred of others swerve you away from doing justice. But be just! That is closer to taqwaa (piety)." [Soorah al-Maa'idah 5:8]. Likewise, they are merciful to the creation; desiring for them goodness guidance and knowledge. They never intend for them any harm or evil. Rather, when they criticise them and explain to them their error, ignorance or wrong-doing, then their purpose in doing so is only to clarify the truth, and to be merciful to the creation, to enjoin the good and forbid the evil, and to make the word of Allaah uppermost so that the way of life becomes purely for Allaah."2
THE BALANCED APPROACH
Shaykhul Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah - rahimahullaah - said:
"When dealing with the people of sin, one must not exceed the limits prescribed by the Sharee'ah - neither in hating, censuring, preventing, abandoning or chastising them. Rather, the one who does so should be told: Worry about your own self. No harm will come to you from those who are misled, if you are truly guided, as Allaah - the Mort High - said: "And do not let your hatred of others swerve you away from doing justice. But be just! That is closer to taqwaa (piety)." [Soorah al-Maa'idah 5:8]. And Allaah said: "And fight in the way of Allaah those who fight you, but do not transgress the limits." [Soorah al-Baqarah 2:190]. Indeed, many of those who command and forbid overstep the limits set by Allaah, either through jahl (ignorance) or dhulm (injustice). Thus, this issue (of justice) must be firmly maintained, whether it is in regards to censuring the unbelievers, the hypocrites, the sinners or the disobedient ones."3
He further said: "The one commanding the good or forbidding the evil should do so in the way prescribed by the Sharee'ah; with knowledge, gentleness and patience, and with good intentions, and by following a balanced approach. All of this enters into Allaah's saying: "O you who believe! Beware of your own selves. No harm will come to you from those who are misled, if you are truly guided." [Soorah al-Maa'idah 5:105) ... There is in this Aayah (Verse) another meaning as well, which is that a person must turn towards that which will be of benefit to him, both in knowledge and action, and he must avoid what does not concern him - as the conveyer of the Sharee'ah (i.e. the Prophet sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam) said: "From the perfection of a person's Islaam is to leave alone that which doer not concern him."4 This especially applies to a person delving into that which doer not concern him regarding someone's religious or worldly affairs. Thus, such a person may speak out of envy or desire for position; or act either with deliberate oppression, or foolish scorn and sarcasm. How often does Shaytaan make such an act appear to be an art of commanding the good or prohibiting the evil, or jihaad in the path of Allaah, whereas it is actually an act of injustice and transgression!"5
A COMPREHENSIVE DESCRIPTION
Shaykhul-lslaam Ibn Taymiyyah - rahimahullaah - also said: "And Ahlus-Sunnah wal-Jamaa'ah follow the Book and the Sunnah, obey Allaah and His Messenger, they follow the truth and are merciful to the creation."6
1. Al-Jarh wat-Ta'deel (pp.4-5).
2. Radd 'alal-Bakree (p.256) of Shaykhul-lslaam Ibn Taymiyyah.
3. Majmoo'ul-Fataawaa (14/381).
4. Saheeh: Related by at-Tirmidhee (no.23 18) and others, from Abu Hurayrah radiallaahu 'anhu. It was authenticated by Shaykh al-Albaanee in Saheeh Sunan Ibn Maajah (no.3976).
5. Majmoo'ul-Fataawaa (14/382).
6. Qaa'idah Ahlus-Sunnah wal-Jamaa'ah fee Rahmati Ahlil-Bida' wal-Ma'aasee (p.5).