Introduction to the book “Methodology of Ahlus-Sunnah wal-Jamaa’ah in Criticizing Individuals, Books and Groups” – Shaikh Rabee

AUTHOR: Shaikh Rabee’ bin Haadee Al-Madkhalee
SOURCE: Manhaj Ahlus-Sunnah wal-Jamaa’ah fee Naqd-ir-Rijaal wal-Kutub wat-Tawaa’if

Verily, all praise is for Allaah. We praise Him, we seek His assistance and we ask Him for His forgiveness. And we seek refuge in Him from the evils of our souls and from the evils of our actions. Whosoever Allaah guides, there is none that can lead him astray. And whosoever is lead astray, there is no guide for Him.

I bear witness that there is no deity worthy of worship except Allaah – alone and with no partner. And I bear witness that Muhammad is His slave and His Messenger.

To proceed:

Indeed Allaah sent Muhammad with the Guidance and the Religion of Truth, in order that it can gain supremacy over all religions, even though the disbelievers may hate it.

And Allaah commanded His Messenger (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) to establish the call (da’wah) to Him with wisdom, fair admonition and arguing that is done in the best manner. Likewise He commanded him to openly declare the truth, as He says: “So proclaim openly that which you have been commanded, and turn away from the polytheists.” [Surah Al-Hijr: 94]

And He commanded him to wage Jihaad against the polytheists, disbelievers and hypocrites, by way of the Qur’aan, the sword and the spear, to the point that there would remain no more fitnah and the Religion would all be purely for Allaah alone. And so that the word of the disbelievers can become the lowest (in the land) and so that word of Allaah can be the highest.

The Messenger of Allaah (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) rose to fulfill this great obligation of professing the truth and performing Jihaad for the sake of Allaah – the way it should be performed – up until the day he died.

Then his (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) rightly-guided Khaleefahs continued upon his methodology after him – and so they waged Jihaad against those Muslims who apostated in the Arab peninsula (after the Prophet’s death). This was such that they brought this crucial movement of apostasy to an end. Then they carried the banner of Jihaad to all parts of the world and Allaah gave them victory over the strongest forces of kufr (disbelief) at that time – the Persians, the Romans and others. And so this brought to reality Allaah’s promise:

“Allaah has promised those among you who believe and do good deeds, that He will certainly grant them ascendancy in the land as He granted it to those before them, and that He will grant them the ability to practice the Religion, which He has chosen for them. And He will place in exchange of their fear a sense of security (provided), that they worship Me and do not ascribe any partners to Me. And whoever disbelieves afterward, then those are the evildoers.” [Surah An-Noor: 55]

The Commander of the Believers, ‘Umar Ibn Al-Khattaab (radyAllaahu ‘anhu) – the ingenious one through whom Allaah gave glory to Islaam – served as a preventive barrier and a closed door in the face of fitan (trials), corruption and evil. So the heretics and fire-worshippers (Majoos) conspired against him and eventually carried out their plot by murdering him. So he went back to his Lord as a martyr, after having filled the earth with justice, Eemaan and light. But that firm and solid door (which he had established) fell apart after his death and so the various forms of fitnah entered and penetrated into the ranks of the Muslims during the time of the noble Khaleefah ‘Uthmaan Ibn ‘Affaan (radyAllaahu ‘anhu). And it grew worse and worse to the point that it led to the death of this Khaleefah. So he too, went back to his Lord as a martyr that was wronged.

As a result of these afflictions, there transpired that which occurred between the fourth righteous Khaleefah ‘Alee (radyAllaahu ‘anhu) and Mu’awiyah Ibn Abee Sufyaan (radyAllaahu ‘anhumaa). However, they were both mujtahids in that matter – so the one who was correct earned two rewards, while the one who erred was given one.

Then there came to pass the fitnah of the people of innovation from the Khawaarij – those whom the Messenger of Allaah (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) described, concerning their excessiveness in worship, as: “They will shoot out from the Religion just as the arrow shoots out from the (hunted) prey.” And he (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) described them as: “The worst of mankind and creatures.”

And he (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “They are the worst of those below the surface of the heaven” and “Kill them wherever you find them, for indeed, he who kills them will have a great reward with Allaah.” [Agreed Upon]

As well as that which holds the greatest warning to those who call towards being close and having sympathy for the innovators – in that they are worse, more vile and possess more dangerous plots and schemes (than the innovators do). That was why ‘Alee (radyAllaahu ‘anhu) killed these individuals as he was commanded to by the Messenger of Allaah.

Then there appeared the fitnah of the ideologies of the Raafidah and the Zanaadiqah. And ‘Alee (radyAllaahu ‘anhu) did not see anything more fitting to cure the hearts of the believers other than to burn them in fire. And he received aid from those noble Companions who took part in this campaign.

So this is what the Messenger of Allaah (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) and his righteous Companions prescribed for us from firmness and determination when dealing with innovators and heretics.

Then as time passed on and the best of generations came to an end, the innovations grew worse, their domains widened and their sects became many. Thus it became a reality what the Messenger of Allaah (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) informed us of and warned us about, when he said:

“You will follow the ways of those who came before you inch by inch and cubit by cubit, such that if they were to enter into the hole of a lizard, you would surely follow after them.” We said: “O Messenger of Allaah! Do you mean the Jews and the Christians?” He said: “Who else?” [1]

And when he said:
“The Jews divided into seventy-one sects and the Christians divided into seventy-two sects. And my ummah will divide into seventy-three sects. All of them will be in the Hellfire except one.” They said: “Which one is it, O Messenger of Allaah?” He said: “The one that adheres to that which I and my Companions are upon.”

And in another wording, he (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “It is the Jamaa’ah.” [2]

The scholars of Islaam such as Ibn Al-Mubaarak, Yazeed Ibn Haaroon, Ibn Al-Madeenee, Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, Al-Bukhaaree, Al-Khateeb Al-Baghdaadee, Ibn Taimiyyah and Ibn Rajab have interpreted this saved and victorious sect as being Ahl-ul-Hadeeth and those who adhere to their methodology. Many of these interpretations of theirs occur when mentioning the Prophet’s (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) saying: “There will not cease to be a group from my ummah triumphant upon the truth. Those who abandon them will not be able to harm them nor will those who oppose them, until Allaah’s order (promise) comes to pass and they are upon that (condition).”

So this group did not cease to exist ever since the time when the calamities originated and the desires created divisions within the ummah, resulting in the number (seventy-three) mentioned above. This group did not cease to be upon Allaah’s command, calling others towards the truth and spreading the sciences brought down from the prophethood. Nor did they desist from safeguarding and protecting the Religion. Nor did they refrain from refuting the schemes of the conspirators, the false claims of the liars and the distortions of the ignorant. Neither the abuse and plotting of the schemers nor the evil planning of the conspirators was able to prevent them from doing that. And the difficulties that they experienced did not increase them, except in further confirming the truth and displaying strength in the face of falsehood. Such was the case during the times of Imaam Ahmad and ‘Abdul-Ghanee Al-Maqdisee and during the time of Ibn Taimiyyah.

Then Allaah paved the way for the da’wah of the Imaam, the reformer, Shaikh Muhammad Ibn ‘Abd-il-Wahhaab in the Arab peninsula – the site of revelation and the place of the Message. But this only came after the darkness of ignorance, misguidance and disorder had reigned over it for generations. So he raised the banner of Tawheed and held high the flags of Islaam. And due to his efforts and the efforts of his brothers from the people of Tawheed and the Sunnah, a state based upon Tawheed and the Sunnah was established. But the ongoing battles between them and the people of falsehood continued and progressed to a standstill, until the state of Tawheed and the Sunnah finally became settled and its foundations firmly rooted at the hands of the king ‘Abd-ul-‘Azeez and his Muslim brothers, who were sincere warriors and truthful scholars.

And thus the light of Tawheed and Eemaan spread throughout the world, removing the darknesses of Shirk and innovation from here and there. This came about by way of the distribution of the books of the Salaf As-Saalih (righteous predecessors), such as those on the subjects of Hadeeth, Tafseer and Tawheed, and especially those of Shaikh-ul-Islaam Ibn Taimiyyah and Ibn Al-Qayyim. It came about by way of the founding of schools of various grade levels, beginning with elementary schools and continuing onto universities and institutes of higher and specialized studies. This was in connection with the centers of da’wah that were spread out both inside (Saudi Arabia) and outside of it, in order to carry the message of Tawheed and the Sunnah. As well as all those other things which took sleep away from the opponents of Truth and Tawheed from amongst the secularists, Jews, Christians, communists and deviant innovators such as those who form into sects, parties and movements.

However, the most dangerous of these (above) categories and the ones who produced the worst consequences were the people of innovation – the spiteful ones that are filled with hatred. This is since by their plotting, scheming and their camouflaging of themselves behind the cover of the Sunnah, they were able to penetrate every barrier. Thus they managed to pour into every crack from these schools, universities and masaajid. And they were able to create a group that carried their ideologies, whether all of it or some of it, and whether intentionally or unintentionally.

So this group – which they had trained and prepared according to the way they saw fit – began to form movements calling the people towards these ideologies in the universities, schools and elsewhere. And they upheld it by becoming active in this place and in that place. And these were crucial and significant times in which the da’wah (call) to Allaah had a great need for enthusiastic and active individuals that would raise its flag with firmness and conviction, fighting the armies of falsehood, schemes and plots and thus turning them back upon their heels in disgrace

So then using the name of Salafiyyah and the names of justice and fairness, this group was able to present the innovators – those who waged war against the people of Sunnah and Tawheed in their own land – as ones who were oppressed. And they corrupted the minds and the beliefs of many of the youth, distorting the image of the Salafi Manhaj and its adherents in the eyes of the youth. Then the figureheads within this group began calling towards a “new methodology” with regard to criticizing methodologies, ideologies, books and individuals – and they claimed that this was the methodology that was just and fair. So many of he youth and those who wrote in their favor began to think that such was the correct way. Rather, they even claimed that it was the methodology of Ahl-us-Sunnah wal-Jamaa’ah! And this spread and circulated in the writings of some of those who ascribed themselves to the Salaf. And it had an effect on many of the youth, such that they accepted it and clung onto it, thinking that it was the truth and that it was just. And then unfortunately, that began to become deeply rooted in their hearts and they did not realize that this was a way of thinking that was foreign to Islaam and Muslims. This view crept into them from their enemies in the same manner that other (deviant) ideologies had crept into Islaamic societies.

The effects of this methodology became clearly apparent in the conversations, debates, writings and attitudes of many of the youths and teachers. So this methodology began to take firm root in the people’s hearts. And from its evil consequences was that it weakened the principle of Al-Walaa wal-Baraa (loyalty and disassociation) to Allaah and for the sake of Allaah, and to the methodology of Allaah and those who adhere to it – those whom it is obligatory to love and to be loyal to for the sake of Allaah. Instead there became manifest the loyalty, love and esteem for the callers, books, ideologies and methodologies that were all far from the Salafi Manhaj, and for their people and not its people. Rather, that became the main avenue used in fighting against the Salafi Manhaj. And they changed it with strong determination so that it (the manhaj) would be replaced from its original form, halting its progression in its tracks after its departure had already taken place.

This (new) methodology had a great influence upon writers who we once thought were from the best of the Salafis and from the virtuous characters, personages and figures. We ask Allaah to grant them the ability to tread the way and methodology of their righteous predecessors in regards to calling to the clear methodology of the Salaf, the dedicated education of the youth that are upon it and implanting love for it and its followers whether they are dead or alive, and to follow their example and strengthen themselves by affiliating themselves to them.

Furthermore, this methodology, of which it is claimed that it is balanced and fair, has had a great influence upon the youth whom we used to and still have not stopped having hope in, that they will take a hold of the Salafi Manhaj with resoluteness and carry its banner with firmness, calling to it with vigor and sacrificing for its sake every expensive and cheap thing from wealth, status, activities and actions that they have. But unfortunately the state of current affairs is not this way.

That is why the hearts indeed tremble with fear for them, that these methodologies should mix in with them and they adopt them, and that their (evil) banners mix with theirs and they adopt them. And there is nothing after the truth except falsehood. So they will display to them that everyone is upon truth or that they are all brothers coming from one origin. And it is possible that they will take some of these (ideas) as a substitute for the true Salafi Manhaj and that they will prefer that banner over its banner, since it is very glamorous, loud and radiant. And this is even if this (methodology) is empty and void of any principles of Islaam and blind in the subject of clinging onto the Qur’aan and the Sunnah.

This methodology we have been indicating has many other signs, which I do not see fit to mention here.

I hope that Allaah grants me success in presenting the (true) Islaamic Salafi Manhaj with regard to criticizing individuals, groups, books and calls, based upon the texts of the Qur’aan and the Sunnah, and the texts indicating the position the Muslim scholars took and the behavior they implemented in the books of Al-Jarh wat-Ta’deel and in the books of Sunnah and Islamic beliefs.

I undertook this project motivated by my love for this believing youth, whom I consider – by Allaah – to be the greatest of treasures in this life. And we would ransom our souls and livelihoods for them. And we strictly watch over their proper procession upon the ways and paths of this life. So if their souls, minds and hearts yearn for the home of their first love,[3] then that is from what Allaah loves and is pleased with.

“Place your heart wherever you wish from your desires
For the true love is only for the first loved one
How many homes on the earth is the young man’s heart attached to
Yet his longing will always be for his first (original) home.”

But if some of them refuse, insisting to be upon indecisiveness, confusion, inconsistencies and shakiness, then know that the hearts are between the two fingers of the Most Merciful – He changes it however He wills.

And to Allaah belongs the Command of what came before and what will come after.


[1] Saheeh Al-Bukhaaree: Book of ‘Itisaam (no. 7320); Saheeh Muslim: Book of Knowledge (no. 2669)

[2] Reported by Ahmad, Abu Dawood, Ad-Daarimee, At-Tabaraanee and others, and it is authentic.

[3] I mean by this the Methodology of the Salaf with regard to Tawheed and holding onto the Qur’aan and Sunnah.

Published: June 11, 2004 | Modified: June 11, 2004
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