Question.3: How do we understand that some scholars praise an individual, but other scholars of the Sunnah warn against that same individual?
Ans: This situation has two ways of occurring, or three.
1. The scholar who praised this individual is unaware of what or why the other scholar has dispraised him, and therefore he continues to view him as someone reliable and trustworthy until knowledge comes to him about the reason for dispraise. Once knowledge does reach him, he will never persist to praise this individual. That which is known from the scholars of the Sunnah is that if reason for dispraise is justified, they will not hesitate to do so.
An example of this is the story where Imam Ahmed abandoned Dawud bin ‘Ali (may Allah have mercy on the both of them), and he (Imam Ahmed) refused to visit him. What was his reason for doing so? Because Imam Muhammad bin Yahya al Dhuhlee (may Allah have mercy on him) wrote a letter to Imam Ahmed informing him that Dawud bin ‘Ali held the belief that the Quran was created, and Imam Ahmed accepted this information because he held Imam Muhammad bin Yahya to be trustworthy and reliable. He (Imam Ahmed) did not seek proof from Imam Muhammad bin Yahya because he held him to be reliable, he likewise did not say: Do others agree with you in that which you have mentioned about Dawud bin ‘Ali?
This story clarifies the falsity of the belief that there must be a complete consensus of the scholars in order to justify the dispraise of an individual. This (false opinion) is one of the foundations which is supported by the followers of ‘Ali bin Hasan al Halabi.
2. The praise is limited (to a specific action or characteristic of the dispraised individual). This form of praise does not contradict what has been mentioned of dispraise of the person. That which contradicts the dispraise is a general, broad praise. For example: If an Ash’aree, Matroodi, or even a Mu’tezillee was correct in a number of his statements, we would say that his statements are correct and true and we are grateful to him because of his correctness.
This praise is limited to his statement of truth, and it is not a general, broad praise. As for the general praise, the people of the Sunnah do not apply this type of praise to the people of innovation because doing so would bring about confusion to the one who hears or reads such praise, but as we mentioned previously, this could possibly take place if the information pertaining to the dispraise of an individual has not yet reached the scholar, or it has actually reached him but it was presented in a manner which is unclear. However if the clear, certain proof has reached the scholar who is upon the Sunnah that a particular person has been dispraised, he would indeed not hesitate to agree, as I previously mentioned to you, and the proofs to support this are many.
3. There is in fact another possible situation, and that is the methodology implemented by the Ikhwan al Muslimeen. These individuals hold a (deviant) belief and that is that they assist and support one another regardless of their differences in beliefs and practice, and this very belief allows them to praise every individual. They may dispraise him or admonish him for certain actions, but in general, the hold him to be reliable and trustworthy. This belief is in contradiction to the methodology of Ahlu Sunnah (the people of the Sunnah). Ahlu Sunnah hold the belief that a person can leave the fold of the Sunnah due to falling into an innovation. This aspect of methodology was mentioned by Imam Ahmed in his beneficial book titled: Usool al Sunnah. He stated:
‘And from the Sunnah is that which if a person does not believe and adhere to it, he will not be considered from the people of the Sunnah.’
Therefore it is mandatory that a person adheres to all of the aspects of the Sunnah which he has knowledge of. Hence, if a person abandons a Sunnah that he is aware of, and instead chooses to practice an innovation, while being fully aware of it, he is certainly not considered a person of the Sunnah.
Translated by Mustafa George (hafidhahullaah)
Posted from : Question and Answer session with Sheikh ‘Ubaid al Jabiree – Mustafa George DeBerry