Exposing Someone’s Evil and Propagating it under the Pretense of Advising – Imam Ibn Rajab

From the apparent signs of condemning is: Exposing someone’s evil and propagating it under the pretense of advising, while claiming that it is only these defects that are making him do it, general or specific. Meanwhile, on the inside, his aim is only to condemn and cause harm.[33]

So he is from the brothers of the hypocrites, those whom Allaah has disparaged in His Book in many places, for indeed Allaah disparages those who outwardly display a good action or saying, while intending inwardly to accomplish a mischievous and evil goal. And He has counted that as one of the aspects of hypocrisy, as is stated in Surah Baraa,[34] in which He humiliates the hypocrites and exposes their despicable attributes:

“And as for those who set up a masjid in order to cause harm, (spread) disbelief, disunite the believers and to make it as an outpost for those who made war against Allaah and His Messenger since aforetime, they will indeed swear that their intention is nothing but good. But Allaah bears witness that they are certainly liars.” [Surah At-Tawbah: 107]

And Allaah says:

“Think not that those who rejoice in what they have done, and love to be praised for what they have not done – do not think that they are rescued from the torment. And for them is a painful punishment!” [Surah Aali ‘Imraan: 188]

This ayah was sent down concerning the Jews, when the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم asked them about something and they concealed knowledge of it informing him instead of something else. Yet they showed to him that they had indeed informed him about what he had asked them. And they sought praise from him صلى الله عليه وسلم because of it and became joyous at what they gained by concealing it and because he صلى الله عليه وسلم asked them. This is what Ibn ‘Abbaas radhi Allaahu anhu stated and his hadeeth concerning that is transmitted in the two Saheeh collections. [35]

Abu Sa’eed Al-Khudree radhi Allaahu anhu said:

“There was a group of men among the hypocrites who when the Messenger of Allaah صلى الله عليه وسلم would go out to fight in the (military) expeditions, would refrain from going with him. And they would be happy with opposing the Messenger of Allaah صلى الله عليه وسلم with their sitting (instead of fighting). So when Allaah’s Messenger صلى الله عليه وسلم would arrive, they would make excuses for themselves and swear to him. And they loved to be praised for that which they did not do. So this ayah was revealed.” [36]

Therefore, these characteristics are the characteristics of the Jews and the hypocrites. And it is that someone outwardly displays a saying or an action, while presenting an image in which he appears to be upon good. Yet his intention in doing that is to accomplish an evil goal. So he is praised for what good he has made manifest outwardly, while accomplishing by it, the evil goal he has kept hidden inwardly. And he basks in the praise he receives for that which he has outwardly portrayed as being good, which is in fact evil on the inside, and he is happy that his evil hidden objective has been achieved. So his benefit is perfected for him and his scheme is carried out effectively by this deception!!

Anyone with this characteristic definitely falls under the (threat) of this ayah – thus he is threatened with a painful torment. An example of this is:

When someone desires to defame a man, belittle him and expose his faults so that people turn away from him. This is done either because he loves to cause harm to him, because of his enmity towards him, or because he fears him due to a rivalry that exists between them with regard to wealth, leadership, or other blameworthy causes. So he does not find a way towards accomplishing his goal, except by publicly degrading him due to some religious reason.

For example, someone (i.e. a scholar) has refuted a weak opinion from the many opinions of a well-known and famous scholar. So this (evil) individual spreads that amongst those who respect that scholar, saying: “This person (that did the refutation) hates this scholar, and is only defaming and criticizing him.” So by doing this, he (the evil person) deceives all those people that hold that scholar in esteem, making them believe that such a refutation was done out of hatred and with insult on the part of the one refuting, and that his deed was full of audacity and arrogance. So he (the evil person) is (outwardly) defending this scholar and uplifting the abuse from him – and that is an act pleasing to Allaah and in obedience to Him. So he combines this outer facade of advising with two disgusting and forbidden things: [37]

First: The insinuation that this scholar’s refutation of the other opinion was done out of hatred, seeking to belittle (the other scholar), and as a result of following his desires. But (in reality) he only desires by it to advise the believers and to make known some aspect of knowledge that is unlawful to keep concealed.

Second: He (the evildoer) manifests and magnifies the (scholar’s) criticism (for the other scholar), so that he can fulfill his desire and achieve his evil goal under the pretense of advising and defending the scholars of the Religion.

This type of evil plotting is similar to the injustice and oppression displayed by the tribe of Marwaan and their followers, who won the people’s affection and at the same time, turned these people’s hearts away from ‘Alee bin Abee Taalib, Al-Hasan, Al-Husayn and their offspring, may Allaah be pleased with all of them.

When ‘Uthmaan radhi Allaahu anhu was killed, the Muslim nation did not see anyone possessing more right to succeed him other than ‘Alee radhi Allaahu anhu, so they pledged allegiance to him. So those who sought to turn the people away from him set about their goal by manifesting the outrageous and scandalous murder of ‘Uthmaan. And it was just as they said it was.

But then they added to it that the one who conspired his murder and carried it out was none other than ‘Alee radhi Allaahu anhu. And this was a lie and a slander against him! And ‘Alee radhi Allaahu anhu would swear and reaffirm his oaths in denying this accusation – and he was truthful and innocent in his oath, may Allaah be pleased with him. But they began to fight against him, claiming that their struggle was for the sake of the Religion and that it was pleasing to Allaah, and then they began to fight with his children. These individuals strove hard in publicizing this (lie), propagating it on the mimbars on the days of Jumu’ah, as well as on other occasions in which there were large gatherings. This continued until it settled into the hearts of their followers that the matter was as these individuals said it was, and that the tribe of Marwaan had more right (to the Khilaafah) than ‘Alee and his children due to their closeness to ‘Uthmaan, and that they had more right to avenge his radhi Allaahu anhu death. So in doing this, they were able to unite the hearts of the people against ‘Alee and his sons and to turn the people to fight against him and his children after him. This asserted the kingship for them and their rule became established as a result of that.

While in privacy, one of them would say to those he confided in, something with the meaning: “No one amongst the Companions was more restrained from (causing harm to) ‘Uthmaan than ‘Alee.” So it would be said to him: “Then why did the people revile him?” So he would respond: “The kingship (i.e. end of the Khilaafah) would not be established if it weren’t for that.”

The meaning of this is that if they did not turn the people’s hearts away from ‘Alee radhi Allaahu anhu and his children, and if they didn’t attribute the injustice done to ‘Uthmaan to them, the hearts of the people would not feel sympathy for them (later), due to what they knew of their beautiful attributes and honorable qualities, for they used to rush to follow them and pledge allegiance to them (in the past). And because of this, the Umayyah dynasty came to an end and the people ceased obeying them. [38]

Footnotes:

[33] This is from the actions of the heart which no one has knowledge of except Allaah, the Most Perfect.

[34] [Translator’s Note: He means Surah At-Tawbah]

[35]Reported by Al-Bukhaaree (9/301), Muslim (17/123), Ahmad (1/298) and Ibn Jareer (4/207).

[36] Reported by Al-Bukhaaree (8/233), Muslim (17/123) and Ibn Jareer (4/205). It must be noted here that Al-Haafidh Ibn Hajr mentioned in Al-Fath (9/301) that it is possible to combine these two causes for the ayah’s revelation found in the two hadeeths by saying that it was revealed with regard to both of these groups (Jews and hypocrites). Shaikh Muqbil bin Haadee Al-Waadi’ee said in his As-Saheeh-ulMusnad (pg. 35): “If the hadeeth of Abu Sa’eed is more established then that takes more precedence because the hadeeth of Ibn ‘Abbaas is from that which the two Shaikhs have been criticized by, as has been stated in Muqaddimat-ul-Fath (20/132) and as is stated in Fath-ul-Baaree (9/302). And there is no point in restricting it to only the People of the Book…”

[37][Translator’s Note: We ask the noble readers to consider these precious words stated by the author and compare them with the likes of the situations we find today. No doubt the scholars of the Sunnah in these days are accused in such a manner. Such an example can be found in Imaam Muhammad Naasirud-Deen Al-Albaanee (rahimhullaah) and the lies and attacks that were launched against him by Hasan Saqqaf, Kabbani and their likes, who make themselves appear as though they’re advising the Muslim ummah. But yet in reality they are doing no more than discrediting, defaming and belittling a scholar. And the claims that come from them are well known in that these scholars, such as Al-Albaanee, who warn against “blind-following” are labeled as deviants who hate the four Imaams and who want to do away with their teachings! May Allaah give us the ability to see through the false accusations of the ignorant and the unjust.]

[38] See Al-‘Awaasim min-al-Qawaasim of the Qaadee Ibn Al-‘Arabee al-Maalikee (rahimahullaah) for in there is what is sufficient for one who seeks the truth about this subject, Allaah willing.

Source: From the al-ibaanah eBook :
The Difference between Advising and Condemning – Imaam Ibn Rajab

The recompense of one who spreads the evil deeds of his believing brother and seeks after his faults – Imam Ibn Rajab

The recompense of one who spreads the evil deeds of his believing brother and seeks after his faults and exposes his defects, is that Allaah will seek after his faults and disgrace him (by exposing them) even if he may have committed them in the privacy of his own home.

This is based on what has been reported from the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم in several places, and Imaam Ahmad, Abu Dawood and At-Tirmidhee have transmitted it from numerous paths of narration. [29]

At-Tirmidhee transmitted from the hadeeth of Waa’ilah Ibn Al-Asqa’ on the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم that he said:

“Do not express joy at your brother’s misfortune or else Allaah will pardon him for it and test you with it.” [30]

And he (At-Tirmidhee) said that it was a hasan ghareeb hadeeth. He also reports the hadeeth of Mu’aadh ” in marfoo’ form: “Whoever condemns his brother because of a sin (he committed) will not die until he commits it (himself).” Its chain of narration is munqati’ (broken).

Al-Hasan (Al-Basree) said: “It used to be said: ‘Whoever condemns his brother for a sin that he repented from, will not die until Allaah tests him with it (i.e. the same sin).’” [31]

And it is reported from the hadeeth of Ibn Mas’ood ” with a chain of narration that has weakness in it: “Affliction is charged by speech. So if a man condemns another man by saying that he breast-fed from a female dog, then that man (who said that) will indeed breast-feed from one.” [32]

The meaning of this has been reported on a group amongst the Salaf. And when Ibn Sireen failed to return a debt he owed and was detained because of it, he said: “Indeed, I am aware of the sin (I committed) by which this befell me. I condemned a man forty years ago saying to him: ‘O bankrupt one.’”

Footnotes:

[29] The checking for this has been stated previously

“O you group of people that believe with your tongues but not with your hearts! Do not abuse the Muslims nor seek after their faults. For indeed, he who seeks after their faults, Allaah will seek after his faults. And whoever has Allaah seek after his faults, He will expose them, even if he may have committed them in the privacy of his own home.”

Reported by Abu Ya’laa in his Musnad (1675) and Abu Nu’aim in Ad-Dalaa’il (356) on the authority of Al-Baraa’ radhi Allaahu anhu. Al-Haithamee (rahimahullaah) said in Al-Majma’ (8/93): “Abu Laylaa reported it and its narrators are all reliable. It has also been reported from the hadeeth of Abu Barzah radhi Allaahu anhu with a strong chain of narration in Ahmad (4/421 & 424) and Abu Dawood (4880).” And in this section occurs the hadeeth of Ibn ‘Umar with a hasan chain of narration in At-Tirmidhee (2033), Al-Baghawee (3526) and Ibn Hibbaan (1494 of the Mawaarid). See also At-Targheeb wat-Tarheeb (3/177) of Al-Mundhiree.

[30] At-Tirmidhee reported it under number (2507) and in its chain is Al-Qaasim bin Umayyah Al-Hidhaa.

Ibn Hibbaan mentioned him in Al-Majrooheen (2/213) and said: “He was a shaikh who reported from Hafs bin Gayyaath many strange and weak narrations. It is not permissible to use him as a support when he is alone (in his narration).” Then he reported this hadeeth from him and commented upon it, saying:

“There is no source for this found in the sayings of the Messenger of Allaah صلى الله عليه وسلم.” I say: This hadeeth has also been reported by At-Tabaraanee in Al-Kabeer (22/53), Musnad Ash-Shaamiyeen (384), AlQadaa’ee in Musnad Ash-Shihaab (917-918) and Abu Nu’aim in Al-Hilyah (5/186). And it is also succeeded by ‘Umar bin Isma’eel bin Mujaalid found in At-Tirmidhee, Abu ash-Shaikh in Al-Amthaal (202) and Al-Khateeb in At-Taareekh (9/95-96). However, there is no point in that, since ‘Umar is matrook (rejected).

[31] The discussion of this has been stated previously in detail.

[32] Reported by Abu Nu’aim in Akhbaar Asbahaan (1/161) Al-Khateeb in his Taareekh (13/279) and Ibn Al-Jawzee mentioned it in Al-Mawdoo’aat (2/83). Al-‘Ajaloonee in Kashf-ul-Khufaa (2/343) added to that by attributing it to Ad-Daylamee. The hadeeth is reported through other paths from ‘Alee and Hudaifah, however they have severe weaknesses in them. See Al-Laalee Al-Masnoo’ah (2/293-295) of As-Suyootee and Mukhtasar Maqaasid-ul-Hasanah (pg. 83) of Az-Zurqaanee and Ad-Durr–ulMultaqitt (pg. 22) of As-Saghaanee.

Source: From the al-ibaanah eBook :
The Difference between Advising and Condemning – Imaam Ibn Rajab

Advising is Linked to Secrecy while Condemning is linked to Publicizing – Imam Ibn Rajab

Al-Fudail (rahimahullaah) said: “The believer conceals (the sin of his brother) and advises (him), while the evildoer disgraces and condemns (him).”

This is what Al-Fudail has mentioned as being from the signs of advising and condemning – and it is that advising is linked to secrecy while condemning is linked to publicizing.

It used to be said: “Whosoever commands his brother (towards doing good) at the head of a gathering, then he has condemned him.” Or it is something with this meaning.

The Salaf used to hate that commanding good and forbidding evil be done in this manner. Instead, they loved that it be done privately between the one commanding and the one being commanded, for indeed, this is from the signs of sincere advice.

This is since it is not the goal of the one who is advising to spread and publicize the faults of the person he is advising, rather his goal is only to put an end to the evil that he has fallen into.

As for spreading and exposing someone’s faults, then that is from the things that Allaah and His Messenger صلى الله عليه وسلم have forbidden. Allaah, may He be Exalted, says:

“Verily, those who love that the evil and indecent actions of those who believe should be propagated (and spread), they will have a painful torment in this world and the Hereafter. And Allaah knows and you know not. And had it not been for the grace of Allaah and His mercy on you, (Allaah would have hastened the punishment on you) and that Allaah is full of kindness, Most Merciful.” [Surah An-Noor: 19-20]

The ahaadeeth concerning the virtue of keeping the faults of others secret are many.[27] Some of the scholars would say to those who were commanding towards good:

“Strive hard to conceal the faults of the sinners, for indeed, exposing their faults shows a weakness in Islaam. The thing that deserves the most to be concealed is one’s faults.”

It is for this reason that spreading someone’s evil and indecent actions is linked to condemning. And they are both from the affairs of the evildoer, since it is not the goal of the evildoer to put an end to the fault nor that the believer avoids that fault or defect. Rather his only goal is to spread and publicize the defects found in his believing brother, and to destroy his honor. So he initiates that and repeats it. And his intention is to belittle his believing brother by exposing his defects and bad qualities to the people so that some harm can fall upon him in this world.

But as for the person that is sincerely advising, his aim in doing that (advising) is to eradicate the faults found in his believing brother and to help him avoid it. This is what Allaah the Most High, has described His Messenger صلى الله عليه وسلم with, saying:

“Verily, there has come unto you a Messenger from amongst yourselves. It grieves him that you should receive any harm or difficulty. He is anxious over you (to rid you of faults and sin), for the believers he is full of pity, kind and merciful.” [Surah At-Tawbah: 128]

And He described his صلى الله عليه وسلم Companions with that, saying:

“Muhammad is the Messenger of Allaah. And those who are with him (i.e. his Companions) are severe with the disbelievers and merciful towards one another.” [Surah Al-Fath: 29]

And He described the believers with the characteristics of patience and mutual advising of one another towards mercy and compassion. [28]

But what drives the evildoer to propagate (his brother’s) evil and to disgrace him is force and harshness, his love for abusing his believing brother, and (his desire) to inflict some harm upon him. These are the characteristics of the Devil – the one who beautifies disbelief, sin and disobedience to the children of Aadam so that due to it they may become amongst the dwellers of the Hellfire, as Allaah says:

“Verily, the Devil is an enemy for you, so take him as an enemy. Verily, he only calls his party (of followers) to be from amongst the dwellers of the Hellfire.” [Surah Faatir: 6]

And He says, after telling us the story of Iblees (the Devil) when he was with the prophet of Allaah, Aadam, and the evil plot that he unleashed on him, such that it brought him to be cast out from Paradise:

“O Children of Aadam! Let not the Devil deceive you, as he got your parents out of Paradise, stripping them of their garments, to show them their private parts.” [Surah Al-A’araaf: 27]

So what a difference there is between one whose intention it is to advise (naseehah) and one whose intention it is to disgrace (fadeehah)! And no one confuses one of these with the other, except someone who does not possess sound intellect.

Footnotes:

[27] See Fath-ul-Baaree (5/97) and Saheeh Muslim (4/1996)
[28] As is found in Allaah’s saying: “Then he became from among those who believed and recommended one another towards patience and recommended one another towards compassion.” [Surah Al-Balad. 17]

Source: From the al-ibaanah eBook :
The Difference between Advising and Condemning – Imaam Ibn Rajab

The Methodology of Ahlus-Sunnah wal-Jamaa’ah in Warning against Innovators & their Books – Shaykh Rabee

AUTHOR: Shaikh Rabee’ bin Haadee Al-Madkhalee
TRANSLATED: Al-Ibaanah Book Publishing
PRODUCED BY: Al-Ibaanah.com

Excerpt from the forthcoming Al-Ibaanah Publication “The Methodology of Ahlus-Sunnah wal-Jamaa’ah in Criticizing Individuals, Books and Groups”, may Allaah facilitate it!

About the Book:

This is a translation of a chapter from the book Manhaj Ahlus-Sunnah wal-Jamaa’ah fee Naqd-ir-Rijaal wal-Kutubi wat-Tawaa’if (The Methodology of Ahlus-Sunnah wal-Jamaa’ah in Criticizing Individuals, Books and Groups) written by Shaikh Rabee’ Al-Madkhalee. This book has been highly praised and recommended by the scholars, and has become a classical work in its own time.

In this book, Shaikh Rabee’ Al-Madkhalee clarifies the correct methodology of Ahlus-Sunnah with regard to criticizing, explaining its foundations and principles and relying on the various statements of the Salaf (predecessors) to support his points. The book is primarily geared towards refuting a false concept that has crept into the Muslims’ ideologies and slogans in recent times, which is the principle of Muwaazanah. This principle dictates that when someone criticizes a person, book or group, he is obligated to also mention the good qualities of that person, book or group along with his criticism. By doing this one would be creating a balance and thus applying “fairness”, hence the term Muwaazanah, which means to make a balance, which in this case means a balance between the good and the bad aspects.

In this specific chapter of the book, Shaikh Rabee’ brings many quotes from the Salaf showing that it was from their methodology to warn against innovators and their books without requiring themselves to mention their positive aspects.

Quotes from the Book:

“Ibn Al-Jawzee said: ‘Abul-Wafaa ‘Alee bin ‘Aqeel, the Fiqh scholar, said: ‘Our Shaikh Abul-Fadl Al-Hamdhaanee said: The innovators in Islaam and those who fabricate ahaadeeth are worse than the disbelievers. This is since the disbelievers attempt to corrupt the Religion from the outside, whereas these individuals attempt to corrupt it from the inside. They take the likeness of the inhabitants of a land, who strive to corrupt its condition (from the inside), while the disbelievers take the likeness of raiders laying siege to the land from the outside. So it is the ones on the inside who open the doors of the land’s surrounding barrier (and let the besiegers in). These types (of people) are more dangerous to Islaam than those who don’t ascribe themselves to it.’”

“I say: Today, the opponents of the Sunnah and Tawheed are capitalizing on the pamphlets and cassettes of some individuals that ascribe themselves to the Sunnah and Tawheed, which defame the true scholars and callers of the Sunnah and Tawheed. Rather, what is worse in terms of danger and affliction is that these pamphlets and tapes have influenced many of the children of Tawheed and Sunnah, so that now they launch their arrows of disparagement and oppressive accusations towards the scholars of Tawheed and Sunnah, those who carry their banner and those who defend their sanctity. What is worse than this in terms of misfortune and grief, is that they attach themselves and join forces with the people of innovation and misguidance in their campaign of launching poisonous missiles at them, which the enemies of the Sunnah and Tawheed have been preparing as the ultimate attack to finish off the last remnants of the Sunnah and Tawheed.”

“Ibn Al-Qayyim said: ‘The Prophet (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) once saw a book in the hand of ‘Umar (radyAllaahu ‘anhu) that he had transcribed from the Torah, and which caused him to be amazed at how much it conformed to the Qur’aan. So the face of the Messenger of Allaah (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) became very angry to the point that ‘Umar went over to a fire and threw it in.

So how would it be if the Messenger of Allaah (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) saw what was written after him from the books that oppose and contradict what is in the Qur’aan and the Sunnah?! And we ask Allaah to aid us!

The Prophet (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) commanded everyone that recorded anything from him apart from the Qur’aan to erase what they had written down. However, afterward, he allowed his Sunnah to be written, but did not grant permission for anything besides that.

So all of these books that contain opposition in them to the Sunnah, have no permission to be written. Rather, they only have permission to be erased and destroyed, for there is not anything more harmful to the ummah than these books. The Companions (of the Prophet) burned all the copies of the mus-haf that contradicted the mus-haf of ‘Uthmaan (radyAllaahu ‘anhu) out of fear that differing would spread amongst the ummah. So how would it be if they were to see the books of today that cause disunity and division amongst the ummah…!?’”

“This is the rightly guided methodology, which all of the Salafee youth are obligated to know – it is the methodology indicated in the Qur’aan and the Sunnah, and which the best of this ummah – its scholars of Hadeeth and Fiqh – followed. One of the conditions for implementing this methodology is that the one criticizing must do that for the sake of Allaah and out of sincerity to Allaah and His Book and in order to preserve Allaah’s Religion and what it encompasses from beliefs, laws and acts of worship.

From the severely unfortunate matters is that the people of falsehood and innovation have succeeded in deceiving many of the smart and intelligent students of knowledge, not to mention others, by making them believe that it is not permissible to talk about (i.e. criticize) those active in the field of Da’wah (calling). They mean by this, those who call to innovation and misguidance! By doing this, they intend to broaden the field (of Da’wah) so that they can spread their destructive deceptions! And they hope that with this they will be able to put an end to the Call to Tawheed, Sunnah and the Methodology of the Salaf As-Saalih!

From the offshoots of this deceitful way of thinking are those conditions that some of the children of Tawheed have put forth, such as: When criticizing the people of innovation – or those whom they label “callers” – one is obligated to mention their good qualities alongside their bad qualities…”

[Download the Book Here]

Guidelines with regard to Criticizing Individuals and Groups – Shaykh Rabee bin Haadee

AUTHOR: Shaikh Rabee’ bin Haadee Al-Madkhalee
SOURCE: His book “Manhaj Ahlus-Sunnah wal-Jamaa’ah fee Naqd ar-Rijaal wal Kutub wat-Tawaa’if” (pg. 33-43 of 3rd Edition)
PRODUCED BY: Al-Ibaanah.com

These are guidelines, which define those whom we are required to respect and honor from among mankind, such that it is not permissible to harm their honor. And they define those whom it is permissible to speak about and criticize, rather, whom it is obligatory to criticize at the time of necessity and benefit, without having to mention their good qualities.

· Those whom we are obligated to honor

First: The Messengers and Prophets, may Allaah’s peace and blessings be upon all of them

Allaah has related to us their stories, showing their striving and perseverance, while He has repudiated those who denied and opposed them. And He commanded the Messenger of Allaah (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) as well as his ummah to follow their example.

Second: The Companions, may Allaah be pleased with them

There is nothing that the Muslim ummah should feel towards them except love and respect. Allaah has praised them highly in His Book. And He spoke about their high rank, their efforts and the sacrifices they made with their wealth and their lives in the Cause of Allaah.

Similarly, the Messenger of Allaah (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) praised them highly, both on an individual and a group level. This is such that the scholars of Islaam devoted special and close attention to their merits and qualities, writing many books concerning their virtues and special characteristics.

Furthermore, the Messenger of Allaah (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) forbade us from insulting them, saying: “Do not revile my Companions. For I swear by the One in whose hand my soul is in, if one of you were to give in charity the likes of mount Uhud in gold, it would not equal a mudd (handful using 2 hands) of one of them nor even half of it.” [1]

Ahl-us-Sunnah wal-Jamaa’ah are well aware of their position and status, and so they guard it with the strictest form of guarding. And they forbid others from speaking vainly about what occurred of dispute between ‘Alee (radyAllaahu ‘anhu) and Mu’awiyah (radyAllaahu ‘anhu) and those who supported them from the rest of the Companions. Rather, they assert for them the reward that is given to the mujtahids. And they ruled that all those who spoke about them – or even about one of them – were upon deviance, misguidance and heresy.

Third: Those who followed them in goodness

This includes those who reached the (time of the) Companions of Allaah’s Messenger (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) and were guided by their guidance, such as the seven scholars of Fiqh of Madeenah and those who followed their way in the rest of the towns. Then after them, are the scholars of Hadeeth, Fiqh and Tafseer – those who strove upon the way of the righteous Companions and Successors. And it includes those who followed their methodology with regard to Creed, holding tightly onto the Book and the Sunnah, avoiding innovations, vain desires and its adherents, and defending the truth and its adherents, up until this day of ours and after it, until Allaah’s promise comes about.

They are the ones whom the Messenger of Allaah (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) was referring to when he said: “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 the order (promise) of Allaah, the Mighty and Majestic, comes.”

They are better known as Ahl-ul-hadeeth, as has been agreed upon by the Imaams of Islaam and the scholars of guidance. And no one opposes them in regard to what they have agreed on except those from the people of vain desires, ignorance and misguidance.

Imaam Ahmad, Al-Haakim and Ibn Al-Qayyim have indeed accused those who criticize them of being heretics. And those who spoke vilely about them (the scholars) have been repudiated severely by Ibn Qutaybah, Ar-Raamaharzamee, Al-Khateeb (Al-Baghdaadee) and others.

And there is no doubt that no one speaks against them except for those whom Allaah has led astray and blinded. So if one of these (scholars) errs in an issue from the issues in which Ijtihaad is allowed, it must be clarified but not in the manner of condemning.

Shaikh-ul-Islaam Ibn Taimiyyah (rahimahullaah) said with regard to these (scholars):
“So whoever is known to have (the ability to perform) the allowable Ijtihaad, then it is not permissible for him to be mentioned in a manner of condemnation or blame, because Allaah has forgiven him of his error. Instead, it is an obligation due to what he possesses of Eemaan and Taqwaa to show loyalty and love to him, and to fulfill what Allaah has mandated from his rights, such as praising him, making du’aa (supplication) for him, and so on.” [2]

· Those whom it is permissible to criticize, disparage and warn the people against their harm:

First: The People of Innovation

It is permissible – rather obligatory – to speak about the people of innovation and warn against them and their fabrications, whether individually or as groups and whether they are absent or present. They include those among the Khawaarij, the Rawaafid, the Jahmiyyah, the Murji’ah, the Karaamiyyah and the people of Rhetoric – those whose knowledge of Kalaam (rhetoric) has brought them to corrupted and deviant beliefs,[3] such as the rejection of all or some of Allaah’s Attributes. [4]

So it is an obligation to warn against these types of people, their books and their misguided ways. And how great in number they are!

Likewise, the same applies to those who follow their methodology from the sects [and groups] of our time, such as those who separate themselves away from the people of Tawheed and Sunnah, oppose them and remain far away from their aspects of the methodology. In fact, they wage war against these aspects of the methodology and chase others away from it and its adherents (i.e. the scholars). The likes of these individuals are followed by those who support and defend them. And these followers of theirs mention their good qualities and praise them for it, praising their personalities and leaders. And they have preferred their (innovated) methodologies over the methodology of the people of Tawheed, the Sunnah and the Jamaa’ah!

Second: Reporters of Hadeeth and Witnesses, if they are deemed Unreliable

It is permissible to criticize these people according to the consensus of the Muslims. Rather, it is an obligation. This has been mentioned and related by An-Nawawee and Ibn Taimiyyah, may Allaah have mercy on both of them.

1. So if the scholars of the science of al-Jarh wat-Ta’deel all agree upon criticizing a narrator, accusing him of lying or making gross mistakes. Or they say: “His hadeeth are to be rejected”, “He has baseless (weak) hadeeth” or what resembles that, then it is permitted for everyone doing research or quoting to quote or report that. And it is not required of him – in the least – to mention that person’s good qualities, not to mention doing research on all of his good qualities and then mentioning them!

2. As for the narrators of which there is differing as to whether or not they are reliable or unreliable, or the narrators who were innovators, then:

The First Type: To list the mention of that narrator’s criticism first and accept it without considering the sayings of those who declared him reliable would be abandoning something from the Religion and from what has been established on the leader of the Messengers (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam). And this is a great injustice and a negligence of something that is part of the Religion, which we are obligated to preserve. And it is a trust that falls on the neck of the scholars (i.e. it is their duty). So in this case, for the benefit of the Religion and for preserving it, and for the sake of giving a general benefit to the Muslims, we must seek to verify the reality of the matter. And we must weigh between the sayings of the scholars of Jarh wa-Ta’deel, taking that which is more established, whether it is from the criticism (jarh) or the approval (ta’deel).

All of this is for the purpose of bringing about this beneficial good, not because it is an obligation to make a balance for the condition of that individual who has been declared unreliable (between his good and bad qualities)! So if it is established that he is in fact unreliable after having done the research, it is permitted to relate his unreliability without mentioning this balancing (between those who criticized him and those who approved of him). And no scholar said that (mentioning) this (balancing) was obligatory.

As for the innovator, then if we are in the position of warning against the innovations, then we warn against him, mentioning his innovation only. And it is not an obligation on us to mention any of his good qualities. And if we are in the subject of narrating reports, then it is an obligation to mention his trustworthiness and honesty, if he was in fact trustworthy and honest, for the purpose of benefiting, attaining and preserving the narration. Not for any other purpose, such as the obligation of making a balance (muwaazanah) between his good and bad qualities, as some people claim! So it is not required on us to mention his generosity or his knowledge or his courage or his efforts and good manners, as well as all those other things that have no relation to the subject of narrating.

There were some among the Salaf who would reject the reports of the people of innovation and those who were accused (of weakness, lying).

Ibn ‘Abbaas (radyAllaahu ‘anhu) said: “There was once a time in which when a man would say: ‘Allaah’s Messenger (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said…’ our eyes would hasten to him and our ears would open wide (to listen) to him. But when the difficulties and disgrace befell the people, we did not take from the people except, for that which we knew.” [5]

And Ibn Sireen said: “The people never used to ask about the isnaad (chain of narration). But when the fitnah (afflictions) occurred, they began to say: ‘Name your men to us.’ So the Ahl-us-Sunnah would be looked upon and their hadeeth would be accepted. And the people of innovation would be looked upon and their hadeeth would not be accepted.” [6]

The words of Ibn ‘Abbaas and Ibn Sireen indicate that this was the general view of the Salaf at the time, during the days of the last of the Companions and their Successors (Taabi’een) after them.

Perhaps this existed in them due to their awareness of being in no need of the narrations of innovators. So they took this firm and solid stance against them. But when those who came after them were obliged to take the reports of the truthful ones among the innovators, they accepted it from them, only under certain conditions and stipulations, which consisted of taking the sound from it, while rejecting the crooked and corrupt aspects from it.

Imaam Abu Ishaaq Ibraaheem Ibn Ya’qoob Al-Jawzjaanee (rahimahullaah) said: “Among them was he who deviated from the truth, yet still possessed an honest tongue. And his hadeeth would be widespread amongst the people since he was forsaken for his innovation but trusted with his narration. So concerning these individuals, I see no other alternative but to take from their hadeeth that which is (already) known, so long as his innovation does not become strengthened because of that.” [7]

· Third: Those whom it is permissible to backbite:

An-Nawawee (rahimahullaah) said: “Chapter: What is permissible from backbiting:
Know that backbiting is permissible for a legitimate and legislated reason, of which the allowance for doing it (the backbiting) would not be possible without it. And they are six reasons:

First: Oppression

Second: Seeking help for changing an evil and returning a sinner to what is correct.

Third: When seeking a legal ruling

Fourth: Warning and advising the Muslims against an evil. This is in several perspectives, one of which is: Criticizing those who have been declared unreliable in narration and testimony. This is permissible according to the unanimous agreement of the Muslims. Rather it becomes obligatory for necessity’s sake…”

This is up to the point where he said:
“One last case is when one sees a student frequenting an innovator or a deviant, seeking to attain knowledge from him, and he fear that the student may be affected by that. Then it is upon him to advise him of the condition of that innovator, providing that his intention only be for the sake of advising…” [8]

His complete words will be mentioned later in its due place.

I say: So you see that he did not make it a condition for one to mention the good qualities of the person who is being warned against. And he did not say that it was an obligation to make a balance (between good and bad qualities) as those people make it an obligation, holding that if one abandons doing this balancing then it goes against the trust and it shuns equity and justice!

Shaikh-ul-Islaam Ibn Taimiyyah (rahimahullaah) said: “Someone once said to Ahmad Ibn Hanbal: ‘It is becoming difficult upon me to say, This person is such and such, and that person is such and such (i.e. criticizing them).’ So he (Ahmad) said: ‘If you were to remain silent and I were to remain silent, then when will the ignorant person know the authentic from the weak?’

And since advising is obligatory with regard to (bringing) beneficial good in the Religion, specific and general:

Such as is the case when reporters of Hadeeth have made mistakes or lied, as Yahyaa Ibn Sa’eed said: “I asked Maalik, Ath-Thawree, Laith Ibn Sa’ad – I think – and Al-Awzaa’ee about a man that was accused with regard to hadeeth, so they all said: ‘Convey (expose) his affair.’”

And such as is the case when the leaders of innovation from those who voiced sayings contrary to the Qur’aan and the Sunnah and who performed worship contrary to that of the Qur’aan and the Sunnah.

Then indeed, clarifying their condition and warning the ummah against them is an obligation based on the unanimous agreement of the Muslims. This is such that it was once said to Ahmad Ibn Hanbal: “Is a man that fasts, prays and makes ‘Itikaaf more beloved to you or one that speaks out against the people of innovation?” So he (rahimahullaah) said: “If he fasts, prays and performs ‘Itikaaf then that is only for himself, but if he speaks out against the innovators then indeed this is for all of the Muslims. And this is better.”

Shaikh-ul-Islaam, Ibn Taimiyyah, said:
“So he has explained that the benefit of (doing) this is general for all of the Muslims with regard to their Religion. And it is from the types of Jihaad that is done in the Way of Allaah. This is since cleansing Allaah’s way, His Religion, methodologies and legislation, and repelling the transgression of these individuals and having enmity against them is a collective obligation (fard kifaayah), according to the consensus of the Muslims.

And if it were not for those whom Allaah placed to repel the harm of these individuals, the Religion would have indeed been corrupted. And the corruption experienced from these individuals is greater than the corruption experienced from being conquered by the enemies (of Islaam) during war.

For indeed, when these (enemies) conquered (the Muslim lands), they did not corrupt the hearts (of the Muslims) and what they contained from Religion, except for what came afterward. But as for these individuals, then they corrupt the hearts from the very start.” [9]

And he has lengthier words on this subject, which will be mentioned later.

So this is the true methodology of the Salaf, not just a claim. And it is that methodology, which was followed by Ibn Taimiyyah and others from the sincere and honest Mujaahideen. And no criticism of a critic ever rebuked them, because they did this for the sake of Allaah.

So where is it that making this kind of balancing (between good and bad qualities) must be a condition?!

And where is the obligation for mentioning a person’s good qualities (when criticizing him), which we hear so often repeated unjustly in defense of those callers to misguidance?!

Rather you have seen that Ibn Taimiyyah held that it was an obligation to refute the people of vain desires. And that it was from the different types of Jihaad in the Way of Allaah, since it is a way of cleansing His Religion, methodologies and legislation.

Sayings of the Imaams concerning the People of Innovation and (Hadeeth) Narrators:

Furthermore, the scholars of Islaam have indeed spoken out against the people of innovation and the (weak) reporters. And they did not indicate in the least towards the obligation of making it a condition to create this type of balancing (between good and bad qualities). They authored books on the subject of al-Jarh wat-Ta’deel and books in support of the Sunnah and in refutation of the people of innovation and in criticizing them. And they wrote books on the defects (of hadeeth) and books on the fabricated ahaadeeth. They did not make it an obligation to make this type of balancing (Muwaazanah) at all. In fact, they even wrote books specifically with just Jarh (discrediting of reporters) in them, and limiting them to mentioning only those (narrators) that were declared unreliable or those who were spoken about with criticism. So they did not place this principle (ofMuwaazanah) as a condition at all.

Thus Imaam Al-Bukhaaree – who was who he was with regard to possessing authority, religious characteristics, good manners and piety – wrote two books on weak narrators and he named them “Al-Kabeer” and “As-Sagheer“.

And An-Nasaa’ee wrote a book about the weak and rejected narrators called ad-Du’afaa wal-Matrookeen.

Al-‘Aqeelee wrote a book on weak narrators, which is known as ad-Du’afaa.

Ibn ‘Adiyy authored a book, al-Kaamil, about those who were criticized.

Ibn Hibbaan wrote a book specifically about those who were declared unreliable called al-Majrooheen.

Ad-Daaraqutnee and Ibn Ma’een have numerous books in which they answer questions concerning weak narrators and rejected reporters.

Al-Haakim wrote a book called ad-Du’afaa (Weak Narrators), which is a chapter from his (bigger book) al-Madkhal.

Abu Nu’aim and Ibn Al-Jawzee wrote on this subject also.

Adh-Dhahabee wrote three books on those who were declared unreliable and those who were criticized, which are al-Meezaan, al-Mughnee and Deewaan ad-Du’afaa.

Al-Haafidh Ibn Hajr authored Lisaan al-Meezaan.

And likewise, the books on al-Jarh wat-Ta’deel are filled with the discrediting of those who were declared unreliable (majrooheen), especially the books of Imaam Yahyaa Ibn Ma’een. So they did not make it a condition that this Muwaaznah (mentioning good and bad qualities) must be employed.

Indeed, this methodology, which makes this Muwaaznah a condition, is indeed from that which results in: The discrediting returning back to the (past) scholars of Islaam, and their falling into the web of being accused with injustice and treachery (i.e. since they did not mention the good deeds of those whom they criticized). We seek Allaah’s refuge from a methodology that produces such kinds of consequences.

Here, it is appropriate to mention some examples of the criticism of the Imaams (scholars) on some people, in which they just mentioned the criticism without showing any consideration to what they had from good qualities.

Imaam Ahmad, may Allaah have mercy on him:

1. Al-Marwadhee (rahimahullaah) said: “Abu ‘Abdillaah (Ahmad Ibn Hanbal) once mentioned Haarith al-Muhaasibee and said: ‘Haarith is the source of all this affliction – meaning the innovations of the views of Jahm. There is no calamity except for Haarith.'” [10]

2. Habeeb Ibn Abee Hilaal: Ahmad said of him: “He is rejected.” [11]

3. Habeeb Ibn Jahdar: Ahmad declared him a liar. [12]

4. Al-Hasan Ibn Dhakwaan: Ahmad said of him: “His ahaadeeth are forged” and in one report, he said: “He is of no significance.”

5. Khaalid Ibn Yazeed Ibn ‘Abd-ir-Rahmaan Al-Hamdaanee: Ahmad said: “He is nothing.” [13]

Imaam Al-Bukhaaree, may Allaah have mercy on him:

1. He said: “Jisr bin Farqad: Yahyaa Ibn ad-Darees and others reported about him that: ‘He is of no significance.'” [14]

2. Khaalid bin Iyaas al-Qurshee al-‘Adawee al-Madanee: “He is nothing.” [15]

3. Dawood Ibn al-Muhbir: “His hadeeth are rejected.” [16]

4. Dawood Ibn ‘Ataa Abu Sulaimaan al-Madanee: “His hadeeth are rejected. Ahmad said: ‘I saw him and he was nothing.'” [17]

Imaam An-Nasaa’ee, may Allaah have mercy on him:

1. Ibraaheem Ibn ‘Uthmaan Abu Shyibah: “His hadeeth are rejected and he was from Koofah.” [18]

2. Ibraaheem Ibn Al-Hakam Ibn Abaan: “His hadeeth are rejected. He was from ‘Adan.” [19]

3. Ibraaheem Ibn Khatheem: “His hadeeth are rejected. He was from Baghdaad.” [20]

4. Ibraaheem Ibn Yazeed Al-Khoozee: “His hadeeth are rejected. He was from ‘Adan.” [21]

5. Asha’ath Ibn Sa’eed as-Samaan: “He is nothing.” [22]

Footnotes:

[1] Reported by Al-Bukhaaree and Muslim from the narration of Abu Sa’eed

[2] Majmoo’ al-Fataawaa (28/234)

[3] Shaikh-ul-Islaam (Ibn Taimiyyah) has stated that there is a unanimous agreement amongst the Muslims on this.

[4] Likewise, the Sufis, except for the one who ascribes himself to them, yet he in his reality and his methodology is not part of them. These include those whom the Imaams of Islaam have testified as tot heir virtue, uprightness and perseverance on the Qur’aan and Sunnah.

[5] The Muqaddimah (Introduction) of Saheeh Muslim (1/13-15)

[6] The Muqaddimah (Introduction) of Saheeh Muslim (1/13-15)

[7] Ahwaal ar-Rijaal (pg. 538)

[8] Riyaadh as-Saaliheen (pg. 489) with the verification of Al-Albaanee

[9] Majmoo’ ar-Rasaa’il (5/110)

[10] Bahr-ud-Dam (pg. 99)

[11] Bahr-ud-Dam(pg. 105)

[12] Bahr-ud-Dam (pg. 109)

[13] Bahr-ud-Dam (pg. 114)

[14] Bahr-ud-Dam (pg. 114)

[15] Ad-Du’afaa as-Sagheer (pg. 418) with the verification of At-Tanaawee

[16] Ad-Du’afaa as-Sagheer (pg. 18)

[17] Ad-Du’afaa as-Sagheer (pg. 87)

[18] Ad-Du’afaa wal-Matrookeen (pg. 42)

[19] ibid

[20] ibid

[21] ibid

[22] Ad-Du’afaa wal-Matrookeen (pg. 56)