SHAIKH SAALIH AS SUHAYMI SAID:
So we begin now with the advice, seeking Allaah’s aid…
From the characteristics by which this group can be recognized are:
1. Lack of concern towards studying and reflecting upon the Qur’aan and the authentic Sunnah
You will find that this group has a weak connection with the very sources of the deen, the Qur’aan and the authentic Sunnah. Rather their da’wah revolves mainly around the ‘ulamaa (scholars), and the aspect of returning to the scholars is given utmost importance. This is apparent from their words and deeds.
The balanced way of Ahlus-Sunnah is to give utmost priority and importance to the Qur’aan and the authentic Sunnah, and studying and reflecting upon them. The scholars come at the next level.
Ahlus Sunnah take the scholars as the means to aid them in correctly understanding the texts (i.e. the Quran and Hadeeth).
Also they do not put themselves forward before the scholars and always remain under their guidance.
2. Gatherings devoid of the remembrance of Allaah.
Their gatherings are filled with “Qeel wa Qaal” (So and so said, such and such said). But you will hardly hear “Allaah said” or “His Messenger said”.
And their gatherings are largely empty from the dhikr (remembrance) of Allaah.
For these reasons you will find that sitting with them causes the heart to become hard, and away from the dhikr of Allaah, and this is from the greatest causes of destruction.
3. Resemblance to the Khawarij
The Khawarij were the first sect to split away from Ahlus Sunnah wal Jamaa’ah.
They had deviated in the matter of Takfeer (declaring someone to be a Kaafir).
They applied the ruling of kufr (disbelief) upon that which did not necessitate kufr, for example, committing major sins.
What the Khawarij of old had done regarding Takfeer, we find this group doing the same in the matter of Tabdee’ (declaring someone to be an Innovator or person of Innovation).
They consider people to be out of the fold of Ahlus Sunnah based on things which do not necessitate that.
Also, the Khawarij of old took the texts pertaining to the Kuffaar and applied them to the Muslims.
Similarly this group has taken that which applies to the people of innovation and applied it upon Ahlus Sunnah themselves.
4. Faulty understanding regarding the Asl (origin) of a Muslim
With this group, the Asl (origin) regarding a Muslim is that he is a person of bid’ah (innovation) until proved otherwise.
With Ahlus-Sunnah, the Asl regarding a Muslim is that he is upon Tawheed and the Sunnah, unless he takes a path of innovation.
5. Not differentiating between soundness of the general manhaj (methodology), and mistakes and errors in the details of methodology
[Note: This is crucial point, so please understand it well!]
Ahlus Sunnah wal Jamaa’ah regard a person to be upon the Sunnah as long as his general manhaj (methodology) is sound.
The scholars have defined this general manhaj (i.e. the path of the saved sect) in different wordings:
It is to hold on to the Book and the Sunnah
It is to hold on to the Book and the Sunnah, along with giving precedence to the understanding of the Salaf us Saalih
It is to hold on to the Book and the Sunnah, upon the manhaj of the Salaf us Saalih
These are different wordings, and there is no contradiction between them. All of these definitions carry the same meaning.
Basically you are upon the correct methodology if you are upon the Qur’aan and the Sunnah, with its correct understanding.
So whoever is like this (i.e. as described above), we regard him to be upon the Sunnah, even if he has mistakes and errors in the details.
So this is a simple, plain and clear criterion, which can be understood without any difficulty.
However we find that this group considers mistakes in the details as if they are mistakes in the general manhaj, and due to this they make the ruling of Tabdee’ based on such mistakes.
For example, praising or promoting a certain person of innovation or his books; when the person who is praising is otherwise known for uprightness upon the Book and the Sunnah.
This is an error, but it does not mean that the person exits Ahlus Sunnah due to this. Rather some may even go to the extent of taking issues that are not even errors in the details of the manhaj, and consider them to be errors in the general manhaj !
For example, if we do not take care to arrange for proper duroos (lessons) on the books of aqeedah, fiqh, etc., then this is in reality a deficiency in ‘amal (action), and not an issue of error in manhaj.
Some of them may clearly declare some of Ahlus Sunnah to be from Ahlul Bid’ah.
Others are more careful not to use the term of “Innovator” or “people of innovation”, but everything else is the same as in the first case, i.e. they deal with Ahlus Sunnah as if they were Ahlul Bid’ah.
They abandon the gatherings of the people of knowledge who are near to them, and they see themselves as being separate from the people of Sunnah who live amongst them. Some may accuse the callers amongst the people of Sunnah of having a “hidden agenda”, meaning that they outwardly call to the Sunnah but their real motive is something else.
Whereas the reality is that they themselves are the ones who are witch-hunting (against Ahlus Sunnah).
The callers of Ahlus Sunnah have no other agenda other than to spread the Sunnah.
6. Relying upon taking knowledge from books
From the reasons of their deviation, is that they took their knowledge only from books (and/or the internet) and kept away from the people of knowledge around them.
If only they had the scholars amongst them, then the doubts that they have would have been nipped in the bud, and this deviation would not have had a chance to raise its ugly head.
From the things that indicate their deviance is that they do not have a single person of knowledge amongst them.
‘Abdullaah ibn ‘Abbaas radhiyallaahu anhumaa, when he debated the Khawaarij, said to them, “I do not see a single one from the companions of the Prophet salallaahu alayhi wa sallam amongst you.”.
He used this as a proof to show that they were upon deviance. Based on this, the scholars of the Sunnah have said that to abandon taking knowledge from the people of knowledge is the starting point of danger.
So you may see amongst them those who have memorized a lot, and those who can narrate a lot, but they do not have understanding.
So they are misguided and they misguide others. They erred in their understanding because they did not sit with the people of knowledge to begin with.
So now based on this faulty understanding, they have built a manhaj for themselves, with which they attack Ahlus Sunnah, and in particular the people of knowledge amongst them.
As the scholars have said, “Knowledge without understanding is more dangerous than jahl (ignorance).”
7. Taking only from selected scholars and abandoning others
You will find some of the people of this group approving of taking only from some of the senior scholars of the Ummah.
So based on this, they do not sit with any of the people of knowledge around them, because these senior scholars are generally far away from where they are.
To these people it is either the Ulamaa al Kibaar (senior scholars), or nothing else.
What they fail to realize is that knowledge is of levels, and the people of knowledge are of levels.
From them is the student of knowledge, the ‘aalim (scholar), and the mujtahid (a scholar who can perform ijtihaad) .
And again within each of these categories, people are of levels. ‘Ilm is to be taken from all of these people because they do not speak except upon knowledge.
Ahlus Sunnah, who are upon the balanced way, say that the ‘asl (origin) is to take from the best and the senior-most people of knowledge, if this is possible.
Otherwise, we take from whoever from the people of knowledge are available to us and are amongst us.
You will find some others approving of taking knowledge only from those people of knowledge who are from Arab countries and not from the others.
Also, you will find those who say that it is a must for a person to have a tazkiyah (recommendation/praise from a scholar) or an ijaazah (permission from a scholar to narrate or teach a particular book, etc.); only then can you take knowledge from him.
With Ahlus Sunnah, a tazkiyah or an ijaazah is a means to identify a scholar or a person of knowledge; but the absence of a tazkiyah or ijaazah does not necessarily mean that the person is not from the people of knowledge.
There are other means (which may be even stronger than these) to show that a person is from the people of knowledge.
From these ways is that a person is well known amongst his people for knowledge and uprightness on the Sunnah.
This in itself is sufficient for us to take from him, and is in fact stronger than a tazkiyah.
And the reality is that these people don’t really take from these selected scholars as well, because they only accept from them as long as what they say does not go against their manhaj.
But if the scholars’ advice and statements go against their manhaj, you will see that they do not accept it, rather they invent dubious and twisted arguments in order to avoid what the scholars have advised them with.
8. Attacking the scholars and people of knowledge
You will find that this group makes as their target the best of the people who are amongst them, and they are the people of knowledge from Ahlus Sunnah.
So they attack the salafees in the name of salafiyyah and they attack the people of knowledge amongst them in the name of
“connecting the people with the scholars”.
Do they realize the seriousness of their action?!!
Do they not fear the standing before Allaah and accounting for their speech and actions!!
Do they not know that the flesh of the scholars is poisonous?!!
Indeed to Allaah we belong and to Him we shall return.
From the doubts that they bring to prevent the people from the people of knowledge is that they say
“Being a graduate from Islaamic university of Madeenah or other salafi universities is not a guarantee that a person is upon the Sunnah or from the people of knowledge”.
By this statement they wish to stop the people from attending the gatherings of the students of knowledge and scholars who are known for the Sunnah and known for their knowledge.
We say that this is a statement of truth, but with which falsehood is intended.
The ‘asl (origin) regarding those who have studied at the hands of senior scholars in these universities is that they are upon knowledge and upon the Sunnah. So we sit with them and benefit from them.
As for some who have adopted the paths of innovation even after studying in salafi universities, then their degree cannot be used as a proof that they are upon the Sunnah when they have chosen another path for themselves. So this is the balanced understanding.
But for this group of Juhhaal (ignoramuses) who use the above argument, the ‘asl is that these people of knowledge are not taken from, until proven otherwise.
So take heed, O Sunnee!!
9. Giving fatwa without knowledge
This group claims that they “return to the scholars” for every matter, big or small, and that they do not speak from their own selves.
However the reality is that they have the audacity to give fatwa without knowledge regarding some of the most serious matters.
For example, they say “You can’t take knowledge from this one and that one.”
Or they say “You have to boycott this one and that one.”, “It’s not permissible for you to sit with this one or that one.”
Another point to be noted is that there are certain characteristics and conditions to determine who the scholars are, i.e. from whom can we take knowledge?
And even amongst the scholars only a selected few of them who are deeply rooted in knowledge and have attained a high level enter the field of Jarh wa Ta’deel.
[“Jarh wa Ta’deel” is the science (of hadeeth) in which the scholars determine and declare who is trustworthy/reliable and who is not; who is to be taken from and who is to be abandoned, etc.]
Only very few from the elite scholars enter into this area.
Now the point to be noted here is that when the individuals of this group are actually Juhhaal (ignorant people) who do not even fulfill the conditions to be a scholar, they have put themselves in the position of those scholars who carry out Jarh wa Ta’deel; raising whoever they wish from the people of knowledge, and lowering whoever they wish; including whoever they desire in the ranks of the people of knowledge and excluding whoever they desire!!!
10. Taqleed (blind following) of personalities
This group has certain people (who are not from the people of knowledge) who they return to know their rulings regarding who is to be taken from, and who is to be abandoned; who is “upon the manhaj”, and who is not, and so on.
They take their principles from these “leaders” although they may not call them as leaders.
You may also find them exaggerating in the praise of a particular scholar, falling into ghuluww (extremism) regarding him, and making blameworthy taqleed of him.
All these affairs are not only in clear opposition to the way of Ahlus Sunnah, but also point to a deficiency in Tawheed.
11. Cutting and pasting statements and twisting them to distort their meanings
In order to support their devious manhaj, and when they wish to attack Ahlus Sunnah, they make use of some of the statements of the scholars of the Sunnah.
But they do so in a treacherous way, because they take speech out of its true context, they cut off the speech that precedes it or follows it, and paste whatever suits their desires.
They distort the meanings of the statements of the scholars and apply them in contexts and situations where they are not applicable at all!! All of this is from their cunning and deception, and we ask Allaah for safety.
From that which further exposes their evil intentions is that if they wished, they could get a clear, unambiguous ruling from the scholars regarding particular groups or individuals; but they do not do so.
They take general statements in which there is some ambiguity, and interpret them as they desire.
“It is He Who has sent down to you (Muhammad) the Book (this Qur’an). In it are Verses that are entirely clear, they are the foundations of the Book and others not entirely clear. So as for those in whose hearts there is a deviation (from the truth) they follow that which is not entirely clear thereof, seeking Al-Fitnah (polytheism and trials, etc.), and seeking for its hidden meanings, but none knows its hidden meanings save Allah. And those who are firmly grounded in knowledge say: “We believe in it; the whole of it (clear and unclear Verses) are from our Lord.” And none receive admonition except men of understanding.[Surah Aal Imraan: 7]
12. Testing people with individuals who are not from the scholars of the Sunnah
From the signs of this group is that they ask you,
“What is your stance regarding so and so?”,
“What do you say regarding such and such a person”.
These people regarding which they take a stance are generally either (those who they regard to be) people of innovation or Juhhaal (ignorant people).
This is an innovated way that clearly opposes the way of Ahlus Sunnah.
We know from the manhaj of the salaf that they would judge or test the people based on their love or hatred towards the Imaams and scholars of the Sunnah, and they would not test people with other than them.
An example of this is what the Imaam al-Barbahaaree says in his book Sharh us Sunnah, “If you find a man who loves Abu Hurairah, Anas ibn Maalik and Usayd ibn Hudayr, know that he is a person of the Sunnah, if Allaah wills.”
[Note: Ahlus Sunnah are agreed upon the impermissibility of taking knowledge from the people of bid’ah (innovation), attending their religious talks/gatherings and taking them as close friends or companions. The last point does not negate this in any way]
13. Wasting away precious time
You will find the people of this group spending all or most of their time in speaking about/ against groups and individuals, to the exclusion of seeking beneficial knowledge or engaging in worship.
This shows their lack of seriousness towards correcting their own selves and preparing for the meeting with their Lord.
The thing that is of utmost importance in this world and in the Aakhirah (Hereafter) is to have sound Eemaan.
And this is not achieved except by beneficial knowledge and righteous action. We ask Allaah for Tawfeeq (success).
“The Day when wealth or children will not benefit [anyone]. Except for one who comes to Allah with a sound heart.” [Surah ash-Shu’araa: 88-89]
14. Neglecting the affair of unity and brotherhood
From the greatest affairs that the scholars of Ahlus Sunnah wal Jamaa’ah are concerned with is to unite the word of the Muslims and to unite their ranks upon the truth.
They give utmost importance to the affair of unity amongst the Muslims in general, and amongst Ahlus Sunnah in particular.
The Sunnah is always associated with Jamaa’ah (unity), and Bid’ah is always associated with Furqah (splitting).
15. A point related to the affair of Da’wah
Da’wah is based upon knowledge. So a person calls to something only if he has knowledge of that.
Also just as people are of levels in knowledge, people are of levels when it comes to Da’wah.
The greater a person is in knowledge (of the deen) the greater his responsibility and level in Da’wah.
The lesser a person is in knowledge, the lesser his responsibility and level in Da’wah.
So from this we understand that the main responsibility of Da’wah falls first and foremost upon the ‘ulamaa (scholars).
They are the leaders of the Da’wah. However, those who are not scholars should neither cut themselves off completely from Da’wah, nor should they put themselves in the position of the scholars.
Rather, according to their capability and knowledge, they order the good and forbid the evil, and call to the truth.
All the while, they recognize their level and remain under the guidance of the scholars, and they do not put themselves forward before the scholars.
However, we find that this group makes Da’wah absolutely restricted to the scholars only, and absolutely prevents others from Da’wah.
So even if a person has some knowledge, they prevent him from spreading that knowledge on the pretext that he is not a scholar.
This attitude stems from a deficient and incorrect understanding of the deen, and will only result in the spread of ignorance and covering up of knowledge.
16. Lack of Rahmah (mercy) towards the creation
This is another matter that contributes to the hardening of the heart.
Also, when a person lacks mercy towards the creation, he is quick to attack and destroy. But the one who has
Rahmah fears for the creation, gives sincere advice, and makes du’aa and hopes that they are guided to the truth.
In an authentic hadeeth, the Messenger of Allaah sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam said:
“The Most Merciful shows mercy to those who have mercy on others. Show mercy to those on earth, and the One above the heaven will show mercy to you.” [Abu Dawood and others]
He sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam also said:
“He who does not show mercy (to others) will not be shown mercy (by Allaah).” [Bukhari and Muslim]
Shaykhul Islaam Ibn Taymiyah rahimahullaah said:
“Ahlus Sunnah wal Jamaa’ah are the most knowledgeable of people regarding the truth, and the most merciful of people towards the creation.”