بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
This will be possibly the longest post in this series. However, it is essential to clarify it matter with copious evidences so that the reader, after having read it, wouldn’t have any doubt regarding the methodology of the ‘Ulama in Tabdee’.
And I proceed:
Abu Hakeem Bilal Davies (وفقه الله و هداه) said:
Doubt 1: ‘We do not accept the warnings of the scholars except with proof, because ‘We are people of evidence’
We start with this doubt, because this claim, though it appears fair seeming, the real intent behind it is an evil one. It seeks is to destroy the status of the people of knowledge, their statements and their guidance. This doubt has been used throughout time to cunningly belittle the people of knowledge in the mind of the unsuspecting innocent layperson, and to replace the people of knowledge with these individuals, who present themselves as people skilled in the knowledge of understanding strong or weak evidences. Thus reliance falls upon them.
By way of this statement of theirs, the statements of the people of knowledge have little worth, rather true worth is in the hands of this individual who will dictate who and what is to be taken from and who and what is to be rejected. This is particularly when it come to the affair of their statements against the people of deviation. As though the people of knowledge do not speak from a standpoint of taqwa and fear of Allah, but desire. As if the people of knowledge are fickle individuals who speak against people upon a whim. The Salaf of this Ummah would truly value the statements of the people of knowledge. Not so these unknowns.
Then they will use, in order to slight the statements of the Ulamā, statements of the Imaams that where mentioned in relation to affairs of rulings of the shariah, connected to actions, dealings and ijtihād.
Such as the statement of Abu Hanīfah:
“It is not permissible to take from my statements unless you know where I took”
Or the statement of Imām Ash shāfi’i “If you find my statement going against the book or the Sunnah throw my statements against the wall”
These individuals regularly use statements and principles out of place or to oppose specific issues of methodology. it is well known that a principle in fiqh may not necessarily be a principle in aqidah and vice versa.
These aforementioned statements, are true statements that were mentioned to emphasise the importance of holding on to evidence in issues of shariah. But they are used by these individuals, to put doubt upon the statements, verdicts and advises of the Scholars, because when the scholars speak against someone and warns, often times the general person may not be acquainted with the reasons for the warning, and may not even understand the gravity of the issue, even if it were explained to them!
As Al Hasan Al Basri mentioned:
“The fitna, when it appears, it is known by the Ulamā, and when its tail end appears (i.e. when it is over) it is known by every general person”
That is to say when fitna arises it is spotted, detected and understood by the people of knowledge, how will the ignorant one perceive it, if it is intricate?
Based upon the statements of these ignoramuses, we should leave the general people to get engrossed in these issues, relying upon their own weak deficient understanding, possibly becoming unsatisfied with the evidence presented by those scholars, (since he (the layman) may be ignorant of the foundation that has been opposed) and thus go astray!
Knowledge of the men is in the hands of the people of Knowledge! (https://ah-sp.com/2017/08/22/doubts-around-the-dawah-part-2/)
From what is apparently understood in this passage Bilal Davies is of the opinion that:
- One of the doubts that the people of desires present is asking for evidences when individuals who are known for their adherence to the Sunnah are refuted.
- That the intent behind asking for evidences is to put doubt in the verdicts of the scholars.
- Asking for evidence is tantamount to vilifying the scholars and ignoring their statements.
- Adherence to the statements of the Imams regarding Taqleed is applicable in fiqh but inapplicable in matters of Tabdee’.
- The people would not understand the evidences even if the evidences are presented to them.
Before venturing into the statements of Shaikh Rabee’ regarding this issue, an important principle to know is that those who blind-follow follow “their” scholars in the Furuu’ (subsidiary matters) but don’t follow them in the Usool (fundamentals). In other words, although they make Tabdee‘ of everyone who Shaikh Rabee’ has made Tabdee’ of , they indeed oppose the methodology of Shaikh Rabee’ in making Tabdee’ which is based upon scholarship. The following are excerpts from the Shaikh’s refutation of Falih Al Harbi:
Faalih Al Harbi was asked: Is it a condition to clarify the reasons for Jarh?
He then stated: It is not a condition that (asking for evidences). This is regarding the reasons for Jarh Wa Ta’deel in narrating and this does not enter into speaking about those who deviate in their methodology and their way.”
Faalih was also asked afterward: Because they say that a Shaikh may be disparaged for what isn’t taken into consideration as a Jarh by other than him.
He then stated: No, no, this is from their principles and I seek refuge in Allah. This is an oppressive principle that is innovated and led the Ummah astray.
The questioner then said: Then the general Jarh is sufficient
Falih said: From a scholar, this is not a Jarh, don’t say it’s a Jarh, it is not from Jarh in narrations. Maybe a scholar who speaks about the people of innovation and speaks about the methodology and speaks about the ‘Aqeedah and the religion is an Imam in this. And it is possible that his narration may not be accepted because he doesn’t fulfill the requirements… [Asilah ‘Ilmeeyah Muwajihah Ela Shaikh Faalih: pg1]
Note: Although Abu Hakeem has distanced himself regarding the speech of Faalih Al Harbi regarding the distinction between Jarh Wa Ta’deel and refuting the innovator, the principle of making the ruling of Tabdee‘ upon individuals without clarification and evidence still remains.
As for Shaikh Rabee’ his position regarding has been clarified in his statements published on his website.
He said to Faalih regarding his aforementioned answers:
“Verily you were asked regarding specific individuals who are known to the people for Salafeeyah and Da’wah toward it. From them are scholars according to the people and you have removed them from Salafeeyah and this removal is a severe Jarh which is in need of evidence. If you don’t come with evidence and reasons for this Jarh the people would think that you have oppressed them, transgressed upon them and spoke about their religion without any right. Therefore you would become accused in front of the people and would need to distance your religion and honour from this.
If you don’t do so the people would speak ill of you and neither yourself nor others would be pleased with this disparagement. Therefore trials and differences between the Salafis and accusations between parties would spread. And this wouldn’t stop until the reasons for this removal (from Salafeeyah) are presented and even you would request the reasons if someone disparaged you or removed you from Salafeeyah.
If there is a Jarh Mubham (disparagement without proof) and a Ta’deel then the strongest opinion is that it is a must to explain that Jarh Mubham. And being famous regarding the religion, Sunnah, Salafeeyah and Da’wah is stronger than a Ta’deel that comes from one or two scholars.
And speech regarding deviants in their methodology and what they traverse upon is from the most important matters that enter into Jarh because there is a binding factor between individuals and their methodology. Therefore those who speak ill of the methodology of a person speaks ill of him.
And for this reason you see that the Salaf presented the evidences showing the misguidance of the people of innovation and the deviance of their methodology. And they have books which can’t be enumerated. And some of them shall be mentioned and I have the opinion that there is no issue in mentioning the speech of the people of knowledge regarding the condition of explaining the Jarh Mubham and the rejecting of some of the Jarh. So I say:
Ibn Salaah said that the strongest opinion is that the Ta‘deel is accepted without clarifying the reason. As for Jarh, it is not accepted unless it is explained and the reasons are clear. This is because people differ regarding the reasons in what would be an acceptable Jarh and that which would not be acceptable. And it has been relayed from Al Khateeb that it is the Madhab of the Imams of Hadeeth and its criticizers the likes of Imam Al Bukhari and Muslim and other than them, And for this reason Bukhari narrated from a group who had been disparaged like ‘Ikrimah the Maula of Ibn Abbas and he mentioned others. Then he said: And Muslim narrated from Suwaid Ibn Sa’eed and a group who were known to have been disparaged and Abu Dawood As Sijistani did the same. And this shows that they had the opinion that Jarh is not accepted unless its reasons have been explained... [An Naseehah Al Akhawiyah: pg. 2]
From this it is crystal clear that Shaikh Rabee’s methodology regarding Tabdee’ is that clear evidences must be given to establish it. Hence, it is not upon anyone to make claims without backing these claims up with the reality. As the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said:
“The clarity is upon the claimant.” (Bukhari and Muslim).
Likewise it is the methodology of the scholars of Hadeeth and Usool Ul Fiqh who Shaikh Rabee’ followed in goodness. That which proceeds in the following paragraphs contains some of their many statements*:
Imam As Suyooti said: “And for this reason Bukhari accepted the narrations of individuals who were disparaged by other than them. The likes of ‘Ikrimah and ‘Amr Ibn Marzooq. And Muslim accepted the likes of Suwaid Ibn Sa’eed and other individuals who were known to have been disparaged. Likewise, this was the action of Abu Dawood. And this is an evidence that they were of the opinion that the disparagement was not established (upon an appraised individual) if it wasn’t explained. And this is also evidence that possibly the criticizer was asked and then mentioned that which would not constitute as a disparagement.” [Suyooti: 1/167]
Imam Muhammad Ameen Ash Shinqiti mentioned: “And for this reason (because the Jarh wasn’t explained) the two Shaikhs (Bukhari and Muslim) accepted the Hadeeth of those who were disparaged by other than them. For they didn’t accept the disparagement because the reason for the disparagement remained unexplained. And from the examples of this is Imam Bukhari narrated from ‘Ikrimah and ‘Umar Ibn Marzooq and Muslim narrating from Sa’eed Ibn Suwaid and other than him.” [Shinqiti:147]
Imam Ibn Salaah said in Siyanah Saheeh Muslim: “Section 8: Some of those find fault in [Imam] Muslim for narrating from a group of weak narrators or from those in the middle who are in the second section [of narrators] and do not fulfill the conditions of being in his book.
And the answer: This is for one of the following reasons and there is no fault in him for doing such.
This occurred with an individual who was weak according to others and trustworthy according to him. And it is not said in this instance that the disparagement takes precedence over the appraisal and that this is making the appraisal take precedence over the disparagement. This is because that which we have mentioned takes precedence over the disparagement that is unexplained and this [the disparagement] is not acted upon. And I have clarified in the book Ma’rifah Uloom Ul Hadeeth that which Al Khateeb stated regarding those narrators who both Bukhari and Muslim have relied upon, as well as Abu Dawood and other than them with a group that were disparaged from other than them. And from the angle that the criticizer has mentioned the reason and Muslim clarified that it was false.” [Ibn Salaah: 10]
Ibn Hajar said: “If the one who has been disparaged in a general manner has been deemed trustworthy by one of the scholars the criticism is not accepted from whoever it may be except if it is detailed. Because him being trustworthy has been established and this is not removed except by a clear matter. And this is taken from the statement of Imam Ahmad: “Whoever’s uprightness has been established the criticisms on him are not accepted from anyone until he clarifies it upon him with evidence that would not carry by it except disparagement.” [Amr Ibn ‘Abdul Lateef: 40]
Al Luknawi mentioned after clarifying that the disparagement of an appraised individual is not accepted except that it is explained: “And Ibn Salaah has sufficed with the first opinion amongst others in his introduction. And he said: Al Khateeb mentioned that this is the Madhab of the Imams who are the memorizers of Hadeeth and its criticizers the likes of Bukhari and Muslim. And for this reason Bukhari used the narrations of a group who were criticized by other than him. The likes of ‘Ikrimah, Isma’eel Ibn Abee Uwais, ‘Aasim Ibn ‘Ali, ‘Amr Ibn Marzooq and other than him. And Muslim utilized the narrations of Suwaid Ibn Sa’eed and a group who were known to have been disparaged. Abu Dawood As Sijistani also did this. This is evidence that they had the opinion that a disparagement is not established except if the reasons for it have been clarified.” [Luknawi: 34]
Imam Al Mu’alimi mentioned: “And many individuals have not been granted safety from the speech of some people against them. From what has been mentioned about Ibraheem speaking about Ash Sha’bi and Sha’bi speaking about ‘Ikrimah and those before them and the interpretation of some of them (to speak about) the individuals and their honour. This is not taken into consideration by the people of knowledge except with clarification and evidence, and their uprightness is not removed except with clarification and evidence.” [Mu’alimi: 1/75]
From these quotes it is clear that there are times when the unexplained criticism of a scholar is not always accepted. Rather, the acceptance or rejection of the detailed criticism depends on the condition of the one being criticized. To reiterate, if the one being criticized is unknown then the criticism is accepted from a scholar who has knowledge regarding the reasons for Jarh and Ta’deel. However, if the one being criticized has been appraised by the scholars it is a must that the criticizer present evidence and clarification for his stance. If this principle was abandoned then some of the authentic Hadeeth in Bukhari and Muslim would have to be removed.
Likewise in the case of Tabdee’, if the uprightness of an individual has been well established then it is legislatively and intellectually unfeasible to remove his/her uprightness except with clear proofs and evidences based upon the book of Allah, the Sunnah of the Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم) and the Ijmaa’ (consensus) of the scholars.
And Allah knows best.
* Soon I will be writing a small treatise entitled: “A Clarification of the scholarly methodology in categorizing someone to be upon innovation.”