Shaykh Ibraheem Ar-Ruhaylee said, “Rebuke and refutation of the one in opposition is to be considered advice for and preservation of the Ummah from falling in to his mistake. This is from the well-known and established principles of Ahlu Sunnah and considered to be one of the greatest forms of Jihad. But it is imperative to carefully consider the guidelines and conditions by which one can achieve his goal
From amongst them [the guidelines and conditions to consider before rebuking and refuting someone are the following]:
1st. That the individual had sincerity to Allah (i.e. Ikhlaas) and sincerity in his intention to aid the truth and absolutely restrict himself to this.
From the requisites of this Ikhlaas:
A. That you desire guidance for the one in opposition [to the truth] and for him to return to the haqq (the truth).
B. That you take every path possible by which it is anticipated that his heart will draw closer to the truth without chasing him away.
C. Coupled with these two, you supplicate to Allah sincerely for his guidance, especially if he is from Ahlu Sunnah or part of the general body of the Muslims. For indeed the Prophet (Salallahu alaihi wa salam) used to supplicate for the guidance of the Kufaar (disbelievers), so how much more should it be emphasized with the Muwahid(1) from the Muslims?!
2nd. The refutation should be issued by a scholar whose foot is firmly embedded in the field of knowledge, in that he knows, in detail, all the dynamics of the issue at hand which requires refutation. This is by knowing the legislated and textual evidences and the rulings of the ulamaa (scholars) in relation to the infraction and opposition [of the person in question]. He knows the extent of the misconception that the individual may hold which initiated this infraction, the refutations of the ulamaa concerning it and how to benefit from them in the realm of [his putting together his own] refutation.
Likewise it is appropriate that the one in opposition be refuted with weighty evidences in order to establish the haqq (the truth) and to remove the misconceptions. This is done by using expressions which are clear and precise in order that the intent of the one refuting does not become misconstrued or misunderstood or to leave room for the one in opposition to feel as though it was not convincing enough or that he may misunderstand the objective.
If this is not done then it will result in tremendous harm like confrontation and resistance towards the one who deprived himself of these conditions before embarking upon the refutation initially.
3rd. One should carefully consider, while refuting the one in opposition, that they vary in their levels of opposition, in their levels in the religion and in their worldly statuses. The motive for opposition initially differs from one individual to the next. It could be the result of jahl (ignorance), hawa (following his desires) or just absolute innovation (bidah), or due to the fact that he is inarticulate and doesn’t know how to express himself or just a mere slip of the tongue.
Also it could also be the case that he is affected by his shaykh or the environment in which he was raised, the way he interpreted his intent or other than this from the many reasons which lead to legislative infractions or opposition (to the Quran, the Sunnah and methodology of the Salaf).
Whoever neglects taking these things into consideration and acknowledging their variations and differences when refuting, then perhaps he may fall into either excessiveness and transgression of the boundaries, or total negligence (i.e. either extreme) which would prevent the one being boycotted [the sinner or innovator from] taking full advantage of his admonition and diminish the benefits found therein.
4th. One carefully considers, while refuting the one in opposition, achieving the legislative objectives and benefits of refutation.
For neglecting this, results in greater harm towards the one being refuted and at that point refutation is not admissible nor recommended. For (in Islam) you don’t combat harm with one that is greater than it.
Shaykhul Islam Ibn Taymiyyah said, “It is not permissible to repel a minor evil with one that is greater than it, nor to repel the lesser of the two evils by embarking upon the greater of the two. For indeed the legislation of Islam came to secure and perfect these benefits (for the ummah) along with repelling and lessening the evil as much as possible.
So what is recommended is to give precedence to the best of the two goods if it is not possible to achieve both of them and to repel the worst of the two evils if it is not possible to rid ourselves of them all together.”(2)
5th. What should also be emphasized is that the refutation should be proportionate with the degree of propagation and prevalence of this particular infraction [sin or innovation], if it has spread in a particular land or community.
For it is not recommended to hasten a refutation whether by way of compilation or by cassette tapes or by any other means of circulation of information, especially in a land that has not heard of this misconception or infraction.
For in this case, spreading the refutation is in a manner which is indirect and it is possible that the people could come across this refutation and the misconception and in their hearts the remain unconvinced.
So leaving the people intact and free from hearing this batil (falsehood) to begin with is better than bringing it to their attention and then trying to refute it afterwards.
The Salaf used to consider this point carefully in their refutations. For in many of their books, which are specifically for refutation, they used the haqq (the truth) to refute falsehood without even mentioning the misconception originally, which is from their fiqh (understanding of the religion and it’s objectives), whereas some of those who came after them have become very negligent of this.
Just as it is said about spreading the refutation in a land in which the infraction has not been propagated then the same is said about not spreading it amongst a group of people who are unfamiliar with the infraction or mistake, even if it is in the same locality in which the mistake was made initially.
In short, it is not appropriate to propagate the refutation by way of books or cassette tapes [or any other means] amongst the laymen who are oblivious to this mistake.
How many of the laymen have been tested with hearing this and as a result they begin to have doubts and suspicions about the fundamentals of the religion due to the fact that they read what was above their comprehension from the countless books of refutation, which none can enumerate except Allah.
So it is incumbent upon those who hasten to spread these books amongst the laymen to fear Allah and be cautious about being a cause of fitnah (trials and tribulations) for the people in the religion of Allah.
The most amazing thing that I’ve heard in relation to this is what some of the students have resorted to in spreading these books of refutation amongst those who are new Muslims, new to the religion of Islam, those who have only been Muslim for a few days or a few months. The students encourage them to read these books of refutation. By Allah what they are doing is amazing!
6th. Refutation of the one who made a mistake is Fardh ul Kifayah(3).
So if some of the Ulamaa shoulder the responsibility of cautioning the Ummah and refutation, by which, the legislative objectives are achieved, then the rest of the scholars are relieved of this obligation and free of blame. This is based upon the established principles that the ulamaa are unanimously in agreement concerning, along with the other communal obligations.
From the most repugnant and hideous of mistakes which occur is that when a scholar refutes one who has made a mistake or when a fatwa is issued by him warning against this individual or against a particular mistake, is that a lot of students who ascribe to following the Sunnah and the ulamaa, request from others to make bayan (clarification) of their position concerning this refutation or fatwa.
The affair has reached the point that they even require from the younger students of knowledge, rather even from the laymen, to state and clarify their positions in relation to this refutation and concerning the one being refuted. Then they conclude in light of this, their positions of Walaa’a wal Baraa’a(4), then they boycott one another based upon this.
Rather some of the students may even boycott and abandon some of their shaykhs whom they have benefited from for many years in the field of sound aqeedah (Islamic beliefs), due to this Fitnah.
This Fitnah has even made its way into the house holds, to the point that a man would even boycott his own brother and a son would be disrespectful, rude and shun (boycott) his own parents and perhaps a man may even divorce his own wife and separate himself from his own children due to this Fitnah!!
When you look at the [Salafi] community you will find them divided into two or more groups every group making accusations against the other and obligating hajr (boycotting) of the other and all of the above is found with those who ascribe to following the Sunnah [Salafis]. Those who, before the emergence of this differing, could not find anything derogatory to say about the other in relation to their aqeedah nor in the soundness of their manhaj (Islamic methodology).
This is either the result of extreme ignorance of the Sunnah and the principles that were established by Ahlu Sunnah in the realm of reprimand or due to hawa (following ones desires), and we ask Allah for safety and preservation (from this).”
1. One who actualizes the Tawheed of Allah with all of its aspects.
2. Mentioned in Masa’il al Mardiniyah P.73-74 by Sheikhul Islam Ibn Taymiyah
3. Communal obligation – so if some scholars do this action the other scholars do not have the obligation of doing that action. But if no scholars do that action all the scholars will be held as sinful.
4. Allegiance and dissociation which are two well-known principles in the religion of Islam, rather it is at the core of the statement La Ilaha Illallah (allegiance for the people of Tawheed and dissociation from the people of Shirk).
Ref: Advice to the Youth of Ahlus Sunnah By Shaykh Ibraheem Ibn Amir Ar-Ruhaylee
Posted by Abdul Kareem Ibn Ozzie