Shaykh Sulaymaan Ar-Ruhaylee said, “The Salafis have differed in subsidiary rulings but they have not differed in their principles (i.e. to follow the Quran and the Sunnah with the understanding of the Salaf). Their usool (principles) are well-known and established.
However, concerning certain current day rulings the Salafis have differed. An example is the ruling on a particular individual; so what does the Salafi do in these particular examples of Ijtihaad where the scholars have differed?
We are aware on how to engage with those who aren’t Salafi, the scholars have explained in how to interact and deal with them; with justice and fairness and the Principles of the Sharee’ah.
However, the problem we face now is when the Salafis themselves differ.
If a well-known scholar who is known to have expertise in this field places a ruling on a particular person, stating that such a person is from the people of innovation, and no one from the people of knowledge differed with him then we cannot doubt his ruling on such a person. We take the statement of this scholar, especially if no one differed with him and this is how the Salaf were (and something well-known in The Science Of Hadeeth).
If Imaam Ahmad, for example, stated that such and such person is a person of innovation and there was no opposition to this, then the statement of Ahmad is accepted and acted upon.
But what do we do if the scholars differed?
If the scholars differed about an individual; firstly we look at the situation.
If we have one that does Jarh (criticism) and the other does Ta’deel (praise) then we take precedence to the one who has more information.
It may be that the one with Jarh has more information but the one with Ta’deel praises a person because this is generally what is apparent from him. The opposite is also true.
Therefore it may be that a person does Jarh, such as doing Jarh upon a person who was known to be a Hizbee, but the one who does Ta’deel does so based on new information, such as him making Tawbah.
So the principle here is; we take the ruling from the one who has [and presents] more information.
If the scholars differed, then I have always said and I say again so that you may understand: differences between well-known Salafi scholars in such affairs have causes:
1) They differed in the authenticity of the information.
It could be that a person presents information to a scholar and the scholar accepts it and makes a ruling based on this, then he is excused even if he is wrong. It could be that the scholar who issues a different ruling has different information presented to him, and likewise, he is excused also if he is wrong.
2) It could be that there is a misunderstanding.
It could be that a scholar praises or dispraises a person but the Salafis differed on their understanding of the speech of the scholar.
3) Differences can arise on the importance of the statement of the scholar.
This is the third scenario – the Salafi agree that the information is correct and they all have the same understanding but they differed is the Shaykh talking about a mistake of a person or is it Jarh thus warning against him?
Meaning, none of the Salafis deny that the scholar has said something, but the Salafis differed: some believing that the scholar has declared the person as doing an innovation whilst others have understood that the person being talked about has made a mistake, but is not necessarily an innovator.
I do not know any scholar, from those who we know – those who are Salafi and from Ahlu Sunnah – that does Jarh or Ta’deel based on desires, oppression or having a personal agenda. Never! But the differences between them occur because of the aforementioned causes.
So what is our stance?
Upon us is to fear Allaah as much as we are able and to follow what we think is the closest to the truth.
We do not follow a particular opinion because of the one who issues it.
Likewise, we do not follow our own opinions – whether we like something or not.
It is upon us to fear Allaah as much as we are able and follow what is apparently closest to the truth. These [refutations and praises] are matters of ijtihaad therefore we can’t force one to follow the opinion of another.
The problem we face with the Salafi youth today is that if a particular scholar issues a statement and another scholar says something different, then it becomes binding to follow the opinion of the first scholar. It is not like they say to themselves, “Let’s look at the difference of opinion and follow which is closest to the truth based on its evidences”. If you were to say this they would say that you have doubts about the Manhaj and the scholars!
Rather, such people are those who have doubts, because here we are talking about Ijtihaad between well-known scholars.
Therefore, it is upon us to follow the truth and the principles of Sharee’ah in this. With this, we don’t take the statement of one over another (except if they have stronger evidences).
We cannot say, “If you don’t follow the Jarh about a person (that our scholar has made Jarh upon) then you will become Majrooh (dispraised) as well!”
Or some of them say, “If you don’t do Jarh on a particular person (that our scholar has made Jarh upon) then you will become Majrooh (dispraised) as well!”
All of us know that your brother is following something to the best of his ability.
These are some of the principles (Usool) and division and it is a must that you know about this. It is obligatory for you to know how to deal with differences so that you avoid differing yourself or causing differences between the Salafis. These are issues of ijtihaad but have differed the Salafis without them differentiating the different principles mentioned here.
Someone may say that he is supporting the truth that is apparent to him.
We say: this is correct but he must do so with principles and etiquettes that have been mentioned here.
Some of the Salafis have become hard-hearted because of busying themselves with these matters of ijtihaad.
Some of the Salafis have even created sub-parties within each other. They say these Salafis are with us and those Salafis are against us!
This is in reality is not right.
One of the brothers from another country informed me of something similar the other day, so I advised them to preserve brotherhood, their rights and their virtues and not to make sub-parties, “us and them”, but we must be united.
Bearing in mind all of these are sub-issues and the Salafis have not differed in their principles!
Also, some Salafis have even created labels for others. Shaykh such and such, if he is with them in their opinion, then such a scholar is an upright scholar.
Thus the truth is always with him.
If another scholar disagrees with him, then he has tamyee’ (softness), meaning he is a scholar but he is not upright in his Manhaj.
Likewise we find those who are extreme and harsh in making Jarh and they find opinions of a scholar confirming what they want to hear, they will say such and such a scholar is just.
We are not aware of any of these labels for scholars. We have never heard of this being amongst the Salafis before, never!
This is especially the case if the Salafis differed in sub-issues and not their principles. It is upon us all to be wary of this and for us to cooperate with one another with the principles of the Sharee’ah (Islamic Law).
Give the people of status their due status and seek the truth and follow it with the intent to unite the people of truth with the truth.”
Posted by Abdul Kareem Ibn Ozzie