Shaykh Ahmad An-Najjar said, “From among the incorrect foundational principles adopted by some people [i.e. some Salafis] is to compel people [other Salafis] to accept the ruling of tabdi (that another Muslim is an innovator) and they specify this [incorrect understanding] to a specific shaykh or a group of shaykhs.
Subsequently, one who does not do tabdi of so-and-so who has been declared to be an innovator is:
1) branded an innovator or
2) he is to be advised or
3) flagged up as one to be avoided.
Some of them attempt to delude and base their attribution upon the existence of evidence.
Thus they say, “That as long as the shaykh in question [i.e. the shaykh doing the refuting] puts forth evidence, he cannot be opposed.” As such, the standard for responding to the charge of tabdi upon so-and-so shaykh is to respond to his evidence.
This is delusion since the focus of the matter is being shifted elsewhere as they assume that the truth lies absolutely with the shaykh who is ascribing innovation to the other and that the evidence is exactly in
accordance with his words – while it is always possible that the matter is not as such.
Even if we assume that the truth lies with him absolutely and the evidence is completely in accordance with his words, isn’t it possible that the addressee has doubts about it? Or that he has interpreted the text according to his own opinion?
If that is so, how can one compel him to do tabdi? Also how can he be considered an innovator [due to not following the tabdi of the shaykh doing the refuting]?!!
From this it is understood that compulsion to follow a tabdi can only be considered valid in restricted
circumstances which are as follows:
1. The innovator has violated a principle from among the [agreed upon] principles of the Ahlu Sunnah and an argument has been demonstrated against him [proving] without any doubt remaining [that he did violate an agreed upon principle of Ahlu Sunnah].
Therefore, this condition does not apply to the one who has not violated any principle and no argument has been demonstrated against him [proving he broke any principle of Ahlu Sunnah].
2. An argument has been demonstrated against the one who is supposed to be declared an innovator and no doubt remains [that he did do an act of innovation, make statement of innovation or express an innovated belief].
This is with regard to ascribing the act of innovation to someone.
In regards to keeping company and maintaining contact [with either of the individuals outlined in points 1 and 2 above], this is connected to what’s most beneficial.
[There is no complusion in following a tabdi excpect in the two cases indicated above. Unfortunately some Salafis hold a person is always compelled to a follow a tabdi no matter the case, as long as the tabdi came from a Salafi scholar they trust or a group of Salafi scholars they trust].
But sufficient to refute this false principle, which is to compel a person to make tabdi is the following:
This principle is nullified:
The scholars of Bukhari and likewise Imam Muslim did not accept the statements of al-Dhahali which he had made regarding Imam Bukhari.
Al-Dhahali had criticized the latter [Imam Bukhari] verbally and he (al-Dhahali) was an Imam from among the Imams of Ahlu Sunnah. He was also an Imam of Biographical Evaluation (Jarh Wal Tadeel).
Even though he was a verified scholar of jarh wa tadeel, his statements [with regard to Imam Bukhari] were not taken into consideration.
It has been related in Siyar Aʿlām al-Nubalā’ (463/12) “After that, Mohammad bin Yahya al-Dhahali wrote to Khalid bin Ahmad, the emir of Bukhara the following: ‘Indeed, this man has openly violated the Sunnah.’
He publicly read his letter in front of the people of Bukhara. They said, ‘We shall not abandon him [i.e. Imam Bukhari].’ The emir [of Bukhara] therefore expelled him [Dhahali] from the city and as a result, he left.”
The reality of those who compel the people to make tabdi is that they consider the words of those who are fallible [i.e. a certain small select group of Salafi soholars some in their behaviour even extended this to certain Salafi students of knowledge] akin to the words of those who are infallible [the prophets and messengers].
Similarly, they assess the words of those who are fallible [i.e. certain Salafi scholars and certain Salafi students of knowledge] in a way the words of the infallible [prophets and messengers] are supposed to be assessed. This is a dangerous pitfall.
The correct approach is that the words of the fallible [i.e. certain Salafi scholars and students of knowledge] should be conformant to those of the infallible [prophets and messengers], not the opposite.
Ibn Taymiyyah says: ‘The words of scholars are conformant to the word of Allah the Almighty and His Messenger (peace be upon him). The word of Allah the Almighty and His Messenger (peace be upon him) is not conformant to their words.’
…The best evidence that those who compel people to make tabdi can argue with is by utilising what has been narrated from certain [individuals ftom the] salaf wherein they have warned against accompanying those who stay in the company of innovators since they too are party to innovation and so on.
Due to their [i.e. those who hold the view a person can be compelled in following a tabdi] ignorance, they hang on to such words and choose to ignore the meanings which have been derived from such warnings and the wisdom intended from them.
They narrate [these type of] traditions very well but do not understand them correctly. These narrations are concerning those who – know that a person is an innovator and despite that continued to remain in his companionship and maintain loyalty towards him without any religious cause or justifiable excuse.
Therefore, one who accompanies and befriends those who he is supposed to be distanced from [due to them being innovators]; due to the lack of benefit pertaining to being in their companionship, then they are doing so:
1. Either out of ignorance, whereupon this man shall explain to him and advise him regarding the dangers of remaining in their companionship. Ayyub [an individual from the Salaf] said: “Saʿid Bin Jubayr saw me sitting with Talq Bin Habib [an innovator] whereupon he said emphatically, ‘Do not sit with him.'”
2. Or the reason for him accompanying them is that he conforms to their innovations but conceals his beliefs, as such, he is to be considered from among them.
It has been related from Ibn Masʿud that he said: “Indeed, a man walks side by side with and befriends those whom he loves and those who are like him.”
This is not merely regarding accompaniment and sitting together since if it were as such, none of the imams would have remained on the correct path except those whom Allah willed [as sometimes some of the imams would sit with innovators – for the sake of Allah – in order to call these people to the way of Ahlu Sunnah and warn them against the innovations they fell into].
If the scope for warning [against an individual from Ahlu Sunnah was simply based on] who remained in the company of an innovator or one who has been declared to be an innovator was merely sitting together, no respected shaykh [from Ahlu Sunnah past or present] would have remained on the true path.
We [the Salafi students of knowledge] see them [the scholars of As-Salafiyyah] in the Islamic University [of Madeenah in Saudi Arabia]* shaking hands, having a laugh, discussing and hugging those who they view as innovators.”
* The Islamic University mentioned here may not be Madeenah university.
Posted by Abdul Kareem Ibn Ozzie