Maybe it is pertinent on this occasion to mention the well-known narration from Imaam Maalik when a man came to him and said, ‘O Maalik! Allaah’s Ascendancy?’ He replied, ‘Al-Istiwaa is known. The ‘how’ is not and asking about it is an innovation. Remove the man for he is an innovator.’ So the man didn’t become an innovator just because he asked a question, he wanted to understand something but Imaam Maalik feared that as a result an objection to the Salafi Aqidah would occur, so he said, ‘Remove the man, for he is an innovator.’
Look now how the means differ, do you or me, or Bakr, or Umar or Zaid and so on think that … if we were to ask a person from the common folk of the Muslims let alone their elite a question like this … shall we give him the same answer that [Imaam] Maalik gave and put him in the same category as that man, saying, ‘Remove him for he is an innovator?’
Because the time [we live in] differs, the means which in those days were accepted are not acceptable today–because they harm more than they benefit. And this speech has a connection with the well-known principle of boycotting in Islaam, or ostracizing for the Sake of Allaah.
Many times I am asked that so and so is my friend and companion but he does not pray, he smokes, does such and such … and so on, shall I boycott him? I say [in answer]: do not boycott him, because you ostracizing him is what he wants. Your leaving him will not benefit him, on the contrary, it will make him happy and will [just] leave him in his misguidance.
And I remember on this occasion the example of that sinner, someone who had abandoned the prayer but who repented. He went to pray his first prayer at the mosque and lo and behold [when he gets there] he finds the door closed, and so says, ‘You’re closed and I have a day off [from praying]!’ [i.e., the first chance he got he went back to his old ways].
So this sinner which the [practicing] Muslim wants to boycott, it is as though from his behaviour he is saying [the same thing as the person in the example above], ‘You’re closed and I have a day off …’ [i.e., he wants the practicing Muslim to leave him so he can carry on as he is].
Because a righteous person accompanying a sinner hinders that sinner from committing his sins, and that sinner does not want that. So if a righteous person boycotts him, it is what the sinner wants. For this reason, boycotting is a legislated means through which the realization of a legislated benefit is desired, i.e., to educate/discipline the person being ostracized. So if the boycotting does not educate him, and in fact just causes him to increase in misguidance upon misguidance, then it is not applied.
Today we live in a time in which it is not right that we stick to the means that the Salaf used to use, because they were moving forth from a position where [the sunnah] was strong and [innovation was] weak.
Today, have a look at the state of the Muslims, they are weak in everything, not only in the governments, individuals [too], the state of affairs is as he عليه السلام said, “Indeed Islaam began as something strange and will return to being strange. So glad-tidings to the strangers.” They said, ‘O Messenger of Allah! Who are the strangers?’ He replied, “They are the righteous few among the evil masses, those who disobey them are more than those obey them.”
So if we open the door to boycotting, ostracising and declaring people to be innovators–we will have to go and live in the mountains.
Rather it is obligatory on us today to, “Invite to the way of your Lord with wisdom and good instruction, and argue with them in a way that is best.” [Nahl 16:125]
Questioner: As a completion of this discussion, O Shaikh, this issue as you have noticed is something which repeats itself often these days … in the following comments I wanted to point to something so that the benefit [from this discussion] will be complete, inshaa Allaah. And this is something which the brothers who adopt this stance mention.
They say that, “We say that mercy should not be sought for them [i.e., for those scholars] because asking for Allaah’s Mercy for them is permissible but not obligatory. We do not prevent nor declare to be forbidden the asking of Mercy for them but we refrain [from doing so] so that it does not show some form of praise, or recommendation, or commendation for the people of innovation. We may say that these people are not innovators for example and are not from the major innovators, but we do not praise them or say they are scholars. For example, when mention is made of Al-Nawawi we do not say, ‘Imaam al-Nawawi,’” rather sometimes they refrain from and shun quoting from them or referring to them.
Such that in a talk one of our brothers was giving he quoted something from one of these, and the thing he quoted was quite frankly a Salafi quote which aided the manhaj, [but] they said to him, ‘How can you quote from these people?’ And by ‘these people’ I am not referring to those who our Shaikh [al-Albaani] mentioned, like Ibn Hajr or al-Nawawi, but let’s say, for example, Sayyid Qutb, Muhammad Qutb, so he [i.e., the people who say you should not ask for mercy] said, ‘How can you quote these people when they are known not to be Salafi, so when you, being a Salafi, quote from them, it is as though you are praising them and as a result the people will say that these people are Salafis. And this is a way of deceiving the people regarding them and maybe [as a result] they will become like them in innovations and deviance and being far from seriousness.”
So if you, O Shaikh, see fit to comment on this.
Al-Albaani: Firstly, I don’t think this is what their objective is, and secondly, if their objective [by not quoting from these scholars or asking for Allaah’s Mercy for them] is a way of warning then I say:
These people [i.e., the ones who hold the views mentioned above of not asking for Allaah’s Mercy] who you just alluded to, do they read Fathul-Baari [i.e., the explanation of Sahih Bukhaari by Ibn Hajr al-Asqalaani] or not?
Whichever of the two answers we assume, then it is a mistake in relation to them. If it is said they do not read it, then where do they understand Sahih al-Bukhaari from, its explanation, its understanding, the differences of opinion, the terminology, [things related to the] hadith and so on …
They will not find, in the whole world, explanations of Sahih Bukhaari that are entirely Salafi.
They will not find a [totally] Salafi explanation of Sahih Bukhaari like we want, and even if they did it would only have the main points [and wouldn’t be as detailed as Fathul-Baari]. As for this ocean replete with comprehensive knowledge, which Allaah granted to the author of Fath [ul-Baari] they will not find what it contains in any of the books that have taken up the task of explaining Sahih Bukhaari.
Thus, they will lose out on a huge amount of knowledge. So if they mean or what they say includes, amongst the things they warn against, preventing people from benefitting from what this Imaam [i.e., Ibn Hajr] says, then they will lose out on knowledge whereas it is possible for them to gather between taking the benefit and repelling the harm which is what the scholars do.
In the [whole] world now, not a scholar after al-Asqalaani and al-Nawawi can be found, to this day, who can do without benefitting from both of their explanations–this one’s [i.e., Ibn Hajr al-Asqalaani’s] explanation of Bukhaari and that one’s [i.e., Imaam al-Nawawi’s] explanation of Muslim.
Yet along with that, when they [i.e., the scholars] take benefits from both of their books, they know that in many issues they were Ash’aris and were contrary to the methodology of the Salaf as-Saalih [in those particular issues]. So with their knowledge and not with ignorance they [i.e., the scholars] were able to take the knowledge which benefits them from these two books or their authors, and turn away from what would harm them and not benefit them.
So I want to say that the thing I fear the most is that behind all of this [apparently] favourable but in reality false talk is a warning from benefitting from their books, and [that being the case] then there is a loss.
And if they say that we do benefit from both of their books and read them ourselves and to others too–if that is the case then what is the point of this procedure of refraining from asking for Allaah’s mercy for them when they are Muslims as we said at the beginning of this answer?
Additionally, what is the benefit or the fruit of their saying, “We do not say that it is not permissible to ask for Allaah’s Mercy for them, but we [personally] don’t, because he fell into innovation,” we just mentioned that not everyone who falls into innovation is called an innovator, not everyone who falls into disbelief is declared a disbeliever, the disbelief may have been unclear to this one and the innovation unclear to that one, we already said this.
Thus, there is no benefit from this cautiousness now. Thereafter, O my brother … the scholars who we inherited this good da’wah from–was their stance like this towards these Imaams? Was it like the stance of these new, novice, youngsters who claim Salafiyyah? They [i.e., those scholars] were like these [youngsters]? The opposite is the case. It is only natural that these [ignorant youth should try to] be like those who preceded us to this righteous da’wah.
Is there anything else?
Al-Hudaa wan-Noor, 666.