From the Book: "The Methodology of Ahlus-Sunnah wal-Jamaa'ah in Criticizing Individuals, Books and Groups"
By: Shaykh Rabee' bin Haadee Al-Madkhalee
The Noble Qur’aan praises the believers without mentioning their mistakes and it condemns the disbelievers and hypocrites without mentioning their good qualities:
Allaah praises the believers in many ayaat of the Qur’aan and He mentions what He has prepared for them of great reward. But He does not mention any of their defects or sins with respect to comparing between them (i.e. Muwaazanah) even though "all of the children of Aadam are sinners and the best of sinners are those who repent." There is a great benefit behind this, which is: So that the souls (of the believers) can be incited into taking their example and embarking on the following of their methodology.
On the other hand Allaah condemns the disbelievers, hypocrites and evildoers in many ayaat, describing them with what is found in them from disbelief, hypocrisy and evil. He describes them as being deaf, dumb and blind, and He describes them with misguidance and ignorance. All of this is without mentioning any of their good qualities, since it was not necessary for them to be mentioned. This is because their disbelief and misguidance spoiled and blemished those good qualities they had and converted them into floating particles of dust (i.e. useless).
Allaah, the Most High says: "And We shall turn to whatever (good) deeds they did and make them like scattered floating particles of dust." [Surah Al-Furqaan: 23]
And He says: "Say: ‘Shall We inform you of who the greatest losers with respect to deeds will be? Those whose efforts have been wasted in this life while they thought that they were acquiring good through their deeds.’" [Surah Al-Kahf: 103-104]
And He says: "And Allaah did not wrong them but rather it was they who wronged themselves." [Surah Aali ‘Imraan: 117]
Allaah has related to us the stories of the disbelieving nations that rejected His messengers, informing us of their disbelief, rejection and shameful acts, followed by their demise and destruction, as is stated in the Qur'aan. However, He did not mention any of their good qualities. This is because the chief objective behind mentioning that (in this way) was to warn and caution us about what they committed from disbelief and rejection against the messengers so that our destination and end will not be like their destination and end.
Furthermore, Allaah described the Jews and the Christians using the vilest of attributes, and He threatened them with the severest of threats. And He did not mention any of their good qualities, which were nullified due to their disbelief and rejection of Muhammad (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) and what they committed of disbelief and distortion of their revealed books.
The tribe of Quraysh also had good qualities, which were ruined and nullified by their disbelief and denial of the greatest of messengers (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam).
And when there was captured from them he who was captured on the day of Badr, he (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: "If Al-Mut'im Ibn 'Adiyy  were alive and he were to ask me for these rotten individuals (i.e. the prisoners), I would surely give them to him."
And Allaah, the Most High, says: "Perish the two hands of Abu Lahab and may he perish! His wealth and his children will not benefit him. He will be burned in a Fire of blazing flames. And his wife too, the carrier of wood, on her neck will be a twisted rope of palm fiber." [Surah Al-Masad: 1-5]
There is no doubt that Abu Lahab and his wife possessed good qualities, and they both came from honorable and respectable families. However, they invalidated all of that by their disbelief and vile stance towards the Messenger of Allaah (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam).
And this is the methodology that is so often misunderstood for it leads people to think that this wise methodology is void of any justice. Far removed and high is Allaah above that!
The Prophet’s warning to his ummah about the People of Desires:
The Prophet (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) warned his ummah about the People of Desires, without going into mentioning their good qualities. This was because their bad qualities outweighed their good ones and because their danger was more severe and greater than the benefit anticipated from (mentioning) their good qualities.
'Aa'ishah, the mother of the Believers, said:
"The Messenger of Allaah (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) recited this ayah: 'It is He who sent down to you the Book. In it are verses that are entirely clear, from the foundations of the Book, and other verses that are not entirely clear. But as for those in whose hearts there is deviation, they follow those verses that are not entirely clear, seeking fitnah (mischief) and looking for their hidden meanings. But no one knows its hidden meaning except Allaah. And those who are firmly grounded in knowledge say: We believe in it, the whole of it - (clear and unclear verses) are from our Lord. But none accept the reminder except those who possess understanding.’ [Surah Aali 'Imraan: 7] Then he said: 'If you see those who seek after that which is not entirely clear from it (the Qur'aan), then they are the ones whom Allaah has named (here), so beware of them.'" 
And Abu Hurairah (radyAllaahu ‘anhu) reported that the Prophet (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: "There will be in the last part of my ummah a people who will speak to you about things that neither you nor your fathers heard of before. So beware and let them beware." 
It is well known that the innovators are not void of any good qualities. However, Allaah's Messenger (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) did not delve into them nor did he mention them. Nor did he (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) say: "Get benefit from their good qualities and speak good about them."
But unfortunately, the affairs have now turned head over heels! And so we find many who attribute themselves to the Salafee Manhaj showing loyalty to the innovators and befriending them and their methodologies and books. And we find them defending all of that for them and running away and causing others to run away, warning against the people of Truth and the Sunnah! Indeed, to Allaah we belong and indeed to Him we will return!
While explaining these two (above) hadeeths, Imaam Al-Baghawee (rahimahullaah) said:
"The Prophet (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) has informed us that this ummah would divide into groups, and that desires and innovations would appear amongst them. And he (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) declared salvation for whoever follows his Sunnah and the Sunnah of his Companions. So it is a must upon every Muslim, when he sees a man dispersing any type of vain desire or innovation knowingly, or he is scorning any part of the Sunnah, to abandon him and free himself of him, whether he is dead or alive. Thus, he does not greet him with Salaam when he encounters him nor does he respond to him if he is greeted initially. He is to continue doing this until that individual abandons his innovation and returns to the truth.
As for the forbiddance of abandoning (i.e. making Hijrah from) one’s brother for more than three days,  then that is with regard to a disagreement that occurs between two people in matters related to friendship or family ties. It is not with regard to the Religion, for indeed, abandoning the people of vain desires and innovation is unending, until they repent." 
Then he (Al-Baghawee) goes on to mention the hadeeth of Ka'ab Ibn Maalik about those three individuals who refrained from going out on the war expedition of Tabook. And there occurs in it, his (Ka’ab) saying: "...and the Messenger of Allaah forbade the Muslims from speaking to the three of us, so the people avoided us and became like strangers to us. And I felt as if I were in a foreign country." And he mentioned how all of the Muslims abandoned them three until fifty nights had been completed.
Al-Baghawee (rahimahullaah) then said:
"There is evidence in this (hadeeth) for abandoning the people of innovation. It is as if the Messenger of Allaah (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) feared hypocrisy for Ka'ab and his (two) brothers when they refrained from going on the expedition with him. So he commanded that they be abandoned, up to the point that Allaah revealed the confirmation of their repentance and the Messenger (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) knew they were absolved (from it). The Sahaabah, the Taabi’een, the successors of the Taabi’een and the Scholars of the Sunnah have continued to carry out this (understanding), unanimously agreeing on showing enmity towards the innovators and abandoning them." 
The Position of the Sahaabah and the Taabi'een towards the People of Innovation:
Ibn 'Umar (radyAllaahu ‘anhumaa) said concerning the people who rejected Al-Qadr (Divine preordainment): "Inform them that I am free from them and they are free from me (i.e. nothing to do with each other)."
And Abu Qulaabah said: "Do not sit with the people of desires [or he said - the people of argumentation] for indeed I do not feel safe lest they plunge you into their misguidance and they cause you to doubt some of the things you already know."
One man from the people of innovations once said to Abu Ayyoob As-Sakhtiyaanee: "O Abu Bakr, can I have one word with you?" So he turned away from him saying: "Not even half a word!" 
By Allaah, this is the true walaa (allegiance) to Allaah and to Islaam!
If the scholars of the Sunnah of this time were to deal with the innovators with such a determined and resolute manner, the innovations would have died within their own crevices. And the publishing companies would not be able to print their books because there would be no customers to buy them. Nor would you hear anyone’s voice speaking loudly in their defense of the innovators, not to mention books being written in their defense! But however the Salafee youth have become attracted to these kinds of books and tapes the same way the moth is attracted to fire!
Indeed, to Allaah we belong and indeed to Him we will return!
You have seen how the Sahaabah, the Taabi'een and the scholars of Islaam have dealt with innovators - did they did take into consideration any of their good qualities or not?!
That was from their firmness and sternness with regard to putting an end to falsehood and from their understanding of the objectives of Islaam, which includes:
"Preventing evil takes precedence over bringing about good"
The Prophet's mentioning of defects found in specific individuals without mentioning their good qualities, for the purpose of advising:
'Aa'ishah (radyAllaahu ‘anhaa) reported that:
"A man asked permission to enter in the presence of the Prophet (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam). So when he (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) saw who it was, he said: 'What an evil brother to his family he is and what an evil son to his family he is.' So when the man sat down, the Prophet (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) smiled in his face and extended kindness and cheerfulness to him. When the man left, 'Aa'ishah (radyAllaahu ‘anhaa) said: 'O Messenger of Allaah! When you saw the man, you said such and such. But then you smiled in his face and extended kindness to him!' So the Messenger of Allaah (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: 'O 'Aa'ishah! When did you observe me being vile-mannered? Verily, the people with the worst position in the sight of Allaah are those whom the people stay away from, for fear of their evil.'" 
Al-Haafidh Ibn Hajr (rahimahullaah) said:
"Al-Qurtubee (rahimahullaah) said: 'In this hadeeth there is proof for the permissibility of backbiting those who openly profess their sin or evil or what is similar to that, such as unfairness when ruling or calling to innovations. This goes as well for the permissibility of evading them and protecting oneself from their evil, so long as that does not lead towards trickery or deceit in the Religion of Allaah.’" 
And when Faatimah Bint Qays finished her waiting period from her divorce of her husband Abu 'Amr Ibn Hafs, she mentioned to the Prophet (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) that Mu'awiyah Ibn Abee Sufyaan and Abu Jahm had both proposed to her for marriage. So the Messenger of Allaah (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said [instructing and advising]: "As for Abu Jahm, he does not put down the stick that he carries on his shoulder (i.e. he beats his wives). And as for Mu'awiyah, he is utterly poor and has no wealth of his own. Marry Usaamah Ibn Zayd (instead)." She said: "But I do not like him." He said (again): "Marry Usaamah." So she married him and Allaah placed good in their marriage and she was extremely happy. 
There is no doubt that these two men had merits as well as good qualities. However, the present situation called for advising and counseling and no more than that was required. So if mentioning the good qualities was necessary in the example of this situation, which was that of advising and counseling, the Messenger of Allaah (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) would have indeed prescribed that for us and he would have fulfilled that in the best manner.
But as for this new methodology, then it necessitates that one mention the good qualities in such a situation. However those who adhere to it do not know that the one being advised will become confused and bewildered, and thus he has fallen into something that causes harm to him. So the benefits and advantages of advising are neglected. And the one advising no longer becomes an advisor or a warner. Rather, he becomes an inciter and an instigator towards that which causes harm.
'Aa'ishah (radyAllaahu ‘anhaa) reported that: "Hind Bint 'Utbah said: 'O Messenger of Allaah! Verily Abu Sufyaan is a stingy man and he does not give me what is sufficient for me and my children. May I take from him while he is not aware of it? The Prophet (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: "Take what is sufficient for you and your children, in goodness." 
Al-Haafidh Ibn Hajr (rahimahullaah) said:
"This hadeeth is used as evidence for the permissibility of mentioning things about people that they don’t like (to have mentioned), if it is done for the purpose of seeking a legal ruling, complaining and other than that. And it is one of the cases in which backbiting is permitted." 
So Allaah’s Messenger did not reprimand her for mentioning the oppressive side of Abu Sufyaan, nor did he require her to mention his good qualities, even though he was a man that possessed good characteristics.
But those who adhere to this new methodology do not take the likes of these matters into account, nor do they distinguish between the benefits and the dangers. In fact, they have eradicated the aspect of benefit and began to take the dangers and harms of innovations very lightly. So they do not achieve the true benefits of advising that was achieved by Islaam and the scholars of the Salaf. So when they eradicated that aspect, they were made to believe that anyone that mentioned the defects or innovations of an individual or a group, warning and advising the ummah, did so in the absence of justice. And that he fell into the depths of betrayal.
The Prophet's warning about the Khawaarij:
'Alee (radyAllaahu ‘anhu) said:
"When I narrate a hadeeth to you from the Allaah’s Messenger (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam), then that I would be dropped from the sky to the ground is more beloved to me than to say something upon him which he (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) did not say. But when I narrate to you something that is between you and I, (there may be an error in it), for indeed war is a mater of outwitting. I heard the Messenger of Allaah (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) say: 'There will appear during the Last Days a people that will be young in age and have foolish ideas. They will speak using the best speech amongst the creatures. They will recite the Qur'aan but it will not go past their throats. And they will shoot out from the Religion just as the arrow shoots out from the hunted prey. So if you encounter them, kill them. For indeed, in killing them, there is a reward with Allaah on the Day of Judgement for the one who kills them.’" 
'Ubaydullaah Ibn Abee Raafi', the freed slave of Allaah's Messenger (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) reported that when Al-Harooriyyah (i.e. the Khawaarij) set out to fight and he ('Ubaydullaah) was with 'Alee Ibn Abee Taalib, they said: 'There is no Rule except that of Allaah's.' So 'Alee (radyAllaahu ‘anhu) said: '(They use) A true statement by which they intend falsehood. Indeed, the Messenger of Allaah (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) described a people, of which I do not see their description, except in these individuals. They will speak the truth with their tongues but it will not go beyond this part of them - and he pointed to his throat. They are from the most hated of Allaah's creation to Him. Amongst them is a black man who has one hand that is (like) the teat of a goat or the nipple of a breast.' So when 'Alee Ibn Abee Taalib (radyAllaahu ‘anhu) killed them, he said: 'Look (for his body)!' So they looked but they did not find anything. So ‘Alee said: 'Go back and look again, for I swear by Allaah, neither have I lied nor has a lie been told to me' saying this two or three more times. Then they found him in one of the ruins. So they brought him over until they placed his (dead) body before 'Alee (radyAllaahu ‘anhu). ('Ubaydullaah said): I witnessed all that occurred there, from their affair (i.e. of the Khawaarij) and from what 'Alee said about them." 
And in the hadeeth of Abu Sa'eed Al-Khudree concerning the situation of the man Dhul-Khuwaysirah, the Prophet (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: "There will come out from his progeny a people that will recite the Book of Allaah fluently, but it will not go past their throats. They will shoot out from the Religion just as the arrow shoots out from the hunted prey - (and I think he sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said) - If I would reach them (i.e. their time), I would surely kill them with the slaughter the people of Thamood experienced." 
Abu Dharr (radyAllaahu ‘anhu) reported that the Messenger of Allaah (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: "Verily, after me from my ummah (or he sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said): There will come after me from my ummah a people that will recite the Qur'aan, but it will not go past their throats. They will come out from the Religion just as the arrow comes out from the hunted prey. Then they will not return to it. They are the worst of mankind and creatures." 
And in the hadeeth of 'Alee concerning their description, the Prophet (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: "Your recitation of the Qur'aan is nothing compared to their recitation. Your prayer is nothing compared to their prayer. And your fasting is nothing compared to their fasting. They will recite the Qur'aan thinking that is (a proof) for them, when in fact it is (a proof) against them. Their payer will not go beyond their throats. They will shoot out from Islaam just as the arrow shoots out from the hunted prey. If the army that sets out against them knew what was stated upon the tongue of their Prophet (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) about them, they would just rely upon doing this deed." 
O Allaah! Verily, we seek refuge in You from the evil of desires and misguidance!
These were worshippers of Allaah that were sincere in their recitation, prayer and fasting, such that the Companions of Allaah's Messenger were not able to compete with them in that. However it turned into something despicable for them and a sign of their deviance. And along with this, Allaah and His Messenger considered them as being ones who possessed foolish ideas. This exhaustive worship that they performed, which wore them out and kept them awake at night, and because of which they suffered extreme thirst, profound sleeplessness and fear from Allaah, did not intercede on their behalf. It was of no use to them before Allaah. So they are the worst of mankind and creatures. And they shoot out from the Religion in the same manner that an arrow shoots out through a hunted prey. If the Messenger of Allaah were to reach their time, he would kill them with the slaughter that 'Aad and Iram received.
So where are those who defend the people of innovation - those who are worse than these individuals?!
Where are those who protect them under the shadow of this foreign methodology that is in opposition to the methodology of Allaah and His Messenger?!
Where are those who defend the Raafidah, the grave worshippers, Sufis, Ash'arees and Hizbees (party spirit supporters)?!
Where are the ones who defend and the protect the modern day rationalists and Jahmiyyah who deny Allaah's attributes?!
Rather, those who defend the people of innovation have added to these innovations the innovation of the Khawaarij!
Who, by Allaah, is upon truth and justice?! Is it the one who warns against the innovators sincerely advising for the sake of Allaah, His Religion and the Muslims?! Or is it these individuals?!
 Translator’s Note: Mut’im Ibn ‘Adiyy was a non-Muslim that had assisted the Prophet by giving him protection to come back into Makkah after his uncle Abu Taalib, who had been protecting him till then, died.
 Reported by Al-Bukhaaree in his Saheeh: Tafseer Surah Aali ‘Imraan (no. 4547) and Muslim in his Saheeh: Book of Knowledge (no. 2665)
 The Introduction to Saheeh Muslim (1/12)
 Translator’s Note: As occurs in the hadeeth reported by Al-Bukhaaree and Muslim, in which the Prophet forbade a Muslim from abandoning (i.e. making Hijrah) from his brother for more than three days, by not talking to him.
 Sharh-us-Sunnah (1/227)
 Sharh-us-Sunnah (1/227)
 Sharh-us-Sunnah of Imaam Al-Baghawee (1/227)
 Saheeh Al-Bukhaaree: Book of Manners (no. 6032)
 Fath-ul-Baaree (10/452)
 These are the words of Shaikh Rabee’ not part of the hadeeth.
 Saheeh Muslim: Book of Divorce (no. 1480)
 Saheeh Al-Bukhaaree: Book of Charity (no. 3564) and Saheeh Muslim: Book of Judgements (no. 1714)
 Fath-ul-Baaree (9/509)
 Saheeh Muslim: Book of Zakaat (no. 1066)
 Saheeh Muslim: Book of Zakaat (no. 1066)
 Saheeh Muslim: Book of Zakaat (no. 1066)
 Saheeh Muslim: Book of Zakaat (no. 1067)
 Saheeh Muslim: Book of Zakaat (no. 1066)