In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Ever Merciful…
Widely known senior Islamic scholar and member of the Standing Committee for Fatwa in Saudi Arabia, Shaykh Saalih al-Fowzaan (may Allah preserve him), was asked:
هل القيام بعرض أقوال المخالفين على علماء السنة لبيان الموقف الشرعي من أقوالهم لا سيما أن في كلامهم تحريف للنصوص الشرعية وأقوالهم مخالفة لأقوال علماء أهل السنة، فهل هذا العمل من تتبع زلات المخالفين أم أن القيام بذلك جائز لصيانة الشريعة؟
“Is reporting the statements of those who oppose (the correct beliefs) back to the scholars of the Sunnah in order to get clarification about the Islamic position on their statements allowed, especially when they have said things that include twisting the meanings of Islamic texts and their statements are in opposition to the positions of the scholars of Ahlus-Sunnah? Is this considered (blameworthy) following after their mistakes, or is this practice allowed in order to protect the Islamic legislation (from being corrupted)?”
He responded by saying:
هذا من باب البحث عن الحق، وعرض أقوال المخالفين على الكتاب والسنة واجب، قال تعالى: ( يا أيها الذين آمنوا أطيعوا الله وأطيعوا الرسول وأولي الأمر منكم فإن تنازعتم في شيء فردوه إلى الله والرسول إن كنتم تؤمنون بالله واليوم الآخر ذلك خير وأحسن تأويلا )، فليست العبرة بوجود الخلاف، بل العبرة بمن معه الدليل من الكتاب والسنة، فيؤخذ ما عليه دليل ويترك ما خالف الدليل.
This is a kind of academic research done in order to ascertain the truth. Comparing the statements of those who oppose (the correct beliefs) with (the texts of) the Book and the Sunnah is an obligation. Allah, the Most High, says [what means]:
“O you who believe! Obey Allah, and obey the Messenger, and also those in authority among you. Whenever you differ over something, then return it back to Allah and the Messenger if you are indeed true believers in Allah and the Last Day. That is better and a more suitable outcome.” [4:59]
No weight is given to the mere presence of differing. Weight is only given to the one who has evidence from the Book and the Sunnah. Whatever he says that is backed up by evidence is acceptable, while that which opposes the evidence is to be abandoned.
Source: A Q&A after a lecture given by Shaykh Saalih al-Fowzaan at the student dormitories of Imam University in Riyadh, on the 13th of Jumaadaa al-Oolaa, 1433. The lecture was entitled: “As-Salafiyyah: Haqeeqatuhaa wa Seemaa’uhaa.” The lecture was later transcribed and published as a booklet with the same title. (See pp.38-39)
Translated by: Moosaa Richardson