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Dividing the Scholars into the ‘Harsh Group’ and the ‘Tolerant Group’

Al-ʿAllāmah Rabīʿ ibn Hādī al-Madkhalī

An unveiling on the ‘scheme’ of those who claim the scholars are of two types/groups – the lenient, easy, balanced group and the harsh, severe, critical group.

Shaykh Rabīʿ Ibn Hādī ʿUmayr Al-Madkhalī – Allāh preserve and protect him – was asked the following question after a recent lecture he delivered in Masjid Al-Qiblatayn, Madīnah.1


“A novel way of putting people off the scholars has appeared, which is to categorize the scholars into those who are harsh and those who are lenient (tolerant), and sometimes [people who claim this] say the scholars of one region are harsh and those of another are tolerant. What is your guidance on this?”


He replied, may Allāh preserve and protect him:

This is one of the methods of the enemies of the Salafī Manhaj. Amongst the Salaf there were those who were harsh and those who were lenient, but they never used to hold it against each other. Rather, they used to respect those who were harsh against the followers of falsehood.

Al-ʿAllāmah Rabīʿ ibn Hādī al-Madkhalī

You have [for example] Hammād Ibn Salamah. Imām Aḥmad used to praise him greatly and suspect the religion of anyone who spoke against him, saying, ‘Whoever speaks against Hammād Ibn Salamah, then suspect his religion because he was harsh against the People of Bidʿah. ’ Being harsh against the people of falsehood used to be a virtue according to the Salaf. But since the People of Bidʿah and misguidance have come and taken over the minds of many of the youth, very regrettably, being harsh against the people of falsehood has become a vice and a defect, and being relaxed and flexible [with them] has become a distinction and an honourable trait.

[You must] adhere to the Salafī Manhaj and take the Salafī position towards the People of Bidʿah. It is not wrong to call them to Allāh wisely and through good exhortation. If they respond, thanks and praise be to Allāh. If they do not, there is no wrong in being harsh against them and … The Salaf were harsh against them, and [in some cases] ordered some of them to be executed … the Salaf wrote many works in refutation of them…What do you say about them? Read Al-Shariʿah of Al-ājurrī, read Al-Sunnah of ʿAbdullāh Ibn Aḥmad, read Al-Sunnah of Al-Khallāl. Those [who decry being harsh towards the people of falsehood] have not read these works, they have not read these works and seen the position taken by the Salaf towards the People of Bidʿah and deviation. What should our stance be towards the Jahmīyah, what should our stance be towards the Rāfidah and what should our stance be towards their followers and supporters? Many who associate themselves with the Salafī Manhaj got influenced by these currents and became compromised and began to fight against the callers to truth and the Sunnah [by accusing them of being] harsh.

I have written [refutations] and I am the harshest one. I wrote during the time of Ibn Bāz, Al- Albānī and Al-‘Uthaymīn. I refuted the Ikhwān Al-Muslimūn, (the Muslim Brotherhood) al-Tablīgh (Tablighi Jamat) and all the People of Bidʿah and those scholars supported these writings and supported Rabīʿ. None of them opposed him and none of them said … Al-Albānī said a statement praising Rabīʿ, “[Shaykh Rabīʿ] is the bearer of the standard of Jarḥ and Ta’dīl in this era.” Hmm, what do you think about this? Then [Al-Albāni] said [But Rabīʿ] has some harshness in him. These compromisers rejoiced and flew with the quote [spreading it everywhere]. I contacted Shaykh Al-Albānī and said, “Why O Shaykh do you accuse me of being harsh?” He said, “By Allāh this is what I personally think.” I said, “O Shaykh, this harms the Salafī daʿwah and it harms me.” So the Shaykh apologized – Allāh have mercy on him. Shortly afterwards, I sent him [my book] Al-ʿAwāsim mimmā fī Kutub Sayyid Qutb min Al- Qawāsim, which is the harshest book I have written. [Shaykh Al-Albānī] read it and supported it because it was the truth, and said, ‘You have spoken the truth, so continue and do even more O Shaykh Rabīʿ,’ or words to that effect, Allāh have mercy on him. Ibn Bāz never … He used to say, “Refute the People of Bidʿah with wisdom and good exhortation.” He never used to oppose me, and by Allāh he wrote to me saying, “It has reached me that you have refuted Al-Mawdūdī – Allāh have mercy on him, and I hope you can send me a copy of this refutation.” He never used to object. Shaykh Al-Tuwayjirī used to refute and refute harshly the People of Bidʿah, and Shaykh Ibn Bāz used to support him and recommend his books. Hmm, he never once said – and [Shaykh Al-Tuwayjirī also] used to refute Al-Albānī – may Allāh bless you … Shaykh Ibn Bāz never silenced him, he would never say to him, ‘be silent,’ he would never say, ‘you are harsh,’ may Allāh bless you. Al-Fawzān used to refute the People of Bidʿah during the time of Shaykh Ibn Bāz, and he never said, ‘be silent,’ may Allāh bless you. Rather he would support him … there are so many writings [Shaykh Ibn Bāz] recommended of Shaykh Al-Tuwayjirī and he praised my books and my methodology (manhaj), Allāh have mercy on him. All of these Mashāikh used to be supportive.

This is the manhaj in which we have become weak. We are not on the same level as we used to be during their time, rather we have become weak but despite this they say we are harsh, and they say Ibn Bāz [was not like you]. By Allāh, Ibn Bāz used to fight the People of Bidʿah and support those who fought them and praise those who fought them, may Allāh bless you. Bring me one proof that Ibn Bāz silenced one person who refuted the People of Bidʿah. Did he silence Al-Fawzān? Did he silence Al-Tuwayjirī? Did he silence Rabīʿ? Did he silence Al- Albānī? Not one of them. Likewise, all the scholars used to support and aid those who speak the word of truth and refute what is wrong. [People] asked Shaykh Al-‘Uthaymīn, they said, ‘People say such-and-such about Shaykh Rabīʿ.’ He said, “This is because he clarifies the condition of their icons and leaders.” And he supported me time after time…

After Ibn Bāz, Al-‘Uthaymīn and Al-Albānī had gone, they said, ‘these *remaining Shaykhs] are harsh.’ By Allāh they lied, by Allāh they were only seizing the opportunity. The death of these scholars was an opportunity for them to pounce on the Salafī Manhaj and upon its followers, tearing them apart with principles and methodologies of the falsest and most corrupt kind. They tore apart the Salafī youth across the world and planted in their minds [this idea] that this group are harsh and extreme. How can this be…? The scholars never criticized [the scholars who used to refute.] How can we assert the Salafī manhaj [in this way] when [the scholars] were the harshest against the People of Bidʿah?

Either we reject the Manhaj of the Salaf and follow the People of Bidʿah or we say we are Salafīs and we follow the path of [those Salaf] in taking the decisive and resolute positions towards the People of Bidʿah. Yes, call to Allāh with proofs and conclusive arguments, explain and clarify; if there is a heretic in front of you, a Rāfidī, Sūfī, grave-devotee, whatever. Call to Allāh with wisdom and good exhortation, and with proofs and conclusive arguments. But when we come to write about the beliefs of the Rāfidah, amongst whom there is lying, sinfulness and extremism, we don’t mention these things? We come to the Sūfīs, amongst whom there is lying, sinfulness and extremism, but we don’t mention these things? if you mention this lying and treachery and sinfulness they say you are harsh. A Sūfī, Ikhwānī … Hizbī Tahrīrī who transgresses, lies, betrays, who has … Allāh has explained […audio cuts off…] [The scholars of the Salaf used to say] ‘So and so is a liar, he is like this and he is like that’ may Allāh bless you; they used to state it clearly. Look in the books of Jarḥ and Ta’dīl, in the books of ‘Aqīdah, we cannot reach the level [the Salaf reached] in their Jihād against the People of Bidʿah and Shirk. By Allāh we cannot reach that level now, why? Because now there stand against us those who associate themselves with the Salafī Manhaj [but] fight against this opposition [to the People of Bidʿah] and describe it as harshness.

We ask Allāh to unite the hearts, and I advise the youth – and by Allāh I have tens, rather, hundreds of advice to the Salafī youth on this – I advise them to unite together and be brothers to each other and employ the loftiest manners and behaviour when dealing with each other, may Allāh bless you. They should employ patience, forbearance and wisdom. In my lessons, lectures and tele-links, in which they call me from every place, by Allāh I encourage them to come together. But these people who have stood in opposition to this Manhaj are the ones – by Allāh – who tear the Salafī youth apart across the world, in the East and West. They tear them apart and plant within them false beliefs, and then accuse us of causing schism. By Allāh I bring the youth together, and my books and recordings, which have been transcribed, all bear witness that I try to unite the youth.

In Algeria, Morocco, in Yemen, Shām (Syria, Jordan, Palestine), in all places I try to unite the youth who I know to be Salafīs, I try to bring them together in every way I can, but they [the opponents to this manhaj] cause splits and division. Never is the voice of schism and division raised except that they support that sinful voice, may Allāh bless you. We free ourselves in front of Allāh from what these people slander us with. I have already said to you, wisdom is indeed needed, but … about the Rāfidah, and People of Bidʿah, you clarify their condition, do not wrong them or lie about them, but explain the reality of their affair…

[Following the adhān]

Let me finish answering this question about ‘harshness.’ ‘Abd Al-Rahmān was my colleague, ‘Abd Al-Rahmān ‘Abd Al-Khāliq was my colleague at the Islamic University until I graduated in 1384H. Due to some circumstances, he went to Kuwait. He used to call to Allāh and we used to encourage him and we used to be happy that he was active in daʿwah to the Salafī Manhaj. But then he began to change, bit by bit he began to change. So I used to advise him; I would write to him with kind advice. He would come to Madīnah and stay here in the area of Al-Qiblatayn … I would take him with me in my car, dropping him off at the University, taking him to my house. I kept advising him and advising him, until the advice continued for around 12 years, may Allāh bless you. I advised him until when he went beyond all bounds and started to attack the scholars and mock them etc. I refuted him.

After him came ʿAdnān ʿArʿūr. He claimed to follow Salafīyyah but attacked the Salafī Manhaj saying the Salafī Manhaj didn’t have real principles, Shaykh Ibn Bāz didn’t lay down the principles but Sayyid Qutb had the principles and such nonsense….[that] I should write about Sayyid Qutb. I used to think better of Sayyid Qutb, I would come across errors but pass them by, by Allāh there were errors about which I reserved judgement for 20 years, convinced that they were totally wrong, but wanting the sufficient evidence. After I was convinced that I should refute him I wrote Matā’in Sayyid Qutb fī Ashābi Rasūlillāh (The Attacks of Syed Qutb on the Companions of Allāh’s Messenger). This book circulated, it was published and circulated.

ʿAdnān ʿArʿūr went to Shaykh Al-Albānī asking about an unclear sentence in the book. [Despite] Sayyid Qutb’s [derision] of the Messenger of Allāh Mūsā – upon him be peace and blessings, his attacks on the Companions, principally ʿUthmān, Muʿāwiyah and ʿAmr Ibn Al-ʿās, his attack on the entire Ummah and his takfīr of it, his negation of the attributes [of Allāh], his assertion of the eternal nature of the soul and his support of socialism – endless deviation that I explained in this book [and] in Shedding the Islamic Light on the Creed of Syed Qutb, [ʿArʿūr] took my book and ran off to Shaykh Al-Albānī to ask him about a sentence, and the Shaykh gave an answer that suited [ʿAdnān’s] desires. The Shaykh hadn’t seen the contents. Look at his conniving; [in this book] I started by explaining [Qutb’s] disparagement of the Prophet of Allāh Mūsā – he never mentioned that. Secondly I mentioned his disparagement of the Companions, principally ʿUthmān: [Qutb asserted that] the foundations of Islām were shattered in his time, the spirit of Islām was destroyed in his time, [Qutb] supported movements like the Saba`īyah sect against ʿUthmān and preferred them to his way – Allāh be pleased with him. May Allāh bless you. [ʿArʿūr] mentioned none of these matters, he mentioned one sentence and Al-Albānī responded in a way that agreed to [ʿArʿūr’s] desires … He went and spread the tape and was extremely active [against me]….I was patient with him.

Then one year, he visited me in a group of people. I told him he had to apologize, and he tried to dodge the issue. I told him he had to apologize and those present also told him he had to, so he promised he would. May Allāh bless you, he promised he would… I suddenly found that he had authored three books, The Struggle …such-and-such book and another title, all of which revolved around the principles of Syed Qutb and praising Sayyid Qutb. This was his apology. See, when he had reached this stage may Allāh bless you – on top of this he held a conference in which he spoke about the issue of Al-Jarḥ wa Al-Ta’dīl, along with some others – I do not wish to name them now – he started a fierce campaign against me, so I began to refute him. After how long was this? After a number of years, after a long period of patience and waiting. By Allāh, I do not think anyone has patience like I do.

After him came Abū al-Ḥasan. From the first sitting in which I met him … he would defend the People of Bidʿah, at the head of who were Sayyid Qutb, al-Tablīgh and Al-Ikhwān, he would defend them *[ cuts off…] Despite all these crimes, I used to treat him with compassion and I would send him responses by Allāh privately from my fax to his, and I would not tell anyone. Then, may Allāh bless you, he continued causing trials and problems until the scholars passed away. Shaykh Ibn Bāz died, Shaykh Al-‘Uthaymīn and Al-Albānī died and

[Abū al-Ḥasan] began to wage war, announcing his splitting away and attacking the Salafīs [calling them] pathetic and fīble etc., praising the people of falsehood, may Allāh bless you.

I wrote to him with two advice, Tanbīh Abīl-Ḥasan and… I wrote the second advice between me and him but he took it and announced war openly against me. Look, do you understand? Do you understand this? No one is as this patient or forbearing. By Allāh all of this was for the sake of the Salafī Manhaj and for the sake of unity. But they have been planted to cause division and separation. That was it. Abū al-Ḥasan formed his own sect; one in Madīnah, one in Yemen, in Libya, in Morocco, everywhere, may Allāh bless you. All based on his manhaj and principles, around 20 principles. I refuted these principles with conclusive arguments and proofs. Twenty principles including: the broad manhaj, meaning he wanted a broad manhaj that included Ahl Al-Sunnah and the rest of the Ummah in it; ‘we correct [mistakes] but we do not destroy’, ‘we correct but we do not disparage others,’ may Allāh bless you. Principles like ‘I am not required [to take the warning or ruling of a particular scholar].’ All these principles were laid down for the purpose of rejecting the truth; principles for striking at the Salafī Manhaj, may Allāh bless you. I refuted these false and corrupt principles. May Allāh bless you.

Sadly, people in every place were duped by him. Before this, may Allāh bless you, during the days of those scholars, when ʿAdnān appeared during the lifetime of Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymīn, the scholars declared that [ʿAdnān] was astray (deviant). Twelve scholars struck him down and explained his deviation. He discarded them all. Only Abū al-Ḥasan and ‘Alī Ḥasan Abd Al-Hamīd (Al-Halabī) from Shām remained with him, defending him and judging him to still be following Salafīyyah, until this very day. Abū al-Ḥasan came with these principles of his and this sinfulness and these deviations, and there were in Madīnah, in Shām and in every place, certain people who would defend him, until this very day.

Then came ‘Alī Ḥasan (Al-Halabī) with the calamity of calamities, aiding them in every fitnah. He came with the calamity of calamities. Perhaps [the news of his calamities] has reached you and those of you who it has not reached, it will soon reach you, may Allāh bless you.

Until today, they are the Salafīs and we are the harsh ones. Meaning, they do all these things that the People of Bidʿah have not done: the false principles, may Allāh bless you; by Allāh the People of Bidʿah haven’t done such things. Despite this, they are the Salafīs and we are the harsh ones. Look at these judgements, these dangerous positions, may Allāh bless you. Be aware and follow the Manhaj of the Salaf; whoever says what is wrong and false, take him to account for his falsehood. And whoever says what is right and true, you are obliged to support him.

Cooperate with each other to do what is good and righteous and do not cooperate in sin and transgression.

The Salaf used to support the truth, [and this continued] up to the time of Ibn Bāz and Ibn ‘Uthaymīn and others, they all used to support the truth. After these [scholars] went, some of the Shaykhs were tried, may Allāh bless you, every time they raised their heads with a word of truth, these [opponents] broke their heads. Every time they raised their heads with a word of truth, they belittled them whilst supporting these rebellious deviants, and deeming them to be Salafīs, and [calling] us the extremists. Abū al-Ḥasan describes us as being extremists, why? Because we criticize Sayyid Qutb, we criticize the Ikhwān, we criticize al-Tablīgh, and we criticize [other] People of Bidʿah. He calls us extremists yet by Allāh deems the socialists, Baathists and Nāsirīs to be Muslims, and he deems al-Tablīgh and the Ikhwān – to this very day – to be from Ahl Al-Sunnah, while he knows that the scholars of the Sunnah – at the head of them Ibn Bāz and Al-Albānī – have ruled that these two sects: the Ikhwān and al-Tablīgh are not from Ahl Al-Sunnah and that they are from the People of Bidʿah, and that they are from the doomed sects. But he opposes the scholars obstinately to this very day, even if they are headed by Ibn Bāz and Al-Albānī, may Allāh bless you. He says they are from Ahl Al-Sunnah, and he deems the entire Islamic populace to be – he says ‘the vast majority of the Ummah’ are all Salafīs. So al-Tablīgh and Ikhwān are Ahl Al-Sunnah, and Rabīʿ and those with him are extremists and this and that … And when he comes to the Rāfidah he is so well mannered, and when he comes to the other People of Bidʿah likewise. And to this day, he is the Salafī and we are the extremists.

Understand these plots and these games and these tricks. How long was I patient with him? I was patient with him for seven years or more. Then I dealt with him diplomatically in debating him privately, whilst he was inciting [others] and declaring war. He declared war on the scholars of Yemen and ditched them all, and dissociated himself from them and from the Salafīs. He announced his separation, they said, ‘recant.’ He said, ‘never.’ … [I ask you] by Allāh, brothers; a person who is fair, can he respect this man? A person who is fair, who is a true Salafī, can he respect this man? …

Be men; if you are Salafīs, study the Manhaj of the Salaf from its original sources and adhere to it strictly and tightly, and do not fear the blame of the blamers if you speak sincerely for Allāh. If your father or your brother deviates, the closest person to you, explain the reality of [the deviation] he has. This is the meaning of being sincere (nasīhah) to Allāh.

The religion is nasīhah to Allāh, His Book, His Messenger, and to the leaders of the Muslims and the Muslim public (as in Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim).

۞ يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا كُونُوا قَوَّامِينَ بِالْقِسْطِ شُهَدَاءَ لِلَّهِ وَلَوْ عَلَىٰ أَنفُسِكُمْ أَوِ الْوَالِدَيْنِ وَالْأَقْرَبِينَ ۚ ‎﴿١٣٥﴾‏

O you who believe! Be just and fair and witnesses for Allāh, even against yourselves, your parents or your closest kin.
[al-Nisāʾ 4:135]

Where are these verses and narrations? Where are those who support those [who refute falsehood]? Where are these texts? Where is the Manhaj of the Salaf? Where is the Manhaj of the Imāms … Ibn Bāz and others, where is it?

may Allāh bless you, I know that there is a spreading of trials and tribulations, there is a spreading of Bidʿah and misguidance, and [people] are being fooled and cheated. So let no one fool you. Whoever errs – if Ibn Taymīyah erred, if Ibn Bāz erred – by Allāh we would refute his error. This is our way by Allāh other than whom none deserves worship. I went to Shaykh Ibn Bāz. Shaykh Ibn Bāz said, “I will advise [Shaykh Rabīʿ].” I went to him and said, “It has reached me that you want to advise me.” He replied, “Indeed.” I said, “What is your advice?” He replied, “My advice is: if [Muḥammad] Ibn Ibrāhīm (the former Mufti of Saudi al-ʿArabīa and teacher of Shaykh Ibn Bāz) or Ibn Bāz errs, refute them.” By Allāh other than whom none deserves worship.

In any of his lectures or meetings, if a person said one wrong word, Ibn Bāz would refute it. Everyone knows this; all the early students of the [Islamic] University know this about Shaykh Ibn Bāz. He would never leave an error without refuting (correcting) it. A mistake made in a newspaper, magazine, a site, anywhere, Ibn Bāz would not remain silent, he would refute it, may Allāh bless you. And he would encourage the Salafīs to refute and would support them.

This is the Manhaj of the Salaf. I ask Allāh to make us and you all firm upon it, and to provide us true knowledge and insight of the religion, verily our Lord is the one who hears and answers the prayers. And may Allāh’s praise and peace be upon our Prophet Muḥammad, and upon his Family and Companions.


  1. Translated by Abū ʿAbdillāh Uways al-Hāshimi. This translation is from a transcript of the question and answers, ‘…’ denotes where the audio is not clear and some words are missing, according to the transcript. One or two amendments have been made to the first part of the translation, which was put out on some mailing lists. This document supersedes that first part. – Translator.
Published: March 1, 2011
Edited: March 12, 2023

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