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The Unhinged Methodology: Scholarly Guidance for Those Bothered by Refutations

Al-ʿAllāmah ʿUbayd ibn ʿAbdullāh al-Jābirī

An explanation on why individuals are provoked by knowledge-based refutations and a description of the four types of people who find themselves provoked. This is particularly important in light of rabble-rousers who pop up from time to time, lamenting refutations, and criticising the manners and empathy of the People of Sunnah, in an attempt to separate the common-folk from the protection and appropriateness of scholarly criticism.

There are people bothered by knowledge-based refutations, even if these refutations are based upon evidence from the book of Allāh, the Sunnah of His Messenger, and the statements of the Imams. What provokes them is typically one of two things:

  1. Uncontrolled emotions which overcome the intellect, creating a blur (regarding the situation) until the individual becomes confused and blind, meaning blind in insight. This first type of people believe that refutations are synonymous with tabdīʿ (declaring someone an innovator), thinking that the critic is declaring the refuted to be an innovator.Due to this belief, they ask, “Why is he warning against him?”. This is incorrect. The Salaf warned against individuals who were upon the Sunnah but were unclear, unstable, or possessed undesirable traits.
  2. Detestable ḥizbiyyah (partisanship). A ḥizbī would never be pleased with refutations.

Now I will break down the types of people who are bothered by refutations, fleeing from them, turning the people away from them, and understanding what these refutations consist of fundamental knowledge-based evidence.

These people are divided into categories:

The first category of people are those who have abandoned the critics and have chosen instead to remain silent.1

They have alienated themselves after having been connected (to the scholars). Some of them are affected by devils who whisper to them, so they tell themselves, “How am I supposed to know? Then I will not say anything about both parties”. (He says): This one is Salafi and this one is Salafi, why are they refuting one another? It is said to such people: How strange your affair is! Why? We will give some examples to further clarify.

Shaykh Sulaymān ibn Saḥmān (رحمه الله) issued a refutation on a man from the Āl al-Shaykh family2 who, I believe, was sent to Oman for daʿwah purposes and had been affected by some of the Jahmiyyah there. He refuted him with the statements of his father and his uncle [his father and uncle being scholars in their own right]. The Āl al-Shaykh family supported the refutation against their own son.3

Ibn Qudāmah (رحمه الله) issued a refutation on Ibn ʿAqīl regarding an affair which he had erred in but since repented from. Ibn Qudāmah saw that Ibn ʿAqīl’s error had become widespread so he saw it necessary that a refutation be made. This is the way of the [scholarly] critics in our time. This critical approach is necessary because when one sits with people [who have erred] absorbing their principles and foundations, they assume these errors are the religion of Allāh and the foundations of Ahl al-Sunnah. This was the way of the Salaf in accordance with the Book of Allah, the Sunnah and the statements of the Imams.

The second category of people are those who reject refutations and say to others: Don’t let these refutations keep you busy, stay away from these refutations.

Why do they say this? This type of speech generally comes from two groups of people. The first of them are people of desires who know that refutations will uncover, strip and expose their atrocities, essentially leading to the people hating them. The second (type) are individuals who are betrayers, those who are-—knowingly or unknowingly—a bridge between the innovators [and the common people].

What should be said (upon seeing a refutation) is that so-and-so is our brother and his refutation is beneficial. But if we see that the people have become preoccupied from knowledge and that the only thing they possess in their hands are the books of refutation, then we admonish them and tell them to leave refutations to its time [i.e. give every science it’s appropriate time], busy yourselves with [general] knowledge. But it must be noted that this does not mean permanently leaving off refutations, this has not been mentioned by any Imām, and even if it was mentioned, it would have been in the context of advice regarding proportioning our time.

The third category of people are those who love and hate for the sake of the criticized individual(s).

They say: “How can they refute him?”. They harbor animosity towards these [scholarly] critics and staunchly warn against them. The statement of Ibn Taymiyyah (رحمه الله) applies to these people: Whoever appoints for the people a man whereby they love and hate for his sake are from those who split in their religion and became sects. In our terminologies today, such a person is known as a ḥizbī (partisan) because he has become an ally of the criticized individual(s), practicing al-walāʾ wa-al-barāʾ (allegiance and dissociation) based upon them.

The fourth category are those who openly wage war, expressing their disgust and animosity for the [scholarly] critics.

They deceptively do not mention the names of the scholars, mentioning only key phrases utilized in the refutations [in order to smear it]. Such people are poor misled individuals.

[1] Commonly referred to as mutawaqif (on the fence).
[2] Ḥusayn b. Ḥasan Āl al-Shaykh.
[3] Refer to Kashf al-Awhām wa-al-ʾIltibās ʿan tashbīh baʿḍ al-ʾAghbiyāʾ min al-Nās.

Translated by: Munīb al-Ṣumālī

Published: February 10, 2024
Edited: February 11, 2024

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