When Can You Exclude Someone from Ahlus-Sunnah or Call Him an Innovator?

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December 27, 2014 by salafidawahuk

Someone Who Sincerely Seeks the Truth But Then is Mistaken, Even in Aqidah or Usool, Then He is Excused and Receives One Reward

This sitting with Shaikh Al Albanee was concluded on the 22nd of Dhul-Qa’dah 1413 which corresponds to 12th May 1993.

Questioner: All praise is due to Allaah, Lord of the Worlds, and may prayers and peace be upon the Messenger of Allaah, his family, Companions and whoever followed him in good until the Day of Judgement.  Your eminence, Shaikh, may Allaah reward you with good. I have some issues which I and others from the people of Medinah have found to be problematic, if you could please and with thanks from us, may Allaah reward you with good, give us an answer, in the detail that we [have come to] expect from you.

From these issues is [the question]: when is a person emitted from Ahlus-Sunnah? Is it when he believes as creed something different to their creed? And when he does fall into things which oppose the Ahlus-Sunnah, is it allowed to declare him to be an innovator straight away or after establishing the proof against him? And if it is not easy to establish the proof against him, either due to the death of that person or because of it being such a long time ago, or because it is [just] not possible to meet him in order to establish the proof against him [what do we do?].

So advise us [of the answer], and we thank you [for that].

Al-Albaani: Your question, may Allaah bless you, contains many [different] questions. If you would split between one question and the next, or put the paper in front of me so I can give you the answers to these parts which make up that one question.

Questioner: Okay, O Shaikh, I will repeat it point by point.

Al-Albaani: Point by point.

Questioner: Okay.

Al-Albaani: The first question?

Questioner: The first question: when is a person emitted from Ahlus-Sunnah, is it when he believes a creed other than their creed or when he falls into a few things which oppose their creed?

Al-Albaani: Yes. I say, and I ask Allaah the Mighty and Majestic for success in being correct in what I say:

It has become common amongst the scholars of the past and those of today that when a Muslim makes a mistake in what the scholars call the subsidiary issues [furoo] he is excused, but that if he makes a mistake in the fundamentals [usool], in aqidah, he is not–we believe that, firstly, this differentiation does not have any proof in the Legislation, and that secondly, it is obligatory upon a Muslim to, always and forever, seek to know the truth in that which the people have differed, whether that is connected to the fundamentals or the subsidiary issues or in aqidah or in the ahkaam.

So if he expends all his effort to come to know the truth in that which the people have differed and is correct then he has two rewards and if he is mistaken then he has one, as is well-known from the hadith of the Prophet reported in the Sahih, “If a judge passes judgment and makes Ijtihad and he is right then he will have two rewards. And if he makes a mistake he will have one,” this is the basis/foundation.

Secondly, if a Muslim was eager in wanting to know the truth yet made a mistake, even if it is in aqidah or the fundamentals, then, firstly, he is not held to account for that–rather he is rewarded one time for his mistake, and secondly, due to what was previously mentioned [just above].

This is confirmed by the saying of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم which occurs in the Saheeh from the hadith of Hudhaifah ibn al-Yamaan and other noble Companions, [where they reported] that the Prophet صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم said, “Amongst the people preceding your age, there was a man who had never done any good. While he was on his death-bed, he called his sons and said, ‘What type of father have I been to you?’ They replied, ‘You have been a good father.’ He said, ‘I have sinned against my Lord and if Allaah has power over me, He will punish me severely. So when I die, burn me and scatter half of the resulting ashes in the sea and half in the wind.’ His sons did accordingly, but Allaah the Mighty and Majestic said, ‘Be so and so,’ and so he became a fully formed man. Then He said to him, ‘What made you do so?’ He replied, ‘Fear of you.’ So Allaah said, ‘I have forgiven you.’”

So Allaah the Mighty and Majestic forgave this person even though he had fallen into disbelief and shirk, [and he fell into this disbelief and shirk] through this will of his, which may not, amongst all of the wills that we have known or come across, have an equivalent in terms of its injustice and oppression. [But] Allaah did not take him to account, in fact He forgave him, because He knew that he didn’t leave that unjust will except out of [his] fear of Him.

Thus, the Muslim … [and] now comes the summary of the answer … when a Muslim seeks Allaah the Mighty and Majestic’s Face in all that he holds as religion before Him and takes as creed concerning Him, but then misses the truth, then there is no doubt that Allaah the Mighty and Majestic will forgive his mistake–in fact he will be rewarded for it one time.

This is what we hold as religion before Allaah and this is the fatwa we give–always and forever.

And the summary of that is: that it [i.e., believing otherwise] is in opposition to the foundation and principle that Allaah does not hold a person to be accountable for what he is mistaken in but only for that which he wilfully intended, and secondly, due to [the reasons given when explaining] this authentic hadith [mentioned above].

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