Islamic Etiquette Of Dialogue And Criticism – commenting on criticism among Du`ah ( Sheikh Abdul-`Aziz ibn `Abdullah ibn Baz )
Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds. May Allah’s peace and blessings be upon our trustworthy Prophet Muhammad, his family, Companions and those who follow his Sunnah until the Day of Judgment.
Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) ordains justice and virtue; and forbids injustice, tyranny and aggression. He sent His Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) with the same Message of all the Messengers, which is the call to Tawhid (monotheism) and dedicating `Ibadah (worship) to Allah Alone. He asked him to establish justice and forbid any form of `Ibadah dedicated to anyone other than Allah, division and usurping people’s rights.
It has become prevalent nowadays that many of those who claim to be scholars and Du`ah (callers to Islam) backbite their fellow Du`ah and knowledge seekers, whether in private or in public. They might even record this on tapes to be distributed among the people, or in lectures they give in Masjids (mosques). This is contradictory to the commandments of Allah and His Messenger in many ways, including:
First, it is considered a violation of the rights of Muslims, even scholars and Du`ah who have done their best to enlighten people (Part No. 7; Page No. 312) and correct their `Aqidahs (creeds), and have exerted much effort in giving lectures and writing useful books, so they are among the best of Muslims.
Second, this violates the unity of Muslims and spreads division among them, although they are in dire need of unity and staying away from division and rumors, especially that Du`ah who are backbited against belong to Ahl-ul-Sunnah wal-Jama`ah (those adhering to the Sunnah and the Muslim main body) who are known for fighting Bid`ahs (innovations in religion) and superstitions, and exposing those who call to them. There is no interest for anyone to do this except our enemies, such as Kafirs (disbelievers), hypocrites, or those who commit Bid`ahs.
Third, this helps biased people, whether secularists, westernizers or atheists, who are known for spreading rumors about Du`ah and inciting people against them, in achieving their aims. The Islamic brotherhood should prevent Muslims from helping the enemies against their Muslim brothers, whether knowledge seekers, Du`ah or others.
Fourth, this misguides laypeople and scholars; spreads false rumors; leads to Ghibah (backbiting) and Namimah (tale-bearing); opens the doors to evil for those whose souls are weak, who spread rumors, arouse Fitnah (temptation) and harm the Mu’mins (believers) unjustly.
Fifth, most of the things claimed are untrue; they are just illusions made pleasant and inspired by Satan. Allah (Exalted be He) says, O you who believe! Avoid much suspicion; indeed some suspicions are sins. And spy not, neither backbite one another.(Part No. 7; Page No. 313)
A Mu’min should interpret the words of their brothers in the best possible way. Some of the Salaf (righteous predecessors) said, “Do not take a word said by your brother ill, so long as it is open to a better interpretation.”
Sixth, if some scholars and knowledge seekers practice Ijtihad (juristic effort to infer expert legal rulings), there is no harm in that if they are qualified for Ijtihad. If others oppose them in that Ijtihad, they should argue with them in a mild way out of keenness on reaching Al-Haqq (the Truth) from the nearest way and resisting the insinuations of Satan among the Mu’mins. If this is not possible, and it is decided that they should be publicly opposed, this should be done in the mildest possible way, without aggression or severity, which might make them refuse Al-Haqq, and without attacking the people directly or judging their intentions. The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) used to say, “I knew that some people said so and so.”
I advise those brothers who have backbitten Du`ah to perform Tawbah (repentance to Allah) of what they wrote or said, which misguided some young people, filled them with grudges, diverted them from seeking useful knowledge and practicing Da`wah, and occupied them with spreading rumors and tracing the mistakes of people deliberately.
(Part No. 7; Page No. 314)
I also advise them to expiate for what they have done, whether in writing or any other way, to clear themselves from such deeds and remove the effect of what they said earlier. They should also perform useful deeds that bring them closer to Allah and benefit the people; and beware of hastening to judge people as Kafirs, Fasiqs (people flagrantly violating Islamic law) or Mubtadi`s (those who introduce innovations in religion) without evidence. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, When a person calls his brother (in Islam) a Kafir, one of them will certainly deserve the title. (Agreed upon by Imams Al-Bukhari and Muslim).
It is prescribed for Al-Haqq seekers and learners to refer to the eminent scholars if they face something ambiguous in their words, so that they will clarify the matter to them and remove the doubts they have, according to Allah’s saying in Surah Al-Nisa’, When there comes to them some matter touching (public) safety or fear, they make it known (among the people); if only they had referred it to the Messenger or to those charged with authority among them, the proper investigators would have understood it from them (directly). Had it not been for the Grace and Mercy of Allâh upon you, you would have followed Shaitân (Satan), save a few of you.
Allah is the One responsible for setting right the affairs of the Muslims; inclining their hearts to Taqwa (fearing Allah as He should be feared); guiding all the Muslim scholars and all those who call to Al-Haqq and to what pleases Him and benefits the people; gather them on guidance; protect them from the means leading to dispersion and disagreement; and make them support Al-Haqq and not falsehood. He is the Only One Capable of doing so. May Allah’s peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, Companions and those who follow his guidance until the Day of Judgment.
(Part No. 7; Page No. 315)
Weeks ago, Your Eminence issued a declaration about criticism among Du`ah, which was interpreted by people in different ways. What is your opinion on this?
My advice to everyone is to give mutual advice to each other implicitly, not explicitly. The aim is to attract their attention to the mistake committed and clarify Al-Haqq, with no need to hurt certain people. May Allah grant everyone success!
Sheikh Abdul-`Aziz ibn `Abdullah ibn Baz, Chairman of the Departments of Scholarly Research,
Ifta’, Daw`ah, and Guidance ( http://www.alifta.com/Fatawa/FatawaSubjects.aspx?View=Page&&NodeID=4670&PageID=925&SectionID=14&SubjectPageTitlesID=95125&MarkIndex=3&0#commentingoncriticism )