How to Deal with a Student Who Does Not Accept a Person’s Retraction When He Makes a Mistake
Shaikh ‘Abdullāh Al-Bukhārī, may Allāh protect him, said:
This [person] is asking a question. He says: “We have a student at the university, and he is from among the Salafī brothers; he does not accept a person’s retraction when he makes a mistake. How should we deal with him? And indeed, he has caused division among the Salafis we have in our lands.”
At any rate, the acceptance of a retraction does not go back to him! I am saying: it does not go back to him!
If a Zaid from among the people makes a mistake, or an ‘Amr, and Allāh bestowed upon him the blessing of making a retraction, and his situation is set aright, his retraction comes out, and he makes it public–why does [this person being asked about in the question] not want people to retract [from their errors]?
This [person] has a sickness.
One who does not rejoice in the repentance of his brother believer and the return of his brother who had fallen into error to that which is correct and to the fold of the People upon the Truth–this is a man with a sickness. He needs to take a critical look at himself.
And he is ignorant about the methodology of the Salaf [our righteous predecessors], may Allāh’s pleasure be upon them, [as it applies] to these occasions, i.e., the return of one who made a mistake from his mistake and how–what?–that is to be rejoiced.
So his being one who has returned to the truth and practiced righteousness upon the Sunnah: this is something that raises his status and worth, as was the outstanding trait that the scholars recorded as a virtue of the Imām Nu‘aim ibn Ḥumaid in his biography, may Allāh have mercy on him.
When he had narrated a hadith and made a mistake, and Yaḥyá ibn Ma‘īn, may Allāh have mercy on him, discussed this with him, he then went into his house, got the source materials for his books, and went out to him [and] said: “Where are the ones who say Abū Zakariyyah [Yaḥyá ibn Ma‘īn] is not the Leader of the Believers in Ḥadīth? Indeed, O Abū Zakariyyah, you were right, and I was wrong.”
So [this] was considered one of the virtues of the Imām Nu‘aim ibn Ḥumaid, may Allāh have mercy on him, that he would, whenever he made a mistake, go back on his mistake.
Is this not something to rejoice over, may Allāh bless you?
[The person being referred to in the question] does not accept a person’s retraction when he makes a mistake?! Who is he, that he should be asked, “Do you accept [it] or do you not accept [it]?”
And it wasn’t enough that he, […that] he has this sickness [himself]. According to this question–and Allah knows better how accurate this question is–we are answering based on the question–“He has caused division among the Salafis we have in our lands.” This means he has passed on this calamity and sickness to others.
So, “this is not the way, O Sa‘d, camels are taken [to water].”*
When a Zaid, ‘Amr, Bakr or so-and-so from the people, from your brothers, makes a mistake, and it becomes clear to him that he made a mistake, so he goes back on [his] mistake and publicizes that [retraction]–if his mistake had been public and open–and returns to the truth and the fold of the truth, what more do you want than this?
What more do you want than this?
And it is not something to be sought from any so-and-so from the people that he say, “This so-and-so, I accept,” or “I don’t accept.”
If the [retractor’s] situation becomes good, his repentance proves good, and his righteousness, all praise and thanks are due to Allāh.
And what is binding upon this [one who does not accept another’s retraction] is to take a critical look at himself and to act with fear of Allāh for himself and with regard to his brothers, and to understand the methodology of the Salaf, may Allāh the All-High, be pleased with them, with the correct understanding, for it is a methodology that is established upon knowledge.
And from the fruits of that is raḥmah [treating others well and with mercy], since the People of the Sunnah are the most knowledgeable of people concerning the truth and the best in treatment and most merciful of them to creation, as Shaikh al-Islām Ibn Taimiyyah said, may Allāh have mercy on him.
For that reason, you must all deal with people with knowledge and justice. With knowledge and justice.
And based on that, this doing and this deed from this son, may Allāh correct him, is neither based on knowledge nor justice.
*An Arabic proverb that is said to anyone who does something the wrong way (Trans.)