What is the ruling regarding speaking badly of scholars and callers to the Sunnah?
This is a very dangerous matter, meaning speaking critically or badly of them. This leads to speaking badly of Allāh’s religion since this obstructs [people] from the path to Allāh; this is because this [person] who is speaking badly of the people of Truth, those who call to the Truth, those who call to tawḥīd [singling Allāh out in worship and all that is His alone], those who call to waging war against shirk [worshipping or treating others like Allāh], bidʿah [baseless innovations in the religion], and misguidance: speaking badly of them drives [people] away from the path to Allāh, All-Great and High.
You have certainly come to know what Allāh has said, meaning, [about] those who used to come forward and speak badly of the prophets, [that they] were [really] speaking badly of their call, not speaking badly of them as individuals. They used to say, “liar,” “sorcerer,” “madman,” and so on to the last of [their] slanders; then if his character were slandered, his call would come to loss, and this is how it is now.
The scholars are the heirs of the prophets. So if people are calling to the Salafi way, to the Book of Allāh, to the Sunnah of Allāh’s Messenger, to the way of the prophets in matters of belief, to waging war against shirk upon the way of the prophets–and then [other] people come speaking badly of them, what it means is that they are obstructing people from the path to Allāh.
So we ask Allāh to grant these [people] penitence, that they return to the Truth, that they recognize the [high] place that is due to the People of Truth, and that they leave the field open for those seeking the Truth, not obstructing them from the path to Allāh.
N.B.: Title mine (Tr.)
Translated by Mikail ibn Mahboob Ariff