Is it correct, what some people say, that the reason [our] righteous predecessors’ refutations against the people of innovation were harsh was that the Sunnah was widespread at that time?
[Shaikh Rabīʿ:] The reason for their being harsh was that the Sunnah was widespread? What does he intend by this statement?
Question [Reader]: He intends that we [should] not be harsh upon the people of innovation nowadays due to the Sunnah being rare.
The Shaikh: Namely, because the Sunnah is rare, we must die! And we must kill off the call of Salafiyyah! We are nowadays in greater need of severity than former times; in former times–the people of innovation were few–they [could] not harm [those upon the Sunnah]. But now, people–all of them–are upon innovation other than a few, so there is no way out but to make very clear expositions.
We have with us making very clear expositions. They portray those who come forward with these clear expositions as being harsh, just as they portrayed Aḥmad ibn Ḥanbal, Ibn Taimiyyah, and Ibn ʿAbd Al-Wahhāb; they portrayed them as being harsh. That is because [the people of innovation] don’t have any weapons; they lack the weapons to confront the People of the Sunnah, so they say, “They are harsh.”
Where is the harshness? Harshness is in them themselves–harshness on behalf of falsehood, for the sake of falsehood, and in waging war against the People of the Sunnah. Harshness is in them themselves.
Read their books, listen to their tapes, take [a look at] the positions they’ve held, and you will see how harsh they got for the sake of their falsehoods, how they throw insults, how they lie, how they fabricate [things], how they plot and plan, and how . . . and how . . . and so on. So [as the Arabic saying goes:] “She accused me of having the disease she had herself, and [then] she slipped away.”
The People of Innovation used to insult and cast aspersions using falsehood upon Ahl al-Sunnah wa-l-Jamāʿah [the People of the Sunnah, the Community upon the Truth], and voices were not then raised in portraying them as harsh. The books of Al-Ghazālī, Al-Mawdūdī, and their like are full of insults, aspersions, derision, ridicule, extremism, and excessiveness–and not one [of the People of Innovation] is saying these [writers] have, namely, harshness.
So when some of the People of the Sunnah stepped up to defend the truth, they said [they were] harsh; now, these [people of innovation] cover up their true, evil intentions. Because they haven’t found anything they can oppose the People of the Truth with, they go back to the likes of these ways.
Whatever the case, wisdom is desirable, and harshness is desirable; for every place that has a standing, there’s something [right] to be said. Allāh is the One who said to His messenger ﷺ–and He had given him commandments to use wisdom and given him commandments to have patience–He [is the One who said to him]:
یَـٰۤأَیُّهَا ٱلنَّبِیُّ جَـٰهِدِ ٱلۡكُفَّارَ وَٱلۡمُنَـٰفِقِینَ وَٱغۡلُظۡ عَلَیۡهِمۡۚ وَمَأۡوَىٰهُمۡ جَهَنَّمُۖ وَبِئۡسَ ٱلۡمَصِیرُ
O Prophet, fight against the disbelievers and the hypocrites, and be severe upon them; their final resting place is the Blazing Fire [of Hell]. What a terrible final destination.
And He [is the One who] commanded him to draw out the swords against the disbelievers. This isn’t from harshness? And [He] commanded the stoning of those who engage in extramarital sexual intercourse [despite] being, or having been, lawfully married; and the giving of lashes to those others [who fall into the same sin, but have never been married].
And [the Prophet ﷺ] said: “By Allāh, if Fāṭimah, the daughter of Muḥammad, were to steal, I would most certainly cut off her hand.” This is harshness, but it is desirable and commendable in its place.
So harshness is not worthy of censure unrestrictedly, nor are calmness and gentleness unrestrictedly commendable. For every place that has a standing, there’s something [right] to be said. And every field has its men, as the saying goes.
N.B.: Title mine (Tr.)
Translated by Mikail ibn Mahboob Ariff