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When a Salafi errs: Shaykh Ahmad an-Najjār (hafidhahullāh)

Shaykh Ahmad an-Najjār






“Our brother, Shaykh Ahmad, may Allāh grant him success, can you explain, may Allāh preserve you, the correct and accurate way in dealing with a Salafi scholar or Salafi student of knowledge who errs in an issue and is mistaken in the matter. Could you also give the cure to avoid the incorrect way in dealing with this which is done by some youth or preachers. May Allāh grant you success and keep you on the right way.”



BārakAllāhu feekum, this is an important question due to what we experience from some people who have incorrect views from one angle and do not ascertain the definitive factors from another angle. The lack of a sound view is in not understanding an error or mistake, or not understanding the description which defines rulings. Not ascertaining the Manāt [the definitive grounds of the rule] occurs from those who apply the description without safeguarding ascertainment of the Shurūt [conditions] and removal of the Mawāni’ [preventative factors]. Due to the lack of ascertaining these two issue, you find that there are some who go to excess with those who err and follow them in their errors even when the error  could be one which opposes the Ijmā’ of the Salaf and opposes the text.

You also find those who go to excess and defame the one who errs when though the error is one in which there can be differing in the matter, or wherein there is a preventative factor – both ways (of following an error and of defaming a person in an issue in which differing is allowed) are censured.




The correct way:

–          That we know when an issue is actually an error. When a Shari’ description can define this ruling.

–          That we know what is the accurate way to deal with one who falls into this error. And how we can ascertain this defining factor.

As for when an issue is indeed an error, which opposes a principle from the principles of Ahl us-Sunnah, then we have discussed this often and I discussed this in my book Tabseer ul-Khalaf bi-Dābit al-Usūl lati Man Khālafahā Kharaja ’an Manhaj is-Salaf.[2] Generally: whoever leaves what has been instructed or does that which has been prohibited, has fallen into error.

As for how we are to deal with this error, then the answer is that we refer back to his Usūl. If his Usool is correct in accordance with the Madhhab of the Salaf then his respect and honour should be maintained and we only mention him with goodness. We warn from his mistakes and we do not follow him in those mistakes. When the error is from a scholar from Ahl us-Sunnah then this is based on his Ijtihād as he has feared Allāh according to his ability and as a result is excused for his Ijtihād. Also, he has performed what he has been instructed to do from Ijtihād and it is not binding on him to be always correct, this is just a view of a group of Ahl u-Bida’, that every Mujtahid is always correct.

It should also be known that: there is no necessary binding link between dealing with him and his error. Treating the person good does not equate with “following him in his mistake”, likewise refuting his mistake does not equate with “treating him as a person of innovation”. Not all who commit that which necessitates tabdī’ are to be deemed as innovators. This acknowledgement is in harmony with the spirit of the Sharee’ah, as the Sharee’ah as come to bring unity upon the truth, justice and mercy. All of this is achieved with this acknowledgement.

As for if the person’s Usūl oppose that of the Madhhab of the Salaf, then he should be dealt with based on his original basis in accordance with the Masālih [benefits] and Mafāsid [harms], and required rules. If it is said: “why have you differentiated between the one who has a sound Usūl and the one who has a corrupt Usūl”, it should be said in response to this: because the one who has a sound Usūl has ascertained sound Ijtihād contrary to the one who has a corrupt Usūl.


As for the way to avoid the incorrect methods in dealing with these matters, then it is for a person to have the sound foundations and refer back to the Shar’i knowledge this is so that they have a sound outlook on the issues and then after that will know how to achieve the Manāt [the definitive grounds of the rule] and apply descriptions upon specific individuals, safeguard conditions and preventative factors.


Written by,

Ahmad Muhammad as-Sādiq an-Najjār


Courtousy of

[1] Dated 26 July 2015/11th Shawwāl 1436 AH. From:


[2] [TN]: Translated recently into English by our brother Ismā’eel Beaumont, as What Takes a Person Out of Salafiyyah?

The translation is available for purchase from Maktabah Ibn Taymiyyah Brixton, Brixton Masjid.

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