How to weigh Scholars' opinions
Fatwa No: 85732

Question

In my previous question I asked about Muhammad Ibn Abdul Wahhab and received an answer that confused me again. The Muslim world is divided into two opinions about this person's reality. Of course, it's very difficult for me to believe one group and ignore the other one because the only thing I can do is to read about this person. In this question I would like to know one thing. As far as I know Muhammad Ibn Abdul Wahhab says that people of Tariqat, in particular adherents of Silsila-I Naqshbandiya, Silsila-i Qadiriyya, are all Bid'at holders. Has Muhammad Ibn Abdul Wahhab said so? Then, I am very sorry but I can in no way accept the fact that people like Salman Farsi , Ja'fari Sadiq , Bayazid Bistami , Yusuf Hamadani , Abduhaliq Gighduvani , Farididdin Attar , Bahauddin Naqshband , Imam Rabbani , Imam Ma'sum , Muhammad Zahid Kotku , Abdul Hakim Arwasi are all Bid'at holders. This is impossible. And yet, Imam Ghazzali , Hasan Basri , Abdul Qadir Ghillani , Ibn Arabi are also among those who practiced Tariqat. How can I admit teaching of Ibn Taymiyya and Muhammad Ibn Abdul Wahhab and ignore those great scholars?

Answer

Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds; and may His blessings and peace be upon our Prophet Muhammad and upon all his Family and Companions.

Some of the people you mentioned are known for their piety and knowledge while others are not known at all. Then, it is natural to find righteous people and devious people, some people on the right way and others going astray.
It is proved in the Prophetic Hadith that: "Jews were divided into seventy one or seventy two groups; and Christians were divided into seventy one or seventy two groups; my Ummah (Muslims) will be divided into seventy three groups." Another narration adds: "All of them (the latter) will be in the Hell-Fire except one group." [ Ahmad, Abu Dawood, al-Tirmizi and Ibn Majah ]. And it is a sound Hadith.
In al-Tirmizi's narration the Prophet's companion asked: 'Who are they (the righteous ones)?' The Prophet said: "Those who follow me and my companions."
As a rule, the Holy Qur'an and the Prophetic Sunnah are the only competent authority in case of difference as stated in the Qur'an. Allah says: {O you who believe! Obey Allâh and obey the Messenger (Muhammad SAW), and those of you (Muslims) who are in authority. (And) if you differ in anything amongst yourselves, refer it to Allâh and His Messenger (SAW), if you believe in Allâh and in the Last Day. That is better and more suitable for final determination.} [4:59]
Imam al-Qurtub (may Allah's mercy upon him) said in his Tafseer (interpretation of the Qur'an): 'The above-verse means that Muslims (in case of disagreement concerning some issue) are required to follow the ruling as stated in the Qur'an or as practiced by His Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam) during his life or by looking into his Sunnah after his death. This is the saying of al-A'mash and Qatadah , and it is the correct understanding. Then, whoever does not believe in the above-stated in the verse is, in fact, with unsteady faith.'
In addition to that, nobody is infallible except Prophets and infallibility is part and parcel of Prophethood. In other words, all people, except Prophets are subject to error, i.e. we can follow some of their correct opinions and refuse others.
Therefore, we weigh each and everyone's opinions with al-Wahi (The Qur'an and Sunnah). Then, if we do not find contradiction with al-Wahi, we accept it; otherwise, we refuse it. For example, if someone says: 'so and so knows al-Ghaib (unseen),' we directly refuse such a saying since it contradicts al-Wahi, and the sayer becomes a disbeliever.
Allah knows best.

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