Question: What is the methodology of the Salaf in warning against the people of innovation, because people regarding this subject are between excessiveness and neglect? May you benefit us and may Allah reward you with good.
Answer: The way in all affairs is that we tread the path of the Messenger and the noble companions, as in the hadeeth which we covered, in creed, in calling to Allah, and in worship. Allah says:
“And call to the way of your Lord with wisdom, good preaching, and debate with them in a manner that is best.” (an-Nahl: 125)
Wisdom is clarifying the truth with its evidence and proofs. And debating with that which is better is when the one who debates is adorned with good manners and a good approach in order to convince the one who opposes him. The affair may require a debate, otherwise the basis is to clarify. Many people, if you clarified to them with wisdom, meaning you present the evidence from the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah ﷺ and clarified in the evidence to them the truth from the falsehood that they are upon, they would accept (it) from you. And some of them maybe slow (in accepting) due to a mental sickness or anything else. Therefore if you are required to debate, then debate with an individual in a way that is best.
And this is the most appropriate way of guiding these people to the true religion of Allah and the path of salvation. This is what I say and advise with. And all of this returns to the straight path of Allah and the methodology of the rightly guided predecessors. They were the people of direction in correcting the people and guiding them to the true religion of Allah. Then whomever you clarify to him the truth with evidence and proof and he insists upon his misguidance then warn against him, especially if he is a caller to his misguidance.
Al-Lubaab page 182
Translators note: debating the people of innovation and misguidance is not for any and every person. Shaykh Rabee mentions in his answer to the following question.
الشاب في قريته قد يحتاج أحيانا إلى مناظرة أهل البدع فهل يجوز له ذلك؟
A youth in his town may sometimes need to debate the people of innovation, is this permissible for him?
“The youth who is not a person of knowledge; debating the people of innovation they will defeat him therefore he will harm Islam and the Muslims. For this reason Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah and other than him said:
The ignorant does not have the right to debate the people of innovation because he will harm Islam. (For example) one person comes and says I’m salafee and he debates one of the innovators while he has no knowledge and this (innovator) has a doubt and evidence which he brings doubt to the people with and he follows the unclear (evidences). So he defeats him and this will be a defeat of the sunnah and the truth. So he should not be a cause of the weakness of Islam.
And this doesn’t mean that debating is abandoned; that you leave calling (to Allah), clarifying, writing, and giving sermons, No! (But) These debate have their particular approaches. May Allah bless you.
الشاب وهو ليس بعالم يناظر أهل البدع يغلبوه فيضرّ بالإسلام والمسلمين! ولهذا يقول شيخ الإسلام ابن تيمية وغيره: أنه لا يحقّ للجاهل أن يجادل أهل البدع لأنّه يضرّ بالإسلام, يأتي واحد يقول أنا سلفي ويجادل واحد مبتدع وليس عنده علم وهذا عنده شبه وعنده أدلة يشبه بها على الناس, يتبع المتشابه, فيغلبه فيكون قد هزم السنّة والحقّ؛ فلا يتسبب في إضعاف الإسلام.
وليس معنى ترك المناظرة أنك تترك الدعوة وتترك البيان, والكتابة, والخطابة, لا, المناظرة هذه لها أسلوبها الخاصّ, بارك الله فيكم.