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What is the Ruling on Testing People by Way of Individuals?

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What is the Ruling on Testing People by Way of Individuals?
Author: Shaykh Zayd al-Madkhalee (rahimahullah)
Source: Al-Ajwibah al-Athariyyah 'anil-Masaa-il al-Manhajiyyah pg. 27-29
Translator: Abu Yusuf Khaleefah. Completed on the 22nd Night of Shawwaal 1435---August 17
2014. Masjid Nur-Allah Lefrak City Corona NYC USA


Q: What is the ruling on testing people by way of individuals, whether by way of
the Ulaama of the Sunnah or the heads of innovation? Does that matter apply to
those of this day and time? Benefit us. May Allah reward you with good.

A: There's no doubt my brother that the Salafus Saalih use to test people by way
of the Ulamaa, those who were known for holding firmly to the Sunnah,
soundness in the matters of Aqeedah and Manhaj, and being stern upon the
people of desires and innovation. I have come across ten something texts on the
Salaf and every text is an example clarifying how the Salaf would test people by way of
Ahlus Sunnah. So whoever knows their virtue, loves them and mentions them
with good, he is a person of the Sunnah. Whoever belittles them and speaks
bad about their honor, he is a person of evil and innovation. Here are few
examples from many Salafi texts:

Imam al-Barbahaari (rahimahullah) stated:

"When you see a person loving Abu Hurayrah, Anas Ibn Maalik and Usayd Ibn
Hudayr, then know that he is a person of the Sunnah in shaa Allah."

What is the Ruling on Testing People by Way of Individuals?
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He also said:

"When you see the person loving Ayyoob, Ibn 'Awn, Ibn Idrees al-Awdee and
ash-Sha'bee (and he mentioned a group from amongst the virtuous scholars to
the point where he said); know that he is a person of the Sunnah."

He also stated:

"When you see the person loving Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, al-Hajjaaj Ibn al-Minhaal,
Ahmad Ibn Nasr, and he mentioned them with good and spoke with their speech,
then know that he is a person of the Sunnah." (Sharhus-Sunnah 117-118)

You mentioned in your question: Does that apply to the Scholars of this day and
time of ours?

The answer: Yes, the people are to be tested in every time and place by way of those
who are Ahlus-Sunnah, from the aspect of the Aqeedah and the Shar'eeyah; meaning
those who have exerted themselves for the preservation of the Sunnah, understanding
the meanings of its text, implementation of it and defending it.

The matter of testing the people with Ahlus-Sunnah is not restricted to a specific
person or people. Rather the people are to be tested by way of every person of the
Sunnah in every time and place upon the description that you have mentioned.
Likewise, the people are tested by way of the callers from the people of innovation.
On Uqbah Ibn Alqamah (rahimahullah), he said:

"I was with Arta-ah Ibn al-Mundhir (rahimahullah) and some of the people in the
gathering stated: What do you say about a person who sits and mixes with the people
of the Sunnah, when the people of innovation are mentioned he says, Leave us
regarding them. Don't mentioned them?

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Arta-ah (rahimahullah) responded, He is from amongst them. Don't let him
deceive you regarding his affair.

He (Uqbah) said: I did not accept the statement of Arta-ah. I came to al-Awzaa'ee (to
see his view on the matter), as he was one who use to explain these types of things
when they reach him. He said: Arta-ah has spoken the truth. The (correct)
statement (regarding this matter) is the statement of Arta-ah. This individual
(that was asked about) prohibits mentioning them (i.e the people of
innovation), so when will the people of innovation be cautioned from being
that he doesn't ... by them being mentioned? (Taarikh Dimishq 8/15)

Al-Awzaa'ee (rahimahullah) stated:

"Whoever's innovation is hidden from us, his companionship will not be
hidden." (Al-Ibaanah of Ibn Battah 2/479)

Al-'Akburi (rahimahullah) -who is Ibn Battah- stated:

"When Sufyaan ath-Thawree (rahimahullah) came to Basrah he began to look at the
affair of ar-Rabee (i.e Ibn Subayh) and his status with the people; (so) he asked what
is his madh-hab? The people said, His Madh-hab is nothing but the Sunnah. He
(Sufyaan ath-Thawree) asked Who are his inner-most companions? The people said,
The people of (deviance regarding the) Qadr. He mentioned (in response), Then he
is Qadree."