Part 2: An Important Foundation of the Religion - Referring to the Scholars with Specialized and Detailed Knowledge of the Tribulations
The Shaykh explained that the second important principle following the first is to stick to the Major Scholars specializing in the fitan (tribulations) or knowing and recognizing the tribulations (that affect the deen of the Muslims). So what is the meaning of this foundation, the Shaykh explained that the scholars vary in their knowledge of tribulations and how to deal with them. They also vary in their level and ability to perceive the tribulations. For this reason, the people of falsehood will go to Scholars who do not distinguish in matters of tribulations even though are from and with the people of the truth.
This means that only those delve into these issues who know these tribulations and how to deal with them. This does not mean having tahazzub in some scholars and revilement upon others (as is portrayed by the Hizbiyyeen). Rather, this approach is the Salafi manhaj (and is established as being the way of the Salaf), meaning here, to put people at their proper levels and places.
For there are some scholars who know the tribulations and how to deal with them and there are others who do not have this and we do not censure or blame such a one, but we do not return to him in these matters, because he does not specialize in these issues. Even some of the Salafis in our time, they stumble with respect to this matter, when they say "But so and so Shaykh says so and so, and so and so Shaykh says so and so." We say, yes, we love this Shaykh, but he is not a reference point in these issues (because he does not have detailed knowledge in the affair and does not specialize in these matters).
The Shaykh explained that Ibn al-Qayyim explained that the scholar who knows the truth in detail (tafseel) and falsehood in detail, he is the one who is given success in distinguishing Sunnah from Bid'ah, and likewise in distinguishing (truth from falsehood) in the tribulations when they arise. But not every scholar is given success in this regard (which is an apparent reality). Some know the truth in detail but only know falsehood in general terms (ijmaal). This is where the difficulty arises and occurs, when a scholar enters a matter and he does not know the baatil (falsehood) in detail, and he may wrongly support what is wrong over what is correct. But here we excuse certain scholars in explaining the condition of some of the deviants like Ali al-Halabi and Ibrahim al-ruhaylee. Such scholars have a good opinion of them (due to the aforementioned reason) but it is obligatory for the one who does not know the falsehood in detail that he does not delve into these issues and thereby take a position of deserting the people who are upon the truth (in the matter). So this is not for them, it is not their subject area, it is not within their capabilities.
The Shaykh went on to explain that for this reason you will find some of these scholars will leave the sayings of those scholars who clarify the truth and support others over those scholars. For example, Abu al-Hasan al-Ma'ribee, some of them supported him and defended him. But after a while they realised the truth and spoke against him (recognizing that Shaykh Rabee' spoke the truth). The point here, the Shaykh explained, is that we do not return to a scholar who does not know the falsehood in detail, but at the same time, just as importantly, we do not disparage such scholars. This is an important clarification in that some scholars are not returned to in matters of tribulations whilst at the same time we honour them and respect them. We should know whose saying is accepted in the likes of these affairs (due to their specialized and detailed knowledge in these matters).
The Shaykh went on to explain that built upon what has preceded in outlining this foundation, we should also realise that not everyone who puts himself forward as a Salafi is returned to in these types of matters. We beware of a) the pretenders to knowledge who are not from its people and b) the deserters (who abandon the people of truth) and c) those who delve into issues they are not worthy and fit to enter into. We find some of the Salafi students of knowledge, they say, "So and so has not left anyone without speaking about him" and what they are doing is finding fault with the correct Salafi position. So the likes of these types of people are not referred to (in such serious matters) even if they are Salafis.
End of Part 2.