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What is the Shari`ah's stance regarding searching for scholars' faults on the pretext of warning others against their errors and paying their attentions to it? Please, bear in mind that such is the custom of some seekers of religious knowledge who warn masses against many scholars including some renowned scholars such as Al-Suyuty, claiming him to be an Ash`arite, in addition to many others.


Scholars are not infallible as is stated in the Hadith:

[إِذَا حَكَمَ الْحَاكِمُ فَاجْتَهَدَ ثم أَصَابَ فَلَهُ أَجْرَانِ، وَإِذَا حَكَمَ فَاجْتَهَدَ ثم أَخْطَأَ فَلَهُ أَجْرٌ].

[When a judge gives a judgment, after having tried his best to decide correctly and gets it right, he gets two rewards for that, and if he gave a judgment after having tried his best (to arrive at a correct decision) but made mistake, he gets only one reward for that]. (Recorded by Al-Bukhari9/108, and Muslim3/1342).

However, this may not underestimate them so long as they intended only to reach the truth and may not be a justification of aspersing their honor. In fact, clarification of the truth and paying attention to faults is not a problem provided that scholars are respected and given their dues. Anyway, adherents of Bid`ahs (innovations in religion) or of unsound creed must be warned against if alive and their books containing such errors must be warned against if dead, so that the masses might not be affected by them, especially if they are propagators of falsehood. In fact, the aim of doing so is clarifying the truth and advising Muslims, not belittling such great personalities as Al-Suyuty and others. Thus, their errors are to be avoided while their knowledge is to be benefited from, for their virtues undoubtedly outweigh their errors. However, errors cannot be accepted neither from them nor from anyone else.

May Allah grant us success. May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, and companions.

Fatwa from: Lajnatu-d-Daimah of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Fatwa No.: 106094.

Original text of the Fatwa in Arabic:

السؤال: ما موقع تتبع عورات العلماء من الشرع، بدعوى التحذير من زلاتهم، ولفت نظر الناس إليها؟ مع العلم أن هذا العمل يقوم به طلبة العلم، ويحذرون العوام من الناس، وممن يحذرونهم من علماء أجلاء أحيانا، كالسيوطي (بدعوى إنه أشعري) وغيره كثير. 

الجواب: العلماء ليسوا معصومين من الخطأ كما في الحديث: إذا اجتهد الحاكم فأصاب فله أجران، وإذا اجتهد فأخطأ فله أجر واحد. ولا ينقص ذلك من قدرهم ما دام قصدهم التوصل إلى الحق؛ ولا تجوز الوقيعة في أعراضهم من أجل ذلك، وبيان الحق والتنبيه على الخطأ واجب، مع احترام العلماء ومعرفة قدرهم. إلا ما كان مبتدعا أو مخالفا في العقيدة، فإنه يحذر منه إن كان حيا، ومن كتبه التي فيها أخطاء؛ لئلا يتأثر بذلك الجهال، لا سيما إذا كان داعية ضلال؛ لأن هذا من بيان الحق والنصيحة للخلق، وليس الهدف منه النيل من الأشخاص، والعلماء الكبار- مثل السيوطي وغيره- ينبه على أخطائهم، ويستفاد من علمهم، ولهم فضائل تغطي على ما عندهم من أخطاء، لكن الخطأ لا يقبل منهم ولا من غيرهم.


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