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Shaykh Ṣāliḥ ibn ʿAbd al-Azīz Al-Shaykh
Importance given to the Sunnah and refuting the innovators is a something well known – as you all aware, amongst the Imāms of Islam. Their lives were spent in rebuking the people of innovation. They did not busy themselves in refuting the disbelievers from the Jews and Christians. So if you were to look into the speech of Imām Aḥmad, Sufyān, Ḥamād ibn Zayd, Ḥamād ibn Salama, Nuʿaym bin Ḥamād, also al-ʿAwza’ī, Isḥāq, ʿAlī ibn al-Madinī or others from the Imāms of Islam, you will find that the majority of their speech and jihad revolved around rebuking the people of innovation and criticising the foundations of the innovators, regardless of the fact the refuted ones were Muslims.
The Imāms did not busy themselves in rebuking the Jews or Christians, nor the rest of the non-Muslims, and away from refuting the Jews and the Christians. This is because the Muslims are the most vulnerable to the evils of the innovators, and are not safe from them in contrast to the evils of the non-Muslims from Jews and Christians since their evil is well-known and apparent as Allah has made it clear in his Book. However, the evils of the people of innovation is great and due to this, it is not befitting to say that the People of Sunnah are preoccupied in refuting the Muslims away from refuting the Jews and the Christians – as said by some intellectuals from the Muʿtazilah and other than them; that the People of Sunnah are preoccupied with refuting Muslims and have abandoned refuting the disbelievers – the Jews, Christians, and the rest of people of disbelief. As previously mentioned, the reason for this lies in the reality that the evil of innovation is greater. This is due to the fact that the innovators enter upon the Muslims in the name of Islam. As for the disbelievers, such as the Jews and the Christians, their misguidance is clear to the people.
So the guidance of the Imāms of Islam was known in relation to refuting the people of the innovation and desires, and it was not known from them to exert great efforts in refuting the Jews and Christians. This does not mean that the believers from the People of Sunnah should not busy themselves with refuting the Jews and the Christians. Rather, it is said that from the distinguishing characteristics of the Imāms of the Sunnah, is their rebuttal of the people of innovation and the enemies of Islam is an obligation, whether their origin is of disbelief or of the people of innovation. It should not be said to the one who is busy with refuting the innovators, “Why have you left refuting the Jews and the Christians for the people of innovation?” rather, we say that this is the guidance of the early Imāms. Hence, every one refutes in accordance to their field. From us are those who refute the Jews and the Christians and from us are those who refute the innovators, and collectively we all protect the sanctity of Islam by refuting the deceptions of the deceivers, the innovations of the innovators, the polytheism of the polytheists, and the misguidance of the disbelievers whether it be from the Jews and the Christians or other than them.