Shaikh, I have a question concerning the issue of refuting the one who has erred. Is it incumbent upon the student of knowledge or the well-grounded student of knowledge to refer back to the scholars or senior scholars before warning against a specific individual, hizbee group/organization or innovators (in general)? Does he have to refer back to the scholar before warning?
Shaikh Rabee’ (hafithahullah) was asked about this and his answer can be found on Sahab (i.e. www.Sahab.net) and perhaps you know of it. So he was asked about this issue, and he answered it and his answer was correct. This issue is not one (meaning it’s not the same across the board and in every situation). There are issues that are obvious, clear, and apparent of which the student of knowledge could clarify if he has the ability to do so; so one aspect would be linked to one who’s disapproving and clarifying level of knowledge, another to his ability and another to his resolve to be patient upon enduring harms. Another consideration would be his contemplation on the specific positive and negative ramifications which would necessitate decisive and specific actions, statements and judgments. So contemplation on the benefits and harms which (would translate into) direct and decisive action (is required), this would be established by the refutation or the one making the refutation; especially, if the issue is a knowledge-based issue that the people of knowledge have already spoken about. In this case, there would be nothing preventing (the student of knowledge from boycotting and warning). Boycotting and warning are taken from the Islaamic legislation (i.e. from the Sharee’ah).
However, this issue is not open to such point that would (give license to) the student who is not grounded in knowledge or lacking and inappropriate (for such things) but who wants to take up the struggle which would result in his harming the Da’wah of the Sunnah; this is due to his refutation either being academically wanting, incomplete or lacking in adequately explaining the issue. In such a case, it is obliviously better for him to go and study the Da’wah of the Sunnah (himself).
So we don’t unequivocally restrict the student of knowledge so it is said, “It is not for students of knowledge to speak.” This is not correct. How could he shoulder the trust of (conveying) knowledge or struggle in the path of Allah (if this were the case)? Likewise, it is not said that (the student of knowledge) unequivocally has license to refute. This too is not correct. These issues (will vary) and are relevant according to the student, that which is being changed and the over-all situation that he is in.
The guidance of the Salafus Saalih was to refer to one more knowledgeable as much as possible; this was the guidance of the Salafus Saalih. When Abu Musa Al- Ash’aree (radi Allahu ‘anhu) saw those people in the Masjid sitting in circles remembering Allah upon an innovated way, he knew what they were doing was false; however, because it was possible to go to Ibn Mas’ood (radi Allahu ‘anhu) to inform him he did, and (then he) returned with Ibn Mas’ood (radi Allahu ‘anhu).
This was the guidance of the Salafus Saalih, to refer it to one who is more knowledgeable in knowledge-based issues. Refutations also enter into this topic. For example, if you find that one of the people of knowledge has already given a verdict, why would the student issue a verdict when the people of knowledge have already satisfied this affair? Likewise, if you find that one of the people of knowledge has issued a refutation which would be and is better (then there is no need for the student to issue a refutation). However, if a need arises, like there is a lecturer in a remote part of New Jersey and you don’t have a means to call the people of knowledge but this lecturer is on the same (innovation) and saying the same thing that another innovator who has already been refuted by the people of knowledge said, and he (the student) has the ability to clarify this situation, why shouldn’t he make it clear? Yes.