Verifying Information, By Ibn ‘Uthaymeen


Ibn ‘Uthaymeen mentions in his valuable book “Kitaab Al-‘Ilm (The Book of knowledge), Pp. 57-58:

“If backbiting of the layman ranks amongst the major sins, then backbiting of the scholar is much greater. This is because the effects of backbiting of the scholar does not rest at him only, rather it rests upon him and that which he possesses in knowledge of the Sharee’ah.

If the people renounce a scholar or if he has fallen in their eyes, then the same will be the ase with regards to his words.

If he speaks the truth and guides to it, then the backbiting of this scholar becomes an obstacle between the people and his knowledge of the Sharee’ah. And its dangers are great and considerable.”

The shaykh then goes on to mention on page 59:

“As for taking delight in the lapse of the scholar and his mistakes so as to circulate this amongst the people to cause division, then this is certainly not from the way of the Salaf (pious predecessors)…

The cure to that which you suspect to be a mistake is to telephone the one whom you suspect has made the mistake and discuss the issue with him, then consider your position after the discussion.”

Further on (p.68) of the same book, the shaykh says:

“From amongst the most important disciplines which are obligatory for the student of knowledge to possess is verification. Verification in transmitting news and verification in passing judgement.

So, if information is transmitted, then it is imperative to verify it’s authenticity from the one whom it is being transmitted. If it is authenticated, and a religious verdict is issued, then quite possibly the information you have heard may be based upon a principle which you are unaware of, leading you to pass a judgement that the religious verdict is a mistake, whilst in reality it is not a mistake!

So what is the remedy for such a situation?

The remedy is that you call the one to whom this news is attributed and you say to him: “such and such has been transmitted on your authority, is this correct?” Then discuss the issue with him. It could be that your disagreement and subsequent alienation of him was due to what you heard which was alarming, because you do not know the reason for that which has been transmitted.”

In concluding this topic, the shaykh mentions (p. 70):

“In conclusion, if a statement is transmitted on the authority of such-and-such, and you feel it is wrong, then the follow the following three steps, in order:

1) Verify the authenticity of the narration.

2) Look into the issue to ascertain the correct ruling, and if it is correct, then support and uphold the position of the one from whom the narration is transmitted. However, if you find it is wrong, then proceed to step three.

3) Telephone the one from whom the narration is transmitted and discuss the issue with him calmly and respectfully. “

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