Imaam Barbahaaree (rahimahullaah) said:
‘Know that leaving the correct path occurs in two ways. Firstly: that a man strays from the correct path intending nothing but good, so his error is not to be followed since it leads to destruction. Secondly, a man who deliberately opposes the truth and acts contrary to the Pious ones who came before him, he is astray, leading others astray, a rebellious devil within the Ummah. It is a duty upon those who know of him to warn the people against him and to explain his condition to them so that no one falls into his innovation and is destroyed.’¹
Sheikh Saaleh Al-Fawzaan (hafidha-hullaah) comments on the above statement of Imaam Barbahaaree (rahimahullaah) saying:
After the Sheikh (i.e. Imaam Barbahaaree- rahimahullaah) described the correct path in his previous statement- (the path path) that is obligatory upon the Muslim to traverse in his Aqeedah and Religion–he then mentioned that the one who leaves the correct path is one of two men:
The First Man: He is that one who leaves the (path) without the intention (to do so), rather he intended goodness but followed other than the path of goodness. Striving is not sufficient (on its own), and even if the person has a righteous intention and a good aim, then that has to be upon the correct path. So this (person) is considered mistaken and whoever agrees with him upon that, and proceeds with him upon error will be destroyed; because this is a path of destruction even though the (person) did not intend leaving (it), rather his quest was for goodness. This is the state affairs of many of those who initiate newly invented affairs from themselves in the knowledge of Aqeedah. This affair is not permissible and they are not to adhere to it. The person (upon this path) is not upon correctness. Allah (The Most High) said: ”And verily, this is my Straight Path, so follow it, and follow not (other) paths, for they will separate you away from His Path.” [6:153]
So we reject any path that exits us from the straight path even if the one who (calls) to it aims for good and has a good intention. We do not follow him upon that whilst he continues upon his error, eventually leading to destruction; because whoever abandons the correct path in his journey and takes a path of ruin, he will be destroyed. ²
As For The Second Person: It is the one who intends to leave (the correct path). He knows the truth and that what he embarks upon is falsehood, but he intends to leave the truth with the intention of misguiding the people. So the intention of the first (person) is to bring about benefit for the people, but he did not follow the correct path. The second (person) intended to misguide the people and to turn them away from the correct path. So this one (i.e.the one who intends misguidance for the people) is a devil, because the devils take the people away from the straight path. Iblees said to his Lord [The Mighty and Majestic]: ‘Surely I will sit in wait against them (human beings) on Your Straight Path.’ [7:16]
So he intends to turn them away from it and (direct them) towards the deviated paths. The Prophet (sallal-laahu-alayhi-wasallam) gave us an example when he drew a straight line and drew other lines on its sides, he then said about the straight line: ‘This is the path of Allaah’ and he said about the other lines, ‘These are the other paths, and on each path is a devil calling to it.’
This is a clear example corresponding to that which the Shaikh (i.e. Imaam Barbahaaree-rahimahullaah) has mentioned here. So the one who takes the people away from the straight path to the innovated paths of the innovators is not one who intends good for them; rather he intends destruction for them. He is a devil, whether a devil from amongst the Jinn or the People.³
It is binding upon us to be more cautious about this (person) than the first one (i.e. the person who intends good but was mistaken); because this one (i.e. the intentionally deviated one) intends to misguide the people.
And concerning the statement of Imaam Barbahaaree (rahimahullaah):
‘He is astray, leading others astray, a rebellious devil’: Sheikh Saaleh Al-Fawzaan commented on the above statement of Imaam Barbahaaree saying: He is misguided and misguides others. He is a rebellious devil, a rebel intending to turn the people from the straight path.
And concerning the statement of Imaam Barbahaaree(rahimahullaah):
”It is a duty upon those who know of him to warn the people against him and to explain his condition to them so that no one falls into his innovation and is destroyed.’ Sheikh Saaleh Al-Fawzaan commented on the above statement of Imaam Barbahaaree saying: It is not permissible to keep quiet about this one who leaves the truth intentionally; rather it is obligatory to unveil his affair and uncover his vileness until the people are warned about him. And it is not to be said that the people are free to hold to views, freedom of speech and respecting the views of others, as stated in an undertone at present about (having) respect for the views of others. The issue is not about views; (rather) the issue is about Ittibaa (adherence to the correct Islaam). Allah has outlined a clear path and told us to adhere to it, saying: ‘’And verily, this is my Straight Path, so follow it’ [6:153]
So any person who comes to us and wants us to leave this straight path, then firstly we reject his statement. Secondly, we clarify and warn the people against him and we do not keep quiet about him; because if we keep quiet about him, the people will be deceived by him, especially if he is an eloquent person, (with) good speech, (skilful) writing and is educated; for indeed the people will be deceived by him and will say: ‘this one is competent, this one is from the thinkers,’ as is taking place today.
So, the affair is very dangerous; and in this is a reason to refute the one in opposition as opposed to what those (people who): ‘abandon the refutations, leave the people, everyone has his own views and have respect for him.’ By way of this (having) respect for the views and freedom of speech, the Ummah will be destroyed.
The Salaf did not keep quiet about the likes of these people; rather they exposed and refuted them due to their knowledge of the danger of (these people) upon Ummah. We do not keep quiet about their evil; rather what Allaah has revealed must be clarified. And unless (we do that), we will be from those who conceal the truth, from those whom Allah spoke of (saying): ‘Verily, those who conceal the clear proofs, evidences and the guidance, which We have sent down, after We have made it clear for the people in the Book, they are the ones cursed by Allaah and cursed by the cursers.’ [2:159]