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[Q]: This questioner says: We have heard those who ascribe to as-Salafiyyah have formed a principle in refuting the innovator, “Do not refute him up until you know what he meant and up until you are a Scholar and so on.” So what is the response to this?
[A]: I say: As for knowledge being a condition for the refutation, then yes. You heard about it not too long ago.
As for the statement that you cannot refute someone up until you know what he meant, then this is speech which is in need of further detailed speech.
If his statement is apparently falsehood, then I must ask him about what he meant?! He is only to be asked about something that is ambiguous. As for that which is clear falsehood, then it is necessary to refute it.
If you are from those who are fit to refute and you are asked about that, or it has been obligated upon you, such that there is no one else to absolve you of this task, then it is obligatory upon you to clarify. And we have not been commanded to investigate into the meanings of the people. We have been commanded to take the people at face value. The Prophet (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) said,
“I am only a human being, and you people have disputes. May be someone amongst you can present his case in a more eloquent and convincing manner than the other, and I give my judgment in his favour according to what I hear. Beware! If ever I give somebody something of his brother’s right then he should not take it as I have only, given him a piece of Fire…” 
And he (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) said to Usaamah Ibn Zayd (radiyallaahu ’anhumaa),
“Did you tear open his heart?”
This was when the man stated that there is no one worthy of worship besides Allaah, but Usaamah killed him, as Usaamah had been standing over him with the sword, so he killed him. Usaamah replied,
“He only said it as a means of seeking protection.”
The Prophet said,
“Did you tear open his heart?” 
So he did not know what was inside the man’s chest and he was not held responsible for it. He was held responsible for what was apparent. And ’Umar (radiyallaahu ’anhu), the Leader of the Believers, said, as occurs in al-Bukhaaree,
“During the time of Prophethood, people accepted the Revelation. As for now, then the Revelation has ceased…”
The Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) had died.
“We only take the people at face value. We bring close and favour the one who manifests goodness in front of us. And we dismiss and distance ourselves from the one who manifests evil in front of us,” or as he – rahimahullaah – said. 
So we have not been commanded to investigate into the intended meanings. Whosoever has speech that is falsehood, then falsehood must be refuted. And if he is ignorant and he says, “I meant such and such, but I erred in the expression,” we reply, ‘The praise is for Allaah. Therefore, you have corrected yourself. So it is not permissible for anyone, from this point onwards, to follow you in that falsehood now that you are aware of it.’
So now you – O critic – have benefited the people firstly and him (i.e. the speaker of falsehood) secondly.
This speech (i.e. that you cannot refute someone up until you know what he meant) is incorrect.” 
: Related by al-Bukhaaree (no. 2291), Muslim (no. 3237), Aboo Daawood (no. 3115), Ibn Maajah (no. 2310), at-Tirmidhee (no. 1256), an-Nisaa‘ee (no. 5683) and Ahmad in al-Musnad (no. 26016).
: Related by Muslim (no. 140) and Aboo Daawood (no. 26430).
: Related by al-Bukhaaree (no. 2498) and Ahmad in al-Musnad (no. 288).
: Taken from the recorded gathering entitled, “Thawaabit ’Aadoo ilat-Tashkeek feehaa.”
Translation by Maaz Qureshi