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[Q]: And this one asks: who possesses the knowledge of al-Jarh wat-Ta’deel in our present times?
[A]: As for whatever is related to narrations, then that has been documented in books and there is nothing left from that except for it to be studied. As for whatever is related to innovation and criticizing its people and clarifying their condition, then this returns back to the Scholars – to the Scholars of the Sunnah – those who know the innovations, their rulings and the rulings upon their people.
And the more a person delves into this topic, the more he mixes with the people and reads their books and obtains knowledge of their positions, then he will be more knowledgeable about this topic. For example, the early Imaams of hadeeth used to say, ‘Indeed, the knowledge of al-Jarh wat-Ta’deel is a difficult ascent.’ So the huffaadh (memorizers) are many and those who procure enough knowledge for ta’deel (appraisal) and tajreeh (disparagement, criticism) are few from amongst them. And they have stipulated several conditions for the mujarrih (critic). So from them:
- He must be a memorizer of the narrations.
- He must have memorized the avenues of disagreement.
- He must be knowledgeable about the narrators, knowledgeable about their teachers, level after level and about their students and about the sources of their reports and other than that.
So once he has come to know these things, then having a vast memory and being familiar with the conditions of the people will aid him. And he must adorn himself with taqwaa (righteousness) and wara’ (piety) and fear of Allaah. So he must not have a predilection for desire and he must not be provoked by anger. This is what they have mentioned with regards to the attributes of the mujarrih (critic).
So therefore, the Scholar who knows the people and he has mixed with the people, then he is the one who rules upon them, since he has knowledge of the people, in addition to his knowledge about the ahkaam (rules, regulations) of the Sharee’ah. So he is given precedence in this.
And from the astonishing affairs I have seen in these times is our Shaykh, Shaykh Rabee’ (hafidhahullaah). There has never been an individual mentioned to us that we were ignorant about and we asked him about this individual, except that he would say, ‘I have known him for twenty years, or thirty years, or forty years, or for fifteen years,’ and the likes of that. He will bring you information about that individual in detail and he will explain that this individual has such and such and such a position, and we visited him at his place and in his land, or such and such has been mentioned to us, or we met in such a season and the likes of that.
So knowledge of the people in this manner is a distinct field. Sometimes, you do not even fully know your neighbour who lives beside you for months. You may not even know his name! So this is a gift from Allaah the Blessed and Exalted.
Indeed, this has been testified for him. Meaning, the one whose testimony is given consideration in this topic: Shaykh Naasir – rahimahullaahu ta’aalaa – said he is the flag bearer of the Sunnah in these times. So he was from the most knowledgeable of the people concerning the hadeeth of the Messenger (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam). Rather, I do not know of anyone under the pillars of the heavens more knowledge about hadeeth in these times – rahmatullaahi ’alayhi. And he testified for this man (i.e. Shaykh Rabee’), the Shaykh (i.e. Shaykh al-Albaanee) testified for his student.  So may Allaah have mercy upon Shaykh Naasir and may Allaah preserve our Shaykh, Shaykh Rabee’.
And we ask Allaah the Sublime and Exalted to grant all of us success. 
: Shaykh Muhammad Ibn ’Umar Baazmool said, “Shaykh al-Albaanee is a sign from the signs in these times with regards to hadeeth. He described Shaykh Rabee’ as the flag-bearer of al-Jarh wat-Ta’deel in these times!! So if this description was inapplicable, Shaykh al-Albaanee would have been the foremost of the people in opposing it and not applying it to a man living in these times, because he (i.e. al-Albaanee) is from the specialists in this field.” Refer to the cassette, al-Ajwibatul-Manhajiyyah ’alal-As‘ilatis-Salafiyyatil-Leebiyyah.
: This was taken from the first lesson of the author’s explanation of Nukhbatul-Fikr of Ibn Hajr.
Translation by Maaz Qureshi