Shaykh al-Albaanee: So therefore, we arrive at the following outcome: it is not permissible for you or other than you to describe an entire group of people with a general description, applying it to all of them. Secondly, it is not permissible to generalize this characteristic upon any individual from the Muslims, whether he is Salafee or khalafee, except in certain circumstances, as long as we agree that leniency is not legislated at all times. So we see that the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) used the type of harshness that if a Salafee today used it the people would strongly reject this from him. For example: Perhaps you know the story of Abis-Sanaabil, do you remember this story?
Shaykh al-Albaanee: A woman’s husband died while she was pregnant. So when she gave birth it reached her that the Prophet said that when a pregnant woman’s husband dies, her waiting period is until she delivers her baby, and this is found in the Saheeh of Imaam al-Bukhaaree (d.256H). So after she gave birth, she anticipated becoming engaged for marriage, so she beautified herself and put on kuhl (antimony). So when Abus-Sanaabil saw her, he proposed marriage, but she refused, so he said to her, “It is not permissible for you to marry until you have finished the waiting period for mourning – which is four months and ten days.” And from what is apparent, she was a woman1 who had concern for her Religion, so she dressed in her over-garment and rushed to the Prophet. She mentioned what Abus-Sanaabil said to her, and the Prophet (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) said, “Abus-Sanaabil has lied.”2 Is this considered harshness or not?
Questioner: Yes, this is harshness.
Shaykh al-Albaanee: From whom? This was from the most merciful of the people. [Allaah says,]
“If you had been hard-hearted and harsh they would have dispersed from around you.” [Soorah Aali-’Imraan 3:159]
So therefore using leniency as a starting point is not a general rule, as we previously agreed upon. Rather, it is upon the Muslim to use leniency at the proper time and harshness at the proper time. Also, for example, there is what appears in the Musnad of Imaam Ahmad (d.241H) when the Prophet (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) gave an exhortation, one of the Companions stood up and said, ‘What Allaah wills and you will, O Messenger of Allaah.’ The Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) said, “Are you making me an equal to Allaah?! Say whatever Allaah wills alone.”3 Is this harshness or not?
Questioner: This is the simply Prophet’s manner of speaking.
Shaykh al-Albaanee: I call [what you are doing now] a diversion, because you did not answer me [this time] as you answered me before. When I informed you what the Prophet said about Abus-Sanaabil, “Abus-Sanaabil has lied.” Is this harshness or not?
Questioner: Yes, that is harshness.
Shaykh al-Albaanee: And the second hadeeth?
Questioner: He only clarified for him by saying, “Are you making me an equal to Allaah?”
Shaykh al-Albaanee: This is a diversion – may Allaah bless you – I did not ask you whether he clarified or not, I asked you did he use harshness or leniency? Why has your manner of answering changed? The first time you did not say he made a clarification by saying, “Abus-Sanaabil has lied.” He did clarify, but was his clarification with leniency or harshness?
Questioner: In the second question, he didn’t call him a liar; he merely said, “Are you making me equal to Allaah?!”
Shaykh al-Albaanee: Allaahu Akbar! This is from the harshest of censures – may Allaah bless you.
1 Her name was Subay’ah bintul-Haarith (radiyallaahu ’anhaa).
2 The foundation of this narration is found in the Saheeh (no. 3770) of al-Bukhaaree and Muslim in his Saheeh (no. 56). As for the narration containing the wording, ‘Abus-Sanaabil has lied,’ it is collected by al-Albaanee in Silsilatus-Saheehah (no. 3274) upon the authority of ’Abdullaah Ibn Mas’ood (radiyallaahu ’anhu).
3 Related by Ahmad in his Musnad (1/214, 224, 283, and 347) upon the authority of Ibn ’Abbaas. It was authenticated by al-Albaanee in Silsilatus-Saheehah (no. 139).
The above was an excerpt from a PDF article by Sunnah Publishing. The full discussion can be read here: http://www.sunnahpublishing.net/modules/Manhaj/harshsalafees.pdf