|Concerning Islamic Groups and Sects|
|Author: Shaikh Salih al-Fawzan|
|Source: Al-Ajwibah al-Mufidah of Jamal bin Farihan al-Harithi (trans. Abu Iyaad)|
Q. Is the one who affiliates himself with the various (Islamic) groups to be considered an innovator?
A. This depends upon the nature of the groups. The one who affiliates himself with those groups that have some opposition to the Book and the Sunnah is to be considered an innovator.
Q. What is your general ruling upon the various Islamic groups?
A. Everyone who opposes the Jamaaah of Ahl us-Sunnah then he is astray. We do not have but a single Jamaaah and they are Ahl us-Sunnah. Wal-Jamaaah. Whatever opposes this Jamaaah, then it is in opposition to the manhaj (methodology) of the Messenger (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam).
Q. Should one mix with these groups or should they be avoided?
A. When the intention behind mixing with them is to call them (to the truth), and it is done by those who have knowledge and insight to adhere to the Sunnah and to abandon their error(s), then this is something good and is from calling to Allaah. However, if this mixing is only for the purpose of accompaniment and entertainment, without any dawah and without any clarification [of their errors], then this is not permissible. Hence it is not permissible for a person to mix with the opposers except in a manner in which some Shareeah benefit can be attained, such as calling them to the correct Islam, clarifying the truth to them that they may return to it such as when Ibn Masood, may Allaah be pleased with him, went to the Innovators who were in the mosque, stood in front of them and rejected their innovation. And like Ibn Abbaas, may Allaah be pleased with him, who went to the Khawarij, argued with them and refuted their misconceptions and as a result of which some of them returned to the truth.
Therefore, mixing with them in this manner is something that is desirable. But if they persist upon their falsehood, then it is obligatory to avoid and shun them and to struggle against them for the sake of Allaah.
Q. Do these groups enter into the seventy-two sects that are headed towards destruction?
A. Yes. Everyone who opposes Ahl us-Sunnah wal-Jamaaah from amongst those who associate themselves to Islam in the arena of dawah, or aqidah, or anything from the pillars of Iman, then such ones enter into the seventy-two sects and the threat (of Hellfire) encompasses them. He will be censured and punished to the extent of his opposition.
Q. Is it obligatory upon the Scholars to make clear to the Muslim youth and the general folk about the dangers of sectarianism, splitting and separate groups.
A. Yes. It is obligatory to explain the danger of sectarianism, the danger of separating and splitting into groups in order that the people have clear insight (into these affairs). This is because even the common folk are deceived. How many of them now have been deceived by these groups, thinking that they are upon the truth? Hence, it is necessary for us to explain to the people, the students and the general folk about the danger of groups and sects. The reason for this is that when they (the scholars) remain silent, the people begin to say: The scholars used to know about this but they remain quite and from this avenue, misguidance appears. Therefore, it is vital to clarify matters when issues such as these arise. The danger to the general folk is more abundant than the danger that would be caused to the students because the general folk consider the silence of the scholars to mean that it is correct and that it is the truth.
Q. Is it obligatory to warn against the methodologies that oppose the methodology of the Salaf?
A. Yes, it is obligatory to warn against the methodologies in opposition to that of the Salaf. This is from the nasihah(sincerity of purpose) that is due to Allaah, His Book, His Messenger, the leaders of the Muslims and the general folk. We caution against the people of evil and we warn against the methodologies in opposition to the methodology of Islaam and we explain the harmful effects of these matters to the people. We also encourage them to remain steadfast upon the Book and the Sunnah. All of this is obligatory. However, this is the responsibility and concern of the People of Knowledge for whom it is obligatory to engage in this matter; that they should make it clear to the people with the method that is legislated, suitable and successful, by the permission of Allaah.
Q. Does the correctness of a persons methodology determine Paradise or Hellfire for him?
A. Yes. When a persons methodology is correct he becomes one of the inhabitants of Paradise. So when he is upon the methodology of the Messenger (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) and the methodology of the Salaf us-Salih, he becomes one of the people of Paradise by the permission of Allaah. But when he traverses upon the methodology of those who are astray, he has been threatened with Hellfire.
 Shaikh Bakr Abu Zaid said in his book, “Hukm ul-Intimaa” (p.96-97): “It is not permissible to appoint a person for the Ummah and to call the Ummah to his way and on the basis of whom loyalty and disloyalty is shown, except for our Prophet and Messenger Muhammad (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam). So whoever appointed a person besides him, then he is an astray innovator.
 And he is under the will of Allaah, the Most High this is the aqidah of Ahl us-Sunnah wal-Jamaaah. And if it had not been the case that the correctness of a persons manhaj determines entry into Paradise or Hellfire, then what would be the benefit in his (sallallaahu alaihi wasallams) statement: “And this Ummah will split into seventy-three sects, all of them in the Hellfire except one.” The Sahabah asked, “And which one is that?” He said, “That which I and my Companions are upon today.”
Therefore, whoever is upon the guidance of the Prophet (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) and his Companions, then he is from the people of Paradise and whoever is upon other than that, then his is the second [destination]. And it is also well known and established in the view of Ahl us-Sunnah wal-Jamaaah that the seventy-two destroyed sects mentioned in the hadith will not remain in the Hellfire forever. And no one from Ahl ul-Hadith says this, therefore reflect over this. Unless the persons innovation is mukaffarah (takes one outside the fold of Islaam) or the sect is one of apostasy, and Allaah knows best.