Wisdom is to place things in their rightful place, thus harshness is to be placed where Allāh has placed it and gentleness [is placed] where Allāh ﷻ ordered [gentleness] to be placed. [The Prophet said ﷺ]: “Indeed Allāh is Rafīq [gentle], and loves rifq [gentleness] in all affairs.”  We are not absent minded about this fact. It [gentleness] is the foundation [of all] affairs.
فَبِمَا رَحْمَةٍ مِّنَ اللَّهِ لِنتَ لَهُمْ ۖ وَلَوْ كُنتَ فَظًّا غَلِيظَ الْقَلْبِ لَانفَضُّوا مِنْ حَوْلِكَ ۖ فَاعْفُ عَنْهُمْ وَاسْتَغْفِرْ لَهُمْ وَشَاوِرْهُمْ فِي الْأَمْرِ ۖ
۞ فَإِذَا عَزَمْتَ فَتَوَكَّلْ عَلَى اللَّهِ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يُحِبُّ الْمُتَوَكِّلِينَ
“And by the mercy of Allāh, you (O’ Muḥammad) dealt with them gently. And had you been severe and harsh hearted, they would have broken away from you; so overlook (their faults), and ask (Allāh’s) Forgiveness for them; and consult them in the affair. Then when you have taken a decision, put your trust in Allāh, certainly, Allāh loves those who put their trust (in Him)”. [Q 3:159]
Thus, [Allāh] ordered His Messenger ﷺ with this principle [gentleness], and the Qurʾānic verses and Prophetic narrations are numerous [in this regard], there is not enough time [to mention them all], however, if an individual comes raising his voice [with] falsehood and persistently champions falsehood, or misinterprets [the truth] in aid of falsehood, or does so [to please] its people; [because] he does not want to anger [the original] perpetrator of [this] falsehood, and as a result of this the children of Ahl al-Sunnah wal-Jamāʿah leave [his gatherings].
If such an impostor comes to us, what should our response [in dealing] with him be?
[Answer]: We invite him [to the sunnah] and we clarify [it] to him, however if he rejects it, then Allāh ﷻ says:
۞ يَا أَيُّهَا النَّبِيُّ جَاهِدِ الْكُفَّارَ وَالْمُنَافِقِينَ وَاغْلُظْ عَلَيْهِمْ ۚ وَمَأْوَاهُمْ جَهَنَّمُ ۖ وَبِئْسَ الْمَصِيرُ
“O’ Prophet [Muḥammad]! Strive hard against the disbelievers and the hypocrites, and be harsh against them.” [Q 9:73].
The people of sunnah use [this verse which warrants] harshness against the hypocrites as an evidence for being harsh against the people of desires and innovation, due to the stark resemblance of hypocrisy and hypocritical characteristics found in both sets of people, and as such, their danger upon the Muslims is greater than that of the regular disbelievers. The danger posed by the people of innovation towards the Muslims is more serious than the danger posed by the regular disbelievers. Such are the fundamental principles [which] are historically established with the Imāms of the Sunnah.
[Likewise] the danger posed by the Mumayʾīn  to Ahl al-Sunnah – let whoever is angered by this be angry – the danger posed by the Mumayʾīn to Ahl al-Sunnah is far greater and severe than the danger posed by the outright people of innovation, due to the fact that the innovator is known to us, and we are cautious of him by Allāh’s grace, however the one that makes excuses for him [the innovator] and inclines towards him lending an ear to him, is the one who is dangerous to Ahl al-Sunnah wa al-Jamāʿah.
They say Muḥammad bin Hādī says these things and says and says… [In reply] I say between you and me are the classical books of narrations, if you find that I have gone outside of them so much as a letter [of what the Salaf wrote] then come with it. [Furthermore] I am going to mention to you an excerpt regarding this issue, (and know that) the Mumayʾīn do not like to hear this.
In the first volume of Imām al-Lālikāʾī’s [Sharh Usūl al-Iʿtiqādah], wherein he mentioned the ʿaqīdah of Abū Ḥātim al-Rāzī and Abū Zurʿāh al-Rāzī – may Allāh’s mercy be upon them – he went on to mention his findings regarding the ʿaqīdah of Abū Ḥātim al-Rāzī and mentioned therein ‘The warning of Ahl al-Ḥadīth wa Sunnah against al-Karabīsī.’ Al-Karabīsī was a great and renowned scholar. (However) When he wrote his book about deception [al-tadlīs] and the names of the deceptive (ḥadīth) narrators, which was later presented to Imām Aḥmad [for endorsement], his book was found to contain mistakes. He (al-Karabīsī) denied that to be the case.
It was said to him: “This book (of yours) has reached Imām Aḥmad but he refused to endorse it” With his denial they (his students) requested from him to retract, but he refused saying: “Show it to him (Aḥmad), a righteous man is given success to do goodness, so show it to him”. (In the end) Imām Aḥmad began to warn against his companion (al-Karabīsī) and warn against sitting with him. Abū Ḥātim al-Rāzī said at this point regarding the warning against al-Karabīsī and those who defend him such as Dāwūd ibn Alī al-Asbahānī – Who was the Imām of the ẓāhirīyah school of thought, and renowned -; he came to Imām Aḥmad (However) Imām Aḥmad refused to receive him, so Abū Ḥātim al-Rāzī began to criticize him (Dāwūd) very harshly due to him defending who!!?..al-Karabīsī. And (as for) al-Karabīsī, when Imām Aḥmad’s speech reached him, the miskīn became arrogant and began to criticize and disparage Aḥmad.
I am going to mention something to you (even though) it is bitter (however) it is mentioned in the books of our Salaf; so it can be known who is acting blind and deaf. Al-Karabīsī’s speech against Imām Aḥmad was mentioned to Yaḥyā ibn Maʿīn, upon which he said: “May Allāh curse him (al-Karabīsī)” Look!…He said: “May Allāh curse him.” We are not looking into the correctness of this at the moment, but look at the harshness of who!!?…Yaḥyā against al-Karabīsī. He said: “May Allāh curse him; this individual deserves to be disciplined”. (This) did not harm Aḥmad, and al-Karabīsī died (in such a way that) al-Khaṭīb (al-Baghdādī) wrote in his biography – As he was a collector of ḥadīth and narrations – “There was not even a road leading to his (al-Karabīsī’s) funeral”, (meaning) the students of sunnah and ḥadīth fled from him.
Look at this reinforcement from the scholars of sunnah for each other. Dāwūd ibn ʿAlī defended and made excuses for who!!?…al-Karabīsī, (so) Aḥmad rejected him (Dāwūd) refusing to meet him, (and consequently) Abū Ḥātim warned against him and many of the senior scholars of sunnah at his time (also) criticized him (Dāwūd). What would the rank of the Mumayʾīn scholars of today be with those (of the past)!!? a drop in the ocean. By Allāh, whosoever opposes the way of those (Salaf) we shall certainly critique him even if birds snatch us away or we are dangled by our heads or by our feet upside down. Do you think this religion reached us without any sacrifice (in the process)!!? By Allāh no!! By Allāh no!! Indeed individuals (from the salaf) were imprisoned, lashed, beaten, banished and other than that, however their books are still with us, and their radiant journals are available to us. It is a must to be cautious of individuals who try to undermine the danger posed by Ahl al-Bidʿah and the deviants, as their danger to Ahl al-Sunnah and the Salafiyyīn is far greater than the outright Innovators.
Allāh!! O’ children (of the sunnah), (I exhort you) to adhere to the authentic sunnah from the Prophet ﷺ and follow the path that is clear and upright which the prophet left for us and his companions and those that followed them in righteousness; (such as) the imāms of ḥadīth – may Allāh be pleased with them- Zuhrī and his likes, the two Sufyāns, Mālik, Ḥasan, ibn Sirīn, Ayyūb, Ibn Asbārt, the two Hammāds, Waqīʿ, Ibrāhīm, Alqama, and the rest. Aḥmad, al-Bukhārī, Muslim, Abū Dāwūd, al-Tirmithī, Ibn Mājah, and the rest of those who by way of them, Allāh preserved the sunnah of the Prophet ﷺ and the narrations of his companions.
So if you want to excel to the likes of their rank, and set out for supreme glory the likes of which they had, then embark upon…what?!! The ladder of taqwa which they have erected, – I ask Allāh to make us of those who fear Him – So climb seriously and with determination like how they climbed. Therefore taqwa is a must; an individual must place it between his eyes not desiring anything except Allāh ﷻ and the hereafter; not desiring a large following or boastfulness, rather desiring nothing other than Allāh’s (pleasure) and the final abode.
He wants salvation for himself firstly, and then for those whom Allāh ﷻ places in front of him so as to sit and learn from him; at the same time he must be self-disciplined and determined with firm intention, for indeed this religion came to us (in a manner) as you just heard and knowledge of it is not attained by relaxing.
So it is upon the student of knowledge to exert all he can in order to understand the sunnah, and it is upon him if he hears the speech of the ignoramuses, to contrast it with their (the salaf’s) speech, as the principle with us is the superior principle which all of you are familiar with:
Whoever is following (a particular way) then he should follow the way of those who have died (the Salaf), for indeed the living are not guaranteed safety from fitnah (misguidance)”. So one must emulate those who died upon correct guidance, as for the living, they are not guaranteed safety from fitnah (misguidance).
 Refer to al-Bukharī, Ṣaḥīḥ (no.634).
 [TN]: Lit, to water down. This is the methodology of diluting and softening the position of Ahl al-Sunnah towards the people of innovation. Such as the false principles that Abū al-Ḥasan and al-ʿArʿūr invented to destroy the Salafī Manḥaj.