May Allāh ﷻ be good to you. Some people slander the Salafīs by saying they only have three or four scholars, and that they only listen their speech in relation to al-jarḥ wa al-taʿdīl. So what is your advice regarding this? May Allāh ﷻ preserve you.
Shaykh Muḥammad ibn Hādī al-Madkhalī:
This doesn’t harm (the Salafīs). Let them say what they wish. During the inquisition in the era of Imām Aḥmad who was the one (people) depended upon? It was Aḥmad! All of them were looking towards Aḥmad. So the point of consideration is the one who is upon the Sunnah. When Aḥmad was asked; ‘who is the Jamāʿah?’, he replied; ‘Abū Hamza al-Sukkarī’. Abū Hamza al-Sukkarī alone was the Jamāʿah! Sufyān al-Thawrī said; ‘If only one scholar – meaning a person of Sunnah – was on the top of a mountain then he would be the Jamāʿah’.
Those people (who claim this) are not given consideration, all this intimidating and inciting will not harm the people of Sunnah and all praise is for Allāh, neither will it break their support (for one another). And those who will be saved are but a few, whilst those who will be destructed are many. This is the first point.
Secondly; how many are the narrators of ḥadīth? And how many were those who memorised ḥadīth? But whose words were relied upon when it came to al-jarḥ wa al-taʿdīl? Only a very few! Look at the treatise written by al-Dhahabī titled; ‘Those who were relied upon for al-jarḥ wa al-taʿdīl’, then look at where he mentions; ‘Those whose speech was relied upon’. Not everyone who spoke was relied upon! Instead the one who was relied upon is the one who has knowledge and experience. It is a must that the person who makes jarḥ or taʿdīl is: someone who is watchful of Allāh ﷻ in what he says. That he is aware of the fact that peoples’ honours is like a bridge which is on the brink of hell-fire, (this bridge) upon which only two types of pass over – the judges and the scholars of ḥadīth.
As for the judges they accept the disparagement of a witness in order to preserve the blood, wealth and honour of another people, and likewise the people of ḥadīth, they disparage and accept criticism of people to preserve the ḥadīth of the Messenger of Allāh ﷻ and those who are relied upon in this field are only a few, so those who memorised and narrate ḥadīth are thousands whilst those whose statements are depended in matters of al-jarḥ wa al-taʿdīl are very few.
It is a must that the one who is involved in jarḥ or taʿdīl is mindful of Allāh ﷻ, and that he doesn’t speak except with knowledge, therefore he has to be a person of knowledge and piety. Likewise he must have experience regarding men and their conditions, their history, their methodologies, beliefs and their narrations. Additionally he must be mindful of Allāh ﷻ, abstinent and pious. He shouldn’t be taken by anger nor should he follow his desires. He should not be taken by anger such that he criticises someone who shouldn’t be criticised nor should he follow his desires such that he stays quiet from one it is obligatory to criticise. And above all of this he must intelligent, well-acquainted with the conditions of the people such that he isn’t deceived by those who try to deceive him. So how many memorisers or scholars of ḥadīth are there, yet they don’t meet these conditions and therefore are not including from the people of al-jarḥ wa al-taʿdīl. As I mentioned previously, memorisers of ḥadīth and its narrators are plentiful but those who specialise in criticism are very few in number.
Such people are those who have gathered with them these characteristics and others as mentioned by the scholars of ḥadīth which are to be met in order to disparage or to criticise, and not everyone can criticise or is fit to be a criticiser. So the likes of these statements are of no consideration.