Showing sincerity to the Scholars is through mentioning their good qualities and concealing their shortcomings, and through helping them to be correct. So that if they make a mistake then you direct them and mention their error to them in a manner which does not ruin their reputation or belittle their station. Pointing out the mistakes of the scholars in a way which belittles their station harms Islaam, because the common person, when he sees the scholars declaring one another to be upon error, they all fall in his estimation, and he will say ‘these lot – they are always refuting one another, so I don’t know which of them is right!’. So he will end up not accepting the statement of any one of them (the scholars). However if the scholars honour one another, and if each of them advises his brother in private when he makes a mistake, while explaining the correct position on the issue to the people, then this is from the greatest form of showing sincerity to the Scholars of the Muslims.
[Sh ‘Uthaymeen in Sharh-ul-‘Aqeedat-il-Waasitiyyah Vol 2 P343]
Q&A from the corresponding audio lecture [http://www.binothaimeen.com/sound/snd/a0045/a0045-31a.rm]:
[Please note that the questioner is difficult to hear. It is only possible to make out the gist of what he says]
Questioner: [About how to deal with an author who has made an error in a particular book which he has published]
Sh ‘Uthaymeen: There are two ways … meaning if an author has made an error in a book which has spread amongst the people, and they have taken on his mistake, then the way to deal with this is that you write a book which explains what you consider to be the sunnah, without being drawn into saying that this person made a mistake or didn’t make a mistake, unless you are specifically asked. This is better. And if the people trust you more, then they will accept your point and will leave off his statement. And if they trust him more, then even if you were to refute him – then they wouldn’t accept that from you, unless Allaah wills.
Questioner: [About concealing the shortcomings of the scholars]
Sh ‘Uthaymeen: Yes, there’s no problem in saying for example ‘Some of the people of knowledge held this opinion, however the correct position is opposite to this’, without specifying an individual.
Questioner: [You said that concealing the faults of the scholars is obligatory, so if there is a scholar who is faasiq (openly sinful), who it is apparent from him that he shaves his beard, and Allaah knows what else (he does), who continues like this even after having been advised with good manners in private, and he became annoyed due to the advice – isn’t it the case that one must inform people of this?]
Sh ‘Uthaymeen: If it is the case that he shaves his beard then he has already made his shortcoming apparent, there’s no need for you to spread this as well … with regards to the affairs of the religion, if he shaves it, then everyone can see, there’s no need for you to say ‘So-and-so shaves his beard’ … to the people in general, you make the issue clear, say that shaving the beard is forbidden and persisting upon that is a major sin, so the matter will be clarified.
Questioner: [I’m not speaking about someone who only shaves their beard, someone who is apparently just an open sinner. However regarding a specific thing which he does in relation to the religion and he has been advised about this, then he criticises and abuses the one who advises him – so should one mention this shortcoming which he has?]
Sh ‘Uthaymeen: You don’t have to mention his fault. If you want to say something then say ‘Some of the scholars, may Allaah the Most High guide them, they shave their beards in opposition to the guidance of the Messenger ‘alaihis–salaatuwasalaam‘ etc.
Questioner: [I’m not even speaking about the beard]
Sh ‘Uthaymeen: You gave the example of the beard. I don’t know who he is.
Questioner: [what’s apparent from him is that he is basically openly sinful]
Sh ‘Uthaymeen: Or he may be sinful in private
Questioner: [It is apparent that he is openly sinful – and Allaah knows best what else he hides. It is said that he is a scholar … ]
Sh ‘Uthaymeen: By Allaah I don’t know him anyway. In either case recognize that the common person he weighs things up – when he sees a scholar in such a state, then he won’t trust him at all. Allaah has placed scales in the hearts of people, to weigh things up. ‘And whatever characteristics someone has, even if he thinks that he has concealed them from the people – they will become apparent.’
In any case, if he is an innovator [words unclear], not just someone who shaves his beard, and it is not possible to warn the people from his innovation without mentioning him by name, then in that case you must mention his name.
Questioner: [do we make analogy regarding this mistake]
Sh ‘Uthaymeen: No, a mistake regarding an action in a practical issue which someone does, may not comparable.
Questioner: [regarding innovation]
Sh ‘Uthaymeen: If it is an innovation, and it is not possible to warn the people from his innovation without mentioning him by name, then you mention it. As for if it is possible to warn the people from the innovation without mentioning him by name, then this is better. Like saying ‘Some people say such and such, and this is a mistake…’
Questioner: [words unclear]
Sh ‘Uthaymeen: The Messenger sallAllaahu’alaihiwasallam said “What is the matter with some individuals who say such and such”, “What is the matter with some of the people who say such and such.”
Questioner: [the Companions when they heard the like of this, “What is the matter with some individuals”, then each of them would consider themselves to have made the mistake, and would rectify himself. Now if you were to say “What is the matter with some individuals” this kind of thing doesn’t help]
Sh ‘Uthaymeen: As I was saying, for example ‘Indeed there are some individuals who say such and such’, ‘Indeed one of the scholars says such and such.’ – then you have achieved the objective.
Translated by Adnaan ibn Salman
The above discussion begins from about 20:30 onwards.