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The Fallacy of Reliance upon the “Majority” of People

The Majority is not a Proof that something is Correct

AUTHOR: Shaikh Saalih Al-Fawzaan

SOURCE: Sharh Masaa’il-ul-Jaahiliyyah (pg. 60-62)

PRODUCED BY: Al-Ibaanah.com

 

Imaam Muhammad bin ‘Abdil-Wahhaab ( rahimahullaah) said:

[5] From the greatest of their principles was that they would be deluded by the majority, using that to determine

the correctness of a matter. They would also determine the falsehood of something if it was strange and that its

adherents were few. So Allaah brought them the opposite of that, clarifying this in many places of the Qur’aan.

– the explanation –

From the characteristics of the people of the Days of Ignorance is that they would view the majority as proof that

something was true and the minority as proof that something was false. So according to them, whatever the

majority of the people was upon, that was the truth. And whatever the minority was upon, that was not the truth.

In their eyes, this was the balance used to determine truth from falsehood. However, this is wrong, for Allaah

says: “And if you obey most of those on earth, they will mislead you far away from Allaah’s path. They

follow nothing but conjecture, and they do nothing but lie.” [Surah Al-An’aam: 116]

And He says: “But most of mankind know not.” [Surah Al-A’raaf: 187]

And He says: “And most of them We found to be not true to their covenant, but most of them We found

indeed to be evil sinners.” [Surah Al-A’raaf: 102]

So the balance is not the majority and the minority. Rather, the balance is the truth. So whoever is upon the truth,

even if he is by himself, he is the one who is correct and deserves to be emulated. And if the majority of the

people are upon falsehood, then it is obligatory to reject them and not be deceived by them. So consideration is

given to the truth. This is why the scholars say: “Truth is not known by way of men, but rather men are known by

way of the truth.” So whoever is upon the truth, then he is the one we must follow and emulate.

In Allaah’s stories about the prior nations, He informs us that it is always the minority that is upon the truth, as

Allaah says: “And no one believed with him except for a few.” [Surah Hood: 40]

And in a hadeeth in which the nations were presented to the Prophet, he (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said that

he saw a prophet that had a small group of followers with him, and a prophet that had a man or two men

following him, and another prophet that had no one with him. So consideration is not given to which opinion or

view has the most followers. Rather, consideration is given to its being either true or false. So whatever is true,

even though a minority of the people or no one is upon it – so long as it is the truth – it must be adhered to, for

indeed it is salvation. Falsehood is not aided by the fact that it has a majority of people following it, ever. This is a

determining measure that the Muslim must always abide by.

The Prophet (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “Islaam began strange and it will return back to being

strange as it began.” This will occur at the time when evil, calamities and misguidance increase. So no one will

remain upon the truth except for the strange ones amongst the people and those who extract themselves from

their tribes (for the sake of their religion). They will become strangers in their society. The Messenger

(sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) was sent while the whole world was submersed in disbelief and misguidance. And

when he called the people, only one or two answered his call. It was only until later on that they grew to be many.

The tribe of Quraish, not to mention the whole of the Arabian Peninsula and the whole world, was upon

misguidance. And the Messenger of Allaah (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) was the only one calling the people.

So those that followed him were few with respect to the entire world.

So consideration is not given to the majority. Consideration is only given to what is correct and to achieving the

truth. Yes, if the majority of the people are upon correctness, then that is good. However, the way of Allaah is

that the majority of the people is always upon falsehood.

“And most of mankind will not believe even if you desire it eagerly.” [Surah Yoosuf: 103]

“And if you obey most of those on earth, they will mislead you far away from Allaah’s path. They follow

nothing but conjecture, and they do nothing but lie.” [Surah Al-An’aam: 116]