The term sa’āfiqah (singular: sa’fooq) is a derogatory term that refers to those possessing no capital with which to trade. In religious terms sa’fooq refers to one who has no knowledge, an ignoramus — and it can refer to the people of innovation.
Below is a question posed in this topic to the Shaikh, the noble Imām, the precise scholar, specialised in the arena of Hadeeth, and in the field of Al-Jarh wat-Ta’deel, Rabee’ Ibn Hādi Al-Madkhali (may Allah preserve him).
“There some callers here with us who speak concerning the affair of the Sa’āfiqah in general gatherings, regarding this latest fitnah O Shaykh. So some of them have translated and spread articles which have in them vilification and defamation of the Shaykhs who they refer to with the title Sa’āfiqah. So what is your instruction or counsel, may Allah preserve you? Do you see that this has any bearing on the rectification [between us] or does it spoil it, O Shaykh? Is it upon us to defend those shaykhs such as Shaykh ‘Arafāt, Shaykh ‘Abdullāh Ibn Salfeeq and others among the shaykhs?”
“Convey to these callers my salām, and inform them: Those whom you refer to as Sa’āfiqah are shaykhs and people involved in da’wah, they are people of virtue and Sunnah — and they are oppressed! Convey to them that they are oppressed. Say to them: Bring your proofs that these [shaykhs] are Sa’āfiqah, meaning that they are ignorant fools, bring your proofs! Otherwise repent to Allah, the Mighty and Majestic.
This has a bearing after the rectification [between you], and it spoils it, and it is oppression. They are oppressed. I know them, may Allah bless you, and they are known by the actual state of affairs! So among them is one who achieved a doctorate (in Islamic studies), another has a masters degree, another a University bachelors degree — and all of them are lecturers. So the accusation that they are Sa’āfiqah is oppression, and there is not for this accusation a shred of evidence — for this vilification of them that they are Sa’āfiqah, meaning that they are ignoramuses. This is severe oppression! May Allah bless you. So yes, defend them using wisdom. Say to them: Bring your proofs. Allah (the Most High) said, “Say (O Prophet to them): Bring your evidence if you are truthful.” The one who vilifies them has not a shred of evidence, may Allah bless you. The one who vilified them, I debated him and I read his speech, and he did not have even a shred of evidence. So they are oppressed — the Scholars praise and commend them, and my Tazkiyah (recommendation for them) is widespread. And I requested from Baqais, the owner of Mirāth Al-Anbiyā (website) to circulate that, may Allah bless you.
My methodology in refuting Ahlul-Ahwā and Bid’ah (the people of desires and innovation) is to quote their speech. I would say: “So-and-so said in such-and-such a book, in such-and-such a chapter, on page such-and-such.” Then I would expose him and quote from him. So I would quote him to the letter, verbatim, with proof and evidence.”
Then Shaikh Rabee’ (may Allah preserve him) was informed that in the upcoming summer seminar series, the following shaykhs would participate: Shaykh Abdullah Ibn Salfeeq Adh-Dhafeeri, Shaykh Arafāt Al-Muhammadi, Shaykh Abdul-Wāhid Al-Madkhali, Shaikh Fawwāz Al-Madkhali, if Allah wills. The questioner then asked, “So do you advise the Indonesian brothers to benefit from them?” Shaykh Rabee’ responded:
“Advise them to hold fast to the Book and Sunnah and to receive them (i.e. these shaykhs) and to honour them, may Allah bless you all.”
Source (from Sahab.net) 1st March 2018 / 13 Jamāda Al-Akhirah 1439:
The Great Scholars and their Status:
Our Shaykh, Al-‘Allāmah, the Imām, Rabee’ Ibn Hādi (may Allah preserve him) is from the greater and elder scholars of the Ummah, just as the Shaikh, the Imām of Sunnah, Al-Allamah Sālih Al-Fawzān (may Allah preserve him) etc, and before them the Imāms of Sunnah such as, Ibn Bāz, Al-Albāni and Ibn ‘Uthaimeen from their era, and their brothers from the great scholars. Their statements are not to be disregarded or ignored, for time and time again we have seen the end result of those who abandon the instruction and council of the great Imāms. I remind the respected reader regarding the station of these great scholars in the saying of Ahmad bin Hanbal, the Imām of Ahlus-Sunnah Wal-Jamā’ah, may Allāh have mercy upon him:
“All praise is due to Allāh who raised in every age between the Messengers, people of knowledge who call the misguided to guidance. They show patience with the harm they receive. They give life to the dead with the Book of Allaah. They give sight to the blind with the light of Allah. How many a person killed by Shaitān, have they given life to? How many misguided strayers have they led right? How beautiful has been their effect upon the people, and how despicable the people have been to them! They remove from the Book of Allah the distortions of those who go beyond bounds, the false assertions of the liars and the faulty interpretations of the ignorant, those who raise the banner of innovations and set loose the shackles of tribulation (fitnah). They differ regarding the Book [of Allah], they oppose it and they are united in their opposition and separating from it. They speak concerning Allah without knowledge. They speak with ambiguities and unclarity – and they deceive the ignorant people with ambiguities – we seek refuge with Allah from the trials of the misguided.” [Ar-Radd ‘alal-Jahmiyyah wal-Zanaadiqah, p. 85.]
This is status of the great Scholars in every era. Al-Allāmah, Ash-Shaikh, ‘Ubayd Al-Jābiri (may Allah preserve him) recently quoted a statement from the noble Companion, Abdullah Ibn Mas’ood (may Allah be pleased with him) and I have read similar from Al-‘Allāmah Al-Fawzān regarding the scholars wherein Ibn Mas’ood said: “The people shall not cease to be upon goodness so long as they acquire knowledge from their scholars, and their greater ones and their elders. But if they acquire knowledge from the lowly ones and the foolish ones, they are destroyed.” [Reported by Ibn Mandah in the Musnad of Ibrāheem Ibn Ad-ham, p. 34]
Shaikh Sālih Al-Fawzān (may Allah preserve him) commented, “It is obligatory upon the teachers to attach themselves to the trustworthy Scholars who are well-known for knowledge and sound ‘Aqeedah. They are to take knowledge and religion from them so that they have a chain of transmission (an isnād) of knowledge leading back to the Prophet (ﷺ). So they take knowledge from him (ﷺ) through these trustworthy Scholars so that they upon sure-sightedness in their Religion, clarity from their Lord and a connection with their Prophet.”