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 were upon, that was the truth. And whatever, the minority was upon, what was not the truth. In their eyes, this was the balance used to determine the 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 knows 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 says: “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 (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said that he saw a prophet that had a small group of followers with him, and another prophet that had no one with him. So consideration is not given which opinion or view has the most followers. Rather, consideration is given to its either being 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 (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said: “Islaam began strange and it will return back to being strange as it began.” [Reported by Muslim (no. 146)] 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 (صلى الله عليه وسلم) 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 that they grew to be many. The tribe of Quraysh, not to mention the entire Arabian Peninsula and the whole world, was upon misguidance. And the Messenger of Allaah (صلى الله عليه وسلم) 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 custom of Allaah is that the majority of people are 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-A’naam:116]
[Taken from the book, An Explanation Aspects of the Days of Ignorance of Imaam & Mujaddid Muhammad bin ‘Abdil-Wahhaab, by Shaikh Saalih bin Fawzaan al-Fawzaan]