What follows is a quick summary translation of excerpts from an article (التوضيح والبيان لبعض أسباب تراجعي عن منهج الشيخ الحجوري) written by a former student at Dammaaj (posted on Sahab.Net). It shows that there are sensible people out there who can reach into their souls and see wrong for wrong and right for right and put themselves on the path to rectification. May Allaah grant success to the others in following this way. You may also want to read the excellent piece from Shaykh Muhammad bin Abd al-Wahhab al-Wasaabee on admonitions and lessons from the fall of Dammaaj which highlights similar things (read the article here).
Some of the Reasons Why I Recanted From the Manhaj of Al-Shaykh Al-Hajuri
By Abu Abd al-Rahman Hamzah bin Abd al-Qadir al-Tayaaritee
All praise is due to Allaah, we praise and seek His aid and forgiveness, we seek refuge in Allaah from the evils of our souls and the evils of our actions. Whomsoever Allaah guides there is none to misguide and whomsoever Allaah misguides there is none to guide. I testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allaah alone, without any partners and I testify that Muhammad is His servant and messenger. To proceed:
It is not hidden to all those whom Allaah has given insight and bestowed with success what this blessed Salafi da'wah has of excellence in teaching the people the pure religion... the favour and bounty in this belongs to Allaah, the Sublime and Exalted, then to the Scholars of the Ummah who inherited this knowledge... We have been put to trial in these times with many tribulations and perhaps the most harmful and severe of them is creating doubts about the scholars and their knowledge and their trustworthiness.
And the needy servant, the writer of these lines, may Allaah forgive him, was from those who were put to trial by this fitnah by reviling the Scholars and creating doubts about their competence, rather, about their Salafiyyah. For I tired myself in speaking about affairs that were much larger than my size by many degrees... and I was from those who let their tongues loose in expelling from Salafiyyah those noble Scholars for whom Sunnah is testified, out of ignorance on my behalf of the evil end results of these affairs, which only lead to evil in the life of this world and the hereafter for the one who falls into them.
Everything which I fell into and which others besides me fell into returns back to self-confidence (dependence) and deception (of one's soul). You will see one amongst us who has not gained sufficient understanding in his aqeedah and then he speaks about affairs that many of the Scholars of our time would show wara' (fear) in speaking about them.
From the affairs that kindled the fire of tribulations is speaking in the deen of Allaah without knowledge. There is no doubt that the one who speaks about Allaah without knowledge is far-removed from taqwaa (piety), far removed from khashyah (awe of Allaah), and from observing His (presence), [Allaah,, the Exalted said] (إنما يخشى اللهَ من عباده العلماء) "Verily, those from His servants fear Allaah who are the scholars." The one who does not have fear of Allaah and does observe the presence of Allaah when he speaks, then he will inevitably speak with desire, so how can this type of person know the benefits from the harms?! Let alone weighing and considering them. So you will see him being harsh in the place of softness and being soft in the place of harshness, and in all of this he is simply following a principle that he laid down for himself or which he derived from the speech of his shaykh, which is "The more you are harsh in your tone, the more you will have advanced in your Salafiyyah." So you will see that the one who declares Shaykh Ubayd an innovator and declares him astray, and declares Shaykh Firkaus astray, he is of higher rank in his Salafiyyah than the one who says "I am with Shaykh Yahyaa but I do not make tabdee' of those Shaykhs." This is a truth which is not denied except by a liar, deceiver of his own self before (deceiving) others.
... and more calamitous than all of that is that we submitted our intellects to some of the students of knowledge and we abstained and made others abstain from the Scholars of our time. One of us became such that he would not listen to anyone but Shaykh Yahyaa and his students. Rather, one of the brothers - may Allaah increase him in earning more of His pleasure - said to me, from those who recanted from making tabdee' of the Scholars that he would listen to a lesson from the lessons of Shaykh al-Fawzaan and his heart would be closed because he became accustomed to listening to Shaykh Yahya and his students, hence his heart was not pleased and open except to them! And I used to be like him, and if this is not from ta'assub (partisanship, bigotry), then what do we call it then? We seek refuge in Allaah from ghuluww in the religion, and we seek refuge in Allaah from harshness which repels the creation from the true deen of Allaah.
All of the Scholars in whose knowledge and Salafiyyah trust is held advise with gentleness in da'wah to Allaah, taking that from the Book of our Lord and the Sunnah of our Prophet (alayhis salaatu was salaam).
al-Sa'dee (rahimahullaah) said (Majmoo al-Fawaa'id, p. 198):
Gentleness and Its Effects. Allaah, the Most High said, "So say to him (Fir'awn) a gentle word, perhaps that he may take admonition or fear." (20:44). And the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) said, "Never is gentleness found in a thing, except that it beautifies it and never is harshness found in a thing except that it disfigures it." What mighty benefits are in this guidelines of wisdom and the command to gentleness, and speaking with a good word to the generality of the people and showing gentleness. For this has a mighty effect upon attaining the desired objective of statements and actions. And it has a great effect on bringing about affection between the people and putting an end to what is in their hearts of hatred, rancour, jealousy and bringing out their thoughts in line with your worldly and religious objective.
... For this reason:
I recant from my revilement and ascribing hizbiyyah to Shaykh Ubayd al-Jaabiree (hafidhahullaah).I recant from my revilement and ascribing hizbiyyah to Shaykh Firkaus (hafidhahullaah). I recant from my revilement and ascribing hizbiyyah to Shaykh Muhammad al-Wasaabee (hafidhahullaah). I recant from my revilement and ascribing hizbiyyah to Shaykh Muhammad al-Imaam (hafidhahullaah). I recant from my revilement and ascribing hizbiyyah to Shaykh Abd al-Rahmaan al-Adanee (hafidhahullaah). I recant from my revilement and ascribing hizbiyyah to the Shaykhs of Algeria. I recant from my revilement and ascribing hizbiyyah to the Shaykhs of Yemen. I recant from my revilement and ascribing hizbiyyah to Shaykh Abdullah al-Bukharee (hafidhahullaah). I recant from my revilement every student of knowledge young or old. And I call al-Aliyy al-Qadeer to witness that I said this out of firm conviction and not out of flattery for anyone whoever that might be.
All that lies in this affair is that I returned back (with reflection) in my soul and supplicated to Allaah to grant me success in that which goodness lies for my deen and dunyaa. And likewise after reflection upon the state of this da'wah which I used to be upon and looking at its final outcome, I saw that it does not leave anyone to remain upon his Salafiyyah [because every one is expelled from it]. And the greatest proof of what I say is that I used to raise the flag of this (Haddaadi) manhaj, defending it and reviling the Scholars for its sake, thinking that I was upon the clear truth. Despite all of this, none of this expended effort (on my behalf) interceded for me in aiding their manhaj and I was declared an innovator in the open in front of all on the website al-Oloom by one of the students of knowledge whom I used to consult with in all small and large matters. And if this shows anything, it shows the flaw in this manhaj in that it did not make this student hesitate about my affair, not even a month, before his shaytaan prodded him to make tabdee' of the closest of all people to him.
I am an advisor to those brothers who are concerned for me (out of mercy), and I do not doubt their intentions, for I know them very well, but I remind them of what happened to me, and I say that you are not remote from this at all, for perhaps you have been put to trial - just as you think I have been put to trial - and at the same time you maybe tasting from the very same drinking vessel that I drank from. Verily, it is the vessel of liberal tabdee' which does not leave a Scholar except that we make him to drink (to feel the taste of tabdee'), not for anything except that he says what he believes about Shaykh Yahya - may Allah grant him success [in returning to the truth] - and we have made harshness in the da'wah to Allaah to be the foundation and the gentleness to be the branch, we do not use it except little, opposing the saying of our Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam), "Verily gentleness is never found in something except that it beautifies it and it is never removed from something excep that it disfigures it." Related by Muslim from the hadeeth of Aa'ishah (radiyallaahu anhaa).
Resulting from this (harshness) a large amount of mutual hatred and tribulation appeared, no one knows its (true) extent but Allaah, and until even between those who ascribe to Shaykh Yahyaa, they are split between themselves, and many of them eagerly take the opportunity against his brother (when they can). This is from the evidences of the absence of correctness of this way. For if the common-folk knew - and many of them do know - of this fitnah between the students of Shaykh Yahyaa, they would have fled from this da'wah with all the strength they have been given...
I have searched for one Scholar who supports Shaykh Yahyaa in his manhaj and I did not find one. All of them warn from this manhaj, if not explicitly, then by indication. So I hope that his clarification is listened to (by a person) with attentive ears who returns (and reflects) in his soul and frees himself from the shackle of partisanship for Shaykh Yahyaa... this manhaj is such that we drop everyone who opposes Shaykh Yahyaa and we speak against him, and use such words against him that the common-folk would be ashamed of speaking with. Yet on the contrary, in some of the works of some of the students, they have introductions by "The Allaamah, Faqeeh, Shaykh, Muhaddith, Abstinent..." and, and and... sublime is Allaah! Rather, if one of them was asked whether there is a scholar in Yemen besides Shaykh Yahyaa, they would not find an answer for you, and they would swerve away from what you sought from them a great deal.
The same thing in Algeria, for they were asked, whom shall we refer back to in Algeria, and the answer to this question was given that "there is not to be found in Algeria anyone who stands up for the truth" and the tongue of disposition (of the person saying this) is saying "...except me", from Allaah is aid sought...
Finally, I advise everyone who comes across this repentance (of mine) that he spreads it and supplicates for forgiveness for the writer (of these lines) from every sin he committed against the Scholars, and I ask for myself and all the Salafis in the world, firmness upon the Sunnah and traversing the path of the Scholars who are known. And Allaah is the knower of the intent, and all praise is due to Allaah, the Lord of the Worlds.
[End summary translation].