Knowledge And Scholars Al-Asaalah Magazine Editorial Staff / Translator: Abu Sumayyah Mohammad Khan
Indeed, Islaam has given knowledge and the scholars great importance, and it has given them a lofty and great position. Allaah says: “Allaah will raise those who believe amongst you and those who were given knowledge many levels.” Thus Allaah has made it clear in this verse that the scholars will be raised from among the Ummah over the rest of the people, and also that they will be many levels over the ranks of others.
How can this not be true when they are the ones who fear Allaah and declare their loyalty to Him? Allaah says: “Only those who fear Allaah among His servants are the scholars.” So the scholars – who are well-versed in knowledge and hard-working – they are the ones who truly fear Allaah based on Allaah’s bearing witness to that for them. And whoever does not fear Allaah then he is not a scholar, even if he receives the greatest of testimony and achieves the highest levels of knowledge.
Since the need for knowledge is intense, even in the darkest periods of ignorance (i.e. the Days of Ignorance) Allaah began with knowledge first. This was even though (at that time) the need for calling the people to good manners and virtues was more required and necessary. Allaah says: “Recite in the name of your Lord who created – created man from a clinging substance. Recite and your Lord is Most Generous – who taught by the pen. He taught man that which he knew not.” So due to the honorable position of knowledge, Allaah began with it first. And because it is the foundation for good virtues and the source for good characteristics, Allaah started His revelation with it.
The source for mankind’s rectification is through knowledge. So therefore, knowledge is the means for the initial rectification. Allaah says: “He is the One who sent to the unlettered people (non-People of the Book) a messenger from amongst themselves reciting unto them His verses, purifying them and teaching them the Book (i.e. the Qur’aan) and the Wisdom (i.e. the Sunnah) – Although before that they were in clear error.”
Allaah has given blessing to His servants through knowledge, indicating the greatness of this blessing. Allaah says: “And Allaah extracted you from the wombs of your mothers while you knew nothing, and He made for you hearing and vision and hearts, so that you may be grateful.”
Allaah has made the scholars witnesses on the earth testifying to His Tawheed (Oneness) and His Worship. Allaah says: “Allaah bears witness that there is no deity worthy of worship except Him and (so do) the angels and those who have knowledge. (He is always) maintaining (the Creation) in justice. There is no deity worthy of worship except Him, the All-Mighty, the All-Wise.” So Allaah begins with Himself and then seconds that testimony with His angels and adds the third testimony of the people of knowledge from His creation.
And Allaah clarifies that being brought up and nurtured upon Allaah’s way can only be achieved through teaching and educating, both of which must be according to the correct methodology. Allaah says: “But be righteous scholars because of what you have taught of the Scripture and because of what you have studied.”
Allaah has made the scholars the successors of Allaah’s messengers and inheritors of His prophets. The Prophet (s) said: “The scholars are the inheritors of the Prophets. And indeed the prophets do not leave behind any dinaar or dirham for inheritance. They only leave behind knowledge to be inherited, so whosoever takes hold of it, he has taken hold of an abundant portion (of their inheritance).”
Obeying them in that which they attain from the truth is obligatory because they are the leaders with regard to the Religion. Allaah commanded us to obey them after having commanded us to obey Him and His Messenger. Allaah says: “Obey Allaah and obey the messenger and those in authority amongst you.” And the Messenger of Allaah (s) commanded to respect and honor the scholars, as He (s) said: “He is not from among us who does not know the worth (i.e. importance) of our scholar.”
So it is an obligation on the Ummah to respect the status of the scholars and to give them precedence, and to refrain from their mistakes, errors and incorrect scholarly deductions. And even if their errors are many, then that does not detract from their status and rank.
Nor do they provide justification for anyone to insult them or speak ill of them or to be insolent with them. This is since, the Mujtahid (a scholar who makes a ruling from the Qur’aan and Sunnah) is rewarded whether he is correct or makes a mistake in his ruling. And Allaah will not hold the ummah accountable for the mistakes of the scholars for, “Every man will have his saying taken or rejected except for the Prophet (saws)” as Imaam Maalik said. But the refutation must be done with manners, gentleness, sincerity and love, not with defamation, slandering, cursing, pronouncing someone a kaafir (non-believer) and disparagement, as none of these are from etiquettes of the Muslims.
And indeed there has appeared in these times a new phenomenon – a people who have no concern or goal except to criticize and belittle the scholars, incite hatred for them and call the people away from them. So they accuse them of treachery and of being ignorant of the current affair! And they accuse them of being puppets of the leaders! And they accuse them of not having any knowledge except for the matters of menstruation and postpartum bleeding! All of this is done to step on the backs of the scholars and so that they can turn the people’s faces away from them and towards theirs!!
Don’t these people know that from the signs of the people of innovation is their attacking of the people of knowledge – the real workers and educators that the Ummah did not witness of them anything except good? So these people have exhausted, may Allaah rectify them, every possible means to attack our scholars – whether from upon the mimbar or in books and tapes. And they have brought about fitan (tribulations and turmoil) for the ummah, of which the Muslims are not capable to of extinguishing or suppressing.
May Allah have mercy on Al-Haafiz Ibn Asaakir who said: “The flesh of the scholars is poisonous. And Allaah’s way in humiliating these people is well-known. And whoever reaches the scholars by defaming them, Allaah will test him by causing his heart to die.”
And indeed not listening to the instructions of the scholars and their advice, especially in the important issues, will result in problems, destruction, extremism and deviation. And history is the best teacher of this in the past and present.
So will the Ummah acknowledge and realize the position of our sincere and hard-working scholars in order that they may take it by the hand and guide it to the Straight Path? And that is not difficult for Allaah.