Who are the scholars and what defines a scholar? Is it a government or a regime that defines who is an 'aalim ? The Most High has already defined for us who is an 'aalim and the qualities of this category of people. The first quality of a true scholar is known for:
1. Having Fear of Allah
1. Having Fear of Allah
Allah azza wa jall says:
It is only those who have knowledge among His slaves that fear Allah. Verily, Allah is All-Mighty, Oft-Forgiving.[AlFaatir:28]
Shaykh al-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah says about this ayah:
"And this shows that each one who fears Allah is an 'aalim(person of knowledge,scholar) and this is true, and it(the ayah) is not proof that every scholar or person of knowledge fears Allah!" ["Majmoo' al Fataawa" 7/539. See also "Tafseer al Baydhaawi" 4/418 and "Fath al Qadeer"4/494]
Ibn Katheer says: " only those who have knowledge truly fear Him as He should be feared, because the more they know about the Almighty, All-Powerful, All-Knowing Who has the most perfect attributes and is described with the most beautiful Names, the more they will fear Him"
`Ali bin Abi Talhah reported that Ibn `Abbas commented on the Ayah:(It is only those who have knowledge among His servants that fear Allah.) those who know that Allah is able to do all things. Ibn `Abbas said, "The one among His servants who knows about Ar-Rahman, is the one who does not associate anything in worship with Him; the one who accepts as lawful that which He has permitted and accepts as unlawful that which He has prohibited. He obeys His commands and is certain that he will meet Him and be brought to account for his deeds. Sa`id bin Jubayr said, "Fear is what stands between you and disobeying Allah, may He be glorified.''
It is also reported that Abdullah ibn Mas'ud (RA) said: "Knowledge is not from narrating much ahadeeth, but true knowledge is on fearing Allah."
We also need to understand that there is a clear distinction between the scholars of the Salaf and those of the Khalaf. Salaf meaning earlier generations, the best generations in this ummah(the sahaba, tabi'een and followers of the tabi'een). These were the best and it is an obligation upon us to follow them , for Allah preferred them and was pleased with them as He said in His noble book. As for the KHALAF, then this term refers to the generations after them until our times. And indeed it has been said;
كل خير في إتباع من سلف وكل شر في إبتداع من خلف
It actually means, " All good is in following the Salaf and all evil is in an innovation from one after(khalaf)."
Therefore, it is incumbent on the believer to stick to the path of the pious predecessors before us and not incline towards the khalaf. Although the khalaf had good and bad among them, we are still to refrain from over-extolling them and blind following them. The only one whom we are obligated to blind follow (do taqleed on) is Muhammad(sala Allahu alayhi wassallam).
2. Not Hiding the truth regardless the blame of the blamers
وَإِذْ أَخَذَ اللَّهُ مِيثَـقَ الَّذِينَ أُوتُواْ الْكِتَـبَ لَتُبَيِّنُنَّهُ لِلنَّاسِ وَلاَ تَكْتُمُونَهُ فَنَبَذُوهُ وَرَآءَ ظُهُورِهِمْ وَاشْتَرَوْاْ بِهِ ثَمَناً قَلِيلاً فَبِئْسَ مَا يَشْتَرُونَ
(And remember) when Allah took a covenant from those who were given the Scripture (Jews and Christians) to make it (the news of the coming of Prophet Muhammad and the religious knowledge) known and clear to mankind, and not to hide it, but they threw it away behind their backs, and purchased with it some miserable gain! And indeed worst is that which they bought.[Surah Aali Imraan:187]
Ibn Kathir says in his tafsir of the ayah, In this Ayah, Allah chastises the People of the Scriptures, from whom Allah took the covenant by the words of their Prophets, that they would believe in Muhammad and describe him to the people, so that they would recognize and follow him when Allah sent him. However, they hid this truth and preferred the the small amounts and the material gains instead of the rewards of this life and the Hereafter that they were promised. This is a losing deal and a failing trade, indeed.
These Ayat also contain a warning for the scholars not to imitate their behavior, so that they do not suffer the same fate and become like them. Therefore, the scholars are required to spread the beneficial knowledge that they have, encouraging the various righteous good deeds. They are also warned against hiding any part of their knowledge.
3.Firmness in The Battlefield and patience in times of calamities
The proof for this in the words of Allah ta'ala:
وَكَأَيِّن مِّن نَّبِىٍّ قَاتَلَ مَعَهُ رِبِّيُّونَ كَثِيرٌ فَمَا وَهَنُواْ لِمَآ أَصَابَهُمْ فِى سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ وَمَا ضَعُفُواْ وَمَا اسْتَكَانُواْ وَاللَّهُ يُحِبُّ الصَّـبِرِينَ - وَمَا كَانَ قَوْلَهُمْ إِلاَّ أَن قَالُواْ ربَّنَا اغْفِرْ لَنَا ذُنُوبَنَا وَإِسْرَافَنَا فِى أَمْرِنَا وَثَبِّتْ أَقْدَامَنَا وانصُرْنَا عَلَى الْقَوْمِ الْكَـفِرِينَ - فَـْاتَـهُمُ اللَّهُ ثَوَابَ الدُّنْيَا وَحُسْنَ ثَوَابِ الاٌّخِرَةِ وَاللَّهُ يُحِبُّ الْمُحْسِنِينَ
And many a Prophet (i.e. many from amongst the Prophets) fought (in Allah's Cause) and along with him (fought) large bands of religious learned men. But they never lost heart for that which did befall them in Allah's Way, nor did they weaken nor degrade themselves. And Allah loves As-Sabirin (the patient ones, etc.).And they said nothing but: "Our Lord! Forgive us our sins and our transgressions (in keeping our duties to You), establish our feet firmly, and give us victory over the disbelieving folk." So Allah gave them the reward of this world, and the excellent reward of the Hereafter. And Allah loves Al-Muhsinun.[Aal Imraan: 146-148]
ـأَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ اصْبِرُواْ وَصَابِرُواْ وَرَابِطُواْ وَاتَّقُواْ اللَّهَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ
Oh you who believe! Endure and be more patient(with your enemy), and fear Allah, so that you may be successful. [Surah Aali Imraan: 200]
4. Enjoining the Good and Forbid the Evil
لَوْلاَ يَنْهَـهُمُ الرَّبَّـنِيُّونَ وَالاٌّحْبَارُ عَن قَوْلِهِمُ الإِثْمَ وَأَكْلِهِمُ السُّحْتَ لَبِئْسَ مَا كَانُواْ يَصْنَعُونَ
Why do not the rabbis and the religious learned men forbid them from uttering sinful words and from eating illegal things. Evil indeed is that which they have been performing.[Surah al Maaidah:63]
5.Ruling with the Shariah and endorsing and calling to it
إِنَّآ أَنزَلْنَا التَّوْرَاةَ فِيهَا هُدًى وَنُورٌ يَحْكُمُ بِهَا النَّبِيُّونَ الَّذِينَ أَسْلَمُواْ لِلَّذِينَ هَادُواْ وَالرَّبَّانِيُّونَ وَالاْحْبَارُ بِمَا اسْتُحْفِظُواْ مِن كِتَـبِ اللَّهِ وَكَانُواْ عَلَيْهِ شُهَدَآء فَلاَ تَخْشَوُاْ النَّاسَ وَاخْشَوْنِ وَلاَ تَشْتَرُواْ بِـئَايَـتِى ثَمَناً قَلِيلاً وَمَن لَّمْ يَحْكُم بِمَآ أَنزَلَ اللَّهُ فَأُوْلَـئِكَ هُمُ الْكَـفِرُونَ
Verily, We did send down the Taurah (Torah) [to Musa (Moses)], therein was guidance and light, by which the Prophets, who submitted themselves to Allah's Will, judged the Jews. And the rabbis and the priests [too judged the Jews by the Taurah (Torah) after those Prophets] for to them was entrusted the protection of Allah's Book, and they were witnesses thereto. Therefore fear not men but fear Me (O Jews) and sell not My Verses for a miserable price. And whosoever does not judge by what Allah has revealed, such are the Kafirun(i.e. disbelievers - of a lesser degree as they do not act on Allah's Laws ).[Surah al Maaidah: 44]
If we see the Quran, especially in these ayaat in the Surahs of Aal Imraan, alNisaa', al Maaidah, and al A'raaf, Allah speaks about the Bani Israael and criticized them on certain things such as; their distorting the words of Allah in the Injeel(Gospel) and Tawrah(Torah), the killing of their prophets( It is said at one point, they received more than 70 prophets and would kill one prophet after another), their indulgence in Ribaa'(usury , interest),and more. Allah ta'ala specifically told us about their scholars -corrupt scholars of course , who would sell the words of Allah for a cheap price. These scholars would twist the ahkaam(rulings) and the Tawrah and the Injeel to suit their desires and that of the rulers of the time(The Romans). And indeed they were the ones behind the plot to kill the Masih(Messiah), Esa the son of Maryam (alayhissalam). These scholars knew what they were doing was wrong, yet they used the book of Allah to twist the verses, to suit their whims and desires. They feared the creation and turned away from the remembrance and fear of the Creator.
These ayaat , although Allah was speaking of the scholar of the people of the book and their priests and rabbis, they also apply to the scholars of the ummah of Muhammad(salAllahu alayhi wassallam) and in these ayaat, Allah warns us that if we follow in their footsteps, we will meet a worse or similar fate ie, the punishment of Allah ta'alla in this world and in the next.
6. Guiding the Ummah upon the Haqq(truth) in times of Fitan(trials and tribulations) and not staying quiet or misleading the masses, but instead guiding them.
وَلَـكِن كُونُواْ رَبَّـنِيِّينَ بِمَا كُنتُمْ تُعَلِّمُونَ الْكِتَـبَ وَبِمَا كُنتُمْ تَدْرُسُونَ
On the contrary (he would say): "Be you Rabbaniyun (learned men of religion who practise what they know and also preach others), because you are teaching the Book, and you are studying it."[Surah Aal Imraan: 79]
Ibn Abbas said in the tafsir of "koonu rabaniyeen" that this means to be wise and fuqahaa'. Abdullah ibn Mas'ud and Ibn Jarir alTabari also said something similar.
So, the 'aalim is the one who educates the ummah on their basic obligations and guides them in their lives. The 'aalim does not shut himself from the people and keep his 'ilm to himself. The Messenger of Allah said:
.(reference: hadith of Abdullah ibn Amr ibn Al Aas which has been graded hasan, al Haakim also graded it sahih following the conditions of alBukhari and Muslim)
|(Whoever was asked about knowledge that he knew but did not disclose it, will be tied with a bridle made of fire on the Day of Resurrection.)|
The 'ulama are to be at the forefront of the battle, confronting the fitnah with their knowledge that Allah has blessed them with. That is why the Messenger of Allah (salaAllahu alayhi wassallam) said, "Fight against the polytheists with your wealth, selves, and tongues(speech, words,)." [Musnad Ahmad]
The greatest jihaad is to speak a word of truth in front of a corrupt , tyrant. This is what our early predecessors did. They did not perch next to the people of authority and watch them do as they please. No! They advised them, warned them, and fulfilled their duties as scholars, teachers, and advisers.
7. Not selling the words of Allah and the truth out of cowardice, fear or based on desires.
Allah ta'alla tells us a story in Surah al A'raaf, which is the seventh chapter of the Quran. This story is about a man who was a scholar of Bani Israai,, whose name was Bal'am(Ibn Kathir on the tafsir of the ayah from Ibn Abbas). This man saw the miracles of Allah, but turned his back on them and followed his desires.
وَاتْلُ عَلَيْهِمْ نَبَأَ الَّذِي آتَيْنَاهُ آيَاتِنَا فَانْسَلَخَ مِنْهَا فَأَتْبَعَهُ الشَّيْطَانُ فَكَانَ مِنَ الْغَاوِينَ وَلَوْ شِئْنَا لَرَفَعْنَاهُ بِهَا وَلَٰكِنَّهُ أَخْلَدَ إِلَى الْأَرْضِ وَاتَّبَعَ هَوَاهُ ۚ فَمَثَلُهُ كَمَثَلِ الْكَلْبِ إِنْ تَحْمِلْ عَلَيْهِ يَلْهَثْ أَوْ تَتْرُكْهُ يَلْهَثْ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ مَثَلُ الْقَوْمِ الَّذِينَ كَذَّبُوا بِآيَاتِنَا ۚ فَاقْصُصِ الْقَصَصَ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ
And recite (O Muhammad ) to them the story of him to whom We gave Our Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.), but he threw them away, so Shaitan (Satan) followed him up, and he became of those who went astray. And had We willed, We would surely have elevated him therewith but he clung to the earth and followed his own vain desire. So his description is the description of a dog: if you drive him away, he lolls his tongue out, or if you leave him alone, he (still) lolls his tongue out. Such is the description of the people who reject Our Ayat(proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.). So relate the stories, perhaps they may reflect.[Surah al A'raaf:175-176]
This was someone who Allah had given the knowledge of His ayaat, and what did he do? He turned his back on them after he saw the dunyaa and it appeased him.So, Allah(swt) compared him to a dog! For indeed, the dog lolls his tongue out in both situations, whether you drive him away or let him be! He sat with the evil corrupt rulers and their wealth and luxury blinded him from the truth and led him to abandon the truth. He clung to this world. This is what clinging to the material world does to people. It blinds them and leads them to loss. So, the believers need to beware of clinging to the Earth and specifically, the scholars because they are the ones looked at and followed. If they go astray, masses of people (laymen) will follow suit. And there is no might and power except with Allah.
We ask Allah to preserve the righteous scholars of the ummah and to keep them firm on the truth. And we ask Allah to expose the falsifiers and those in disguise as scholars , who harm the ummah greatly with their false fataawa and words.