Respect for the Scholars: Mu’āwiyah said, “Where are your scholars?” Ibn ‘Asākir said: “The flesh of the scholars is poison.”

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In a time when the status, rank and honour of the scholars of Sunnah and Salafiyyah are being maligned and attacked by callers to bidʿah and misguidance (and more so in recent months by some misguided callers in the West), it is appropriate that we make mention of some important narrations and scholarly sayings regarding this crucial subject. One should be in no doubt that those who revile, speak ill and belittle the scholars of Sunnah and put doubt in the hearts of the Muslims regarding them are innovators, and maybe even be innovating heretics, who wish to prevent people from understanding and following the true ‘Aqīdah and Methodology of the Salaf (read here, and here).

I believe that some Salafis become deceived by these callers because they [falsely] claim attachment to the Salafi way in a similar fashion to those who preceded them from Ahlul-Bid’ah. However, one should not be deceived by mere claims because the reality of a person revolves around his practice of the Salafi Manhaj, and his attitude towards those who call to Salafiyyah, and at the head of them are the Scholars of every age and era leading back to the time of the Sahābah. This present band of callers openly declare particular scholars to be “driven by desires” whilst at the same time, “not caring” about the plight of Muslim communities in the West. Others malign Ahlus-Sunnah who quote from the books of the great Imāms of the Salaf such as Al-Barbahārī. Salafi youth should not be deceived by these plots and schemes to turn people away from the Salafi da’wah.

Below are a selection of amazing narrations and sayings that clarify the status of the Scholars of Ahlus-Sunnah and Hadīth:

Ibn Mājah reported in his Sunan (no. 9):

حَدَّثَنَا يَعْقُوبُ بْنُ حُمَيْدِ بْنِ كَاسِبٍ، حَدَّثَنَا الْقَاسِمُ بْنُ نَافِعٍ، حَدَّثَنَا الْحَجَّاجُ بْنُ أَرْطَاةَ، عَنْ عَمْرِو بْنِ شُعَيْبٍ، عَنْ أَبِيهِ، قَالَ قَامَ مُعَاوِيَةُ خَطِيبًا فَقَالَ أَيْنَ عُلَمَاؤُكُمْ أَيْنَ عُلَمَاؤُكُمْ سَمِعْتُ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ ـ صلى الله عليه وسلم ـ يَقُولُ ‏ 

لاَ تَقُومُ السَّاعَةُ إِلاَّ وَطَائِفَةٌ مِنْ أُمَّتِي ظَاهِرُونَ عَلَى النَّاسِ لاَ يُبَالُونَ مَنْ خَذَلَهُمْ وَلاَ مَنْ نَصَرَهُمْ 

ʿAmr bin Shuʿaib narrated that his father said: Muʿāwiyah (radiyallāhu ʿanhu) stood up to deliver a sermon and he said, “Where are your scholars? Where are your scholars? For I heard the Messenger of Allah (salallāhu ʿalayhi wasallam) say: The Hour will not be established until a group of my Ummah is manifest over the people, and they do not care who lets them down, who betrays them or who supports them.” Authenticated by Al-Albānī (rahimahullāh) in his checking of Sunan Ibn Mājah (See As-Sahīhah, no. 1165, 1958, 1971)

Due to the steadfastness of the scholars and their fear of Allah, they are not scared of the blame of blamers or the accusations of the ignorant against them. They do not care if they are betrayed, opposed or abandoned. They are the followers and the inheritors of the Prophets, and they know that those who are tried and afflicted the most are the Prophets, then those who resemble them. So they remain firm upon the Truth regardless of the opposition, even when Ahlul-Haqq are few in number.

ʿAbdullāh Ibn Masʿūd (radiyallāhu ʿanhu) explained, “There will not come upon you a day except that it is worse than the day that came before it until the Hour is established. I do not mean in terms of affluence in one’s life or the wealth that one acquires. Rather, there will not come upon you a day except that it will be lesser in knowledge than the day that passed before it. So when the scholars have passed away and died, the people will all be at the same level – so they will not enjoin the good, nor forbid the evil, and at that point, they will be ruined.” (Reported by Ad-Dārimī no. 194. Ibn Hajr declared the narration to be good in Fathul-Bārī 13/26-27)

ʿAbdullāh Ibn ʿAmr Ibn Al-ʿĀs said: I heard Allah’s Messenger (salallāhu ʿalayhi wasallam) saying:

إِنَّ اللَّهَ لاَ يَقْبِضُ الْعِلْمَ انْتِزَاعًا، يَنْتَزِعُهُ مِنَ الْعِبَادِ، وَلَكِنْ يَقْبِضُ الْعِلْمَ بِقَبْضِ الْعُلَمَاءِ، حَتَّى إِذَا لَمْ يُبْقِ عَالِمًا، اتَّخَذَ النَّاسُ رُءُوسًا جُهَّالاً فَسُئِلُوا، فَأَفْتَوْا بِغَيْرِ عِلْمٍ، فَضَلُّوا وَأَضَلُّوا

“Allah does not take away the knowledge by taking it away from the hearts of the people, but He takes it away by the death of the Scholars till no Scholar remains. Then people will take as their leaders the ignoramuses who when asked will give their verdict (fatwa) without knowledge. So they will go astray themselves and will lead the people astray.” (Reported by Al-Bukhārī, no. 100) In a wording, he said, “There will remain the ignoramuses from whom verdicts (fatwas) will be sought. They will give verdicts based upon their own opinions, so they will go astray and will lead the people astray.” (Al-Bukhāri no. 7307)

When the scholars are abandoned or they pass away, people turn to the ignorant ones, the pretenders and Ahlul-Bidʿah who lead the people into ruin. Ibn Masʿūd said, “Learn knowledge before it is taken away, and it is taken away by the death of the scholars. Beware of going to extremes and delving too deeply, and beware of innovations. Upon you is to adhere to the ancient affair.” (See Ad-Dārimī with the explanation, Fathul-Mannān 2/115, Al-Musannaf of Abdur-Razzāq 11/252, Jāmiʿ Bayān Al-ʿIlm wa Fadlihi 1/152, Al-‘Amr bil-Ittibāʿ p. 59)

When the scholars are present, knowledge, action and piety are widespread. When the scholars are few and abandoned, and the riff-raff and rabble speak, knowledge diminishes along with deeds and piety. Abu Dharr narrated from Allah’s Messenger (salallāhu ʿalayhi wasallam): 

“You are today in a time of many Scholars and few speakers. So whoever abandons even a tenth of what he knows is ruined. There will come after that a time of many [ignorant] speakers wherein the Scholars are few. So whoever holds fast to even a tenth of what he knows will be saved.” (Sahīh, reported by At-Tirmidhī no. 2267, Ahmad in Al-Musnad no. 21372, Al-Bukhārī in At-Tārīkh no. 2819, Al-Harawī in Dhamm Al-Kalām no. 100, and authenticated by Al-Albānī in As-Sahīhah no. 2510) 

So when there are numerous speakers (mostly young, ignorant and reckless), who revile the scholars and belittle their worth; accusing them of being ignorant of current affairs and the reality of Muslim communities and societies, such that the people no longer distinguish between a person of knowledge and the riff-raff who call to misguidance, it is then that they are ruined. In these times within the Western lands, this negativity towards the scholars of Salafiyyah is rampant and widespread – and these mumayyiʿūn, who [falsely] ascribe themselves to the Salafi Manhaj are more harmful to the Salafis (i.e. to Ahlus-Sunnah wal-Jamā’ah) than the open and apparent Ahlul-Bidʿah, just as Ahlul-Bidʿah are more harmful to the Muslims than the unbelievers. 

Ash-Shaikh Al-ʿAllāmah Rabīʿ Ibn Hādī ʿUmayr Al-Madkhalī:

Ash-Shaikh Al-ʿAllāmah Rabīʿ Ibn Hādī ʿUmayr Al-Madkhalī (hafidhahullāh) was asked regarding those who revile the scholars and the callers (du’āt) to the Sunnah, so he answered: “This is a very dangerous matter indeed, meaning: criticising Ahlul-Haqq (those who are upon the Truth) – attacking them leads to attacking and contending with the religion itself because it prevents [people] from the Path of Allah. That is due to the fact that the one who attacks Ahlul-Haqq, the callers to the Truth, the callers to Tawhīd, those who call to fight against shirk, bidʿah and misguidance – attacking them causes one to flee from the Path of Allah (the Blessed and Most High). And you know already what Allah has stated regarding those who opposed and attacked the Prophets. They would attack their callers, not [so much] their individuals. They would say: “He’s a liar, a magician..” and so on from terms of abuse. So if he is reviled in his character, then his da’wah is lost. And this is the case today. The scholars are the inheritors of the Prophets. So when a people call to the Salafi Manhaj, to the Book of Allah, to the Sunnah of the Messenger (salallāhu ʿalayhi wasallam), to the Methodology of the Prophets in ʿAqīdah, to fighting against shirk, upon the Methodology of the Prophets, then there come a people [in opposition] reviling them – and this means that they prevent people from the Path of Allah. So we ask Allah that He guides them to repent, and that they return to the Truth, that they recognise the station of the People of Truth (Ahlul-Haqq), and they abandon their stance in front of those who are eager for the Truth so they do not prevent them from the Path of Allah.” (Audio source: Wujūb Al-Ittibāʿ lā Ibtidāʿ from the Shaikh’s website)

The role of the Scholars is crucial in the preservation of the Religion. Allāh’s Messenger (salallāhu ʿalayhi wasallam) stated: “This knowledge will be carried by the trustworthy of every generation. They will expel from it the distortions of those who go to extremes, the lies of the falsifiers, and the interpretations of the ignorant.” (Reported by Ibn Qutaybah in ʿUyūn Al-Akhbār 2/119, Al-Bayhaqī in As-Sunan Al-Kubrā 10/209, Al-Ājurrī in Ash-Sharīʿah no. 1-2, At-Tabrīzī in Mishkāt Al-Masābīh no. 248, Ibn Abdul-Barr in At-Tamhīd 1/59)

Sadīq Hasan Khān (rahimahullāh) said, “The saying of the Messenger, ‘They will expel from it the distortions of those who go to extremes’ means the changes made by those who go beyond bounds in the affair of the Religion. ‘Distortions’ refers to exchanging the Truth for falsehood by them changing the words [of the Revealed Texts] or by changing their meanings. ‘The lies of the falsifiers’ means the scholars will expel the lies of the people of falsehood..” (Ad-Dīn Al-Khālis 3/261) So to attack the scholars is to harm those whom Allah has raised to preserve and guard His Religion against the people of falsehood and desires, and to block people from the Path of Allah.

Abul-Qāsim Ibn ʿAsākir (d. 571H, rahimahullāh):

Abul-Qāsim Ibn ʿAsākir (d. 571H, rahimahullāh) said: “Know, my brother – may Allah guide us and you to His pleasure, and that He makes us from those who fear Him and are dutiful to Him as He deserves – that the flesh of the scholars, may Allah be merciful with them, is poison. And Allah’s established way of tearing down the screen of those who attack the scholars is well-known. That is because attacking them for an affair that they are innocent of is a mighty thing – and to speak of their honour with falsehood and fabrications is an evil and noxious pasture to graze upon!

To concoct falsehood against those whom Allah has chosen to disseminate knowledge is a despicable characteristic. And to emulate those whom Allah has praised; which is the saying of those who followed the believers, that they would seek forgiveness for those who preceded them – that is a noble characteristic. Allah said in His Book, in praise of them:

وَالَّذِينَ جَاءُوا مِنْ بَعْدِهِمْ يَقُولُونَ رَبَّنَا اغْفِرْ لَنَا وَلِإِخْوَانِنَا الَّذِينَ سَبَقُونَا بِالْإِيمَانِ وَلَا تَجْعَلْ فِي قُلُوبِنَا غِلًّا لِلَّذِينَ آمَنُوا رَبَّنَا إِنَّكَ رَءُوفٌ رَحِيمٌ

“And those who came after them say, ‘Our Lord! Forgive us and our brethren who have preceded us in Faith, and put not in our hearts any hatred against those who have believed. Our Lord! You are indeed full of kindness, Most Merciful.'” 

And the one who lets loose his tongue against the scholars with slander, then Allah will afflict him before his actual death by killing his heart:

فَلْيَحْذَرِ الَّذِينَ يُخَالِفُونَ عَنْ أَمْرِهِ أَنْ تُصِيبَهُمْ فِتْنَةٌ أَوْ يُصِيبَهُمْ عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌ 

“And let those who oppose the Messenger’s commandment beware, lest some Fitnah (affliction) befall them or a painful punishment be inflicted on them.” (See Tabyīn Kadhib Al-Muftarī pp. 28-30)

Imām At-Tahāwī (rahimahullāh) and the narrations from the early Salaf:

Imām At-Tahāwī (rahimahullāh) stated in his ʿAqīdah: “And the scholars of the Salaf, from the early ones and those who came after them from the Tābiʿīn: they are the people of goodness, people of narrations (ahlul-Athar), and people of understanding (ahlul-fiqh) and insight – they are not to be mentioned except with fine and beautiful speech. The one who speaks of them with bad speech is not upon the correct path.” 

Ash-Shaikh Al-ʿAllāmah Sālih Al-Fawzān (hafidhahullāh) commented: “The author moves on [from the Sahābah] to mention those who come after them in virtue, and they are the scholars. So the scholars of this Ummah have status and virtue after the Sahābah because they are the inheritors of the Prophets due to the saying of the Messenger, ‘The scholars are the inheritors of the Prophets’. And the intent here is the scholars of Ahlus-Sunnah wal-Jamā’ah, the people of knowledge, insight and understanding, ahlul-athar, and they are ahlul-hadīth…” (Then the shaikh quotes the statement of Ibn ʿAsākir above). 

Abdullah Ibn Mubārak (d. 181H, rahimahullāh) said: “Whoever belittles the scholars has lost his Hereafter. Whoever belittles the rulers has lost his worldly affairs. Whoever belittles his brothers has lost his honour.” (See Siyar of Adh-Dhahabī, 8/408)

Khatīb Al-Baghdādī narrated from Shaʿbī who said: Ibn ʿAbbās took hold of the stirrups of the riding beast of Zayd Ibn Thābit (radiyallāhu ‘anhumā). So Zayd said, “You take hold of them for me whilst you are the son of the uncle of Allah’s Messenger (salallāhu ʿalayhi wasallam)?” Ibn ʿAbbās replied, “Verily this is how we behave with the scholars.” (Al-Jāmi’ li Akhlāq Ar-Rāwī wa Ādābis-Sāmi’, 1/188)

Yahyā Ibn Saʿīd: Shuʿbah said to me: “Whosoever I wrote hadīth from, I was with him as a servant.” (Siyar, 7/208)

So the scholars are to be respected and honoured and not belittled and reviled. The one who belittles them seeks to raise his own status among the masses and to turn them away from Allah’s religion. A Sunni should not be in doubt (or ambiguity) concerning those who have turned away from the scholars and turned from the callers to Salafiyyah and call for a new “understanding” of the religion through their Eurocentric, Modernist, Liberal or Afrocentric lens. The Religion is one, and the Messenger left us upon clear proof with respect to it, and upon us is to follow and to remain with those whom the Prophet (salallāhu ʿalayhi wasallam) described in the hadīth:

لاَ تَزَالُ طَائِفَةٌ مِنْ أُمَّتِي قَائِمَةً بِأَمْرِ اللَّهِ لاَ يَضُرُّهُمْ مَنْ خَذَلَهُمْ أَوْ خَالَفَهُمْ حَتَّى يَأْتِيَ أَمْرُ اللَّهِ وَهُمْ ظَاهِرُونَ عَلَى النَّاسِ

 “There shall not cease to remain a group (tā’ifah) from my Ummah steadfast upon the command of Allah. They are not harmed by those who abandon them nor by those who oppose them until the command of Allah comes – and they shall be manifest over the people.” (Reported by Muslim, no 1037)

Muhammad Ibn Ismā’īl Al-Bukhārī (d. 256H) said: ʿAli Ibn Al-Madīnī said: “They are Ashābul-Hadīth.” They are the scholars as the Companion, Muʿāwiyah (radiyallāhu ‘anhu) stated in the first hadīth above.  

Imām At-Tirmidhī reported from Ibn ʿUmar that Allah’s Messenger (salallāhu ʿalayhi wasallam) said: “Allah will not unite my Ummah upon misguidance. And the Hand of Allah is with the Jamā’ah, and whoever deviates from that, he deviates himself to the Fire.” (no. 2167)

Abu ʿĪsā At-Tirmidhī said: “And the meaning of Al-Jamā’ah in the view of the scholars is: The people of understanding and knowledge and hadīth (ahlul-fiqh wal-ʿilm wal-hadīth).”

Abu ʿĪsā At-Tirmidhī said: I heard Al-Jārūd Ibn Mu’ādh saying: I heard ʿAlī Ibn Al-Hasan saying: I asked ʿAbdullāh Ibn Al-Mubārak: “Who are the Jamāʿah?” He said: “Abu Bakr and ʿUmar.” It was said to him: “But Abu Bakr and ʿUmar are dead.” He said: “Then it is so-and-so and so-and-so.” So it was said: “But so-and-so and so-and-so are also dead.” So he said: “Then Abu Hamzah As-Sukkarī is the Jamāʿah.”

Abu ʿĪsā At-Tirmidhī said: “Abu Hamzah is Muhammad Ibn Maymūm. He was a righteous scholar. He said this regarding him in his lifetime.” 

So the Jamā’ah about whom the Messenger (salallāhu ʿalayhi wasallam) said: “The Hand of Allah is with the Jamā’ah,” are the scholars and whoever deviates from that Jamāʿah, “deviates himself to the Fire.” So beware of being drawn into this innovated speech that seeks to belittle the great Salafi scholars of our time. And we remind those who fell into this sin with the words of Shaikh Rabī’ (hafidhahullāh): “We ask Allah that He guides them to repent, and that they return to the Truth, that they recognise the station of the People of Truth (Ahlul-Haqq), that they abandon their stance in front of those who are eager for the Truth so they do not prevent them from the Path of Allah.”

And all praise is due to Allah, the Lord of all creation.

وسبحانك اللهم وبحمدك أشهد أن لا اله إلا أنت أستغفرك وأتوب إليك

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