Some Guidelines Concerning the ‘Ulema

Posted: November 16, 2011 by millatibraheem in al-Imaan, Arabic

‘Authubillaahi min ashShaytaan arRajeem, Bismillaah arRaHmaan arRaHeem

al-Humdulillaah as-Salaatu was-Salaam ‘Ala Rasulullaah

Defining Knowledge

Allah aza wajjal says in Surah al-‘Alaq

عَلَّمَ الْإِنسَانَ مَا لَمْ يَعْلَمْ

Has taught man that which he knew not

And in Surah Yusuf

وَلَمَّا بَلَغَ أَشُدَّهُ آتَيْنَاهُ حُكْمًا وَعِلْمًا ۚ وَكَذَٰلِكَ نَجْزِي الْمُحْسِنِي

And when he reached maturity, We gave him judgment and knowledge. And thus We reward the doers of good

Knowledge is what Allah aza wajjal has taught us through revelation.

In Surah an-NaHl, Allah aza wajjal says

وَاللَّهُ أَخْرَجَكُم مِّن بُطُونِ أُمَّهَاتِكُمْ لَا تَعْلَمُونَ شَيْئًا وَجَعَلَ لَكُمُ السَّمْعَ وَالْأَبْصَارَ وَالْأَفْئِدَةَ ۙ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَشْكُرُونَ

And Allah has extracted you from the wombs of your mothers not knowing a thing, and He made for you hearing and vision and intellect that perhaps you would be grateful

From our senses, we understand and adhere to this knowledge of revelation (wahi).

 

And in Surah ar-R’Ad

أَفَمَن يَعْلَمُ أَنَّمَا أُنزِلَ إِلَيْكَ مِن رَّبِّكَ الْحَقُّ كَمَنْ هُوَ أَعْمَىٰ ۚ إِنَّمَا يَتَذَكَّرُ أُولُو الْأَلْبَابِ

Then is he who knows that what has been revealed to you from your Lord is the truth like one who is blind? They will only be reminded who are people of understanding

So the knowledge that comes from Allah aza wajjal is the only truth and holding onto it is to be guided.

In Surah al-‘Ankabut

أَوَلَمْ يَكْفِهِمْ أَنَّا أَنزَلْنَا عَلَيْكَ الْكِتَابَ يُتْلَىٰ عَلَيْهِمْ ۚ إِنَّ فِي ذَٰلِكَ لَرَحْمَةً وَذِكْرَىٰ لِقَوْمٍ يُؤْمِنُونَ

And is it not sufficient for them that We revealed to you the Book which is recited to them? Indeed in that is a mercy and reminder for a people who believe

Here, Allah aza wajjal clarifies that the Qur’aan and what Allah’s Messenger (s) recited to us is sufficient.  Those who seek other means and learn beyond these two sources are misguided and void of any mercy.

In light of these ayat, knowledge is the truth that was revealed by Allah aza wajjal to His Messengers.  It is revelation.

The Carriers of this Knowledge

In the Arabic language, an ‘Aalim (pl. ‘Ulema) is someone who possesses knowledge about a certain matter.  It is not equivalent to the word ‘scholar’ as usually translated.  A person does not need to be an expert in any field in order to hold the linguistic Arabic title of an ‘Aalim.

However, Islam defines it differently in Surah Fatir

وَمِنَ النَّاسِ وَالدَّوَابِّ وَالْأَنْعَامِ مُخْتَلِفٌ أَلْوَانُهُ كَذَٰلِكَ ۗ إِنَّمَا يَخْشَى اللَّهَ مِنْ عِبَادِهِ الْعُلَمَاءُ ۗ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَزِيزٌ غَفُورٌ

And among people and moving creatures and grazing livestock are various colors similarly. Only those fear Allah, from among His servants, have knowledge. Indeed, Allah is Exalted in Might and Forgiving

Allah aza wajjal has identified those fearing Him as ‘Ulema.  Fear of Allah aza wajjal is the criterion that separates an ‘Aalim from a less fortunate person.  It is not the amount of years spent studying, memorizing or attaining ijazas.  Rather, the fear of Allah aza wajjal is what makes a person an ‘Aalim.

 

Allah aza wajjal says in Surah al-Jumu’Ah

مَثَلُ الَّذِينَ حُمِّلُوا التَّوْرَاةَ ثُمَّ لَمْ يَحْمِلُوهَا كَمَثَلِ الْحِمَارِ يَحْمِلُ أَسْفَارً

The example of those who were entrusted with the Torah and then did not take it on is like that of a donkey who carries volumes [of books]

The common misconception taught today, as a result of abandoning the Qur’aan, is that people who have ‘studied’ the Deen can only fear Allah aza wajjal.  This of course is wrong.  The mere memorization of ‘religious’ text does not automatically give a person the ranking of an ‘Aalim in Islam.  It is quite the opposite.

Allah aza wajjal says in Surah al-Baqarah

وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ ۖ وَيُعَلِّمُكُمُ اللَّهُ ۗ

And Fear Allah and Allah teaches you

Therefore, an ‘Aalim is anyone who fears Allah aza wajjal, despite not knowing much Qur’aan and ahadith (sing. hadith).  This also applies to the experts of Fiqh (Fuqaha), Hadith (MuHadiththeen) or any other art. They are not ‘Ulema until they reach that degree of awareness.

This means that even a layman can be from amongst the ‘Ulema if he fears Allah aza wajjal.  The greatest knowledge is to know laa ilaha illAllah.

This is how Islam defines ‘Ulema and it is the common theme throughout the Qur’aan and Sunnah.

 

 

The Truthful Ones

Today, and in the past, many people hold the title of ‘Ulema, regardless of their carelessness towards the Deen of Allah aza wajjal.  They do not refer to the Qur’aan and Sunnah when a matter arises; rather they refer to their school or sayings of a particular set of Imams.  Therefore, it is important for us to filter out these liars from the truthful ones by using the Qur’aan.

The carriers of knowledge (revelation) are those who fear Allah aza wajjal (‘Ulema).  They can be from the layman to the aristocrats of society.

Allah aza wajjal says in Surah al-Hujurat

إِنَّمَا الْمُؤْمِنُونَ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا بِاللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ ثُمَّ لَمْ يَرْتَابُوا وَجَاهَدُوا بِأَمْوَالِهِمْ وَأَنفُسِهِمْ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ ۚ أُولَٰئِكَ هُمُ الصَّادِقُونَ

The believers are only those ones who have believed in Allah and His Messenger and then doubt not but strive with their properties and their lives in the cause of Allah. It is those who are the truthful

The truthful people are those who believe in Allah aza wajjal and His Messenger (s) with certainty and they fight and sacrifice in the cause of Allah aza wajjal.

And in Surah al-Hashr

لِلْفُقَرَاءِ الْمُهَاجِرِينَ الَّذِينَ أُخْرِجُوا مِن دِيَارِهِمْ وَأَمْوَالِهِمْ يَبْتَغُونَ فَضْلًا مِّنَ اللَّهِ وَرِضْوَانًا وَيَنصُرُونَ اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ ۚ أُولَٰئِكَ هُمُ الصَّادِقُونَ

For the poor emigrants who were expelled from their homes and their properties, seeking bounty from Allah and [His] approval and supporting Allah and His Messenger, [there is also a share in booty]. Those are the truthful

Once again, fighting and sacrificing has been mentioned as truthful characteristics along with migration. No one can claim to be from amongst the truthful until they adopt the manners expressed in these ayat, especially if one is looked up to be an ‘Aalim. The fact is they are not from amongst the ‘Ulema as their actions contradict their words.

Imams of Opinion and Analogy Are Not ‘Ulema

An opinion is a belief or judgment based upon uncertainty.  It falls short of the truth (revelation).

Analogy is the process of reasoning based on partial similarity between two compared things. It too falls short of the truth as it is not based upon revelation.

Allah aza wajjal says in Surah al-Ma’idah

الْيَوْمَ أَكْمَلْتُ لَكُمْ دِينَكُمْ وَأَتْمَمْتُ عَلَيْكُمْ نِعْمَتِي وَرَضِيتُ لَكُمُ الْإِسْلَامَ دِينًا

This day I have perfected for you your Deen and completed My favor upon you and have chosen for you Islam as your Deen

He aza wajjal has fully completed and perfected our Deen.  Therefore, nothing needs to be added, subtracted or updated.  Islam is flawless as it is from Allah aza wajjal.

In Surah al-An’am

أَفَغَيْرَ اللَّهِ أَبْتَغِي حَكَمًا وَهُوَ الَّذِي أَنزَلَ إِلَيْكُمُ الْكِتَابَ مُفَصَّلًا

Shall I seek a judge other than Allah while it is He Who has revealed to you the Book explained in detail?

Allah aza wajjal has explained everything in detail. There is nothing in Islam that has been left out without Allah’s Messenger (s) clarifying it.

 

Allah aza wajjal says in Surah an-Najm

وَمَا لَهُم بِهِ مِنْ عِلْمٍ ۖ إِن يَتَّبِعُونَ إِلَّا الظَّنَّ ۖ وَإِنَّ الظَّنَّ لَا يُغْنِي مِنَ الْحَقِّ شَيْئًا

And they have thereof no knowledge. They follow not except assumption, and indeed, assumption avails not against the truth at all

Hence, opinions and analogies have no authority in Islam and are not considered knowledge.  They are forbidden and misguidance.

 

In Surah al-‘An’am

قُلْ هَلْ عِندَكُم مِّنْ عِلْمٍ فَتُخْرِجُوهُ لَنَا ۖ إِن تَتَّبِعُونَ إِلَّا الظَّنَّ وَإِنْ أَنتُمْ إِلَّا تَخْرُصُونَ

Say, “Do you have any knowledge that you can produce for us? You follow not except assumption, and you do nothing but lie”

Opinions and analogies in Deen are equal to lying.

In Surah Yunus

قُلْ أَرَأَيْتُم مَّا أَنزَلَ اللَّهُ لَكُم مِّن رِّزْقٍ فَجَعَلْتُم مِّنْهُ حَرَامًا وَحَلَالًا قُلْ آللَّهُ أَذِنَ لَكُمْ ۖ أَمْ عَلَى اللَّهِ تَفْتَرُونَ

Say, “Tell me, what provision Allah has sent down to you! And you have made of it lawful and unlawful.” Say, “Has Allah permitted you, or do you invent a lie against Allah?”

To give an analogy or an opinion is to invent lies against Allah aza wajjal.

And in Surah an-NaHl

وَلَا تَقُولُوا لِمَا تَصِفُ أَلْسِنَتُكُمُ الْكَذِبَ هَٰذَا حَلَالٌ وَهَٰذَا حَرَامٌ لِّتَفْتَرُوا عَلَى اللَّهِ الْكَذِبَ ۚ إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يَفْتَرُونَ عَلَى اللَّهِ الْكَذِبَ لَا يُفْلِحُونَ

And say not concerning that which your tongues put forth falsely, “This is lawful and this is forbidden,” so as to invent lies against Allah. Indeed, those who invent lies against Allah will never prosper

This is the meaning of speaking without knowledge; it is to speak about Islam without evidence from the Qur’aan and Sunnah.  And to make things lawful and unlawful is the sole Right of Allah aza wajjal.  He aza wajjal has not authorized anyone to make things lawful and unlawful based upon their own personal reasoning.

 

Recorded in Sahih al-Bukhaari, narrated ‘Abdullah bin ‘Amr (r), I heard the Prophet (s) saying

إنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يَنْزِعُ الْعِلْمَ بَعْدَ أَنْ أَعْطَاكُمُوهُ انْتِزَاعًا وَلَكِنْ يَنْتَزِعُهُ مِنْهُمْ مَعَ قَبْضِ الْعُلَمَاءِ بِعِلْمِهِمْ فَيَبْقَى نَاسٌ جُهَّالٌ يُسْتَفْتَوْنَ فَيُفْتُونَ بِرَأْيِهِمْ فَيُضِلُّونَ وَيَضِلُّونَ

“Indeed Allah will not deprive you of knowledge after he has given it to you, but it will be taken away through the death of the religious learned men with their knowledge. Then there will remain ignorant people who, when consulted, will give verdicts according to their opinions whereby they will mislead others and go astray”

This hadith is direct evidence demonstrating the misguidance of the people of opinion and analogy.  They are the same people who have split into schools, sects and restricted ijtihad to certain individuals.  They make blind following men besides Allah’s Messenger (s) as mandatory. They are deprived of any fear of Allah aza wajjal, thus giving verdicts from other sources besides the revelation, resulting in misleading themselves along with their followers.

‘Ulema are not People of Authority 

Allah aza wajjal says in Surah an-Nisa’

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا أَطِيعُوا اللَّهَ وَأَطِيعُوا الرَّسُولَ وَأُولِي الْأَمْرِ مِنكُمْ ۖ فَإِن تَنَازَعْتُمْ فِي شَيْءٍ فَرُدُّوهُ إِلَى اللَّهِ وَالرَّسُولِ إِن كُنتُمْ تُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللَّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ خَيْرٌ وَأَحْسَنُ تَأْوِيلًا

O you who have believed, obey Allah and obey the Messenger and those in authority among you. And if you disagree over anything, refer it to Allah and the Messenger, if you should believe in Allah and the Last Day. That is the best [path] and best in result

Recorded in Sahih al-Bukhaari, narrated Anas (r) that Allah’s Messenger (s) said

اسْمَعُوا وَأَطِيعُوا، وَإِنْ أُمِّرَ عَلَيْكُمْ عَبْدٌحَبَشِيٌّ كَأَنَّ رَأْسَهُ زَبِيبَة

Hear and obey even if an Ethiopian slave whose head is like a raisin, is made your authority

And in Sahih Muslim, narrated Umm ul-Husayn (r), she heard Allah’s Messenger say in his Farwell Hajj sermon

وَلَوِ اسْتُعْمِلَ عَلَيْكُمْ عَبْدٌيَقُودُكُمْ بِكِتَابِ اللهِ، اسْمَعُوا لَهُ وَأَطِيعُوا

Even if a slave was appointed over you, and he rules you with Allah’s Book, then listen to him and obey him

Allah’s Messenger (s) himself clarified who ‘those in authorities’ are amongst us.  He (s) never distinctly mentioned the ‘Ulema. He (s) had also restricted obeying authority only in regards to good. This cancels out any form of blind obedience to them.

Blind Obedience to ‘Ulema is Haraam

In Surah al-‘A’raf, Allah aza wajal says

اتَّبِعُوا مَا أُنزِلَ إِلَيْكُم مِّن رَّبِّكُمْ وَلَا تَتَّبِعُوا مِن دُونِهِ أَوْلِيَاءَ ۗ قَلِيلًا مَّا تَذَكَّرُونَ

Follow what has been revealed to you from your Lord and do not follow other than Him any allies. Little do you remember!

To follow anything other than what has been revealed from Allah aza wajjal is equal to polytheism.

In Surah al-Israa’

وَلَا تَقْفُ مَا لَيْسَ لَكَ بِهِ عِلْمٌ ۚ إِنَّ السَّمْعَ وَالْبَصَرَ وَالْفُؤَادَ كُلُّ أُولَٰئِكَ كَانَ عَنْهُ مَسْئُولًا

And do not follow that of which you have no knowledge. Indeed, the hearing, the sight and the heart, of each of those you will be questioned

Here, Allah aza wajjal prohibits following and spreading things that we have no knowledge about. To follow something attributed to  Islam while it has no basis in the Qur’aan and Sunnah is also Haraam.

In the beginning we had discussed what is knowledge and conclude that it was revelation. Therefore, Islam is what was revealed and not what it is believed to be by some.

Inshallah more will come in the future, Wa Allaho Alim

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Comments
  1. […] narrations regarding generations of khayr have been grossly misinterpreted by so-called “people of knowledge.”  They fabricated interpretations implying that the people in the early three generations […]

  2. […] term ‘Ulemaa (عُلَمَاءُ) is a plural correspondent of the singular ‘Aalim (عالم), that means “to […]

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