All praise be to Allah who says: "Allâh will exalt in degree those of you who believe, and those who have been granted knowledge." I praise and thank Allah (Glory be to Him) for He is the All-Wise and the All-Knowing. May peace and blessing be upon our Prophet Muhammad who said: "Indeed, scholars are the heirs of prophets who bequeathed neither dinar nor dirham but only that of knowledge; and he who acquires it, has in fact acquired an abundant portion.'' May peace and blessings be upon his family, his Companions who learnt and taught, and upon the Followers and those who follow them to the Day of Recompense.
Dear honorable Muslim brother, in this lesson we shall speak about a great right which many of us dealt with it leniently, did not pay attention to it, or neglected it.
This right is the right of the chosen group which dedicated itself and its effort to serve countries and people. No Muslim can do without them in many of his affairs, rather than the entire society. No one knows the value of this chosen group but those who estimate the knowledge they bear.
Perhaps, you have figured up who are they through this short description, they are scholars and the people of knowledge. They are the holder of Shari`ah knowledge, who are trusted because they follow the method of the Pious Predecessors: the way of Ahl-ul-Sunnah wal-Jama`ah (those adhering to the Sunnah and the Muslim main body) whether they are alive or dead because each of the two kinds have rights on people.
Before explaining these rights, I shall explain briefly the attitude of Islam toward knowledge, and the position which Allah (Glory be to Him) prepared for knowledge and its people.
Allah (Glory be to Him) sent down Islam when nations were drowned in the darkness of ignorance. Hence, the first Ayahs were revealed to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) were Allah's Saying: "Read! In the Name of your Lord Who has created (all that exists). * He has created man from a clot (a piece of thick coagulated blood). * Read! And your Lord is the Most Generous. * Who has taught (the writing) by the pen. * He has taught man that which he knew not." These Ayahs were the first light in that deep darkness, then the Ayahs were frequently revealed announcing that this religion is the religion of knowledge. Allah (Glory be to Him) says: "He it is Who sent among the unlettered ones a Messenger (Muhammad peace be upon him) from among themselves, reciting to them His Verses, purifying them (from the filth of disbelief and polytheism), and teaching them the Book (this Qur'ân, Islâmic laws and Islâmic jurisprudence) and Al-Hikmah (As-Sunnah: legal ways, orders, acts of worship of Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him). And verily, they had been before in manifest error."
The entire religion is based on knowledge: knowledge of Allah and knowledge of His Commands and Prohibitions. So, Allah is not worshipped but through knowledge and the nation cannot adopt and follow the Straight Path but through knowledge. Hence, knowledge has a status that is incomparable, therefore Imam Ali ibn Abu Talib (may Allah be pleased with him) said: "It is enough honor for knowledge that it is the cause for highness in the world as well as in the Hereafter. Allah (Glory be to Him) says: "O you who believe! When you are told to make room in the assemblies, (spread out and) make room. Allâh will give you (ample) room (from His Mercy). And when you are told to rise up [for prayers, or Jihâd (holy fighting in Allâh's cause), or for any other good deed], rise up. Allâh will exalt in degree those of you who believe, and those who have been granted knowledge. And Allâh is Well-Acquainted with what you do."
The meaning is: Allah lifts a believer over others, then Allah singled out a scholar with a higher status over others. Knowledge has no specific limit but Allah (Glory be to Him) commanded his Prophet (peace be upon him) with seeking more knowledge. Allah (Glory be to Him) says: "And say: "My Lord! Increase me in knowledge.""
Al Hafez Ibn Hajar (May Allah bestow mercy on his soul) commented on this Ayah saying: "The Ayah is clear evidence on the virtue of knowledge because Allah did not command His Prophet (peace be upon him) with seeking anything more than knowledge." Knowledge is the way of Paradise. Imam Muslim (may Allah show mercy to him) reported on the authority of Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "Allah makes the way to Paradise easy for him who treads the path in search of knowledge."
Knowledge is the heritage of prophets and scholars are the heirs of prophets; and we mentioned in the beginning of this lesson the Hadith of: "Indeed, scholars are the heirs of prophets.." At-Tabarany reported with good chain of transmission on the authority of Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) that he passed by a market in Medina, thereupon he stopped and said: "O people of the market, how weak you are! They asked: What do you mean Abu Hurayrah? He replied: The heritage of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) is being distributed while you are sitting here, won't you go and take your share of it? They asked: Where is it? He replied: In the masjid. Thereupon, they went hastly while Abu Hurayrah was awaiting for them until they came back. He asked them: What is the wrong with you? They answered: O Abu Hurayrah, we went to the Masjid and entered therein, but we did not see anything was distributed there. Abu Hurayrah asked them: Have not you seen anyone in the Masjid? They replied: Yes, we saw a group of people were performing Salah, another group was reciting the Qur'an, and another group was studying lawful and prohibition matters. Abu Hurayrah said to them: Woe to you! That is the heritage of Muhammad (peace be upon him)."
Allah (may He be Exalted) described the people of knowledge with fear of Him. Allah (may He be Exalted) says: "And likewise of men and Ad-Dawâbb [moving (living) creatures, beasts], and cattle, are of various colours. It is only those who have knowledge among His slaves that fear Allâh. Verily, Allâh is All-Mighty, Oft-Forgiving." Hence, knowledge generates the fear of Allah (may He be Exalted), His Hope, and His Love.
A teacher and a learner shall have brightness in this world and in the Hereafter because the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) supplicated for them saying: "May Allah brighten a man who hears a tradition from us, gets it by heart and passes it on to others. May a bearer of knowledge conveys it to one who is more versed than he is."
Dear Muslim brother, the outcome is Knowledge is the life of hearts, the light of insights, the cure of the breasts, the gardens of minds, the delight of souls, the company of the lonely, the guide of the aimless people, the balance by which sayings, actions, and conditions are weighed, the guide to guidance, and the rescuer from destruction and delusion. Moreover, it is the companionship during alienation, and the remover of doubts. Studying it is part of praising Allah, searching for is part of Jihad, pursuit it is a matter of obedience, teaching it is a charity, studying it equals fasting and voluntary night Salah, and the need to it is greater than the need for food and drink.
This is the status of knowledge and the status of scholars, therefore Allah made for them rights on others. These rights are centered on some matters, of these most important rights are: Respect and appreciation, recalling their status, and the greatness of their rank. Tawus ibn Kaysan said: "It is part of the Sunnah that scholars are respected"
One the principles of Islamic creed is respecting and honoring scholars, and of their rights is to respect their opinions, sayings, and rulings, and to refer to them so that you can learn the Shari`ah rulings, especially, in the general issues, critical matters, and rulings related to the reality of people because they are the people of knowledge and insight, the people of understanding, and the people of Fiqh and reality. Furthermore, they are the most knowledgeable of Shari`ah, its rulings, proofs, rules, fundamentals, disciplines, and parts. If this look has changed, each person stuck to his opinion, and scholars were equated by the common, the nation would go astray and would mire in rugged and wrong pathways.
Of their rights and the requisites of their respect is: not to slander their honors or to rejoice by harming them with words or actions because they are devoted to Allah (may He be Exalted). Al Bukhari (may Allah show mercy to him) reported that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: "Verily, Allah said: I will declare war against him who shows hostility to a pious worshipper of Mine." Abu Hanifah (may Allah show mercy to him) said: "If jurists are not the pious patrons of Allah, there will be no patron for Allah." Ibn `Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) said: "Anyone harms a pious servant of Allah has harmed the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) and whoever harms the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) has harmed Allah."
There is no doubt that backbiting a Muslim is prohibited and one of the major sins, so how will it be with backbiting scholars?
Dear Muslim brother, you should know that harming scholars by slandering them is slander to the knowledge itself because they carry the heritage of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and by harming them, the common will underestimate them and if the common underestimate them, the enemy will penetrate the lines of the nation.
Of the rights of scholars: interpreting their views for those who disagree with them —of scholars— in a good way. `Umar ibn Al Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him) said: "Do not think badly of a word that your Muslim brother utters as long as you can find a good meaning for it." I say: What if the sayer is one of the scholars of this nation who are followed by the common?!
Of their rights also: Making sure of the circulating news about them, such as sayings, Fatwas, behaviors. Some people show lenience about circulating the news about scholars in assemblies and forums without ascertaining them. If ascertainment is obligatory in the news reported from people, the news about scholars and pious people is more important.
Of their rights: Invoking Allah for them in their nonexistence because they have an upper hand on the nation where they have exerted their efforts, lives, and times in things that bring benefits to the entire nation, as they wake up at night and exert efforts at daytime. So, nothing less than sincere invocations for them so that Allah would grant them success, good, support, and reward so as to render some of their due rights.
Of their rights also: Defending and guarding their honors and letting not people slander or mock at them; if the people do not defend the people of knowledge, piousness, and good, there will be no good in this nation.
Dear honorable Muslim brother, talking about the rights of scholars is greater than fulfilling it in these lines, but many books were written to show the status of scholars and their rights, and to warn against harming or slandering them.
Therefore, we should honor scholars and spread their knowledge among people because this will be benevolence to the people and rendering some of scholars' right back to them.
It is part of benevolence also to be kind to scholars by invoking Allah for them after their death and that Allah would compensate the nation with another scholar to replace the dead one. `Abdullah ibn `Amr ibn Al-`Aas (may Allah be pleased with them) said: I heard the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) saying: "Verily, Allah does not take away knowledge by snatching it from the people but He takes away knowledge by taking away scholars, so that when He leaves no learned person, people turn to an ignorant person, as their leaders; then they are asked to deliver religious verdicts and they deliver them without knowledge, they go astray, and lead others astray."
Dear Muslim brother, these were pauses with some of the rights due to scholars so that we may remember and understand. There is no nation rendered back the rights of its scholars, but it has become strong, victorious, guided in this world and in the Hereafter, dear and honorable, and its enemies fear it.
I ask Allah (may He be Exalted) to grant us sincerity in sayings and actions, to grant success to our scholars and rulers in things that contain good and righteousness, and to forgive us, them, our parents, and all Muslims; for He is All-Hearing, All-Responding and He is the One whose aid is to be implored.