Reasons for the Rank and Nobility of Scholars

What is Right After All?

Reasons for the Rank and Nobility of Scholars

Mufti Muhammad Qasim Attari

Anyone with an interest in academia is aware that both Quran and hadith profoundly describe the honour of the people of knowledge.

Angels prostrated to Prophet Ādam عَـلَيْـهِ الـسَّـلاَم when the extent of his knowledge was made apparent. Prophet Mūsā عَـلَيْـهِ الـسَّـلاَم journeyed to Prophet Khir عَـلَيْـهِ الـسَّـلاَم to seek knowledge. The people of knowledge offered advice to those impressed by Qārūns worldly status and booming wealth. Luqmān the Wise رَضِىَ الـلّٰـهُ عَـنْهُ exhibited immense wisdom and mental acumen. Āif b. Barkhiyā رَضِىَ الـلّٰـهُ عَـنْهُ performed a saintly miracle through his knowledge of the Book. Above all, the most knowledgeable of creation, the Prophet Muhammad صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم was instructed by Allah to make duāʾ for an increase in knowledge. This alone suffices in highlighting the immense status afforded to knowledge and the knowledgeable.

As is clear, scholars of Islam harbour high ranks in the court of Allah. It is also clear every rank has a reason. For example, the rank of martyrs are due to them sacrificing their lives for Allah’s sake. The rank of worshippers is because they sacrifice their sleep and rest. In the same vein, there are reasons for the rank held by people of knowledge. One is the nobility of knowledge itself, which confers honour upon whoever possesses it. Another is the fact they spend their lives in teaching, propagating, and preserving Islam. Anyone who makes effort for this religion is beloved by Allah.  

Consider a teacher instructing his students to complete a task, yet they remain heedless in their distractions. If a student stands up and tries to instil in them the mindset that they should obey their teacher, study with effort, and fulfil their academic tasks, etc., their teacher will be very pleased with his endeavour. Another example of this is those who bring peace and harmony to a nation, eliminating tribulations and conspiracies in the process. They also earn repute to the nation by their virtuous actions. Such people are declared heroes and shown great respect.

Scholars fit the description of both previous scenarios. Moving the discussion along, we also find Allah has decreed many rulings for His creation regarding belief, worship, character, and daily affairs. He ordained for us to believe He alone is worthy of worship, as well as to believe in all His prophets, books, and angels, etc. We are to worship Him, offer salah, fast, perform hajj, pay zakat, and to recite, understand, and act upon the Quran.

We must fulfil the rights of creation and show good conduct to our parents, siblings, wives, husband, children, neighbours, people in general, and even animals. We are told to purify our heart from arrogance, envy, hatred, ostentation and love of the world, and adorn it with qualities such as sincerity, tawakkul, abstinence, contentment, patience, gratitude, love of Allah, etc. These divine rulings are for all humans on Earth.

Yet, the state of humanity is before everyone. Billions of people adhere to one corrupt creed or another; some are atheists, others polytheists, etc. This is the same state with regard to worship. The waywardness of those who disbelieve is visible, but how many pious people are there amongst the believers? This is not hidden either. There is severe negligence regarding the rights of people, and widespread murder, oppression, persecution, bribery and other forbidden acts. Many suffer from spiritual ailments like arrogance, envy, love of wealth and longing for worldly desires. If you search for sincerity, reliance on Allah, patience, and gratitude, it is only the names of saints that present themselves. Ostentation, total reliance on outward means, impatience, and ingratitude are rife otherwise.

In short, on one side we have the rulings of Allah, and on the other we have the heedlessness and misdeeds of creation. In such a state, it is the scholars of religion that call people towards Allah, encourage them to act upon His commands, study and teach sacred knowledge, and recite the Quran. They also teach others how to do this. It is they who explain legal rulings, clarify the difference between alāl and arām, elucidate creedal points, save from deviance, remind of death, the grave, and the Hereafter, and direct people towards rectifying their actions.

In a nutshell, they are able bodied humans like other people. If they wished, they could amass wealth, engage in frivolity, abandon Islamic law, and chase fleeting desires. Instead, they are busy in learning Islam, teach it to others, and work for this religion. When scholars of Islam have sacrificed their lives for the sake of Allah, He in turn has raised their ranks.

یَرْفَعِ اللّٰہُ  الَّذِیْنَ اٰمَنُوْا مِنْکُمْ ۙ وَ الَّذِیْنَ  اُوْتُوا  الْعِلْمَ دَرَجٰتٍ ؕ

Allah will raise the ranks of those who believe among you and those who were granted knowledge.[1]

This is why Satan and his cohorts dislike scholars; simply because Allah loves them. The final Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم stated, “A scholar and jurist is weightier upon Satan than a thousand worshippers.”[2]

This means Satan is not harmed by one thousand worshippers the way he is by a single scholar. A worshipper strives for his personal salvation through worship, whereas a scholar strives for the salvation of hundreds, thousands, and sometimes millions. A scholar not only saves himself from the attack of Satan, he also struggles to save others and stands up against Satanic plots. This is why Satan is troubled even more by him.

As hadith tell us, Satan is hurt more due to one scholar a thousand fold. This is something we know and believe in with absolute certainty, yet we are not able to see it. If we wish to see the complete truth of this hadith, we only need to observe devils in human form, like those who propagate atheism, spread indecency, and defend so-called “enlightened thinking.” Such people fulfil the objectives of Satan, so the scholars refute them verbally and in writing. Due to this, these representatives of Satan spew their vitriol against scholars and retort. If someone tries to draw a person away from obeying Allah, scholars become angry as they are servants of Allah Himself. At the same time, when scholars take people away from following Satan, the latter’s followers begin to dislike them.

In any case, we will say, “To you belong your actions and to us ours.” On the Day of Judgement, we will see who shall be given honour by being kept close to the truthful prophets and messengers عَـلَيْـهِ الـسَّـلاَم, and who is humiliated alongside Satan, the enemy of Islam.

[1] [Kanz-ul-‘Irfan (translation of Quran)] (Part 28, Surah Al- Mujadilah, Verse 11)

[2] Sunan Ibn Mājah, vol. 4, p. 312, hadith 2690




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