Value of the ’Ulamā
Everything in this world has some value attached to it, some greater and others less. The greater the value of the item, the more a person will cherish and treasure it.
If a person owns a luxury car, he will value it and be in a perpetual state of vigilance ensuring that no damage is done to the car. He will try his level best to maintain the car in pristine condition keeping it in a safe and secure place. There is no other reason for this behavior other than the recognition of its value.
Conversely, another person may own the most precious item; but if he fails to recognize its worth, treating it like any other commodity without safeguarding and ensuring its value, then such a person would have committed a great injustice to the item and as a result, he will be deprived of deriving maximum benefit from it. This is due to him taking the item for granted and neglecting its value.
The venerable ’Ulamā ought to be viewed in a similar light. Allah created the ’Ulamā as pillars of the religion who uphold the teachings and tenets of Islam. Together with encumbering the ’Ulamā with this great responsibility, Allah has also granted the ’Ulamā the highest standing second only to the Prophets, Sahabah and the Tabi’een. In
order to live our lives as true and sincere Muslims, we should respect and cherish the ’Ulamā. We should frequent their gatherings and acquire maximum spiritual benefit from them. This will also be a means of attaining bounties and blessings in this very life as well as felicity in the hereafter.
Allah Ta’ālā alludes to the high status of the ’Ulamā in the Holy Quran in the following verse:
﴿ يَرْفَعِ اللَّهُ الَّذِينَ آَمَنُوا مِنْكُمْ وَالَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْعِلْمَ دَرَجَاتٍ وَاللَّهُ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ خَبِيرٌ ﴾
“Allah elevates those who believe among you and those who have been granted knowledge in ranks and Allah is all-aware of what you do.” (58:11)
In this sacred verse, Allah Ta’ālā mentions that He regards the believers, and particularly, those who have been imbued with knowledge, namely, the ’Ulamā to be of a lofty status.
In a Hadith, Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) is reported to have mentioned:
من سلك طريقا يطلب فيه علما ، سلك الله به طريقا من طرق الجنة ، والملائكة تضع أجنحتها رضا لطالب العلم ، وإن العالم يستغفر له من في السماوات ، ومن في الأرض ، والحيتان في الماء ، وفضل العالم على العابد ، كفضل القمر ليلة البدر على سائر الكواكب ، إن العلماء ورثة الأنبياء ، إن الأنبياء لم يورثوا دينارا ولا درهما ، وأورثوا العلم ، فمن أخذه أخذ بحظ وافر
Whosoever traverses the path of knowledge, Allah will make him traverse one of the paths of Jannah. The angels spread their wings out of pleasure for the seeker of knowledge. Everyone in the heavens and on the earth, even the fish in the seas seek forgiveness for an ’Ālim. The virtue of an ’Ālim over a worshipper is like the splendor of the full moon over that of the rest of the stars. Verily the ’Ulamā are the inheritors of the Prophets and the Prophets do not leave Dinars and Dirhams as inheritance; they leave knowledge behind. Thus, whosoever acquires it has acquired a copious share. (Abu Dawud)
It is an integral part of our creed to believe that there is no person more virtuous, blessed and honourable in the sight of Allah than Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam). Allah Ta’ālā has blessed and favoured the ’Ulamā in that He has made them the inheritors of such an august personality as well as the other Prophets.
Disrespect to the ’Ulamā
It is evident from the above-mentioned verse and narration of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) that Allah Ta’ālā and His noble messenger hold the ’Ulamā in the highest regard. Thus, those who lack respect for the ’Ulamā al-Haqq, in essence, lack respect for Allah Ta’ālā and Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam).
The Jurists mention that if a person degrades and disrespects an ’Ālim of Dīn for the sake of his knowledge, then such a person will be guilty of apostasy and will lose his Imān. (Fatāwā Mahmūdiyah, vol. 2 pg. 519, Faruqiyah) As such his Nikah will terminate. If he continues with the marriage without renewing his Nikah, he will be engaged in an adulterous relationship. If his so called “wife” conceives in such a condition, the child will be illegitimate.
Moreover, Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) was so sensitive regarding the respect of the Ulamā that he has expelled from his Ummah those who revile and disrespect the ’Ulamā.
It is narrated on the authority of Ubādah bin Sāmit (Radiallahu Anhu) that Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said, “He who does not respect our seniors, does not show compassion to our young and does not revere our ’Ulamā is not from us.” (Jami’ al-Hadith #19537) It is therefore imperative for every Muslim to show the highest amount of respect to the ’Ulamā.
Every Muslim should therefore ask himself / herself: Do I value an ’Ālim of Dīn to the extent I value a lawyer, doctor or an actuary? Can a non-’Ālim ever be equivalent to an ’Ālim of Dīn?
It should also be remembered that the ’Ulamā are also human despite the fact that they have been granted such a high status by Allah and His Rasūl (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam). They are not angels. They will err and make mistakes sometimes. However, this does not justify their disrespect.
One learned professor of a renowned university fittingly stated, “The ’Ulamā are like copies of the Quran. Some of them may be more brilliant than others but all deserve respect even if they err. Like how a bad copy of a Quran that may contain typographical errors or missing pages will be kept on the highest shelf with respect and will not be touched without Wudhu due to it being a Quran, similar are the ’Ulamā. If they have any faults, this should not be a reason to disrespect them. Rather, utmost respect should still be shown to them as Allah has commanded respect for all the ’Ulamā Haqq.” As South Africans, we are blessed with the Ni’mat of many ’Ulamā. That is the result and barakah of the people in the past respecting their ’Ulamā. If we take the presence of our ’Ulamā for granted, the coming generation will be deprived of this great bounty of Allah.
The following Hadith of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) should be strongly considered:
قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم إن الله قال من عادى لي وليا فقد آذنته بالحرب
“Verily Allah has said, whosoever shows enmity to My Wali, I will most
definitely declare war on him.” (Bukhari)
The renowned Muhaddith, Mulla Ali Qari (Rahimahullah) has said that the Wali referred to in the above-mentioned Hadith is the ’Alim (Mirqāt Sharh al-Mishkāt). The books of history are replete with incidents of destruction of those people who have reviled and humiliated the ’Ulamā. Having enmity with the ’Ulamā is presenting oneself for war against Allah. We should be extremely cautious in our approach and dealings with the friends of Allah and inheritors of His Rasool (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) ie; the Ulama lest we fall under the above-mentioned warning of Allah Ta’ālā.
May Allah Ta’ālā guide us all and make us realize the value of the ’Ulamā and instill the utmost respect for them in our heart. Ameen.