Articles

Inheritors of the Prophets
Author : Dr Noah Ali Salman
Date Added : 23-04-2024

Inheritors of the Prophets

 

 

All perfect praise be to Allah the Lord of the Worlds. May His peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Mohammad and upon all his family and companions.

The humility of the scholars of Ahl al-Sunnah Wal Jama`a is so refined that they do not speak about their status in the sight of Allah and their role in conveying what Allah revealed to His Messenger, as well as the duty of the Muslim Ummah towards them. This is because anyone who speaks about these matters is accused of seeking attention, wanting to gain a place in people's hearts, and aiming for a prominent position in society. Although humility is a praiseworthy trait encouraged by Shariah (Islamic Law) and exhibited by the righteous predecessors (Salaf Saleh), it doesn`t befit a Muslim to keep silent when an important religious matter is being concealed.

Everyone who reads the books of the Prophetic Sunnah notices that the scholars of Hadith dedicate a specific section where they gather what has been narrated from the Prophet Mohammad, peace be upon him, regarding the encouragement to seek knowledge. What is meant by this is undoubtedly the knowledge that keeps the Islamic message alive among people as guidance and mercy for the worlds, and as a proof for Allah over His servants.

The rest of the sciences that sustain people's material lives, and in which followers of other religions also participate, come as secondary matters. The purpose behind them is the continuity of the Muslim community and the presence of essential life components for those who follow Islam. That is why the life sciences are considered among the communal obligations (fard kifayah). The latter means that when some fulfill these obligations, the entire community is cleared from liability before Allah the Almighty.

The religious sciences include what is known as individual duty "Fard Ayn," which everyone is required to learn and ignorance of it is not excused. This includes knowledge related to religious duties, whether they are rights of Allah, such as acts of worship, or rights of people, such as the conditions that validate transactions. However, such knowledge can only be acquired from scholars specialized in religious sciences.

I believe that what is mentioned in the Quran and the Prophetic Sunnah regarding the virtue of knowledge, the importance of scholars, and the encouragement to seek knowledge, indicates greatly the significance of the Sharia scholars in the lives of Muslims and their community.

One example of this is that Allah the Almighty Says (What means): "Say: "Are those equal, those who know and those who do not know?" [Az-Zumar/9]. In addition, The Messenger of Allah said: "When Allah wills good for a person, He causes him to understand the religion." [Agreed upon].

In fact, prayer is the backbone of the religion, and it is the most important pillar after the two testimonies of faith (Shahadah). Congregational prayer is a manifestation of the unity of the Islamic nation, and Friday prayer serves as a weekly Islamic conference to discuss religious and worldly matters, both local and global. When people gather for congregational prayer, the imam leads them all, regardless of their social status and everyone stands behind him. This reflects the practice of the Prophet Mohammad, peace be upon him, who used to lead the companions in prayer, and they would stand behind him. Doesn't this indicate that the imam inherits from the Prophet, peace be upon him? During the Friday sermon, the preacher (Khatib) ascends to a higher place in the mosque and delivers the sermon, and it is not permissible for anyone to interrupt, speak, or distract from it. This is the same manner the Prophet Mohammad, peace be upon him, used to ascend the pulpit and the companions would listen attentively.

Indeed, the Khatib is also an inheritor of the Prophet, peace be upon him. Moreover, it is expected that both the imam and the Khatib be knowledgeable. This doesn`t necessarily mean that they be the most knowledgeable among the attendees, but they must be knowledgeable about the necessary legal rulings required for their positions, as they stand in the position of the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him.

In addition to these spiritual matters of inheritance, there are material matters as well. Allah has ordained for the Prophet (peace be upon him) one-fifth of the spoils of war, as mentioned in the Quran (What means): "And know that anything you obtain of war booty - then indeed, for Allah is one fifth of it and for the Messenger and for [his] near relatives and the orphans, the needy, and the [stranded] traveler" [An-Nisa/41].

After the Prophet (peace be upon him) passed away, who is entitled to his share of the spoils of war and booty? The scholars have decided that it belongs to those who uphold matters of religion after him. These include scholars, judges, imams, muezzins, guardians of boundaries, and those responsible for safeguarding public interests. This is because these individuals protect the religion and safeguard the lands, just as the Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) did during his time. They are his heirs.

This means two things:

Firstly, scholars must be at the level of responsibility in terms of knowledge, conduct, and wisdom. People did not see the Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him), but they see the scholars. They believe that scholars represent the Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) and act as he would have acted. Consequently, the knowledgeable must fear Allah, for their words, actions, and even their silence are attributed to the Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him). The responsibility is huge, and the reward is great for those who fulfill it.

Secondly, Muslims should respect their scholars out of respect for the Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him). This is since he (peace be upon him ) said: "Part of respect for Allah is to show respect to an old Muslim and to someone who knows the Qur'an, as long as he does not go to excess in it nor turn away from it, and to respect a just ruler."

It's important to remind scholars of the necessity to adhere to the exemplary conduct of the prophets. We also emphasize to the general public that infallibility is exclusive to the prophets, and anyone else can stumble. Therefore, it's not permissible to constantly point out mistakes and overlook the good deeds of scholars. This is especially true for ordinary Muslims, so how about those who represent Islam? It has been said: "There are three whose slips shouldn`t be mentioned: the scholars, the family of the Prophet (peace be upon him), and the people of the two holy cities (Mecca and Medinah)," because these individuals are human and may make mistakes, but criticizing them directly is indirectly criticizing Islam itself.

Evidently, the enemies of Islam often scrutinize the mistakes of both past and contemporary scholars to attack Islam itself. Unfortunately, some naive Muslims emulate them under the pretext of scientific inquiry and seeking truth, causing harm to themselves, their community, and their religion unknowingly. Again,it is important to stress that infallibility is exclusive to prophets and messengers, not to anyone else.

It is incumbent upon scholars to inform people about the sanctity of scholars and the obligation to respect them, and recognize their status. This does not contradict commendable humility or imply self-aggrandizement. Scholars have said that a prophet is one who received revelation about the Sharia, even if he was not commanded to convey it. However, people must know that he is a prophet to avoid committing disbelief because insulting prophets constitutes disbelief. Similarly, scholars should inform people about the sanctity of scholars to prevent them from committing a grave sin. As the Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) said in a hadith narrated by Imam Al-Bukhari: "I will declare war against him who shows hostility to a pious worshipper of Mine." Imam Ash-Shafi'i also said, "If the scholars are not the allies of Allah, then Allah has no allies."

Indeed, respecting scholars is respecting the religion and safeguarding oneself from incurring the wrath of Allah. We have noticed that whoever insulted scholars faced consequences in this world before the Hereafter. 

Moreover, the weakest of faith is for the Sunni Muslims to respect their scholars as the people following other schools of jurisprudence respect their scholars and to honor them as adherents of other faiths honor their scholars.

It is truly disheartening to ask people for this but it is the weakest of faith and we are keen on preserving the faith of every believer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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