By Shaykh Abdul-Aziz Abdullah Ibn Baz (rahimahullah)
The men of learning (scholars) are the successors of the prophets. Knowledge is what is indicated by the book of Almighty Allah and the Sunnah of His Messenger, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam. And in this concern ‘Aa’isha (may Allah be merciful to her) said, when she was asked about the character (khuluqahu) of the Prophet Muhammad sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, that “His character was the Qur’an”. (Akhlaaq sing. khuluq: has several meanings: ethics, morals, inborn quality, manners, natural disposition and shall be used here synonymously.)
This word from ‘Aa’isha tells us that the natural disposition of the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) was following the teachings of the Qur’an manifested in his following the orders and refraining from the interdictions. It is now worthy of the scholars, preachers, teachers and students to take good care of the Book of Allah, and to search into it and to assimilate the good ethical teachings which Allah loves from it. Almighty Allah says:
“Verily this Qur’an doth guide to that which is most right (or stable)” [Bani Israeel, Aayah 9]
In another verse the Qur’an says:
“Nun. By the Pen, And by the (record) Which (men) write. Thou art not, By the grace of thy Lord, Mad or possessed. Nay verily for thee is a reward unfailing. And thou (standest) on an exalted standard of character.” [Al-Qalam, Ayaat 1-4]
The one who would like to attain this great standard of character should approach the book of Allah and pay attention to it when reciting and studying it; while referring all the questions and doubts to the learned people for reliable answers and guidance to the correct books and references on the explanations of the Qur’an.
Attention should also be given to the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam because it also explains the Qur’an and leads to the understanding of it. Almighty Allah said to His Messenger,. sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam:
“Say thou: ‘This is my Way; I do invite unto God on evidence clear as seeing with one’s eyes, I and whoever follows me. Glory to Allah! And never will I join gods with Allah.’” [Yusuf, Aayah 108]
The abiding by the Book of Allah is part of the character of the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) and part of the character of all the scholars and the men of learning who are endowed with knowledge and insight, knowledge and faith, knowledge and piety. However people with knowledge but with no faith or any piety have no share of the high standard of character.
From this we know that who ever calls for something with ignorance is not on the path of the Prophet Muhammad’s (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) standard of character and conduct and not on the path of the people of learning. Rather, he is a criminal with great sin because Almighty Allah considers that whoever says something that Allah did not say is beyond blasphemy and above polytheism. Chaos and disorder would result from this. Allah says:
“Say: The things that my Lord hath indeed forbidden are: Shameful deeds whether open or secret, sins and trespasses against truth or reason, assigning of partners to Allah for which he hath given no authority, and saying things about God of which he has no knowledge”. [Al-’Araaf, Aayah 33]
Hence, whoever says things about Allah without knowledge and permits what is forbidden and forbids what is permissible, deters from the right thing and calls for the false.
So it is the duty of the scholars and men of learning and their students to be cautious about saying things about Allah without knowledge and pay attention to stating the legitimate proofs according to the “Sharia” so that they can be knowledgeable about what they presume, call for or deter from and not venture to say false things about Allah without any knowledge. Those who are knowledgeable about Allah are the ones who fear Allah the most and never trespass His limits. Allah says:
“Those truly fear God, Among His servants, Who have knowledge”. [Faatir, Aayah 28]
The knowledgeable people who fear Allah are those people who know His religion, and know the Sunnah of His Prophet Muhammad sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam. Those people are headed by the Prophets and Messengers of Allah because they are the best example.
It befits the men of learning, although they are found in a latter time like the time we are living in, to follow the foot steps of the pious people in their fear of Allah and make it their task to revere His orders and His prohibitions
The fear of Allah implies stopping at the limits stated by Him and following the path of His Messenger Muhammad (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam). Any overdoing it would be unnecessary and impermissible. The knowledgeable person is the one who does not trespass the limits of prohibition and permission, and in the doing (following) and in abstention. And besides all that be very cautious not to say any thing about Allah without knowledge, or do contrary to what he learned.
Almighty Allah mentioned some good characteristics of some of His pious worshippers as a reminder to us. Allah says: “There is, in their stories instruction for men endued with understanding.” [Yusuf, Aayah 111)
In other verses Allah says: “Not all of them are alike: Of the people of the Book are a portion that stand (For the right), they recite the verses of Allah all night long, and they prostrate themselves in adoration. They believe in Allah and the Last Day. And they enjoin what is right, and forbid what is wrong, and they hasten in emulation in (all) good works: They are in the ranks of the righteous.” [Aali ‘Imraan, Aayaat 113-114]
These good characteristics, which were adopted by the best of the People of the Book and by those guided by Allah from among their scholars, include deep faith in and total submission to Him. And that they would not sell the sign of Allah for a cheap price and would not show ingratitude and deny the truth and conceal it as did their men of learning who went astray, when they concealed the story of Muhammad (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) and they concealed a lot of truths for the sake of worldly and immediate gain.
But the people of knowledge and faith, from the ancient and the latter times, would state the truth and declare it as Allah said:
“Is then one who doth know that that which hath been revealed unto thee from thy Lord is the truth, like one who is blind? It is those who are endued with understanding that receive admonition.” [Ar-Ra’ad, Aayah 19]
And in another verse:
“Say: Are those equal, those who know and those who do not know? It is those who are endued with understanding That receive admonition.” [Az-Zumar, Aayah 19]
By this Allah explained that it is the people with understanding who really think and work their insight and those are the people with healthy minds. Allah described them as:
“Those who fulfil the covenant of God and fail not in their plighted word. Those who join together those things which God hath commanded to be joined hold their Lord in awe, and fear the terrible reckoning.” [Ar-Ra’ad, Aayaat 20-21]
They join together the things which Allah has commanded to be joined and by straightness in following Allah’s orders and showing loyalty to Him and the following of the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam). Hence, their faith is followed by work and practice shown in kindness to one’s parents and communication with relatives. And the fear of Allah is such as to help them in the obedience of Allah and to deter them from committing disobedience.
Then Allah mentioned the two characteristics that are the sixth and the seventh and said:
“Those who patiently persevere, seeking the countenance of their Lord, And they establish regular prayers.” [Ar-Ra’ad, Aayah 22]
They persevere on the obedience of Allah and they persevere in their abstention from the interdictions made by Allah. Allah also mentioned the eighth and the ninth characteristics and said:
“Spend out of (the gifts) We have bestowed for their sustenance, secretly and openly, and turn off evil with good”. [Ar-Ra’ad, Aayah 22]
The meaning here is that they spend to get the forgiveness and redemption of Allah. They spend openly as they do in Zakat in secret either seen or not seen by people; seeking the grace of Allah.
“And turn off evil with good”
This indicates total patience, their resilience, their endurance and their subduing of their wrath:
“For such there is the final attainment of the (Eternal) Home”. [Ar-Ra’ad, Aayah 22]
Allah explained that this “Eternal Home” as: “Gardens of perpetual bliss: They shall enter there as well as the righteous among their fathers, their spouses, and their offspring”. [Ar-Ra’ad, Aayah 23]
To reward them for their good past deeds, Allah includes them together with their fathers, their offspring and their spouses in His giving. Henceforth, to be straight in carrying out of the orders of Allah and fulfilling the duties; to call for the good and deter from bad; and to stand firm with the right and be resilient on it; and to turn off evil by doing good – all these are ways for the servant of Allah to be useful and good and also for his fathers, his spouses and their offspring and their reunion will be in the home of hospitality and generosity in which the angels are visiting and welcoming them.
One of the great gifts of Allah to his servant is making him to be the reason for the guidance of his father, his mother, his spouse and his offspring, and so forth. Also it is one of the great gifts of Allah is making a woman to be the reason for the guidance of her husband, her father, her mother and her children.
It is learned from this holy verse that the admission into Heaven of fathers, husbands and their offspring together with their relatives is not because of this kinship and relationship but because of their correctness and their endeavor in the obedience of Allah. This verse is also similar to the verse which says:
“It is not your wealth Nor your sons that will Bring you nearer to us In degree; but only those who believe and work righteousness - these are the ones for whom there is a multiplied reward for their deeds while secure they (reside) in the dwellings on high.” [As-Saba, Aayah 37]
Likewise the people of knowledge, faith and righteousness should follow this way of high conduct and high standard of personality so that they find the happy ending and reward. But it is very essential that the learner of knowledge should know that resilience is very important and that good deeds and abundant good does not happen simply by wishful thinking and hopeless expectations, but there should be work and patience.
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