By Hadhrat Shalkh-ul-Hadlth Maulana Muhammad Zakariyyah (Rahmatullah Alayh)
Now having written all that, I have to admit that there are two kinds of Ulama-the true ones (Ulama-e-Haqq) and the false or evil ones (Ulamaa-e-Soo) In the Hadeeth there are grave warnings of dreadful things awaiting the Ulama-e-Soo. They are among those who will be first to enter into Jahannam. They are astray and are leading others astray. Rasulullah (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said:
“A person who seeks knowledge with the object of acquiring wordly riches, will not even smell the fragrance of Jannat” [Targheeb]
Rasulullah (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam) also said:
“Whoever acquired knowledge for the purpose of attacting people to be inclined towards him, will be cast into Jahannam” [Targheeb]
and also “The worst of people have the worst Ulama” [Targheeb]
It is also reported that Rasulullah (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said::
“Knowledge is of two kinds: One type is that which is only on the tongue(having no effect upon the heart). This is Allah’s proof against men(that He completed His argument). The other type is that which is in the heart and is beneficial knowledge.”
In another Hadeeth he (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said:
“In the latter days the devout ones (Sufis) will be ignorant and the Ulama immoral”
“Seek not knowledge in order to contest with the Ulama and to argue with the ignorant ones and to attract people towards you by it. Those who do this will be cast into Jahannam”.
Sayyidina Umar (Radiallahu anhu) said:
“On behalf of this Ummat I am most fearful of the Aalim who is a hypocrite”
people asked: “Who is a hypocritical Aalim?”
Hadhrat Umar (Radiallahu anhu) replied:
“He is one who by tongue is an Aalim but in his heart he is ignorant.”
Sayyidina Hasan (Radiallahu anhu) said:
“Do not become such that in spite of having acquired the knowledge of the Ulama and become acquainted with the deep researches of the thinkers, you behave and act in the manner of ignorant fools.”
Hadhrat Ebrahim bin Ummaya was asked:
“Which person will be most ashamed and sorry?”
“The ashamed one in this world is he who obliges an ungrateful one. And the ashamed one and sorry one at the time of death is that Aalim who exceeded the limits”
Sayyadina Hasan (Radiallahu anhu) also said:
“The torment of the Ulama will be the death of the heart. The death of the heart is seen in this that with which the deeds of the Hereafter he earns the benefits of this world”
Hadhrat Yahya bin Ma’az (Radiallahu anhu) says:
“When with knowledge and wisdom worldly benefits are earned, that knowledge loses its splendor and brilliance.”
Sayyidina Umar (Radiallahu anhu) observed:
“When you see any Aalim who loves worldly riches, consider him to be a suspect (and guard your Deen) for whosoever loves a thing becomes entangled with it.”
Hadhrat Malik bin Dinar (Radiallahu anhu) said:
“I have read in ancient books that Allah says. “When an Aalim begins to love this world, the least that I can do to him is that from his heart I take away the pleasure of his conversing with Me in prayer.” [Ihya]
All these statements quoted above and many other similar quotations undoubtedly refer to the Ulama-e-Soo —the evil ones among the Ulama. However the verdict of whether such-and-such an Aalim or party- belongs to this category or of the true Ulama is not for anyone to give. This also lies under the Shariat to be decided according to its stipulations. It is completely wrong that when any Aalim speaks in favour of our views, we consider and laud him as being of the true Ulama. But when he says anything against our opinions, he is immediately branded as being of the Ulama-e-Soo, ready to be sacrificed. What is this that until yesterday our opinions about some political party were favourable? Hence this Aalim and all those who were in favour of this party’s political policy were lauded as Ulama-e-Haqq. But now our views regarding that party had changed overnight and now all the Ulama who supported that party have their names added to the list of Ulama-e-Soo!
The criterion as to whether any Aalim is of the true or evil Ulama is only this:
How does he respond in action to the tenets of the Holy Qur’aan and Hadeeth? That is all. But so have we changed that with our own crooked understanding, our emotions and under the influence of the unbelievers we set up some policy. Whosoever agreed with it of the Ulama is lauded to be a great Allamah, a great scholar, well-versed and acquainted with the needs of the nation, an expert on the intricacies and mysteries of the Deen — even if this self-same lauded one is ignorant and an uneducated fool, having no touch with Qur’aan and Hadeeth. On the other hand the truly great Ulama who oppose our opinion, in spite of being really experts in matters of Shariat and truly well-acquainted with the needs of the nation, will be ridiculed, jeered and abused with the meanest and vilest of words. What a tragedy!
Note that in many respects there were major differences of opinion between the Sufis — with their esoteric knowledge, clairvoyance and their internal sciences — and the external Ulama, the formalists. But the pious ancestors did not even give the Sufis the right to adopt any such views which were contrary to the formalist Ulama. The books of the experts abound with sayings to this effect.
Hadhrat Mujaddid Alfi-Thani (Sayed Ahmed Sirhindi) (Rahmatullah alayh) wrote in one of his letters which was written to Moulana Amanullah Faqeeh:
“The foremost belief that is necessary for any wayfarer of the Sufi path, is that which the Ulama of the Ahlus Sunnah wal Jamaat have elicited and deduced from the Qur ‘aan and the Hadeeth and the relics of the predecessors. Then it is also necessary to adhere to those meanings of the Qur aan and the Hadeeth which the Ulama have understood from the Book and the Sunnat. If by any chance, any meaning should become known through illumination (Kashf) or inspiration (Ilhaam) which is to the contrary, it is not acceptable or credible or to be taken seriously. One should seek refuge from such meanings and beseech Allah to take us out of this vortex and that He may manifest that which is in accordance with the opinion of the true Ulamaa.’
One should not express anything contrary to their opinion, but rather try to make that which was unveiled to him consonant with those meanings which the learned Ulama had understood Any meaning that becomes disclosed to the inner heart and which is contrary to the meanings understood by them is not at all reliable or acceptable and absolutely null and void. It is a fact that every perverted one wished to prove the correctness of his views from the Qur’aan and Hadeeth alone.
“He misleads many thereby and guides many thereby.” [2 v 26)
And this fact, that the meanings understood by these learned men alone is correct, is because they have understood these meanings from the sayings of the Sahaabah and the Tabi’een (May Allah he pleased with them all). They have derived them from the Light of the Stars of Guidance. Hence, eternal salvation and everlasting well-being is their lot and their destiny.
“Lo, they are Allah’s party. Verily Allah’s party is successful ones.” [LV III v 22]
Just because of some Ulama, in spite of being of sound belief, show some faults in masaa-il and are guilty of some sinful lapses in their deeds, it is absolute injustice to degrade them and turn them away from the entire class of Ulama, or to ridicule all of them. In fact to reject them means rejection of the most of the essentials of Deen, because these people are the ones who show the way of the essentials of Deen and they are the ones who discriminate between right and wrong.
“But for the light emanating from them we would not have been guided aright, and but for their discriminating between right and wrong we would have gone astray. They are the people who spent their efforts in elevating the firm Deen and guide many to the straight path. Whosoever follows them will be successful and reach salvation and whosoever opposed them is astray, leading others astray.” [Vol. 1 chapter 5, Maktoob Page 286]
The shaykh says in another place:
“You should know that, if the words of the Sufis are not in accordance with Shariat, then it is not acceptable at all, so how can it be proof and good to follow? Only the words of the Ulama of the Sunnah are good as proof and to follow. Those words of the Sufis which are in agreement with the words of the Ulama are reliable and that which are against are unacceptable.” [Vol 1, 5th Letter, page 289]
Such is the view of honoured Sufis whose hearts are truly enlightened. This is the view of those who have in themselves the true spirit of sacrifice for the Glory of Allah, the dignity of the Deen and Deeni matters. Yet they consider their statements to be not worthy of proof or worthy of being followed except with the consent of the Ulama. What credibility can possibly be attributed to the statements and actions of those who are not even acquainted with Deen, who have never had any definite relationship with the Qura’aan, Ahadeeth and the words of the saintly predecessors?
Look at the foolish people! They merely happen to glance at some translation of the Holy Qura’aan, understood some particular meaning on some particular subject and now look upon themselves as eminent independent Mujtahids! Now whatever any Aalim or all the Ulama of the world may say, is considered to be nonsense, useless. Can they not realise that the meaning of the Qura’aan and Hadeeth is that which the Sahaabah(Radiallahu anhum) explained and according to which they acted. Allah says:
“Verily those who distort Our Revelation, they are not hidden from Us, is he who is cast into the Fire better or he who comes secure on the Day of Qiyaamat. Do as you will. He is the See-er of what you do.” [XLI v 40]
In Durr Manthoor the interpretation of apostasy (IIhad) according to many Sahaabah (Radiallahu anhum) and Tabi’een has been stated to result even from ascribing to one verse of the Qur’aan a meaning other than that intended. It is also noteworthy that there are numerous Ahaadeeth wherein that exhortation to follow the pious ancestor stressed.
Sayyidina Erbaaz bin Saariya (Radiallahu anhu) reports: “ One day Rasulullah (Sallalahu alayhi wasallam) led us in Fajr Salaah and afterwards facing us, delivered a sermon most eloquent and touching, that tears rolled from our eyes and hearts trembled with fear. A man said to him: “O Messenger of Allah, it seems as if this is a farewell sermon. Give us further advice.”
Then Rasulullah (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said: “I advise you to fear Allah and to obey the ruler even though he may be a Negro slave Whosoever lives on after me will certainly see much dissension. So hold onto my Sunnah and the Sunnah of the rightly-guided Khulafaa. Hold fast onto it: hold onto it with your teeth. I advise you against following the new innovations in Deen for every new thing is a bid-ah and every Bida’t is deviation.” [ Ahmed, Abu Dawood, Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah, Mishkat]
Hadhrat Umar bin Abdul Aziz ( Rahmatullah Alayh) wrote a very important letter regarding the observance of the Sunnah and the following of the example of the Sahaabah (Radiallahu anhum). This letter which is quoted in Abu Dawood’s Saheeh is of such importance that each and every word of it should be carefully taken into consideration. Among other things he wrote therein:
“Failure to follow them is a great fault and to exceed their example is merely to tire yourself. A certain group failed to follow them and thus committed injustice and another exceeded their example and thus transgressed. The Holy Sahaabah (Radiallahu anhum) are on a path of guidance between these extremes.”
It is reported from this very same Umar bin Abdul Aziz ( Rahmatullah Alayh) that he said:
“Taking hold of the road laid down by Rasulullah (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam) and his successors after his is to confirm belief in the Book of Allah and to give obedience to Him and in this lies the strength of the Deen. None has any right to bring about any changes therein or to modify, and the opinions of anyone who opposes anything therein is of no sequence and unworthy of consideration. Whosoever follows their path is rightly-guided. Whosoever acquires help from them is successful. Whosoever acts contrary to them and adopts a way besides that of the believers, Allah will not allow him to act according to his adopted way and will cast him into Jahannum. That is indeed a very bad place of refuge.” [Shifa]
May Allah grant us the ability to follow every footstep of these saintly predecessors! Ameen!
“That is not a hard thing for Allah” [37 v 17]
From all that has been written here, it must have become very clear that to follow and obey the Ulama-e-Haqq is of the utmost importance and necessity. Not to honour them is cause for our own ruin and doom. Should any statement of theirs not be understood, the fault lies with our lack of understanding. On the other hand, should any uttering of theirs be found to be clearly contrary to Shariat it is not permissible after due consideration, to be accept it. If such an occasion does arise, it still is no cause for keeping yourself aloof from them. That will only entail great harm to yourself in the rest of your religious affairs. ( This would have been clear from the advice of Sayyidina Ma’az (Radiallahu anhu), quoted previously)
As opposed to this, we have the word of the Ulama-e.Soo. Their words are not worth paying attention to, not suitable for following and from them one should remain aloof. But when anything of theirs is in accordance with the Shariat, it is worthy of practice and must be taken and accepted. It should however be noted that to be able to ascertain whether anything said is in accordance with the Shariat or against it, depends on sound knowledge of the Shariat. This cannot merely be done on the basis of one’s opinion. Just as it is a grave sin to introduce a non-Shar’i thing into the Deen as part of it, so also it is a sin to reject anything which is indeed part of the Shariat. When such a thing crops up about where there is any doubt (as to whether it actually belongs to the Shariat) one should be careful and act with discretion.
Extract from “Al-Eti’daal” Pages 196-204
May Allah, Forgive, Protect and Guide Us All.