One of the qualities of religious scholars is to call people to Allah’s Way, to act upon their knowledge, and to explain the truth depending on evidence from Shari`ah (Islamic law),
Morals of the scholars
Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds. May Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon the most honorable of Prophets and Messengers, our Prophet Muhammad, his family, and Companions.
I would like to clarify the morals that should be found in scholars and what they should do as they follow their great leader and role model in everything good, our Prophet Muhammad ibn `Abdullah (peace be upon him), the Messenger sent by Allah, and the leader of all callers to Allah. I opine that it is better to be entitled “The morals of scholars”. It is known for anyone who has the least knowledge that the scholars are the successors of the prophets, because the prophets did not bequeath money; they left us only knowledge, and knowledge is what was indicated in the Qur’an and the Sunnah (whatever is reported from the Prophet). That is why `Aishah (may Allah be pleased with her), when asked about the morals of the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, The character of the Prophet (peace be upon him) was the Qur’an. These great words said by `Aishah (may Allah be pleased with her) guide us to the fact that his (peace be upon him) morals were based on following the commands of the Qur’an and avoiding its prohibitions, which entails adhering to the morals praised in the Qur’an and keeping away from those that are dispraised in the Qur’an. It is a great and comprehensive word. The scholars, Du`ah (callers to Islam), teachers, and students should care about Allah’s Book, derive the morals loved by Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) from it, and adhere to them so that they become a permanent lifestyle for them wherever they are.
Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) says, Verily, this Qur’ân guides to that which is most just and right The Qur’an is the guide to the most just and right way. There is no greater aim for a Mu’min (believer) than being straight on the most just and right way;
There is no doubt that this is the noblest and most important of objectives, which is the great moral character with which Allah praised His Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) in Surah Al-Qalam, as He (Glorified and Exalted be He) says, Nûn. [These letters (Nûn, etc.) are one of the miracles of the Qur’ân, and none but Allâh (Alone) knows their meanings]. By the pen and by what they (the angels) write (in the Records of men). You (O Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم), by the Grace of your Lord, are not mad. And Verily, for you (O Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم) will be an endless reward. And Verily, you (O Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم) are on an exalted (standard of) character. Thus, all scholars and knowledge seekers should care about this moral and recite Allah’s Book and work accordingly. Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) says, (This is) a Book (the Qur’ân) which We have sent down to you, full of blessings, that they may ponder over its Verses, and that men of understanding may remember. Those are the people with sound minds whom Allah granted ability to distinguish between the truth and falsehood, and between guidance and misguidance. A person who wants to acquire this great moral should refer to Allah’s Book (Glorified and Exalted be He) and recite it meditatively, whether with friends or by asking the scholars about problematic issues. You should also benefit from the reliable books of Tafsir (exegesis of the meanings of the Qur’an) and the Sunnah, as it is interpretative of the Qur’an, so that you follow this straight path and be among the people who recite Allah’s Book and apply it.
The Jews had Allah’s Book; the Christians had Allah’s Book; and the corrupted scholars of this Ummah (nation) had Allah’s Book, but what did they do with it?
They became the most evil of people because they contradicted Allah’s Book, so Allah (Exalted be He) became angry with them. The same applies to their followers; any one who violates Allah’s Book intentionally and follows the way of the misguided people of the Jews, the Christians and others, takes the same ruling. The aim is to apply Allah’s Book and make it a reference for us in morals just like it is a reference, guidance and healing for our predecessors. Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) says to His Prophet (peace be upon him), Say (O Muhammad صلى الله عليه و سلم): “This is my way; I invite unto Allâh (i.e. to the Oneness of Allâh – Islâmic Monotheism) with sure knowledge, I and whosoever follows me (also must invite others to Allâh i.e. to the Oneness of Allâh – Islâmic Monotheism with sure knowledge). And Glorified and Exalted be Allâh (above all that they associate as partners with Him). And I am not of the Mushrikûn (polytheists, pagans, idolaters and disbelievers in the Oneness of Allâh; those who worship others along with Allâh or set up rivals or partners to Allâh).” This is also one of his morals (peace be upon him); it is also one of the morals of scholars, people of deep insight, people of Iman (Faith) and pious people. However, people of knowledge
without Taqwa (fear/wariness of offending Allah) or Iman have no share in this, because one of the qualities of religious scholars is to call people to Allah’s Way, to act upon their knowledge, and to explain the truth depending on evidence from Shari`ah (Islamic law), whether in sayings, deeds, or `Aqidah (creed). Those are the guides of the people in the light of Allah’s Book and the Sunnah of His Messenger; they would not exchange the Ayahs (Qur’anic verses) of Allah for a trivial thing; they would rather convey to people Allah’s Religion, guide them to the truth with which Allah sent His Prophet (peace be upon him), and bear harm patiently in all cases. Thus, it is known that anyone who calls people to Allah ignorantly is not following the role model of the Prophet (peace be upon him) in morals. Such a person does not have the morals of scholars; they are rather criminals, because Allah (Glorified be He) considers speaking in His Name without knowledge more dangerous than Shirk (associating others with Allah in His Divinity or worship), because it leads to great corruption. In His Clear Book, Allah (Exalted be He) says, Say (O Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم): “(But) the things that my Lord has indeed forbidden are Al-Fawâhish (great evil sins and every kind of unlawful sexual intercourse) whether committed openly or secretly, sins (of all kinds), unrighteous oppression, joining partners (in worship) with Allâh for which He has given no authority, and saying things about Allâh of which you have no knowledge.” He (Glorified be He) considers speaking in His Name without knowledge the greatest of what He has prohibited, because this Ayah includes graduation from the least to the most dangerous. Thus, the danger of speaking in Allah’s Name without knowledge is known, and that it is one of the greatest forms of Munkar (that which is unacceptable or disapproved by Islamic law and Muslims of sound intellect) and major sins, as it has evil consequences and leads to the misguidance of people. In another Ayah of Surah Al-Baqarah, Allah (Glorified be He) clarifies that speaking in His Name without knowledge is called for by Satan, so a knowledge seeker should not follow the way of Satan. Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) says, O mankind! Eat of that which is lawful and good on the earth, and follow not the footsteps of Shaitan (Satan). Verily, he is to you an open enemy. He [Shaitân (Satan)] commands you only what is evil and Fahshâ (sinful), and that you should say against Allâh what you know not. Look at what Allah (Exalted be He) has mentioned about this open enemy; he commands us to do evil and immoral deeds and to speak in the Name of Allah without knowledge, as he knows how dangerous it is to speak in the Name of Allah without knowledge. A person who speaks in the Name of Allah without knowledge allows prohibited things, prohibits
lawful things, forbids the truth, and commands falsehood out of ignorance. Thus, scholars and knowledge seekers should beware of speaking in the Name of Allah without knowledge; they should also pay attention to evidence from the Shari`ah so that they are aware of what they call for and are not speaking in the Name of Allah without knowledge. Those who know Allah well are the people who fear Him most and observe the Limits set by Allah, according to Allah’s (Exalted be He) Saying, It is those who have knowledge among His slaves that (most) fear Allâh. Every Muslim fears Allah and every scholar fears Allah, but the degree of this fear is variable. The people who fear Allah the most are the scholars who know His Religion, not scholars of medicine, engineering, geography, or mathematics; they are the scholars who know Allah, His Religion, and that with which His Messenger (peace be upon him) was sent. On top of these come the Messengers of Allah (peace be upon them);
The Messengers and Prophets are the top of the scholars, their role models, and their Imams (leaders); and those who came after them are successors who inherited their knowledge and called for the same ideas. There is a Hadith that states, Scholars are the heirs of the prophets. Thus, the scholars, even of the recent times, should follow the way of their righteous ancestors in fearing Allah, revering His Orders and Prohibitions, and observing Limits set by Allah. They should also support the truth, call for guidance and fear the blame of no one but Allah. Thus, their knowledge becomes useful; their conscience is cleared, and people benefit from them. Allah’s (Glorified be He) Saying, It is those who have knowledge among His slaves that (most) fear Allâh. refers to absolute fear which is felt by scholars, on top of whom come the Messengers and Prophets, then by the best scholars gradually according to the degree of their Taqwa, knowledge, strength of Iman, and perfection of belief.
When some Sahabah (Companions of the Prophet) asked about the secret deeds that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) used to do, they felt they were little and said to themselves, “How can we reach the stage of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him)? His past
and future sins have been forgiven by Allah.” It is mentioned in the Sahih (authentic) Hadith reported from `Aishah (may Allah be pleased with her) that one of them said, “I will offer Salah (Prayer) continuously and never sleep.” Another one said, “I will observe Sawm (fast) continuously and never break it.” The third one said, “I will never sleep on a bed.” The fourth one said, “I will never eat meat.” When the Prophet (peace be upon him) heard about this, he gave a Khutbah (sermon) to people, praised Allah and then said, “By Allah, I am the most pious one among you. However, I offer Salah and sleep; I observe Sawm and break it; and I marry women. Those who shun away from my Sunnah are not real Muslims.” The Prophet (peace be upon him) made it clear that he is the one who feared Allah most and knew what to avoid. The same applies to the Messengers before him; they knew Allah most and feared Him most. Next to them come the scholars, each according to his rank. However, perfection of fear of Allah does not entail infallibility; any scholar might commit a mistake and return to the truth as soon as he conceives it. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, All Banu Adam (human beings, descendents from Prophet Adam) are sinners, and the best among them are those who repent. A scholar should seek the truth by evidence, exert effort in this, ask Allah for help and assistance, and purify his intention. If he makes a mistake after all this, he will have one reward; if he finds the truth, he will have two rewards as authentically reported in the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him).
Fearing Allah (Exalted be He) entails observing the limits set by Allah and following the Manhaj (methodology) of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) whereas anything more than this is considered exceeding the proper limits, which is impermissible. A scholar is the one who observes the limits set by Allah in allowing, prohibiting, working, and abstaining; and he should also be very careful not to speak in the Name of Allah without knowledge or work against what he knows, so that he does not resemble the Jews. Allah (Glorified be He) mentions some good qualities about the pious people of the Book to remind us about this. He (Exalted be He) says, Indeed in their stories, there is a lesson for men of understanding. In historical tales there are lessons just like Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) says. He (Glorified be He) also says, Not all of them are alike; a party of the people of the Scripture stand for the right, they recite the Verses of Allâh during the hours of the night, prostrating themselves in prayer. They believe in Allâh and the Last Day; they enjoin Al-Ma‘rûf (Islâmic Monotheism, and following Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم) and forbid Al-Munkar (polytheism, disbelief and opposing Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم); and they hasten in (all) good works; and they are among the righteous.
This is an example of their good deeds and qualities mentioned by Allah (Glorified be He) to us so that we might follow them and imitate those good people. At the end of Surah Al-`Imran, Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) also says, And there are, certainly, among the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians), those who believe in Allâh and in that which has been revealed to you, and in that which has been revealed to them, humbling themselves before Allâh. They do not sell the Verses of Allâh for a little price, for them is a reward with their Lord. Surely, Allâh is Swift in account. These are the good qualities adopted by the good people of the Book and those whom Allah guided of their scholars. They believe in Allah; they feel Khushu` (the heart being submissively attuned to the act of worship); they are obedient to Allah; they humble themselves before Him; they do not exchange the Ayahs of Allah for a small price; and they do not deny the truth like what their misguided scholars did when they denied the biography of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and much of the truth for their worldly enjoyments.
As for the people of knowledge and Iman, and those who fear Allah (Exalted be He) among the ancestors and the latecomers, they declare the truth and do not exchange the Ayahs of Allah for a small price. One of their great deeds is clarifying the truth, referring to it, calling people to it, and warning against falsehood. They also seek Allah’s Reward and fear His Punishment (Glorified and Exalted be He). Allah (Exalted be He) also says, Shall he then who knows that what has been revealed unto you (O Muhammad صلى الله عليه و سلم) from your Lord is the truth be like him who is blind? But it is only the men of understanding that pay heed. He (Exalted be He) also says, Say: “Are those who know equal to those who know not?” It is only men of understanding who will remember (i.e. get a lesson from Allâh’s Signs and Verses). In those two Ayahs, Allah (Glorified be He) indicates that those who know the truth revealed by Allah, including guidance and integrity, are not equal to those who are too blind
to be guided to the truth for their corruption of thoughts and heart; they are not alike. That is why Allah (Exalted be He) says, It is only men of understanding who will remember (i.e. get a lesson from Allâh’s Signs and Verses). Allah makes it clear that remembrance and reflection are made by those who have sound minds.
Then, He mentions their great qualities, saying, Those who fulfil the Covenant of Allâh and break not the Mîthâq (bond, treaty, covenant). Those are the qualities of the people of knowledge and Iman; they are those who fulfill Allah’s Covenant entrusted to them; adhere to His Religion in sayings, deeds, and `Aqidah; they do not break the covenant. Rather, they respect it and enjoin what Allah has ordered to be joined, such as Istiqamah (integrity), sincerity to Allah, and following the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him); and they fear Allah and the terrible reckoning. Both Tawhid (monotheism) and following the Messenger of Allah should be observed. Both testifying that there is no Ilah (God) but Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah should be achieved. They also follow Iman by deeds, such as dutifulness to parents and maintaining ties of kinship. They fear Allah in a way that helps them obey Allah and protects them from committing sins; it is real fear, not just claims, that affects their hearts and makes them attuned to Allah, respectful to the limits set by Allah, abstaining from His Prohibitions and obedient to Him.
Thus, the people of knowledge and Iman fear Allah in a fruitful way that leads to the truth and avoidance of falsehood. They also …and dread the terrible reckoning (i.e. abstain from all kinds of sins and evil deeds which Allâh has forbidden and perform all kinds of good deeds which Allâh has ordained). This is out of their perfection of fear; they fear the terrible reckoning, so they prepare themselves and keep their Istiqamah out of fear of terrible reckoning on the Day of Resurrection.
Allah (Glorified be He) then mentions the sixth and seventh qualities in His (Glorified and Exalted be He) Saying, And those who remain patient, seeking their Lord’s Countenance, perform As-Salât (Iqâmat-as-Salât) They patiently obeyed Allah and refrained from committing things that He prohibited
sincerely drawing closer to Him free of show-off and vain pride. The people of Iman and knowledge endure hardships in obeying Allah, abstaining from sins, conveying Allah’s Message, offering Salah and not neglecting anything enjoined by Him in this great act of `Ibadah (worship), which is the main pillar of Islam; they rather offer it as enjoined by Allah (Exalted be He).
Allah (Glorified be He) mentions the eighth and the ninth qualities in His Saying, …and spend out of that which We have bestowed on them, secretly and openly, and defend evil with good This means that they spend secretly and in public to please Him and do good to the people, seeking Allah’s Bounty and Mercy. They also pay Zakah (obligatory charity) and spend in charity of the money given to them by Allah (Glorified be He), …and defend evil with good They repel misdeeds with good deeds out of their perfect patience, endurance, and restraint of anger. This is the status of scholars and righteous people, according to Allah’s (Exalted be He) Saying, …for such there is a good end. The good end is interpreted by Allah’s (Glorified be He) Saying, ‘Adn (Eden) Paradise (everlasting Gardens), which they shall enter and (also) those who acted righteously from among their fathers, and their wives, and their offspring. Their reward for those deeds entails that Allah encompasses them, their parents, their progeny and their spouses with His (Glorified and Exalted be He) Bounty and Mercy. Istiqamah on Allah’s Orders, fulfilling His Rights, enjoining Ma`ruf (that which is judged as good, beneficial, or fitting by Islamic law and Muslims of sound intellect) and prohibiting Munkar, steadfastness on the truth, being patient on it and meeting an evil deed with a good one, all this leads to the righteousness of a person, their parents, spouse and progeny. They gather in the abode of honor, and angels visit them and greet them. One of the greatest Blessings of Allah on a man is making him a cause for the guidance of his parents, wife and children. A woman may also be a cause for the guidance of her husband, parents and children. It is concluded from the noble Ayah that the entrance of parents and spouses into Jannah (Paradise) with their relatives is due to their righteousness,
not merely kinship. It is Istiqamah and exerting maximum effort in obeying Allah which is the greatest mediator for a person, and this makes their relatives, spouse and progeny gathered in the abode of honor. This noble Ayah resembles that of Surah Saba’ in which Allah (Exalted be He) says, And it is not your wealth, nor your children that bring you nearer to Us (i.e. please Allâh), but only he who believes (in the Islâmic Monotheism), and does righteous deeds (will please Us); as for such, there will be twofold reward for what they did, and they will reside in the high dwellings (Paradise) in peace and security.
Allah (Exalted be He) also says in Surah Al-Hujurat, O mankind! We have created you from a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know one another. Verily, the most honourable of you with Allâh is that (believer) who has At-Taqwâ [i.e. he is one of the Muttaqûn (the pious. See V.2:2)]. Verily, Allâh is All-Knowing, All-Aware. These, and other noble Ayahs indicate that reaching high ranks, attaining Jannah, being safe from Allah’s Punishment and Wrath are not achieved by wishes, supplications, or lineages; it is only achieved by Allah’s Guidance and Mercy, through enduring obedience to Allah, restraining oneself from His Prohibitions, seeking Him (Glorified and Exalted be He), being sincerely devoted to Him in deeds and asking Him to grant us success and guidance, while enduring hardships and disasters in the way of the truth. Thus, great goodness is achieved by them and they attain Jannah. The people of Iman, knowledge, and guidance should follow these great morals so that they attain the good end, and their final destination will be Jannah. There must be patience, sincerity and honesty. Allah (Exalted be He) says in Surah Al-Insan, And their recompense shall be Paradise, and silken garments, because they were patient. He (Glorified be He) says in Surah Al-Mu’minun, Verily I have rewarded them this Day for their patience: they are indeed the ones that are successful. In Surah Al-Furqan, He describes the great attributes of the His good Slaves, saying,
Those will be rewarded with the highest place (in Paradise) because of their patience. Therein they shall be met with greetings and the word of peace and respect.
These are the good qualities described in His Saying, And the (faithful) slaves of the Most Gracious (Allâh) are those who walk on the earth in humility and sedatenessThey attained this rank due to their obedience to Allah (Exalted be He), restraining themselves from things that He prohibited and bearing disasters. We should take care of this matter and prepare well for it. A knowledge seeker should know that their patience is a must; and that great deeds and goodness are not achieved by mere claims and wishes without work and patience.
May Allah by virtue of His Names and Attributes guide us and all Muslims to useful knowledge and righteous deeds. May He grant us all the morals of the people of knowledge and Iman of Messengers and their righteous followers. May He grant us and all the Muslims more useful knowledge, righteous deeds, and deep insight. May He protect us all from the evils within ourselves and our misdeeds. May He (Glorified be He) guide those in charge of the Muslims everywhere to all what pleases Him and benefits the people. May He guide the leaders of Muslims and help them obey Him and His Messenger. May He guide them to rule according to His Shari`ah, abide by it, refer to it, and beware of what contradicts it. May He also set right the affairs of the Muslims everywhere; grant them comprehension of religion; help them remember Him, thank Him and worship Him well; and protect us and all Muslims from what contradicts His Shari`ah. He (Glorified and Exalted be He) is the Only One Capable of doing so.
May Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon His Slave and Messenger, our Prophet Muhammad, his family, Companions, and those who follow him in righteousness until the Day of Judgment.
Sheik – Abd al-Aziz ibn Baz