By Sheikh Zakariyya Rahmatullahi Alayh - Virtues of Tabligh
In this chapter. I would make a few submissions to the Muslims in general that they may know how to respect the scholars and the preachers of Islam. Today it is usual to have unfounded misgivings and objections against the preachers and the learned men of the nation; this is very harmful from a religious point of view. In every circle and every institution of the world there are good as well as bad people; and if there are a few bad persons among the scholars also it is no wonder. Two important considerations are here noteworthy. Firstly, you should 'not form any definite opinion about the character of anyone unless you have a solid proof about it.
Says Allah in the Holy Qur'an: "And do not take practical steps regarding anything, about which you have no knowledge; for everyone will be questioned as to how he used his ears and eyes and the heart."
And obviously it is unjust to reject the (good) advice of a preacher. simply because you have some unconfirmed doubts about him. The Jews translated their scriptures into Arabic and used to read them out to the Muslims; but the Holy Prophet (Sallallaho alaihe wasallam) was so cautious about giving his decision on this subject that he said: "0 Muslims! you should neither confirm what they say nor reject them; rather you should say: 'Whatever Allah has revealed we believe in all that:" In other words he prohibited contradiction of even an unbeliever's narration without proper investigation. But contrary to this precept we reject those instructions of preachers that are against our wishes without any arguments on our part and attack their reputation even when we know them to be righteous.
Another thing that you must keep in mind is that even the righteous scholars and preachers of your nation are also human beings, and as such they too can have some weaknesses.
The responsibility of their good or bad deeds really rests on them and the final reckoning belongs to Allah; but I hope that by His mercy and immense generosity He will forgive them for after all they have been serving His Religion and Faith at great personal sacrifice throughout their lives. In short, either to entertain doubts and objections against the religious preacher himself, or spread them amongst others, will take people away from religion and be the cause of great distress for those who participate in such affairs.
The Holy Prophet (Sallallaho alaihe wasallam) has said:
"Whoever respects the following three, he really pays respect to Allah: (1) An aged Muslim, (2) One who teaches and preaches the Holy Qur'an without any excess, (3) And a ruler who is just to the people." (Targheeb)
Also the following saying of the Holy Prophet (Sallallaho alaihe wasallam) tells us:
"He is not among my followers, who does not respect our elders, is not merciful to our youngsters, and does not pay due reverence to our scholars."
"Whoever belittles the following three persons is not a Muslim but a hypocrite: first, an aged Muslim: second a scholar (of religion): and third, a just ruler."
The Holy Prophet (Sallallaho alaihe wasallam) has also said: "I fear particularly for three shortcomings in my followers. First, due to increasing worldly benefits and achievements, they will envy one another; second, discussion of the Holy Qur'an will become so common that even the ignorant will claim that they know the meanings of the Holy Qur'an, although many meanings are such that cannot be understood' by anyone except the well versed scholars of that book, 'who say: "We have a firm faith in it, and that it is from Allah", so how much more careful should be the common people; third, the religious scholars will be neglected and will not be patronized properly;" . . (Targheeb)
Many similar traditions are found in the books of hadith. It has been mentioned in 'Fataawa Aalamgiri' that the sort of derogatory words that are generally used today by the ignorant people about the scholars of Islam may seriously damage their faith. Therefore, people must be careful to avoid such words. Suppose for a moment there are no true and sincere scholars of Islam in the world (and the majority consists of corrupt people), even then nothing is gained by branding them as evil scholars. Rather, it is the ... religious and moral duty of every Muslim to form such an Islamic society that would give birth to sincere servants of Islam. Only when such a body of persons is in existence we should rest content.
Of course, there have always been some differences of opinion among the Muslim scholars, mostly about minor problems, for which they cannot be maligned. There is a hadith that says: "The Holy Prophet (Sallallaho alaihe wasallam) gave his shoes to Abu Hurairah (Radhiyallaho anho), and said: "Take my shoes as a sign, and proclaim among the Muslims that whoever will say 'La ilaha illa.Uah, Mohammadur Rasul-ullah' from the bottom of his heart, he will certainly enter Paradise." Hadhrat Umar (Radhiyallaho anho) met Abu Hurairah (Radhiyallaho anho) on the way and asked him where he was going. He told him the message of the Holy Prophet (Sallallaho alaihe wasallam), yet Hadhrat Umar (Radhiyallaho anho) was annoyed, for he did not agree with such a proposition; therefore he hit the messenger (Abu Hurairah Radhiyallaho anho) in the chest, who fell back. Yet no one raised objections against Hadhrat Umar (Radhiyallaho anho), nor was any demonstration arranged against him because of this difference of opinion.
Many differences of opinion existed among the Sahabah and later the four Imaams of Fiqh differed among themselves in numerous details. There have been many minor differences of opinion about prayers among the four Imams. I myself know of about two hundred. but this does not mean that their followers should doubt the faith of one another and call each other 'infidel'. The fact is that the common people are mostly unaware of the finer points on which various scholars differ in their views; these differences are a blessing in disguise.
As a matter of fact, good preachers and sincere servants of Islam do not attach any importance to such trivial things but continue their attempt to bring people to the Right Path. We know that doctors differ among themselves and lawyers differ in their advice. nevertheless, people continue to make use of their services. But those who are ignorant, selfish and lazy, they simply use their difference of views to raise objections against the religious scholars. Anyhow, it has been enjoined on every Muslim to listen to those scholars of the Holy Qur'an whom he respects and knows to be the followers of the Sunnah, and should avoid reproaching those whom he does not like.
Anyone who has no proper knowledge of Islam and the Holy Qur'an has no right to raise objections against the scholars. The scholars of Islam should always keep this saying of the Holy Prophet (Sallallaho alaihe wasallam) in mind and act accordingly: "It is to waste knowledge to address those who are not fit for it."
In this corrupt age, when even the commandments of Allah and the sayings of the Holy Prophet (Sallallaho alaihe wasallam) are being criticised, I have no reason to wonder if the sermons of Muslim scholars are not heard and the Qur'an not followed. Says Allah in the Holy Qur'an.
"And whoever transgresses the limits of Allah, surely these are the unjust."