The importance of Knowledge and the virtue of the Ulama:
Allah most-exalted says “Allah bears witness that there is no god but He – and (so do) the angels and the men of knowledge – being the One who maintains equity. There is no god but He, the Mighty, the Wise.”
Sa’id ibn Jubayr said “There was once three hundred and sixty idols around the Ka’ba, when this verse was revealed they fell prostrating”
Kalbi said “When the Messenger of Allah peace be upon him was known to be in Madinah, two rabbis (Jewish scholars) from Syria came to him. When they saw Madinah, one said to the other ‘How similar is this city to the description of the city of the Prophet peace be upon him we find recorded through history!’ When they entered they saw the Prophet peace be upon him, they recognized him by his features and appearance – they said to him ‘Are you Muhammad?’ He replied ‘Yes.” They said ‘are you Ahmed?’ He replied “Yes.” They said ‘We shall ask you regarding testimony; if you inform us about it, we will believe and confirm you. The Messenger of Allah replied ‘Ask me..’ They asked ‘Inform us of the greatest testimony in the book of Allah.’ Then, Allah most-exalted revealed to His Prophet peace be upon him “Allah bears witness that there is no god but He – and (so do) the angels and the men of knowledge – being the One who maintains equity. There is no god but He, the Mighty, the Wise.” Then the two men submitted in Islam, confirming Messenger of Allah .
This verse proves the virtue of knowledge, and the honour and virtues of the scholars, those who possess knowledge. If there had been anyone more honourable than the scholars, Allah would have mentioned them close to His name, and His angels, just as He connected the title “men of knowledge.”
He (Allah) said to his Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam on the honour of knowledge “Say: My Lord, increase my in knowledge.” So, were there a thing more honourable than knowledge, wouldn’t have Allah most-High ordered his Prophet to ask Him and increase in it, just as he ask for an increase in knowledge? And He said “The scholars are the most believing of Allah, out of His creation”
On the authority of Abdullah bin Mas’ud , “the Messenger of Allah peace be upon him said:
“(يجاء بصاحبها يوم القيامة فيقول الله تعالى عبدى عهد إلى وأنا أحق من وفى أدخلوا عبدى الجنة).
Congratulations to them, as Allah testifies that they are the strongest of people in their fear of Allah. Allah says And among humans and beasts and cattle, there are those having different colours as well. Only those of His slaves fear Allah who is knowledgeable. Surely Allah is Mighty, Forgiving.
Islam strongly emphasized the importance of knowledge, as it is a path of ma’rifah, or gnosis of Allah most-High, and of understanding His Divine Oneness and our slave hood. This is because knowledge is the foundation of the renaissance of nations, their progress, and civilization. It is the reason for the felicity of one in the world and the afterlife. It is not out of place that the first verse Allah most-Exalted, honoured and majestic revealed in His book, “Recite!….” calls to knowledge, gnosis, and indicated the high value of recitation. It extols the acquisition of knowledge, “Read with the name of your Lord who created. He created man from a clot of blood. Read, and your Lord is the most gracious, who imparted knowledge by means of the pen. He taught man what he did not know.”
Allah most-Exalted has taken an oath by the pen and what it writes, in His saying Nun , by the pen and what they write. Prophet peace be upon him informs us about seeking knowledge – “He made it a path to Paradise,” he also said “‘whoever travels a path seeking sacred knowledge, Allah will place him on a path leading to Paradise. The angels lower their wings for the student of sacred knowledge, pleased with what he is doing. The creatures in the heavens and earth seek forgiveness for the student of sacred knowledge, even the fish in the water. The superiority of the religious scholar over the devout worshipper is like the superiority of the full moon over the other heavenly bodies. The religious scholars are the heirs of the prophets. The prophets leave no money as a bequest, rather they leave knowledge. Whoever seizes it has taken a bountiful share.”
Is this inheritance not reason to congratulate the people of knowledge?
The Qur’an clarified the place of the scholars: Allah will raise those, in ranks, who have believed and are given knowledge. Allah is well-aware of what you do. And Allah has given this rank exclusively to them, as he’s said: Say, “Can those who know and those who do not know become equal?” It is only the people of understanding who are receptive of the advice.
Oh servants of Allah here the Messenger of Allah peace be upon him illustrates the rank of knowledge and the scholars and says: “Indeed Allah and His angels and the creatures of heavens and the earth, and even the ant and the fish, send blessings down to the righteous teacher of people”. The Prophet preferred the scholars to be the leaders of the Muslim, which shows the importance of their affair and their high abilities. The Messenger of Allah said:
:« يَؤُمُّ الْقَوْمَ أَقْرَؤُهُمْ لِكِتَابِ اللَّهِ، فَإِنْ كَانُوا فِي الْقِرَاءَةِ سَوَاءً فَأَعْلَمُهُمْ بِالسُّنَّةِ»
The Messenger assigned useful knowledge a continuously compounding reward, even after the death of its teacher. He said “if a person dies, their works are cut off from them except in three cases – charitable donations that continue to be of use, knowledge which is benefited from, or a pious child who supplicates for them”. The Prophet made clear that if Allah wants good for one of his slaves, He gives him knowledge, saying that “Whoever Allah wants to give good to, He makes them adeptly understand the religion, indeed knowledge is with learning”.
Indeed these Quranic verses and hadith encourage our interest in gaining knowledge for ourselves and our children, just as our scholarly ancestors in the past did, who were excellent in all areas of knowledge and gnosis. Imams Abu Hanifa, Malik bin Anas, al-Shafii, Ahmad bin Hanbal, al-Bukhari and Muslim were all examples in the sciences of Shariah, as were Ibn Sina and Ibn al-Nafis in Medicine, al-khawarazi and Jaabir bin Hayyan in Maths and hundreds of other scholars who excelled in all sciences. They filled the earth with light and knowledge, and Allah benefited all of humanity through them. Therefore, oh sons of ours, raise your heads proudly and remember your ancestors, be like them, for in this there is bliss.
If this is the rank of knowledge and the scholars, then it should be upon us that we hold them in reverence, know their ability, and place. Etiquette with them is analogous to etiquette in the presence of the Prophet, because the scholars are the inheritors of the Prophets. The Master of the scholars, leader of the Prophets says “There is no one from my nation who does not revere our elders, show mercy to our youngster, and know the right of our scholars”
‘Abdullah b. ‘Amr b. al-‘As reported Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: Verily, Allah does not take away knowledge by snatching it from the people but He takes away knowledge by taking away the scholars, so that when He leaves no learned person, people turn to the ignorant as their leaders; then they are asked to deliver religious verdicts and they deliver them without knowledge, they go astray, and lead others astray.