Shaikh Muhammad Umar Bazmuul was asked:
Question: What is the categorization and correct understanding of Allah’s statement: ‘Ask the people of remembrance if you do not know’.
Shaikh Muhammad Umar Bazmuul: The answer. All praise is due to Allah the Lord of the Worlds and may the people and blessings be upon the most noble of Prophets and Messengers Muhammad and upon his family and companions.
As to what proceeds:
For verily the statement of Allah: ‘Ask the people of remembrance if you do not know’ gives evidence for some issues:
1) That the Muslims are categorized into two sections. The first of whom are the people of knowledge and the ones whoare not from the people of knowledge and they are called the ‘Awwam (general people).
2) That the duty of the people of knowledge is to propogate and clarify and the duty of the general people is to return to the people of knowledge in matters which they have problems in.
3) It gives evidence that the people of knowledge are those who have knowledge of the remembrance, and the meaning of the word remembrance is the Qur’an and the Sunnah upon the understanding of the pious predecessors. Hence, whosoever is from the people of knowledge being described from those who have knowledge of the Qur’an and Hadeeth and following the narrations of the pious predecessors then they are from the people of knowledge who Allah has mentioned in the verse.
4) It shows that it is not from the rights of the general people to put themselves forward over the scholars. Instead what is compulsory upon the general people is to follow the scholars. Hence if the scholars clarify an issue it is upon the general people to follow them and take their statements and it is not lawful for a general person to contradict the verdict of a scholar that he has heard from the scholar unless the verdict contradicts a verse from the Qur’an, A Hadeeth or correct Ijmaa’ (Consensus).
5) What is evidenced from this verse: ‘Ask the people of rememberence if you do not know’ is that those who do not return to the scholars and follow their whims or their desires or those who are not from the people of knowledge according to the people of knowledge then he going upon other than that which Allah has ordered: ‘Let those who contradict his order be warned of a great trial or great punishment coming upon them’.