Topic: The statement of Ahmad Ibn Hanbal: One shouldn’t speak regarding an issue unless he has an Imam.
This is an important statement which shows us that it is a must to have a measure of caution when speaking about Islam. Additionally it is a must that the Muslims return to the people of knowledge and should refrain from saying anything in the religion unless they have a scholarly precedence.
The reasons for this are as follows:
- Knowledge is inheritance; meaning that it is relayed from scholar to student or scholars to the general masses. The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “The scholars are the inheritors of the Prophets…”
- Evidences from the Sunnah and statements of the Salaf clearly demonstrate that when the scholars die or are abandoned that ignorance and misguidance would take place. The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “… but Allah takes away knowledge by taking away the scholars. Until there are no scholars left, the people take the ignorant as their leaders. These leaders are asked and then they give verdicts without knowledge and there misguide others while being misguided.” Likewise Al Hasan Al Basri said: “If it weren’t for the scholars the people would have been like animals.” Imam As Sa’di said: “The rights of the scholars who are teachers. Those who are the medium between the Messenger and his nation in terms of relaying his religion and clarifying his legislation (Sharee’ah). Those who if it weren’t for them the people would have been like animals. Their rights upon the Ummah is greater than the rights of the parents. For verily, they nurture the souls and hearts of the servants with beneficial and correct knowledge and understanding. And they are the guides of the Ummah in the foundations of the religion and in its branches. And they are the point of return in terms of the rulings regarding mutual rights and daily dealings as they are the point of return in terms of (understanding) the acts of worship. By them the book and the Sunnah is established, and by them truth and falsehood, guidance and misguidance, lawful and unlawful, good and evil, that which benefits and that which harms are clarified.” (Nurul Basair Wal Albaab 58-59)
- A general person and a beginner student would judge matters based upon a limited vision regarding the religion. Whereas a scholar who is entrenched, established and experienced in his knowledge would judge matters in a detailed and expansive manner because of his ability. Therefore, one would find that when those aforementioned (the general person and beginner students) distance themselves from those of scholarly pedigree, their statements and their writings they come with extremely strange and amazing things. After Shaikh Muhammad Ibn Saalih Al ‘Uthaimeen mentioned some issues wherein people give wrong verdicts he said: “… and the likes of this issue and those which are similar are many. Therefore it is upon the general masses to take their rulings from the people of knowledge so that they know Allah’s ruling in order that they not speak about Allah’s religion without knowledge.”
Hence, we as Muslims must beware of pretending to have knowledge and putting ourselves forward in speaking about Islam before we have the ability to do so. This is especially when dealing with matters of fear and safety regarding the Muslims. Allah has said:
“And when a matter of safety or fear comes to them they announce it. And if they returned it to the Messenger and to those in authority (the scholars and the rulers) they would know of those who have the ability to analyze the matter among them…”
We must hence understand that we as Muslims must adhere to scholarship. We must also beware of those who are so engrossed in their self amazement that they perceive themselves as Post-Athari, Einsteinian level thinkers who appoint themselves as saviours of Islamic Civilization. Those who say that we shouldn’t outsource scholarship and accuse the scholars of not knowing the reality of the west.
The reality is that once one reads the verdicts of the scholars regarding our situation in the west one would see that without a doubt there is much benefit in their deep understanding, experience and their expansive knowledge regarding Islamic legislation. Whereas, one would find that those who abandon the scholars spend their time by either spreading doubts regarding foundational matters of the religion or giving erroneous verdicts.
May Allah guide us to what he loves and is pleased with.