South Africa – Growing up I always heard stories of how adults and the elderly treated the Ulama. The respect they had for them was immeasurable. They would always go out of their way for them because they knew the value of an Aalim. With the passing of our elders, the respect for Ulama has sadly also gone with them.
Unfortunately, we live in a time when disrespecting Ulama is accepted to a certain extent. What once used to be said only in one’s heart is now being posted all over the internet and it is done with no shame or fear. This disrespect has slowly degraded the relationship the Ulama have with the community. Once this relationship breaks, it can result in a great tribulation. We will only have ourselves to blame for it.
Teaching our children that being an Aalim is a last resort
We may have heard this many times during family discussions. It may even have been told to us directly as well. Becoming an Aalim or Aalima is seen as a last resort. One is saying that studying Deen and propagating it should be a last resort. When young children have the ambition to study Deen, not only do we tell them no, but we sow the seed of disrespect in their hearts.
From a young age children are taught that being a scholar will mean you won’t be able to provide for your family. They are taught that seven years of studying Deen will be a waste of time. We entrench in their minds and hearts that the work of an Aalim is less than any other profession. It should then not come as a surprise to see the youth be so quick to disrespect Ulama over any trivial reason.
Paying Ulama a pittance
On one hand children are told Ulama don’t make enough money while on the other we find it fair to pay them a pittance for their services. Compare school fees to madressah fees. Every year school fees go up and people pay it without complaint. Yet, the local Aalim will ask for a small increase and suddenly he is asking for too much. We are ready to complain about the price of madressah fees. That Aalim also has a family to feed and basic needs to take care of. We will hesitate to pay him a fair wage, but we will not hesitate to use him as an example as to why our children shouldn’t become an Aalim.
It is sad to admit but we have begun to place secular education over Islamic education. We have forgotten the education that we attain in schools helps us only in this world. The knowledge obtained in madressah is beneficial to us in this world and the next. However, we put little importance on what is truly valuable.
A disease which is rapidly spreading throughout the Ummah is what is called Fatwa shopping. This is when a person jumps from one Aalim to another to find a Fatwa (ruling) that will conform to what his Nafs (desires) want. As soon as one Aalim gives a ruling that remotely suits a person, they start to slander every other Aalim they have spoken to.
At the same time should that Aalim give another Fatwa that doesn’t suit a person, then he will also be slandered. The cycle continues on a never-ending Ferris wheel of mockery and back-biting. At the end of it all, who will one turn to when they have slandered every Aalim they know?
If a person goes to two doctors and one doctor prescribes Panado for his pain while the other tells him to take Mybulen, he will listen to one but not slander the other. It will be left at both doctors having their reasons. The same respect is not afforded to the Ulama. The Ulama do not issue Fatwas based on fresh air. They have meticulously studied the books of Hadith, Quraan, and the life of Nabi (SAW) and his companions (RA). Although one may have a different opinion compared to another, they have their reasons as to why they have ruled in such a way.
Fighting over a law because it does not conform to our lifestyle
Many times, we will hear people say, ‘the times have changed’. The times have changed but Islam will never change. We hear people say Aalims do not understand how business works, how life works. When one wants to use interest in his business and Ulama advise against it, they are often disregarded and disrespected. They are put down and labelled with the harshest of words. While one might think it is perfectly alright, we forget these laws were established by Allah (SWT). Waging a war of words on Ulama for something in this category is waging a war with the decision of Allah (SWT).
SMread: Mind Matters
The lofty status of Ulama
Abu Darda’ (RA) heard the Messenger of Allah (SAW) say: “Whoever follows a path in the pursuit of knowledge, Allah will make easy for him a path to Paradise. The angels lower their wings in approval of the seeker of knowledge, and everyone in the heavens and on earth prays for forgiveness for the seeker of knowledge, even the fish in the sea. The superiority of the scholar over the worshipper is like the superiority of the moon above all other heavenly bodies. The scholars are the heirs of the Prophets, for the Prophets did not leave behind a Dinar or Dirham, rather they left behind knowledge, so whoever takes it has taken a great share.'” (Sunan Ibn Majah 223)
With this Hadith we can understand the status that Ulama hold in Islam. They are the heirs of the Prophets (AS). They are no ordinary people. In their chest they carry such knowledge that not even the greatest of mountains could not hold.
Ulama are humans, just like us
Ulama are the heirs of the Prophets (AS) but they are not prophets. They are humans like you and I. They make mistakes, make errors. Some believe the seven years at Darul-Uloom is meant to create the perfect person. Ulama have wants, needs, and desires. In a recent bayaan on the late Sheik Mahmud Effendi (RA), Maulana Ridwaan Kajee explained beautifully how one should treat an Aalim who may not be on the right part. An Aalim that has a few flaws in him is like a copy of the Quraan that might have a mistake in it. We would treat it with respect even if there is a mistake in it. The Aalim is a person who studied Deen. Just like we would treat that Quraan with respect, the same respect should be given to the Aalim.
An Aalim who may have lost his way still has the knowledge in his heart to come back onto the right path.
The dangers of disrespecting the Ulama
We might feel like we are doing something great by mocking and disrespecting an Aalim. We might feel as if we know better. In his same talk Mulana Kajee issued a stern warning to those who disrespect Ulama. Regardless of whether they should be followed.
“Disrespect of the Ulama when it enters the heart, it is the system of Allah (SWT) that knowledge will leave that progeny … You show disrespect to an Aalim, Allah (SWT) will take knowledge out of your progeny. You show respect to Ulama. Don’t ever let the tongue say one thing bad of an Aalim and Allah (SWT) will bring knowledge into your family. The devil loves when the Ulama are mocked.”
We always make Dua that our progeny is saved from the trials and tribulations of this world. That our children and grandchildren die with Imaan. By mocking the Ulama we are ensuring the downfall of our own progeny.
Whether we agree or disagree with Ulama, it is not our place to mock them or show disrespect. If we look around, we can see what our disrespect has done to the Ummah. The youth no longer have respect for the Ulama. If we continue on this path, it will only be the cause of our destruction and the destruction of our progeny.
May Allah (SWT) grant us understanding, grant us the strength to refrain from abusing the Ulama and forgive us if we ever have.