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26 June 2019 CE | 23 Shawwal 1440 AH
Explanation below

Hadith Explanation

Superiority of the Learned

The Messenger of Allah (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said: “The superiority of the learned over the devout worshipper is like my superiority over the most inferior amongst you (in good deeds). Allah, His angels, the dwellers of the heaven and the earth, even the ant in its anthill and the fish (in water) supplicate in favour of those who teach people knowledge.” [Tirmidhi]
An alim (learned person) here means scholar of the Quran and Hadith, who adheres strictly to Islam himself while imparting his knowledge to others. Abid (devout worshipper) is one who spends most of his time in the worship of Allah (subhana wa ta’ala). The benefit of his voluntary prayer and remembrance of Allah is restricted to his own self, while the benefit of the knowledge of the scholar reaches others also. Hence, the scholar is more beloved to Allah (subhana wa ta’ala).

This hadith highlights the esteem in which religious scholars are held by Allah, His angels and His other creatures. If “salat” is mentioned with reference to Allah (subhana wa ta’ala), it denotes “Allah's Grace with Mercy;” if it is mentioned with reference to the angels, it denotes “praying for forgiveness;” and if it is mentioned with reference to other creatures - men, animals, etc., - then it means “prayer and supplication”. Thus, Allah graces that person with His Mercy who teaches people beneficial knowledge, (i.e., the knowledge of Islam); angels pray to Allah to forgive his sins; and other creatures pray for his well-being also.

The reason that Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) has put the love of the great Imams of our Ummah in our hearts is not only because of their extraordinary learning but also because they took a stand for the truth. Not only did they spend their lives learning and teaching Islamic knowledge for Allah’s pleasure but, more importantly, did not compromise their Islamic understanding due to any “maslaha”. Imam Malik ibn Anas, Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Imam Ibn Taiymiyyah, Imam Abu Hanifa and others paid dearly for their adherence to the truth. They did not sell out under pressure.

Many scholars of this calibre are also our contemporaries, who are paying with their lives for standing clearly with Islam and the Muslims, regardless of their nationality. In the footsteps of Imam Malik ibn Anas, they do not adopt a criminal silence. Imam Malik was beaten until his arm dislocated from his shoulder, but that did not make him hide the hadith with which Muslims were rebelling against their ruler. While the reward for a religious scholar is so great that Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) commands all creatures to pray for him, at the same time being a caller to Allah’s Deen is a heavy responsibility. Syed Qutb Shaheed summed up this responsibility when he said: “Our words are meaningless until we give them life with our blood.”

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