Chapter: Concerning the corruption of the elite and what has been reported about evil scholars and their harm.

Abū Sulaymān told us: Ibn al-Aárābi told us that Ábbās ad-Dūri narrates from Ibn Bishr al-Ábdi who narrates from Hishām ibn Úrwah from his father, who reports from Ibn Ámr ibn al-Áāş that RasūlAllāh şallAllāhu álayhi wa sallam said:

Allāh táalā will not take away knowledge forcibly by confiscating it from the people [intizāán.] Rather, He shall constrict knowledge by taking away scholars [their death]. When there are no more scholars, people will take ignoramuses as their leaders; and ask them [for their opinions] and they shall reply without any knowledge. Thus, they go astray themselves and misguide others. [reported by Bukhāri, Muslim and others]

Abū Sulaymān comments: RasūlAllāh şallAllāhu álayhi wa sallam prophesized that the peril of knowledge is when there is a scarcity of competent and worthy [dhahābu ahlih] and when ignoramuses and unqualified people make an undue claim of knowledge for themselves. [intiĥāla’l juhhāl] He warned the people from following men of such [dubious] claims. He also told us that they are astray themselves and they misguide others. He has also warned of such ‘scholars’ in another ĥadīth:

Abū Sulaymān told us: narrated to us Aĥmed ibn Sulaymān an-Najjār from Jáfar ibn Abū Úthmān at-Ţayālsī who narrates from Khađir ibn Álī who narrates from Nūĥ ibn Qays [narrating] from his brother Khālid ibn Qays [narrating] from Qatādah [narrating] from Anas who said:

I narrate a ĥadīth to you, that which nobody who has heard it will narrate this to you ever again after me: I have heard RasūlAllāh şallAllāhu álayhi wa sallam say: ‘Among the signs of the final hour is that knowledge shall be withdrawn [yurfáu’l ílm] and ignorance will be widespread.’

Abū Sulaymān comments: He meant – Allāh knows best – that ignorant, incompetent and unqualified men will become [mere] claimants to knowledge. They seek to become leaders [and guides] of men even before they have spent time learning, acquiring knowledge and far before they are proficient in the sciences or have mastered them. [žuhūr al-juhhāl al-muntaĥilīna li’l ílm; al-mutara’sīna ála’n nāsi bihi qabla án yatafaqqahu fi’d dīn wa yarsukhū fī ílmih]

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Abū Sulaymān told us: Ábdullāh ibn Muĥammad as-Saádī told us that Ibn Ábd al-Ázīz narrated to us that Qāsim ibn Salām narrated to us that Ibn Áliyyah [reports] from Ibn Áwn from Ibn Sīrīn from al-Aĥnaf ibn Qays who said:

Úmar ibn al-Khaţţab rađiyAllāhu ánhu said: ‘Learn and acquire knowledge before you become leaders’ [tafaqqahu qabla an tusawwadū] he meant that whosoever did not serve knowledge [by being a student and learn / yakhdima’l ílm] in youth will be certainly shy of it when he advances in age and thus cannot achieve leadership. — Abū Sulaymān said: A report has reached me from Sufyān ath-Thawrī wherein he said: ‘When one becomes a master [teacher?] too early, the lightest penalty that he will suffer is that he will be deprived of a great amount of knowledge’ [man tara-asa fi ĥidāthatihi kāna adnā úqūbatahu an yafūtahu ĥažžun kabīrun mina’l ílm]

It is reported from Abū Ĥanifah raĥmatullāhi álayh that he said: ‘Whosoever wishes to become a master [or a teacher or a guide] far before it is time, shall spend the rest [of his time] in disgrace.’ [man ţalaba’r riyāsata bi’l ílmi qabla awānihi lam yazal fī dhullin mā baqī]


Abū Sulaymān recited these verses and said it was recited to him by Sahl ibn Ismāýīl from Manşūr ibn Ismāýīl

al-kalbu akramu íshratan
wa huwa’n nihāyatu fi’l khasasah
mimma’n yunāziú fi’r riyāsati
qabla awqāti’r riyāsah

The dog is better off –
And it is a lowly creature;
Is better than he who tries to grab leadership
Before the time is ripe for one to be a guide or a master.


Abū Sulaymān told us that Abū Úmar told him that he asked Mubarrad: ‘Why is it that Abu’l Ábbās surpassed you in memorizing the exceptional/uncommon reports and in poetry? [gharīb wa’sh shiýr]’ He replied: ‘Because I became a teacher when I was quite young and he became a master when he was older [and mature.]’


Abū Sulaymān told us that Aĥmed ibn Ibrahīm ibn Mālik told him narrating from ad-Daghūli who narrates from Muĥammad ibn Ĥātim al-Mužaffarī who said: I heard from Ámr ibn Muĥammad an-Nāqid [the critic?] that he heard Sufyān ibn Úyaynah say: We were sitting in the company of Úbaydullāh ibn Úmar, and he looked at us and said: ‘You have disgraced knowledge and you are deprived of its light. If Úmar rađiyAllāhu ánhu saw you and I, he would have lashed us.’ Al-Mužaffarī adds from a report other than that of Ámr: ‘I am not worthy of narrating to you, neither are you worthy of narrating to others; the example of you and I, is like what has been said earlier: ‘their flaws became well-known, so they made truce’ [iftađaĥū işţalaĥū. that is since we both are aware of our flaws and are in the same boat, we have agreed to ignore it. Allah knows best]

Al-Úzlah, pg. 82-84; by Imām Abū Sulaymān Ĥamd ibn Muĥammad al-Busti al-Khaţţabī (d.388 AH)