I agree, don't listen to these modern celebrity shaykhs. Have of them are liars and then some womenizers.
Sticking to classical scholars and their works is the best option.
Is it possible for you Oh Shaikh to give us a program and levels that a sister can use in her house until she could come to a high level of knowledge?
Yes, what we advice is that she takes knowledge step by step by reading simple books: for verily they help in understanding the big books, and examples of this are
, and this is if she can understand this. And if she doesn't understand these then there is a small book that I know from our virtuous brother
And it is a very easy book. And if she is at a higher level than these books that we have mentioned then it is possible that she reads from the
. The most important thing is that she manages her time and doesn't overwork herself with many classes... .
, and also to write the benefits (of what she learns). And Allah is the helper. And if it is easy for a woman and her husband to travel to the institutes of knowledge in Yemen we advise them to do so and Allah is the helper.
This is a rhetorical question, meaning ‘no, they are not equal’.
The Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم said: “Indeed for the ‘Aalim (scholar) everything in the heavens and the earth seek forgiveness for him and the fish in the sea, and the virtue of an ‘Aalim over the servant is like the virtue of the moon on a full-moon night over the rest of the heavenly bodies and the Scholars are the inheritors of the prophets and indeed the prophets do not leave behind as inheritance dinaar nor dirhaam, they leave behind as inheritance the knowledge, so whoever takes from it then he has grasped an abundant fortune.”  Collected by Abu Dawuud, At-Tirmidhi, ibn Maajah, ibn Hibban, Haakim who authenticated it.
Ibn Hibban mentions that this is a clear explanation of the status of the scholars in that they, and not other than them, are the ones who carry and convey the knowledge of the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم. So, the scholars then, are the inheritors of the prophets, and the knowledge that they inherit is the knowledge of the Deen – knowledge of the Book and the Sunnah of the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم and not the other types of knowledge.
There is an abundance of knowledge available, but what is intended in terms of knowledge, and the acquisition that is encouraged is knowledge that is taken from the Book and the Sunnah
of the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم.
The Shaykh حفظه الله continues his discussion on knowledge by mentioning the hadith from Muawiyah bin Abi Sufyaan رضى الله عنهما that the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم said: “Whoever Allaah wants for him good he gives him understanding of the Deen.” 
For those people who Allaah intends good for them, He gives them understanding of the Deen, whereas for the duniyaa
(present life), Allaah سبحانه و تعالى give the duniyaa
to those whom He likes as well as those whom He dislikes. As for knowledge, He only gives it to those whom He loves. We ask Allaah عز و جل to make us of those whom He loves.
From Imaan Ahmad in his Musnad from the hadith of Anas رضى الله عنه that the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم said: “Indeed the example of the scholars in the earth is like that of the stars in the sky, one is guided by them in the darkness of the land and the sea.”
The scholars are not all at one level but those who attribute themselves to legal knowledge are on different levels and in different stages. A mistake that should not be made is to deal with them as though they are all at the same level because they are at various levels and different ranks regarding their knowledge of the Book and the Sunnah and the concern that they have for it and their fear of Allaah سبحانه و تعالى and the tranquility and humility that they have. The aim here is to clarify their levels from the perspective of their knowledge of the Book and the Sunnah.
Levels of the People of Knowledge
Characteristics of the Scholars
- Mujtahid al-Mutlaq – Those absolute in their ijtihaad (judgment).
The highest level of the People of Knowledge is the mujtahid al-mutlaq. They are those who are absolute in their ijtihaad
When looking at the situation that is presented to them, they consider the daleel (evidence) that they have, and based on the evidence, they deal with each particular situation as it presents itself. These are the mujtahidoon (those that make ijtihaad) without exception. They themselves are a source of references for the Ummah. When difficulties arise, this is the group of scholars that the Ummah returns to, in every time and place. This is the mujtahid al-mutlaq – those who are absolute in the areas of ijtihaad, meaning that they are not just restricted to only one aspect of learning. (independent opinion or judgment) in the issues of Islaamic law. They are very well aware of the different issues concerning our Deen. What distinguishes this group is that they know the evidences for each issue from the statements of the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم, the Sahaabah (companions) and those after them (from the Salaf).
- Mujtahid al-Muqayyid – Those restricted in their ijtihaad.
We have the second group which is below the first. It is the level of the mujtahid al-muqayyid i.e. one who is limited in his ijtihaad. He benefits from the different opinions that we have, and also perhaps from his madhab, from the principles of Islaamic Jurisprudence and the discussions in the other branches of learning. He uses these to draw analogies to help him deal with different circumstances. He does not necessarily have a lot of evidences and he is not just blindly-following an individual. His ability is limited. This person normally invites to his madhab (words unclear) and they are of different levels.
For this reason the madhaahib (schools of thought) that we have legally, although they have different deductions in terms of law, they are all taken from the Sunnah of the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم and also there is the ijmaa’ of the People of Knowledge which is used in terms of evidences.
There is a third level – the mujtahid who is actually following a specific imaam. At this level the individual usually takes from a particular scholar and normally does not go beyond the imaam that he takes from.
- Other than them
We have another level and this is for those individuals who attribute themselves to knowledge generally, but they have not attained a level of those previously discussed. They are Students of Knowledge they go out and they seek knowledge but their status or the level that they have attained, is not the level of ijtihaad.
Then there is another level – those taking from different aspects of learning. There are some students of knowledge who are seasoned in their development of Islaamic learning. There are those who are intermediate and those who are beginners. Those are two different levels also. There are also some of the People of Knowledge who specialize in one area of learning as opposed to another area of Islaamic learning e.g. hadith, tafsir or Fiqh.
The scholars that should be followed
have certain qualities and characteristics that set them apart
from others. These qualities are as follows:
- Memorization of the Qur’aan – from the heart.
- Memorization of the pure Sunnah of the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم - They have knowledge and understanding from the Fiqh of the companions of the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم and the textual evidences from the Book and the Sunnah. They have knowledge of the understanding of the Sahaabah which the Sahaabah took from the Qur’aan and the Sunnah.
- In spite of these scholars having understanding of the Qur’aan and the Sunnah they take the Fiqh of the Sahaabah and utilize it.
- They honour the knowledge of the Qur’aan and the Sunnah of the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم, holding it in high esteem. They also honour the Sahaabah and recognize their station; and they honour those that preceded them in knowledge from amongst the Salaf and considered their opinion also.
- They stop wherever the evidence stops. Once there is evidence they leave aside their own opinions and statements and they adhere to the truth, whatever it may be. Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah رحمه الله points out:
“This group is stationery wherever the daleel (evidence) is stationery and they move with the daleel wherever the daleel moves. Once there is evidence they adhere to it and take it and they go to it collectively and individually.”
The textual evidences are more magnificent in their hearts than the statements of anyone else. They do not put any analogy or opinion before the textual evidence.
- They are cautious and take their time before passing any type of religious ruling (fatwa) i.e. they are not hasty. Also, they would prefer that someone else passes a religious ruling instead of themselves, if there is another individual. They are also cautious in the area where they have no knowledge on a particular issue. If at a given moment they do not have at the forefront of their mind the evidence for a particular issue they will refrain from answering.
- They are concerned about conveying knowledge and passing it on to others, and also teaching and instructing others in the knowledge that they have been given.
- They are preoccupied with knowledge and putting it into practice.
- When they deal with knowledge – whether conveying it or acquiring it – they start with that which is most important and then that which is important – there is prioritisation. This is done without becoming bored or tired, although it is something that they do constantly.
- They have great concern for the knowledge; and for the areas of Tawheed and the Sunnah – that nothing touches these aspects of our Deen.
- They are the ones who stand in defence of the Qur’aan, the Sunnah, and for the Deen in general.
- They have humility and fear of Allaah and they depend on Him سبحانه و تعالى and they adhere to whatever He commands. Narrated by ‘Awf ibn Maalik al-Asja’ee رضى الله عنه that: “The Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم once looked at the sky and he صلى الله عليه و سلم said “This seems to be the time of the raising up of knowledge,” so one of them said: “O Messenger of Allaah, how is it that knowledge will be raised up and we have the Book of Allaah and we read it and we study it and we teach it to our children?” The Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم said: “I used to consider you one of the most knowledgeable people of Ahlul Madinah, didn’t the Jews and Christians have their book with them?  Should I not inform you of the first of the knowledge to be raised up?” He صلى الله عليه و سلم said: “khushoo and the fear of Allaah سبحانه و تعالى until you will not see a person having this type of humbleness in a state of fear in times to come”.” 
- They put knowledge into practice, so you find the scholar working with the knowledge that he has from the Qur’aan and the Sunnah, and being concerned about it. They practice the optional acts of worship, not to mention the compulsory acts of eebaadah (worship). They adhere to all these acts of worship, and they stay away from those things that are disliked and should be shunned.
- Their knowledge is in the heart and not on the tongue. Knowledge is of two types:
1. Knowledge on the tongue
– this is the evidence of Allaah سبحانه و تعالى that is used to convey to the people from the Qur’aan and from the Sunnah. The Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم mentions in the hadith: “The Qur’aan is an evidence for or against you.”
2. Knowledge found in the heart
– this is the beneficial knowledge. Al-Hasan رحمه الله said that “Knowledge is of two types, knowledge on the tongue is the evidence of Allaah against the children of Aadam as comes in the hadith: “The Qur’aan is an evidence for or against you.”and knowledge in the heart is the truly beneficial knowledge.”
- They do not try to find an easy life which goes against the Deen and they stay away from innovations and from discussions which have no basis in the Deen. When Ibn Rajab رحمه الله dealt with the virtue of knowledge of the Salaf over the Khalaf, this is one of the things that he pointed out as one of the characteristics that they (the Scholars) possess.
- They try to avoid hasty religious rulings or being involved in passing them. This is an aspect of the Deen which the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم had much concern for – persons who pass religious rulings without being properly qualified. One of the reasons that we find the scholars of the past being very cautious is due to their fear of Allaah سبحانه و تعالى and the caution that they had in respect of their Deen, and a desire to free themselves from the responsibility of the fataawa that would be given. For this reason we find that this was the mannerism of the Sahaabah who were chosen to be the Companions of the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم. They used to try and pass on the fataawa to someone else, who might be more knowledgeable in their eyes to pass religious rulings. Sometimes a person would come into Madinah and he would ask a question, and he would be told to go to someone else, and that person would say to go to someone else and he would go to that second individual who would tell him to go to a third, until he would go all around Madinah and return to the first individual. Because of this, we find in regard of the Mufti (the person who passes religious rulings) that he should have certain qualities.
Characteristics of the Mufti
- One of these is his concern for the Arabic language – he exerts himself in acquiring and excelling in the Arabic language, until he becomes one of the most eloquent individuals. This is because the Arabic language is the language of the Qur’aan and the Sunnah. So, if you have an understanding of the Arabic language you will be able to understand the verses of the Qur’aan – what is abrogated and what is not abrogated. You are able to understand the general and restricted expressions. You will be able to understand what is specific and what is not specific. All these things are accomplished by understanding the Arabic language. You will know what has been explained in detail and what has not been explained in detail.
- After that you find them having concern for the knowledge of the Sunnah. One aspect of the Sunnah is that one is supposed to be aware of what is authentic and what is da’eef (weak); and to have some understanding of those people who are acceptable to take narrations from and those whose narrations must be rejected, so that based on the hadith being authentic in his view he will be able to make religious rulings based on it.
- He must understand the different madhaahib (ideologies) of the People of Knowledge from the Sahaabah, and those that came after them from the Tabi’een, in order to have an understanding of the issue at hand; and to be able to attribute the particular issue he is dealing with to a source i.e. from where it (the basis of his decision) was obtained.
- To understand the knowledge of qiyaas (juristic reasoning by analogy) and the levels of evidence as they are presented – which is strongest, which comes next in importance etc.
- The Mufti must be a cautious person and a person with taqwa. If he is not an upright person – one with taqwa, then no one will trust his religious rulings. In this position he must adhere to his Deen. Imaam Ahmad رحمه الله said “If a person really wants to be in this position, carrying the responsibility of passing religious verdicts, then he must be knowledgeable of the asaaneed”, meaning, he must have knowledge of the people in the chains. He must have knowledge of the Sunnah of the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم.
- It is not lawful for a person to pass a religious ruling unless he has knowledge of the Qur’aan and the Sunnah, and what is necessary for him to have to base his ruling on, of other levels of understanding.
- He must have some understanding of the statements of those who preceded him.
- He is cautious not to say anything about Allaah سبحانه و تعالى without knowledge i.e. textual evidence for what he is saying. He has taqwa. Allaah سبحانه و تعالى mentions:
وَلاَ تَقْفُ مَا لَيْسَ لَكَ بِهِ عِلْمٌ إِنَّ السَّمْعَ وَالْبَصَرَ وَالْفُؤَادَ كُلُّ أُولَـئِكَ كَانَ عَنْهُ مَسْؤُولاً
قُلْ إِنَّمَا حَرَّمَ رَبِّيَ الْفَوَاحِشَ مَا ظَهَرَ مِنْهَا وَمَا بَطَنَ وَالإِثْمَ وَالْبَغْيَ بِغَيْرِ الْحَقِّ وَأَن تُشْرِكُواْ بِاللّهِ مَا لَمْ يُنَزِّلْ بِهِ سُلْطَاناً وَأَن تَقُولُواْ عَلَى اللّهِ مَا لاَ تَعْلَمُونَ
In a narration from Abdullaah ibn ‘Amr, the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم said: “Allaah does not take away knowledge by simply snatching it away, but the knowledge is taken away by removing the People of Knowledge, until there is no scholar remaining and the people shall take as their leaders ignorant individuals, and they will be questioned and they will give religious rulings and they shall go astray and lead other astray also.”
Those who we should take knowledge from
The qualities of the People of Knowledge have been mentioned. Those that possess these qualities are the ones that should be taken from. They are the Scholars and they are the ones from whom you should take knowledge. It is no problem to take from other than them, but with the condition that they are from the followers of the Scholars who we have mentioned previously.
So the person who wants to admonish should be very familiar with what he is speaking about and familiar with the principles of our Deen and its branches. This is the least
that can be said about an individual who wants to admonish and advise. Allaah سبحانه و تعالى has defined certain limits for the person who wants to pass religious rulings, and He has warned against those who disregard the limitations and regulations that have been ordained.
As for the person who does not possess these qualifications, when he opens his mouth, it is as though he is speaking about Allaah and His Messenger صلى الله عليه و سلم without knowledge. This person is actually representing the Book of Allaah as ibn Qayyim mentions in his book إعلام الموقعين عن رب العالمين
. One who examines this book understands the importance of the matter, and recognizes the mistake of some of the people in dealing with matters which they are not qualified to deal with; in the name of da’wah, admonition, clarification, rectification, teaching, or in the name of commanding what is right, or in the name of forbidding what is wrong, or from other than that from matters which Shaytaan beautifies for them in their heart. From the effects of this is becoming indulgent in desiring popularity, and to be at the forefront of things. He feels very safe putting himself at the level of the People of Knowledge, which he does not deserve. He places himself at the position of the Scholars at times of dealing with trails and tribulations when in reality he is not qualified to deal with this.
These days many of the people do not differentiate between a recitor of the Qur’aan or one who narrates a story to the people; or one who warns the people and one who reminds them, or between the khateeb
who gives the khutbah
and one who gives sincere advice (naseehah
) and the one who is in charge in the Islaamic community and capable of giving commands to enjoin the right and forbid the wrong and the person who is deeply involved in research.
They do not differentiate between these and likewise they do not differentiate between
- The person who is deeply in involved in research
- a student of knowledge
- the Scholar who specializes in an area,
- the Faqeeh (jurist) – the Jurist who is well grounded in Islaamic Jurisprudence (Fiqh) and the Jurist who has mastered Fiqh
- a student of knowledge working with hadith, or experienced in hadith or well grounded in hadith
- a student of knowledge working with tafseer, or experienced in tafseer or well grounded in tafseer
And they do not differentiate between the Mujtahid al-Mutluq (absolute Mujtahid), the Mujtahid al-Muqayyid (restricted Mujtahid), the Scholar proficient in the Sciences, the scholar firmly grounded in the Sciences and all the other levels.
You find the people listening to one Shaykh or Scholar. How do they differentiate between their different statuses and ranks? It is necessary to lower every group to the place at which they deserve to be without being influenced by emotion or (word unclear). However, belittling people is oppression, and raising them above their station is also oppression and equating them above the station they really deserve is oppression.
For this reason you find people going back to du’aat, or those that are simply callers, or those who admonish, or those only involved in training, or those who are good at telling stories, and they take from them religious rulings at the same level – all of them. They have statements, tapes and the like available.
The person who is wise in his understanding knows who to take from. How many people don’t really have anything to invite you to? They claim to have what they don’t possess. It is important therefore, if you are going to take from an individual, that the individual has also taken from someone who is himself scholarly, and it is known that he has spent some time in acquiring knowledge.
The Shaykh حفظه الله continued: I would like to end our session, but before I do so I would note the characteristics of the scholars in another way.
The well grounded scholar (الراسخ العالم) has signs or characteristics:
1.He has become known for the purity of his belief.
2.He is known for the purity of his manhaj (methodology).
3.He is well grounded in Islaamic Sciences, he is known for his research in it and for entering into the issues concerning it.
4.It is known that he has graduated from the sittings of the Scholars that came before him who were grounded (الراسخ) in knowledge.
5.He is well-known in his establishment of Tawheed al-Uboodiyyah – to seclude and make Allaah unique in your worship towards Him. He teaches it, implements it and incorporates it in all aspects of his life.
6.He is known for his glorifying and honoring the Sunnah and teaching it to the people, and making it established and well-grounded in the people, and glorifying it for the people, and calling them to it and incorporating it in all aspects of their life.
7.He has spent the majority of his life in knowledge – learning it and teaching it.
8.From the signs of the scholar who is well-grounded in knowledge is that he is not young in age, rather he is one who is well-experienced, and has been tested with trials and has been put in tough situations.
9.His knowledge is not little. Rather, he is one who has entered into knowledge, delved into it and has put much time into seeking knowledge. He has also participated in knowledge with its people and looked into the rulings. He also has experience in the rulings concerning the nawaazil (overwhelming incidents).
10.He has sound intellect and is patient with the affairs. He is not hasty in serious affairs – he understands and he is not from the lowly/despicable people.
11.His knowledge in the fundaments and branches of Islaam – not in one Science without the other. He is one who has looked into all the sciences and has knowledge of all, or the majority, of the sciences of Islaam. So, he is not someone you would find strong in one area and weak in another area e.g. being strong in one area but being weak in Fiqh
, or being strong in Fiqh
12.He threads upon the path of those who came before him from the People of Knowledge. He does not oppose or contradict them except after he has attained a level of knowledge, and has come forward in knowledge, and his level has been raised and the proof has become clear to him and he has an imaam, a predecessors from the Scholars, that has the same stance on that issue that he is opposing the scholar in, so he has a predecessor for what he is saying.
13.The Scholars give testimony to him; that he is firmly grounded in knowledge, and to the purity of his methodology (manhaj
) and the scholars that testify to this continue to testify to it and are still upon it i.e. their testimony is not nullified.
14.Knowledge has become apparent upon him when you see him – his characteristic, his manner, his dealings, his humility to Allaah in his worship, and his being ascetic in this world i.e. he does not indulge too much in the duniyaa
15.Having wisdom and knowing the boundaries within which to deal. Knowing the boundaries of the politics of the Sharee’ah of Da’wah, meaning, that he knows how to give da’wah, in his fatwa, in his teaching, and ordering with good and forbidding from wrong. This is due to his knowledge of the reasons for legislation – why the legislations were sent down.
16.His preserving the Jama’ah of the Muslims and uniting them and taking into consideration what is best for them, and his being serious and forth-going in that. And forbidding them from that which will split and divide their Jama’ah and its unity. This is due to his preserving the fundamental principles of Sharee’ah.
17.He does not try to make the ruler go against those that are being ruled, nor does he try to incite those that are being ruled against their ruler.
And other than these, are characteristics that clarify to us that the person is from the People of Knowledge, and not from those that are just seeking fame, or those that just have some thoughts that are political or concerning business or other than this, from those that put on the clothing of the People of Knowledge, primarily in order to attain their goal.
We ask Allaah عز و جل to grant us success to all that is good.
1. Sunan Abi Dawuud [3/317] #3641 Shaykh al-Albaani says with a Saheeh chain.
2. Saheeh al-Jaami’ #6611, Musnad Ahmad bin Hanbal Vol. 4 #16924
3. The translator mentions that this narration (regarding the similitude of the scholars and the stars) as being from Abu Haakim, however in the Arabic it seems that the Shaykh حفظه الله mentioned that the hadith was collected by Imaam Ahmad رحمه الله in his Musnad from Anas رضى الله عنه.
of the following hadith from the Musnad of Ahmad bin Hanbal Vol. 3 #12621. Note that Shaykh al-Albaani says it (hadith #12621) is da’eef in Da’eef al-Jaami’ #1973.
5. Iqtidaa’ul-Ilmil ‘Amal إقتضاء العلم العمل of Khateeb al-Bahgdaadi with tahqeeq Shaykh al-Albaani who said the hadith is saheeh, pg. 58.
6. Reference pending
7. Occurs as part of a hadith in Saheeh Muslim, Chapter: The Merit of Wudu’, Vol. 1 #223, also as part of hadith in at-Tirmidhi, an-Nasa’ee and others.
8. Saheeh Bukhaari, Book of Knowledge, Vol. 3, #100; Saheeh Muslim, Book of Knowledge, Vol. 4, #2673. and weak in the methodology and the way of the Salaf – the aqeedah. This one is not from the People of Knowledge. The Scholar knows about the fundamentals, foundations and principles of Islaam – the Shar’eeah, and its branches as well. 4.What the Shaykh mentioned was found as