We and the Scholars
Guest Post by Muhammad Tariq Ghazi, Ottawa, Canada
If you're talented, be a scholar; if you don't have such talent, be a student; if you can't be a learner, love scholars. If that too is not possible, at least don't hate those who are knowledgeable.
Umar II Ibn Abdul Aziz, Reign 98-101AH / 717-720 CE, Eighth Umayyad Ruler, Fifth Khalifah-e-Rashid, First Mujaddid-Reviver of Islamic Life in First Islamic Century
Truly speaking, the last instruction is the most difficult one to follow in our modern society. If that is difficult to believe, just look around and start assessing opinions of those in your contact. Select ten of them and talk to them about scholars, ask their opinions about them. You will be surprised to discover that quite a few of them will be condemning the ulama. It is not the question of one particular maulwi, or character of a particular scholar. The moot point is a societal habit of our times.
Why is it so?
One of the causes of this thankless situation is that a large number of people believe that anyone with the title of Maulana, Maulvi, Sheikh, Hazrat, Allamah, etc, is just an ignorant bumble, of course, as compared to Us, with a capital U. But, ironically, people holding such view are on the side of ignorance, for they do not know what a scholar does and can do or what did they do in the hoary past.
I had noted one such incident in blood soaked century, my first lecture on The Sultanate Osmania, while discussing world Muslim society during the thirteenth century following the Mongol devastation. The relevant part is reproduced here:
Everywhere in the east, except India, Muslims were in total disarray and distressed. As a result of frequent defeats at the hand of the Mongols they had lost both leadership and valor. From Central Asia to West Asia every place was comatose and people began waiting for the Day of Judgment, describing the Mongols as the anticipated curse of Gog and Magog.
(Muslims resistance and efforts for rejuvenations began on two fronts.) On the first front, mysticism gained ground, especially in the Muslim East: when political power failed to deliver results, the Ulama of Islam took reins of the Ummah in their hands. Sufis and social reformers of the caliber of Farid ad-Din Attar (537-617/1142-1220), Najm ad-Din Kubra (540-617/1145-1220), Muin ad-Din Chishti (535-627/1141-1252), Ibn Arabi (560-637/1165-1240), Shams Tabrez (d.643/1245), Abu al-Hasan Shazili (571-650/1175-1252), Farid ad-Din Ganj-Shakar (571-663/1175-1265), Jalal ad-Din Rumi (604-672/1175-1252), Mahmud Shabistri (687-720/1288-1320) took upon themselves to arrest the decline, boost morale and re-organize an Ummah that had been degenerated into an aimless crowd, by re-generating its self-confidence.
Yes. That was the time when Muslim political leadership was completely wiped out from Balkh and Bukhara, Merv and Herat to Baghdad and Damascus, Aleppo and Mosul. At that time this group of people accepted the challenge in its stride as it would always come to help in time of a big crisis. Now, in the nineteenth, twentieth, twenty-first centuries, this same group of people has been demonized. Then who is going to seek their help or advise? This is a very serious situation.
This is what the Mujaddid of the First Century had feared.
How far-sighted was that Man of the Century! Allah o Akbar!