Seeking Religious knowledge from Trusted Scholars
All praise is due to Allah, He alone we seek for forgiveness and refuge from our sins. He whom Allah sends astray can never be guided, and whoever Allah guides can never be misled. And I bear witness that there is no deity but Allah, and that Mohammad is the messenger of Allah.
Allah says in the Holy Quran: “O you who believe, fear Allah as He should be feared and do not die except as Muslims.” (Al-Imran: 102) and He says:” O mankind! Be careful of your duty to your Lord Who created you from a single soul and from it created its mate and from the pair has spread forth a multitude of men and women. Be careful of your duty toward Allah in whom you claim in your rights of one another, and toward the wombs that bare you. Indeed Allah is ever watchful over you.” (Al-Nisa’:1) Allah also says: “O you who believe! Guard your duty to Allah, and speak words straight to the point. He will adjust your works for you and will forgive your sins. Whosoever obeys Allah and His messenger, he has gained a signal victory.” (Al-Ahzab: 70 and 71)
Allah has perfected our religion, as Allah the Almighty said: “Today I have perfected your religion and completed my favor upon you and approved for you Islam as your religion” (Al-Maeda: 3). And the Prophet, peace be upon him, clarified everything for us, as Abu Dharr, may Allah be pleased with him said: “The Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, left us after clarifying what we can learn even from a fluttering bird.” (Narrated by Bazzar in Musnad, Tabarani in al-Kabeer). Abu Hatim Ibn Hibban said: “He emphasized that the Prophet shed light on all religious enjoinments and prohibitions.”
Thus, we must seek religious knowledge from trusted scholars, otherwise chaos, superstitions, extremism, and deviation will overspread, as Al-Maymoni said: “Ahmad ibn Hanbal told me: ‘O Abu-Hassan, never give opinion in an issue unknown to you’.” (Narrated by Ibn Al Jawzi). Al-Barbahari also said: “Do not issue any religious opinion unless you make sure that the Messenger’s companions, peace be upon them, or one of the rightly guided scholars approved of it.” (Sharh al-Sunna, by Al-Barbahari). And Imam Muhammad b. Sirin said: “You must seek religious knowledge from trusted scholars.”
Hence, seeking religious knowledge from trusted scholars is an Islamic principle that the predecessor espoused to prevent Islamic violations and fanaticism. Just like Ibn Mas’ud said: “People will always remain righteous as long as they seek religious knowledge from well-known, trusted scholars.” Ibn Qutaiba Al Deanori commented: “Unlike some newer scholars, trusted well-known scholars have more experience, therefore they can’t be easily swayed by greed, desire, or lust.” Some newer scholars, for example, who condemned protests at first, then changed their mind and approved of them after the revolution and the collapse of a certain regime, in order to regain people’s trust.
Hudhayfa said: “Never deny what you know, and beware of fickle religious opinion, for Allah has perfected our religion.” (Narrated by Ibn Abd al-Razzaq). And Malik said: “Fickleness in religion is a fatal disease.” Also, Allah said: “Allah keeps firm those who believe, with the firm word, in worldly life and in the Hereafter. And Allah sends astray the wrongdoers. And Allah does what He wills.” (Ibrahim: 27). Trusted scholars never issue unwavering religious opinions.
Imam Al-Shafi’i said: “You can never obtain people’s consent; therefore you must speak of what you only believe in, and pleases Allah.” And Ahmed b. Harb said: “I worshiped God for over fifty years, but I’ve never felt the sweetness of worship until I spoke the truth regardless of people’s content.” This emphasizes trusted scholars’ unwavering conviction that is contrary to some current unknowledgeable preachers’ fickle approach.
To conclude, religious extremism and fanaticism spread as a result of untrusted scholars’ fickle opinions, therefore people must always seek religious knowledge from trusted scholars, as Ibn Sirin, Barbahari, and Maimoni emphasized.