HomeHeirs Of The Prophets › Categories Of Scholars

Chapter 4. Categories of Scholars

Many of the righteous forbears [salaf], such as Sufyan al-Thawri and others, categorized scholars into various groups. The best of these groupings is epitomized by the scholar who knows both Allah and His commandments. By this expression, Sufyan refers to those who combine inner and outer knowledge. These are the most distinguished scholars. They are praised by Allah: Indeed, among His servants, it is but the learned who fear Allah (Quran, 35:28). He also says: Indeed, those who were given knowledge beforehand, when Our signs are recited to them, they fall down prostrate on their faces, saying, "Glorified is our Lord. Indeed, the promise of our Lord will be fulfilled. " They fall down prostrate on their faces, weeping, and it increases them in humility. (Quran, 17:107-9)

Many of the righteous forbears used to say, "Religious knowl­edge is not an abundance of memorized texts. Rather, knowledge is humility."' One of them said, "Fear of Allah is sufficient knowl­edge, and being deceived concerning Allah is sufficient ignorance." They further said, "One who knows Allah experien­tially does not necessarily know the commandments of Allah." Such are the possessors of inner knowledge who lack adequate comprehension of juridical matters. The righteous forbears simi­larly said, "One who knows the commandments of Allah does not necessarily know Allah experientially." Such are the possessors of outer knowledge who have no inkling of inner knowledge; they neither fear Allah nor possess humility. They were deemed blame­ worthy by the righteous forbears. One of them said [concerning such a scholar], "This [type] is corrupt."'

They stop at outer knowledge, while beneficial knowledge fails to reach their hearts. They will never savour its fragrance. They have been overwhelmed by their negligence, their hardness of heart, and their aversion of the Hereafter. They vie for the world, seeking exaltation in it, and are vainglorious.