The Evil Scholar
By: Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali Rahimahullaah
Know that craving after status and position inevitably causes great harm before its attainment due to the striving necessary to attain it, and also afterwards due to the person’s strong desire to hold onto it which produces injustice, haughtiness and other evils.
Aboo Bakr al-Aajurree, who was one of the wise scholars and teachers at the start of the fourth century, wrote a treatise about the manners and the sentiments of the scholars and it is one of the best works on this topic.
One who studies it will know from it the way of the scholars of the Salaf, and will know the innovated ways contrary to their way. So he describes the evil scholar at length, from this description is that: He has become infatuated with love of this world, and with praise, honour and position with the people of this world. He uses knowledge as an adornment just as a beautiful woman adorns herself with jewelry for this world, but he does not adorn his knowledge with action upon it.
He then mentions a lengthy speech and then says, “So these characteristics and their like predominate in the heart of one who does not benefit from knowledge, so whilst he carries these attributes his soul will come to have love of status and position – so that he loves to sit with kings and the sons of this world. Then he loves to share in their opulent lifestyle, sharing their lavish attire, their comfortable transport, servants, fine clothing, delicate bedding and delicious food. He will love that people throng to his door, that his saying is listened to, and that he is obeyed – and he can only attain the latter by becoming a judge (qaadee) – so he seeks to become one.
Then he is unable to attain it except at the expense of his Religion, so he debases himself to the rulers and their helpers, serving them himself and giving them his wealth as a tribute. He remains silent when he sees their evil actions after entering their palaces and homes. Then on top of this he may praise their evil actions and declare them good due to some false interpretation in order to raise his position with them. So when he has accustomed himself to doing this over a long period of time and falsehood has taken root in him – then they appoint him to the position of judge (qaadee) and in so doing slaughter him without a knife.
[Alluding to the saying of the Prophet, sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam, “He who is appointed as a judge has been killed without a knife,” Reported by Ahmad, Aboo Daawood (transl. 3/1013/ no.3564) and at-Tirmidhee who declared it hasan. I say: its isnaad is saheeh.]
Then they have bestowed such a favour upon him that he is obliged and has to show his gratitude to them – so he takes great pains to make sure that he does not anger them and cause them to remove him from his position. But he has no concern about whether he angers his Lord, the Most High, so he misappropriates the wealth of orphans, widows, the poor and the needy, and wealth bequested as waqf (religious endowment) for those fighting Jihaad and the nobles of Makkah and al-Madeenah, and wealth which is supposed to be of benefit to all the Muslims – but instead he uses it to satisfy his clerk, chamberlain and servant. So he eats that which is haraam and feeds with that which is haraam and increases that which is a proof against him. So woe to the one whose knowledge causes him to have these characteristics.
Indeed this is the knowledge which the Prophet, sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam, sought refuge from and ordered us to seek refuge from. This is the knowledge which the Prophet, sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam, mentioned, saying, “Those amongst the people receiving the severest punishment on the Day of Resurrection is the scholar who is not given benefit through his knowledge by Allaah.” [Reported by Ibn ‘Abdul-Barr in Jaami’ Bayaanil-`Ilm (1/162) and al-Aajurree (pp.93-94) and at-Tabaraanee in as-Sagheer (1/1831) and others and its chain of narration is very weak since it contains ‘Uthmaan ibn Miqsarn al-Burree who was accused of lying and fabrication. It is however reported as being the saying of Abud-Dardaa only, with an authentic chain of narration. It is reported by ad-Daarimee (1/82) and others.]
He, sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam, used to say, Allaahumma innee a`oodhubika minal arba`i, min `ilmin laa yanfa`u, wa min qalbin laa yakhsha`u, wa min nafsin laa tashba`u, wa min du`aain laa yusma`u
“O Allaah, I seek Your refuge from knowledge which does not benefit; from a heart which does not fear; from a soul which is never satisfied; and from a supplication which is not heard.” [Reported by Ahmad, Aboo Daawood (transl. vol. 1/p.401/no. 1543) and others, all with the wording, “O Allaah I seek Your refuge from four: from knowledge which does not benefit” The hadeeth was declared saheeh by al-Haakim and adh-Dhahabee agreed, and it has supports from a number of the Companions.]
And he, sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam, used to say, Allahumma innee as’aluka `ilman naafi`an, wa a`oodhubika min `ilmin laa yanfa`u
“O Allaah, I ask you for beneficial knowledge, and I seek Your refuge from knowledge which does not benefit.” [Reported with this wording by Al-Aajurree (p.134) and Ibn Hibbaan (no.2426). It is also reported by Ibn Maajah (no.3483) and Ibn `Abdul-Barr (1/162) with the wording, “Ask Allaah for beneficial knowledge and seek Allaah’s refuge from knowledge which does not benefit.” Its chain of narration is hasan (good) and there is a similar narration from Umm Salamah reported by Ibn Maajah and others.]
That was said by Imaam Aboo Bakr Al-Aajurree, rahimahullaahu ta`aala, who lived at the end of the fourth century (he died, in the year 360H) and corruption increased and multiplied greatly since his time – and there is no might and no strength except by Allaah’s will.