In The Name of Allaah, The Most Merciful, The Bestower of Mercy
When the [upright] scholars pass away, then this is an evil indication of what is to occur and the destruction the Ummah will face [thereafter]; because when the [upright] scholars pass away, they are replaced by evil people – leaders upon ignorance, evil desires and misguidance, so they lead the Ummah to destruction and humiliation. They are asked questions regarding affairs of creed, so they give verdicts that are [tantamount] to Shirk, misguidance and Bidah. They are asked regarding the [rulings on] unlawful things, so they make usury, bribery and other things lawful for the people. They give various types of unlawful verdicts due to ignorance and misguidance, just as the Messenger [sallal laahu alayhi wasallam] said: ‘’Till none of the scholars remain alive, then people will take ignorant ones as their leaders.’’ [Saheeh Al-Bukhaari. Hadeeth Number 100]
They [i.e. these ignorant ones] hold on firmly to affairs that are tantamount to major sins- and why is this the case? That is because they do not possess [sound] knowledge that will restrain them. Therefore, they lead the people to destruction and destructive affairs by way of this ignorance and misguidance, and thus people are neither able to distinguish between truth and falsehood, nor between Halaal and Haraam, nor do they honour good manners [etiquettes etc].
They [i.e. the people] will take them [i.e. the ignorant ones] as leaders and think that they are scholars, but they are ignoramuses – ignorant about the [sound] Islamic creed and the Islamic laws, and ignorant about the Book of Allaah [The Mighty and Majestic] and the [authentic] Sunnah of Allaah’s Messenger [sallal laahu alayhi wasallam]. Everything gets into a state of confusion. The societies, men and women become corrupted through the leadership of many of the ignorant Rawaafid, the Soofees and the misguided groups – those who lead people to destruction and misguidance. Therefore, the statement of the Prophet [sallal laahu alayhi wasallam] applies to them, [as he (sallal-laahu-alayhi-wasallam) stated]: The Yahood split into seventy one sects, the Nasaaraa split into seventy two sects and this Ummah will split into seventy three sects. All of them will be in the fire except one. They [i.e. the Sahaabah] said: O Allaah’s Messenger! Who are they [i.e. the saved sect]? He said: Those upon [the path] I and my companions are upon.”
The leaders of these sects are ignoramuses; but as for the [upright] scholars, they do not innovate anything in Allaah’s religion; rather they restrict themselves to Allaah’s legislation, [because] they find in [Allaah’s Religion] the only suitable and upright path for the Ummah in all their [worldly] and religious affairs. The religion of Allaah is not inconvenient for them and [thus makes] them depart from the right path, just like those ignorant leaders who search for affairs that are tantamount to Bidah, misguidance and destruction, and then make the Ummah fall into its sludge.
Marhaban Yaa Taalibal Ilm’ pages 196-197. abridged and slightly paraphrased