In The Name of Allaah, The Most Merciful, The Bestower of Mercy.
Who Is More Knowledgeable Amongst The Students of Knowledge
We used to ask this question over twenty years ago and today we hear our younger brothers asking the same question.
Firstly, it is enough for us to know that we have well-known Ulama in this Ummah – the likes of Shaikh Abdul Azeez Bin Baaz, Shaikh Muhammad Bin Saaleh Al-Uthaymeen, Shaikh Al-Albaanee, Shaikh Muhammad Amaan Al-Jaamee, Shaikh Saleeh Al-Fawzaan, Shaikh Rabee, Shaikh Abdul Azeez Aala Ash-Shaikh, Shaikh Abdullaah Ghudiyaan, Shaikh Al-Luhaydaan, Shaikh Hammaad Al-Ansaaree, Shaikh Umar Fullaata, Shaikh Ubaid Bin Abdillaah Al-Jaabiree, Shaikh Abdullaah Al-Bukhaaree, Shaikh Abdul Muhsin Al-Abbaad, Shaikh Muqbil Bin Haadee Al-Waadi’ee, Shaikh Taqiyuddeen Al-Hilaalee and others [may Allaah have mercy upon those amongst them who have passed away and preserve those who are alive].
Secondly, Shaikh Rabee [may Allaah preserve him] was asked: Shaikh Al-Albaanee, Shaikh Ibn Baaz and Shaikh Uthaymeen have passed away, so who remains from the scholars?
Answer: Those who remain are numerous and all praise is due to Allaah. The Messenger of Allaah [sallal-laahu-alayhi-wasallam] died and his noble companions [radiyallaahu-anhum] remained. Ahmad Ibn Hanbal [rahimahullaah] died and his companions [rahimahumullaah] remained. Ibn Taymiyyah [rahimahullaah] died and his companions [rahimahumullaah] remained. Ibn Abdul Wahhaab [rahimahullaah] died and his companions [rahimahumullaah] remained. And those ones [i.e. Albaanee, Ibn Baaz, Uthaymeen (rahimahumullaah)] died and their students and brothers remain by Allaah’s Will. The truth will not be lost.
When Umar [radiyallaahu-anhu] was stabbed, it was said to him, “Appoint a successor!” He said, “Allaah will not allow His Religion to be lost”. So by Allaah this Religion will never be lost. It is upon you to put shoulder to shoulder and embark upon work-raise the flag of the [authentic] Sunnah and the flag of the truth. [The Messenger (sallal-laahu-alayhi-wasallam)] said, “There will not cease to be a group amongst my Ummah manifest upon the truth-neither will they be harmed by those who betray them nor by those who oppose them till Allaah’s promise come to pass (i.e. the day of Judgement)”.
By Allaah! Neither knowledge nor the committee of senior scholars have died-all praise is due to Allaah-and there is good and blessing with them. Our Salafi brothers are in the different regions of the world. The world is filled with senior students of knowledge who fill this gap-all praise is due to Allaah. Therefore, neither can the people of falsehood rejoice nor become happy. [Source: الذريعة إلى بيان مقاصد كتاب الشريعة -1/ 208-209. Slightly paraphrased]
Thirdly, our foremost concern should be to acquire sound knowledge, acquaint ourselves with sound proofs and ask Allaah to enable us to act based on sound proofs. Shaikh Rabee [hafidhahullaah] said: “And [with regards to] the person with the proofs, it is obligatory to take his speech [on the grounds] of following Allaah’s Legislation and Proofs, and not [due to] the personality of that person. [Source: (See Majmoo 9/40) 3rd paragraph]
Shaikh Rabee [hafidhahullaah] also said: The seeker of truth is not diverted from the truth, fairness and justice due to admiration of the big personalities and being amazed by them, for indeed the truth is more worthy to be followed. It is not permissible to drop the proofs for the sake of this or that great man. The principle [rule] of the Muslim – the unbiased one, the seeker of truth – is always:
[قُلْ هَاتُوا بُرْهَانَكُمْ إِن كُنتُمْ صَادِقِينَ -Say, Bring forth your proofs if you are truthful]. [Surah An-Nahl. Aayah 64] [Source: Al-Mulakh-khasul Jameel Fee Bayaani Manhaji Ash-Shaikh Rabee Fid-Da’wati Wal-Jarhi Wat-Ta’deel. Page 87]
Question to Shaikh Saaleh al-Fawzaan [hafidhahullaah]: What is the meaning of the principle: The truth is not known by way of men, rather men are known by way of the truth?
Answer: Its meaning is that we do not merely blindly follow anyone, for it may be that one is blindly followed based on error; it may be that the Mujtahid is mistaken and the one who makes [a statement or holds an opinion] is mistaken, so we do not take [his statement, opinion etc] and say, “This is the statement of such as such; this is truth, because such and such is good, he is a scholar; such and such is Taqiy [i.e. one who fears Allaah]”. We do not say this because he is not infallible and he can make a mistake; so we know men by way of the truth – those who know; those who take [or adhere to] the proofs and indeed they are known to be scholars. As for those who do not give concern [or importance] to the proofs, they are not scholars; they are not people of [sound] understanding and they are not people of knowledge, so their statement is never taken straight away. It is imperative that the proof is presented, so if the proof is established as witness to [what he says or holds etc], then it is the truth; but if he opposes the proof, then indeed [his statement or opinion] is rejected; however if he is a Mujtahid and he is mistaken, he is rewarded [once] due to his Ijtihaad; but if he deliberately holds on to error, he has sinned. [Paraphrased. Refer to video here: https://safeshare.tv/x/tyVyzaoU0tw# ]
Fourthly, as for who is more knowledgeable amongst the scholars, then this is something the senior scholars can tell us because they are at that level of knowledge to judge others, but one must always remember that regardless of the knowledge possessed by a person, our only desire should be that we want to follow the truth.
Fifthly, as for who is more knowledgeable amongst the students of knowledge, then we generally go by the recommendations given to the well-known students of knowledge, but what is very interesting is that you will find those very same students of knowledge giving precedence to others and saying that others are more knowledgeable than them. I once said to our beloved teacher and elder, Ustaadh Abdul Waahid Abu Khadeejah [hafidhahullaah], because sometimes I deliberately ask him specific questions to grab his attention and use it as a means of prolonging the conversation on other Masaa’il…so I once said to him, “Ustaadh, I can see that you are very gentle these days”, so he said to me, “What do you want me to do, rather I follow the footsteps of my Shaikh Abu Hakeem”. And we have seen Ustaadh Abu Khadeejah sitting in the Duroos of Ustaadh Abu Hakeem [hafidhahullaah].
Likewise, I once consulted both Ustaadh Uwais At-Taweel and Ustaadh Abdul Ilaah [hafidhahumallaah] about an important affair of Dawah, so they said to me, “Wait for Abu Khadeejah to return from Umrah and he will deal with it”. And I have heard Ustaadh Abu Khadeejah saying, “Amongst the most meticulous transmitters in the English language [i.e. understanding the works of the scholars and transmitting them to the English speaker] are Abu Talhah [rahimahullaah] and Abu Iyaadh [hafidhahullaah]. And recently I teased Ustaadh Abu Khadeejah saying, “Ustaadh, why are you quiet about Muhammad Hijaab?! I think getting older is making you very soft”. So, he looked at me for a while and said, “What do you want me to do when Abu Iyaadh is dealing with him”. Then – by the grace of Allaah – Ustaadh Abu Khadeejah prolonged the conservation and benefited me, Awzaan, uncle Shabeer and others with many other affairs regarding the evil Mukhaalifoon, the repugnant behaviour of Muhammad Hijaab and his ilk. Likewise, we have heard – many times – Ustaadh Abu Idrees [hafidhahullaah] mentioning how much he has benefited from the students at Maktabah Salafiyyah. Also one thing to bear in mind is that if any of us were to consult a student in the Maraakiz about an affair of Dawah, they would direct you to other students who have more experience in the matter just as others would direct you to them in matters they have more expertise.
Few days ago whilst I was on a journey to Stoke On Trent with my beloved companion, teacher and friend Ustaadh Abu Tasneem Mushaf Al-Banghaalee [hafidhahullaah], we spoke about the importance of giving people the status they deserve. Then we both stated the fact that even though Ustaadh Abu Khadeejah is a few years older than both of us – [I at the age of 49 and Ustaadh Abu Tasneem at the age of 48], however why do we return to the likes of Ustaadh Abu Khadeejah [hafidhahullaah] in matters of Dawah and even when seeking personal advice?! We both spoke with the same statement which was that we acknowledge the fact that he excels us in knowledge and experience; he is steadfast by the Tawfeeq of Allaah and well-known to the upright scholars [may Allaah protect him and all our teachers Aameen]. Therefore, I [Abdullah Jallow] say to my younger brothers, you can see how all these noble teachers value one another and give precedence to one another, so we benefit from all of them. They know the value of one another and may Allaah preserve them all.
So, after knowing the eldest students of knowledge amongst us, we also benefit from all the younger students who are well-known to us in the various Maraakiz and are recommended by the elders. However, if I [Abdullah Jallow] wanted to ask about the most knowledgeable amongst the students of knowledge, I would only do so to find out how I can receive the most benefit from their sittings and which lessons I need the most, and I would ask the eldest students about it. Neither would I speculate nor take the opinion of another non-student of knowledge like myself regardless how convincing his argument maybe.
Finally, let the scholars and all the upright students of knowledge be an example for us, so that we benefit from their wisdom and knowledge. And we ask Allaah to grant us many more scholars and students like them from those Salafi youngsters who have travelled to seek knowledge Aameen.