In The Name of Allaah, The Most Merciful, The Bestower of Mercy.
Allaah [The Most High] stated that the people of Nooh [alayhis-salaam] said about Nooh and the believers:
وَمَا نَرَٮٰكَ ٱتَّبَعَكَ إِلَّا ٱلَّذِينَ هُمۡ أَرَاذِلُنَا بَادِىَ ٱلرَّأۡىِ
Nor do we see any follow you but the meanest among us and they (too) followed you without thinking. [11:27]
Imaam Sadi [rahimahullaah] said: In their view, they did not see that anyone followed Nooh [alayhis-salaam] except the meanest and foolish ones”. [Ref 1]
Shaikh Saaleh Al Fawzaan [may Allaah preserve him] said: They [i.e. people of Al-Jaahiliyyah – the pre-Islamic era of ignorance (Ref A)] reviled the followers of the Messengers- that they possess neither understanding nor are they well versed in the affairs, and that nor are they farsighted. This is what many amongst those who have strayed from the right course and the enemies of Allaah brag about today. They make fun of the Muslims and their scholars- that they neither possess understanding nor are they farsighted. They seek to diminish the scholars with this calumny even though the scholars of the Muslims are people of clear sightedness and cognizance, because they examine [affairs] with the light of Allaah [i.e. the revelation]. They command based on what Allaah has commanded and forbid that which Allaah has forbidden. There is no doubt that the steadfast and righteous scholars are the best of the people after the Messengers [alayhimus-salaatu-was-salaam]. The superiority of the scholar over the worshipper is like that of the moon over all the stars. Therefore, none diminishes the scholars and charges them with short-sightedness and lack of understanding, except one who has similarities with the people of Jaahiliyyah and the people of Nooh, who described the followers of the Messengers with this description- to drive the people away from them.
This is uttered from the tongues of some of the people today. They say, “These scholars are ‘ulamaa’u hayd wa nifaas’ [i.e. scholars whose knowledge is limited to rulings related to menstruation and post- natal bleeding]; and that they are ‘ulamaa’u ahkaamul Istijmaar’ [i.e. scholars whose knowledge is limited to rulings related to Istijmaar (i.e. the use of dry objects such as stones, tissue etc, to clean oneself after using the toilet], and that they are ‘ulamaa’u juz-iyyaat’ [i.e. scholars whose knowledge is limited to some affairs] and that they do not possess knowledge of current affairs”. And the knowledge of current affairs [i.e. according to these ones who accuse and revile the scholars] is the affairs of politics and revolt against the Muslim rulers. [Ref 2]
Shaikh Zayd Bin Haadee [rahimahullaah] said: They insult the followers of the Messengers saying that they neither possess understanding of the affairs nor are they far-sighted, in order to make people flee from their illuminated call which has a praiseworthy end. This is a false statement because the people of nifaaq are the ones without understanding, because had they understood and were truthful – outwardly and inwardly, they would have followed the Prophets and Messengers and those people of sound understanding who followed their path.
This [i.e. insulting the followers of the Prophets that they are people of weak understanding] is what the people of Prophet Nooh [alayhis salaam] reiterated to him. [Allaah said that they said]: [ وَمَا نَرَٮٰكَ ٱتَّبَعَكَ إِلَّا ٱلَّذِينَ هُمۡ أَرَاذِلُنَا بَادِىَ ٱلرَّأۡىِ – Nor do we see any follow you but the meanest among us and they (too) followed you without thinking]. [11:27]
In summary: To accuse the followers of the noble Messengers and great Prophets that they are people of weak understanding is a false accusation against the religion and belittlement of it. Whoever follows this path that was followed by the people of the pre-Islamic era of ignorance, not honouring the Messengers and what they brought, and not following their pious followers, then indeed he resembles the Yahood [i.e. those Yahood who disbelieved and rebelled against the Prophets], the disbelievers, the people of pre-Islamic era of ignorance and the wicked sinners. Therefore, the sensible Muslims should be careful of resembling them because whoever imitates a people is from them. [Ref 3]
Allaah [The Exalted] stated about the people of Aad:
فَلَمَّا رَأَوۡهُ عَارِضً۬ا مُّسۡتَقۡبِلَ أَوۡدِيَتِہِمۡ قَالُواْ هَـٰذَا عَارِضٌ۬ مُّمۡطِرُنَاۚ بَلۡ هُوَ مَا ٱسۡتَعۡجَلۡتُم بِهِۦۖ رِيحٌ۬ فِيہَا عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌ۬
تُدَمِّرُ كُلَّ شَىۡءِۭ بِأَمۡرِ رَبِّہَا فَأَصۡبَحُواْ لَا يُرَىٰٓ إِلَّا مَسَـٰكِنُہُمۡۚ كَذَٲلِكَ نَجۡزِى ٱلۡقَوۡمَ ٱلۡمُجۡرِمِينَ
وَلَقَدۡ مَكَّنَّـٰهُمۡ فِيمَآ إِن مَّكَّنَّـٰكُمۡ فِيهِ وَجَعَلۡنَا لَهُمۡ سَمۡعً۬ا وَأَبۡصَـٰرً۬ا وَأَفۡـِٔدَةً۬ فَمَآ أَغۡنَىٰ عَنۡہُمۡ سَمۡعُهُمۡ وَلَآ أَبۡصَـٰرُهُمۡ وَلَآ أَفۡـِٔدَتُہُم مِّن شَىۡءٍ إِذۡ كَانُواْ يَجۡحَدُونَ بِـَٔايَـٰتِ ٱللَّهِ وَحَاقَ بِہِم مَّا كَانُواْ بِهِۦ يَسۡتَہۡزِءُونَ
Then, when they saw it as a dense cloud coming towards their valleys, they said: “This is a cloud bringing us rain!” Nay, but it is that (torment) which you were asking to be hastened! a wind wherein is a painful torment! Destroying everything by the Command of its Lord! So they became such that nothing could be seen except their dwellings! Thus do We recompense the people who are Mujrimun (polytheists, disbelievers, sinners, etc.)! And indeed We had firmly established them with that wherewith We have not established you (O Quraish)! And We had assigned them the (faculties of) hearing (ears), seeing (eyes), and hearts, but their hearing (ears), seeing (eyes), and their hearts availed them nothing since they used to deny the Ayat (Allah’s Prophets and their Prophethood, proofs, evidences, verses, signs, revelations, etc.) of Allah, and they were completely encircled by that which they used to mock at! [46:24-26]
Have you not seen that when the people of Aad were informed about the revelation they were in a state of strength with regards to wealth, physical appearance, understanding of worldly affairs, intelligence and other than that which was not possessed by the Arabs before Islaam?! However, they were misguided from the right path and disbelieved in the Messengers through false arguments. Indeed, being blessed is when one is guided to believe in Allaah and His Messengers, compliance with the truth and adherence to its paths, and not that one is given abundant wealth. Whoever rejects the truth and utilises as proof that he cannot accept it from a person who is in a state of inferior affluence, and that what he is being called to cannot pass a verdict on his intellect, then indeed he has followed the path of pre-Islamic ignorance in this affair, just as Allaah said:
وَلَمَّا جَآءَهُمۡ كِتَـٰبٌ۬ مِّنۡ عِندِ ٱللَّهِ مُصَدِّقٌ۬ لِّمَا مَعَهُمۡ وَكَانُواْ مِن قَبۡلُ يَسۡتَفۡتِحُونَ عَلَى ٱلَّذِينَ كَفَرُواْ فَلَمَّا جَآءَهُم مَّا عَرَفُواْ ڪَفَرُواْ بِهِۦۚ فَلَعۡنَةُ ٱللَّهِ عَلَى ٱلۡكَـٰفِرِينَ
And when there came to them (the Jews), a Book (this Qur’an) from Allah confirming what is with them [the Taurat (Torah) and the Injeel (Gospel)], although aforetime they had invoked Allah (for coming of Muhammad Peace be upon him ) in order to gain victory over those who disbelieved, then when there came to them that which they had recognised, they disbelieved in it. So let the Curse of Allah be on the disbelievers. [2: 89]
The Yahood knew that in their book there was a mention of Muhammad’s [sallal laahu alayhi wasallam] Messenger ship and that Allaah will send a noble messenger from the Arabs, and they used to invoke against the polytheists, saying: “O our Lord! Send the promised messenger so that we are given victory against the enemies”. However, when that which they knew came to them- Muhammad [sallal laahu alayhi wasallam], they disbelieved in him out of envy that a Messenger is sent amongst the Arabs. [Ref 4]
[Ref 1: Tayseer al-Kareem Ar-Rahmaan Fee Tafseer Kalaam Al-Mannaan]
[Ref 2: An Excerpt from Sharh Masaa’ilil Al-Jaahiliyyah Page: 78-79. Abridged and slightly paraphrased]
[Ref 3: An Excerpt from Al-Fawaa’id Al-Jaliyyah Sharh Masaa’il Al-Jaahiliyyah. Page 41. Slightly paraphrased]
[Ref 4: Al-Masaa’il Allatee Khaalafah Feehaa Rasoolullaah Ahlul Jaahiliyyah. Imaam Al-Aloosee 68-70]