In The Name of Allaah, The Most Merciful, The Bestower of Mercy.
Those Who Belittle Elder Students Because They Are Not Graduates- A Clarification By Shaikh Abu Idrees [may Allaah preserve him]: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1aeB1qGI41s
Certificates of graduation and the reality of knowledge
Imaam Muhammad Ibn Saaleh Al-Uthaymeen [may Allaah have mercy upon him] said that some of the people say that sincere intention in this present era of ours is difficult (to achieve) or it may be impossible (to achieve) because those who seek knowledge do so with the aim of receiving a certificate. The Shaikh replied to this statement saying that one’s intention is regarded to be corrupt if knowledge is sought in order to receive a certificate or a desire for an elevated worldly status by way of it. But a person’s intention is regarded to be good and not in opposition to sincerity if he wants an elevated status in order to benefit the people, for he knows that at present it is impossible for a person to achieve a high and beneficial position for the Ummah unless he has a certificate. And because of this, even if you were to find a scholar who is good in various affairs of knowledge but he has no certificate, it will not be possible for him to teach even in high school and this is the reality. And you will find that the one lesser in knowledge than this scholar will be accepted (as a teacher) at a university as long as he has a certificate. So in accordance with a person’s (sincere) intention and choices the certificate is not considered harmful and its obtainment enters into the statement of the Messenger [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him]:
وما جاءك من هذا المال وأنت غير مشرف ولا سائل فخذه، وما لا فلا تتبعه نفسك
And what comes to you from this wealth without asking for it or having greed for it, take it; and if not given, do not run for it.” [Saheeh Al-Bukhaari. Number 1473. Vol 2. Book of Zakat] (1)
The Shaikh also stated: Imaam Muhammad Ibn Saaleh Al-Uthaymeen [may Allaah have mercy upon him] said, “It maybe that a person come long (whilst) holding the certification of a doctorate (PhD), and take up the position of teaching in the faculties and universities, yet he is the most ignorant of people. And if a secondary grade student came, he would be better than him (in understanding and knowledge). This is witnessed. At present, there is to be found one who has a doctorate certificate, but he does not know anything of knowledge- either he succeeded by cheating or succeeded by a superficial success that did not establish knowledge in his mind (and heart), but he is employed because he has a doctorate. A person comes along – a good student of knowledge, from the best of people and better than this one with a doctoral degree a thousand times, but he is neither employed nor teaches at a faculty; why? Because he doesn’t have a doctorate”. (2)
Al-Allaamah Taqiyuddeen Al-Hilaali [may Allaah have mercy upon him] stated about a scholar called Al-Allaamah Ahmad Bin Sulaymaan Ash-Shanqeetee [may Allaah have mercy upon him]: He is the Allaamah, the Salafi, the Usoolee, the Mufassir, the skillful author, the poet and one proficient in various sciences of the religion. The likes of this man is rare in his era. He is needed by the teachers of Al-Azhar, the Islamic University of Madeenah and every Arab University. I do not say that he is (only) needed by students, but he is needed by the teachers. One of the adversities that has afflicted the Arabs in this era is the sweeping ignorance and (blameworthy) blind following in their midst, and their adherence to a crooked path, because indeed they do not give consideration to knowledge, but rather they give consideration to superficial certificates that are obtained by many people. They attain the highest ranks in universities, whilst being deaf, dumb, and blind [i.e. they don’t listen to truth, speak truth and contemplate (or see) truth]. I swear by Allaah – besides Whom none has the right to be worshipped- that if the university professors in Europe were to gain access to this man, they would have indeed benefitted from his knowledge and make every conceivable sacrifice to be at his service; but as we say one of the misguided traits of the Arabs (at present) is that indeed [يتركون العين ويطلبون الأثر – they abandon something good that is witnessed or seen, then seek for it after its disappearance]. And due to their dependence on certificates, they are as the poet said: [ولو لبس الحمار ثياب خزّ *** لقال الناس يا لك من حمار – If a donkey wore fine clothes, the people will say, “Oh what a donkey (i.e. praising a donkey just because it is wearing fine clothes does not change its reality!)]. Likewise, when an ignoramus obtains a certificate from a university, the people say, “Oh! What a scholar!” And if he does not have a certificate, they say, “Oh! What an ignoramus”. (3)
Ponder again upon the statement of Imaam Muhammad Ibn Saaleh Al-Uthaymeen: “And because of this, even if you were to find a scholar who is good in various affairs of knowledge but he has no certificate, it will not be possible for him to teach even in high school and this is the reality. And you will find that the one lesser in knowledge than this scholar will be accepted (as a teacher) at a university as long as he has a certificate”. [End of quote]
Study – either under scholars or at a reliable institution, but do not inflate your importance until you belittle others without right. May Allaah bless all the Scholars, students and seekers of knowledge Aameen.
[Ref 1: Sharh Hilya Taalib Al-Ilm..page 22. Paraphrased]
[Ref 2: An Excerpt from Sharh Riyaadus Saaliheen. Audio number 74a]
[Ref 3: An Except from Sabeel Ar-Rashaad Fee Hadyi Khayr Al-I’baad. 3/18-19]