Why is it that Muslims hold shaykhs and scholars to be gods on Earth? We talk about shirk all the time but never realize how close we come to it. This short clip by Anwar al-Awlaki does a good job of explaining what I am talking about.
Watch it twice
We need to realize a few things:
-Scholars make mistakes
-Scholars have experiences and opinions that may not always be beneficial to Muslims
-It is guaranteed you will eventually come across something a scholar says that you cannot agree with…it could be something very small or not even have to do with Islam but just life in general and that is because you are you, not someone else
-Scholars and shaykhs criticize each other and have done so for ages which is proof that no one scholar is the be-all and end-all
-Because they make mistakes we do not go and ignore them but rather we take from them and learn
-Blindly following a scholar is NOT what scholars want…it is not what any good scholar should want…they should want you to think about what they say, contemplate and learn, maybe even point out some of their mistakes so they can learn from you too because this means to them that their message is having an effect.
Perhaps this is a result of people thinking scholars are everything for Islam now and we have placed too much of an emphasis on them such that the pressure could be too great. Our problems are too many to be confined to one institution.
The famous hadith, “The scholars are the inheritors of the Prophet SAAWS” needs to be understood, not merely said over and over again to prove a point that scholars are the inheritors of the Prophet SAAWS. What is inheritance? When a man dies his children inherit something of his property, likewise with the scholars and the Prophet SAAWS. But stop and understand that the child who inherits is not his father and that the scholars are not the Prophet SAAWS. They have the ability to misuse what the Prophet SAAWS has left behind for them. Just as inherited wealth can be used to commit sins so can Ilm.
Nothing has the power to intoxicate and corrupt like a man who believes himself to be knowledgeable, scholarly and in short, better than the rest of mankind. That level of corruption is the worst level of corruption. And so we need to keep them in check and help them by criticizing them rather than praising them.
“He who praises me is my enemy and he who criticizes me is my friend.”
Allahumma inni audhubika an ushrika bika wa anna alamu wa astaghfiruka limma la alamu.
‘O Allaah, I take refuge in You lest I should commit shirk with You knowingly and I seek Your forgiveness for what I do unknowingly.’
Subhana kallahumma wa bihamdik la illaha illa ant astaghfiruka wa atubu ilayk. Ameen.