Assalamu Alaykum Warahmatullah
In light of recent and past events and happenings, i would like to devote the subject of this post on respecting the Ulama and Elders. Too many times, simply because of a difference of opinion or a dis-agreement, we laymen-and sometimes even those who are not laymen- assume we have a right and that we have the knowledge to put down, slander and dis-respect the Ulama and pious elders. This is a grave wrong we are committing. Yes, scholars make mistakes, yes, elders make mistakes, and of course as Humans we ALL make mistakes. We need to stop thinking that the Ulama are gods so as when they make the mistake, we talk of them as though they are our close friend whom we can critisize without check! The Ulama are great scholars, but they are human. And the thought we need to keep in our heads at all times is, even though we may think we are right and everybody else is wrong, at the end of the day only Allah knows. May Allah give us the ability to keep humble and fear him at all times. Ameen.
Hadhrat Maulana Muhammad Ilyas (May Allah grant him a high place in Jannah) says:
' Entertaining baseless distrust- even about a common Muslim- is a source of disaster. Criticizing the Ulama, therefore, becomes a far greater
Respecting every Muslim and honouring the Ulama are the foundation elements in our method of Tableegh. Every Muslim should be respected for his being a Muslim,whereas the Ulama should be paid added regard on account of the knowledge of Deen. '
( words & reflections of Maulana Muhammad Ilyas (R.A.H)
At casting accusations against people, we should keep this Hadith in mind:
' One doesn't cast sin or kufr at another person but it returns to him if the (accused) is indeed not guilty. '
When there is disputes or even difference of opinion, the disputing parties, at the least becomes afflicted with the disease of belittling and finding fault with the other, whereas one word of belittling or finding fault in someone is sufficient to turn sweet seas bitter.
Hadhrat Ayesha reports, I mentioned to the Prophet peace be upon him , ' It suffices to say that Safiyya is like this and that i.e short ( meaning her to be short and your attention is still on her?)' The Prophet replied, ' you have said such a severe word, were it mixed in the oceans, it would change the taste of the water. '
(Abu Dawud, Mishkaat)
Nowadays, during a dispute, if one manages to bring blemish to another's honour, he considers it as something normal and a thing to be proud of. In the Hadith Saeed Bin Zaid reports the Prophet to have said;
' From amongst the worst form of Riba (usury) is to unrightfully degrade and dishonour a Muslim. '
Due to ill feelings for a Muslim as result of a quarrel plots and schemes are made in order to harm him. Hadhrat Abu Bakr relates the Prophet peace be upon him said:
' Cursed is he who brings harm to a believer or plots against him. '
Disputing groups often spread rumours about each other, which are pure fabrications, or mere speculations and gullible people relay this news, having conviction that this is authentic. As a result, the masses minds become distorted. This may lead to major and corruption.
Difference of Opinion
In Islam we find how important it is to maintain unity and how disastrous is disunity. But if we look into history, we find that the sahaba had differences of opinion.The Imams have differences in various masa'il. Ulama and scholars of Deen have different rulings and decisions in every era. So the question arises, why is this so? Does it not contradict the concept of unity?
As an answer, it seems appropriate to present notes of Mufti Muhammad Shafi the grand Mufti of Pakistan. He writes:
' First and foremost, i would like to make this point clear, that in those masa'il in which there is room for logical deductions by learned scholars of Islam, differences of opinion is not harmful. There is no need to get rid of these differences, nor can they be wiped out. Difference of opinion is neither contrary to the unity of Islam nor is it harmful to anyone. It is but a natural matter, from which no group can remain aloof.
For an entire group of people to be united upon every affair is only possible in two cases; firstly, when no individual in the group has the potential and the initiative to ponder over a problem, and thereby come to a solution. In this case, whatever any person suggests will be just perfect for the rest of the group. Secondly, when there are traitors and hypocrites within the group. In this case, they will not expose the flaw in the suggestion showing their agreement, although such an opinion may be harmful in their knowledge.
Wherever there are both the qualities of insight and trust, to avoid a difference of opinion is impossible. Therefore it, in itself is not abominable. If one were to take a survey of affairs and dealings, he will find that instead of proving to be harmful, differences of opinion produce grand results. Mashwera (mutual consultation) has been emphasized in the Shariah for the very same reason i.e the problem may be viewed from various angles to facilitate a decision of insight. If difference of opinion is reprehensible, then it will defeat the purpose of Mashwera'
(Adapted from Boundaries of Differences, Mufti Mahmood Hasan Gangohi, by Mufti Muhammad Farooq Merrati)
May Allah give us the ability to save guard ourselves from preventing unity, from slandering and dishonouring the Ulama, and from the mischief of the Shaytaan. Ameen.