بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
صلى الله على محمد صلى الله عليه وسلم
اللهم صلى على سيدنا ومولانا محمد وبارك وسلم وصلى عليه
I subscribe to the narrative that the present religious establishment of the Muslims is corrupt to the core. The vast majority of the Ulamā earn their livelihood through discharging of various religious services. Many are on the payroll of the states and governments. It is regarding the corrupt and evil scholars and learned teachers of the Law that Allah Most High puts forward the parable of a donkey carrying a load of scrolls:
مَثَلُ الَّذِينَ حُمِّلُوا التَّوْرَاةَ ثُمَّ لَمْ يَحْمِلُوهَا كَمَثَلِ الْحِمَارِ يَحْمِلُ أَسْفَارًا ۚ بِئْسَ مَثَلُ الْقَوْمِ الَّذِينَ كَذَّبُوا بِآيَاتِ اللَّـهِ ۚ وَاللَّـهُ لَا يَهْدِي الْقَوْمَ الظَّالِمِينَ
The example of those who were entrusted with the Torah and then did not take it on is like that of a donkey who carries volumes [of books]. Wretched is the example of the people who deny the signs of Allah. And Allah does not guide the wrongdoing people.
In another passage, Allah Most High puts forward the parable of a dog:
وَاتْلُ عَلَيْهِمْ نَبَأَ الَّذِي آتَيْنَاهُ آيَاتِنَا فَانسَلَخَ مِنْهَا فَأَتْبَعَهُ الشَّيْطَانُ فَكَانَ مِنَ الْغَاوِينَ ۞ وَلَوْ شِئْنَا لَرَفَعْنَاهُ بِهَا وَلَـٰكِنَّهُ أَخْلَدَ إِلَى الْأَرْضِ وَاتَّبَعَ هَوَاهُ ۚ فَمَثَلُهُ كَمَثَلِ الْكَلْبِ إِن تَحْمِلْ عَلَيْهِ يَلْهَثْ أَوْ تَتْرُكْهُ يَلْهَث ۚ ذَّٰلِكَ مَثَلُ الْقَوْمِ الَّذِينَ كَذَّبُوا بِآيَاتِنَا ۚ فَاقْصُصِ الْقَصَصَ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ
And recite to them, the news of him to whom we gave [knowledge of] Our signs, but he detached himself from them; so Satan pursued him, and he became of the deviators. And if We had willed, we could have elevated him thereby, but he adhered [instead] to the earth and followed his own desire. So his example is like that of the dog: if you chase him, he pants, or if you leave him, he [still] pants. That is the example of the people who denied Our signs. So relate the stories that perhaps they will give thought.
According to majority of the mufassirīn (exegetes), this passage is speaking of one Balaam son of Beor, a wicked scholar in time of the prophet Moses (peace be upon him). These Quranic passages may be extended in meaning to apply to all evil religious scholars and teachers who fit the description given of the Jewish rabbis and scholars and the like of Balaam son of Beor.
My illustrious master, the Prophet Muhammad (sall Allāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) said:
إِنَّمَا أَخَافُ عَلَى أُمَّتِي الأَئِمَّةَ الْمُضِلِّينَ
“I fear for my Ummah misguided Imāms”
As it occurs in this Hadīth, the term A’immah refers to both religious and administrative leaders, but particularly to the former. According to the narration of sayyidinā Abī Dharr al-Ghifārī (radī Allāhu ‘anhu), the Prophet (sall Allāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) stated that he fears for his Ummah the misguided Imāms more than he fears for them the tribulation of the Dajjāl/Antichrist (Musnad Ahmad). That these narrations are referring primarily to the religious leadership of the Muslims, meaning their learned scholars and teachers, is inferred from another Hadīth on the authority of sayyidinā ‘Umar al-Fārūq (radī Allāhu ‘anhu) that the Prophet (sall Allāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) said:
إِنَّ أَخْوَفَ مَا أَخَافُ عَلَى هَذِهِ الْأُمَّةِ كُلُّ مُنَافِقٍ عَلِيمِ اللِّسَانِ
“What I fear most for this Ummah is every hypocrite with a tongue of knowledge”
According to another narration:
شِرَارُ النَّاسِ شِرَارُ الْعُلَمَاءِ فِي النَّاسِ
“The worst of the people are the worst of the ‘Ulamā’ among the people”
Althought somewhat weak, the following Hadīth related by Imām al-Bayhaqī reinforces the established narrative from the Prophetic Tradition that during the latter days the worst of people shall be the so-called Ulamā of the Muslims:
يُوشِكُ أَنْ يَأْتِيَ عَلَى النَّاسِ زَمَانٌ لا يَبْقَى مِنَ الإِسْلامِ إِلا اسْمُهُ ، وَلا يَبْقَى مِنَ الْقُرْآنِ إِلا رَسْمُهُ ، مَسَاجِدُهُمْ عَامِرَةٌ ، وَهِيَ خَرَابٌ مِنَ الْهُدَى ، عُلَمَاؤُهُمْ أَشَرُّ مَنْ تَحْتَ أَدِيمِ السَّمَاءِ ، مَنْ عِنْدَهُمْ يَمْدَحُ الْفِتْنَةَ
“A time will come upon the people when nothing shall remain of Islām except its name, and nothing shall remain of the Qurān except its script. Their mosques will be decorated but bereft of guidance, their Ulamā will be the worst of those under the canopy of Heaven”
It is plain to any Believer who is blessed with firāsah and nūr that it is our own time concerning which this Hadīth speaks. There are thousands of mosques that are beautiful in form, considered the finest examples of architecture, such that even the non-Muslims flock to visit them as part of their tourism and sight-seeing. But in reality, these mosques are bereft of guidance. Within them hardly anything of substance is preached that is remnicient of the message and narrative of the Scriptures and the Prophets. Likewise, many of our Ulamā, rather than being a source of knowledge and guidance for ordinary Muslims, have become a tribulation of themselves. They are all too often a source of dischord and mischief in the Ummah, such that they may be described as the worst of creation beneath the canopy of Heaven.
To be continued إن شاء الله