‘ULAMA CRITERIONS

This is a short note to continue my earlier discussion on ‘Ulama, Ustazs, and Scholars.

I had spent quite a bit of time going through many writings of Islamic scholars of the past. Off course I don’t have the time to read through every pages of the following Kitab (books) listed below; but I did spend quite a bit of time on each.

  1. Sair ‘Alaam An Nubala (The World of the Renowned) – by Imam Az Zahabi;
  2. Al Mu’in fi Tabaqat Al Muhaddithiin (Summary of the Generation of Muhaddisin)  – by Imam Az Zahabi;
  3. Tabaqat Al Kabir (The Great Generation) -Ibnu Sa’ad;
  4. Kitab Al Fihrist (Book of Bibliography)- Ibnu Nadim;
  5. Tahzib Asma’ wa Lughaat (Summary of the Names and Language) – Imam An Nawawi;
  6. Ar Risalah (the Message) – Imam As Shafi’e
  7. Tafsir Sufyan At Thauri
  8. Adab Hasan Al Basri

(Rahimahullahu anhum ajma’ien)

Without any doubts, I could state that the following would be clear criterion for anyone to be “qualifed” as ‘Ulama in the “classical definition” (if I may use this word):

  1. Hafiz Al Quran
  2. High degree of mastery of Arabic language (linguistically, eloquent of speech & writing, mastery of the grammar, and also not to forget, Arabic poetry).
  3. Commit to memory large number of hadith (i.e. Muhadisiin) and traditions of Salaf Al Saleh (riwaayah salafus saleh).
  4. Fluency in the fiqhi jurisprudence matters (according to the Mazhabs)
  5. Finally, the test of character (Akhlaq) – in particular, Wara’, Zuhud, strong in their ‘Ibadah and observations of the Shari’ah.

These are the five basic criterion that “all” of them possess. If we apply to current breed of ‘Ustazs (without demeaning any of them), I would dare to challenge that not many (if any at all), would pass this test. Imam As Shafie even make the criterion of Arabic language to be “Fard” (obligatory) for an ‘Ulama of Islam.

Therefore, my purpose of highlighting this is for us to return back to the traditions of the basic discipline of Islamic knowledge, and ‘Ulama. There are lots of real danger, when we have “Imam Muda” or “Dai’e Muda”, as well as so many Ustazs giving edicts (opinions) on serious matters of concerns for the Muslims and societies. I also noticed that so many people speaking, writing, as well as talking – in condemning past scholars as they are “un Islamic”, “wrong”, “have Shi’ah tendencies” or attacks on “Wahabi” and so on. I am not trying to defend any of those scholars (that being attacked), but I am also of the opinion that if I am not at the level of these scholars – I dare not even touch the subject.

As an example, the arguments between Ibnu Rush and Imam Al Ghazali, is a case in point; as well as Ibnu Sina is a Syi’ah; or for that matter Syuhrawardi is a Kafir (nauzubillah).

We have to work hard to get our people to be learned, increase the level of scholarly driven activities, teaching our young ones to take the path of Islamic scholarly route, and many other pertinent and pressing needs.

If Islam is going to be relevant, and rise to prominence, it could not be any other way, except first to increase the level of knowledge, and to produce true ‘Ulama. This is the necessary steps that precedes the implementation of Islamic Hudud or any other socio-political matters of Islam.

Wallahu ‘a’lam.

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