By Shaykh Muḥammad ‘Awwāmah ḥafiẓahullāh
Translated by Mufti Abdullah Moolla
Sayyidunā Anas Ibn Mālik raḍiyallāhu ‘anhu reports that Rasūlullāh ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “The example of the ‘Ulamā’ in the world is like the example of the stars. Guidance in the darkness is sought through them in the land and sea. When the stars disappear, it is likely that the guided could be led astray.” [Musnad Aḥmad]
This ḥadīth is from the most superior type of Aḥādīth that explains the effect of the ‘ālim (scholar) in the Ummah. Rasūlullāh ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam said:
“The example of the ‘Ulamā’ in the world is like the example of the stars”
What is the reason for the similarity between the ‘Ulamā in the world and the stars in the sky?
Allāh Ta’ālā speaks of three benefits of the stars in the Noble Qur’ān. Allāh Ta’ālā says:
وَلَقَدْ زَيَّنَّا السَّمَاءَ الدُّنْيَا بِمَصَابِيحَ وَجَعَلْنَاهَا رُجُومًا لِلشَّيَاطِينِ
«And We have certainly beautified the nearest heaven with stars and have made [from] them what is thrown at the devils»
There are two benefits mentioned in this verse.
The third benefit is mentioned in the following verse:
وَبِالنَّجْمِ هُمْ يَهْتَدُونَ
«And by the stars they are [also] guided»
This is the third benefit.
As for the first, And We have certainly beautified the nearest heaven with stars, the stars in the sky are a beautification and adornment for it. In the same way, the ‘Ulamā in the world; they would be called ‘Ulamā.’ This is generally said, but now we are forced to say ‘Ulamā’ Al-‘Āmilūn [- those who practice according to their knowledge]; those who are Rabbāniyyūn [- they have acquired the recognition of Allāh Ta’ālā and work to please Him]; those who are Ṣāliḥūn [- they are pious and uphold piety]; they are rightly-guided and guide others – based on these conditions and stipulations. We say the ‘ālim, or scholar, that has these qualities and characteristics, he will be a means of beautification and adornment for the people of the world, just as the stars of the sky are a beautification and adornment for it. The effect of such a scholar in the world is significant.
The ‘Ulamā’ are the guardians and protectors of Islāmic belief, Islāmic character, Islāmic forms of worship. They are the guards of Islām in the world. Just as Allāh Ta’ālā sends the stars behind the devils whenever they want to steal from the matter of the heavens – in the same way – the scholars in the world are the guards and protectors of belief, and they are sent against the human devils. The stars are sent against the devils amongst the Jinn, while the ‘Ulamā’ who are ‘Āmilūn and Ṣāliḥūn are sent against the human devils. When an innovator initiates an innovation, a deviant stands up with his deviation, and when a doubter spreads his doubts; who will be the one to silence them?
The ‘Ālim who practices upon his knowledge; who is Ṣāliḥ, i.e., pious and righteous; who is intelligent and wise. He is one who is aware of the time, the community and the society. He is the one who has the ability to stand in the face of these innovators and deviants. This is especially the case with new and modern means of propagation.
As for the third benefit, And by the stars they are [also] guided, these ‘Ulamā’, just as they are sent against the human devils, they are also stars for the guided and the pious – those who love goodness. Those who gather around the righteous and pious ‘Ulamā’ draw from their light, guidance, and knowledge.
The Muslims, right up until very recently, were strongly linked with their ‘Ulamā’ and scholars.