By HADHRAT MAULANA ASHRAF ALI THANVI (Rahmatullah alayh)
In particular I address the Ulama and students of the Deen and say, You content yourself with pride on account of only the possession of knowledge. You consider yourself qualified for the lofty ranks of ‘ilm. Every now and again, whether appropriate or inappropriate, you quote to the masses the Hadith, ‘The superiority of an Aalim over an Abid is like my (i.e. Rasullulah’s – Sallallahu alaihi wasallam) superiority over the most inferior amongst you.’
But, are you aware what kind of knowledge has this excellence? Does this superiority only apply to knowledge or knowledge accompanied with practise? If there were no dire warning of punishments in the Kitaab and Sunnah for non-practising Ulama, then to some degree your averment could be entertained. But, when there are these warnings (in the Quran and Hadith) how can knowledge alone be a medium of pride.
You display considerable pride, thinking, ‘We are Ulama.’ Remember, without self-annihilation you are nothing. You have to annihilate yourself and understand that you are nothing. As long as you have not attained this attribute of self-annihilation then understand you are ruined.
Man should never have pride, no matter what pedestal he occupies. How can he have pride when he is an embodiment of defects and faults? Always strive in pursuit of cultivating humility. Only then will there be safety. If humility is not inculcated, there will be no safety ahead.
Nowadays some (learned ones) suffer under the deception that delivering a speech in Arabic is a great excellence and a source of pride. I maintain that no matter how eloquent you become in Arabic and even if you become Abul ‘Ilm (the father of knowledge), you will not be able to converse in Arabic as Abu Jahl had. If only knowledge of Arabic and ability to speak in Arabic were ‘ilm, then Abu Jahl would be a greater Aalim. But, in spite of the superiority of his Arabic, he remained Abu Jahl (the father of the ignorant).
Nowadays, once a person has studied a couple of Arabic books, he is given the title of Molvi whereas in actual fact he is not a Molvi. A Molvi is a person who understands the laws of the Shariah and practises accordingly in both the Zaahiri and Baatini spheres. He has to be a man of Allah. A man of Allah is never a jaahil.
I take qasam (oath) and say if the greatness of Allah Ta’aala enters into the heart, you will become ashamed if someone addresses you as ‘Maulana Sahib’, ‘Hafiz Sahib’, etc. When one gains kamaal (perfection or excellence in the moral and spiritual realms) then one will realize that one is in actual fact a jaahil.
I always maintain that the Ulama are in greater need of moral reformation. We (i.e. Molvis) do very little, but publicize it (our little) much because the desire is only to create a name among people.
“Nowadays the Talabah (students of Deeni Madaaris) are not concerned with Uloom (true knowledge). Their concern is simply to complete a course (of study). They consider it a great Mi’raaj (ascension into the heavens), progress and perfection to have a big turban tied around their heads and be doled out a long certificate. Thus, they (think) they have become Molvis and Maulanas. However, this is not an occasion of happiness nor a sign of having achieved any excellence (kamaal). Nowadays some students although they are turbaned (and officially titled Molvi), lack entirely in ‘ilm and aql (intelligence).