By Imam Syed Anisul Haque | 26 Apr 2024

In this week’s Friday Khutbah, I addressed the congregation about the value and importance of knowledge in Islam, the elevated status of scholars, and our duty to both respect those who possess knowledge and to actively seek it ourselves.

Allah, the Most High, has placed great emphasis on the pursuit of knowledge and has bestowed a lofty rank upon those who dedicate themselves to acquiring and disseminating it.

The Qur’an is replete with verses that highlight the value of knowledge and the virtues of those who possess it.

Allah will raise those who have believed among you and those who were given knowledge, by degrees.

Surah Al-Mujadilah (58:11)

This verse beautifully demonstrates that Allah elevates the status of those who have faith and knowledge and that he has distinguished those with knowledge with a special status. Allah further commands us to obey and refer to the scholars in matters of religion, as mentioned in Surah An-Nisa, "

O you who believe! Obey Allah and obey the Messenger, and those of you (Muslims) who are in authority.

Surah An-Nisa (4:59)

The renowned exegete, Ibn Kathir (14th century, Damascus), explained that "those in authority" refers to the leaders and scholars of the Muslim community.

Perhaps the most remarkable testament to the status of scholars in Islam is found in Surah Aal-e-Imran, where Allah Himself bears witness to His oneness alongside the angels and those who possess knowledge. "

Allah bears witness that none has the right to be worshipped but He and likewise do the angels and the men possessed of knowledge

Surah Aal-e-Imran (3:18)

Allah's mentioning of the scholars in the same verse as His own testimony and that of the angels is an indication of the lofty status granted to the people of knowledge in Islam. The esteemed scholar, Ibn Al-Qayyim (14th century, Damascus), enumerated over twelve points of reflection on this verse, emphasising the scholars' proximity to Allah and their authority over others.

Numerous sayings of the Prophet (peace be upon him) also abound with praises for the scholars and the seekers of knowledge. In a Hadith narrated by Abu Umamah, Prophet Muhammad said:

The superiority of the scholar over the devout worshipper is like my superiority over the most inferior amongst you (in good deeds). Allah, His angels, the dwellers of the heaven and the earth, and even the ant in its hole and the fish (in water) supplicate in favour of those who teach people knowledge.


These Ahadeeth not only underscore the elevated rank of scholars but also highlights the universal gratitude and prayers they receive from all of Allah's creation.

As an Ummah, we must recognise that scholars are the inheritors of the Prophets and the guiding lights of our community. When faced with trials, tribulations, and modern-day challenges, it is the scholars whom we turn to for guidance and clarity.

The example of the scholars on earth, as Imam Al-Bayhaqi (11th century, Nishapur) noted, is that of the stars in the sky; when they appear, the people are guided, but when they disappear, the people get confused and lost. This analogy beautifully captures the indispensable role of scholars in providing direction and dispelling the darkness of ignorance.

It is incumbent upon us, as Muslims, to honour and support our scholars, to benefit from their knowledge, and to pray for their well-being and steadfastness. We must also strive to be seekers of knowledge ourselves, for the Prophet stated:

Seeking knowledge is mandatory upon every Muslim.

Ibn Majah

The companions of the Prophet ﷺ, such as Abu Dharr and Abu Hurairah, emphasised that learning even one aspect of knowledge is more beloved to them than praying a thousand voluntary units of prayer, and teaching that knowledge is more beloved than praying a hundred voluntary units of prayer.

The pursuit of knowledge requires dedication, passion, and sacrifice. The pious predecessors of our Ummah demonstrated an unparalleled zeal for seeking knowledge, often travelling great distances and enduring hardships to learn from the scholars of their time. 

Imam Al-Shafi‘i (9th century, Gaza/Egypt), one of the most prominent scholars in Islamic history, was once asked about his desire for knowledge. He replied, “I will hear a word that I never knew before, and my organs would love what they were hearing.” When questioned about his keenness and passion for knowledge, he compared it to the greediness of a stingy man for wealth. Such was the intense love and dedication our righteous predecessors had for the acquisition of knowledge.

Let us be reminded of the immense value Islam places on knowledge and the esteemed status it confers upon scholars. May Allah grant us the ability to appreciate and benefit from the scholars in our midst, to actively seek knowledge ourselves, and to be among those whom Allah elevates in ranks both in this world and in the Hereafter. Ameen.

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