This is another one of the fundamental "Salafi" tenets of misguidance, by which they believe that there is no knowledge in all Islam except it is readily attainable by them, although the Imams of the Sunna have said that he who claims to have knowledge, he is a jahil and ignoramus. Yet the "Salafis" say in their pernicious booklet against the Naqshbandis:
The Islaamic Belief [is]: No hidden knowledge in Islaam, everything is given in the Qur'aan and Sunnah.... The Naqshabandi Belief [is]: Sheikh has hidden knowledge.
You will also often find the "Salafis" quoting Allah's
verse: Today I have completed your Religion for you (5:3)
as a false proof against the status of `ulama and shaykhs
of guidance in Islam.
The delusion that "no Islamic knowledge is hidden from me if only I decide to find it in the books," is the Westernized belief of the "Salafis" who rebel against the idea of having an Imam of fiqh or tasawwuf and whose idea of the Qur'an and the Sunna is that they are found directly in books.
However, Ahl al-Sunna's definition of the Qur'an is "Allah's speech preserved in the breasts of the people, recited with the tongue, and written in the masahif" as stated by Imam Tahawi in his `Aqida, and before him by Imam Abu Hanifa in al-Fiqh al-akbar. The Qur'an was never revealed, nor transmitted, except to the heart of the Prophet and from him to the hearts of the Companions. Therefore it is taken and understood NOT from the books -- as is taught by non-Muslim professors in non-Muslim academies -- but from Allah's awliya', the scholars of knowledge who are the full beneficiaries of the Prophet, as the Prophet stated:
"The scholars of knowledge are the inheritors of Prophets."
It is narrated from Abu al-Darda by Tirmidhi, Abu Dawud, Ibn
Majah, Ahmad (5:196), Ibn Hibban in his Sahih, Bayhaqi
in the Shu`ab al-iman, Darimi in the Muqaddima of
his Sunan, and Bukhari in the Book of Knowledge in his
Sahih in mu`allaq form (i.e. without chain), in
the heading of the chapter entitled: Knowledge must precede
talk and action. al-Raghib al-Asfahani (d. 425) said in his
dictionary Mufradat alfaz al-qur'an under the entry w-r-th:
"Suyuti said: Shaykh Muhyiddin al-Nawawi was asked about
it and he said it was weak (da`if) -- that is: in its chain
-- even if it is true (sahih) -- that is: in its meaning.
al-Mizzi said: This hadith has been narrated through chains which
attain the rank of hasan. It is as al-Mizzi said, and I
have seen fifty chains for it, which I collected in a monograph.
Here end Suyuti's words."
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The above is the reason why this inheritance of knowledge is distributed unequally among the people, so that it must be painstakingly gathered, verified, studied, and preserved from mouth to mouth and heart to heart with Allah's guarantee. Hence Allah said:
Above every person of knowledge there is one endowed with greater knowledge. (12:76)
If the "Salafis" believe in the above verse, then each and every one of them, young or old, educated or self-taught, is forced to admit that above him stands someone endowed with greater knowledge: therefore there is always hidden knowledge in relation to those endowed with less knowledge. If they but believe, then they must submit to the rule spelled out for the rebellious by Shaykh `Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani in his Ghunya li talibi tariq al-Haqq (p. 840):
Let it be fully realized that Allah Almighty has made it the customary practice that there be on the earth the shaykh and the murid, the companion and the one whose company is kept, the follower and the one who is followed. This has held since the time of Adam and will hold until the rising of the Hour.
This is because knowledge is not given to everyone but it the province of the elect `ulama, such as the great Imams and scholars of fiqh, hadith, and tasawwuf and those who transmit the knowledge of Qur'an and Sunna from them. The hadith and the ayat quoted above indicate that Allah endows such scholars of knowledge with a power of guidance which He does not give to everyone. That is why their intelligence is sharper than that of others, their inspiration (ilham) is more reliable, and their vision (firasa) truer.
Imam Malik commented on Allah's verse: He brings wisdom to whomever He will (2:269) by saying:
Indeed, it comes firmly to my heart (innahu layaqa`u fi qalbi) that "wisdom" means intelligence (fiqh) of Allah's Religion, and a matter which Allah causes to enter into the hearts out of His mercy and grace.
The saint or scholar in Islam never brings a new Revelation, but his task is to distribute to the people the blessings of the Prophet in the form of his teachings and goodness, as in the following example, also from Imam Malik:
Abu Mus`ab said: I went in to see Malik ibn Anas. He said to me: "Look under my place of prayer or prayer-mat and see what is there." I looked and I found a certain writing. He said: "Read it." It contained the account of a dream which one of his brothers had seen and which concerned him. Malik said: "I saw the Prophet in my sleep. He was in his mosque and the people were gathered around him, and he said: I have hidden for you under my pulpit (minbar) something good -- or: knowledge -- and I have ordered Malik to distribute it to the people." Then Malik wept, so I got up and left him.
Ibn al-Jawzi relates it in the chapter entitled "Layer 6 of the People of Madina" of his book Sifat al-safwa.
All the above applies even more to the Sunna, which will continue to remain a closed book to the "Salafis" until they recognize the primacy of understanding the meanings over their superficial regurgitation of the words. For it is those who do not follow a madhhab who are the most likely to reject the authentic Sunna of the Prophet, misunderstand it, and misrepresent it as we see the "Salafis" do time and again. Dr. Ta Ha Jabir al-`Alwani stated in his book The Ethics of Disagreement in Islam (p. 119):
The master perpetrators of disagreement in our own times do not have a single plausible basis for justifying their differences. They are not mujtahidun or persons capable of independent reasoning or analytical thought. They are, rather, unthinking followers (muqallidun) of those among them who raise their voices to proclaim that they are not in fact 'followers' nor do they believe in the 'duty to follow.' They claim that they derive their rulings and opinions directly from the Qur'an and the Sunnah of the Prophet, peace be upon him. In reality, they cling to some books of hadith and follow in the footsteps of their authors in all matters pertaining to the authenticity of a hadith and the trustworthiness and reliability of its narrators.... On the basis of studying a single book on this vast subject, a person cannot justifiably elevate himself to the position of a mujtahid.
It is such pseudo-scholars, and all those who hop, skip, and jump with them over the fiqh of the Schools to interpretthe hadith according to their whims, who expose themselves to destruction. Allah has misguided such people by the consensus of the experts of fiqh and hadith among the Imams of the Salaf. Following is evidence to this effect from Ibn Abi Zayd al-Qayrawani's Kitab al-jami` fi al-sunan:
Ibn `Uyayna said: "Hadith is liable to misguide all except the jurists" (al-hadithu mudillatun illa li al-fuqaha').
Ibn Wahb said: "Every memorizer of hadith that does not have an Imam in fiqh is misguided (dall), and if Allah had not rescued us with Malik and al-Layth (ibn Sa`d), we would have been misguided."
`Ali al-Qari said in his book Mu`taqad Abi Hanifa al-Imam fi abaway al-rasul `alayhi al-salat wa al-salam (p. 42):
The early scholars said: The hadith scholar without knowledge of fiqh is like a seller of drugs who is no physician: he has them but he does not know what to do with them; and the fiqh scholar without knowledge of hadith is like a physician without drugs: he knows what constitutes a remedy, but he does not dispose of it.
al-Sakhawi in his biography of Ibn Hajar entitled al-Jawahir wa al-durar relates similar views:
al-Fariqi said: "One who knows chains of hadith but not the legal rulings derived from them cannot be counted among the scholars of the Law." His student Ibn Abi `Asrun (d. 585) also followed this view in his book al-Intisar....
al-Dhahabi said: Pursuing the study of hadith is other than the hadith itself.
Abu Shama related:... al-A`mash (the great Tabi`i d. 148) said: "The hadith that jurists circulate among themselves is better than that which hadith narrators circulate among themselves." Someone criticized Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal, may Allah have mercy upon him, for attending the circle of Imam Shafi`i and leaving the circle of Sufyan ibn `Uyayna. Ahmad told him: "Keep quiet. If you miss a hadith with a shorter chain you can find it with a longer chain and it will not harm you. But if you do not have the reasoning of this man (al-Shafi`i) I am afraid you will not be able to find it."
The "Salafis" are particularly averse to the fact that
Allah continues to send inspiration and guidance upon the people
in the person of the scholars of knowledge, even after the time
of the Prophet. They react by saying: "How can a shaykh
tell me something which I don't know already when Allah said:
Today I have completed your Religion for you (5:3)?"
Our reply to them is what Imam Suyuti replied to those who like
to probe into the meanings of the mutashabihat of Qur'an:
"You do not even know how the bread that you eat proceeds
in your body, or how you are able to pass water, and yet you want
to talk of Allah's istiwa'?!" And we repeat to
them the warning of the scholars, that if you want to be self-taught,
or acquire Western-style doctorates (rather than traditional ijazas
and isnads) so that you then write books on the Fundamentals
of Islam, you will in fact be like the chicken who calls himself
an eagle, except that it cannot fly.