The Indisputable Superior Authority of Scholars*

In the Islamic society, the most supreme, the most honourable, the top layer is occupied by pious Rabbani scholars who act upon their knowledge as well as by honourable leaders of the Islamic community (sadat kiram), noble sheikhs (mashayikh ‘izam) and friends of God (awliya fikham). May Allah not separate us from the path of His friends; may Allah resurrect us in the Hereafter together with this blessed coterie. Sultans, emirs, viziers, commanders, officials, attendants, and commoners are all behind them, under them and under their guidance.

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Prof. Dr. M. Es’ad Cosan
(May Allah have mercy on him)

These genuine scholars are loadstars, counsellors, guides and lanterns that enlighten administrators and folk. They have glorified the honour of Islam by revealing and teaching the subtle truths of Islam as well as by protecting Islam from corruption.

At the time when the Sharia was fully implemented, Rabbani scholars bravely confronted the administrators who showed a very small deviation from Sharia, brought deviants into line and protected the well-intentioned from falling into error. Even when the people submitted to brute force, scholars stood erect and did not give in to bullying. In the time of invasion, disaster and calamity, they endured oppression and torment. They organized people around themselves, fought for freedom and independence and performed epic deeds.

Rabbani scholars are the real carriers of the sublime flag of Islam. They are the spiritual sultans. Among them are Abu Hanifa, Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Imam Rabbani and Sheikh Shamil—who were incarcerated for their efforts for the sake of Islam—along with thousands of others including famous scholars, spiritual guides, sheikhs, teachers, preachers and disciples.

It is true that, in Islamic countries, cruel people have taken over the administration from time to time, but Rabbani scholars have never approved the deviant views of these cruel people and have never helped them to satisfy their capricious will or to continue their persecution and exploitation. Despite all kinds of force in their hands and all the efforts they exerted, even with anger and violence, they could not subjugate the people of God (ahl Allah).

These scholars unapologetically declared the truth in the face of the wielders of authority. If the authorities engaged in ugly business, scholars immediately condemned them by saying the ugliness, shamefulness, sinfulness and blameworthiness of their acts and works. Scholars have always reminded rulers of the accounting and the punishment of the Hereafter. Many times have they also made them cry.

Although Rabbani scholars advised administrators, they did not go to visit them. They rejected their gifts. They refused the proposals of position and office. They did not accept the administrators who wanted to visit them. Rabbani scholars lived free and independent, submitting only to Allah. They did not bow to a servant of God; they did not allow dignitaries to use them for their own purposes and did not expect anything from them.

Risking their lives, Rabbani scholars struggled with deviant administrators. They did not heed the blame of fault finders. When they were thrown into dungeons, they did not give up. Rather they transformed dungeons into madrasas and houses of worship and disseminated their knowledge there.

Rabbani scholars encouraged armies in the wars, gave moral support to sultans and sometimes prevented them (sultans) abandoning the battlefield by holding the reins of the horses. They clashed along with their students and disciples at the forefront of the army and helped it to victory.

Rabbani scholars are the heirs and deputies1 of the prophets, the successors of messengers, the trustees to whom the Muslim community is entrusted, the real masters and commanders.

In an Islamic society, all affairs must be under the control of Rabbani scholars. If the wielders of authority (ulu al-amr) are not chosen from among Rabbani scholars, the order of the religion and the world will have gone astray, the covenant with God will have been breached—then is the time for the Apocalypse.

The corruption of the public stems from the corruption of administrators, the corruption of administrators comes from the corruption of scholars. A scholar has to inspect and supervise all society. This is the task given to him by Allah.

If a scholar enters into a politician’s service, he will perish and be disgraced.

“How good the administrators on doorsteps of scholars are! How bad the scholars on the doorsteps of the administrators are!”2

Oh my Lord! Protect the community of Muhammad from the bad and the ignorant, sinners and wicked politicians. Give this community, scholars who are God-fearing, knowledgeable, virtuous, clean and perfect, and those who will act on their knowledge so that they rule over the society by your laws, and so that the earth be filled with peace and happiness!

* Başmakaleler 1: İslâm Dergisi Başmakaleleri, Istanbul: Server İletişim, 2011, (This article is dated November 1990), p. 236-238.

1. See; Ahmad b. Hanbal, V, 196, hadith no: 21763; Bukhari, “Ilm”, 10; Abu Dawud, “Ilm”, 1, hadith no: 3641; Tirmidhi, “Ilm”, 19, hadith no: 2682; Ibn Majah, “Iftitah”, 17, hadith no: 223; Darimi, “Muqaddimah”, 32, hadith no: 342.

2. With similar expressions, see; Ma’mar b. Rashid, al-Jami’, XI, 316; Ibn Abi Shayba, VII, 528, hadith no: 37733; Bayhaki, Shu’abu’l-Iman, VII, 49, hadith no: 9413; Abu Nu’aym, Hilyat al-awliya’, I, 277.

Article “The Indisputable Superior Authority of Scholars ” Professor M. Es'ad Coşan