Amir al-Mu'mineen 'Ali
left behind advice and guidance to seekers of knowledge, scholars and jurists. This advice, which deserves to be memorised and acted upon, includes the following.People are of three types
: the devoted scholar, the one who seeks knowledge in order to save himself and the riffraff who follow every caller.
Al-Hafidah Abu Na'eem narrated that Kameel ibn Ziyad said:
" 'Ali ibn Abi Talib
took me by the hand and led me out to the desert. When we got there, he sat down, breathing deeply, then he said: '0 Kameel ibn Ziyad, hearts are like vessels; the best of them are those that contain the most knowledge. Remember what I say to you. People are of three types: the devoted scholar, the one who seeks knowledge in order to save himself and the riffraff who follow every caller, bending with every wind; they do not seek guidance with knowledge and they never hold on to any strong pillar." This eloquent advice included the most beautiful exhortation and wisdom.
divided people into three categories:
(a) The devoted scholars.
What is meant here is religious scholars, learned people of religion who practice what they know and also preach to others, combining understanding of religion with wisdom, as Ibn 'Abbas:radiyallahuanh said in his commentary on the verse (Be you Rabbaniyyoon [learned men of religion who practise what they know and also preach to others]) (Qur'an 3: 79).
He said: "People of wisdom and deep understanding." This report was narrated by Imam Bukhari. This is also how Abdullah ibn Mas'ood
interpreted it. Those who combine wisdom and understanding of religion are the ones who are qualified to teach and guide the Ummah, because wisdom means putting things in the right place, which includes properly implementing the rulings of Sharia on people's reality. That requires precise and subtle understanding of the realities of Muslim society.
Another aspect of wisdom is teaching this Ummah about its religion, which requires a combination of teaching the religion and training the Muslims to be conscious of Allah and to observe good manners. As for deep understanding, that means understanding religious rulings from their Sharia sources. Hence the devoted scholars are the best of the Ummah, because they combine two virtues, namely the acquisition of knowledge and teaching and training others. Hence they are the ones who are qualified to teach and lead the Ummah. Amir al-Mu'mineen 'Ali
defined the devoted scholars as being the ones who teach the people wisdom and train them on that basis."
(b) Seekers of knowledge
, whose intention is sincere, so that it might be a means of their being absolved of responsibility before Allah
referred to this type of person when he said: "The one who seeks knowledge in order to save himself." This applies not only to seekers of knowledge who devote their lives to the pursuit thereof, hut also to everyone who shoulders the responsibility of applying this religion to life. These are the people who are concerned with their salvation in the hereafter, so they ask the devoted scholars questions about religious matters in order to worship Allah
with proper understanding and to interact with people according to the guidelines set by Allah
Such people are regarded as those who seek knowledge in order to save themselves, even if they do not sit in study circles. Amir al-Mu'mineen Ali
showed us the importance of sincerity of intention towards Allah when seeking knowledge. He called on the people to give precedence to that which is with Allah
and the hereafter over insignificant worldly gains and whims and desires, to give precedence to calling people to the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of His Messenger
and the religion of truth, and to be patient in doing so.
(c) Those who neglect to seek religious knowledge
and who have no connection with the devoted scholars when it comes to learning about their religion. Amir al-Mu'mineen 'Ali
described them as "the riffraff who follow every caller, bending with every wind and not seeking guidance with knowledge." He warned against this class of people, who have no character. He advised the people to focus on the truth and adhere to it, to spend their time in this world and in the hereafter in obedience to Allah
to seek to be guided by the light of Allah
and to make this world a step towards the hereafter.
Source : Ali ibn Abi Talib
by Dr Ali M. Sallabi Pages 348-350