​Who is a Scholar?

Who is a scholar?
We often translate the word Alim as a religious scholar or simply a scholar. But there is more to it than just the process of retaining or even analyzing information that say an academic scholar would be good at. 
We even demoted the requirement of a religious scholar in the last decade or two. If someone is able to tell a story (granted from Quran or authentic Sunnah), we call him/her a scholar. In the old days, they called those people Qussas (you guessed right, storytellers). Mind you, those people weren’t taken seriously at all. In fact, in many cases they were avoided altogether esp. by the Muhadithoon (scholars of Hadith)
Or we may think a scholar is someone who’s able to pull anecdotes from the Quran. Oh look if you add the letters here, look what you get. If you read this verse backwards, look what you get. I’m not denying the numerical miracles of the Quran, but I wouldn’t call something a computer can do better than me knowledge. 
In fact, if you were to ask me for a good definition of Islamic knowledge I would say, anything that Google cannot find. Yes you read it right, CANNOT!  This could take an article, but let me try to explain briefly. 
Sacred knowledge trickles in very slowly. This is why our predecessors used to say, “if you seek knowledge at once, you will lose it at once. Knowledge comes through countless days and nights”.  This is because it takes time to think through something. It takes time for a critical concept to sink in. Imagine if you have been thinking about the same verse for 30 or 40 years?  Many so called scholars haven’t even lived that long!!
Sacred knowledge is something you internalize.  It becomes part of you. This is why when you read the description of a “true” scholar of the past, your see something like “اختلط العلم بلحمه ودمه”. Knowledge became his flesh and blood. This is a far cry from knowledge on the tongue, which the Prophet AS even warned from ” منافق عليم اللسان”. 
In fact, have you noticed how some Companions faith and knowledge (because they’re not that much separate) were described?  They would say “بشيئ وقر في قلبه” or “Something settled in their hearts”.  Yes, knowledge eventually settles in the heart and turns into wisdom. It gives you peace and coolness of the heart. But we don’t even have the patience to wait. Like everything else, we want knowledge as immediate gratification.
Knowledge and fame don’t have to go hand in hand. Some scholars became famous only after their death. Take for example ibn Taymiyah. His books were banned during his lifetime. His students had to write his articles in other books in order to hide them. Imam Sarkhasi wrote an entire book while he was jailed down a dried well.  Many stories like that BTW. 
I hope from this post (or short article) you have gathered some idea about what true scholarship in Islam is. To sum it up, I can’t think of anything better than what Imam Ahmad said, “رأس العلم خشية الله”.   Something to the effect, “the peak of knowledge is fear of Allah”.  So when you see someone who’s called a scholar but doesn’t fear Allah, I hope you now have a better answer than just getting all confused.

-Sh. Anas Hlayhel

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Ramadan Reflections #10

The word shaytan comes from “shatan” meaning rope, which is the rope used to control one’s animal. This points to the chief desire of Shaytan: to control people. In contrast, Allah wants us to be liberated, hence the goal of the Sacred Law to eradicate intoxicants and usury. 
‘Shatana’ also means ‘to be far from,’ i.e. to be far from the mercy of Allah. One notes that the Prophetic way is to be near. Near to family, near to community, not to cut oneself off. Shaytan loves break away movements, because it makes his job easier when one is a lone sheep. 
Allah tells us that Shaytan wants us to be in constant fear. But what is the difference between this fear and taqwa, the fear of Allah. Taqwa is more akin to a warning; a fear of a known thing, the protection from which is in our control. Sdna Ubayy b Kab said, “It as if saying there are thorns on the road so walk carefully.” It’s known and it’s in your control. However satanic scare tactics are from unknown things that are not in your control, so you are completely paralyzed and can’t change it. He wants you to turn to him for help. 
Lastly, if dhikr of Allah expels Shaytan then how can worshippers who make dhikr every day be misguided? Two reasons. One, there is a certain shaytan assigned to all of us who is immune to dhikr. Second, there are Shayateen al-Ins, human beings who have embodied all of these satanic ways and can influence the unlearned worshipper. Hence the value of knowledge. Knowledge protects us from misguidance, while worship purifies us and raises our heavenly ranks. Both are essential. 
We ask Allah protection from the human and non human shayateen.

Sh. Mohammad Elshinawy