Who are the Ulama?


This article discusses one particular hadith from Basa’ir ul Darajat (see brief note on this book at the end of the article) under the chapter titled “The Ulama are Aal-e-Muhammad”. Following is the hadith:

The Ulama (knowledgeable ones) are the inheritors of the prophets (as), they (as) do not bequest (give as inheritance) Dirhams and Dinaars, for they (as) bequest Hadeeth from their (as) Hadeeth. The one who takes anything from these it is as if he has taken abundant good. Take a look at your knowledge, if you have taken this from us (as) the Ahlul Bayt (as) then you will be able to oppose (khalafa) every enemy; (you will be able to identify) every distortion (tahrif) of the exaggerators (ghaali’een), and the plagiarism of the falsifiers and the explanations (tawil) of the ignorant (jaahileen). [Source: Basair ul Darajat, Part 1, Chapter: The Ulama are Aal-e-Muhammad]

This hadith is compiled under the chapter titled “The Ulama are Aal-e-Muhammad”. It has important messages and lessons. First of all, the title of “Ulama” should be used exclusively for the Ahlul Bayt (as). The hadith confirms that the Ulama are only those who have inherited the knowledge of the Holy Prophet (s). Who besides our Imams (as) qualify for this position? Did not the Prophet (s) say “I am the city of knowledge and Ali (as) is it’s gate”?

In another hadith :

People are of three types the scholars (aalim), the students (mutaalim), and rubbish (ghisaa). We are the scholars (aalims), our followers (shias) are the students (mutaalim), and the rest of the people are worthless. [Reference: Wasail us Shia, H. 33092]

Based on these hadith, a true Shia would would never approve of being addressed as an Ulama. Neither would a true Shia ever consider any one besides the Ahlul Bayt (as) as the Ulama. However, the term Ulama has been degraded and is being used freely to refer to the clerical class – the fallible mullahs and mujtahids. This is yet another instance of how the rights and position of our Imams (as) are being usurped. A person can be considered knowledgeable only to the extent of the knowledge of hadith that he has acquired. And even then, a true Shia would dislike to be called an Aalim as he would consider himself to be a humble student and slave of the Ahlul Bayt (as) at all times.

In addition, a true Shia of Ahlul Bayt (as) would never speak about any matter of religion independently without first quoting the hadith. However, we find the mujtahids freely issuing fatwas (their own verdicts) without leading the people to the door step of the Masumeen (as).

The hadith mentions that when we take our knowledge directly from the Ahlul Bayt (as) then we will be able to identify:

  • every enemy and oppose him
  • every distortion (tahrif) of the exaggerators (ghaali’een)
  • every plagiarism of the falsifiers
  • every explanation (tawil) of the ignorant (jaahileen)

A pre-requisite step to opposing our enemy is to first recognize him. How can we oppose an enemy that we haven’t recognized? An enemy who pretends to be our friend and well wisher. The deception of Satan is strong and subtle. His armies have infiltrated the religion through the mullahs and have been successful in doing all the evil mentioned in the above hadith. They have distorted the religion by introducing innovations and exaggerations. They have plagiarized it by pretending to be the Ulama. They provide their own opinions and fallacious interpretations. All the while keeping us away from the hadith and true teachings of the Ahlul Bayt (as).

We Shias are no longer Shias of Ahlul Bayt (as). We have become Shias of the mullahs and the mujtahids. We have taken them to be our masters. We are obedient to them. We follow them blindly. They don’t guide us to the hadith of Masumeen (as) anymore. We need to wake up and realize who our real enemies are!

Brief note on the book Basa’ir ul Darajat

Basa’ir ul Darajat is a collection of 1,881 hadith compiled by Abu Ja’far Muhammad al-Saffar (d. 290/903), a trustworthy companion of Imam Hasan Al Askari (as). Muhammad al-Saffar was a true muhaddith (narrator/collector of hadith) and fits the profile of a faqih as defined by Ahlul Bayt (as). Basa’ir ul Darajat is his collection of hadith on the virtues (fazeelat) and recognition (ma’arefat) of Ahlul Bayt (as). Each hadith is mentioned along with it’s chain of transmitters. The compilation is organized into ten parts each containing multiple chapters.