The Evidence of the Scholar Vs. The Scholars as Evidence
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
The scholars are a tool to understand the intended meanings of Allah’s Speech and the Speech of His Prophet (ﷺ).Mankind has a constant and compelling need for scholars in order to make clear whatever is unclear. Sorry to say some people have withdrawn from consulting the scholars with the claim they are only following the Quran and the Sunnah and avoiding blind following. By doing this they have relied on their misunderstanding on the texts and thus gone astray except those whom Allah has spared.
Al-Alamah Muhammad ibn Isma’il As-Sana’I (may Allah have mercy on him) said: “There is a difference between blind following a scholar in everything he says compared to relying on a scholar’s understanding. Blind following is when a person accepts everything the scholar says without considering the Quran or the Sunnah. On the other hand,relying a scholar’s skilled perspective is a way for a Muslim to understand the proof.
People are divided into 4 categories in regards to knowledge;
- A scholar
- A Student of knowledge
- A half-educated person
- An ignoramus
There isn’t any human-being who knows everything, and the student of knowledge must depend on a learned person for knowledge to clarify any doubts in issues that are troublesome to understand.
Al-Alamah Abdur Rahman As-Sa’di (may Allah have mercy on him) said: “The people who deal with the scholars are in 3 states:
- Those who are fanatical towards the ulema and place their speech in a superior status equal to the Prophet (ﷺ) and give it precedence over the Quran and the Sunnah, and despite this every Imam from Ahlus Sunnah encourages that only the Quran and Sunnah be followed. These scholars have ordered the Muslims that anything they say which contradicts the Quran and the Sunnah be rejected.
- Those who render the scholars speech ineffectual and useless. These kinds of people don’t rely on the proper understanding of the scholars which spreads lights over dark areas, or after they’ve gained insight from the scholars they don’t thank them for their time and effort. By doing these kinds of actions they have been prohibited from numerous blessings. The reason why some people do these actions is because they believe that it’s a must to follow everything the Prophet (ﷺ) said and disregard the statements of the companions and the Taa’bieen. This is a serious mistake. The Sahabah and the scholars and are agents between the Prophet and his nation for conveying the Sunnah, its meaning and wording. Therefore, to follow them and their understanding and use them as citations serves as a benefit.
- A group of people that honors and respects the scholars, give them their rights and expresses their gratitude towards them based on their superiority and virtue. Also, at the same time this faction of people acknowledges the scholars aren’t infallible and their speech is the consequence of the sunnah of the Prophet hence; it is accepted as it contains guidance, knowledge and truth. In contrast, the scholar’s speech which is incorrect isn’t accepted nor is he blameworthy if he formed a legal opinion based on the evidence he holds to be correct. The scholars’ errors are forgiven for this kind of effort. Allah has favored the ummah with Scholars who nurture the people and there are 2 kinds of nurturing:
- The nurturing by knowledge: The scholars educate the people with essential issues first before the complex ones. The Alim achieves this goal by instilling the meanings of the Quran & the Sunnah in the people’s minds through teaching them and writing books.
- The personal development of good character. The scholars encourage people to practice upright behavior and define the virtue in possessing these traits.
Islam clearly supports relying on the scholars to understand the proof and the scholars all agree the Quran, Sunnah , and consensus are evidence. The problem lies in blind following the scholars in everything they say, thus resulting in their speech being used as proof. Blind following hinders a person from the Prophet’s guidance and distants him from the texts.
Ibn Qayyim Al-Jawziyah said: “It’s a requisite in Islam to comply and follow the text above and beyond the opinions of men. The Quran and the Sunnah must be the criterion in everything the scholars differ about. To avoid relying on the Quran and the Sunnah in exchange for the opinions of scholars, or to criticize anyone who directs his attention to the Quran, the Sunnah and the speech of the companions alongside the speech of the scholars, is dreadfully wrong. No Muslim should judge anyone other than the Quran, the Sunnah and the believers as his intimate friend. The guidelines of the Shariah have made it obligatory to avoid placing scholars’ opinions over the texts and taking non- Muslims as friends and protectors. The religion can only be complete when those things are rejected and denounced. 
Other related topic:
Is it obligatory to act by a scholar’s verdict? http://www.abuaaliyah.com/?p=152
Prepared and Translated by;
Abu Aaliyah Abdullah ibn Dwight L Battle Sr.
Doha, Qatar 1436©
 Irshad An-Niqad ila Tayseer pg 105-106
 Al-Wasitiya , Shaykh Hamad Al-Uthman pg 198
 refer to Tawdeehu Kafee Ash-Shafi pg 153-155
 ‘Illam 2/249