An Important Character Trait We Must Develop
Shaikh Al-Albānī, may Allāh have mercy on him, said:
There are today a few individuals, scattered and spread out in the Islamic world, about whom it’s possible for us to say that they are guiding others and purifying Islam of what has infiltrated it of so many innovations pertaining to belief, jurisprudence, and conduct.
But these [individuals], let alone other than them, have still not been granted success in fulfilling the obligation of cultivating—even a group of Muslims—upon Islamic character traits out of which […] is that a Muslim should know his own worth and be far away from deluding himself about the knowledge he has.
Students Rushing to Publish Before They Should
This characteristic now: we see it has not become materialized in many among the students of knowledge cropping up [these days]. So you find one of them, as soon as he gets a feeling that he has learned something, suddenly off writing a treatise. And this treatise has nothing in it of knowledge that he has gained after having studied and practiced at length; it’s nothing more than him wanting to make a show in front of people that he’s an author.
So he lays two books down in front of him—three, four—quotes a piece of text from right here and a piece of text from right [there], puts a treatise together, and says “A Critical Edition by So-and-So,” while he still hasn’t come to know many a thing about Islam, especially this “Pure Islam” [quotes mine—Translator] that we keep droning on about.
Furthermore, he hasn’t found anyone to teach him and develop him upon Islamic character traits, not to mention he being able to teach and develop himself upon that which has come from the Book and the Sunnah.
This is what I wanted to offer as a reminder. I hope that our brothers [who are] starting out in seeking knowledge of the Book and the Sunnah come to know where this knowledge should be taken from….
Two Categories of People: We Are Always Either from One or the Other
…Some Sharīʿah texts, among which is His saying, All-Great and All-High is He:
فَاسأَلوا أَهلَ الذِّكرِ إِن كُنتُم لا تَعلَمُون
Then ask the people of knowledge whenever you do not know. [Al-Naḥl 43]
This verse فَاسأَلوا أَهلَ الذِّكرِ إِن كُنتُم لا تَعلَمونَ is speech addressed to the ummah [Muslim people] as a whole, and what follows from this speech is that Allāh, Almighty and Majestic, has put the whole ummah into two groups or two categories: a category that does not have knowledge and a category that does have knowledge.
Then He has made binding upon each of the two categories an obligation that is not binding upon the other. He has made binding on the first category, the ones who do not have knowledge—and without a doubt, they [constitute] most of the ummah as proven by His the All-High’s statement:
وَلكِنَّ أَكثَرَ النّاسِ لا يَعلَمُون
But most of mankind have no knowledge. [Al Aʿrāf 187]
—this majority category, Allāh has made it binding upon them to ask those who are from the other category, those who are in the minority: the scholars [of Islām].
Scholars are only those who can be described as having Sharīʿah knowledge–first of all–and then [as having] the things that follow from this knowledge that lead to having fear of Allāh, All-Great and All-High is He.
As for [which] knowledge [it is] that develops these scholars and places them among those who fear Allāh, it is only knowledge of the Book and the Sunnah—upon the [understanding] of the Salaf Al-Ṣāliḥ [the Righteous Predecessor], as we have mentioned previously.
What is Binding on Each Category, Scholars and Those Who Don’t Know
These [scholars]: [Allāh] has made it binding upon them—when they are asked by those from the first, majority category—that they respond, just as [He] has made it binding upon the majority category to do the asking. [italics mine–Translator]
When Seeking Knowledge, Ask Yourself Which Category You’re From
So now, when some people start out seeking [Sharīʿah] knowledge, they are either going to be from the majority category or from the minority category, i.e., the people of knowledge to whom the majority category has been commanded to [direct] their questions: “Then ask the people of knowledge whenever you do not know.”
FatāwáRābigh, Tape 2, 00:27:18.
N.B.: Title and headings are mine (Translator)