The Excellence of the People of Knowledge

Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah

Allâh, the Mighty and Majestic, says in the Noble Qur’ân:

  “Allâh bears witness that none has the right to be worshipped but He, and the angels, and those having knowledge (Ûlul-‘llm) (also bear witness to this; (He is always) maintaining His creation in justice. None has the right to be worshipped but He. the All-Mighty. the All-Wise.”

(Sûrah Âl-‘Imrân (3):18). 

This verse shows the superiority of knowledge (“ilm) and its people; the following points can be inferred from this verse:

1. Allâh chose the people of knowledge (ûlul ‘ilm) to bear witness to His Oneness (Tawhîd) over and above the rest of His creation.

2. Allâh honoured the people of knowledge by mentioning their testimony along with His testimony.

3. He raised high the status of the scholars by associating their testimony with the testimony of the angels.

4. This verse bears witness to the superiority of those who possess knowledge. Allâh does not make any of His creation bear witness except the upright amongst them.

There is a well-known narration from the Prophet (sallallahu `alaihi wa sallam), who said:

 “The upright in every generation will carry this knowledge, rejecting the distortions of the extremists, the false claims of the liars, and the (false) interpretations of the ignorant.”


5. Allâh, the One free from all defects. Himself bears witness to His Oneness, and He is the greatest of witnesses. Then He chose from His creation the angels and the scholars – this is sufficient to show their excellence.

6. Allâh made the scholars bear witness with the greatest and the most excellent testimony and that is, “None has the right to be worshipped but Allâh.” Allâh, the One free of all defects and the Most High, does not bear witness except to matters of great importance and only the greatest from Allâh’s creation bear witness
to this.

7. Allâh made the testimony of the people of knowledge a proof against the rejecters. Thus they are its proofs and its signs, indicating His Oneness (Tawhîd).

8. Allâh, the Most High, used a single verb (shahida) to refer to His testimony and the testimony of the angels and the scholars. He did not use an additional verb for their testimony; thus he connected their testimony to His. This shows the strong link between their testimony and Allâh’s testimony, as if He himself bore witness to His Oneness upon their tongues and made them utter this  testimony.

9. Allâh, the One free from all defects, made the scholars fulfil His right (that none has the right to be worshipped but Him) through this testimony and if they fulfill it then they have fulfilled and established this right of Allâh upon them. Then it is obligatory upon mankind to accept this testimony which is the means to reach happiness in this life and in their final return (to Allâh). Whosoever takes this guidance from the scholars and accepts this truth because of their testimony, then for the scholars there is a reward equal to them. And none knows the value of this reward but Allâh.

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