Is there a hadith like "The scholars of my ummah are like the prophets of Sons of Israel"? If there is, how should we understand this hadith?

The Details of the Question
Is there a hadith like "The scholars of my ummah are like the prophets of Sons of Israel"? If there is, how should we understand this hadith?
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

"The scholars of my ummah are like the prophets of Sons of Israel."

This hadith is mentioned as khabar mashhur in resources. Some scholars say this narration is weak or does not exist but we see that many scholars regard it as a hadith belonging to the Prophet (pbuh). (see Razi, Tafsir, VIII/302; Naysaburi, Tafsir: I/264; Kashful-Khafa: II/64)

It means mujaddid scholars who came in every century undertook duties like saving people from mischief and chaos, reviving the religion based on the needs of that century and settling issues; therefore, they were likened to the duties of the prophets of Children of Israel who were not sent a new book and shari’ah. For, when an apostle was sent with a new shari’ah, prophets were sent after him at certain intervals to warn people. These prophets did not bring a new religion; they reminded the misunderstandings and the forgotten decrees in the existing true religion and corrected them.   

Since no prophet will come after the Messenger of Allah (pbuh), great scholars who undertake this duty were sent in every century.This is what is meant in the hadith. In fact, no saint can reach a prophet in terms of rank. The similarity in terms of duty is mentioned here.

The loss of religion starts with abandoning the Sunnah. A rope breaks out as fibers snap; the religion disappears as sunnahs are abandoned one by one. (Darimi, Muqaddima 16)

After the death of the Prophet (pbuh), various aberrations occurred in the Islamic world. The most important element that made the people who caused the emergence of heretic creeds by moving away from the essence of Islamic ethics follow this bad way was leaving the way of the Prophet (pbuh). Throughout history, the scholars of Ahl as-Sunnah struggled in terms of thought against those who deviated from the way of the Quran and the Messenger of Allah (pbuh). What Muslims need to do is to adhere to "Ahl as-Sunnah wal-Jama’ah", that is, the Sunnah and the group that follows the Sunnah and to follow the way of Ahl as-Sunnah scholars. Hz. Prophet (pbuh) said,

"Whatever I have commanded you do it, and whatever I have forbidden you, refrain from it." (Muslim, p. 412; Ibn Majah, Muqaddima, 1)

As a matter of fact, the following is stated in a verse of the Quran:

"... So take what the Messenger assigns to you, and deny yourselves that which he withholds from you..." (al-Hashr, 59/7)

The Prophet (pbuh) ordered us to follow his Sunnah and his Companions:

"Those of you who live after me will see great disagreement. You must then follow my Sunnah and that of the rightly-guided caliphs. Hold to it and stick fast to it. Avoid novelties, for every novelty is an innovation (bid’ah), and every innovation is an error (heresy)." (Abu Dawud, Sunnah, 5)

For, the Companions followed the Quran and the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh), who practiced the Quran in daily life. The following statement reported from the Companions proves it:

"Allah send Muhammad (pbuh) to us when we did not know anything, and all we should do is to do that which we saw Muhammad (pbuh)." (Nasai, Taqsir 1)

Therefore, the believers need to understand these two resources (the Quran and the Sunnah) very well and practice them fully in order to attain the real bliss in the hereafter. One of the most important ways of doing it is to accept the scholars of Ahl as-Sunnah as guides and to follow their way. The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) stated the following in a hadith:

"A person who revives a forgotten sunnah at the time of the mischief of my ummah is given the thawab of a hundred martyrs." (Badhawi, Masabih, 1/40, no: 130; Munawi, Faydul-Qadir, 6/261, no: 9171-9172)

In this age, when various seditions and mischief surround the world, the scholars of Ahl as-Sunnah are the people that will be means of gaining this thawab for us as the people who tell and explain the sunnahs of the Prophet (pbuh) and who practice them in the most appropriate way.

If we want to be among those who attain Allah’s consent, mercy and Paradise and not among those will be ashamed and embarrassed on the Day of Judgment, we need to follow the Quran, which is the last book of Allah and His Messenger Hz. Muhammad (pbuh). The key to this way is not to leaveAhl as-Sunnah wal-Jama’ah.

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