Rights of Ulama (Scholars), Rights of Teachers and Students
By: Sayyid Mahdi as-Sadr
Merits of Knowledge and Ulama (Scholars)
Knowledge is the dearest thing for man, since it is the base of civilization and the honor of this world as well as the life to come. Scholars are the prophets’ heirs and supporters of the religion as they guide people to the recognition and obedience to God and lead them to honesty: “Say, "Are those who know equal to those who do not know? Only the people of reason take heed" (39:9).”
“Allah will raise the position of the believers and of those who have received knowledge. Allah is Well- Aware of what you do (58:11).”
“Only Allah's knowledgeable servants fear Him. Allah is Majestic and All-pardoning. (35:28)”
“These are parables, which We tell to human being, but only the learned ones understand them. (29:43)”
The Prophet (S) said: “As for him who takes a way for seeking knowledge, Allah will lead him to the way that takes to Paradise. As a sign of their pleasure with the seekers of knowledge, the angels lower down their wings for them. Every creature that is in the heavens or on the earth, including the whales, seeks Allah’s forgiveness to the seekers of knowledge. The scholar is preferred to the worshipper in the same way as the full moon is preferred to the other stars. The scholars are the heirs of the prophets, who definitely did not bequeath dinars or dirhams. They only bequeathed knowledge. Thus, he who takes from that knowledge has surely taken a great thing1.”
“On the Day of Resurrection, some individuals will have rewards as huge as clouds or as great as unshakable mountains. When they will wonder how they have obtained such rewards that they did not do things deserving them, they will be answered: “As you instructed people to do good deeds, we recorded for you the reward of every deed that those people carried out2.”
Amirul-Mu'minin (a) said: “Kumayl, those who amass wealth are dead even though they may be living while those endowed with knowledge will remain as long as the world lives. Their bodies are not available but their figures exist in the hearts3.”
Imam al-Baqir (a) said: “A scholar whose knowledge is useful for others is preferred to seventy thousand worshippers4.”
Imam as-Sadiq (a): “On the Day of Resurrection, all people will be gathered on one highland and the scales will be maintained. The blood of the shahids will be put in a scale and the ink of the scholars in the other. The ink of the scholars will outweigh the blood of the shahids5.”
“On the Day of Resurrection, the worshippers and the scholars will be interrogated together. The worshippers will be permitted to be in Paradise, and the scholars will be asked to intercede for others whom they taught the high moral standards6.”
The faithful scholars owe Muslims great rights that should be fulfilled. They are as follows:
Regard of Ulama (Scholars)
To show regard toward scholars is their leading right because of their being characterized by knowledge and virtue.
The Prophet (S) said: “To look at the face of a scholar, out of love for him, is a sort of worship7.”
“You should be either scholar or seeker of knowledge or loving the scholar, and do not be of any other class. To hate the scholars leads to perdition.”
Husham Ibn al-Hakam, the teenage, visited Imam as- Sadiq (a), who was encompassed by the celebrities of the Shia such as Hamran Ibn A’yun, Qays al-Massir, Younus Ibn Ya’qoub, Abu Ja’far al-Ahwal, and others, in Mina. As soon as his eyes fell on Husham, Imam as-Sadiq (a) preceded him to all the others who were all older than him i.e. Husham-. When he felt that the attendants were displeased by this act, Imam as- Sadiq (a) said: “This man has been supporting us with his heart, tongue, and hand8.”
Ahmed al-Bezanti, the scholar, narrated: I responded to the invitation of ar-Ridha (a) and spent that night with him. After I had been served dinner, the Imam (a) ordered the servants to prepare my bed. The most excellent kinds of pillow, bedspread, and blanket were brought. When I finished my dinner, he (a) asked me whether I wanted to sleep. “Yes, I want,’ answered I. The Imam covered me with that blanket and supplicated God for me, ‘God may make you pass this night with good health.” When the Imam left me, I said to myself, ‘Verily, I have awarded with such unprecedented great honor by this man9.’
Charity to Ulama (Scholars)
The main concern of scholars is to serve the religion, publicize the Islamic enlightenment, and guide Muslims towards high moral standards. Such endeavors require time and giant efforts that divert from seeking earnings. It is then necessary for the believers who observe the religious affairs to save the means of good livelihood for the scholars, through supplying them with the Shariite rights of which God orders as well as the other charities. Scholars in fact are the worthiest of enjoying such rights that enable them to go on achieving their aims and carrying out their religious tasks without being distracted by any other factor.
Muslims, in the past, used to volunteer openhandedly to dedicate some money as waqfs10 for saving the livelihoods of the scholars.
Compliance with Ulama (Scholars)
Rational individuals refer to the specialists in the various fields of life so as to benefit by their experts. In the same manner, Muslims should refer to scholars in fields of religious teachings and rulings. It is required to imitate and yield the fruits of the scholars’ studies who devoted themselves to servicing the Islamic Sharia, propagandizing its rulings, and guiding people to uprightness. Following so, people will have full awareness of their doctrine and will be able to resist the rumors of enemies. But if they neglect reference to scholars, people will ignore the reality of their religion, principles, and rulings and, subsequently, will be the subject of deviation.
The Prophet (S) said: “To sit with the religious people is the honor of this life as well as the life to come11.”
“To sit with scholars is a sort of worship12.”
“Knowledge is stored in safes whose key is question. Hence, you Allah may have mercy upon you must put questions, for your questions will bring rewards for four persons: the asker, the instructor, the listener (to the question and answer), and the one who loves those three13.”
Imam as-Sadiq (a) said: “People perish so long as they do not put questions14.”
Luqman the wise instructed his son: “Son, sit with the scholars and stick your knees to them, for Allah enlivens the hearts i.e. intellects- with the illumination of wisdom in the same way as He enlivens the barren lands with heavy rain15.”
1. Quoted from al-Wafi; part 3 page 40 (as quoted from al- Kafi).
2. Quoted from Bihar ul-Anwar; vol. 1 page 75 (as quoted from Bassaair ud-Darajat).
3. Quoted from Nahj ul-Balagha
4. Quoted from al-Wafi; part 3 page 40 (as quoted from al- Kafi).
5. Quoted from al-Wafi; part 3 page 40 (as quoted from al- Faqih).
6. Quoted from Bihar ul-Anwar; vol. 1 page 74 (as quoted from Ilal ush-Sharayi and Muhammad ibn al-Hasan as-Saffar’s Bassaair ud-Darajat).
7. Quoted from Bihar ul-Anwar; 1/64 (as quoted from ar- Rawandi’s an-Nawadir).
8. Quoted from Bihar ul-Anwar; 1/59 (as quoted from Sheikh as-Saduq’s al-Khissal).
9. Quoted from Safinat ul-Bihar; vol. 1 page 81.
10. Waqf is the endowment or settlement of property under which the proceeds are to be devoted to a religious or charitable purpose.
11. Quoted from Bihar ul-Anwar; 1/62 (as quoted from Thawab ul-A’mal and al-Amali).
12. Quoted from Bihar ul-Anwar; vol. 1 page 62 (as quoted from keshf ul-Ghumma).
13. Quoted from Bihar ul-Anwar; vol. 1 page 62 (as quoted from Sahifat ur-Ridha and Uyounu Akhbar ir-Ridha).
14. Quoted from al-Wafi; part 1 page 46 (as quoted from al- Kafi).
15. Quoted from Bihar ul-Anwar; vol. 1 page 62 (as quoted from Rawdhat ul-Waizhin).
Rights of Teachers and Students
Rights of teacher
Faithful teachers who enjoy good traits occupy a high position in the society because of the appreciative efforts they exert for educating and supplying individuals with knowledge and moralities. Besides, they are the pioneers of culture and guides of the coming generation. On account of that, they must enjoy definite rights against their students. First of all, students must respect their teachers in the same way as they respect their fathers so as to express their appreciation to them.
Alexander, once, was asked why he used to respect his teacher in a way better than his respecting his father. He answered: “My father is the founder of my transient life while my teacher is the founder of my changeless life.”
Imam al-Baqir (a) said: “He who teaches an item of knowledge that leads to the right guidance will be having the same rewards of them who apply that item to themselves, without any decrease in their rewards. And he who teaches an item of deviation will be having to burden the same punishment that is decided for those who practice such an item without any decrease in their punishment1.”
Students must appreciate their teachers’ efforts and reward them by means of showing gratitude and respect and following their recommendations. They also must pardon and neglect any situation of strictness or discipline that are intended for their good educationally and morally. The best comprehensive word that gathered the rights of teachers is the following saying of Imam as- Sajjad (a): “The right of the one who trains you through knowledge is magnifying him, respecting his sessions, listening well to him, attending to him with devotion, avoiding raising your voice against him, avoiding answering any question before he answers, avoiding talking to anyone during his instructions, avoiding backbiting anyone before him, doing your best to defend him when he is backbitten and cover his flaws and publicize his good traits. Do not sit with his enemy and do not antagonize his friend. If you do so, the angels will testify for you that you have attended to him and received his knowledge for the sake of Allah, not people2.”
Rights of Students
Seekers of studies enjoy particular standings of virtue and honor because they exert diligent efforts for seeking, retaining, and conveying knowledge to the coming generations.
The Prophet (S) said: “The like of students among the ignorant is the alive among the dead3.”
“Seeking knowledge is a duty that is imposed upon every male and female Muslim. It is most surely that Allah loves seekers of knowledge4.”
“The scholar and the seeker of knowledge are partners in the same rewarding: two for the scholar and one for the seeker of knowledge. Any other class is worthless5.”
Such merits traits are dedicated to the sincere students who aim at achieving self-discipline and moral conduct. The students who are empty of such intentions are deprived of such memorable traits and will have nothing more than transitory goals. Let us now refer briefly to some of the students’ rights: First of all, fathers should choose well qualified, faithful, and well-mannered teachers for their sons, so that they will be good imitable examples.
Students are generally characterized by fondness of following the examples of their instructors whose qualities affect the students’ personalities very soon.
Second, students must be treated with kindness and compassion. Teachers are required to treat their students as if they are their sons and avoid humiliating and persecuting them, because such behaviors may make them disregard studying. To instruct and encourage students on studying, it is wise to reward the good-doers by words of praise and reproach the negligent by means of reprimand taking in consideration the condition that such matters must not injure their emotions or abuse their dignities.
Addressing to seekers of knowledge, Imam as-Sajjad (a) said in his Treatise of Rights: “The right of your subjects through knowledge is that you should know that Allah made you a caretaker over them only through the knowledge He has given you and His storehouses, which He has opened up to you. If you do well the missions that Allah has chosen you for, treat them as same as the treatment of the merciful caretaker who respects his master in the affairs of the slaves and the clement steadfast one who always offers money for the needy ones, then Allah will increase His graces to you and you will be on the right way faithfully, otherwise you will be regarded as betrayal, unjust to the creatures, and expose yourself to encounter Allah’s seizing His graces and power from you.”
Third, it is necessary for teachers to take in consideration the intellectual levels of the students and their readiness to receive knowledge. This consideration will help teachers choose the appropriate levels of study that befit each student and avoid providing information that are too high for them to understand. Furthermore, it is important for teachers to realize each student’s main concern so as to guide him to the fields that best suit his interest, since it is improper to coerce a student on definite fields of study, which he does not like.
Fourth, to secure an ideal rise for students, it is important to keep on guiding them incessantly in the scientific and moral fields. This is the only way to guarantees their being examples of decency.
Student must understand that the main purpose beyond studying is to achieve self-control and good sense so as to attain the honor of the obedience to God and, subsequently, the eternal pleasures will be won.
Neglecting such noble goals, a student fails to exploit science, loses all aspects of spirituality, and becomes the subject of the barren worldly whims.
The best example of such shortcomings is the current civilized nations whose individuals, though preceded others in fields of science and inventions, live humble lives suffocated by disintegrated morals, loose spiritual values, and prevalent evils all because they pursue wholly material trends and free themselves completely from the religious and moral values. Owing to so, they have competed with each other using the most fatal weapons for terminating each other and, hence, they have turned this world into a volcano threatening ruination and perdition to humankind.
1. Quoted from al-Wafi; part 1 page 42 (as quoted from al- Kafi).
2. Quoted from The Treatise of Rights; Imam as-Sajjad (a).
3. Quoted from Bihar ul-Anwar; 1/58 (as quoted from at-Tusi’s al-Amali).
4. Quoted from al-Wafi; part 1 page 36 (as quoted from al- Kafi).
5. Quoted from Bihar ul-Anwar; 1/56 (as quoted from Bassaair ud-Darajat).