Attributes of the religious scholars
From: Usul al-Kafi
53 Imam Jafar as-Sadiq (p): Acquire knowledge of religion and adorn it with forbearance and reverence. Be humble to those whom you give knowledge, and also to those from whom you receive it. Do not become one of the harsh tempered scholars; otherwise your good deeds will be washed away by your evil acts.
54 Commenting on the verse: “…Verily, of the servants of God it is those who possess knowledge that fear Him…” (Q,35:28) Imam Jafar as-Sadiq (p) said: ‘Those who possess knowledge’, means those whose actions verify their words; and those whose deeds do not agree with their words are not among the learned ones.
55 Imam Ali (p): Hearken! I will tell you who a true scholar of religion is. One who does not make people despair of the Mercy of God, and does not let them feel immune from the chastisement of God, and does not allow them to commit sins, and does not give up the recitation of the Noble Quran due to his temptation for something else. Beware! There is no virtue in knowledge that is devoid of understanding. Beware! There is no virtue in the recitation of the Noble Quran without pondering. Beware! There is no virtue in worship that is devoid of meditation.
56 Imam Ali ar-Reza (p): Forbearance and silence are among the signs of religious knowledge.
Translator’s note: In the tradition quoted above, silence means refraining from unnecessary gossip and superfluous talk.
57 Imam Ali (p): The heart of a learned person is fortified against stupidity and negligence.
Translator’s note: The word ‘heart’ used here figuratively denotes ‘mind’ or ‘mental process’ or ‘reasoning faculty’. This figurative use of the word ‘heart’ is very common in the Arabic language.
58 Prophet Isa (Jesus) (p) addressing his disciples: I have a desire, which I want you to fulfill.
The Disciples: Take it as fulfilled (rest assured we are at your service).
Prophet Isa (p) got up and washed their feet.
The Disciples: O Spirit of God, we are more fit to serve you like this.
Prophet Isa (p): The fittest person to serve the people is the learned person. I have acted with humility like this, so that after I am gone you may also behave humbly with people, as I have behaved with you. Wisdom is nurtured by humility and not by conceit. Likewise, vegetation grows in ploughed and fertile lands and not on arid mountains.
59 Imam Ali (p): O seeker of knowledge, there are three signs of a learned scholar: knowledge, forbearance and silence. Similarly, there are three signs in the one who just pretends to be a scholar: He wrangles with one superior to him wrongfully, tries to prevail upon the one inferior to him, and becomes an accessory for the wrong-doers.
Rights and privileges of a scholar
60 Imam Ali (p): Among the rights and privileges of a learned scholar is that you should not bother him with too many questions, and do not tug at his clothes in order to attract his attention, and when you visit him in the presence of others, greet all of them after your special compliments to him, and always sit facing him and not behind him. Avoid gesturing with your hands and eyes in his presence, do not indulge in lengthy talk and do not start telling him that such and such persons have been talking against him (repudiating his statement) and do not get irritated in case his discourse becomes lengthy. A learned scholar is like a palm tree, and people sit under it and wait patiently for the fruits to fall. The rewards of a learned scholar are much more than the rewards of one who observes fast almost every day, and fights in the way of God.
Death of a religious scholar
61 Imam Musa al-Kazim (p): When a learned believer dies, the angels weep over him and so do the portions of the earth on which he used to worship God, and also the doors of heaven through which his good deeds have ascended. His death causes such a void in Islam that nothing can fill it, because the learned believers are fortresses of Islam, like the protecting walls built around a city.
62 Imam Jafar as-Sadiq (p): From among the believers, nothing pleases Satan (Iblis) more, than the death of a learned scholar of Islamic jurisprudence.
Company of scholars
63 Luqman (p) addressing his son: O son, be on the look out for choosing groups of people. If you see a group of people talking about God, the Glorious, the Powerful, then sit with them. Your knowledge will be renewed if you are aware of the subject matter of their discussion. And if you are not aware, then their discussion will educate you. Maybe God covers them with His mercy, and you are included among them. And if you see a group of people not remembering God then do not sit with them, because you will not be benefited if you are aware of their topic, and if you are ignorant, your ignorance will increase and maybe God inflicts on them His chastisement and you get included in them.
64 Imam Musa al-Kazim (p): Having discourses with a learned scholar, even at a trash collection, is better than a conversation with an uneducated one on elegant carpets.
65 Prophet Muhammad (p) said that the disciples asked Prophet Isa (Jesus) (p): O Spirit of God, whose company should we keep?
Prophet Isa (p): The one who reminds you of God, whose discourses enhance your knowledge, and whose activities persuade you to prepare for the Hereafter.
66 Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (p): For me a session with one on whose integrity I rely most, is better than having done good deeds for a whole year.
Chapter 9: Seeking information from a scholar
67 Imam Jafar as-Sadiq (p): People indeed perish because they do not ask questions.
68 Imam Jafar as-Sadiq (p): Verily this knowledge (of religion) is under a lock; the keys to which are questions.
69 Prophet Muhammad (p): Woe unto him who does not acquaint himself every Friday with religious matters in order to renew his bond with God, and does not ask questions relevant to his religion.
70 Prophet Muhammad (p): Allah, the Majestic, the Glorious, says, “Academic discussions among my servants are a means of enlivening the hearts, provided, their aim is to understand my commandments”.
71 Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (p): Mercy of God be on the person who revives knowledge.
He was requested to explain what revival of knowledge meant.
The Imam (p): To have discussions with religious and pious men.
72 Prophet Muhammad (p): Get together and advise each other and hold discussions. Such discussions refine your hearts. Hearts become rusted like swords and their refinement lies in academic religious discussions.
73 Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (p): Academic discussions are discourses and discourses are the best form of prayers.