For this reason, the majority of them consider good as bad and bad as good. They duped the people to believe that there is no other science than that of fiqh (jurisprudence) or munazara (debates). The Prophet ﷺ peace and blessings of Allah upon him) had called them as most wicked among the people. Beware then of being deceived by the ambiguities of these teachers of falsehood.
Their evil influence upon religion is greater than that of Satan, because through their aid does he arrive at removing religion from the hearts of men. The Prophet ﷺ peace and blessings of Allah upon him) said, "At the end of time there will be ignorant worshippers and corrupt learned men." (Hakim).
You can identify them by many of their typical traits among them are:
One of their traits is that they create an environment of fanaticism for the truth and regard with contempt and scorn all non-conformists.
This they do for the lust of glory and fame. For prestige requires a following and nothing attracts a following better than bigotry, cursing and vilifying of opponents. They have adopted fanaticism as their rule of conduct and their method of approach. They call this intolerance, defence of religion and a protection for the Muslims, while in fact it results in nothing but destruction of all people and in the firm establishment of innovation in their minds.
One of their sign is that they involve themselves in polemics and wrangling to gain repute and prestige. They feign that they are striving after the principles of religion without making the slightest effort towards the science of religion.
The wicked learned man is like a rock that has fallen into the source of a stream. It neither absolves any water itself, nor permits it to flow out and reach the plants. The wicked learned man is also like pipes which come out of a garden full of stinking smell as it has got graves of dead men. Its outer part is cultivated but its inner part is full of dead men's bones. You need not fear the Devil but beware of men who have relieved the Devil of the task of tempting and misleading people. They have a reputation of an Alim among laymen as they could not distinguish true knowledge from that which is false. This is because of their unawareness of the acts of Sahaba.
You find their tongues sweeter than honey but their hearts are darker than night.
They will urge people to abjure [reject or abandon] this world while they themselves renounce it not; they place fear of Allah in the hearts of men while they themselves fear Him not; they forbid men to seek the favour of those in authority while they themselves carry favour with them.
The Prophet ﷺ peace and blessings of Allah upon him) said,
"The worst learned men frequent the house of rulers while the best rulers frequent the houses of learned men.", (Ibn Maja). Saeed Ibn ul Musayyab (rahmatullah aleihi) said, "If you see a learned men frequent the houses of rulers, beware of him because he is a thief."
Sufyan Thauri (rahmatullah aleihi) said, "If you see a learned man, who has many friends you may be sure he is charlatan and a faker, because if he would speak the truth, those friends would hate him."
They engage themselves in learning Kalam and Munazara to achieve fame and glory and leave that for which Allah has sent the Prophets. One sage said, "I have seen scholars who only used to teach one another piety".
They prefer this world to the Hereafter. Umar (rad.ia Allahu tala anhu) said, "If you see the learned man cherishing this world, then entrust not your religion into his hands because everyone is captivated by what he loves."
The article is from Ihyā ul Ulūm ad-Dīn by Imam Al-Ghazali.
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