Shaykh Abdus Salaam bin Burgess
(May Allah have mercy on him)
Certainly there has appeared between the students of knowledge during this time, the taking of knowledge from those young in age. This phenomenon in reality is a cancerous disease and a chronic illness and it hinders the student of knowledge from his intent and turns him away the sound path that will connect him to knowledge.
That is because taking knowledge from those who are young in age; those who did not firmly establish their feet in knowledge, their beards did not become grey within it (they did not spend a long time with seeking knowledge) along with the presence of those older than them in age, whose feet are grounded, because of this the foundation of the beginner is weak. He is prevented from the benefit of the experience of the major scholars and attainment of their manners which is established by knowledge and time.
And from the evidences that give reason to this is the athar of Ibn Mas’ud (may Allaah be pleased with him) when he said:
“The people will not cease to be upon good as long as they take knowledge from their elders, their trusted and their scholars. If they (begin) taking knowledge from their sighaar and evil ones, then they are destroyed”
There is the affirmed Hadeeth on the authority of Abi Umayyah al Jamhee, that the Messenger of Allaah صلى الله عليه وسلم said:
“From the signs of the hour is when knowledge sought from al-asaagheer”
The people have differed in relation to the explanation of the word: “as-sighaar”.
There is some speech which Ibn Abdul Barr (may Allaah have Mercy on him) mentioned in al-Jaami’ and ash-shatibi (may Allaah have Mercy on him) mentioned in al-i’tisaam.
Ibn Qutaybah (may Allaah have mercy on him) took the view that as-sighaar are those who are young in age. And he said regarding the athar of Ibn Mas’ud:
“He intended that the people will not cease to be upon good as long as their scholars are mashaayakh (old) and that their scholars are not young (in age), because the shaykh (elderly) has left the pleasure of youth, his temper, his hastiness, his foolishness and he prefers practice and experience and nothing doubtful enters into his knowledge, his desires do not overcome him and he is not tempted by lust or greed. Shaytan does not cause him to fall (but) causes the young to. The one with age has dignity, honor and prestige.”
The young maybe will enter into some of these affairs that the elderly is safe from. If these affairs enter into him and he makes a ruling (then) he is destroyed and destroys others.
Ibn abdul Barr reported that Umar Ibn al-Khattaab (may Allaah be pleased with him) said:
“I knew when the uprightness of the people (was present) and when they became corrupted. When (an issue) of fiqh came from the young (in age) the elderly turned away from following them. And when (an issue) of fiqh came from the elderly; the young followed them and they were both guided.”
Ibn Abdul Barr also reported on the authority of Aboo Ahwas from Abdullah who said:
“Certainly you will always remain upon good as long as knowledge is found in your elderly and when knowledge is found in your young, the young will make the elderly appear foolish.”
In these two Athars are proofs for not taking knowledge from the young. Another besides which Ibn Qutaybah mentioned and it was fear of accepting knowledge if it came from the youth. At any rate, if its wording; as-sagheer is general (then) it is used in a way perceived and meaning (young in age).
This ruling is not without exception regarding the young in age, since a group from amongst the companions and taabi’een used to give fataawa and teach during their youth in the presence of those old in age. Certainly it is rare to find the likes of these individual so what about anyone after them. If they (the young) were present and their uprightness was known and their knowledge was examined and its firmness was apparent and no one from amongst the elders were found, then whatever knowledge they (the young) had with them was taken and safe from fitnah.
Hajjaaj bin Ar-Taah said:
“The people use to dislike that a man speak until grey was seen in his beard.”
The intent is not that knowledge of the young should be abandoned in the presence of the old; no! The intent is only to put people in their proper places. So the right of the intelligent young student is that he is benefited from in research, giving reminders and studies. As for putting him forward for giving rulings and questions being put forward to him the no! Certainly no! Because this will kill him and this is a fitna and deception.
Fudayl ibn Iyaad said:
“If you see a man gathering the people around him, then I say this (person) is crazy. What person gathers the people around him and does not like that they make good his speech”
He also said:
“It has reached me that the scholars of the past when they learned they acted, and when they acted they became busy,When they became busy they became lost (missing) and when they became lost they were sought (after) and when they were sought they fled “
So O seeker of knowledge if you desire knowledge from its source (fountain) then, here are the major scholars, those whose beards have become grey and bodies have become frail and strength have become weak (being exhausted) in knowledge and learning. Their commitments are before their lost and they bring out their treasures before they pass away (along) with them. (As) in the darkness of the night the Badr (moon) passes away.
A point of attention: During these times the standards have been greatly blemished by the common people regarding properly estimating the scholars. So every individual who can give an eloquent speech, or a meaningful lecture, or a Friday sermon haphazardly becomes a scholar. He then becomes someone returned to for rulings and knowledge is taken from him. This is a painful and apparent affliction which its evil is airborne and it harms is circulated. When the connection of knowledge is (connected) to other than its people and when the affair (are in the hands) of other than its people, then look for the hour (Day of Judgment)
So the student must be warned of taking knowledge from these (types). Except if they are known to be from people who possess knowledge. Not everyone who has good expression is a scholar and not everyone who turns the people’s faces towards him with issues regarding the leaders of the Muslims or the mentioning of the death rate of aids and whatever is similarly to that is a scholar.
(Also) the meaning is not what has proceeded – as some understand it- ex. Not listening to them (the young in age) or not benefitting from their talks, No! The intent is only taking legislative knowledge from them and not raising them to the levels of the scholars and Allaah is the One Who gives success.
Translated by Abu Anas Atif Hasan