knowledge has faded and the scholars have died

Question:

One of the common sayings among students, especially in colleges and scientific institutions is: knowledge has faded and the scholars have died. Also that there is no one who studies in educational institutions except for the purpose of having certificates and worldly matters; how can we answer this? What is the ruling when a person who combines the intention of seeking worldly matters and certificates with the intention of seeking knowledge to benefit himself and his community?

Answer:

These sayings are not correct and such speech and the like should not be said and whoever says: “No good people exist, he will be the worst of them.”

But we should encourage people to seek knowledge, free themselves from all occupation for its sake, be patient and persistent, and have good ideas about knowledge seekers except those who are known to have corrupted thoughts. When Mu`adh was about to die - as said - he advised those who were around him to seek knowledge saying: “Knowledge and faith are preserved and whoever seeks them, will find them” i.e. in their place in the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of His trustworthy Prophet (peace be upon him). A scholar dies taking his knowledge with him, so knowledge fades by the death of scholars but still there is a group of people, who are on the truth and are victorious. Therefore, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Indeed, Allah does not take away (religious) knowledge by pulling it away from the (chests of) people. However, Allah takes the (religious) knowledge by taking away (inflicting death on) the scholars, till when none of the (religious learned men) remains, people will take as their leaders ignorant persons, who when consulted will give their verdict without knowledge. So they will go astray and will lead the people astray.” Related by Al-Bukhari in his Sahih (authentic) collection of Hadith 1.

This is the source of fear lest the unqualified people should occupy the religious posts of teaching and giving Fatwas. So, they go astray and mislead people. Sayings such as “Knowledge has faded” and “Nothing has remained except such and such” is feared to deject people. However, the resolute and the ones with vision are not prevented by this speech but, on the contrary, it pushes him forward to seek knowledge until he/she fills the gap. A person who is understanding, faithful and truthful, who is acquainted with this speech is never affected by it but he makes progress, exerts efforts, perseveres, learns and hastens to learn, because he needs it to fill the gap which those people claimed that there is none left. Even if the outcome is that knowledge has decreased and most of its people have gone.

Praise be to Allah, there is still a victorious group upon the truth, as the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “A group of people from my Ummah will remain victorious (and on the right path), and those who desert or oppose them shall not be able to do them any harm until Allah’s Command (i. E. Day of Judgment) is established.2 So we have to exert efforts in pursuit of knowledge, encourage the people to it, fill the gap, do our duty in our country depending on the encouraging Shar`y proofs, and eagerness to benefit Muslims and educate them. We should encourage people to be sincere and truthful in seeking knowledge. Whoever wants a certificate to help him in conveying knowledge and calling to goodness, has done well. If a person wants money to help him, there is no harm in studying to attain a certificate, which helps him in spreading knowledge, the people would accept this knowledge from him. There is no harm in taking money for conveying knowledge, which helps a scholar to study, learn and have a certificate that helps him to spread the knowledge that he has learnt. Without Allah’s support and then money, many people would not have learnt and called people to Islam. So, money helps Muslims seek knowledge, meet their needs and convey it to the people.

When ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) assumed a position, the Prophet (peace be upon him) gave him some money. He said: give it to someone who is poorer than me. Thereupon, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: Take it; either keep it with you or give it as charity, and whatever comes to you in the form of this type of wealth, without your being avaricious or begging for it, accept it, but in other circumstances do not let your heart hanker after it.” (Related by Muslim in his Sahih) 3.

The Prophet gave (peace be upon him) Al-Mu’allafatu Qulubuhum (those whose hearts are inclined to Islam) and exhorts them to enter into the religion of Allah in groups and if it were Haram (prohibited), he would not have given them but he gave them before and after the conquest of Makkah. On the Day of the Conquest, he gave some people one hundred camels and he used to give without fearing poverty in order to incite the desire of people to Islam and Da`wah (calling to Islam). Verily, Allah proportioned for those whose hearts are inclined to Islam a share of Zakah and assigned for them a share in Bayt-ul-Mal (Muslim treasury) as well as teachers, judges and other Muslims. May Allah grant us success.


  1. Al-Bukhari, Sahih, Book on knowledge, no. 100; Muslim, Sahih, Book on knowledge, no. 2673; Al-Tirmidhy, Sunan, Book on knowledge, no. 2652; Ibn Majah, Sunan, Introduction, no. 52; Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Musnad, vol. 2, p. 162; and Al-Darimy, Sunan, Introduction, no. 239. 

  2. Muslim, Sahih, Book on rulership, no. 1920; Al-Tirmidhy, Sunan, Book on trials, no. 2229; Abu Dawud, Sunan, Book on trials and battles, no. 4252; Ibn Majah, Sunan, Introduction, no. 10; and Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Musnad, vol. 5, p. 279. 

  3. Al-Bukhari, Sahih, Book on judgments, no. 7164; Muslim, Sahih, Book on Zakah, no. 1045; Al-Nasa’i, Sunan, Book on Zakah, no. 2608; Abu Dawud, Sunan, Book on Zakah, no. 1647; Ahmad, ibn Hanbal, Musnad, vol. 1, p. 17; and Al-Darimy, Sunan, Book on Zakah, no. 1647.