Muslim scholars have widely reported narrations from Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) on these lines:
علماء امّتي كأنبياء بني إسرائيل
The scholars of my nation are like the prophets of Bani Israel.
علماء أمتي أفضل من أنبياء بني إسرائيل
The scholars of my nation are superior to the prophets of Bani Israel.
العلماء ورثة الأنبياء
The scholars are inheritors of prophets.
The references for these traditions are too many and we have listed a few here:
- Jami al-Tirmizi trad 2,682
- Tafseer al-Kabir (Fakhr Razi) v 17 p 267, v 19 p 75, v 21 p 510, v 22 p 166, v 27 p 593, v 29 p 392
- Tafseer of Ibn Arabi v 2 p 61
- Tafseer Ruh al-Maani v 2 427, v 8 p 384
- Tafseer Reza Rasheed v 4 p 409, v 10 p 501
- Fath al-Qadeer v 4 p 52, 149
- Majma al-Bahrain v 1 p 263
- Behar al-Anwar v 2 p 22
- Tafseer al-Burhan v 1 p 11
- Tafseer Namoonah v 15 p 427
Why are scholars of the Muslim nation compared to prophets?
In his tafseer (exegesis of Quran), the compiler Haider Ibn Ali Amili explains:
The relation between the scholars of Prophet’s (s.a.w.a.) nation and the prophets of Bani Israel is correct so long as the knowledge is inherited and not acquired. Because the prophets never acquired knowledge from anyone except Allah. If in this report of ‘scholars of my nation’ the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) had referred to scholars who had acquired their knowledge (from other mortals), then the comparison with the prophets of Bani Israel would not have been correct. The scholars of the Muslim nation can claim to be like the prophets of Bani Israel only if their knowledge is inherited. And due to this we cannot consider any trained Muslim scholar as an inheritor of Holy Prophet’s (s.a.w.a.) knowledge, as there is a huge difference between inheritor of Prophet’s (s.a.w.a.) knowledge and the one who acquires knowledge through effort.
- Tafseer al-Moheet v 1 p 564
Who has inherited the knowledge of Prophet (s.a.w.a.) in the Muslim nation?
- Ghadeer Sermon on the inheritor of knowledge
In the Sermon of Ghadeer the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) announced:
O people! There is no knowledge except that Allah has kept its account in me, and I have recorded the details of all the knowledge that I was taught, in (the heart of) the Leader of the Pious i.e. Ali (a.s.).
- Al-Ehtejaaj v 1 p 56-66
- Ask me before you lose me
As proof of his inherited knowledge, Ameerul Momineen (a.s.) used to declare from the pulpit of Kufa mosque:
Ask me before you lose me. Inside me is gathered all knowledge. Here is the saliva of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) (that he fed me). Here is the knowledge that the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) fed me from revelation without the revelation descending on me. Had I been given the opportunity I would have decreed for the Jews with their Torah and for the Christians with their Bible so much so that if Allah makes the Torah and Bible speak they will declare – Ali has spoken the truth.
- Manaqib of Khwarazmi p 91
- Kashf al-Ghummah v 1 p 116
- Kashf al-Yaqeen p 56
- Thousand doors of knowledge
Ameerul Momineen (a.s.) inherited a thousand doors of knowledge from the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) as Imam Jafar Sadiq (a.s.) informed:
While suffering from illness that claimed his life, the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) ordered Ayesha and Hafsah – Call for my dear one. The two of them called for their fathers. When they arrived, the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) looked at them and then turned away and repeated – call for my dear one. The two wives sent for Ali (a.s.). Ali (a.s.) arrived and after that they (a.s.) remained in deep conversation. When Ali (a.s.) left the house the two men met him (a.s.) and asked him – what did your dear one tell you? Ali (a.s.) – He informed me about a thousand doors of knowledge and each door opened another thousand doors of knowledge.
- Basaer al-Darajat v 1 p 314-315
- Behar al-Anwar v 40 p 216
- Infallible Imams (a.s.) are the scholars
The infallible Imams (a.s.) are the scholars of the Muslim nation who have inherited the knowledge from Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.). In fact. they are the scholars of all mankind as Imam Jafar Sadiq (a.s.) informed:
People are divided in three categories, the scholar, the student, and the rubbish. We (Imams (a.s.)) are the scholars, our Shias are the students, and the rest of the people are rubbish.
- Basair al-Darajaat v 1 p 8 under Chapter – People are divided in three categories…
- Infallible Imams (a.s.) are the inheritors
Imams (a.s.) have informed that they are the inheritors of prophets as evidenced in this narration of Imam Jafar Sadiq (a.s.):
We are the inheritors of prophets, we are the inheritors of those granted knowledge (Ulul al-Ilm) and those prophets granted determination (Ulul al-Azm)
- Basair al-Darajaat v 1 p 119, 120
- Tafseer al-Qummi (r.a.) v 2 p 105
- Tafseer al-Furat p 285, 387, 666
- Tafseer al-Burhan v 4 p 71, 810, 811
- Tafseer al-Moheet v 1 p 479
- Behar al-Anwar v 26 p 143, 249
Likewise, we recite in the Ziyarat of Ameerul Momineeen (a.s.)
السَّلَامُ عَلَى صَالِحِ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ وَ وَارِثِ عِلْمِ النَّبِيِّين
Peace be upon the reformer (of affairs) of believers and inheritor of knowledge of prophets
- Mustadrak al-Wasail v 10 p 222-223
6. A rightly guided scholar in every era
All three schools (Shia, Ahle Tasannun, Salafi) quote the famous tradition of Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) to prove existence of a rightly guided scholar in every era:
There is a just one who possesses this knowledge (of Quran) in every generation of my community to reject the distortion of the exaggerators, the plagiarism of the corrupt, and the interpretation of the ignorant.
– Miftah Daar al-Sa’adah wa Manshoor Wilayah al-Ilm wa al-Iradah of Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah, student of Ibn Taymiyyah p 163-164
– Nasir al-Deen Albani (Salafi authority) in his research of Mishkat al-Masabeeh part 1 p 53 has deemed this tradition Sahih
– Ahmed Ibn Hanbal has deemed this tradition Sahih
– Sunan al-Baihaqi v 10 p 209 trad 20,700
– Al-Jame le Ahkam al-Quran of Qurtubbi v 1 p 36
– Al-Kamil of Abdullah Ibn Adi v 1 p 248
– Mani al-Akhbar p 35
– Tafseer of Imam Hasan Askari (a.s.) p 47
– Behar al-Anwar v 27 p 222
Clearly, the scholars of the Muslim nation, the inheritors of prophetic knowledge (who resemble the prophets of Bani Israel) are none other than the infallible Imams (a.s.).
No one else can claim to have inherited any knowledge to rival the infallible Imams (a.s.). To that end, Muslims have paid (and continue to pay) a heavy price for ignoring the Sermon of Ghadeer, which clearly points out that the Imams (a.s.) are inheritors of knowledge and the leaders of the Muslim community after the Holy Prophets (s.a.w.a.).