Answered by Mawlana Ilyas Patel
How do Muslims avoid doing what the Jews did, as mentioned in 9:31? I know we must seek from people of knowledge, but how do we assess when something is against what Allah has commanded? I guess I’m asking to what extent we trust those who are learned, so we can be sure to follow what Allah has commanded.
In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate
You are referring to Aya 31 in Chapter 9 (Tawba).
Chapter 9 Aya 31
Allah Most High, says, “They have taken their rabbis and monks as well as the Messiah, son of Mary, as lords besides Allah, even though they were commanded to worship none but One God. There is no god (worthy of worship) except Him. Glorified is He above what they associate (with Him)”! [Quran, 31:9]
The case of Jews and Christians is different. They believed their religious leaders, rabbis, and popes as lawgivers. They believed them to be infallible and could not commit mistakes, and their rulings were to be obeyed in any case, even though they contradicted the verdict given by the scriptures.
As Muslims, the primary point of difference is we follow an Imam of the four schools, and those who don’t follow one of the four schools, are too following someone. We do not believe the four Imams to be an independent point of obedience. We follow them as they are interpreters of the Quran and Sunnah. [Mufti Shafi, Mariful-Quran; Taqi Usmani, Ulum al-Quran]
Umma will not Unite on Misguidance
‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar (Allah be pleased with him) reports that the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Allah Most High will never allow my Ummah to unite upon misguidance, Allah Most High is with the group and whomsoever deviates from the group will be cast into the fire.” [Tirmidhi]
The above hadith has been reported via several other chains, and parts of the above narration are also supported by various authentic hadiths recorded in Bukhari and Muslim, which have a similar meaning as the hadith in question. It is therefore declared authentic.
‘Allamah Munawi (Allah have mercy on him) explains that Ummah here refers to ‘The scholars (‘ulama) of the Ummah.’ Since the general masses refer to the scholars for issues related to the religion (din) and refer to them when any calamity befalls them, Allah Most High has protected the scholars. ‘Allamah Tibi (Allah have mercy on him) further states that this refers to the scholars of the Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jama’a. [Munawi, Faydul Qadir; Ali al-Qari, Mirqat]
Based on the above explanation, the hadith will mean that the ‘Ulama of the Ahl al-Sunna Wal Jama’a will never have a consensus or be unanimous on misguidance.
Large Group of Muslims from my Umma
Muawiya (Allah be pleased with him) reported the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, there will not cease to constantly be a group from my Ummah steadfast on the commandments of Allah. They will not be harmed in any way by those who abandon them nor by those who oppose them. This will remain their condition until the order of Allah (until the wind which will blow and take the lives of the believers just before the Judgment Day) arrives.” [Bukhari; Muslim]
Imam Bukhari and Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal (Allah have mercy on them) believed that this thriving group is the reliable scholars and those of knowledge.
The scholars have expressed many different opinions regarding the identity of this group; they will be hadith scholars, fighters in the path of Allah, scholars (ulama), friends of Allah (awliya), or no one specific category or grouping of Muslims, but any number of group or groups containing all of those as mentioned earlier. [Nawawi, al Minhaj]
The summary is the umma will never have a consensus on misguidance, and there will never cease to be a large number of Muslims who will be on misguidance. We will always find people with the truth in every corner of the world.
Check these links as well:
The Limits to Differences of Opinion In Islam – Dr Umar F Abd-Allah – SeekersGuidance
How does Islamic knowledge transform us and why? (seekersguidance.org)
Who are the Ahl as-Sunnah wa’l Jama’ah? | masud.co.uk
Why not begin your search for knowledge by signing up for a course on SeekersGuidance?
I pray this helps with your question.
[Mawlana] Ilyas Patel
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Mawlana Ilyas Patel is a traditionally-trained scholar who has studied within UK, India, Pakistan, Syria, Jordan and Turkey.
He started his early education in UK. He went onto complete hifz of Qur’an in India, then enrolled into an Islamic seminary in UK where he studied the secular and Alimiyyah sciences. He then travelled to Karachi, Pakistan.
He has been an Imam in Rep of Ireland for a number of years. He has taught hifz of the Qur’an, Tajwid, Fiqh and many other Islamic sciences to both children and adults onsite and online extensively in UK and Ireland. He was teaching at a local Islamic seminary for 12 years in the UK where he was a librarian and a teacher of Islamic sciences.
He currently resides in UK with his wife. His personal interest is love of books and gardening.