The Hadith: 'The scholars are the heirs of the Prophets...'

Q 9: The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “The scholars are the heirs of the Prophets, if they do not seek the satisfaction of the sultan.” and: “The scholars are the heirs of the Prophets, if they do not seek worldly pursuits.” What is the degree of authenticity of these two Hadith?

A: This Hadith is reported by Al-Hasan ibn Sufyan in his Musnad on the authority of Makhlad ibn Malik from Ibrahim ibn Rustum from `Umar Al-`Abdy from Isma`il ibn Sumay` from Anas ibn Malik with the following wording: “The scholars are the trustees of the Prophets as long as they do not associate with the sultan or engage in worldly life. If they do, they have betrayed the Messengers, so avoid them.” Related by Al-‘Uqyly on the authority of Al-Hasan ibn Sufyan from Anas (may Allah be pleased with him) from the Prophet (peace be upon him).Moreover, this Hadith was mentioned by Al-‘Ajluny in his book entitled "Kashf Al-Khafa’ Wa Muzil Al-Iltibas" with the same wording and said that according to the narration reported by Al-Hakim: "Detach yourselves from them".The Sanad (chain of narrations) of this Hadith includes Ibrahim ibn Rustum, about whom Abu Hatim said: He was not trustworthy in his narration, and a follower of As-hab-ul-Ra’y (those who exercised personal reasoning to reach judgments in the absence of clear texts). He was also known for his knowledge in Fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) and devoted worship. `Uthman Al-Darimy asked Yahya ibn Ma`in about Ibrahim ibn Rustum and he replied that he is Thiqah (trustworthy). Ibn ‘Ady also said that the Hadith reported by Ibrahim ibn Rustum were Munkar (rejected Hadith reported by a weak narrator whose narration conflicts with an authentic Hadith). Furthermore, Al-Daraqutny said: He is well known, but not trustworthy in the narrations he reported from Qays ibn Al-Rabi‘. (Part No. 4; Page No. 485)  Al-‘Uqyly said: He is Khurasany who always overlaps in terms of Sanad and Matn (text) of Hadiths, and cited evidence supporting his opinion. He was also mentioned by Ibn Hibban in his book entitled Al-Thiqat, and said that he committed many mistakes. The Sanad of this Hadith also includes `Umar ibn Hafs Abu Hafs Al-`Abdy Al-Basry, about whom Imam Ahmad said: We abandoned his reported Hadiths and declared him a Da‘if (weak) narrator. Zakariyya Al-Sajy also said that his Hadith is rejected. Yahya ibn Ma`in said also that Abu Hafs Al-‘Abdy is not reliable, while Murrah said that Abu Hafs is not trustworthy. The same was said also by `Aly ibn `Abdullah Al-Madiny and seconded by Abu Zur‘ah Al-Razy who said that Abu Hafs Al-‘Abdy is an insubstantial narrator, and that he did not know of any well-versed narrators who reported on his authority. Muslim ibn Al-Hajjaj also said that Abu Hafs ‘Umar ibn Hafs is a Da‘if narrator and Ahmad ibn Shu‘ayb Al-Nasa’y said that `Umar ibn Hafs Abu Hafs Al-`Abdy is not trustworthy. It is also said by Muhammad ibn Sa‘d that `Umar ibn Hafs Al-`Abdy was a Da‘if narrator; they initially recorded Hadiths upon his authority, then they abandoned him. Al-Bukhari said: `Umar ibn Hafs Abu Hafs Al-`Abdy is not trustworthy and he died in 198 A.H. or in 200 A.H.. Ibn Al-Jawzy said: This Hadith is Mawdu‘ (fabricated Hadith), because Ibrahim is not well known, whereas Al-‘Abdy said: Matruk (a narrator whose Hadith transmission was discarded due to unreliability).Due to the weakness of the Hadith, the existence of corroborating reports for it do not make it eligible to be classified as Hasan Li Ghayrih (A Hadith judged Good by virtue of another Hadith when its weakness is so slight that it can be raised through another chain to the level of the Good Hadith).However, assuming that it is acceptable, it blames the corrupt scholars who follow rulers seeking to gain their favor, attain high rank, prestige, wealth, and all possible worldly gains; therefore, they do not resist their evil, rather they help them in their injustice and disobeying the Shari‘ah by consenting to what they do. These are the real bad counselors and the source of evil. (Part No. 4; Page No. 486) Unlike scholars who spare no effort to give them beneficial advice, guide them to the Truth to act upon it, and incite them to propagate virtue and prevent vice. These are the good and truthful counselors who are indispensable for rulers and just ruling, so as to achieve the welfare of the Ummah (nation) and preside over the people under the guidance of Islam.May Allah grant us success. May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, and Companions.