INTRODUCTION

By :

International Union of Muslim Scholars Project

 

Praising Allah is sufficient, and may peace be upon His chosen messengers; as well as upon the selected seal of them all, Prophet Muhammad; upon his family and companions, the leaders of guidance; and upon whomsoever follow them and thus attain guidance . 
(To proceed)


Knowledge in Islam has a great status; it is what guides to faith, what leads to action, and what directs towards good deeds and its various ranks. Through knowledge, a person distinguishes between a true and a false creed, an authentic and an innovated act of worship, a rightful or wrongful saying, an honorable and dishonest dealing, and between a lawful and a prohibited act of conduct .


It should not then be surprising that the first verse revealed in the Quran was the following saying of Allah, Exalted be He:

(اقْرَأْ بِاسْمِ رَبِّكَ الَّذِي خَلَقَ (1) خَلَقَ الْإِنْسَانَ مِنْ عَلَقٍ (2) اقْرَأْ وَرَبُّكَ الْأَكْرَمُ (3) الَّذِي عَلَّمَ بِالْقَلَمِ (4) عَلَّمَ الْإِنْسَانَ مَا لَمْ يَعْلَمْ (5) (سورة العلق

Read! In the Name of your Lord Who has created (all that exists). He has created man from a clot (a piece of thick coagulated blood). Read! And your Lord is the Most Generous. Who has taught (the writing) by the pen. He has taught man that which he knew not.[al-'Alaq: 1-5].

Reading is the key that opens the door to knowledge, not any reading, rather the reading that is done in the name of Allah, the Lord, the Most Generous Creator, and the True Teacher.

With that, knowledge in Islam is part and parcel of faith; the scholars were its advocates and guides towards Allah, the Most Exalted.


The prophets and messengers of Allah, peace be upon them all, are His ambassadors to His creation to bring them into His way, inform them of His call, teach them the scales of Justice to abide by, especially when differences of opinion arise amongst them, and to establish the proofs for them or against them through revelations of glad tidings or of forewarnings; for the scholars are the heirs of the prophets who do not leave behind money to inherit, but rather knowledge; i.e. knowledge of the prophets coming through Godly revelations conferred upon them specifically by Allah, Exalted be He.

We find in the Holy Quran and in the Sunnah extensive verses and sayings that lift up high the status of the scholars, whereas Allah, the Almighty says:

(شَهِدَ اللَّهُ أَنَّهُ لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا هُوَ وَالْمَلَائِكَةُ وَأُولُواْ الْعِلْمِ (18) (سورة آل عمران

Allâh bears witness that Lâ ilâha illa Huwa (none has the right to be worshipped but He), and the angels, and those having knowledge (also give this witness). [al-Imran: 18].


He, Glorified be He, also says:

(إِنَّمَا يَخْشَى اللَّهَ مِنْ عِبَادِهِ الْعُلَمَاءُ (28) (سورة فاطر

It is only those who have knowledge among His slaves that fear Allâh.[Fatir: 28]

And some of the righteous predecessors said in explaining the following verse of the Almighty:

(يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آَمَنُوا أَطِيعُوا اللَّهَ وَأَطِيعُوا الرَّسُولَ وَأُولِي الْأَمْرِ مِنْكُمْ (59) (سورة النساء

O you who believe! Obey Allâh and obey the Messenger (Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم), and those of you (Muslims) who are in authority.[an-Nisaa': 59]


That those of you who are in authority are the religious scholars; and some of the righteous predecessors are also of the opinion that kings rule over the people while the religious scholars rule over the kings, this was expounded by a poet as follows:


The top echelons among a people govern upon them, while they in turn are governed by their religious scholars.

And in some olden sayings we find: There exists two classes of people in the Muslim Ummah, if they are not corrupt; the population as a whole would not be corrupted, if corruption seeps into their ranks, so it would amongst the population: The political leaders and the religious scholars.

It is often due to the corruption of the religious scholars that the political leaders lean towards it, for the religious scholars are the doctors, and when such admirable personalities are tainted or fall short in treating their patients, then who is to treat them? An ancient saying goes as follows:

O religious scholars! O you who are like salt in its preservation of meat! What would then treat the salt if it is spoilt?

Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم once said "The best amongst you are those who learn the Quran and then teach it to others." Related by Bukhari


The true scholars are the ones who employ their knowledge in the service of truth and guidance of the Ummah, who do not qualify it as distinct from action, who do not separate between the call to Allah and between imparting His knowledge to the masses. The religious scholars attain knowledge and implement it in their daily lives, invite others to it and tutor them, just as the Almighty says:

(وَلَكِنْ كُونُوا رَبَّانِيِّينَ بِمَا كُنْتُمْ تُعَلِّمُونَ الْكِتَابَ وَبِمَا كُنْتُمْ تَدْرُسُونَ (79) (سورة آل عمران

Be you Rabbâniyyûn (learned men of religion who practice what they know and also preach others), because you are teaching the Book, and you are studying it.[Aal-Imran: 79]

(وَمَنْ أَحْسَنُ قَوْلًا مِمَّنْ دَعَا إِلَى اللَّهِ وَعَمِلَ صَالِحًا وَقَالَ إِنَّنِي مِنَ الْمُسْلِمِينَ (33) (سورة فصلت

And who is better in speech than he who [says "My Lord is Allâh (believes in His Oneness)," and then stands firm (acts upon His Order), and] invites (men) to Allâh's (Islâmic Monotheism), and does righteous deeds, and says: "I am one of the Muslims." [Fussilat: 33]


The religious scholars, time and time again, are the stronghold for the Muslim Ummah in times of crises and tribulations, they reinforce the religion of the Muslim masses, instill in them the vigor of wanting to be upright and virtuous, and embolden them to truly strive for the sake of Allah; because of that, they have encountered lots of harm in trying to gain His pleasure, faced a lot of persecution, and nevertheless, did not submit nor weaken, even each Imam of the four famous schools of Islamic jurisprudence suffered such insults and injury, all for His sake.


We have been taught by the Quran as well as by the Sunnah that this Muslim Ummah will never agree to commit an error, whereas the Quran says:

(وَمِمَّنْ خَلَقْنَا أُمَّةٌ يَهْدُونَ بِالْحَقِّ وَبِهِ يَعْدِلُونَ (181) (سورة الأعراف

And of those whom We have created, there is a community who guides (others) with the truth, and establishes justice therewith. [al-A'raf: 181]


The authentic Sunnah confirms that there will always be a group of people upholding the truth, unblemished by those who oppose them, and unwavering in that endeavor until the decree of Allah comes forth. Many of the companions of the Prophet have related this of him, peace be upon him. The religious scholars have named these people as the triumphant group; for they are the trustworthy upholders of knowledge, as is mentioned in some prophetic sayings, one of which says "This Islamic knowledge is conveyed by the trustworthy people of every generation who negate the distortions of the transgressors, the impersonations of the plagiarists, and the misinterpretations of the ignorant."

In the past, the individual religious scholars of status in their respective societies had an opportune role to awaken the passive, alert the oblivious, teach the ignorant, guide the wanderer, and advice the governors; whereas Allah would guide through their individual efforts whomever He wills according to how easy He facilitates the means to accomplish that for them.


In our times, that role has been transferred to the (institutions) to be collectively entrusted with accomplishing the substantial tasks at hand; for such institutions are more powerful than an individual. This is exactly what Islam calls for, seeing that the Messenger says "The Hand of Allah is with the community of Muslims." "The wolf eats of the stray sheep." "The believers to one another are like a solid building, each part strengthens the other." The 

Almighty says:

(.. وَتَعَاوَنُوا عَلَى الْبِرِّ وَالتَّقْوَى .. (2) (سورة المائدة

… Help you one another in Al-Birr and At-Taqwâ (virtue, righteousness and piety) … [al-Ma'idah:2]

(وَاعْتَصِمُوا بِحَبْلِ اللَّهِ جَمِيعًا وَلَا تَفَرَّقُوا وَاذْكُرُوا .. (103) (سورة آل عمران

And hold fast, all of you together, to the Rope of Allâh (i.e. this Qur'ân), and be not divided among yourselves … [Aal Imran: 103]

Existing Institutions in the Muslim World


There is no doubt that there already exists a list of Islamic institutions in the Islamic world, that deal with different types of scholastic, Islamic Call (Da'wah), and charitable activities, but the institution that we seek is truly different from all that exists.

Some of these institutions confine their activities to the academic and scientific aspect, like the known jurisprudence (Fiqh) councils, namely: al-Azhar's Islamic Research Academy, and the Fiqh Council of the Muslim World League, the International Islamic Fiqh Academy of the Organization of Islamic Conference.


Some of these institutions follow the state where they got established in, whereas the state appoints its members, spends on it, and controls it to some extent, or so do people imagine.


Others are regional institutions by virtue of their composition; for they serve a particular country, or region, such as the Fiqh Council of India or the European Council for Fatwa and Research. But (the Union) that we seek, has attributes and features that mark it out with distinction.


The Characteristics of the Desired IUMS Union:


The desired Union is open to all scholars of Islam in the east and west, and we mean by scholars: Graduates of colleges and departments of Islamic Shari'ah; all of those who care of and attend to the sciences of Shari'ah and Islamic Civilization, who have significant writings in the field, or have contributed some tangible activity thereof. The IUMS Union requires of its members to be adorned with some attributes and characteristics to be 

distinguished with from others, such as the following:


1. Islamic: IUMS is purely an Islamic Union, is composed of Muslim scholars, works to serve the Islamic issues, derives from Islam its approach, and is guided by it throughout all of its steps; It is to represents all Muslims of all sects and denominations.


2. International: IUMS is not a local or a regional union, neither an Arab nor a national one, neither an eastern, nor a western union; rather, it represents all of the Muslims in the entire Islamic world, as well as all of the Muslim minorities and Islamic groups outside of the Muslim world.


3. Popular:IUMS is not an official government institution; rather, it derives its strength from the confidence it earns from the world's citizens and the Muslim masses. But still, IUMS is not hostile to governments; it rather strives to open windows of cooperation with them for the good of Islam and Muslims.


4. Independence: IUMS does not follow a certain country, group, or sect; it is only proud of belonging to Islam and its transnational community - Ummah.


5. Scholarly: IUMS is an institution for the Ummah's Scholars; it is then not surprising that it has interest in knowledge, its teaching, and its education; has interest in our scientific heritage, in its revival, in achieving even more therewith, and an interest in the full dissemination of that all.


6. Advocacy: IUMS is an institution concerned with the call (Da'wah) to Islam by tongue, pen, and every contemporary legitimate medium; be it recorded, audio, or visual. IUMS is committed to the Qur'anic approach of calling the people through wisdom, through beautiful preaching, and through the best of discourse.


7. Moderation: IUMS does not slant towards exaggerations and excesses, nor does it tilt towards default and negligence, but rather it adopts the centermost approach of the centermost Ummah, an approach of mediation and moderation.


8. Vitality: IUMS does not depend on slogans and banners; it rather focuses on action and on building. It is led by a rank of scholars esteemed for their jurisprudence in religion, their integrity in conduct, their courageous outspokenness for the truth, their independence in decision-making, and their acceptance among the Muslim masses.