Rights of the Ulema
Bint Bashir Ahmad Attariyyah (2nd year student, Jamiat al-Madinah Girls, Sabri Calony, Okara)
It is stated in the Quran:
قُلۡ ہَلۡ یَسۡتَوِی الَّذِیۡنَ یَعۡلَمُوۡنَ وَ الَّذِیۡنَ لَا یَعۡلَمُوۡنَ ؕ
“Say, ˹dear Beloved˺, 'Are those who know and who do not know equal?’”
This verse and several others highlight the merits of the people of knowledge. It was knowledge that afforded Prophet Ādam عَـلَيْـهِ الـسَّـلَام superiority over the angels. The Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم said:
˹Only˺ the ulema are the heirs of the prophets. The prophets do not bequeath silver and gold as inheritance but knowledge. So whoever received this has attained a great share.
The reviver of Islam and celebrated imam of Ahl al-Sunnah, Imām Aḥmad Razā Khān states, “The definition of a scholar is that he is fully aware of and firm in doctrine and can extract rulings according to his need from books without the aid of anyone.”
A few rights of the ulema:
Mufti Aḥmad Yār Khān رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَلَيْه says, “To turn towards the jurists is akin to turning to the Messenger, as they only convey the ruling of the Messenger. Just as obedience to the Prophet is obedience to Allah, obedience towards the scholars is obedience to the Messenger of Allah صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم.”
Everyone is dutybound to respect the ulema. Imām Aḥmad Razā Khān رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَلَيْه writes:
˹Insulting the ulema˺ is strictly prohibited, a severe sin, and a major offence. A scholar of Islam who adheres to Sunni beliefs, calls people towards the truth, and conveys that which is right, is the vicegerent of the Messenger of Allah صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم. Showing contempt towards him مَعاذَ الـلّٰـه is in fact an affront to the Messenger of Allah صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم.
3. Refraining from casting an objection against them
Objecting against scholars is a grave transgression. Imām Aḥmad Razā Khān رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَلَيْه states, “To object against and pick out the faults of a true scholar of the religion, who is a guide of the people and a Sunni possessing correct belief, is strictly forbidden and a cause of severe deprivation and misfortune.”
4. Relying on scholars concerning the rulings of Islam
We should rely on the scholars in terms of religious rulings and act upon their verdicts, as they are the vicegerents of the Messenger of Allah صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم. It is stated in a hadith, “A scholar is a trustee of Allah on the earth.”
5. Helping and aiding
We should help and support scholars in every way and be prepared to assist them with our words and wealth. We must avoid listening to evil things about them.
These are the merits and rights of Sunni ulema. The renowned spiritual guide and leader of Ahl al-Sunnah, Mawlana Ilyas Attar Qadiri دَامَـتْ بَـرَكَـاتُـهُـمُ الْـعَـالِـيَـهْ writes: “Only Sunni ulema are to be respected. You must flee from heretical scholars, because honouring them is haram as is listening to their lectures and reading their literature. Their company is fatal to a believer’s faith.”
May Allah allow us to continually fulfil the rights of Sunni ulema.
اٰمِیْن بِجَاہِ خاتَمِ النَّبِیّیْن صلَّی اللہ علیہ واٰلہٖ وسلَّم
 Al-Quran, 39:9
 Jāmi’ al-Tirmidhi: 2,691
 Malfuzaat-e-A’la Hazrat, p. 58
 Nur al-‘Irfan, pp. 137,138
 Al-Fatāwā al-Razawiyyah, vol. 8, p. 97
 Jâmi` Bayân al-`Ilmi wa-Fadlihi, p. 74, hadith: 225
 Kufriyah Kalimaat kay Baray Main Suwal Jawab, p. 359