A considerable confusion exists among the Muslims regarding the religious leadership.
This is compounded by the plethora of religious information and instructors online.
Some people endorse scholars from a particular lineage, others from a particular ethnicity, fiqh following or no fiqh following and others look up to some families that their forefathers have been following from centuries. Many recommend any scholar with a continuous teacher-student lineage (sanad) reaching up to our master Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and grant him peace.)
However, the confusion remains.
The most beneficial information in this regards is the one being presented in the above article. It expounds on the qualities a true scholar must have.
Shaykh al-Hadith Mawlana Zakariyyah (Allah have mercy on him) quoted this in Fazail -e-Sadaqat, from ‘Proof-of-Islam’ Imam Ghazali’s (Allah have mercy on him) epic work Ihya al-Uloom ad-Deen, volume 1.
Realizing its benefit Mawlana Mazoor Nomani (Allah have mercy on him) published it in a seprate booklet (Ulama-e-Akhirat ki pehchan, (Urdu) Al-Furqan book depot,Nazeerabad, Lucknow).
It is fortunate that Mawlana Ismael Nakhuda khalifa of Shaykh Mawlana Abdul Hafeez Makki (Allah preserve them) translated and edited this for the benefit of English speaking masses. Allah reward him abundantly. Amin!
Following is a brief summary of the qualities. Careful and repeated readings of the full article in highly recommended to understand and apply this important information in our daily practical life.
1. An ‘alim is one who does not try to acquire wealth through his learning.
2. A true ‘alim is that there should be no contradiction between his knowledge and his practice of din.
3. He is always concerned with such branches of knowledge that are beneficial for the hereafter and which exhort one to perform good deeds.
4. He is least interested in the elegance of dress or delicacies of food.
5. He (without any necessity) keeps away from sultans and rulers, and never visits them.
6. He does not take hasty decisions when giving verdicts in religious law (fatwas) and is very careful in giving advice on religious matters.
7. He is seriously interested in the esoteric science, in other words Suluk.
8. His faith and belief in Allah Most High is ever increasing and they are always concerned about this — firm belief is [a believer’s] capital.
9. Under all conditions, he should wear a true expression of being inspired with the fear of Allah Most High.
10. He is more concerned about those regulations of Islamic law which pertain to religious practices; to what is lawful and unlawful.
11. He has studied, with deep insight, various branches of knowledge. He does not accept the opinions of others, for we are bound to follow the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) and seek guidance from his sayings alone
12. He is strict and stringent in his avoidance of bid’ah (innovations).