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In search of al-Aalim ar-Rabbani

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We need the scholar who has the ability to see potential in others.  We need the teacher who recognizes potential in his students.
In the past, Muslim scholars were true coaches.  They taught their students manners just like they taught knowledge.  They raised their students like we raise our children.  They nurtured, they mentored, and they guided.  To them, no student was fully formed.  They realized that knowledge was always a work in progress.

Nowadays, we have people who graduate from colleges of Shariah, not to touch their books again.  They think they have arrived.  They think they have learnt everything to be learnt.

We need scholars who are teachers.  Major scholars of our past were very good teachers.  When they interacted with their students, their goal was to help them experience the reality of knowledge and the sweetness of understanding.  They always looked at ways to challenge them.  They had lively discussions.  A teacher would ask the student for their opinion.  The student would ask the teacher for their proof.  It was a healthy relationship.

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We need al-Aalim ar-Rabbani.  The word Rabbani in Arabic is derived from “rabbaa” which is to raise.  As mentioned by Imam al-Bukhari in his Sahih, “al-Aalim ar-Rabbani is the scholar who raises people on small knowledge (easy concepts) before big knowledge (intricate or confusing matters)”.  He nourishes them with knowledge and wisdom.  He looks for ways to challenge them, challenge their understanding.  He devises methods that can stretch them and help them grow.  He’s on the lookout for signs of growth – a new Sunnah they learned, a slight improvement in behavior, a glimpse of promise in a bright future.  Yes, scholars used to be able to recognize who from their students will have a bright future.  Imam Malik was able to recognize the genius in Imam as-Shafi’ee the first time he laid eyes on him!But later in Islamic history, things changed.  Now, the student was supposed to be a carbon-copy of his teacher.  He was supposed to emulate his movements without a question.  It got to a point where it was said, “If you ever ask your sheikh ‘why’, you’ll never be successful”.  Blind following became the norm.  Free thinking was suppressed.  The Muslim community started producing copies and copies of the samescholar, same school, and same opinion.  Challenging an opinion, even if outdated and non-fitting, became a crime.  People started repeating “Everything said in the mihraab (where the imam stands to lead the prayer and teach his congregation) must be true”.

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It’s no wonder that today we don’t see famous students graduate under famous sheikhs.  Contemporary sheikhs, many times, are sterile.  They’re not able to produce genuine students, capable of carrying their legacy.  Moreover, we see students of knowledge start with big confusing matters before learning the small easy matters.  This has led in some cases to unnecessary arguments that made some people turn away from knowledge or the people of knowledge.

Sheikh Muhammad Nasir Deen al-Albani used to comment a great deal on the fact that we have scholars but we don’t have Muraabeen (teachers, mentors, guides).  This is why we find many people with some knowledge but no manners.  Imam ibn al-Mubarak used to wish to have learnt a little less knowledge and a lot more adab (manners).  I wonder what he would say about our affairs today!

Can this Ummah start producing al-Aalim ar-Rabbani once again??

 

You can follow the author on Facebook at www.facebook.com/AnasHlayhel

Keep supporting MuslimMatters for the sake of Allah

Alhamdulillah, we're at over 850 supporters. Help us get to 900 supporters this month. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

Born and raised in Lebanon, Hlayhel began attending study circles at his local mosque when he was ten. He came to the United States at 17 and studied electrical engineering at the University of Houston. At its MSA, he met Sh Yasir Qadhi and worked together to raise Islamic awareness on campus. Hlayhel studied traditional sciences of Aqeedah (Islamic creed), Fiqh (Islamic law) and Nahw (Arabic grammar) under Sh Waleed Basyouni and Sh Waleed Idriss Meneese among others. After settling in Phoenix AZ, he worked tirelessly, in the capacity of a board member then a chairman, to revive the then dead AZ chapter of CAIR in order to face the growing Islamophobia in that state and to address the resulting civil right violations. Today, he's considered the second founder of a strong CAIR-AZ. In addition, Hlayhel is a part-time imam at the Islamic Center of the Northeast Valley in Phoenix, husband and father of four. His current topics of interest include positive Islam, youth coaching, and countering Islamophobia.

8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. convert of 24 years

    October 30, 2013 at 1:32 PM

    Personally, I do not even feel comfortable asking questions in the Masjid much less pointing out to the Shaykh when he says something based on his personal opinion as if it is a fact !!! Which he does often!!! Our Shaykh has a cult like status, I feel sorry for him. It is a fitnah for him.

  2. Ammar AlShukry

    November 1, 2013 at 12:21 PM

    jazak Allah khayr shaykh Anas for that post, short and sweet and an important reflection. Ahsan Allahu ilayk.

    • Anas Hlayhel

      November 6, 2013 at 10:10 PM

      Wa iyyakum akhi Ammar. So good to hear from you. Hope everything is going well. Thank you for yours feedback. Hope to see you in AZ soon :)

  3. O H

    November 2, 2013 at 6:48 AM

    Tabarak Allaah great words. Would love to see more material on the topic of adab.

  4. Verse by Verse Quran Study Circle

    November 6, 2013 at 4:35 PM

    How we would love to be nurtured, mentored and guided by such an al-Aalim ar-Rabbani! We recently read the story of Imam Abu Hanifa whose talent was discovered and encouraged by someone called Al-Sha’bi. Al-Sha’bi rather than being a distant admirer of Imam Abu Hanifa took the initiative of persuading him to change his career from business studies to Islamic studies because he had all the pre-requisites for the discipline.

    May Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala grant us mentors and the company of righteous people. May He also grant us the wisdom to say the right thing at the right moment, aameen.

    It was a beneficial read.

  5. Anas Hlayhel

    November 6, 2013 at 10:11 PM

    Thank you all for your feedback. Jazakum Allah khayr. Inshaa’Allah, I will write more on this topic in the future.

  6. Umm Noah

    April 10, 2016 at 1:48 PM

    Jazak Allah khair . It is rare to hear these points you make. After 10yr struggle as a convert in a ummah that prioritises fiqh 1st over tazzkiyah I found by the will of Allah a scholor that mentioned the word ‘rabbani’. No one else in my community has heard the term! The scholor can be found in chicago usa. http://Www.noesisinstitute.com

    • Anas Hlayhel

      April 10, 2016 at 1:55 PM

      Alhamdulillah so happy for your finding. May Allah the Almighty assist you in your journey

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