Statements of 'Ali about scholars
Fatwa No: 326395

Question

Did ‘Ali, may Allaah be pleased with him, say, “I am the slave of the one who teaches me a single letter of the alphabet.” Please give the reference. If it is not a true statement, then please give an authentic saying from ‘Ali, may Allaah be pleased with him, about the importance of a teacher.

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah and that Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) is His slave and Messenger. 

This statement is well-known, and it was attributed to ‘Ali  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him without any chain of narrators.

Abu Umaamah al-Baahili  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him narrated that the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) said, “Whoever teaches one verse from the Book of Allaah to a servant of Allaah, then he [the former] becomes his master; he [the servant] should not forsake him, and he should not favor himself over him.” [At-Tabaraan in Al-Mu’jam Al-Kabeer] Al-Bayhaqi, also, narrated it in Shu’ab Al-Eemaan with an addition: “If he does so [meaning if he forsakes him], then he has indeed severed one of the strong bonds of Islam.

Al-Haythami said in Al-Majma’, “It (the chain of narrators of the above hadeeth) includes ‘Ubayd ibn Razeen Al-Laathiqi, and there is no one who mentioned him (i.e. how trustworthy he is as a narrator).

It was narrated that Shu’bah ibn Al-Hajjaaj  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him who was a scholar of Hadeeth, made a similar statement: “Any one from whom I learned a hadeeth, I am to him a slave.

Al-'Ajlooni said in Kashf Al-Khafaa’ (2543), “Whoever teaches a person one verse from the Book of Allaah, he [the person taught] becomes a slave to him.

At-Tabaraani reported this from Abu Umaamah and attributed it to the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) but with the wording: “He [the former] is his master.

Also, in Al-Fawaa'id Al-Majmoo’ah by Ash-Shawkaani, there is a hadeeth which reads, “Whoever teaches a person a verse from the book of Allaah, he [the person] is a slave to him.Ibn Taymiyyah said, “It (this hadeeth) is fabricated;” and it was reported by At-Tabaraani.

Al-Khateeb Al-Baghdaadi reported in Al-Jaami’ li Akhlaaq Ar-Raawi wa Aadaab As-Saami’, with his chain of narrators, that ‘Ali ibn Abi Taalib  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him said:

Among the rights of the scholar on you is that you greet the people with a collective greeting but you greet him with an individual greeting; you sit down in front of him; you do not point with your hand nor wink with your eyes; you do not say, 'So and so said what contradicts your statement;' you do not backbite anyone in his presence; you do not speak to someone in secret in his meeting; you do not hold him by his garment; you do not persist (in asking him questions) if he is tired; and you do not turn away from his long company. He is like a palm tree, and you are waiting for some dates to fall upon you. A knowledgeable believer is greater in reward than a fasting person who stands in prayer by night and fights in the way of Allaah. If a scholar dies, it causes a gap in Islam which nothing will fill until the Day of Resurrection.

Allaah knows best.

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