فَقَالَ أَبُو مُوسَى قَالَ النَّبِيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم “ إِنَّ بَيْنَ يَدَىِ السَّاعَةِ أَيَّامًا يُرْفَعُ فِيهَا الْعِلْمُ، وَيَنْزِلُ فِيهَا الْجَهْلُ، وَيَكْثُرُ فِيهَا الْهَرْجُ ”. وَعَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ، عَنِ النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ ” وَتَظْهَرُ الْفِتَنُ، وَيَكْثُرُ الْهَرْجُ ”. قَالُوا يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ أَيُّمَ هُوَ. قَالَ ” الْقَتْلُ الْقَتْلُ ”
Narrated Abu Musa that the Prophet ﷺ said, “Near the time of the Hour there will be days in which religious knowledge will be taken away and general ignorance will descend, and there will be al-harjin abundance.” And Abu Hurayra narrated that the Prophet ﷺ said, “Afflictions (fitnah) will appear and there will be much al-harj.” They said, “O Allah’s Apostle! What is ‘al-harj? He said, “Killing! Killing!”
Imam Bukhari related these hadith about 1200 years ago with sound chains of narration going back to the Prophet ﷺ. With a regret beyond words, I watch the prophecy unfold today. There is al-harj in just about every part of the Muslim world. We knew from the Prophet ﷺ it was coming, but who wished to see it in his/her own lifetime? In countries like the U.S. and Canada where Muslims are minorities, there may not be killing. But there exists the gloomy overcast of fitnah. As far as fitnah goes, Allah certainly warned us:
وَالْفِتْنَةُ أَشَدُّ مِنَ الْقَتْلِ ۚ
And fitnah is more severe than killing. (al-Baqarah 191)
In these hadith, the Prophet ﷺ linked the loss of knowledge with harj and fitnah. Ignorance does not spread because of the loss of knowledge per se, rather from the loss of scholars.
In our time, there is another phenomenon: ignoring knowledgeable people and replacing them with non-scholar speakers. Alhamdulillah, scholars trained properly in the sciences of Qur’an and hadith are abundant; however, those trained in language and speaking with only a limited understanding of ayahs and narrations are even more plentiful.
Sadly, I watch the Muslim public gravitate toward the latter. For $25 a head, my family and I can kill an hour and feel good about ourselves, while failing to notice how children of masjid board members, graduates of Sunday schools, full-time Islamic schools, and public schools engage in all types of haram. Yes, your child too.
But this is not a problem with the youth alone, and it’s not a problem stemming from a lack of “Islamic programs.” In some areas, you can hop from one program to another and never need to cook a meal again!
The issue, rather, lies in who we choose to learn from. In the non-scholars’ defense, they do fill a void. A void created by us, as we seek to solve our problems with a non-prophetic prescription—learning from those who do not know. When the Companions inadvertently caused the death of one of them, the Prophet ﷺ exclaimed, “The cure to ignorance is to ask!” Ask who? Allah has answered, “Ask the people of remembrance (i.e. the scholars) if you don’t know.”
Unfortunately for this current ummah, young and old, those people of remembrance remain untapped in seminaries and relatively empty institutions. In my area alone, many move away due to an uninterested population that prefers importing “speakers-for-hire” over the weekend. Those who’ve sat at the feet of scholars know the difference. We understand why harj and fitnah are prevalent and here to stay despite the number of Islamic programs. Other students have mentioned this phenomenon and with this plea, so do I.
O Allah, I have reminded them.