Misguiding Scholars: A Common Theme in the Messenger's Call

What is the impact that corrupt scholars had and still have on the Call of God’s messengers?

Many people are led to believe that religious scholars were among the first ones to give support to God’s messengers in every age, since they had the knowledge of the scriptures and the prophecies, which informed them which prophet, messenger or Imam they should expect next, and how they can identify him. But history would refute such an idea and would bring to light a different reality.


Let’s go back to the beginning, to when God created Prophet Adam (pbuh). Imam Ahmad Al-Hassan (fhip) has explained that when God the Almighty created Adam (pbuh) and commanded the angels to prostrate to him (pbuh), the prostration was not to the body of Adam (pbuh), but it was for his soul and reality, rather the prostration was to the Muhammadan truth and the perfect human being and the closest veil through Adam.

The Imam (fhip) then says:

“Iblis did not disbelieve in Allah nor did he refuse to worship Allah, however, he refused to prostrate to Adam, he refused to admit the preference of Adam and that he was the Qiblah (direction of Worship) and the intercessor and the mediator/means/intermediary to Allah. And perhaps it is correct that we say that Iblis reached the Monotheism of the Wahabis before they did, and perhaps [it is more correct to say that] he infected them with his disease and provoked them with his call, so he found them to be the best of responders and the most preferred of those whom followed in his footsteps regarding the denial the Guardians/Most Preferred Ones of Allah (pbut).”

– The Book of Monotheism, Imam Ahmad Al-Hassan (fhip), p.54

So Iblis, may Allah curse him, was the first non-working scholar who existed alongside a Prophet. Neither his vast knowledge nor his long worship prevented him from disobeying God and promising to also lead mankind astray. The problem was much deeper than that. Iblis, may Allah curse him, did not acquire knowledge and perform acts of worship sincerely for the sake of God, rather he had another motive, may Allah curse him. He was seeking superiority and a higher status through his worship.

The misguided scholar, Bal’am Ibn Baura

History is full of stories and examples of false/insincere teachers and non-working scholars who stood against God’s Prophets and vicegerents, deceived people and led them astray  and followed the Sunna of Iblis/Satan, may Allah swt curse them.

Among those was one who was granted the greatest name of Allah, and yet stood against one of the greatest prophets of God, Prophet Moses (pbuh). His name was Bal’am Ibn Baura.

Bal’am Ibn Baura was a known scholar of standing and status among the Children of Israel. He lived during the time of Prophet Moses (pbuh), and was a believer in him (pbuh). It is related that he was a pious man who abstained from sinning and performed his prayers until he reached high spiritual ranks. He was granted the greatest name of Allah and his supplications were answered to the extent that people would go to him so he can pray to God on their behalf. Soon he became known within his village and the villages nearby as a renowned scholar and was granted some knowledge from the Unseen. However, it was at this point in his life that his story took a different turn. Allah had commanded Prophet Moses (pbuh) to start moving against a people called Jabbarin, or “the Mighty Ones.” Knowing his status with Allah and the blessings of his supplications, the tyrant king of the people of Jabbarin invited Bal’am, intending to seek his help against Moses (pbuh). He said to him: “Moses is a strong man, and he has many soldiers. If he gains the upper hand over us, we will be destroyed. He is coming to kill us and expel us from our land. Therefore, supplicate to Allah against Moses and pray to Him that He prevents Moses and those with him from prevailing over us.” But Bal’am, despite believing in Moses (pbuh) and knowing that that king is a tyrant who disbelieves in Allah, responded to his request. Ignoring the consequences of such an act, Bal’am set off towards a mountain, riding his donkey to supplicate against Moses (pbuh), when something unexpected happened on the way.

So what was it that shook Bal’am’s faith and brought his dark inner to the surface?

There were three main factors which turned Bal’am into a non-working scholar and an enemy of God and his Messenger, and these are factors which you will find in every non-working scholar:

  1. The first factor was his fear over his position and his status. The existence of a divinely appointed prophet always threatens the positions of the insincere non-working scholars.

  2. The second factor was his attachment to the physical world and its pleasures. Their attachments to worldly life, their desperate fear over their lives and their fear of death led them to side with tyrants and oppressors and falsehood instead of giving victory to the truth.

  3. The third factor was his arrogance and envy of the vicegerent of Allah (pbuh).

Non-working scholars generally have knowledge, there is no doubt about that. But the illusion that people have here is they think knowledge prevents non-working scholars from leading people astray. Knowledge is not the most important factor here. The deciding factor is how they put that knowledge into practice.

Prophet Muhammad (pbuhahf) says:

“All knowers are perishable except the working ones, and all the working ones are perishable except the sincere ones, and the sincere ones are in danger.”

– Mizan Al-Hikma, Muhammad Al-Rish’hari, v.1, p.756

And so, non-working scholars and false teachers all follow the example of Iblis, may Allah curse him, and their insincerity which results in arrogance. It breeds a wolf in their interior, which hides behind the frontier of piety and righteousness that they face people with.

the misguiding scholar in the time of solomon (pbuh)

History recorded another shameful stance from one of the non-working scholars who lived during the time of Prophet Solomon (pbuh).

You will slowly begin to realise that the phenomenon of non-working scholars is a Sunnah, which occurs almost always with the same scenario during the presence of divinely appointed Prophets.

“O scholars of evil! You claim the reward and lose the work! The Lord of the work is about to request His work, and you are about to exit the wide world and go to the darkness of the tomb and its narrowness.”

– Bihar Al-Anwar, Muhammad Baqir Al-Majlisi, v.2, p.38-39, hadith 66

During the time of Prophet Solomon (pbuh) and his kingdom, there lived a brilliant young scholar by the name of Jeroboam ben Nebat. According to the Torah, Jeroboam was one of Solomon’s officials.

Interestingly, he was an extraordinarily gifted, superior person with an abundance of charisma, as well as a great organiser and, above all, a magnificent scholar. However, this did not prevent him from becoming one of Judaism’s greatest villains and the man single-handedly responsible for sealing the tragic fate of the kingdom.

Close to the time of Solomon’s death and with his son Rehoboam taking over the rule, a rebellion against the Kingdom of the House of David took place, which Jeroboam took advantage of.

Jeroboam was waiting just for that opportunity. He displayed himself as the newcomer with bundles of charisma promising change. That’s why the people came to him and asked him to be king. 

The force, which drove all his actions – and perhaps even his entire life – was not a desire to be a better king but the pursuit of power. That was the fuel that burned in his engine. And this is the disease constantly overtaking non-working scholars, the “I am better than him” disease; thinking that they’re smarter, worthier, more knowledgeable and superior to the prophets.

This wolf who masqueraded as a sheep, this non-working scholar stripped the Jewish people of belief in God and left a legacy of division, idolatry and paganism within no time.

Should we rely on fallible scholars for our religion?

This is exactly what non-working scholars do: They sin and cause the people to sin; they falsify, distort and misguide the people by that.

But one theme which has constantly occurred in the biographies of non-working scholars throughout history is self-destruction. The end of non-working scholars has been and will always be destruction. There will always be a point where false teachers and wolves in sheep’s clothing are exposed. Their lies are like the web of a spider, fragile and unstable.

Their legacy does not live on, but their shameful stances with Allah (SWT) and his vicegerents do.


“But as for me and my believing brothers, we have an example in Moses and Aaron, when they battled Pharaoh, and Haman, and Qaroun, and the Samari and Bal’am ibn Ba’ouraa’ (may the curse of Allah be upon him) whom appeared to be clothed with the clothing of the ascetic worshiping Scholar.

And we have an example in Jesus (pbuh) when he battled Caesar, and Pilate, and the armies of the Romans and the misguiding scholars of the Children of Israel. And we have an example in Muhammad (pbuhahf) when he battled the tyrants and the evil scholars. And we have an example in the Family of Muhammad (pbut) when they battled the tyrants of Bani Ummayyah, and Bani Al-Abbas and the evil Samari scholars in this nation.” 

– The Calf, Imam Ahmad Al-Hassan (fhip), vol. 2, p.2

“I am calling you, O people, to save yourselves from the fitna of those deviant misguided misguiding clerics. Contemplate over the condition of the nations that preceded you. Do you find the deviant clerics supporting a Prophet from the Prophets, or a successor from the successors? So do not repeat the [mistake] and follow these non-working scholars and fight the Vicegerent of Imam Al-Mahdi, the way the nations before you have followed the deviant clerics and fought the successors and the sent Prophets. Be fair to yourselves for once and ask yourselves this question, have you asked the Messenger of Allah (pbuhahf) and the Imams about the End-of-Time clerics before you ask the End-of-Time clerics about the successor of Imam Al-Mahdi? Have you asked the Qur’an about the clerics, that if a Prophet or successor is sent what their constant attitude would be? Have you asked the Qur’an who kindled the fire for Abraham and who wanted to kill Jesus and who fought Noah, Hud, Saleh, Shuaib, Moses, Jonah, and all the Prophets and Successors? If you are not fair to yourselves and do not answer this question now, then surely you will answer it in hellfire by the answer, {And they say, “Our Lord verily we obeyed our masters and great men and they misled us from the way”.} -Surat Al-Ahzab”

Sayings of Imam Ahmad Al-Hassan (PBUH), p.81-82, hadith 207

It is up to everyone to open their eyes and see the bitter reality of non-working scholars which has been present since day one. Since the beginning of creation. Only then, the pieces of the puzzle will come together and you’ll be able to see the bigger picture. After all, history is not just there to tell tales of what happened before, but to present warnings and guidelines for the present day. The time to heed these warnings is now.

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