The Obligation of Following the Worthy Scholars and a Timely Warning Shaykh Muhammad ibn Saalih al-Uthaymeen hafidhahullaah Question What is obligatory upon a Muslim, and in particular, those seeking knowledge and making Da'wah, in regards to befriending scholars capable of performing Ijtihaad - that is under the assumption that adhering to a group of scholars who are capable of Ijtihaad is one of the obligatory means of adhering to the Jama'ah ? Answer I say, the obligation of the general public of the Muslim community is to follow those scholars who are known to be abundant in knowledge, correct in the Aqeedah (belief), and sound in their Manhaj (methodology). This is because Allah says, which means: "And ask Ahlul-Dhikr (people of knowledge) if you do not know" And the scholars which I have just described are the "those in authority" - those who have Allah mentioned about in the Qur'aan, which means: "O you who believe! Obey Allah and obey the Messenger and those in authority over you" Because "...those in authority..." comprises two groups of people, the first group being the scholars, and they are the primary object in this aayah, and the second group are the rulers, those who implement the Shari'ah of Allah over the slaves of Allah. The scholars are the people of clarification, knowledge and guidance, and the rulers are the people of implementation and jurisdiction. So if the public were to take every person as one to be followed, following him without investigating his knowledge, trust, manhaj and aqeedah then they would split apart from one another and go astray. And this, meaning, this division is what Allah has forbidden in more than one aayah of the Qur'aan. Allah says, which means: "It has been legislated for you in the religion that Nuh (Noah) was ordered with, and that which We revealed to you, and what We ordered Ibrahim (Abraham) with and Musa (Moses) and 'Eesaa (Jesus) - (the command) Establish the religion and do not divide therein." And Allah says, which means: "And do not divide or you will fail and you will loose your strength" And Allah says, which means: "And do not be like those who divided and differed after the clear evidence came to them, for them is great punishment" And Allah says, which means: "Those who split up their religion and became sects, you have nothing to do with them, their affair is only with Allah, then He will inform them of what they used to do" To Allah belongs all Praise, the ways and means of communication have become many. So now it is possible for a person living in the East to call one in the West in just one second, and then ask him for whatever he needs. So the evidence has been established and the information has become clear. So beware, beware of division - and I say division not differing, for there is no escape from differing. Because people have disagreed in understanding, knowledge, imaan and taqwa. So if the people disagreed in these four subjects then how much more so differing in opinions. The only thing which requires guard against is differing of hearts, and the abandoning of each other, until the end result is that people accuse others of misguidance, and of innovation, so beware and be warned.