“An orphan is not one who has no parents, but an orphan is he who is deprived of knowledge and respect.” This is an Arabic statement which very concisely describes the importance of respect in a person. Indeed, when one is deprived of respect and etiquette, one can stoop to a level that any normal human being would consider unthinkable, let alone any person with Îmân. The Qur’ân Karîm and Ahâdîth strongly emphasise the aspect of respect. Allâh states, “And those who honour the distinguishing signs of Allâh , verily it (this respect) stems from the piety of the heart.” Just as respect is very important, the consequences of disrespect are dire. To disrespect even a grain of food or a drop of water is detrimental. It could result in one being deprived of many bounties of Allâh . However the greater the bounty, the more severe are the consequences of disrespect towards it.
From amongst the greatest bounties are the Sahâbah , pious predecessors and Ulamâ. By honouring them, we will be honoured. If on the other hand, we show disrespect to them, the results can be disastrous. Rasûlullâh Sallalahu Alaihi wa Sallam said, “When my Ummah begins to do these fifteen things, calamities will descend on them...” After mentioning 14, Nabî Sallalahu Alaihi wa Sallam said, “When the latter of the Ummah will curse and criticize their predecessors (Sahâbah Sallalahu Alaihi wa Sallam, Tâbi’în and the great Imâms), then await red dust storms, earthquakes, caving in of the earth, transfiguration and the raining of stones from the heavens.” (AlIshâ’at) Today unfortunately we find ourselves in such times. People with no or limited knowledge deem it appropriate to speak ill of our elders who had spent their entire lives in spreading Dîn. Even worse, the honour and respect of the Sahâbah Sallalahu Alaihi wa Sallam are not spared. Since respect, honour and love has been removed from the hearts of people, very little goodness, piety and blessings remain. Since the Sahâbah Sallalahu Alaihi wa Sallam, - 7 - the Imâms of Fiqh and the Imams of Hadîth as well as our present day Ulamâ are our benefactors, it is of vital importance that we appreciate their efforts, have love for them, overlook their lapses and follow their path. The only link which people have with Dîn is the Ulamâ and our pious predecessors. Once this link is severed, it will become very easy for the masses and general people to be lead astray. Therefore it is necessary for us to understand the status of the Sahâbah , our pious predecessors and the Ulamâ, to understand their rights and the harms of being disrespectful to them. May Allâh accept this weak effort, overlook our shortcomings, and make it a means of our forgiveness.