There is a hadith which states: The scholars are the inheritors of the prophets. Is this hadith authentic? What does it mean?
This is a very important hadith. Some narrations are sound and some narrations, which contain parts of this hadith, are not. In fact, they are fabricated. I will relate to you the sound hadith which is related by Tirmidhi and Abu Dawud:
عن أبى الدرداء رضى الله عنه قال سمعت رسول الله يقول,’’ من سلك طريقا يلتمس فيه علما سهل الله له طريقا إلى الجنة وإن الملائكة لتضع أجنحتها رضا لطالب العلم وإن طالب العلم يستغفر له من في السماء والأرض حتى الحيتان في الماء وإن فضل العالم على العابد كفضل القمر على سائر الكواكب إن العلماء ورثة الأنبياء وإن الأنبياء لم يورثوا دينارا ولا درهما إنما ورثوا العلم فمن أخذه أخذ بحظ وافر
رواه الترمذى2606 وصححه الألبانى
Abu’l-Darda’ said, ‘I heard the Messenger of Allaah says, “Whoever follows a path to seek knowledge, Allaah will make easy for him the path to Paradise. The angels beat their wings in approval of the seeker of knowledge, and those who are in the heavens and on earth pray for forgiveness for the scholar, even the fish in the water. The superiority of the scholar over the worshipper is like the superiority of the moon over all other heavenly bodies. The scholars are the heirs of the Prophets, for the Prophets did not leave behind dinars or dirhams, rather they left behind knowledge, so whoever gains knowledge has gained great good fortune.’”
(narrated by al-Tirmidhi, 2606; classed as saheeh by al-Albaani).
Now we come to the point that the sister is asking about in the hadith she cited: “The scholars are the heirs of the prophets.” The meaning of this is that the prophets did not leave any dinar or dirham (inheritance). They only left behind their knowledge and indeed the person who has acquired knowledge has made a great gain. According to this statement and this is a sound hadith, Islam has encouraged us to seek every kind of useful knowledge. The Prophet commanded us to seek knowledge but the religious knowledge has superiority over any other type of knowledge and that is why the Prophet has confirmed that by saying, “The superiority of the learned person to the devout worshipper is similar to the superiority of the full moon over the rest of the stars.” Because, a person can worship Allah day and night but his worship may be filled with many mistakes. For example, he may make mistakes in salah (prayer) and due to a lack of knowledge cancel his prayer, and make it up again rather than fixing it easily. This is an example of how Satan can easily deceive a devout worshipper but cannot easily deceive a scholar.
From Ask huda program