Can the Ummah trust its scholars and leaders?
Salahuddin Ayyubi started out by uniting the Muslims around the Holy Land and he decided to do what many of the Ameer's before him were too afraid to do and that was to start a war with the Crusaders. The Crusaders had occupied the entire coastal land along with Jerusalem and some important areas and al-Shaam.
The Muslim leaders were telling Salahuddin that he is crazy to start a fight with ar-Room. They said 'Ar-Room is a sea without any shore.' meaning, as far as you can see that is ar-Room. In other words they were saying that ar-Room is going to send us a flood because Europe is united and whose population is huge and they will be fighting a disunited Ummah. So Salahuddin was fighting with part of the Ummah and not the whole of the Ummah as the Ummah was shattered at that time.
Many of the Scholars prepared themselves to go out and fight in al-Shaam for love of Jihad but then many of them went back when they heard the numbers. Why did they go back? Does the fiqh change when the numbers are more?
They went to fight Jihad fe Sabeelillah but returned back because of the numbers and these were 'Ulema. This is an important lesson here and it's important to know that 'Ulema are not infallible; they are not Ambiya. So if people are going to blindly follow 'Ulema, there is no guarantee that they are going to take them to the right path. This is not generalization of all scholars as Ibn Atheer says some of them went back.
There will always be in this Ummah an at-Taa'ifah, but what is happening is that people will try to find a way out of responsibility and they will hang it on the 'Ulema saying, 'This 'Alim did not give this fatwa', 'This 'Alim did not tell us to fight Jihad fe Sabeelillah'.
So they would blame it on the 'Ulema when there are 'Ulema who are telling you otherwise; they are telling you to do the right thing and there are 'Ulema carrying the right Manhaj. They might be in jail, they might be killed, they might be underground or they might not be famous because no television station will broadcast their Khutbah but they are 'Ulema.
Another issue is that we are living in an interesting time were the 'Ilm of a person is in accordance to how famous he is and that is not a right standard for 'Ilm. At the time of the early 'Ulema, an 'Alim would be considered an 'Alim by the testimony of the 'Ulema. His teacher would give him Tazkiyya and say he is an 'Alim. They would have a seat for the fatwa which would be given to the 'Alim which most of the 'Ulema think is most knowledgeable but now it is the government that appoints the 'Alim and he becomes an 'Alim suddenly, not because the 'Ulema said he's an 'Alim but because he was given this position by the government. And he becomes a famous 'Alim by appearing on many satellite channels, radio stations and programmes; this is not the correct standard for 'Ilm. We need to follow al-Haqq wherever it is.
So Ibn Katheer says these 'Ulema ran away when they heard of the numbers; and because he is an 'Alim he is going to find an excuse for it as well as daleel - he will know how to twist ayaat or ahadith and make it sound that this is the Shari'ah thing to do. He will not admit that he's afraid by saying, 'Sorry I'm a coward, so I can't go ahead with this,' rather he will say that to go ahead with fighting is not hikmah and that there is no hikmah in it, or that Salahuddin is insane and we told him not to go ahead with the fighting yet he still did, or that Salahuddin does not have 'Ilm or he does not speak Arabic right or know it so who is he to give a fatwa and take this Ummah to this trouble and bring upon them this disaster by taking on this huge army. 'He needs to go to the 'Ulema and take the fatwa from us but he did not so let him go and die.' So they ran away; what happened? It is a test from Allah 'Azza wa Jall -- a test for the 'Ulema, for Salahuddin and for the Ummah.
By the time they reached to 'Akkaa, the 300,000 army was brought down to 1,000.' Only 1,000 from 300,000 reached to meet Salahuddin. So who was wise? These 'Ulema who ran away or Salahuddin?
Sheikh Anwar Al Awlaki