Should you listen to religious scholars about non-religious issues?

Our Shaykh Abu Bilaal Al-Hadhramy- may Allah preserve him- was asked the following question on 18th Sha’baan 1441(11th April 2020):

Question: “The statements and advise of recognized medical experts take precedence over the statements and advise of (religious) scholars in the matter of the corona virus because it is a medical issue and not a religious issue” Is this statement correct?


The matter contains (two) parts:

  1. That which applies specifically to medical experts is taken through their channels from what they propose.
  2. That which applies specifically to the scholars from the legal rulings that stem from this virus, such as closure of the masājid as well as others that they mention; the scholars are to be returned to regarding them and medical experts are not to be returned to regarding them.

The medical experts; sufficient for them is determining the scale of the disease as well as explaining the disease and the harms of the disease to the people; this is what they are returned to concerning.

The scholar, as is well know; is returned to in religious legal matters so his verdict may be sought in it, (such as:) Does this illness call for the closure of masājid or not call for it?, this is not for the medical expert, the local authority or the government minister – the matter of closing the masājid due to this illness – this is for none except for the religious law to judge and those that judge by the law of Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالى) and are returned to as Allah has designated for them to be:

وَإِذَا جَآءَهُمْ أَمْرٌ مِّنَ ٱلْأَمْنِ أَوِ ٱلْخَوْفِ أَذَاعُوا۟ بِهِۦۖ وَلَوْ رَدُّوهُ إِلَى ٱلرَّسُولِ وَإِلَىٰٓ أُو۟لِى ٱلْأَمْرِ مِنْهُمْ لَعَلِمَهُ ٱلَّذِينَ يَسْتَنۢبِطُونَهُۥ مِنْهُمْۗ
And when there comes to them a matter from [public] security or fear, they circulate it. But if they had referred it back to the Messenger or to those of authority among them, then the ones who [can] draw the correct conclusions from it (i.e. the scholars) would have known about it.
(An-Nisa’ 4:83)

So in this, the people who [can] draw the correct conclusions, the people of understanding and the people of knowledge are to be returned to and the medical experts are not to be returned to regarding it.

The medical experts, quite simply have their own field in which they are benefited from, within their field and from their knowledge. The people cannot do without medicine, the people are in great need of medicine. As Shāfee said: ‘The people have indeed neglected this medicine, whilst they are in need and (have become) dependent upon their enemies for it.

We are in need of advisory, muslim doctors, that benefit the people of Islam in the likes of these crises and other than them in calculating the severity of the illness sincerely for the sake of Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالى) and his religion without exaggerations or excessivity in calculating these pandemics and these illnesses which occur. We are also in need of advisory (religious) scholars.

This is what you have heard (in summary); the medical experts are needed in their field in order to determine the affairs which apply specifically to them and the scholars are needed in their field in order to determine the affairs which apply specifically to them.

Just like the Prophet ﷺ said:

[كُلٌّ مُيَسَّرٌ لِمَا خُلِقَ لَهُ]
Everyone is facilitated to do what they were created for. [1]

Everyone has his own area of expertise and he (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالى) has established existence upon this; within it is the doctor, the scholar, the engineer, the car mechanic and the pilot so that the everyday life of the people can run upon the groups that have been mentioned.

He did not make all of the people scholars or engineers etc because they are in need of other work. This is from the grace of Allah upon us in order for existence to be coordinated and established.

[1] Narrated by Imran Ibn Husaib (may Allah be pleased with him) in AlBukhaari (7551) and Muslim (2649)

Translated by: Abu Sufyaan Saami ibn Daniel Al-Ghaani
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