A Muslim scholar should have some qualifications to enable him to give fatwas, preach to people, etc. Among these qualifications is attaining comprehensive knowledge of Islam and specializing in a certain field. Obtaining a degree in Islamic studies is an indication of meeting these requirements.
Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and an Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, states: “Although having a degree in Islamic studies in itself is not an essential requirement, receiving proper education and training under capable scholars is. A scholar may be called upon to pronounce a judgment on a question of halal and haram, and obviously he will also be required to explain verses of the Qur’an and the Hadith. To give an Islamic ruling without proper knowledge is sinful and tantamount to attributing false claims to Allah. Imam Ibn al-Qayyim stated that it is akin to committing shirk (associating partners with Allah). Moreover, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) has also warned us against interpreting the Qur’an without having appropriate knowledge. He said, “Whoever interprets the Qur’an according to his own personal opinion, let him find his abode in hell-fire.”
Because of the above-mentioned considerations, Islamic scholars have stipulated rigorous requirements in order for a scholar to be eligible to pronounce rulings. Besides thoroughly mastering of the Arabic language and related sciences, he must possess thorough knowledge of the Islamic sources of Shari`ah, namely the Qur’an and the Sunnah. he must also be fully conversant with the disciplines of jurisprudence, principles of jurisprudence, etc.
In other words, proper scholarship in Islam requires specialized training under capable and qualified scholars. A degree or license is, therefore, an indication that a person has completed a prescribed course of study, so it is, therefore, of great benefit. Imam Ash-Shafi`i was speaking on behalf of all other imams when he mentioned the credentials of a proper Islamic scholar, “My brother, you cannot be a scholar unless you fulfil six conditions: intelligence, passion (for knowledge), perseverance, sustenance (to be single-mindedly devoted to study), guidance of a teacher, and many years (of dedicated study).”