(An Adaptation from Ibn Katheer's Al Baa'ith Al-Hatheeth, Ikhtisaar 'Uluumil Al Hadeeth
A poet has said:
Knowledge [of the deen] elevates a people without lineage
Then what if a noble and affluent person possesses it?
Another one said:
Knowledge [of the deen] raises a house without a pillar
This is known in the discussion between Az-Zuhree and a man, related by Al-Haafidh Ibn Katheer as thus:
[Ibn Shihaab] Az-Zuhree mentioned that Hishaam bn Maalik said to him: ‘Who is an authority in Makkah [regarding Islamic verdicts]? I said to him: 'Ataa [bn Abee Rabaa].
He[Hishaam] said: What about from the people of Yemen? I said: Taawuus [bn Keesaan].
He[Hishaam] said: What about from the people of Shaam? I said: Makhuul.
He said: What about from the people of Egypt? I said: Yazeed bn Abee Habeeb.
He said: What about from the people of Al Jazeerah? I said: Maymuun bn Me'raan.
He said: What about from the people of Al Khurasaan? I said: Adh Dhahaak bn Mazaahim.
He said: What about from the people of Basrah? I said: Hasan bn Abee Al-Hasan.
He said: What about from the people of Kuufah? I said: Ibraaheem An Nakha'ee.
He mentioned that he asked him on each occasion: Is he an Arab or a freed slave?
He said:[they are]From the freed slaves. When it ended. He said: Oh Zuhree! By Allaah, a freed slave shall govern the Arabs such that he will deliver a sermon on the pulpit while the Arabs will be beneath.
I said: O the leader of the believers, this is affair of Allah and His religion, whosoever protects it, would become an authority and whosoever neglects it, would fallout.
I[Ibn Katheer] said: Some of the Arabs asked a man from the people of Al Basrah, they said: Who is the authority in this town?
He said: Al Hasan bn Abee Al Hasan Al Basree.
He said: Is he a freed slave?
He answered: Yes.
He asked: With what?He said: Because they were in need of his knowledge, while he didn't need their worldly [materials].