true, but no scholar worth his salt ever said that hobnob with shiah. all ulama from imam a'azam's time to now have warned against the shiah - as either heretics or kafirs. RasulAllah sallAllahu alayhi wa sallam forbade us from hobnobbing with heretics. but apparently tahir and other freethinkers seem to have more mercy and brotherly love for muslims than the Master himself. al-iyadhu billah. --- the point is, when? was it prior to the sixties when real and fearless ulama lived or was it after? even if it does, do ibn abidin and zabidi, haskafi and nabulsi (all sayyids and prolific authors) carry more weight than the az'hari maulvis of our time? is al-az'har a mufti? or is it an institution that houses muftis? then, does the quality of that institution remain untouched irrespective of the quality of the muftis it houses? is the fatwa from al-az'har of today the same as fatwa issued from al-az'har of ayni and ibn Hajar's day? because all that glitters is not gold. if you had read ONE book of imam ghazali, you could easily tell the difference. i still recommend you to read kimiya-e-sa'adat (of allama saeed ahmed naqshbandi translation). perhaps you were not looking for what is important. instead of ilm and taqwa, you were impressed with boasting and the pomp and show. my teacher raHimahullah, was an excellent hafiz even at his age past 70 (he would recite one whole juzu' for review, prior to iftar in ramadan; as he had to recite it in tarawiH later - a student (and i among them) would have to listen to him during the half-hour review) and he had memorised the qur'an before he was twelve. he was a master of tajwid and knew some books of tajwid by heart; he was a teacher of arabic and farsi. he had a masters degree and he could speak fluent english - in fact he would correct our translations (we were required to translate arabic passages into urdu and english). he was scrupulous to the point that he refused service from even his own students (that is us);and if we insisted, he would relent sometimes but immediately tell us afterwards: 'you will do only what i ask you to do.' i have seen with my own eyes that he would pray nawafil for hours, long after everybody would have left after isha prayer. yet, he was largely unknown in our city. when he went to meelad celebrations where ordinary maulvis acted as if they were the chief muftis, and crowds thronged to them, our mawlana remained unnoticed and he was satisfied with being out of the limelight. he was a the kind of a sufi, straight out of imam ghazali's books. he rarely - if at all - asked other people to come to prayer or wear the beard. but young men and old alike, kept beards - beard-trimmers wore long beards, and we went to the masjid by ourselves without goading or reprimand. he would always be either reading or praying; he would be forced to sit in committees and community gatherings, but he would sit in a corner silently unless somebody asked him a question. he would say something if it was related to sharayi hukm or remained silent otherwise. [it is a pity that we learned very little from him] my point is, such men of Allah are everywhere. but people look in the wrong places. indeed, some people are bestowed with fame and recognition too - dhalika faDlullah, He gives whom He pleases - but many remain unnoticed. yes, something like reasoning and comprehension. i am not being sarky, but i seriously think that you should take a GRE or a GMAT course at least for some engaging activity.