When Does a Person Become a Scholar?
Imam ash-Shaatibi (may Allah have mercy upon him) said:
وَالْعَالِمُ إِذَا لَمْ يَشْهَدْ لَهُ الْعُلَمَاءُ فَهُوَ فِي الْحُكْمِ بَاقٍ عَلَى الْأَصْلِ مِنْ عَدَمِ الْعِلْمِ حَتَّى يَشْهَدَ فِيهِ غَيْرُهُ
“And a Scholar, if the Scholars do not testify for him, remains upon the ruling of the origin of not having knowledge until another [Scholar] testifies for him…” [al-‘Itisaam (3/99)]
Shaikh al-Albani (may Allah have mercy upon him) commented saying:
تأملوا لم يقل: طالب العلم
“Reflect! He did not say: Student of knowledge” [Saheeha (2/713)]
And Imam Malik (may Allah have mercy upon him) said:
ما أفتيت حتى شهد لي سبعون أني أهل لذلك
I did not pass verdicts until seventy [of the People of Knowledge] testified that I was from the people for that [i.e. Those capable of passing fatawa]
[Reported by Khateeb in al-Faqih wal-Mutafaqqih no. 1041 with a Saheeh chain as the verifier of the book mentions (2/325)]
So this is a clarification that one can only become a Scholar when the Scholars bear witness that he is one. Not like nowadays when someone is claimed to be a Scholar by the laymen or claims himself a Scholar. The witness of the laymen and the students of knowledge is not considered in this issue.
And Allah Knows Best
Faisal Ibn Abdul Qaadir Ibn Hassan