I view them as little more than apologists for Muslim and non-Muslim rulers.
While counting the "greatness" of their masters, they repeatedly tell us how free we are to practice Islam, referring to the freedom to offer salah, pilgrimage, sacrifices etc.
They don't realize that the rulers and the foreign powers supporting their power don't have a problem with the individualistic apolitical secularised rituals but with Islam itself - the deen - a sociopolitical way of life that seeks to reorganise the world under a just and fair arrangement.
Imam Ghazali noted their contribution to power as follows:
"On the whole, the people only become corrupt due to the corruption of the rulers. The corruption of the rulers is due to the corruption of the scholars. Had it not been for evil judges [al-qudāt al-sū'] and evil scholars [al-ulamā' al-sū'], the corruption of the rulers would be much less on count of their fear of the rebuke [inkār] of the scholars." (Ghazāli, Ihyā' Ulūm al-Dīn, 2:150)
Even an overt colonialist like Napoleon Bonaparte didn't have a problem with Muslims offering salah and related rituals:
"Napoleon proclaimed in July 1798 to the Egyptians upon landing in Alexandria: "The Lord of the Universe, the Omnipotent, has commanded the annihilation of the [Mamluk] dynasty. It is the duty of the Shaykhs, the ulama, the judges, and the imams to keep to their functions. . . . Formal prayer will be held in the mosques as usual. All Egyptians must be grateful to God, glory be to Him and exalted is He for the termination of the dynasty of the Mamluks." (Proclamation of Bonaparte to the Egyptians, Saladi Boustany, The Journals of Bonaparte in Egypt, 1798-1801)
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