How can one know the most knowledgeable of the scholars of the time?
Only one who knows all of the people knows the most knowledgeable of people; because there are among people scholars who are unknown and avoid fame to preserve their religion, and scholars that oppressors stop the oppressed from knowing and going to them, and it is clear that none but God knows what is in the heaven or on the earth. Therefore, there is no choice but to go to God to know the most knowledgeable of people, and going to God is possible through going to His Prophet; as the Children of Israel went to one of their Prophets, so he guided them to the most knowledgeable of them with a revelation from God, and he was Talut; as he said:﴿إِنَّ اللَّهَ اصْطَفَاهُ عَلَيْكُمْ وَزَادَهُ بَسْطَةً فِي الْعِلْمِ وَالْجِسْمِ﴾; “God has chosen him over you and increased him in knowledge and physical strength.” In the same way, this nation was guided to its most knowledgeable person by its Prophet with a revelation from God, and he is his Caliph from his family; as he said: «انْظُرُوا كَيْفَ تَخْلُفُونِي فِي الثَّقَلَيْنِ: كِتَابُ اللَّهِ طَرَفٌ بِيَدِ اللَّهِ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ وَطَرَفٌ بِأَيْدِيكُمْ فَاسْتَمْسِكُوا بِهِ لَا تَضِلُّوا، وَالْآخَرُ عِتْرَتِي، وَإِنَّ اللَّطِيفَ الْخَبِيرَ نَبَّأَنِي أَنَّهُمَا لَنْ يَتَفَرَّقَا حَتَّى يَرِدَا عَلَيَّ الْحَوْضَ، وَسَأَلْتُ ذَلِكَ لَهُمَا رَبِّي، فَلَا تَقْدُمُوهُمَا فَتَهْلَكُوا، وَلَا تَقْصُرُوا عَنْهُمَا فَتَهْلَكُوا، وَلَا تُعَلِّمُوهُمْ فَإِنَّهُمْ أَعْلَمُ مِنْكُمْ»; “See how you treat my Caliphate in the two weighty things: the Book of God, one side of which is in the hand of God the Exalted, the Majestic and the other side is in your hands, so hold firmly to it so that you will not go astray, and the other is my family. The Subtle, the Aware One has informed me that those two will never be separated until they come to me by the Pond, and I requested this non-separation from my Lord. So do not go ahead of them or you will perish, nor fall behind them or you will perish, nor teach them, for they are more knowledgeable than you,” and said: «لَا تُعَلِّمُوا أَهْلَ بَيْتِي فَهُمْ أَعْلَمُ مِنْكُمْ»; “Do not teach my Ahl al-Bayt, for they are more knowledgeable than you.” But this nation did not accept from its Prophet just as the Children of Israel did not accept from their Prophet; as they said: ﴿أَنَّى يَكُونُ لَهُ الْمُلْكُ عَلَيْنَا وَنَحْنُ أَحَقُّ بِالْمُلْكِ مِنْهُ﴾; “How shall he rule over us while we are more deserving of dominion than him?!” Based on this, there is no doubt that the most knowledgeable of this nation in every time is its Imam from the family of the Prophet, peace and blessings of God be upon him and his family, and he is in this time the Mahdi about whom the Prophet, peace and blessings of God be upon him and his family, has said: «الْمَهْدِيُّ مِنْ عِتْرَتِي»; “The Mahdi is from my family,” but he is unknown and hidden; because he fears for his life from oppressors, and he will remain so until he feels safe due to the gathering of hearts, tongues, and hands to help him; as explained by Mansoor in his enlightening books and pure sayings.
Yes, if there are known scholars, people can know the most knowledgeable of them by looking at their opinions and actions; because any of them whose opinions are closer to the intellect and Sharia and farther from conjectures, and whose actions are closer to justice and piety and farther from reliance on oppressors, he is the most knowledgeable, and whoever sincerely and fairly searches for him, God will guide him to him; because his superiority over all other scholars is like the superiority of the moon over all the stars.