When someone acquires the knowledge of something, it is said that he has opened or solved a myth or he has made a concept clear, it is not a myth that he opens but his heart, in fact, opens up and becomes enlightened. The Ulama state that knowledge expands one’s heart to such extent that it becomes bigger than the earth and skies and contains what cannot be contained within the earth and skies without any difficulty. O beloved! Knowledge is the most honorable of qualities and most perfect of excellences, for none of the qualities can provide the heart with the cleanliness, light and greatness and expansion which is gained through knowledge. Imam Ghazaali states:
“Knowledge is the base for all the actions and it’s the cardinal pole of Islam. Whatever is between the skies and earth is for the sake of knowledge and worship.”
اَللہُ الَّذِیۡ خَلَقَ سَبْعَ سَمٰوٰتٍ وَّ مِنَ الْاَرْضِ مِثْلَہُنَّ ؕ یَتَنَزَّلُ الْاَمْرُ بَیۡنَہُنَّ لِتَعْلَمُوۡۤا اَنَّ اللہَ عَلٰی کُلِّ شَیۡءٍ قَدِیۡرٌ ۬ۙ وَّ اَنَّ اللہَ قَدْ اَحَاطَ بِکُلِّ شَیۡءٍ عِلْمًا﴿۱۲﴾٪
Allah is, it is He, who made the seven heavens, and of the earth their like; the commandment comes down in their midst, so that you may know that Allah can do everything, and the knowledge of Allah encompasses everything.
(Al-Talaaq 65, Verse 12)
وَمَا خَلَقْتُ الْجِنَّ وَ الْاِنۡسَ اِلَّا لِیَعْبُدُوۡنِ ﴿۵۶﴾
And I have created the Jinn and the men only for this that they may worship Me.
(AL-Dhaariyaat 51, Verse 56)
The conclusion of the meaning of both the verses is that Allah Almighty has created the seven skies and earth for you to recognize the perfection of His Power and the Greatness of His Knowledge, and He created the humans and Jinns for the sake of His worship. O beloved! No excellence can be achieved in the world without being equipped with this quality and Imaan does not reach perfection without it, for:
بے علم نتواں خدا را شاخت
Be ‘Ilm Natawaan Khudara Shanaakht
One without Ilm cannot recognize Allah Almighty
It is said for this reason that there is nothing which can connect one to Allah Almighty than knowledge and there is nothing worse than ignorance in Allah’s view.
اَلْعِلْمُ بَابُ اللّٰہِ الْاَقْرَب وَالْجَھْلُ اَعْظَمُ حِجَابٍ بَیْنَکَ وَبَیْنَ اللّٰہِ
Knowledge is the closest portal to Allah and ignorance is the greatest veil between you and Allah Almighty
Knowledge is a means of life but rather it itself is life and ignorance is a means of death but rather it itself is death.
وَلَنَعَمْ مَا قِیْلَ لَاتُعْجِبُ عَلَی الْجَھُولِ حِلَّتُہٗ فَذَاکَ مَیِّتٌ وَثَوْبُہٗ کَفَنٌ
And yes, what has been said does not surprise the ignorant, for they are dead and their clothes are burial garments
There is no sin greater than ignorance, and unawareness of ignorance is even worse than ignorance. If there were anything greater than knowledge it would have been given to Hazrat Adam – peace be upon him – against the angels. The Tasbeehs and Taqdees of the angels could not make it to be even equivalent to the knowledge of names, then what will be the state of the greatness of Haqaaiq (a deeper recognition of Allah Almighty after passing the station of Tareeqah and Ma’rifah) the other faculties of knowledge of Islam.
Allah Almighty states:
شَہِدَ اللہُ اَنَّہٗ لَاۤ اِلٰہَ اِلَّا ہُوَۙ وَالْمَلٰٓئِکَۃُ وَ اُولُوا الْعِلْمِ قَآئِمًۢا بِالْقِسْطِ
Allah bore witness that none is to be worshiped save He, and the angels and the men of learning (too) standing with justice.
(Aale ‘Imraan 3, Verse 18)
This verse proves the greatness of knowledge in three aspects:
- Allah Almighty has mentioned the Ulama with Him and the angels which is an excellence that has no end
- The witness to His Oneness like the angels and he regarded their witness to be a means of proving the Uloohiyat (Allah Almighty to be the Lord).
- He regarded their testimony like that of the angels.
in another verse He mentioned the testimony of His and the Ulama to be sufficient:
قُلْ کَفٰی بِاللہِ شَہِیۡدًۢا بَیۡنِیۡ وَبَیۡنَکُمْ ۙ وَمَنْ عِنۡدَہٗ عِلْمُ الْکِتٰبِ ﴿٪۴۳﴾
Say you, ‘Allah is Sufficient as witness between me and you, and he who has knowledge of the Book.’
(Al-Ra’d 13, Verse 43)
The third verse:
یَرْفَعِ اللہُ الَّذِیۡنَ اٰمَنُوۡا مِنۡکُمْ ۙ وَ الَّذِیۡنَ اُوۡتُوا الْعِلْمَ دَرَجٰتٍ ؕ وَ اللہُ بِمَا تَعْمَلُوۡنَ خَبِیۡرٌ ﴿۱۱﴾
Allah will raise, in degree, those of you who believe and those who are endowed with knowledge. And Allah is Aware of your doings.
(Al-Mujaadalah 58, Verse 11)
The fourth verse:
وَالرَّاسِخُوۡنَ فِی الْعِلْمِ یَقُوۡلُوۡنَ اٰمَنَّا بِہٖۙ کُلٌّ مِّنْ عِنۡدِ رَبِّنَاۚ وَمَا یَذَّکَّرُ اِلَّاۤ اُولُوا الۡاَلْبٰبِ﴿۷﴾
And those of firm knowledge say, ‘We believed in it, all is from our Lord and none accept admonition save men of understanding.
(Aale ‘Imraan 3, Verse 7)
This verse highlights the perfect faith and intellect of the men of knowledge.
The fifth verse:
اِنَّمَا یَخْشَی اللہَ مِنْ عِبَادِہِ الْعُلَمٰٓؤُا ؕ اِنَّ اللہَ عَزِیۡزٌ غَفُوۡرٌ ﴿۲۸﴾
Only those of His bondmen who possess knowledge fear Allah. Undoubtedly, Allah is Dignified, Forgiving.
(Faatir 35, Verse 28)
The reason behind the exclusiveness is apparent that one who is not aware of Allah’s Wrath, the situations of hell and the horrific events of the Day of Resurrection in detail, cannot attain the reality of Taqwa and Allah’s fear and no one except the Ulama know its details.
The sixth verse:
وَلٰکِنۡ کُوۡنُوۡا رَبّٰنِیّٖنَ بِمَا کُنۡتُمْ تُعَلِّمُوۡنَ الْکِتٰبَ وَبِمَا کُنۡتُمْ تَدْرُسُوۡنَ﴿ۙ۷۹﴾
It is not the right of any man that Allah should give him the Book and command and prophet hood, then he should say to people, ‘Be my bondmen leaving Allah; Yes he will say this ‘Be men of Allah because you teach the Book and because you study it.’
(Aale ‘Imraan 3, Verse 79)
This unfolds that the aim of seeking knowledge is to cut off all the ties from the world and be there only for the sake of Allah and surrender all his affairs only to Him. It is for this reason that an Alim is called “Molvi” (Allah Waala) i.e. one who is there for the sake of Allah.
The seventh verse:
وَمَنۡ یُّؤْتَ الْحِکْمَۃَ فَقَدْ اُوۡتِیَ خَیۡرًا کَثِیۡرًاؕ وَمَا یَذَّکَّرُ اِلَّاۤ اُولُوا الۡاَلْبٰبِ﴿۲۶۹﴾
and he who got wisdom indeed got abundant good; and none accepts counsel but men of under standing.
(Al-Baqarah 2, Verse 269)
And it is obvious that one who is given abundant good, his status will also be very great.
The eighth verse:
وَ تِلْکَ الْاَمْثٰلُ نَضْرِبُہَا لِلنَّاسِ ۚ وَمَا یَعْقِلُہَاۤ اِلَّا الْعٰلِمُوۡنَ ﴿۴۳﴾
And these examples We narrate to the people, and none understand them but the learned.
(Al-‘Ankaboot 29, Verse 43)
This reveals that only the Ulama can grasp the secrets of Allah’s Speech and the inner dimensions of Allah’s Kalaam.
The ninth verse:
وَ قَالَ الَّذِیۡنَ اُوۡتُوا الْعِلْمَ وَیۡلَکُمْ ثَوَابُ اللہِ خَیۡرٌ لِّمَنْ اٰمَنَ وَعَمِلَ صٰلِحًا ۚ
And those who were given knowledge said, ‘woe to you’, Allah’s reward is better for him who believes and does good work, and it is given only to those who are patient.
(Al-Qasas 28, Verse 80)
This denotes that only Ulama know the worth of the hereafter sufficiently.
The tenth verse:
قُلْ ہَلْ یَسْتَوِی الَّذِیۡنَ یَعْلَمُوۡنَ وَ الَّذِیۡنَ لَا یَعْلَمُوۡنَ ؕ اِنَّمَا یَتَذَکَّرُ اُولُوا الْاَلْبٰبِ٪﴿۹﴾
Say you, ‘Are those who know equal to those who know not’? Only those who are endued with understanding receive admonition.
(Al-Zumar 39, Verse 9)
It is for this reason that it has been narrated:
قَلِیْلُ الْعِلْمِ خَیْرٌ مِّنْ کَثِیْرِ الْعِبَادَۃِ
One with little knowledge is better than the one with abundant worship
Little knowledge is better than abundant amount of worship
Two persons were mentioned before the Holy Prophet – peace be upon him – and he said:
فَضْلُ الْعَالِمِ عَلَی الْعَابِدِ کَفَضْلِیْ عَلٰی اَدْنَاکُمْ
The excellence of an Alim over a worshipper is that of mine over the most inferior among you
When Allah Almighty will appear on His Kursi to establish the Judgment of His servants He will say to the Ulama:
اِنِّیْ لَمْ اَجْعَلْ عِلْمِیْ وَ حِلْمِیْ فِیْکُمْ اِلَّا وَاَنَا اُرِیْدُ اَنْ اَغْفِرَ لَکُمْ وَلَا اُبَالِیْ
I gave you My knowledge and My tolerance only so that I forgive you, and I am carefree
The Holy Prophet – may Allah send peace and blessings upon him – stated:
Allah Almighty is the Most Generous and I am the most generous of the entire mankind and the most generous after me is the one who learns something and then spreads it.
And he stated:
The Ink of Ulama’s inkpot and the blood of martyrs will be weighed on the Day of Judgment, and the ink of their inkpots will take precedence over the blood of martyrs.
He also stated:
Allah Almighty will command the worshippers and Muslim soldiers to enter paradise. The scholars will say, “O Lord, they did their worship and fought Jihaad by our teachings.” Allah Almighty will state, “You are like some angels; intercede and your intercession will be accepted. They will then intercede and will enter Jannah afterwards.
It has also been mentioned in the Hadeeth that:
One who dies while seeking the knowledge of Deen will meet Allah Almighty in a state that there will be no difference between him and the Prophets save for the status of Prophethood.
It is also narrated that:
One who learns a chapter of knowledge to teach it to someone will be given the rewards of 70 Siddeeqs (Truthful beings).
The Messenger of Allah – may Allah send peace and blessings upon him – stated:
One who travels in pursuit of knowledge, the angels cast the shade of their wings upon him and the fish in the ocean and the skies and the earth pray for him.
It has been narrated that:
A glance at an Alim is better than the Salahs and fasts of an entire year.
The Holy Prophet – peace be upon him – has stated:
مَنْ یُّرِدِ اللّٰہُ بِہٖ خَیْرًا یُّفَقِّھْہُ فِیْ الدِّیْنِ
For whomsoever Allah Almighty intends goodness grants him the understanding of Islam
It is mentioned in Al-Ashbaah Wal-Nazaair that none besides a Faqeeh (Aalim of Shariah) is aware of his consequences, for he knows it through the messages of the true Messenger – peace be upon him – what Allah Almighty has intended good for him.
It’s narrated in Al-Durr Al-Mukhtaar from Hazrat Isma’eel Ibn Abi Raja’ – may Allah be pleased with him:
I asked Imam Muhammad (Shaibaani) about his state when I saw him in a dream. He replied, “Allah Almighty has forgiven me and stated, ‘Had I wanted to punish you I would have never bestowed the knowledge upon you’.”
The Master of the world RasoolAllah – may Allah send peace and blessings upon him – stated:
One who travels one path in pursuit of knowledge Allah Almighty will enable him to travel one path in paradise.
Indeed, the angels spread their wings for the pleasure of a student.
Indeed, everyone in the heavens and earth and even the fish in the ocean seek forgiveness for an Alim.
Indeed, the excellence of an Alim over a worshipper is like that of the full moon over all the stars.
Indeed, the Ulama are the inheritors of the Prophets.
Indeed, the Prophets did not leave the inheritance of Dirham and Deenaar (wealth) after them, they left the inheritance of knowledge; so, one who acquires knowledge gains a big share.
One who travels a path in pursuit of knowledge Allah Almighty will make his journey on the path of paradise easy.
When people gather in a house and recite the Holy Quran and teach one another, the angels surround them from all angles and tranquility reveals upon them, the mercy wraps them and Allah Almighty mentions (make their Zikr) them in front of the people close to Him. (i.e. He mentions their good qualities before the angels and reveals His pleasure with them)
It is mentioned in the Hadeeth of Hazrat Abu Dhar – may Allah be pleased with him:
To attend the gathering of an Alim is better than praying a thousand Rak’ats Salah, visiting a thousand ill people and participating in a thousand funerals. Someone asked, “Is it better than reciting the Quran as well?” He replied, “Does the Quran benefit without knowledge?” i.e. One cannot benefit from Quran without having knowledge.
It is mentioned in another Hadeeth:
Noting is more excellent from Fiqh (Understanding of Shariah) from amongst Allah’s worship.
Imam Muhiy Al-Sunnah Baghwi writes in Ma’aalim Al-Tanzeel that the Messenger of Allah – may Allah send peace and blessings upon him – stated:
A Faqeeh is heavier than a thousand worshippers on shaitaan.
Its reason is obvious that while a worshipper only saves himself from the hell, an Alim guides the people and makes them aware of the devil’s trap and mockery.
It has been mentioned in the Hadeeth of Tirmidhi:
Allah Almighty and His angels and all the believers and even the ants in their holes and fish send Durood upon the one who teaches the Ilm for the betterment of people.
Imam Ghazaali – may Allah be pleased with him – narrated in Ihya Uloom Al-Deen that the Messenger of Allah – may Allah send peace and blessings upon him – stated:
The Ulama and Mujaahideen (People who make Jihaad) are on the closest station to Prophethood i.e. their station is closest to the station of Prophethood than all the other creations, for the Ulama guide people on which the Prophet – peace be upon him – brought and the Mujaahideen make Jihaad with swords to preserve what the Prophet – peace be upon him – brought.
It is in the Hadeeth of Sahih Muslim that when someone dies, his deeds are cut off except if he had left any of the three continuous charities (Sadaqah Jaariya) or Ilm from which people benefit or a pious offspring that prays for him i.e. their reward continues to grow even after one’s death.
Hazrat Ibraheem – peace be upon him – was told:
O Ibraheem, I am ‘Aleem (The Most Knowledgeable) and befriend every knowledgeable person i.e. it’s my attribute and whoso has connection with My attribute is My friend.
Hazrat Ali – may Allah be pleased with him – said:
An Alim is better than a Mujaahid who fasts and stays awake worshipping at nights.
Someone asked the Faqeeh Abu Bakr – may Allah be pleased with him – whether the Faqeeh loves Quran recitation more or learning Fiqh? He replied, “Abu Mutee’ said that looking at the books of our friends without listening is better than staying awake worshipping at night’.”
Hazrat Abu Darda – may Allah be pleased with him – said:
Learning a Mas’ala (Solving an issue of Islamic Jurisprudence) is better to me than worshipping the whole night.
Hazrat Umar – may Allah be pleased with him – said:
The death of a thousand pious people who fast during the day and worship at night is not equivalent to the death of an Alim, for they have the knowledge of the Halaal and Haraam of Allah Almighty.
Hazrat ‘Isa – peace be upon him – said:
A practicing Alim is known as “Azeem i.e. a great man” among the angels of the sky.
There are many other narrations and virtues mentioned related to the excellence of knowledge and Ulama, but in essence, it is from the attributes of Allah Almighty and the Holy Prophet – may Allah send peace and blessings upon him. The wealth of both the worlds is acquired by means of knowledge and the fortunes of both the worlds are attained through its blessings. An ignorant is in fact an animal, for the excellence of man is through intellect, so it is compulsory for a human being to invest his time in pursuit of this great treasure by overcoming the obstacles in this path.
Satan despises those who Seek Knowledge:
Satan does not hate anything more than knowledge and the amount of obstacles he places in the path of knowledge, he never exerts the same effort in anything else. However, it is easy to overcome those obstacles if Muslims keep the virtues and sacredness of seeking knowledge in mind. They will never pay heed to anything satan has to whisper.
Obstacle – Nafs:
Nafs always chooses ease and comfort and hates exerting effort and hard work but when one begins to think of the benefits of ‘Ilm in the hereafter, it becomes fairly easy going forward. One will begin to enjoy it to an extent that if one day he does not learn something from a book, his heart will not be at ease.
Obstacle – Too Much Commitment to Too Many People:
One should definitely allocate some time to see to important people in one’s life and then engage in pursuit of knowledge.
Obstacle – Worldly Greed:
Whoever indulges in worldly greed invites whatever is coming his way… The Real expectations that one should have is with regards to one’s life in the hereafter. One who seeks knowledge for the betterment of his Akhirah, earns respect in this world as well as in the next.
Sayyiduna Ibn ‘Abbas – may Allah be pleased with them – narrates the story of Sayyiduna Sulaiman – peace be upon him – that Allah Almighty offered him two choices:
He chose the second option and through the blessings of ‘Ilm he gained wealth and kingdom of whole world.
Sayyiduna Adam – peace be upon him – was given excellence over the angels through his knowledge of the names of things.
‘Ilm al-Ladunni of Sayyiduna Khidhr – peace be upon him – made him qualified enough to become the teacher of Sayyiduna Moosa – peace be upon him.
The knowledge of dream interpretation made Sayyiduna Yusuf – peace be upon him – the king of Egypt.
He who knows the value of knowledge, will never part with it even if the wealth of both worlds is handed to him.
There was a poor man who came to the royal court of the king to seek employment. The king refused to employ him by telling him that he was not qualified to do a job. He later sought knowledge at the feet of Imam Ghazali and learnt about the dark truth of running after the world and begging to a king. One day the king summoned him and after realizing his great abilities he said to him that he was now a good fit for the job. He even gave him the authority to choose whatever position he desired but the man replied, “I was of no use to you then and now, you are of no use to me. You rejected me then and now I reject you.”
Imam Ghazali quotes the following Hadeeth of RasoolAllah – may Allah send peace and blessings upon him – in his world renowned Ihya Uloom al-Deen:
مَنْ تَفَقَّہَ فِیْ دِیْنِ اللّٰہِ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ کَفَاہُ اللّٰہُ مَا اَھَمَّہٗ وَرَزَقَہٗ مِنْ حَیْثُ لَا یَحْتَسِبْ
Whoever strives in pursuit of Islamic Knowledge, Allah Almighty is sufficient to take care of his needs that may worry him and will provide from where he thinketh not.
Faqeeh Abu al-Laith Samarqandi – may Allah be pleased with him – writes:
One who joins the gathering of an Alim obtains the following 7 benefits:
- For as long as he remains in the gathering, he is saved from sins.
- He reaps the reward of being a learner of Deen.
- He receives the virtues of seeking knowledge.
- He benefits from the blessings that shower on this gathering.
- He remains in the state of worship for as long as he is learning the Ilm of Deen.
- When he encounters some intricates concepts and feels overwhelmed by it and tries to solve it, he received its reward.
- He is enlightened about the merit of ‘Ilm and ‘Ulama and the evil of ignorance and transgression.
This is the case of someone who just attends the gatherings of an Alim but not as a student. One can only imagine what would be the state of someone who actually learns the ‘Ilm of Deen from them. A student on this path, even if he does not achieve his objective and dies in the path, he will be resurrected among the group of ‘Ulama.
It is famous truth regarding some of our predecessors, that they travelled hundreds of miles just to learn a single Hadeeth. It is mentioned in the Hadeeth of RasoolAllah – may Allah send peace and blessings upon him:
Seek knowledge even if you have to travel as far as China.
Obstacle – Satanic Interference:
The devil interferes with the seekers of this path in various ways:
He drives people towards the false notion that knowledge is something inspirational and is not achieved through learning but rather you have to have some sort of magical stuff happening to you in order for you to be handed over the sacred knowledge whereas the fact is that knowledge is acquired through learning, as it is mentioned in the Hadeeth:
Knowledge comes only from learning.
The great leaders of Islam and the Sahaba of RasoolAllah – may Allah send peace and blessings upon him – always sought the help of Quran and Sunnah. None of them claimed that they received the knowledge of the state of things through inspiration. There are people in our midst who are lunatics and followers of satan who put obstacle in the path of knowledge. They are the same people that if you ask them a thing or two regarding the laws of Salah and fasting, they will not be able to answer. Most of them are not even aware of the true beliefs of Islam. They have been carried away by the trickery and evil whispering of satan and consider it to be some sort of miracle and sainthood. We beg Allah’s protection from their evil!
Satan whispers to the traveller of this path that he or she lacks true motivation and righteous intention to begin to tread this path in the first place, and that nothing good will ever come out of this futile exercise. One needs to be driven by true motivation of seeking Allah’s pleasure, reward in the hereafter, to benefit the creation and to move away from the state of ignorance, and not by materialistic values but it is mentioned in Bustan al-‘Aarifeen as follows:
One whose intentions are not sincere, even for such individual, seeking knowledge is better than abandoning it, for the sacred knowledge will reform one’s intentions.
Imam Mujahid (Tabe’i, Imam of Tafsir and student of Sayyiduna Ibn ‘Abbas – may Allah be pleased with them) says:
We continued our pursuit of knowledge although we did not have proper intention most of the time, and then came a time when Allah Almighty blessed us with sincere intentions through sacred knowledge.
The ignorant will be held accountable only by one question on the Day of Judgment, “Why did you not seek knowledge?” whereas an Alim will be questioned about every action that he did contrary to his knowledge with deliberation?
A kafir will be held accountable only by one question, “Why did you not accept Islam?” but a Muslim will be held accountable for all sorts of negligence; such as: “Why did you not read Salah?”, “…keep fast?”, “… pay Zakah?, “… perform Hajj?”, so on and so forth but remember, that one question will have mountainous weight in comparison to those thousands of questions. In the same manner, one accountability on the ignorant will weigh much severe than the thousands of those that will be on an Alim. One ditch of the valleys of hell for a jahil will be more severe than 70 of those for an Alim, for he abandoned two Fard; 1) The Fard of seeking ‘Ilm 2) The Fard of acting on that ‘Ilm.
Someone once said to a man, “It is proven in Hadeeth that ignorance is better than knowledge.”
He replied, “Well, in that case, if it was true then how would you have come to know about it in the first place?”
Satan whispers to us that seeking knowledge is a tedious endeavour, and besides, if you fail then all this time and effort would have been wasted. It is a better decision to engage in worship, for at least then you will receive the reward of whatever you earn. In contrast, the effect of knowledge is also similar, that it will benefit, no matter how little it may be. As a matter of fact, the effect of one’s worship is largely dependent on the amount of knowledge one has, for knowledge is the Imam of practice, and the practice is its follower. All the laws of Salah and other forms of worship are dependent on the knowledge of Shariah, for one cannot even perform Salah without knowing its method. Hence the proverb: “Striving in worship without knowledge is like reading Salah without having Wudhu or reading Quran without Iman.”
The meaning of “اَلْعِلْمُ حِجَابُ اللّٰہِ الْاَکْبَرُ” (which people often misinterpret as “Knowledge casts a veil between us and Allah”) but the true meaning of it is: “For as long as one does not get a grasp of the curtain, he cannot see the Beloved who is on the other side of it.” It does not mean by any means that knowledge becomes an obstacle to reach Allah but it is the other way around.
The ‘Arifs billah say: No jahil can become a Wali, and that the root of every evil is ignorance despite the fact that the ‘Ilm which nurtures boastfulness and arrogance drives one away from Allah Almighty.
However, the knowledge that nurtures a sense of pride and arrogance in someone, drives one away from Allah Almighty. On the other hand, the knowledge which manifests from the Noor of Prophethood is the inheritance of Allah’s Prophets. The Holy Prophet – may Allah send peace and blessings upon him – describes the scholars of his Ummah with the likelihood of the Prophets of Bani Israel i.e. just like how the Prophets of Bani Israel guided people towards following Torah and the Shariah of Sayyiduna Moosa – peace be upon them – in the same manner, the Ulama of this Ummah guide people towards the Holy Quran and the Shariah of Muhammadur Rasoolullah – may Allah send peace and blessings upon him, hence the saying:
اَلشَّیْخُ فِیْ قَوْمِہٖ کَالنَّبِیِّ فِیْ اُمَّتِہٖ
A Shaykh among his people is like a Prophet among his nation.
Imam Shafe’i – may Allah be pleased with him – says:
The pursuit of knowledge is preferred over Nafl Salah, for it is difficult to even perform Fard without knowledge.
Apart from this, one cannot gain awareness about the elements that may corrupt one’s system of worship, so their hard earned worship is always prone to some sort of corruption. One cannot achieve one’s objective without the necessary knowledge of cleansing one’s heart from the spiritual impurities of wretchedness, greed, malice, arrogance, show off and boastfulness etc. and equipping one’s spirituality with the Noor of the heart by means of one’s absolute reliance on Allah Almighty, Sabr, striving for Allah’s Pleasure, repentance and sincerity etc. It is for this reason it is said that the purification of the heart is 99% of worship whereas the purification of one’s physical self only amounts to a total of 1%.
Knowledge has excellence over worship on various levels. A worshipper only only benefits himself with his worship whereas an Alim benefits the entire world with his ‘Ilm and his existence shields the world from misguidance and deviance. If he were to neglect in worship, then he does not cause harm to anyone but himself:
مَنْ عَمِلَ صَالِحًا فَلِنَفْسِہٖ
Whoever does something good it is for himself.
But if he stops guiding people then the entire world is exposed to misguidance.
Sayyiduna Salman Farsi – may Allah be pleased with him – says:
People’s state will always be good for as long as their elders are with them to guide their youngsters but if their elders are no more, so their next generation may learn from them, they are at the brink of destruction.
Sayyiduna Sa’eed ibn Jubair – may Allah be pleased with him – says:
The death of Ulama is sign that a nation is heading towards its destruction.
The meaning of Allah’s following statement in the Holy Quran:
اَوَلَمْ یَرَوْا اَنَّا نَاۡتِی الۡاَرْضَ نَنۡقُصُہَا مِنْ اَطْرَافِہَا
Do they not see that We are diminishing their population from all sides.
(Al-Ra’d 13, Verse 41)
The term “diminishing their population” in this verse refers to the death of Ulama. When their learned ones will depart, its people will become clueless like cattles, and donkeys and chickens with their heads cut off and the balance of the universe will collapse. Murders, robberies, bloodshed and plagues will rapidly increase and the torment from the heavens will gradually descend until one day the earth’s population will become extinct all across. It is for this reason that the beloved Prophet – may Allah send peace and blessings upon him – always placed great importance on the acquisition and pursuit of knowledge, its propagation and teaching, enjoining good and prohibiting evil and considered the withholding of counselling, guidance, teaching and imparting knowledge in general as pure evil. It is mentioned in Hadeeth:
طَلَبُ الْعِلْمِ فَرِیْضَۃٌ عَلٰی کُلِّ مُسْلِمٍ وَّ مُسْلِمَۃٍ
Seeking knowledge is Fard upon every Muslim male and female.
The beginning of knowledge is the accomplishment of Iman and its ultimate result is its acquisition of Paradise whereas the beginning of ignorance is kufr and disobedience and it results in the perpetual torment of the hereafter.
Knowledge is the special characteristic of the people of Iman, as it is evident in the Holy Quran:
اَللہُ وَلِیُّ الَّذِیۡنَ اٰمَنُوۡا ۙ یُخْرِجُہُمۡ مِّنَ الظُّلُمٰتِ اِلَی النُّوْرِ۬ؕ
Allah is the Protector of Muslims; brings them out from darkness towards light.
(Al-Baqarah 2, Verse 257)
Whereas ignorance results in evil and hatred. The Shariah passes the following verdict:
اَعْرِضْ عَنِ الْجَاھِلِیْنَ
Avoid the ignorant.
The satan manipulates one into thinking that now that you have acquired some knowledge and have become an Alim, seeking it any further is just mundane exercise, and it does not suit your great status to knock at someone’s door to acquire more of it, for it will lower your grandiosity in people’s eyes should you go ahead with it. When someone asked Imam Azam Abu Hanifah – may Allah be pleased with him, “How did you acquire this greatness?” He replied:
مَا بَخِلْتُ بِالْاِفَادَۃِ وَمَا اسْتَنْکَفْتُ عَنِ الْاِسْتِفَادَۃِ
I was never a miser in sharing it and I never felt any shame in acquiring it.
When Sayyiduna Moosa – peace be upon him – asked Allah Almighty, “My Lord, which servant of Yours is the extremely just?” He replied, “One who does justice with truth and is not driven by his personal desires.” He then asked, “My Lord, which servant of Your is extremely learned?” He stated, “One who is engrossed in pursuit of knowledge and whoever he meets learns something in hope that he may learn something which may guide him on the path or save him from destruction.
My dear brothers, it is benefitting you to never be satisfied in its pursuit and acquire as much of it as you possibly can, for our beloved Prophet – may Allah send peace and blessings upon him – was instructed:
وَ قُلۡ رَّبِّ زِدْنِیۡ عِلْمًا ﴿۱۱۴﴾
And submit, ‘O my Lord increase me in knowledge!’
(Taha 20, Verse 114)
Aspire to the burning desire of Sayyiduna Moosa – peace be upon him:
لَاۤ اَبْرَحُ حَتّٰۤی اَبْلُغَ مَجْمَعَ الْبَحْرَیۡنِ اَوْ اَمْضِیَ حُقُبًا ﴿۶۰﴾
‘I shall not desist until I reach there where two seas have joined, or I go on for ages.’
(Al-Kahf 18, Verse 60)
Satan may want to deviate you from this noble course by suggesting that what is the benefit of teaching people in this corrupted day and age. People indulge in worldly superficiality at the end anyway and become arrogant and selfish.
Muslims are forbidden from having pessimistic suspicions. Apart from this, one needs to mind one’s own business, if your intentions are sincere then you will reap its reward, irrespective of the fact that they may waste the essence of this precious knowledge but it will not be considered as a shortcoming on your part:
اَلَّا تَزِرُ وَازِرَۃٌ وِّزْرَ اُخْرٰی ﴿ۙ۳۸﴾
That no soul-bearing burden bears the burden of another.
(Al-Najm 53, Verse 38)
If you are proven guilty of miserliness in sharing it then you will be held accountable. Allama Baidhawi – may Allah be pleased with him – reported a statement of Sayyiduna ‘Ali – may Allah be pleased with him – as follows:
An Alim will be held accountable first for not imparting his knowledge before an ignorant is held accountable for not pursuing it.
Sayyiduna RasoolAllah – may Allah send peace and blessings upon him – has stated:
Some Ulama of my Ummah will impart knowledge with others and do not sell it for the materialistic value of the world. The fish in the ocean, animals in the forest and birds in the air make Du’a and Istighfar for them. On the other hand, the are some scholars among my Ummah who will be miserly in imparting knowledge and they sell it for the material value of food and money. The fire will be placed in their mouths on the Day of Judgment, and will be insulted until his accountability is over, “This is the man whom Allah Almighty had blessed with knowledge but he hid it from the creation and sold it for the value of food and money.
Sayyiduna Abu Hurairah – may Allah be pleased with him – says:
If Allah Almighty had not exposed the people of the book for their concealment of knowledge, I would not have narrated this Hadeeth to you.
Sayyiduna RasoolAllah – may Allah send peace and blessings upon him – has stated:
One who conceals knowledge is like someone who hoards wealth and not spend it.
Allah Almighty states in the Holy Quran:
اِنَّ الَّذِیۡنَ یَکْتُمُوۡنَ مَاۤ اَنۡزَلْنَا مِنَ الْبَیِّنٰتِ وَالْہُدٰی مِنۡۢ بَعْدِ مَا بَیَّنّٰہُ لِلنَّاسِ فِی الْکِتٰبِۙ اُولٰٓئِکَ یَلۡعَنُہُمُ اللہُ وَیَلْعَنُہُمُ اللّٰعِنُوۡنَ﴿۱۵۹﴾ۙ
No doubt, those who conceal what We have sent down of clear signs and guidance after that We have made it clear in the Book for the people, on them there is the curse of Allah and the curse of those who curse.
(Al-Baqarah 2, Verse 159)
RasoolAllah – may Allah send peace and blessings upon him – stated:
Whoever deliberately conceals knowledge, fire will be placed in their mouths.
Some of the Mufassiroon have written the following in the commentary of the Quranic verse:
مَثَلُ الَّذِیۡنَ حُمِّلُوا التَّوْرٰىۃَ ثُمَّ لَمْ یَحْمِلُوۡہَا کَمَثَلِ الْحِمَارِ یَحْمِلُ اَسْفَارًا ؕ
The example of those who were put up with Tourat, then they did not follow its mandate is like an ass carrying books on its back.
(Al-Jumu’ah 62, Verse 5)
It means that they are like donkeys that carry the burden of the books if they do not pass this knowledge on to others who are not aware of it, for then the books will not benefit them despite them bearing their burden and carrying them around. There is however an exception that if someone is not a suitable candidate for the knowledge then it is permissible to conceal knowledge from them; e.g. teaching Arabic to non-Muslim westerners, teaching common laymen the intricate concepts of Shariah matters and teaching philosophy to a person who has corrupt beliefs.
وَاضِعُ الْعِلْمِ عِنْدَ غَیْر اَھْلِہٖ کَمُقْلِدِ الْخَنَازِیْرِ الذَّھَبَ
One who tries to instil knowledge into someone unworthy of it is like the one who tries to put a gold necklace on a pig.
The following is mentioned in Hadeeth:
One should not put pearls in a dog’s mouth.
Imam Ahmed ibn Hanbal – may Allah be pleased with him – refused to teach one of his students who extended the boundary wall of his house into the road. He said to him, “Your intentions are not right, therefore I should not be teaching you.”
He suggests that the world is corrupt and people in our time are not keen to listen to counsel and advice. It is futile to even try. Who will listen to you? And even if they do listen to what you have to say, will they act upon it? It is better to seek seclusion and focus your attention on yourself. It will be foolish to waste to your time on others. This evil whispering of the wretched satan is one of his greatest trickery to stop Ulama from enjoining the good and probing from evil by leaving common people to fend for themselves and be misguided by the satan.
Allah Almighty made the Ulama the inheritors of Prophets. Their abandonment of the duty of enjoining good and prohibiting evil will push people in satan’s trap. Ulama are advised not to seek seclusion for as long as there is a single person who is in need of guidance. However, if they are 100% convinced that not even a single person will listen to them then and only then is he allowed to turn away from creation and go about his business.
When Allama Abu Bakr – may Allah be pleased with him – made the intention of going into seclusion, a voice came from the unsees telling him, “O Abu Bakr, Allah Almighty has created you to guide people, not to hide in seclusion.”
My dear, for an Alim, no other form of worship is greater than imparting knowledge, guiding people, enjoining good and prohibiting evil, for it is their inheritance from the Prophets of Allah and their tradition. This was the sole purpose of the Prophets of Allah and theme of the books of Allah.
Everything weighs to a drop in comparison to Jihad in Allah’s path which is like an ocean in contrast but enjoining good, but jihad is like a drop when compared to enjoining good and prohibiting evil.
It is for this reason that Allah Almighty states in the Holy Quran:
وَلْتَکُنۡ مِّنۡکُمْ اُمَّۃٌ یَّدْعُوۡنَ اِلَی الْخَیۡرِ وَیَاۡمُرُوۡنَ بِالْمَعْرُوۡفِ وَیَنْہَوْنَ عَنِ الْمُنۡکَرِؕ وَاُولٰٓئِکَ ہُمُ الْمُفْلِحُوۡن﴿۱۰۴﴾
And let there be such a group among you, that they may call towards goodness and command what is just and forbid evil. And the very same attained to their goals.
(Ale ‘Imran 3, Verse 104)
This verse is a proof that enjoining good and prohibiting evil is Fard al-Kifayah (like attending a Muslim’s Janazah and learning Hifz is), even if some people take the responsibility it, it should suffice.
He states at another occasion as follows:
اَلَّذِیۡنَ اِنۡ مَّکَّنّٰہُمْ فِی الْاَرْضِ اَقَامُوا الصَّلٰوۃَ وَ اٰتَوُا الزَّکٰوۃَ وَ اَمَرُوۡا بِالْمَعْرُوۡفِ وَ نَہَوْا عَنِ الْمُنۡکَرِؕ
Those, if We give them control in the land, they would establish prayer and pay the Zakat (poor-due) and command good and forbid evil.
(Al-Hajj 22, Verse 41)
Here it has been mentioned in an orderly manner along with Salah and Zakah.
RasoolAllah – may Allah send peace and blessings upon him – has stated:
Encourage others to do good otherwise Allah Almighty will appoint upon you the worst amongst you, and will not answer the prayers of the best amongst you.
If people are indulging in vices and none of them try to change it then they will face annihilation which will destroy all of them.
Allah Almighty does not punish sincere devotees who do not indulge in vices due the state of their society unless they see people doing wrong, and despite having the ability to rectify, they turn a blind eye.
It is the Fard duty of all Muslims to fight with their hand if they encounter wrongdoing, and if they cannot do so then raise your voice against it and if one cannot do that then at least consider it an evil in one’s heart, otherwise one cannot be a Muslim.
One who is a witness to a sin but his heart is displeased by it then it is as if he is not there, but for someone who is absent but his heart is in agreement with the sinister occurrence then it is as if he was a part of it.
The Angels of Allah Almighty were commanded to completely destroy a certain city. They asked, “O our Lord, there lives a pious man in their midst whose heart is never negligent of Your Remembrance?” The Almighty stated, “He does not become upset upon seeing others indulging in vices.”
Allah Almighty brought destruction over a city which has the population of 18,000 such people whose actions were like those of Allah’s Prophets, but because they never became upset at others upon seeing their wrongdoings for the sake of Allah, He stated:
وَاتَّقُوۡا فِتْنَۃً لَّا تُصِیۡبَنَّ الَّذِیۡنَ ظَلَمُوۡا مِنۡکُمْ خَآصَّۃً ۚ
And fear the turmoil which will certainly not fall only upon a few selected unjust people among you.
(Al-Anfal 8, Verse 25)
The best amongst the martyrs is he who criticizes an unjust king and he (the king) kills him, and if he does not kill him then the sins of his lifetime will not be recorded, even if he lives on for long.
Sayyiduna Yusha’ – peace be upon him – received revelation that Allah Almighty will destroy 100,000 people from amongst his nation; 40 thousands of those are pious and 60,000 sinners. He asked, “O my Lord, what is the reason to destroy the pious?” The response came, “They did not have hatred for others for My sake, and indulged in eating and drinking with them.”
There are quite a few areas of interest here:
It is an obligation upon all Muslims and its knowledge and the circumstances in which it is to be carried out is also a necessary aspect one should know.
Every Muslim, whether or not he or she is pious, and even if the person is not authorized by the government, he or she still has the authority to hold someone accountable on their wrongdoings. If piety or authority was a criterion then the system of accountability and reform would collapse.
Someone asked Sayyiduna Hasan Basri – may Allah be pleased with him, “What advice is a sinner to give someone?!” He replied, “This waswasah (satanic trickery through evil whispering) is dearest to satan than the entire universe, so that their door of accountability be shut somehow.”
According to some Ulama even an open sinner is allowed to stop someone from consuming alcohol and even stop a king from his oppression. Everyone is bound by two obligations:
- To refrain from evil
- To stop others from evil
If someone stops doing any of the two then chances are, he may proceed to abandoning the other aspect as well.
One should be sincere in one’s approach and keep in mind the devastated state of the sinner, so take a lenient approach when trying to convince someone to mend his or her ways in the same manner one would counsel one’s own child on a misdeed. One should not be harsh as far as possible but rather have a gentle approach. One should also not have a mindset that the world is full of corruption and people are generally wayward, so it is not logical to go about advising all and sundry but rather one should consider it a fortune if one manages to have a positive influence on someone for them to come to the right path as a result of one’s gentle and sincere approach. Its reward will be written down on his book of deeds for ever and ever.
Someone once used very harsh words for Khalifah Mamoon Rasheed, so Mamoon Rasheed said, “Brother, when Allah Almighty had sent someone better than you, that is, Sayyiduna Moosa – peace be upon him – to someone worse than me, that is, Pharaoh, He commanded:
فَقُوۡلَا لَہٗ قَوْلًا لَّیِّنًا لَّعَلَّہٗ یَتَذَکَّرُ اَوْ یَخْشٰی ﴿۴۴﴾
Then speak to him gentle words: perhaps he may be mindful or he may have some fear.
(Taha 20, Verse 44)
A young man said to the Holy Prophet – may Allah send peace and blessings upon him: “Ya RasoolAllah, give me permission to commit adultery.”
Sahaba became furious on him, so he called him closer and said, “Do you consider it fair if someone does the same with your mother, sister, daughter or aunt?”
He replied, “No.”
Then why would someone else consider it fair with one’s mother, sister, daughter or aunt?!”
He then placed his blessed hand on his chest and prayed, “O Allah, purify his heart, protect his genitals and forgive his sins. Ever since that time, no other deed was more disgraceful to him than adultery.
Sayyiduna Wathila ibn Atheem saw a man dragging his pants on the floor. His students wanted to stop him from doing it (as it was considered a sign of arrogance in that era), but he stopped them and said, “Let me do it”. He called him and said I need your help. When he came closer, he asked him if he could pull his pants slightly up to which he agreed and obeyed.
He then said to his students, “Had I been harsh to him, he would never listen but rather would have sworn me.”
There are certain aspects one needs to take into consideration in this regard:
First and foremost, one should have a gentle approach but if there is a need to be strict then it should be only as it is needed without overdoing it.
Don’t make it personal, for if it is done to settle some personal grievances then it does not fall under Shariah accountability.
One should observe patience when something hurtful befalls him in this path of Amr bil Ma’roof and Nahy ‘anil Munkar (Enjoining good and prohibiting evil), for Allah Almighty states the following in the Holy Quran:
وَاۡمُرْ بِالْمَعْرُوۡفِ وَانْہَ عَنِ الْمُنۡکَرِ وَاصْبِرْ عَلٰی مَاۤ اَصَابَکَ ؕ اِنَّ ذٰلِکَ مِنْ عَزْمِ الْاُمُوۡرِ ﴿ۚ۱۷﴾
And bid doing good and forbid evil and be patient over whatever distress may befall upon. Undoubtedly, these are affairs of determination.
(Luqman 31, Verse 17)
If one is not capable of handling stress, he is not a suitable candidate for the task.
One should not do it for one’s personal gain.
Once Sayyiduna ‘Ali – may Allah be pleased with him – beat an infidel and when he sat on his chest with the intent to kill, he spat on his face, so he let him loose and said, “I became angry and thought if I go ahead and kill you, it would become personal and for the sake of my Nafs and not for the sake of Allah Almighty.
Sayyiduna ‘Umar – may Allah be pleased with him – lashed someone once, but when he did it the second time, he swore him, so he let him loose, so the third time it should not be for the sake of his Nafs.
Someone who carries out this task needs to be equipped with proper morals and ethics and a high degree of tolerance towards others, for if one does have these qualities then he will quickly become upset when someone troubles him, and forgetting all about the pleasure of Allah, he will seek revenge to rather satisfy his personal ego. And then this action, instead of being a means of virtue, it will become a means of punishment for him.
One needs to be equipped with knowledge, for without knowledge it is impractical to difference between halal and haram. There are many such people who go about handing out Shariah rulings based upon their whims and fancies. They deploy their crooked logic in these matters of halal and haram, thus turning haram into halal and vice-verse.
وَ لَا تَقُوۡلُوۡا لِمَا تَصِفُ اَلْسِنَتُکُمُ الْکَذِبَ ہٰذَا حَلٰلٌ وَّ ہٰذَا حَرَامٌ لِّتَفْتَرُوۡا عَلَی اللہِ الْکَذِبَ ؕ
And say not what your tongues tell falsely, “this is lawful” and “this is unlawful” so that you may forge a lie against Allah.
(Al-Nahl 16, Verse 116)
Sayyiduna Yahya – peace be upon him – said, “Act upon what is openly seen as good and refrain from what is openly considered as evil, and ask an Alim about the things that are unclear to you.
Imam Baghawi narrates:
Say what you know and ask Ulama what you know not, for Allah Almighty has stated:
فَسْـَٔلُوۡۤا اَہۡلَ الذِّکْرِ اِنۡ کُنۡتُمْ لَا تَعْلَمُوۡنَ ﴿ۙ۴۳﴾
Then O people! ask the men of knowledge if you know not.
(Al-Nahl 16, Verse 43)
Sayyiduna Masrooq and Ibn Mas’ood – may Allah be pleased with them – said:
If one does not have knowledge of something then say “Allah knows best.”, for saying this is also a portion of ‘Ilm.
One should be a practicing Muslim, for the one who does not practice it but still preaches to others, even if it is permissible for him to preach but his efforts will not bear any fruits and people will not benefit from the preaching of such individuals. Sometimes the advice of someone of this nature will downplay the effectiveness of Shariah’s credibility and leads to ridicule and mockery. It drives people away from Shariah and the true path of Deen. People will say, “If what he says is correct then would he not do it himself in the first place? But here he goes putting us in difficulty, perhaps he may be envious of our comfortable and easy lifestyle.” Therefore, it is not wise to indulge in something that may create a negative effect.
Sayyiduna Dawood – peace be upon him – narrates (the command of Allah Almighty):
Do not seek knowledge from an Alim who has been caught by the love of the world, for he may discourage you from My Love. They are those who rob My devotees.
It is advisable for someone to firstly reform himself before he goes about preaching to others.
A woman once asked Imam Azam to advise her son, for he eats too much jaggery. He told her to return and to send him after two weeks. When the Imam advised to refrain from it, he accepted the advice. He was then asked as to why he had taken two weeks’ time just to tell him not eat jaggery?
He replied, “I myself used to eat a lot of jaggery, so firstly I completely abstained from consuming it before I could tell him to do so. Had I not abandoned it myself, he would never listen to me. It’s very disgraceful to mention the harms of something while indulging in it at the same time.
یٰۤاَیُّہَا الَّذِیۡنَ اٰمَنُوۡا لِمَ تَقُوۡلُوۡنَ مَا لَا تَفْعَلُوۡنَ ﴿۲﴾
‘O believers! Why do you say, what you do not do?
کَبُرَ مَقْتًا عِنۡدَ اللہِ اَنۡ تَقُوۡلُوۡا مَا لَا تَفْعَلُوۡنَ ﴿۳﴾
Most hateful is it to Allah that you say, what you do not do.
(Al-Saff 61, Verse 2-3)
اَتَاۡمُرُوۡنَ النَّاسَ بِالْبِرِّ وَتَنۡسَوْنَ اَنۡفُسَکُمْ وَاَنۡتُمْ تَتْلُوۡنَ الْکِتٰبَ ؕ اَفَلَا تَعْقِلُوۡنَ﴿۴۴﴾
Do you order righteousness to mankind and forget yourselves whereas you read the Book? Then, have you no sense?
(Al-Baqarah 2, Verse 44)
Our beloved Prophet – may Allah send peace and blessings upon him – has stated:
I passed by a nation in the night of Me’raj whose lips were being cut by the scissors of fire. Sayyiduna Jibreel – peace be upon him – said to me, “These are the preachers of your Ummah who do not practice what they preach to others.”
He has also stated the following:
I fear such a hypocrite within my Ummah who imparts wisdom to others whiles he himself indulges in evil.
Sayyiduna ‘Isa – peace be upon him – said:
You are like sieve. When the flour is sieved through it leaving the impurities behind. Your state is similar, that you talk of wisdom but keep evil and nurture evil within yourselves.
The Holy Prophet – may Allah send peace and blessings upon him – states:
A man will be thrown in hell whose intestines will be sticking out and he will run in circles like how a donkey runs in a circle tied to a grinding wheel. The residents of hell will say to him, “What happened to you? You used to preach to us.” He will say, “Yes I used to preach to you but not do it myself and I used to stop you from certain things but would indulge myself in it.
When Sayyidah Zulekha covered the idol’s face with a cloth, Sayyiduna Yusuf – peace be upon him – said to her, “What have you done that for?” She replied, “I have worshipped it my entire life and I feel awkward if he sees me in this condition.” He then said, “If you have these sorts of sentiments towards a stone then why should I not fear my Allah who sees me in every situation.”
The Garden of Eden is allocated for those who form the intention of committing a sin but then refrain from it due to My (Allah’s) Honor and are ashamed of doing something like that for My sake.
Sayyiduna Abdullah ibn Dinar narrates that while we were on our way to Makkah Mukarramah in the company of Sayyiduna ‘Umar – may Allah be pleased with them, he met a shepherd on the way and asked him to sell one of the sheep to him. He said that he could not since he was just a slave and not the owner. Sayyiduna ‘Umar tried to convince him, “You can simply tell your master that a wolf ate one of them, how would he find out?” He replied, “He definitely would not know, but my Lord will certainly know!” Sayyiduna ‘Umar bought and freed him, and said to him, “This sincerity has freed you in the world and it is this that will free you in the hereafter as well.”
Do not use Sacred ‘Ilm to earn Dunya:
Satan misleads many scholars into seeking wealth and name and fame which deprives them of the virtues of ‘Ilm.
The Holy Prophet – may Allah send peace and blessings upon him – has stated:
An Alim who attends the company of the rich and kings, stay away from him.
‘Ilm are not an asset that can be sold in exchange for worldly gains, name and fame, for it is the inheritance of Allah’s Prophets – peace be upon him. The One Who has provided them with knowledge it is upon Him to reward them, as He stated:
لَاۤ اَسْئَلُکُمْ عَلَیۡہِ مَالًا ؕ اِنْ اَجْرِیَ اِلَّا عَلَی اللہِ
I ask no wealth on it from you. My reward is only with Allah.
(Hood 11, Verse 29)
One must be the biggest fool to let go of such great reward and run after wealth and worldly goods. It is exchanging pearls for rusty coins.
Look at the noble character of Sayyiduna Moosa – peace be upon him – when Sayyidah Safoora offered to him as follows:
فَجَآءَتْہُ اِحْدٰىہُمَا تَمْشِیۡ عَلَی اسْتِحْیَآءٍ ۫ قَالَتْ اِنَّ اَبِیۡ یَدْعُوۡکَ لِیَجْزِیَکَ اَجْرَ مَا سَقَیۡتَ لَنَا ؕ
Then one of the two came to him walking bashfully and said, ‘my father invites you that he may give you wages for having watered our animals’.
(Al-Qasas 28, Verse 25)
He still refused to accept the invitation although he was in dire need of food. The message was clear that he did not accept to sell Deen in exchange for Dunya, but when Sayyiduna Shu’aib – peace be upon him – convinced him that it was not exchange and not as a wage but it was rather a gift to him, he accepted his invitation to eat. This was the case of feeding water to the cattle which is inferior to the service of ‘Ilm Deen, and yet people still sell their Deen for Dunya:
وَلَا تَشْتَرُوۡا بِاٰیٰتِیۡ ثَمَنًا قَلِیۡلًا ۫ وَّ اِیّٰیَ فَاتَّقُوۡنِ﴿۴۱﴾
And accept not a small price for My signs and dread Me alone.
(Al-Baqarah 2, Verse 41)
Six types of people fall under the description in the abovementioned verse:
- Those scholars who forge wrong Shariah laws and false narratives to impress the unjust kings and worldly authorities.
- Those Muftis and Jurists who issue wrong verdict for a bribe.
- Those rulers who are not kind and considerate towards their subjects.
- Those employees in authority who do not care for Shariah values in hoarding wealth.
- Fake Faqeers who downplay the importance of Shariah values of halal and haram and lead people astray into indulging in all sorts of vices and consider everything to be permissible. They even attack Shariah rules and never take them into consideration. They are misguided themselves and lead others into it along with them. They are like the Musailamah (imposter) of our time.
- Preachers and lecturers who exchange their Naseeha and discourses for materialistic values of Dunya, but those who are employed to teach children do not fall under this, for they are not charging for the education itself but rather for their time commitments, similar to a gate keeper who performs his duty from morning till evening.
Do not let knowledge sow the seeds of arrogance and pride in you. Not everyone can become an Alim but anyone can become a wannabe Alim. A parrot may chant the names of “Isa” and “Moosa” but in reality he is not aware of their status. One who considers this sort of thing as ‘Ilm, it is utter ignorance in itself.
If an insect eats away the entire book, it will still not make it an ‘Alim.
To claim that no one has more than you is far worse than that. Did you not see in the Quran?
وَفَوْقَ کُلِّ ذِیۡ عِلْمٍ عَلِیۡمٌ ﴿۷۶﴾
And above every man of knowledge there is One of more knowledge.
(Yusuf 12, Verse 76)
All that Sayyiduna Moosa – peace be upon him – has said to his nation was that in my knowledge there is none above me in knowledge. He was then commanded by Allah Almighty that there is a servant of His whom He had blessed with knowledge, so go to him and seek from it. Just think that if Allah Almighty could make Sayyiduna Moosa – peace be upon him – a student of Sayyiduna Khidhr – peace be upon him, then why would He tolerate cheap claims from people like yourself. It can never be that your knowledge is more than AwliyaAllah’s. It is like a drop in the ocean compared to their vast knowledge. The knowledge of Awliya is like a drop in comparison to the knowledge of Allah’s Prophets. The knowledge of Ambiya compared to that of Allah Almighty is likewise. It is for this reason that the Almighty considers the knowledge of the creation as very inferior:
وَمَاۤ اُوۡتِیۡتُمۡ مِّنَ الْعِلْمِ اِلَّا قَلِیۡلًا ﴿۸۵﴾
And you did not receive knowledge but a little.
(Bani Israel 17, Verse 85)
Seven types of ‘Ilm:
- Fard ‘Ain
The knowledge of the necessities of Deen upon which one’s Iman depends. Some Ulama say that the Hadeeth:
طَلَبُ الْعِلْمِ فَرِیْضَۃٌ عَلٰی کُلِّ مُسْلِمٍ وَّ مُسْلِمَۃٍ
The pursuit of knowledge is Fard upon every Muslim male and female.
The basic requirement of it is to learn the belief that Allah is Ahad/One, Al-Qadir/All-Powerful, Al-Hayy/Ever-Lasting, Al-Mutakallim/The Speaker, Al-Mureed/The Willer, Al-Samee’/All-Hearing, Al-Baseer/All-Seeing and Al-‘Alim/All-Knowing. He is attributed with all the attributes of excellence and free from all defects and shortcomings. Sayyiduna Muhammad – may Allah send peace and blessings upon him – is His Slave and Messenger. Whatever he brought from Allah Almighty is Haqq. The Day of Judgment is to come. The Angels and Books are Haqq. The Angels and Prophets are free from sins, and their Taubah and Istighfar is merely their humility. None can be parallel to them. Sayyiduna Muhammad – may Allah send peace and blessings upon him – is the best among them. The virtues of Prophets and Angels have a limit and are always increasing.
The Ulama have also said that whatever is Fard upon you, its knowledge is also Fard. If there is anything that could cause you harm then the knowledge of its cause also becomes Fard upon you.
Although it is not Fard ‘Ain to know chapters of Fiqh but rather it is above Fard ‘Ain, for people are in dire need of it.
The knowledge of the principles of Islamic Creed (‘Ilm al-Kalam), although it is frowned upon by some yet Fard al-Kifayah by some, but with the intention of helping the true Madhhab and refuting the enemies of Islam. It is by no means inferior to Fard ‘Ain. It is to safeguard people from satanic traps which in reality are the satans in humanly form; especially in our time, it is impossible to combat it without the help of ‘Ilm al-Kalam.
In my opinion, the knowledge of attaining Islamic morals and ethics is superior to both the abovementioned aspects of knowledge, for a man who is not aware of the ill effects of boastfulness and showing off will definitely be trapped in it, and as a matter of fact, no worship is valid if it is tainted with these traits. It is a shame that in this day and age, the knowledge of Deen, especially this sacred knowledge, has been extinct in the world. You will seldom find people who know a hundred or two hundred Shariah laws regarding Salah and fasting etc. but if you ask them about reliance/tawakkul, sabr/patience, shukr/gratitude, Khauf/fear, Rija/hope, ‘Ujab/boastfulness and showing off/Riya, they will not be able to respond at all, even though these things are mentioned more frequently in the Holy Quran than Salah, Fasting, Hajj and Zakah, but they limit the Commandments of Allah Almighty restricted to the chapters of Fiqh, and turn a blind eye from the fact that Fiqh deals with Halal and Haram and there are other sciences that deal with the heart and its actions.
- Fard al-Kifayah:
Such as the knowledge of Hadeeth sciences, Tafseer etc.
Such as; Arabic grammar and syntax for a better understanding of Quran and Hadeeth.
Thorough knowledge of Fiqh according to some Ulama, and the knowledge of the heart is mentioned under this section in Al Durr al-Mukhtar.
Such as; the medical science.
Such as; learning music.
Philosophy and Astrology, but I say that no knowledge or science is evil by itself but there are some external elements that make it such.
How the Preaching Should be Done:
One must keep the state of people in mind when delivering a discourse:
مَنْ لَمْ یَعْرفْ بِاَھْلِ زَمَانِہٖ فَھُوَ جَاھِلٌ
One who is unaware of the state of people in his time is ignorant.
If one sees it more befitting to the people if he instill in them the fear of Allah then he must do so and if he sees it more befitting to remind people of Allah’s infinite Mercy and rekindle the lost hope within their heart then he must do so, for Iman is between fear and hope. Ulama Rabbani are the heirs of Allah’s Prophets, and Allah Almighty had sent the Prophets with the following message:
فَبَعَثَ اللہُ النَّبِیّٖنَ مُبَشِّرِیۡنَ وَمُنۡذِرِیۡنَ۪
Thereafter Allah sent prophets giving good tidings and warning.
(Al-Baqarah 2, Verse 213)
The qualities of an Alim are that he does not let people go into despair of Allah’s Mercy and also he does not make them forgetful of Allah’s Anger and His Punishment, as Allah Almighty mentions it in the Holy Quran:
نَبِّئۡ عِبَادِیۡۤ اَنِّیۡۤ اَنَا الْغَفُوۡرُ الرَّحِیۡمُ ﴿ۙ۴۹﴾
Inform My bondmen that undoubtedly, I alone am the Forgiving, the Merciful.
وَ اَنَّ عَذَابِیۡ ہُوَ الْعَذَابُ الۡاَلِیۡمُ ﴿۵۰﴾
And that the torment of Mine is the torment painful.
(Al-Hijr 15, Verse 49-50)
Once a lecturer was delivering a discourse where he discussed the horrific events that will occur in hell in great details and rather exaggerated it. Sayyiduna Abdullah ibn Mas’ood – may Allah be pleased with him – was passing by and said, “Why is he making people hopeless of Allah’s Mercy? The Almighty states:
قُلْ یٰعِبَادِیَ الَّذِیۡنَ اَسْرَفُوۡا عَلٰۤی اَنۡفُسِہِمْ لَا تَقْنَطُوۡا مِنۡ رَّحْمَۃِ اللہِ ؕ اِنَّ اللہَ یَغْفِرُ الذُّنُوۡبَ جَمِیۡعًا ؕ اِنَّہٗ ہُوَ الْغَفُوۡرُ الرَّحِیۡمُ ﴿۵۳﴾
Say you, ‘O My bondmen who have committed excesses against their own souls ‘despair not of the mercy of Allah’ Undoubtedly, Allah forgives all sins, Verily He is the Forgiving, the Merciful.
(Zumar 39, Verse 53)
Great Ulama have said:
A city or town where their Alim only informs its people of Allah’s Mercy to keep people happy and does not warn them about Allah’s Punishment and Anger then there is no need for Iblees at such places.
Importance of Tasawwuf:
Along with external ‘Ilm, one also needs to acquire the spiritual knowledge of Tasawwuf, for one without the other does not represent the full picture.
The great Imam said:
مَنْ تَفَقَّہَ وَلَمْ یَتَصَوَّفَ تَفَسَّقَ وَمَنْ تَصَوَّفَ وَلَمْ یَتَفَقَّہْ تَزَنْدَقَ
One who learns Fiqh without Tasawwuf has become corrupt whereas he who learns Tasawwuf without Fiqh becomes a hypocrite.