Ramadan 2012 Prep Tip #1: Seek Knowledge… – Part 3
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
[In case any of you are still wondering HOW seeking knowledge will improve your Ramadan, I'll discuss that (with examples) in Part 6, insha-Allah.]
Some of the major obstacles to seeking knowledge
1. A kharban niyyah
Sorry, I meant to say “A messed up intention”.
This is the main reason for not getting anywhere with regards to seeking knowledge (or anything else for that matter).
من تعلم علما مما يبتغى به وجه الله عز وجل ، لا يتعلمه إلا ليصيب به عرضا من الدنيا لم يجد عرف الجنة يوم القيامة يعني – ريحها -
لا تعلموا العلم لتباهوا به العلماء ولا لتماروا به السفهاء ولا تخيروا به المجالس فمن فعل ذلك فالنار النار
It was narrated that Jaabir ibn Abdillah (radiallahu anhuma) that the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said: “Do not seek knowledge to compete with the scholars, nor to argue with the foolish people, nor to gain control of gatherings; for whoever does that – the Fire, the Fire!“ [Sunan ibn Majah, Hadeeth No. 254. Graded 'sahih' by Al-Albani in Sahih Sunan ibn Majah, Hadeeth No. 254. This hadeeth does have some weakness in its chain though.]
So knowledge needs to be sought for the sake of Allah alone.
Now, many people imagine that there will come a day when their intention will be perfect and there will no longer be any “bumps” on the road.
I’m sorry to burst the bubble, but that day will only come in our dreams.
We need to battle our intentions until we die. That’s what the earlier scholars did. Some of them took as much as TWENTY years to fix their intentions.
Remember the problem is not in battling the intention and trying to fix it. The problem is when a person assumes that he is sincere and doesn’t bother to correct his intentions!
2. Not understanding the importance and virtues of knowledge
If people realised just how important and virtuous the knowledge of Islam is, they would drop everything and run after it.
[Unfortunately, they have no idea, which is why they run after everything else!]
- Allah has singled out the people of knowledge, not the people of worldly status, in the Quran:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِذَا قِيلَ لَكُمْ تَفَسَّحُوا فِي الْمَجَالِسِ فَافْسَحُوا يَفْسَحِ اللَّـهُ لَكُمْ ۖ وَإِذَا قِيلَ انشُزُوا فَانشُزُوا يَرْفَعِ اللَّـهُ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا مِنكُمْ وَالَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْعِلْمَ دَرَجَاتٍ ۚ وَاللَّـهُ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ خَبِيرٌ
“O you who believe! When you are told to make room in the assemblies, (spread out and) make room. Allah will give you (ample) room (from His Mercy). And when you are told to rise up [for prayers, Jihad (fighting in Allah's Cause), or for any other good deed], rise up. Allah will exalt in degree those of you who believe, and those who have been granted knowledge. And Allah is Well-Acquainted with what you do.” [Surah Al-Mujaadilah (58) : 11]
- Many people imagine that because they have wealth, or children, or a great status, or a very nice degree, that Allah must be pleased with them.
Poor lost souls.
They have no idea that these sort of menial things are given to both believers and disbelievers.
When Allah wants good for a person, He gives them something very special.
سمعت النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم يقول : من يرد الله به خيرا يفقهه في الدين ، وإنما أنا قاسم والله يعطي ، ولن تزال هذه الأمة قائمة على أمر الله ، لا يضرهم من خالفهم ، حتى يأتي أمر الله
Narrated Muawiyah (radiallahu anhu) in a sermon: I heard Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) saying, “If Allah wants to do good to a person, He gives him fiqh (understanding) of the religion. I am just a distributor, but the grant is from Allah. (And remember) that this nation (true Muslims) will keep on following Allah’s teachings strictly and they will not be harmed by any one going on a different path until Allah’s order (Day of Judgment) is established.” [Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume No. 1, Hadeeth No. 71]
- In the Quran, there is only one thing that Allah has ordered the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) to supplicate for an increase in – and that is knowledge.
وَقُل رَّبِّ زِدْنِي عِلْمًا
“And say: “My Lord! increase me in knowledge.” [Surah Ta-Ha (20) : 114]
- Want an easy path to Paradise? Seek knowledge.
من نفس عن مؤمن كربة من كرب الدنيا ، نفس الله عنه كربة من كرب يوم القيامة . ومن يسر على معسر ، يسر الله عليه في الدنيا والآخرة . ومن ستر مسلما ، ستره الله في الدنيا والآخرة . والله في عون العبد ما كان العبد في عون أخيه . ومن سلك طريقا يلتمس فيه علما ، سهل الله له به طريقا إلى الجنة . وما اجتمع قوم في بيت من بيوت الله ، يتلون كتاب الله ، ويتدارسونه بينهم ، إلا نزلت عليهم السكينة ، وغشيتهم الرحمة وحفتهم الملائكة ، وذكرهم الله فيمن عنده . ومن بطأ به عمله ، لم يسرع به نسبه . غير أن حديث أبي أسامة ليس فيه ذكر التيسير على المعسر .
Narrated Abu Hurairah (radiallahu anhu): The Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said: “Whoever helps a believer with a hardship from the hardships of this life, Allah will help him with a hardship from the hardships of the Day of Resurrection. Whoever shows leniency towards someone in difficultly, Allah will show him leniency in this life and the hereafter. Whoever conceals (the faults of) a Muslim, Allah will conceal him in this life and the hereafter. And Allah will continue to aid the servant as long as the servant aids his brother. Whoever pursues a path seeking knowledge, Allah will make the path to Paradise easy for him. No group of people gather in one of the houses (masaajid) of Allah reciting the book of Allah and studying it amongst themselves, except that tranquility will descend upon them, mercy will cover them, the angels will surround them, and Allah will mention them to those with Him. And whoever is prevented by his deeds will not be hastened forward by his lineage.” [Sahih Muslim , Hadeeth No. 6518]
These are just some of the virtues of knowledge. There are many many more.
3. Running after the worldly knowledge at the expense of the Islamic knowledge
Recently, I read a very unfortunate article that made it seem as though the proofs (in the Quran and Sunnah) about the virtues of knowledge were about secular (if that’s the word you want to use) knowledge!
Subhan Allah, the knowledge being referred to is ISLAMIC knowledge. This is something that all the scholars have pointed out.
Now, I’m not asking people to not seek the “other” knowledge. I myself seek that type of knowledge.
However, we need to get our priorities straight.
People keep saying that they need to get the secular knowledge for the sake of dawah (calling to Islam) and to cause the ummah (Muslim nation) to become victorious over their enemies.
Well, the first thing you need in dawah (calling to the religion of Allah) is the knowledge of the religion of Allah. Makes sense, right?
And the ummah will be victorious when we seek this type of knowledge and act upon it. That’s the way the Companions of the Prophet (sallalahu alaihi wasallam) ended up ruling most of the world, after having been powerless before the advent of Islam!
وَعَدَ اللَّـهُ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا مِنكُمْ وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ لَيَسْتَخْلِفَنَّهُمْ فِي الْأَرْضِ كَمَا اسْتَخْلَفَ الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِهِمْ وَلَيُمَكِّنَنَّ لَهُمْ دِينَهُمُ الَّذِي ارْتَضَىٰ لَهُمْ وَلَيُبَدِّلَنَّهُم مِّن بَعْدِ خَوْفِهِمْ أَمْنًا ۚ يَعْبُدُونَنِي لَا يُشْرِكُونَ بِي شَيْئًا ۚ وَمَن كَفَرَ بَعْدَ ذَٰلِكَ فَأُولَـٰئِكَ هُمُ الْفَاسِقُونَ
“Allah has promised those among you who believe, and do righteous good deeds, that He will certainly grant them succession to (the present rulers) in the earth, as He granted it to those before them, and that He will grant them the authority to practice their religion, that which He has chosen for them (i.e. Islam). And He will surely give them in exchange a safe security after their fear (provided) they (believers) worship Me and do not associate anything (in worship) with Me. But whoever disbelieved after this, they are the Faasiqoon (rebellious, disobedient to Allah).” [Surah An-Nur (24) : 55]
How can people who don’t pray 5 times a day and don’t even know how to do wudhu (ablution) properly expect victory???? Who will give them victory? The Lord that they only remember in times of calamity? The Lord whose attributes they did not bother to learn about? The Lord whose religion they keep opposing???
Another problem with running after the worldly knowledge is that it is a collective obligation – whereas seeking Islamic knowledge is an individual obligation.
So, shouldn’t a person fulfill his individual obligation before he strives to fulfill his collective obligation?
And no, both types of knowledge are not mutually exclusive. People can seek both (assuming that the secular knowledge that is being sought is lawful), and if they are able to, they should seek both (as we need teachers, doctors, lawyers, engineers, etc in the ummah).
However, for the one who truly loves Allah and His Messenger, his focus will always be more on the Islamic knowledge, as was the case with the Companions of the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam).
A reminder to the parents: It is incumbent upon you to encourage your children to seek Islamic knowledge. Don’t just force them to focus on school.
Also, you need to set a good example for them by seeking Islamic knowledge yourself.
[Put your hands up if you've heard this story: Mother/Father push child to memorise the Quran when they themselves can't even recite Surah Al-Fatihah properly!]
4. Making excuses
We’re too busy to attend Islamic classes, aren’t we?
Question: Are we also too busy to do everything else? Or does this excuse come up with regards to Islam-related activities?
I would request that each and every one of us ponder over the question above.
5. Being too shy to seek knowledge or ask questions
Some people feel embarrassed about being ignorant of Islam so they feel too shy to attend classes.
As I mentioned in this post, all of us were born with zero knowledge. So, we shouldn’t feel ashamed that we don’t have knowledge.
What we should really be ashamed about is not trying to increase upon our current level of knowledge.
When I first started this journey of seeking knowledge, I knew….next to nothing. See, I was always embarrassed to ask, therefore I remained ignorant.
When I finally joined joined Islamic classes, I felt like the dumbest person in the class (no really).
In one class, they started to talk about “tajweed”. I had no clue what that was and just sat there waiting for somebody to translate the word!
[Tajweed is the science which explains how the Quran is recited.]
Another time, one of my friends was teaching kiddies (as young as eight years old) some duas (supplication). One of them was the one recited when a calamity strikes (this one). The kiddies already knew that.
However, that was the first time in my life that I had heard that dua! I felt so embarrassed that I, an adult, knew less than the kiddies.
I had lots of other “eye opening” moments. One of them was when I was going to Hajj.
I always thought that Hajj consisted on going around the Kaabah, going next door to a place called “Arafah” and supplicating and then going next door to “stone the Shaytaan”.
I was absolutely stunned to know that there was travelling and other acts involved.
At the end of the Hajj, I recall going to a bookstore with my uncle who used to live in Jeddah (which is an hour away from Makkah). One of the books was called “Book of Tawheed”.
“Book of….Taw….heed. What’s tawheed, uncle?”
His eyes popped out.
“Unity of worship.”
I didn’t quite understand that either but I thought it would be wise to keep silent.
[Actually, tawheed is singling out Allah in His Lordship, His Worship and His Names and Attributes.]
So, what am I trying to say?
Don’t be ashamed to go Islamic classes and ask questions. You’re not the only one who is going through this. We’ve all been there so don’t worry.
6. Not realising the vastness of knowledge
These days, people think that knowledge can be gained in 4 days.
Sorry, this knowledge is vast. Even if you spend your whole life seeking it, you won’t be able to.
And you don’t have to, because that is not the point.
However, one should not presume that one will turn into a scholar after attending a weekend seminar!
Insha-Allah, I’ll be addressing more issues regarding knowledge in the upcoming parts.
Note: If you have questions about knowledge that are not related to this part, then I would suggest that you wait until I have completed the entire series. Perhaps your answer will come in the next part.
To be continued…