بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
Some of the problems with the way knowledge is sought today
[The difference between the previous section (in Part 3) and this one is that the former discussed those who were NOT seeking knowledge, whereas the latter will discuss those who are already seeking knowledge.]
1) Seeking knowledge as a “fashion”
[One of my friends asked me to mention this on my blog. I told her that I was already planning to!]
What do I mean by this? Well, it seems that these days it’s all the trend to be a “student of knowledge”.
People attend a one week crash course on Islam and after that, they appoint themselves muftis of their area…
[It seems that everyone is trying to win the “How many fatwas can I pass in an hour” award.]
Subhan Allah, is this what knowledge is sought for? So that we can show everyone how “knowledgeable” and “pious” we are? Sadly, it seems that for some people, this is indeed the case.
Brothers and sisters, Islamic knowledge is not sought to increase us in the coolness factor, but rather to increase in the khashya (fear of Allah) factor:
إِنَّمَا يَخْشَى اللَّـهَ مِنْ عِبَادِهِ الْعُلَمَاءُ
“It is only those who have knowledge among his slaves that fear Allah.” [Surah Faatir (35) : 28]
So, as I mentioned in the last part, we need to keep our intentions in check. We shouldn’t be doing this to get entrance into celebrity shaikhdom.
2) Having bad thoughts about Allah
Many people today have very low ambitions with regards to seeking knowledge.
Instead of doing dua (supplication) to Allah, relying upon Him and having good thoughts about Him (i.e. that He would fulfill your duas and make it easy for you to get knowledge), many people just give up because they think they can’t do any better. They think seeking knowledge is very difficult.
What happens after this? Well, seeking knowledge does indeed become very difficult for them and they barely get to the low standard that they set for themselves.
They assume that they were right all along, when in reality, this difficulty arose as a punishment for them due to their bad thoughts about Allah.
يقول الله تعالى : أنا عند ظن عبدي بي ، وأنا معه إذا ذكرني ، فإن ذكرني في نفسه ذكرته في نفسي ، وإن ذكرني في ملأ ذكرته في ملأ خير منهم ، وإن تقرب إلي شبرا تقربت إليه ذراعا ، وإن تقرب إلي ذراعا تقربت إليه باعا ، وإن أتاني يمشي أتيته هرولة
مَا قَدَرُوا اللَّـهَ حَقَّ قَدْرِهِ ۗ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ لَقَوِيٌّ عَزِيزٌ
“They have not appraised Allah with true appraisal. Indeed, Allah is Powerful and Exalted in Might.” [Surah Al-Hajj (22) : 74]
This story (make sure to read until the end) will help you understand what I mean.
So, please Brothers and Sisters, have good thoughts about Allah and have high ambitions with regards to seeking knowledge.
3) Seeking knowledge from the wrong sources
This knowledge was sent down by Allah, the Most High, so we need to make sure we get it from the right sources.
What are the main sources? Well, the Quran and the Sunnah obviously. This is what Allah has ordered us to refer to.
[The Sunnah is the way of the Prophet Muhammad (sallallahi alaihi wasallam). The Sunnah has been transmitted to us via the authentic ahadeeth (plural of hadeeth).]
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا أَطِيعُوا اللَّـهَ وَأَطِيعُوا الرَّسُولَ وَأُولِي الْأَمْرِ مِنكُمْ ۖ فَإِن تَنَازَعْتُمْ فِي شَيْءٍ فَرُدُّوهُ إِلَى اللَّـهِ وَالرَّسُولِ إِن كُنتُمْ تُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللَّـهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ خَيْرٌ وَأَحْسَنُ تَأْوِيلًا
“O you who believe! Obey Allah and obey the Messenger (Muhammad), and those of you (Muslims) who are in authority. (And) if you differ in anything amongst yourselves, refer it to Allah and His Messenger, if you believe in Allah and in the Last Day. That is better and more suitable for final determination.” [Surah An-Nisaa (4) : 59]
[Note: “Those who are in authority” refers to the rulers and the scholars.]
Some people have been misled to believe that the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) only came with the Quran. They don’t believe in following the Sunnah.
If we are not required to follow the Sunnah, then why does Allah say:
مَا ضَلَّ صَاحِبُكُمْ وَمَا غَوَىٰ
وَمَا يَنطِقُ عَنِ الْهَوَىٰ
إِنْ هُوَ إِلَّا وَحْيٌ يُوحَىٰ
“Your companion (Muhammad) has neither gone astray nor has erred. Nor does he speak of (his own) desire. It is only an Inspiration that is inspired.” [Surah An-Najm (53) : 2-4]
And why does He say:
لَّقَدْ كَانَ لَكُمْ فِي رَسُولِ اللَّـهِ أُسْوَةٌ حَسَنَةٌ لِّمَن كَانَ يَرْجُو اللَّـهَ وَالْيَوْمَ الْآخِرَ وَذَكَرَ اللَّـهَ كَثِيرًا
“Indeed in the Messenger of Allah you have a good example to follow for him who hopes in (the Meeting with) Allah and the Last Day and remembers Allah much.” [Surah Al-Ahzab (33) : 21]
Unfortunately, some of these individuals (they call themselves “Quraniyoon” although they are far from being the people of the Quran!) will still reject all the ahadeeth (which is very dangerous because rejecting the Sunnah in its totality is major disbelief that expels a person from the fold of Islam).
Subhan Allah, the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallan) warned us about such people!
ألا إني أوتيت الكتاب ومثله معه ، ألا يوشك رجل شبعان على أريكته يقول : عليكم بهذا القرآن ، فما وجدتم فيه من حلال فأحلوه ، وما وجدتم فيه من حرام فحرموه ، ألا لا يحل لكم لحم الحمار الأهلي ، ولا كل ذي ناب من السبع ، ولا لقطة معاهد ، إلا أن يستغني عنها صاحبها ، ومن نزل بقوم فعليهم أن يقروه ، فإن لم يقروه فله أن يغصبهم بمثل قراه
It was narrated from Al-Miqdam ibn Madi Yakrib (radiallahu anhu) that the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said: “Verily, I have been given the Book and something like it with it, but soon a satiated man will be on his couch and he will say: ‘You should adhere to this Quran. Whatever you find permitted in it, take it as permissible, and whatever you find forbidden in it, take it as forbidden.’
But Lo! The domesticated donkey is not permissible for you (to eat), nor every predator that has fangs, not the lost property of a muahid (non-Muslim with whom there is a covenant) unless its owner has given it up.
Whoever stops among a people, they are obliged to entertain him, and if they do not entertain him, then he has the right to take from them an amount equivalent to that which they should have entertained him.” [Sunan Abee Dawood, Hadeeth No. 4604. Graded ‘sahih’ by Al-Albani, Sahih Sunan Abee Dawood, Hadeeth No. 4604.]
لا ألفين أحدكم متكئا على أريكته يأتيه الأمر من أمري مما أمرت به أو نهيت عنه فيقول : لا ندري ما وجدنا في كتاب الله اتبعناه
It was narrated from Ubaidullah ibn Abee Rafi from his father that the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said: “Let me not find one of you reclining on his couch, and when he hears of a command that I have enjoined or a prohibition that I have issued, he says: ‘We do not know; what we find in the Book of Allah, we follow.'” [Sunan Abee Dawood, Hadeeth No. 4605. Graded ‘sahih’ by Al-Albani, Sahih Sunan Abee Dawood, Hadeeth No. 4605.]
Of course, these people are unmoved by the above narrations because they don’t believe in them!
من أطاعني فقد أطاع الله ، ومن عصاني فقد عصى الله
The Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said: “He who obeys me, obeys Allah, and he who disobeys me, disobeys Allah.” [Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume No. 4, Hadeeth No. 204]
So, it makes no difference whether the order or prohibition is mentioned in the Quran or the Sunnah, as they both have the same legal weight (i.e. nobody can use “It’s not in the Quran, it’s only in the Sunnah” as an excuse).
Note: The ahadeeth have been gathered in many books by the early scholars. Some of these books like Sahih Al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim contain only authentic ahadeeth. However, the others contain both authentic and inauthentic (weak) ahadeeth, so one needs to check the scholars’ gradings of each hadeeth to determine its authenticity.
For example, if they say that it is “sahih” or “hasan” then that means that it is authentic. If they say “daeef” or “mawdoo” then this hadeeth is not accepted as it is not authentic. Of course, there are times when there is disagreement over the authenticity of a hadeeth.
To know more about this issue, one would need to study a subject called “Usool Al-Hadeeth”. I’ll discuss this in more detail in Part 6, insha-Allah.
Okay, so we’re all agreed that we need to follow the Quran and Sunnah. How do we interpret them though?
Do we use our own logic and desires? Or do we follow someone?
The answer is that we follow the the Quran and Sunnah according to the understanding of the Sahaabah (the Companions of the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam).
Why, you ask? Well, when Allah revealed the Quran and Sunnah (yes, this is also revelation), they were revealed with a particular understanding. Who better to ask than the generation that accompanied the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) and lived the events that surrounded the revelation of the Quran?
We know that Allah is pleased with them so how can we put our own understanding over theirs, when we don’t even know our own status before Allah and whether or not He is pleased with us???
Also, Allah and His Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) have praised the Sahaabah and asked us to follow them:
خير الناس قرني ، ثم الذين يلونهم ، ثم الذين يلونهم ، ثم يجيء من بعدهم قوم : تسبق شهادتهم أيمانهم ، وأيمانهم شهادتهم
Narrated by Abdullah (radiallahu anhu): The Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wassalam) said, “The best people are those of my generation, and then those who will come after them (the next generation), and then those who will come after them (i.e. the next generation), and then after them, there will come people whose witness will precede their oaths, and whose oaths will precede their witness.” [Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume No. 8, Hadeeth No. 437]
[Note: The first three generations are called the Sahaabah (the Companions), the Tabieen (the followers i.e. those that accompanied the Sahaabah) and the Atbaa At-Tabieen (the followers of the followers i.e. those that accompanied the Tabieen). These three generations are often referred to as the “Salaf” (i.e. the predecessors). So, we understand Islam according to the understanding of the Salaf due to the fact that they were singled out by the Prophet (sallallalahu alaihi wasallam).
When we say “Salaf”, we mean the whole group, not just one person. Hence, if they all agreed on a matter, we follow their opinion. End of discussion.]
[Note #2: It seems that today some people have become so brave that they think nothing of saying bad things about the Sahaabah. If we truly believe in Allah and the Last day, then we need to keep our mouths shut with regards to the Prophets (alaihissalam) and the Sahaabah (radiallahu anhum). These are the people that are the most beloved to Allah so we should never even dream of saying anything negative about any of them.]
وَالسَّابِقُونَ الْأَوَّلُونَ مِنَ الْمُهَاجِرِينَ وَالْأَنصَارِ وَالَّذِينَ اتَّبَعُوهُم بِإِحْسَانٍ رَّضِيَ اللَّـهُ عَنْهُمْ وَرَضُوا عَنْهُ وَأَعَدَّ لَهُمْ جَنَّاتٍ تَجْرِي تَحْتَهَا الْأَنْهَارُ خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا أَبَدًا ۚ ذَٰلِكَ الْفَوْزُ الْعَظِيمُ
“And the first to embrace Islam of the Muhajiroon (those who migrated from Makkah to Al-Madinah) and the Ansar (the citizens of Al-Madinah who helped and gave aid to the Muhajiroon) and also those who followed them exactly (in Faith). Allah is well-pleased with them as they are well-pleased with Him. He has prepared for them Gardens under which rivers flow (Paradise), to dwell therein forever. That is the supreme success.” [Surah At-Tawbah (9) :100]
أتينا العرباض بن سارية ، وهو ممن نزل فيه ولا على الذين إذا ما أتوك لتحملهم قلت لا أجد ما أحملكم عليه فسلمنا ، وقلنا : أتيناك ؛ زائرين ، وعائدين ، ومقتبسين . فقال العرباض : صلى بنا رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم ذات يوم ، ثم أقبل علينا ، فوعظنا موعظة بليغة ، ذرفت منها العيون ، ووجلت منها القلوب . فقال قائل : يا رسول الله ! كأن هذه موعظة مودع ، فماذا تعهد إلينا ؟ فقال : أوصيكم بتقوى الله والسمع والطاعة وإن عبدا حبشيا ، فإنه من يعش منكم بعدي فسيرى اختلافا كثيرا ، فعليكم بسنتي وسنة الخلفاء المهديين الراشدين تمسكوا بها ، وعضوا عليها بالنواجذ ، وإياكم ومحدثات الأمور فإن كل محدثة بدعة ، وكل بدعة ضلالة
Abdur Rahman ibn Amr As-Sulami and Hujr ibn Hujr said: “We came to Al-Irbaad ibn Saariyah who was one of those concerning whom the ayah (verse)
وَلَا عَلَى الَّذِينَ إِذَا مَا أَتَوْكَ لِتَحْمِلَهُمْ قُلْتَ لَا أَجِدُ مَا أَحْمِلُكُمْ عَلَيْهِ
“Nor (is there blame) on those who came to you to be provided with mounts, and when you said: ‘I can find no mounts for you,’…” [Surah At-Tawbah (9): 92]
was revealed. We greeted him and said: ‘We have come to you, to visit you, and benefit from you.’ Al-Irbaad said: ‘The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) led us in prayer one day, then he turned to face us, and he exhorted us in an eloquent speech upon which our eyes filled with tears, and our hearts filled with fear. Someone said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, it is as if this is a farewell address. What do you enjoin upon us?’ He said: ‘I enjoin you to fear Allah, and to hear and obey, even if (the leader appointed over you) be an Ethiopian slave. Whoever among you lives after I am gone will see great disputes. You must adhere to my Sunnah and the way of the rightly guided khalifas. Hold on to it and cling fast to it. And beware of newly invented matters, for every newly invented matter is an innovation, and even innovation is a deviation.'” [Sunan Abee Dawood, Hadeeth No. 4607. Graded ‘sahih’ by Al-Albani in Sahih Sunan Abee Dawood, Hadeeth No. 4607.]
[The rightly guided khalifas are Abu Bakr As-Siddeeq, Umar ibn Al-Khattab, Uthman ibn Al-Affan and Ali ibn Abee Taalib (radiallahu anhum), the four best Companions. Other scholars also added Al-Hasan ibn Alee ibn Abee Taalib (radiallahu anhu) as one of the rightly guided khalifas as some ahadeeth point to the rightly guided caliphate as totaling 30 years and the first four khalifas only total 29.5 years in their rule so they added the 6 months of Al-Hasan’s rule to that.]
This isn’t the only hadeeth where the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) foretold the fitnah (trials and tribulations). The following hadeeth is something that should really stun us into action:
ليأتين على أمتي ما أتى على بني إسرائيل حذو النعل بالنعل حتى إن كان منهم من أتى أمه علانية لكان في أمتي من يصنع ذلك . وإن بني إسرائيل تفرقت على ثنتين وسبعين ملة ، وتفترق أمتي على ثلاث وسبعين ملة كلهم في النار إلا ملة واحدة ، قال من هي يا رسول الله ؟ قال : ما أنا عليه وأصحابي
Abdullah ibn Amr (radiallahu anhu) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said: “What befell Bani Israil will befall my Ummah (nation), step by step, such that if there was one who had intercourse with his mother in the open, there would be someone from my Ummah who would do that. Indeed, Bani Israil split into 72 sects and my Ummah will split into 73 sects. All of them in the Fire except one sect.” He (Abdullah ibn Amr) said: “And which is it, O Messenger of Allah?” He said: “What I and my Companions are upon.” [Sunan At-Tirmidhi, Hadeeth No. 2641. Graded ‘hasan’ by Al-Albani in Sahih Sunan At-Tirmidhi, Hadeeth No. 2641.]
والذي نفس محمد بيده لتفترقن أمتي على ثلاث وسبعين فرقة واحدة في الجنة وثنتان وسبعون في النار قيل يا رسول الله من هم قال الجماعة
The Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam): “I swear by the One in Whose Hand is the soul of Muhammad, my Ummah will split into 73 sects, one in Paradise and 72 in the Fire.” It was said: “O Messenger of Allah, who are they?” He said: “Al-Jamaah (the main body)”. [Sunan Ibn Majah, Hadeeth No. 3992. Graded ‘sahih’ by Al-Albani in Sahih Sunan Ibn Majah, Hadeeth No. 3992.]
A few points about this hadeeth:
1) The saved sect is referred to as Ahlus Sunnah wal Jamaah (the people of the Sunnah) and the other sects are generally referred to as Ahlul Bidaa (the people of innovation). Of course, Ahlul Bidaa is composed of several sects like the Shia, the Sufis, etc. And of course, sects like the Shia and the Sufis are composed of even more sub-sects…
2) People should not assume that these 73 sects are all equal sized! It could be that some of them are large whilst others have a few followers.
Ahlus Sunnah, on the other hand, is quite large, because the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) called them “Al-Jamaah”.
3) “In the fire” does not necessarily mean that all these sects and those who follow them are out of the fold of Islam. Some of them are but many of them are not. As the scholars pointed out, some of these will remain in the fire forever (i.e. as they exited the fold of Islam) but many of them will be there for a time and not for eternity as they were still Muslims.
4) For those who are always confused about all the different groups and who to follow, the answer is provided in this hadeeth: Follow the Sahaabah.
When the Sahaabah (radiallahu anhum) or the scholars after them agreed over a particular issue, we are obliged to follow that opinion because Allah says:
وَمَن يُشَاقِقِ الرَّسُولَ مِن بَعْدِ مَا تَبَيَّنَ لَهُ الْهُدَىٰ وَيَتَّبِعْ غَيْرَ سَبِيلِ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ نُوَلِّهِ مَا تَوَلَّىٰ وَنُصْلِهِ جَهَنَّمَ ۖ وَسَاءَتْ مَصِيرًا
“And whoever contradicts and opposes the Messenger (Muhammad) after the right path has been shown clearly to him, and follows other than the believers’ way. We shall keep him in the path he has chosen, and burn him in Hell – what an evil destination.” [Surah An-Nisaa (4) : 115]
So, we need to make sure that we follow the ijmaa (consensus) of the scholars.
What about if we have some questions? Who do we ask? After all, the Salaf aren’t around!
Well, we ask the people of knowledge:
فَاسْأَلُوا أَهْلَ الذِّكْرِ إِن كُنتُمْ لَا تَعْلَمُونَ
“So ask of those who know the Scripture if you know not.” [Surah An-Nahl (16) : 43]
Subhan Allah, we need to take advantage of the true scholars before they die, because this is how the knowledge is taken away – with their deaths:
سمعت رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم يقول : إن الله لا يقبض العلم انتزاعا ينتزعه من العباد ، ولكن يقبض العلم بقبض العلماء ، حتى إذا لم يبق عالما ، اتخذ الناس رؤوسا جهالا ، فسئلوا ، فأفتوا بغير علم ، فضلوا وأضلوا
Narrated Abdullah ibn Amr ibn Al-Aas (radiallahu anhuma): I heard Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) saying, “Allah does not take away the knowledge, by taking it away from (the hearts of) the people, but takes it away by the death of the religious learned men till when none of the (religious learned men) remains, people will take as their leaders ignorant persons who when consulted will give their verdict without knowledge. So they will go astray and will lead the people astray.” [ٍSahih Al-Bukhari, Volume No. 1, Hadeeth No. 100]
And we should make sure to ask TRUSTWORTHY scholars not just anybody:
عَنْ مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ سِيرِينَ، قَالَ إِنَّ هَذَا الْعِلْمَ دِينٌ فَانْظُرُوا عَمَّنْ تَأْخُذُونَ دِينَكُمْ
Muhammad ibn Sireen said, ““Knowledge is religion so be careful from whom you take your religion” [Sahih Muslim, Hadeeth No. 26 of the Introduction]
This statement of Muhammad ibn Sireen is a rule that we should all live by. After all, who do we take our knowledge from? How did we judge whether they were upon the truth or not?
So, to all the readers, please apply this principle to every place where you get any sort of Islamic information – starting from this blog. [Yes, of course, you need to apply this principle to this blog as well. You thought I was going to exclude myself from the scrutiny?]
The scholars have a saying: The truth is not known by men. Men are known by the truth.
This means that you don’t take the person as being right and then follow him in everything. Rather you put the Quran and the Sunnah first, and then follow the person based on that.
After all, just because someone talks nicely and seems to be knowledgeable, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are right.
أنه قدم رجلان من المشرق فخطبا ، فعجب الناس لبيانهما ، فقال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم : ( إن من البيان لسحرا ، أو : إن بعض البيان لسحر )
Narrated Abdullah ibn Umar (radialalhu anhuma): Two men came from the East and addressed the people who wondered at their eloquent speeches. On that Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said: “Some eloquent speech is as effective as magic.” [Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume No. 7, Hadeeth No. 662]
This hadeeth points to the dangers of those who are eloquent upon falsehood (it’s okay to be eloquent upon the truth), because these people will then mislead others due to their eloquence despite their lack of proofs from the Quran and the Sunnah. A very common occurrence these days!
The Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) warned us about these liars:
“ سَيَكُونُ فِي آخِرِ أُمَّتِي أُنَاسٌ يُحَدِّثُونَكُمْ مَا لَمْ تَسْمَعُوا أَنْتُمْ وَلاَ آبَاؤُكُمْ فَإِيَّاكُمْ وَإِيَّاهُمْ ”
The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wassalam) said: “There will be in the latter part of my Ummah a people that will relate to you ahadeeth of which you and your fathers never heard previously. So let you and them beware.” [Sahih Muslim, Hadeeth No. 15 of the Introduction]
“ يَكُونُ فِي آخِرِ الزَّمَانِ دَجَّالُونَ كَذَّابُونَ يَأْتُونَكُمْ مِنَ الأَحَادِيثِ بِمَا لَمْ تَسْمَعُوا أَنْتُمْ وَلاَ آبَاؤُكُمْ فَإِيَّاكُمْ وَإِيَّاهُمْ لاَ يُضِلُّونَكُمْ وَلاَ يَفْتِنُونَكُمْ ”
The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wassalam) said: “There will be in the last days liars and fabricators. They will come to you with ahadeeth of which you never heard, you or your fathers, so let you and them beware that they will not misguide you, and be a trial for you.” [Sahih Muslim, Hadeeth No. 16 of the Introduction]
So, we need to be cautious.
[Note: For those who would like to read more about this issue, a good place to start is the book where three of these ahadeeth are from: The Introduction to Sahih Muslim. This wasn’t been translated in the older versions of Sahih Muslim, but has been translated in the new Darussalam translation. However, you can read a separate translation of it here. You can read the ahadeeth in Arabic here.]
Now, someone might ask: How do we know which scholars to follow?
Insha-Allah, I’ll mention some tips (yes, tips not names) on how to do that in Part 6. However, the first way would be to do dua to Allah asking Him to guide you to the truth.
And Allah knows Better.
To be continued…
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…
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
[Here’s Part 1.]
I mentioned the three types of answers that I got in the survey and why one set was right, the second set was sort of right and the third set was not so right.
So, let’s go through it over again:
[Note: Some answers can be looked at from more than one perspective which would change which group they belonged to.]
1) The ones who got it right were doing it to get closer to Allah.
There’s no argument about this one.
A warning: Yes, this is the correct intention but we need to make sure that it really IS our intention and not what we THINK our intention is.
Sincerity is one of the toughest things to attain – and it’s not attained in one go. One needs to keep working on it and keep fighting oneself.
The ones who are sure that they are sincere are most definitely insincere.
So, one needs to do lots of dua (supplication) to Allah asking for sincerity and also keep taking account of oneself and one’s intentions.
2) The ones who were sort of in the middle were doing it for a reason that led to the main reason.
The answers were as follows:
– Reminding oneself about Islam
I thought about putting this answer in the third group but I didn’t because the implications of this answer differed from the implications of the third group’s answers.
This is an acceptable reason to seek knowledge and it leads to the main reason. The person realises that she needs to be reminded about the religion of Allah and hence needs to be reminded about Allah.
However, some people could also seek knowledge for this reason and miss the boat completely so one needs to be careful.
– Reminding oneself of the hereafter
I thought of putting this answer with the first group but I didn’t due to the way it was phrased.
Yes, this is also a reason for seeking knowledge but we should also remember that we were created to worship Allah alone and seeking knowledge is a way of worshipping Him. The Hereafter is the “reward” for this: Paradise for the good guys (i.e. those who worshipped Him alone) and Hell for the bad guys (those who did not worship Him alone).
– To improve oneself
This is a very common reason and it’s not wrong. However, this is a means and not an end.
Why should we improve ourselves? Well, because we can then become better worshippers of Allah and so attain a higher level of Paradise.
So, this is a goal but not the ultimate goal, rather it leads to it.
– To feel the foretaste of Paradise
I overlooked this one in Part 1 (sorry!).
Yes, seeking knowledge does give us the “foretaste” of Paradise for many reasons (the feeling of closeness to Allah, the reminder of the Hereafter, etc). This is a FRUIT of seeking knowledge though, not the main reason for doing so.
So, if the sister meant that she was seeking knowledge to feel close to Allah, then this answer is correct and would belong to the first group. If she meant that she wanted to feel “nice”, then this answer is not so correct and would belong to the third group.
[As I cannot read minds, I decided to take the safe route and put her in the second group….]
3) The not-so-right ones
Why did I say that they were not right? Well, because they missed the point.
Someone pointed out that perhaps they were still doing it for Allah and so would get the rewards.
Well, I cannot comment as to the intentions of people. I can only comment on what they’ve told me.
From what I could understand, and Allah knows Better, it seems that these reasons do NOT lead to the proper reason i.e. doing it for the sake of Allah.
[However, I did try to look at it from another perspective in order to give them the benefit of the doubt.]
Let me go through each reason and explain further:
– Just for the sake of seeking knowledge
Knowledge is not sought for its sake. Even acts like salah (prayer), zakah, fasting, etc are not done for their own sake. All of them are done in order to know and worship the Creator.
Knowledge is a means i.e a means to worship. Knowledge (of Islam and the Shariah) tells us WHY we need to worship Allah, and HOW we need to worship and the REWARD we get for doing that.
Yes, seeking knowledge is itself an act of worship but like all acts of worship, it needs to be accompanied by the proper intention i.e. seeking the Face of Allah.
Variations of the above reason (i.e. seeking knowledge just for its sake) included thirst/yearning/desire for more knowledge.
The reason I put them all together is that they all lead to the same thing: being excited about seeking knowledge for its own sake and missing the point of the whole thing.
And this is something very dangerous.
I always assumed that feeling excited about seeking knowledge meant that one was sincere – until I come across a certain article that is.
In it, the shaikh pointed out that some people get excited about knowledge for its own sake. It makes them feel “the rush”, you see. He pointed out this was not the right reason to seek knowledge.
I was very shocked to read that because it never occurred to me we might get excited by the knowledge itself, rather than the end that it was supposed to lead to.
After a lot of reflection, I realised that he had a point. Many times, seeking knowledge is a “thrilling activity” to such a degree that people even compete in this act – not for the reward, but for information gathering!
So then we get a bunch of people who are in danger of being amongst the following group:
حَتَّىٰ زُرْتُمُ الْمَقَابِرَ
“The mutual rivalry for piling up of worldly things diverts you, until you visit the graves (i.e. till you die).” [Surah At-Takathur (102): 1-2]
Think about it.
– To know/feel the beauty of the Quran or Islam; the sadness about not knowing about Islam
Many people find Islam and the Quran beautiful. The disbelievers in the Prophet’s (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) time found the Quran so mesmerising that they would actually go to listen to it being recited!
So wanting to “feel” the beauty of Islam and Quran is not the purpose, rather the purpose is to know Allah and to worship Him.
Yes, Islam and the Quran are beautiful. One of the things that we can derive from that is that the Majesty of Allah, and that should cause us to strengthen our relationship with Him.
Another sister said that she sought knowledge because she felt the sadness about not knowing about Islam. I almost put this one in the second group but then I decided against it.
If she meant that she was sad about not knowing how to worship Allah, then this this answer would belong in the second group.
However, if she meant that she was sad not to learn about Islam due to its beauty, then I would say this is not quite the right answer. As I said above, knowledge of Islam is not sought for its sake but rather due to what it leads to.
Allah has not ordered us to learn each and every aspect of Islam. Rather, we have been ordered to try our best, so we should remember that.
Also, as many of the scholars pointed out, the important thing is to ACT upon your knowledge, even if it (i.e. the knowledge that you possess) is very little. So we should be sad at not practicing the aspects of Islam that we know about, rather than being sad at not knowing every aspect of Islam.
– Greater understanding in order to answer other people’s questions
A lot of people seek knowledge for the above reason. Sadly, it is not the right reason.
Why not? Because it implies that we are learning about our Creator and His religion (okay, so Islam is actually a “deen” i.e. a way of life) in order to answer other people’s questions!
Remember something, brothers and sisters: Islam is the absolute truth. Each and every aspect of it is correct, because it was revealed by the Creator, who is Perfect in every way, therefore His deen is also perfect.
Just because many people do not understand this very simple point, it does not make Islam any less perfect.
Now, there is nothing wrong with trying to correct other people’s misunderstandings. In fact, this is something that we should all strive to do. However, we shouldn’t make this the main reason for learning about Islam. Rather, we should make sure to seek it in order to first strengthen our own knowledge about Allah.
Sadly, we find many people who try to correct other people’s misconceptions about Islam, yet they themselves are not firm in their understanding of Islam!
Now, if the sister meant that she wanted to seek knowledge in order to call people to the worship of Allah, then this would be a secondary reason for seeking knowledge (as per Imam Ahmad’s statement which I mentioned in the first part) . However as I said, the main reason should be to first call ourselves to worship Allah.
– To do ijtihad on day to day issues.
The meaning of ijtihad is to try to arrive at the correct ruling of something. As such, ijtihad is the role of scholars and not the role of laymen.
If the sister meant that she was trying to seek knowledge in order to deduce the correct rulings of everything, well I think that she should first seek knowledge for at least 30 years, because I don’t think anyone can become a mujtahid in less than that time!
However, if she meant that she wishes to know how to worship Allah properly and so wants to learn about the proper way to pray, do wudhu, fast, keep family relations, etc, then this answer would be in the first group.
So, the above were my thoughts on the answers give by many of you.
I’m not saying that I’m right. I’m just asking you to think over what I said.
If what I said is not correct, then as always, you are free to share your input (and you are also free to throw my words into your brains’ Recycle Bin).
In the next part, insha-Allah, I’ll mention more issues related to seeking knowledge.
And Allah knows Better.
To be continued…
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
Insha-Allah, I’ll be starting a new series on preparing for Ramadan 2012 (much like the ones I had the previous 2 years).
I think that all of us need to work on the following ahead of Ramadan:
1) Ibaadah (worship)
This includes our prayers, fasting, charity, dua (supplication), adhkar (remembrance), reciting the Quran, etc.
2) Seeking knowledge
This is something that each and every one of us needs to do: seek knowledge.
Why? Because we need to worship Allah based on knowledge, not on our own fantasies, desires or logic.
So in order for us to worship Him based on knowledge, we need to learn this knowledge first. Simple, isn’t it?
Insha-Allah, the first few posts of this series will focus on this aspect because this is the main problem that most people have (from what I’ve seen anyway).
I’m going to cover learning Arabic (and understanding the Quran), as well as give an overview of the various sciences of Islam.
3) Health and Fitness
[Yes, I am rather obsessed with this topic. I’m sure you’ve noticed.]
So, we want to fast the whole day (without sleeping) and not end up stuffing our faces at iftar time.
We also want to then stand up in prayer the whole night without dozing off.
Okay, this is not going to happen if the only time we use the word “walk” in our daily lives is “I’m going to walk to the elevator.”
We need to MOVE. And we also need to eat properly.
This is our third major problem (after lack of knowledge and ibaadah). It’s one of the reasons why many of us are always tired. We’re just not fit enough.
So, in order for us NOT to sleepwalk through Ramadan, we have to start working on this aspect.
4) Logistics and planning
Okay, I wasn’t sure how to phrase this one. What I meant was all the other stuff that we need to take care of.
For example, suppose you are not sure what you’ll be doing come July and August (especially as this is holiday time for most people). You need to plan and make sure that the environment you’ll be in is conducive to having a proper Ramadan.
Many people want to have their summer holidays so they go abroad. Well, one needs to make sure that they aren’t going for Kenyan safaris during Ramadan, if you know what I mean.
So, those are the four areas that I plan to cover, inshaAllah.
[I had originally planned to make worksheets as I’ve found them to be very helpful, but seeing that most people have difficulty finding time to participate in polls and surveys, etc, I realised that it wouldn’t be very helpful because most people wouldn’t use them.]
Are there any others that you can think of? If so, please do share, barakallahu feekum.
As for the other series, yes, I plan to continue with them as well, insha-Allah. This will include the Lord of the Worlds series.
Are there any other things that you’d like me to focus on? Or any particular topics that you’d like me to address? As I’ve said before, this is our blog, not my blog.
[I’ve read all the previous suggestions and I plan to implement them, insha-Allah. I meant something else in addition to these.]
Lastly, please remember that if we truly want something, we will put in the effort. [Remember this post?]
PS. I don’t think I’ll be very consistent in posting for the next 2.5 months because of other work that I need to focus on. I’ll try, insha-Allah but no promises.
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
[Question: How’s Habit No. 1 coming along? What difficulties are you encountering along the way?
Tip: Set yourself a short task after Fajr and tell yourself that you cannot go back to sleep until you do it. You can start with a small 10-15 minute task in the beginning (e.g. read a few pages of tafsir or a few ahadeeth).
After doing this for a few days, you could increase the time for the chosen task to 20 mins and so on.
The task doesn’t have to be the same every day.]
However, I’ve noticed that most of the people that I meet seem to be depressed. So I thought that another article on depression might be in order.
[Note: In addition to the ways mentioned in the article below, I would also add the following three ways: 1) Drowning yourself in seeking Islamic knowledge especially tawheed and tafsir of the Quran 2) Helping the needy on a regular basis and 3) Drinking “talbeenah” (check the botton of the article).
Shaykh Saleem al-Hilaalee hafidhahullaah
Mankind comes across many afflictions and trials, sometimes in overwhelming sequences. Removing the darkness of these worries, distresses, depression and grief is a very important matter to which Islaam gives serious attention…
Indeed the greatest darkness to envelope mankind and surely his greatest affliction is disbelief in Allah and to associate partners with Him in any form (kufr and shirk).
Allah is the Protector of those who have faith He will lead them from the depths of darkness into light. . As for those who disbelieve, their patrons are the devils: from light they will lead them forth into the depths of darkness. They will be companions of the fire, to dwell therein (for ever). AL-BAQARAH 2.257
Whereby Allah guides him who seeks His good pleasure to paths of peace and safety. He brings them out of darkness unto light by His decree, and guides them unto a straight path. AL-MAAIDAH 5.016
Those who deny Our revelations are deaf and dumb in darkness. Whoever Allah wills He sends astray, and whom He wills He places on a straight path. AL-AN’AM 6.039
The scholars of Islaam have extracted from the Qur’aan and the authentic Sunnah many remedies and cures to help us in our daily affairs and remove our problems.
Singling out Allah alone, Glory be to Him, for all types of worship and recognising His Lordship and having faith in the unity of His Lofty Names and Attributes. There would be anarchy if there was more than one deity.
If there were, in the heavens and the earth, other gods besides Allah, there would have been confusion in both! But glory to Allah, the Lord of the Throne, (High is He) above what they attribute to Him! AL-ANBIYA’ 21.022
Allah strikes a comparison between a Muslim and a mushrik (disbeliever). The man with one master (i.e. upon Tawheed) has no worries as to who to obey, so he has no confusion nor dilemmas. The second man is confused as to who to obey first, in whom he must put his trust especially as they are quarrelling amongst each other. The mushrik is left to Shaitaan and his desires to direct him out of his confusion. However the Muslim who recognises his Lord as One, knows that Allah is the One who rescues His slave when he is in grief.
Allah puts forth a parable; a man belonging to many partners quarrelling with each other, and a man belonging entirely to one master: are those two equal? Praise be to Allah! But most of them have no knowledge. AZ-ZUMAR 39.029
In the beautiful story of Yusuf (alayhe as-salaam) his fellow prisoners were in distress to know the meaning or interpretation of their dreams.
Now with him there came into the prison two young men. Said one of them: “I see myself (in a dream) pressing wine.” The other said: “I see myself (in a dream) carrying bread on my head, and birds eating it.” (They said) “Tell us the meaning of the dreams, for we see that you are a good doer.” YUSUF 12.036
o what was the first thing that this noble prophet of Allah (alayhe as-salaam) said to his companions? What was his reply? He called them to that which will provide them with immediate relief – the b lief that there is no deity worthy of worship except Allah – at-Tawheed.
“O my two companions of the prison! (I ask you): are many lords differing among themselves better, or Allah, the Supreme and Irresistible?” YUSUF 12.039
Mankind without Tawheed is astray, captured by Shaitaan and there lives in chaos as explained in Allah’s statement:
Don’t you see that We have set the devils on the disbelievers to confound them with confusion? MARYAM 19.083
So the one upon true Tawheed, Allah helps him and removes grief from him. There are many verses which eludes to this but suffice us for the moment the story of Yunus (alayhe as-salaam). He (alayhe as-salaam) had lost hope in his people who were not responding to his call to Islaam. So he (alayhe as-salaam) left them and eventually Allah caused him (alayhe as-salaam) to be in the belly of a large fish.
So wait with patience for the Command of your Lord, and be not like the Companion of the Fish, when he cried out in deep sorrow. AL-QALAM 68.048
In his sorrow and anguish, Yunus (alayhe as-salaam) cried out, but to whom? He (alayhe as-salaam) called his Lord.
And remember Dhun-Nun (Yunus), when he went off in anger: He imagined that We had no power over him! But he cried through the depths of darkness, “There is no deity worthy of worship except You, glorified and exhalted be You, indeed I was from the wrong-doers!” AL-ANBIYA’ 21.087
Darkness upon darkness enveloped him (alayhe as-salaam):
a) the darkness of the depths of the ocean,
b) the darkness of the belly of the fish,
c) the darkness of the night.
He (alayhe as-salaam) called upon Allah, the One who can remove all distresses, he called upon Him with correct at-Tawheed and Allah removed his worries immediately.
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
So, how much did we all start with, you ask?
Well, we started with:
وَاللَّـهُ أَخْرَجَكُم مِّن بُطُونِ أُمَّهَاتِكُمْ لَا تَعْلَمُونَ شَيْئًا وَجَعَلَ لَكُمُ السَّمْعَ وَالْأَبْصَارَ وَالْأَفْئِدَةَ ۙ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَشْكُرُونَ
“And Allah has extracted you from the wombs of your mothers not knowing a thing, and He made for you hearing and vision and intellect that perhaps you would be grateful.” [Surah An-Nahl (16) : 78]
So, that’s how all of us started life: without knowing anything.
That’s how all the laymen started life and that’s how all the scholars of Islam started life. Everyone got the same starting point.
A few words of advice:
1) We always have this assumption that people were born in a certain way, so we assume that we cannot become that way.
So, we’ll read the book of a certain shaikh and find him to be a man of great knowledge, yet it never occurs to us that this shaikh was also ignorant once upon a time and that he had to STRIVE to attain all that knowledge. He wasn’t born with it.
So, because we never realise that he did not get a head start, it never occurs to most of us that, with the help of Allah, we could also get to the same level as that shaikh, or perhaps even more.
On the contrary, we say things like “Oh but that person has so much knowledge” in order to excuse ourselves from doing more.
2) Many Muslims feel embarrassed about not knowing much about Islam.
Well, as you can see, we were all there at one point in time so that’s not an excuse not to do one’s best to learn more.
Don’t worry about the past, just focus on the future.
3) The ayah clearly states why we were granted sight, hearing and intellect.
Why? So that we would be grateful.
How is one grateful to Allah? By worshipping Him alone and by being obedient to Him.
Seeking (Islamic) knowledge is a great act of worship and it teaches one how to perform the other acts of worship.
So, what’s stopping us from seeking knowledge?
PS. This issue was one of the steps of Project “Recover Ramadan” but I want to reemphasize this point again due to its great importance.
Do you know the great thing about audio lectures?
They’re great for people who have no time to read e.g. people who are always commuting or women who live in the kitchen.
Subhan Allah, we can attain so much benefit from them but unfortunately they are an underutilized resource.
For those who like to listen to audio lectures, here’s a nice, authentic (from what I can see) site that has loads of beneficial lectures (single and series) mostly in English (but also in Arabic, Urdu and Bengali):
It’s a good site with lots of varying topics and lecturers.
[Sorry for taking so long with this series and the other series as well. This series has many more parts to come, insha-Allah.]
6) Understand that learning Arabic is a means of being steadfast in our religion.
The last Recover Ramadan post was about asking Allah to make our hearts steadfast on this religion.
Dua is one way to remain steadfast on the religion. (And we have to be steadfast on it. Who wants to go to Hell anyway???)
Seeking knowledge is another way to do so. Tawheed is the most important subject and is basically related to all the other subjects. (Yes, yes, yes. All the other Islamic sciences are related to tawheed.)
Learning Arabic is also part of seeking knowledge. In fact, it is one of the keys to seeking knowledge.
After all, where does the knowledge of Islam come from? The Quran and the Sunnah.
Which language are they in? Arabic, of course. Even their major commentaries are in Arabic!
So, in order to properly understand the Quran and the Sunnah, we have to learn Arabic.
Now, you might say “Hey, they’ve been translated.”
a) Do you know that the Quran is a literary miracle? The Pagan Arabs were the best poets of their time but they could not come up with something better than the Quran.
If they were the best poets of their time, it implies that they were excellent in the Arabic language, which implies that the Quran is an Arabic masterpiece.
Therefore, in order to understand the Quran PROPERLY and FULLY, we have to learn Arabic.
b) Also, the Prophet (salallahu alaihi wasallam) said that he was sent with concise speech.
Which language did he use for this concise speech? Arabic, of course!
If you read the translation, you’ll have difficulty understanding how he is concise in speech.
c) Also, many of the people of innovation have used translations as a means of causing people to deviate.
For example, I was reading a statement of Imam Abu Hanifah (rahimahullah) about an issue of aqeedah (creed). The Arabic text was there and so was the translation. The translator was one of the people of innovation.
This liar translated the whole statement of Imam Abu Hanifah properly and in the end, he inserted a word in parenthesis.
Do you know what happened? THE WHOLE MEANING CHANGED.
Yes, he just added one extra word at the end of the translation and that was it. He ascribed a false statement to one of the Imams of Ahlus Sunnah.
[It’s ironic. Ahlul bidah (the people of innovation) always accuse Ahlus Sunnah of incorrectly translating things (“It’s a Wahhabi translation!”) but they are the ones who mess around with the translation!]
So, how would we know if something was correctly translated or not? We’d be at the mercy of the translator!
Another example is the issue of the command to wear the hijab. I’ve heard many women say “Where is it in the Quran? It only says put your clothes over your chest.” [Please check Surah An-Noor, Ayah No. 31]
They point to incorrect translations as a proof. Well, the proof is in the Arabic text itself as the word used is “khumurihinn”. That means “their khumur”.
Khumur is the plural of khimar. A khimar is something that covers the head and arms so this means that we need to cover our head!
[Also, the part about putting the khimar over one’s chest can be understood when we see the history of the pagan Arabs. The women used to wear the khimar but would not cover their chests properly, hence showing their cleavage. So Allah ordered them to cover properly.]
So, when we understand Arabic, we no longer have to rely on translations, we can go back and check the main text.
7) What about those who have struggled with Arabic for years and have still gotten nowhere, you ask?
Wait, who said that they got nowhere?
What is the reason that we are learning Arabic? It’s to understand the Quran and the Sunnah.
WHY do we want to understand them? So that we can ponder over their meanings and apply them.
So, our goal is to learn how to worship Allah and to worship Him in the right way.
Isn’t seeking knowledge an act of worship? Therefore, isn’t struggling to learn Arabic an act of worship?
If our ultimate aim is to worship Allah and please Him, then we can attain that goal by struggling to learn Arabic, even if we don’t reach the target of actually learning Arabic.
So, if we struggle, we remain in an act of worship and we are doing something that is pleasing to Allah.
If we stop studying Arabic, we are no longer doing this act of worship.
People always compare their level of Arabic to others.
Why bother? Does it matter?
Perhaps there is a person struggling to learn Arabic and is unable to do so. However, this person fails to really learn Arabic. Perhaps this struggle of his will please Allah and He will grant him Paradise as a result of it.
And perhaps there is a person who finds Arabic very easy and becomes a scholar of the language. However, he is arrogant or does not follow tawheed or has improper intentions. So, it may be that he angers Allah with his actions which causes him to be thrown into the Hellfire although he mastered Arabic!
So, think of the real goal and don’t give up.
[To be continued…]
Ustadh Fahad Al-Tahiri, the teacher who is giving the Arabic classes, is also going to be offering other classes, insha-Allah.
As I mentioned before (all times are in UAE time):
1) Sarf Level 1 is from 6:30-7:30am every day.
2) Sarf Level 2 is from 8-9pm every day.
As for the other classes which start from Sunday, insha-Allah:
1) Tawheed (Four Fundamental Principles, Three Fundamental Principles, Ten Acts Revoking Islam, Book of Monotheism) is from 6:15-7:15 pm every day.
2) Principle and Etiquette of Seeking Knowledge is from 7:30-8:30am every day.
[As far as I know, these intensive courses will only be for about 2-3 weeks. I’ll reconfirm, insha-Allah.]
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Study tawheed and you’ll see the difference it makes in your life.
Also, I would really recommend this teacher because:
1) He knows what he is talking about.
2) He is very humble, masha-Allah. He doesn’t talk about what he is unsure of.
3) He always quotes references from the Quran, ahadeeth and the scholars’ statements.
4) He explains everything in a simple way.
What do you need to do?
1) Go to WIZIQ and register for a free account.
2) Search for Fahad Al-Tahiri.
3) You’ll see his future (public) classes at the bottom of his profile and his past classes below that.
4) Click on the class name and then join the class.
5) When the time for class comes, simply go to the class and launch it.
6) If you cannot attend the class, then you can always download the recording (which is some WIZIQ like thingy) later (about 2-4 hours after the class).
I’d still advise you to try to attend because then you can always ask him questions during the class.
Again, this is an ideal opportunity, especially for those in the UAE.
Please forward this to all those who might be interested (and also to all those who might not be interested).