Islam is the light that removes the darkness of ignorance
Have you ever wondered why the period before the advent of prophethood of Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) was referred to as the Jahiliyah (period of ignorance)? That was because the people were living under no divine guidance and things were being done as they deemed fit, without divine knowledge. There is no amount of human knowledge on guidance that can be compared to divine knowledge. So true knowledge is the knowledge of Islaam, and those referred to as people of knowledge are those who have knowledge of the Deen of Allaah. It is this knowledge that is praised by Allaah and His Messenger.
The most important and valuable knowledge is that which assists in scaling through the most difficult times. So the knowledge of how to answer the questioners in the grave (to escape punishment) is far more important than knowing who the King of England was in 1809. Similarly, the knowledge of the answers to the questions that the son of Adam will be asked before moving from his Lord is far more important than knowing who invented the motor car or how does the aeroplane fly.
These are very important moments that we will come to, and we only ignore seeking the answers to these questions at our own peril. May Allaah save us from that. Before we get the impression that all other kind of knowledge like that of engineering, medicines, arts etc are not important, note that that is not what is intended. Rather, what we seek is for you to place these matters in order of their importance. That is getting our priorities right and making sure that first thing comes first. Allaah would not question us on why we did not become a medical doctor (though we will account for our deeds if we become one), but he will question us about our religion. The Companions of the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) were also experts in various fields of human endeavour, but this was not at the expense of their Deen.
So, whatever career you choose (once it is permissible) is okay, whatever useful knowledge you acquire is okay too: but these should not be at the expense of your deen (religion).
The Merits of Knowledge
Those who know are not the same as those who don't
"Say: "Are those who know equal to those who know not?" It is only men of understanding who will remember (i.e. get a lesson from Allah's Signs and· Verses). (Q39:9).
In another verse He says:
And these similitudes We put forward for mankind, but none will understand them except those who have knowledge (of Allah and His Signs, etc.). (Q29:43)
Allaah has distinguished between the learned people and those who are not. He also informs us that it is only those who are people of understanding that take lessons from His verses and signs.
Only those who know fear Allaah
"It is only those who have knowledge among His slaves that fear Allah. Verily, Allah is All-Mighty, Oft- Forgiving. "(Q35:28)
It is a sign that Allaah intends good for the person
The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said:
"Whoever Allaah intends to do good for. he gives him the understanding of the religion." (Bukhaaree)
Allah's Messenger (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said:
"There are two qualities, which can never coexist in a hypocrite: good conduct and comprehension of religion." (Tirmidhi).
So a hypocrite has been denied combining being knowledgeable with good manners or vice versa.
Treading its path is treading the path of Paradise
The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said:
"No individual treads a path by which he seeks knowledge, except that Allaah makes easy for him his path towards Paradise by it" (Muslim)
How to seek knowledge
Purify your intention
Narrated Umar bin AI-Khattab (RA):
"I heard Allah's Messenger saying, "The reward of deeds depends upon the intentions and every person will get the reward according to what he has intended. So whoever emigrated for worldly benefits or for a woman to marry His emigration was for what he emigrated for." (Bukhaaree).
This is a very important point for all those who seek knowledge of the Deen (in fact for all deeds).
Are you a seeker of knowledge so that you can be praised for being knowledgeable? Remember, if that is your intention and the people praised you, you have already received your reward. Allaah is not in need of a partner.
The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said,
"... then there will be brought forward a man who acquired knowledge and imparted it (to others) and recited the Qur'an. He will be brought, Alloah will make him recount His blessings and he will recount them (and admit having enjoyed them in his lifetime). Then will Allah ask: What did you do (to requite these blessings)? He will say:
I acquired knowledge and disseminated it and recited the Qur'an, seeking your pleasure. Allaah will say: You have told a lie. You acquired knowledge so that you might be called "a scholar", and you recited the Qur'an so that it might be said: "He is a Qari" and such has been said. Then orders will be passed against him and he $hall be dragged with his face downward and cast into the Fire." (Muslim)
The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) used to pray thus
"0 Allah, I seek refuge in You from the knowledge which does not benefit, from the heart that does not entertain the fear (of Allah), from thesoul that does not feel contented and the supplication that is not responded to." (Muslim).
Knowledge can only benefit us if we are sincere in our pursuit of it.
Do not seek from these four
Imaam Malik said, 'Knowledge must not be taken from four, it must not be taken from a fool; nor should it be taken from someone of erroneous opinions (hawa) who calls others to his erroneous opinions; nor from a liar; nor is it to be taken from a virtuous right acting person given to worship if he does not recognise what he is narrated”.
Have a teacher (or teachers).
After avoiding the four categories of people mentioned above, you must then look for a teacher (or teachers) to learn the different aspects of the deen from. Don't ask 'how' to know the subject. Ask where you can find the best teacher. The teacher will then guide you on the 'how'. When you know someone who possesses knowledge of a particular aspect of the deen, find a way to him and learn from him. Ibn Abbass (RA) did same.
He said, "When Allaah's Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) was taken in death, I said to a man from the Ansar, 'Come let us go and ask questions because today they are many.' So he said, 'Howsurprising for you, Ibn Abbaas, do you see the people having a need of you whilst among the people there are many of the Companions of Allaah's Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him)! So that person left this idea, but I went and I asked questions of the Companions Allaah's Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him).
I asked them about the ahadeeth, so that whenever I would hear that a man had a hadeeth, I would go to his door and if he was having a siesta, I would lay down at his door and the wind would scatter dust upon me so he would come out and say, 'O son of the uncle of Allaah's Messenger! What has brought you here? Why didn't you send a message to me that I should come to you?' So he said, 'There is more right upon me that I should come to you and ask you about the hadeeth' (Bayhaqee)
Knowledge is achieved by studying
"And that man can have nothing but what he does (good or bad)"(Q53;39).
So it is only through striving for knowledge that we can achieve it. Let us study the lives of those that this Ummah has agreed to be knowledgeable and see what sacrifice they had to make in order to acquire this knowledge, preserve it and passed it on. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) also said:
"Knowledge is achieved by studying:' (As-Saheehah). It is not by wishful thinking, it is through hard work.
Allaah's Messenger (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said:
"Part of man's good observance of Islam is that he leaves alone what does not concern him" (Tlrmidhi).
We should not occupy our precious time (that we are going to account for) with the knowledge of things that will not benefit us nor the ignorance of it harm us.
'Soon' is a very familiar phrase, but it can be a very dangerous habit to develop. Like it is said in project management, 'How does a project gets late', 'One day at a time'. When it comes to the matter of the Hereafter, we should not hesitate. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said:
"There is hesitation in everything except in the actions of Hereafter" (Abu Dawud)
When you have learnt, then act
Abdullaah Ibn Masud (RA) said, "O people! Learn, then whoever learns must act (on what he knows)"
One of the ways of retaining and benefiting from the knowledge one acquired is to act upon it. There is great danger in leaving off what one has learnt. The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings be upon him) said:
"During the night of my Ascension. I passed by a group of people. Their lips were being severed with scissors of fire. I said. 'O Jibreel (AS)! Who are these people?' He said: 'They are the preachers from your Ummah that would say other than what they would do'" (Ahmad)
The Prophet (peace and blessings' be upon him) also said:
"On the Day of Resurrection the feet of the son of Adam will not move away till he is" questioned about five matters: on what he spent his life. in doing what he made his youth pass away: whence he acquired his property, an what he spent it. and what he did regarding what he knew." (Tirmidhi)
Even after you have died
Even after one's demise, one benefit to one is knowledge. The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings be upon him) said:
"When a person dies, all of his actions discontinue, except three: a recurring charity. Or knowledge that is being benefited from or a righteous son that prays for him" (Muslim)
A simple test is enough to show that knowledge outlives its possessor better than most other human activities. For example, a large number of Muslims are familiar with names like Abu Hanifa, Imam Malik, Imam Shafi, Ahmad ibn Hanbal etc., but how many of them can remember the ruler of the Muslim World at the time of the Imaams? Think about it.
This article was culled from the publications of Deen Communication Limited