The loftiest aspiration in seeking knowledge is to seek knowledge of the Book and the Sunnah, to understand from Allāh and His Messenger what was actually meant, and to know the limits [set out] by revelation. The most despicable intent of the student of knowledge is to restrict his concerns to picking out odd issues, what was not revealed, or what is hypothetical; or to concern oneself with finding out about differences of opinion and the views of others, without being concerned with what is correct amongst those opinions. Such a person seldom benefits from his knowledge.
Every intelligent person knows that Shaytān has no way to [attack] him except from three angles:
- Extravagance. [A person] takes more than he needs, so it becomes superfluous; and [surplus] is the share of Shaytān and his point of entry to the heart. The way to avoid this is to avoid giving the self all it wants of food, sleep, pleasure and comfort. When you close this door, you will be safe from the enemy entering through it.
- Heedlessness. One who remembers [Allāh] is in an impenetrable fortress. If he becomes forgetful and heedless, he opens the gates of the fortress, and the enemy enters, after which it is difficult to expel him.
- Affectation of what does not concern oneself, or what one is not qualified to involve oneself in.
- The essence of wealth is like that of the body, whereas the essence of knowledge is like that of the soul, as was stated by Yūnus b. Habīb, “Your knowledge is your soul, while your wealth is your body.” And the difference between the two is like the difference between the soul and the body [in status].
- If the scholar was offered the world and all that is in it in return for his knowledge, he would not accept it in exchange. Whereas the intelligent rich person – were he to see the nobility and superiority of knowledge, and the joy and completeness it brings – would wish to have knowledge in exchange for his entire fortune.
- No one has ever obeyed Allāh except based upon knowledge, whereas most of those who disobey Him do so through wealth.
- The scholar calls people to Allāh through his knowledge and his behavior, whereas the gatherer of wealth calls them to the material life through his behavior and his wealth.
- Richness in wealth is often a cause for the destruction of its owner, because wealth is the infatuation of [people’s] souls; when they see one who keeps to himself what they desire, they try to destroy him, as is happening all around. As for richness in knowledge, it is a cause for the true living of a man and others besides him. When people see a man who desires knowledge and seeks it, they love, serve and honor him.
- The pleasure gained from being rich with wealth is either delusive or animalistic: if its possessor enjoys the very gathering and obtaining of wealth, it is a delusive, phantom pleasure. If he enjoys spending it in pursuit of his desires, it is merely animalistic. As for the pleasure gained through knowledge, it is an intellectual, spiritual pleasure; it resembles the pleasure and joy of the angels. And what a difference between the two.
- The intelligent amongst all peoples unanimously blame the glutton in gathering and obtaining wealth and look down on him. They unanimously respect, praise, love and look up to the one who insatiably gathers knowledge.
When the Issue Occurred in their Time
It is said that a view or verdict has no Salaf, and it must be rejected when…
- the issue occurred during the time of the Salaf
- they gave a verdict or more on the issue
- someone after them comes and gives a verdict that none of the Salaf gave
This must be decried and rejected.
When the Issue Never Occurred in Their Time
If the issue…
- never occurred in their time – it happened after them
- and some [scholar] gives a verdict that is not known to have been given by any of the Salaf on this issue
… it is not said that this person has no Salaf [for his view] unless:
- [Some of] the Salaf gave a different verdict on an equivalent, analogous issue.
In this case, it is said that the person who came after them and holds a different view has no Salaf for his opinion.
Ibn Al-Qayyim notes that this latter case needs more elaboration.
Summarized from the reference.
The superiority of knowledge over wealth is understood from numerous angles:
- Knowledge is the inheritance of the Prophets, while wealth is merely the inheritance of kings and the rich.
- Knowledge protects its possessor, whereas the possessor of wealth has to protect his wealth.
- Wealth is diminished by spending, whereas knowledge grows when it is disbursed.
- When the possessor of wealth dies, his wealth leaves him, whereas a man’s knowledge accompanies him to his grave.
- Knowledge is what judges and rules over wealth, but wealth does not judge knowledge.
- Wealth is acquired by the believer, the unbeliever, the righteous and the sinful; but beneficial knowledge is not acquired except by the believer.
- The scholar is needed by the kings and those beneath them, whereas the possessor of wealth is only needed by the poor and destitute.
- The soul is ennobled, purified and developed through the acquisition of and concern for knowledge – that is part of its completeness and nobility, whereas wealth neither purifies, completes nor adds a noble quality to the soul. On the contrary, the soul declines, becomes more greedy and more miserly through the gathering and concern for wealth. Thus, the soul’s concern for knowledge is its very completion, whereas the soul’s concern for wealth is its very decline.
- Wealth calls the soul to transgression, pride and arrogance; whereas knowledge calls it to humility and the establishment of servitude and worship [of Allāh]. Thus, wealth calls the soul to the qualities of mere kings, whereas knowledge calls to the qualities of true servants [of Allah].
- Knowledge attracts and conveys the soul to the felicity it was created for, whereas wealth is a veil between the two.
- Enrichment with knowledge is loftier than enrichment with material wealth. Because being rich with wealth is enrichment by something external to the human: if that wealth were to depart in one night he would be immediately destitute. However, richness of knowledge is not under the threat of poverty, rather it is in ever increase. Thus, it is in reality the highest form of richness, as was said: I gained independent from everyone without acquiring wealth. Verily, the highest richness is in freedom from needing a thing, not in needing to possess it.
- Wealth enslaves the one who covets it and makes him into a slave of it, as the Prophet – Allāh’s praise and peace be upon him – said, “Wretched be the slave of the dirham and the dīnār…” But knowledge makes its possessor a servant and worshipper of his Lord and Creator, it does not call him except to servitude to Allāh alone.
- The love of knowledge and its pursuit is the root of all obedience [to Allāh], whereas the love of this worldly life (dunyā) and its wealth is the root of all evil.
- The value of a rich man is his wealth, while the value of a learned man is his knowledge. The former is valued according to his wealth: if it ceases, so does his value; he is left valueless. The value of a learned man does not decrease, it is always on the rise.
To be continued…
The Prophet – Allāh’s praise and peace be upon him – sought refuge with Allāh from knowledge that does not benefit (e.g. in Sahīh Muslim).
Non-Beneficial knowledge includes:
- Totally or overwhelmingly harmful knowledge – where the harm is greater than the benefit. Examples: magic, learning falsehood without insight into the truth.
- Becoming engrossed in learning what occupies a person from what is [more] beneficial, even though [that knowledge] may be allowed in of-itself.
- Islamic knowledge when the possessor of that knowledge does not implement it: he knows what is good and right, but leaves it; and knows what is wrong and evil, but delves into it.
- Becoming engrossed in the natural sciences whilst having turned away from religious (Islamic) knowledge. Because restricting oneself to those sciences begets an arrogance that causes the person to be proud against the truth – in terms of both knowledge (beliefs, values) and action (living by the truth), as is witnessed in those who engross themselves in modern science and are disinterested in the sciences of the religion.
As for beneficial knowledge, it is knowledge of the religion and its auxiliary disciplines like Arabic. It includes all that best serves the religion, material life, ethics and morals, on the condition that the religion is the basis of the aforementioned, and all else follows it and assists it.
If it is asked: what is the benefit of telling us about the destruction of previous nations when this Ummah will never be destroyed completely like those before it?
The answer is there are two benefits:
- This explains to us how greatly Allāh has blessed us by lifting total punishment from us, and how we deserve it but for the grace of Allāh.
- That the same punishment as afflicted those [nations] might also afflict others who do what they did, on the Day of Resurrection if not during their worldly life. Perhaps this can be understood from the saying of Allāh:
Such is the seizure of your Lord when He seizes towns while they are doing wrong. Verily, His seizure is painful and severe. Indeed, in that there is a lesson for those who fear the punishment of the Hereafter.
(meaning of Quran 11:102,103)
In order for an act of worship to be compliant to the Sunnah, and not be a bid’ah, it must agree with the Sharī’ah in six (6) matters:
- The reason / occasion behind it (why it is done)
- Its type (the kind of action must be legislated)
- Its amount (how many times it is done)
- Its mode (how it is done)
- Its time (when it is done)
- Its place (where it is done)
Summarized from the reference.
Preserve knowledge through writing.
An authentic hadith.