The following is a transcript of a talk delivered on this subject:
The Prophet (saw) said: "Seeking knowledge is an obligation upon every Muslim"
Today unfortunately we see many Muslims who when it comes to their education, work or even entertainment they would gain a lot of knowledge regarding these areas, however when it comes to the Deen they have very little. Indeed the Prophet (saw) mentioned this time:
Hazzam bin Hakeem narrated from his uncle from the Messenger of Allah (SAW) who said: “You are in a time of many jurisprudents (fuqaha), few speakers, many who give and few who ask; so action in this time is better than knowledge. There will soon come a time of few jurisprudents, many speakers, many who beg and few who give; so knowledge in this time is better than action.”
What type of knowledge is Fard ul Ayn?
Firstly, It is obligatory upon us all to believe in Islam definitively without a doubt and therefore this knowledge must be known to us. This is the knowledge of the fundamentals of Aqeeda
He (swt) says: “And verily guess is no substitute for the truth.” [TMQ 53:28]
And He (swt) said: “They have no (certain) knowledge. They follow nothing but conjecture. For surely; they killed him not (‘Isa).” [TMQ 4:157]
"Do you have Ilm for that which you claim so that you provide us with? You follow nothing but conjecture (Zann)." [TMQ 6:148]
"These are nothing but names which you have devised, you and your fathers, for which Allah has sent down no authority. They follow nothing but conjecture and what their Nafs desire. Even though there has already come to them the Guidance from their Rabb" [TMQ 53:23]
Jalaluddin as-Suyuti, a Mujtahid Imam of the Shafi madhab has commented on this verse, that the people had zann (conjecture) which is opposed to knowledge (ilm) i.e. certain knowledge. He also stated that Allah had sent down definitive proof (Burhan Qati) for the truth of the Islamic Aqeeda. [Tafseer al Jalalayn page 627. It is stated in Reliance of the Traveller Ahmed ibn Naqib al misri (ra) (769/1368) Book of Qada (Judiciary)]
In all of these and other ayaat (verses) to do with beliefs Allah (swt) censures those who take the beliefs through conjecture (Zann) and decisively prohibits them from this.
Therefore it is prohibited for us to have emotional belief or belief based on imitation. We must know for ourselves that Allah (swt) exists, that Muhammad (saw) is His last Messenger, the Quran is the word of Allah and whatever is contained in it is the truth such as the belief in the angels, previous books, previous prophets, the day of Judgment, Jannah, Jahannam, etc.
Secondly, it is an individual obligation for us to know the Shariah rules related to our own lives and actions.
Allah (swt) has addressed us directly in the Quran on so many occasions:
“O you who believe, obey Allah and His Messenger”
We know that our purpose in life is to worship Allah (swt) as Allah said:
“I have not created Jinn or mankind except that they worship me” [TMQ 51:57]
Allah (swt) has also clearly ordered us to take from the Messenger (saw):
“And whatsoever the Messenger (Muhammad [saw]) gives you, take it, and whatsoever he forbids you, abstain (from it).” [TMQ59:7]
Therefore we must at least know the Shariah rules relating the Fara’id (obligations) and Muharramat (prohibitions) from our actions such as:
- The ahkam (rules) of Salah
- The ahkam of relationships with the opposite sex
- The ahkam of responsibility to parents
- The ahkam of buying
- The ahkam of replying the to the Salam
- The ahkam of backbiting
- The ahkam of working for Khilafah
- The ahkam of Riba (usury)
Whatever actions we undertake we need to know the hukm before performing the action, there is a principle in Usul: Every actions requires a hukm and every hukm requires an evidence
Therefore it is Fard for a doctor to know the ahkam relating to his field, e.g. is post-mortem allowed, rules relating to treating the opposite sex, using intoxicants for medical purposes, etc.
For an Imam of the Masjid it is Fard to know the ahkam relating to leading the prayer, the obligations of the Khutba, the responsibility towards the Muslims, the obligations of speaking the truth from the Minbar, etc.
It is Fard for the teacher to know whether it is permitted to teach subjects that contradict Islam and promote Kufr, the ahkam of teaching members of the opposite sex, the ahkam of disciplining the student.
It is Fard for the husband to know his obligations towards his wife, what are the prohibited actions to undertake with her, how can he discipline her if she is disobedient, etc. Similarly for the wife to know her responsibilities towards her husband, parent towards the child, child towards the parents and so on.
It is Fard for the Khalifah of the Muslims to know ahkam relating to his responsibility, etc.
We must ensure that we follow the Shariah and not rules invented from the mind
In the Hadith in Sahih of Bukhari, on the authority of 'Urwa b. al-Zubayr who said: 'Abd Allah b. 'Amr b. al-'As overcame us with proof. I heard him say: “Allah will not deprive you of knowledge after he has given it to you, but it will be taken away through the death of the learned men (Ulema’a) with their knowledge. There will remain ignorant people who, when consulted, will give verdicts according to their opinions whereby they will mislead others and themselves go astray.” i.e. they give Fatwas according to their own opinions which are not derived from the Islamic evidences.
In the authentic Hadith the Prophet (saw) said: “The best speech is the Book of Allah and the best guidance is the guidance of Muhammad (saw). And the evil matters are the newly invented issues and every Bida’a (innovation) is a misguidance.” The 'newly invented issues' are the Bida’a (innovations), they are whatever contradicts the Islamic evidences.
Hadith narrated by Al-Daraqtuni in Al-Afrad, of Anas of the Prophet (saw), where he said: "Whomever cheats my Ummah has the curse of Allah, the Angels and the people combined, upon him. They asked: What is cheating, Oh Prophet of Allah? He said: If he invented an innovation for them, and they acted upon it".
“Whoever speaks about the Quran without any knowledge, then let him seek his place in the fire of hell.” [Tirmidhi , Abu Dawud]
Islam has forbidden us from following any path other than the path of ‘Ilm: “And follow not that of which you have no knowledge. Verily! The hearing, and the sight, and the heart, of each of those you will be questioned (by Allah).” [TMQ 17:36]
Even if we are not aware of the evidence, we must know that the hukm is derived from the Islamic texts by legitimate Ijtihad
“So ask the people of the Reminder (ahl al-zikr) if you do not know.” [TMQ 21:7]
He (swt) has ordered the one who does not have the knowledge to ask the one who is more knowledgeable than him.
It has also been narrated on the authority of Jabir (ra): “a man was struck by a stone that fractured his skull. Then he had a wet dream. He asked his companions - do you know of a permit (Rukhsa) for me to perform Tayammum (dry ablution)? - They said - we do not find any permit for you and you can use water. He then had a bath and died. The Prophet (saw) said: “Verily, it would have sufficed for him to make Tayammum, so tie a piece of cloth around his head and wipe over it and wash the rest of his body.' And the Prophet (saw) said: 'why did they not ask when they did not know. Indeed, the cure for inability and lack of knowledge is to ask.” [Abu Dawud: 275, Ibn Majah: 565, Ahmad: 2898] The Messenger (saw) instructed them to ask about the Hukm Shar'ai.
We have to be careful from whom we take our knowledge in relation to the Shariah rules, they should be someone we trust and someone who basis their opinions upon the Islamic evidences.
A narration of Imam Zuhri springs to mind, "Be careful from whom you take your knowledge, because that is your Deen."
We should beware of all government Mufti’s, scholars and Imams – also those who have openly violated the Shariah or given verdicts that contradict the Qati (definitive) matters.
Abu Hanifah said, “If you see the scholar at the gates of the ruler then accuse him in his Deen”.
True scholars never compromise the truth. Let us take the example of Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal (rahimallah), the master of Hadeeth, the Mujtahid of Makkah and to whom the Hanbali Madhab is attributed. In his time Ma’moon became Khaleefah who had adopted the Mu’tazilla belief that the Quran was created and attempted to force this belief upon the masses.
He started with the Ulema as they were the ones who had the leadership over the Ummah. Amongst the Ulema was Imam Ahmad who refused to accept this corrupt doctrine. His uncle went to him and asked him to say with his tongue what he does not accept in his heart, to this he responded, “If the Alim stays silent in the face of falsehood when will the truth become manifest”.
The recommended knowledge
Gaining knowledge in the other areas of Islam which is beyond the knowledge of the fundamentals of Aqeeda and direct ahkam for our lives is mandub (recommended. Such as knowing the evidences for the ahkam, knowledge of the Seerah, Islamic history (Tarikh), Tafseer, Arabic language, Ilm al-Hadith and Usul ul-Fiqh.
We should strive to achieve this knowledge continuously
The rewards of gaining knowledge
Al-Bukhari narrated through Mu’awiyya bin Abu Sufyan: The Messenger of Allah (SAW) said:
“The one for whom Allah wills good (khayr), He grants him fiqh in the deen.”
It was narrated that Umar bin al-Khattab said: “The death of one thousand worshippers who pray at night and worship in the day is less serious than the death of one intelligent knower (baseer) of the halal and haram of Allah.”
All these narrations indicate to us as Muslims, and emphasise the importance of seeking knowledge.
Abu Huraira said, The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: "The word of wisdom is the lost property of the believer, so wherever he finds it he has a better right to it." (Tirmidhi).
Abu Dardaa' (ra) said: "To learn of one issue (in deen) is better for me than to pray the entire night"
He also said: "The scholar and the seeker of knowledge are the partners in the sharing of good. Other men are hungry and there is no good in them."
Fath Al Musilee (radhiallahu anhu) said: "Would the sick person who is not fed or given anything to drink or given any medicine, not die?" The people replied: "Surely!" He said: "It is the same with the heart, it would die if knowledge and wisdom is withheld from it."
Narrated Abdullah bin Masud (Allah be pleased with him): The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, "Do not wish to be like anyone except in two cases. (1) (The first is) A person, whom Allah has given wealth and he spends it righteously; (2) (the second is) the one whom Allah has given wisdom and he acts according to it and teaches it to others." (Sahih Al-Bukhari Vol 1).
Abu Huraira said, The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: "People are like mines of silver and gold; the more excellent of them in the days of Ignorance are the more excellent of them in Islam when they attain knowledge.” (Muslim, Mishkat).
Status of people of knowledge
The people of knowledge have a special status in Islam, we should respect them
“Say: "Are those who know equal to those who know not?" It is only men of understanding who will remember.” [TMQ az-Zumar:9]
Jabir (ra) reported: After the battle of Uhud, the Prophet (saw) arranged the burial of two of the martyrs in one grave. In each case he would ask, “Which one of them had learnt more Qur'an by heart?” He placed whichever was thus pointed out to him, first in the Lahd (type of grave). [Bukhari]
'Ubaadah b. as-Saamit (ra) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (saw) said: “He is not from my Ummah who does not acknowledge the honour due to our elders, who shows no mercy to our younger ones and nor recognises the right of our scholar.” Al-Munziri said: reported by Ahmad with a hasan chain. Al-Haythami said: reported by Ahmad and at-Tabaraani and its isnad is hasan.
Abdullah b. al-Mas'ud (ra) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (saw) said: “Let those be nearest to me in Salah (prayer) who are mature and possess (religious) knowledge, then those who are nearest to them in these respects.” He repeated this three times and then added, “Beware of indulging in the loose talks of the markets (when you are in the mosque).” [Muslim]
Abu Musa (ra) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (saw) said: “It is out of reverence to Allah that we respecting an aged Muslim, and the one who commits the Qur'an to memory and does not exaggerate pronouncing its letters and nor forgets it after memorising, and to respect the just ruler.” Reported by Abu Dawud. An-Nawawi said the hadith is hasan. Ibn Muflih said the isnad is jayyid.
May Allah (swt) enable us to gain the correct knowledge and apply it.