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Merits and Virtues of Knowledge
Merits and virtues of Knowledge vary depending on the extent of one’s adherence to it (knowledge). Knowledge is a sign of goodness, happiness and success. As the Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) is reported to have said:"If Allah wants to favor someone, He grants him comprehension (understanding) of this religion."
[Sahih Bukhari vol.1 # 71, Tirmidhi and Musnad Ahmad]
The Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said: "The example of guidance and knowledge with which, Allah has sent me is like abundant rain falling on the earth, some of which was fertile soil, absorbed rain water and brought forth vegetation and grass in abundance. (And) another portion of it was hard and held the rainwater and Allah benefited the people with it and they utilized it for drinking, making their animals drink from it and for irrigation of the land for cultivation. (And) a portion of it was barren which, could neither hold the water nor bring forth vegetation (then that land gave no benefits). The first is the example of the person who comprehends Allah's religion and gets benefit (from the knowledge), which Allah has revealed through me (the Prophet) and learns and then teaches others. The last example is that of a person who does not care for it and does not take Allah's guidance revealed through me (He is like that barren land.)"
[Sahih Al-Bukhari v.1 no.79. Narrated by Abu Musa]
The Excellence of Seeking Knowledge.
Seeking knowledge – a cure for weak Iman
Seeking knowledge of the religion helps to achieve Taqwa (fear) from Allah and increases Iman. Allah said
“It is only those who have knowledge amongst His slaves that fear Allah.” [Soorah Al-Fatir (35): 28]
Generally speaking the fear is present in all believers. But the true and complete fear is present only among the people of knowledge, due to their knowledge of Allah, His Names and His attributes; they are the most eager among the men for the truth depending on the extent of their knowledge of Allah. At the head being the Prophets. Hence, when some people who took the knowledge to which, the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) was guiding to be insufficient and said:
“We are not like you, O Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam)! Allah has forgiven your past and future sins.” The Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said, “By Allah! Indeed I am the one who fears Allah the most amongst you, and the most pious of you.”[Sahaeeh Al-Bukhari]
Seeking Knowledge - Sign of a Believer
Knowledge is what distinguishes a believer from a hypocrite because he (a hypocrite) is abundantly acquainted of trivial things and various other useless facts, which do not benefit him, but when comes the understanding of Deen, he knows, not a thing. As also mentioned in the Book of Allah: "But the hypocrites do not understand."
[Soorah Al-Munaafiqoon (63): 7]
The sign of a believer is that he is acquainted with his Religion and is constantly increasing his knowledge about subjects that benefit him and he is desirous of all that is good, as well as the gatherings wherein it is detached.
Seeking the knowledge of Deen is a path to Paradise, learning it more is a Jihaad. Reviewing and learning more is like Tasbeeh. As the companion of our Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam), Muadh ibn Jabal (radhi allahu anhu) said: "Seek knowledge, because seeking it for the sake of Allah is a worship. And knowing it makes you more God-fearing; and searching for it is jihad, teaching it to those who do not know is charity, reviewing and learning it more is like tasbeeh. Through knowledge Allah will be known and worshipped. With the knowledge Allah will elevate people and make them leaders and imams, who will in turn guide other people."
[Fatawa Ibn Taymiyya vol.10, p.39]
In the same vein, Imam Shafi’ (rahimahullah) said: "Whoever seeks the fruits of this life should gain Islamic knowledge, and whoever seeks the hereafter should gain (Islamic) knowledge."
[An-Nawawi, Majmoo’ vol.1, p.12]
Excellence of one, who seeks knowledge
There are many ahadeeth showing the virtues and merits of those who go in search of knowledge. From them being:
"Whoever treads on a path in search of Islamic knowledge, Allah will ease the way to Paradise for him. The angels will lower their wings, pleased with this seeker of knowledge, and everyone in the heavens and on earth will ask forgiveness for the knowledgeable person, even the fish in the deepest of waters will ask for his forgiveness”
[Abu Dawud, Ibn Majah, Tirmidhi # 2835-sahih hadith]
Every path that he takes in search of knowledge is a way to Paradise; this is true for every path literal or otherwise. His journey from one country to another; from one circle of knowledge to another, from one mosque to another with the sole intention of seeking knowledge. These are the ways of acquiring knowledge, likewise memorizing and studying books of knowledge, perusal (reading or studying carefully), and writing even his sleep are also from the ways of seeking knowledge and the paths to Paradise.
If the seeker of knowledge dies while, striving to acquire knowledge, then there will be a difference of one degree between him and the Prophets in Paradise.
Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said: “He whom death overtakes while he is engaged in acquiring knowledge with a view to reviving Islam with the help of it, there will be one degree between him and the Prophets in Paradise.”
[Al-Tirmidhi Hadith no. 249. Narrated by Al-Hasan al-Basri]
Virtues of Scholars – People of Knowledge
The people of knowledge are the leaders of this earth, they are the lights and lamps, and they have been preferred above everyone else. They direct the people to the way of happiness, they guide them to the means of salvation, they lead them to that which pleases Allah, the Majestic and Sublime, and His Mercy, and keep them far from that which evokes His Anger and punishment. They are the heirs of Prophets, as Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) informed us emphasizing the excellence of the people of knowledge.
He said: “…The superiority of the knowledgeable man over the worshipper in Islam, is like the superiority of the full moon over the rest of the planets. And the scholars are the inheritors of the Prophets, but the Prophets did not leave behind wealth but they left behind knowledge. And whoever takes firm hold of this is a very fortunate man."
[Abu Dawood, Ibn Majah, Tirmidhi # 2835 Sahih hadeeth]
The message of this hadeeth is truly profound. As we all know, worship is a praiseworthy act in Islam. However, it dulls in comparison to practicing with knowledge, as is obvious from the above-mentioned hadeeth.
Allah has honored and extolled those who posses knowledge, and raised their status high, He made them bear witness to His Oneness with sincerity and devotion. He reminds us of the exalted status that is bestowed upon them saying: “Allah will exalt in degree those of you who believe and those who have been granted knowledge.”
[Soorah Mujadilah (58): 11]
Regarding their virtues Allah says:
“Allah (Himself) bears witness that La ilaha illa huwa (none has the right to be worshipped but He) and the Angels and those having knowledge (also give this witness).”
[Soorah Aal-Imran (3): 18]
The above mentioned verse shows the superiority of knowledge and its people, the following points can be referred from this verse:
1. Allah chose the people of knowledge (Oolul ’ilm) to bear witness to His Oneness (Tawheed: La ilaha illa Allah) over and above the rest of His creation.
2. Allah honored the people of knowledge by mentioning their testimony along with His testimony.
3. He raised the status of the scholars by associating their testimony with the testimony of the angels.
4. This verse bears witness to the superiority of those who posses knowledge because Allah does not make any of His creation bear witness except the upright amongst them. There is a well-known narration from the Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam): “The upright in every generation will carry the knowledge, rejecting the distortion of the extremists, the false claims of the liars, and the false interpretation of the ignorant.” [Declared Hasan by Shaykh Saleem al-Hilaalee]
5. Allah the One free from all defects, Himself bears witness to His Oneness, and He is the greatest witness. Then, He chose from His creation the angels and the scholars – this is sufficient to show their excellence.
6. Allah made the scholar bear witness with the greatest and the most excellent testimony: “La ilaha illa Allaah.” We know this because Allah, the One free from all defects and the Most High does not bear witness except to matters of great importance and only the greatest of Allah’s creation bear witness to this.
7. Allah made the testimony of the people of knowledge a proof against the rejecters. Thus, they are its proof and its signs, indicating His Oneness (Tawheed).
8. Allah, the Most High, used a single verb (shahadah) to refer to His testimony and the testimony of the Angels and the scholars. He did not use additional verb for their testimony: thus he connected their testimony to His. This show the strong link between their testimony and Allah of testimony, as if He bore witness to His Oneness upon their tongue and made them utter this testimony.
9. Allah, the One free from all defects made the scholars fulfill His right (that none has the right to be worshipped but Him) through this testimony and if they fulfill it, then they have fulfilled and established this right of Allah upon them. Then, it is obligatory upon mankind to accept this right of Allah upon them. Then it is obligatory upon mankind to accept this final return, this testimony, which, is the means to reach happiness in this life and in their final return (to Allah). Whosoever takes this guidance from the scholars and accepts this truth because of their testimony, then for the scholars there is a reward equal to them. And none knows the value of this rewards but Allah.
The Most High explained clearly that there is none equal to them: “Say: Are those who know equal with those who know not? It is only men of understanding that will remember (i.e. get lesson from Allah’s Signs and Verses)”
[Soorah Az-Zumar (39): 9]
And the Mighty and Majestic distinguished the people of Knowledge from the ignorant. He said:
“Shall he then who knows that what has been revealed unto you (O Muhammad (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) from your Lord is the truth be like him who is blind? But it is only the men of understanding that pay heed.”
[Soorah Ar-Raa’d (13): 19]
Therefore, the people of knowledge and the ignorant are not alike. There is an immense difference between the knowledgeable and the ignorant. It is the difference between one who knows the truth and obtains insight through its light and acts accordingly to its guidance until he meets his Lord achieving success with nobility, and the on who is blind to this way and follows his desires taking the path of Shaytan.
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