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Manhaj - Methodolgy
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Indications of beneficial Knowledge
Indications that knowledge is beneficial are that it leads to fine character, good manners, praiseworthy attributes and Taqwa (fear of Allah). He whose knowledge does not cause him to weep, can be justifiably considered not to have been granted beneficial knowledge; since Allah described the people of knowledge saying:
“Say believe in it (the Qur’aan) or do not believe. Verily, those who were given the knowledge before it, when it is recited to them, fall down on their faces in humble prostration. And they say: “Glory be our Lord! Truly the promise of our Lord must be fulfilled. And they fall down on their faces weeping and it adds to their humility.” [Soorah Al-Israa (17): 107-109]
Indeed, expression of grief and fear (through weeping) is the clearest sign and best proof of the knowledge one possesses and one’s truthfulness. Since he is acquainted about Allah’s Exalted, Perfect, Lofty Attributes, which causes his heart to humble. He has read in the Book of Allah and the sayings of Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam), texts pertaining to the Fire, the terrors of grave and the fearful accounts of the Resurrection which brings about fear in his heart and causes his eyes to shed tears, verses pertaining to Paradise and everlasting bliss compel him to strive for it. He turns to Allah in humbleness, invoking Allah with sincerity, for his sins to be forgiven in this life and the Hereafter, hoping to attain the Pleasure of Allah, entering Paradise and being saved from the Fire.
And Indeed this act of his i.e. supplication, is a cause of attaining the Love and Pleasure Allah :
Allah says in the Final Revelation: “Say: My Lord pays attention to you only because of your invocation to Him.”
[Soorah al-Furqaan (25): 77]
The Prophet of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) emphasized the fact that invocation is the noblest and the best form of worship as indicated in his saying: “Invocation is worship” [Abu Dawood and Saheeh at-Tirmidhee # 2590]
“The best form of worship is invocation.” [Al-Hakim and others. As-Silsilah as-Saheehah # 1579]
He (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) further said: “No form of worship is better in the sight of Allah than invocation”
[Musnad Ahmad # 8733, Al-Bukhari chp: 296, Saheeh at-Tirmidhee # 2684 and others.]
However, the servant is not granted the acceptance unless he is sincere and true in his supplication, as the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said: “… and know that Allah doesn’t accept the invocation of an averted, inattentive heart.”
[An-Nawawi mentioned in Sharah Saheeh Muslim, Kitaab-ul Eeman # 365]
And certainly, invocation is one of the means of relieving oneself from the Fire. As Allah says in His Book:
And Your Lord said: “Invoke Me and I will answer your (invocation). Verily those who scorn My worship, they will surely enter Hell in humiliation.” [Soorah Ghafir (40): 60]
And as indicated in the saying of Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam), When Aa’isha (radhi allahu anha) asked the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) about Abu Jud’aan Sayin, “O Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam), in the days of Jahiliyah, Ibn Jud’aan would join ties of relationship and feed the poor, so will that benefit him any?” He said: “No, O Aaisha t! He never once said: “O my Lord, forgive me my sins on the Day of Judgement.”
[Saheeh Muslim. Eng. Vol. 1, # 416] and others. See as-Silsilah as-Saheehah # 249.]
So Ibn Jud’aan’s not turning to Allah in supplication caused him eternal abode of Hellfire.
Sufyaan Ath-Thawree, rahimahullaah, said: "The excellence of knowledge is due only to the fact that it causes a person to fear and obey Allah, otherwise it is just like anything else." [Related by ibn Rajab]
Consequently, Knowledge that leads to (Taqwa) fear Allah, supplicate to Him with humbleness and sincerity, is the beneficial Knowledge.
How to Acquire Knowledge?
Knowledge is acquired by exploring and studying the Deen of Islaam, known according to the saying of Allah’s Messenger: “Knowledge is acquired by studying..”
[Shaykh Al-Albanee’s Silsilatul Ahadeeth as-Saheehah (1/605/342)]
Sources of Knowledge.
Narrated Jabir Ibn Abdullah (radhi allahu anhu): “When Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) gave a Khutbah (sermon) his eyes became reddened, his voice raised, and his anger grew to the extent that it were as if he were one exhorting an army saying. “They will attack you morning and evening,” and he would say, “I have been sent along with the (Last) Hour like these two and he joined his forefingers and middle finger, and would say, “To proceed: Indeed the best speech is the book of Allah and the best guidance is the guidance of Muhammad and the worst affairs are the newly invented matters, and every innovation is misguidance.”
[Saheeh - Muslim eng.trans. vol.2, p.410, no. 1885]
From Abdullah ibn Mas’ood (radhi allahu anhu) who said: “Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) drew a line for us, then he said: “This is my Way.” Then he drew lines to it’s right and left and said: “These are different ways, upon each is a devil calling to it.” Then he recited: “And verily this is my straight path, so follow it, and do not follow other paths for they will separate you away from His Path.”
[Soorah An’am (6):153] [Hasan -Ahmad (1/435, 465) ]
Clarification of the way
Al-Irbaad Ibn Saaryah who said: “Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) gave us an admonition which caused our to shed tears and the hearts to fear, so we said: “O Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam), this is as if it were a farewell sermon, so with what do you counsel us?” So he (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said, “I have left you upon clear proofs, its night if like its day, no one deviates from it except one who is destroyed, and whoever lives (long) from amongst you will see great controversy. So stick to what you know from my Sunnah and the Sunnah of the orthodox, rightly guided caliphs. Cling to that with your molar teeth, and stick to obedience even if it is took an Abyssinian slave since the believer is like the submissive camel, wherever he is led, he follows.”
[Ahmad 4/126, Ibn Majah # 43, Haakim 1/96, Baihaqee in al-Madkhal # 51]
So the way is white and pure, manifest and untainted, such that its night is like its day! And so are the its signposts, as mentioned in the hadeeth of Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam):
“O people I have left amongst you that which if you cling onto you will never go astray: The Book of Allah and my Sunnah.”
[Hasan – Haakim (1/93), al- Baihaqee (10/114) and iBn Hazam in al-Ahkaam (/108)]
Consequently, the two main signposts for this way are the Book and the Sunnah, there is a fine point here which must be noted and mentioned, that being the matter of how these two references points are to be understood – and the answer is that it can only be understood by the criterion.
Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) was asked: “Which of the people are the best?” So he replied: “Myself and those with me, and then those who follow them, and then those who follow them.”
[Hasan - Ahmad (2/297, 340)]
Then it is as if he declined those who remained. So the criterion for the correct understanding of the Book and the Sunnah is the practice of the Companions and those who followed their way after them since they are the best of the people, and those who do not follow their way contain no good. Whoever claims to be following the Book and the Sunnah without this criterion, then without doubt they are going astray.
What to start with?
Tawheed is the first matter, which is obligatory for a person to have knowledge of, since it is the first pillar of Islam, one does not enter Islam without it.
This is also known by the hadeeth narrated by Ibn Abbaas (radhi allahu anhu): “When the Prophet of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) sent Mua’dh (radhi allahu anhu) to the people of Yemen he said to him: “You are going to the people of the Book. So let the first thing you call them to that they should make all worship solely for Allaah, the Most High. So if they realize that then inform them that Allah has obliged upon them zakaat from their wealth – to be taken from their riches and given to their poor. If they accept then take it from them, but avoid the best part of the people’s property.
[Al-Bukhari, Eng. trans. vol.9, p.348, no.469 and Muslim Eng. trans. Vol.1, p.15, no.28]
Allah, the All Merciful, also emphasized this essence by pointing out to the basis of salvation i.e. Tawheed without which, it is impossible to be forgiven. He said:
“So know (O Muhammad (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam)) that La ilaha illa Allah’ And ask forgiveness for your sins and …” [Soorah Muhammad (47): 19]
“Verily! Allah forgives not (the sin of) setting up partners with Allah in worship with Him, but He forgives whom he pleases sins other than that, and whomever sets up partners in worship with Allah, has indeed strayed far away.”
[Soorah An-Nisa: (4): 116]
The above mentioned verses establish that Allah orders us through Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam), to know first that La ilaha illa Allah i.e. Tawheed and then ask forgiveness, he also emphasized that He does not forgive shirk (i.e. setting up rivals in worship with Him) except complete Tawheed, therefore most importantly a Muslim must seek the knowledge of Allah’s Unity, Tawheed, which opposes Shirk and all that relates to it in the first place.
This essence is also manifested when we contemplate over the Manhaj (way) of Prophet Muhammad’s (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) Dawah. He (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) after attaining the Prophet-hood lived in Makkah for 13 years. In this entire period he (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) invited people to affirm of only one formula, he (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said: “O People say ‘La ilaha illalla’ and you will prosper.” Apart from this there was no mentioning of performing Prayers, Fasting, Zakaat, Hajj etc. The invitation was only to one belief viz; the Unity of Allah. The main theme of the Prophet of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) during his life in Makkah was to lay a strong foundation in the Unity of Allah.
As the Prophet’s wife – Aaishah (radhi allahu anha) narrated, “(Be informed) that the first thing that was revealed thereof was a Soorah from Al-Mufassal, and in it was mentioned Paradise and the Fire. When the people embraced Islam, the Verses regarding legal and illegal things were revealed. If the first thing to be revealed was: 'Do not drink alcoholic drinks,' people would have said, 'We will never leave alcoholic drinks,' and if there had been revealed, 'Do not commit illegal sexual intercourse,' they would have said, 'We will never give up illegal sexual intercourse.' While I was a young girl of playing age, the following Verse was revealed in Mecca to Muhammad: 'Nay! But the Hour is their appointed time (for their full recompense), and the Hour will be more grievous and more bitter.' [Soorah al-Qamar (54): 46] [Sahih al-Bukhari vol.6, no.515.]
This is because all the actions depend on the heart’s conviction (belief) and therefore, heart is considered as the most important organ of the body, known in a Hadeeth of Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said:
“Indeed, there is a piece of flesh in your body that, if it be sound, then the whole body will be sound and if it be corrupt then the whole body will be corrupt. Indeed, it is the heart.” [Saheeh Muslim (4/6221)]
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