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Learning and knowledge: the keys to the deen - 7th Century Generation

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Learning and knowledge: the keys to the deen


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#1 7Cgen

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Posted 23 June 2007 - 03:20 AM

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"Learning is the glory of mankind, the wise are beacons on the road to truth" – Ali RA



The above statement was made by the youngest of the first generation of Muslims – Ali RA, who converted to Islam at the tender age of eight. His wise words are still relevant to us and carry advice to the generations of Muslims to come. We have all come across various ayahs/hadiths about the significance of learning and seeking knowledge – been told of its importance through our parents or maybe a teacher at the masjid. Yet when we reflect upon our lives, how high up our priority ladder does this glory lie? After studying academically, going to work, paying the bills and having a bit of "me" time, the day has already finished. Life is busy – there is no denying that. Sometimes we have so many responsibilities and concerns that we are trying to keep on top of, it seems like there is literally no time to take out to fulfil this glory of mankind. Then again, sometimes we just make too many excuses.

Do we really believe that life in the 21st century has more stresses than in the past? The sahabas also had to work – not just any work though. Much of it was manual labour, working outside under the boiling Arabian sun. So not the best conditions, like our air-conditioned workplaces. Their hours weren't too convenient either because many were shephards and pastoral farmers. Unfortunately if the sheep need to be fed after 5pm they were still on duty – it's hard to fake a sick note to your animals!

Umar ibn Khattab (ra), lived in the suburbs of Madinah and worked on the land for his living. He had an Ansari partner and one day made an agreement with him that would enable them to both fulfill their worldy duty of earning a living and study under the guidance of the best teacher – our Nabi (saw). They agreed that one day his partner would work for the whole day whilst Umar ra studied under Muhammad (saw). Then in the evening Umar would report what he had learnt to his partner and the next day would be vice versa with Umar working on the land and his partner studying. This meant that Umar and his partner ended up doing DOUBLE the amount of work – working twice as hard on the land to do his and his partners work and also teaching each other in the evenings.

They were able to work both for this dunyah and the akhirah because they understood and appreciated the importance of gaining islamic knowledge. Without knowledge how can we make informed decisions as to what is haram and halal? We wouldn't be able to tell the difference between right and wrong without some sort of islamic knowledge – indeed Allah swt says:

"Verily guess is no substitute for the truth." [TMQ 53:28].



Muhammad (saw) tells us that seeking this truth, this knowledge "an obligation upon every Muslim" [Sunan Ibn Mâjah]. From this we can appreciate that we need to gain knowledge but we also need to keep ourselves in check. Sometimes having more knowledge than others can cause us to develop pride and we can unknowingly distort our intentions in order to raise our status in the eyes of others when infact our intentions should solely be focussed on attaining the pleasure of Allah swt . Actions go hand in hand with our intentions and so mere action without a sincere intention is not only pointless, but condemned – Muhammad (saw) said:

"Don't seek knowledge to argue with the ignorant people and to boast infront of the layman and so that people will point their fingers at you. Whoever does that, let him beware of the fire of hell."



Seeking knowledge for these reasons are for the sake of dunyah so why fool ourselves thinking that we are on the right path? Muhammad (saw) also tells us that the man who learns knowledge for the sake of dunyah will not even smell the scent of Jannah – a scent that can be smelt from 500 years away!

Most of the time our intentions start off pure but we always need to reflect upon the sincerity of it as it can change in a split second. Sufyan al Thawri was known as the amir al mu'mineen al hadith – he was the Bukhari of his time, two generations before Imam Bukhari. This man, at the level of the sheikhs of the sheikhs of Bukhari stated:

"I have never tried to cure anything that is more difficult to cure than my niyah because it continually changes on me".



Whilst seeking this knowledge it is perhaps important to keep in mind that wisdom of our deen doesn't refer to regurgitating information or going to a halaqah once a week and forgetting its application. Rather it is the knowledge of knowing Allah – of understanding His laws so that we can apply them out of love for him. Knowledge refers to the light that Allah puts into the heart of the believer and the blessings of seeking this light should never be underestimated. Muhammad (saw) said:

"There is not a single person that goes out of his house seeking knowledge except that the angels lower their wings above him out of pleasure for what he does".



These angels stack up from the earth until the sky over the students of knowledge and Allah orders them and the rest of creation to send their peace and blessings upon these people.

But does it stop there? After going to a class or a lecture, is that all we need to do or does our newfound knowledge carry bring with it a responsibility? The duty of a student of knowledge is to spread this knowledge that he learns and apply it in his own actions. If one doesn't change his character or actions through this knowledge then he's like a candle which gives light to others but burns itself out. Muhammad (saw) said:

"The person most severely punished on the day of Judgement is the learned one who did not follow Allah's guidance and did not benefit from his knowledge"



When we think of beacons of light we don't imagine it confined inside a room so that no one can see it – beacons spread their light to others, they are seen and known from far and wide. If we truly want to be successful dawah carriers and beacons, our knowledge should be shown through our actions and adhab – our mannerism should convey what we have learnt. Ibn Sireen said"we used to learn manners and etiquettes just like we used to learn knowledge". Surely our manners are what warm people to the call of Islam? Wasn't it the compassion that Muhammad (saw) showed the old lady who's load he carried that opened her heart to Islam, even though she condemned Muhammad (saw) before realising he was the same kind person standing next to her?

We don't need to make the learning and spreading of knowledge an impossible task – it won't happen overnight but Allah loves the constant action even if it is small. Reading just one ayah of the quran after fajr or one hadith before going to bed is simple and not taxing. We shouldn't impose impossible targets on ourselves, but at the same time should strive to fulfill our potential – perhaps after a while, one ayah can turn into a short surah a day. Another practical step we could take is listening to lectures – many people have iPods or MP3 players with them whilst they travel to school or work – during that short journey, 15 minutes of a lecture can be listened to or even some Quran recitation. Books are also an excellent way to learn – no one needs to start off with classical books relating rules of usul ul fiqh! Many Islamic bookshops (for example www.kitaabun.com) have easy reads that are written in a contemporary style and so its not hard to read a chapter a week. Sometimes people find it hard to remember what they have read and doing sketchy spider diagrams or little notes on the side of the page can jog their memory. Seeking knowledge doesn't have to be sitting in the catacombs of a dusty old library – we should be creative!

Allah has made it so easy for us to implement our knowledge in that "actions are but by intentions" (Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim). This means that we can even meet some sisters or brothers for coffee with the intention of spending time with them for Allah's sake and that gathering can be blessed. Incorporating Islam into your general chat can result in discussion where you all learn from each other. Muhammad (saw) said "Convey from me even if it is one ayah." [Bukhari] so even if you have only learnt one islamic concept or ruling that week sharing it will not only benefit you but your friends as well.


Whether we are young or old, male or female, the duty of acquiring our own treasure chest of knowledge is upon us all. We shouldn't judge ourselves against those who know less than us nor feel inferior to those who seem to know more. Everyone has their own reality, responsibilities, consequent time restraints and even mental ability. Some people can soak up the books they read, whereas for others it takes a while to understand certain concepts or ideas. However, there is one thing that should remain equal and constant within all our hearts, regardless of our different realities and varying abilities. That is of course, the one source of all our motivation - our yearning to attain the pleasure of our Creator Allah (swt) and to spend the eternal Aakhirah in His Jannah. Upon taking the advice from the wise words from the Sahabah Ali (ra),we should constantly aspire that one day we can fulfill this "Glory of Mankind" and become the shining beacons of light guiding towards Al-Jannah.


"Whoever follows a path in search of knowledge, Allah will guide him into a path leading to Paradise"

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#2 Guest_UmmTaqwah_*

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Posted 25 June 2007 - 07:03 PM

Assalamu 'alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu

Mashaa'Allaah a really beautiful article, jazakAllahu khairan.

Are were accountable for the knowledge we learn and do not practice? And how about knowledge you learn and forget?

Also in the past and even now people can attach themselves to Sheikhs and gain knowledge, but also they learnt adaab from them too, how is this possible today?

Fi Amanillah

#3 -tawakkul-

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Posted 25 June 2007 - 09:30 PM

Mashallah! Brilliant article/reminder! Jazakallahu Khairun. B-)

Alhamdullilah there is SO MUCH to learn about the Deen, but the key thing to remember is as we are learning, are we implementing the things we have learnt?


"The foot of the son of Adam shall not move on the day of Judgement till he is asked about five things: about his life-wherein he spent it;about his Youth-wherein he wasted it;about his wealth-wherefrom he aquired it and what he spent it, and about what he did with what he knew" {Prophet Muhammed (saw)-Tirmidhi}


#4 *F*

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Posted 25 June 2007 - 10:05 PM

:mashallah: what an excellent topic to write and discuss about!
Jazakallah khair to the person who wrote it and may Allah reward you for your hardwork and effort...ameen :)

#5 Abu Sumayyah

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Posted 26 June 2007 - 03:05 PM

May Allah (SWT) reward those who wrote the article. Very benefical.

One suggestion insha'Allah, next time could you put references for every hadith, I mean not only which collection it's in, but the chapter and hadith number. JazakAllah khair once more.

Edited by Muwahhid, 26 June 2007 - 03:10 PM.


#6 Yasmin

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Posted 26 June 2007 - 05:19 PM

^ to muwahhids post inshAllah next time the admin team will try and see if the author can put in more detailed references :)

UT - yes we are accountable for the knowledge taht we learn n dont practice but i dont think we are at fault if we forget, iA will post more on this later :)

Do you guys think the Muslims are fulfilling this glory of mankind? Are people we know making active efforts to gain knowledge and any more tips on how to do so??

#7 Umm Baseerah

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Posted 26 June 2007 - 05:22 PM

Salaam

MashaAllaah, a brilliant article. Dunno how I missed this one. :)

May Allaah reward the author for his/her time and efforts, Ameen.

WasSalaam
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#8 *yusuf*

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Posted 27 June 2007 - 11:31 AM

salam

mashallah bro really good article
yer and its true, if we do obtain the knowledge then we
have a HUGE responsibility on our shoulders, and we should
go out and spread the knowledge

wasalam

#9 Lost sista

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Posted 30 June 2007 - 03:34 PM

i read through this now. masha allah a very very nice article
i think i know who wrote it ;)
good on her/him :P

such a good reminder
i hope i can start REALLY learning about the deen asap (stupid things holding back :( )
jzk to the writer :D
ws

#10 Guest_UmmTaqwah_*

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Posted 04 July 2007 - 03:06 AM

Assalamu 'alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu

I have a question, we are not meant to seek knowledge for the sake or arguing with people, so why do people learn about Christianity, Judaism, Capitalism and Communism? What's the reason if it's not for arguing with people?

Fi Amanillah

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Posted 05 July 2007 - 12:02 AM

View PostUmmTaqwah, on Jul 4 2007, 04:06 AM, said:

Assalamu 'alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu

I have a question, we are not meant to seek knowledge for the sake or arguing with people, so why do people learn about Christianity, Judaism, Capitalism and Communism? What's the reason if it's not for arguing with people?

Fi Amanillah


I learn Christianity by reading the Bible, not because I follow/believe in it (Allah forbid) but only to counter attack on the Christians who come to my door step to preach dogmatic ideas into my head and make a mockery of Islam. I've held debates, organised small functions between Muslims and Christians, but thats only a sole purpose of giving people a reasonable understanding about the beauty of Islam and inviting them towards it (Christians).

So I believe it is in a way necessary to learn other ideas which are out of the fold of Islam, not to believe in, but to safeguard your own Imaan, in the sense that when someone comes to attack Islam, you'll be the chosen one to defend it and counter attack (or should I say "turn tables around" on them to shut them up for a change.

Wa Allahu A'lim

#12 -Khalid-

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Posted 05 July 2007 - 02:05 AM

Jazakallah Khair. Mashallah well written, may allah s.w.t reward you whoever wrote it. You should write more.

Quote

"I have never tried to cure anything that is more difficult to cure than my niyah because it continually changes on me".


#13 Yasmin

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Posted 05 July 2007 - 09:05 AM

I think that means arguing with the people for the sake of showing you are right? It says arguing with ignorant people, that infers you are gna win because ignorant ppl just dont have enough knowledge. What context is that hadith in? Because we are supposed to know how to discuss with nonmuslims etc but for the purpose of guiding to the Haqq, not to show "oh im so good, look i won this debate". What you guys think?

#14 fazza

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Posted 05 July 2007 - 09:50 AM

Salam Alaikum

A very well written article MashaAllah - may allah indeed reward the author! :D

Very little to disagree with in there obviously; nothing in fact.

I think the most important thing i would take out of that is the intention behind seeking knowledge. We HAVE to be the torchbearers when it comes to attaining knowledge in order to better ourselves, those around us, and carry that ilm to the rest of the Ummah Insha Allah. If that is not the reason to gain knowledge, then as the author said, its a vain pursuit which will actually land us in jail.

For me, the biggest motivation to seek knowledge is to espouse it... its one of the reasons i personally dont indulge in some of the myriad of Islamic courses and books etc offered here in the Sydney Muslim community for example. Theres just tons and tons of, quite frankly, crap floating around the place; people left right and center offering knowledge when SO LITTLE of it seems to be of any benefit. And I realise that yes, the benefit that the ummah will recieve from any knowledge i gain isnt going to be clear to even myself before i attain it; that much is in the hands of Allah, but one can tell rubbish when one sees it, and in my opinion i see plenty of 'Islamic academia' which just becomes a pile of notes sitting at home with little value after the course has been completed. Far from acting upon the knowledge, the individual thinks theyve gained something when in fact they have read a few pages and forgotten them, never to benefit anyone except for their egos with it ever again.

As one can probably tell, I feel very passionate about the issue :P :lol:
But in my opinion its a disease in the Ummah; vain pursuits of knowledge that bring nothing good to anyone. Not the ummah, and least of all the person "trying" to recieve it.

May Allah guide our intentions behind sseeking knowledge!

I would request one thing:

Can someone please put up some ahadith/ayahs pertaining to the punishment of he who gains knowledge and doesnt spread it? would be much appreciated.

Wasalam
Faraz

#15 rambant

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Posted 05 July 2007 - 10:19 AM

View Post7Cgen, on Jun 23 2007, 04:20 AM, said:

Do we really believe that life in the 21st century has more stresses than in the past? The sahabas also had to work – not just any work though.
...
Umar ibn Khattab (ra), lived in the suburbs of Madinah and worked on the land for his living. He had an Ansari partner and one day made an agreement with him that would enable them to both fulfill their worldy duty of earning a living and study under the guidance of the best teacher – our Nabi (saw). They agreed that one day his partner would work for the whole day whilst Umar ra studied under Muhammad (saw). Then in the evening Umar would report what he had learnt to his partner and the next day would be vice versa with Umar working on the land and his partner studying. This meant that Umar and his partner ended up doing DOUBLE the amount of work – working twice as hard on the land to do his and his partners work and also teaching each other in the evenings.

"I have never tried to cure anything that is more difficult to cure than my niyah because it continually changes on me".


The bit about work, read it before and I think about it each time I'm about to say I'm 'too busy...' or I 'don't have time'. What rubbish, we can never be too busy and our time is only worth spending in the way of Allah. Khair.

And I so-totally-omg get the quote about the Niyah.




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