Monday, 8 March 2010

Islam is the Path of "knowledge."

In the Islamic theory of knowledge, the term used for knowledge in Arabic is 'ilm,
'Knowledge' falls short of expressing all the aspects of 'ilm. Knowledge in the Western world means information about something, divine or corporeal, while 'ilm is an all-embracing term covering theory, action and education.
In fact there is no concept that has been operative as a determinant of the Muslim civilization in all its aspects to the same extent as 'ilm. This holds good even for the most powerful among the terms of Muslim religious life such as, for instance, tawhid "recognition of the oneness of God," ad-din, "the true religion," and many others that are used constantly and emphatically. None of them equals ilm in depth of meaning and wide incidence of use. There is no branch of Muslim intellectual life, of Muslim religious and political life, and of the daily life of the average Muslim that remains untouched by the all pervasive attitude toward "knowledge" as something of supreme value for Muslim being. 'ilm is Islam, even if the theologians have been hesitant to accept the technical correctness of this equation. The very fact of their passionate discussion of the concept attests to its fundamental importance for Islam. 

Before one sets out to seek knowledge we must bear in mind there are etiquettes for seeking knowledge. Only when one attains knowledge according to them, will the knowledge gained be beneficial. If we have no respect for the knowledge that we gain, that knowledge will merely remain information. Knowledge can only be beneficial for us if we gain it according to the following guidelines:

Be patient – To gain ‘ilm is not easy and a lot of hard effort and sacrifice is required. For this reason it is very important that one remains patient.

It may be said that Islam is the path of "knowledge." No other religion or ideology has so much emphasized the importance of 'ilm. In the Qur'an the word 'alim has occurred in 140 places, while al-'ilm in 27. In all, the total number of verses in which 'ilm or its derivatives and associated words are used is 704. The aids of knowledge such as book, pen, ink etc. amount to almost the same number. Qalam occurs in two places, al-kitab in 230 verses, among which al-kitab for al-Qur'an occurs in 81 verses. Other words associated with writing occur in 319 verses. It is important to note that pen and book are essential to the acquisition of knowledge. The Islamic revelation started with the word iqra' ('read!' or 'recite!').

According to the Qur'an, the first teaching class for Adam started soon after his creation and Adam was taught 'all the Names'.

Allah is the first teacher and the absolute guide of humanity. This knowledge was not imparted to even the Angels. In Usul al-Kafi there is a tradition narrated by Imam Musa al-Kazim ('a) that 'ilm is of three types: ayatun muhkamah (irrefutable signs of God), faridatun 'adilah (just obligations) and sunnat al-qa'imah (established traditions of the Prophet [s]). This implies that 'ilm, attainment of which is obligatory upon all Muslims covers the sciences of theology, philosophy, law, ethics, politics and the wisdom imparted to the Ummah by the Prophet (S). Al-Ghazali has unjustifiably differentiated between useful and useless types of knowledge. Islam actually does not consider any type of knowledge as harmful to human beings. However, what has been called in the Qur'an as useless or rather harmful knowledge, consists of pseudo sciences or the lores prevalent in the Jahiliyyah.

'Ilm is of three types: information (as opposed to ignorance), natural laws, and knowledge by conjecture. The first and second types of knowledge are considered useful and their acquisition is made obligatory. As for the third type, which refers to what is known through guesswork and conjecture, or is accompanied with doubt, we shall take that into consideration later, since conjecture or doubt are sometimes essential for knowledge as a means, but not as an end.

Beside various Qur'anic verses emphasizing the importance of knowledge, there are hundreds of Prophetic traditions that encourage Muslims to acquire all types of knowledge from any corner of the world. Muslims, during their periods of stagnation and decline, confined themselves to theology as the only obligatory knowledge, an attitude which is generally but wrongly attributed to al-Ghazali's destruction of philosophy and sciences in the Muslim world. Al-Ghazali, of course, passed through a turbulent period of skepticism, but he was really in search of certainty, which he found not in discursive knowledge but in mystic experience. In his favour it must be said that he paved the way for liberating the believer from blind imitation and helping him approach the goal of certain knowledge. 

...........The Aadaab of Seeking Knowledge..............

These are some points which should be taken into consideration when setting out to seek knowledge:

1. Have the correct intention

The Prophet Muhammad (saw) said, “All actions are by their intentions” meaning all actions are judged according to the niyyah with which they have been done. So even if a good deed was done with a bad intention, it will not be accepted as a good deed because the intention behind it was bad.

2. Stay away from sins

Staying away from sins is essential when seeking knowledge. The story of Imam ash-Shafi’i rahimahullah is very famous where he complained to his teacher Waki’ rahimahullah about his bad memory. So ash-Shafi’i says: “fa-arshadanee ila tark il-ma’aasi” “He advised me to leave the disobedient acts.”

Al-Muhaddith, Allaamah Yusuf Binnouri rahimahullah mentions in his book, Ma’aarif us-Sunan that looking with an evil gaze weakens one’s memory.

3. Act upon what you have learnt

It is essential that whatever is learnt, you should try your utmost to act upon it. It is said, “Knowledge without action is like a load without a carrier.”

It is narrated in a hadith to the nearest meaning, “man ‘amila bi-ma ‘alim ‘allamahu-llaaha bi-ma lam ‘alim” “The one acts on what he has learnt, Allah will teach him that which he has not learnt.” So if we act on what we have learnt, even if it is very little, Allah will give us more.

It is said that the thing Sayyidina Abud-Dardaa radiAllahu anh used to fear the most was that he would be asked on yawm ul-qiyaamah about what actions he did with all the knowledge he had learnt.

4. Stay away from the mushtabahaat in food and drink

It is very important, especially in the student days to make sure that everything you eat is halaal, upto the point that even the things you are not sure about, you should leave them. The Prophet (saw) said, to the nearest meaning, “da’ maa yuribuk ilaa maa laa yuribuk” “Leave the things which put you in doubt for those things which do not put you in doubt.”

It is narrated of Abdullah ibn Mubaarak rahimahullah that when he went from his home town to ash-Shaam, he borrowed a pen from somebody there. Later on, he forgot about this pen and returned home. When he had reached home, he remembered that he had borrowed a pen from somebody in ash-Shaam, so he travelled all the way back just to return the one pen. He said, “To give back one dirham which I am unsure about is more beloved to me than to spend 1000 daraahim in the path of Allah.”

5. Don’t be lazy in the mustahabbaat

It is fairly common nowadays so hear, “Oh it is only mandub” or “It’s only sunnah, you don’t have to do it”. But the truth of the matter is that our a’maal are such that we cannot afford to lose out on a single sunnah, be it however small.
Whoever thinks lowly of the aadaab and mustahabbaat, he will soon begin to think lowly of the sunnah. And whoever thinks lowly of the sunnah, he will soon begin to think lowly of the faraaid. And whoever thinks lowly of the faraaid and does not fulfil them, then surely he has lost the dunyaa and the aakhirah.

6. Be humble

It is absolutely necessary to stay away from kibr in any form. Especially in this case, it is impossible to gain any beneficial knowledge without humility. It is said, “Humility is for the one from whom knowledge is learnt” so it is essential that especially with your teachers, and fellow pupils you adopt a humble attitude.

7. Tolerate all hardships in the way of knowledge with patience
It was the way of the salaf that on the road of seeking ‘ilm, they would tolerate all kinds of difficulties with utmost patience, hoping only for a reward in the aakhirah.
Sheikh Abdul-Fattaah Abu Ghuddah rahimahullah has written on this topic ‘Safahat min Sabr il-Ulama and Shada'id al-Ilm wa tahseel’ in which he mentions some of the difficulties the ulamaa faced whilst studying and seeking knowledge.
Imam Abu Yusuf rahimahullah says, “al-ilmu izzun la zhulla feeh – wa yuj’alu bi-zhullin la izza feeh” Nothing is gained without hardship. Ilm is an honour but to get to it you will have to undergo much humiliation.
Imam Maalik rahimahullah says that the condition of Rabee’ rahimahullah was such that he had even sold the roof of his house for the sake of seeking ‘ilm.
SubhanAllah. This is the true zeal for knowledge. Nothing came in is his to knowledge, till he even sold the roof of his own house! Rabee’ has realised the true importance of knowledge, so he let nothing come in his way when he was seeking it, may Allah have mercy on him.

8. Realise the status of ilm and know your position as one who seeks it
It is said, “al-ilmu yu’taa wa la ya’ti” so it is you yourself who will have to go through trouble to gain ilm, it will not come to you by itself. Remember that you are the taalib and ilm is the matloob not the other way round. And this is illustrated in the story of Imam Maalik rahimahullah who, when asked to teach the sons of the king refused, as ilm is not something so cheap that it will come to the princes in their palace. Ilm is something which must be sought for.
Imam Abu Yusuf rahimahullah says, “al-ilmu shay’un la yu’tika ba’duhu hattaa tu’til-insaana kulluh.” “Ilm is a thing which will not give you even a part of itself until man gives himself wholly to it.”

It comes without saying that to achieve such a high status as that of a taalib ilm, for whom the angels spread out their wings, and even the fish in the sea seek forgiveness, you have to fulfil duties and take up responsibilities.

# Good company – Pious company and friends should be kept so that one can attain their good qualites. It is also good to keep company with those who have a great zeal for knowledge instead of those who do not. This is so that one can never be put off wanting to learn more. The ‘Ulama state, that in order to gain good habits and to acquire beneficial knowledge, it is vital to stay in the presence of good and pious people. If one is not able to be in the company of the pious, then one should read the books written by these pious people.
# Respect and have good conduct with the teacher – One should ensure that respect is always shown towards the teacher. One cannot gain all knowledge from books without the guidance of a good teacher.


Thesauros said...

Click on the video at the following link and watch Mohommad’s followers of “peaceful” islam carrying out his instructions - direct from the Quran.

If you censor comments to your posts, what is it exactly that you’re afraid of?

mishkash said...

Thesauros read this He!He!He!
There are just so many threads with all kinds of ridiculous accusations and insults made by so many people . And every insult is just so uneducated and idiotic. It is backed by nothing but ignorance.

I understand there has been a great deal of skepticism about Islam since 9/11 and regarding the Israel-Palestine issue. But why has this skepticism sparked such irrational hatred and ridiculous ignorant accusations? It is as if some people go out of their way to insult Islam and Muslims, and spread hatred. It is as if they live to hate.

To all those who have this irrational hatred, do you guys not have your own lives to lead? Is your life so worthless and meaningless, that you spend precious time of your limited life in this world, in hate? Is this what you feel your purpose is on this world? Were you just born to hate others? Were you just born to concoct and receive all kinds of false information and believe it without logic, and let your mind just live in a fantasy world full of fictional tales of the noble west against savage hordes of the middle east?

Is that what life is to you?