Means which will aid a person in Seeking Knowledge (Part 2)
All the Scholars are in consensus in regards: there is nothing better than acquiring knowledge to come close to Allaah. It is أجل العبادات Ajal Ebadah (The loftiest act of worship).
Abu Hurairah narrated that the Prophet ﷺ said:
مَنْ جَاءَ مَسْجِدِي هَذَا لَمْ يَأْتِهِ إِلاَّ لِخَيْرٍ يَتَعَلَّمُهُ أَوْ يُعَلِّمُهُ فَهُوَ بِمَنْزِلَةِ الْمُجَاهِدِ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ وَمَنْ جَاءَ لِغَيْرِ ذَلِكَ فَهُوَ بِمَنْزِلَةِ الرَّجُلِ يَنْظُرُ إِلَى مَتَاعِ غَيْرِهِ
“Whoever comes to this mosque of mine, and only comes for a good purpose, such as to learn or to teach, his status is like that of one who fights in Jihaad in the Cause of Allaah. Whoever comes for any other purpose, his status is that of a man who is keeping an eye on other people’s property.” [Ibn Maajah]
This Hadeeth emphasizes the importance of knowledge. It is of the same level as Jihaad in the Way of Allaah, as Allaah says in Surat at-Tawbah [9:122]:
“And it is not (proper) for the believers to go out to fight (Jihaad) all together. Of every troop of them, a party only should go forth, that they (who are left behind) may get instructions in (Islamic) religion, and that they may warn their people when they return to them, so that they may beware (of evil).”
In our previous post, we mentioned the first means – Taqwa, which will aid a person in seeking knowledge.
In this post, we present the second means which will aid a person in seeking knowledge:
2 – المثابرة و الإستمرار على طلب العلم – Diligence and Persistence in Seeking Knowledge
The student of knowledge should exert his utmost to acquire knowledge and he should be patient. He should memorize whatever he acquires of knowledge. One has to seek out the knowledge; do not expect it to come to you easily. You have to put forth effort and seek it. The student of knowledge seeks all the ways that lead him to knowledge, and he is rewarded for it. The Prophet ﷺ said:
من سلك طريقا يلتمس به علما سهل الله له طريقا إلى الجنة
“Whoever treads a path in search of knowledge, Allaah will make the way to Paradise easy for him.“ [Muslim]
The student of knowledge should write notes, put them in order, revise them, research anything he has any doubts about, etc. in order for him to benefit from his knowledge. Studying at night, as Ash-Shafi’ee (رحمه الله) mentioned, is better than Tahajjud prayer.
Ibn ‘Abbaas (رضي الله عنهما) was asked what he did to attain the knowledge he had. He said:
بلسان سؤول و قلب عقول و بدن غير ملول
“By having a tongue which always asks, and a heart which understands, and a body which never gets tired.”
Do not feel shy to ask. Ask and never feel tired. You will be rewarded for all the effort that you put forth. He said:
إن كان ليبلغني الحديث عن الرجل فآتي بابه فأتوسد ردائي على بابه تسفي علي الريح من التراب فيخرج فيقول: يا إبن عم رسول الله ما جاء بك؟ الا أرسلت إليّ فآتيك؟ فأقول: أنا أحق أن آتيك فأسأله عن الحديث
If news reached me that a man had some Hadeeth, I would go to the gate of his house, lay on my Rida (and wait for him to come out) while the wind blew dust on me. When the man came out he said: “O cousin of the Messenger of Allaah ﷺ , what has brought you here? Why did you not send for me so that I could come to you?” I said: “I am more deserving to come to you.” And then I would ask him regarding the Hadeeth.
Ibn ‘Abbaas (رضي الله عنهما) humbled himself for knowledge, and Allaah exalted him by it. This is how our state should be.
One day Imam Ahmad (رحمه الله) invited Imam ash-Shafi’ee (رحمه الله) to his house. He served him supper and then both men retired to their place of sleep. Imam Ash-Shafi’ee (رحمه الله) remained reflecting over the Hadeeth of the Prophet ﷺ :
يا أبا عُمير ما فعل النغير
“O Aba Umayr, what did the little sparrow do?”
Abu Umayr was a little boy who had a tiny bird called ‘Nugair’ which died. Abu Umayr was saddened by this, and the Prophet ﷺ used to joke with the youth; and he ﷺ would speak with each person in a way which was suitable to them.
Ash-Shafi’ee (رحمه الله) remained the whole night deducing rulings from the Hadeeth, until he found over a thousand benefits, and the Adhaan of Fajr was pronounced. He stood up, prayed Fajr without performing Wudu’, and left the house.
Imam Ahmad (رحمه الله) praised Ash-Shafi’ee (رحمه الله) to his family. They asked him how he could praise a man who ate all the food he gave him, and slept and did not stand up (to pray the night prayer), and who prayed Fajr without making Wudu? Imam Ahmad (رحمه الله) questioned Ash-Shafi’ee (رحمه الله) regarding this, to which he replied:
أما كوني أكلت حتى أفرغت الاناء فذالك لأني ما وجدت تعامت أطيب من تعام الإمام أحمد فأردت أن أملأ بطني منه، و أما كوني لم أقم بصلاة الليل فإن العلم أفضل من قيام الليل و قد كنت أفكر في هذا الحديث، و أما كوني لم أتوضأ لصلاة الفجر فكنت على وضوء من صلاة العشاء (و لا يحب يكلفهم بماء الوضوء)
As for my eating until I emptied the plate, it is because I did not find food better than the food served by Imam Ahmad, so I wanted to fill my stomach with it. As for not standing to pray the night prayer, verily knowledge is more virtuous than night prayer, and I was reflecting over this Hadeeth. As for me not making Wudu’ for the Fajr prayer, it is because I had not broken my Wudu’ since the ‘Isha prayer (and he did not like to burden them to fetch the water for Wudu’).
This was the effort the Salaf put forth to acquire knowledge. Compare their effort to our prayer. How diligent are we in studying the religious knowledge?
The student of knowledge should not despair if he comes across an issue he does not understand. He should try his best to understand. Shaikh As-Sa’dee (رحمه الله) mentioned the story of Imam Kasa’i who was an Imam of Arabic grammar in Kufa. In the beginning of his life he tried to understand grammar but failed so he stopped. One day he was sitting and saw an ant carrying food and trying to climb the wall. It climbed and fell down. It kept climbing and falling down repeatedly but remained diligent until it reached the top. Imam Kasa’i said: “This ant put forth effort until it reached its goal.” So he put forth effort until he became an Imam of Arabic grammar.
Never despair, because if you despair, you are closing the gate of goodness in front of yourself. The Shaytaan is the one putting desperation in your heart, and putting obstacles in front of you, telling you that are not fit for it. Show Allaah your truthfulness and Allaah will be truthful to you. Be optimistic and promise yourself to do good. When you show Allaah truthfulness, Allaah will make it easy for you. But never despair of understanding knowledge.
📚 Source: Kitab Al-‘Ilm – Ibn ‘Uthaimeen