The Importance of Qualified Scholarship

Highlights from the talk, ‘Importance of Qualified Scholarship’ [to download mp3, right-click & save target/link as]

RasulAllah صلى الله عليه وسلم‎ , when he came to this earth as the final Prophet, the final Messenger, he صلى الله عليه وسلم‎ brought two things and left behind two things. If we hold firm to those two things, if we grasp those two things or, for a select few, if they delve deeply into those two things they’ll remain firm in their iman and they may even be a source of guiding others into iman.

So, what were those two things?

  • The first thing was Wahi / وحي‎ – the Sacred Revelation, the Kitab, the Book, the Quran-ul-Karim, the lawhul-Qur’an.
  • The second thing was a Pure Heart /قَلْبٍ سَلِيمٍ

Allah سبحانه وتعالى says in the Qur’an-e-Karim:

يَوْمَ لَا يَنْفَعُ مَالٌ وَلَا بَنُونَ

إِلَّا مَنْ أَتَى اللَّهَ بِقَلْبٍ سَلِيمٍ

“The Day whereon neither wealth nor sons will avail; But only he (will prosper) that brings to Allah سبحانه وتعالى a sound heart; [26:88-89]

A brief explanation of this ayah: it means that nothing will benefit man on that day, neither his wealth will benefit him nor his sons will benefit him, it means neither any of his worldly possessions will benefit him nor will any of his worldly relations benefit him, the only thing that will benefit him on the day of judgment is a Qalb-in-Saleem قَلْبٍ سَلِيمٍ, a purified heart. If the entire success on the Day of Judgment is based on this, and Allahسبحانه وتعالى said in the Qur’an-e-Karim:

لَقَدْ كَانَ لَكُمْ فِي رَسُولِ اللَّهِ أُسْوَةٌ حَسَنَةٌ

“Ye have indeed in the Messenger of Allah a beautiful pattern (of conduct)…” [33:21]

..That you have for you in the beloved Messenger صلى الله عليه وسلم an أُسْوَةٌ حَسَنَةٌ – a beautiful example. Then, surely he صلى الله عليه وسلم must have been a أُسْوَةٌ حَسَنَةٌ of that قَلْبٍ سَلِيمٍ. He must have been the noble example, the model for that purified heart. So the beloved Messengerصلى الله عليه وسلم brought two things and left behind two legacies; one a pure revelation and second a pure heart. And this Allah سبحانه وتعالى mentions in the Qur’an-e-Karim in a number of places, what we call the purposes, the reasons why Allah سبحانه وتعالى sent the Prophet Mohammad صلى الله عليه وسلم and there are four in number:

يَتْلُو عَلَيْهِمْ آيَاتِهِ

وَيُزَكِّيهِمْ

وَيُعَلِّمُهُمُ الْكِتَابَ

وَالْحِكْمَةَ

“…who recites to them His verses and makes them pure and teaches them the Book and the Wisdom.” (3:164)

First يَتْلُو عَلَيْهِمْ آيَاتِهِ is to recite unto them the verses of Allah سبحانه وتعالى; this was the sole exclusive function of Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم and it passed away with his passing away from this world. But the remaining three remain alive and will remain alive until the Day of Judgment.

The Second وَيُزَكِّيهِمْ it means to purify them, to purify their hearts, to teach them the way of tazkya, to teach them the ways and methods that they choose to come before Allah سبحانه وتعالى with a Qalb-un-Saleem

Third وَيُعَلِّمُهُمُ الْكِتَابَ to teach them the Book, do ta’leem / تعليم   of the Kitaab. This is a very revealing ayah because this shows you the deep legitimacy or the authority or the authenticity of  Scholarship in our Deen because if you look at the Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم he recited the Qur’an in Arabic, it was an Arabic revelation; who did he saw recite it unto, immediately? The Sahaba [ra]; who were the masters of Arabic language. They were people who used to put up their poems on the Ka’aba, who used to memorize thousands of verses of poetry. So if simply knowing Arabic language was enough then يَتْلُو عَلَيْهِمْ آيَاتِهِ simply reciting/Tillawah of the verses would’ve been enough. Why did Allah سبحانه وتعالى mention it as a separate distinct function: وَيُعَلِّمُهُمُ الْكِتَابَ that he would teach them the Book? Why does this book need تعلم و تعليم [ta’leem-o-ta’allim] even for the Arabs; because it needs to be explained, it needs to be understood. And this is a tradition that has continued though out the Muslims, though out our history. In fact if you look at all the famous tafasir; the famous commentaries on the Qur’an by Al-Razi, Al-Qurtubi, Ibn-e-Kathir, Allamah al-Allusi all these huge multi volume books in Arabic; who were they written for? Were they written for non-Arabs; were they written for a person who did not understand Arabic to explain to him the Qur’an? No. In fact the Arabic in some of these tafasir, if any of you have read them, is even more difficult than the Arabic that has been used in the Qur’an. So, these huge volumes of tafasir were written for people who knew the Arabic language. Even the Arab Ullema, the Ullema who were masters of Arabic language used to consult these tafasir, these books of commentaries on the Qur’an. So how is it that we think today that it is enough for us to just read the translation of the Qur’an? Don’t think I’m trying to keep anyone from the Qur’an, I’m actually inviting you to study Qur’an deeply i.e. to study the tafsir, to study the deep meanings of the Qur’an.

So third function wasيُعَلِّمُهُمُ الْكِتَابَ and finally, the fourth function   وَالْحِكْمَةَ i.e. to teach them wisdom, the mufassirin [Scholars of Tafsir] write that hikmah here in this ayah means the wisdom, the knowledge of how to live a collective life – mu’amalaat, mu’asharaat, how to live as a family, as a community, as a society, as a polity as a state as an Ummah, all the things that pertain to collective life are summarized in this one word here: hikmah. The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم taught us not just how to live as individuals, but how we should live as a community and establish the Deen on this earth in a way that is pleasing to Allah سبحانه وتعالى.

So there were two things that we mentioned the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم left; first was Wahi / وحي‎ – the Sacred Revelation, and second was a pure and untainted heart. The two science/disciplines that deal with each of these things are:

–       The science through which you will learn about Wahi / وحي‎ is called:  ilm/ علم i.e. sacred knowledge, and

–       The science by which you learn about the purified heart, the Qalb is called Tazkya – the purification and disciplining of the heart and soul.

Unfortunately, today there is so much decline in the Ummah; be it as individuals or as a collective. Precisely because we have not drank from these two wells, because we have not lived up to the legacy of these two things. In other words we are neither people of ‘ilm nor are we people of tazkya.

Today I want to explore why have we lost that ‘ilm, we’ll find that here are two reasons why have lost this ‘ilm. Know that our very iman depends upon these two things. That person who does not have knowledge or that person who does not purify himself he is endangering his very faith; his very iman.

So, there are two reasons why we have lost knowledge in this day and age:

  • First is that we have lost the Qadr, the value or the ahmiyyah, the  importance of Sacred Knowledge; we don’t have the value of this ‘ilm in our hearts. As a society, as a Muslim community we dont have the value of this knowledge. Just to understand how little we value it, you can just look in contrast how much we value the knowledge of this world. A person will study in school for 12 years, then he’ll go to college for four years, thats sixteen years. Then they want to go to graduate school/medical school that can be another two to four years. A person can spend from 16 to 20 to 22 years, do a phD spend 22-24 years of his life pursuing secular knowledge! I’m not saying theres anything bad in pursuing Secular knowledge, but if we want to claim that we are people of balance, many of us like to say that we should join both the Deen and the Dunya, well just take this one thing as an example:
  •  ‘ilm; that how have you balanced your knowledge of the Dunya and how have you balanced your knowledge of the Deen. So much so that there are people who are doctors, people who have done their phDs and if their own father was to die they don’t even have the knowledge of what to do. – – They don’t know the sunnah way of performing ghusl of the corpse of their father; if you ask them to lead the janaza, they wouldn’t know how to lead the janaza prayer.
  • Despite all their knowledge, they don’t know the simple rulings, the ahkamaat of death and each and every one of us is going to die. If you ask them to divide the estate of your father according to Shariah in a way that is pleasing to Allah, they will say they don’t know. If you ask them which way should their father be laid in the grave; they don’t know. If you ask them that this is the corpse of your father, you go and buy the kafan, the burial shroud on your father – they would say i don’t know how big the cloth is supposed to be, i don’t know which way it is supposed to be wrapped – so with so much education they don’t even know, they cannot even perform the burial service of their father when their father passes away – this is what shows you that they have no importance, no value for sacred knowledge. they couldn’t be bothered with this type of knowledge!
  • Our Shaykh once told us the story of one person who was sitting in his company and he got a call on his cellfone and he just stepped away for a bit and spoke on the phone for 5-10 mins and then he came back and he looked slightly disturbed so someone asked him, who was that on the phone? and he said: Oh, i got a phone call about my father he dad been sick in the hospital and i got a call that he has passed away…so, i quickly made a call to the local funeral center and told them which hospital my father is in. i asked them to pick my father from there themselves and arrange for his burial – however they(non-muslims) do it.
  • This is the state of Muslims when you lack knowledge and not only do we lack the knowledge of these legal rules of death, we also lack the knowledge of the importance of death – what a transition it means and how much a father needs his son at that moment. How lacking of knowledge, awareness or feeling hearts that have. So, we have lost the value of knowledge in this day and age.
  • If you ask a young man who is studying in college, what do you plan to do when you graduate? If you ask a man who is studying, even if he is in the first year of college, he will say: well i plan to do my 2nd year, 3rd year, 4th year; i plan to graduate early – after that i will study abroad; after that i will go to graduate school; after that I am going to work; start as an apprentice engineer;then i’ll become a regular engineer; then i’ll become a senior engineer and if you ask him what plans do you have for your Deen? He’ll look at you blankly. And infact, if you tell him  that well, how about if i was to tell you, you’ll never get past the first year of college. You will do 1st year college this year, and next year you will still be stuck in 1st year – 5 years from now, you will still be stuck in 1st year. He’ll look at you like you’re crazy. That how dare you suggest that i will not progress in my Dunya! How dare you suggest that i will not increase in my knowledge of this world? But, if you told that same young man that well today you know only 10 Surahs of the Qur’an, the meaning of 10 surahs and 1 year from now you’ll only know the meaning of 10 surahs. No problem! 5 years from now, you’ll only know the meaning of 10 surahs. No problem. or that if today you know only 2-3 Sunnah Duas, 1 year from now you’ll only know those 2-3 Sunnah Duas. No problem. That same shock will not be there.
  • Infact, if any one of us can just look and reflect at ourselves for a few minutes – where were we 3 years ago in terms of our knowledge of this world, how much progress have we made, how much effort did we put in to that and where were we 3 years ago or just one Ramadan ag0, where were you in terms of your knowledge of Allah swt, interms of your knowledge of the Book of Allah swt and your knowledge of the Sunnah of the beloved Messenger صلى الله عليه وسلم‎ and where are we today in terms of our knowledge. And for those of you who are not students, think of all the progress you have made in your business or your career, or your job or what a better car you got, or a house you got etc, whatever type of progress you made in your life! just compare that progress that you made in the Dunya – im not saying its not Jaiz, its fully Jaiz – but just look at that progress that you made and now look at the progress you made in your Deen. Whether its in your ‘ilm; whether its in your ‘aml; whether its in your taqwa; whether its in your ikhlaas – do you see? Can you now truly say that i join the Deen and Dunya? And that i’m equally progressing in the Deen and Dunya.
  • So, this is a false pry through with Shaytan and the Nafs have deceived us – we have involved ourselves so much in the Dunya and when we do a little bit in the Deen we think that oh i have joined both Deen and the Dunya
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