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Islaamic Knowledge and You

Allaah raises the level of people in two ways: (a) Belief in Him and (b)
Knowledge of Him. This is established in the following verse of the
Quraan Allaah said: "Allaah raises the level of those who believe
and those who are endowed with knowledge." [Al-Quraan 58:11]
Acquiring knowledge of Allaah is the most important obligation on
every Muslim because Allaah ordered seeking knowledge (i.e. the
knowledge of Himself) prior to declaration of the Shahadah. He said:
And know that there is no deity worthy of worship but Allaah then seek
forgiveness for your sins... [Al-Quraan 47: 19]

To emphasize seeking knowledge before doing any action, Imaam Al-

Bukharee used the above verse as a basis for a chapter in his all
famous Sahih. He entitles that chapter: "Knowledge before speech and
action". Book of Knowledge: [Sahih Bukhari Vol: 1 Ch 11]

Excellence of knowledge.

Allaah said: Allaah (Himself) is witness that there is no deity

worthy of worship except Him, and the Angels and the men of
learning (are also witnesses to this). Maintaining His creation in
justice, there is no god save Him, the Almighty, the Wise [Al-
Qur'aan 3:18]

Notice that Allaah in the Ayat started the witnessing to the fact that
"there is no deity worthy of worship but Himself" with Himself,
then He follows it saying that this is also the witness of His Angels and
then He follows it by the people who possess knowledge. This verse
definitely emphasizes the position of the people who are endowed with
knowledge above those who are without it.

Allaah said "...Are those who know equal with those who do not
know? But only men of understanding will pay heed." [Al-
Qur'aan 39:9]

He said "...Indeed those who fear Allaah from his servants they
are the knowledgeable, Indeed Allaah is the Mighty, the Most
Forgiving." [Al-Qur'aan 35:28]
He said And these similitude we coin for mankind, but none will grasp
their meaning except those of knowledge.

In the above cases we clearly see the very high rank that Allaah
Himself endowed upon those who possess knowledge. (The knowledge
above is only in reference to knowledge about Islaam.)

Allaah said: "Ask the people of Remembrance if you do not


This is because understanding Allaah's Rulings is based upon the

investigation and deductions of the learned. Abu Dardaa said that the
Messenger of Allaah said Those people endowed with knowledge
are the inheritors of the prophets. [Hadeeth Hassan, Abu Dawood, ibn
Majah, At-Tirmithi, ibn Habaan].

He also said: "Whosoever Allaah wishes good for, He bestows

upon him understanding of the Deen." [Bukhaari and Muslim].

He bestows upon him an understanding of the Deen means that He will

allow him to be taught the Qur'aan and the Sunnah. It is common
knowledge that there is no higher position than that achieved by the
prophets and that there is no greater honor than that of inheriting
from that noble position [i.e. inheriting from the prophets (on them be

To acquire this very coveted position needs serious striving to acquire

the knowledge they came with (i.e. the knowledge of Allaah's deen).

He also said: The superiority of a learned man over a

worshipper is like my superiority over the ordinary men from
among my companions. [At-Tirmidhi. Hadeeth Hassan].

Looking at this Hadeeth you will observe (a) how he linked knowledge
with the position of prophet hood, and (b) how he lowered the level of
the person who does action without knowledge. Any worship
('eebadah) that a worshipper performs must be based on knowledge,
because if it is lacking then the action would not be 'Eebadah but mere

The messenger also said: "The superiority of a learned man

over a worshipper is like the superiority of the full moon over
the other stars." [This Hadeeth is Hassan].
`Ali said to Kaamil: "O Kaamil, knowledge is better than
wealth. Knowledge protects you while you have to protect your wealth.
Knowledge is a judge, while wealth have to be judged on. Wealth
decreases when it is expended, while knowledge purifies when it is

`Ali said in a poem:

"Glory is for none but the learned, Guided are they - and proofs for
seekers of guidance. Every person is measured based on how much of
it (knowledge) he mastered, The ignorant are to the learned their
Succeed with knowledge and live energetically forever, Men are all
dead, only the possessors of knowledge are truly alive."

The Excellence of Learning

Allaah said And the believers should not all go out and fight. Of
every troop of them, a party should go forth, that they (who are
left behind) may gain sound knowledge in religion, and that they
may warn their folk when they return to them, so that they may
beware. [Al-Qur'aan 9:122]

And His saying: ...Ask the people of Remembrance if you do not

know. [Al-Qur'aan 16:43]

The Messenger of Allaah said: Whoever treads a path seeking

knowledge therein, Allaah directs him to a path leading to Al-
Jannah (Paradise). [Hadeeth Hassan]

He also said: The quest for knowledge is a compulsion on

every Muslim. [Hadeeth Hassan]

N.B. The knowledge referred to above is knowledge in Deen because

that is the only knowledge that is Waajib. The people who use this
hadeeth to represent seeking after every type of knowledge are
misusing it.

AbuDardaa' said: "To learn of one issue (in deen) is better for me than
to pray the entire night" He also said: "The scholar and the seeker of
knowledge are the partners in the sharing of good. Other men are
hungry and there is no good in them."
Fath Al Musilee said: "Would the sick person who is not fed or
given anything to drink or given any medicine, not die?" The people
replied: " Surely!" He said - "It is the same with the heart, it wouuld
die if knowledge and wisdom is with held from it."

Indeed he spoke the truth because the nourishment and enlivening of

the heart is through knowledge and wisdom, just as food is
nourishment for the body. Whoever does not acquire knowledge of the
deen of Islaam, has a sick heart and its death is inevitable. However,
he is not aware of it, because his love for this world destroys his

The Excellence of Teaching

Allaah said: "... and that they may warn their folk when they
return to them, so that they may beware." [Al-Qur'aan 9:122]

What is implied here is teaching and guiding them. And the saying of
Allaah And (remember) when Allaah took a covenant from those
who received the Scripture, (He said): You are to expound it to
mankind and not to hide it... [Al-Qur'aan 3:187] This ayat demands
that those who are endowed with knowledge should teach it. While the
verses that follow shows that it is Haraam to conceal it.

Allaah said: ...But verily, a party of them knowingly conceal the

truth. [Al Quraan 2:146] And He also said: ...He who hides it, verily
his heart is sinful [Al-Qur'aan 2:283]

Allaah praises the one who invites with knowledge. Allaah said: And
who is better in speech than he who invites to Allaah and does
good works... [Al-Qur'aan 41:33]

And the saying of Allaah: Call unto the way of your Lord with
wisdom and good exhortation, and reason with them in the
better way... [Al Quraan 16:125]

`Ali said that the Messenger of Allaah said to him: If Allaah

guides a man through your help, it is better (for you) than red
camels. [Bukahari and Muslim]

N.B. Red camels at that time were from among the people's most
precious possession. He also said: Whoever acquires knowledge
and keep it concealed Allaah will bridle him with a bridle of fire
on the Day of Resurrection. [Abu Dawood, Ibn Majah, At-Tirmidhi]

He also said: Verily Allaah, His angels, the inmates of the

heavens and the earth, even the ant in its hole and the fish in
the sea send salutation on the one who teaches good to the
people. [Its chain is Hassan]. He said: If the son of Adam dies,
all his works is stopped except three. A charity that is
continuous, useful knowledge or a righteous child who
supplicates for him. [Muslim]

The messenger of Allaah said: Whoever guides or directs to

good, then he gets the same amount of blessing as the one who
does it. [Related by Muslim]

And Allaah censures those who speak on His behalf without any
knowledge and some of the scholars consider it an even more heinous
sin than shirk based on the following verse. Allaah said: Say (O
Muhammad ): My Lord has only forbidden indecencies, those
of them that are apparent, as well as those that are concealed,
and sin and rebellion without justice, and that you associate
with Allaah in worship that for which he has sent down no
authority, and that you say about Allaah that which you do not
know. [Al-Qur'aan 7:33]

Therefore, speaking on behalf of Allaah without knowledge is the

greatest sin with Allaah and the one for which He will assign the
severest punishment.

Clarifying what aspect of knowledge is a compulsion on every

Muslim (Fard `Ain)
The messenger of Allaah said: Seeking knowledge is a
compulsion on every Muslim. This Hadeeth is referring to the
knowledge of that aspect of the Deen that will save someone from the
Fire. Therefore, what is important for each one of us is to be certain
that we know what Knowledge is compulsory for each person to save
himself from the Fire. Before discussing this, however, it is important
to know that we must keep on doing righteous deeds until death,
otherwise if any one changes then all the worship that he did before is
going to be worthless. If a person fasts a long hot day and then breaks
his fast a few minutes before Maghrib, then his fast is void. Likewise, if
a person prays a long Salaat and before making Tasleem passes wind,
his prayer is nullified.
Life may look like a long journey, but if a person apostatizes before the
end, he loses everything, and all his deeds are rendered worthless and
he would be subjecting himself to dwell in the Fire forever.

Allaah said: Verily, Allaah forgives not (the sin of setting up rivals in
worship with Him) but He forgives (sins) other than that to whom
so ever He pleases... [Al-Qur'aan 4:116] This verse establishes that
Allaah does not forgive shirk (i.e. setting up rivals in worship with
Him), therefore the most important knowledge that a Muslim must
seek is the knowledge of Shirk and all that relates to it, from Tawheed
and `Aqeedah (beliefs) etc. It is mandatory on every Muslim to learn
these aspects before anything else and not listen to those who say:
"These are theoretical issues, instead keep busy with matters that
have action."

Our answer to them is that 'Aqeedah (matters relating to Eemaan) is

the greatest of all matters in Islaam because Eemaan comprises of the
following three aspects (a) believing in the heart, (b) stating with the
tongue and (c) acting with the limbs upon what is believed in and

Know, my brothers and sisters, that all acts of worship would be

rewarded based on what the heart intends for that particular action
thus making it (the heart) the most important organ of the body. Belief
is a practical matter because it is the action of the heart. The proof of
this statement is the saying of Allaah: ...But He will call you to
account for that which your hearts have earned.... [Al-Qur'aan

This verse indicates what the heart earns. What is earned is the action
and it is this that we will be called to account for. Therefore, we can
conclude about the action of the heart, which is the beliefs present in it
are the most serious action.

Is there not a difference between two persons who say. "Laa ilaha illa
Allaah" (there is no deity worthy of worship but Allaah), while one has
a heart filled with correct beliefs, and the other is a hypocrite who
disbelieves in everything in Islaam? Surely there is, the first will go to
Al-Jannah (Heaven) and the other will be in the lowest depth of the
Fire of Hell. Why is this so? Because of the beliefs in his heart, which
are its action.

The messenger stayed in Makkah for thirteen years inviting to 'Laa

ilaha illa Allaah', and all those things that relates to it, from Tawheed,
'Aqeedah and Shirk. When the messenger sent Mu'adh to Yemen he
said to him: You are going to a people who possess a Book,
so let the first thing you call them to be to testify to 'Laa ilaha
illa Allaah' and if they acknowledge this, then tell them that
Allaah made obligatory on them five Salawaat every day... From
the above examples we can conclude that knowing Allaah and
performing Tawheed of Allaah is the most glorious knowledge in
existence. Therefore, the most glorious action a person has to occupy
and fill his heart with is knowing his Lord. The glory of any knowledge
is based on the thing studied. Is there anything more glorious than
Allaah the Glorified? Definitely not. Therefore, the knowledge that
relates to the study of Allaah, what are His rights on us His creation,
what He loves and what He does not would therefore be the most
glorious knowledge there is in this universe.

Above we have proven what is compulsory knowledge for every

Muslim, male or female to seek i.e. any knowledge that helps him or
her to perfect their worship for Allaah.

The knowledge that is compulsory can be classified as follows:

1. The first obligation on any Muslim who has reached the age of
maturity is to learn about the Shahadah i.e. "There is no deity worthy
of worship but Allaah, Muhammad is the messenger of Allaah" and to
understand their meanings.
That knowledge which helps us to know Allaah and teaches us His
rights on us. This includes the knowledge of the 'Tawheed of Allaah' in
all its various forms i.e. Tawheed of Lordship, Tawheed of His Names
and Characteristics and Tawheed of 'Eebadah. It also includes any
knowledge that would help us to understand anything that would
negate any of the above aspects of Tawheed. This would fall under the
category of Shirk. Every Muslim must learn about Tawheed and Shirk.

2. Knowledge of His Messenger, Muhammad . This includes

understanding his purpose as a messenger , his rights on us, our
relationship with him. This knowledge is important because through
the messenger we learn how to worship Allaah and perform His rights
i.e. the messenger came to invite to tawheed and to fight mankind
to keep away from worshiping other than Him.
Allaah said: verily we sent to each nation a messenger to invite
to the worship of Allaah and to avoid Taghoot.
3. Any knowledge which helps us to know about the other four
fundamental principles of the religion namely, Salaat, Zakaat, Fasting
and Hajj. These are pillars of Allaah's deen and each Muslim must have
knowledge about each one of them as soon as it becomes an
obligation on him so that he can perform it as Allaah wants him to.

4. That which is halaal and that which is haraam of social and business
transactions that relates to anyone is also an obligation on him to

5. That knowledge which relates to the affairs of the heart, that which
is praiseworthy and which every Muslim must try to develop and
nurture, like patience, thankfulness, good character, truthfulness,
sincerity, etc. and that which is blameworthy and which every Muslim
must try to avoid because they are Haraam and therefore the can
cause someone to be thrown into the Fire. Some examples of these
are hatred, jealousy, pride, doing things for show, dishonesty, anger,
enmity and miserliness, following lowing the desires, etc.

As for knowledge which is Fard Kifayah; i.e. that which is a collective

duty, meaning that it is not a duty on every individual, but if a group
of individual undertakes to acquire this knowledge, all other individuals
will be exempted from this duty, and the entire community will be free
from negligence to acquire this branch of knowledge. If no one
embarks on seeking this type of knowledge then the entire community
is accountable.

Examples of this type of knowledge are:

An in depth study of the Islaamic Law.

Study of the basic sciences, industries and professions that are vital
necessities for the welfare of the community like doctors of medicine,
nurses, accountants, contractors, etc.
The Muslims have definitely gone astray in their understanding of their
priorities as to which knowledge they must concentrate on and as such
we find them put a priority on a knowledge that is not compulsory on
them to know about. The messenger warns us of this, he said:

From among the potent of the Hour are (the following):

1. Religious knowledge will be taken away (by the death of the

learned men)
2. Ignorance (of Religion) will prevail.
3. Drinking of Alcoholic drinks (will be very common).
4. There will be prevalence of illegal sexual intercourse.

[Al-Bukharee: Vol 1 No. 80].

The messenger of Allaah said: Allaah does not take away the
knowledge, by taking it away from (the hearts of) the people,
but takes it away by the death of the religious learned men
until when none of the (religious learned men) remains, people
will take as their leaders ignorant persons who when consulted
will give their verdict without knowledge. So they go astray
and they will lead the people astray. [Al-Bukharee: Vol 1 No. 100].