This is the second part of a series, click here for the previous article.
Knowledge and it’s virtue
Knowledge is very important. It has a prominent place in Islam. It is one of the primary foundations of the Ba ‘Alawi way. Allah Most High said to His beloved (blessings and peace be upon him): “Say, my Lord, increase me in knowledge” (20:114). When Allah commands His beloved to do something, that thing is beloved to Him. He instructed the Prophet to ask for an increase in knowledge because it is one of the most noble and honourable qualities. So we should ask Allah as often as possible to increase us in knowledge.
Abu Hurayrah once announced in the marketplace, “O people, what is preventing you from taking your share of the Prophet’s inheritance? It is being distributed.” They asked where it was being distributed, so he answered, “in the mosque”. They went to the mosque and returned, saying, “O Abu Hurayrah, you said the Prophet’s legacy is being distributed in the mosque, but we found nothing except people praying, reciting the Qur’an and revising knowledge – the fiqh of halal and ḥaram.” Abu Hurayrah said, “Woe to you, the inheritance of the Prophet is in the gathering of knowledge.” He quoted the Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him), “Indeed, Prophets did not leave wealth as an inheritance. They only left knowledge as an inheritance.”
The Prophet also said to his companions, “You are living in a time when the jurists are many and the teachers are few, those who ask are few and those who give are many, and action is better than knowledge. But a time will come when the jurists are few and the teachers are many.” This statement is very apt in our time. Many people study merely so they can deliver talks. The Prophet referred to this as a bad development. People are not focused on knowledge, but on how well they are able to speak. He went on to say: “A time will come when many will ask and few will give, and knowledge will be better than action.”
Hasan al-Basri said that, had knowledge taken a form, it would have been more splendid than the sun, the moon, the stars and the sky. Imam Shafi’i said whoever desires this world or the next should seek knowledge because he is need of knowledge in this life and the next. Allah Most High gives worldly things to those He loves as well as those He does not love, but He only gives knowledge to those He loves.
Habib ‘Aydarus bin ‘Umar al-Habshi said knowledge is food for the heart. Therefore he would make the du’a that is made after eating at the end of every gathering of knowledge.
Correct worship requires knowledge
Without knowledge we are not able to worship Allah truly. A man may worship Allah the way angels do, but if he does so without knowledge he will be one of the losers.
‘Umar bin ‘Abd al-‘Aziz said that the one who acts and does good without having knowledge spreads more bad than good. Sayyidina ‘Umar bin al-Khatab (Allah be pleased with him) said that someone who has not studied is not allowed to buy and sell in the marketplace. One who does not study the law of commercial transactions ends up consuming riba unknowingly.
Consider the following telling example: A man from Morocco was known to exert himself in worship. One day he purchased a female donkey that he did not use for anything. Someone asked him why he was keeping it if he was not using it. He replied that it was there to keep him chaste. He was engaging in bestiality not knowing it is haram.
It is really important to participate in classes of knowledge. Learning is a cycle that should never end. Imam Ghazali said one should attend a class every day. We should start by attending at least one a week, and then increase our attendance slowly until we are able to attend a class every day.