One of the biggest mistakes students of knowledge make – including myself – when embarking on the path of traditional study is to remain plugged into the internet and social media, writes Ustadh Salman Younas.
Whether it is having debates on forums, writing lengthy Facebook posts, coming up with catchy tweets, or posting pictures of your student adventures on Instagram, the base assumption that every student (actually, every person) should have is that these are largely ways to aggrandize the self (nafs) whether one realizes this or not.
A Destructive Distraction
Spiritually, it is destructive for a student. From the perspective of ilm-seeking, it corrupts intentions and distracts a student from the higher aims of seeking knowledge: God. There is an element of putting oneself out there and assuming a role before one is actually ready to step into the spotlight. There are indications that one feels his opinion counts and needs to be spread (if you pass a glance at how many shares your post got, you know you’re probably doing it for the wrong reasons).
There is a hidden desire that perhaps people should follow me – the layman taking the hand of the learned. Often times, there is argumentation, sometimes ill-will developed towards others, and the construction of a false image for the public. The consequence of this is summed up in a famous legal maxim:
“Whoever rushes something before its time is punished by being prevented from attaining it.”
If you are a beginner student, stick to studying and worship. Don’t waste the opportunity God gave you by occupying a station that He did not place you in.
This is a problem of my generation. Go look at our elders, such as Shaykh Nuh Keller, Shaykh Hamza, Imam Zaid, Habib Umar, Mufti Taqi, and others. How many of them were putting themselves out while still students? None of them. They waited. They focused their attention on what they needed to do – on seeking knowledge for the sake of God. They understood the statement of Ibn Ata’illah:
“Bury your existence in the earth of obscurity. If something sprouts before it is buried, its fruits will never ripen.”
They took counsel from their teachers. They rectified themselves spiritually in addition to gaining knowledge of the outward. And God eventually opened the door of scholarship and spreading knowledge for them… and how beneficial was it when it was opened at the time He desired and not when they desired it.
Resources for seekers
- The Dangers of Judging People Based on Their Status Updates
- Perform An Act To Break Your Ego, by Ustadh Amjad Tarsin
- Imam Nawawi On Fighting The Ego (Nafs)
- VIDEO: The etiquette of battling the self and ego
- A Reminder for Teachers: The Need for Sincerity, and the Dangers of Seeking Prestige and the Praise of Others
- “Signs of the Scholar of the Hereafter”
- A Reader on Sincerity, Intention, and the Purpose of Spiritual Routines
- How To Attain Focus, Patience And Stillness In A Chaotic World
- How Can I Remove the Jealousy I Have Towards People Younger and More Successful than Me?
- You’re Wildly Successful, but Do Your Friends Trust You?