What is the Purpose in Seeking Knowledge? – Shaykh Fawzaan

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Shaikh Salih al Fawzaan حفظه الله comments regarding His Statement (The Most High):

مَا كَانَ لِبَشَرٍ أَن يُؤۡتِيَهُ ٱللَّهُ ٱلۡكِتَٰبَ وَٱلۡحُكۡمَ وَٱلنُّبُوَّةَ ثُمَّ يَقُولَ لِلنَّاسِ كُونُواْ عِبَادٗا لِّي مِن دُونِ ٱللَّهِ وَلَٰكِن كُونُواْ رَبَّٰنِيِّـۧنَ بِمَا كُنتُمۡ تُعَلِّمُونَ ٱلۡكِتَٰبَ وَبِمَا كُنتُمۡ تَدۡرُسُونَ

It is not (possible) for any human being to whom Allah has given the Book and Al-Hukma (the knowledge and understanding of the laws of religion, etc.) and Prophethood to say to the people: “Be my worshippers rather than Allah’s.” On the contrary (he would say): “Be you Rabbaaniyun (learned men of religion who practise what they know and also preach others) because you are teaching the Book, and you are studying it.” (Surah Aali-Imraan:79)

What we benefit from this noble verse is that knowledge is not learnt except for the purpose of action and calling to Allah, and that knowledge is not learnt in order to receive praise and in gaining position with the people, so that it is said about him that he is a scholar. It has come in a hadeeth that the Messenger صلى الله عليه وسلم said:

“From the first of those who will be dragged to the hell fire will be a man who sought knowledge so that the people can say that he is a learned person, as that is what was said about him. (1)

It has also come in an authentic hadeeth that the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said:

 “‏” مَنْ طَلَبَ الْعِلْمَ لِيُجَارِيَ بِهِ الْعُلَمَاءَ أَوْ لِيُمَارِيَ بِهِ السُّفَهَاءَ أَوْ يَصْرِفَ بِهِ وُجُوهَ النَّاسِ إِلَيْهِ أَدْخَلَهُ اللَّهُ النَّارَ

“Whoever seeks knowledge to contend with the scholars, or to use it to argue with the fools, and to have people’s faces turn towards him, then he shall be admitted to the Fire.” (2)

Meaning: He seeks knowledge to be considered as one of the scholars and so he can be raised in status amongst the people, his intention is not except for this reason and so he enters the hell fire. There are other ahadeeth and severe threats in regards to the one who learns and acts but he conceals the knowledge from others, however in this regard if sharing the knowledge with the people will lead to harm then it is islamically legislated to conceal the knowledge from them just as the Messenger said to Mu’adh رضي الله عنه:

فإن حق الله على العباد أن يعبدوه، ولا يشركوا به شيئاً، وحق العباد على الله أن لا يعذب من لا يشرك به شيئاً، فقلت، يا رسول الله أفلا أبشر الناس‏؟‏ قال لا تبشرهم فيتكلوا‏”‏”

“Allah’s Right upon His slaves is that they should worship Him Alone and associate nothing with Him; and His slaves’ right upon Him is that He will not punish those who do not associate a thing with Him.” He (Mu’adh) added: I said to the Messenger of Allah: “Should i not inform the people of this good new?” He (ﷺ) said, “Do not tell them this good news for they may depend on it alone (without performing good deeds)”. (3)

Source: Min Ahkhaam Al-Qur’aan by Shaikh Salih al Fawzaan حفظه الله  vol.1 pgs. 26 – 27

1) Muslim, at-Tirmidhi and an-Nasa’i, narrated by Abu Hurayrah رضي الله عنه

2) at-Tirmidhi (2654) narrated by Ibn Ka’b bin Malik رضي الله عنه  , Ibn Maajah (254) narrated by Ibn Umar رضي الله عنهما

“This hadeeth has a weak chain of narration but the meaning is correct.” (https://binbaz.org.sa/fatwas)

3) Al-Bukhari (2856) and Muslim (30/49)

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