In The Name of Allaah, The Most Merciful, The Bestower of Mercy.
A Reminder Regarding Humility to Those Who Say:
“Such and Such Is Studying at An Institution or Has Received a Certificate of Graduation, So He Is Not In Need of Any Other Student, Even If They Have Tazkiyyaat From Some of The Kibaarul Ulamaa”.
Imaam al-Bukhaari [rahimahullaah] said:
A man will not become well facilitated [or prepared] until he takes knowledge from one above him, one similar to him and one below him. [Ref 1]
Imaam Abdullaah Ibnul Mubaarak [rahimahullaah] said, “A man will be from the [students or scholars] of Hadeeth until he writes from someone similar to him, someone above him and someone below him. [Ref 2]
Imaam Sufyaan Ibn Uyaynah [rahimahullaah] said, “A man will not be from the [students or scholars] of Hadeeth until he takes from someone above him, someone below him and someone similar to him”. [Ref 3]
Shaikh Rabee Bin Haadee Al-Madkhalee [hafidhahullaah] said:
The entire life of a person is spent in seeking knowledge – from the cradle to the grave. He does not feel proud to acquire truth from a young or older person and he never rejects truth, whether it is stated by a Muslim or Unbeliever.
Moosaa [alayhis salaam] was spoken to directly by Allaah and the Tawraat was revealed to him, which contained Hudaa [i.e. that which guides a person to Eemaan, truth and protects one from misguidance] and Noor [i.e. a guiding light in the midst of the darkness of ignorance, confusion, doubts, beliefs and deeds that appear to be truth but are falsehood in reality and evil desires], but when he knew that another person possessed knowledge of that which he did not possess, [Allaah informed us he (Moosaa) said]:
لَا أَبْرَحُ حَتَّىٰ أَبْلُغَ مَجْمَعَ الْبَحْرَيْنِ أَوْ أَمْضِيَ حُقُبًا
I will not give up (travelling) until I reach the junction of the two seas or (until) I spend years and years in travelling. [Surah Al-Kahf. Aayah 60]
He went on foot – neither had a car nor a riding beast, nor a horse; [rather] he travelled on foot. [Ref 4]
A Caution Regarding The Haughty Young One Who Is Raised Above His Rightful Status
Shaikh Rabee Bin Haadee [hafidhahullaah] said:
One of the obstacles that prevents people from knowledge is (when they) turn to the knowledge of the Asaaghir [the small ones] – and Allaah’s refuge is sought. And from the [minor] signs of the hour is that knowledge will be acquired from the young in age, who learn very little and thus considers himself an Aalim!
This person is young and a Miskeen [i.e. one lacking strength in the field of knowledge], but considers himself as one who has reached the highest level; so the ignoramuses come to him, gather around him and cut off from the scholars – and Allaah’s refuge is sought. This is one of the [minor] signs and portents of the hour, when the people abandon the senior scholars and embark upon acquiring knowledge from the ignorant young ones – those who pretend to be scholars. This is a calamity. Ibn Mas’ood [radiyallaahu-anhu] said: “The people will not cease to be upon good as long as they acquire knowledge from their elders, trustworthy ones and scholars.”
Contemplate on this statement, “And if they acquire knowledge from their young ones, they will be destroyed.” This is one of the obstacles and barriers to acquiring knowledge. It may be that some people desire knowledge, but he [i.e. an individual] becomes deceived by that young person and considers him to be the most knowledgeable of people. And had he gone to other than that young person, he would find that it is obligated on that young person to seek knowledge together with him, and sit down in the presence of the scholars. [Ref 5]
Shaikh Abdus Salaam [rahimahullaah] Burgess quotes the statements of the Salaf regarding knowledge of the young ones and then explains:
Knowledge [wages] war against the arrogant youth just as flood battles against an elevated place.
Shaikh Uthaymeen [rahimahullaah] said:
An arrogant youth is not able to acquire knowledge because knowledge [wages] war against him, ‘Just as flood battles against an elevated place’. This is true because an elevated place is approached by the flood – from right and left – to rise above it, but is unable to settle on it. [Ref 6]
Beware of the disease of the despots; (a) for indeed pride, avarice and [blameworthy] envy were the first (sins) Allaah was disobeyed with.(b) So, raising yourself above your teacher is pride (c); being arrogant towards the one who benefits you from amongst those who are below you is pride; (d) and your falling short in acting upon knowledge is a sludge of pride and an indication of being deprived.(c)
[a] The Prophet said: Pride is to reject the truth and mock at the people.
[b] This refers to shaytaan’s behaviour when he was commanded to prostrate to Aadam, but pride prevented him from doing so. He refused and was haughty.
[c] Raising oneself can either be by way of the tongue and it can also be by way of sentiments [feelings, attitude, behaviour etc]. He [i.e. the student] might be walking with his teacher, whilst swaggering and saying, “I did this and I did this”.
[d] Likewise, being arrogant towards the one who is below you in knowledge is pride. This also occurs from some of the students, and if someone below him in knowledge informs him of something, you find him arrogant and does not accept.
[e] We ask Allaah for well-being because from the types of pride is to not act upon the knowledge one knows. [Ref 7]
He Has Graduated or He is Studying For a Certificate, So He Has No Need of Someone Else
This – brothers and sisters – is not a disease that is present amongst our upright and well-known Salafi teachers in the UK, America and Canada, rather our teachers Alhamadulil laah are either elders who have Tazkiyyaat from the Kibaarul Ulamaa, such as Shaikh Rabee and Shaikh Ubaid, or they are upright graduates – whether younger or older. We sit in their presence – in the Masaajid and Maraakiz – to benefit from all of them. Our upright teachers are not afflicted with what has afflicted some of the people in some parts of Europe, whose certificates of graduation or proficiency in the Arabic language makes feel that they are above every other person. We see the likes of Ustaadh Abu Mu’aadh Taqweem Aslam [hafidhahullaah] – a graduate – siting with his note pad and taking notes during Birmingham conferences, and we’ve seen the likes of Ustaadh Abu Khadeejah [hafidhahullaah] sitting in Duroos of Ustaadh Abu Hakeem [hafidhahullaah]. It is not certificates that makes them value one another, rather they value one another because they recognise the fact that they are all Salafi Tullaabul Ilm, regardless their age and experiences.
Imaam Muhammad Ibn Saaleh Al-Uthaymeen (rahimahullaah) said that some of the people say, “Sincere intention in this present era of ours is difficult (to achieve) or it may be impossible because those who seek knowledge do so with the aim of receiving a certificate”. The Shaikh replied to this statement saying, that one’s intention is regarded to be corrupt if knowledge is sought in order to receive a certificate or a desire for an elevated worldly status. But a person’s intention is regarded to be good and not in opposition to sincerity if he wants an elevated status in order to benefit the people, because he knows that at present it is impossible for a person to achieve a high and beneficial position for the Ummah unless he has a certificate. And because of this, even if you were to find a scholar who is good in various affairs of knowledge, but he has no certificate, it will not be possible for him to teach even in high school and this is the reality. And you will find that the one lesser in knowledge than this scholar will be accepted (as a teacher) at a university as long as he has a certificate. So in accordance with a person’s (sincere) intention and choices, the certificate is not considered harmful and its obtainment enters into the statement of the Messenger (sallal-laahu-alayhi-wasallam):
وما جاءك من هذا المال وأنت غير مشرف ولا سائل فخذه، وما لا فلا تتبعه نفسك
And what comes to you from this wealth without asking for it or having greed for it, take it; and if not given, do not run for it.” [Saheeh Al-Bukhaari. Number 1473. Vol 2. Book of Zakat] [Ref 8]
The Shaikh [rahimahullaah] also said:
It is possible for a person to come, holding the certification of a doctorate (PhD), and take up the position of teaching in the faculties and universities, yet he is the most ignorant of people. And if a secondary grade student came, he would be better than him (in understanding and knowledge). And this is witnessed, observed (nowadays), there is to be found now one who holds the certification of a doctorate yet he knows absolutely nothing of knowledge. Knowledge, understanding (ilm, fiqh) is something granted and bestowed by Allaah as a favour and bounty and is not necessarily attained through certifications and passing through institutions.
[Source: Sharh Riyadh al-Saliheen 3/436].
The Shaikh [rahimahullaah] also said:
knowledge of the Sharee’ah is (acquired) for the Sake of Allaah, to protect Allaah’s Sharee’ah, remove ignorance from yourself and from your Muslim brothers; direct (oneself and others) towards guidance and obtain the inheritance of the Prophet [i.e. some of the knowledge left behind by the Prophet – sallal-laahu-alayhi-wasallam], because the Scholars are the inheritors of the Prophets.
[Sharh Riyadh al-Saliheen 3/436].
Admonition to Those Who Say,
“I Do Not Need to Sit In Study Circles Because I Have Access to Arabic Books And Audio Tapes of Scholars”. [Tapes and Books, Taking Knowledge Directly From The Scholars In Person And The Responsibilities of The Qualified Teachers In The Masaajid And Maraakiz]
Shaikh Uthaymeen [rahimahullaah] stated some of the great advantages of taking knowledge directly from Ulamaa:
[a] The path to acquiring knowledge will be shortened for him, rather than him moving from one book to another whilst trying to find out the view that carries more weight [in a particular subject matter] and the reason behind it; likewise trying to find out the weak view in [that particular subject matter] and the reason behind it. Instead of going through all this, the teacher will give him what he seeks after through an easy path; present to him – two, three or more than three – different views of the people of knowledge [i.e. the scholars] together with a clarification of the view that carries more weight and the proof. Indeed, there is no doubt that this is beneficial [or advantageous] for the student [as oppose to what will bring him harm in the path of seeking knowledge].
[b] He will be facilitated with the ability to grasp a subject matter quickly, because when the student of knowledge reads to a scholar, he will grasp the subject matter many times quicker than when he reads books [on his own]. That is because when he read books, he might come across difficult and obscure statements [or expressions], so he needs contemplation and repetition, which requires time and effort, and he might understand those statements [or expressions] wrongly and then act upon them.
[c] Close connection [or attachment] between the students of knowledge and the erudite scholars- junior people of knowledge attached to senior people of knowledge.
These are from the benefits of acquiring knowledge directly from the Shaikhs. But as mentioned earlier, it is obligated on a person to choose a scholar who is reliable, trustworthy and strong – one who has real knowledge and understanding and not superficial knowledge; truthful and firm in fulfilling what is entrusted to him and known for fulfilling acts of worship, for indeed a student follows the footsteps of his teacher. [Ref 9]
Shaikh Ubaid [hafidhahullaah] Clarifies Regarding Audio Tapes and Books
Question to Shaikh Ubaid [hafidhahullaah]: Is it permissible for the one who seeks knowledge from some Shaikh – by way of books and audios – to say to him [i.e. the Shaikh], “Our Shaikh” and thus he becomes a Shaikh of his?
Answer: There’s no harm in considering someone as one’s Shaikh, but I bring your attention to the fact that there are two ways of acquiring knowledge. The first path: Seeking knowledge in person and sitting to acquire knowledge from the scholar directly- sitting in his presence, learn good manners from him and good Tarbiyah. This is the ideal way and the loftiest. This is the way of the Sahaabah in acquiring knowledge from their Prophet [sallal laahu alayhi wasallam] – those who were with him in Madeenah and those who travelled to him. They acquired knowledge directly from the Prophet [sallal laahu alayhi wasallam] and taught their people. Likewise, this is how the Taabi’oon acquired knowledge from the Sahaabah; they took knowledge [directly] from the Sahaabah, especially the seniors. Likewise, those who followed the Taabi’een did the same up to this era of ours. This is the correct and loftiest path of acquiring knowledge from a Shaikh.
The second path: It is to acquire knowledge from books and audios. There is no harm in this and it benefits, but it does not contain that which is found in the first method; rather it is for a woman and the one who is unable because of the difficulty in reaching the Shaikh due to distance, for one might not be able to sit in the presence of a scholar even in his own country. Not all women are able-some of them are sometimes able and unable at other times, and some are not able. So, these people benefit [i.e. from the books & tapes], but also they are not advised to enter into challenging [or very difficult] issues related to differences of opinion between the scholars; rather they entrust those affairs to the people of knowledge.
And whoever is a teacher – one who gives instructions in knowledge [nurturing others] or an Imaam of a Masjid in his city district or town- we advise him to be at the service of the people and that he takes those questions of theirs which he is able to answer and respond to them in his city district. And those questions that carry difference of opinion and requires investigation, he offers his services to the people by sending those questions to the people of knowledge and take answers from them. This is a good service with regards to the Muslim helping another Muslim. [paraphrased] [Listen to audio here: https://safeshare.tv/x/aIVf6vxUqh8#
Finally, therefore brothers and sisters, let us all hold onto the scholars and the upright students in the various Masaajid and Maraakiz. We do not tolerate anyone who comes along with their desires and arrogance, rather we continue to benefit from all our teachers. May Allaah grant us Ikhlaas, humility and Husnul Khaatimah Aameen.
Ref 1: Quoted by Shaikh Abdullah Al-Bukhaari in Sharh Umdatul Ahkaam. Lesson 1
Ref 2: Taareekh Baghdaad by Al-Khateeb Al-Baghdaadee 5/68
Ref 3: Al-Jaami Li-Akhlaaq Ar-Raawee 2/218
Ref 4: Marhaban Yaa Taalibal Ilm. 245-248. Slightly paraphrased
Ref 5: Marhaban Yaa Taalibal Ilm’ – pages 227 – 228. slightly paraphrased
[Ref 6: Sharh Hilyati Taalibil Ilm’ page 40]
[Ref 7: An Excerpt from ‘Sharh Hilyati Taalibil Ilm’ pages 38-40′ by Shaikh Uthaymeen (rahimahullaah). slightly paraphrased]
[Ref 8: Sharh Hilya Taalib Al-Ilm..page:22. paraphrased]
[Ref 9: Source: See Sharh Hilyati Taalibil Ilm’ pages 105-106. Paraphrased]