In The Name of Allaah, The Most Merciful, The Bestower of Mercy.
Conversation Between father and son
Son: Dad, I want to apply for Madeenah University.
Father: Excellent, seeking knowledge is a noble affair, rather an aspect of it is Waajib in order that one worships Allaah based on clear-sightedness. However, why have you suddenly been eager to go away and seek knowledge?
Son: Many of my friends and former school mates are applying as well.
Father: Alhamdulil laah, it is good that you desire to follow the footsteps of good friends, but what do you intend after graduating from an Islamic University?
Son: Give Dawah.
Father: Excellent, Dawah is a mighty affair, but what about your livelihood – source of income? My view is that you continue attending the study circles as much as you can whilst aiming to finish your apprenticeship, so that you have a worldly qualification by way of which you can find work after graduating from an Islamic University InShaaAllaah. I also remind you not to ever think that you are going to secure employment in such and such Masjid or institution after studying, because the Masjids only need few staff to look after its affairs. Secondly, I warn you – even though I do not doubt your intention – against following the path of those who use the religion as a source of income, so they compromise the truth and plunge into hizbiyyah because of worldly gain; rather study solely to remove ignorance from yourself and to aid you worship Allaah based on clear-sightedness. I insist that you carry on attending study circles and finish your apprenticeship first. There is no rush at all.
Son: Can I submit my application?
Father: Yes, you can do so, but you cannot start if they accept you until you finish your apprenticeship next year. This is what I advise and order you to do, so that you have a worldly skill to depend on. This is the path of our Salaf. Abu-Bakr Al-Marwazee said: I heard Abu Abdillaah [Imaam Ahmad] saying, “Indeed I ordered them (i.e. my children) to go to the market and engage in trade”. (1)
Muhammad Ibn Moosaa said: I heard Ali Bin Ja-far saying: “My father took me along with him to Abu Abdillaah [Imaam Ahmad (rahimahullaah)] and said: “O Abu Abdillaah! This is my son.” So he supplicated for me and said to my father: “Order him to go to the market (for trade) and keep him away from his (idle or bad) companions.” (2)
Abu Bakr Al-Marroodhee narrated to us, saying: I said to Abu Abdillaah (i.e. Imaam Ahmad): ”For what (reason) did Sufyaan Ath-Thawri depart to Yemen?” He said: ”He departed for trade and to meet Ma’mar. They (i.e. the people) said: He (Sufyaan) had a hundred Deenaar, but seventy (Deenaar) is what is correct.” (3)
Abdul Malik Al-Maymoonee reported that Abu Abdillaah [Imaam Ahmad] said: A man said to Sariy Bin Yahyah (a student of the Taa’bi’een): “You travel on the sea in search of the dunyah (provision)?! He (Sari) said: “I want to be free from your (state of being) in need of the people.” (4)
Zaheer Ibn Saaleh Ibn Ahmad Bin Hanbal said: I heard my father saying: He used to even take a carpenter’s tool and depart to the houses of the people to carry out some work with his hands. (5)
Yoosuf Ibn Muslim said: I heard Ali Ibn Bakkaar saying: Ibraaheem Bin Adham used to offer himself for employment. Sulaymaan Al-Khawwaas used to glean (i.e. employed as a gatherer of the grain left over after harvest). (6.1)
Ishaq Ibn Daawud said: “I heard Al-Hasan Ibnul Waqee saying: It is more beloved to me that I (work to) earn two hundred miligrams (of something in weight) than someone giving me ten dirhams. (7)
And I also remind you of the statement of Al-Allaamah Siddeeq Hasan Khan [may Allaah have mercy upon him] when he stated: The aim behind the religious sciences is not to earn (wealth); rather it is for the purpose of acquainting oneself with the realities of the Islamic legislation and to rectify one’s behaviour. The one who learns for the purpose of trade cannot be a scholar; rather he only resembles the scholars. The scholars unveiled what the drive behind this was and they spoke about it when the building of schools reached them at Baghdaad, so they held gatherings of knowledge and stated, “The pure souls and possessors of lofty ambition used to pre-occupy themselves with knowledge and their intention behind seeking knowledge was due to its nobility and the perfection reached by way of it; therefore, they came to the scholars to benefit from them and their knowledge. However, when (monetary gain) is attached to it, the vilest people and the lazy ones will approach it and thus leading to its disappearance; so, the Islamic sciences of wisdom [found in the Qur’aan, the Sunnah and the understanding of the Salaf] will be abandoned even though they are self-evident in their nobility. (8)
And I also remind you that a certificate of graduation is nothing if pursued for the sake of fame and recognition and thus one becomes self-amazed. Therefore, pay attention to the words of Imaam Muhammad Ibn Saaleh Al-Uthaymeen [may Allaah have mercy upon him] who said, “Some of the people say that sincere intention in this present era of ours is difficult (to achieve) or it may be impossible (to achieve) because those who seek knowledge do so with the aim of receiving a certificate”. The Imaam 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 by way of it. 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, for 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 [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him]: [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]. (9)
The Imaam 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. (10)
I want you to bear this in mind. If you are going to travel, then we’ll -InShaa-Allaah – visit one of the elders – the experienced, trustworthy and firm elder students- to advise you because they are more knowledgeable and experienced than me.
Son: Jazaakallaahu Khayran dad.
Father: Wa Jazaakallaahu Khayran, and I ask Allah to make you and all your brothers and sisters the coolness of our eyes Aameen.
[Ref 1: Source: Al-Hath-Thu Alaa At-Tijaarah Was-Sinaa’ah of Al-Khallaal (rahimahullaah) Page: 27]
[Ref 2: Al-Hath-thu Alaa At-Tijaarah Was-sinaa-ah. page:29]
[Ref 3: Al-Hath-thu alaa At-Tijaarah page: 35]
[Ref 4: Al-Hath-Thu Alaa At-Tijaarah Was-sinaa’ah. page: 30]
[Ref 5: Al-Hath-thu Alaa At-Tijaarah Was-Sinaa’ah. page: 39]
[Ref 6.1: Al-Hath-thu Alaa At-Tijaarah Was-sinaa’ah page: 54]
[Ref 7: Al-Hath-thu Alaa At-Tijaarah Was-Sinaa’ah. page 62]
[Ref 8: An Excerpt from (أبجد العلوم – Vol 1. pages 77-78. slightly paraphrased]
[Ref 9: Sharh Hilya Taalib Al-Ilm. page:22]
[Ref 10: Sharh Riyadh al-Saliheen 3/436). Translated by Shaikh Ustaadh Abu Khadeejah (hafidhahullaah)]