In The Name of Allaah, The Most Merciful, The Bestower of Mercy.
Imaam As-Sadi [may Allaah have mercy upon upon him] stated about the beneficial worldly sciences: Its fruitful outcome is that it is utilized as an aid to worship Allaah, thank Allaah and establish the religion. That is because Allaah [The Exalted] informed us that He has subjugated this universe to us, commanded us to reflect upon it and extract both the religious and worldly benefits from it. And a command regarding an affair is itself a command to fulfil the affair, as well as a command to employ the means without which the command cannot be fulfilled. Therefore, this is an urge to know the worldly sciences by way of which are extracted what Allaah has subjugated to us, because we cannot acquire its benefits spontaneously, rather it has to be through seeking after it, reflection and experience. Allaah [The Exalted] said: [ وأنزلنا الحديد فيه بأس شديد ومنافع للناس – And We brought forth iron wherein is mighty power (in matters of war), as well as many benefits for mankind (Surah Al-Hadeed. Aayah 25)]. These benefits cannot be obtained except through acquaintance with knowledge of the worldly sciences, so that they are produced. (see footnote a)
Commentary: The author mentioned the fruitful outcome of the worldly sciences and their benefit for a Muslim if studied with a righteous intention and a good aim, and that it will aid a person to worship Allaah, thank Allaah and establish the religion. Then the author said, “A command regarding an affair is itself a command to fulfil the affair, as well as a command to employ the means without which the command cannot be fulfilled”. So, in this is proof that to study the worldly sciences with a righteous intention leads to the fruitful outcome of acquainting oneself with Allaah and His signs (in the universe) by way of which a person’s faith is strengthened.
Then the author said, “Indeed, the texts of the Qur’an and Sunnah are numerous in praise of (Sharee’ah) knowledge and its possessors, and Allaah has given them superior virtue over other people. Allaah [The Exalted] said: [قل هل يستوي الذين يعلمون والذين لا يعلمون – Say, “Are those who know equal to those who know not?” (Surah Az-Zumar. Aayah 9)]; and that they are the people who truly fear and know Allaah due to their certain knowledge regarding the Perfect Greatness and Absolute Dominion of the One (i.e. Allaah) they fear. Allaah said: [إنما يخشى الله من عباده العلماء – It is only those who have knowledge among His slaves that fear Allah. (Surah Al-Faatir. Aayah 28)]; and Allaah commanded the ignorant people to ask them (i.e. ask the people of Sharee’ah knowledge if they do not possess knowledge of something related to the religion). (see footnote b).
Then the author said: Allaah commanded many acts of worship and forbade the unlawful things. It is not possible to comply with a command and avoid a prohibition except after learning and acquiring knowledge about it; and (likewise), the prohibitions indicate the necessity of learning the knowledge on which they depend. And just as Allaah has permitted (some) dealings and prohibited (other) dealings, it is not possible to distinguish between what is permissible and what is prohibited except through knowledge. And indeed, Allaah dispraised those who did not know the legislated limits of that which was revealed to His Messenger in the Qur’aan and Sunnah. (footnote c)
Commentary: Allaah gave commands and prohibitions. The greatest command is the command to establish pure Islamic monotheism (Tawheed) and the most dangerous thing that is prohibited is the (act or belief that is tantamount to) ascribing a partner to Allaah. The author said, “It is not possible to distinguish between what is permissible and what is prohibited except through knowledge”, and this is why knowledge is the first affair that is given consideration, just as Allaah stated: [ فَٱعۡلَمۡ أَنَّهُ ۥ لَآ إِلَـٰهَ إِلَّا ٱللَّهُ وَٱسۡتَغۡفِرۡ لِذَنۢبِكَ – So know (O Muhammad) that none has the right to be worshipped except Allaah and seek forgiveness for your sin]. [Surah Muhammad. Aayah 19]
Therefore, Allaah began with the command that one seeks knowledge before speaking and performing deeds. The Prophet [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him] used to supplicate everyday (after fajr prayer and before sunrise): [اللَّهُمَّ إنِّي أَسْأَلُكَ عِلْماً نَافِعاً، وَرِزقاً طَيِّباً، وَعَمَلاً مُتَقَبَّلاً – Allaahumma Innee As’aluka ilman Naafi’an, Wa Rizqan Tayyiban Wa’amalan Mutaqabbalan – O Allaah! I ask You for beneficial knowledge, good provision and deeds that will be accepted (by You)]. [Sunan Ibn Maajah. Hadeeth Number 925]
So, the Prophet asked for beneficial knowledge first before good provision and deeds that will be accepted, because through beneficial knowledge one can distinguish between good and bad provision, and between righteous and evil deeds. If one does not possess beneficial knowledge, then how can he make a distinction between good and bad provision, and between righteous and corrupt deeds? Knowledge is the scale by way of which all affairs are judged. It is what will make the path clear for the person, the affair by way of which a person knows the difference between guidance and misguidance, between truth and falsehood, and between what is pure and impure. How can a person avoid what is unlawful whilst he does not know, as one of the pious predecessors said, “How can one avoid something when he does not know what to avoid?!” Also, how can one fulfil commands in a manner that is pleasing to Allaah without having sound understanding? How can a Muslim perform the prayer and Hajj, or give the obligatory Zakat without knowledge? Therefore, a person cannot fulfil commands except based on sound understanding. The Prophet said, “Whoever Allaah wishes good for, He gives (such person) understanding in the religion” (see footnote d), and the opposite of this hadeeth is that whoever Allaah does not wish good for (i.e. due to a perversion in his or her heart), He does not give (such a person) understanding in the religion”.
Then the author said, “Just as Allaah has permitted (some) dealings and prohibited (other) dealings, it is not possible to distinguish between what is permissible and what is prohibited except through knowledge”. How can a person distinguish between permissible and impermissible dealings without knowledge? A group of people once came to either Imaam Muhammad Bin Hasan Ash-Shaybaanee or Imaam Abu Yusuf and said, “We want you to write a book for us on the subject matter of Zudh [i.e. how to abstain from those things that are permissible, but one can do without them (see footnote e)]”, so they were told (i.e. either Muhammad Bin Hasan or Abu Yusuf said to them), “I have written a book on the subject matter of business transactions”- meaning, this is enough for you in this subject matter. (1)
Footnote b: Allaah said: [فَسۡـَٔلُوٓاْ أَهۡلَ ٱلذِّكۡرِ إِن كُنتُمۡ لَا تَعۡلَمُونَ – So, ask the people of the reminder (i.e. the people of sound knowledge if you do not know]. [Surah An-Nahl. Aayah 43]
Footnote c: Imaam Ibnul Qayyim [may Allaah have mercy upon him] said: And one of the most noble and beneficial sciences is the knowledge regarding the hudood [the appropriate limits], especially the divine limits-the commands and prohibitions [ordained by Allaah (The Most High) and His Messenger [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him]. The most knowledgeable people are those who have the most knowledge regarding those divine limits, hence they neither include- within those limits- that which is not from them nor remove that which is included in them. Allaah [The Most High] said: [ٱلۡأَعۡرَابُ أَشَدُّ ڪُفۡرً۬ا وَنِفَاقً۬ا وَأَجۡدَرُ أَلَّا يَعۡلَمُواْ حُدُودَ مَآ أَنزَلَ ٱللَّهُ عَلَىٰ رَسُولِهِ – The bedouins are the worst in disbelief and hypocrisy, and more likely to be in ignorance of the limits (Allah’s Commandments and His Legal Laws, etc.) which Allah has revealed to His Messenger]. [Soorah At-Tawbah’ Aayah 97] Therefore, the most just, balanced and upright people are those who stay within the limits of the Akhlaaq, actions and the deeds legislated in the Islamic legislation- in knowledge and practice. [Source: An Excerpt from ‘Al-Fawaa’id page 207- 209]
Footnote d: Saheeh Al-Bukhaari. Hadeeth 71
Footnote e: Imaam Ibraaheem Bin Ad’ham [may Allaah have mercy upon him] said: Zudh (Abstinence) from the worldly life is of three types: obligatory abstinence, the abstinence that is of a superior virtue and the abstinence that is safety. As for obligatory abstinence, it is to abstinence from the unlawful; the abstinence that is of superior virtue is to abstain from the what is lawful wordly things that are unnecessary, and the abstinence that is safety is to abstain from the doubtful matters. [Jaami-ul Uloom Wal-Hikam: page: 310]
[Ref 1: From 18mins 29secs to 27mins 58secs. https://www.al-badr.net/detail/3KwCnaB5tN paraphrased]