In The Name of Allaah, The Most Merciful, The Bestower of Mercy.
Cautioning The Elder Who Suddenly Becomes Complacent, Short-sighted and Weak In Understanding – After Years of Adherence to The Sunnah – Due to An Absence of Continuous Learning
Allaah [The Most High] said:
أَلَمْ يَأْنِ لِلَّذِينَ آمَنُوا أَن تَخْشَعَ قُلُوبُهُمْ لِذِكْرِ اللَّهِ وَمَا نَزَلَ مِنَ الْحَقِّ وَلَا يَكُونُوا كَالَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْكِتَابَ مِن قَبْلُ فَطَالَ عَلَيْهِمُ الْأَمَدُ فَقَسَتْ قُلُوبُهُمْ ۖ وَكَثِيرٌ مِّنْهُمْ فَاسِقُونَ
Has not the time come for the hearts of those who believe to be affected by Allah’s Reminder, and that which has been revealed of the truth, lest they become as those who received the Scripture, and the term was prolonged for them and so their hearts were hardened? And many of them were Fasiqun (rebellious, disobedient to Allah). [Soorah Al-Hadeed: Ayah: 16]
[ وَلَا يَكُونُوا كَالَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْكِتَابَ مِن قَبْلُ فَطَالَ عَلَيْهِمُ الْأَمَدُ فَقَسَتْ قُلُوبُهُمْ ۖ وَكَثِيرٌ مِّنْهُمْ فَاسِقُونَ – Lest they become as those who received the Scripture, and the term was prolonged for them and so their hearts were hardened]: Imaam As-Sa’di [may Allaah have mercy upon him] said: “Meaning, do not be like those to whom Allaah revealed the book, which obligates – on the hearts – humility and complete submission; but they neither preserved (the scripture) nor were they firm on it; rather the term was prolonged for them whilst they continued upon heedlessness, so their Imaan dwindled and their certainty ceased. Therefore, at all times the hearts are in need of a reminder of that which Allaah has revealed and speech about its wisdom. It is not permissible to be heedless of that, for indeed that is a cause for the hardening of the hearts…. (1)
Cautioning The Studious Youth Who Becomes Self-amazed After Acquiring Some Knowledge
Al-Allaamah Rabee Bin Haadi Al-Mad’khalee [may Allaah preserve him] stated: If you sense that your soul is inclined towards showing off to the people and bragging about knowledge, then turn to Allaah, lower and humble yourself in His presence, ask Him to grant you sincerity and to save you from shaytaan – to save you from his whispers and plots. One of the scholars said, “Indeed, it is extremely difficult (upon a person) whose enemy can see him, but he cannot see him.” He (i.e. this scholar) said this when he explained the statement of Allaah [The Blessed and Exalted] about shaytaan and his armies: [إِنَّهُ ۥ يَرَٮٰكُمۡ هُوَ وَقَبِيلُهُ ۥ مِنۡ حَيۡثُ لَا تَرَوۡنَہُمۡۗ – Verily, he and (his soldiers from the jinns or his tribe) see you from where you cannot see them]. [Surah Al-A’raaf’ Aayah 27]
He [i.e. that scholar] said, ‘’By Allaah! Indeed, it’s a bitter feud and extreme difficulty (for the one) whose enemy can see him, but he cannot see him, except for the one whom Allaah safeguards’’- Meaning: This enemy is more dangerous than the army you can see that has troops and strength. This hidden enemy – whom you cannot see – is extreme difficulty and will destroy you whilst you are unaware and unable to see him. We ask Allaah for well-being. (2)
The Shaikh also said: If the (desire for pride or haughtiness) comes to him, whilst he is in the path of (seeking knowledge), then it is obligated on him to place his nafs under the feet (i.e. humble himself). It is obligatory to humble this arrogant (haughty) nafs whilst one is in the path of seeking knowledge. Allaah hates the haughty people. [إِنَّهُ لَا يُحِبُّ الْمُسْتَكْبِرِينَ – Truly, He (Allaah) likes not the proud]. [Surah An-Nahl’ Aayah 23] (3)
Al-Allaamah Haafidh Al-Hakami [may Allaah have mercy upon him] said, “And self-amazement, be warned against it. Indeed, self-amazement shovels away the deeds of the amazed one in its violent torrent”.
He [Al-Haafidh Al-Hakami] likened Self-amazement to the violent torrent that destroys everything in front of it. When a person is afflicted with the disease of self-amazement, all his righteous deeds are shoveled away and nothing remains of it. Al-Haafidh Al-Mundhiree reported in his book At-Targheeb Wat-Tarheeb under the chapter Tarheeb Min Ad-Dawee Fil Ilmi Wal Qur’aan that the Prophet [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him] said, “A people will appear who will recite the Qur’an and say, ‘Who recites (better) than us? Who knows more than us? Who has more understanding than us?’ Then the Prophet said to his companions, ‘Is there any good from these people?’ They said, ‘Allaah and His Messenger know best’. The Prophet said, ‘These ones are from you, from this Ummah, and they are fuel for the fire’”. [Imaam Al-Albaanee declared this hadeeth “Hasan Li-Ghayrihee in Saheeh At-Targheeb Wat-Tarheeb: Number: 135]
When self-amazement afflicts the student of knowledge, it drags him towards pride – exalting himself above the people, raising himself above the slaves of Allaah and exaltedness in the earth. And it has been reported in a hadeeth from the Prophet [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him] who said: ‘’The one who has an atom’s weight of pride in his heart will not enter Jannah. (4)
“Knowledge (wages) war against the arrogant youth just as flood battles against an elevated place”.
Imaam Muhammad Ibn Saaleh Al-Uthaymeen [may Allaah have mercy upon him] 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. (5)
[Ref 1: An Excerpt from ‘Tayseer Al-Kareem Ar-Rahmaan fee Tafseer Kalaam al-Mannaan’. Slightly paraphrased]
[Ref 2: Marhaban Yaa Taalibal Ilm’ pages 55-57. slightly paraphrased]
[Ref 3: Marhaban Yaa Taalibal Ilm. page 219. slightly paraphrased]
[Ref 4: Sharh Mandhoomah Al-Mimiyah Fil-Wasaayaa Wal-Aadaab Al-Ilmiyyah. page: 96-97. slightly paraphrased]
[Ref 5: Sharh Hilyati Taalibil Ilm’ page 40. slightly paraphrased]