In The Name of Allaah, The Most Merciful, The Bestower of Mercy
The Foundation of An Upright Society
Al-Allaamah Saaleh Al-Fawzaan [may Allaah preserve him] said: The rectification of every nation and its (upright) ascendancy is tied to the soundness of its creed and views, so due to this reason, the Message of the Prophets [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon them] came to rectify the creed. The first thing every Messenger said to his people: “Worship Allah! You have no other Ilah (God) but Him. (La ilaha ill-Allah: none has the right to be worshipped but Allah)”. [Surah Al-A’raaf’ Aayah 59]
“And verily, We have sent among every Ummah (community, nation) a Messenger (proclaiming): “Worship Allah (Alone), and avoid (or keep away from) Taghut (all false deities, etc. i.e. do not worship Taghut besides Allah)]. [Surah An-Nahl’ Aayah 36]
And that is because Allaah [Glorified be He and free is He from all Imperfections] created the Khalq [i.e. Jinn and Mankind] to worship Him alone and not to associate anything as a partner with Him. ” And I (Allah) created not the jinns and humans except they should worship Me (Alone)]. [Surah Adh-Dhaariyaat’ Aayah 56]
Ibaadah (worship) is a right due to Allaah (alone) which His slaves must fulfil, just as the Prophet [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him] said to Mu’aadh Bin Jabal [may Allaah be pleased with him], “O Mu’adh! Do you know what is the right of Allah upon His servants?” I said, “Allah and His Messenger know best”. The Prophet said, “To worship Him alone and to associate none in worship with Him. And do you know what is their right upon Him?” I said, “Allah and His Messenger know best”. The Prophet said, “Not to punish them if they do so”. [Bukhari]
The is the first and foremost Right (or obligation one must fulfil) without exception. Nothing else precedes it nor is precedence given to the rights of anyone (or the obligations owed to anyone) over it. Allaah [The Most High] said: And your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him. And that you be dutiful to your parents]. [Surah Al-Israa’ Aayah 23]
Say (O Muhammad ): “Come, I will recite what your Lord has prohibited you from: Join not anything in worship with Him; be good and dutiful to your parents. [Sural Al-An’aam’ Aayah 151] (1)
And regarding the statement of the Prophet, “What is the right of Allaah upon His slaves?” This means that which (i.e. the obligations) Allaah has obligated on them. And regarding the statement of the Prophet, “What is the right of the slaves upon Allaah?” Meaning, that which Allaah has obligated on Himself in dealing with them. The slaves cannot obligate anything, rather Allaah obligated it upon Himself as a blessing from Allaah bestowed upon His slaves. “Your Lord has written Mercy for Himself, so that, if any of you does evil in ignorance, and thereafter repents and does righteous good deeds (by obeying Allah), then surely, He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful”. [Surah Al-An’aam’ Aayah 54]
So, Allaah [Glorified be He and free is He from all imperfections] obligated on Himself that He will show mercy to the one who does evil in ignorance – meaning: out of foolishness and lack of good behaviour, but then he repents and does righteous deeds. And the meaning of [كتب -Written] in this Aayah] is [ أوجب – Obligated]. (2)
And due to the precedence given to this obligation [i.e. to worship Allaah alone and not to associate anyone or anything with Him in worship] over all other obligations, and since it is the basis of all the rulings of the religion, we find that the Prophet stayed in Makkah for thirteen years -calling the people to worship Allaah alone and negated all partners associated with Allaah in worship. (3)
Solution to Two Problematic Views Related to Identification of Beneficial Knowledge
Imaam As-Sadi [may Allaah have mercy upon him] said: Many people – based on two extreme views – have mistakenly decided what the sound knowledge that should be sought and pursued is. The first view is more dangerous than the other, and it is the view of those who limit knowledge to some of the sciences of the religion, such as knowledge related to rectification of beliefs, morals and acts of worship; but their understanding is not based on what the Qur’an and Sunnah indicates regarding the fact that knowledge includes both the sciences of Sharee’ah and the worldly sciences. This view (i.e. limiting knowledge to some sciences of the Sharee’ah) is held by a group of people who did not properly understand the Sharee’ah, and now they are starting to disavow this generality of knowledge after witnessing the great benefits in the worldly sciences, and after many of them became aware of the Sharee’ah evidences regarding them.
The second view is that of a people who limit knowledge to the modern worldly sciences. This view stems from their deviation from the religion, its sciences and morals. This is a great mistake as they make the means the goals, denied the correct religious sciences and the useful facts, which modern sciences do not attribute to in any way, and thus they became deceived by the industries and inventions that resulted from these modern worldly sciences. These are the people referred to in Allaah’s statement:
[فلما جاءتهم رسلهم بالبينات فرحوا بما عندهم من العلم وحاق بهم ما كانوا به يستهزئون – Then when their Messengers came to them with clear proofs, they were glad (and proud) with that which they had of the knowledge (of worldly things): And that at which they used to mock, surrounded them (i.e. the punishment)]. [Surah Ghaafir. Aayah 83]
They rejoiced in their worldly knowledge and were arrogant due to it, and they belittled the knowledge of the Messengers until the truth they used to mock at overwhelmed them, and the punishment they were promised came to them because they belied the Messengers. They were punished in this world by way of a seal placed on their hearts, ears, and eyes, and blinded from the truth (i.e. hearts, ears and eyes prevented from the truth); [ولعذاب الآخرة أشد وأبقى – And the torment of the Hereafter is far more severe and more lasting (Surah Taa Haa. Aayah 127)]; [وما كان لهم من الله من واق – And they had none to protect them from Allah. (Surah Ghaafir. Aayah 21)] (4)
As for the meaning of beneficial knowledge and its specification, which is indicated by the Qur’aan and the Sunnah, it is every knowledge that leads to the lofty goals that are sought after and results in beneficial things. There is no difference between what is related to this worldly life or the Afterlife (in this affair). Everything that guides to the (upright) path and promotes (sound) beliefs, morals and deeds is part of (beneficial) knowledge.
Commentary: This above statement requires a clarification that would restrict its generality, and that is the worldly sciences cannot transgress against the knowledge related to the Afterlife, otherwise they would be unpraiseworthy. If a person’s knowledge is limited to worldly knowledge and he has no concern for knowledge related to the afterlife- the knowledge that would earn a person Allaah’s (love, pleasure, approval) and paradise, then there is no doubt that this is dispraised; but if – alongside this worldly knowledge – he learns the knowledge related to the afterlife or learns at least what should be known by necessity in the religion, such as the obligatory duties of Islam, then in such a case this is not unpraiseworthy. And if a person has a righteous intention in his pursuit of this worldly knowledge, such as one who studies medicine – or what is similar – to serve the people and cure their ailments by the Will of Allaah, then this deed would be an act of worship that would earn a person Allaah’s (love, pleasure, approval). Therefore, the worldly sciences are praised if they do not transgress against the knowledge that is related to the afterlife. (5)
Islam categorized the sciences into two: (a) the goals (aims or purpose behind those sciences), (b) the means (or paths) and that helps to reach those goals”.
Commentary: It is well known that one of the general fundamental principles is that [الوسائل لها أحكام المقاصد – the ruling that applies to ‘the pursued goals’ also applies to the ‘means’ that lead to those goals]. Therefore, the ‘means’ that are required to fulfil obligatory goals are also obligatory, the ‘means’ that are required to fulfil ‘recommended goals’ are also recommended and the ‘means’ that lead to ‘forbidden goals’ are also forbidden.
[Al-Maqaasid – The Goals] are the sciences that serve the various divine laws (see footnote a); and the [Al-Wasaa’il- The Means] are the things that helps to attain those goals, such as the Arabic language and its various sciences, the sciences related to affairs of the universe whose fruitful outcome leads one to acquire knowledge and awareness about Allaah, the Oneness of Allaah and His Perfection, and acquaintance with the truthfulness of His Messengers”.
Commentary: The Maqaasid [Goals] are the sciences that serve the various divine laws, or it is the knowledge about which the Prophet [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him] stated, “Whoever Allaah wishes good for, He grants such a person understanding in the religion”. [Saheeh al-Bukhaari. Number 71]
The second category is [Ilmul Wasaa’il- knowledge related to those ‘means’ that help attain goals], and the author stated that the example of this knowledge is the Arabic language and its various sciences, and the knowledge related to affairs of the universe whose fruitful outcome leads a person to acquire knowledge about Allaah- acquaintance with Allaah’s Oneness, because it enters into general divine texts that urges a person to contemplate on Allaah’s absolute dominion in the entire universe and the things He has created. Allaah said:
أَفَلَا يَنظُرُونَ إِلَى ٱلۡإِبِلِ ڪَيۡفَ خُلِقَتۡ
وَإِلَى ٱلسَّمَآءِ ڪَيۡفَ رُفِعَتۡ
وَإِلَى ٱلۡجِبَالِ كَيۡفَ نُصِبَتۡ
وَإِلَى ٱلۡأَرۡضِ كَيۡفَ سُطِحَتۡ
Do they not look at the camels, how they are created? And at the heaven, how it is raised? And at the mountains, how they are rooted and fixed firm? And at the earth, how it is spread out? [Surah Al-Ghaashiyah. Aayaat 17-20]
وَفِى ٱلۡأَرۡضِ ءَايَـٰتٌ۬ لِّلۡمُوقِنِينَ
وَفِىٓ أَنفُسِكُمۡۚ أَفَلَا تُبۡصِرُونَ
And on the earth are signs for those who have Faith with certainty, and also in your ownselves. Will you not then see? [Surah Adh-Dhaariyaat. Aayaat 20-21]
If a person has a righteous intention in his pursuit of the sciences related to the function of the universe, it would increase him (or her) in knowledge about Allaah’s (Lordship), the Greatness of Allaah and Allaah’s All-Encompassing Power. Therefore, this knowledge is a means – a great path – by way of which a person becomes acquaintance with Allaah’s (Lorship). If studying this science is confined within this approach, it will greatly benefit a person. (6)
Its (i.e. the beneficial worldly sciences) 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.
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.
“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).
“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”.
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”, 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. (7)
Unrestricted Access to Beneficial Knowledge
Allaamah Rabee Bin Haadee [may Allaah preserve him] stated: It is obligated on the scholars to give out the knowledge they possess, and when they are asked, it is obligated on them to respond. “Verily, those who conceal the clear proofs, evidences and the guidance, which We have sent down, after We have made it clear for the people in the Book, they are the ones cursed by Allah and cursed by the cursers. [Surah Al-Baqarah Aayah 159] (8)
Abu Moosaa [may Allaah be pleased with him] said that Allaah’s Messenger [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him] said, “The example of guidance and knowledge with which Allaah has sent me is like abundant rain falling on the earth, some of which was fertile soil that absorbed the water and brought forth vegetation and grass in abundance. Another portion of it was hard and held the water and Allaah benefited the people with it and they utilised it for drinking, making their animals drink from it and for irrigation of the land for cultivation. A portion of it was barren which could neither hold the water nor bring forth vegetation [so that land gave no benefits]. The first is the example of the person who comprehends Allaah’s religion and benefit (from the knowledge) which Allaah has revealed through me, learns and then teaches others. The last example is that of a person who does not care for it and does not take Allaah’s guidance revealed through me. [He is like that barren land]”. [Saheeh Al-Bukhaari. Hadeeth Number 79. Book of Knowledge]
Imaam Muhammad Ibnu Saalih Al-Uthaymeen [may Allaah have mercy upon him] said, “In this similitude, the Prophet [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him] said: “The example of guidance and knowledge with which Allaah has sent me with, is like abundant rain falling on the earth”. The earth [upon which the rain fell] is of three types: The First Type of Earth: It is the earth that absorbed the water and produced abundant grass and vegetation, so the people were benefited through that. The Second Type of Earth is a Plain: It retained the water and the people benefited from it. They utilized it for drinking and as a source of irrigation [for their crops]. The Third Type of Earth: It absorbed the water but does not produce any benefit. This is the relationship between the people and the knowledge and guidance with which the Prophet was sent with. The First Category of People: Amongst them is one who has understanding of Allaah’s Religion. He learns and teaches- benefits the people and himself. This is similar to the earth that produces grass and vegetation, so that the people and animals eat from it. The Second Category of People: They are a people who have been entrusted with the guidance, but they do not possess sound understanding (like the first category of people). They transmit knowledge and Hadeeth amongst themselves, but they do not possess sound understanding (like the first group). The similitude of these people is that of the earth that retained the water and the people were provided with water. They used it for drinking, their animals drank from it and they used it as a source of irrigation; but the earth does not produce anything. The Third Category: The one who is not benefited by the knowledge and guidance given to the Prophet. He turns away and does not incline towards it. He is neither benefited by that which the Prophet was sent with nor does he benefit others. His similitude is that of the earth that absorbed the water, but does not produce anything. (9)
Eagerness For Knowledge and Giving Others a Chance to Benefit
O you who believe! When you are told to make room in the assemblies, [spread out and make room. Allah will give you [ample] room [from His Mercy]. And when you are told to rise up, rise up. Allah will exalt in degree those of you who believe, and those who have been granted knowledge. And Allah is Well-Acquainted with what you do. [58:11]
Imaam As-Sadi [may Allaah have mercy upon him] said: This is a practical code of behaviour commanded by Allaah to His believing slaves- that when they come together in one of their gatherings, some of them or some of those who have already arrived should make room (for others); for indeed it is part of good etiquettes to make room for him (i.e. the other person) to reach his goal. And this is not to harm the one who is [already] in the gathering in anyway; rather he enables his [Muslim] brother to reach his goal without him being harmed, and reward is given in accordance with a deed; for indeed whoever makes room, Allaah makes room for him, and whoever shows generosity to his brother, Allaah will show him generosity. (10)
Scholars Urge Rulers to Help Students
Al-Allaamah Rabee Bin Haadee [may Allaah preseve him] stated: Many youth are thirsty for seeking knowledge, but they face many, many obstacles that arise from their localities – either because there are no scholars from the locality or the country they live in is a barrier between them and seeking knowledge; or the country that is to accept [or welcome their applications, requests for seeking knowledge] has conditions that [make it possible for] a few to be accepted and prevents many from entering into the domain of [seeking] knowledge. We ask Allaah to grant the Muslims and their rulers [the ability, means etc] to put an end to these obstacles that are placed in front of the students of knowledge, because at present the Ummah is in need of scholars. At present the Ummah is in a very degraded state – and Allaah’s Refuge is sought; a state of humiliation, disrespected and [faced] with problems, which cannot cease except with the presence of erudite scholars – those who study, [convey, transmit etc] knowledge from its precise sources, spread this knowledge that will make the Ummah wide awake from its slumber- the true knowledge brought by the Prophets [peace be upon them]. And the main affair among these affairs [of knowledge] is the subject matter of Tawheed [Islamic monotheism], because misguidance has spread in the Islamic world, ignorance, superstitious beliefs and bidah, which none can stop except Allaah, by way of scholars who [convey, transmit etc] knowledge from its precise sources – spreading it just as they acquired it from the Book of Allaah and the [authentic] Sunnah of Allaah’s Messenger. At present you find localities in which there are no scholars. It may be that a student of knowledge is poor and is unable to travel – faces obstacles that are a barrier between him and knowledge. [Therefore], it is obligated on the scholars to examine [or look into these] affairs, and [likewise] the rulers. They should fear Allaah with regards to [making an effort to] eliminate these hurdles that stand in the way of thousands of youth – those who crave for knowledge, but face these hurdles and obstacles, and they are not able [to do anything] except to submit to these [hurdles, obstacles etc] that are beyond [one’s control]. (10.1)
No Injustice In The Foundation of Sharee’ah Knowledge
Indeed, what has preceded above clearly demonstrates to us that the very foundation of divine Islamic knowledge neither promotes nor encourages concealment of knowledge or Indeed, what has preceded above clearly demonstrates to us that the very foundation of divine Islamic knowledge neither promotes nor encourages concealment of knowledge or utilizing it as a tool of manipulation and control. Students had access to the best teacher regardless of their social status, race or background. The knowledge that was made available to the senior companions of the Prophet [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him], such as AbuBakr, Umar, Uthmaan and Ali [may Allaah be pleased with them] was the same knowledge that was made available to others, such as the likes of Abu Hurairah [may Allaah be pleased with him]. Abu Hurairah – one of the greatest memorizers and transmitters of Hadeeth – is well known to all of us, and we know that he joined the company of the Prophet [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him] much later than many other companions; however he learnt so much – within three years in the Prophet’s company- from what was also available to everyone else to the extent that one would think that he was more knowledgeable than many of them. Imaam Muhammad Bin Saaleh Al-Uthaymeen [may Allaah have mercy upon him] was asked, “Who narrated more hadeeth – Abu Bakr or Abu Hurairah?” He answer, “Indeed, Abu Hurairah narrated more Hadeeth than Abu Bakr, but that does not mean that Abu Hurairah heard more Hadeeth than Abu Bakr, because Abu Bakr was a companion of Allaah’s Messenger in the summers, winters, nights, days, (during) journeys and whilst at home, so he heard (more) than (others) and had more knowledge regarding the affairs of Allaah’s Messenger; however he did not spend a lot of time to sit and narrate to the people what he heard from the Prophet”. (11)
We read in Islamic history that the seekers of knowledge used to travel – thousands of miles and for many years- to seek knowledge from the scholars in different regions and they were not given lesser attention than the children of kings, governors or tribal chiefs; rather the scholars made available the same knowledge to everyone. Bear in mind that this is no call to socialism or communism when equal access to education is mentioned; rather it is a call to fairness. Beneficial knowledge – whether related to religious or worldly affairs – is not to be reserved only for the rich, utilized to control, manipulate and deceive the masses; rather it should be given to benefit everyone. However, no sane person negates the fact that it would be impossible for everyone to reach the same goal or attain the same status in every aspect of life; but rather it is Allaah who portions out our provisions based on perfect wisdom and justice. “It is We Who portion out between them their livelihood in this world, and We raised some of them above others in ranks, so that some may employ others in their work. But the Mercy (Paradise) of your Lord (O Muhammad ) is better than the (wealth of this world) which they amass”. [Surah Az-Zukhruf. Verse 32]
Imaam Abdul Azeez Bin Baaz [may Allaah have mercy upon him] said: There is no doubt that knowledge is the mainstay on which the foundations of human life are based. And the knowledge that is most worthy to be given importance and concern is the knowledge of the Islamic Sharee’ah, because through it is known the wisdom (or purpose) for which Allaah [The Exalted] created us and sent the Messengers. And by way of this knowledge, we acquire knowledge and awareness regarding Allaah and worship Him based on that, as Allaah stated:
[وَمَا خَلَقْتُ الْجِنَّ وَالْإِنْسَ إِلَّا لِيَعْبُدُونِ – I (Allaah) did not create the Jinn and humankind except to worship me alone]. [Surah Adh-Dhaariyaat. Aayah 56]
Allaah [Glorified be He and free is He from all imperfections] stated:
[وَلَقَدْ بَعَثْنَا فِي كُلِّ أُمَّةٍ رَسُولًا أَنِ اُعْبُدُوا اللَّهَ وَاجْتَنِبُوا الطَّاغُوتَ – Indeed, We have sent a Messenger to every nation, saying, “Worship Allaah alone and keep away from all false deities]. [Surah An-Nahl. Aayah 36]
Based on these two Aayaat, one knows the wisdom behind the creation of Jinn and humankind, and the wisdom behind the advent of the Messengers. Any nation without sound belief or sound religion is an ignorant nation regardless how advanced and developed it is, as Allaah [Glorified be He and free is He from all imperfections] stated: [أَمْ تَحْسَبُ أَنَّ أَكْثَرَهُمْ يَسْمَعُونَ أَوْ يَعْقِلُونَ إِنْ هُمْ إِلَّا كَالْأَنْعَامِ بَلْ هُمْ أَضَلُّ سَبِيلً – Or do you think that most of them hear or understand? They are only like cattle; nay, they are even farther astray from the Path. (i.e. even worst than cattle)]. [Surah Al-Furqan. Aayah 44]
A good life is the life of the people of (Islamic) knowledge and Imaan, as Allaah [The Exalted] said:
[يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اسْتَجِيبُوا لِلَّهِ وَلِلرَّسُولِ إِذَا دَعَاكُمْ لِمَا يُحْيِيكُمْ – O you who believe! Answer Allah (by obeying Him) and (His) Messenger when he calls you to that which will give you life]. [Surah Al-Anfaal. Aayah 24]
Allaah [The Exalted] said:
[مَنْ عَمِلَ صَالِحًا مِنْ ذَكَرٍ أَوْ أُنْثَى وَهُوَ مُؤْمِنٌ فَلَنُحْيِيَنَّهُ حَيَاةً طَيِّبَةً وَلَنَجْزِيَنَّهُمْ أَجْرَهُمْ بِأَحْسَنِ مَا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ – Whoever works righteousness, whether male or female, while he (or she) is a true believer (of Islamic Monotheism) verily, to him We will give a good life (in this world with respect, contentment and lawful provision), and We shall pay them certainly a reward in proportion to the best of what they used to do (i.e. Paradise in the Hereafter)]. [Surah An-Nahl. Aayah 97]
Beneficial knowledge can only be obtained through a teacher, and no person can be a teacher unless he is knowledgeable about the subject he (or she) teaches others, because the one who is deprived of something is not able to give it to others. The scholars are the inheritors of the prophets, therefore the teacher’s task is one of the most difficult tasks because it requires that one acquires the most perfect Islamic characteristics as much as possible, such as beneficial knowledge, noble manners, continuous righteous deeds, patience, perseverance, being able to bear hardship whilst nurturing the student (pupil, learner) upon uprightness and upon a pure Islamic nurturing. The teacher’s success in this mission depends on the extent to which he (or she) acquires perfect Islamic qualities.
The role model and leader for everyone is our master and leader Muhammad Bin Abdullah Al-Haashimee [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him]. He was the most perfect of people in all noble qualities, and he faced many difficulties and great hardships whilst guiding people and teaching them, but he was patient, endured every hardship and difficulty in order to spread his religion and bring his Ummah out of darkness into light. May Allaah reward him for that with the best and most perfect reward. Indeed, a righteous generation was nurtured through him- a generation that is considered to be the best of generations known to humankind throughout history. It is well known that this stems from the good nurturing and guidance which he gave his companions, and his patience upon that path after Allaah granted them success and directed them to the truth.
One of the most important tasks for a teacher – in every place and era- is to follow the path of the first and foremost teacher, Muhammad [peace be upon him] and that one strives to know this path, so that it is implemented on oneself and the students as much as possible, and that one makes a lot of effort. The Ummah is greatly in need of the righteous teacher- the teacher who receives knowledge and what the students are educated with from the Book of Allaah, the Sunnah of His Messenger and the path of the Salafus Saaleh [pious predecessors], nurturing them upon honesty, trustworthiness, sincerity, veneration of Allaah’s commands and prohibitions, competition for every virtue and caution against every vice, (especially) in this era in which the callers to destruction are many (i.e. those who violate sound Aqeedah and morals) and few are those who call to sound rectification.
So, based on what has been preceded (above), it is known that the teacher’s task- alongside the fact that it is one of the most difficult tasks- is one of the most honorable jobs, the greatest in benefit and the most valuable if the teacher is blessed with sincerity, good intention and effort, because one will be rewarded in the same manner as the one who benefits from his (or her) knowledge. (see footnote d) The Prophet [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him] said, “The best of you is the one who learns and teaches the Qur’an”. And he said, “By Allah, that Allah guides a man through you is better for you than a herd of expensive red camels”. (12)
There is no doubt that the teacher is the religious nurturer of the student, therefore he (or she) should have virtuous morals and a good character, so that students may follow this example. He (or she) should also be one who fulfils that which is obligated in the Sharee’ah, far removed from what is prohibited, one who preserves time, jokes a little, broad-minded (within what is allowed in the Sharee’ah), friendly, good-natured, clement, pleasant, independent, able, broad in knowledge and has a lot of knowledge in the Arabic language to be able to perform the duty to the fullest.
There is no doubt that whoever is concerned with studying the human self in all respects and searches for the reasons that lead to knowing the methods by which sciences can be instilled in it easily and with ease, he (or she) will get good results in revealing those affairs of the self that are not immediately obvious, the feelings and perceptions associated with it and the extent of its acceptance of the information to be implanted in it. And one will extract information – from this study and research – that is in fact one of the general rules on which the edifice of education is based. These rules can be summed up in the fact that if any teacher wants to instill information in the minds of the students, he (or she) must first of all have complete knowledge of the lesson, extensive knowledge of teaching methods, effective delivery, able to direct the attention of the students – in a distinct and clear way – to the foundations of the lesson and restrict it to the main topic lest students become confused in their ideas and miss benefits. And in seeking to make them understand the sciences delivered to them, the teacher should use persuasion, methods of presentation, comparison and representation, focus attention on the essential matters that are the basic rules for each of the lessons, instill in them the general fundamental principles associated with things and then – little by little- touch on the other details that are connected to the main subject matter. (see footnote a) The important thing in every matter is its foundation and the subsidiary affairs branch off from the fundamental principles.
The teacher should consolidate the subjects and bring them closer to the minds of the students, make them like the lesson, desire to listen, and teach them its benefit and purpose, whilst taking into account each student’s understanding of what is suitable through the language (words, expressions) they understand, because not all students are the same. The teacher should allow discussion with them and tolerate their errors that occur from the discussions because they are the result of the search for facts. The teacher should encourage them to carry out every research that leads to finding out the truth, whilst taking into account the social circumstances, the different characteristics of people, the customs and the atmosphere, because indeed these matters have a great impact on the psyche of the students, which is reflected in their understanding, behaviour and work. This is why it is a known fact that the intelligent, attentive teacher who takes these matters into (consideration) has a greater impact on students than other teachers. (13)
The teacher’s task is similar to doctor’s task, and from the teacher’s obligations is to know the tendencies of the students and the level of their intelligence. On the basis of this knowledge, the teacher evaluates the basic criteria that follows on from this approach in engaging their different minds and levels of understanding. These are among the most important reasons for the teacher’s success in his (or her) task.
The most important obligatory subject matter -without exception – is that attention is given to the rectification of the sound Islamic creed based on the Qur’an, the Sunnah and the guidance of the righteous predecessors. Thereafter, attention is given to the other subject matters of the Sharee’ah, and then the other sciences which humankind cannot do without, provided that the outcomes of these (worldly) sciences do not divert one from the knowledge [i.e. Tawheed] for which the creation [i.e. humankind and jinn] was created, and that these (worldly) sciences are harnessed for the public welfare without standing in the way of beneficial knowledge (i.e. the Sharee’ah).
Indeed, Allaah -by His grace and great wisdom- guided those who have been guided to learn beneficial knowledge and teaching it, benefited the people and the country through them, and they attained success with a good mention of them by the people, a good reputation, increased reward and a good end. And others were deprived of success because of their straying from the right path, so their sciences became a disaster for them and their students. They became misguided in the labyrinths of unbelief, atheism and heresy, and misled others; so they brought upon themselves the same sins committed by those whom they misguided. This is based on Allaah’s perfect Justice and Wisdom, and His recompense for those who deviated from the truth, turned away from the right path and pursued (evil) desires- that they are to be humiliated by being forsaken and through deviation from the truth, as Allaah said: [فَلَمَّا زَاغُوا أَزَاغَ اللَّهُ قُلُوبَهُمْ – So, when they deviated (by choice), Allaah deviated their hearts]. [Surah As-Saff. Aayah 5]
Allaah said: [وَنُقَلِّبُ أَفْئِدَتَهُمْ وَأَبْصَارَهُمْ كَمَا لَمْ يُؤْمِنُوا بِهِ أَوَّلَ مَرَّةٍ وَنَذَرُهُمْ فِي طُغْيَانِهِمْ يَعْمَهُونَ – And We shall turn their hearts and their eyes away (from guidance), as they refused to believe therein for the first time, and We shall leave them in their trespass to wander blindly]. [Surah Al-An’aam. Aayah 110]
The verses that convey the same meaning of these above verses are many. We ask Allaah to bless us and all the Muslims with beneficial knowledge and righteous deeds, show us kindness, grant us sound understanding in the religion and steadfastness on it, rectify the rulers of the Muslims and their leaders, and support the truth through them, and indeed Allaah is able to do everything. May Allaah’s peace and blessings be upon His servant and Messenger Muhammad, the companions of the Messenger and those who follow their guidance until the day of judgement. (14)
Finally, the upright scholars – before the advent of the deviant sects that were influenced by the Greeks – had a single goal in transmitting knowledge and that was to give Muslims obligatory knowledge that would enable them to worship Allaah based on clearsightedness. This knowledge also enabled its seekers to acquire literacy skills, enhanced upright critical thinking and upright intellectual discussion in various subject matters of the religion and the worldly affairs. This was the basis of education -to guide and pass on socially upright values based on the divine revelation for the upright survival of the Ummah, and it was made available to everyone – children of kings, peasants, the poor, the rich, the disabled, the slaves etc.
However, when education is abandoned to the desires of competing ideologues, then one can only expect political and educational controversy, because proponents of the dominant ideology of the day would seek to influence schools to promote values that are championed by organizations with a distinct political orientation. Then when another group of people with a different political ideology are voted in power, they also seek to promote their views in all walks of life. So, regardless how many types of schools open in modern society – in order to provide more choice for state school pupils and students, education will always be the victim of competing ideologues. In Islam, the education system has a single goal – free from the competition of the ideologues; rather the education system is founded upon nurturing the next generation upon piety and to pursue the beneficial affairs of the worldly life.
Sincere Co-operation In The Religious and Worldly Affairs
“Help you one another in Al-Birr and At-Taqwa [virtue, righteousness and piety]; but do not help one another in sin and transgression”. [Surah Al-Maa’idah. Verse 2]
Imaam Ibnul Qayyim [may Allaah have mercy upon him] said, “This verse contains all the beneficial affairs for the slaves in their worldly affairs and affairs related to the Hereafter- be it between themselves or between them and their Lord; for indeed every servant (of Allaah) finds himself within two circumstances and obligations – either (required) to fulfil the obligations owed to Allaah or the obligations owed to Allaah’s creation. As for the obligations owed to the creation, they include (righteous) association, companionship, aiding one another upon what Allaah loves and obedience to Allaah, and that is the goal behind one’s search for happiness and success in the afterlife. There can be no happiness in the afterlife except through Bir (virtue) and Taqwaa (piety), because it is basis of all affairs of the religion”. (15)
The Prophet [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him] said: “None of you (truly) believe until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself.” [Saheeh Al-Bukhaari. Hadeeth Number 13]
Therefore, with regards to the beneficial worldly sciences, then indeed a Muslim loves for others what he loves for himself, so he helps others to pursue their goals in an upright manner. The Prophet [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him] said, “The religion is sincerity (and sincere advise)”. Shaikh Saaleh Aala Ash-Shaikh [may Allaah preserve him] stated, “Advice to the Muslims is to guide them to the beneficial things related to the affairs of their afterlife and the worldly life and aid them in that; guide them towards rectification in affairs related to their worldly life and Afterlife, love them for the sake of Allaah, aid them in truth, co-operate with them in good and guidance and not in sin and transgression; clarify the truth for them and advise them with it, disapprove evil if they violate Allaah’s Right etc”. (16)
Umar Ibn Abdul Azeez [may Allaah have mercy upon him] said, “Whoever advises his [Muslim] brother to rectify affairs related to his Deen and gives him insight in a worldly affair of his, then indeed he has perfected their relationship and fulfilled his obligation towards him”. (17)
There is no doubt that sincere implementation of what is found in the above authentic narrations will put an end to the unjust education system of the ideologues – the one set up to reinforce structural inequality in society. However, this is not to say that all pupils and students will attain the same level of understanding, because even if the standard of education – in the beneficial worldly sciences – is very high and everyone is given equal access, then still some people will excel others either due to wealth bestowed on their parents to access more resources and well informed teachers, or due to the different abilities Allaah has granted humans; but what is intended here is that none should be prevented from access to education due to the structural inequalities engineered by the ideologues. As for intelligence and ability, then there is no doubt that Allaah is the one who bestows each of us what He wills. Imaam al-Barbahaaree [may Allaah have mercy upon him] said, “Intellect is inborn”. Al-Allaamah Ahmad Bin Yahyah An-Najmee [may Allaah have mercy upon him] stated, “Meaning, it [i.e. intellect] is brought forth together with the person, and it develops and increases as he [the person] grows. So, the intellect starts as something small, then become greater together with its possessor. There is no doubt that the intellects vary based on that which Allaah bestowed on every person. And indeed in the Qur’aan Allaah [The Mighty and Majestic] praised the people of (sound) intellect. (18)
Therefore, every sane person recognizes that the intellects vary based on that which Allaah has bestowed upon every individual, but if an education system promotes injustice through ideology or cultural bias, then concealment of knowledge and manipulation is expected. A Muslim is warned against concealment and miserliness in all affairs: “Those who are miserly and enjoin miserliness on other people and hide what Allaah has bestowed upon them of His Bounties. And We have prepared for the disbelievers a disgraceful torment”. [Surah An-Nisaa. Ayah 37]
Imaam as-Sa’di [may Allaah have mercy upon him] said, “Those who are miserly” – Meaning, they refrain from fulfilling the rights obligated in them to fulfil. “And enjoin miserliness on other people”- meaning, through their statements and actions. “And hide what Allaah has bestowed upon them of His Bounties’- meaning, knowledge, through which the astray are guided and the ignorant ones are led aright. So, they hide it from them and make apparent to them falsehood that comes between them and the truth. Therefore, they (i.e. the misers) have gathered between miserliness with regards to wealth and knowledge, and between hastening towards loss for themselves and for others. This is a characteristic of the disbelievers and due to this Allaah (The Most High) said, “And We have prepared for the disbelievers a disgraceful torment”. (19)
And Allaah knows best
Read: Qur’anic Proofs Which Show that the Religion of Islam Embodies the Beneficial Contemporary Sciences and Professions – By Imaam As-Sadi [may Allaah have mercy upon him]: https://salaficentre.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/Quranic_Proofs_Pdf_final.pdf
[Ref 1: Muhaadaraat Fil Aqeedah Wad-Da’wah’ 1/7-17. slightly paraphrased]
[Ref 2: Al-Qawlul Mufeed Alaa Kitaabit Tawheed’ by Shaikh Uthaymeen. 1/46]
[Ref 3: Muhaadaraat Fil Aqeedah Wad-Da’wah’ 1/7-17. slightly paraphrased]
[Ref 4: https://salaficentre.com/2021/12/14/the-religion-of-islam-is-a-perfect-solution-for-all-problems-part-15-solution-to-two-problematic-views-related-to-identification-of-beneficial-knowledge/ ]
[Ref 5: https://salaficentre.com/2021/12/14/the-religion-of-islam-is-a-perfect-solution-for-all-problems-part-16-when-are-worldly-sciences-considered-praiseworthy/ ]
[Ref 6: https://salaficentre.com/2021/12/15/the-religion-of-islam-is-a-perfect-solution-for-all-problems-part-17-beneficial-knowledge-a-principle-related-to-its-goals-and-means-or-paths/ ]
[Ref 7: https://salaficentre.com/2021/12/17/the-religion-of-islam-is-a-perfect-solution-for-all-problems-part-18-a-fruitful-outcome-of-worldly-knowledge-and-the-knowledge-one-must-acquire-to-fulfil-commands-and-avoid-prohibitions/ ]
[Ref 8: Marhaban Yaa Taalibal Ilm. pages 132-136]
[Ref 9: Ash-Shar’hul Ma’mool Li-imthaali- ArRasool. pages 7-8]
[Ref 10: Tafseer as Sadi]
[Ref 10.1: Marhaban Yaa Taalibal Ilm’ page 217 – 218. slightly paraphrased]
[Ref 11: Sharh Hilyati Taalibal Ilm’ page 49]
[Ref 12: https://salaficentre.com/2022/01/08/part-1-guidance-for-teachers-by-imaam-abdul-azeez-bin-baaz/ ]
[Ref 13: https://salaficentre.com/2022/01/09/part-2-guidance-for-teachers-by-imaam-abdul-azeez-bin-baaz/ ]
[Ref 14: https://salaficentre.com/2022/01/10/part-3-guidance-for-teachers-by-imaam-abdul-azeez-bin-baaz/ ]
[Ref 15: Badaa’i At-Tafseer Al-Jaami Limaa Fassarahu Al-Imaam Ibnul Qayyim Al-Jawziyyah’ Vol 1 pages 307-311. Publisher: Daar Ibn Al-Jawziyyah 2nd Ed, 1431AH]
[Ref 16: Sharh Arba’een AnNawawi page: 81]
[Ref 17: Taareekh At-Tabari 6/572]
[Ref 18: Irshaad As-Saaree Fee Sharh as-Sunnah Lil-Barbahaaree. 155. Daarul Minhaaj 1430AH (2009)]
[Ref 19: Tafseer as-Sadi]