Behaviour Expected – In The Masjid and Elsewhere – When Interacting With Our Contemporaries In Any Affair of Knowledge

In The Name of Allaah, The Most Merciful, The Bestower of Mercy.

Do I Have a Low Opinion of My Contemporary Just Because He Has Not Benefitted More Than Me In Affairs of Knowledge?!

The questioner [may Allaah bless him] asks Shaikh Saaleh Aala Ash-Shaikh [may Allaah preserve him]: “I have been seeking knowledge for a number of years, but despite this, neither have I consolidated the knowledge-based information (sought after) nor am I aware of the benefit (acquired from that). What do you advise me? May Allaah reward you”.

Answer: Do not say that you are not aware of a benefit because a student of knowledge is (considered to be engaged) in worship. The aim behind seeking knowledge is that the person receives Allaah’s [The Mighty and Majestic] Pleasure.

You all know about the man who went away to repent, so the angel of death came to him (i.e. took his soul); then the angels of mercy and the angels of punishment disputed about his affair- angels of mercy said, “He came along being repentant and remorseful in his heart in the presence of Allaah” but the angels of punishment said, “He has done no good at all”. Then another angel came in the form of a human being in order to decide between them and said, “Measure between the two lands” (i.e. to find out which of them he was closer to). They measured it and found him nearer to the land where he intended to go (i.e. the land of the pious people), so the angels of mercy took him. This repentant man was forgiven because his steps (towards repentance) were recorded for him; therefore the steps of a student of knowledge towards knowledge are an act of worship similar to the steps of the repentant migrator towards the land of goodness. Seeking knowledge is better for you than supererogatory prayer or some of the supererogatory acts of worship; therefore there has to be a truthful intention (behind it). Then the benefit will (be acquired) bit by bit. And the aim is not to become a scholar or a student of knowledge initially; rather the aim behind your seeking knowledge is to remove ignorance from yourself-worshiping Allaah [The Mighty and Majestic] with correct acts of worship and that your Aqeedah is sound, become submissive to Allaah, safeguarded from doubtful affairs that are made to resemble the truth and from seeking fame. Allaah (The Most High) said:

يَوۡمَ لَا يَنفَعُ مَالٌ۬ وَلَا بَنُونَ
إِلَّا مَنۡ أَتَى ٱللَّهَ بِقَلۡبٍ۬ سَلِيمٍ۬

The Day whereon neither wealth nor sons will avail; except him who brings to Allah a clean heart [clean from Shirk (polytheism) and Nifaq (hypocrisy)].

Allaah (The Mighty and Exalted) said: [إِنَّ ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ وَعَمِلُواْ ٱلصَّـٰلِحَـٰتِ إِنَّا لَا نُضِيعُ أَجۡرَ مَنۡ أَحۡسَنَ عَمَلاً – Verily! As for those who believe and do righteous deeds, certainly! We shall not suffer to be lost the reward of anyone who does his (righteous) deeds in the most perfect manner].

If you never benefited except yourself and your family, then there is great good in this. (1)


Neither Belittle Nor Mock at Others Below You in Knowledge

Allaah [The Most High] said:
وَإِذْ قَالَ مُوسَىٰ لِقَوْمِهِ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَأْمُرُكُمْ أَن تَذْبَحُوا بَقَرَةً ۖ قَالُوا أَتَتَّخِذُنَا هُزُوًا ۖ قَالَ أَعُوذُ بِاللَّهِ أَنْ أَكُونَ مِنَ الْجَاهِلِينَ

And (remember) when Musa (Moses) said to his people: “Verily, Allah commands you that you slaughter a cow.” They said, “Do you make fun of us?” He said, “I take Allah’s Refuge from being among Al-Jahilun (the ignorants or the foolish). [2:67]

A Jaahil [ignorant one] is that one who speaks with a speech that contains no benefit and he mocks at the people. As for a sensible person, he sees that one of the most blameworthy traits -which is abhorred by [sound] religion and intellect- is to mock at someone who is a human being like himself. And if he has been favoured over another person, then this favour necessitates that he thanks Allaah and shows mercy to Allaah’s servants. Therefore, when Musa [alayhis-salaam] said this to them [i.e. I take Allaah’s Refuge from being among the ignorant], they knew that it [i.e. what he commanded them] was truth, so they said: [ادْعُ لَنَا رَبَّكَ يُبَيِّن لَّنَا مَا هِيَ -call upon your Lord for us that He may make plain to us what it is!(2:68)] (2)

Al-Allaamah Rabee Bin Haadee [may Allaah preserve him] said, “Abdullaah Ibn Al-Mubaarak [may Allaah have mercy upon him] said, ‘Whoever belittles the scholars will ruin his religion; whoever belittles the rulers will ruin his worldly affairs and whoever belittles his brothers will ruin his sense of honour’. O my brothers! Therefore, let us behave in a good manner, especially the students of knowledge”. (2.1)

The Shaikh also said: This knowledge (of the Sharee’ah) was spread mostly through (praiseworthy) manners – through patience, forbearance, firm fulfilment of obligations and responsibilities, truthfulness, honourable behaviour, nobility, noble mindedness, fulfilling promises and what is similar to that. These manners became manifest to the people, so the hearts, ears and eyes of the nations accepted this guidance, which the companions of Muhammad carried”. (2.2)

The Shaikh also said: “Good manners is a necessity in the path of seeking knowledge, and (when dealing with) scholars and elders. It was said to king Abdul Azeez [may have mercy upon him], ‘How do you view the people?’ He said, ‘The people in my view are three types: a man who is older than me, so he is placed in my father’s position; a man who is in my age group, so he is placed in my brother’s position, and a man who is younger than me, so he is like my son’. Therefore, a Muslim behaves towards his brothers in this manner- he places the people in these different categories. The student of knowledge should respect the elders, honour his contemporaries and show mercy to those below his age. The one who is old in age is like his father, the one in his age group is like his brother and the one below him in age is like his son. (2.3)


Al-Allaamah Saaleh Aala Ash-Shaikh [may Allaah preserve him] gave some advice regarding the relationship expected between students of knowledge whilst in pursuit of knowledge

He said: There may be different people in attendance -some of them attend for knowledge, some of them attend as beginners, among them are those who attend to be in a sitting where Allaah is remembered and they listen (especially if it is after dawn or during time periods when supplications are answered), and among them are those who attend for a benefit, and are content with whatever they obtain. And that which is befitting in reality is that the students of knowledge should treat each other well, so the student teaches his brother – who is a beginner – the way to learn and gives him advice. This is why we should show mercy to one another in the lessons, and in all affairs of knowledge, and perhaps the reason scholars begin their texts with the advice to the seeker of knowledge to be merciful. This is why you find in Hadeeth Ijaazaat that the first hadith transmitted is “The merciful will be shown mercy by the Most Merciful. Be merciful to those on the earth and the One in the heavens will have mercy upon you”. [Saheeh Sunan Tirmidhee 1924]

Question: Why do they learn the hadith, “The merciful will be shown mercy by the Most Merciful?” Answer: Know, may Allaah have mercy upon you, that it is one of the qualities of a seeker of knowledge – whom Allaah blesses and shows mercy – that he is merciful towards those around him, guides, teaches and aids them etc. If whilst in pursuit of knowledge you are merciful to the people – to colleagues and friends, and being present in cooperation and goodness, then receive glad tidings of Allaah’s Mercy and His true promise based on the statement of His Prophet [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him], “The merciful will be shown mercy by the Most Merciful”. (3)

Finally, Al-Allaamah Muqbil Bin Haadi Al-Waadi’ee [may Allaah have mercy upon him] stated, “If a person fears being amazed with himself, then let him not compare himself with contemporaries, (rather) look at Haafidh Ibn Hajr or Al-Haafidh Ibn katheer, Shaikhul Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah and other than them amongst the Huffaaz”. (4)

Imaam Ash-Shaafi’ee [may Allaah have mercy upon him] said, “If self-amazement is concealed within your deeds, then recall the one whose pleasure you are seeking, which blessings you desire and which outcome you fear. The one who ponders upon this, his actions will become small in his presence”. (5)

Imaam Sufyaan Ath’Thawree [may Allaah have mercy upon him] said, “Beware of what corrupts your deeds, for indeed Riyaa is what corrupts your deeds. And if it is not Riyaa, then it may be you being amazed with yourself until it makes you think that you are more virtuous than your brother. It may be that you have not achieved deeds the likes of which he has achieved, and it may be that he has more ورع [apprehensive fear (see footnote a)] and righteous deeds than you. And if it is not self-amazement, then beware of loving the praise of the people-loving their praise so that they may honour you due to your deeds and see you as someone of nobility and high status in their hearts. Remembering death a lot is enough to make you have less concern for the things of the worldly life and make you have a fervent desire for the afterlife. A prolonged hope (for the things of this worldly life) is enough as a (means) to having little fear of (Allaah) and committing acts of disobedience, and the distress and regret on the Day of Judgment is enough for the one who knows but does not act”. (6)

Footnote a: ورع Wara (apprehensive fear): The translation of this tern as ‘Apprehensive fear’ was taken from one of Shaikh Amjad Rafiq’s articles.

[Ref 1: Source: الوصايا الجليّة للاستفادة من الدروس العلميّة للشيخ العلامة صالح آل الشيخ- Question 3. Page 24. slightly paraphrased]

[Ref 2: An Excerpt from Tayseer al-Kareem ar-Rahmaan Fee Tafseer Kalaam al-Mannaan]

[Ref 2.1: Marhaban Yaa Taalibal Ilm’ pages 123-124]

[Ref 2.2: An Excerpt from Marhaban Yaa Taalibal Ilm. page 86]

[Ref 2.3: An Excerpt from Marhaban Yaa Taalibal Ilm’ page 123]

[Ref 3: An Excerpt From (الوصايا الجلية للاستفادة من الدروس العلمية – pages 30-32. paraphrased]

[Ref 4: Al-Bashaa-ir Fis-Samaa-i Al-Mubaashir’ page 14. with introduction by Shaikh Muhammad Bin Abdul-Wahhaab Al-Wassaabee (rahimahullaah)]

[Ref 5: Siyar A’laam Nubulaa: 10/42]

[Ref 6: Hilyatul Awliyaa 6/391]

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