Bismillah

Abu Barzah al-Aslami radi Allahu anhu reported that Allah's Messenger sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam said, “The two feet of the servant will not cease (from standing before Allah) on the Day of Judgment until he is asked about four things: on his life and how he spent it; on his knowledge and what he did with it; on his wealth and where he earned it and how he spent it; and on his body and in what way he utilized it.” [Saheeh, reported by At-Tirmidhi]

We are constantly bombarded nowadays to seek knowledge and learn, yet many times this knowledge does not benefit the student. What is beneficial knowledge? The scholars and salaf of the past state that beneficial knowledge is knowledge that leads to actions. Ilm is not the goal, rather it is the means to the goal which is the pleasure of Allah and success in the hereafter. If knowledge does not make you a better Muslim, through your character and worship, then it is not benefiting to you.

The Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam narrated this duaa in a hadeeth in Sunan ibn Maajah (authenticated  by Shaykh Albaani rahimahullah):

اللَّهُمَّ انْفَعْنِي بِمَا عَلَّمْتَنِي وَ عَلِّمْنِي مَا يَنْفَعُنِي وَ زِدْنِي عِلْمًا

Allahumma-infa'nī bimā 'alamtanī wa 'allimnī mā yanfa'unī wa zidnī 'ilmā

O Allah, benefit me from that which You taught me, and teach me that which will benefit me, and increase me in knowledge.

Word for Word Translation

Allahumma: O Allah. A refresher on 'Allahumma' can be found here.

Infa'nī: (You) benefit me. Nafa'a according to the dictionary means to profit, do good, be useful, and beneficial.

bimā: By/with what ever

'alamtanī: (You) taught me

wa: And

'allimnī: (You) teach me

mā: what ever

yanfa'unī: it will benefit me

wa: and

zidnī: (You) increase me

'ilmā: (in) knowledge

Memorize this duaa:

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Points of Benefit

  • Knowledge is a gift that only comes from Allah azza wa jal. In this duaa, we ask Allah to benefit us from the knowledge that He taught us. In the Qur'an we find that Allah ta'ala describes Khidr: Then they found one of Our slaves, on whom We had bestowed mercy from Us, and whom We had taught knowledge from Us. [18:65]
  • Knowledge that does not benefit is useless. We ask twice in this duaa for beneficial knowledge; the knowledge that we have already learned and the knowledge that we are yet to gain.
  • Beneficial knowledge is greater than having a lot of knowledge. In this duaa, we ask Allah for beneficial knowledge twice before asking for an increase in it.
  • The best knowledge is knowledge of the deen. The Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam said, “Verily, Allah the Exalted does not like one who is knowledgeable of the worldly life, but ignorant of the Hereafter.” [Saheeh al Jaami']
  • Knowledge is action. In the hadeeth in the beginning of this post, the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam said each of us will be asked: an 'ilmihi madhaa 'amila feehi, about his knowledge and what he did with it.
  • If knowledge does not benefit you, it will harm you. Bishr ibn Al-Haarith said, “knowledge is good – for the one who acts upon it. But as for the one who doesn't act on it – there is nothing more harmful (to him) than it.”
  • Those who do not act upon their knowledge will be punished in the hereafter. In one hadeeth, the Prophet alayhi salaatu wa salaam said, “A man will be brought on the Day of Judgment and thrown into the Hell-fire where his intestines will spill out. So it will be said (to him): 'Weren't you the one who used to command good and forbid evil?' So he will say: “I used to command you to do good yet not do it myself. And I used to forbid you from evil yet commit it myself.”' [Bukhari and Muslim] In another hadeeth, Rasul Allah sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam said, “On the night that I was ascended up to the heavens, I came upon a people whose lips were being cut off by pliers made from Fire. Every time their lips were severed, they would be brought back and formed again. So I said: 'O Jibreel, who are these people?' He said: 'They are speakers from your nation, who say words but do not do deeds, and who read the Book of Allah yet do not act (on it).”' [Al Bayhaqi, Hasan]
  • As your knowledge increases, your ibaadah should increase. Abu Qulaabah said to a man, “If Allah presents you with knowledge, then present Allah with worship. And do not let your only concern be to narrate to the people.” imam Ahmad compared knowledge to wealth; he said, “The path of knowledge is like the path of wealth; if the wealth increases, then the zakah upon it increases.” Meaning, the more knowledge you gain, the more “zakah” is due on that knowledge – worship.
  • Seeking knowledge of the deen for wordly purposes (i.e., a wrong intention) will prevent one from smelling the fragrance of Jannah. The Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam said, “Whoever acquires knowledge not learning it except to achieve some worldly gain will not perceive the fragrance of Paradise on the Day of Judgment.” [Ahmad, Saheeh]

The Salaf concerning Knowledge

Below is a compilation of a few beneficial pieces of advice from the Salaf, may Allah have mercy on them,  from the book “Knowledge Mandates Action” :

Abu Abdillah Ar-Rudhabaari,

Whoever goes out towards knowledge, intending (just to obtain) the knowledge, knowledge does not benefit him. And whoever goes out towards knowledge, intending to act upon the knowledge, knowledge benefits him – even if it's a little.

Habeeb ibn Ubayd ar-Rahbi,

Acquire knowledge, comprehend it and use it. And do not acquire it in order to adorn yourselves with it, for indeed, it is imminent – should your life-spans be prolonged for you – that knowledge will be used as a means for adorning oneself, just as a man adorns himself with his garment.

Abdullah ibn Al-Mu'taz,

The knowledge of a hypocrite is in his speech, while the knowledge of a believer is in his actions.

Al Fudayl ibn Iyyadh,

It is upon the people to acquire knowledge. So when they attain knowledge, it is upon them to act (on it).

Yahya ibn Ma'een would recite the verse of poetry,

If you are lacking provisions, you will not find any provision quite like that of righteous actions.

Lastly, an incident with imam Awzaa'ee rahimahullah perfectly states the condition of most of our students today.

One day a group of students of hadeeth set out early to see imam Al Awzaa'ee, who then turned to them and recited,

كم من حريص جامع جاشع ٭ ليس بمنتفع و لا نافع

“How many dedicated (students of knowledge) there are,

seeking to gather it and desirous of obtaining it,

yet they do not gain benefit from it nor do they give benefit out to others.”

May Allah ta'ala grant us beneficial knowledge and protect us from knowledge that does not benefit. Ameen.

24 Responses

  1. Amatullah

    I just wanted to apologize to the readers (like all 5 of you :) ) who were waiting for a new duaa. InshaAllah there will be another duaa posted next week. It will be a duaa for tazkiyah and taqwa, one of my favorites.

    I also apologize for not making the translation charts like I did for Ramadan, I’m having computer issues at the moment :)

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  2. ummmaryam

    Assalamualykum warahemutullahee sr.Amatullah,

    Jazkillahukhairaa for posting such a wonderful,beneficial dua .Mashaallah I really appreciate this .You are not only seeking ilm but also teaching others too.Subahanallah.

    salaam

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  3. Umm Hurairah

    make that 6 readers, I LOVE your posts (ah well you already know that I guess)

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  4. Holly Garza

    Assalamu alykum waramatulahí wa barakatu

    Oh wow MashaAllah, Jazkillah khayer for this post! It is such a wonderful thing to read and the Dua’s helped immensely AlhamduliAllah. MashaAllah I really, really enjoyed this and it hit the spot on how our feet will not be able to move on judgment day until all four things have been asked, SubhanaAllah! Really does put life back in focus appreciate this .JazakAllah Khayer for the reminder and for teaching me something new May Allah reward and keep you in his infinite mercy and Blessings Ameen

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    • Amatullah

      ha. I actually left my awesome laptop at home (currently overseas). I didn’t post for a bit because I couldn’t figure out how to get Arabic enabled on this new PC! Alhamdulillah finally got it though.

      So inshaAllah will try and write more frequently :)

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  5. Faraz Omar

    masha Allah.. may Allah accept this from u. ur posts are exceptional. they remind me of the hereafter and make me realize how trivial n temporary this duniya this. jazaak Allah khairan katheera

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  6. BrownS

    Jazakillahu khair, especially for your points of benefit. This particular one stood out to me –

    “As your knowledge increases, your ibaadah should increase. Abu Qulaabah said to a man, “If Allah presents you with knowledge, then present Allah with worship. And do not let your only concern be to narrate to the people.” Imam Ahmad compared knowledge to wealth; he said, “The path of knowledge is like the path of wealth; if the wealth increases, then the zakah upon it increases.” Meaning, the more knowledge you gain, the more “zakah” is due on that knowledge – worship.”

    This is actually quite scary – to think about all the stuff one has learned or picked up here and there and figure out which ones we’re not implementing (most of them probably in my case).

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  7. umme ahmed

    Jak for sharing such a beautiful dua..and such a deep explanation…barakAllah fi..ki!

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  8. Sana

    Assalamualaikum. I always look forward to your beneficial posts sister Amatullah. I really loved the point about the more knowledge you have the more zakah (worship) is due on it. JazakaAllah khairan katheera. May Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala enable you to benefit more people. Ameen

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  9. IMRANA

    asak
    wow what lovely feast for the soul.everything of our present life is covered in this hadith,how we earn wheer we spend?what we do with our bodies
    MASHALLAH.JAZK
    MAY ALLAH MAKE THE AQEERAH EASY FOR ALL MUSLIMS.

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  10. Safia K R

    Mashallah – for the knowledge that you have put together to share with the rest of us. Truly, this is a very thought provoking piece of writing. May Allah grant you more barakah in your ilm and the readers of this to make sincere dua for ourselves to be able to implement all that we learn inshallah.

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  11. bint shahid

    ma sha allah
    this is good reminder for students….specially students of quraan n sunnah

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  12. biomewci

    “And do not acquire it in order to adorn yourselves with it, for indeed, it is imminent – should your life-spans be prolonged for you – that knowledge will be used as a means for adorning oneself, just as a man adorns himself with his garment.”
    How much is it true?

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