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Classical Advices on Knowledge

Omar Usman

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learn_2.jpgI just finished reading a 3 book set on knowledge that has been translated. The series contains,

  1. The Book of Knowledge – Abu Khaythama an-Nasa’ee (d. 234AH)
  2. Knowledge Mandates Action – Khateeb al-Baghdadi (d. 436AH)
  3. The Superiority of the Knowledge of the Predecessors – Ibn Rajab (d. 795AH)

The books are light reading and contain many narrations regarding seeking knowledge. I thought it would be beneficial to post a few select narrations from each book that I felt really stood out from the general narrations we usually hear in regards to this topic.

I do recommend getting the books, they are nice to have and serve as a good reminder before getting ready to take a class or Islamic course. The books contain a lot of notes regarding the sources of the quotes and their authenticity so you can get that information there. In this post, I will simply be putting the quote along with who said it. I will start things off with my favorite quote out of the whole set:

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Ali (ra),

Shall I not inform you of the true faqeeh? He is the one who doesn’t cause the people to despair from the mercy of Allah, nor does he allow an individual to commit disobedience to Allah, nor does he leave off the Quran, turning towards something other than it. Indeed, there is no good in any act of worship that has no knowledge in it, nor is there any good in knowledge that does not have understanding in it, nor is there any good in recitation of the Qur’an that has no tadabbur (reflection) to go along with it.

Ibn Mas’ood (ra),

Learn, for indeed none of you knows when he will be needed by the people.

‘Ataa bin Yasaar,

Nothing is placed into another thing more beautiful than when gentleness is placed into knowledge.

Al-Hasan,

The best types of knowledge are wara’ (piety) and tafakkur (reflection).

Ali (ra), after passing by a story-teller asked him,

Do you know that which abrogates from that which is abrogated? The man replied no, so Ali said, “You are ruined and ruining others.”

Ibn Mas’ood (ra),

Indeed, you will never cease to be upon good so long as the knowledge remains with the elders. For when the knowledge is with the youth, the one who is older in age will refuse to learn from the youth (out of pride).

Abu Dardaa (ra),

Verily, you will never be a scholar until you first become a seeker of knowledge, and you will never be a seeker of knowledge until you first act upon what you know.

Sahl bin Abdullah,

Knowledge is one of the pleasures of the worldly life, but when one acts on it, then it becomes for the Hereafter.

Yusuf b. Al-Husayn,

With good manners, you will understand knowledge. With knowledge, you will correct your actions. With actions, you will attain wisdom. With wisdom, you will comprehend zuhd and be granted it. With zuhd, you will abandon the worldly life. With abandonment of the worldly life, you will long for the Hereafter. And with longing for the Hereafter, you will acheive Allah’s Contentment.

Abul-Qasim al-Junayd,

When you desire to be honored by knowledge and to be ascribed to it, and its people before giving knowledge the right it has on you (from action), its light becomes veiled from you and all that remains upon you is its mark and appearance. That knowledge is against you and not for you. This is since knowledge directs to implementing it. So if knowledge is not implemented in its due stages, its blessings depart.

Al-Hasan al-Basree,

The main concern of the scholars is guiding (ri’aayah), while the main concern of the foolish is narrating (riwaayah).

Suree b. Al-Mughlis As-Saqatee,

Every time you increase in knowledge, the proof against you becomes even stronger.

Ibn Uyaynah,

If knowledge doesn’t benefit you, it harms you.

Ash-Sha’bee,

Verily, we are not Fuqahaa. We merely listen to the Hadith and then narrate to others. Rather, the Fuqahaa are those who when they know something, act upon it.

Al-Awza’ee,

When Allah desires evil for a people, He opens the door of argumentation for them and prevents them from doing good deeds.

Umar ibn Abdul-Aziz,

When you hear quarreling, then hold back.

And he also said,

Whoever makes his religion a pretext for debates increases his burden.

Abu Haneefah – when asked who was better between ‘Alqamah and Aswad,

By Allah, we are not qualified to even mention their names, so how can we choose between them?

Al-Awza’ee,

I have been informed that it used to be said: Woe to those who acquire (religious) knowledge for other than the sake of worship and to those who permit the unlawful due to doubtful arguments.

Please also see:

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Omar Usman is a founding member of MuslimMatters and Qalam Institute. He teaches Islamic seminars across the US including Khateeb Workshop and Fiqh of Social Media. He has served in varying administrative capacities for multiple national and local Islamic organizations. You can follow his work at ibnabeeomar.com.

16 Comments

16 Comments

  1. AnonyMouse

    AnonyMouse

    July 8, 2008 at 1:44 AM

    Amazing, subhanAllah!
    May Allah increase us in knowledge, wisdom, and understanding; and make the acting upon it easy for us; and make us amongst the sincere seekers of knowledge, ameen.

  2. Avatar

    inexplicabletimelessness

    July 8, 2008 at 2:23 AM

    MashaAllah. Really thought-provoking. Ameen to sister Anonymouse’s dua.

  3. Avatar

    Muhammad Ahmad

    July 8, 2008 at 2:29 AM

    Ameen!!!

  4. Avatar

    MOON

    July 8, 2008 at 5:35 AM

    Ameen

  5. Avatar

    MOON

    July 8, 2008 at 6:26 AM

    SubhanAllah what a timely reminder…………It has become all to clear that throughout our lives there is a constant battle of acting upon the knowledge we have or just letting it be something we have learnt and hope one day we will practice it. For example, a Muslim who desnt pray Salah, more than likely knows he/she should pray 5 times a day from the knolwdege they have aquired, but they don’t. So we can spend our time gathering knowledge upon knowledge …on and on…..more and more……but implementing it in our lives is a whole other story.

    A very dear uncle said to me recently; you can have all the knowledge you want, it doesn’t make you have iman and it certainly doesnt mean Allah SWT will give you the tawfique to implement it in your own life. And how true this is, to have knowledge with no benefit is a very clear reality. As Ibn Uyaynah said; “If knowledge doesn’t benefit you, it harms you”. What a scary thought, not only are you sinful for acting wrongly but if you have the knowledge that shows you then what a heavy burden. Not only does it hurt the individual, but their family, children…on and on…..

    May Allah SWT protect me and those who seek knowledge for His sake, and not for worldly gains and fame to be of those whose knowledge is of benefit. Both in this life and the life hereafter where we will need it most and where our actions will be all we have to rely on.

  6. Avatar

    Alima

    July 8, 2008 at 8:16 AM

    Ameen to all the dua’s especially sr/br Moon.

    Muslims matters deeny articles are amazng, masha’Allah!

  7. Avatar

    Anon.

    July 8, 2008 at 9:35 AM

    “Indeed, you will never cease to be upon good so long as the knowledge remains with the elders. For when the knowledge is with the youth, the one who is older in age will refuse to learn from the youth (out of pride).”

    ABD’s take note!

  8. Avatar

    FearAllah

    July 8, 2008 at 10:01 AM

    Jazakumallahu khayrun for sharing those awesome gems !!
    SubhnaAllah…..knowledge is indeed a great amanah….

  9. Avatar

    Seeker7

    July 8, 2008 at 10:36 AM

    Ameen.

    That collection has to be one of the best set of books out there, and they’re also very cheap mashaAllah. Everyone should purchase them bi’ithnillah and they make nice gifts.

  10. Avatar

    Dawud Israel

    July 8, 2008 at 6:32 PM

    Classic post akhi!

    This is going to be going in my favorites. It’s important to discuss this because our attitude towards knowledge is the real cause of blame for too many of the Ummah’s problems.

    Jazaka Allahu khayran !!! :D

  11. Avatar

    Abu Alee

    July 9, 2008 at 6:37 PM

    You can read the book ‘Knowledge Mandates Action’ – By Khateeb al-Baghdadi (d. 436AH) here

  12. Avatar

    Muhammad ud-Deen

    July 10, 2008 at 7:11 PM

    salaam,

    mashaAllaah great post.

    can you please include some references, i want to forward the quotes don’t know how to quote some of them i.e. yusuf ibn al-husayn.

    may Allaah bless you

  13. Avatar

    Tawheed First

    July 10, 2008 at 11:17 PM

    Wonderful, wonderful series – mashaAllah.

    I recommend it to anyone who has a sincere intention to journey on the path of knowledge.

  14. AbdulHasib

    AbdulHasib

    July 12, 2008 at 6:12 PM

    There are a few amazing books also recently done by shaykh Muhammad Hussain Ya’qoub for the present day students of knowledge
    as well as the more well known translated piece done by shaykh Salman al ‘Awdah (can read it on islamtoday), and more by shaykh Muhammad Al Mokhtar ash-shanqiti as well,
    Hafidhahumullah.

    but by far one of the most amazing pieces that a brother shared with me is the book
    Hurmat Ahl Al-‘lLm by Shaykh muhammad ismaeel al-muqaddam hafidhahullah.

    I really hope insha’aAllah it be translated; as it contains such amazing glimpses of the humility of the ‘oolama with knowledge

    you can read it here:
    http://waqfeya.com/open.php?cat=22&book=44

  15. Pingback: Duaa Series: Beneficial Knowledge « Tayyibaat

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