Series: In the Light of Sunnah, In the Footsteps of Our Salaf – Part 5 – Knowledge in Islam (continued)—

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It must be understood that علم وعبادۃ(knowledge and Allah’s servitude) are the basis and reason for all that we see, hear, read and receive in the writings of the learned, the teachings of the scholars, the admonition of the preachers, the quest of the seekers; moreover علم وعبادۃ(knowledge and Allah’s servitude) explain the revelation of the Holy Books, the mission of the Prophets, and in fact, the creation of the universe and all that it contains!Ponder over these two verses:

اللَّهُ الَّذِي خَلَقَ سَبْعَ سَمَاوَاتٍ وَمِنَ الْأَرْضِ مِثْلَهُنَّ يَتَنَزَّلُ الْأَمْرُ بَيْنَهُنَّ لِتَعْلَمُوا أَنَّ اللَّهَ عَلَى كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ وَأَنَّ اللَّهَ قَدْ أَحَاطَ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عِلْمًا  (الطلاق 12 )

Allah is the One who has created seven skies, and their like from earth. The Command descends among them, so that you may know that Allah is powerful over everything, and that Allah has encompassed everything in knowledge.” (At-Talaq 65:12)

 It is as though the entire creation is exclaiming to us: “Look and ponder over all that you observe and in reflection, be certain of Allah’s existence and perfection.”

This ayah alone is sufficient evidence of the virtue and position of علم  (knowledge), particularly علم التوحید (knowledge of Allah’s Oneness).

The second verse states:

“And I have not created jinn and men except to worship me.”

And this Ayah alone will suffice as an evidence of the virtue ofعبادۃ (worship) and the necessity to remain dedicated to it.

Therefore,  it follows that the servant of Allah SWT should not be engaged in any pursuit except in these two areas; علم وعبادۃ (knowledge and worship), and engaging in anything outside the scope of these two is worthless and useless.

(It should be mentioned here that the comprehensive meaning of عبادۃ (worship) is not generally understood, therefore it was thoroughly explained in the past issues dealing with the topic ofniyyah or intention.Please refer to that discussion for clarification)

According to Imam Ghazali,علم  (knowledge) is the more noble and virtuous of these two precious gems, as suggested in the Hadeeth narrated by Tirmidhi, Abu Dawood and other notable Muhadditheen on the authority of Abu Darda RTA:

عَنْ أَبِي الدَّرْدَاءِ قال سَمِعْتُ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ يَقُولُ مَنْ سَلَكَ طَرِيقًا يَطْلُبُ فِيهِ عِلْمًا سَلَكَ اللَّهُ بِهِ طَرِيقًا مِنْ طُرُقِ الْجَنَّةِ وَإِنَّ الْمَلَائِكَةَ لَتَضَعُ أَجْنِحَتَهَا رِضًا لِطَالِبِ الْعِلْمِ وَإِنَّ الْعَالِمَ لَيَسْتَغْفِرُ لَهُ مَنْ فِي السَّمَوَاتِ وَمَنْ فِي الْأَرْضِ وَالْحِيتَانُ فِي جَوْفِ الْمَاءِ وَإِنَّ فَضْلَ الْعَالِمِ عَلَى الْعَابِدِ كَفَضْلِ الْقَمَرِ لَيْلَةَ الْبَدْرِ عَلَى سَائِرِ الْكَوَاكِبِ وَإِنَّ الْعُلَمَاءَ وَرَثَةُ الْأَنْبِيَاءِ وَإِنَّ الْأَنْبِيَاءَ لَمْ يُوَرِّثُوا دِينَارًا وَلَا دِرْهَمًا وَرَّثُوا الْعِلْمَ فَمَنْ أَخَذَهُ أَخَذَ بِحَظٍّ وَافِرٍ   (رواه ابوداؤد)

“Who treads a path in search of knowledge, Allah eases for him a path towards Jannah, and verily the angels lower and spread their wings in humble approval of his actions, and all that is in the skies and the earth, even the fish in the water seek  forgiveness for the عالم(scholar), and the virtue and rank of the عالم scholar over theعابد (mere worshipper) is as the virtue of the moon over the rest of the stars, and the علماscholars are the heirs of the Prophets and verily the Prophets did not bequeath gold or silver, rather they bequeathed knowledge. So whomsoever acquires it, has indeed acquired an abundant fortune.” (Abu Dawood)

Similarly the Hadeeth of Rasulullah SAW narrated by At-Tirmidhi on the authority of Abu Umamah RTA:

فَضْلُ الْعَالِمِ عَلَى الْعَابِدِ كَفَضْلِي عَلَى أَدْنَاكُمْ   (سنن الترمذى)

“The superior rank of the عالم (Islamic)scholar over theعابد (common worshipper) is like my superior rank over the least significant  amongst you.” (At-Tirmidhi)

In the light of  discussion it should be clear that acquiring knowledge is  more  worthwhile than engaging in worship., However, knowledge without worship is like dust scattered by the wind. Knowledge is like a tree, while worship is like the fruit.

The  tree has stature but the benefit is in the fruit! Both are indispensible, and inseparable.completing and complementing each other.

Imam Hasan al Basri is reported to have said,

أَطْلُبُوا الْعِلْمَ طَلَبًا لاَ يَضُرُّ بِالْعِبَادَةِ واطلبوا هذه العبادة طَلَبًا لاَ يَضُرُّ بالعلم

“Seek knowledge in such a way that it does not harm worship, and seek worship in such a way that it does not harm knowledge.”

Therefore, authentic knowledge necessarily supersedes worship and in fact it noursihes the roots of true worship.

It is narrated by Abu Nuaim, Al-Khatib Al-Baghdadi and Ibn-Al Qayyim among others:

العلم امام العمل تابعہ  یلھمہ السعدائ ویحرمہ الاشقیا

( یعز الی ابی نعیم والخطیب وابن القیم فی من اخرجہ موقوفا وعند ابن عبد البر مرفوعا وقال حدیث حسن ولکن لیس لہ اسناد قویّ)

“Ilm (knowledge) is the Imam of amal (righteous actions). The fortunate are inspired (to acquire) it, and the unfortunate are deprived of it!”

May Allah Ta’ala, out of His bounty, include us among those fortunate and the inspired. Ameen!

To be continued Insha’Allah…

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