Series: In the Light of Sunnah, In the Footsteps of Our Salaf – Part 6 – Knowledge in Islam (Continued)—

  • by

                             من یرد اللہ بہ خیرا یفقہہ فی الدین

    In the last two issues the position of علم (knowledge) and عبادۃ  (servitude to Allah) has been dealt with, and the supremacy and priority of علم was also mentioned.

    In further elucidation to this point, Imam Ghazali has explained that علم must precede عبادۃ for two reasons.

    Firstly, to acquire خشیۃ اللہ (a comprehensive term which includes Allah’s reverence, awe, fear). For he who does not know Allah as He should be known, will not revere, nor fear Him as He deserves to be revered and feared, nor will he obey and worship Him as He deserves to be obeyed and worshipped.

     Therefore true, beneficial knowledge (العلم النافع) will lead to خشیۃ اللہ which is the key to the door of all forms of Allah’s obedience, and the guard from all forms of Allah’s disobedience.

              انما یخشی اللہ من عبادہ العلماء (فاطر۴۸ )

 “Only those will fear, revere, and stand in awe (یخشی) of Allah, from among Allah’s servants, who are endowed with (true) knowledge (and understanding)- علماء

Secondly, علم must precede عبادۃ to know, firstly, what عبادۃ is and what is its scope. Then, secondly, to know how to perform it, and thirdly, how to protect it from being ruined.

Having made that statement, let’s look at some specifics of علم that we will need to acquire by Allah’s Towfiq and Favour.

The sum total of the علم that we require is of two categories:

1.     علم التوحید والعقائد  (the knowledge of Allah’s Oneness, and proper beliefs). This includes the knowledge of the Names of Allah and His Attributes, what must be attributed to Allah, and what must NOT be attributed to Him. Similarly the proper beliefs concerning all other branches of faith such as Prophethood, Divine Revelation, Angels, the life hereafter etc.
        If this knowledge is not acquired there is a serious risk of wrong belief in any of these areas, or innovation (
بدعۃ) in which case, Allah forbid, the عبادۃ of a lifetime may be ruined and nullified.

2.     علم الشریعۃ (knowledge of Islamic law pertaining to all our activities). As previously mentioned this branch will enlighten us as to what Allah’s عبادۃ is, its forms, its scope, how to perform it, what nullifies it, what are the commandments, what are the prohibitions etc.


This category (علم الشریعۃ) is of two branches:

1.     احکام اعمال الظاہرۃ The injunctions concerning the outward actions, e.g. Purity, prayer, fasting etc (….طہارۃ ، صلوۃ ، صوم) and what spoils, or negates them, or renders them non-conforming to Sunnah.

2.     احکام اعمال الباطنۃ The injunctions concerning inward actions, the actions of the heart. This includes the praiseworthy e.g. Purity of intention, dependence on Allah, Patience (الاخلاص ، التوکل ، الصبر) and blameworthy e.g. Pride, show of actions, displeasure with that which Allah has ordained etc (الکبر ، الریاء ، السخط). Just as Allah has ordained Salah, Sawm etc, He has also ordained the proper actions of the heart, and prohibited their opposites and all undesirable actions and traits emanating from the heart. Ponder over these ayats:

وعلی اللہ فتوکلوا ان کنتم مومنین (المائدۃ ۴۳ )

“and upon Allah (alone) place your trust and dependence if indeed you are (true) believers!”

واشکروا اللہ ان کنتم ایاہ تعبدون(البقرۃ ۱۷۴)

“and be thankful to Allah (observe Shukr) if in fact it is He whom you serve and worship!”

واصبر وما صبرک الا باللہ ( النحل ۱۴۷)

“observe patience (sabr) and not will your patience (be possible) except by Allah’s (will)”

وتبتل الیہ تبتیلا (مزمل ۷) (ای اخلص لہ اخلاصا)

“and devote yourself to Him in complete devotion”

In all of these ayats the explicit order is given for توکل (trust and dependence), شکر (gratitude to Allah), صبر (patience for the sake of Allah) and تبتل (sincere devotion) and all are actions of the heart. So just as Allah has ordered and made فرض (compulsory) outer forms of worship, He has also made فرض inward actions, while prohibiting others just as He has prohibited lying, fornication, intoxicants, etc.

It often happens that someone gives full attention to outward injunctions such as Salah, Saum etc, while oblivious to inward injunctions such as arrogance, pride, show, jealousy, whereas both categories have been ordained by the same Allah, and are found in the same Quran!

Perhaps someone is persistent in an inward disobedience such as jealousy, show, love of the world, while at the same time he is abstaining from permissible food, drink and sleep for the sake of Nafil نفل (non-obligatory) fasting and late night prayers and outer worship. So while thinking himself to be in gain he is actually in loss! And what is more severe and disastrous is if he is entertaining the hope of acceptance and reward, and considering himself safe and secure, and in doing so he considers that he is harbouring “good expectations” (حسن الظن) from Allah Taala, whereas such hope and security in such a scenario is actually vice not virtue!

Similarly he may express to Allah his anxiety and anguish thinking it to be supplication to Allah (تضرع) whereas, in reality it is his expression of displeasure with Allah’s decree (سخط).

Worst of all he may engage publicly in what he considers to be praise to Allah and inviting people to Allah (الی اللہ الدعوۃ) while in reality it is nothing but show and love of fame and acceptance of the public!

In all of these scenarios there may be an ignorant hope for reward, whereas there should have been fear of punishment! This deception and negligence is among Satan’s most effective strategies for beguiling the ignorant religiously inclined.

Such is the result of not acquiring the necessary and required knowledge on a priority basis! May Allah save and guide us all- Ameen- to be continued InshAllah


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *