Series: In the Light of Sunnah, In the Footsteps of Our Salaf – Part 8 – What Knowledge is Obligatory?

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Continuing on the subject of “what is fard” in العقائد و التوحيد علم we had discussed:

Firstly what is wajib regarding التوحيد علم (the knowledge of the oneness of Allah) and His names and attributes (الصفات  و اسماء).

Secondly, what is wajib regarding belief in الرسالة (the Prophet Hood of Rasulullah (SAW) and the Holy Quran).

If you will ponder over the معجزات  (miracles) of Rasulullah (SAW), the distinguishing signs of his نبوة and what has been established through sound narrations from the سيرة (biography) of Rasulullah (SAW) you would come to know with certainty that he is Allah’s عبد (slave) and رسول (messenger) and His امين (trustee) over His وحى (revelation) and مبلغ (responsible for its transmission) from his رب (Lord) to the creation.

Therefore, it is واجب (compulsory) to follow Rasulullah (SAW) and implement his orders, refrain from his prohibitions and to adopt his سنة (way) in all aspects of life, as he did not speak on his own accord; rather, he merely transmitted what Allah revealed to him

(٣٤النجم) “يوحى وحى الا هو ان الهوى عن ينطق ما و” and ordered him to convey!

And if you further ponder, you will find that the greatest of his miracles and the supreme proof of his (Prophet Hood) is Al Quran Al Kareem!

With this realization, you must develop an اعتقاد (belief) with يقين (certainty) as was the اعتقاد of our اسلاف (pious ancestors; Sahabah, Tabi’een and those who followed in their footsteps in the early generations of Islam) and our الائمة (scholarly and pious leaders), that:

Al Quran is Allah’s Kalam (speech, discourse) and emanates from the very صفة (attribute) of كلام (speech) which is a صفة (attribute) of Allah Ta’ala. And, just as Allah’s ذات (being) is eternal, without beginning or end, so are His صفات (attributes), without beginning or end. And just as Allah Ta’ala is الخالق (Creator) not مخلوق (created), so are His صفات, مخلوقة غير (not created). Therefore, as Al Quran is from the صفة of كلام of Allah, it also is مخلوقة غير (not created) and has been with Allah Ta’ala eternally!

This obviously does not include our recitation of the Quran, or its written or printed text in physical pages of books. Recitation, writing, printing and physical books are all creation. However, the original Quran, which has always been with Allah Ta’ala, that alone, is to be characterized as مخلوقة غير (not created).  

Thirdly, what is wajib regarding مغیبات (that which has been communicated to us regarding the unseen by Allah and His Rasool (SAW)):

 It is also imperative that we believe with certainty in all that has been established by the Quran and صحيح (authentic) احاديث (sayings of Rasoolullah (SAW)) regarding the unseen, as our اسلاف had believed, and to beware and avoid innovation in عقيدة (fundamental beliefs) and following the whims of the heretic who perverted the pure عقيدة (of Islam. For example:

        The ability of the people in Jannah to see Allah Ta’ala in Aakhira with their physical eyes even though that is impossible in this world


        That nothing takes place in this universe, even a fleeting thought of the mind, or a glance of the eye except by the قضى (decree) of Allah, His قدر (divine preordainment), ارادة (intent) and مشيئة (will) such as:

o   شر و خير  (good and bad)

o   ضرر و نفع  (benefit and harm)

o   كفر و ايمان  (belief and unbelief)


        That nothing is compulsory (واجب) upon Allah, or as regards His treatment towards any of His creation. Whom He rewards, it is by His فضل (favor) and whom he punishes, it is by His عدل (justice). Similar is the case in which He decrees favorable or unfavorable conditions for anyone or anything. He is not bound by anyone’s rules or logic! However, although  Allah’s decrees and judgments are not bound by anyone’s rules or logic, they are of course, all in line with His perfect and total Knowledge and Wisdom, whether we are able to comprehend that or not.


        The affairs of آخرة ( the Hereafter) such as:

o   نشر و حشر (resurrection and assembly for judgment)

o   القبر عذاب (punishment of the grave)

o   نكير و منكر سؤال (The questioning of the two angels; Munkar and Nakir in the grave)

o   الميزان (The scale of deeds on the day of judgment)

o   الصراط (The crossing of the bridge over Jahannum leading to Jannah)

Here it should be noted that it is not necessary for everyone to master the sciences of العقائد علم and go into fine details, nor is it necessary for every Muslim to be equipped with the same to refute the unbelieving or heretic factions and compel them to accept the proof of the true beliefs of Islam. That is a الكفاية على فرض that needs to be addressed by علماء (Religious Scholars) in every major locality. If such Scholars are available and discharge their duty, the responsibility will no longer rest on the entire locality.

However it is فرض on every Muslim to learn العقائد علم to the extent that his beliefs are correct. If a doubt or uncertainty arises in one’s mind concerning the الدين اصول (fundamental beliefs/principles of religion), and one fears that it may affect his عقيدة (belief) then he must seek to clarify the same by referring to the علماء (Religious Scholars) and such convincing resources (books etc.) that will remove the doubt and put his mind and soul at ease, and clarify and purify his beliefs.

As for the فرض of الشريعة علم, a very comprehensive but concise answer is: Whatever is wajib for you to do, or whatever lawful activities that you engage in, be it عبادات (acts of Worship) or معاملات (transactions and interactions) etc., it also becomes wajib for you to learn how to perform that act as per شريعة and سنة.


As regards القلب اعمال و الباطن علم (knowledge of the inner conditions and the actions of the heart):

Here again we must know what is required to do and what to abstain from so that we may, by Allah’s Tawfiq, acquire a consistent awareness and attentiveness towards Allah. Similarly we must all learn how to develop اخلاص (sincerity) and proper نيات (intentions) for all that we do, just as we all need to develop the inner qualities of our اعمال (actions/deeds) so that they become مقبولة (acceptable) to Allah.

 It is not واجب to learn the fine details of this branch of knowledge other than what is needed to safeguard ourselves and our اعمال from corruption, and the development of inner qualities that are required from us such as:

اخلاص, (Sincerity of intention) حمد, (praise of Allah) شكر, (thanks to Allah) صبر , (patience for the sake of Allah)توكل  (dependence on Allah) etc.

Thereafter, one must be on guard against condescending into disputes and arguments on deen as it is a disease instigated by Nafs and Shaitan.  Sayyidina Ka’b bin Malik narrates from Rasoolullah ((SAW)): “Who seeks علم (knowledge) to compete with the علماء or to dispute with the foolish or to draw the attention of the people towards himself, Allah will enter him into the fire!” (ماجه ابن ,الترمذى).

 As for the آية “(النحل ١٢٥) احسن هىى بالتى جادلهم و” and argue with them by which is better (in an excellent way)” that is to be handled by the علماء who specialize in that area and who are qualified, as a الكفاية فرض and even though for them it may be a واجب it is still extremely risky and requires not only deep rooted knowledge but an extraordinary kind of تقوى and اخلاص.

Therefore العلم طلب should be for understanding and الله الى التقرب (seeking closeness to Allah) and not a mere gathering of information, or acquisition of position, or to be mentioned by people.

Lastly, can the extent of the three branches of knowledge mentioned be acquired by one’s self without the guidance and assistance of an استاذ (teacher) or is an استاذ a must?

Let us reflect on the fact that he system of Allah for the تربية و تعليم (teaching and grooming) of His Prophets was التلقى ( to acquire knowledge from a teacher) via Sayyidina Jibril (alayhis salam)  (٥االنجم)“القوى شديد علمه “He (Muhammad (SAW)) was taught by the One mighty in power (Jibril).” Thereafter the Sahabah were taught by التلقى from Rasoolullah  (SAW), and each new generation of علماء was groomed and then approved by the former and granted سند و اجازة (permission and authority) to continue this process. In this way الدين علم has reached us and will انشاءلله continue until Qiyamah in the most excellent and accurate form.  

The Quran is clear in pointing to this methodology:

(٤٣ النحل) تعلمون لا كنتم ان الذكر اهل فسئلوا

“Ask الذكر اهل (those with knowledge) if you do not know”

(٨٣النساء) منهم يستنبطونه الذين لعلمه منهمالامر اولى الى و الرسول الى ردوه لو و

“and had they referred the matter back to the Rasool and those of authority, those vested with the task of investigating would have known (what course to be taken)

“Those vested with the task of investigation/research are the علماء (religious scholars) who are in a position of authority, as mentioned by Mufassereen (Learned and recognized commentators of the Quran), after a firm grounding and training and finally accreditation in the various branches of Islamic knowledge, both inward and outward, at the hands of qualified, capable and experienced teachers and mentors.

Thereafter, Allah Ta’ala may grant a special understanding and insight directly to whom He pleases as Sayyidina Ali RA stated when he was asked whether he had any special knowledge or information unknown to others. He replied, “Only an understanding of the Quran that Allah grants someone whom He pleases…!”

Imam Ibn Taimiah was known to pray while in Sajdah, “Oh teacher of Adam and Ibrahim, teach me!” (directly, as you did Adam and Ibrahim AS)

However that was after extensive and complete grounding and grooming by their اساتذة and مشائخ. In the case of Sayyidina Ali RA, directly from Rasool Allah (SAW), and in the case of Imam Ibn Taimiah, scores if not hundreds of the most illustrious مشائخ of his times!

After all said, still one crucial and key point remains, and that is; that even after the best of grooming and mentoring, the key to Allah’s treasure of knowledge is تقوى (taqwa) which is basically fear and reverence of Allah that empowers one to act upon His orders, and abstain from His prohibitions.

 (٢٨٢ البقرة) الله يعلمكم و الله اتقوا و

“Adopt Taqwa towards Allah, and Allah will teach you!”

In a narration it is mentioned: “That if one will act upon his knowledge, Allah will grant him knowledge that he knew not!”

Finally let us reflect on the well-known dua of Rasool Allah ((SAW)):

!…ينفع لا علم من  اعوذبك انى اللهم

“Oh Allah I seek refuge with you from knowledge that does not benefit…!”

Knowledge which does not benefit may be one of two;

1.     Knowledge which itself is non-beneficial and has no place or scope for عمل (action) like magic, astrology etc.

2.     Knowledge which itself is beneficial, however one does not avail of عمل  upon it, and rather than benefiting it would rather harm and be an argument against him in the court of Allah.

May Allah Ta’ala by His special mercy and grace, grant us all beneficial knowledge and the Taufiq to act upon it– ameen!!


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