The Islamic Excellence of Teaching
Allah said:… and that they may warn their folk when they return to them, so that they may beware. [Al-Qur’aan 9:122]
What is implied here is teaching and guiding them. And the saying of Allah And (remember) when Allah took a covenant from those who received the Scriptute, (He said): You are to expound it to mankind and not to hide it… [Al-Qur’aan 3:187] This ayat demands that those who are endowed with knowledge should teach it. While the verses that follow shows that it is Haraam to conceal it.
Allah said: …But verily, a party of them knowingly conceal the truth. [Al Quraan 2:146] And He also said: …He who hides it, verily his heart is sinful [Al-Qur’aan 2:283]
Allah praises the one who invites with knowledge. Allah said: And who is better in speech than he who invites to Allah and does good works… [Al-Qur’aan 41:33]
And the saying of Allah: Call unto the way of your Lord with wisdom and good exhortatlon, and reason with them in the better way… [Al Quraan 16:125]
Ali said that the Messenger of Allah said to him: If Allah guides a man through your help, it is better (for you) than red camels. [Bukahari and Muslim]
N.B. Red camels at that time were from among the people’s most precious possession. He also said: Whoever acquires knowledge and keep it concealed Allah will bridle him with a bridle of fire on the Day of Resurrection. [Abu Dawood, Ibn Majah, At-Tirmidhi]
He also said: Verily Allah, His angels, the inmates of the heavens and the earth, even the ant in its hole and the fish in the sea send salutation on the one who teaches good to the people. [Its chain is Hassan]. He said: If the son of Adam dies, all his works is stopped except three. A charity that is continuous, useful knowledge or a righteous child who supplicates for him. [Muslim]
The messenger of Allah said: Whoever guides or directs to good, then he gets the same amount of blessing as the one who does it. [Related by Muslim]
And Allah censures those who speak on His behalf without any knowledge and some of the scholars consider it an even more henious sin than shirk based on the following verse. Allah said: Say (O Muhammad): My Lord has only forbidden indecencies, those of them that are apparent, as well as those that are concealed, and sin and rebellion without justice, and that you associate with Allah in worship that for which he has sent down no authority, and that you say about Allah that which you do not know. [Al-Qur’aan 7:33]
Therefore, speaking on behalf of Allah without knowledge is the greatest sin with Allah and the one for which He will assign the severest punishment.
Clarifying what aspect of knowledge is a compulsion on every Muslim (Fard `Ain)
The messenger of Allah said: Seeking knowledge is a compulsion on every Muslim. This Hadeeth is referring to the knowledge of that aspect of the Deen that will save someone from the Fire. Therefore, what is important for each one of us is to be certain that we know what Knowledge is compulsory for each person to save himself from the Fire. Before discussing this, however, it is important to know that we must keep on doing righteous deeds until death, otherwise if any one changes then all the worship that he did before is going to be worthless. If a person fasts a long hot day and then breaks his fast a few minutes before Maghrib, then his fast is void. Likewise, if a person prays a long Salaat and before making Tasleem passes wind, his prayer is nullified.
Life may look like a long journey, but if a person apostatizes before the end, he loses everything, and all his deeds are rendered worthless and he would be subjecting himself to dwell in the Fire forever.
Allah said: Verily, Allah forgives not (the sin of setting up rivals in worship with Him but He forgives (sins) other than that to whom so ever He pleases… [Al-Ouraan 4:116] This verse establishes that Allah does not forgive shirk (i.e. setting up rivals in worship with Him),therefore the most important knowledge that a Muslim must seek is the knowledge of Shirk and all that relates to it, from Tawheed and `Aqeedah (beliefs) etc. It is mandatory on every Muslim to learn these aspects before anything else and not listen to those who say: “These are theoretical issues, instead keep busy with matters that have action.”
Our answer to them is that ‘Aqeedah (matters relating to Eemaan) is the greatest of all matters in Islaam because Eemaan comprises of the follawing three aspects (a) believing in the heart, (b) stating with the tongue and (c) acting with the limbs upon what is believed in and stated.
Know, my brothers and sisters, that all acts of worship would be rewarded based on what the heart intends for that particular action thus making it (the heart) the most important organ of the body. Belief is a practical matter because it is the action of the heart. The proof of this statement is the saying of Allah: …But He will call you to account for that which your hearts have earned…. [Al-Qur’aan 2:225]
This verse indicates what the heart earns. What is earned is the action and it is this that we will be called to account for. Therefore, we can conclude tbat the action of the heart, which is the beliefs present in it are the most serious action.
Is there not a difference between two persons who say. “Laa ilaha illa Allah” (there is no deity worthy of worship but Allah), while one has a heart filled with correct beliefs, and the other is a hypocrite who disbelieves in everything in Islaam? Surely there is, the first will go to Al-Jannah (Heaven) and the other will be in the lowest depth of the Fire of Hell. Why is this so? Because of the beliefs in his heart, which are its action.
The messenger stayed in Makkah for thirteen years inviting to ‘Laa ilaha illa Allah’, and all those things that relates to it, from Tawheed, ‘Aqeedah and Shirk. When the messenger sent Mu’adh to Yemen he said to him: You are going to a people who possess a Book, so let the first thing you call them to be to testify to ‘Laa ilaha illa Allah’ and if they acknowledge this, then tell them that Allah made obligatory on them five Salawaat every day… From the above examples we can conclude that knowing Allah and performing Tawheed of Allah is the most glorious knowledge in existence. Therefore, the most glorious action a person has to occupy and fill his heart with is knowing his Lord. The glory of any knowledge is based on the thing studied. Is there anything more glorious than Allah the Glorified? Definitely not. Therefore, the knowledge that relates to the study of Allah, what are His rights on us His creation, what He loves and what He does not would therefore be the most glorious knowledge there is in this universe.
Above we have proven what is compulsory knowledge for every Muslim, male or female to seek i.e. any knowledge that helps him or her to perfect their worship for Allah.
The knowledge that is compulsory can be classified as follows:
1 The first obligation on any Muslim who has reached the age of maturity is to learn about the Shahadah i.e. “There is no deity worthy of worship but Allah, Muhammad is the messenger of Allah” and to understand their meanings.
That knowledge which helps us to know Allah and teaches us His rights on us. This includes the knowledge of the ‘Tawheed of Allah’ in all its various forms i.e. Tawheed of Lordship, Tawheed of His Names and Characteristics and Tawheed of ‘Eebadah. It also includes any knowedge that would help us to understand anything that would negate any of the above aspects of Tawheed. This would fall under the category of Shirk. Every Muslim must learn about Tawheed and Shirk.
2 Knowledge of His Messenger, Muhammad . This includes understanding his purpose as a messenger, his rights on us, our relationship with him. This knowledge is important because through the messenger we learn how to worship Allah and perform His rights i.e. the messenger came to invite to tawheed and to fight mankind to keep away from worshiping other than Him.
Allah said: VeriIy we sent to each nation a messenger to invite to the worship of Allah and to avoid Taghoot.
3 Any knowledge which helps us to know about the other four fundamentat principles of the religion namely, Salaat, Zakaat, Fasting and Hajj. These are pillars of Allah’s deen and each Muslim must have knowledge about each one of them as soon as it becomes an obligation on him so that he can perform it as Allah wants him to.
4 That which is halaal and that which is haraam of social and business transactions that relates to anyone is also an obligation on him to know.
5 That knowledge which relates to the affairs of the heart, that which is praiseworthy and which every Muslim must try to develop and nurture, like patience, thankfulness, good character, truthfulness, sincerity, etc. and that which is blameworthy and which every Muslim must try to avoid because they are Haraam and therefore the can cause someone to be thrown into the Fire. Some examples of these are hatred, jealousy, pride, doing things for show, dishonesty, anger, enmity and miserliness, fol lowing the desires, etc.
As for knowledge which is Fard Kifayah; i.e. that which is a collective duty, meaning that it is not a duty on every individual, but if a group of individual undertakes to acquire this knowledge, all other individuals will be exempted from this duty, and the entire community will be free from negligence to acquire this branch of knowledge. If no one embarks on seeking this type of know1edge then the entire community is accountable.
Examples of this type of knowledge are:
- An in depth study of the Islaamic Law.
- Study of the basic sciences, industries and professions that are vital necessities for the welfare of the community like doctors of medicine, nurses, accountants, contractors, etc.
The Muslims have definitely gone astray in their understanding of their priorities as to which knowledge they must concentrate on and as such we find them put a priority on a knowledge that
is not compulsory on them to know about. The messenger warns us of this, he said: From among the potents of the Hour are (the following):
- Religious knowledge will be taken away (by the death of the learned men)
- Ignorance (of Religion) will prevail.
- Drinhng of Alcoholic drinks (will be very common).
- There will be prevelance of illegal sexual intercourse.
[Al-Bukharee: Vol 1 No. 80]
The messenger of Allah said: Allah does not take away the knowledge, by taking it away from (the hearts of) the people, but takes it away by the death of the religious learned men until when none of the (religious learned men) remains, people will take as their leaders ignorant persons who when consulted will give their verdict without knowledge. So they go astray and they will lead the people astray. [Al-Bukharee: Vol 1 No. 100].