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'Ilm - Gotta Have It

Muhammad Alshareef

category: Knowledge


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I was sleeping one morning when it was exam week at the University of Madinah, and my wife came in the house with a startle. I heard crying coming from our Bulgarian neighbors’ apartment. When my wife came into our apartment she had tears in her eyes. It was the kind of crying that when I saw those tears, I knew that her father must have died. And she didn’t say it first, I even asked it. I said, "Has your father died?" And she said, "No," and then she said, "Shaykh Bin Baz rahimullahu ta’aala passed away."

There is not a single family member of mine that I have cried for more than I cried for Shaykh Bin Baz rahimahullah. You could have your own uncle die and you would not feel the sadness that someone would feel when Shaykh Bin Baz rahimullahu ta’aala died. On Friday, every single masjid in the entire kingdom gave their Khutbah on the death of Shaykh bin Baz rahimullahu ta’aala because of all the lives he had touched in his life. The sadness had swept all around Madinah Al-Munawwarah and all over the world.

I went to Masjid Qiblatain for Jumah salah. There was a very eloquent imam who lived there. He gave powerful khutbahs, but he never cried in them, except on this day. The first half of the khutbah was about the virtue of the ‘ulama and the importance of seeking knowledge. The second half of the khutbah was about Shaykh Bin Baz specifically, rahimullahu ta’aala. When the shaykh announced the news and said, "The death of..." he started crying at that moment. And I noticed that almost every single khateeb at the Ka’bah, and all these places, when they would give the news of the death of the shaykh, rahmiullahu ta’aala, they would all start crying at that moment. In fact, on ‘Idaatul Qur’an Al-Kareem, a Qur’an station in Saudi Arabia, there is an announcer who would often do fatwa questions and answers with Shaykh Bin Baz. He would be the one asking him the questions. On this day he was the one broadcasting the news of the janazah salaat at the Ka’bah and he himself broke down on the radio, and he could not perform his duty because of his crying on the radio. He could not make the words come out. *

PART II: Seeking Knowledge

It is a phenomenon in our community that we have a desire to learn about Islam, to learn about this deen. If we ask the question "Who wants to memorize the entire Qur’an?" almost everybody will raise their hands. "Who wants to learn the Arabic language?" "Who wants to learn the fiqh of the deen?" Everybody will raise their hands. And with that raising of the hand, good news will happen. You’ll say, "Oh, there is an Arabic class coming up, you’ll be able to fulfill your dreams!" But those same people who raised their hands will say, "Sorry, but I’m a little bit busy you know," and the hands come down. "And there’s a Qur’an class!" and they say, "Oh, you know, I have my exams coming up, I can’t really do it right now," and the hands fall down.

If there is this thirst for knowledge and learning the deen, then why are we not coming forward with the opportunity? The table is set, and the invitation is sent out, and nobody comes to it. So if you come, you may see two or three brothers studying. Come to another halaqa, you may see six or seven brothers studying. There will be studying here and there, but they are very few in comparison to how big our community is.

Allah subhaanahu wa ta ‘aala says, and indeed this is a very powerful statement:

Say: Believe in it or do not believe…

It doesn’t matter; it is all for you. Many times you will see a celebrity become Muslim and it is as if we are so proud that they became Muslim. No, the pride is for that person who became Muslim. It is them who will benefit from their eman. Allah then says:

"…indeed, those who were given knowledge before it - when it is recited to them, they fall upon their faces in prostration. And they say, 'Exalted is our Lord! Indeed, the promise of our Lord has been fulfilled.' And they fall upon their faces weeping, and Allah increases them in humble submission." [Al-Isra’ 17/107-109]

At the end of our classes we take questions, and many times the questions are, "Are marshmallows haram?" or "What about the moon-sighting issue?" or "Are mortgages—" and so on and so forth. But an interesting person would raise his hand to ask the question, "What is the ruling on seeking knowledge on the deen?" The Prophet (sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam) said about it: "To seek knowledge of the deen is fard on every single Muslim."

Let it sink in, that it is fard. No one is giving you the different rulings. The Prophet (sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam) is telling us that it is fard to seek knowledge of this deen.

Is everything of this entire deen fard? No, because no one will be able to encompass all of that knowledge. But the scholars have said that there are certain portions of the deen of which the person will not be left alone or not be forgiven if they didn’t know these things. Of those things everyone must know are the things that they are directly involved with in their ibaadah. For example, a person has to make wudu for salah. A person cannot be Muslim, live his entire life as a Muslim, and say,"Oh, I just never learned to do wudu for salah." It is fard on him to learn how to make wudu, and he will actually be taken to account for not seeking how to make wudu. The same goes for salah. A person cannot say, "Oh, I’ve never learned Al-Fatiha, it’s been ten years and I never learned it, so I just recite it in English." A person will not be excused for this.

Al-Hasan Al-Basree said about the one who learns and acts upon his knowledge: "He is beloved by Allah, a friend of Allah, the cream of Allah's creation. Out of the inhabitants of the earth, he is the most precious to Allah. He answered Allah's call and invited others day and night to answer Allah's call and then did good. And he announces to the world, 'I am a Muslim'. This is the khalifah of Allah on earth."

Ibn Al-Jawzee radi Allahu anhu in his book Miftaah Daar As-Sa'aadah explains those aspects of knowledge which are fard for a person to learn. He mentions four:

Firstly, a person has to know usool al-eman al-khamsah. He has to know the principles and the pinnacles of our belief that are encompassed in the statement, "Aamantu billahi wa malaaikatihi, wa kutubihi wa rusoolihi, wal yawm al-akhir." A person has to know those principles.

Secondly, a person must have knowledge of the law of Islam. There is the fard of that which a person must perform like salah and the zakah, but similarly, if a person is dealing in business, it is fard for him to know what is Islamically correct and incorrect in his business transactions.

Say: the things that my Lord has indeed forbidden are shameful deeds, whether open or secret; sins and trespasses against truth or reason; assigning partners to Allah, for which He has given no authority; and saying things about Allah of which you have no knowledge. It is fard for a person to know this.

Finally, those interactions of a person when he deals with his family. He has to know what is fard upon him in regards to taking care of his wife and children. If a person doesn’t do this, those children and that wife can take this man to the Muslim judge and he can force him and take this away from him, because it is fard that he know that this is the law of Allah subhaanahu wa ta ‘aala upon him. Many times we will go to a workshop, seminar, or conference and come back satisfied that we got a little bit of knowledge. But this idea of being satisfied with what we have learned is not a characteristic of the people that came before us. Their satisfaction would never reach its fullest. They would always want to satisfy themselves more and more to get this knowledge.

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