Advice to Students of Knowledge

Being a Student of Knowledge: Looking at Some Fallacies

 

“Being a Student of Knowledge:

Looking at Some Fallacies

______

If Allah wants good (khayr) for a person then He undoubtedly grants him deep knowledge of the Religion (tafaqquh). Also, a person who sets out to seek sacred knowledge, Allah will lay a clear path to paradise for him.[1] The hadiths on knowledge and its virtues are many and the responsibilities too are many. However, a few attitudes adopted by students of Islamic knowledge have set in that need correcting because the arguments put forward, are at the core, un-islamic.  Some of these arguments and basic responses are given below:

[1] Argument

P1. ‘I’m studying Islamic knowledge.

______

C1. Therefore, I don’t have to do da`wa.’

Response:

  • Da`wa is an individual obligation ordained by Allah as much as one is able (i.e. according to his capacity).[2]
  • Studying does not excuse a person from da`wa – it is not an either or situation. Both must be combined although no doubt some basic knowledge is required and is essential to make da`wa effective and even possible.
  • One cannot pick and choose or prioritise da`wa based on one’s own preferences and convenience but the texts (Qur’an and hadith) must be examined to ascertain how obligations are prioritised or scaled.
  • Not all Islamic knowledge is mandatory to learn but da`wa is an individual obligation according to ability.

Dangers:

  • Leads to inactivity.
  • Leads to negligence of Allah’s religion.
  • Leads to evil overcoming Good.
  • Leads to the Truth being mute over falsehood.

[2] Argument

P2. ‘I’m studying Islamic knowledge.

______

C2. Therefore, I don’t have time for politics.’

Response:

  • Responses given in argument [1].
  • Islam and politics are not separated in as much as any other aspect of the religion, including its devotional (`ibadat) aspects. There is no secularism in Islam.
  • It is a serious failing to lack concern for the affairs of the Muslims.[3] A Muslim is bonded to his brothers and sisters by virtue of his creed and that brings with it duties and responsibilities, e.g. to support, protect, help, assist, be loyal and honour his fellow Muslim to mention but a few.
  • It is difficult to see how one can argue he is exempted from being concerned with the way Muslim affairs are administered and looked after (that is what ‘politics’ [siyasa] is) just because a person is studying. This kind of attitude creates silence over evils and wrongdoings (munkarat) and breeds inaction against it. Neither of which is permitted.
  • Allah’s punishment extends to a people who see injustice and evil and disregard it or do not attempt to stop it – the generality of the text includes the student of Islamic knowledge.[4] Thus, on account of either deliberately ignoring injustice or abandoning any recourse to changing it, Allah will send His punishment. Thus either of these actions would be unlawful.

Dangers:

  • Leads to a secular mind-set.
  • Leads to disloyalty against Muslims.
  • Leads to spread of corruption.
  • Leads to lack of change of the situation as well as inactivity.
  • Leads to Allah’s punishment.

[3] Argument

P3. ‘I’m studying Islamic knowledge.

______

C3. Therefore, I don’t have to command right and forbid wrong.’

Response:

  • Responses given in argument [1 & 2].
  • Commanding right and forbidding wrong (al-amr bi’l-ma`ruf wa’l-nahy `an al-munkar) is one of the most important obligations in Islam. It was the work of the Prophets and then those who followed them and is the defining quality of the Muslim ummah.[5]
  • Studying is not a reason to abandon the duty of trying to change the munkarat (‘evils’, ‘wrongs’) but more of a reason to understand its need and importance.
  • There is no evidence to show how one is excused from the duty of commanding right and forbidding wrong just because one is studying.

Dangers:

  • Leads to abandoning an obligation.
  • Leads to negligence of Allah’s religion.
  • Leads to evil overcoming Good.
  • Leads to the Truth being mute over falsehood.
  • Leads to sin.

 

We ask Allah to save us from our own ignorance.

s.z.c.


[1] For a discussion on the virtues of seeking sacred knowledge, see “The Virtues of Seeking Knowledge” at https://daralnicosia.wordpress.com/2011/05/02/the-virtues-in-seeking-knowledge/ 

[2] Allah states in Q.41:33: {And who is better in speech than he who [says: ‘My Lord is Allah (believes in His Oneness),’ and then stands firm (acts upon His orders), and] invites (all people) to Allah’s (religion), and does righteous deeds and says: ‘I am one of the Muslims}. The Prophet (saw) commanded: “Convey from me even if it is (only) one ayah.” Bukhari, Sahih (#3461):

بلغوا عني ولو آية

[3] Although the following narrations have weaknesses, their meaning is sound:

[1] Whoever does not care about the Muslims is not one of them. See al-Tabarani’s al-Mu`jam al-Awsat, 1:29. al-Haythami graded it weak (da`if) in al-Majma` al-Zawa’id, 10:433.

 من لم يهتمَّ بأمر المسلمين فليس منهم

[2] “The one whose main concern is this world has nothing to do with Allah, and whoever does not have taqwa (fear, consciousness, awareness) of Allah has nothing to do with Allah and whoever does not care about the Muslims is not one of them.See al-Hakim, al-Mustadrak, 4:352. al-Hafiz al-`Iraqi graded it weak (da`if) in his takhrij (sourcing) of Imam al-Ghazali’s Ihya’ `Ulum al-Din, 2:180.

من أصبح والدنيا أكبر همه فليس من الله في شيء، ومن لم يتق الله فليس من الله في شيء، ومن لم يهتم للمسلمين عامة فليس منهم

See also “Not bothered about the Affairs of the Muslims” at https://daralnicosia.wordpress.com/2012/05/05/not-bothered-about-the-affairs-of-the-muslim/

[4] Abu Bakr al-Siddiq (ra) narrates: “O people, you recite this verse: {O you who believe! Take care of your own selves. If you follow the [right] guidance [and enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong] no hurt can come to you from those who are in error} (Q.5:105). But I heard the Messenger of Allah (saw) say: ‘If the people see an evildoer and do not take him by the hand [to put a stop to his evil], soon Allah will punish all of them’…”

يا أيها الناس إنكم تقرءون هذه الآية } يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا عَلَيْكُمْ أَنْفُسَكُمْ لا يَضُرُّكُمْ مَنْ ضَلَّ إِذَا اهْتَدَيْتُمْ { وإني سمعت رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم يقول : ” إن رأى الناس الظالم فلم يأخذوا على يديه أوشك أن يعمهم الله بعقاب منه

See Abu Dawud (#4338) and Tirmidhi (#2168) in their Sunans.

[5] For details, see “Imam al-Haddad: Commanding Right and Forbidding Wrong” at https://daralnicosia.wordpress.com/2011/05/02/imam-al-haddad_commanding-right-and-forbidding-wrong/ 

2 thoughts on “Being a Student of Knowledge: Looking at Some Fallacies

  1. asalamukum w w brother I had heard about you from a few people in a positive manner and by conincidence came across your website. I would be grateful if you could email me. May ALLAH SWT bless your work ameen.

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