Motivation to Seek Knowledge

“هَلْ يَسْتَوِي الَّذِينَ يَعْلَمُونَ وَالَّذِينَ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ”

“Are those who know equal to those who know not?”

[al-Zumar:9]

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“Knowledge does not cease to be a great legacy in which people of nobility follow one another, generation after generation. For those who seek out things of high value, there is no other concern but this, and no desire for any other goal besides this. How could it not be so, when the happiness of both worlds and the good of both lives are achieved by getting it!?

It is the honour of everything that exists, and the light of every peak and valley. It is the adornment of the greats, and the pleasure of those who behold it. Whoever is inclined toward it is blessed, and whoever carries it around with them has gained a great prize, and whoever acts according to it will be safe.

If it were a product that was sold, huge amounts of money would be spent on it, and if it were high up in the sky, the people of nobility would have risen up to it. Out of every marketplace, it is the most profitable, and out of every source of pride, it is the most honourable. Achievements in it are the most noble of achievements, and its resources are the most praiseworthy of resources. The eternally happy is the one who spurs himself to seek it, and encourages the journeying of his soul towards it; while the wretched is the one who turns away from it or he makes others do so, and distances himself from it, or makes others do so. His nose is blocked from the fragrance of knowledge, and his neck is sealed with the words ‘This is a slave who is bereft’.

Knowledge enters the heart of every successful one; without any doorman or seeking permission;

And the bereft repels it due to his failure; O Allah! Do not make us wretched by prohibiting us from it!”

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– Except from the translation of  تَعْظِيْمُ الْعِلْم by Shaykh Salih al-’Usaymi

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“Allaah has praised knowledge of the Sharee’ah and the people of knowledge, and has encouraged His servants to seek this knowledge, inclusive of the authenticated Sunnah, and equip themselves with it.

So seeking knowledge is amongst the most superior and virtuous acts as it is also amongst the most superior and honourable acts of worship. This is because it is a type of ijtihaad in the path of Allah..

…Knowledge is light with which one is guided, and with it removes one from the darkness (of ignorance) to light (of knowledge, i.e. Islaam). With knowledge, Allaah raises the ranks of whom He wishes from His creation:

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يَرْفَعِ اللَّهُ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا مِنْكُمْ وَالَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْعِلْمَ دَرَجَاتٍ

Allah will exalt in degree those of you who believe, and those who have been granted knowledge

[Mujaadilah:11]

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Because of this, we find the people of knowledge at the centre of praise. Whenever mention is made of them, the people praise them. This is their status in this world. As for the Hereafter, then they will be raised to ranks according to that which they stood for in calling to Allaah and acting according to that which they knew.

Certainly, the true worshipper is he who worships his Lord upon sound knowledge, and the truth is made clear to him. This is the path of the Prophet, just as Allaah says:

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قُلۡ هٰذِهٖ سَبِيۡلِىۡۤ اَدۡعُوۡۤا اِلَى اللّٰهِ ​ؔعَلٰى بَصِيۡرَةٍ اَنَا وَمَنِ اتَّبَعَنِىۡ​ؕ وَسُبۡحٰنَ اللّٰهِ وَمَاۤ اَنَا مِنَ الۡمُشۡرِكِيۡنَ

Say: “This is my way; I invite unto Allaah with sure knowledge, I and whosoever follows me with sure knowledge. And Glorified and Exalted be Allaah. And I am not of the Mushrikeen

[Yoosuf:108]

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…It remains forever, whilst property is consumed then ceases to exist. So we have (the example of) Abu Hurayrah who was from amongst the poorest of the companions, such that he would become unconscious and collapse from extreme hunger. I ask you in the name of Allaah, does there exist mention of Abu Hurayrah amongst the people in our time or not? Yes, it does exist, and many fold at that! For he who benefits from his narrations of the Prophet there will be reward for Abu Hurayrah. Therefore, knowledge remains, whilst property is consumed then ceases to exist. So it is upon you O student knowledge, that you hold fast to the knowledge you possess, for it is confirmed in the narration of the Prophet who said:

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إِذَا مَاتَ ابنُ آدم انْقَطَعَ عَنْهُ عَمَلُهُ إِلَّا مِنْ ثَلَاثٍ: صَدَقَةٍ جَارِيَةٍ، أو عِلْمٍ يُنْتَفَعُ بِهِ، أَوْ وَلَدٍ صَالِحٍ يَدْعُو لَهُ

‘When a man dies, his actions come to an end, except for three: recurring charity, or knowledge by which people benefit, or a pious son, who prays for him’

[Saheeh Muslim]

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…With it one attains the ranks of the martyrs upon the truth; and the evidence is Allaah’s saying: 

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شَهِدَ اللَّهُ أَنَّهُ لَا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ وَالْمَلَائِكَةُ وَأُولُو الْعِلْمِ قَائِمًا بِالْقِسْطِ

Allaah testifies that Laa-Ilaaha illa Huwa (none has the right to be truly worshipped but He), and the angels, and those having knowledge; maintaining His creation in Justice..

[Ali ‘Imraan: 18]

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So did Allaah say: “Those with property”? No! Rather, He said: “those having knowledge; maintaining His creation in Justice”. So, proudly, it is enough for you O student of knowledge, that you seek to be from amongst those who testify in Allaah that none has the right to be truly worshipped but He (Laa ilaaha illa Huwa), and with the angels, who testify to the oneness of Allaah…

…That which occurs in the hadith Mu’aawiyah who said: The Messenger of Allah said:

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مَنْ يُرِدِ اللهُ بِهِ خَيْرًا, يُفَقِّهْهُ فِي اَلدِّينِ

‘Whoever Allah wishes good for, He grants him understanding of the religion’

[Saheeh al-Bukhaari & Muslim]

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…i.e. He makes him full of understanding in the Religion of Allaah.. And if there was no evidence from the Qur’aan or the Sunnah except this hadith relating to the virtues of seeking knowledge, then this would have sufficed in encouraging the seeking of knowledge of the Sharee’ah and the understanding of it.

Knowledge is light with which the servant seeks guidance, such that he knows how to worship his Lord, and how to interact with His servants, so that his path is built upon knowledge and insight based upon sound proofs.

The scholar is light with which people are guided in their religious and worldly affairs. No doubt many people know the story of the man from the tribe of Israa’eel who killed ninety-nine people, and then asked about the most knowledgeable person in the land, and he was directed to a pious man. He asked this man, if there was any (possibility of) repentance for him? So, as if the pious man became amazed at the enormity of his actions, he said: No! So the man killed this pious man and now his count became a complete hundred. Then he approached a scholar and asked him, and was told that there was (possibility of) repentance for him, and that there was nothing to stand between him and the repentance. He then suggested he travel to such and such a land where the people were upright and virtuous, so he left heading towards it, and death set upon him whilst he was in mid-journey. And the story is well known. So look at the difference between the scholar and the ignorant!”

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 – Excerpt from the translation of كَتابُ الْعِلْم by Shaykh Muhammad al-’Uthaymeen

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عِلْمٌ يُزِيلُ الشَّكَّ عَنْكَ وَالدَّرَنْاِعْلَمْ -هُدِيتَ- أَنَّ أَفْضَلَ الْمِنَنْ
وَيُوصِلُ الْعَبْدَ إِلَى الْمَطْلُوبِوَيَكْشِفُ الْحَقَّ لِذِي الْقُلُوبِ
جَامِعَةِ الْمَسَائِلِ الشَّوَارِدِفَاحْرِصْ عَلَى فَهْمِكَ لِلْقَوَاعِد
وَتَقْتَفِي سُبْلَ الَّذِي قَدْ وُفِّقَاِلِتَرْتَقِي فِي الْعِلْمِ خَيْرَ مُرْتَقَى

 – Excerpt from the poem القَواعِدُ الْفِقْهِيَّة by Shaykh Abdul-Rahman al-Si’di

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Know – may Allah guide you – that the best blessingIs knowledge that removes from you doubt and transgression
And exposes the truth to the soulAnd leads the slave to his goal (paradise)
So crave to understand the principlesThat gather the many scattered issues
So that, in knowledge, you can riseAnd be of those who attained the prize

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The virtues of knowledge are many, and it’s excellence is lofty. The Prophet has been reported to have said,

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فَضْلُ الْعالِمِ عَلَى الْعابِدِ كَفَضْلِيْ عَلَى أَدْناكُمْ

The virtue of the scholar over the worshipper is like the virtue of me over the least of you

{al-Tirmidhi}

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Allah also did not command the Prophet to ask for an increase in anything except in knowledge. Allah says:

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وَقُلْ رَبِّ زِدْنِي عِلْمًا

And say: “My Lord! Increase me in knowledge.”

[Taha:114]

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And supplication to Allah is from the greatest of worships and from the greatest means of the slave attaining what he desires.

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