To be a Lighthouse on a Stormy Night
Cordoba Academy on August 15, 2013 in Life and Islam, Studying The Sacred Sciences
According to the Shari’ah, a person is legally responsible based on two pre-conditions – puberty and sanity. Puberty, for the most part is clear; sanity, however, is another matter. Sanity is generally explained as the ability to tell right from wrong, good from bad and harm from benefit; according to such a criteria, it seems we are living in an age emerged in insanity. The dominant world culture seems to be one exported from the west, which seeks to homogenize the world into a single hedonistic society based on materialism, a culture that sees what is harmful for it as beneficial and what will benefit it as harmful; a culture where what is right and good is viewed as evil and wrong. Indeed the modern age is upside down.
In the past, Muslim communities were insulated from much of the influence of the disbelieving peoples but that changed with colonialization and the age of Empire. During that period we see the disbelieving nations dividing up the Muslim lands, dividing communities and spreading their influence through political manipulation and military might. In the last century, the fall of the empire was witnessed and many nations around the world gained their independence for the first time in generations. Unfortunately, this did not mark the end of colonialization. Today through the various forms of wide spread media, be it music, movies, television or the internet, the propaganda has taken its effect leaving much of the Muslim world looking into a polished façade of western life and longing for it. It is a sad reality that today many Muslims adore the West, imitate what they perceive as a western lifestyle and even make hijra to the lands of Kufr. Whether it is love, hope or fear, many Muslims today hold the western way of life in a sense of awe.
It seems as though the root of all diseases and maladies today is ignorance and the cure for ignorance is seeking knowledge, but it must be sought through its proper channels. Sacred knowledge is not to be looked for in the opinions of the masses; nor should its primary source be from that which has no life or intellect. Rather, sacred knowledge is to be taken from its people, those who have taken from those who have taken knowledge. The seeking of knowledge is not about accumulating and regurgitating information but taking in knowledge from the hearts of the scholars, understanding it well, and applying it in our lives. In this way, the student does not just become a receptacle of information but becomes an example of the Islamic manners and prophetic character he takes from his teachers. In this way (becoming an example), the circle (of learning, living according to the knowledge and then calling others by it) is again complete.
The seeking of the sacred knowledge is an obligation upon us as the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) commanded us, “Seeking knowledge is an obligation upon every Muslim.” Everyone is not required to become scholars or even students of knowledge but everyone is required to learn that which is personally obligatory upon them. There are many ayat of the Qur’an and Prophetic narrations extoling the seekers of knowledge. It is true that Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala) says,
“Are they equal, those who know and those who do not know?” (39:9)
“Allah will raise them by degrees…” (58:11)
The Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) said, “He who follows on a path in quest of knowledge, Allah will make the path of Jannah easy to him. The angels lower their wings over the seeker of knowledge, being pleased with what he does. The inhabitants of the heavens and the earth and even the fish in the depths of the ocean seek forgiveness for him. The superiority of the learned man over the devout worshipper is like that of the full moon to the rest of the stars. The learned are the heirs of the Prophet who bequeath neither dinar nor dirham but only that of knowledge; and he who acquires it, has in fact acquired an abundant portion.” (Abu Dawud and at-Tirmidhi)
Also, it is upon the Muslims to show honor and respect to the scholars of our deen, but what is more, as students of sacred knowledge, one should recognize the greatness and sacrifice of the scholars of this deen. If the seekers of knowledge do not recognize the loftiness, if those seeking to gain benefit from them and be connected to them do not honor them, how then can others be expected to do so?
With mentioning this however, we must also add a word of caution. It has been mentioned that the disease of this age is ignorance but be aware that there are diseases of the heart associated with seeking knowledge also, the prime diseases being pride, arrogance and self-righteousness. And know it only takes one ill-mannered student to act as an example to cause others to look down on other students, our scholars and even seeking sacred knowledge itself. Taking knowledge from righteous scholars goes a long way to shield one from this but the actual medicine is servitude. Students of knowledge should be active in serving their communities, cleaning the masjids and their neighborhoods, feeding the poor, etc. Allah said,
“And repulse not the beggar” (93:10)
And also, the prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace, told us, “One who strives to help the widows and the poor is like the one who fights in the way of Allah.” The narrator (Abu Hurairah) said: I think he also added: “I shall regard him as the one who stands up (for prayer) without rest and as the one who observes fasts continuously.” (Bukhari and Muslim)
Through this servitude that the heart is humbled and it is also through this servitude that the hearts of others are healed. This is a beneficial healing that spreads and opens the doors for da’wa . And it is spreading of the truth in word and deed that leads to the true healing of our societies.
Still, servitude and its effects can only be had and maintained with sincerity! Everything that we do should be for the sake of Allah alone. This knowledge, serving others and inviting to Islam must not be to acquire the fleeting things of this life. It is just such intentions that lead to the twisting of the message by those who should know better; that leads to the callers compromising well established manners and etiquettes for the sake of Da’wa.; that leads to Imams and scholars remaining silent in the fear of disobedience in order to displease their employers. Likewise, this knowledge, servitude and inviting to Islam must not be for the sake of feeding your ego. The Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) left for us a firm warning. On the authority of Abu Hurairah (radi Allahu anhu), the messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) said, “You will covet for getting a position of authority, but remember that it will be a cause of humiliation and remorse on the Day of Resurrection.” (Al-Bukhari)
We must ask ourselves, do we truly believe in Allah? That He has power over all things? That nothing can occur, good or bad, except by His will? That He hears those who call out to Him and He responds?
Do we believe that out of His mercy, He sent mankind guidance and that He revealed the Quran as a recital, a purification a healing, a mercy – but most importantly as a guidance for our lives? Do we believe that there is an answer to guide us found therein?
Do we believe that out of the mercy of Allah ta’ala, He sent the Messenger (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) was sent as a mercy to all creation and so every decision, every act, every word he uttered is from that mercy? That the prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) is the best example for those who believe in Allah and the last day.
Honestly, do we believe that there will be a life in the graves – of either punishment or ease? Do we believe we will be brought back to life again and stand before Allah for judgment? That there are only two outcomes, the mercy of Allah or His justice; Success or failure; Heaven or Hell? What are we sending forth before us?! The student must ask himself this and then act accordingly inward and outward, publicly and privately.
It is through the right action of the people of knowledge, scholars and students alike, that deep and lasting change can be effected. It is a duty upon them to be agents of change, ambassadors of Islam and beacons of light in these stormy times. We leave you with a reminder from Umar (Radi Allahu anhu) and an ayat to take as a “mantra.”
As for the words of sayyidina Umar (may Allah be pleased with him), he said, “We are a people Allah has raised in honor by Islam whoever seeks honor in other than it, Allah will humiliate them.”
And as for the words of Allah, to keep in your heart and upon your tongue, they are,
“Say: “Truly, my prayer and my service of sacrifice,
my life and my death are (all) for Allah,
the Lord of the Worlds.” (6:162)