Allah (SWT) says in the Holy Qur’an in Surah Al Baqarah, “He grants wisdom (Hikmah) to whom He pleased; and to whom wisdom (Hikmah) is granted receive indeed a benefit overflowing; but none will grasp the Message but men of understanding” (2:269). This ayah, as well as others in the Holy Qur’an, illustrates to us the importance of knowing and understanding our beautiful religion. Without knowledge of our Deen we run the risk of falling into misguidance and innovation, and that misguidance could ultimately lead us to the Hellfire.
Allah’s Messenger (SAW) used to say in every Friday khutba, “The best discourse is the Book of Allah and the best guidance is the guidance of Muhammad, the Messenger of Allah, and the worst matter is that of innovation and every innovation is misleading.” Thus it is imperative we know that what we are practising and passing along to our children comes from the Qur’an and the Sunnah of our Prophet Muhammad (SAW). Allah has made it obligatory upon every believing individual, male and female alike, to have a basic understanding of our religion. Without posessing knowledge of our faith we ultimately harm ourselves and those whom we try to teach about Islam. We live in a time in which there is so much wrong information circulating about Islam and Muslims and within the Muslim world itself. It is therefore our responsibility as believers to make sure we are on right guidance for ourselves and for those who may want to know about our perfect Deen.
We must first and foremost set out on the pursuit of religious knowledge for the sake of Allah (SWT) alone, because the sin of an insincere seeker of knowledge is great. Call to mind the first three people to be thrown into the Hellfire. Narrated Abu Hurairah (RA): “…Then there will be brought forward a man who acquired knowledge and imparted it (to others) and recited the Qur’an. He will be brought, Allah will make him recount his blessings and he will recount them (and admit having enjoyed them in his lifetime). Then Allah will ask: What did you do (to requite these blessings)? He will say” I acquired knoweldge and disseminated it and recited the Qur’an, seeking Thy pleasure. Allah will say: You have told a lie. You acquired knowldege so that you might be called “a scholar”, and you recited the Qur’an so that it might be said: “He is a Qari” and such has been said. Then orders will be passed against him and he shall be dragged with his face downward and cast into the Fire…” (Sahih Musilim: Book 19, #4688).
A sincere seeker of knowledge, however, receives great belssings from Allah (SAW). Narrated Abu Hurairah (RA): Allah’s Apostle (SAW) said, “He who treads the path in search of knowledge, Allah will make that path easy, leading to Paradise for him and those persons who assemble in one of the houses (mosques) of Allah, recite the Book of Allah and learn and teach the Qur’an (among themselves). There will descend upon them tranquility, mercy will cover them, the angels will surround them and Allah will mention them in the presence of those near Him. (Sahih Muslim: Book 34, #6518).
Acquiring sound knowledge of Islam takes a lifetime of study, but the benefits gained from the sincere pursuit of that knowledge are immense. In a Hadith of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) it is said that if Allah (SWT) wants to do good to a person, He makes him comprehend the religion, the understanding of the Qur’an and the Sunnah. In another Hadith of the Prophet (SAW) we learn the superiority of a person who learns Islam and then teaches it to others.
Seeking Islamic knowledge is of great importance. We must do so sincerely, however, and with a pure heart. If we seek to gain religious knowledge sincerely, and only for the sake of Allah (SWT), He will reward us with a great and generous reward. We must always remember that we not only have a responsibility to our selves to learn our Deen, but we are responsible for teaching our children Islam, and for bringing Islam to non Muslims. That is why it is so important we teach only sound, reliable information from the Qur’an and Sunnah. If we cannot bring forth reliable evidence to enforce a piece of knowledge, then we must be silent. We have to then seek answers from a person who has already acquired such knowledge, and make sure that person is fully capable of imparting religious knowledge to others.
One of the signs of the Last Day is that religious knowledge will be taken away, and we will be taught by those who have no knowledge. Narrated Abdullah bin Amr bin Al-Aas (RA): I heard Allah’s Messenger (SAW) saying, “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 till 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 will go astray and will lead the people astray” (Summarized Sahih Al-Bukhari: Book 3, Chapter 24, #86).
I know that none of us wants to stray from the Straight Path, or lead anyone else from the Straight Path either. So we must try our best to acquire knowledge that is of benefit to ourselves, our children, and others. We must strive to be from the knowledgeable. Narrated Ibn Masud: I heard the Prophet (SAW) saying, “There is no envy except in two: A person whom Allah has given wealth and he spends it in the right way, and a person whom Allah has given wisdom (i.e. religious knowledge) and he gives his decisions accordingly and teaches it to others” (Sahih Al-BukhariL Volume 2, Book 24, #490).
Remember, once we have learned something we must pass it on to others. Narrated Abu Hurairah (RA): Allah’s Messenger (SAW) said: “When a man dies, his acts come to an end, but three, recurring charity, or knowledge (by which people) benefit, or a pious son, who prays for him (the deceased)” (Sahih Muslim: Book 12, #4005).
Say…”O my Lord advance me in knowledge: (Qur’an, 20:114). I pray Allah (SWT) makes it easy on all of us, and guides us all ever closer to the Straight Path. Amin.