ETIQUETTES OF SEEKING KNOWLEDGE – I

ETIQUETTES OF SEEKING KNOWLEDGE – I

Abu Rifa‘ah, May Allah be pleased with him, came to the Prophet  sallallaahu  alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention )  while he was delivering a Khutbah (sermon) and said, “O Messenger of Allah, I am a stranger who came to ask about matters of his religion because he does not know about his religion.” The Messenger of Allah  sallallaahu  alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention )  looked at him, stopped delivering the Khutbah and went to him to teach him the religion until he knew and understood. After that, the Prophet  sallallaahu  alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention )  continued his Khutbah.

After the death of the Messenger of Allah  sallallaahu  alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention )  Ibn ‘Abbas was keen on asking the Companions  may  Allah  be  pleased  with  them about the sayings of the Messenger of Allah  sallallaahu  alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) . Whenever he learned that there was a man who knew any Hadeeth of the Messenger  sallallaahu  alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention )  he would go to him and if he found that man sleeping at noon, he would sit at the door. He would wait for him until he woke up to the extent that he would be covered by the sand of the desert because of the wind.

When the companion would go out to meet Ibn ‘Abbas  may  Allah  be  pleased  with  himhe would say to him: “O cousin of the Messenger of Allah  sallallaahu  alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention )  why did you come? You should have sent someone for me and I would come to you.” Ibn ‘Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, would say: “No. I am the one who should come to you to ask you about the Hadeeth.” [Al-Haakim]

Knowledge has a great status in Islam as the first verse that was revealed called for learning. Allah The Almighty Says (what means): {Recite in the name of your Lord who created-}[Quran 96:1]

Allah The Almighty Swore by the very tool of writing, the pen, as He The Almighty Says (what means): {Nun. By the pen and what they inscribe,} [Quran 68:1]

The Sunnah of the Prophet  sallallaahu  alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention )  confirms the lofty status of knowledge and this is why it made the way of seeking knowledge one way of entering Paradise. The Prophet  sallallaahu  alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) said: “Whoever follows a way to seek knowledge, Allah will make easy for him a way to Paradise.” [Al-Bukhari, Abu Dawood and At-Tirmithi]

Moreover, the reward of knowledge reaches the deceased and it never stops. The Prophet  sallallaahu  alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention )  said: “When a person dies, his deeds will all come to an end except for three: continuous charity, knowledge from which people derive benefit, and a righteous child who would supplicate Allah for him.” [Muslim]

The angels surround the seeker of knowledge with their wings as Safwan Ibn ‘Assal Al-Muradi  may  Allah  be  pleased  with  him said: “I came to the Prophet  sallallaahu  alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention )  while he was in the mosque reclining on a red cloak of his and I said to him, ‘I came to seek knowledge.’ He said, ‘Welcome seeker of knowledge. Indeed, the angels surround the seeker of knowledge with their wings.” [Ahmad and At-Tabarani]

Knowledge is divided into communal and individual obligation. There are some aspects that every Muslim should know such as what Muslims should know about their Lord, religion and Prophet  sallallaahu  alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) . Communal obligations relate to knowledge of scientific specializations that some Muslims should learn in order to meet the needs of the society such as industry, agriculture, medicine and other fields of everyday life.

Knowledge is the path that Muslims take to know Allah The Exalted as He should be known. For this reason, those who have knowledge are those who fear Allah The Almighty the most. Allah The Almighty Says (what means): {Only those fear Allah, from among His servants, who have knowledge.}[Quran 35:28]

There are etiquettes for seeking knowledge that one should adhere to and they are:

• Sincerity: The one who seeks knowledge should have a sincere intention and should not do so for the love of fame or dominance. The Prophet  sallallaahu  alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention )  said: “Actions are based on intentions and every person will be rewarded according to what he has intended.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

The Prophet  sallallaahu  alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention )  also informed us that “Among the first category of people who will enter Hellfire on the Day of Resurrection is a man who acquired knowledge and taught it (to others) and recited the Quran. He will be brought to Allah Who Will Make him recount His Blessings and he will recount them. Then Allah Will Ask him, ‘What did you do with these blessings?’ He will say, ‘I acquired knowledge and taught others, and recited the Quran seeking Your Pleasure.’ Allah The Almighty Will Say, ‘You have told a lie for you only acquired knowledge so that you may be called a scholar and you recited the Quran so that people would say ;He is a reciter’ and such has been said.’ Then orders will be passed against him and he will be dragged with his face downward and cast into Hellfire.” [Muslim]

• Seeking beneficial knowledge: The Messenger of Allah  sallallaahu  alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) used to say in his supplications: “Allahumma innee a‘oothu bika min ‘Ilmin la-yanfa‘, wa ‘amalin laa yurfa‘, wa-min du‘aa’in laa yusma‘ (O Allah, I seek refuge with You from knowledge that does not benefit, deeds that are not accepted and a supplication that is not answered.)” [Ahmad, Ibn Hibban and Al-Hakim]

• Devoting one’s time for seeking knowledge: It was said, “You cannot gain some knowledge until you devote all your time.” The righteous predecessors used to appreciate knowledge and devote their time to it. This is because knowledge is vast and life is short. It was said, “Seek knowledge from the cradle to the grave.”

• Purifying the soul from bad morals: Beneficial knowledge is a light Granted by Allah The Exalted in the hearts of His pious slaves and He Does not Grant it to those who have bad behavior and corrupt morals. Thus, a Muslim who seeks knowledge should avoid envy, showing off, and all other reprehensible acts and bad morals.

• Seeking knowledge at an early age: It was narrated that the Prophet  sallallaahu  alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention )  said: “Any young child who seeks knowledge and worships Allah until he grows up, Allah Will Grant him on the Day of Resurrection the reward of seventy-two steadfast affirmers of truth.” [At-Tabarani]

It was said, “Learning at an early age is like carving on stones.” The elders should not be shy in seeking knowledge. It was narrated that Qubaysah ibn Al Mukhariq  may  Allah  be  pleased  with  him said: “I came to the Prophet  sallallaahu  alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention )  and he asked me, ‘What has brought you here?’ I said, “I have grown old and my bones have weakened so I have come to you to teach me something that Allah Will Beneficent me with.” The Prophet  sallallaahu  alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention )  said, ‘You have not come upon a stone, a tree or even dirt except it has asked Allah for forgiveness for you O Qubaysah. If you pray the Fajr prayer, then say three times, ‘Subhaanallaah Al-‘atheem wa bihamdih (Glory be to Allah The Great, and with His Praise), you will be healthy from blindness, leprosy, and paralysis. O Qubaysah, say: ‘O Allah, I ask You for what You Have, Be Generous with Your Favors upon me, Spread Your Mercy over me, and Descend Your Blessings upon me.’”[Ahmad]

• Working does not prevent seeking knowledge: Many of the Companions  may  Allah  be  pleased  with  them used to work. They would seek knowledge for the remainder of the day after returning from their work. They used to stay up late at night to study the Quran and Hadeeth.

It was narrated that Abu Sa‘eed  may  Allah  be  pleased  with  him said: “We used to go to battles and leave one or two men to listen to the Hadeeths of the Messenger of Allah  sallallaahu  alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) . When we would return, they would tell us the Hadeeths that they learned from the Messenger or Allah  sallallaahu  alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention )  then we would narrate these Hadeeths. [Ibn ‘Asakir] Hence, it is permissible to combine seeking knowledge and working and seeking sustenance from the Bounties of Allah The Exalted.

• Having patience and tolerance: A Muslim should be patient when facing difficulties and seeking knowledge as patience is the provision of the believers and it helps them endure the hardships and pain that they face. It was said, “The one who does not endure the humiliation of seeking knowledge for an hour, will remain in the humiliation of ignorance until the Hour (i.e. Day of Resurrection).”

• Seeking knowledge gradually: The one who seeks knowledge should start with the basics and preliminary sciences before diving into it. And this should be according to the directions of his teachers. One should be diligent to know all sciences and not to leave any of them.

Yahya ibn Khalid  may  Allah  have  mercy  upon  him said to his son: “You should learn some of each branch of knowledge as man is the enemy of anything that he is ignorant of and I would hate for you to be an enemy of any branch of knowledge.”

To be continued…

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