Sunday, December 4, 2022
The Pursuit of Beneficial Knowledge
Author: Maria Armaghan
“The pursuit of knowledge is not carried on without six things which I shall inform you of through words that are clear
Ingenious acumen, fervent desire, patience, sufficient sustenance, the guidance of a teacher, and length of time." (Ali ibn Abi Talib رضي الله عنه)
This beautiful short poem is from the book Taleem-ul-Mutalim by Shaik-ul-Islām Al Zarnuji رحمة الله عليه, which is said to be originally written by Sayyidina Ali ibn Abi Tālib رضي الله عنه. This brief stanza packs a treasure of wisdom for every student of ilm-e-nafay (beneficial knowledge).
1. Sight of Mind
Ingenious acumen, the first element mentioned, refers to the ability to discern or understand things intelligently. Without this insightfulness, bundles of books cannot bring any benefit to a student of knowledge. In the Qur’an, Allah سبحانه و تعالى analogizes it to donkeys carrying books (Qur’an 62:5).
In a world that is fascinated by the volume of information, strive to build the “depth” of knowledge.
Likewise, if Allah سبحانه و تعالى has blessed you with intelligence, the most beneficial utilization of it is to seek and spread the knowledge of deen (religion/ prescribed way of living). Indeed, this acumen will make you the undefeatable flag-bearer of Islam, in these trying times.
2. Heart on Fire to Please Allah سبحانه و تعالى
Contextually speaking, here fervent desire means that one must have the thirst to please Allah سبحانه و تعالى. There can be a range of motives to obtain the other forms of knowledge, but the true knowledge of deen can only be achieved with this aspiration. A student of knowledge is not worthy of being called a student unless this flame of desire rages in his heart.
It is not the piles of books saved in the memory of a student that makes him virtuous in the sight of Allah سبحانه و تعالى. Rather it is the burning desire to attain the Raza (pleasure) of Allah سبحانه و تعالى that bestows him the esteemed rank.
3. Patience, Patience & more Patience
The great scholar Ibn Shihab al-Zuhri رحمة الله عليه said “whoever seeks knowledge in one go, it will leave him at one go. Rather, knowledge is only sought through the passing of nights and days.” Therefore, a student must have a firm intention and be patient throughout his journey of learning.
Scholars are successors of prophets; hence this knowledge can never be inherited through a “crash course”. A student of beneficial knowledge needs to be patient in following the guidance of teachers, attending classes regularly, and acquiring knowledge persistently.
Nonetheless, this patience will transform you and will enable you to make sustained efforts in all aspects of your life.
"Whoever takes a path upon which to obtain knowledge, Allah makes the path to Paradise easy for him." (Jami` at-Tirmidhi, 2646)
4. Independence of sustenance
A misconception about the students of deen is that they do not (or should not) focus on earning material resources at all. You have a strong desire to seek and spread beneficial knowledge, but you should also have enough to feed yourself and your family.
History offers us a plethora of examples from the lives of our esteemed scholars who were engaged in an economic activity besides their matchless efforts to learn and teach sacred knowledge.
Seeking halal sustenance is also obligatory for a believer. A person whose basic provision is constrained, cannot be fully productive in his quest for seeking beneficial knowledge. This financial independence also allows a student to learn, teach and advocate the true knowledge of deen more confidently and resourcefully.
However, it has been specifically highlighted that this engagement in economic activity should be only to the extent of meeting the primary needs. Wealth maximization must not be a goal for a seeker of knowledge.
5. Teachers are the Guiding Stars
Strangely, we live in a world where Google and YouTube are considered sufficient for learning anything, anytime. However, the learning of beneficial knowledge is incomplete and deficient without the guidance of a teacher.
No matter how many books and resources are in your access, nothing can replace the mentorship of a teacher. To pursue the beneficial knowledge that can bring societal change, you must enroll with credible institutes and with knowledgeable teachers.
The guidance of a teacher will not only make your pursuit of knowledge easy but can also enable you to realize your full potential.
"By the pen and what everyone writes!" (Quran 68:1)
6. Give it Time
In this day and age, we often hear “knowledge is now a commodity”. But this will never be true for ilm-e-nafay (the beneficial knowledge).
You may be able to acquire stacks of information in no time but to seek the knowledge that paves the way to Jannah, you will always have to give time. Always know that with the greatest struggle comes the greatest reward.
Our beloved Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم has taught us that there are two blessings regarding which people are in deception: the blessing of having good health and free time. The best way to show our gratitude for the blessing of “time”, is to utilize it for a purpose that pleases Allah سبحانه و تعالى. Lest this blessing is no longer available to us.
What a dilemma it is that we never count hours while engaged in futile activities (shopping, games, entertainment)! But the commitment of 2 hours per week to learn the beneficial knowledge is a decision very hard to make for many of us.
Giving your time consistently for this knowledge is the best investment you can make today! The return on this investment will not seize to reach us even after death, as mentioned by our beloved Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم:
"When a man dies, his deeds come to an end except for three things: Sadaqah Jariyah (ceaseless charity); knowledge that is beneficial, or a virtuous descendant who prays for him." [Muslim]
Start your journey towards beneficial knowledge today, Learn more about i3 Institute