THE WAYS OF ATTAINING KNOWLEDGE 18
And the beneficial knowledge has certain ways and means by which it is obtained and certain paths that are taken in its acquisition and memorisation. Amongst the most important of them are:
Firstly: That the servant asks his Lord for the beneficial knowledge and that he seeks assistance by Him, the Exalted, and shows his need to Him. Allaah ordered His Prophet, Muhammad (PBUH) to ask Him that He increases him in knowledge, in addition to his knowledge. He, the Exalted said:
And say, “O Lord! Increase me in knowledge.” [Soorah Taa Haa (21):114].
And the Messenger (PBUH) used to say, “O Allaah, benefit me with what you have taught me and teach me that which will benefit me and increase me in knowledge.” [Reported by at Tirmidhee (5/578) and Ibn Maajah (1/92). Also refer to Saheeh Ibn Maajah (1/47)].
Secondly: And this is the greatest and the essence of them all - sincerity in seeking the knowledge. The Messenger (PBUH) said, “Whoever learnt knowledge by which the Face of Allaah is to be sought, but does not do so except for attaining a goal of this world, (he) will not smell the fragrance of Paradise on the Day of Resurrection.” [Reported by Aboo Daawood with his wording in Kitaabul-Ilm and Ibn Maajah in his introduction (1/93). Refer also to Saheeh Ibn Maajah (1/48)].
Thirdly: Striving and exerting oneself in seeking knowledge, having keen interest for it, having a true desire in which the Pleasure of Allaah, the Most High, is sought and adopting all of the ways and means in seeking knowledge of the Book and the Sunnah. 19A man came to Aboo Hurairah and said, “I desire to learn the knowledge but I fear that I may waste it.” So Aboo Hurairah replied to him, “Your abandonment of learning it is sufficient in wasting it.” [Refer to Tafseerus-Sa'dee (5/194)].
For this reason one of the wise people, upon being asked, “What is the way by which knowledge is obtained?” answered, “With eagerness is it followed, with love is it listened to, with sole concern is it gathered, teach your knowledge to the one who is ignorant, and learn from the one who teaches, for if you do that, you will come to know that of which you were ignorant and you will memorise that which you (yourself) have learnt.” [Jaami Bayaanul-Ilm wa Fadlihi of Ibn Abdul-Barr (1/102,103)].
For this reason, Imaam ash Shaafi'ee (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:
“My brother! You will not acquire
knowledge except by six matters,
I will inform you of their detail with an explanation:
Intelligence, zeal, striving, competence/proficiency
The companionship of a teacher ... and a long time!”
Fourthly: Avoiding all disobedience by having taqwaa of Allaah, the Most High, for that is the greatest of means of acquiring knowledge, as He, the Most High, has said:
Have taqwaa of Allaah and Allaah will teach you, and Allaah has knowledge of every single thing. [Soorah al-Baqarah (2):282].
And He, the Most High, also said:
O you who believe! If you have taqwaa of Allaah, He will grant you a criterion (to judge between truth and falsehood). [Soorah al-Anfaal (8):29].
This is clear and manifest proof that the one who has taqwaa of Allaah, He will grant him knowledge by which he will distinguish between truth and falsehood. For this reason Abdullaah ibn Mas'ood said, “Indeed, I consider that a man loses knowledge which he once had, due to a sin which he committed.” [Jaami' Bayaanul-'ILm wa Fadlihi of Ibn 'Abdul-Barr (1/196)].
Imaam ash Shaafi'ee (may Allaah have mercy on him) said, “I complained to Wakee' about the poorness of my memory. So he directed me to abandon disobedience. And informed me that the knowledge of Allaah is light. And that the light of Allaah is not given to the disobedient.” [Deewaanush-Shaafi'ee (p.88). Refer also to Al- Jawaab al-Kaafee of Ibn al-Qayyim (p.104).]
Imaam Maalik said to Imaam ash-Shaafi'ee (may Allaah have mercy on them both), “I see that Allaah has placed light in your heart so do not extinguish it with the darkness of disobedience.” [Al-Jawaab al-Kaafee of Ibn al-Qayyim (p.104)].
Fifthly: Being neither shy nor arrogant in seeking knowledge, and this is why 'Aa'ishah, (may Allaah be pleased with her), said, “How excellent are the women of the Ansaar, shyness/modesty does not prevent them from understanding the religion.” [Reported by Bukhaaree in Kitaabul-Ilm].
Umm Sulaim, (may Allaah be pleased with her), said, “O Messenger of Allaah! Allaah is not ashamed of the truth, so is it necessary for a women to make ghusl when she has a wet dream?” The Prophet (PBUH) said, “If she sees the fluid.” [Reported by Bukhaaree in Kitaabul- Ilm].
Mujaahid said, “The shy person and the arrogant one will not learn the knowledge.” [Reported by Bukhaaree in Kitaabul-Ilm].And finally: Acting upon the knowledge. The Messenger of Allaah (PBUH) said, “A servants two feet will not move on the Day of Judgement until he is questioned about four (things). His youth-how he spent it; his knowledge-how he acted upon it; his wealth-how he earned it and how he spent it and his body-how he used/wasted it.” [Reported by at-Tirmidhee (2417) and see Saheehut-Targheeb wat-Tarheeb (1/126)].
He (PBUH) also said, “A man will be brought on the Day of Judgement and will be thrown into the Fire and his entrails will pour out. It will be said, Did you not used to order the good and forbid the evil?' He will say, ‘I used to command you with good and not do it myself and I used to forbid you from evil and do it myself.” [Reported by Bukhaaree (3094) and Muslim (2989).
18 From AL-Hikmah fid-Da'wah Ilallaah, (pp. 50~53) of Sa'eed ibn 'Alee ibn Wahf al- Qahtaanee, with modifications and additions.
19 Such as buying books and cassettes, connecting with the people of knowledge from Ahlus-Sunnah, not Ahlul-Bid'ah, attending their gatherings, talks and conferences, travelling for the sake of knowledge and other such efforts. Refer to Chapter Eleven: The Methodology of a Muslim.