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How to Purify the Intention when Seeking Knowledge

Posted on: March 28, 2011


In The name of Allah,The Most Merciful,The Most gracious

How to Purify the Intention when Seeking Knowledge

With regards to how to attain ikhlaas(having purity of intention and sincerity) in your seeking knowledge, Shaykh Muhammad ibn Saalih al ‘Uthaymeen rahimahullaah states:

So if someone says to you: How does ikhlaas in seeking knowledge come about? It comes about through a (number) of matters:

1 – It is that in doing that (seeking of knowledge), you have as your intention that you are complying with Allaah’s command because Allaah, the Most High, commanded with that (seeking of knowledge).
So He said:
Have knowledge that none has the right to be worshipped except Allaah. And seek forgiveness for your sin.
Soorah Muhammad (47) aayah 19 And he sall Allaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam encouraged (us) upon knowledge; and encouraging upon a matter necessitates loving it and being pleased with it and commanding with it.

2 – It is that in doing that, you intend to preserve the Sharee’ah of Allaah, because preserving the Sharee’ah of Allaah occurs through learning, and it comes about through preserving (it) in the chests (of people), and it comes about through writing down, writing down the books.

3 – It is that in doing that, you intend to protect the Sharee’ah and defend it, because were it not for the people of knowledge, then the Sharee’ah would not have been protected and no one would have defended it. And therefore you find, for example, Shaykh ul Islaam ibn Taymiyyah and other than him from the people of knowledge who resisted and blocked the people of innovation and clarified the false and futile nature of their innovations, we see that they (these people of knowledge) attained a great deal of good.

4 – It is that in doing that, your intention is to be following the Sharee’ah of Muhammad sall Allaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam because you are not able to follow his Sharee’ah until you have knowledge of this Sharee’ah.

The author (Imaam Al-Barbahaaree) rahimahullaah said:

And know, may Allaah have mercy upon you that knowledge is not in being able to narrate much and in having many books, rather the scholar is the one who follows the knowledge and the sunnahs (in some versions: the Book and the Sunnah) even if his knowledge and his books are limited and whoever opposes the Book and the Sunnah then he is a person of innovation, even if he narrates much and has many books.

Shaykh Saalih Al-Fowzaan hafizahullaah said in explanation of this point

His saying:

And know, may Allaah have mercy upon you, that knowledge is not in being able to narrate much and in having many books.

`Ilm (knowledge) is not in knowing many things and reading much and having many books. Knowledge is only through having fiqh (knowledge and understanding) and through ittibaa’ (following) and in ‘amal (action upon it), even if the person has only a little knowledge. So a small amount of knowledge along with righteous action and with correct understanding of the religion is something that is much. Whereas having a lot of knowledge with little action and without following, there is no benefit in it.

So the Jews have amongst them people of knowledge, they have rabbis and yet despite this their knowledge does not benefit them and they became those upon whom there is anger because they disobeyed Allaah upon knowledge and insight, so what is intended is not to have a large amount of knowledge and to have read many things, what is intended is action. This is what is intended by knowledge and this is the path of those upon whom Allaah has bestowed his favour. Just as He the Most High said (the explanation of which is),

‘Guide us upon the straight path, the path of those upon whom You have bestowed Your favour’ and they are the people of knowledge and action. ‘Not the path of those whom You are angry with’ and they are those who possess knowledge without action. ‘Nor the path of those who are astray’ [Sooratul-Faatihah, verses 6-7] and they are those who act without knowledge.

So therefore knowledge will not benefit unless it is with action and action will not benefit unless it is along with knowledge. So knowledge and action must be combined and this is the path of those who have favour bestowed upon them.

His saying: And rather the scholar is just the one who follows (applies) the knowledge and the sunnahs even if he only has a small amount of knowledge and of books. The scholar is only the one who follows the Book and the sunnahs even if he has only acquired a small amount of knowledge, contrary to the case of someone who has acquired a great deal of knowledge or who has many and various books, however he does not act, then this there is no benefit in it. Knowledge becomes much and it increases and it grows along with righteous deeds. As for knowledge without action then it is stripped of blessing and it will not remain.

And the people of knowledge are of two categories:

The first one: those who are scholars with the tongue only

The second one: those who are scholars with the tongue and with the heart and they are the people of al-khashyah (fear of Allaah). He the Most High said (the explanation of which is),

‘It is only those who have knowledge amongst His servants who fear Allaah’ [Soorah Faatir, verse 28].

So having knowledge and fear (of Allaah), these two are al-`ilmus-saheeh, correct knowledge. As for just knowledge of the tongue without fear of Allaah then this is the knowledge of the hypocrites, we ask Allaah for safety and security…

…Allaah the Most High said with regard to the Jews (the explanation of which is),

‘The example of those who were given the duty of acting upon the Tawraat and then they did not act upon it is just like the example of a donkey carrying volumes of books.’ [Sooratul-Jumu’ah, verse 5].

So the person who has a huge library but he abandons action or he is an innovator, his example is that of a donkey which carries books and does not benefit from them.

Taken from Shaykh Saalih Al-Fawzaan’s explanation of Sharhus-Sunnah of Imaam Al-Barbahaaree, translated by Aboo Talhah Daawood Burbank on 28th February 2011 during his Monday ‘aqeedah lesson.

With regards to the students of knowledge leaving off argumentation and accepting the Truth when it comes to them, Shaykh Muhammad ibn Saalih al ‘Uthaymeen rahimahullaah states:

And likewise (from the most important of matters) also is abandonment of argumentation and disputing because argumentation and disputing are a door to blocking the correct path.

For argumentation and disputing incite a person to speak and try to support himself only; even if the Truth is made clear to him, you will find him either rejecting it or else twisting it in a detestable manner, seeking to support himself and trying to force his opponent to take his statement.

So if you see argumentation and disputing from your brother, in that the Truth (in that matter) is something clear but he does not follow it, then flee from him as you would flee from a lion. And say, “I don’t have anything except this (information which I have told you)” and leave him…

So from those matters of importance for the student of knowledge is that he leave off argumentation and disputing and that he leave off those ideas which come to his mind; leave these matters and don’t be obstinate. Make your knowledge be something simple and easy – meaning (like) the Arab who came, he came upon his camel and asked the Prophet sall Allaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam about matters of the Religion, then he (the Arab) departed without arguing because he had nothing with him except tasleem (submission).

As for arguing and disputing and quarreling then this is something that harms the person.

And Allah knows best!

(Sharh hilyah taalib il ‘ilm p19 to 20 of Shaykh Muhammad ibn Saalih al ‘Uthaymeen rahimahullaah )

Translated by Aboo ‘Abdir-Rahmaan Naasir ibn Najam

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4 Responses to "How to Purify the Intention when Seeking Knowledge"

yeah I coulda wrote that better.. lol jk! I was really impressed with your blog and I must say, you are a pretty good writer my friend.

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an awesome article by a slave of Allah!
Jazaak-Allahu Khair!

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jazak Allah khair, it’s very nice article …

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Great, thanx. very instructive, as ever…

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