Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) said, “The world, with all that it contains, is accursed except for the remembrance of Allah that which pleases Allah; and the religious scholars and seekers of knowledge.” [At-Tirmidhi]
Ulama write in the commentary of this Hadith: “It does not mean that this world, and whatever is in it, is really cursed. What it in fact means is that such things of this world are cursed which make a person negligent of the remembrance of Allah; or it is cursed for those who in their whole life do not remember Allah.” The following famous saying by Maulana Yusuf Kandhalwi (r.a.) highlights the importance of not neglecting Zikr nor Ilm:
“Ilm without Dhikr is darkness and Dhikr wihtout Ilm is the door of Fitnah.”
That’s why it of utmost impotance that we daily spend some time for the remembrance of Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala and as well the learning and/or teaching of sacred knowledge.
Seeking & Acquiring Ilm (Knowledge)
In order to seek benefit directly from Allah the Almighty, Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala himself has made it obligatory on every single Muslim to acquire divine knowledge. In other words to make effort in acquiring knowledge is required to obey and act upon the commands of Allah under the directives of the Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam). On top of that in many Ahadith great virtues have been ascribed to the seeking of divine knowledge for the sake of Allah Ta’ala.
Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) said, “Allah makes the way to Jannah easy for him who treads the path in search of knowledge.” [Muslim]
The Sahabah (r.a.a.) were so eager to learn, that they wished they could learn from Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) throughout the whole day and night. They were really in the possession of vast of knowledge.
Hadhrat Abu Dharr (r.a.a.) said, “Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) left us with so much knowledge that even when a bird fluttered it’s wings in the sky, it would remind us of something he had taught us.” [Ahmad]
Hadhrat Mu’adh bin Jabal (r.a.a.), one of the most learned amongst the Sahabah, expressed his love towards knowledge in the following: “Acquire (divine) knowledge because learning it is fear of Allah, going out in search of it is Ibaadah, rehearsing it is Tasbeeh, discussing it is Jihad, teaching it to those who do not know is Sadaqah and spending it on those worthy of receiving it promotes nearness to Allah. This is so because knowledge highlights what is Halal and what is Haram, it is a beacon for people on the road to Jannah, it is a companion in loneliness, a friend in the wilderniss, a partner to talk to in solitude and a guide in prosperity and in adversity. Knowledge is also a weapon against the enemy and makes one shine out when amongst friends. Allah elevates nations by virtue of this knowledge, making them leaders in virtue so that people follow in their footsteps, emulate their actions and always adopt their opinions. In addition to this, the angels are eager to be with them and rub their wings against them. Everything on land and water seek forgiveness for them, even the fish and other creatures in the oceans and the wild and tame animals on land. This is all because (divine) knowledge brings life to hearts (that have died after suffering) from ignorance, it is a lantern of the eyes against darkness and by virtue of this knowledge, a person reaches the ranks of the chosen ones (of Allah) and elevated stages in this world as well as in the Akhirah. Thinking deeply about such knowledge equals fasting while learning and teaching equals standing in Salaah. It is because of this knowledge that family ties are maintained and the lawful is distinguished from the unlawful. This knowledge is the leader of deeds and all deeds follow from it. It is only the fortunate who are inspired with it, while those deprived of it are most unfortunate.” [Abu Nu’aym in his Hilya]
Even on his deathbed Mu’adh bin Jabal (r.a.a.) was remembering his “good friend”. When he was on his deathbed, he asked the people to see wether dawn had broken. When they reported that it had not yet come, he again sent them to see. After this happened several times, they eventually reported to him that dawn had broken. To this, he said, “I seek Allah’s protection from the night followed by a morning that takes one to Jahannam. I welcome death with open arms. It is that long absent visitor and a friend in need. Oh Allah! While I had always been afraid of You, today I long to meet You. Oh Allah! You know well that I never loved this world or to live long here to dig canals or to plant trees. I loved it only for the thirst in the extreme afternoon heat (when fasting), for enduring times of hardship and to sit on my knees when associating with the Ulema in gatherings of knowledge.” [Abu Nu’aym in his Hilya]
Acting upon Ilm
It’s not so hard to find a 12 year old Hafiz-ul-Qur’an nowadays. But why took it Hadhrat Umar Farooq (r.a.a.) then around 12 yers to complete the memorization of Surah Al-Baqarah alone? His Ustad was our eternally blessed Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) and the classroom was Baitullah and later Masjid-Nabwi – can any Madrassa, Darul Uloom or any other facility on the world keep up with that? And Hadhrat Umar (r.a.a.) wasn’t of the un-intelligent sort either. Remember, it’s the one about who Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) said, that if there was coming another Prophet it would be him. Maybe he had Tajweed problems? Well, I don’t think so. The right anwser is, that it took him almost 13 years, because he wouldn’t proceed to the next Ayaat before practicing on the Ayaat before.
The Sahabah (r.a.a.) were fully aware of the fact, that without practicig upon the learned knowledge brings nothing good. When we hear about so and so walked for months to just gain a single Hadith, do you seriously think their intention was just to learn it by heart and not to practice upon it? When we read Bukhari Shareef, Muslim, Mawata Malik or Tirmidhi we’re actually reading the same Ahadith, that the Sahabah (r.a.a.) heard. But what’s the difference except that they learned from the best teach ever? They acted upon it and through that their whole life changed.
There was a Sahabi (r.a.a.) and he asked Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) for an advice. Rasulallah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) told him to never lie. Now, always when the time for prayers, fasting or other obligations came and it felt hard him, he told himself: “Rasulallah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) told me not to lie, so what will I tell him when he asks me if I prayed?!” So, at the end he was fulfilling his duties and this single advice changed his life and made it easy for him to follow the commands of Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala. Now, who of us doesn’t know how evil it is to lie? Even in the eyes of non-Muslim civilization lying is a blameworthy act. We read one Hadith book after the other, but if we would actually act upon some of the Hadith and divine knowledge we acquire, we fould get the taste of what made the Sahabah love Ilm.
The purposes of divine knowledge are of three: (1) Acquiring, (2) Practicing and (3) Spreading. So, remains only the third undiscussed: Spreading acquired knowledge to fellow Muslims and as well non-Muslims. In the following Ahadith the learned one’s duty of teaching others is being made very clear.
Sahl bin Sa`d (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) said to `Ali (May Allah be pleased with him), “By Allah, if a single person is guided by Allah through you, it will be better for you than a whole lot of red camels.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]
Abu Hurairah (r.a.a.) narrates that the Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) said: “He who obtains knowledge and then does not teach it, is like that who amasses a treasure then does not spend it out.” [Al-Targhib: 122/1]
Abu Hurairah (r.a.a.) narrates that the Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) said: “Who was asked about something pertaining to religious knowledge and he knowingly concealed it, Allah will bridle him with the fire on the Day of Resurrection.” [Abu Dawud: 3658]
That’s why there were always Halqah of teaching and learning alive in the Prophet’s Mosque. Of course this obligation has to be taken very serious by the Ulema, but the rest of the Ummah shouldn’t neglect it either. If you know only one Ayah, then pass it on.
And no slave will pass the Day of Judgement without being asked about the Knowledge that Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala granted him and how he made use of it. What better anwser can there be than: “Oh Allah! I practiced upon it myself and taught it to others only for Your sake.”?
Importance of Dhikr
It’s crystal clear, that if a person is engaged in learning and teaching, that the cursed Shaytan will try to gain something even from that. He’ll try to plant Kibr in your heart for example. You’ll start liking being called “Shaikh” by others and when you enter the room everyone will stand up for you. To abstain from this danger, we’ve as well to spent energy and time for the remembrance of Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala – Zikrullah.
There exist different forms of Zikr: Talking about Allah’s attributes can be Zikr, making Astaghfar or Tauba can be Zikr, Tasbeeh can be Zikr, listening to Hamds can be Zikr, reading Qur’an can be Zikr… In other words everything that engages you in the remembrance of Zikr counts as a form of Zikr. The thoughts and attention should be attached to Allah Ta’ala, there’s no value of Zikr by the tongue without concentration towards Allah (tawajjud) in Allah Ta’ala’s sight.
Hadhrat Urwa bin Zubayr (r.a.a.) says, “We were performing Tawaaf when I extended to Hadhrat Abdullah bin Umar (r.a.a.) my proposal to marry his daughter, he remained silent and offered no reply. ‘Had he been happy,’ I said to myself, ‘he would have certainly given me a reply. By Allah! I shall never speak to him about it ever again.’ It so happened that he reached Madinah before me and when I returned, I first went to the Masjid of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) and fulfilled the rights owed to him. I then went to Hadhrat Abdullah bin Umar (r.a.a.). He welcomed me most warmly and asked me when I had arrived. “Were you asking me about Sauda bint Abdullah (my daughter) at a time when we were performing Tawaaf and could think of Allah Ta’ala before our very eyes? Were you unable to meet me on another occasion?’ ‘It just happened to take place at that time.’, I replied. ‘Well,’ he asked, ‘what have you to say tpday (are you still willing to marry her)?’ ‘I am now even more eager,’ I replied. Hadhrat Abdullah bin Umar (r.a.a.) then called his two sons Salim and Abdullah and married me to his daughter.
In numerous Ahadith the virtue of Zikr-Ilahi are pointed out. The Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) even advices to be engaged so much with Zikr, that the non-believers think you’re are insane and the munafiq (hypocrites) think you’re showing off. Again the Sahabah (r.a.a.) in general loved to make their time useful by engaging in Zikr.
Hadhrat Mu’adh bin Abdullah bin Rafi (r.a.a.) reports that he was once present in a gathering with Hadhrat Abdullah bin Umar (r.a.a.), Hadhrat Abdullah bin Ja’far (r.a.a.) and Hadhrat Abdullah bin Abu Umayrah (r.a.a.). Hadhrat Abdullah ib Abu Umayrah (r.a.a.) related to them that he had heard Hadhrat Mu’adh bin Jabal (r.a.a.) say that he heard Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) say, “There are two phrases, one of which rises no less than the height of Allah’s throne, while the other fills the atmosphere between the heavens and the earth. They are ‘La Ilaha Illallah’ and ‘Allahu Akbar’.”
Hadhrat Abdullah ibn Umar (r.a.a.) then confirmed with Hadhrat Abdullah ibn Abu Umayrah (r.a.a.) saying, “Did you really hear him say that?” “Yes”, came the reply. Hadhrat Abdullah ibn Umar (r.a.a.) then started weeping so much that his beard was drenched in his tears. Thereafter, he said, “These are two phrases that are very dear to me and which I recite very often.” [Tabrani]
Gatherings of Zikr
Once Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) went to a group of Sahabah (r.a.a.) and said to them, “What for are you sitting here?” They replied, “We are engaged in the Zikr of Almighty Allah, and are glorifying Him for His extreme kindness to us in that He has blessed us with the wealth of Islam.” Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) said, “By Allah, are you here only for this reason?” “By Allah!”, replied the Sahabah (r.a.a.), “We are sitting here only for this reason.” Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) then said, “I asked you to swear not out of any misunderstanding, but because Jibraeel (a.s.) came to me and informed me just now that Almighty Allah was speaking high about you before angels.”
Subhan’Allah, wouldn’t we all love to get in our local newspaper or being mentioned in the radio? But there’s Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala, creator of this universe with just one order, ready to talk high of us infront of the Angels, who praise Allah Ta’ala day in and out. The commentary by Mulla Ali Qari (r.a.) gives a nice view on this Hadith, he interprets the pride on the part of Almighty Allah to mean that He wants the angels to realize, “Despite the fact these humans are full of temptations, the Devil is after them, desires are inside them, the worldly needs chase them, and yet they are engaged in glorifying Almighty Allah, and so many deterrents cannot prevent them from doing Zikr; and therefore your Zikr and glorification, in the abscene of any such handicaps is omparatively insignificant.”
The best way of remembering, praising and glorifying Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala is the recitation of the Qur’an Shareef. It’s obvious because how can praise Allah better than he did it himself? The superiority of the Qur’an over all other words is like the superiority of Allah over all creations. Not only is the Qur’an a miracle this Ummah has been granted, but it’s as well a guidance for the once who think about the meaning and content.
Hadhrat Hasan says, “Ameerul Mu’mineen Hadhrat Uthman bin Affan (r.a.a.) said, ‘Had our hearts be pure, we would never get enough of the speech of Allah Ta’ala and I would not like a single day pass by without looking int the Qur’an.’ When Hadhrat Uthman (r.a.a.) passed away, the pages of his Qur’an were in tatters because he was always looking into it so often.”
That was a praiseworthy characteristic of Hadhrat Uthman (r.a.a.) which he is known for. But as well other Sahabah (r.a.a.)’s fevour of reciting the holy Qur’an was big.
Hadhrat Habeeb bin Shaheed narrates that when Hadhrat Naafi was asked about what Hadhrat Abdullah bin Umar (r.a.a.) used to do at home, he replied, “Something that others would not manage. He would perform wudhu for every salaah and recite from the Qur’an between every two salaahs.”