Seeking True Knowledge

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

The following is adapted from a swuhbah from Shaykh Muhammad Nazhim Adil al-Haqqani (q.s.) on the 12th December 2009.

We seek safety, happiness and honour in the hereafter, but fails to ask about how to achieve it.  Firstly, we have to understand that mosques are not just ordinary buildings; they are special demarcated areas of worship, where many beings worship Allah (s.w.t.) all the time.  Just to know something is not enough.  We need the keys to unlock the understanding and secrets in the knowledge that we learn.  We must be prepared to seek from those to whom Allah (s.w.t.) has Given such keys, and we must be humble enough to ask for help and guidance.

In today's world, many so-called learned people, with PhDs and doctorates, feel that they themselves are sources of knowledge and that they are the ones who are able to teach others and unlock such secrets, whereas they have merely studied knowledge from books, and do not possess the keys to its secrets and understanding.  A University degree in Islamic studies does not mean that you truly understand Islam.  Many who have achieved this degree feel that they no longer need to ask and learn.  They feel self-sufficient and complete, and even feel that they themselves are sources of guidance for others.  We are advised not to ask from such people.  They are not Appointed by Allah (s.w.t.), as Allah (s.w.t.) has Said in the Qur’an, that we must seek knowledge from one who is ‘arif, an expert.  And the ‘arif in religion are the awliyaullah, not the academics.

O ye who believe!  When ye are told to make room in the assemblies, (spread out and) make room: (ample) room will Allah Provide for you.  And when ye are told to rise up rise up: Allah will Raise up, to (suitable) ranks (and degrees), those of you who believe and who have been Granted Knowledge: and Allah is Well-Acquainted with all ye do. (Surah al-Mujadilah:11)

Musa (a.s.) was Given Divine Knowledge, but he did not have the keys to its spiritual secrets and hidden meanings and understanding.  When he sought this from Allah (s.w.t.), Allah (s.w.t.) Commanded Musa (a.s.) to seek out the Servant of Allah (s.w.t.), who was the holder of such knowledge.  Such a servant was Khidhr (a.s.).  So, if even prophets had to seek out the holder of the Divine Keys to understanding, what of us?  We cannot understand by merely reading a book, and just using our faculties of understanding..  We require a guide.  The story of Musa (a.s.) seeking a guide to further his understanding is a Command from Allah (s.w.t.) for us to do the same.  Our Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) was Gifted with the understanding of Divine Knowledge, and after him, the true guides are given such knowledge.  The Prophet (s.a.w.) did not study from books, he was Taught by Allah Almighty, as it was Allah's (s.w.t.) Will that the Prophet (s.a.w.) Be Given such Knowledge.

Once, a world famous teacher of the tafsir of the Qur'an, Imam ar-Razi (r.a.), came to Makkah, to give a lecture on Islam.  Thousands of Muslims gathered, they stood up to welcome him, and they chanted his name as they crowded around him to take from his spiritual lights.  As Imam ar-Razi (q.s.) sat in front of the Ka'bah, he noticed, from the corner of his eye, one man, who was not standing to honour him.  This man sat down, facing the Ka'bah, with a hood over his head. “Why is he not standing to honour me, and to honour the knowledge that I bring?” Imam ar-Razi's (q.s.) heart whispered to him.

Imam ar-Razi (q.s.) then began his speech.  To his amazement, he was unable to utter even one word.  The crowd waited expectantly, and Imam ar-Razi (q.s.) sat in his seat of honour, in front of the Ka'bah, unable to speak.  He knew that it must have something to do with the mysterious man who did not stand to honour him.  Imam ar-Razi (q.s.) went to the mysterious man, kissed his hand, and begged for his forgiveness.  “By the honour of Baytullah, I beseech you to forgive me.”  Only after that did the mysterious man, who was Khidhr (a.s.), allow him to speak.

Imam ar-Razi's (q.s.) vast knowledge was but a drop of water when compared to the ocean that Khidhr (a.s.) was.  And what happens when a drop of water meets an ocean?  It dissolves in it and disappears.  That was why Imam ar-Razi (q.s.) was unable to speak.  His knowledge, though vast, was a mere speck in comparison to a servant of Allah (s.w.t.) who holds the keys to real knowledge.  So what about our knowledge?  We cannot think we have vast knowledge and understanding.  Never be proud.  We must learn to lower ourselves, acknowledge our lowly position before Allah (s.w.t.), and beg him by making this prayer:

…"O my Lord!  Increase me in knowledge." (Surah ThaHa:114)

We must not look upon ourselves as being sufficient in knowledge.  We must be humble enough to ask for real knowledge from Allah (s.w.t.).  Important people always think themselves as complete.  Do not try to attain importance in the eyes of others, for as long as we seek to be important, we are one of those without true knowledge, as we are seeking something of no value to ourselves.  If we do not have true knowledge, then what we possess is imitated knowledge, which will leave you naked on Judgement Day.  We would be like a tree, stripped of its leaves, its flowers and its fruits.  But if we inherit True Knowledge, with its secrets and its understanding, this Knowledge will remain with us, and will benefit us, for eternity.


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