16. A Call to Scholars and Students of Knowledge
I remind myself, and also advise you to have taqwa of Allah (swt). Before we commence with good actions, let us together answer a few important questions.
Are you from amongst those who are working in the field of hadith and its science?
Beware of busying yourself with the means at the expense of the goals. Do not spend your life gathering together all the different supporting chains of narrations and in doing so become oblivious of the intent behind it. In this regard, I would like to relate to you this short story, hoping that a lesson may be taken from it
On the authority of Hamzah al Kanaanee who say, "I gathered (1) a hadith of the Prophet (saw) from about two hundred different chains of narrations, which caused me great pleasure and satisfaction. I then saw Yahya ibn Ma'een (2) in a dream so I said, "O Abu Zakariyah, I gathered one hadith from two hundred different chains of narrations." So he remained silent for a while and then said, "I fear that this might fall under (the saying of Allah):
"The mutual rivalry for piling up of wordly things diverts you". (102:1)
(Siyar A'laam an-Nubalaa - adh-Dhahabi, vol.16, p.108)
Do not neglect acting in accordance with these texts, for you were not created so that it may be said, "you gathered this knowledge, checked that book, authored this and did that..."
You may busy yourself gathering a particular hadith, studying its chain of narrators and its text, moving from one book to another, trying to get to the correct position. Slow down, may Allah have mercy upon you, and ask: What would this hadith teach me, if it were authentic? What is its meaning and what is it directing to? Is it directing towards a superogatory action, already proven by many other authentic texts - you being amongst those who regard it as authentic?
Before you gather this hadith, turn to the already gathered, authenticated hadiths that direct you towards obligatory actions you haven't yet acted upon. Be eager to spend your time doing that which has been made obligatory upon you before anything else.
Ask yourself before you check a book or gather the ahadith in it: "Has anybody preceded me in this? Is he better than me, or as good as me at this?" If so, dont undertake this work, as you will be held to account for wasting time and following your desires.
Are you from those that teach the rulings of Qur'aanic recital?
Do not spend your time teaching these rulings while forgetting for what purpose the Qur'an was revealed! Beware of neglecting acitng upon the contents of these verses that you read. Here you are teaching your student how to correctly recite Surah al Falaq. In teaching the verse:
"And from the evil of the envier when he envies" (113:5)
your only concern should not be to teach the correct pronunciation of the verse. Rather you must also consider the content of the verse, that the envious person is of the companions of evil, of those that anger Allah swt and please the shaytaan, so you seek refuge in Allah from this evil. Then you should cry because of the envy you may have of your Muslim brothers and make full effort to purify yourself of this illness with all that you have been granted of strength.
Further, it is shameful that there should be any emnity between you and your peers, those who have specialised to teach this noble knowledge.
Are not the verses that you study and recite enough to bring together even the best of people? Not to mention other than them? So why the enmity? Or is it just striving after fame and leadership?
O people of the Qur'an, who will come together in harmony if you people do not? Who will devote faithfully to Allah, if you fail to do so? The ignorant and ordinary folk? The open transgressors and sinners?
Worthy it is that you bring the hearts together by the permission of Allah - and not that your hearts remain diverse, for there is in the Qur'an that which unites the hearts, purifies the souls and guides to all righteousness.
Finally, I would like to remind you of the saying of the Messenger (saw), "The best among you are those who learn the Qur'an and teach it". (Ahmad in Musnad, al Bukhari, Eng. trans. vol.6, p. 501, hadith no. 545). So be from amongst the best in knowledge, actions and manners. May Allah swt grant us success in doing all good.
As for the students of knowledge, do not let the gaining of a certificate turn your attention from the correct study, beneficial knowledge and righteous actions. Do not let achieving good grades and passing the academic year be the height of your concerns. Place the fear of Allah in your hearts and enver ever forget the goal of the concious Muslim, the objective of the repenting worshipper and true believer.
(1) The reference here is to the science of takhreej ul hadith.
(2) Imam an-Nasa'i said about Yahya ibn Ma'een, "Abu Zakariya, the reliable the trustworty, one of the Imams of hadith.." Yahya ibn Ma'een said, "I wrote with my own hands, one million hadith". Ali ibn Madini said, "We do not know of anyone, since the time of Aadam, that wrote hadith the like of what Yahya ibn Ma'een wrote." He also said, "The knowledge of all the people ended at Yahya ibn Ma'een." Imam Ahmad said, "Yahya ibn Ma'een is the most knowledgeable of us regarding narrators of hadith". He died in the year 233H may Allah have meryc upon him. Taken from Tadhkirat al Huffadh, by Imam adh-Dhahabi, vol.3, p.429-430.