Khutbas by Imam Habib
Khutba on 'Ilm (7th August 2009)
الحَمْدُ للهِ، الحَمْدُ للهِ الذي خَلَقَ الإِنْسانَ، وعلّمه القرءانَ والبيان، وأخرجه من ظلام الجهل والكفر إلى نور العلم والإيمان، نَحْمَدُهُ تعالى ونستعينه، ونشكره تعالى ونستغفره ونستغيثه، نعوذ بالله من شرور أنفسنا ومن سيئات أعمالنا، مَنْ يَهْدِ اللهُ فلا مضل له، ومَنْ يُضلِلْ فَلاَ هَادِيَ لَهُ، ونَشْهَدُ أَنْ لاَ إِلَهَ إِلاَّ اللهُ وَحْدَهُ لاَ شَرِيكَ لَهُ، له الملك وله الحمد، يحيي ويميت، بيده الخير، وهو على كل شيء قدير، ونشْهَدُ أَنَّ سَيِّدَنَا ومولانا مُحَمَّداً عَبْدُه وَرَسُولُهُ، وحبيبه وصفيه، بلغ الرسالة وأدّى الأمانة ونصح الأمّة، النبي الأمي الذي أرسله الله بالهدى والدين الحقّ، بشيرا ونذيرا بين يدي الساعة، صلى الله عليه وسلم وعَلَى آلِهِ وأَصْحابِهِ ومَنْ تَبِعَهم بإِحْسانٍ إِلَى يَوْمِ الدِّيْنِ. أَمَّا بَعْدُ، فَيَا عِبَادَ اللهِ اتقوا الله حق تقاته ولا تموتن إلا وأنتم مسلمون، يا أيها الذين آمنوا اتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَقُولُوا قَوْلًا سَدِيدًا، يُصْلِحْ لَكُم أَعْمَالَكُمْ وَيَغْفِرْ لَكُمْ ذُنُوبَكُمْ وَمَنْ يُطِعِ اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ فَقَدْ فَازَ فَوْزًا عَظِيمًا، يا أيها المسلمون اتقوا الله فيما أوصى وأمر، وانتهوا عما نها عنه وزجر. قال الله سبحانه وتعالى في كتابه الكريم: “هَلْ يَسْتَوِي الَّذِينَ يَعْلَمُونَ وَالَّذِينَ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ”
Allah says in His Noble Quran, the translation of which is, “Are they the same - those who know and those who do not know?”
وقال: “يَرْفَعُ اللهُ الذِينَ ءَامَنُوا والذِينَ أُوتُوا الْعِلْمَ دَرَجَاتٍ”
and He says in another aya, the translation of which is, “Allah will raise in rank those who believe and those who have knowledge”
وقال: “شَهِدَ اللَّهُ أَنَّهُ لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا هُوَ وَالْمَلَائِكَةُ وَأُولُو الْعِلْمِ قَائِمًا بِالْقِسْطِ”
and He says in another aya, the translation of which is, “Allah bears witness that there is no god but Him, as do the angels and the people of knowledge, upholding justice.”
The excellence and importance of knowledge -‘ilm cannot fail to be clear to anyone who reads and reflects on these ayas and the many others which are like them. For example, in the third aya quoted above, Allah mentions the people of knowledge in the same breath in which He mentions Himself and His angels, and links them to Himself directly by means of the particle wa - meaning ‘and’; while in the second aya, Allah mentions that the cause of a person’s rank with His Lord being raised is by means of the acquisition of knowledge.
Thus it is only by seeking knowledge that one attains to true nobility. ‘Ilm raises the weak and ugly over the strong and beautiful, and the downtrodden slave over the mighty sultan. It has been narrated that Salim ibn abi-l-Ja‘d said,
اشتراني مولاي بثلاثمائة درهم فأعتقني، فقلت في نفسي “بأيِّ حِرَفٍ أحترف؟” فاخترتُ العلمَ على كلِّ حِرف فلم يمضِ بي كثيرَ مدة حتى أتاني الخليفة زائرا فلم آذنْ له.”
“My master bought me for three hundred dirhams and then set me free, so I began to think about what profession I might take up, and, in the end, chose the path of knowledge over professions. And it was not long until even the Khalifah came to visit me and I refused him the permission to enter.”
وقال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: “إن العلماءَ ورثةُ الأنبياء”
The Messenger of Allah said, “The ulama are the inheritors of the Prophets.”
وقال: “يشفَع يومَ القيامةِ ثلاثةٌ: الأنبياءُ ثمّ العلماءُ ثم الشهداء”
And he also said, “There will three who have the power of intercession on the Day of Rising: the Prophets, then the ulama, and then the martyrs.”
وقال: “فضلُ العالمِ على العابدِ كفضلي على أدناكم، إن الله عز وجل وملائكتَه وأهلَ السماواتِ والأرضينَ حتى النملةِ في جحرِه وحتى الحوتِ ليُصلّون على عالمِ الناسِ الخير”
And he also said, “The superiority of the ‘alim over the worshipper is like my superiority over the lowest amongst you, Allah, His Angels, and the inhabitants of the heavens and the earth, even to the ants in their homes and the fish [in the sea], call down prayers upon the one who teaches people good.”
There is no better way for a person to occupy his time in this world then by learning or by teaching, regardless of whether he is a scholar, a trader, a builder or anything else. The successful human being is the one who spends all his time in these two practices, for someone who is on the straight path is either learning something or teaching something in every moment of his life.
قال النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم: “كن عالما أو متعلما أو مستمعا أو محبا ولا تكنِ الخامسةَ فتُهلَك”
The Prophet said, “ Be an ‘alim or a student or a listener or a lover (of knowledge) but do not be the fifth or you will be destroyed.” The fifth means hating knowledge and the people of knowledge. So the meaning of the hadith is that you must either have knowledge, or seek to acquire it, or listen to those possess it, or love those who possess it, but you must not despise them or think little of the knowledge that they possess, since that will bring punishment and ruin down upon your head.
وعَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ قَالَ: قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ: “مَنْ سَلَكَ طَرِيقًا يَلْتَمِسُ فِيهِ عِلْمًا سَهَّلَ اللَّهُ لَهُ طَرِيقًا إِلَى الْجَنَّةِ”
Abu Hurayra narrated that the Messenger of Allah said, “Whoever sets out on a path in which he seeks knowledge, Allah will make easy for him a path leading to the Jannah. The angels spread their wings over the seeker of knowledge, in contentment for what he is undertaking. And everyone in the heavens, everyone in the earth and the fish in the depths of the sea ask for forgiveness on behalf of the man of knowledge.”
Seeking knowledge is the way of the Muslim, and that requires him to wander the earth and search for those who possess it wherever they might be, even if that be in China as is mentioned in the famous saying. So, if you find yourself in a place of ignorance and darkness, or living in a community lacking the knowledge or people to set its affairs in order, then there are but two choices open to you: you either bring the knowledge and the knowledgeable to you, or you go to them. There is no third option - you must do one or the other.
And do not fall into the trap of thinking that true ‘ulama no longer exist and are but a thing of the past, and use that as an excuse for you to not concern yourself with it and do nothing. For the Prophet himself has promised us that there will never be a time empty of ‘ulama, and that there will always be people in every age who keep the knowledge of the deen alive. He said,
“لا يزالُ أمرُ هذه الأمةِ مستقيما لا يضرهم مَن خالفَهم حتى يأتي أمرُ الله.”
“The affair of this umma will continue to be upright, unharmed by those who oppose them, until the Command of Allah comes.”
And do not let your self convince you to stay away from the circles of knowledge because of the fact that you have difficulty remembering or understanding the lessons, or because of the fact that you do not consider yourself a ‘scholar’ or a ‘student type’. For the excellence of seeking knowledge is not confined to just memorising pieces of information or understanding them - it has many more levels than that.
It is said that the one who sits in the circle of a man of knowledge but finds himself unable to remember anything that the teacher said is still granted seven blessings by Allah:
The first is that he acquires the excellence of those who learn;
The second is that he is protected against committing any wrong action for the entire time he is sitting there;
The third is that he is encompassed by Allah’s mercy from the moment he stepped out of his house to go the lesson;
The fourth is that while he is in the lesson, he partakes of the mercy and baraka that descend upon the alim while he is teaching;
The fifth is that for every moment he spends listening to the alim, a good action is written for him;
The sixth is that the angels spread their wings over the entire circle of knowledge of which he is a part;
And the seventh is that every time he raises his foot or sets it upon the ground while walking to the lesson, wrong actions of his are erased, his rank with Allah is raised and he increases in good action.
This is the reward for the student who learns nothing whatsoever. As for the one who does learn, he receives multiple times that reward!
Furthermore, the Prophet has said,
“مَن زار عالما فكأنما زارني...ومن جالس عالما فكأنما جالسني، ومن جالسني في الدنيا أجلسه الله معي يومَ القيامة في الجنة.”
“If someone visits an alim, it is as if he has visited me; if someone sits with an ‘alim, it is as if he has sat with me; and if someone sits with me in this world, Allah will sit him with me in the Garden on the Day of Rising.” May Allah make us number among their ranks! May Allah make us from among those who have knowledge, seek knowledge, listen to the knowledgeable and love them. And may he protect us against ever despising them or thinking little of them.
أقول قولي هذا و أستغفر الله لي و لكم و لسائر المسلمين من كل ذنب فاستغفروه إنه هو الغفور الرَّحيم
الحمد لله الحمد لله رب العالمين، وأشهد أن لا إله إلا الله وحده لا شريك له وأشهد أن محمداً عبده ورسوله، صلى الله وسلم وبارك عليه وعلى آله وصحبه، والتابعين وتابعي التابعين ومن تبعهم بإحسان إلى يوم الدين.
أما بعد! فيأيها الذين ءامنوا اتقوا الله ما استطعتم واسمعوا وأطيعوا وأنفقوا خيرا لأنفسكم. يا عباد الله أوصيكم وإياي بتقوى الله وطاعته وأحذركم وإياي عن معصيته ومخالفته. قال الله عز وجل في كتابه العزيز: “إِنَّمَا يَخْشَى اللَّهَ مِنْ عِبَادِهِ الْعُلَمَاءُ”
Allah says in His Mighty Book, the translation of which is, “ Only those of His slaves with knowledge have fear of Allah.” In other words, the only ones with true fear of Allah are the ‘ulama, the people of knowledge. The ‘alim is the one who has obtained useful knowledge, thereby, acquiring a special rank with Allah, as was indicated by the noble ayat we mentioned in the first khutba,
“يَرْفَعُ اللهُ الذِينَ ءَامَنُوا والذِينَ أُوتُوا الْعِلْمَ دَرَجَاتٍ”
the translation of which is, “Allah will raise in rank those who believe and those who have knowledge” And by a hadith of the Prophet:
“إذا أراد الله بعبدٍ خيرا فقّهه في الدينِ وألهمه رشدَه.”
“When Allah wants good for a slave, He gives him understanding and knowledge of the deen and inspires him to right guidance.”
However, what type of knowledge should we be seeking, for not all forms of knowledge are equal.
You should know that knowledge - ‘ilm - is divided up into four categories:
The first category of knowledge is that which it is obligatory to acquire. It was this category of knowledge to which the Messenger of Allah was referring when he said,
“فإن طلبَ العِلمِ فريضةٌ على كلِّ مسلم”
“Seeking knowledge is an obligation on every Muslim.”
There are two types of obligatory knowledge: the first is that which is fard ‘ayn, obligatory upon the individual. And that is knowing everything which it is necessary to know in order to fulfil one’s obligations in the deen. Such as, for example, learning the correct ‘aqeeda; or learning how to do wudu, establish the prayer, or pay zakat; or learning rulings for actions which one performs on a day-to-day basis, so that one may keep within Allah’s bounds and avoid the haraam. Thus, those who are married must know the rulings relating to marriage and divorce, and those who have businesses and trading enterprises must know the rulings related to business and trade. It is also an individual obligation for a Muslim to learn the sciences related to the heart and qualities of character, since ridding oneself of base characteristics such as envy and pride is obligatory, as is the taking on of noble characteristics such as humility and generosity.
The second type of obligatory knowledge is that which is fard kifaya, obligatory upon the community as a whole. What this means is that if some of the community acquire knowledges of this sort, they cease to be obligatory for the remainder of the community. Examples of this type of knowledge include studying the different sciences of the deen, such as fiqh, nahw, tafsir and hadith, in great depth, since not everybody is expected to be a scholar; and studying the branches of knowledge necessary for a society to function and be healthy such as medicine, engineering and the like.
The second category of knowledge is that which is forbidden, except when it is studied with the intention of combatting or refuting it. Not all types of knowledge have good in them - there are some which harmful to man, both in terms of his humanity and his deen. Allah says, in reference to sihr - black magic:
وَيَتَعَلَّمُونَ مَا يَضُرُّهُمْ وَلَا يَنْفَعُهُمْ
the translation of which is, “They have learned what will harm them and will not benefit them.” Sciences of this sort include black magic, as is mentioned in the Quranic aya, fortune telling and the like, and deviant philosophies when studied with the intention of benefiting from them, not refuting them.
The third category of knowledge is that which it is recommended to acquire, such as learning all the things that are recommended in the shariah, whether that be the recommendation to trim one’s nails on the day of Jumu‘a or to memorise the entire Quran or whether that be to study the sciences of the deen in depth when there are already people in the community who have acquired and kept that knowledge alive.
The fourth and final category of knowledge is that which it is permissible to acquire. In other words, knowledges to which no dislike or recommendation is attached, such as learning other languages simply for the sake of learning them, or learning sciences which are not related to the deen and not required for a healthy functioning society, such as medicine when there are already a sufficient number of doctors.
As we have mentioned in the course of this khutba, the acquisition of knowledge is very important to the deen of Allah, but that does not mean that it does not have its dangers. So I would like to finish this khutba with a word of warning. The acquisition of outward knowledge alone without working to purify one’s heart at the same time can lead to arrogance and hardness of heart. The perfect example of that is the Banu Israil, who devoted themselves to understanding the minutae of their laws and working out ways of circumventing them, and whose hearts Allah hardened as a result.
True humility is the only way of preventing such a thing happening to you, so in the course of your studies, remember that knowledge is an attribute which is borrowed from our Creator - we have no knowledge except for that which He has taught us - and that there is always someone who knows more than you do. Allah says,
وَفَوْقَ كُلِّ ذِي عِلْمٍ عَلِيمٌ
the translation of which is, “Over everyone with knowledge is a Knower.” i.e. One who has more knowledge than you. No matter how many laws of the deen you understand, no matter how many hadith you memorise, no matter how good your Arabic becomes, the full extent of what you know will only ever be a single grain of sand in the desert of things that are knowable. The more you know, the more you realise you do not know. Remember that, and perhaps your knowledge will bring you benefit. We ask Allah to grant us knowledge that will benefit us and protect our hearts from hardness and our ‘ulama from arrogance and pride. We ask Allah to give us understanding of the deen and enable us to put what He teaches into practice. We ask Him to give us the knowledge that will enable to put our society right and bring it back to life. We ask Him to give us knowledge of Him.
إنَّ اللهَ ومَلائِكَتَهُ يُصلُّونَ على النَّبِي يَا أَيُها الذينَ آمنوا صَلُّوا عَلَيْهِ وسَلِّمُوا تَسْليماً. اللهمَّ صَلِّ وسَلِّم وبارِك عَلَيْهِ وعلى آلِهِ وصَحْبِهِ أجمعين.
وارض اللهم عن الخلفاء الراشدين المرشدين الحنفاء ساداتنا وأئمتنا أبي بكر وعمر وعثمان وعلي ، وعن سائر الصحابة أجمعين، خصوصا الأنصار منهم والمهاجرين، وعن التابعين وتابعي التابعين ومن تبعهم بإحسان إلى يوم الدين.
اللهم اهد أولات أمور المسلمين لما يرضيك ولاتباع سنة نبيك صلى الله عليه وسلم وثبت أقدامهم على الصراط المستقيم وأصلحهم يا رب العالمين.
اللهم بارك على شيخنا، و على أميرنا، وعلى جميع أمراء وزعماء المسلمين.
اللهم بارك على المسلمين في هذه المدينة ووفقهم لما تحبه وترضاه يا أكرم الأكرمين.
اللهمّ أَعِزَّ الْلإسلامَ والمُسِلمينَ (3) واَخْذُلِ الكُفْرَ والكافِرينَ، وانْصُرِ المُجاهِدينَ في سَبِيلِ اللهِ. واجْعَلْ كَلِمََتَكَ هِيَ العُلْيَا وكَلِمَةَ الكُفْرِ هِيَ السُّفْلى.
ربنا ءاتنا في الدنيا حسنة وفي الأخرة حسنة وقنا عذاب النار.
اللهم لا تضعْ في مقامِنا هذا ذنبا إلا غفرْتَه، ولا عيبا إلا سترْتَه، ولا مريضا إلا شفيتَهُ وعافيتَه، ولا مسجونا إلا طلَّقْتَ سراحَه، ولا مسافرا في برِّك وبحرِك إلا سلِمتَهُ وغنِمْتَه.
إن الله يأمر بالعدل والإحسان وإيتاء ذي القربى وينهى عَنِ الفحشاءِ والمُنكَرِ والبغي، يعظكم لعلكم تذكرون، ولَذِكْرُ اللهِ أكبر والله يَعْلَمُ ما تَصْنَعُون. وقُومُوا إِلَى صَلاتِكُمْ يرحمكم الله