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Knowledge is only Attained through Six Things

Ustaadh Moosaa Richardson (may Allaah preserve him)


July 11, 2010

‫ا  ل ا
 إ      ن‬
‫ل ز*ن‬,-‫ اذ و‬./‫و‬  ‫ــــد و‬#‫ص وا‬%&‫ذآء و‬
Knowledge is only Attained through Six Things
Ustaadh Moosaa Richardson (may Allaah preserve him)
July 11, 2010

Intelligence

Every student of knowledge begins as a memorizer. Allaah (subhaanahu wa ta'aala) only blesses some to move
onto the next stage of fahm and fiqh. Not everyone who memorizes has understanding of what he memorized.
And the distinction between someone who understands and memorizes has been made by the Messenger of
Allaah (salallaahu 'alaihi wasallam) in his famous khutbah on Yawmil Nahir on Hajj in his farewell pilgrimage
called ‘His Farewell Address.'

He told the people about how their blood and honor is sanctuary between the Muslims1 and he asked them to
testify - which month is this (they said it was the Month of Dhul Hijjaah) and he switched to which day is this,
which city is this...to show them the sanctuary of the blood and the honor and prophecy of the Muslims - one
to another..

After that he said, 'Falyubaligh ash-hahid al-ghaith, faruba mubalaghin au 'amin sai'in’. He said: Let the person
who is present here now convey it to the one who didn't hear it. The one who memorizes the words as they
are, without any understanding, is authorized by the Messenger of Allaah (salallaahu 'alaihi wasallam) to
convey what he had memorized. He says ‘faruba mubalaghin au 'amin sai'in’ to show the emphasis for the idea
that a person who memorizes can indeed pass on knowledge. That a person can convey something to someone
who is more comprehensive in his understanding than the one who conveyed it.3

For example, you can write down a hadeeth and pass it unto someone who understands it better than you do.
We often see this with our mashayakh who do not have a specific text memorized, but a student comes having
this text memorized and such student will say, Shaykh there's a hadeeth in Mu'jim al-Awsat of Tabaraani (a source
that's not commonly memorized) and he'll say the wording is this, etc. The student will either have it written
or have it recorded by heart and he would recite it to the shaykh, and the shaykh would hear the hadeeth again.
So, the shaykh will give him the understanding into what the hadeeth is without having memorized
the hadeet1h).

We see a modern day example of the ability of a student who does not understand the text to memorize and
convey it. But what did the Messenger of Allaah (salallaahu 'alaihi wasallam) say? That understanding is a sign
of Allaah wanting goodness for the student of knowledge. 'Man yureedulahu bihi khayraan yufaqihu
fideen' (Whoever Allaah wants good for, He grants him (fiqh) of the religion). He did not say He grants
him hifdh (memorization) in the deen. So here's where the fiqh stands above the basic level of memorization.

When you start memorizing and begin understanding Arabic text, Usool or Isnaad and you can see where the
scholars have spoken about the chains of transmissions of the text, you stand out above the one who
memorizes. This is where goodness lies - one can handle the issues of the ummah, and that is the one who can
guide the people much more than the one who memorizes.

1
“O people: your lives and your property, until the very day you meet your Lord, are as inviolable to each other as the inviolability of this
day you are now in…”
2
“May Allaah give radiance to a slave who heard my speech, memorized it and delivered it to whoever did not hear it. Verily, there might
be one who delivers information, even though he does not fully understand it himself. There might be one who delivers information to one
who understands it better than he does.”
3
“He said, Then let whomever is present tell whomever is absent.”
Knowledge is only Attained through Six Things
Ustaadh Moosaa Richardson (may Allaah preserve him)
July 11, 2010

Therefore the latter remains a simple conveyer of a simple piece of memorized information. Likewise, he is
unable to defend it against criticism because he does not understand all of the meanings within it, so he can't
work with it. He cannot apply it with qiyaas to other situations because his understanding of that text is
limited. But the one with fiqh can take the text and apply it to other situations. He's able to see how it relates to
other situations and how it can help in other issues which he did not memorize. So, his knowledge is
constantly being expanded.

When this student has this gift of intelligence from Allaah (subhaanahu wa ta'aala), he has a choice to use it for
good or for evil. People have been given by Allaah (subhaanahu wa ta'aala) serious levels of intelligence and
some people have chosen to use their power of their minds to discuss things in a theoretical way (Ilm al
Kalaam). They begin to delve into rhetorical and 'fard al ihtimalaat' (what if this happens or what if that
happened). They basically begin to discuss issues in a way that doesn't address reality and does not work
within known situations either. So, they begin to waste their intelligence on situations that don't happen. They
begin to rationalize and they begin to fall into rhetoric, as mentioned previously, that leads them away from
applying the texts of Sunnaah to their lives - understanding them and getting a benefit from them.

Similarly, some people follow their desires and use their intelligence to pass off innovations as Sunnah and
they defend innovations. You could also find a person of Mubtadi’ah to be very intelligent. Just because you
have intelligence however does not mean you can be rightly guided.

[...]

Also, it's important to mention that some people give precedence to the one who is a hafidh. It might be said
about someone that he memorized 70, 000 hadeeth or he's memorized a 100, 000 hadeeth. His claim to
scholarship is a large amount of memorized information. But, no one from the scholars will endorse his
knowledge as they can't recognize his level of understanding. Thus it's simply just memorization and in that
way, the likes of this person is not to be given precedence over people who have understanding. Even if the
latter’s memorization doesn’t match the former’s memorization. True knowledge in its application,
implementation and the use of it to solve the problems of the whole world isn’t limited to a memorization of a
text. It goes beyond that. It goes to applying that text; it goes to real life situations. So again we do not given
precedence to lots of memorization over understanding in the religion.

Ash-Shaykh Saalih as-Suhaymi (haafidahullaahu ta’aala) used to recite these two lines of poetry to his students
and one time he gave a short explanation for those lines of poetry.

“Intelligence is something Allaah (subhanaahu wa ta’aala) gives to many people. However, some people use it
to aid ignorance or evil, or to promote filthy ideas of falsehood. If a person uses that intelligence for beneficial
knowledge, paired with righteous actions, then it will benefit him. And if he uses it for other than that, then it
will only be a proof against him.”
Knowledge is only Attained through Six Things
Ustaadh Moosaa Richardson (may Allaah preserve him)
July 11, 2010

Vigilance

The hadeeth of Abu Hurayrah (radiallaahu ta’aala anhu) (that was collected by Imaam Muslim in his Kitaab
(book) al-Qadr) that the Messenger (salallaahu ‘alaihi wasallam) said: “The strong believer is better and more
beloved to Allaah than the weak believer. And each one of them have khayr (good) in them.”

The very first piece of advice that the Messenger (salallaahu ‘alaihi wasallam) gave after clarifying that the strong
believer is better than the weak believer is ihris ‘alaa maa yanfa’uq (be vigilant about that which benefits you).

If we look at every issue in Islaam from aqeedah, manners, salah, zakaat, we notice that the application of our
religion is something that benefits you. Everything that Allaah (subhaanahu wa ta’aala) legislates to be done in a
certain way benefits you. It’s a source of reward for you in the hereafter. So be vigilant about everything in
Islaam and what has more right for you to be vigilant about. For knowledge is such a high ranking
‘ibaadah, that it is a condition for the acceptability of every kind of worship. For example, salaah and zakaat; if
you didn’t pay your zakaat, it is not a condition for your salaah to be accepted. Even the pillars of Islaam are
not conditions for each other. Only the shahadah would be a condition for the acceptability of a person’s salaah.

Knowledge is a condition for the acceptance of every single deed in Islaam because it is not permissible for one
to come with any act of worship for Allaah (subhaanahu wa ta’aala) except that he does it in acceptance to the
guidance of the Prophet Muhammad (salallaahu ‘alaihi wasallam). It is not something inherited and it is not
something you’re born with: inamal ‘ilmu bi ta’alum’ (knowledge is only the result of you getting to get it).

You have to get knowledge for you to have knowledge, to know how to worship Allaah. So for each and every
deed that you do, or that you’re ordered to do, or that’s recommended for you to do, you have to have
preceded that with talibul ilm. Otherwise you would be simply following what the people do. And if you follow
what the people do, then your deeds are subject to the correctness of the people’s deeds. If the people’s deeds
are correct, your deeds are correct. If their deeds are incorrect, your deeds are incorrect. This is the shameful
case of the muqalid (the blind follower- the one who blindly follows ignorant people). He just follows what the
common people do. That is not permissible, rather a person must try his best to use the intellect that Allaah
(subhaanahu wa ta’aala) gave him; to learn the rulings of the actions that Allaah (subhaanahu wa ta’aala) has
requested him to do and to practice them, or to implement them and to follow them and to follow the way of
the Messenger (salallaahu ‘alaihi wasallam).

So al-hirs (vigilance) is very important. It is by the level of your vigilance that you will attain what you’re
looking for. The more vigilance you have, the more you will attain. This is known through a hadeeth from the
Messenger of Allaah (salallaahu ‘alaihi wasallam) when he spoke to Abu Hurayrah (radiallaahu ta’aala ‘anhu)
who asked him: ‘Who will be the person most rejoicing with your intercession on the Day of Judgment?’
The Prophet (salallaahu ‘alaihi wasallam) was astonished by Abu Hurayrah (radiallaahu ta’ala ‘anhu) asking him
such question. However he knew that Abu Hurayrah (radiallaahu ta’aala ‘anhu) would be the one to ask him.
So he said: ‘I knew that no one would ask this question before you’ – ‘bi ma ‘alimtu min hirsika ‘alaal
hadeeth’ (because of what I knew of your vigilance about hadeeth)’.

Abu Hurayrah (radiallaahu ta’aala ‘anhu) has been described by the Messenger (salallaahu ‘alaihi wasallam) as
having hirs for hadeeth. It is known that Abu Hurayrah (radiallaahu ‘anhu) was the one who passed on more
hadeeth (during the 4 years) than any other companion. This is due to the end result of having vigilance.
Knowledge is only Attained through Six Things
Ustaadh Moosaa Richardson (may Allaah preserve him)
July 11, 2010

So was it other than his hirs, by Allaah’s Permission? His constant companionship and his dedicated following
of the Messenger (salallaahu ‘alaihi wasallaam)? Even after the death of the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wasallaam)
he used to go to the major sahabah; those known for their memorization and their in-depth knowledge of his
sayings and actions, the likes of A’ishaah (radiallaahu anha). He used to go to her to rehearse to her what he
knew, to check his narrations and verify what he memorized from the Prophet (salallaahu ‘alaihi wasallaam).

The Messenger (salallaahu ‘alaihi wasallam) also said in the hadeeth, ‘Whoever pushes himself in his vigilance
about attaining good, then he will receive it.’

[…]

This following hadeeth to be mentioned was collected by Imaam at-Tirmidhee, Ibn Hirdaan and others. At-
Tirmidhee declared the hadeeth as hasan. It was collected more famously by An-Nawawi in his Ar-Ba’een. It was
considered by Imaam Abu Daawood (rahimahullaahu ta’aala) to be one of the four basic ahadeeth that Islaam
revolves around:

“Min husnil Islaami Tarkuhu Maa Laa Ya’neehi” (From a person’s good application in Islaam is that he
abandons things that do not concern him). This relates to vigilance because if we are concerned about things
that don’t concern us we will not have enough time or ability to focus on things that which does concern us. If
we have good Islaam and we are abandoning things that don’t concern us then obviously we must be
concerned with things that benefit us.

The meaning of this hadeeth also includes ‘mafhum al mukhalafa’; -- from a person’s good Islaam is his
attachment to things that concern him. The student of knowledge busies himself with issues that are beneficial,
that help him in his religion; in the Arabic language, the Usool, the text of the Qur’aan, and the Sunnah, the
reading of the texts of the scholars and reading the statements of the sahabah.

To be properly vigilant, in a way for a student of knowledge to help him reach his goal of attaining knowledge
and understanding Allaah’s religion cannot be done by himself…no matter how vigilant he is or no matter
how dedicated he is to his lessons. So what does he need? He needs patience.
Knowledge is only Attained through Six Things
Ustaadh Moosaa Richardson (may Allaah preserve him)
July 11, 2010

Patience

“Istabara was sabara.” As some of the scholars have said, istabara is a tad bit beyond sabara. It’s more extensive
in its meaning than simple patience. Meaning, fulaanu sabara (so and so exercises patience) but fulaana
istabara (so and so pushed himself and tried to remain patient in every possible way)

Patience is categorized by the scholars into three basic categories. One of the three is having patience
throughout hardships, calamities and trials. Allaah (subhaanahu wa ta’aala) is going to test us in this life.
That’s the nature of this dunya, we’re going to lose some things and gain some things2. When we lose those
things, it is Allaah’s right. Allaah blessed us with those things so it’s His right to take them when he wants. Be
they material things or be they beloved human beings to us, Allaah azzawajal tests us by giving us things and
taking them away from us. Being patient is trying for many people – that they lose something that they love,
either a material thing or an individual.

Even though this is considered to be the easiest of the three levels by the scholars, some people, because of
their weak eemaan, cannot pass this level of patience. You find them worshipping Allaah on the brink of
worship. They barely commit themselves to Islaam. Whenever they get something good, they’re happy and
they praise Allaah. But if Allaah takes away something that they have, they might say statements of kufr
(disbelief)3.

There is a very important principle for as-sabr, the patience that is due from us throughout trials. This comes
from the hadeeth of the woman who was crying over the death of her husband at the grave. She was crying in a
way that violated the manners of a women’s behavior at the death of her husband. So the Messenger of Allaah
(salallaahu ‘alaihi wasallam) went to her as the deen is naseeha (the religion is sincere advice) and he advised
her, ‘itaqilaah wasbiri’ (fear Allaah and be patient). From her human nature, she didn’t pay attention to who
was talking to her and she made some statements that were not befitting, ‘get away from me, you don’t know what
I’m going through...’ Later, however she found out who she actually spoken to and she was very apologetic. She
came back to the Messenger (salallaahu ‘alaihi wasallam) to apologize and he was gracious, as always with
everyone. He told her patience is due at the time of calamity. Meaning, not after the calamity – you cannot
say something displeasing to Allaah at the time of calamity and apologize afterwards. But true patience is
exercised at the time and strike of calamity.

When you get into an accident, start with your tongue, e.g. bismillaah, wala huwla wala quwata ilaa bilaah and
say phrases of dhikr on your tongue. At the time of any loss, start with the dhikr as your tongue is the leader of
your body parts. Everyday your body parts complain about the tongue. They say itaqilaaha feena finamanahnu
ma’ak! Istaqamna, wa ida yujajti, yujajna! (Fear Allaah regarding us, because we are with you. If you’re
straight and established properly, then we’ll be straight. But, if you’re curved and crooked, then we’ll all
be curved and crooked!)

2
Reminds me of the Ayaat: “Every day He has a matter to bring Forth (such as giving honor to some, disgrace to some, life to (some,
death to some, etc)” [55:29] but "Be steadfast in patience, for verily Allah will not suffer the reward of the righteous to
perish" [11:115] and “those who show patience and do righteous good deeds: those, theirs will be forgiveness and a great reward
(Paradise)” [11:11]
3
Ibn Qayyim has said: “Unfortunately, due to the ignorance of the worshipper, and his transgressions, he does not consider anything to
be a gift or a blessing or a cure unless he can enjoy it immediately, and it is in accordance with his nature. If he were only given a little bit
of understanding, then he would have counted being withheld from as a blessing, and the sickness as a mercy, and he would relish the
trouble that befalls him more than he relishes his ease, and he would enjoy poverty more than he enjoys richness, and he would be more
thankful when he is blessed with little than when he is blessed with a lot.” [Madarij al-Salikin 2/215-216]
Knowledge is only Attained through Six Things
Ustaadh Moosaa Richardson (may Allaah preserve him)
July 11, 2010

The student of knowledge faces many trials because the path of seeking knowledge is a difficult one. It is a
path that goes to Jannah, so therefore anything leading to the path of Paradise is surrounded by hardships and
difficulties. And the hell-fire has been surrounded by lowly desires. You’re bound to encounter difficulties and
hardships. Many people, who set out to seek knowledge, and experience hardships which they haven’t
prepared for, are first to go down. And that is just the first of many trials coming. They didn’t even get past the
beginning stage of seeking knowledge.

The second type of patience is refraining from disobedience. When you see a beautiful woman on the street,
your desires say, look at her because that looks good. Patience is to know that Allaah (subhaanahu wa ta’aala) is
watching you and to keep yourself patient and to lower your gaze. …To give up that enjoyment you’d get
from looking at that woman…To give it up for Allaah’s sake and to be patient. And refraining from acts of
disobedience is not a one time thing; rather it is a daily jihad. It’s ongoing with every person, day in and day
out.

Similarly, patience upon obedience is the third and is considered as the highest and the most difficult kind of
patience, since now you’ve begun to worship Allaah with a good act of worship, which you must remain
patient on. You have now accomplished praying at night (witr) along with 8 rak’aat of night prayer, you’re
praying 11 rak’aat every night, following the Messenger (salallaahu ‘alaihi wasallaam). How many people have
done that but, left it off?

How many people could not keep consistent with that practice? So the highest and most difficult kind of
patience is that you accomplish something good and you manage to stick to it and keep to it. Only the true
people of patience struggle and maintain optional and obligatory good deeds over year. It takes seeking the
help of Allaah (subhaanahu wa ta’aala) and asking for an increase in patience. The Messenger (salallaahu ‘alaihi
wasallam) has given us ways to accomplish this patience. And one of the most important ones is the very
short hadeeth which carries many elaborate meanings, where he said: “Whoever exerts himself to have
patience and pushes himself, when he doesn’t think he can be patient anymore, Allaah will grant him
success and Allaah will make him patient because of his struggle.” This is from a hadeeth collected by
Imaam Ahmad and narrated by Sa’eed al-Khudri (radiallaahu ta’aala anh).

Allaah (subhaanahu wa ta’aala) will have a special relationship with the people who exert themselves with
patience. As He described in the interpretation of the meaning: “Verily Allaah is with the patient.” So
Allaah (subhaanahu wa ta’aala) will be with the people of patience. Because of his patience, this individual will
get additional help from Allaah (azzajwal) that the rest of creation will not get. For that status with Allaah
(azzajal) one must push himself when they think they do not have any patience left. Allaah (subhaanahu wa
ta’aala) will give them His ma’aiyyah, He will be there for them – aiding him in his difficult affair and giving
him victory.
Knowledge is only Attained through Six Things
Ustaadh Moosaa Richardson (may Allaah preserve him)
July 11, 2010

Provision

How many people have gone to seek knowledge with their families whilst having financial needs? They ignore
their families’ financial needs because they think that taalibul ilm is muqadim – that the ummah needs
knowledge and that ones community needs knowledge; so it's more important than ones’ wife and children.

But when he does seek knowledge, his family obligations catch up with him, therefore the result ends with him
withdrawing from his studies.

This happened many times. Hence a person needs proper preparation and organization of his finances so that
he could seek knowledge long term.

So many people go to Yemen with great zeal to study but their money runs out. This is a reality. Some people
can be patient with nothing and eat whatever is available, and be satisfied but others cannot. This has sent a lot
of people back to gain some money and provisions. A student of knowledge goes beyond the beginning stages
of knowledge as well. What happens when the student needs books and needs to have a library? He cannot just
use two or three notebooks from the mashayakh and stop there. At one point he has to become a baaith (a
researcher). He will have to move onto another level if he wants to get to his goal of seeking knowledge. It's
not a matter of simply being good at conversation. He needs to extend his knowledge.

Shaykh Saalih as-Suhaymee said: “The student of knowledge must have a way to spend on himself in
buying books, travelling and other things he must have money for. So from all of these are from things that
will assist in his quest of seeking knowledge.”

Some people who seek knowledge say that they're going to sacrifice their families’ needs for the better good
that comes from studying. However that is a big mistake that happens in this time. There is an obligation upon
one to take care of his wife (taking in the scenario of just a wife and no children). Your wife has an obligation
upon you which needs to be maintained. It's a specific obligation (fard 'ayn) upon you. It is not an obligation
upon anyone else, but your own self. You're the one who entered into that marriage contract. This weighs
against fulfilling a community obligation (fard kifayah) of having knowledge and becoming capable to teach.
Therefore the one that is specifically on you has priority. Many scholars have mentioned that it is not
permissible for person to abandon his family and not give them – or fulfill their rights with regards to being
spent on, etc. Rather, he must make sure that in his trip of seeking knowledge, he has not neglected any
obligations upon him, especially those of his immediate families that are required to be taken care for.
Knowledge is only Attained through Six Things
Ustaadh Moosaa Richardson (may Allaah preserve him)
July 11, 2010

Guidance of a Teacher
The Salaf used to speak negatively about the person who takes knowledge from books only. For example,
thinking, “Wow!! I have Ibn Hajar’s Fath al Bari, since it has more knowledge in it than all the scholars today,
why don't I sit in the library and read it?”

It used to be said: Whoever takes his book as his Shaykh, then he will have many, many mistakes. You
cannot learn manners or learn how to interact, sit, or have khashya from Allaah (subhaanahu wa ta'aala) from a
book. You can get some benefits, but you cannot learn how to live as a human being from a book that does not
move. You cannot learn how to react to peoples questions or how to hold a respectful conversation with your
classmates. Rather, knowledge is to be taken from its people. You must take knowledge from the most
knowledgeable; the elder, the scholars of your time. You go to the oldest and most knowledgeable one and
the most respected for his knowledge.

You go to him until you've exhausted all what you've learnt from him. Once you've gotten from him
everything you could've obtained, you move on. The salaf used to go to one shaykh and stick with him until he
died. For example, Ibn Juray sat with 'Atta until he died and Muhammad Ibn Ja'far Ghundar sat with Shu'bah
for 19 years (Shu'bah was a huge scholar of immense knowledge) and refused to write from anybody else. He
used to write everything Shu'bah said. Then he would come back to Shu'bah and would ask if it was correct.
Then he would go to Shu'bahs students and would ask if they had what he wrote. Then after Shu'bahs death,
he would constantly review.

Today, if you found somebody doing this, they would call him a hizbi. It used to be said, that whoever wants
to know the mistakes of his Shaykh, let him go and study from someone else.

You find those who move from one shaykh to another to have shaky knowledge and that that their knowledge
contains a lot of polluted ideas because they didn't study from the most knowledgeable. One important thing
neglected by people is that they don't go to the most knowledgeable and most pious and respected of people.

Shaykh Saalih as-Suhaymee mentions: “Had they returned the affairs that they differed in back to the
Messengers and to those 'Ululi Amr (people of authority) – meaning, the scholars of 'ilm - then they would
have known from them the proper understanding of each and every situation.”

Allaah (subhaanahu wa ta'aala) has praised the people of knowledge in many verses of the Quran and He has
shown us that knowledge is to be taken from them. They are to be respected and they are to be revered, held in
high regard and they are the ones you set a journey to seek knowledge from.
Knowledge is only Attained through Six Things
Ustaadh Moosaa Richardson (may Allaah preserve him)
July 11, 2010

Seeking Knowledge for a Long Time


What is a long time? Ten years? There's no definition for 'a long time.'4 It's just that long. You seek knowledge
and you don't be deceived by the academic program of three or four years. As many people think that when
they go to university, it's just going to be the Arabic program and then 4 years, then khalas, that's talibatul ilm.
This is an idea that has lead many people to become infatuated with themselves and their own opinion after
having reached a beginners level of understanding in the religion. Four years is not going to accomplish much
in Islaam.

There were words that were spoken by Shaykh Muhsin al-Abbaad that the graduates from the Islamic
Universities should be recognized as people who now have attained a beginner’s level of understanding; that
they should not be considering themselves as Ulama or accomplished in their knowledge. They should know
that they only know books and know how to begin their studies. Now, they can begin researching and getting
into the knowledge.

Shaykh Saalih al Fawzaan spoke about the people that have degrees and high marks, and, he questioned their
Aqeedah i.e. is it sound? That the one who knows the books, the Sunnah, and the meanings of the books of the
Sunnah is the 'Alim and not the one with a degree, as it may or may not indicate any level of knowledge for
understanding.

4
Imaam Hanbal said, “We shall accompany the inkpot until our death.”