Prof. Dr. Mahmud Es'ad COřAN

AKRA FM Friday Discourse

May 26, 2000

REWARDS FOR SEEKING KNOWLEDGE

As-salaamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh!

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

May Allah's peace, mercy, abundance, grace be with you in the most beautiful way in this world and in the hereafter. May Allah give you opportunities to be happy. I begin my discourse in His name and with my trust in Him.

a. Accompanying a Friend in a Journey

Daylamî reports from Anas RA that Prophet Muhammad SAS said:

RE. 418/4 (Man kharaja ma-a akhin lahû fî tarîqin mûhishatin faka-annamâ a'taka raqabatan.)

This is a different subject from the previous ones. Our beloved Prophet said: (Man kharaja ma-a akhin lahû) "If a person leaves with a friend (fî tarîqin mûhishatin) to accompany him in a journey which is difficult, full of hardship and worrisome, (faka-annamâ a'taka raqabatan) he will receive rewards as if he freed a slave." Verily, freeing a slave was not an easy task. It was an expensive charity. A slave would work with all his power for his owner. Freeing a slave would mean giving up some muscle and mental power. That is why the rewards for freeing a slave is great. Difficult tasks and acts of worship incurs high rewards.

This is a kind of help a friend could offer: accompanying a friend during a journey through a hard and dangerous passage. There would be no other motive just to be with a friend during the journey.

We can imagine the difficulties of traveling in the deserts of Arabia. Extremely hot weather, paths disappearing among the sand dunes, and highway robbers were among the hardship. The prophet advised not to travel alone. He said that even if there are no robbers, Satan would try to inflict some harm on the traveler. Satan would dare to attack when the travelers are two people or less. When three Muslims are traveling together, they Satan does not dare to inflict any harm on them.

That means when we intend to travel over long distances, we need at least two people to come along with us so that the recommendation of the Prophet is fulfilled.

Traveling with a friend during a journey with the sole intention of accompanying and helping him is a rewarding deed. It could be practiced in our times, too. There may be difficulties and dangers along the way. The car may broke down, or the driver may have some health problems such as high blood pressure, low blood pressure, nausea, and alike. His company can provide the necessary help. It would be wonderful. In the absence of an accompanying friend, everybody would wonder what happened to the traveler, whether he is alright or whether he reached his destination.

Let us keep in mind that among the essentials of a true friendship is to accompany a friend when he travels. We should not let our friend travel alone; we should accompany him and earn rewards. When we decide to travel, we should look for friends to accompany us during the trip. Let us make this a tradition.

There is a wise saying, (Ar-rafîq thum-mat-tarîq) "First a company, then the traveling." Also there is another saying, (Al jâr qablad-dâr) "Choose the neighbors before choosing the house." On has to figure out with whom he will be neighbors before purchasing a house. Those whom one keeps company during traveling are important.

In a family, husband and wife are companions of one another during the journey of life which could be a spiritual journey as well. The Prophet reminded us that each of us is like a traveler who is resting in the shade of a tree to resume his journey.

We should follow the advice of the Prophet and not travel alone. We should not isolate ourselves from the society or congregation. That is also an advice from the Prophet: (Wa man shaz-za shaz-za fin-nâr) "Whoever distances himself from the society and from the congregation, he will distance himself towards the hellfire." (Alaikum bis-sawâdil-a'zam) "Be on the path that is followed by the majority of the Muslims."

Living in the society, being a part of a large congregation, living in a city is more rewarding than living in the small villages because one can find knowledge, spirituality, Friday prayers, and preaching in the city. My late grandfather used to tell that one should not reside in a place which has no school or doctor. There may be some emergencies, and it may be too late to reach a doctor or a hospital. That is why living in the urban area is recommended. Islam recommends living in the society and being a part of a congregation. Islam puts emphasis on the society very much. Living in the society means sharing the responsibilities. Seclusion from the society may be needed for the purpose of worship for a limited time period.

There are times that one has to travel. If possible, one should not travel alone. One of his friends should accompany him for the sake of Allah. That may mean giving up the comfort and business; however, it will bring rewards equivalent to the rewards of freeing a slave.

b. Reward for a Seeker of Knowledge

The second hadith:

RE 418/5 (Man kharaja yatlubu baaban minal ilmi liyeroudda bihi baatilan min haqqin aw dalaalatan min houdan kaana ka-ibadati muta-abbidin arba'ina aaman)

Abdullah ibn Masoud, a beloved companion of the Prophet SAS, a man of the Qur'an, whom I love very much, related this hadith. Prophet SAS says: (Man kharaja) "Whoever goes out..." from his house, village, town, country, any place he lives (yatloubu baaban minal ilm) "... to learn a branch of knowledge, a category of knowledge..." Why would he want to learn the knowledge? (Liyarudda bihi batilan min haqqin ) "... to remove a falsehood blocking the truth in order to expose the truth, (aw dalalatan min hudan) or to push away a heresy obstructing the right path..." Thus to help the truth to be executed and taught, to keep the straight way open, to fight against the falsehood and keep it away.

I repeat: "Whoever leaves his home and sets out with a good intention to attain knowledge by which he could work for Islam and Iman (kaana ka-ibadati muta-abbidin arba'ina aaman) earns the reward of a 40 year worship of a pious servant."

Therefore, dear audience, direct your children to the path of knowledge which will bring them such great rewards at a time when Islam is subjected to various attacks, tricks, traps, blows and plots! Teach them these ahadith, tell them the truth!

One should learn the knowledge to defend the truth, to remove the falsehood, to teach the righteousness and to keep away the heresy. He should learn it for Islam and to gain Allah's pleasure! If one does it with such intentions, he will get great reward. We should tell this to the young as well. Whoever guides his children to the path of knowledge saying "do not be lazy, do your homework, study regularly, and learn your courses very well because if you do so, in return, you will get such and such rewards," he will be doing the most auspicious thing possible in this era.

Nowadays everybody is rushing to the jobs which could bring money and respect. The most intelligent and competent people engage in learning worldly sciences, which is, of course, also very good. As we had fallen behind in science and technology, we let many lands get out of our hands. Our brothers and sisters living there were subjected to serious oppressions and torments. Their homes were destroyed; children, wretched. Thus, of course we also need to learn these sciences. When one seeks knowledge on science and technology for the pleasure of Allah, he will also get many rewards. However, in order not to miss the main objective, not to be confused and not to work futilely, one should also learn Islam comprehensively and perfectly. I had brothers whom I really loved, who had finished medical school and even became specialists who, at the same time, were hafiz and led prayers as imams. I cannot tell how much I liked it! Imagine a person who is both a doctor and a hafiz or both an engineer and a hafiz. How nice it is to hold degrees from both law and Islamic studies and also to be a hafiz. We had such beloved, great brothers and sisters.

Becoming a hafiz is comparable to having a university degree. Memorizing more than six thousand verses, that is over six hundred pages, being able to distinguish similar verses and learning their provisions are not easy to do.

I remember a specific example. There was a brother who spoke English, German, French, Arabic and Persian who was a graduate from law school, became a professor and worked as a dean and served other high positions. How beautiful!

Thus, if one attains both types of knowledge, material and spiritual, this makes an excellent combination. In fact it is not so difficult. Of course learning is endless, and if one spends his whole life for this purpose, he can still not finish it. However, after learning the essential knowledge, strengthening his iman, becoming aware for whom and what purpose he is working, one must feel very happy.

On the other hand, there are some people who have education, but their actions appear to be harmful to ummah and in alliance with the enemy. I feel sorry for them. That much education is becoming worthless. And since they have a degree, they can inflict more damage. It is difficult to cope with the evil of such people.

c. The Path of Knowledge -- The Path of Allah

I want to tell you about another hadith which is about attaining knowledge. This hadith was related by Anas RA:

RE 419/8 (Man kharaja fî talabil-'ilmi fahouwa fî sabeelillaahi) "Whoever leaves his town and home to seek knowledge is in the Path of Allah." From that very moment, when he had first step, (hattaa yarje'a) "until he returns home" as a scholar. Even if he can not become a scholar, he is still considered to be in the Path of Allah (fi sabilillah) while he is away. Minutes, hours, days and lives spent in the path of Allah and the worships done fi sabilillah have great rewards, that is, seven-hundred folds.

d. Reward of Going out for Prayer

The next hadith was related by Abu Hurairah RA:

RE 419/7 (Man kharaja min baytihi youridus-salaati fa huwa fis-salaati faatathu aw adraqahaa).

This hadith is about performing prayer (salaah), the pillar of Islam. Our beloved Prophet says:

(Man kharaja min baytihi youridus-salaah) "Whoever goes out wishing to perform salah, (fa huwa fis-salah) "starts to gain reward as if he is already in salaah." He will walk from his house for some minutes, arrive at the mosque, wait for a while and then perform the salaah. But without waiting all these he will start gaining great rewards with the first step he had out of his house. I will convey you other facts from other ahadith: With each step a misdeed is erased, man is given a reward and his degree in the hereafter is increased by one.

Continuing with the hadith, (fatathu ) "Whether he misses the prayer" Fatathu is a verb and its object is "prayer" which makes the exact meaning of this part of the sentence "whether the prayer misses him" (aw adraqaha) "or he makes to it." Here, the object is "he" and the suffix -ha is a pronoun referring to the prayer. This is an interesting linguistic case for those who can speak Arabic. Thus regardless of his making to the prayer or missing it, he will still get the reward.

This sometimes happens. The other day, I was about to go to the mosque when the phone rang. It was a brother of mine speaking whom I love very much. It was impossible to interrupt, as he was talking about something important. But minutes passed. We had had a decision at the mosque as to perform the prayers on time. Thus, I had to obey this promptly. In order to make them feel the seriousness of the case, I was even saying to my brothers at the mosque about the time of prayer:

"Please note, we are going to perform fajr prayer at six o'clock! At six zero zero, zero zero!" What does it mean? Just at six o'clock not a minute, even a second past. The first two zeros indicate that new minute has not started yet and the second two zeros mean even the first second of the first minute has not started yet either. When I spoke such strictly, brothers accepted: "Alright, we will come to mosque on time!"

We say so and we intend so, too, but it doesn't always work out as desired. We sometimes cannot make it to the mosque on time. Sometimes I come first, sometimes other brothers do. Sometimes we catch the last raq'a, sometimes we cannot.

Nevertheless, after leaving home, there are two good things to obtain. As he has gone out by the intention of performing salaah, he is eligible to get the reward even if he has not been able to catch it.

As you know, intention is very important in Islam. What did he intend? To go to mosque and perform the prayer. For instance, the Prophet says about the importance of intention in Islam: "If a man sincerely desires to be martyred; Allah SWT makes him reach to the levels of martyrs. He gives him the reward and the degree of martyrdom (wa law mata ala firashehi) even if he gives his last breath in his bed Allah (S.T) still gives him the degree of a martyr."

Why is it so? I tis just because the intention is very important and valuable in Islam. He wanted to be a martyr, but had no chance for it.

I remember how excited I was when I was first recruited for military service. I was in our beloved Sheikh's house and going to report to the Tuzla Infantry College on Sunday. Believe me, I could not wait even until dinner. I thought I had to start my military service at once and get gaining rewards. I went there willingly and eagerly to gain rewards because our belief suggests that being a soldier is sacred. (Aynun ba'tat-tahrusu fi sabilillah) Fire will not touch the eyes of Muslim soldiers who have guarded borders for the sake of Allah. (Aynun bakat min khashyatillah) Neither will it touch the eyes shedding tears by the fear of Allah. Imagine a person who is awake in the middle of the night for prayer, shedding tears. Nobody sees him. He cries just from the fear of Allah. The fire will not touch these eyes either, in addition to those of the soldiers guarding borders.

We went to the military service with such eagerness. When it was our turn of guard duty, we expected to get its reward and never thought of sleeping.

At the same time we were rather fearful because when you are on guard duty in the army, you are responsible for everything lost. If soldiers fight, kill each other or commit suicide, if a part, a screw from a cannon is lost, you may get in big trouble. One may not be able to check everything from head to toes before assuming the guard duty. If an absence is revealed during your duty, you are the one to be questioned. This is very serious. We would wholeheartedly pursue our duty. With our torches in our hands, we would check the guard points to see if the guards are awake.

So, it depends on the intention. Even if one dies in his bed, he can still get the reward of a martyr provided that he has the right intentions. Just the contrary, if one has no iman or carries bad intentions, he will receive nothing. Everything depends on intention and mentality. One may not always be able to do everything good he intends to. But Allah SWT still gives rewards. Should one do it, He awards him many folds.

e. The Scholars are the Inheritors of the Prophets

I would like to read another hadith on the topic of seeking knowledge. It is somehow longer than the previous ones:

RE. 419/10 (Man kharaja yurîdu 'ilman yata'allamuhû futiha lahû bâbun ilal-jannati wa farashat-hul-malâikatu aknâfahâ, wa sallat alayhi malâikatus-samâwât, wa hîtânul-bahr. Wa lil-àlimi minal-fadli alal-àbidi kefadlil-qameri laylatal-badri alâ asghari kawkabin fis-samâ'i.

Innal-ulemâe warasatul-anbiyâ'i. Innal-anbiyâ'e lam yuwarrisû dinâran wa lâ dirhemen, wa lâkinnehum warrasul-ilm. Faman akhaza bil-ilmi faqad akhaza bihazzihî..

Mawtul-àlimu musîbatun lâ tujbaru wa salmatun lâ tusaddu wa huwa najmun tumisa, mawtu qabîlatin aysaru min mawti àlim.)

The Prophet SAS said: (Man kharaja yurîdu 'ilman yata'allamuhû) "if a person leaves his home and town to seek knowledge, (futiha lahû bâbun ilal-jannati) a gate is opened on the way leading to the paradise." That means, if a person leaves home to seek knowledge, studies and becomes a scholar, he will enter paradise. (Wa farashat-hul-malâikatu aknâfahâ) "Angels spread their wings for him." They provide protection and help. (Wa sallat alayhi malâikatus-samâwât) "The angels of the heavens pray for him, (wa hîtânul-bahr) so do the fish in the ocean." It is beyond our comprehension how the fish in the ocean pray for him. The prophet says that the angels in the heavens and the fish in the ocean appreciate the value of a scholar and pray for the person seeking knowledge.

(Wa lil-àlimi minal-fadli alal-àbidi) "The spiritual rank and rewards of a scholar is higher than a devout person (kefadlil-qameri laylatal-badri alâ asghari kawkabin fis-samâ'i) just like the brightness of the full moon being much more intense than that of the dimmest of the stars in the sky." The spiritual rank of a scholar is much higher than the spiritual rank of a devout worshipper.

(Innal-ulemâe warasatul-anbiyâ'i) "Verily, the believing, knowledgeable scholars, perfect guides, are the inheritors of the prophets." The carry out the duties of the prophets. They enlighten people with their knowledge. (Innal-anbiyâ'e lam yuwarrisû dinâran wa lâ dirhemen) "Verily the prophets did not leave money, gold, wealth, a treasure, or a worldly inheritance. No prophets have left such property. (Wa lâkinnehum warrasul-ilm) All they left was knowledge." That is the prophets left knowledge about the attributes of Allah, information about the life to come, and a good code of conduct. This is the inheritance the scholars received. (Faman akhaza bil-ilmi) "Whoever studies and receives this knowledge, (faqad akhaza bihazzihî) he will get his share of the inheritance."

(Mawtul-àlimu musîbatun lâ tujbar) "The death of a scholar is a great disaster, a great loss that cannot be replaced." Jabara means "wrapping a wound." The death of a scholar is like a major wound that cannot be wrapped with a bandage. It is a great loss.

The death of the scholar is also (salmatun lâ tusaddu) "like a notch, a crack on the wall that cannot be filled up." It is like a crack on the fortress of Islam; it will be impossible to fill it. The scholar becomes like (wa huwa najmun tumisa) "a dimmed star" when he dies.

The death of a scholar is so severe that (mawtu qabîlatin aysaru min mawti àlim) "the death of a tribe is less severe than the death of a scholar." The service of a scholar to the society is much more than the service of an ordinary person. The scholar guides thousands and millions of people to the right path, enlightens them, leads people to the straight path.

I recommend my brothers who have chosen an academic career that they should not ignore the information in old books. The scholars of the past had extensive experience and detailed analysis in their fields. They had a grasp of subtleties. It is impossible not to admire them once their works have been studied. If there is an apparent contradiction between the statements in the old books and the recent findings, one should not hurry to come to conclusion. The matter has to be studied well and details have to be revealed.

May Allah Almighty give you the true and useful knowledge. May He keep you and your offspring among the scholars. It would be great if one of our children studies Islam, iman, worship, hadith, and commentary of the Qur'an and other Islamic sciences.

You remember the story of the Mother of Maryam RA. While pregnant to Maryam RA, he wanted to dedicate her child to the service of Allah. When Maryam RA was born, her mother said, "My Lord, it is a girl. I thought it was going to be a boy to serve Allah." Yet Allah accepted her prayers and the little baby grew up to be our mother Maryam RA. She become a blessed woman to enter paradise. She also became the mother of Jesus (alayhis-salaam).

We should take a lesson from the story of the Mother of Maryam RA which is about the dedication of a child in the service of Allah. We should guide one of our children towards the service of Allah's religion. Muslims need true scholars very much. That is, Muslims need scholars who do not consider the material benefits first. There is a need for sincere, virtuous, pure and high-quality scholars.

May Allah equip all of us with useful knowledge. May He make us pure, sincere, knowledgeable, virtuous and perfect servants. May He be pleased with you all.

As-salaamu alaikum wa rahmatullaahi wa barakaatuh!

May 26, 2000 -- AUSTRALIA