The Ways of Maintaining Knowledge – Shaykh Muhammad Bazmool

AUTHOR: Shaikh Muhammad ‘Umar Bazmool
SOURCE: His book “At-Ta’seel fee Talab al-‘Ilm” (pg. 29-31)

The Seventh Foundation: The Ways of Maintaining Knowledge

From the most significant ways of upholding and preserving knowledge is: (1) Acting on it, (2) teaching it to others, and (3) writing concerning it.

These three principles have been indicated in Allaah’s statement: “By the time. Verily, mankind is at loss – Except for those who believe and do righteous deeds and mutually advise one another towards truth and mutually advise one another towards patience.” [Surah Al-‘Asr]

Allaah has ruled that all of mankind is at loss, but then makes an exception to this for those who believe, so long as they remain believers. This is since they have acquired beneficial knowledge, then acted on it, then called others to this action and to the beneficial knowledge that is with them. So the most important way of consolidating knowledge is acting upon it, teaching it to others and writing about it.

Acting upon one’s knowledge is one of the most significant ways by which knowledge can become firmly rooted in a person. Rather, this is the primary objective for seeking knowledge. It has been reported on the Salaf that they used to say: “Knowledge summons actions, so if it does not respond, it departs.”

Wakee’ said: “We would seek assistance for memorizing hadeeth, by acting upon them.” [1]

What falls under the subject of acting upon knowledge is the talk about one’s abandonment of committing sins and acts of disobedience. This is since falling into these acts contradicts everything that knowledge mandates.

There are some famous verses that elaborate this understanding further:

“I complained to Wakee’ about my poor memory
So he advised me to abandon sins
And he informed me that knowledge is a virtue
And Allaah’s virtue is not given to a sinner.” 

Muhammad bin an-Nadr Al-Haarithee said: “It used to be said that the first instruction (for knowledge) was: Remaining silent for it (i.e. knowledge), then listening to it, then memorizing it, then acting upon it, then spreading it.”

Sufyaan said: “The scholar does not argue nor does he flatter (others). He only spreads the wisdom of Allaah. If it is accepted from him, he praises Allaah. And if it is rejected, he praises Allaah.” [2]

Jaabir reported: “Learn to remain silent, then learn to be refrained, then acquire knowledge, then learn to act on it, then spread it.” [3]

They would also be eager to act upon the ahaadeeth that would reach them from Allaah’s Messenger (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam), even if there did not appear any directive towards worship in them. This was only done because of their attempt to follow the chosen one (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam).

‘Abdur-Rahmaan bin Mahdee reported: I heard Sufyaan say: “No hadeeth from the Messenger of Allaah (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) was ever conveyed to me except that I acted upon it, even if it was just once.” [4]

And Ahmad bin Hanbal, may Allaah have mercy on him, said: “I never wrote down a hadeeth except that I acted upon it. This was such that it reached me that the Prophet (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) was cupped (Hijaamah) and gave Abu Tayyibah a deenar. So I gave the blood-cupper a deenar when he cupped me.” [5]

So when a person is sincere with knowledge and acts upon it, his aspiration is for the Hereafter and he walks upon the earth in humility.

Ibraaheem bin Adham said: “Whoever seeks knowledge with true sincerity, in order to benefit the servants of Allaah with it and benefit himself, being unknown will be more beloved to him than being arrogant. This is what will cause him to increase in humility with regard to himself, exertion with regard to worship, fear from Allaah, longing for Him, and humbleness in front of the people – not caring for what goes on in the day and night of this worldly life.” [6]

Teaching knowledge also helps one to maintain it. This does not mean that one should actively seek to put himself forward before he is ready. Rather, what it means is that he strives to mutually confer his knowledge and give it to those colleagues who ask him about it, as well as those below him. So he teaches them and repeatedly holds lessons with them. This does not mean that he rushes to be their shaikh (teacher) or seeks leadership before his due time, for indeed these are from the great dangers, as the saying goes: “He becomes a raisin before becoming a dried grape.” And Ash-Shaafi’ee said: “If the young person is put in a leadership role, he is deprived of much good.”

Authoring on knowledge means that you write down the issues, arranging them in order and providing research for them based on the foundation of evidence. And it means that you collect the statements of the people of knowledge on every issue, writing them down and putting them in order, whilst avoiding the strange and irregular ones among them, in your earnest attempt to search for the truth.

We don’t mean by a student preoccupying himself with authoring that he strives hard in writing a book and giving it out to the people, since the student, at this stage, has not reached this level yet. Rather, he should present his books and writings to the scholars as well as those above him and those who preceded him in seeking knowledge, for the purpose of seeking their advice and heeding their statements and instructions. What is intended here is that writing down knowledge helps one to memorize and remember knowledge and its issues.


[1] Siyar A’alaam an-Nubalaa (6/228)
[2] Shu’ab-ul-Eemaan (2/288)
[3] Shu’ab-ul-Eemaan (2/288)
[4] Siyar A’alaam an-Nubalaa (7/242)
[5] Siyar A’alaam an-Nubalaa (11/213)
[6] Shu’ab-ul-Eemaan (2/288)

Published: July 17, 2005 | Modified: July 17, 2005
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