The Disapproval of Acquiring Knowledge for other than the Sake of Worship – Imaam Abu Bakr Al-Baghdaadee

AUTHOR: Imaam Abu Bakr Al-Khateeb Al-Baghdaadee
SOURCE: Iqtida-ul-‘Ilm-ul-‘Amal (pg. 77-79)

A selected chapter from the classic treatise Iqtidaa-ul-‘Ilm-ul-‘Amal (Knowledge Mandates Action) by Al-Khateeb Al-Baghdaadee (D. 463H), may Allaah have mercy on him:

[119] Abu Sa’eed Muhammad bin Moosaa bin Al-Fadl bin Shaadhaan As-Sayrafee informed us in Naisapur: Abul-‘Abbaas Muhammad bin Ya’qoob Al-Asam narrated to us: Al-‘Abbaas bin Al-Waleed bin Mazeed Al-Bayrootee informed us, saying: My father informed me: Al-Awzaa’ee narrated to us, saying: “I have been informed that it used to be said:

‘Woe to those who acquire (religious) knowledge for other than the sake of worship and to those who permit the unlawful due to doubtful arguments.”

[120] Al-Hasan bin ‘Alee Al-Jawharee informed us: Muhammad bin Al-‘Abbaas Al-Kharraaz narrated to us: Yahyaa bin Muhammad bin Saa’id narrated to us: Al-Husayn bin Al-Hasan Al-Marwazee narrated to us, saying: Ibn Al-Mubaarak informed us, saying: Bakaar bin ‘Abdillaah informed us, saying: I heard Wahb bin Munabbih say:

“Allaah, the Most High, said in His censure of the Rabbis (scholars) from amongst the Children of Israa’eel (i.e. Jews): ‘Will you learn for other than the sake of the Religion, and acquire knowledge for other than the sake of acting on it? Will you purchase the worldly life using deeds (meant) for the Hereafter? You wear the skins of sheep yet conceal (within yourselves) the souls of wolves. You quickly clean the filth that falls into your drinks yet you readily swallow the equivalent of mountains from the unlawful. You make the Religion burdensome upon the people like the weight of mountains, and you don’t assist them by even lifting up your pinky fingers. You prolong the prayer and whiten the garments. You illegally seize the wealth of the orphan and the widow. By My might, I swear that I will indeed strike you with a calamity in which the opinion of every opinionative person and the wisdom of every wise person (amongst you) will be led astray.’”

[121] Al-Hasan bin Abee Bakr informed us, saying: ‘Uthmaan bin Ahmad Ad-Daqaaq informed us: Al-Hasan bin Salaam narrated to us: Abu Nu’aim narrated to us: Abul-Jaabiyah narrated to us: Al-Farraa’ narrated to us, saying: Ash-Sha’abee said:

“Verily, we are not Fuqahaa (men of understanding). We merely listen to the Hadeeth and then narrate it (to others). Rather, the Fuqahaa are those who when they know something, act upon it.”

[122] Al-Hasan bin Muhammad Al-Khallaal narrated to us: ‘Umar bin Ahmad, the Admonisher, narrated to us: ‘Abdullaah bin Muhammad bin Ziyaad narrated to us: Al-‘Abbaas bin Al-Waleed bin Mazeed narrated to us, saying: My father narrated to us, saying: I heard Al-Awzaa’ee say:

“When Allaah desires evil for a people, He opens the door of argumentation for them and prevents them from (doing good) deeds.”

[123] Abu ‘Abdillaah Al-Husayn bin Ja’far As-Salmaasee informed us, saying: Ahmad bin Ibraheem bin Shaadhaan informed us: Ahmad bin Muhammad bin ‘Abdil-Kareem Al-Wasaawasee narrated to us: ‘Abdullaah bin Khubaiq narrated to us, saying: I heard Ibraaheem Al-Bakaa say: I heard Ma’roof bin Fayrooz Al-Kurkhee say:

“When Allaah intends good for a servant, He opens for him the door of actions and closes for him the door of argumentation. And when Allaah intends evil for a servant, He opens for him the door of argumentation and closes for him the door of actions.”

[124] Abul-Qaasim ‘Ubaydullaah bin ‘Umar bin Ahmad, the Admonisher, informed us, saying: My father narrated to me, saying: ‘Alee bin Muhammad Al-Misree narrated to us: Muhammad bin Zayd narrated to us that Ibn Suwayd said: Abu Nu’aim Al-Fadl bin Dukain narrated to us, saying: I entered into the presence of Zafar when he was at the point of death, so he raised his head up to me and said to me:

“O Abu Nu’aim, I wished that what we were upon (from seeking hadeeth) was instead tasbeeh (glorification of Allaah).”

Published: February 3, 2006

Advising the Seekers of Knowledge : Al-Khateeb Al-Baghdaadee

Source:Introduction of his classic book Iqtidaa-ul-‘Ilm Al-‘Amal
Translator:abu maryam

We give thanks to Allaah, the One free of all defects, for having inspired us. And we ask Him to grant us the ability to act upon what He has given us knowledge of. Indeed, goodness cannot be attained, except by His granting and His assistance. Whomsoever Allaah leads astray, there is no one from His creation that can guide him. May Allaah send His blessings upon Muhammad (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam), the chief of the first and the last (of people), and upon his brothers from among the prophets and messengers. And upon those who follow the light (i.e. the Qur’aan) that was revealed to him SAW until the Day of Recompense.

To proceed, I advise you O seeker of knowledge to have a sincere and pure intention in your search for knowledge. And that you exert yourself in acting upon what it necessitates (from action). For indeed knowledge is a tree and action is its fruit. And one can never be considered knowledgeable so long as he doesn’t act upon what he has knowledge of.

It has also been stated: “Knowledge is a parent and action is its offspring.” And “Knowledge comes with action, while narrating comes with investigating.”

So do not feel satisfied with actions so long as you are lacking in knowledge. Nor feel satisfied with knowledge so long as you fall short of producing actions. Rather, combine them both, even if your share of the two is small.

And there is nothing worse than a scholar, whose knowledge the people abandon because of the corruption of his ways, nor an ignorant person whose ignorance the people accept because of what they see from his worship.

So a little of this (knowledge) along with a little of that (action) is what is most likely to save you in the end, when Allaah bestows His mercy upon His servant and completes his favor upon him. But as for laziness and negligence, love for ease and comfort, preferring the easy life and showing indifference, inclining towards leisure and relaxation, then the results of these characteristics are blameworthy, detestable and disastrous.

Knowledge leads to action, just as action leads to salvation. So if the action falls short of the knowledge, then the knowledge becomes a burden upon the one who possesses that knowledge. And we seek Allaah’s refuge from knowledge that turns into a burden, is the cause of humiliation and which becomes a shackle on the neck of the one who possesses it.

Sahl Ibn Muzaahim (rahimahullaah) said: “The matter is more tighter upon a scholar than when one clenches his fist tightly, even though the ignorant person is not excused because of his ignorance (i.e. he will be held to account also). However, the scholar will receive a greater punishment if he abandons what he has knowledge of and doesn’t act upon it.”

So did those of our Salaf (predecessors) from the past reach the high levels that they reached except through sincerity in Creed (Beliefs), righteous actions and overwhelming abstinence of the attractive features of this worldly life? And did the wise people reach the greatest level of success (that they did) except by working hard in their efforts and being pleased with their easy accomplishments, while sacrificing the excess amount from their needs by giving it away to the poor and those who asked?

Is not the one who gathers books of knowledge just like the one who gathers gold and silver? Is not the one who has an intense greed for them just like the one who is eager and desirous of gold and silver? Is not the one who is deeply in love with them just like the one who treasures gold and silver?

So just as wealth does not benefit except by it being spent, then likewise, knowledge does not benefit except for one who acts upon it and carries out its obligations. So let each individual examine himself and take advantage of his time, for indeed the resting place (i.e. this world) is short, the (time for) departure is near, the road is hazardous and deviating from it is common. The danger is great, the one who takes note has wisdom, Allaah, the Most High, is watching over, and to Him is the (final) recourse and return. “And whosoever does an atom’s weight of good, he shall see it. And whosoever does an atom’s weight of evil, he shall see it.” [99: 7-8]

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