In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful; blessings and peace be upon Prophet Muhammad s.a.w.
The Declining Day (Al-'Asr)
1. By the declining day,
2. Lo! Man is in a state of loss,
3. Save those who believe and do good works, and exhort
one another to truth and exhort one another to endurance.
“BEFORE I learned about Muslim,
I learned about The Qur’an first.
If I learned about the Muslim first before the Qur’an,
I would have never became a Muslim,
Because Muslims is not perfect but Islam is.” – Yusuf Islam@ Cat Stevens
I attended a ‘kuliuh subuh’ (early morning lesson) at a ‘masjid’ near my house last recently, where the ustaz commented that nowadays ‘knowledge could be gained anywhere’ for example from classes in masjids, via mass media such as TV, by using social media such as Facebook and Youtube but in true sense ‘kebarakahan ilmu’ (blessedness of knowledge) is fast disappearing from us.
The ustaz made a comparison to the way of living of people of the past for example during our father our grandfather prime times; then they only had one or two ustazs in a kampung or none at all and there were hardly any ‘tazkirah’ (lesson) at the masjid, but once the people got inputs from once in a blue moon ‘tazkirah’, they put it into action. In this way, good deeds flourished and the bad ones were only committed once in a while.
He claimed that nowadays there are many ustazs and ustazahs around – they are giving lectures almost ‘around the clock’ including by using latest gadgets - but the irony of it if we were to open up our hearts and eyes we would realized that our society is getting worse by each day. The people do not put into action to what they had learned and sadly there are ustazs and ustazahs themselves do not walk their talk.
Subhanallah, the blessedness of knowledge is getting ‘thinner and thinner’ by each day, said the ustaz. Negative traits and crimes are on raise; what has become to our society when crimes unimaginable to us some time ago such as killing ones parents or spouse kept on filling the pages of our newspapers! One way knowledge ‘is taken away’ from us is more and more ‘ulamas’ (Islamic scholar) had left us for the Hereafter (died). The death of an ‘ulama’ is a great loss and disaster to us, he said.
After his lesson, I met the ustaz to have a clear picture on the subject about 'ilmu' and 'amal' (knowledge and the practicing of it or putting it into action). Among others, I mentioned to him about the sayings of Yusuf Islam or Cat Stevens (above) that he would never be a Muslim if he were to look at the doing of Muslims.
The ustaz said 'ilmu' and 'amal' are intrinsically and inexorably tied together, complementing one another. For any action to be correct, it has to be based on true knowledge. Knowledge that is not put into practice is of no benefit, regardless how correct that knowledge might be.
He then read a wise man saying that knowledge without action is like a tree without fruit. Ibn Hazm mentioned that from the benefits of knowledge is that it repels evil whispers from the soul and it rids one of the worries and troubles. This is especially true for the one who loves knowledge, who studies constantly, and who applies in practice what he has learned. The student of knowledge should distribute his time between memorizing, reading, revising, researching, and reflecting.
The ustaz said he agreed with the words of Yusuf Islam. Its tally of the saying of a Muslim thinker who said he found the values of Islam being practiced in Western countries while the Muslims themselves distanced away from its teaching. By looking and studying the conduct and way of living by the nonpracticing Muslims even if they are knowledgeable, a non-Muslim would not have noticed the beauty of Islam. Thus they would not be attracted to the religion. By the way, Islam is not only a religion but a way of life.
Knowledge is the key to serenity and ease, said 'Aaidh ibn Abdullah al-Qarni in his book Don't Be Sad. "Knowledge and an easy-going nature are like two inseparable companions: if the first is present, the other can be counted upon to accompany it.
"If you study the lives of Islam's greatest scholars, you will find that they led simple lives and that they were easy to deal with. They understood the purpose of life and knew which issues were paramount and which were less important.
"Meanwhile, you will find that the most obstinate of people are those who, without having knowledge, are ascetics. They misunderstand revealed texts and are ignorant of religious issues."
Muslims were also taught about beneficial knowledge and the fruitless ones. In the Qur'an 30: 56 Allah SWT says, "And those who have been bestowed with knowledge and faith will say: 'Indeed you have stayed according to the Decree of Allah, until the Day of Resurrection, but you knew not'.
There is knowledge that is useful and there is knowledge that is harmful. As for the knowledge that is useful, the believer's faith strengthens as a result of it; on the other hand, the disbeliever does not reap any benefit whatsoever from gaining this kind of knowledge; though the information required is the same, the results are very different.
Allah SWT says of His enemies: "They know only the outside appearance of the life of the world (i.e. the matters of their livelihood, like irrigation or sowing or reaping, etc.) and they are heedless of the Hereafter." (Qur'an 30: 7).
So gaining knowledge is important but the most important is how to use or handle it accordingly for the benefit of oneself and others, not only in this world but in the Hereafter.
It is useless to gain knowledge if the person involved only thinks about his or her personal benefits derived from it or becomes ignorant, proud and doesn't remember Allah SWT at all.
Nowadays how many times have we witnessed people with higher education being brought to the courts for misconduct such as being involved in bribery, breaching trusts and stealing monies and being involved in various scandals. And those in power do whatever they wished, sometimes to the extend that even laws are at their feet.
Remember what Allah has to say about the Jews who had abundant knowledge but became ignorant. "The likeness of those who were entrusted with the Torah, but who subsequently failed in those (obligations), is as the likeness of a donkey who carries huge burdens of books (but understand nothing from them). How bad is the example of people who deny the Ayaah (proof, evidence, signs, verses, etc.) of Allah. (Qur'an 62 ; 5).
In gaining knowledge and putting them into practice we hope to be among the seven groups of people who will be rewarded handsomely as promised by Allah SWT.
In a hadith narrated by Abu Hurairah, the Prophet s.a.w. said, “"Seven people will be shaded by Allah under His shade on the day when there will be no shade except His. They are: (1) a just ruler; (2) a young man who has been brought up in the worship of Allah, (i.e. worship Allah (Alone) sincerely from his childhood), (3) a man whose heart is attached to the mosque (who offers the five compulsory congregational prayers in the mosque); (4) two persons who love each other only for Allah's sake and they meet and part in Allah's cause only; (5) a man who refuses the call of a charming woman of noble birth for an illegal sexual intercourse with her and says: I am afraid of Allah; (6) a person who practices charity so secretly that his left hand does not know what his right hand has given (i.e. nobody knows how much he has given in charity). (7) a person who remembers Allah in seclusion and his eyes get flooded with tears."
Islam stressed the importance of knowledge; Muslims, men or women are asked to learn and enrich themselves, to seek knowledge from the cradle to the grave, a hadith said: “Seeking knowledge is incumbent upon every Muslim, male and female.” (Bukhary and Muslim)
No matter what kind of knowledge are there, all for the benefits of this world and Hereafter, every Muslim should study and try to be a kind hearted believer, and get success in this world and Hereafter. A hadith said: “He who wants to be successful in this world, then he must have knowledge; he who wants to get successful in the Hereafter, then he must have knowledge; he who wants to get successful in this world and Hereafter, then he must have knowledge.” (Bukhary and Muslim)
A learned person should practice what he himself preaches, and spread his or her knowledge to other people. But, please do remember that 'ilmu' without 'amal' is like a tree without fruit. For a practicing scholar he will be holding a higher rank in front of Allah and in social community as well. The Qur’an says: “Allah will exalt those who believe among you, and those who have knowledge, to high ranks.” (58: 11)