Personal Guide to Attaining Knowledge Upon the Qur’an and the Sunnah

Umm Kareemah Ameenah Rutherford Simmons

(Note: The following is sister Umm Kareemah’s reaction paper, which she submitted as part of the requirements for WISDOM International Islamic Learning Program Learning Module 1: “Authentic Knowledge of Islam: The Key to Development and Supreme Success.”

The Wisdom Enrichment Foundation (WEFOUND) is pleased to publish this enlightening reaction paper not only for the benefit of the WISDOM learning participants but for all readers. It will serve as a reminder for all of us to reflect and ponder upon the ayaat (verses) and ahadith (teachings/sayings of the Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam). When we read authentic teachings from the Qur’an and the Sunnah, we need to react on the virtues behind each teaching. We need to ask the following relevant questions and try to answer them within the context of Islam:

1. What can each teaching do to us to improve our eeman (faith) and personality so that we will attain ultimate success in the eternal life?

2. How shall we implement each teaching in our daily lives to attain Allah’s Pleasure and, hence, rewards?

3. What shall we do to share such knowledge to our family members, relatives, friends, neighbors and the rest of the society?

The management and staff of the Wisdom Enrichment Foundation (WEFOUND) express their thanks and congratulations to sister Umm Kareemah for her enlightening reaction paper. May Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala reward her for her efforts.)

1. “Those who listen to the Word [good advice La ilaha ill-Allah (none has the right to be worshipped but Allah) and Islamic Monotheism, etc.] and follow the best thereof (i.e. worship Allah Alone, repent to Him and avoid Tag hut, etc.) those are (the ones) whom Allah has guided and those are men of understanding.” (Az-Zumar 39:18)

Insha Allah I hope to use the media and texts made available to me in order to keep me in the remembrance of Allah and away the things that bring fitnah. It is my goal to increase in knowledge and understanding and to seek protection from going astray.

2. “O you who believe! When you are told to make room in the assemblies, (spread out and) make room. Allah will give you (ample) room (from His Mercy). And when you are told to rise up [for prayers, Jihad (holy fighting in Allah’s Cause), or for any other good deed], rise up. Allah will exalt in degree those of you who believe, and those who have been granted knowledge. And Allah is Well-Acquainted with what you do.” (Al-Mujadilah 58:11)

I hope that by increasing in knowledge, Insha Allah, I will be able to put my fears and desires aside for the sake of pleasing my Rabb (Cherisher and Sustainer) in order to be counted amongst those who are the obedient and the knowledgeable.

3. “Have they not traveled through the land, and have they hearts wherewith to understand and ears wherewith to hear? Verily, it is not the eyes that grow blind, but it is the hearts, which are in the breasts that grow blind.” (Al-Hajj 22:46)

One of my main goals is to travel and make hijra to the lands of the Muslims. However while traveling, I would like to gain knowledge from the experiences I have. I take special interest in learning about the nations that have perished before us due to the punishment of Allah.

4. “Then high above all be Allah, the True King. And be not in haste (O Muhammad sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) with the Qur’an before its revelation is completed to you, and say: “My Rabb (Cherisher and Sustainer) ! Increase me in knowledge.” (Ta-Ha 20:114)

Just as Allah subhanah wa ta’ala advised the Prophet sallallahu alyhi wa sallam not to be hasty with the Qur’an and to make du'a for the increase of knowledge, I hope to remain steadfast and patient with attaining knowledge as a lifelong journey.

5. “And remind (by preaching the Qur’an, O Muhammad sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) for verily, the reminding profits the believers.” (Adh-Dhariyat 51:55)

As part of the learning process, I hope to pass on to others what I learn Insha Allah. Reminding others is a benefit to both the speaker and the listener.

6. “Say (O Muhammad sallallahu alayhi wa sallam): “This is my way; I invite unto Allah (i.e. to the Oneness of Allah - Islamic Monotheism) with sure knowledge, I and whosoever follows me (also must invite others to Allah i.e. to the Oneness of Allah - Islamic Monotheism) with sure knowledge. And Glorified and Exalted be Allah (above all that they associate as partners with Him). And I am not of the Mushrikûn (polytheists, pagans, idolaters and disbelievers in the Oneness of Allah; those who worship others along with Allah or set up rivals or partners to Allah).” (Yusuf 12:108)

Insha Allah I hope to be involved in calling others to the Qur’an and Sunnah amongst the Muslims and the non-Muslims making my position clear with both groups and inviting them to the clear path set forth by Allah azza wa jal.

7. Narrated ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab: I heard Allah’s Messenger saying, “The reward of deeds depends upon the intentions and every person will get the reward according to what he has intended. So whoever emigrated for worldly benefits or for a woman to marry, his emigration was for what he emigrated for.” (Sahih Bukhari)

The clarity of intention is important for all of our deeds. I pray that Allah subhana wa ta’ala protect me from riyaa, the hidden shirk, the desire of being seen and admired by others.

8. Salim narrated on the authority of his father (Ibn ‘Umar) that the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.s.) said: “Envy is not justified but in case of two persons only: one who, having been given (knowledge of) the Qur’an by Allah, recites it during the night and day (and also acts upon it) and a man who, having been given wealth by God, spends it during the night and the day (for the welfare of others. seeking the pleasure of the Rabb (Cherisher and Sustainer) ).” (Sahih Muslim)

The student should look towards the example of the people of knowledge, the scholars, the Companions and other pious predecessors and be envious of their knowledge only. It is not befitting to be envious of worldly things as they are ultimately of little worth.

9. Narrated Aisha: “When the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) awake at night, he said: “There is no god but Thou, glory be to Thee, O Allah, I ask Thy pardon for my sin and I ask Thee for Thy mercy. O Allah! advance me in knowledge: do not cause my heart to deviate (from guidance) after Thou hast guided me, and grant me mercy from thyself; verily Thou art the grantor.” (Sunan Abu Dawud)

This du’a contains two essentials parts, to be advanced in knowledge and to be protected from deviation. Knowledge without proper implementation is worthless.

10. Zaid b. Alqam reported: I am not going to say anything but only that which Allah’s Messenger (s.a.w.s.) used to say. He used to supplicate: “O Allah, I seek refuge in Thee from incapacity, from sloth, from cowardice, from miserliness, decrepitude and from torment of the grave. O Allah, grant to my soul the sense of righteousness and purify it, for Thou art the Best Purifier thereof. Thou art the Protecting Friend thereof, and Guardian thereof. O Allah, I seek refuge in Thee from the knowledge which does not benefit, from the heart that does not entertain the fear (of Allah), from the soul that does not feel contented and the supplication that is not responded.” (Sahih Muslim)

I seek refuge in Allah from knowledge which is useless and does not benefit. I am hopeful that as I increase in knowledge my fear of Allah increases and I continue upon the correct path.

11. Narrated ‘Aisha: Allah’s Messenger (s.a.w.s.) recited the Verse: -- “It is He who has sent down to you the Book. In it are Verses that are entirely clear; they are the foundation of the Book, others not entirely clear. So as for those in whose hearts there is a deviation (from the Truth). Follow thereof that is not entirely clear seeking affliction and searching for its hidden meanings; but no one knows its hidden meanings but Allah. And those who are firmly grounded in knowledge say: “We believe in it (i.e. in the Qur’an) the whole of it (i.e. its clear and unclear Verses) are from our Rabb (Cherisher and Sustainer). And none receive admonition except men of understanding.” (3.7) Then Allah’s Messenger (s.a.w.s.) said, “If you see those who follow thereof that is not entirely clear, then they are those whom Allah has named [as having deviation (from the Truth)] ‘So beware of them.” (Sahih Bukhari)

In seeking knowledge, one must protect himself from those who mix truth with falsehood. Unfortunately many nowadays combine truth with personal ideologies and speech leading people astray. The correct path is clear and the best guidance is the Qur’an and Sunnah and the best in knowledge are those who take only from that guidance.

12. ‘Abdullah narrated it on the authority of his father Yahya: “Knowledge cannot be acquired with sloth.” (Sahih Bukhari)

Gaining knowledge is hard work and requires a lot of time and patience. Insha Allah I hope to remain steadfast and pass on good study habits to my child and the children that I teach.

13. Abu Hurairah narrated that the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) said: “If anyone acquires knowledge of things by which Allah’s good pleasure is sought, but acquires it only to get some worldly advantage, he will not experience the arf, i.e. the odor, of Paradise.” (Abu Dawud)

Insha Allah I have to constantly clarify my intention, making my deeds purely for the sake of Allah and not for the sake of any wordly gain or fame.

14. Narrated Abu Musa: The Prophet (s.a.w.s.) said, “The example of guidance and knowledge with which Allah has sent me is like abundant rain falling on the earth, some of which was fertile soil that absorbed rain water and brought forth vegetation and grass in abundance. (And) another portion of it was hard and held the rainwater and Allah benefited the people with it and they utilized it for drinking, making their animals drink from it and for irrigation of the land for cultivation. (And) a portion of it was barren which could neither hold the water nor bring forth vegetation (then that land gave no benefits). The first is the example of the person who comprehends Allah’s religion and gets benefit (from the knowledge) which Allah has revealed through me (the Prophets and learns and then teaches others. The last example is that of a person who does not care for it and does not take Allah’s guidance revealed through me (He is like that barren land.).” (Sahih Bukhari)

I want to use the knowledge that I gain to benefit myself by increasing in obedience and good deeds. I also hope to carry knowledge to others and make use of the technology that we have to benefit the Muslims.

15. Narrated Mujahid: ‘Abdullah bin ‘Umar said, “Allah’s Messenger (s.a.w.s.) took hold of my shoulder and said, ‘Be in this world as if you were a stranger or a traveler.” The sub-narrator added: Ibn ‘Umar used to say, “If you survive till the evening, do not expect to be alive in the morning, and if you survive till the morning, do not expect to be alive in the evening, and take from your health for your sickness, and (take) from your life for your death.” (Sahih Bukhari)

Insha Allah I hope to use my time wisely as none of us knows when he will die. I find that the stranger I seem to the world the better off I am in regards to pleasing my Rabb (Cherisher and Sustainer).

(Published by the Wisdom Enrichment Foundation Website, 24 March 2003)

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