Imam Ghazzali on the 4 imams Part 3

>> Sunday, August 31, 2008

The third part of the 4 Imams deals exclusively with Imam Malik but also mentions Imam Ahmed and Sufiyan Saori when concluding. If you have read nothing else in this series of blogs please at least read the ending to this part.

In The Words of Imam Ghazzali

Imam Malik, He was adorned with five qualities. Once he was asked: 0 Malik, what do you say about search or knowledge? He replied: It is fair and beautiful. If anybody does not separate from you morning to evening, don't be separate from him. When the Imam intended to narrate traditions, he used to make ablution, sit in the middle of his bed, comb his beard, apply scent and then become fearful and grave and then narrate traditions. When asked about these formalities, he said: I intend to show honour to the traditions of the prophet. He said: Knowledge is light. God places it wherever He wishes. Regarding the seeking of pleasure of God by knowledge, he said: There is no benefit in arguments about religion. This is proved by a saying of Imam Shafeyi who said: Once I was near Malik. He was asked about forty-eight legal questions. He replied regarding thirty-two questions: I don't know. When the learned were mentioned, Imam Malik was counted as a bright star. It is said that once the Caliph Manner prohibited him to narrate the particular tradition on the illegality of divorce made under compulsion. The Caliph thereafter instigated some one to question the Imam on the subject. He declared among the people that divorce pronounced under compulsion is not binding. For this, the Caliph had him flogged. The Caliph Harun Rashid once asked Imam Malik: Have you got any house? He said: No. The Caliph then gave him 3,000 dinars and said: Go and buy with this money a house. The Imam accepted the money but did not spend it for the purpose. When the Caliph intended to return to Baghdad he asked Malik You should come along with us, because we have decided to make the people follow `Muatta' as Osman made them follow the Quran. Malik said: This is not the way to make the people follow `Muatta' because the companions of the Prophet after his death dispersed around the different countries and they related the traditions in each place. Further the Prophet said: Difference of opinion among the people is a blessing. As for my going with you, there is no way as the Prophet said: Had they known, they would have known that Medina is best for them. Again he said: Medina removes the corruption just as the furnace removes the dross of iron. Therefore here are your dinars. If you like, take them back and if you like, You may have them. Does this mean that you ask me to leave Medina in return for what you have given me? I prefer nothing more than the city of the Messenger of God, not even the whole world. Such was the asceticism of Malik. When as a result of his diffusion of knowledge and the spreading of his companions, large wealth began to come to him from different corners of the earth, he used to distribute them in charity. Such an ascetic was Soloman despite his royal glory. Another example of his asceticism is that Imam Shafeyi once said: I noticed a number of Korasani horses at the door of Malik. I have never seen any other horse better than them. I said to Malik : How beautiful are they! He said: These are then present from me to you. I said to him: Keep one of them for yourself for riding. He said: I shall he ashamed before God to tread with the hoof of any beast of burden the soil wherein lies His Prophet. See therefore his benevolence and his veneration for the soil of Medina.

There is yet another report of his asceticism. He said: I once went to the Caliph Harun Rashid. He asked Malik: 0 Abu Abdullah, you should come frequently to my place, so that I may learn from you `Muatta'. He said : May God exalt my master, this knowledge has come from you. If you honour it will be exalted; and if you dishonour it, it will be despised. Knowledge is something you shall learn and not something you should receive. Then the Caliph said: You are right. He said to his sons: Go out to the mosque and acquire from him knowledge along with the people.

Imam Ahmed and Sufiyan Saori had many followers. Nevertheless, they are known for asceticism and God-fear. All books contain their sayings and stories of their asceticism. Now examine the lives of the Imams and scrutinize those who claim to be their followers. Did the Imams rise to such eminence only for their knowledge of Fiqh which now means contracts of the type of salam, hire, rental, lease and other worldly laws?


Imam Ghazzali on the 4 imams Part 2

>> Friday, August 29, 2008

The second Imam that Imam Ghazzali writes about is Imam Shafeyi.

In The Words of Imam Ghazzali

Imam Shafeyi, He was a devout worshipper. He divided the night into three parts-one part for study, one part for prayer and one part for sleep. The narrator said that Imam Shafeyi used to finish the Quran 60 times in the month of Ramadan and every time he finished it in prayer. Hasan Qarabasi reported: I spent many nights with the great Imam. He used to spend one-third of the night in prayer and yet I have not seen him reciting more than fifty to one hundred verses. At the end of each verse, he would beseech God's mercy upon himself and upon all Muslims. The Imam said: I used not to take food with satisfaction for the last 16 years as a full stomach makes the body heavy, makes the heart hard, increases sleep and renders a man lazy for worship. He also said: Never have I taken oath by God whether true or false. He said: He who claims that the love of the world and love of God are united in him, is a liar. Humaidi said: Imam Shafeyi once went to Yemen with some men and returned to Mecca with 10,000 dirhams. A tent was fixed for him in the outskirts of Mecca and people began to come to him. He did not move from that place till he distributed all dirhams among the people. Generosity of the Iman was great and the root of asceticism is generosity. Whoever loves a thing keeps it with him and everything is insignificant to one to whom the world is insignificant. This is asceticism which leads to God-fear. Once Sufiyan-b-Aynabat fell in swoon before the Imam. He was told that he had expired. He said: if he has died, the best man of his time has died. Umar-b-Nabatah said: I have not found more God-fearing man than Imam Shafeyi. 1, he and Haris-b-Labeed went one day to the valley of Safa. Harts had a student with him and he was a Qari or reader of the Quran. He had a sweet voice and began to read: This is a day on which they will not speak and they will not be given permission to make excuses (77 : 35). 1 saw that the colour of the face of the Imam changed and he was trembling vehemently and then fell in swoon. When he recovered, he began to say: 0 God, I seek refuge to Thee from the place of the liars and the scoffing of the heedless. 0 God, the hearts of agnostics have submitted and the necks of those who yearn for Thee bowed. 0 worshipped, bestow Thy bounty upon me and cover me with thy mercy. Forgive my faults through the grace of Thy countenance. Then he along with us left the place. When I reached Baghdad, he was then in Iraq. I was making ablution on the bank of the river for prayer. A man then was passing by me and said: 0 young man, make ablution well, God will then treat good with you both in this world and in the next, I followed him. He looked at me and said: Have you got any necessity? I said: Teach me something of what God has taught you. He said: Know that he who knows God as true Generosity of the Iman was great and the root of asceticism is generosity. Whoever loves a thing keeps it with him and everything is insignificant to one to whom the world is insignificant. This is asceticism which leads to God-fear. Once Sufiyan-b. Aynabat fell in swoon before the Imam. He was told that he had expired. He said: if he has died, the best man of his time has died. Umar-b-Nabatah said: I have not found more God-fearing man than imam Shafeyi. 1, he and Haris-b-Labeed went one day to the valley of Safa. Harts had a student with him and he was a Qari or reader of the Quran. He had a sweet voice and began to read: This is a day on which they will not speak and they will not be given permission to make excuses (77 : 35). I saw that the colour of the face of the Imam changed and he was trembling vehemently and then fell in swoon. When he recovered, he began to say: 0 God, I seek refuge to Thee from the place of the liars and the scoffing of the heedless. 0 God, the hearts of agnostics have submitted and the necks of those who yearn for Thee bowed. 0 worshipped, bestow Thy bounty upon me and cover me with Thy mercy. Forgive my faults through the grace of Thy countenance. Then he along with us left the place. When I reached Baghdad, he was then in Iraq. I was making ablution on the bank of the river for prayer. A man then was passing by me and said: 0 young man, make ablution well, God will then treat good with you both in this world and in the next, I followed him. He looked at me and said: Have you got any necessity? I said: Teach me something of what God has taught you. He said: Know that he who knows God as true gets salvation and he who fears his religion, remains safe from destruction. He who remains indifferent from the world, will be cool at seeing the rewards which God will give him tomorrow. Shall I give you more advice? I said: Yes. He said: The faith of one who has got three characteristics is perfect—(1) to enjoin good and to act according to it, (2) to prohibit evil and to desist from it, and (3) to guard the limits of God. Shall I give you more advice? I said: Yes. He said: Adopt asceticism in the world, entertain hopes for the next world and believe God in all your affairs, you will then be among those who will get salvation. Then he went away. I asked: Who is he? They said: Imam Shafeyi. Such fear and asceticism are the result of nothing but for his knowledge of God and not for his knowledge of legal questions like advance payment, loan, wages etc. as are embodied in Fiqh.

Imam Shafeyi said: The knowledge of one who does not make himself perfect will come of no use to him. He also said: Whosoever confesses his obedience to God through the help of his knowledge, his heart becomes illumined. He also said: Every one has got some persons who love him and some who hate him. If it be so, be among those who obey God.

Abdul Qader-Abdul Aziz was a God-fearing man. He once asked Imam Shafeyi: Which of these virtues is better-patience, trial, and peace of mind (Tamkin)? The Imam replied: Peace of mind is the rank of the Prophets and it is not attained except by trial, and patience comes after trial. Don't you see that God examined Abraham and then He gave him peace of mind? He examined Solomon and then gave him peace of mind and kingdom. He did the same to Moses, Job, Joseph and others. This reveals the deep knowledge of Imam Shafeyi about the Quran. Sufyan Saori said: I or anybody has not seen like Shafeyi.


Imam Ghazzali on the 4 imams Part 1

>> Monday, August 25, 2008

In the Ihya Ulum-Id-Din Imam Ghazzali writes about the 4 imams. He does not write about their legal ruling but rather about their character. Very rarely do we see writings on the character of the 4 imams. The 1st Imam Al-Ghazzali writes about is Abu Hanifa. This post will have a general introduction that Ghazzali writes about all the Imams then talks specifically of Abu Hanifa.

In The Words of Imam Ghazzali

Among the learned men of practical sciences, those who are God- fearing keep attached to the learned men of secret sciences. As a student sits in school, so Imam Shafeyi used to sit near Shaiban Ray and ask him: How shall I do this work? The people asked Imam Shafeyi: Are you asking questions to a Beduin? He said: This man has learnt what we have not learnt. Imam Ahmad-b­Hanbal and Ihya-b-Mayen could not agree on a certain ;matter and they therefore went to Maruf Karkhi who was not equal to them in the science of practical religion. They said to him: The Prophet said: What will you do when you will not find a matter in the Quran and Sunnah? He said: Ask the pious men among you and consult them in this matter. We have come to you for this.

Someone said: The learned men of exoteric knowledge are the ornaments of the world and the state but the learned men of esoteric knowledge are the ornaments of kingdoms and angels. Hazrat Junaid said: My spiritual guide said to me once: With whom do you keep company when you leave my house? I said: I keep company with Mohasabi. He said: Yes, follow his knowledge and manners but avoid the subtleties of his scholastic theology and return it to him. When I left him, I heard him say: May God make You first a Muhaddis (traditionist) and then an ascetic, but not first an ascetic and then a traditionist. Its meaning is that he should acquire first the science of tradition and learning and then become an ascetic and he will then get salvation, but he who becomes an ascetic before acquisition of knowledge throws himself into faults.

Imam Abu Hanifa, Imam Malek, Imam Shafeyi, Imam Ahmad-b­Hanbal, and Imam Sufiyan Saori. Everyone of them was an ascetic, devout, learned in the science of the hereafter, law giver for the people, seeker of God's pleasure through the help of Fiqh. Everyone of them possessed five qualities, but the modern Faqihs accepted only one of these qualities. That is research into the minutest details of Fiqh. The four other qualities relate to the good of the hereafter and only one relate to the good of this world. They are followed only in respect of one quality and not the other four.

Imam Abu Hanifa

He was a great Imam and a great ascetic and God-fearing man. He sought God's pleasure by his knowledge. Ibn Mubarak said that Imam Abu Hanifa had good character and conduct and observed prayer and fasted too much. Hammad-b.Sulaiman said that he was in the habit of praying the whole night, and in another narration half the night. Once Abu Hanifa was walking in a street when the people hinted at him saying: This man spends the whole night in prayer. He said: I am ashamed before God that I am described by something which I don't possess. Regarding his asceticism, Rabia-b-Asem said: Caliph Yezid sent me once to Abu Hanifa and he wanted to appoint him as cashier of the state treasury. On his refusal to accept the post, he was given twenty stripes. Now see how he fled away from a prize post and as a result he received punishment. Hakim-b-Hashim said: I heard about Abu Hanifa at Syria that he was the most trusted man for which the Caliph wanted him to be appointed as a Treasurer of the state treasury and threatened him with punishment if he would not accept it. He preferred King's punishment to that of God.

Ibnul Mubarak narrated about Abu Hanifa: Do you say of that man who was given the treasures of the world but who fled away from them? Muhammad-b-Shuja narrated: Caliph Al Mansur ordered 10,000 dirhams to be given to the Imam but he declined the offer. On the day when the wealth would be delivered to him, he covered his body with a cloth after prayer and did not talk with anybody. The man of the Caliph went to him with Dirhams but the Imam did not talk with him. One of the people present said: This is his habit. Put it in a corner of his room. This was done. Thereafter Abu Hanifa left death instruction with regard to this wealth and said to his son: When I die and you finish my burial, take this purse to the Caliph and tell him: This is your trust which you have deposited with Abu Hanifa. His son said: I did accordingly. The Caliph said: May God have mercy on your father. It is narrated that he was once offered the post of the chief justice of the state, but he said: I am not fit for this post. When he was asked about the reason, he said: If I have told the truth, it is good for the post: and if I have told a lie, I am unfit for that post as I am a liar. Abu Hanifa's knowledge of the things of the hereafter and his concern over the important matters of religion are proved by the following narrations. lbn Jury said: I was informed that Abu Hanifa was a great God-fearing man. Sharik said: Abu Hanifa used to spend long time in silence and meditation and converse little with the people. These actions prove his exoteric knowledge. He who has been given silence and asceticism has been given all knowledge.


8 Rules of Debates and Arguments

>> Saturday, August 23, 2008

This is the second article dealing with the etiquette of debates. It deals with the rules of debates and the guidelines we should follow if we decide to debate. Many times we find ourselves arguing and not following these guidelines because we don't even know these rules. If we knew these rules and the prerequisite of debating, we would not even debate in the first place.

In the Words of Imam Ghazzali

Harms of the science of polemics and evils of debates and disputations

Know, 0 dear readers, that after the Prophet, the rightly guided Caliphs were the leaders of the learned in the science of God. They were the eyes of knowledge and were experienced in the legal decisions. They did not take the help of jurisprudents except in cases where consultation was necessary. They decided on the strength of Ijtihad and their decisions were recorded in their lives. After their death, Caliphate went to those who were not so experienced in legal matters and administrative affairs. They were compelled to seek the aid of jurisprudents. At that time, a band of Tabeyins (successors of companions) were alive and they persisted in following strictly the injunctions of religion. Whenever the Caliphs called them, they fled. But some learned men used to mix with the Caliphs and consequently became humiliated. Therefore there were differences of opinion among the learned men and there grew different Mazhabs or sects as a result. There were argumentations and disputations over the intricate questions of religion. They composed also many works on these subjects. This induced the people to take to controversies and disputations.

There are eight conditions of debates

The first condition is that where debate for search of truth is one of Farze Kefayah duties, one who has not already fulfilled his part in duties of Farze Ain should not engage himself in the debates even for searching truth.

The second condition is that one should not consider debates more important than Farze Kefayah duties. He commits sin who does other works leaving aside a more important Farze Kefayah duty. He is like a man who does not give water to drink to people who are thirsty and facing death even though he n has got power to do so, because he remains then busy in giving lessons of cupping. Once the Prophet was asked: When will the people give up enjoining good and forbidding evil? The Prophet said: When flattery will grow in good people among you, kingdom will go to the meanest of you and theology to those who will be corrupt.

The third condition which justifies debate is that the debater should have ability and give decision on his own responsibility without referring to the opinion of Imam Abu Hanifa or any other Imams. He who has not the ability of independent interpretation should not express his opinion but should refer it to an Imam.

The fourth condition which justifies debate is that the subject for decision should be about actual cases that crop up, for example, the question of inheritance and not about future cases. The companions also held consultations as questions arose or were 14 likely to arise in order to arrive at truth.

The fifth condition is that debate should be held in private in preference to open meetings in presence of noted people and in grandeur because privacy is more suitable for clear thinking and to examine what is right and what is wrong.

The sixth condition is that the debater should like truth in the same spirit as a lost thing is searched for. He should not mind whether the truth is found by him or by his adversary. When Hazrat Umar was once giving sermon, a woman pointed out to him his mistake to which he submitted. At another time, Hazrat Ali was asked a question by a man and he replied. When the man pointed out his mistake, he admitted it.

The seventh condition is that the debater should not prevent his adversary from giving up one argument in favour of another and one illustration in favour of another.

The eighth condition is that debate should be held with such person from whom benefit is derived and who is learned.

From these eight conditions, you will be able to distinguish those who debate for the sake of God and those who debate for other purposes.


Evils of Debates

>> Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Today we find ourselves constantly arguing with people, let it be about Islam or worldly affairs. And we get so deep into the argument we tend to fall into evils. Imam Ghazzali describes these evils in his Ihya Ulum-Id-Din.
Before I continue I would like to add that Imam Ghazzali divided the topic of debate into two. One topic was the "Rules of Debate" and the other the "Evils of Debates." This post is about the "Evils of Debates." In his work it came after the "Rules of Debates" but I decided for this blog it would be more beneficial that I publish this first, InshAllah.

In The Words of Imam Ghazzali

The following evils arise out of modem debates.

(1) Envy. The Prophet said: Envy consumes good deeds as fire consumes fuels. A debater is never free from envy and hatred. Envy is a burning fire. One who falls in it gets punishment in the world. Hazrat Ibn Abbas said: Acquire knowledge wherever it is found and don't obey the devils who are prone to disputes.

(2) Pride. The Prophet said: A believer cannot have pride in him. There is a Hadis Qudsi in which God said: Grandeur is My cloak and pride is My mantle. I destroy one who snatches anything of these two from Me.

(3) Rancour A debater is seldom free from the evil of rancour. The Prophet said: A believer has got no rancour.

(4) Back-biting which is likened by God to the eating of carrion (49:12). A debater ascribes to his opponent foolishness, ignorance and stupidity.

(5) Declaration of self-purity. God says : Don't attribute purity to yourself. He knows best who fears Him (53 : 33).

(6) Spying and prying into the secrets of adversary. God says: Pry not (49: 12).

(7) Hypocrisy. A debater expresses his friendship for his adversary outwardly but he cherishes hatred for him inwardly. The Prophet said: When the learned men do not translate their learning into action, when they profess love for one another with their tongue and nurse hatred in their hearts, when they sever the ties of relationship. God sends curse upon them, makes their tongues mute and their eyes blind.

(8) To turn away from truth. The most hateful thing to a debater is to reject the truth revealed to his adversary and thus he takes to deception and deceit. The Prophet prohibited dispute about, useless things. He said: If a man gives up disputation in matters of unlawful things, a garden will be built for him in Paradise. If a man gives up disputations in matters of truth, a house will be built up for him in the highest Paradise. God said: He is more wrongful than one who devises a lie against God and calls the truth a lie when it comes to him 29 : 68. God said: Who is more wrongful than he who lies against God and treats the truth when it comes to him as a lie.(39:33)

(9) Another fault of debate is show and Battering the people in an effort to win their favour and to mislead them.

Hypocrisy is the greatest disease with which a debater is attacked and it is a major sin.

(10) Deception. Debaters are compelled to deception. These ten evils are the secret major sins arising out of debates and disputations. Besides these major offences, there arise many other guilts out of controversies leading to blows, kicks, boxing, tearing of garments etc.

The learned men are of three classes. One class comprise those who ruin themselves and also ruin others. Another class make themselves fortunate and make others also fortunate. Such learned men call others towards good. The third class of learned men call ruin to themselves but make others fortunate.


Manners to be observed by a Teacher

>> Sunday, August 17, 2008

My last post was about the duties of a student, so it only seems logical for this post to be about the duties of a teacher. Very often those of us who decide to teach fall into the abyss of arrogance, others for fear of falling into that abyss never take up the mantle of teacher. However part of practicing Islam is learning and then teaching. And to help us along the way Islam has given us the duties of the student as well as the duties of a teacher. InshAllah this post will be beneficial to all. Now without Further ado,

In the Words of Imam Ghazzali

A man has got four conditions in relation to wealth. A wealthy man at first produces commodities. Secondly, he hoards his hoards productions and does not seek the aid of others. Thirdly, he spends it for himself and rests satisfied with it. Fourthly, he spends therefrom for another to get honour. The last is the best. Similar are the conditions of knowledge. It is acquired like wealth and has got four conditions-(1) condition of acquisition of knowledge, (2) condition after acquisition of knowledge, (3) condition wherein he will contemplate and enjoy his achievement, and (4) condition wherein he would impart his knowledge to others and this last condition is the best. He who acquires knowledge and acts up to it and teaches it to the people is noble to the angels of heaven and earth. He is like the sun which illumines itself and gives light to other things. Such a man is like a pot of musk which is full of fragrance and give fragrance to others. He who teaches knowledge to others but does not himself act up to it is like a notebook which does not benefit itself but benefits others or like an instrument which gives edge to iron but itself has got no knowledge_ or like a needle which remains naked but sews clothing for others, or like a lamp which gives light to other things but itself burns. A poet said: Knowledge without action is like a glowing wick, It gives light to others but itself dies burning. Whoever takes up the profession of teaching should observe the following duties:

(1) He will show kindness and sympathy to the students and treat them as his own children . The Prophet said: I am to you like a father to his son. His object should be to protect the students from the fire of Hell. As parents save their children from the fire of this world, so a teacher should save his students or disciples from the fire of Hell. The duties of a teacher are more than those of parents. A father is the immediate cause of this transient life, but a teacher is the cause of immortal life. It is because of the spiritual teacher that hereafter is much remembered. By teacher, I mean the teacher of the sciences of the hereafter or the sciences of the world with the object of the hereafter. A teacher ruins himself and also his students if he teaches for the sake of the world. For this reason, the people of the hereafter are journeying towards the next world and to God and remain absent from the world. The months and years of this world are so many stations of their journey. There is no miserliness in the fortunes of the next world and so there is no envy among them. They turn to the verse: "The believers are brethren"(49 : 10).

The second duty of a teacher is to follow the usages and ways of the Prophet. In other words, he should not seek remuneration for teaching but nearness to God therefor. God instruct's us to say: I don't want any remuneration for this from you (9 : 31). Wealth and property are the servants of body which is the vehicle of soul of which the essence is know ledge and for which there is honour of soul. He who seeks wealth in lieu of knowledge is like one Who has got his face besmeared with impurities but wants to cleanse his body. In that case, the master is made a servant and the servant a master.

The third duty of a teacher is that he should not withhold from his students any advice. After he finishes the outward sciences, he should teach them the inward sciences. He should tell them that the object of education is to gain nearness of God, not power or riches and that God created ambition as a means of perpetuating knowledge which is essential for these sciences.

(4) The fourth duty of a teacher is to dissuade his students from evil Ways with care and caution, with sympathy and not with rebuke and harshness, because in that case it destroys the veil of awe and encourages disobedience. The Holy Prophet is the guide of all teachers. He said: If men had been forbidden to make Porridge of camel's dung, they would have done it saying that they would not have been forbidden to do it unless there had been some good in it.

The fifth duty of a teacher is that he shall not belittle the value of other science before his students. He who teaches grammar naturally thinks the science of jurisprudence as bad and he who teaches jurisprudence discourages the science of traditions and so on. Such evils are blameworthy. In fact the teachers of one learning should prepare his students for study of other learnings and then he should observe the rules of gradual progress from one stage to another.

The sixth duty that a teacher should do is to teach his students up to the power of their understanding. The students should not be taught such things as are beyond the capacity of their understanding. In this matter, he should follow the Prophet who said: We prophets form one

class. We have been commanded to give every man his rightful place and to speak to men according to their intellect. The Prophet said: When a man speaks such a word to a people who cannot grasp it with their intellect , it becomes a danger to some persons. Hazrat Ali said pointing out to his breast: There is much knowledge in it, but then there should be some people to understand it. The hearts of pious men are graves of secret matters. From this, it is understood that whatever the teacher knows should not all be communicated to the students at the same time. Jesus Christ said: Don't hang pearls around the neck of a swine. Wisdom is better than pearls. He who knows it as bad is worse than swine. Once a learned man was questioned about something but he gave no reply. The questioner said: Have you not heard that the Prophet said: He who conceals any useful knowledge will on the Resurrection Day be bridled with a bridle of fire? The learned man said: You may place the bridle of fire and go. If I don't disclose it to one who understands it, then put the bridle of fire upon me. God said: Don't give to the fools your property 4:4. There is warning in this verse that it is better to safeguard knowledge from those who might be corrupted by it. To give a thing to one who is not fit for it and not to give a thing to one who is fit for it are equally oppression. A certain poet therefore said: “Should I cast pearls before the illiterate shepherds? They will not understand, nor know their worth.” If God by His knowledge sends one with knowledge, I will give my goods to him, and gain his love. He wastes his learning who gives it to one unworthy. He commits sin who withholds it from one worthy.

(7) The seventh duty of a teacher is that he should teach his backward students only such things as are clear and suited to their limited understanding. Every man thinks that his wisdom is perfect and the greatest fool is he who rests satisfied with the knowledge that his intellect is perfect. In short, the door of debates should not be opened before the common men.

The eighth duty of a teacher is that he should himself do what he teaches and should not give a lie to his teaching. Knowledge can be grasped by internal eye and actions by external eye. Many people have got external eyes but very few have got internal eyes. So if the actions of a teacher are contrary to what he preaches, it does not help towards guidance, but it is like poison. A teacher is like a stamp to clay and a student is like clay. If the stamp has no character, there is no impression on clay. Or he is like a cane and the student is like the shadow of the cane. How can the shadow of the cane be straight when the cane itself is crooked? God said: Do you enjoin good to the People and forget it for yourselves (2:44). Hadrat Ali said: Two men have broken my back, the learned man who ruins himself and the fool Who adopts asceticism. The learned man misleads the people through his sin and the fool through his evil action.


Manners to be observed by a student

>> Saturday, August 16, 2008

It only seems correct that I start off inshAllah with the topic: The 10 Duties of a Student.

In the Words of Imam Ghazzali

1) The first duty of a student is to keep himself free from impure habits and evil matters. Effort to acquire knowledge is the worship of mind. It purifies secret faults and takes to God. Prayer is observed by outward organs and as outward purity is not gained except by outward organs, so worship by mind, the fountainhead of acquisition of knowledge, cannot be attained without the removal of bad habits and evil attributes. The Prophet said: Religion is founded on cleanliness. So outward and inward purities are necessary. God says: The polytheists are impure- 9: 28. It is understood from this that purity and impurity are not merely external as the polytheists also keep their dresses clean and bodies clean, but as their mind is impure, so they are generally impure. The inward purity is of greatest importance. The Prophet therefore said: Angels do not enter a house wherein there are dogs. Human mind is a house, the abode of angels, the place of their movements. The blameworthy evils like anger, lust, rancour, envy, pride, conceit and the like are dogs. When dogs reside in a heart, where is the place for the angels? God takes the secrets of knowledge to the hearts through the angels. They do not take it except to the pure souls. Hazrat Ibn Mas'ud said: Knowledge is not acquired through much learning. It is a light cast in heart. A certain sage said: Knowledge is God-fear as God said: The learned among the people fear God most.
(2) The second duty of student is to reduce his worldly affairs and keep aloof from kith and kin as acquisition of knowledge is not possible in these environments. For this reason, a certain sage said: God has not gifted two minds to a man. For this reason, a certain sage said: Knowledge will not give you its full share till you surrender your entire mind to it.
(3) The third duty of a student is not to take pride or exalt himself over the teacher but rather entrust to him the conduct of all his affairs and submit to his advice as a patient submits to his physician. The Prophet said: It is the habit of a believer not to flatter anyone except when he seeks knowledge. Therefore a student should not take pride over his teacher. Knowledge cannot be acquired except through modesty and humility. God said: Herein there is warning for one who has got a heart or sets up ear while he himself being a witness (50 : 36). The meaning of having a heart is to be fit for receiving knowledge and one who is prepared and capable of understanding knowledge. Whatever the teacher should recommend to the student, the latter should follow it putting aside his own opinion. The people should question only in the matter which the teacher permits him. Here there is an instance of Moses and Khizir. Khizir said: You will not ask me anything I do. Still Moses questioned him and for that he separated him.
(4) The fourth duty of a student is that he should first pay no attention to the difference whether about worldly sciences or science of the hereafter as it may perplex his mind and he may lose enthusiasm. He should adopt first what the teacher says and should not argue about the different mazhabs or sects.
(5) The fifth duty is that a student should not miss any branch of knowledge. He should try to become perfect in them as all branches of learning help one another and some branches are
allied with others. If a man does not get a thing, it becomes his enemy. God says: When they do not find guidance, they say, it is an age-long lie (46 : 10). A poet said: A sweet thing is bitter in the month of a patient as sweet water is tasteless to a sick man. Good knowledge is acquired according to one's genius. It leads men to God or helps him in that way. Each branch of knowledge has got its fixed place. He who guards it, is like a guard who patrols the frontiers in jihad. Each has got a rank in it and each has got a reward in the hereafter according to his rank. The only condition required is that the object of acquisition of knowledge should be to
please God.
(6) The sixth duty of a student is that he should not take up all branches of knowledge at a time, but should take up the most important one at first as life is not sufficient for all branches of
knowledge. A little learning if acquired with enthusiasm perfects the knowledge of the hereafter or the sciences of the worldly usages and the sciences of revelation, The object of the science of worldly usages is to acquire spiritual knowledge. The goal of the spiritual knowledge is to know God. Our object by this knowledge is not that belief which is handed down from generations to generations. Our object for this knowledge is to acquire light arising out of certain faith which God casts in soul. Such light was acquired by Hazrat Abu Bakr. The Prophet said about Abu Bakr: If the faith of the people of the world is weighed with the faith of Abu Bakr, his faith would be heavy. In short, the highest and the noblest of all sciences is to know God. This science is like a sea of which the rank is that of the Prophet, then of the friends of God and finally that of those who follow them. It has been narrated that the portraits of two ancient wise men were seen on the wall of a mosque. One of them held a piece of paper in which it was written: If you purify everything, don't understand that you have even purified one thing till you know God and know that He is the cause of all Causes and the Creator of everything. In the hand of the second man, there was a scroll in which it was written: I removed thirst before by drinking water and then have come to know God. But when I have come to know God, my thirst was quenched without any water.
(7) The seventh duty of a student is that he should not take up new branch of learning till he has learnt fully the previous branch of learning, because it is requisite for the acquisition of knowledge. One branch of knowledge is a guide to another branch. God says : who so has been given the Quran recites; it with due recitation (2: 15). In other words, he does not take up one learning till he masters the previous one. Hazrat Ali said: Don't conceal truth from men, rather know the truth, then you will be the master of
(8) The eighth duty of a student is to know the causes for which noble sciences are known. It can be known from two things, nobility of its fruit and the authenticity of its principles. Take for example the science of religion and medicine. The fruit of the science of religion is to gain an eternal life and the fruit of the other is to gain a temporary life. From these points of view, the science of religion is more noble as its result is more noble. Take up Mathematics and Astrology, the former is noble because the former is more authentic in its foundations. Form this it is clear that the science of the knowledge of God, of His angels of His books and of His prophets is the noblest also the branches of knowledge
which help it.
(9) The ninth duty of a student is to purify mind and action with virtues, to gain proximity to God and His angels and to live in the company of those who live near Him. His aim should not be to gain worldly matters, to acquire riches and properties, to argue with the illiterate and to show pride and haughtiness. He whose object is to gain nearness of God should seek such learning as helps towards that goal, namely the knowledge of the hereafter and the learnings which are auxiliary to it. God said: God will raise herewith in rank who are believers and to whom knowledge have been given (58 : 11). God said: They have got ranks to God. In short, the ranks of the learned have got stages, some lower, some higher. The highest rank is that of the Prophets, then of the friends of God and then of the learned who are firm in knowledge and then of the pious who follow them.
(10) The tenth duty of a student is that he should keep attention to the Primary object of knowledge. It is not in your power to enjoy bliss of this world and that of the next world together. This world is a temporary abode. Body is a conveyance and the actions run towards the goal. The goal is God and nothing else. All bliss and happiness lie in Him. So give more importance to the sciences which take to that ultimate goal.