>> 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
(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.