How to find a good Teacher - Part 2: Signs of the learned men of the hereafter

>> Sunday, September 7, 2008


First and foremost I have edited the end of part 1 of this series. Please go abck to read the ending. Second I would like everyone to know that I have titled this series "How to find a good teacher," Imam Ghazzali on the other hand called it the signs of the learned men of the hereafter. In this part you will read the first two signs of the learned men.

In The Words of Imam Ghazzali

Signs of the Learned Man of the Hereafter
, There are many signs of the teamed man of the hereafter. (1) First Sign. He does not seek the world by his learning. He considers the world as insignificant and the hereafter as great and everlasting. He considers this world and the next world as diametrically opposed to each other like two hostile friends of a man, or like two co-wives. If one friend or co-wife is pleased, the other friend or co-wife becomes displeased. The two worlds are like two scales of a balance, the lower the one falls, the other rises up higher. Or they are like the east and the west. The more one advances towards the east, the more he goes distant from the west. Or the two worlds are like two pitchers, one is full and another empty. The more you pour water from the full pitcher into the empty one, the more the full pitcher will become less and the empty one more in water. There is defect in the intellect of a man who has not come to know that the happiness of this world will soon pass away, as this matter has been established as true by veritable sights and experiences. He who does not recognise the grave nature and stability of the next world is an unbeliever bereft of faith. He who does not consider this world and the next world as opposed to each other does not know the religion of the Prophets and does not believe the Quran from first to last. Such a learned man is not included within the category of the learned men of the hereafter. He who knows these things but does not love the next world more than this world is in the hand of the devil.

God said in the scripture of David: If any learned man loves his passion more than his love for Myself, My treatment with him is that I deprive him of the pleasure of communion with me. 0 David, don't take the message of God to such a learned man. The world captivated him and he will turn you from My love. Such a man is a robber in the pathway of My servants. When you see such a man who searches Me, he is a true servant, 0 David, I write one as a man of sound judgement who flees towards Me. I will never punish such a person. For this reason, Hasan Basri said: Death of the heart is the punishment of a learned man and death of the heart means search of this world in exchange of the actions of the next world. Hazrat Ihya-b-Mu'az said: When the world is sought by learning and wisdom, his light goes gradually. Hazrat Sayeed-Musayyeb said: When you see a learned man frequenting the houses of rulers, he is a robber. Hazrat Umar said: When you see a learned man addicted to this world, disregard him for the sake of your religion, because every learned man is addicted to his object of love. The saint Sahal Tastari said: Every branch of learning is worldly except the learning of religion which, if put into practice, is next worldly. Every action without sincerity is faithless. He also said: All are dead except the learned. All teamed men are in a state of stupefaction except those who translate their learning into practice. All the learned men who translate their learning into practice are in error except those who are sincere. Those learned men who are sincere are in fear till they come to know their ultimate good end. Jesus Christ said: How can a man be counted as a learned man who persists in the pathways of this world although his journey is towards the next world? The Prophet said: He who searches learning in which there is pleasure of God but by which he seeks worldly honour will not get fragrance of Paradise on the Resurrection Day. God says of the dishonest learned men: They devour this world in lieu of learning. He described the learned men of the hereafter as God-fearing and given to asceticism. God says regarding the learned men of the world: God took oath from the People of the Book that they would disclose it to the people and would not conceal it, but they threw it behind their backs and sold it for a small price (3 : 184). God says regarding the learned men of the next world: There are such men among the People of the Book who believe in what was revealed to them and what has been revealed to you. They don't sell the verses of God for a small price Their reward is near their Lord (3:198).

The Prophet said: God sent revelation to a people: Those who learn jurisprudence for an object other than that of religion and those who search the world with the actions of the next world are like those who wear the dress of goat's skin before the people but whose hearts are like the raving wolves. Their tongues are sweeter than honey but their hearts are more bitter than colocynth. They deceive Me and scorn Me. I will create such a calamity for them which will perplex even the patient. The Prophet said: The learned men of my followers are of two kinds. God gives to one kind learning which they distribute among the people and for which they do not covet anything and they do not sell it for a small price. The birds in the horizon, the fish in water, all the animals in the world, and the honourable scribes invoke blessings for them. They will come to God being honoured on the Resurrection Day and they will even get the company of the Prophets.

God gives learning to another kind pf men but they are miser to distribute it to the people. They take wealth in its exchange and sell it for a small price. Such people will be brought on the Resurrection Day with bridles of fire and they will raise up shrieks before all the creatures. It will be proclaimed: They are children of so and so. God gave them learning but they were miser in distributing it to the people and took small price in lieu thereof and property in exchange. Thus they will be punished till God finishes the judgment of account.

A more severe punishment will be meted out to the following kind of people. A certain man was a servant of Prophet Moses. He went round saying: Moses, the chosen man of God, told me this. Moses, the confidant of God, told me this. Moses, the intimate friend of God, told me this. Saying these, he became rich and then disappeared. Moses searched for him but his whereabouts were not found. Sometime after, a man came to Moses with a pig with a rope tied to its neck. Moses said to him: Do you know such and such a person? He said: Yes, he is this pig. Moses said to him: 0 Lord, turn him into his former position. I shall ask him about his condition. God revealed to him. If you remember Me with what Adam and his successors remembered Me, I shall not accept your invocation. I shall inform you how he was changed to this condition. He searched for the world in lieu of religion. A more severe narration was reported by Mu'az-b-Jabal to the effect that the Prophet had said: One danger of a learned man is that he would prefer talking than hearing, as there is ornamentation and exaggeration in his speech. A speaker is not free from these faults but there is safety and wisdom in silence. There is such a man among the learned who guards his learning but does not like to communicate it to others. Such a learned man is in the first stage of Hell. There is such a man among the learned who is like a king in learning. In other words, if any objection is raised against learning, he becomes angry. He is in the second stage of Hell. There is such a man among the learned who broadcasts his learning and narrates traditions to the rich and not to those who are in need of them. Such a learned man is in the third stage of Hell.

There is such a man among the learned who remains busy with legal decisions and commits mistakes and remains satisfied with one who does divine service. Such a learned man is in the fourth stage of Hell. There is such a man among the learned who delivers lectures quoting the sayings of the Jews and Christians to show his learning. Such a learned man is in the fifth stage of Hell. There is such a man among the learned who delivers lectures with pride and self-conceit and considers his speech as good and when any other man delivers lectures, he sneers at him. Such a learned man is in the seventh stage of Hell.

There is in Hadis: If a man is praised so much that it fills up what is between the east and the west, it is not valuable to God even like the wing of a mosquito. The Prophet said: Don't sit with every learned man. Sit with the learned man who calls towards five matters-towards faith from doubt, sincerity from show, modesty from pride, love from enmity, and asceticism from worldliness.

(2) Second sign. The second sign of the learned man of the next world is that his words and actions are the same, rather he does not order an action to be done without first doing it himself. God says: Will you enjoin the people to do good deeds but forget them for yourselves (2 : 41)? God says: It is a hateful thing to God that you say what you do not do 61 : God says in the story of Shuaib: I don't wish to do anything which I myself forbid you (9 :90). God says: Fear God and He will give you knowledge (2 : 282). God says: Fear God and you will know-(2 : 120). God says: Fear God and listen (5 : 11). God said to Jesus Christ: 0 son of Mary, take lessons to yourself and then give admonition to others, otherwise you will he ashamed of Me. The Prophet said: I passed by a party of men in the night of my ascension to heaven. Their tongues were being cut with scissors. I asked them: Who are you? They said: We used to give advice to others for good deeds but we used mot to do them. We used to prohibit evil deeds to others, but we used to do them. The Prophet said: The corrupt learned men and illiterate worshippers will be the cause of destruction of my people. The Prophet once came to his companions and said: Take to learning as far as 'possible, but God will not give its rewards till you translate it into action. Jesus Christ said: He who teaches good but does not translate it into action is like a woman who commits fornication in secret and becomes pregnant but when her pregnancy is exposed, she becomes repentant. God will disgrace one before all people on the Resurrection Day who does not act according to his learning. Hazrat Mu'az said: Beware of the learned man's error, because he is the most honoured one among the people and because the people follow his error. Hazrat Umar said: Three things will cause the erred of time. One of them is the error of the learned men. Hazrat Ibn Mas'ud said : Soon there will come a time over the people when sweetness of heart will vanish. At that time neither the teachers, nor the taught will get any benefit from learning. The hearts •of the learned will be hard like a hard stone Raids will fall on it from the sky but it will slip away therefrom. The reason is that the hearts of the learned will be addicted to the love of this world in preference to that of the next world. God will then rob them of the fountain of wisdom and extinguish the light of guidance from their hearts. They will say to you by their tongue 'Fear God' but sin will be exposed in their actions. Tongue will then become dry and heart hard. The only reason is that the teachers will teach except for the sake of God. There is written in the Torah and Bible: Don't search for learning which you do not know till you do what you know. Hazrat Huzaifa said: You are now in an age wherein if you give up one tenth of what you know, you will perish, but their will soon come an age wherein if a man does one-tenths of what he knows he will get salvation. The simile of the learned man is that of a judge. The Prophet said: Judges are of three classes. One class of judges judge with justice and with knowledge of truth and they will go to Paradise. Another class of judges judge unjustly with or without knowledge of truth and they will go to Hell. Another class of judges judge contrary to the laws of God and they will go to, Hell. The Prophet said: The devil sometimes will prevail over you on account of knowledge. It was questioned: 0 Prophet of God, how will it happen? He said: The devil will say: Search for knowledge but don't put it into practice till you acquire it. So he will remain busy with acquisition of knowledge but will remain without action up to his death and at the time of his death he will have no action. Hazrat Ibn Mas'ud said: The Quran was revealed in order that men may direct their lives according to its teachings. Direct your life according as you read it. There will soon appear such men who will keep it like an arrow and they are not good among you. The learned man who does not act up to his knowledge is like a patient who describes the qualities of a medicine without using it or like a hungry man who describes the taste of a food without eating it. God said: Woe unto you for what you utter. The Prophet said: What I fear most for my followers is the errors of the learned and the arguments of the hypocrites about the Quran.