How to find a good Teacher - Part 5: Signs of the learned men of the hereafter

>> Saturday, September 20, 2008

This is the 5th part of the series and the 6th sign.

In The Words of Imam Ghazzali

(6) Sixth sign. Another sign of the learned man of the hereafter is that he does not give Fatwa or legal decision in a hurry but tarries to be relieved of it. When he is asked about a matter known to him from the Quran, Hadis, Ijma and Qiyas, he gives opinion. When he has doubt, he says: I don't know. When he is asked about a matter about which he has formed an opinion through ljtihad, independent interpretation and speculation, he is careful not to commit himself but refer the matter to someone else who is more capable than himself. According to one tradition: There are three roots of learning, the express word of the Quran, the lasting usage of the Prophet (and another root is unknown to me-reporter). The sage Shubi said: 'I don't know' is half of learning. He who remains silent for God owing to his ignorance gets reward not less than that of the man who does not remain silent, because to confess one's ignorance is the most difficult thing. Such was the condition of companions of the Prophet and the earlier sages. When Ibn Umar was asked any question, he would say: Go to the ruler, because he has taken the affairs of men. Hazrat Ibn Mas'ud said: He who gives opinion as soon as a question is put to him is mad. He also said: 'I don't know' is the shield of a learned man. If he commits mistakes, it would amount to murder.

Ibrahim-b-Adham said: There is nothing more formidable to the devil than a learned man who manifests his knowledge both openly and silently. The devil says: Look to this man. His silence is severe to me than his speech.

Some wise man said: There are Abdals (worshippers) in the world. r meal ends when they are still hungry. They sleep when it overcomes them. Their words end only in necessary talks. In other words, they do not speak unless asked and they remain silent when sufficient reply is obtained from others.

When compelled, they reply. Ibn Umar used to say: Do you wish to use us as a bridge over which you wish to cross over to Hell. Abu Hafs Nishapuri said: A learned .man is he who fears the day of questions, who fears that he will be asked on the Resurrection Day: Wherefrom have you got this answer? The Prophet said: I don't know whether Uzair was a Prophet or not, whether Tubba was accursed or not, whether Zul-Qamair was a Prophet or not. When asked about the best and worst places on the earth, the Prophet said: I don't know. But the Almighty God said to me that the best place is mosque and the worst place is market. When Hazrat Ibn Umar was asked ten questions, he replied only one and not others. Hazrat Ibn Abbas replied nine and did not reply one. Someone said that among the jurists, the greater number were men who used to say 'we don't know' than the numbers who used to say 'we know'. Sufiyan Saori said: Malek-b-Anas Ahmad-b­Hanbal, Fuzail, Bashar and others were among the former. Abdur Rahman-b-Abi Laila said: I met in this mosque 120 companions of the Prophet among whom there was none who when questioned to express an opinion would not have wished that someone else would reply to it. It is narrated that when somebody presented something to someone of Ahle Suffa, he would give it to another who would give it to another and so on, until it finally came back to the first one. Now see what was the condition of the learned men of that age and what is the condition now. The Prophet said: Let not the people seek legal decision except from three persons, a ruler or a person to whom power is delegated or a religious man. Someone said: The companions used to refer to one another about four things Imamate (leadership), Wasiat (legacy), safe (keeping), and Fatwa (legal decision). Someone said: One who hurriedly used to give opinion was a less learned man. The activities of the companions and their followers Were confined only to four things-reading the Quran, building mosques, Zikr of God and enjoining good, and forbidding evil. They heard the Prophet say: There is no good in most of their secret talks except only in his who enjoins alms-giving or what is right or concord among men. Hadrat lbn Hussain said: Any question of legal decision, when put to them, used to be placed before Hazrat Umar who used to call all the warriors who took part in the battle of Badr for consultation. The Prophet said: If you see a man adopting silence and asceticism, take advice from him, as he is not free from wisdom.

The learned men are of two kinds, a learned man for the public who is a Mufti or giver of legal decision and a companion of the ruler, and another learned man for Tauhid and good deeds and he resides in solitude. It is said that such a learned man was Imam Ahmad-b-Hanbal who was like the river Tigris and everyone used to take benefit from him. The sage Bashr-b-Hares was also like him. He was like a covered well of fresh water visited by a single person at a time. A wise man said: When knowledge increases, loquacity decreases.

If any question was put to Hazrat Abu Darda, he used to give no reply. When Hazrat Anas was asked anything, he used to say: Ask our leader Hazrat Abbas. When Hazrat Abbas was asked, he used to say: Ask Hares-b-Zaid. When lbn Umar was asked anything he used to say: Ask Sayeed-b-Musayyeb.