The Pursuit of Knowledge



It was our second day back to school and everybody was buzzing with excitement and energy. So many stories and experiences to share with people who do not just feign interest… some had traveled back to their families, some had suffered miserable diseases, some spent their time memorizing the Quran and some had introduced bundles of joy into the world. China, Tanzania, India, Pakistan, Greece, France, London, America, Bangladesh seem to be mere names of places, separated by invisible man-made borders.

We had our first Tafsir class for the semester last week and I can’t begin to describe the influx of thoughts I had during and after the lecture.

The Tafsir professor began by asking us to sit with ourselves quietly and try to remember our very first day in the Institute of Arabic Language. What was your intention when you traveled all the way from your home country; leaving behind your family, friends and everything familiar? How difficult was it and how prepared were you? 

Where do you stand now, as a last year student in the institute? 

She spoke about the importance of having a sincere intention that doesn’t waver for worldly gains. The example of the Dunyah is that of a man who is allowed entrance into a room full of luxurious beds, royal feasts, jewels and treasures. He is locked in the room and is told to collect as much as he can from these riches in the time limit of three days. He begins walking around the room, decides to enjoy the delicious banquet spread out in front of him, and eats until his eyes are drooping. He lies down on the plush mattresses and sleeps until he is woken by a knock on the door. “Your time is up,” says a voice, and he is absolutely shocked and in denial; he has been too busy taking pleasure to have collected anything beneficial to take back with him, and now death is knocking on the door. He frantically grabs everything he can possibly reach for. This is the example of the Dunyah, our short stay, and the little benefit we collect from it.

If your goals include one or all of the following, your intention is correct insha Allah:

1-     You are seeking knowledge to lift ignorance off yourself

2-     You are seeking knowledge to lift ignorance off others

3-     You are seeking to knowledge to memorize, understand and therefore protect the Shari’ah from being lost, forgotten or adulterated

4-     You are seeking knowledge to defend the Shari’ah from enemies of Islam

She spoke about corrupted intentions and the danger of being a student of knowledge for the wrong reasons. She explained various hadiths about intention and asked us to write them down in the beginning of every notebook so that we may be continuously reminded to renew and revise it. 

She told us never to forget that the pursuit of knowledge will never be easy, especially when it comes to studying the Quran and other sciences of the religion. We need not look far to see the truth in her words; the Messenger of Allah sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam received the Wahy (revelation) in the cave of Hiraa, when Jibreel ‘alayhissalam came to him and asked him to read. When he sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam confessed that he is not lettered, Jibreel ‘alayhissalam squeezed him until his rib bones overlapped. Then he let go and asked him to read again. He repeated his confession of being unlettered, and the pain of the second squeeze left him breathless and scared.

His forehead would shine with pearly beads of sweat on a wintry cold night because of the burden of revelation; and the camel he would be riding on would lose its balance and sit down, unable to bear the weight of the Quran. So when you find yourself in pain and difficulty on the path of knowledge; know that you are being tested with the level of your patience and enthusiasm in attaining this favor of Allah. It could be a difficulty in memorizing, understanding or even a difficulty in trying to be a practicing Muslim.

That’s all I could manage to remember when I came home that day, but insha Allah her classes will be inspiration for many more posts in the coming days. 

-The Sahara Bloggers (Umm Saifullah)



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