The Proper Sources of Knowledge
The second Hadith of the 40 An-Nawawi was related in Muslim ibn al-Ḥajjāj al-Qushayrī an-Naysābūrī
( مسلم بن الحجاج القشيري النيسابوري ) commonly known as Imam Muslim. The most authentic books after the Quran are Sahih al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim. Imam Muslim narrates from Yahya Bin Ya’mar ( يحيى بنِ يعمرَ ) the first time people spoke wrongly about Qadr (Divine Decree) in al Basra was in place of worship called al Johani and that is the origin of a sect called Al Mu’tazela and they used to say that there is no Qadr (Divine Decree). They would wrongly say that something happens then Allah finds out about it. This is clear disbelief in the Qadr (Divine Decree). So he said: I went with Humaid Bin Abdulrahman Al Humayree and went to Hajj (or Umrah) and was eager to meet one of the companions of the Prophet (ﷺ) so that we ask him about what these people were saying about the Qadr. We found Abdullah Bin Omar so we walked with him each one of us on a side. I said Abu Abdulrahman (the kunya of Abdullah bin Umar) there are people among us who read the Quran and seek knowledge and say that there is no Qadr (Divine Decree). Abdullah Ibn Umar said I disavow them (I have nothing to do with them) and they have nothing to do with me. If one if them spent gold in the amount of the Mount Uhud it would not be accepted from him until he believes in Qadr. My father (Omar) narrated to me:
حَدَّثَنَا عَلِيُّ بْنُ مُحَمَّدٍ، حَدَّثَنَا وَكِيعٌ، عَنْ كَهْمَسِ بْنِ الْحَسَنِ، عَنْ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ بُرَيْدَةَ، عَنْ يَحْيَى بْنِ يَعْمَرَ، عَنِ ابْنِ عُمَرَ، عَنْ عُمَرَ، قَالَ كُنَّا جُلُوسًا عِنْدَ النَّبِيِّ ـ صلى الله عليه وسلم ـ فَجَاءَ رَجُلٌ شَدِيدُ بَيَاضِ الثِّيَابِ شَدِيدُ سَوَادِ شَعَرِ الرَّأْسِ لاَ يُرَى عَلَيْهِ أَثَرُ السَّفَرِ وَلاَ يَعْرِفُهُ مِنَّا أَحَدٌ . قَالَ فَجَلَسَ إِلَى النَّبِيِّ ـ صلى الله عليه وسلم ـ فَأَسْنَدَ رُكْبَتَهُ إِلَى رُكْبَتِهِ وَوَضَعَ يَدَيْهِ عَلَى فَخِذَيْهِ . ثُمَّ قَالَ يَا مُحَمَّدُ مَا الإِسْلاَمُ قَالَ ” شَهَادَةُ أَنْ لاَ إِلَهَ إِلاَّ اللَّهُ وَأَنِّي رَسُولُ اللَّهِ وَإِقَامُ الصَّلاَةِ وَإِيتَاءُ الزَّكَاةِ وَصَوْمُ رَمَضَانَ وَحَجُّ الْبَيْتِ ” . قَالَ صَدَقْتَ . فَعَجِبْنَا مِنْهُ يَسْأَلُهُ وَيُصَدِّقُهُ . ثُمَّ قَالَ يَا مُحَمَّدُ مَا الإِيمَانُ قَالَ ” أَنْ تُؤْمِنَ بِاللَّهِ وَمَلاَئِكَتِهِ وَرُسُلِهِ وَكُتُبِهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الآخِرِ وَالْقَدَرِ خَيْرِهِ وَشَرِّهِ ” . قَالَ صَدَقْتَ . فَعَجِبْنَا مِنْهُ يَسْأَلُهُ وَيُصَدِّقُهُ . ثُمَّ قَالَ يَا مُحَمَّدُ مَا الإِحْسَانُ قَالَ ” أَنْ تَعْبُدَ اللَّهَ كَأَنَّكَ تَرَاهُ فَإِنَّكَ إِنْ لاَ تَرَاهُ فَإِنَّهُ يَرَاكَ ” . قَالَ فَمَتَى السَّاعَةُ قَالَ ” مَا الْمَسْئُولُ عَنْهَا بِأَعْلَمَ مِنَ السَّائِلِ ” . قَالَ فَمَا أَمَارَتُهَا قَالَ ” أَنْ تَلِدَ الأَمَةُ رَبَّتَهَا ” . قَالَ وَكِيعٌ يَعْنِي تَلِدُ الْعَجَمُ الْعَرَبَ ” وَأَنْ تَرَى الْحُفَاةَ الْعُرَاةَ الْعَالَةَ رِعَاءَ الشَّاءِ يَتَطَاوَلُونَ فِي الْبِنَاءِ ” . قَالَ ثُمَّ قَالَ فَلَقِيَنِي النَّبِيُّ ـ صلى الله عليه وسلم ـ بَعْدَ ثَلاَثٍ فَقَالَ ” أَتَدْرِي مَنِ الرَّجُلُ ” . قُلْتُ اللَّهُ وَرَسُولُهُ أَعْلَمُ . قَالَ ” ذَاكَ جِبْرِيلُ أَتَاكُمْ يُعَلِّمُكُمْ مَعَالِمَ دِينِكُمْ ” . [رَوَاهُ مُسْلِمٌ]
It was narrated that ‘Umar said: “We were sitting with the Prophet (ﷺ) when a man came to him whose clothes were intensely white and whose hair was intensely black; no signs of travel could be seen upon him, and none of us recognized him. He sat down facing the Prophet (ﷺ), with his knees touching his, and he put his hands on his thighs, and said: ‘O Muhammad, what is Islam?’ He said: ‘To testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah, and that I am the Messenger of Allah, to establish regular prayer, to pay Zakat, to fast in Ramadan, and to perform Hajj to the House (the Ka’bah).’ He said: ‘You have spoken the truth.’ We were amazed by him: He asked a question, then told him that he had spoken the truth. Then he said: ‘O Muhammad, what is Iman (faith)? He said: ‘To believe in Allah, His angels, His Messengers, His books, the Last day, and the Divine Decree (Qadar), both the good of it and the bad of it.’ He said’ You have spoken the truth.’ We were amazed by him. He asked a question, then told him that he had spoken the truth. Then he said: ‘O Muhammad, what is Ihsan (perfection)? He said: ‘To worship Allah as if you see Him, for even though you do not see Him, He sees you.’ He asked: “When will the Hour be?’ He said: ‘The one who is being asked about it does not know more than the one who is asking.’ He asked: ‘Then what are its signs?’ he said: ‘When the slave woman gives birth to her master and when you see barefoot, unclothed, destitute shepherds competing in constructing tall buildings.’ The Prophet (ﷺ) met me three days later and asked me: ‘Do you know who that man was? I said” ‘Allah and his Messenger know best.’ He said: ‘That was Jibril, who came to you to teach you your religion.'” [Muslim]
The scholars this hadith either called this the Long Hadith of Jibril or the Levels of Religion (Islam, Iman and Ihsan) hadith.
This confusion about religion did not start among the companions of the Prophet (ﷺ), it started with people after them. A people whose knowledge decreased and relied on their own reasoning at the expense of the textual evidence (Quran and Sunnah). When Yayha and Humaid went to seek clarification they did not go to just anybody. They went to someone whom had good knowledge and sound religion. So when a person seeks a religious decree they should just not go to anybody because this is religion and it is as if the one you are asking is relating to you from Allah. That is he is telling you that Allah commands you to do such and such. So when seeking religious knowledge whom do you go to?
The Prophet (ﷺ) said that the judges fall into three categories and that judges in one of the categories will go to heaven while judges in the other two categories will be in the fire and. 1. A judge who has knowledge, acts on it and judges by it. This is the category of judges that will be heaven. 2. A judge that has knowledge but does not have Taqwa (consciousness of Allah). Accordingly, he may give a religious decree that he knows is wrong but he does so for some worldly benefit. 3. A person who makes decrees without knowledge.
So a person should go to the most knowledgeable and the most conscious of Allah. There will not be a time in which such people are not available. This is a matter of religion. A person should not take his religion except from one whose knowledge and taqwa is known. A person should strive to find such a person.
Yayha and Humaid were fortunate to find Abdullah bin Omar. He was the most cautious in following the Prophet (ﷺ). In addition to performing the sunnah of the Prophet (ﷺ) he also used to also mimic the personal habits of the Prophet (ﷺ). That is, if the Prophet (ﷺ) went on a particular path and tilted his head to avoid a branch, Abdullah bin Omar would continuing doing likewise when he reached that spot. People would ask him why to you tilt your head while there is no tree there anymore? Abdullah replied “I do so emulating the Prophet (ﷺ) as he would tilt his head at this spot.” Abdullah went to this extent then certainly he would give even more priority to following the sunnah of the Prophet (ﷺ). Although Abdullah was among the youngest of the companions he was among the most knowledgeable who learned from his father Omar (raa) and the Prophet (ﷺ) before that.
One day Abdullah bin Omar had a dream and was shy to tell his dream to the Prophet (ﷺ) so he related his dream to his sister Hafsa. Omar’s kunya was Abu Hafs. Hafs is a weightier variant of the name Hafsa who was his oldest child. Just like the Prophet (ﷺ) used to say Aish which is a weightier variant of Aishah. His dream was that he saw a well containing fire and that there were people in it that he knew (it is the hypocrites). He told Hafsa who related it to the Prophet (ﷺ). The Prophet (ﷺ) did not mention anything but told him one phrase that had an effect on Abdullah for the next 65 years which is “How blessed a man would be if he prays the night prayer”. So then Abdullah would only sleep a small part of the night for the next 65 years until he died.
So it was their fortune (Yahya and Humaid) that they met Abdullah. When they asked him he responded that to deny Qadr is disbelief. If one spent the Mount Uhud in gold it would be rejected. A person must believe in Allah, His angels, His books, His Messengers, the Day of Judgment and the Qadr both the good and bad of it. These are the six pillars of Iman. If someone disbelieves in anyone of them it is as if he has disbelieved in all of them and he is considered a disbeliever.
This Hadith has many lessons and benefits and the benefit that we want to focus on today is that if a person has a religious question he should be conscious of Allah (have taqwa) and ask the most knowledgeable and the one with the most Taqwa (consciousness of Allah). For a person with consciousness but without knowledge will misguide him. An example of this this is the man from a previous nation who killed 99 people that was related in the authentic hadith. He went to ask a man dedicated to worship. He was very dedicated and worshipped a lot but did not have knowledge. He asked if there was a repentance for him as he had killed 99 people. The worshipper due to his taqwa was shocked by this man’s crimes and said that there was no repentance. So the man killed him bringing his total to 100. The worshipper should have said “I do not know” . He gave a decree without knowledge which misguided. The man still wanted to repent and found a man with knowledge and taqwa and he told him that there is nothing that prevents you from repenting even if you killed 100 people – the door to repentance is open and Allah’s forgiveness is limitless. But the place that you currently in is a bad place and a bad environment. You have bad influences there that prevent you from making a genuine change. He told him to go to another town and you know the rest of the story.
So today we want to internalize the lesson that a person asking a religious question should go to a knowledgeable person having taqwa.