Currently, our Sunday Ilm Circles have been focusing on the adab of the student of knowledge. Recently during one of our lessons, Dr. Syed touched on the meaning of ilm (knowledge) itself and how it can be recognized. We agreed that while it is something you possess and hold, it cannot be reduced to a quantitative measure. In other words, ilm is not how many Qu’ran verses or Hadith you have memorized. Rather, knowledge is a certain light.
More specifically, Imam Malik said:
“Knowledge is not knowing many narrations. Verily, knowledge is only a light that Allah places in the hearts.” [Source: Ḥilyat al-Awliyā’ 8987]
Knowledge is when that noor is placed in the hearts of servants so that they can distinguish between truth and falsehood. Therefore, a knowledgeable person is not as easily distinguishable. According to our deen, the most knowledgeable person in the room is not necessarily always that person who can tell you the most facts or win an argument. In fact, we may never truly know who is the most knowledgeable. Like other matters of character and of the heart, only Allah (SWT) truly knows this.
So we should remain humble and work on not letting our hearts harden, despite how much ilm we attain. We are reminded numerous times in the Qu’ran to remain humble:
“The true servants of the Most Compassionate are those who walk on the earth humbly, and when the foolish address them improperly, they only respond with peace.” [25:63]
We must be humble and have awareness of Allah (SWT) to attain ilm. Truly, pride and arrogance hinder us from understanding the truth. As students of knowledge, we can also experience the cyclical relationship of ilm and being humble. If you humble yourself, then Allah (SWT) gives you the truth and then you become even more humble with the ilm you gain. Furthermore, when looking at that light that Allah (SWT) places in our hearts, it is important that we implement what we know right away. Ilm ud deen is unlike other secular knowledge we attain. True believers do not sit with the knowledge they have simply for the sake of knowing. Implementation of the ilm we have is an essential part of our deen so that the knowledge can benefit us in this life and the next, inshaAllah.
Another important part of learning ilm and allowing that light to come through is having teachers and scholars who embody the deen. We have to appreciate what true scholars are. Moreover, if they stand on the haqq and we find those true scholars, then there is this etiquette, care and concern for the ulema that should be there. There are certain rights that scholars have over us and we must have proper adab with the teachers of our ilm. They are carriers of the ilm of our deen so we should love and respect them for the sake of Allah (SWT).
Recall that Abdullah ibn Amr reported:
The Messenger of Allah, (SAWS), said, “Verily, Allah does not withhold knowledge by snatching it away from his servants, but rather he withholds knowledge by taking the souls of scholars, until no scholar remains and people follow ignorant leaders. They are asked and they issue judgments without knowledge. Thus, they are astray and lead others astray.”[Source: Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī 100, Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 2673]
Most importantly though, we must not forget that if we accept that true ilm is that light that Allah (SWT) places in the hearts, then we must also remember that true hidayyah comes only from Allah (SWT).
Recall that we are told in the Qu’ran: “And those who are guided – He increases them in guidance and gives them their righteousness.” [47:17]
Therefore, it is important that while seek ilm and that light of knowledge, we should make du’a that Allah (SWT) guides us to the straight path and allows us to reach that level of righteousness. This is relevant at every stage in our life as the journey of ilm does not end until we take our last breath in this dunya. May Allah (SWT) allow us all to be humble believers and may He place the light of knowledge in our hearts, Ameen.
Article By: Sehrish Syed