Dedication and Commitment in the Pursuit of Knowledge
by Abu Shama
Dedication and Commitment
Knowledge is not something you will attain with ease or being passive by sitting and relaxing, rather it is attained by being active in seeking it from the sources, making sacrifice in your efforts and time. The Messenger of Allah (peace be on him) said:
’Surely knowledge is only attained by seeking it.’
Umar Ibn al-Khataab (may Allah be pleased with him) said:
‘I dislike seeing any of you idle, with no action for this life or the Hereafter.’
Do not wrong yourself by wasting hours of your life and moments of your existence by seeking rest and laziness, and leaving noble deeds and a high status in front of Allah Almighty. Being lazy is part of human nature, we like resting and being comfortable, but for those who have knowledge know that this life has been set up as a testing ground, and the comfort we seek is temporarily put on hold until the Hereafter.
The previous generation had to deal with the problem of being lazy; they too had to juggle between work, family and knowledge circles.
A scholar once said to his students:
‘If you are harmed by the heat of summer
And the dryness of autumn and the cold of winter
And you are distracted by the beauty of springtime
Then tell me: when will you seek knowledge.’
Seek it Actively
You cannot sit passively and think you will be given knowledge, you have to seek it. A student of knowledge should be in constant search for knowledge. There should be no such thing as a ‘study time’ for the student of knowledge.
Seek it Wholeheartedly
You should not give knowledge some of your time, rather, you should give all of your time to it or a portion of it, such as the period of your adolescence – the period in which it is easy for one to acquire knowledge. You have to immerse yourself in seeking knowledge, preoccupying your mind in the morning and in the evening. The scholars have said regarding knowledge:
‘Knowledge will not give you a part of itself, until you first give it all of yourself.’
Seek it Continually
In order to gain knowledge, you must give yourself fully to it. Knowledge is vast and there is no end for it, you learn until you meet Allah Almighty. This is why we have many reports of the Imams of the Sunnah narrating hadith or seeking a clarification on their deathbed, knowledge was obtained even in a situation such as this. The Messenger of Allah (peace be on him) said:
‘He whom death overtakes while he is engaged in acquiring knowledge with a view to reviving Islam with the help of it, there will be one degree between him and the Prophet (peace be on him)s in Paradise.’ [Tirmidhi]
If you are committing some of your time to this knowledge, you will receive a small portion of the knowledge. Therefore, you should give knowledge the best moments of your life, in which your mind is clear, strong and unoccupied. It requires you to be dedicated, devoted and persistent to knowledge at all times.
You must safeguard and preserve your studies by being attentive, exerting yourself to make free time, have an observant and conscious mind, possess few preoccupations and remain focused in seeking knowledge. However, this will only happen if there is something else accompanying it. It requires you to pour your heart and soul into seeking knowledge. If your heart was on seeking this knowledge, you would give it your time and effort. Allah says in the Qur’an:
Allah has not made for any man two hearts in his (one) body. [al-Ahzab:33:4]
Allah Almighty has given a person just one heart; if it is focused on seeking knowledge, it will not be focused on something else. And when the heart is set on seeking knowledge, you will be engulfed in knowledge day and night. You will wake up in the morning with knowledge filling your mind and you will pass the evening in the same manner. Your life would revolve around knowledge.
Imam Shafi’i has a very famous statement:
‘If I was given the task of buying a single onion, I would not have understood a single mas’alah.’
His statement should not be taken literally, rather it is to imply that he was dedicated and he did not let trivial matters take more than its desired share of his time. The Messenger of Allah (peace be on him) said:
‘Your Lord has rights over you, your body has rights over you, and your family has rights over you. So give everything its right.’ [Bukhari]
Finding the balance is also crucial; you should be focusing on the important issues whilst not neglecting your responsibilities to your work, to your family, to your education, to your own body and to Allah. You should be balanced in everything you do in your life.
This is a series compiled following lectures on ‘The Manners and Etiquette of the Teacher and the Students’. The course was based on a book written by Shaykh al-Islam, Badr al-Din Ibn Jama’ah and conveyed to us by our Shaykh Haytham Tamim.
Qadi al-Qudat, Shaykh al-Islam, Badr al-Din Ibn Jama’ah was born in 639 AH (1241 AD). Originally from Syria and later moved to Egypt. He was educated at Hama, achieved excellence in religious studies and jurisprudence, and became a leading promoter of the Shafi’i Fiqh. Eventually, he attained the high status of Shaykh al-Islam and held the high position of Chief Justice. Imam al-Dhahabi has observed that Qadi Ibn Jama’ah was well versed both in prose and poetry, and had left abundant notes on Fiqh, Hadith, Usul al-Fiqh, and Tarikh(History). He commanded respect and influence, and had a large number of students and followers. He died at Cairo in the year 733 A.H. (1332 A.D.), aged 94, and was buried by the side of the great Imam Shafi’i.
His book on the subject of Adab al-Alim wal-Mutaalim
It was in the year 672 AH (1273 AD) that Ibn Jama’ah completed this book as a guide for both students and teachers to help improve quality of their academic life and work.
Ibn Jama’ah – Etitquettes of Seeking Knowledge
Abd Al Barr – Jami’ Bayan Al Ilm
Al Khateeb Al Baghdadi – Al Jami’ li Akhlaq Al Rawi
February 21, 2023
February 08, 2022
July 07, 2020