6 Signs of Beneficial Knowledge -Shaykh ibn al-’Uthaymeen

In the name of Allah the Most Gracious the Most Merciful

6 Signs of Beneficial Knowledge
By Shaykh Muhammad ibn Saalih al-’Uthaymeen may Allah have mercy on him

Ibn al-‘Uthaymeen explained these points made by Shaykh Bakr Abu Zayd in his book “Hilyah Taalib al-‘ilm” under “Chapter 6: Adorn Yourself with the Implementation of Knowledge.” Shaykh Bakr Abu Zayd said,

“44.The signs of beneficial knowledge

Ask yourself about how much you share from the signs of beneficial knowledge, which are as follows:

1.Implementing it.

2.Hatred of being praised, complemented, or displaying haughtiness over others.

3.Increasing your humility with the increase of your knowledge.

4.Fleeing from the love of leadership, fame, and the worldly pleasures.

5.Abandoning the claim to have knowledge.

6.Having bad suspicions about oneself, and good suspicion about other people, so as to steer clear from disparaging them.

‘Abdullah ibn al-Mubaarak used to say, in poetry if the manners of the Salaf were mentioned:

‘Do not compare us to them,

For the sound person who walks is not the same as the crippled one.’”

Ibn al-‘Uthaymeen comments:

These are six signs of beneficial knowledge.

First: “Implementation of knowledge”, and this is to be done after having Imaan (belief). Meaning: you have to believe in what you have knowledge of and then after that implement it.

It is not possible to implement knowledge except by having Imaan.

If a person is not given success to act upon their knowledge, then that knowledge is harmful, because the Prophet (peace be upon him) said,

و القران حجة لك أو عليك

“…And the Qur’an is a proof for or against you.” [Muslim]

He did not state another option (besides these two), therefore knowledge is either beneficial or harmful.

Second: The compiler of the book said: “Hatred of being praise, complemented, or displaying haughtiness over others”. There are some people who are tested by this. Perhaps they may praise themselves, or they may deem that whatever they say is the truth and those who oppose them are wrong.

The same goes for loving praise. You find (a person), who loves to be praised, asking others what is said about him. When he finds that he is praised he swells and increases in his arrogance until he is amazed with himself.

The same goes for being arrogant towards others. Some people, and Allah’s refuge is sought, when Allah gives them knowledge they become haughty. This is similar to a rich person who is arrogant because of his wealth.

For this, the Prophet (peace be upon him) made the poor person who is arrogant from those whom Allah will not speak to on the Day of Judgement, He will not look at them, nor purify them, and they will have a painful punishment [a hadith collected by Muslim].

The reason is because a poor individual does not have wealth that would necessitate being arrogant.

So the knowledgeable person should not become like the rich person from the aspect of whenever he increases in knowledge he also increases in arrogance. Rather, the opposite is required. Whenever he increases in knowledge he should also increase in humility.

He should increase in humility because from the sciences he studies is the manners of the Prophet (peace be upon him), and from the manners of the Prophet (peace be upon him) was that he was humble towards the truth and to the creation.

And if there is a conflict (and you are unsure whether) to be humble towards the truth or to be humble to the people, then humility to the truth takes precedence. For example, if there was a person who curses the truth and he is happy with opposing those who implement the truth, then there is no humility towards that individual. Rather the humility is for the truth and this man is to be debated, even if he insults or speaks about you without care, because this is aiding the truth.

Third: The author’s statement, “Increasing your humility with the increase of your knowledge”, this in reality is a branch from the second sign. Meaning: to hate becoming arrogant with the (rest of) creation. It is required to increase in humility whenever you increase in knowledge.

Fourth: The author’s statement,  “Fleeing from the love of leadership, fame, and the worldly pleasures”, this is from the branches of having hatred of being praised and seeking praise from others. Meaning: do not learn knowledge in order to become a leader, and do not (intend to attain) knowledge in order to obtain some aspect of the worldly life.

Fifth: The author said, “Abandoning the claim to have knowledge” the meaning of this is to avoid claiming to have knowledge and saying, “I am a knowledgeable person”. (You should not be like the one who is boastful and described) in the poet’s statement,

أنا ابن جلا و طلاع الثنايا … متى أضع العمامة تعرفوني

“I am a son of a prominent man, who overcomes difficulties … and when I take off my turban you will recognize me”

You should avoid being at the head of a gathering and (becoming so arrogant that) whenever someone else wants to speak you say, “Be quiet, I am more knowledgeable than you.” This is not necessary. Know, that whoever calls himself knowledgeable is (in actuality) ignorant, and perhaps because of this, he is unsuccessful and disgraced in a place where he loves to be seen as honorable.

Sixth: The author said, “Having bad suspicions about oneself, and good suspicion about other people, so as to steer clear from disparaging them.”

One should have bad thoughts of himself because perhaps a person’s nafs (soul) may tempt and whisper to him evil. Therefore, he should not have good thoughts of his nafs.

As for the author’s statement, “…and good suspicion about other people” then this needs more explanation:

The origin is that one should have good thoughts of the people. So when you find someone saying something that is different than your speech, and it is something good, then assume the best and do not have evil suspicions.

However, if it is known that an individual from the people is corrupt, then it is permissible to have evil suspicion of that person. There is no sin in having evil suspicion in order to be cautious.

Perhaps the author’s statement, “…so as to steer clear from disparaging them” means do not judge people (based on) accusations, ill-thoughts, and avoid speaking about another while the accusation is not verified.

It is necessary for the knowledgeable person to be generous and kind in his knowledge and to exert himself whenever the people are in need of him. He should not say: “I fear to be a burden upon the people” (so this causes him to not clarify the truth). Rather, he should clarify the knowledge that the people are continuously in need of. And when Allah knows that a person’s intention is to share knowledge and clarify what perhaps may be unclear to the people, He will make a person’s speech light upon the people and they will not find his speech to be a burden.

Translated by: Abu Awzaa’ee AbdusSalaam

الفقير الى الله

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