Throughout the world today ignorance has taken the place of Knowledge, and it is flourishing amongst the Muslims more than anyone else. We as a Nation have become confused as to what Knowledge is. To us, a man with a long beard, trousers above his ankles, who spends a lot of time in the mosques; or a woman fully covered in Islamic dress, who looks after her home and husband, are both seen as being backward and jaahil (ignorant). Someone knowledgeable on the other hand, is anyone who has in their possession a piece of paper with the words 'PASSED' written on it. This is how we have become not only confused, but also deceived by the non-Muslims, since this is their concept of what knowledge is.
SCHOLARS OF THIS WORLD OR THE NEXT?
What we should ask ourselves however, is why in today's world of great modern technology and vast scientific and secular knowledge' is there still so much corruption, oppression and injustice. Sadly, this applies more in the lands of the Muslims than anywhere else:
It is Allaah, the Most High, revealed in His Book: "THEY KNOW ONLY THE APPARENT THINGS OF THE LIFE OF THIS WORLD, BUT OF THE HEREAFTER THEY ARE HEEDLESS." [Soorah Room (30): 6-7]
Ibn Katheer (1) says in his tafseer of this verse: Al-Hasan al-Basree (2) said: "By Allaah, one of them knows about this world to the extent that he can pick up a coin and tell you its worth by its weight - but he does not know how to perform prayer properly." (3)
The Messenger of Allaah, Sallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam, warned us about Allaah's anger at such state of affairs when he said: "truly Allaah hates every ill tempered, arrogant, greedy and selfish person who is noisy and quarrelsome in the market, a corpse by night, a donkey by day, knowledgeable about matters of this world, ignorant about matters of the Hereafter." (4)
How much does this all apply to us today? We may know the various theories of 'great' scientists, we may know the complete workings of the human body, the ins and outs of the economic policies of different countries, the biographies of people past and present: film stars, pop stars, sports personalities, kings and queens, yet do we know how to pray properly? I am not saying that knowledge of some of these things is not important or necessary, just that how much true knowledge; that of the Deen; do we have in comparison? And do we attempt to strive for it in the same way as we do for knowledge of this world? For this is not the real knowledge.
Imaam al-Auzaa'ee, (5) may Allaah have mercy upon him, elucidated this by saying: "Knowledge is what the Companions of Muhammad, Sallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam, conveyed, so anything other than that is not knowledge." (6)
How the Companions, radiaAllaahu 'anhum ajma'een, understood and practiced the religion, whatever they taught and passed on, is then the real knowledge. (7) This is not to say that the Companions, may Allaah be pleased with them all, were ignorant of the affairs of the world, but knowledge of the Deen was the priority because they knew only it would be of any benefit on the Day of Judgment, in the Hereafter.
Dear readers, it is up to us to decide whether we want to be scholars of this world or of the Hereafter. Other than this there is little choice, as 'Alee, radi'Allaahu 'anhu, explained: "The people are three: 'Aalim Rabaanee, (8) one learning being upon the path of salvation,(9) and the confused rabble who follows everyone who calls out - bending along with every wind - they are not enlightened by the light of knowledge, nor do they lean upon a firm support."(10)