Purpose of seeking knowledge in Islam

The student of knowledge is a caller to Islam

The purpose of studying and seeking knowledge in Islam is to gain a better understanding of Allah, His Names and Attributes, and to know what is lawful and unlawful.Our aim in life is to please Allah, and this is achieved by doing what He has commanded us to do and by abstaining from what He has forbidden in the divine Text.

It therefore follows that the intention of the Taalib ul-‘Ilm (seeker of knowledge) should be to acquire knowledge in order to act upon it, not to collect it as information.With this in mind, the one from whom knowledge is sought should be upright and trustworthy, and, most importantly, a person of action, who has inherited the duties of the previous Prophets and applies the divine rules and Text to current affairs.

If the teacher is merely a theologist and not a person of action, those who learn from him will not be guided to action (‘amal) and will consequently fail to achieve the ultimate purpose in life – irdaa’ Allah (to please Allah).

Trustworthiness is ascertained by looking at one’s dedication to the faraa’id (obligations) and denunciation of what is clearly deemed to be forbidden.

The layman, or ordinary student, and the scholar are equal in terms of what is known from the Deen by necessity. If the teacher opposes or contradicts what is known from the Deen by necessity, the teacher cannot be considered trustworthy.

Similarly, if the teacher is not fulfilling his duties, especially those pertaining to the vital issues, such as da’wah to society, working collectively in a jamaa’ah to forbid the evil in society and establish the Khilafah, supporting the jihad, and so forth, the teacher cannot be considered trustworthy as he is failing to fulfil his (vital) obligations.

This is more so true if the teacher or scholar is not fulfilling the first obligation in Islam, which is to reject Taaghout and its contemporary forms of false gods, deities, man-made laws and constitutions, those who do not rule by the Sharia, legislative bodies and so forth.

Knowledge should be sought with a sincere intention, in order to please Allah and act upon His commands, not to show off or justify one’s personal opinions or desires.

Moreover, it is sought from live (living) individuals through companionship (musaahabah) and attending circles. Sitting in circles of knowledge carries many blessings, as mentioned in numerous ahaadeeth (sayings), and is the method of classical scholars for acquiring divine, Sharia knowledge.

Learning directly from books or articles, with no teacher, is an extreme permit for certain individuals who do not have access to scholars or students of knowledge. It is not a primary or recommended method of learning.

Finally, the Taalib ul-‘Ilm is a daa’ie (conveyor of the Deen). He is not concerned about what people think of him and does not engage in unnecessary debate and discussions, which may divert him from performing good deeds. It is his duty to convey the divine rules, not convince people.
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