Category Archives: Seeking Knowledge

On How to Benefit from the Dowra

Answered by Sayyidi Habib Umar bin Hafiz (may Allah protect him and benefit us by him)

We are planning to attend the Dowra in Tarim this year. How can we prepare to attain the biggest of openings?

Attend the Dowra with truthfulness, sincerity, humility and veneration. Broaden your perspective on everything you experience, have a present heart, maintain a good opinion and be keen to benefit. May Allah grant us all success.

 

With what intentions should we come to Tarim?

You should intend following and emulating the Prophet ﷺ, being a cause of joy to him, seeking Allah’s greatest pleasure and being in the company of His Beloved in the Abode of Ennoblement. You should broaden your intentions and perspectives as much as possible and intend rectifying your hearts and rectifying the Ummah.

 

On Dealing with Self-Proclaimed Scholars

Answered by Sayyidi Habib Umar bin Hafiz (may Allah protect him and benefit us by him)

We find some people in the West claiming to be shaykhs who can guide people and help them reach Allah. However, they have never studied any of the Islamic sciences at the hands of scholars but rather they have read books on their own. When we try to give them sincere advice they reject it. How should we deal with people like this?

These are people who have betrayed the trust of this religion. One of the greatest causes of a bad ending is for someone to claim a spiritual station or a state that he has not attained. We should have sympathy for these people. We should give them sincere advice if they are ready to listen. If not, we should pray for them. We should also advise those who are searching for a shaykh that they choose someone who has received knowledge through a true chain of connection (sanad). One of the calamities which has befallen the Ummah is for people to claim knowledge which they do not possess, whether it be outer knowledge of the Sacred Law or the ability to offer spiritual guidance. This is extremely harmful to the person making this claim and if it leads to him harming someone else then he will bear a sin similar to the sin of that person. If he is able to take true knowledge and does not do so, he will be accountable, but if he is unaware of his ignorance those who have led him astray will be accountable. The Prophet said about the end of time that when the true scholars die, people will take ignorant people as their leaders. When they are asked, these ignorant people make judgements not based on knowledge, so they go astray and lead others astray.

This should not be confused with the duty of giving sincere advice in affairs of the religion which are clear. This is praiseworthy and everyone should work together in doing this.

On Permission to Read and Study Religious Texts

Answered by Sayyidi Habib Umar bin Hafiz (may Allah protect him and benefit us by him)

Do I need permission to read and study religious texts?

There is great benefit in the explanation of the scholars. Furthermore if you have permission (ilazah) from them to read or study a specific text it is more likely to be beneficial and your understanding will be deeper. However, every Muslim that studies these books will benefit, especially if one studies them with love, yearning and desire to travel the path.

On Teaching and the Fear of Not Acting Upon Your Knowledge

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Answered by Sayyidi Habib Umar bin Hafiz (may Allah protect him and benefit us by him)

I fear that I learn and am deluded and do not act in accordance with what I convey to others. How can I then teach others?

You should obey the command of Allah and His Messenger, and teach. Part of acting on the knowledge that you learn is teaching it. You should dislike any delusion and pride that you have and strive to cleanse yourself from that. If you leave teaching altogether, you may experience a more subtle type of pride. The Devil leads those that leave good out of fear of pride, to think that they are better than those that perform good.

Pious people, however, act out of obedience to Allah’s commands and dislike every evil thought and reject it. They seek the aid of Allah and He then takes them by the hand, raises them and removes all harm from them.

On Fear of Purification Lessons being a Proof against One

Answered by Sayyidi al-Ḥabīb `Umar bin Hafīẓ (may Allāh preserve him and benefit us by him).

I fear that your purification lessons are a proof against me as they carry great benefit and I do not act upon them as I should. For this reason I feel that I should cease following them.

You should continue to follow these lessons and along while intending to act upon them to the extent that you are able to, even if it is a little.

You considering yourself incapable and deficient is in itself a manifestation of acting upon the knowledge. However, along with this, we should have a resolve to act upon what we learn and fulfil some of these obligations. In addition to following these lessons, reading beneficial books and seeking beneficial knowledge, we should teach those that we can, and not refrain from this because we do not act on what we know – and at the same time we should force ourselves to practise even a little of what we learn.

The threat (mentioned in the Qur’ān and the Sunnah) of such things being considered a proof against you is directed to those who are content not to act upon what they know. It is not directed at those who reproach themselves and take themselves to account for not acting.

Advice for Students of Knowledge

Answered by Sayyidi al-Ḥabīb `Umar bin Hafīẓ (may Allāh preserve him and benefit us by him).

What advice do you have for students of knowledge?

The most important thing is that they have exaltation for the Sacred Law and sacred knowledge. They should also bring to heart the greatness of seeking knowledge in the sight of Allah and how beneficial it will be to them in the next world.

On Distance Learning

Answered by Sayyidi al-Ḥabīb `Umar bin Hafīẓ (may Allāh preserve him and benefit us by him).

I live in a region where there are very few scholars. How can I continue my studies?

You should make use of the internet and recordings of scholars’ commentaries on books.

On Convincing the Self of Ignorance

Answered by Sayyidi al-Ḥabīb `Umar bin Hafīẓ (may Allāh preserve him and benefit us by him).

How can I convince myself that I am ignorant when I have studied fiqh and hadith?

How much fiqh have you studied? A quarter of it, half of it, all of it? How much hadīth have you studied? A quarter of it, a fifth of it, a tenth of it? You are ignorant even of the subjects you have studied. Even the very hadīths that you have studied contain vast oceans of meanings of which you are ignorant.

Furthermore you have responsibilities concerning the knowledge which you do possess (which is nothing in relation to that of which you are ignorant). Your foremost responsibility is to perfect your action according to your knowledge. One form of acting according to your knowledge is to learn of your ignorance. The more someone increases in knowledge the more they increase in knowledge of their own ignorance. Allāh said to the most knowledgeable person in His creation of Him, His secrets and His attributes:

Say: “O my Lord increase me in knowledge!”1

He also said to the Angels:

“Inform Me of the names of these if you are truthful.”

They replied:

Transcendent are You! We have no knowledge except what You have taught us. Truly You are the All-Knowing, the All-Wise.”2

The Prophet (may Allāh bless him and grant him peace) said:

“The one who thinks he has knowledge is ignorant.”

The role of knowledge is to teach us our own ignorance. The more we increase in knowledge which is sound and beneficial the more we increase in knowledge of our own ignorance. Over all endued with knowledge is the All-Knowing3 The knowledge of all the creation comes under: You have only been given a small amount of knowledge.4 If you add to your knowledge the knowledge of the scholars of your time and those that came before you and those that will come after you it is still a small amount of knowledge. That which we are in ignorance of is greater than that which we know. So what knowledge do you really possess?

May Allah grant us good etiquette (adab) with Him.

 —

1Ta Ha 20:114

2Al-Baqarah, 2:31-32

3Yūsuf, 12:76

4Al-Isrā’, 17:85

 

 

 

On Serving Others While Studying

 

Answered by Sayyidi Habib Umar bin Hafiz (may Allah protect him and benefit us by him).

 

How can a student of knowledge be involved in serving others while not being distracted from his studies?

You can give sincere advice (nasihah) and encouragement to your fellow students and you can serve them in things which do not take a lot of time and effort. You can use your knowledge to write articles on beneficial topics.

Counsels for Our Students

Sayyidi Habib `Umar bin Hafiz (may Allah protect him and benefit us by him) counsels his students. Taken from an interview conducted by the Malaysian satellite channel “Astro,” Jumad al-Akhirah 1430/ May 2009.

What advice do you have for your students and what hopes do you have for them for the future?

We counsel our students specifically and students of the Sacred Law generally to check their intention and the thoughts which enter their minds, which cause them either to act sincerely for the sake of Allah or to seek other than Allah. We counsel them to reject every thought originating from caprice (hawa), from the lower self (nafs) and from the Devil which calls them to seek other than Allah and to desire anything other than attaining His nearness and pleasure. The knowledge of the Sacred Law is a trust which was borne by the Prophets and Messengers and was delivered to us by the Master of the Prophets and Messengers ﷺ. This knowledge is not mere information or the ability to speak with fluency and clarity, rather it is light which Allah casts into a person’s heart. Its reality is expressed in purity of the heart, truthfulness with the Most Compassionate and elements of Islam and Iman which allow someone to be elevated to the station of Ihsan and thereby attain direct knowledge (ma`rifah) of Allah. As for mere information and the ability to speak with fluency and clarity, these are possessed by both the righteous and the corrupt alike but the reality of knowledge is only possessed by someone who is truthful, sincere and has been purified. We thus counsel them to take note of this affair.

We also counsel them to be aware of their transaction with Allah in acting upon their knowledge, teaching it and spreading it, seeking in doing so the countenance of Allah Almighty. We warn them against being captured by the allurement of wealth or status from whatever direction or faction that allurement comes. We wish for them to be constantly aware that Allah is the One to be sought, that Allah makes wealth subordinate to someone who has sincerity with Him and that a person’s provision has already been apportioned and he will certainly receive it. Allah has legislated and made permissible certain means for a person to earn his provision, so if he needs to do so, he does it in the way that has been prescribed. He does not use the religion as a means of earning,1 nor does he earn by outwardly manifesting something which he does not possess. He does not earn a living nor attempt to attain some worldly objective by saying something which is not the most correct and beloved thing in the sight of Allāh’s Sacred Law.

Finally they should consider themselves as absolute servants of everything in creation for the sake of the Lord of Creation. With this we counsel them, and we wish that Allah, according to people’s response to this call and to their truthfulness with Allah, will bring about great good in the world, and that through this He will renew the religion of this Ummah as He has promised on the tongue of His Messenger ﷺ, and that He will unite its ranks and deflect from it many tribulations. We hope that in the future that they will spread this goodness with courtesy, piety and taqwa.

1 Meaning that someone should not seek religious knowledge purely for the sake of worldly gain.