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Central Sermon: “Useful Knowledge Is Every Believer’s Priority”

Three goals to which every believer aspires daily are contained in the supplication that the Prophet of Allah, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, would recite every morning after the Fajr prayer:
(اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَسْأَلُكَ عِلْمًا نَافِعًا، وَرِزْقًا طَيِّبًا، وَعَمَلًا مُتَقَبَّلًا)
“O Allah, I ask You to grant me:

  • useful knowledge,
  • pure (halal) sustenance,
  • and accepted deeds.”
    In this sermon, we will particularly emphasize useful, practical knowledge that beautifies the believer daily.

Allah, the Exalted, said: “O you who have believed, why do you say what you do not do? Great is hatred in the sight of Allah that you say what you do not do.” (As-Saff, 2-3)

Muslim reports in his Sahih from Usama b. Zayd, radiaAllahu anhu, that he said: “I heard the Prophet of Allah, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, say: ‘A man will come on the Day of Judgment and be thrown into the Fire, his intestines will spill out and he will circle around them like a donkey around a millstone. The inhabitants of Hell will gather around him and say: ‘O man! What happened to you? Did you not preach good and forbid evil?’ He will reply: ‘Yes, I preached good without practicing it, and I forbade evil while doing it.'” (Sahihul-Bukhari)

Al-Khatib al-Baghdadi reports, with his chain of transmission, from Abu Barza al-Aslami: “The Prophet of Allah, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said: ‘A man’s feet will not move on the Day of Judgment until he is asked about four things: about his life – how he spent it, about his knowledge – what he did with it, about his wealth – how he acquired it and how he spent it, and about his body – how he used it.'” (Reported by Tirmidhi, who said: “Hasan sahih.”)

Abu Muhammad ad-Darimi reports from Abdullah b. Mas’ud, radiaAllahu anhu, that he said: “What will you do when you are struck by a fitna in which the old will become old and the young will grow up, and people will consider it a sunna, and when it changes, they will say: ‘The sunna has been changed!’?” They asked: “When will this be, O Abu Abdurrahman?” He replied: “When the number of your reciters increases but the number of your scholars decreases, when the number of your rulers increases but the number of your trustworthy people decreases, and when the worldly life is sought by deeds meant to seek the Hereafter.”

Imam Az-Zuhri (d. 125 H) said: “Knowledge has its calamities: that a man abandons acting upon it until his knowledge is lost, that he forgets knowledge, and that he lies – and the latter is its worst calamity.”

Imam ‘Amir ash-Sha’bi (d. 104 H) said: “We used to help each other memorize hadiths by acting upon them, and we would aid each other in seeking hadiths through fasting.”

From Abu Qilabah, Abdullah b. Zayd al-Jarmi (d. 104 H), it is reported that he said: “‘Ayyub (as-Sikhtiyani, d. 131 H) said: ‘Whenever Allah increases you in knowledge, increase your worship for Him, and do not make knowledge an end in itself but rather a pursuit of His satisfaction.'”

From Hasan al-Basri, it is reported that he said: “When one of them (the companions and the tabi’in) sought knowledge, it would immediately reflect on their humility, behavior, speech, and actions.”

Sufyan ath-Thawri said: “Knowledge calls to action; if action responds, knowledge is consolidated, but if it does not respond, knowledge departs.”

Abdullah b. al-Mubarak said: “Sufyan ath-Thawri was asked: ‘Do you prefer seeking knowledge or performing good deeds?’ He replied: ‘Knowledge is sought for the sake of action, so do not neglect seeking knowledge for performing good deeds, nor performing good deeds for seeking knowledge.'”

Imam Ahmad b. Hanbal said: “I did not write any hadith from the Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, without acting upon it, until I came across a hadith that says the Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, gave a gold dinar to Abu Tayyib for cupping, so I had cupping done and gave a gold dinar to the one who did it for me.”

From Waki’ b. al-Jarrah, it is reported that he said: “If you want to memorize a hadith, act upon it.”

Habib b. Hajar al-Qaysi said: “How beautiful is faith, and its adornment is knowledge; how beautiful is knowledge when it beautifies action, and how beautiful is action when it beautifies gentleness!”

Abdullah b. Mas’ud said: “Whoever finds sufficiency in Allah becomes needed by the people, and whoever acts according to the knowledge that Allah taught him, people need what he possesses.”

From Abu Ismah Asim b. Asim al-Bayhaqi, it is reported that he said: “Once, I spent the night with Imam Ahmad, and he brought water, but when he woke up, he saw that the water was in the same state as when he had left it. He then said: ‘Subhanallah, a man who seeks knowledge and does not pray the night prayer?'”

Al-Khatib al-Baghdadi said: “He who seeks knowledge and studies hadith should distinguish himself from the masses in all his actions by striving to follow the sunna of the Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, to the maximum.”

This was the way of the first generations, who sought knowledge to attain the satisfaction of Allah by fulfilling His commands and avoiding His prohibitions. This is why the pursuit of knowledge quickly impacted their behavior, humility, and worship. They promptly responded to Allah’s commands and eagerly executed them. When they learned about a sunna of the Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, they hastened to implement it and adhere to it. They also aspired to truly understand the religion and to increase their useful knowledge and good deeds every day and every moment. Their model was the Prophet of Allah, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, who invoked in the depths of the night: “O Allah, make beneficial what You have taught me, teach me what will benefit me, and increase me in knowledge.” (Reported by Tirmidhi, who said: “Hasan gharib.”)

Ibrahim al-Harbi said: “For twenty years, I accompanied Ahmad b. Hanbal, in summer and winter, in heat and cold, day and night, and never did I meet him without him having increased (in knowledge and action) compared to the previous day.”

They did not seek knowledge to show off and talk about it in gatherings, but their goal was to worship Allah and call to His religion according to the guidance of the Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, and his companions. However, many who nowadays claim to be seekers of knowledge want to show off and talk about that knowledge in gatherings to attract people’s attention! We ask Allah to protect us from this!

(Central khutbah by the religious leader Hafiz Hilmija Redžić on May 17, 2024, at the “Centre Culturel Islamique de Luxembourg” in Mamer)

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