Learn From The Righteous

Date: 27th March 2015; 6th Jumādá ath-Thāniyah 1436

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It is certainly a great mercy of Allah (Subḥānahu Wa Ta’Ala) to allow us to join in the Friday sermon over so many people. If Allah never favored us, none of us could have even set a foot on the Masjid. Nowadays we are so busy with our worldly affairs that we tend to forget about the main purpose of our life. The Jummah is in fact the only time we can actually sit down, listen and learn about the Deen properly. So everyone of us should strive to come to the Masjid as soon as possible before the sermon starts because the knowledge we gain from this will never get wasted.

Learning about the Deen is fine but knowledge is useless unless we act upon it. Knowledge is made useful if we do amal or good deeds according to our learning. Otherwise it is all worthless. Our niyah upon listening to the Khutbah should be to act upon what we have learned because this issue will certainly be raised upon us by Allah on the Day of Judgment.

Allah has extensively criticized this sort of people in the Quran by exemplifying them to a donkey. Allah says in the Quran:

The example of those who were entrusted with the Torah and then did not take it on is like that of a donkey who carries volumes [of books]. Wretched is the example of the people who deny the signs of Allah . And Allah does not guide the wrongdoing people.

Surah Al-Jumu’ah, Ayah 5 (62:5) Translation: Sahih International

The Tafsir of this Verse has been described as:

The previous Divine Book, Torah described the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) almost with the same qualities as are described in the Qur’an, which required that as soon as the Jews saw the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam), they should have recognized him and believed in him. But the material position and possessions blinded them to the teachings of Torah. Despite their knowledge of Torah, they acted as practical ignoramus. The verse describes their block-headed behaviour with the example of a donkey loaded with weighty tomes. The donkey carries its loads, but it is neither aware of its subject-matter, nor does it benefit by it. Similarly, the Jews carry around the Torah for material gains and to seek position and status among people, but they do not benefit by its guidance.

Commentators have stated that the example given by the verse for Jews applies to any religious scholar who does not act upon his knowledge. A Persian poet has put it thus:

‘He is neither a scholar, nor a knowledgeable person.

He is but an animal of four legs, carrying the load of some books’

Reference: Ma’ariful Quran by  Mufti Muhammad Shafi. Tafseer of Surah Al-Jumu’ah, Ayah 5 (62:5). Volume 8. pp. 450.

So seeking  knowledge is more like an obligatory task for any Muslim as Allah expects us to be in a continuous phase in seeking knowledge and do our best in acting upon the knowledge gained till the time of our death.

Imam Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah (Rahmatullah Allaih) said: There are six stages to knowledge:

  1. Firstly: Asking questions in a good manner.
  2. Secondly: Remaining quiet and listening attentively.
  3. Thirdly: Understanding well.
  4. Fourthly: Memorising.
  5. Fifthly: Teaching.
  6. Sixthly: and it is its fruit: Acting upon the knowledge and keeping to its limits.

One fine way we can seek knowledge is by being with the righteous people. Allah orders in the Quran:

O you who have believed, fear Allah and be with those who are true.

Surah At-Tawbah, Ayah 119 (9:119) Translation: Sahih International

Naturally, if we are around good people, our Imaan will increase as we then tend to be influenced by them to do good. Likewise if we are around bad people, we will only be driven towards sinning. That is why Islam focuses into having good friends. Hadith states:

The Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) said: “A good friend and a bad friend are like a perfume-seller and a blacksmith: The perfume-seller might give you some perfume as a gift, or you might buy some from him, or at least you might smell its fragrance. As for the blacksmith, he might singe your clothes, and at the very least you will breathe in the fumes of the furnace.”

References: Sahih al-Bukhari & Sahih Muslim

This Hadith clearly illustrates how friends can be influential in our lives. If we have good friends who call us to the path of Allah, spending some time with them can easily change our lives forever. Bad company is just the opposite, they give off a black smoke which negatively affects those who are near him because he always promote sinning in his friend circle, this sort of people should be avoided as much as possible.

Another Hadith shows how being with a righteous man can change the lives of so many people.

Hanzalah (Radi Allahu Anhu) said: “We were once with the Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) when he delivered a sermon. Our hearts became tender, our eyes were flowing with tears, and we realised where we stood. I left the Prophet and returned home. I sat with my wife and children and cracked jokes with my wife, and I felt that the effect of the Prophet’s sermon had completely vanished from my heart.

Suddenly, it occurred to me that I was not what I had been, and I said to myself; ‘O, Hanzalah! You are a Munafiq’. I was stricken with grief and I left my house repeating these words in sorrow; ‘Hanzalah has turned into a Munafiq.’

I saw Abu Bakr (Radi Allahu Anhu) coming towards me and I said to him; ‘Hanzalah has turned Munafiq.’ He said; ‘Subhanallah’ What are you saying? Hanzalah can never be a Munafiq.

I explained to him: ‘When we are with the Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) and listen to his discourses about Paradise and Hell, we feel as if both are present before our very eyes but when we return home and are absorbed in our domestic and family affairs, we forget all about the Hereafter. Abu Bakr (Radi Allahu Anhu) said: ‘My case is exactly the same.

We both went to the Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) and I said; ‘I have turned Munafiq, O Prophet of Allah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam)!’ He inquired about the matter, and I repeated what I had said to Abu Bakr (Radi Allahu Anhu). Thereupon the Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) remarked: ‘By Him Who controls my life, if you could keep up for all times the fervor aroused in you when you are with me, angels would greet you in your walks and in your beds. But, O, Hanzalah! This is rare! This is rare!”

Reference: Sahih Muslim

The Sahabas are the best of the Ummahs and they received their learning directly from the Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) and they got influenced to be better. The Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) is no longer among us but his Sunnah lives transmitted through the existing righteous ones, so we need to be with those who live by Sunnahs.

By mixing with good people, In Shaa Allah, we can get changed. A person can get transformed by seeing good people around him. A macabre form of remorse may develop in him in seeing all his friends being religious, this will induce his inner conscience to imitate his friends. Allah then may even insert Imaan in that person. Hadith says:

It was narrated that Ibn ‘Umar (Radi Allahu Anhu) said: “The Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) said: ‘Whoever imitates a people is one of them.’”

Reference: Sunan Abu Dawood, al-Libaas, Hadith Number 3512. Imam al-Albani (Rahmatullah Allaih) said in Saheeh Abi Dawood, (it is) Hasan Sahih. Number 3401.

When a person imitates a religious friend after being influenced by him. His Imaan may not initially be very strong but his initiation can save him from sinning. When he goes for sinning, the society may criticize him, this creates a sense of repentance in his mind subconsciously and this later can drive him to be a strong believer.

When Musa (Alayhi As-Salām) was about to be given the Prophethood, Allah asked him:

“And what is that in your right hand, O Musa (Moses)?”

He said: “This is my stick, whereon I lean, and wherewith I beat down branches for my sheep, and wherein I find other uses.”

(Allah) said: “Cast it down, O Musa!”

He cast it down, and behold! It was a snake, moving quickly.

Surah Taha, Ayahs 17-20 (20:17-20) Translation: Muhsin Khan

Notice that Allah only asked Musa (Alayhi As-Salām) regarding the object in his hand, Musa (Alayhi As-Salām), on the other hand went into replying more than he was asked simply because the love for his Lord, Allah was already raised. When young man calls his lover at night, he goes into talking about various things regardless of the time. Same was for Musa.

The Pharaoh challenged Musa (Alayhi As-Salām) in presenting his miracle against all his other magicians. The magicians on that day dressed eloquently just like Musa (Alayhi As-Salām) so as to mock him. Musa (Alayhi As-Salām) suggested the other magicians to start their magic first. The other magicians threw their rope and they turned into snake. Musa (Alayhi As-Salām) got worried upon seeing this. Then Allah said:

We (Allah) said: “Fear not! Surely, you will have the upper hand.

“And throw that which is in your right hand! It will swallow up that which they have made. That which they have made is only a magician’s trick, and the magician will never be successful, no matter whatever amount (of skill) he may attain.”

So the magicians fell down prostrate. They said: “We believe in the Lord of Harun and Musa.”

Surah Taha, Ayahs 68-70 (20:68-70) Translation: Muhsin Khan

This story has been mentioned in this discussion for a reason which is different from the primary. Commentators have mentioned that the reason why Allah inserted Imaan inside the magicians may be due to the fact that they imitated Musa (Alayhi As-Salām) in his attire. This may sound strange but it can be logically proved through the Hadith mentioned before.

Allah expects us to imitate righteous people. One unique Sunnah of all the Prophets was that they used to carry a staff. A staff is a sign of wisdom and carrying a staff does not necessarily signify one has grown old, rather it highlights diligence of a matured man. Following righteous people will in the end benefit us in the Akhirah. At least it is a lot better than imitating celebrities, those who have not have knowledge about the Deen.

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