The Stand of the Believer toward the Trials

Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds. May the good end be for the pious! May Allah’s peace be upon Muhammad, His Messenger and His Slave, and upon his wives and offspring, just like He sent His peace upon Prophet Ibrahim and his family! May Allah bless Prophet Muhammad, his wives and offspring just like He blessed Prophet Ibrahim and his family! He (Glorified be He) is indeed Praiseworthy and Glorious.

I would like to thank Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) for this meeting with our dear brothers and sons. I implore to Allah (Exalted be He) to make it a blessed meeting; make us benefit from what we learnt; purify our hearts and fix our deeds; protect us all from the evils within ourselves and our misdeeds; grant victory to His Religion; make His Word superior; set right the affairs of the Muslims everywhere; let the best among them rule; and protect them from the evil ones among them. He is the Generous, the Gracious.

I would like also to thank those in charge of Imam Muhammad ibn Sa`ud University for organizing this meeting. May Allah (Exalted be He) double their reward and guide us all to every good in religion and life and to the benefit of the whole Ummah (nation). He (Glorified and Exalted be He) is the Generous, the Gracious.

Dear brothers and sons, my speech today is entitled “The Stand of the Believer toward The trials”. The Prophet (peace be upon him) clarified the danger of Fitan i.e. trials – may Allah (Exalted be He) save us their evils – and told us what we should do about it.

What is Fitnah (sing. of fitan i.e. trials)?

Fitnah is a general word that has many meanings. It means Shirk (associating others in worship with Allah), which is the utmost expression of Fitnah, according to Allah’s saying:

And fight them until there is no more Fitnah (disbelief and polytheism, i.e. worshipping others besides Allâh) and the religion (worship) will all be for Allâh Alone [in the whole of the world]. [Surah Al-Anfal, 8:39]

Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) also says:

They ask you concerning fighting in the Sacred Months (i.e. 1st, 7th, 11th and 12th months of the Islâmic calendar). Say, “Fighting therein is a great (transgression) but a greater (transgression) [Surah Al-Baqarah, 2:217]

Fitnah also refers to torture and burning according to Allah’s saying:

“Taste you your trial (punishment i.e. burning)! This is what you used to ask to be hastened!” [Surah Al-Dhariyat, 51:14]

He (Glorified and Exalted be He) also says:

Verily, those who put into trial the believing men and believing women (by torturing them and burning them), and then do not turn in repentance (to Allâh), then they will have the torment of Hell, and they will have the punishment of the burning Fire. [Surah Al-Buruj, 85:10]

Trial here refers to torturing and punishing. Fitnah also refers to testing. Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) says:

and We shall make a trial of you with evil and with good. [Surah Al-Anbiya’, 21:35]

He (Glorified and Exalted be He) also says:

Your wealth and your children are only a trial [Surah Al-Taghabun, 64:15]

to determine those who use wealth and children in obeying Allah, fulfilling Allah’s rights, avoiding Allah’s prohibitions and respecting the limits of Allah (Exalted be He), and those who deviate from this path and follow their own desires. Fitnah also refers to afflictions and punishment according to Allah’s saying:

And fear the Fitnah (affliction and trial) which affects not in particular (only) those of you who do wrong (but it may afflict all the good and the bad people) [Surah Al-Anfal, 8:25]

This means that it will affect all the people in general.

It is reported from Al-Zubayr ibn Al-`Awwam (may Allah be pleased with him) and a group of the Salaf (righteous predecessors) that they said about the Fitnah of `Uthman’s murder, “We would not have thought it i.e. fitnah, could strike us until it took place.” A group of ignorant, unjust people, some of whom were misguided, killed `Uthman (may Allah be pleased with him) due to false doubts and wrong interpretations. This Fitnah spread, grew larger and afflicted some people who had nothing to do with it and who were not among the unjust people. This led to what took place between `Aly (may Allah be pleased with him) and Mu`awiyah (may Allah be pleased with him), and the Battles of the Camel and Siffin, which were consequences of the injustice done to `Uthman (may Allah be pleased with him). A group of people led by Mu`awiyah claimed revenge for `Uthman (may Allah be pleased with him), and asked `Aly (may Allah be pleased with him), after being chosen as the fourth Caliph by the Muslims, to surrender the murderers to them. `Aly (may Allah be pleased with him) told them that the time is not suitable to surrender the murderers now, and he promised them to do the right thing later, but he could not take revenge at that time. War took place in the Battle of the Camel and the Battle of Siffin as is known, and a group of the Salaf (may Allah be pleased with them) including Al-Zubayr said that the Ayah (Qur’anic verse) was revealed to treat situations like that, as it entails this meaning, and that this was the first Fitnah to take place in the Ummah.

And fear the Fitnah (affliction and trial) which affects not in particular (only) those of you who do wrong (but it may afflict all the good and the bad people), and know that Allâh is Severe in punishment. [Surah Al-Anfal, 8:25]

The Fitnah affected a large number of people, including the Sahabah (Companions of the Prophet) and others. `Ammar ibn Yasir, Talhah ibn `Ubaydullah, who is among the ten Sahabah given the glad tidings of entering Jannah (Paradise), and Al-Zubayr who is also among the ten Sahabah given the glad tidings of entering Jannah (Paradise). They were killed during this Fitnah, in addition to other Sahabah who were killed in the Battles of the Camel and Siffin.

Fitnah also takes place by means of doubts and lusts. Many people were exposed to Fitnah because of groundless doubts, like the Jahmiyyah (a deviant Islamic sect denying some Attributes of Allah, claiming they are ascribed to people and cannot be ascribed to Allah), Mu`tazilah (a deviant Islamic sect claiming that those who commit major sins are in a state between belief and disbelief), Shi`ah (Shi’ites), Al-Murji’ah (a deviant Islamic sect claiming that Faith is restricted to belief not deeds) and other deviant sects who were misguided by doubts and deviated from the way of Ahl-ul-Sunnah wal-Jama`ah (those adhering to the Sunnah and the Muslim main body), which led to Fitnah for them and for other people, except those on whom Allah (Exalted be He) had mercy.

The way to avoid the different forms of Fitnah is adhering to Allah’s Book and the Sunnah of His Messenger (peace be upon him), according to what was narrated on the authority of `Aly that the Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) said:

“There will be trials.” He was then asked, “O Allah’s Messenger! What is the way out of them?” He replied, “The Book of Allah, in which there is the news of things before you, the reports of the matters after you, and the laws to settle your disputes.”

This means that there is no escape from all forms of Fitnah, whether lusts, doubts, fights or Bida` (innovations in religion) except with good understanding of Allah’s Book and the Sunnah of His Messenger (peace be upon him), and knowing the Manhaj (methodology) of the Salaf and those who followed them from the Imams (leaders) of Islam and the callers to guidance.

Anything people say and adhere to in times of war and peace should be judged according to Allah’s Book and the Sunnah of His Messenger (peace be upon him). In His Noble Book, Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) says:

O you who believe! Obey Allâh and obey the Messenger (Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم), and those of you (Muslims) who are in authority. (And) if you differ in anything amongst yourselves, refer it to Allâh and His Messenger (صلى الله عليه وسلم), if you believe in Allâh and in the Last Day. That is better and more suitable for final determination. [Surah Al-Nisa’, 4:59]

This is the only way to follow; we should judge according to the Qur’an and the authentic Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) after his death.

Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) also says:

But no, by your Lord, they can have no Faith, until they make you (O Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم) judge in all disputes between them, and find in themselves no resistance against your decisions, and accept (them) with full submission. [Surah Al-Nisa’, 4:65]

Accepting the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) as a judge means referring to the Qur’an and the Sunnah. Allah (Exalted be He) says:

Do they then seek the judgement of (the days of) Ignorance? And who is better in judgement than Allâh for a people who have firm Faith. [Surah Al-Ma’idah, 5:50]

Anything other than Allah’s judgment is considered judgment of Jahiliyyah (pre-Islamic time of ignorance). Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) says:

And whosoever does not judge by what Allâh has revealed, such are the Kâfirûn (i.e. disbelievers of a lesser degree as they do not act on Allâh’s Laws).

And whosoever does not judge by that which Allâh has revealed, such are the Zâlimûn (polytheists and wrong-doers – of a lesser degree).

And whosoever does not judge by what Allâh has revealed (then) such (people) are the Fâsiqûn [the rebellious i.e. disobedient (of a lesser degree) to Allâh]. [Surah Al-Ma’idah, 5:44-47]

The only way to avoid Fitnah is to refer to Allah’s Book and the Sunnah of His Messenger (peace be upon him), by referring to the scholars specialized in the Sunnah who are well-informed and knowledgeable about the Qur’an and the Sunnah and who have applied it. The whole Ummah; man and Jinn (creatures created from fire), Arabs, non-Arabs, men or women should refer to the Qur’an and the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him), and follow the way of the Salaf and those who follow them in times of war or peace, in acts of `Ibadah (worship) and transactions, in Allah’s Names and Attributes; in the matters of Resurrection, Hellfire, Jannah, and everything else. This also includes the wars launched by some people, in which they should refer to Shari`ah (Islamic law).

The same applies to preparation for war, allies and enemies in war. All this should be judged according to the Qur’an and the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him).

This includes what took place on the eleventh of Muharram, 1411 A.H., when the ruler of Iraq invaded Kuwait. His threat to this country and the Gulf countries is also a Fitnah that should be referred to the Qur’an and the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him).

According to scholars and people of Iman (Faith), there is no doubt that this man has committed a grave Munkar (that which is unacceptable or disapproved of by Islamic law and Muslims of sound intellect), a terrible sin and a fierce, unjustified attack. If he had been a caller to Islam and a person who refers to Shari`ah, he would not have invaded another country, whether Kuwait or any other one, unless he had warned them, his allegations against them are observed and their concordance with Shari`ah is judged. However, he invaded a country, killed people, captured the booty, and took captives without any pangs of conscience. This indicates that he does not have the least amount of required religiosity, magnanimity or modesty. Nevertheless, he claims to be a true Muslim, that he is fighting in the Cause of Allah and that he intends to protect the Two Sacred Mosques. This is really hypocrisy, deception and absolute Kufr (disbelief).

It is known that the Ba`th Party, communism and all secular parties contradict Islam and are more indulged in Kufr than the Jews and Christians, because it is lawful to eat the animals slaughtered by Jews and Christians, eat with them and marry the chaste women among them. However, it is impermissible to eat with atheists or marry their women. The same applies to idol worshippers. Any atheist who does not believe in Islam is worse than Jews and Christians. Those who belong to the Ba`th Party and secularists who reject Islam, in addition to communists, socialists and all the other atheist parties who do not believe in Allah and the Day of Judgment are worse in Kufr than the Jews and Christians. The same applies to idol worshippers, grave worshippers, tree worshippers, and stone worshippers; they are worse than the Jews and Christians. That is why Allah (Exalted be He) has distinguished them from each other, even if they are all Kafirs (disbelievers), misguided and will enter Hellfire, but they are not of the same degree of Kufr and misguidance. They will be in Hellfire if they die while in the same state.

If a person who belongs to the Ba`th party wants to claim that they are Muslims, they have to leave their party, whether Ba`th, socialism or communism, and perform Tawbah (repentance to Allah) from all that contradicts Islam, so that their sincerity is proven. If that cunning Saddam, the ruler of Iraq, wanted to perform Tawbah, he should have rejected the Ba`th party, disclaimed it, announced himself a Muslim, withdrawn from the country he invaded, corrected the injustice he had done to the people, regretted it, withdrawn his army from Kuwait, announced his Tawbah and referred to Shari`ah in his rulings, so that his sincerity would have been proven to the people.

Fighting him is one of the most important forms of Jihad (fighting in the Cause of Allah), which is fighting a barefaced enemy to take revenge, return the rights to their owners and solve the tribulation that he caused. All the Islamic countries, including the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and its allies, should fight him. It is considered a Shar`y (Islamically lawful) Jihad. If a fighter is killed in it, he is considered a martyr; if he returns safe, he will gain a great reward if he is a Muslim. The ruling on seeking the help of non-Muslims is known by scholars and there is a lot of evidence on it. The correct opinion is what was mentioned in the decree of the Council of Senior Scholars in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It is permissible to seek the help of non-Muslims in case of necessity to fight back an unjust enemy and protect the country from their evil, if the Muslim forces are not adequate to do this. In this case, it is permissible to seek the help of those who are most probably able to offer help, whether they are Jews, Christians, idol worshippers, or others. This happened to the Prophet (peace be upon him) in Makkah when he sought the help of Mut`am ibn `Udayy when he returned from Al-Ta’if and was afraid of the people of Makkah after the death of his uncle Abu Talib. He first sought the help of others, but they did not respond, and then he sought the help of Mut`am who was one of their chiefs and he protected him. He (peace be upon him) also used to pass by the polytheists at their homes in Mina to ask them to protect him so that he could convey the Message of his Lord, even though they were non-Muslims. He sought the help of `Abdullah ibn Urayqit during the Hijrah (Prophet’s migration to Madinah), although he was a Kafir, being fit for the job and unlikely to report them to the polytheists. On the day of the Battle of Badr he said, “I do not seek the help of a polytheist.” However, he did not say “Do not seek the help of polytheists”; he spoke only about himself, as he did not need them at that time, and he had a group of Muslims to help him. This was one of the reasons behind the guidance of the man, whose help was rejected, and he embraced Islam. On the day of the Conquest of Makkah, he borrowed shields from Safwan ibn Umayyah who was still a polytheist. He asked, “Are you going to take them by force, Muhammad?” He (peace be upon him) said, “No, it is just a loan.” He sought the help of the Jews in Khaybar when the Muslims were preoccupied with Jihad and had no time to think about agriculture. He agreed with them on cultivating the land of Khaybar in return for half of the crops, even though they were Jews, as he saw that it was better for the public interest. He kept them in Khaybar until the Muslims managed to take care of their money in Khaybar during the era of `Umar. Only then, did `Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) ask them to leave the country. There is also a known rule in Allah’s saying:

while He has explained to you in detail what is forbidden to you, except under compulsion of necessity [Surah Al-An`am, 6:119]

If the Muslims are forced to seek the help of a less evil enemy to fight a worse enemy, there is no harm in this. It is known that atheists, Ba`thists and such people are worse than the Jews and the Christians; any atheist is worse than the People of the Book. So, according to Shar`y rules, it is permissible to seek the help of some polytheists to fight a worse evil enemy and protect the Muslims from their evil.

It is known to the scholars that the reports that are narrated from the Prophet (peace be upon him) about Fitnah and avoiding it, which is as follows:

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said:

There will be Fitan in which the sitting person will be better than the standing one; the standing one will be better than the walking one; and the walking one will be better than the running one. Whoever looks forward to those Fitan, they will overtake him; and whoever finds a refuge or a shelter should take refuge in it.

This is the Fitnah in which Al-Haqq (the Truth) is unclear; a Mu’min (a believer) should avoid it by every possible means. This also applies to the saying of the Prophet (peace be upon him):

A time is about to come when the best property of a Muslim will be sheep, which he takes to the tops of mountains and the places of rainfall, so as to flee with his religion from Fitnah.

Related by Al-Bukhari in his Sahih (authentic) Book of Hadith.This also applies to the saying of the Prophet (peace be upon him) when he was asked:

“Who is the best among the people?” He replied, “A Mu’min who fights in the Cause of Allah.” People asked, “Who is next?” He replied, “A Mu’min who stays in one of the mountain paths worshipping Allah and saves the people from his mischief.”

This refers to the times when matters are ambiguous and the Mu’min are afraid for themselves. However, if they realize who is the oppressor and who is the oppressed, they should stand with the oppressed against the oppressors. This is according to the saying of the Prophet (peace be upon him):

“Help your brothers, whether they are oppressors or oppressed.” A man asked, “O, Messenger of Allah! How can I help them if they are oppressors?” He (peace be upon him) said, “By preventing him from oppressing (others), for that is how to help them.”

When the Fitnah took place at the time of the Sahabah (may Allah be pleased with him), some of them were misled and refused to participate in it because of the Hadiths of Fitnah, such as Sa`d ibn Abu Waqqas, Muhammad ibn Maslamah, and other Sahabah (may Allah be pleased with them). However, the well-informed Sahabah supported `Aly, as he was the one who deserved support, in the face of Khawarij (separatist group that believes committing a major sin amounts to disbelief) and the aggressors of the people of the Levant (the region covering Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Palestine) when they knew the truth; `Aly was wronged and should be supported, for he was the Imam (ruler) that should be followed and Mu`awiyah and his supporters wronged him and accused him of killing `Uthman. Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) says in his Glorious Book:

And if two parties or groups among the believers fall to fighting, then make peace between them both. But if one of them outrages against the other, then fight you (all) against the one that outrages [Surah Al-Hujurat, 49:9]

He does not say “keep away from them”, but He says:

then fight you (all) against the one that which outrages till it complies with the Command of Allâh. Then if it complies, then make reconciliation between them justly, and be equitable. Verily! Allâh loves those who are the equitable. [Surah Al-Hujurat, 49:9]

If the oppressor is known, the oppressed should be helped according to Allah’s saying:

then fight you (all) against the one that outrages till it complies with the Command of Allâh. [Surah Al-Hujurat, 49:9]

In the era of the Sahabah, the oppressors were Mu`awiyah and his supporters, and the oppressed were `Aly and his supporters. That is why the great Sahabah supported `Aly as previously mentioned. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said a Sahih Hadith wherein he speaks about Khawarij. He (peace be upon him) said:

There would be two groups in my Ummah. A group will secede from them, and the one that is closer to Al-Haqq will kill them.

`Aly and his supporters who were nearer to Al-Haqq killed them. The Prophet (peace be upon him) also said about `Ammar:

`Ammar will be killed by the oppressing group.

He was killed by Mu`awiyah and his supporters in the Battle of Siffin.

Mu`awiyah and his supporters were oppressors, but they were at the same time practicing independent reasoning and they thought they were right in claiming revenge for `Uthman, just like Talhah, Al-Zubayr and `Aishah (may Allah be pleased with them) thought on the day of the Battle of the Camel. They would take a reward for Ijtihad (juristic effort to infer expert legal rulings), but missed the reward of right judgment. `Aly will take the reward for Ijtihad and right judgment as well. This is the Shar`y rule concerning Mujtahids (scholars qualified to exercise juristic effort to infer expert legal rulings); if a judge, a reformer or a fighter seeks truth, they will have double reward if they are right and only one if they are wrong. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said:

If a judge gives a verdict according to the best of his knowledge and his verdict is correct, he will receive a double reward; and if he gives a verdict according to the best of his knowledge and his verdict is wrong, he will get one reward. (Agreed upon by Imams Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Every Fitnah induced by a Muslim, a Mubtadi` (one who introduces innovations in religion) or a Kafir should be examined. A Mu’min should support the wronged one against the wrong-doer. Thus, Al-Haqq is supported; the affairs of the Muslims are settled; an oppressor is prevented from oppression; and a truth seeker knows that he should cooperate in righteousness and piety, not in sin and transgression. This is according to Allah’s saying:

Help you one another in Al-Birr and At-Taqwâ (virtue, righteousness and piety); but do not help one another in sin and transgression. [Surah Al-Ma’idah, 5:2]

Fighting an aggressor or a Kafir who attacks the Muslims out of oppression is a duty, a form of righteousness, helping the oppressed and fighting the oppressors. Thus, fighting Saddam and those like him is a form of righteousness and guidance. The Muslims should exert all possible efforts in fighting him, and seek the help of anyone who may be useful in resisting the oppressor and getting rid of his evil. It is also impermissible for the Muslims to abandon the oppressed and leave them for the oppressors to exploit them in any way; the oppressor should be resisted and the oppressed supported in every way.

All the Muslims should comprehend their religion; have deep insight in what they do and what they refrain from doing; refer to Allah’s Book and the Sunnah of His Messenger (peace be upon him) in everything; study them to seek the truth for the sake of Allah (Exalted be He) and the Hereafter, to carry out Allah’s rulings among the people; and beware of desires, as it makes people fall into Hellfire. Allah (Exalted be He) says:

and follow not your desire — for it will mislead you from the Path of Allâh. [Surah Sad, 38:26]

He (Glorified and Exalted be He) says:

But if they answer you not (i.e. do not bring the Book nor believe in your doctrine of Islâmic Monotheism), then know that they only follow their own lusts. And who is more astray than one who follows his own lusts, without guidance from Allâh? Verily Allâh guides not the people who are Zâlimûn (wrong-doers, disobedient to Allâh, and polytheists). [Surah Al-Qasas, 28:50]

Any person who has deep insight believes that if Saddam had been left to do what he likes, he would have ruined the country, and would have been helped by people from the north and the south in his falsehood. If he had been able to carry out his plans, this would have led to terrible disasters, serious corruption, and great evil. However, it is out of Allah’s Mercy and Bounty that the rulers of Saudi Arabia noticed his evil and corruption, so they sought the help of multi-national forces to fight him and defend the religion and the country, until Allah (Exalted be He) ruined his plotting and prevented him from achieving his aim.

May Allah grant us a good end, save us from his evil and the evil of others, and support our Islamic armies and those who help them against the ruler of Iraq until he stops his aggression, withdraws his army from Kuwait and knows his limits! May Allah also grant the best understanding of religion to our armies, save us from the evils of our sins, save us from the evil of all Kafirs of all nationalities, make them return to their countries while we are safe from their evil, guide them to Islam, and save them from Kufr!

May Allah guide them all, make them return to Al-Haqq and guidance, and save us from the evil of Ba`thists, Christians or others. May Allah guide them to Islam, save us from their evil, make the Kafirs among them return to their countries and leave the Muslims, get rid of the ruler of Iraq and his army, and choose for Iraq a righteous ruler who judges according to Shari`ah! May Allah also grant all the Muslims rulers who judge according to Shari`ah and lead them by the Qur’an and the Sunnah and save the Muslims from the evil of their rulers who contradict Shari`ah!

May He set right the affairs of Muslims and their leaders, guide them to His Right Path, make the best of the Muslims their leaders, save them from the evil of enemies wherever they are, ruin the plotting of the enemies, and save us from the evil of our sins. May He enable us to perform sincere Tawbah and make the hard affliction that happened in Kuwait a lesson for everyone and a reason for guidance! May Allah guide our government to all goodness, help it to obey Allah (Exalted be He) and His Messenger (peace be upon him), and prepare a strong army that suffices them and makes them dispense with all the enemies of Allah!

May Allah guide all our neighboring countries to adhere to Allah’s Book, make them all consent to Al-Haqq and guidance, enable them to obey Allah (Exalted be He) and His Messenger (peace be upon him), save them from the enemies and hypocrites among them who fight the Qur’an and the Sunnah, and call for their opposite!

May Allah ruin the plotting of His enemies and disunite them. May He guide the truth seekers to what pleases Him, set right the affairs of the Muslims everywhere, unify the opinions of Muslims everywhere on Al-Haqq and guidance, and save us from the evil of our enemies wherever they are! He is the Most Generous One. May Allah’s peace and blessings be upon His Slave and Messenger, our Prophet Muhammad, his family, Companions and those who followed them in righteousness!

[Fataawaa Ibn Baaz, 6/81-91]

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Knowledge and the morals of knowledgeable people

Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds! May the good end be for the pious! May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon His servant and Messenger, the best of His creation who was entrusted with His Revelation, our Prophet and Imam, Muhammad ibn `Abdullah, his family, Companions, and those who follow in his footsteps until the Day of Resurrection.

We have just heard the recitation of blessed Ayahs (Qur’anic verses) that imply admonitions and lessons. The Ayahs show that Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) creates and chooses whatever He wills. They tell clearly that Allah (Exalted be He) is the All-Knower of His Servants’ conditions, their hidden intentions, and exposed deeds. The Ayahs that have just been recited state that Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) is the Only One to be praised in this world and in the Hereafter, that our turning will be to Him, that He is the Only One Who manages the interests of His Servants day and night, and that all this is a manifestation of Allah’s Mercy (Glorified and Exalted be He).

Verily, we have thus to contemplate the meanings of the Glorious Qur’an. We have to do so in a way that reflects our real desire to attain beneficial knowledge and our true belief in the Qur’an; the True Word of Allah, revealed but not created, and that Allah (Exalted be He) initiated it and it will return to Him. It is of great importance that people of knowledge contemplate this Holy Book, i.e. the Qur’an and to pay their utmost attention to it while intending to know the Will of their Lord (Glorified and Exalted be He) and act upon it as Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) says:

(This is) a Book (the Qur’ân) which We have sent down to you, full of blessings, that they may ponder over its Verses, and that men of understanding may remember. [Surah Sad, 38:29]

and:

Do they not then think deeply in the Qur’ân, or are their hearts locked up (from understanding it)? [Surah Muhammad, 47:24]

People of knowledge have to give their full concern to the Qur’an while feeling Allah’s saying:

Verily, this Qur’ân guides to that which is most just and right [Surah Al-Isra’, 17:9]

and:

Say: “It is for those who believe, a guide and a healing.” [Surah Fussilat, 41:44]

My advice to you before I start my speech is thus to care for the Holy Qur’an by contemplating it, reciting it frequently, and acting upon it for it was revealed to be applied not just to be recited. May Allah grant us all success.

As for my speech today, it is, as has been presented, on: “Knowledge and the morals of knowledgeable people,” I hope it can be briefed.

Indeed, the virtues and merits of knowledge are well known to everyone. The noblest thing that one can ask for and the best thing a seeker can strive to attain is the Knowledge of Shari`ah (Islamic law). Knowledge consists of many branches, but according to Muslim scholars, the meaning of knowledge is the knowledge of the Shari`ah. This is the intended meaning of knowledge in the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of His Messenger (peace be upon him). In the absolute sense, it is knowledge regarding Allah, His Names and Attributes, knowledge of His rights over His creation, and what He (Glorified and Exalted be He) has legislated for them.

It is the detailed knowledge of the path that leads to Allah; knowledge of the purpose of our creation; and the end which Allah’s Servants will result in, in the Hereafter.

The knowledge of the Shari`ah is the best of sciences worth acquiring because through it Allah is recognized and acknowledged, and by it He is worshiped. One who possesses this knowledge knows what Allah has made lawful and what He has prohibited; what pleases Him and what evokes His anger.

With this knowledge a person knows the end of this life. From amongst the people, are those who will enter Jannah (Paradise), and the rest (which are the majority) will result in a place of disgrace and humiliation. The people of knowledge have cautioned us about this and explained that knowledge is confined to this meaning. Amongst the scholars who indicated this is Al-Qady ibn Abu Al-`Izz, the commentator of `Aqidah Al-Tahawiyyah, at the beginning of his commentary. Others have also referred to it, such as Ibn Al-Qayyim, Shaykh-ul-Islam ibn Taymiyyah, and some other scholars.

It is very clear that the merits and virtues of knowledge vary, depending on the extent of one’s adherence to it. The greatest and most excellent knowledge is that which pertains to Allah, His Names, and His Attributes, and this knowledge is known as `Aqidah (creed). Indeed to Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) belongs the best example, which is the highest description in every aspect of His Essence, Names, Attributes and Actions.

Following this is that which is related to the rights of Allah over His creation and what He has prescribed upon them. Following this is what supports and bonds it in understanding such as knowledge of the principles of Arabic, Islamic terminology, Usul-ul-Fiqh (principles of Islamic jurisprudence),

Hadith Terminology and other sciences which are connected to this knowledge, which assist it in both understanding and precision.

The biography of the Prophet (peace be upon him), Islamic history, biography of the narrators of Hadith and of the scholars of Islam are also part of this knowledge.

Allah has honored and extolled the people who possess this knowledge and has raised their status high. He made them bear witness to His Oneness with sincere devotion. Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) says:

Allâh bears witness that Lâ ilâha illa Huwa (none has the right to be worshipped but He), and the angels, and those having knowledge (also give this witness); (He always) maintains His creation in Justice. Lâ ilâha illa Huwa (none has the right to be worshipped but He), the All-Mighty, the All-Wise. [Surah Aal-`Imran, 3:18]

The people of knowledge bear witness to His Oneness along with the angels. The angels (peace be upon them) and the people of knowledge, affirm Allah’s Oneness with sincere devotion toward Him, that He is the Lord of the worlds, the true deity worthy of worship and that worship of anyone besides Him is Batil (null and void). This affirmation in itself is a sufficient proof to show their high status due to the fact that Allah made them testify to His Oneness and the right for His worship. He (Glorified and Exalted be He) explained clearly that none is equal to them:

Say: “Are those who know equal to those who know not?” It is only men of understanding who will remember (i.e. get a lesson from Allâh’s Signs and Verses). [Surah Al-Zumar, 39:9]

Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) also says:

Shall he then who knows that what has been revealed unto you (O Muhammad صلى الله عليه و سلم) from your Lord is the truth be like him who is blind? But it is only the men of understanding that pay heed. [Surah Al-Ra`d, 13:19]

Therefore, the people of knowledge and the ignorant are not alike. The person, who knows that what Allah has revealed is the truth, guidance and a way to success, is not equal to one who has been blinded to this way and to this knowledge. There is an immense difference between the knowledgeable and the ignorant. It is the difference between one who knows the truth and obtains insight through its light and acts according to its guidance until he meets his Lord achieving success with nobility, and one who is blind to this way and follows his desires taking the path of Satan.

The two groups are not similar. Allah (Glorified be He) has clearly stated that He raises the ranks of the people of knowledge due to their effect upon the people and the great benefit that people draw from them. Thus, some of the people of knowledge have said, “What is more beneficial than their effect upon the people! What is more harmful than the people’s effect upon them!”

Their beneficial effects direct the people toward righteousness, guide them to the truth, and show them guidance. Allah thanks them and the believers thank them for their meritorious actions. At the head of all the scholars are the prophets (peace be upon them) for they are the guides. Next to the prophets are the Du`ah (callers to Islam) for they are the most knowledgeable and learned of people – after the prophets – with regards to Allah and His Shari`ah. They are the best followers in the messengers’ footsteps and are well acquainted with that which the Messengers were sent with (i.e., the revelation). They are the best to invite people to Islam in the best way, with patience.

Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) says:

Allâh will exalt in degree those of you who believe, and those who have been granted knowledge. [Surah Al-Mujadalah, 58:11]

and:

And that was Our Proof which We gave Ibrâhîm (Abraham) against his people. We raise whom We will in degrees. [Surah Al-An`am, 6:83]

Moreover, Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) explained that the people of knowledge fear Him as He ought to be feared, although all the believers, generally speaking, fear Allah. But the true and complete fear of Allah is present only among the scholars, at the head of them being the Messengers (peace be upon him):

It is only those who have knowledge among His slaves that fear Allâh. [Surah Fatir, 35:28]

That is, complete and perfect fear.

The scholars are those who have the knowledge of Allah, His Names, His Attributes and His Shari`ah (Islamic law), which He sent the Messengers with. Hence, when some people expressed how huge the burden of acquiring Islamic knowledge is to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) by saying:

Indeed I am the one who fears Allah the most amongst you, and the most pious of you…

The scholars are the most fearful of Allah among mankind due to their knowledge of Allah, His Din (religion) of Islam, His Names and His Attributes. They are the most eager among men for the Truth depending on the extent of their knowledge of Allah. Further above them and the most perfect are the Messengers, as they fear Allah the most. There are many Hadiths showing the virtues and merits of knowledge.

To give some examples, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said:

Whoever follows a path to seek knowledge, Allah will make the path to Jannah (Paradise) easy for them. (Related by Muslim in his Sahih (authentic) Book of Hadith,may Allah be merciful with him).

This shows us the great excellence of the seekers of knowledge. For whoever sets right his intention in seeking knowledge and desires only Allah’s pleasure, is on a road to salvation and happiness. Knowledge should be sought for the right objectives and for its implementation not for the sake of Riya’ (showing-off ), gaining reputation, or for the sake of anything else; rather, a person learns it to be acquainted with his Din, to have insight into what Allah has made incumbent upon them, to strive to bring the people out of darkness and into the light, so they seek knowledge, act upon it and teach others the good objectives that Muslims are ordered to take care of. Every path -whether literally or not- that he takes in search of knowledge is a way to Jannah. The journey from a country to another; and going from a Halaqah (learning circle) to another; and from a Masjid (Mosque) to another for the sole intention of seeking knowledge. These are from the ways of acquiring knowledge, likewise reading and studying Islamic books are also ways of seeking knowledge.

A seeker of knowledge is concerned with all these paths that lead to knowledge. He seeks it, desiring the pleasure of His Lord (Glorified and Exalted be He). He wants to seek Allah’s pleasure and the Hereafter; he wants to understand and reflect upon His Din; he wants to know what Allah has made incumbent upon him and what He has prohibited him from; he wants to know his Lord with deep insight, then act accordingly; he wants to rescue people; he wants to be amongst the callers striving for the Truth; and he wants to guide people to Allah through knowledge. So wherever he turns he is in great excellence while having these good intentions – even his sleep is a path to Jannah – if he sleeps in order to strengthen himself to seek knowledge, or to study or memorize, then his sleep is regarded as worship, contrary to a person who has an evil intention, for he is in great danger. It was authentically reported that the Messenger (peace be upon him) said:

Whoever acquires (religious) knowledge, which is (normally) acquired to gain the Pleasure of Allah, (for the sole reason) to secure worldly comforts will not even smell the fragrance of Jannah on the Day of Resurrection (i.e., will not enter Paradise). (Related by Abu Dawud, may Allah be merciful with him, with a good Sanad (chain of narrators)).

This is a great threat for a person who has an evil intention. It is reported that the Messenger (peace be upon him) said:

Whoever acquires knowledge in order to compete with the scholars or dispute with the ignorant or attract the attention of people to him will enter Hellfire.

Knowledge is acquired by studying, then implementing it for Allah’s sake because He has ordered it and made it a means by which the Truth is manifested. It is reported in a Sahih Hadith:

Three types of people will be admitted to the Hellfire first. Amongst them: The one who seeks knowledge or recites Qur’an not for the sake of Allah, but in order for it to be said: He is a scholar or he is a good reciter of the Qur’an.

There is neither might nor power except with Allah!

O Servant of Allah! Dear seeker of knowledge! You must be sincere in your worship, intending it solely for Allah. You must be keen in seeking knowledge with perseverance, then act upon that which knowledge necessitates, since what is required is to act upon, not that you become a scholar or achieve a high class degree. Indeed the main purpose of seeking knowledge is that you act accordingly, guide people to do good, consequently becoming the successors to the Messengers (peace be upon them) in calling people to the Truth. It is authentically reported that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said:

If Allah wants to do good to a person, He makes them comprehend Din (religion). (Agreed upon by Imams Al-Bukhari and Muslim).

This shows the merits of knowledge. Among the signs of goodness, happiness, and success, are that if Allah wants to do good to His Servant He makes him understand the Din so that he can distinguish Truth from falsehood, and guidance from deviation, in order to recognize his Lord by His Names, Attributes and His great rights, so that he knows the recompense of the Awliya’ (pious people) and the enemies of Allah.

The reward of the Awliya’ is Jannah, near to their Lord, looking at His Face in the Abode of Honor (Jannah).

On the other hand, the destination of the enemies of Allah is in a place of torture, punishment, humiliation screened from seeing Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He).

Thus, we come to know the excellence of knowledge and that it is the best and most noble thing for anyone who seeks knowledge with a good intention. Through knowledge, a person comes to know the best and greatest obligation which is to worship Allah alone with sincere devotion. This knowledge makes him aware of what Allah has made incumbent upon His Servants, which is a great obligation. There is no happiness nor salvation for a Servant of Allah except through Him, then through knowing, holding fast, and firmly adhering to these obligations.

The scholars who disseminate knowledge are the chosen people and the best of people on earth. At the head of them are the Messengers and the Prophets (peace be upon them). They are the prime example to be followed, the foundation of Da`wah (calling to Islam), knowledge and excellence. After them are the people of knowledge at different levels: the person who is most knowledgeable with regards to Allah, His Names, His Attributes and most perfect in his deeds and Da`wah, is the closest of people to the Messengers with respect to their status and position in Jannah. The people of knowledge are the leaders of this world; they are its light; they have been preferred above everyone else, they direct people to the way of happiness, they guide them to the means of salvation, they lead them to that which pleases Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) and to His Mercy and keeps them far from that which evokes His Anger and Punishment.

Scholars are the heirs of the Prophets; Imams of the people after the prophets; they guide and direct the people to Allah and teach them His Din; and they have noble manners and praiseworthy attributes. They are the scholars of the Truth; scholars of guidance and successors to the prophets; they fear Allah much and are constantly observing their actions, and pay great importance to what He orders and forbids. These are their great characteristics because they have trodden the path of the prophets, followed their way in calling to Allah, with deep insight, in warning people against the means that cause His Anger, and in striving toward the good sayings or actions and abandoning the evil sayings or actions which they are aware of. Next to the prophets, they are the example and the model to be imitated in their great characteristics, praiseworthy attributes, and excellent deeds. They teach others and act accordingly and guide their students to the noblest manners and to the right path.

As previously mentioned the knowledge of Shari`ah is the knowledge of the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of His Messenger (peace be upon him) and all that facilitates its understanding. It is obligatory upon the people of knowledge to adhere to this great principle, call people to it, and direct their students to it. Their objective should always be the knowledge legislated by Allah and His Messenger and acting accordingly, directing and guiding people to it. Divisions and disputes are not permissible, nor to invite people to join a group or party or to take the opinion of someone. Rather, it is obligatory that the Da`wah is to be to Allah and His Messenger; to the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of His Messenger; and not to the ideology or call of someone; nor to a certain person’s group or the opinion of another. It is obligatory upon Muslims to follow the same way and have one goal – and that is to adhere to the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of His Messenger (peace be upon him).

As for the differences of opinions between the people of knowledge with regard to the Four Madh-habs (jurisprudential schools), i.e. Hanafy, Maliky, Shafi`y, and Hanbaly, it is obligatory to adopt the opinion which is the closest to what Allah and His Messenger legislated in the Qur’an or the Hadith or to that which the principles of Shari`ah acknowledge.

This is the way of the Imams as it was the way of the Sahabah (Companions of the Prophet, may Allah be pleased with them and please them) who were the Imams after the Messenger (peace be upon him). They were the most knowledgeable people with regard to Allah. They were the best, the most knowledgeable, and well-mannered among people.

They held different opinions with regard to some issues, but still their Da`wah and their way was the same; calling to the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of the Messenger (peace be upon him). Likewise, the Tabi`un (Followers, the generation after the Companions of the Prophet) and their successors, such as Imam Malik, Abu Hanifah, Al-Shafi`y, Ahmad, and other guiding Imams such as Al-Awza`y, Al-Thawry, Ibn `Uyaynah, Ishaq ibn Rahwayh, etc. Their Da`wah was the same: calling to the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of His Messenger (peace be upon him), they forbade their students from imitating them by saying, “Resort to the main legal sources upon which we depend,” i.e., the Qur’an and the Sunnah.

Whoever is ignorant of the Truth, they have to ask the people of knowledge who are recognized with virtue, sound belief, and good reputation. They have to respect the scholars, acknowledge their superiority and ask Allah to grant them success and great reward as they have preceded them in great blessing. They (may Allah be merciful with them) guided, and clarified the way. The Companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and the prominent scholars who followed them have preceded with their knowledge and Da`wah to Allah. Everyone has to realize their status and merit and overlook their mistakes, take them as an example in seeking knowledge and in calling to Allah, giving priority to the sayings of Allah and His Messenger (peace be upon him) over those of others, being patient upon this, and running toward righteous actions. Every Muslim has to follow the Companions and their followers in all these aspects and overlook their mistakes. However, it is not permissible to cling stubbornly and fanatically to one of them. Nor to say that someone is absolutely correct. Rather, a person has to believe that everyone at times errs and at times hits the right. What is correct is that which is in conformity to the sayings of Allah, His Messenger (peace be upon him), and Ijma` (consensus of scholars). If the scholars hold different opinions, it is compulsory to refer to Allah and His Messenger (peace be upon him). Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) says:

(And) if you differ in anything amongst yourselves, refer it to Allâh and His Messenger (صلى الله عليه وسلم) [Surah Al-Nisa’, 4:59]

and:

And in whatsoever you differ, the decision thereof is with Allâh (He is the ruling Judge). [Surah Al-Shura, 42:10]

This is what both early and recent scholars have stated.

It is not permissible to cling fanatically to the opinion of a certain person, likewise it is forbidden to stubbornly attach oneself to one group or party. These are all from the recent mistakes which many people commit.

It is essential that the goal of the Muslims is one and that is to follow the Qur’an and Sunnah in all instances: in adversity and prosperity, at times of hardship and ease, and when travelling or not. When the people of knowledge hold different opinions, then a person has to adopt the view which is rightly proven without being prejudiced against anyone.

As for common people, they have to ask people of knowledge and follow among them the closest to truth and uprightness. They have to ask their scholars about Allah’s Din, then the latter are to teach them and guide them to the truth according to Qur’an, Sunnah, and Ijma`.

A scholar is distinguished by his perseverance, his Taqwa (fearing Allah as He should be feared), and striving to what Allah has made obligatory and keeping away from what Allah and His Messenger have forbidden.

These are the characteristics of a scholar, whether they are teachers, judges, Du`ah (callers to Islam), etc. They have to be examples and models in righteousness; act upon their knowledge; fear Allah wherever they may be; and guide people to goodness. Scholars have to be good examples for their students, family members, neighbors and others who know him. This is because people take scholars along with their sayings and actions – which are in accordance with the Din of Allah – as an example.

Knowledge seekers warn against leniency in regard to Allah’s Obligations. Seekers of knowledge have to beware of being careless of what Allah has made obligatory and from falling into things that Allah has forbidden – for others will imitate them. Likewise seekers of knowledge have to not be neglectful of the Sunnah and to have not to commit Makruh (reprehensible) things. It is important that they care for reviving the Sunnah, even though a particular act may not be compulsory, in order to encourage the people to follow it, and that they be examples for them. Seekers of knowledge have to stay away from the prohibited things and the doubtful matters so that people do not imitate them.

Seekers of knowledge are of great significance whereas the people of knowledge are the select amongst the creation. Upon them are obligations and responsibilities over and above everyone else. The Messenger (peace be upon him) said:

Every one of you is a guardian and is responsible for their charges.

People of knowledge are guardians and guides. They have to show concern for society as it is their charge. It is obligatory on them to carry out such responsibility and fulfill the rights of Allah in this regard. They have to guide people to the way of salvation and warn them against ways of destruction. They have to implant in people’s hearts the love for Allah and His Messenger, being firm on following His Din, yearn for Jannah and His Mercy, and avoid Hellfire for it is an evil abode. Verily, it is obligatory to warn against Hellfire and Scholars and seekers of knowledge are more entitled to such an obligation. They strive to please Allah, refrain from disobeying Him, and call upon Him. They do not exceed the boundaries, but take the middle way. They abstain from those things, which Allah forbids and dislikes, so that Muslims may imitate them and be influenced by them wherever they are. I ask Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) by His Most Beautiful Names and Supreme Attributes to guide us all to all that pleases Him, to purify our hearts and actions, to make us rightly guided, righteous, and from amongst the reformers. I ask Him to make His Din victorious, and to make His Word prevail. I ask Him to grant success to Muslim leaders, to guide their retinue, and to bless them to rule by Allah’s Shar` (Law) and discard every thing that contradicts it.

As for other sciences, they have their own significance and importance, like mining, agriculture, farming, and other beneficial industries. It is a collective obligation to learn some of these industries depending upon the requirements of Muslims. Rulers have to order and help people learn what they need for their welfare, and to prepare them against their enemies. The actions of the Servant of Allah will be regarded as `Ibadah (worship) whenever their intention is good. If they do an action without an intention, then it is permissible. I mean the different kinds of permissible industries, i.e., mining, agriculture, farming, etc.

All of these sciences are required, along with good intentions; which render them kinds of `Ibadah. Sometimes looking after the foregoing sciences/industries may be regarded as collective obligation if necessity dictates. It is compulsory on the rulers to appoint the necessary people to learn such knowledge. The importance of doing so depends upon the situation, which differs according to intention and necessity.

As for acquiring knowledge of Shari`ah, this is obligatory. Since Allah created Jinn and mankind to worship and fear Him, this is only to be achieved through Islamic knowledge, i.e. knowledge of Qur’an and Sunnah; as mentioned above.

It is a duty of seekers of knowledge to understand and study Din, to learn and reflect upon what Allah prescribes, to know the `Aqidah (creed) of the Salafiyyah (those following the way of the righteous predecessors) which the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him), his Companions, and their followers adopted in righteousness. Such `Aqidah is to believe in Allah, His Messengers, His Names and His Attributes in a manner that suits Allah’s Majesty without Tahrif (distortion of the meaning), Ta`til (denial of Allah’s Attributes), Takyif (questioning Allah’s Attributes), or Tamthil (likening Allah’s Attributes to those of His Creation).

This was the approach and the way of the people of knowledge, as it was the approach of the Messengers (peace be upon them), their Companions, and their successors who followed them in righteousness.

I ask Allah to grant you success; to guide them to all that pleases him; and to make you return to your countries while attaining highest degrees of success, piety, knowledge, and Iman (Faith/belief). May Allah make you reasons for guiding people, and setting aright Muslims’ conditions. Verily, Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) is capable of doing all things. May peace and blessings be upon Servant and Messenger our Prophet Muhammad, his family, Companions, and all those who follow them in righteousness.

[Fataawaa Ibn Baaz, 23/296-313]