‘… their knowledge was thus ruined.’

Seeking Allah's Mercy

Qul HuwaAllahu Ahud!
‘… their knowledge was thus ruined.’

by Fajr
As-salamu `alaykum wa rahmatullah

Ibn al-Jawzi makes this remarkable entry in his book, ‘Sayd al-Khatir’:

“I met many scholars whose circumstances and depths of knowledge were very different. I found the most beneficial of them to be the one who acted upon his knowledge even if others were more knowledgeable than him.

I met a group of people from the scholars of hadith who memorised and knew narrations but they used to permit backbiting under the guise of Jarh and Ta’dil (critique of narrators), and they used to charge money for the narration of hadith. They would also hasten to answer questions even if that made them fall into error, because they feared losing status (in the eyes of people).

I met ‘Abd al-Wahhab al-Anmati and he was upon the manner of the predecessors. No backbiting was heard in his gathering and he never sought a wage for listening (and narrating) hadith. If I read a heart-softening narration to him, he would cry profusely. It used to affect my heart and built it up, and I was very young at the time. He was just like those scholars whose descriptions we’ve heard about from (classical) texts.
I met Shaykh Abu Mansur al-Jawaliqi; he was known for his increased periods of silence, his extreme caution over what he said, and his precision and authenticity (in knowledge). Perhaps he would be asked a question and the answer was clear to even children, but he would hold back until he was certain (of its correctness). He used to fast a lot and observed silence a lot.

So I benefited from these two men more than I benefited from others. I came to understand that guiding people by one’s actions is greater and more inspiring than guiding them by just words. I saw scholars whose moments of seclusion was mere joking and play so they turned hearts towards this and the knowledge they had gathered was thus ruined. The people did not benefit from them in their life except a little, and after their death, they were forgotten and hardly anyone looked to their works and writings.

So fear Allah when it comes to acting upon knowledge for it is the greatest of foundations. The impoverished one is truly the only who wastes his life in seeking knowledge that he does not act upon and so he misses out on both the delight of this world and the goodness of the Hereafter, so he goes forth (into the Hereafter) as a bankrupt one burdened with evidences against him.”