Extracts from speeches and writings of Scholars on Islamic Spirituality and Purification of the Soul!
Tuesday, August 19, 2014
Knowledge of the Tongue and the Heart- Imam Ibn Rajab
Knowledge of the Tongue and the Heart
Sacred knowledge, says Hasan al-Basri, is of two types: "Knowledge of the tongue, which is the proof of Allah against the son of Adam, and knowledge of the heart, which is beneficial knowledge."
Hasan attributes this narration to the Prophet, as Ibn Masud relates inSahih Muslim, "People will recite the Quran, and it may fail even to go past their clavicles. Whereas, if it reaches their hearts and becomes rooted therein, it will be of tremendous benefit".
In this manner does beneficial knowledge touch the heart and impress upon it experiential knowledge of Allah, awareness of His sublimity, and humility towards Him. It bestows upon the heart exaltation, glorification, and love for Allah. When these characteristics settle into the heart, it is humbled; and the limbs, similarly affected, then follow in humility.
As related in Sahih Muslim, the Prophet used to say, "I seek refuge in Allah from knowledge which is of no benefit and from a heart which is not humble."
This indicates that knowledge which fosters no humility is of no benefit.
It is related that the Prophet used to ask Allah for beneficial knowledge.
In another hadith, he said, "Ask Allah for beneficial knowledge, and seek refuge in Him against knowledge which is of no benefit."
As for knowledge on the tongue, it is a proof of Allah against people. The Prophet, said, "The Quran isthe proof of Allah for you or against you."
When inner knowledge departs, outer knowledge remains on people's tongues as a proof against them. This knowledge then leaves the possession of the scholars. Nothing then remains of religion except its name, and nothing of the Quran except its script. As for the Quran, it will remain in the books containing it, then at the end of time it will be raised from the books, and nothing will remain in the books or in the hearts.
Inner and Outer Knowledge
Scholars who categorize knowledge divide it into inner and outer knowledge. Inner knowledge is that which touches the hearts and instils in them fear, humility, awareness of Allah's sublimity, exaltation, love, intimacy, and yearning. Outer knowledge is that which remains on the tongue as a means for establishing the proof of Allah against people.
Wahb ibn Munabbih (theTaba'ii) wrote to Makhul, "Surely, you are a man who has attained the outer knowledge of Islam and thereby gained honour. So seek the inner knowledge of Islam and gain the love of Allah and nearness to Him."
Another version relates that he wrote, "Because of your outer knowledge, you have gained status and honour with the people. So seek inner knowledge to seek status with Allah and nearness to Him. You should know that each of these are separate stations."
Wahbindicates that outer knowledge is the knowledge of religious verdicts and legal rulings, the lawful and the unlawful, stories and admonitions, that which the tongue manifests. This knowledge gives its possessor love and veneration.
In his letter, Wahb warns against stopping at what people give out and thus becoming spiritually stagnant and trapped into seeking people's love and glorification. One who stops at this has been cut off from Allah and deluded by people from pursuing Allah's pleasure.
By inner knowledge, he means that knowledge which touches the hearts and instills fear, exaltation, and glorification. Wahb urged him to use that knowledge to seek the love of Allah and His nearness.
Categories of Scholars
Many of the righteous forebears [salaf], such as Sufyan al-Thawri and others, categorized scholars into various groups. The best of these groupings is epitomized by the scholar who knows both Allah and His commandments.
By this expression, Sufyan refers to those who combine inner and outer knowledge. These are the most distinguished scholars. They are praised by Allah: Indeed, among His servants, it is but the learned who fear Allah (Quran, 35:28). He also says: Indeed, those who were given knowledge beforehand, when Our signs are recited to them, they fall down prostrate on their faces, saying, "Glorified is our Lord. Indeed, the promise of our Lord will be fulfilled. " They fall down prostrate on their faces, weeping, and it increases them in humility. (Quran, 17:107-9)
Many of the righteous forebears used to say, "Religious knowledge is not an abundance of memorized texts. Rather, knowledge is humility."'
One of them said, "Fear of Allah is sufficient knowledge, and being deceived concerning Allah is sufficient ignorance."
They further said, "One who knows Allah experientially does not necessarily know the commandments of Allah." Such are the possessors of inner knowledge who lack adequate comprehension of juridical matters.
The righteous forbears similarly said, "One who knows the commandments of Allah does not necessarily know Allah experientially." Such are the possessors of outer knowledge who have no inkling of inner knowledge; they neither fear Allah nor possess humility. They were deemed blame worthy by the righteous forebears. One of them said [concerning such a scholar], "This [type] is corrupt."'
They stop at outer knowledge, while beneficial knowledge fails to reach their hearts. They will never savour its fragrance. They have been overwhelmed by their negligence, their hardness of heart, and their aversion of the Hereafter. They vie for the world, seeking exaltation in it, and are vainglorious.
Taken from the book: 'The Heirs of the Prophets' by Imam Ibn Rajab Al-Hanbali (RA)
May Allah give us beneficial inner and outer knowledge. Ameen.