A Lifetime Occupation
Ilm-e-Deen – Knowledge of the Deen – requires endurance. The reason for this is that it is an endless chain. It is a lifetime occupation. In this path there are ups and downs. You have to occupy yourself till your last breath. A time will most definitely come when the Favour of Allah accompanies you.
One light-hearted Buzrug (saintly-person) asked the father of a lad what he (the lad) was studying. The father replied: “Hazrat, he is doing Hifz (memorizing the Qur’aan Shareef).” The Buzrug replied: “Bhai, why have you put him on a lifetime occupation?”
The Buzrug called Hifz “a lifetime occupation” because, truly, memorizing the Qur’aan Shareef is a matter of one or two years’ work, but maintaining it is a lifetime’s work. A little negligence and it leaves the memory. Hence, daily revision and annual recitation in Taraaweeh are necessary for retaining the Qur’aan in memory. For this reason it is a lifetime occupation. But blessed is this occupation for it brings the Pleasure of Allah.
Ilm is a Lifetime Occupation
In like manner, understand that Ilm is a lifetime occupation. Its study should be kept up a lifetime. It comes in the Hadeeth: “Two cravings are never fulfilled; craving for worldly comforts and craving for Ilm.” One who gets the taste of Ilm never finds his stomach filled; he desires more and more. The reason for this is that Ilm is infinite and hence searching for it; studying Ilm is also infinite. Brother! This Road never ends. When you reach a station, don’t stop, continue ahead.
If you comment that this lifetime chain is not possible for you; you can only manage a day or two of work, then why don’t you do away with eating? Say, “This endless eating, day in and day out, is unbearable.” Why have you put up with this lifetime routine of eating? You will say that this is food without which a person cannot live. Then just as that food is necessary for the body, similarly, Ilm is food for Imaan. Life as a Mu-min is dependent on Ilm. Just as eating food daily is easy for you, engross yourself in Ilm and you will see how easy it is to remain occupied with Ilm. Once you get the taste of Ilm you will find no peace without it.
Another Benefit of Studying Ilm-e-Deen
There is furthermore another benefit to it. The Pleasure of Allah Ta’ala is attained by virtue of it. A person who passes away whilst studying knowledge of the Deen receives the thawaab (reward) of a Shaheed (martyr).
Dear Friends! Allah Ta’ala seeks excuses to be happy with His servants. Someone saw Imam Muhammad (Rahmatullahi alaih) in a dream. He was asked about his condition. He replied: “I was brought before Allah Ta’ala. Allah Ta’ala declared: ‘O Muhammad! Ask for what you want.’ I replied: ‘I ask for forgiveness.’ Allah Ta’ala said: ‘If We wanted to punish you We would not have given you Ilm. We gave you Ilm to forgive you. So, your forgiveness is assured; ask for something else.”
Allah Ta’ala’s Appreciation
Subhaanallah! Look at the virtue of Ilm of the Deen! Truly, Allah Ta’ala looks just for an excuse to forgive. In this regard at one place in the Qur’aan Allah Ta’ala says:
If you are grateful, that is, you bring Imaan then what is Allah going to do punishing you?
(Surah Nisaa, 147)
In other words, there is no benefit to Allah in punishing you. Further He says:
“Allah Ta’ala is exceptionally grateful and omniscient.”
He knows everything. He knows who has Imaan and who does not. And He is appreciative of every Mu-min’s Imaan. This Aayat is so rich in meaning. He did not say that if you do not bring Imaan then He will punish you. Rather, He says that what is He going to get out of punishing you? Those who understand the language and expression can understand the richness and depth of this statement.
What benefit does Allah Ta’ala get in punishing us? He is ever ready to forgive. There should just be someone who wishes to be forgiven. There was an idol-worshipper. Every day he used to worship his idol. For years and years he would say: “Sanam! Sanam!” [Sanam means ‘idol’.] One day, unmindfully, instead of ‘Sanam’ the word ‘Samad’ came from his tongue. [‘Samad’ is the name of Allah Ta’ala.] Immediately he heard a voice saying: “I am present My servant.” The voice brought tears to his eyes and he took the idol and threw it away saying: “Wretched idol! For years I have been calling you and you never ever responded. I sacrifice my life for that Allah Whom I was indifferent to for all these years and just once His Name slipped from my tongue and He turned to me at once.”
No Reason for Despondency
Dear Friends! When an idol-worshipper gets such attention through mistakenly taking Allah’s Name, do you think that Allah Ta’ala will not turn to Muslims who call Him?” If Muslims desire to please Allah Ta’ala then He will most certainly turn to them. Make the intention to please Allah Ta’ala and you will see. By Allah Ta’ala it is a matter of: “Return! Return! Whatever you are, return! Even if you are an infidel or fire-worshipper, return. This Portal of Ours is not a portal of despondency. Even if you have broken your taubah a hundred times, return.”
So what a great benefit there is in Ilm-e-Deen; with it the Pleasure of Allah Ta’ala is obtained. Therefore, this chain should never be broken. And if it breaks, then fix it and continue studying. If anyone cannot study regularly then learn irregularly. This is better than not learning at all. Continue in this manner. Insha-Allahu Ta’ala, one day order will fall in place in your study.
Moulana Roomi (Rahmatullahi alaih) is a great sage. He doesn’t leave the Saalik in despondency in any condition. He says that if you aren’t punctual with your Zikr and Shaghl (Spiritual Exercises) and you cannot find rhythm then continue in that haphazard and sporadic manner. Your Friend [Allah Ta’ala] loves that as well. Further he advances such a beautiful proof for this. He says that a haphazard effort is better than sleeping. This person is trying whilst the one who has dropped out is doing nothing.
Company of the Awliya
If someone cannot pursue Ilm constructively then at least he should meet frequently with the Ulama and ask them Masaail of the Deen. He should adopt their company for some time. In fact, this should be adopted even with one’s course of study. One should not stop at just studying books because there is something which cannot be acquired without the company of the Awliya. And that is affinity with the Deen. Relationship with Deen cannot be achieved without company of the Awliya. The effect of company is as described by Shaikh Sa’di (Rahmatullahi alaih). He says in a parable: “I picked up a sweet-smelling lump of soil. I asked it whether it was musk or ambergris. It replied that it was plain sand; however, the company of a sweet-smelling rose left its impression on it.”
See how sand became sweet-scented by virtue of being in the company of a rose! In the same manner, by keeping the company of the Lovers of Allah, love for Allah and affinity with Deen are produced.
The Sahaabah and Their Greatness
The greatness of the illustrious Sahaabah was by virtue of this company, to the extent that no Imam, no Faqeeh and no Wali, regardless of how great the Wali may be, can reach the rank of the most junior Sahaabi, whereas the Sahaabah weren’t academics. Many sciences were formulated after their era. During their age all these sciences were non-existent which are in vogue today. But their greatest virtue was that they saw Rasoolullah (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) and they were blessed with his company. Thus, remember that company of the Awliya can be beneficial even without being a scholar; however, being a scholar without the company of the Awliya is seldom beneficial. For this reason Ulama are plentiful, but only a handful are True Guides of the Deen. They are those who benefitted from the company of a Master of Tasawwuf.
(Ta’meemut Ta’leem by Hazrat Moulana Thanwi Rahmatullahi Alaih)