Alhamdulillah, today, we as Muslims have it easy when it comes to acquiring knowledge about Islam.
There are many different methods of increasing our knowledge as we have the glorious Quran, a range of books available that have been simplified to become an ‘easy read’, dynamic speakers who are specialists in different languages and fields whom you can listen to at the touch of a button and even online Islamic courses. So the knowledge about our deen is very accessible to us in a range of formats.
Ideally, we would like to have more knowledge about Islam as it would be useful for us but is it important to gain knowledge? The answer is YES! The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said,
“Seeking knowledge is obligatory upon every muslim” [Sunan Ibn Majah].
So we know we have to seek knowledge but what are the benefits of gaining knowledge? Below are some points that can help motivate and steer us towards acquiring knowledge about Islam.
1. Know your Lord
This means we know who Allah (glorified and exalted be He) is. Gaining knowledge about the religion means we are able to understand a little bit about the greatness, attributes of Allah (glorified and exalted be He) as well as what pleases and displeases Him.
Sources such as the Quran and the stories of the different prophets [peace be upon them] help illustrate some of the greatness of Allah (glorified and exalted be He). If we look at the different prophets [peace be upon them] for example Moosa (peace be upon him) with the parting of the seas by Allah’s grace, this shows how the seemingly impossible was made possible and therefore giving us a little idea of the greatness of Allah (glorified and exalted be He) and how He is able to do All things.
Also, different stories of people during the lifetimes of the prophets where the gravest of sins were committed by people who were still forgiven after repenting, allows us to understand a little about the mercy of Allah (glorified and exalted be He). This knowledge will allow us to understand that we should never despair of the mercy of Allah (glorified and exalted be He) despite what we have done.
Additionally, learning and knowing the attributes of Allah (glorified and exalted be He) will allow us to understand a bit about Him, so we will learn to put our trust in and depend on Him. Hence, we will not worry when things are not going well for us and we can remain calm and patient.
2. Love the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) as he should be loved
It is narrated in a hadith,
…Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) said to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him),“You are more beloved to me than everything except my own self”. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said, “No, by Him in Whose Hand my soul is (you will not have complete faith) till I am dearer to you than your own self”. Then Umar said, “However, now, by Allah, you are dearer to me than my own self”. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said, “Now, O’Umar, (you are a believer)” [Bukhari].
This shows the importance of loving the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) and the extent to which we should love him (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him). Achieving this may seem difficult because we are not able to listen to his lectures (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) but a way to help us achieve this love includes studying the biography of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him).
We can learn about the constant trials and challenges he faced, the love he (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) had for the people (both Muslims and non-Muslims), the way he behaved with friends and his wives, his dealings in business, and how he dealt with his neighbours. With a little understanding of this, we are surely going to have love, affection and admiration for him (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) and therefore following him and his way should insha Allah become easier for us.
The more we try to follow him (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), the closer we will become to Allah (glorified and exalted be He) insha Allah. As a result, we are going to achieve great success in all aspects of this life and the hereafter.
3. Shield against your opposition – Shaitaan
Knowing about the shaitaan and how he tricks people, what he will use against people and his aims and objectives should help us to put blocks and protect ourselves against the enemy.
Take the example of footballers, though a more effective example is boxers. They study their opponents continuously to look for their habits, strengths etc. so they can gain an idea of their opponents’ next move and how their opposition would look to defeat them. With this knowledge, they are looking to prevent themselves from being defeated by their opponent.
Similarly, by knowing the different habits and whispers of the shaitaan, we can look to put preventative measures in place to protect our imaan and be the Muslims we aspire to be.
In different situations such as chatting with friends and when you feel like ‘getting things off your chest’, you may find yourself letting your tongue loose and unintentionally backbiting against someone, you will be able to recognise this is one of the tricks shaitaan uses to encourage you to disobey Allah (glorified and exalted be He). Insha Allah, having the knowledge of the implications of this act, you can stop and say to yourself, “No, I’m not going to do what shaitaan wants me to do”.
Also, with knowledge, you will be able to prevent yourself from even placing yourself in that situation in future by, for example, changing the subject or thinking about something else beforehand. Therefore, the knowledge of the different traps of shaitaan will allow us to avoid them.
This awareness alone is a powerful technique for building a productive lifestyle.
4. Allow yourself to positively impact the lives of others
This is through passing on the knowledge we have to others. This can also be a simple thing such as mentioning a single hadith of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) which can be approximately one line long. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said,
“Convey (my teachings) to the people even if it were a single sentence…” [Bukhari].
Therefore, it may just be mentioning a brief point/incident that occurred during the life of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) which means you don’t have to be a scholar or have an excellent memory to impact positively on others. The other person may pass also on that information also for which you will pick up a portion of their reward insha Allah. Furthermore, studying about the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) will give us the knowledge of manners, character, behaviours etc. we should have. When we look to imitate him (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) in our character through for example our kindness, generosity, etc. we will positively impact others through this. Therefore, we are able to give Da’wah indirectly.
Who said giving Da’wah is difficult?!
5. Understand how to react to different situations in life
This is in particular reference to trials, calamities and seemingly hopeless situations. Having knowledge of Allah (glorified and exalted be He), should allow us to understand why we are faced with trials and insha Allah allow us to cope, remain patient and ultimately become closer to Allah (glorified and exalted be He).
“Do people think that they will be left alone because they say: ‘We believe,’ and will not be tested” [29:2].
Some of us may feel or say in times of trials and calamities, “Why has this happened to me?” or just start bawling our eyes out. But with the knowledge and understanding that ultimately Allah (glorified and exalted be He) wants to bring out the best in us and achieve nearness to him, we can react by saying ‘Alhamdulillah’ and thanking Allah (glorified and exalted be He) in the difficult times.
Having a basic understanding of Allah (glorified and exalted be He) and how we should react makes it easier to thank Allah (glorified and exalted be He) in these testing circumstances that He has not allowed the situation to become much worse than what it actually is. Understanding how to react to the tests and trials in life can be easily understood by looking at the lives of the Prophets (peace be upon them) who faced the most trials in life and looking at how they bore with patience.
Also, having knowledge should allow us to react in a correct manner when we feel like things are going well for us. This may be with wealth, health, excellent job, etc., which is also part of the tests set by Allah (glorified and exalted be He) to see how we react. Therefore, with knowledge, we can react how Allah (glorified and exalted be He) wants us to by praising him more, giving more away in charity etc. as opposed to perhaps being neglectful of Allah (glorified and exalted be He)’s bounties and feeling proud of ourselves.
The different situations that we may face include marriage, setting up a business, calculating our zakat, etc. Having knowledge of this (which is given in the Qur’an and Hadith) should allow us to deal with the different situations in a way that is pleasing to Allah (glorified and exalted be He) (by following the Sunnah) and help to prevent us from being ignorant in the various matters.
6. Motivate yourself to increase your good deeds and refrain from bad deeds
There are many actions and deeds that are part of our lives e.g. salaah, zakaat, fasting etc. which are obligatory upon us. But what virtues/benefits can we name about our good deeds? Alhamdulillah, there are many benefits given by Allah (glorified and exalted be He) for example for salaah. Understanding some of these benefits should allow us to not only increase our motivation and spirit to perform our salaah more attentively but also enable us to comprehend, Why do we do this? What benefit will it bring me in this life and the hereafter? What reward has Allah promised me for this action? Once we have answered these questions to some effect, we will insha Allah feel peace and tranquility from doing these good deeds as well as feel encouraged to increase and carry on doing them.
Also, the things we regard little and not important have a reward such as eating with your right hand and entering the toilet with your left foot. It’s narrated by Abu Dharr that, ‘Allah’s Prophet (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said to me’:
“Don’t consider anything insignificant out of good things even if is that you meet your brother with a cheerful countenance” [Muslim].
Smiling is probably something we do all the time and are unaware of its reward. However, knowledge of the deen would allow us to understand the benefits of our actions and what actions of ours are pleasing to Allah (glorified and exalted be He).
Just as knowledge will motivate us to increase our good deeds, insha Allah, this will support us in refraining from bad deeds. Having an understanding of why a particular action is displeasing to Allah (glorified and exalted be He), how it affects us in this life and the hereafter, the impact the action has on society etc. will encourage us to not take the sins lightly. Consequently, we will dislike the bad deeds by understanding the consequences/results of committing these actions and therefore making it difficult for ourselves to disobey Allah (glorified and exalted be He) and easy for us to obey Him instead.
The abovementioned six points do not do any justice to the great bounties and the results that can be achieved by gaining knowledge about Islam. But, I hope this gives you a little insight as to how your life and productivity can be positively affected through seeking and acquiring knowledge.
I apologise for any mistakes made and I humbly request you to make duaa for the author and those who have contributed.
How about you? What methods do you use to gain knowledge? What other results do you know of from acquiring knowledge about our deen? Pass on your knowledge so that we may learn from each other!