Think about everything you’ve ever learned – all the knowledge that you’ve ever gained, all through school and college and university and every class you’ve ever attended. Now think about the many different fields of knowledge that makes – math, physics, computers, business, economics, art, languages – most of us can probably come up with some ten different fields at the very least. Add to it religious knowledge: tafseer? Hadith? Seerah?
When I did this analysis for myself, I could list all the above fields and more. It used to feel pretty good to know so many different things. Until some lines from Fiqh ul Quloob gave me a wake-up call.
The author writes a long critique of religious books, and then he says:
وإن كان في بعضه منافع وزيادة معلومات، إلا أن المقصود الأعلى، ومقاصد الشريعة العظمى من معرفة الله بأسمائه وصفاته وأفعاله.. ومعرفة دينه وشرعه.. ومعرفة وعده ووعيده.. وثوابه وعقابه.. وعبادته وطاعته.. وتعليم المسلمين أحكام دينهم.. ودعوة الخلق إلى الله.. كل هذا فوق ذلك بكثير، وأولى منه، بل هو أجل مقصود وما بينهما كما بين السماء والأرض
While it is difficult to translate these lines out of context, roughly, the gist of it is that in some of these (religious books) there are benefits, and increase in information, except the highest purpose. This highest purpose of ilm is the is the recognition (ma’arifat) of Allah, with His asmaa (names), sifaat (attributes) and actions (af’aal), and then the knowledge of His deen and His promises and rewards and punishments, and the knowledge of teaching Muslims their deen and calling the creation to Allah. This is the peak of ilm, and it is the true purpose of religious learning and teaching. It is as though all other knowledge is the earth, and this knowledge about Allah with His names and attributes and His deen is the sky!
So what shook me here is that the highest of all knowledge, that should come before every kind of knowledge, is the recognition (ma’arifat) of Allah, with His asmaa (names), sifaat (attributes) and actions (af’aal). We do memorize ayaat and translations and we attend da’wah courses and we might know a lot about Islamic laws, and all of that is wonderful. Yet, ask yourself this: (and this is a question that makes me shudder) how much of my life was spent gaining the highest of ilm: knowledge about Allah, my Creator, and how much was spent in gaining other knowledge, much of it useless, that neither benefits the heart nor will have any weight in the akhirah?
Even now, how much of my day is spent gaining useless knowledge, and how much of it is spent getting to know Allah?
Ask yourself: do I even understand the meanings of the names of Allah? We barely know who He is, and then we wonder why we can’t cry in salaah like the sahaaba did! How can we gain true khushoo’, when we don’t even know who we’re standing in front of?
What are we doing, brothers and sisters? We use the mind Allah gave us, the heart He made for us, the health, the money, the ease with which He blessed us – to do everything, except to get to know Him!
Are we worthy of being called His slaves at all? Of being admitted into His mercy and His Jannah? Of seeing His face? Of being allowed to see Him and talk to Him whenever we like, in the next world? Of being under the shade of His arsh?
All this, when we are not even interested in taking the trouble to know who He is?!
Yet, we claim to love Him. Why don’t we realize that it is impossible to truly love someone and not want to get to know them really well? It’s time to wake up, and it’s time to remember who made us and who we’re returning to.