Reading the preface of Fiqhul Quloob, I get goosebumps thinking of the struggle and the toil that scholars like this author went through to gain knowledge and to propagate it to us.
The author says about this treasure trove of knowledge in this book:
ولا اعتل بدنك في طلبه
[Rough translation] “And your body did not fall sick in its pursuit…”
All we have to do to access volumes upon volumes of books is click a few links to download them off the internet, or fork over a few notes to pick them up off bookshelves; do we ever spare a thought for how these authors gathered all the knowledge that is inside? How they travelled far and wide, how they exhausted their minds, how they starved and sickened their bodies, how they stayed awake nights, to gather and spread this priceless treasure that is knowledge?
Imam Abu Hatim ar Razi, for example, travelled five thousand kilometers on foot. He reports in one of his books that at times the dehydration and lack of food and medicine would be so severe that he would urinate blood! Even those fortunate enough to have rides were not much better off. They didn’t have comfortable air conditioned cars. They bumped and jolted along on camels and horses with the blazing sun overhead and sand blowing into their eyes the whole time. Yet they plodded along. No matter how tired. No matter how ill. They were not getting three comfortable meals a day. There was no hot dinner waiting for them when they stopped, aching and weary, for a night’s rest. They survived on dates and water and dry bread and what morsels of food they could obtain along the way.
Can we think for a moment that knowledge gained in that way can compare in any way with our tiny efforts? We have it so EASY, yet we can barely scratch the surface of the books written by one scholar. We can’t even completely go through and learn the material returned in the top five links in a quick Google search!
No wonder then, that our words have little weight, and our articles and presentations and posts seem to make little difference in the world. For we have not yet learned to give ilm the value that it deserves. We have not learned to dedicate our days and our nights to the pursuit of knowledge. We are simply trying to cram in a bunch of classes into lives already occupied with running after duniya. We have not learned to give up the duniya. As the scholars of the old did – they gave up كل ما يملكون – all that they owned – when they set out on the path of knowledge.
So no wonder, then, that the light of their knowledge shines on even today, and even today illuminates our minds and our hearts. As the author says,
فصار لكلامهم نور، وسُرَّ الخلق وانتفعوا بما يقولون
[Rough translation] “Their words became a source of light, and the creation became happy and took benefit from what they said”
Ever wondered how those amazing quotes by scholars came about, that light up our minds today? A few short sentences, a few little phrases, every word of which has so much weight and so much wisdom, that still illuminate our paths when all is dark? Such are the fruits of their intense struggle – the fruits ripened from their unending toil. We eat of that fruit today and pick the flowers that bloom still in their gardens – and will bloom until the world lives.