Publisher's Note

All praise is for Allaah; peace and prayers be upon Muhammad

his family, his Companions and all those who follow in their

footsteps until the Day of Judgement.

In the following pages is a short essay by one of the greatest

scholars alive today on the merits of knowledge and the

characteristics of the scholars. The Shaykh, may Allaah protect

him, has beautifully described the importance of seeking

knowledge, acting according to it and other related matters. It

is hoped that this booklet will help to create a realization of the

importance of knowledge and the status of the scholars.

This booklet has been published in Arabic under the title:

Al-'llm wa Akhlaaqu Ahlihi. The translator, may Allaah reward

him has added some useful footnotes and included an appendix

containing some very valuable points, taken from the writings

of Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah.

The author, Shaykh 'Abdul-'Azeez bin 'Abdullaah bin Baaz, may

Allaah preserve him, is one of the greatest scholars of this age,

who has spent his life calling to the pure Islaam, in creed as

well as methodology, as understood by the Companions, the

Successors and their successors - may Allaah reward him.

AI-Hidaayah Publishing and Distribution.

All praise and thanks are due to Allaah, the Lord of the worlds;

and the good end is for the pious. Prayers and peace be upon

His Slave and Messenger; the best of His creation, the faithful

to His revelation, our Messenger and Leader, Muhammad the

son of 'Abdullaah; upon his family, his Companions and

whoever follows his way until the Day of Judgement. To


Indeed the virtues and merits of knowledge ('ilm) are well

known to everyone. It is the most noble thing that one can ask

for, and the best thing a seeker can strive to attain. Knowledge

consists of many branches, but according to the scholars of

Islaam: "What is meant by knowledge in the absolute sense is

Islamic knowledge."

This is the intended meaning of knowledge in the Book of Allaah

and the Sunnah of His Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wasallam).

In the absolute sense, it is knowledge regarding Allaah, His

names and attributes, knowledge of His rights over His

creation, and what He, the One free from all defects, the Most

High, has prescribed for them. It is the detailed knowledge of

the path that leads to Allaah; knowledge of the purpose of our

creation; and the end which the slave will result in, in the


This Islamic knowledge is the best of sciences worth acquiring

because through it Allaah is recognized and acknowledged, and

by it He is worshipped. One who possesses this knowledge

knows what Allaah has made lawful for him and what He has

prohibited him from; what pleases Him and what evokes His

anger. With this knowledge a person knows his result with

Allaah and his end. From amongst the people, those who have

taken upon themselves to observe the precepts of the Religion

will result in Paradise and bliss, and the rest (which are the

majority) will result in a place of disgrace, humiliation and

misery. The people of knowledge have cautioned us about this

and explained that knowledge is confined to this meaning.

Amongst the scholars who indicated this is al-Qaadi ibn Abil' Izz

1 (commentator of 'Aqeedatut Tahaawiyyah) at the beginning of

his commentary. Others have also referred to it, such as Ibn

Qayyim, Shaykh-ul-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah 2 and a number of


It is very clear that the merits and virtues of knowledge vary

depending on the extent of one's adherence to it. The greatest

and most excellent knowledge is that which pertains to Allaah,

His names, and His attributes, and this knowledge is known as

'aqeedah (belief). Indeed to Allaah, the Exalted and Supreme,

belongs the best example, which is the highest description in

every aspect of His essence, names, attributes and actions.

Following this is that which is related to Allaah's right over His

creation, what He has prescribed upon them. Following this is

what supports and bonds it in understanding such as

knowledge of the principles of Arabic, Islamic terminology,

principles of fiqh, hadeeth methodology and other sciences

which are connected to this knowledge, which assist it in both

understanding and precision.

The biography of the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam),

Islamic history, biography of the narrators of hadeeth and of

the scholars of Islaam are also part of this knowledge.

Allaah has honoured and extolled the people who possess this

knowledge, and He has raised their status high. He made them

bear witness to His Oneness with sincere devotion:

1 Abul-Hasan Sadruddeen Alee bin 'Alaa-uddeen ibn Abil Izz

al-Hanafee. He died in the year 792H.

2 Shaykh-ul-Islaam Taqee ud-Deen Ahmad ibn Taymiyyah, one of

the great scholars of Islaam, well known for his vast knowledge

and piety. He authored many books on a variety of subjects. He

died in the year 728H. Imaam lbn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah was one

of his students, a scholar in his own right, who has written may

useful books. He died in the year 751 H.

"Allaah bears witness that none has the right to be worshipped

but He, and the angels, and those having

knowledge (also bear witness to this); (He is always)

maintaining His creation in justice. None has the right to

be worshipped but He, the All-Mighty the All-Wise." 3

The people of knowledge bear witness to His Oneness along

with the angels. The angels ('alayhimussalaam) and the people

of knowledge, affirm Allaah's Oneness with sincere devotion

towards Him, that He is the Lord of the worlds, the true deity

worthy of worship and that worship of anyone besides Him is

futile and void.

This affirmation in itself is sufficient proof to show their high

station due to the fact that Allaah made them testify to His

Oneness and the right for His worship. He, the Most High,

explained clearly that none is equal to them:

"...Say: `Are those who know equal to those who know

not?' It is only men of understanding who will remember

(that is get a lesson from Allaah's signs)." 4

And the Mighty and Majestic says:

"Shall he then who knows that what has been revealed

unto you (O Muhammad (sallallahu alaihi wasallam))

from your Lord is the truth be like him who is blind? But

it is only the men of understanding that pay heed." 5

Therefore, the people of knowledge and the ignorant are not

alike. The person, who has knowledge that what Allaah has

revealed is the truth, guidance and a way to success, is not

equal to the one who has been blinded to this way and to this

3 Soorah Aal-Imraan (3):18. See appendix on page 25 for some

valuable points that can be derived from this verse.

4 Soorah az-Zumar (39):9

5 Soorah ar-R'ad (13):19

knowledge. There is an immense difference between the

knowledgeable and the ignorant. It is the difference between

one who knows the truth and obtains insight through its light

and acts according to its guidance until he meets his Lord

achieving success with nobility, and one who is blind to this

way and follows his desires taking the path of Shaytaan.

The two groups are not similar. Allaah has clearly stated that

He raises the ranks of the people of knowledge due to their

effect upon the people and the great benefit that people draw

from them. Thus some of the people of knowledge have said:

"What is more beneficial than their effect upon the people!

What is more harmful than the people's effect upon them!"

Their beneficial effects upon the people is their directing the

people towards righteousness and guiding them to the truth,

making sure that the guidance reaches them - and these are

great benefits that are derived from them. Allaah 6 thanks them

and the believers thank them for their meritorious actions.

At the head of all the scholars are the prophets

('alayhimussalaAm) for they are the guides and the callers to

Islaam. They are the most knowledgeable and learned of

people with regards to Allaah and His Sharee'ah. The best

people after the prophets are those who follow them; those

who are well acquainted with that which the prophets came

(i.e. the revelation); and those who call to Islaam in the best

way, with patience and guide the people to it. The Most High


"...Allaah will exalt in degree those of you who believe

and those who have been granted knowledge ('Ilm) ..." 7

6 This means that He rewards them and forgives them their sins.

For a detailed discussion refer to Sifaatullaahi Azzawajal

al-Wooridah fil Kitoabi was Sunnati by Ibn 'Abdul-Qaadir.

7 Soorah al-Mujaadilah (58):11

"And that was our proof which we gave Ibraaheem

against his people. We raise whom We will in degrees..."


He, the Most High, explained that the people of knowledge fear

Him as He ought to be feared, although this fear, generally

speaking, is present within the believers and others. But the

true and complete fear of Allaah is present only among the

scholars, at the head of them being the prophets


"...It is only those who have knowledge ('Iim) among His

slaves that fear Allaah..." 9

That is, complete and perfect fear. The scholars have

knowledge of Allaah, His names, His attributes and His

Sharee'ah, which He dispatched the prophets with. Hence when

some people who took the knowledge to which the Messenger

of Allaah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) was guiding to be

insufficient and said: "We are not like you O Messenger of

Allaah! Allaah has forgiven your past and future sins." The

Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said: "By Allaah! Indeed

I am the one who fears Allaah the most amongst you,

and the most pious of 10 you."

8 Soorah al-An'aam (6):83

9 Soorah Faatir (35):28

10 The full text of the hadeeth is as follows:

Narrated by Anas bin Maalik (radiyallaahu 'anhu), he says: "A

group of three men came to the houses of the wives of the Prophet

(sallallahu alaihi wasallam) asking how the Prophet (sallallahu

alaihi wasallam) worshipped (Allaah), and when they were

informed about that, they considered their worship insufficient

and said: 'Where are we compared to the Prophet (sallallahu

alaihi wasallam) as his past and future sins have been forgiven.'

Then one of them said: 'I will offer the prayer throughout the

night for ever.' The other said: 'I will fast throughout the year and

will not break my fast' The third said: 'I will keep away from

The scholars are the most fearful of Allaah among mankind due

to their knowledge of Allaah, His Deen, His names and His

attributes. They are the most eager among men for the truth

depending on the extent of their knowledge of Allaah. Further

above them and the most perfect are the prophets, as they fear

Allaah the most. The most perfect of them, with regard to

knowledge, fear and piety, is our Messenger Muhammad

(sallallahu alaihi wasallam).

There are many ahaadeeth showing the virtues and merits of

knowledge. From them is his (sallallahu alaihi wasallam)

saying: "Whosoever pursues a path to seek knowledge

therein, Allaah will thereby make easy for him a path to


So this shows us the great excellence of the students of

knowledge. For whoever corrects his intention in seeking

knowledge and desires only His Face, he is on a road to

salvation (from the Fire) and happiness (in Paradise). 11

women and will never marry.' Allaah's Messenger (sallallahu

alaihi wasallam) said: 'Are you the same people who said so-and

so? By Allaah! Indeed I am the one who fears Allaah the most

amongst you, and the most pious of you; yet I fast and break my

fast, I pray and I sleep, and I marry women. So he who opposes

my Sunnah is not from me." Reported by Imaam al-Bukhaaree in

his Saheeh.

11 The full text of the hadeeth is as follows:

On the authority of Aboo Hurairah (radiyallaahu 'anhu) that the

Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said: Whosoever removes a

worldly grief from a believer, Allaah will remove from him one of

the grief’s of the Day of Judgement. Whosoever alleviates (the lot)

of a destitute person, Allaah will alleviate his lot in this world and

the next. Whosoever conceals the faults of a Muslim, Allaah will

conceal his faults in this world and the next. Allaah will aid a

servant (of His) so long as the servant aids his brother. Whosoever

pursues a path to seek knowledge therein, Allaah will thereby

Knowledge should be sought for the right reasons and for its

implementation (acting according to the knowledge) not for the

sake of ostentation (riyaa') 12, fame, or for the sake of any

other gain from the ephemeral gains of this world; rather, he

learns it to be acquainted with his Deen, to have insight into

what Allaah has made incumbent upon him, to strive to take

the people out of darkness and into the light, so he seeks

knowledge and acts upon it and teaches others about the good

that a Muslim is ordered to do.

Every path that he takes in search of knowledge is a way to

Paradise; this is true for every path, literal or otherwise: his

journey from one country to another; going from one circle of

knowledge to another; and from one mosque to another for the

sole intention of seeking knowledge. These are from the ways

of acquiring knowledge, likewise memorizing and studying

Islamic books of knowledge, perusal and writing are also from

the ways of seeking knowledge.

make easy for him a path to Paradise. No people gather together

in one of the houses of Allaah (i.e. a mosque), reciting the Book of

Allaah and studying it among themselves, without tranquility

descending upon them, mercy enveloping them and angels

surrounding them, and Allaah making mention of them to those

who are with Him. Whosoever is slowed down by his actions will

not be hastened forward by his lineage." Reported by lmaam

Muslim is his Saheeh.

12 On the authority of Mahmood,bin Lubayd that the Messenger

of Allaah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said, "The thing that I fear

for you the most is Shirk al-Asghar (the minor shirk)!" The

Companions asked, "O Messenger of Allaah! What is Shirk

al-Asghar?" He replied, "Ostentation (showing off)." Saheeh,

reported by Ahmad. Baihaqee reported the addition in Shu'ab

at-Eemaan: "On the Day (of judgement) Allaah will reward people

for their deeds, He will say, 'Go to those people for whose

attention and praise you did these deeds, and see whether you

will find with them any reward!"'

A proper student is concerned with all these paths that lead to

knowledge. He seeks it, desiring the Face of His Lord, the

Mighty and the Majestic. He wants to seek Allaah's pleasure

and a home in Paradise; he wants to understand and reflect

upon His Deen; he wants to know what Allaah has made

incumbent upon him and what He has prohibited him from,

then acts accordingly; he wants to know his Lord with insight

and cognizance; he wants to rescue people (from the Fire of

Hell); he wants to be amongst the guided callers striving for the

truth; and he wants to guide people to Allaah through

knowledge. So wherever he turns he is in great excellence with

these correct intentions - even his sleep is from the paths to

Paradise - if he sleeps in order to strengthen himself to seek

knowledge, or to commit a book of knowledge to memory, then

his sleep is regarded as worship 13, contrary to the one who has

an evil intention, for he is in great danger. 14

It is related in a hadeeth that the Messenger (sallallahu alaihi

wasallam) said: "if anyone acquires knowledge o f things by

which Allaah's good pleasure is sought, but instead he acquires

13 Shaykh-ul-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah (rahimahullaah) says:

Worship is a comprehensive term for everything that Allaah loves

and is pleased with from among the sayings and actions, hidden

or apparent.

14 Umar ibn al-Khattaab (radiyallaahuu 'anhu) narrates that the

Messenger of Allaah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said, "Actions are

but by intentions and there is for every person only that which he

intended. So he whose migration was for Allaah and His

Messenger, then his migration was for Allaah and His Messenger,

and he whose migration was for some worldly goal or to take a

woman in marriage, then his migration was for that which he

migrated." Reported by al-Bukhaaree and Muslim in their



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