The Evils of Ignorance: Knowledge Disappears

Ignorance is the antithesis of all that Islam stands for. An ignorant person does great harm to himself and others because of his ignorance. One of the dangerous aspects of ignorance is the ignorant Muslim who thinks that he knows and leads himself and others astray. I heard recently about a so called “sheikh” who told his followers that it was okay for them to support themselves by selling drugs. This ignorant proclamation led to the death of many people because those people who listened to him continued to live their gangster lifestyle and eventually a war broke out between rival gangs which in turn led to many losses of life. Like many things today, people want quick access to knowledge believing that it gives them prestige in the eyes of others not realizing that this destroys their intention and that knowledge is not something that is easily gained. Many have spent their entire lives in the pursuit of knowledge and still feel that they have only gained a little. Many of the brothers who thought they knew something about Islam before going to study only began to realize how little they really know after having begun the process of studying. A knowledgeable seeker of knowledge knows that for every thing that he learns, there is one more knowledgeable, whether that is from the creation or from the Creator.

And do not pursue that of which you have no knowledge. Indeed, the hearing, the sight and the heart, about all these will be questioned
Holy Quran
Surah Al-Isra (17:36)

The Illustrious Imam, Ibn Katheer says about this verse

Ali bin Abi Talhah reported that Ibn `Abbas said: "This means) do not say (anything of which you have no knowledge).'' Al-`Awfi said: "Do not accuse anyone of that of which you have no knowledge.'' Muhammad bin Al-Hanafiyyah said: "It means bearing false witness.'' Qatadah said: "Do not say, `I have seen', when you did not see anything, or `I have heard', when you did not hear anything, or `I know', when you do not know, for Allah will ask you about all of that.'' In conclusion, what they said means that Allah forbids speaking without knowledge and only on the basis of suspicion, which is mere imagination and illusions.”
Ibn Katheer
Source: Not Given

From the mannerisms of a student of knowledge is that he should not stretch himself in answering questions that he does not have a clear answer for. It has been mentioned that Imam Malik Bin Anas one of the famous scholars and founder of the Maliki School of jurisprudence was once asked by a man who came to see him from a very far distance and asked him 40 questions. Imam Malik only answered four of them and for the rest of the 36 questions he replied, “I don’t know.”

The man was surprised and asked Imam Malik “What should I tell people about these 36 questions for which you said (I don’t know)?” Imam Malik replied that the man should tell the people that Malik says: “I don’t know,” “I don’t know,” “I don’t know.” Imam Malik said this 3 times.

In an authentic hadith we find the Messenger ﷺ upset with the companions even though they were the best of people and generations because of their issuing a verdict without clarification.

We set out on a journey. One of our people was hurt by a stone that injured his head. He then had a wet dream. He asked his fellow travelers: Do you find a concession for me to perform tayammum? They said: We do not find any concession for you while you can use water. He took a bath and died. When we came to the Prophet (peace be on him), the incident was reported to him. He said: ‘They killed him, may Allah kill them! Could they not ask when they did not know? The cure for ignorance is to ask. It was enough for him to perform tayammum and to pour some drops of water or bind a bandage over the wound, then he should have wiped over it and washed the rest of his body
Abu Dawoud Hadith
Jabir bin Abdullah
Sunan Abu Dawood (336)

This displeasure of the Prophet towards his beloved and trusted companions shows how disliked it is to act or speak without having clear knowledge about an issue. The resurgence of ignorance is one of the signs of the Last Days.

Near the establishment of the Hour there will be days during which (religious) knowledge will be taken away (vanish) and general ignorance will spread, and there will be Al-Harj in abundance, and Al-Harj means killing.
Al-Bukhari and Muslim
Abu Musa
Sahih Bukhari (7064)

One of the manifestations of ignorance is the appearance of ignorant people striving to have a position among the Muslim communities and competing to be seen as the flag bearers of the truth. The issue has two parts to it, one of which is the wrong information being disseminated and the other is the competing itself as if we as a nation were commanded to compete in seeing who can remain as the last standing true believers to the exclusion of anyone who disagrees with us on some issues.

Those who engage in such an ignorant methodology in the name of “da’wah” have done a great disservice to the deen. I have witnessed on many occasions people with very little knowledge making rulings about issues that they are not qualified to make. The job of the student of knowledge or those less than him in knowledge is to ask those who are true scholars on the issues where clarity is sought. Allah said (translation)

And We sent not before you except men to whom We revealed [Our message]. So ask the people of the message if you do not know.
Holy Quran
Surah An-Nahl (16:43)

The ease and temptation to speak without knowledge has been encouraged through the use of social media such as you tube. The lure of fame and instant recognition urged on by “followers” is a recipe for the breeding of ignorance and those who spread it. It is usually the youth who are the first to hasten in their uninhibited zeal to be seen and heard and who are lured and tempted by the promise of recognition.

Abu Umayyah reported: The Prophet ﷺ said, “Verily, among the signs of the Hour is that knowledge will be sought from the young.” ( al-Mu’jam al-Kabīr 908 Classed as Sahih by Al Albani).

No doubt, youth and little experience are factors which lead to the increase of speaking without knowledge. The Kharaawij who were the first to declare Muslims to be unbelievers because of their sins are one such example. The Prophet ﷺ mentioned about this sect in his statement:

Ibn Kathir said, “If the Khawarij ever gained power, they would corrupt the entire land, Iraq and Syria. They would not leave alone a boy or a girl or a man or a woman, for in their view the people have become so corrupt that they cannot be reformed but by mass killing.”   al-Bidāyah wal-Nihāyah 10/584

Anas ibn Malik reported: The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Among the signs of the Hour are the reduction of knowledge, the prevalence of ignorance, the prevalence of adultery, and the abundance of women and scarcity of men such that fifty women will be maintained by a single man.

In another narration, the Prophet said, “And drinking of wine.”

Source: Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī 80, Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 2671

What is necessary for every Muslim to do is to understand that it is a religious duty to ask the scholars and students of knowledge and to seek knowledge by studying in a methodical way beginning with the primary affairs of the religion such as knowing how to pray, the affairs of the correct aqeedah and to make his intention the removal of ignorance from himself and seeking the pleasure of Allah. In addition, he must not be in a hurry to get knowledge and must keep focused on the goal of pleasing Allah, not seeking fame or popularity.

We seek refuge in Allah from speaking without knowledge and being led and leading others astray.

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