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The Removal of Khushūʿ and Beneficial Knowledge from This Ummah

Shaykh Abū ʿIyāḍ

An analysis of the reasons for what ails the Muslim nation.

So the knowledge has disappeared and the common people like ourselves are lost, devoid of the correct knowledge, unable to make sense of the confusion and separation we find ourselves in.

Shaykh Abū ʿIyāḍ

Indeed All praise belongs to Allāh. We praise Him, seek His aid and His forgiveness. We seek refuge in Allāh from the evils of our souls and the evils of our actions. Whomsoever Allāh guides there is not to misguide and whomsoever Allāh misguides there is none to guide. I bear witness that none has the right to be worshipped except Allāh alone, without any partners and I bear witness that Muḥammad is His servant and His Messenger.

If we look around at the state of affairs with the perception we will find that we Muslims have strayed from the clear path, have become confused and ignorant of the knowledge which was revealed to Muḥammad (ﷺ). This is something which had been forewarned by the Messenger (ﷺ). The Messenger (ﷺ) said:” Verily Allāh does not take away the knowledge by snatching it from the people but he takes away the scholars until there remain no scholars and the people take the ignorant ones as their leaders so they are asked and give judgement without knowledge so they go astray and lead others astray [Muslim].”

Abū Dardāʾ said: “We were in the company of the Messenger (ﷺ) when he fixed his gaze to the sky and said: ‘The time is coming when knowledge will be taken away and people will be unable to acquire it.'”

The Messenger (ﷺ) also said as is reported in Bukhārī: “From among the portents of the hour are :

  1. That religious knowledge will be taken away
  2. Religious ignorance will prevail
  3. Drinking of alcoholic drinks
  4. And a prevalence of open illegal sexual intercourse”

Al-Awzāʿī, one of the great scholars of the earliest generation of Muslims, explains what is knowledge: “Knowledge is what the companions of Muḥammad (ﷺ) conveyed. Anything other than that is not knowledge.” And Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah explains: “Knowledge is the realisation of guidance with its proof.”

So the knowledge has disappeared and the common people like ourselves are lost, devoid of the correct knowledge, unable to make sense of the confusion and separation we find ourselves in. This not due to anything except the abandonment of the clear guidance which was left by the Messenger (ﷺ). Listen to the words of Muḥammad (ﷺ): “I have left you upon clear guidance (whiteness: clarity, clearness) its night is like its day. No one swerves or deviates from it except that he is destroyed.”

My brothers and sisters ask yourselves: since the Prophet (ﷺ) departed who has been destroyed and is being destroyed. In every century it has always been the Muslims who have been destroyed whether by means of oppressive rulers like al-Ḥajjaaj ibn Yūsuf the tyrant or nations like the Mongols and the tartars or the crusaders and also in modern times where Allāh has mobilised His disbelieving servants against us. Has given the disbelievers strength and power and unleashed them against us.

Allāh the Exalted said:

ظَهَرَ الْفَسَادُ فِي الْبَرِّ وَالْبَحْرِ بِمَا كَسَبَتْ أَيْدِي النَّاسِ لِيُذِيقَهُم بَعْضَ الَّذِي عَمِلُوا لَعَلَّهُمْ يَرْجِعُونَ ‎﴿٤١﴾‏

“Mischief has appeared on the land and the sea because of what the hands of men have earned in order that Allāh may give them a taste of the actions they have committed and in order that they may return.”
[Al-Rūm, 30:41]

Return to what?

To the sincere and correct ʿIbādah for which we were created and upon which all matters revolve, upon the clear straight path left for us by the Messenger (ﷺ) which doesn’t deviate to the left or to the right and which has been preserved by the Mercy of Allāh {in order that we may return to it}. So without a doubt we have gone astray, on an individual level and a collective level and as a result the correct beneficial knowledge has disappeared, has been taken away and nothing remains but ignorance.

So when we look around us and look at our sad state of affairs we try to find solutions to our problems with our opinions and intellects, based upon ignorance, completely divorced from the clear path of the Messenger (ﷺ) that is his authentic Sunnah. Every one of us seems to have his own opinions as to what he thinks and it doesn’t concern him whether something exists from the words of the Messenger (ﷺ) from his pure and preserved Sunnah, which contain guidance about a particular matter.

Listen to the words of ʿAbdullāh ibn Masʿūd: “You are in a time whose scholars are many and its speakers few and after you will come a time whose scholars are few and speakers are many.” Knowledge was much then and speech was little and that was because of the fear of Allāh and now knowledge is little and speaking is much and that is due to the lack of the fear of Allāh and lack of understanding and perception because we no longer hold onto, with our molar teeth, like we have been advised by the Messenger (ﷺ) the guidance left for us.

There is nothing which has a greater effect on the hearts and minds of the people except the pure words of Allāh and His Messenger (ﷺ) and the words of the Companions and those after them who had keen insight, clear perception (as a result of the knowledge they possessed and acted upon). So they had clear perception so powerful that they could discern:

  1. Truth from Falsehood no matter how subtle the difference,
  2. Tawḥīd from Shirk, no matter how subtle the difference,
  3. Sincerity from Hypocrisy no matter how subtle the difference,
  4. Revelation (waḥy) from the products of people’s minds and intellects no matter how eloquent, rational and logical the opinions of people may be,
  5. Sunnah from Bidʿah no matter how beautiful, pleasing and luring the latter might be,
  6. What is Beneficial from what is Harmful no matter how hidden the latter might be,
  7. What is Guidance, the clear straight path left by the Muḥammad (ﷺ) which doesn’t deviate to the right or to the left, from what is Misguidance

All this as a result of the beneficial knowledge which was learnt and acquired and acted upon in the right order with the right priorities.

But now The beneficial knowledge has disappeared and ignorance has prevailed and priorities have been lost and the clear sharp vision of those before us has faded and become blurred and as a result the blindness and darkness of peoples opinions, ideas, solutions and remedies have become dominant and the revelation of Allāh, the clear guidance of Muḥammad (ﷺ): their words have been made redundant, of no use, and subjected and overridden by people’s intellects.

All Praise is due to Allāh and Peace and Blessings upon His Messenger.

In the first part, we made ourselves aware of a number of things.

Firstly: that religious knowledge has been taken away and ignorance prevails.
Secondly: that this is due to our abandonment of the clear path left for us by the Messenger.
Thirdly: as a result of this mischief and oppression and confusion and division has appeared amongst us.
Fourthly: that a consequence of all this we speak without knowledge and try to find solutions to the problems with our own minds and opinions and abandon the words of Allāh and His Messenger and that is why nothing changes, because the causes of downfall and correction, reformation have been left for us by the Messenger (ﷺ)

In-shāʾ Allāh we will just mention one cause from the authentic Sunnah of the Messenger (ﷺ) and from the Companions and from the Salaf and we will see how truthful and concise and wise these words are as opposed to the long-winded speeches which are devoid of guidance nowadays.

The Messenger (ﷺ) said: “The very first thing to be raised from this Ummah is khushūʿ (awe, fear of Allāh) until there is not a single person in it with khushūʿ.” He also said: “The first thing to be raised from the people is khushūʿ. Therefore, the removal of khushūʿ is the single factor in the downfall of the Muslims. The single factor In our oppression, injustice done to us, the confusion amongst us. This is what we have been taught by our Messenger (ﷺ).

Abū Dardāʾ said to one of the companions: “If you wish I will tell you what the first type of knowledge taken from the people will be – it is al-khushūʿ (the fear of Allāh- humility, submissiveness) such that if you enter a Jāmiʿ’ah Masjid and you will not see a single man who has khushūʿ.” If that is the case then the very first thing to bring back is al-khushūʿ

There are people who say weak economy is a cause, let’s improve it and become as strong as the disbelievers. But Muḥammad (ﷺ) has informed us from Allāh’s knowledge “Inna awwala maa yurfaʿu (The very first thing to be raised from this Ummah is khushūʿ (awe, fear of Allāh))”…. Weak economy is a symptom not a cause. There are people who say that we are politically weak. That is the cause. Let’s infiltrate the political arena and gain positions of authority, But Muḥammad (ﷺ) informed us from Allāh’s perfect knowledge -“inna awwala maa yurfa’u min (The very first thing to be raised from this Ummah is khushūʿ (awe, fear of Allāh))”…. political weakness or lack of power is a symptom not a cause. There are some people who say we are intellectually defunct and this is a cause. Let’s become intellectuals and use our minds to find solutions, but Muḥammad (ﷺ) informed us “Inna awwala maa yurfaʿu (The very first thing to be raised from this Ummah is khushūʿ (awe, fear of Allāh))”… Intellectual impotence is a symptom not a cause.

This confusion between what is only a symptom of the problem and what is the real cause of the problem has arisen because the clear guidance of Muḥammad has been lost, abandoned and other easier paths chosen.

The path of Muḥammad is a path of patience and discipline upon the knowledge which was revealed and all other paths are paths of hastiness, emotion, ignorance. Listen to the ḥadīth of Khabbāb and see what the path of knowledge upon the Sunnah of Muḥammad requires ….

“We complained to the Messenger (ﷺ) while the Messenger was sitting in the shade of the kaʿbah leaning upon his cloak. We said to him ‘Will you not seek help for us? Would you call upon Allāh for us?'” He replied (listen to the request made and listen to the reply given): “Amongst those before you a man would be taken and would have a hole dug for him and he would be placed in it. Then a saw would be brought and placed on his head and it would be sawn in half, yet that would not make him abandon his religion, and his body would be torn with iron combs – the flesh from his bones and nerves being removed – yet that would not make him give up his religion. By Allāh this Dīn will prevail till a rider will travel from Sanʿā to Haḍramaut not fearing anything but Allāh and the wolf which may attack his sheep, but you people are a hasty, impatient people.” What was the request of the companions? And listen to the response of the Messenger (ﷺ).

Being economically strong alone does not mean that such fear of Allāh and patience will develop, being politically strong alone does not mean that such patience will develop, being intellectual does not mean that such patience and firmness will develop but developing khushūʿ, awe fear of Allāh will in turn develop such patience and strength.

قَدْ أَفْلَحَ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ ‎﴿١﴾‏ الَّذِينَ هُمْ فِي صَلَاتِهِمْ خَاشِعُونَ ‎﴿٢﴾‏

“The believers will prosper, those who have khushūʿ (are humble submissive and hold Allāh in awe in their prayer).” 
[Al-Muʿminūn, 23:1-2]

If any of you looks around carefully he will find that more than half us or even more are neglectful in their prayers. Not praying upon time. People are looking to the right to the left up to the sky (no fear of Allāh) and are playing with their clothes making sure that they look alright and playing with their beards those who have them. We are not moved by the words that we recite.

Sayyid ibn Al-Mūsáyyab commented on a man who was playing with his beard and clothes during his prayer: “If this man’s heart had khushūʿ’ then his limbs would also have had khushūʿ” This khushūʿ is not caused by anything other than beneficial knowledge…

As Allāh the Exalted said:

إِنَّمَا يَخْشَى اللَّهَ مِنْ عِبَادِهِ الْعُلَمَاءُ ۗ ‎﴿٢٨﴾‏

“It is only those who have knowledge among His slaves that fear Allah.”
[Fāṭir, 35:28]

And the Messenger (ﷺ) said to His companions: “Indeed I am the most knowledgeable amongst you regarding Allāh and I fear Him the most.”

Ibn Rajab, a great scholar of the twelfth century says: “The beneficial knowledge all of all types of knowledge is to take possession of the precise texts of the Book and Sunnah and to understand and comprehend their meaning and to limit themselves to what is reported from the Companions, the Tābiʿīn and the followers of the Tābiʿīn regarding the meanings of the Qurʾān and the Ḥadīth and in what has been reported from them regarding the matters of ḥalāl and ḥarām and Zuhd (not being too attached to the world) and the heart affecting matters and striving to distinguish the what is authentic from what is weak firstly, then striving to understand and comprehend it secondly. And in this there is enough for the intelligent one who busies himself with this knowledge and he who stops at that and makes his intention purely for the sake of Allāh, then Allāh will help him and guard him and grant him success, satisfaction, understanding and inspiration. Then he will take the benefits of this knowledge which can only be obtained by this knowledge and that is the fear of Allāh (khashyatillāh). Just as Allāh (عزَّ وجلَّ) mentions

إِنَّمَا يَخْشَى اللَّهَ مِنْ عِبَادِهِ الْعُلَمَاءُ ۗ ‎﴿٢٨﴾‏

‘It is only those who have knowledge among His slaves that fear Allah.'”
[Fāṭir, 35:28]

Then he quotes:

“Ibn Masʿūd (رضي الله عنه) said ‘Knowledge is enough for the fear of Allāh and ignorance (of this knowledge) is enough for deception.'” And he says: “Some of the Salaf used to say: ‘knowledge is not by reporting much (i.e speaking a lot) but knowledge is nothing but the fear of Allāh.’ And some of them used to say: ‘Whoever fears Allāh then he is an ʿālim and whoever disobeys him then he is a jāhil.'”

Then he goes on to say that beneficial knowledge is based on two things:

  1. The knowledge of Allāh and what He is deserving of from the names and attributes and highest forms of example so when one knows this in depth then it forces him and pushes him into holding Allāh in awe and reverence and fear of Him and loving Him and hoping in him and relying upon him and being satisfied with his Qaḍāʾ and having patience with His Qadr (His decree)
  2. Knowledge of what Allāh loves and pleases Him and Knowledge of what Allāh hates and angers Him from among the beliefs and actions both inward and outward.

So whoever knows these things it makes him rush towards whatever Allāh loves and flees and keeps away from whatever Allāh hates. So only when this happens, only when this happens is the knowledge beneficial and only then has the person benefited from his knowledge. This is the knowledge of khushūʿ and this is the Knowledge which The Messenger (ﷺ) said would be raised, and many of the companions said likewise.

So it is upon every single one of us to attend to the beneficial knowledge and to act upon it and to gain the benefits of it and not to make it proof against us on the Day of Judgement by neglecting it or not acting upon it like the poet said:

إذا العِلمُ لم تعمَلْ به كان حُجَّةً             عليـــكَ

“Behold! Knowledge, when it is not acted upon, is a proof against you”

So to conclude and summarise, every one of us has to;

1. To correct his situation in the proper manner upon the guidance of the Messenger upon his clear path

2. to limit ourselves to what has been mentioned in the Sunnah about the causes of downfall and division and humiliation of the Muslims and throw away the opinions and empty slogans and words of the philosophers of this Ummah. The best guidance is the guidance of Muḥammad that is his sunnah and the truest of all creation is the Messenger (ﷺ)

3. and when we have realised that, to reform ourselves individually and collectively in order to remove the causes of downfall. to remove the blame from ourselves on the Day of Judgement. Just like the poet said:

فلا تَاْمَنْ سؤالَ اللهِ عنه بتوبيخٍ: عَلِمْتَ فهل عَمِلْتا؟

“So do not feel secure from Allāh’s question regarding it – As a rebuke: You knew, so did you act?”

4. That the single most significant cause in the downfall, individual and collective, is the removal of khushūʿ that is the beneficial knowledge.

So any call or shout that you hear from any of the Muslims or any group or party for reform or correction which attaches little or no importance to this, that is the correct authentic knowledge of the meaning of the Qurʾān and the Sunnah and how it was conveyed and understood by the companions and acting upon it to revive the khushūʿ which is the determining factor, any call which attaches little importance to this is futile will not work, is a deception and another trial for the Muslims.

So brothers and sisters busy yourselves in finding the beneficial knowledge and acting upon it just like our pious predecessors, the people before us did, and let it have an effect upon you just like it did upon them.

Published: June 21, 2007
Edited: January 30, 2023

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