Posts Tagged ‘sharee’ah’

The Definition of Knowledge

May 22, 2012

Translated from:

http://www.ibnothaimeen.com/all/books/article_17901.shtml

الفصل الأول

تعريف العلم

Part 1

The Definition of Knowledge

لغة: نقيض الجهل، وهو: إدراك الشيء على ما هو عليه إدراكاً جازماً.

In the language it means the opposite of ignorance.  And it is to comprehend the reality of something as it truly is, with certainty1

 

اصطلاحاً: فقد قال بعض أهل العلم: هو المعرفة وهو ضد الجهل، وقال آخرون من أهل العلم: إن العلم أوضح من أن يعرف.

As for the religious meaning, some of the people of knowledge have said that it is knowing (al-ma’rifah) , and it is the opposite of ignorance.  Others from the people of  knowledge have said that indeed knowledge (al-ilm) is more clear than knowing

 

والذي يعنينا هو العلم الشرعي، والمراد به : ((علم ما أنزل الله على رسوله من البيانات والهدى)) ، فالعلم الذي فيه الثناء والمدح هو علم الوحي، علم ما أنزله الله فقط قال النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم: (من يرد الله به خيراً يفقهه في الدين )) وقال النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم : (( إن الأنبياء لم يورثوا ديناراً ولا درهماً وإنما ورثوا العلم، فمن أخذه أخذ بحظ وافر)) .

What it means is Legislative Knowledge, and what is meant by that is “knowledge of what Allah sent down to His Messenger from clear signs (or evidences) and guidance.”  So the knowledge which is praised and commended is knowledge of the revelation, knowledge of what Allah sent down only.  The Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, said (translated), ‘Whoever Allah wants good for, He makes him have understanding in the religion’2 And the Prophet , sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, said (translated), ‘Indeed the Prophets don’t leave as an inheritance dinars or dirhams (i.e.money), they only leave as an inheritance knowledge.  So whoever takes from it (the knowledge) takes an abundant portion.’3

ومن المعلوم أن الذي ورثه الأنبياء إنما هو علم شريعة الله – عز وجل – وليس غيره، فالأنبياء – عليهم الصلاة والسلام _ ما ورثوا للناس علم الصناعات وما يتعلق بها، بل إن الرسول صلى الله عليه وسلم حين قدم المدينة وجد الناس يؤبرون النخل – أي يلقحونها – قال لهم لما رأى من تعبهم كلاماً يعني أنه لا حاجة إلى هذا ففعلوا، وتركوا التلقيح، ولكن النخل فسد، ثم قال لهم النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم : (( أنتم أعلم بشؤون دنياكم )).

And it is known that what the Prophets left as inheritance was only knowledge of Allah’s Sharee’ah (which is Quran and Sunnah) and nothing other than it.  So the Prophets – alayhim as-salaatu was-salaam – didn’t leave as inheritance for mankind the knowledge of manufacturing and what pertains to that.  Rather , indeed the Messenger, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, when he came to Madinah he found people pollinating date-palms.  When he saw them toiling  he said to them something, meaning that there was no need to do this.  So they stopped pollinating , but the date-palms became rotten.  Then the Prophet (sallallahu alayhe wa sallam) said to them, (translated), ‘You are more knowledgeable regarding your affairs of the dunya’4

ولو كان هذا هو العلم الذي عليه الثناء لكان الرسول صلى الله عليه وسلم أعلم الناس به، لأن أكثر من يثنى عليه بالعلم والعمل هو النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم .

And if this type of knowledge was the praised knowledge, then the Messenger , sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, would have been the most knowledgeable of the people about it.  Because the one who praised knowledge and action the most was the Prophet – sallallahu alayhe wa sallam

إذن فالعلم الشرعي هو الذي يكون فيه الثناء ويكون الحمد لفاعله، ولكني مع ذلك لا أنكر أن يكون للعلوم الأخرى فائدة، ولكنها فائدة ذات حدين : إن أعانت على طاعة الله وعلى نصر دين الله وانتفع بها عباد الله، فيكون ذلك خيراً ومصلحة، وقد يكون تعلمها واجبا في بعض الأحيان إذا كان ذلك داخلاً في قوله تعالي: (وَأَعِدُّوا لَهُمْ مَا اسْتَطَعْتُمْ مِنْ قُوَّةٍ وَمِنْ رِبَاطِ الْخَيْلِ َ) (الأنفال:60) .

So then it is the legislative knowledge that has in it praise for the one acting upon it. Along with that, I dont deny that their are other beneficial fields of knowledge.  But the benefit has two boundaries (conditions) – that it helps one to obey Allah and it helps the deen of Allah, and also that the servants of Allah benefit by it.  So that is good and beneficial and learning it may be obligatory in some instances when it enters into the statement of Allah, The Most High (translated): And make ready against them all you can of power, including steeds of war (tanks, planes, missiles, artillery, etc.)’5    8:60

 

وقد ذكر كثير من أهل العلم أن تعلم الصناعات فرض كفاية ، وذلك لأن الناس لابد لهم من أوانٍ يطبخون بها، ويشربون بها ، وغير ذلك من الأمور التي ينتفعون بها، فإذا لم يوجد من يقوم بهذه المصانع صار تعلمها فرض كفاية. وهذا محل جدل بين أهل العلم، وعلى كل حال أود أن أقول إن العلم الذي هو محل الثناء هو العلم الشرعي الذي هو فقه كتاب الله وسنة رسوله صلى الله عليه وسلم ، وما عدا ذلك فإما أن يكون وسيلة إلى خير أو وسيلة إلى شر، فيكون حكمه بحسب ما يكون وسيلة إليه.

And many of the people of knowledge have mentioned that learning manufacturing is a community obligation (i.e. If some individuals fulfill it, it removes the obligation from everyone else).  That is because the people must have utensils to cook with, drink with, and other than that from the matters by which they benefit.  So if there is no one performing these manufacturing tasks, then learning it becomes a community obligation.  And this is an area in which there is debate amonst the people of knowledge.  But in any case,  I wanted to say that the knowledge which is praised is the legislative knowledge which is understanding the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of His Messenger – sallallahu alayhe wa sallam.  As for other than that, then it is either a means to good or a means to evil, so its ruling will be according to what it is a means to.

Footnotes

 

1 The Shaikh uses the same definition in his explanation of Thalaathatul Usool  for ilm –

  العلم هو إدراك الشيء على ما هو عليه إدراكاً جازماً

His explanation can be found online here: http://www.ibnothaimeen.com/all/books/article_17929.shtml

I used the translation of Abu Talhah Dawood bin Ronald Burbank  (Explanation of the Three Fundamental Principles of Islaam published by al Hidaayah, p.37 )

2  Bukhari, Book of Knowledge, Chapter: Whoever Allah Wants Good For, and Muslim, Book of Zakaah, Ch.: The Prohibition of Begging

3  Abu Dawood, Book of Knowledge, Ch: Encouragement to Seek Knowledge; Tirmidhi, Book of Knowledge, Ch.: What has come regarding the virtue of understanding and knowledge (fiqh) in worship (Shaikh Albaanee collected this hadeeth – which is longer than what was mentioned here – in his Saheeh at Tirmidhee and Saheeh Abi Dawood and graded it as Saheeh )

4  Muslim, from the Book of Virtues (Fadaail), Ch.: the obligation of following what he said regarding the legislatiion but not what he – sallallahu alayhe wa sallam – mentioned from his opinion about the life of the dunya

5  Translation of the verse from: http://www.thenoblequran.com/sps/nbq/

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