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Hadith Section > A Manual of Hadith > Chapter 03: Knowledge (Hadith -- The Traditions)


Chapter 03:
Knowledge (Hadith -- The Traditions):


 


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(Note: The superscript-numbers [e.g., intention2] that appear in the text [in pink] refer to the numbers of the explanatory footnotes that appear at the end of each Hadith [Tradition].)


1 'Abd Allah ibn Mas'ud said,
The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be on him, said:

"There shall be no envy but (emulate) two1 : the person whom Allah has given wealth and the power to spend it in the service of Truth, and the person whom Allah has granted knowledge2 of things and he judges by it and teaches it (to others)."3 (B. 3 : 15.)

1 The words in Arabic are la hasada illa fi-thnataini, which may be rendered as meaning "shall be no hasad but in two cases." But as hasad or the desire that another person shall be deprived of the advantages which he has, is totally prohibited by the moral code of Islam; the word illa is here used as an istithnamunqati`. Hasad (envy) and ghibtah (emulation) have one thing in common, viz., a desire regarding advantages or excellence which another man possesses; but in hasad the desire is that he shall be deprived of them, while in ghibtah it is that the desirer may be favoured with similar advantages. By using the word ghibtah in the heading of this chapter, Bukhari shows that while hasad is prohibited here, ghibtah is recommended in two cases.

2 The word in the original is hikmah which may be rendered wisdom or knowledge. According to R, it means "the knowledge of things and the doing of good."

3 The desire to have knowledge is here made akin to the desire to possess wealth which is a natural desire in every human heart, and thus it is made clear that the acquisition of knowledge is as important as that of wealth, and every human being should acquire both. The desire to possess either, however, is made subject to a further condition : the possessor of wealth spends it in the cause of Truth, and the possessor of knowledge teaches it to others, so that the benefit of humanity is the real end in view. In the Holy Qur'an , knowledge is spoken of as the greatest wealth : "And whoever is given knowledge (hikmah), he indeed is given abundant wealth" (2 : 269).


2 Malik ibn al-Huwairith said,
The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be on him, said to us:

"Go back to your people and teach them."4 (B. 3 : 25.)

4 It was the case of a deputation of the Rabi`ah tribe that came to the Holy Prophet from Bahrain on (the Persian Gulf). They were told to remember all that they had learned in their residence at Madinah and to teach it to their people. The duty to teach others is laid on all Muslims in h. 3.


3 Ibn `Abbas reported on the authority of the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be on him:

"Let him who is present impart knowledge to him who is absent." (B. 3 : 37.)


4 Abu Musa said,
The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be on him, said:

"There are three persons for whom there is a double reward: ... the person who has a slave-girl, and he brings her up and trains her in the best manner and he educates her and gives her the best education, then sets her free and marries her, he has a double reward."5 (B. 3 : 31.)

5 Here we are told that, so far as education was concerned, even slave-girls were not to be neglected. They had to be trained well and educated in the best manner. This was what Islam aimed at, and this was to be the Muslims' highest ideal; not only were free citizens to be trained and educated but even slaves, who were considered by the Arabs to have a very low status--not so low, however, as the unfortunate untouchables in India--were to be brought up to the level of the free citizen by proper education and training, and not only boys but girls as well. The questions of mass education, female education and emancipation of slaves were thus forestalled by the Holy Prophet thirteen hundred years before modern civilisation.


5 Abu Sa`id Khudri said,
The women said to the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be on him. The men have got an advantage over us in approaching thee therefore appoint for us a day from thyself; so he promised them a day in which he met them and he exhorted them and gave them commandments.
6 (B. 3 : 35.)

6 Bukhari mentions this hadith under the heading, "Should a separate day be fixed for the education of women?" It shows that from the Islamic point of view it is desirable that there should be separate arrangements for the education of men and women.


6 Abu Hurairah reported that,
The Khuza`ah murdered a man of the Banu Laith in the year of the conquest of Makkah, as a retaliation for the murder of one of them whom they had murdered. The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be on him, was informed of this, so he mounted his riding camel and delivered an address . . . And there came a man from among the people of Yaman and said, Write it down for me, O Messenger of Allah! So he said: "Write down for such and such a one."
7 (B. 3 : 39.)

7 Although the Holy Prophet himself did not know reading or writing, he encouraged both. There is a misunderstanding as to the prohibition of writing down hadith. As this hadith shows, the Holy Prophet himself ordered the writing down of hadith when it was needed. Generally, however, writing of hadith was not considered desirable as it was feared that persons who were not cautious enough might confuse the verses of the Holy Qur`an with hadith. As the next hadith, however, shows there were some people who regularly resorted to writing hadith.


7 Abu Hurairah said,
There was no one from among the companions of the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be on him, who reported more hadith from him than myself, but `Abd Allah ibn `Amr used to write while I did not write. (B. 3 : 39.)


8 Zaid ibn Thabit reported that,
The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be on him, commanded him to learn the writing of the Jews (in Syriac
8) so that I wrote for the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be on him, his letters and read out to him their letters when they wrote to him. (B. 93 : 40.)

8 The words "in Syriac" are not in Bukhari but they are added here on the authority of AD. and Tr. This hadith shows that the Holy Prophet ordered the learning of other languages as well.


9 Abu Hurairah reported,
A man from among the Ansar said . . ., O Messenger of Allah! I hear from thee a hadith which pleases me very much but I cannot retain it in memory. The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be on him, said:

"Seek the help of they right hand."9

And he made a sign with his hand for writing. (Tr. 39 : 12.)

9 He was told to learn the art of writing and then write down hadith.


10 Abu Hurairah said,
The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be on him, said:

"People are mines like mines of gold and silver; the more excellent of them in the days of Ignorance are the more excellent of them in Islam when they attain knowledge."10 (M-Msh. 2 : 1.)

10 The superiority of race over race and family over family is recognised--people are mines like mines of gold and silver--among Muslims as well as non-Muslims, but it is added that this superiority is maintained through attainment of knowledge. If persons belonging to a superior race discard knowledge, they lose their superiority. Racial or family superiority is thus subject to the acquisition of knowledge.


11 Abu Hurairah said,
The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be on him, said:

"The word of wisdom is the lost property of the believer, so wherever he finds it he has a better right to it."11 (Tr. 39 : 19.)

11 This hadith lays down upon every Muslim the obligation of acquiring knowledge. Hikmah means wisdom or knowledge, and dzallah means a lost animal or an object of persevering quest (LL.), so that the believer should set out in search of knowledge as perseveringly as the owner of a lost animal would search for it.


12 Anas said,
The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be on him, said:

"He who goes forth in search of knowledge is in the the way of Allah till he returns." (Tr. 39 : 2.)


13 The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be on him, said:

"Whomsoever Allah intends to do good, He gives right understanding of religion." And

"Knowledge is maintained only through teaching."12 (B. 3 : 10.)

12 These two sayings of the Holy Prophet are related by Bukhari in the heading of the tenth chapter of his "Book of Knowledge." The latter part shows that stress was laid not only on the acquisition of knowledge but also on conveying it to others or on teaching it.


14 "The learned ones are the heirs of the prophets--they leave knowledge as their inheritance; he who inherits it inherits a great fortune."13 (B. 3 : 10.)

13 This is also a saying of the Holy Prophet and forms part of the heading of B. 3 : 10. It is related as a separate hadith in Tr. Knowledge is here described as the inheritance of the prophets and is called a great fortune.


15 Anas said,
The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be on him, said:

"The seeking of knowledge is obligatory upon every Muslim."14 (Bhq-Msh. 2.)

14 The words every Muslim include both men and women, while another version adds and every Muslim woman. Its authorities are said to be weak. It should, however, be noted that the more authentic hadith quoted above also makes it obligatory upon all Muslims, men as well as women, to acquire knowledge.


16 Anas said,
The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be on him, said:

"Of the signs of the Hour is that knowledge shall be taken away and ignorance shall reign supreme."15 (B. 3 : 21.)

15 "The Hour" in the language of Islam indicates as regards an individual, his death; as regards a nation, the hour of its doom; and as regards the whole of humanity, the destruction of all. Evidently, what is meant here is the doom of a particular nation. Just as knowledge brings life to a nation, ignorance seals its doom. Thus have Muslims fallen on evil days; instead of that thirst for knowledge which characterised their ancestors, ignorance is now rampant.

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Hadith Section > A Manual of Hadith > Chapter 03: Knowledge (Hadith -- The Traditions)

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