A Message to the Tullab-ul-‘Ilm and Du’at

I write this first and foremost as a reminder to myself, and secondly as a reminder to my brothers and sisters from among the students of knowledge and from among those active in the field Da’wah and teaching. The times we live in are times of great Fitan, especially for those involved in seeking knowledge and delivering that knowledge to the people, and especially for those living in the West. We find many of them who have spent several years seeking knowledge under great scholars, who were known for their firmness in knowledge, uprightness in their implementation of that knowledge, and in spreading that knowledge to the masses, suddenly changing from what they were upon. Now, I don’t intend by this to bring down their status in any way, nor do I intend to write a refutation of them, rather they deserve our respect and honour for having preceded us in the good that they have put forth for the Ummah. However, I hope this serves as a reminder to them, a reminder to those who are following in their footsteps, and a reminder to others so as not to fall into the mistakes they have fallen into.

Allah says:

“Do people think that they will be left alone because they say, “we believe,” and will not be tested? And We indeed tested those who were before them, and Allah will certainly make it known those who are true, and will certainly make it known those who are liars.” [Al-'Ankabut 29:2,3]

This verse shows us that the Sunnah of Allah is to test the believers after they have believed to distinguish which ones among them are truthful and which ones are not truthful. This will continue till the Day of Judgment. In the Hadeeth narrated by Anas bin Malik (RA), the Prophet (SAW) said: “Before the Day of Judgment there will be Fitan like parts of a dark night, in it a man will wake up in the morning a Mu’min and by nightfall become a Kafir, and will be a Mu’min at nightfall and wake up in the morning a Kafir, there will be people who will sell their Deen at the price of the Dunya.” [Tirmidhi]

The commentators of this Hadeeth have said: “This Hadeeth refers to one of the signs of the Day of Judgment, that there will be great Fitan, like parts of a dark night, black due to its intense darkness and a lack of clarity of its reality. In it a man will be constantly changing, his sayings and his actions will diversify, for him the good has become bad and the bad has become good, the Sunnah has become a Bid’ah and the Bid’ah has become a Sunnah, and perhaps it may be that Iman has become Kufr and Kufr has become Iman. These people will sell their Deen at the expense of the Dunya.”

This is the sad reality that we witness today. The most unfortunate part of this reality is that those caught up in these Fitan are those who we look up to from among the students of knowledge and Du’at. We find them taking a watered down approach to the Deen so as to meet the standards of the modern-day Western society we live in, compromising some of the Ahkam of the Sharee’ah along the way, trying to please those who criticize them, and then claiming that this is the only realistic way of surviving in this society. We find this in their beliefs, actions, and speech. They try to justify their positions by using the Qur’an and Sunnah, however the reality is that they reinterpret it according to their own views and by following their whims and desires, and not by following the truth and referring back to the scholars. If they were to keep their views to themselves then we wouldn’t have as big of a problem. However, they’ve decided to spread their baseless views to the masses who look up to them as role models in knowledge and action. This has caused a lot of Fitnah and confusion among the masses, has split up family members, and caused division among the students of knowledge and Du’at. If only these brothers were to wake up and see the mess they’ve created, and to Allah alone is our complaint.

So, why is it that we find many of these brothers not remaining firm? Why do we find them constantly changing? Why is it that we see their Iman shaking? Why is it that we see them not implementing the Ahkam of the Sharee’ah as they used to? Why are they weakening? Why all this sudden change? Of course, only Allah knows what the hearts contain, however based on certain observations the following explanations can be made:

1. Following the Hawa of the Nafs. Many of these brothers did not train themselves to control the desires of their Nafs, and so as a result of that you find them weakening in situations where they are tested by following the desires of their Nafs, giving in to their Nafs, and unable to stand firm in the face of those desires. You see them abandoning many of the Sunan and even the Wajibat, performing many of the Makruhat and even the Muharramat, and overall becoming lax with respect to the implementation of the Ahkam of the Sharee’ah. You don’t see them praying their Salawat with the Jama’ah in the Masajid anymore, you see them trimming down their beards, intermingling with the opposite sex, going to places of Munkar that are not befitting for their likes, and other things which do not distinguish them from the general masses of the Muslims.

Now, one may object and say that these are not big issues that need to be addressed, and that we have greater concerns of the Ummah that we need to be dealing with. I agree, however I do not agree when these brothers are students of knowledge, Du’at, and leaders of communities, because in that case they are role models who the general masses look up to, therefore they have to maintain a certain level of identity that distinguishes them from the rest of the people. When Allah sent Prophets and Messenger to the various nations, they were the best from among them, and role models that the people could follow. Similarly, the Du’at must be the best among their people, and role models for them to follow. Adh-Dhahabi in Siyar A’lam An-Nubala’ reports Al-Awza’i as saying: “We used to joke and laugh, then when we became looked at as role models I was afraid that even smiling would not be suitable for us.” And Ibn Katheer says in Al-Bidayah Wan-Nihayah: “It is binding upon the scholar to be cautious of making faults and to avoid the prohibitions, for his shortcoming is being observed, the ignorant one ready to follow it.”
Another objection may be that perhaps these are areas in which the scholars have differed, therefore we cannot accuse them of choosing other opinions. Again I agree, however the question is: what caused them to change their opinion? Did they choose these opinions, that previously were not even considered as valid opinions for them, as a result of in depth study of the issue, or was it as a result of following their whims and desires? Are they like Imam Ash-Shafi’i who travelled from one place to another in search of Ahadeeth and changed his opinions as a result of finding those Ahadeeth, and as a result of that we have the new and old Madh-hab of Ash-Shafi’i? Or is it as a result of following one’s whims and desires? At first, they used to place the Fatawa of the scholars above anything else, now they say that the Fatwa changes from time and place, and they say now we have new scholars and new Fatawa. Who are these new scholars with their new Fatawa? And has anything really changed? It’s only been a few years since those scholars passed away! Since when did the validity of a scholar’s Fatwa expire once he dies!?

Furthermore, one may object by saying that everyone has his weak points and that the students of knowledge and Du’at are not perfect and free of committing mistakes. Once again I agree, however the problem is when these brothers try to justify their actions and do not admit that they are wrong, instead they pull out an opinion of a scholar to justify their wrong doing. So my advice to these brothers is to fear Allah and release yourselves from the grip of your Nafs and its obedience, and implement what you have of knowledge, for the Prophet (SAW) has said: “The example of the scholar who teaches the people good things but forgets himself, is that of a lantern, it gives light to the people but burns itself out.” [At-Tabarani in al-Mu’jam al-Kabeer]

2. Pressure from both the inside and the outside. The inside being the Muslims including the various groups and sects, and the outside being the Kuffar and the enemies of Islam, all of them placing pressure upon the students of knowledge and Du’at to change the good that they are upon, to water down the Deen, and to compromise with them. This pressure results in many of the students of knowledge and Du’at giving in and backing down from what they were upon to please their opponents. You see that those who once were fierce against the people of Bid’ah and the various sects, now taking a lenient stance towards them, calling to working together with them on common ground and forgetting about the differences, even though those differences are in matters related to the Usool of the Deen, in which differences of opinion are not accepted. You see others who used to speak out against the evil ideologies of the Kuffar, and making clear the plots of the enemies of Islam, now quiet not saying a word against them, rather calling for open discussion with them and what has become known as “inter-faith dialogue.”

This type of pressure tactic is not a new one, rather the Prophet (SAW) went through it with his own people, him and his companions went through much more pressure than what we face today, many of them were tortured and even killed, yet none of that caused them to back down from what they were upon and give in to the requests of their enemies, rather Allah kept them firm and steadfast, and taught His Messenger (SAW) how to respond back in the face of such pressure, Allah says:

“Say: Indeed I have been forbidden to worship those you invoke besides Allah. Say: I will not follow your desires, for I would then have gone astray, and I would not be of the rightly guided.” [Al-An’am 6:56]

And Allah says:

“Say: O disbelievers, I do not worship what you worship. Nor are you worshippers of what I worship. Nor will I be a worshipper of what you worship. Nor will you be worshippers of what I worship. For you is your religion, and for me is my religion.” [Al-Kafirun 109:1-6]

They tried various ways of putting pressure on him, and each time Allah would forbid him from giving in, such as when they told him to get rid of the poor and weak who followed him, Allah forbade him from that:

“And do not send away those who call upon their Lord morning and afternoon, seeking His countenance. Not upon you is anything of their account and not upon them is anything of your account. So were you to send them away, you would then be of the wrongdoers.” [Al-An’am 6:52]

So this is how the students of knowledge and Du’at must be, not giving in to the pressure of their opponents from among the Muslims and non-Muslims, rather they must take a firm stance against them, continue on the path they are upon, and openly proclaim the truth to the people without fear of those who criticize, Allah says:

“O you who have believed, whoever of you should revert from his religion, Allah will bring forth a people He will love and who will love Him, who are humble toward the believers, powerful against the disbelievers, they strive in the cause of Allah and do not fear the blame of a critic.” [Al-Ma’idah 5:54]

My advice to these brothers is to stand firm against the pressure your opponents place upon you, and remember the statement of the Prophet (SAW): “Whoever seeks the pleasure of Allah at the risk of displeasing the people, Allah will take care of him and protect him from the people. But whoever seeks the pleasure of the people at the risk of displeasing Allah, Allah will abandon him to the care of the people.” [Tirmidhi]

3. Desire for fame, position, and wealth. This is the sad reality that we face today. You find from among the students of knowledge those who seek knowledge and from among the Du’at those who give Da’wah and teach the people for no other reason than either fame, position, or wealth. They want to be known among the masses of the Muslims, they want the faces of people to turn in their direction, they want to have the biggest following, and they want their name to be out there as Shaikh so-and-so and Ad-Da’ee so-and-so. They want to become the Imam of the A’immah, the Shaykh of the Mashayikh, and the Da’ee of the Du’at, they want to reach the high positions in the various Masajid, Islamic organizations, and centres of learning, and they want the power to control these places. And finally, they want the wealth that they see in the hands of the people, they want the biggest salaries and pay checks, chasing after the Dunya and what it has to offer. Their hearts are attached to other than the knowledge they seek, and other than the knowledge they deliver and teach. So wherever they find fame, position, or wealth they head in its direction, compromising what they have of the Deen, watering it down to fulfill the ultimate goal of achieving fame, position, or wealth. They suddenly change from the good they used to be upon because they don’t find it bringing them any fame, position, or wealth.

These brothers need to wake up and realize the great danger they have placed themselves in by having the wrong intentions for seeking knowledge and giving Da’wah, they must correct their intentions and make it sincerely for the sake of Allah, since what is required by seeking knowledge is implementing it before preaching it, not to become a famous scholar or to achieve a high status, or for other worldly benefits.

Let us not forget how the Quraish of Makkah tried everything they could to prevent the Prophet (SAW) from preaching his message, so they told him that if he desired women they would marry him to the most beautiful of women, if he desired wealth they would make him the richest among them, and if he desired power they would give him authority over them, they would give him anything he asked for under the condition that he leave preaching his message, yet he remained firm and did not give in to their offers. The sad thing is that these brothers are not even being offered and yet they are chasing after the Dunya and its glamour. Allah says:

“And keep yourself patient with those who call upon their Lord in the morning and the evening, seeking His countenance. And let not your eyes pass beyond them, desiring adornments of the worldly life.” [Al-Kahf 18:28]

My advice to these brothers is to re-evaluate your intentions, and remember the statement of the Prophet (SAW): “If anyone acquires knowledge of that by which Allah’s good pleasure is sought, but instead he acquires it only to get worldly advantage, he will not smell the fragrance of Paradise on the Day of Judgment.” [Abu Dawud]

Now, there may be those from among the students of knowledge and Du’at who may have been caught up in these Fitan with good intentions, and not necessarily from what has been mentioned above. My message to these brothers is to re-evaluate the stance you have taken with regards to the various issues in question, seek the truth based on the Qur’an and Sunnah upon the understanding of the Salaf, follow it wherever you may find it, and ask Allah to keep you firm upon it after he has guided you to it.

Umm Salamah (RA) said: “The Du’a that the Prophet (SAW) used to make the most was: O Turner of the hearts! Keep my heart firm upon your Deen.” She said, “So I said, O Messenger of Allah! Why is the Du’a that you make the most: O Turner of the hearts! Keep my heart firm upon your Deen?” He said, “O Umm Salamah! Verily there is no human being except that his heart is between two of the fingers of Allah, so whosoever He wishes to keep steadfast He keeps him steadfast, and whosoever He wishes to deviate He causes him to deviate.” Then Mu’adh (RA) recited: “They say: our Lord! Let not our hearts deviate (from the truth) after you have guided us.” [Aal ‘Imran 3:8] [Tirmidhi]

Toronto, Canada
27th of Rajab 1428