Ilm and Madaaris
An outstanding feature of western institutions of education is the attitude of liberalism. This evil of liberalism simply means the assertion of the nafs ammaarah (the lowly bestial and carnal desire in man) and the elimination of all the restraints divinely imposed on man. Liberalism is the destruction of culture, morality and spirituality. It brings in its wake anarchy, strife, mischief, immorality-fitnah, fasaad, fisq and fujoor. In Islam there is no place for this baneful attitude which rudely severs mans bond of obedience and love with Allah Taala. But, with heavy heart it must be observed that this evil of liberalism has crept into our Deeni Madaaris and have wrought havoc to the spiritual and moral lives of Deeni students.
The recent strikes and boycott of classes which occurred in some of our Deeni Madaaris are the consequence of this baneful influence of liberalism which has swept students from the bridge along which they were moving in the quest for true llm the Knowledge of the Deen. This book is an appraisal of the vile situation which has arisen in Deeni Madaaris. ln (his book, Hadhrat Maseehul Ummah sets out the causes, the motives, the evils, the destructive consequences and the final ruin of the spiritual and moral life of those who participate in such vile activity of anarchy and vandalism. The student activity of anarchy and mischief known as strikes and boycotts are examined in the light of the Shariah and the pronouncements of the Quraan and Hadith on the vandalism perpetrated by the victims of liberalism are explained.
The true purpose and meaning of Islamic knowledge are explained and the correct attitude and motive for the acquisition of Deeni knowledge are clarified. Without an understanding of these, the attainment of true Ilm is impossible. Without knowing the meaning and purpose of llm-e-Deen the quest for knowledge will prove fruitless and wasted. Therefore, it is imperative that everyone who contemplates to embark on the quest of higher Islamic knowledge read and understand the contents of this book. A student who wishes to pursue the uphill task of Deeni Uloom, the path of which is littered with obstacles, impediments and dangers must as a necessity understand the meaning of his quest and must be able to set forth on the journey of llm in the light and spirit of the conception of the Shariah on this issue explained by Hadhrat Maulana Masihullah Saheb. If the one who desires to travel in search of higher Deeni Uloom, after having read this book, feels that he will not be able to subscribe to the conditions of acquisition of llm and that he will not be able to follow the austere pattern of life necessitated by llm-e-Deen, then let him remain at home. He should then content himself with a basic knowledge of the Deco, such knowledge requisite for the correct motion of the activities of his daily life.
It is vital to understand that Deeni Madaaris are not western colleges and universities. Western colleges and universities are institutions of liberalism and nafsaani pleasures. They are institutions of self-exhibition and self-assertion. They are places which are the antithesis of Shari Uloom…they are the negators of the Uloom which gushes from the fountain of Wahi which emanates from the Being of Allah Azza Wa Jal, passes through the medium of Jibraeel (alayhis salaam) and making its first repository in the heart of Muhammadur Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam). Deeni Madaaris are such institutions, which are links in the Chain, which is attached to that noble and illustrious Repository of Ilm-e-Wahi. Deeni Madaaris-or the true Madaaris of the Deen have necessarily to operate under the spirit and shadow of the austerity and privation of the Cave of Hiraa, the first Deeni Madressah where the first lesson of Deeni Ilm was given by the Divine Command IQRAH!.
Thus the searcher of Deeni knowledge must remember that if he wishes to take admission to a Deeni Madressah he should not go there and pollute the piety of the institution with his western attitude of liberalism. There is no room for extra-mural activity in a Madressah. There is no room for students associations in a Madressa. In a Deeni Madressah the relationship is and must necessarily be- one of master and slave. The Ustadh is the Master and the student his slave. Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam.) said:
The Ustadh who teaches the student a single ayat of the Quraan is the master of that student.
Thus if the seeker of knowledge is genuine and if he can comprehend this conception of Deeni Uloom and if he can execute the lofty conditions and demands of the relationship of llm then only should he embark on the quest of higher Uloom. If not, let him remain at home and not bring down crashing on his head everlasting deprivation and spiritual and moral destruction- let him not be unjust to his soul by deliberately destroying his dunya and his deen.
RABIUL AWWAL, 1403 DECEMBER, 1982
THE VIRTUES OF ILM (knowledge)
The virtues and significance of Deeni Knowledge are innumerable. The scope of this discussion excludes the presentation of an elaborate and exhaustive exposition of these virtues. There are special books dealing elaborately with this subject. Nevertheless, in the light of the principle: a subject will not be discarded because of inability to attain it in totality, it is proffered in brief that the importance of Deeni Knowledge is of such a degree that the entire arrangement of the external (zahiri) and internal (batini) dimensions of the universe is related to this very knowledge of the Deen. No act – religious or mundane without Deeni knowledge is valid:
Hadhrat Hakimul Ummat Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi (rahmatullah alayhi) said in this regard:
Deeni knowledge reforms the corrupted and instills life in the dead. One has just to observe the degree of refinement and moral character which imbues even uncultured persons on whom Deeni knowledge has cast its influence properly.
It is clear from this statement of Hadhrat Hakimul Ummat (rahmatullah alayhi) that perfection of character, culture, lofty morals and true humanity are acquired by means of Deeni knowledge. In fact, these lofty standards of human life are confined to Deeni knowledge. They are attainable through the avenue of only Deeni knowledge. This achievement of true culture and refinement of character is not possible in any other way. This is no idle or superficial claim. Once Hadhrat Hakimul Ummat (rahmatullah alayhi) declared with much emphasis:
I claim with emphasis that without Deeni knowledge it is impossible to acquire morality, intellectual and cultural refinement equilibrium in word and deed. Cultural and moral progress are dependent on Deeni knowledge.
Hadhrat Hakimul Ummat (rahmatullah alayhi) has wonderfully and concisely explained in a nutshell all human excellences and lofty attributes. As mentioned earlier, Deeni knowledge brings in its wake a superior culture and civilization no matter in which way the Deeni knowledge is acquired. The best and efficacious way of acquiring Deeni knowledge is through academic study of Arabic, in this regard, Hadhrat Hakimul Ummat (rahmatullah alayhi) said:
Knowledge of the Deen has to be acquired no matter in which way. Its effect is most manifested, especially if acquired through the medium of Arabic. The lofty intellectual standard attained by studying the Deen through Arabic is indeed incomparable. When noble people acquire Deeni knowledge via Arabic, their intellectual standard and ability reach such heights which render kings and kingdoms insignificant to them.
Once a British military officer (in India) being in full regalia struck awe and fear in the hearts of the simple village-folk. His manner, appearance and attitude truly over-awed the villagers. Any menial person could not muster up courage to even speak to him, so much awe and fear he commanded. This officer barked out the following question to a student of Deeni knowledge, who was studying at an Arabic Madressah
What is the matter with all of you? Why do all who study Arabic shave their heads/
(This was a reference to the practice among Madressah students of removing all the hair from their heads.)
Without the slightest hesitation the student replied:
What is the matter with all of you ? Why do all who study English shave their beards.?
This quick and witty reply subdued the officer into silence.
Similarly, Sultan Alamghir (rahmatullah alayhi) questioned a student of Deeni knowledge, whose external appearance was haggard and pitiable. The Sultan posed the following quest ion:
How many cups of water are there in this pond [i.e. of the Jaami Masjid of Delhi]?
The student replied: Your question is incomplete. Alamghir: In which way/
Student; Until the measure of the cup is not specified, your question cannot be answered. However, as a favor, I will nevertheless answer your question. If the cup is as big as the pond, the latter contains one cup; if the cup is half the size of the pond, the latter contains two cups and if the cup is one-quarter in size, the pond will contain four cups ad infinitum. The number of cups will always depend on the proportion of the cup to the pond.
Hadhrat ,Alamghir was thus silenced by this witty reply. Deeni knowledge improves ones natural capabilities.
THE DEENI ARABIC MADAARIS
It should now be clear that the Arabic Deeni Madaaris (plural of Madressah) occupy a lofty and noble rank. The excellence of the men who emerged from the portals of these Madaaris bears ample testimony to the elevated pedestal, which these institutions occupied. The superiority of the products. of the Deeni Arabic Madaaris once by far surpassed those who qualified from all the institutions of worldly knowledge. Not so long ago these Deeni Madaaris produced such unique Ulama who were the Imams of Knowledge of their times. Deeni knowledge and the reputation of the Ulama were perpetuated by these illustrious stars of superb knowledge. These noble men were masters of both exoteric and esoteric branches of knowledge.
Even in this day, it is not impossible for these Madaaris to produce such men of distinction. Hadhrat Hakimul Ummat (rahmatullah alayhi) said:
People complain that nowadays men of the calibre of Imam Ghazali and Raazi are not born. I say under oath that even today such men or men greater than Ghazali and Raazi are possible. Knowledge will not end at any time prior to Qiyamah. Nubuwwat has terminated, but not Wilaayat and llm.
In fact, Hakimul Ummat (rahmatullah alayhi) was a living example of such unique Stars of knowledge.
Once Hadhrat Thanvi ((rahmatullah alayhi) was summoned to testify in a certain matter affecting the Muslim community. At that time he was 21 years of age and it was only one year after he had completed his academic studies at Darul Uloom Deoband. Since the matter pertained to the Muslim community, the court required expert evidence. The judge asked: Are you an Alim?
Hadhrat Thanvi (rahmatullah alayhi) thought to himself: If I say no, the European judge will not understand the Asian temperament and will say that the demand of the /summons was not conformed to since the summons set out the need for an Alim. This would be tantamount to bringing disgrace upon myself. If I say, yes, I am an Alim, it would be contrary to the teachings of the maslak [spiritual path] I am following. I therefore, replied:
The Muslims consider me as such.
The judge asked: Do all Muslims accept you?
Hadhrat Thanvi (rahmatullah alayhi) thought: If I say no, it will be inviting disgrace in the presence of a kafir. Moreover, it will have an adverse affect on the case. If I claim that all Muslims accept me, there was the possibility of me being called on to deal with Hindu-Muslim problems which arose frequently in Kanpur, and I have no desire to assume such responsibility. I therefore replied:
There are two meanings of acceptance
The judge asked: What are the two meanings of acceptance?
Hadhrat Thanvi (rahmatullah alayhi) replied: One meaning is to acknowledge [i.e. to accept as the truth] and the other is to submit [to act in accordance]. In so far as acknowledging is concerned, all Muslims accept me. No Muslim can say that any law which I state is false. However, regarding submission, well, I do not possess the coercive power of the state to command this acceptance. Thus, in this context, some accept me and some do not.
After the session, the legal teams met and spoke in praise of the answers given. This in fact is the barkat of Deeni Arabic Madaaris. The nature of the knowledge imparted at such Madaaris produces creative and progressive intelligence. It must however be added that such intellectual elevation produced by Deeni knowledge goes hand in hand with tarbiyat (spiritual purification and development).
It is of the utmost importance that the true student- of Deeni knowledge always keeps in mind his position. He must not conform to his desires. He has to dispel all alien ideas and concepts. Of necessity he must remain fully engrossed in his studies and abstain from all extramural activities (activities which are normal, necessary corollaries of secular education). The student in the quest of the lofty and celestial llm of the Deen cannot afford to indulge or participate in any activities other than his studies. If he adopts this pure and determined attitude, solitude and unity of purpose, he will be blessed with amazing progress in his knowledge, intellect and insight.
If the student of Deeni knowledge passes his student days in this sincere and concerted way, there will be no need for him to spend much time in the company of a Sheikh in the pursuit of spiritual reformation and development. Hadhrat Thanvi (rahmatullah alayhi) once asked a buzrug (saint):
Why is it that Ulama have to make so much less mujahada [striving against the nafs] in Suluk than others(
The buzrug replied;
During their days of acquiring knowledge they are involved in the greatest mujahada.
From this it will be understood that the efforts, unity of purpose, concentration, solitude, sincerity, etc., adopted by the student during his period of study combine to constitute the greatest and most efficient mujahada which subdues, tames, purifies and adorns the nafs, hence the little effort and time required for this purpose after completion of the academic career. Students should now realize and appreciate the fact that their efforts of their student days will never go in vain. Such efforts produce a lofty stage of spirituality.
THE PRESENT SYLLABUS OF THE DEENI MADAARIS
The syllabus of the Deeni Madaaris is so designed as to develop in the student perfect intellectual capability. This syllabus presently operative in the Deeni Madaaris is known as Dars-e-Nizaami. In this regard, Hakimul Ummat Maulana Thanvi (rahmatullah alayhi) avers:
If an average student of average intelligence pursues the Dars-e-Nizaami course, he will develop amazing intellectual capability. No degree of any secular institution, be it Oxford, Cambridge or Harvard, can, measure up to it.
Mantiq,(logic) permeates most of the text-books of this course. Mantiq plays a very important role in this syllabus. It produces sharpness in intellect, which in turn advances intelligence and creates far-sighted-ness. The study of mantiq is a great aid in the study and understanding of the Quraan Majeed. Hence, if the Dars-e-Nizaami is acquired correctly, with understanding and diligence, observing all the spiritual requirements attendant to Deeni knowledge, nothing more will be needed, The syllabus prepared by the Aslaaf (our pious forbearers) is comprehensive. It contains everything, but the condition for the successful manifestation of its effects is acquisition with proper understanding and fulfilling all necessary conditions and etiquettes.