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Nouman Ali Khan - Intellectual Humility

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Alhamdulillah, wa shalatu was salamu ala rasulillah. Assalamualaikum Qur'an Weekly. A very short bit of advice, specifically geared towards our young brothers and sisters that are very quickly attaining a lot of knowledge and are up-and-coming in the community and are becoming contributors to the community specifically this advice is in regards to keeping your humility, and specifically keeping your intellectual humility. Allah SWT says: "... above everyone who has knowledge is someone who has more." And of course, above all, it is Allah SWT. When I was a lot younger, and I would learn something in a speech and I'm with my friend We go and attend the program, learn something, and take some notes. We feel like we know this stuff. We can debate others about this stuff. We would go and talk to someone: "That guy doesn't even understand... he doesn't know this ayat, this hadith, this evidence, this proof, this scholar said this, that scholar said that." You've got all these references in your head and you're using them to throw them like pingpong balls at the enemy. You're shooting at the enemy with these evidences and it seems like you're only learning this stuff so you can outdo someone else in debate and to show them up in debate. So the knowledge you're acquiring is not to add to your humility, but it's to take away your humility. And this is the way of the non-believer. The non-believer acquires an education to put a title next to their name. Doctor so and so. PhD so and so. Professor so and so. Before they even say their name, they say their title so you better know I have more knowledge than you. But the knowledge of deen, however, is supposed to be something: the more you have, the more it humbles you. But if you have knowledge, the more knowledge you have, the more judgemental you're becoming. The more like: this one is deviant, that scholar was wrong, this one was out of line, and this and that and the other. How much have you stayed compared to them that you can pass commentary? That you can just talk about them like that. And not just about them. The Imam in your community or elders in your community. If you don't agree with something they did, first of all, you are in no position to pass a fatwa on them. You have no qualifications. I am a beginner student, wallahi (I swear to Allah). I don't say this out of artificial humility. I am a beginner student of the Qur'an. I have study 28, 29 tafaseer for a single ayat, to try to get some understanding of what the ayat is saying. And me personally, when it comes to a hadith, I shut my mouth. Why? Because I know I am not qualified to figure this stuff out. There is so much scholarship involved, in deriving conclusions from a hadith of the Prophet SAW, from the issues of isnad (chain of narrations), to the issues of the context in which it was said, to the issues of how it was understood by the concensus of the companions (ra), to the issues of how it was understood by the greatest fuqaha of this deen. There are several complex issues here. And for you to just pick up the Bukhari and read the translations of a hadith and start arguing with someone, this is the disservice to the sunnah of the Prophet SAW. And second of all, you don't even understand the language. You're just spewing it off of a translation. How dare you? Students come to Imam Shafi'i (rahimahumullah), they come to him: "We want to learn hadith from you." You know what he says? Of course, this conversation is happening in Arabic. He says: إِنَّ مَا أخْشَ عَلَيَّا طَالِبِ العِلْم The thing that scares me the most is the students of knowledge (طَالِبِ العِلْم), الَّذِي لَمْ يَتَعَلَّمِ النَّحْوَ The one who didn't even learn proper syntax, deep understanding of grammar. and who is saying this? As Syafi’i who spent a third of his wealth, he spent learning the Arabic language and the other two third learning hadith and by the end of of it he said I wish I spent my other two third that I spent on hadith even that on Arabic. That’s how concern he is about deepening his knowledge of this rich rich rich language. Just because you’ve taken two courses in some book on Arabic studies nowadays, and you’ve attended weekly halaqah (study circle) and some grammar, you are not qualified to be commenting on a hadith. You are not. I am not and you are not. This is the work of muhadditsun and scholars to comment on. And for you to read an article or read paper and some excerpt that you barely understand, you don’t even know what those terms mean and for you to spew it out against someone else, it's absurd. It’s disservice to the sunnah of the Prophet SAW. You have to be careful when you speak on his behalf you have to be very careful if you don’t know your stuff and I am telling you, you think you know your stuff but you don’t, you don’t. Humble yourself to the people who have knowledge. فَاسْألُواعَلَى الذِكْر -- He asks the people of remembrance, the people of knowledge, إِنْ كُنْتُم لَا تَعْلَمُون -- if you yourself don’t know. I didn’t finish that quote of Imam ash-Syafei I’ll just share that with you and I’m done. He says : الَّذِي لَمْ يَتَعَلَّمِ النَّحْوَ ,أَنْ يَدْخُلَ فِي قَولِهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ "مَنْ كَذِبَ عَلَيَّ مُتَعَمِّدًا -- فَلْيَتَبَوَّأْ مَقْعَدَهُ مِنَ النَّارِ" He says I fear for the student who doesn’t study Arabic deeply and this is just one of many conditions of studying the sunnah. Arabic is just one of many conditions. He says specifically only about Arabic even If you don’t fulfill this, I fear I will teach you hadith and you will fall victim to the warning of the Prophet SAW when he said whoever makes a lie against me on purpose has guaranteed themselves a place in hell fire He was scared to teach people a hadith because he knew these guys; he's Arab, they’re Arabs, that they knew Arabic and he says no you don’t know Arabic you don’t know enough, I can't teach you hadiths. Subhanallah. And here we are in our times googling a hadith, in English and you don’t know the first thing about what the sharh (explanation) of the hadith is or what the historical context. You know nothing about it... and you feel qualified to speak on behalf of the sunnah. This is an act of arrogance, not an act of service to the deen. Don’t dilute yourself. The last comment about this is very important: you’re young right now. And when you’re young, the world is black and white. Everything is very clear to you. How can people disagree with me? I have all the knowledge in the world. When you’re get a little bit older, hopefully you’ll mature a little, and realize... how stupid was I when I was that young? How stupid when I used to think I know the stuff, when I don’t? Before you hit the brick wall and it’s too late, and then you’ll realize it after you’ve done a lot of damage to others and yourself -- realize that now. Realize that. Don’t fall onto the trap of others who have gone this road and learn things the hard way.That includes myself. I used to be like that too. I used to think that I know some things. And when I actually started learning from people of knowledge, I'd be like, "Man, I don’t know what I am talking about. When it comes to certain things I should just shut my mouth." People ask me a question about fiqh or a hadith, I shut my mouth. I said, "I don’t know, I am sorry, I am not qualified." If they ask me a question about Qur'an, I say I’ll look it up for you, I’ll see what the scholars have said. Let me see what other things have been said. Let me get some research for you. But I cant.. you know.. At least I have some ability to do some research with Quran When it comes to other topics, I can not open my mouth. Including issues in theology. You can study theology with a scholar, but if you think you are qualified to be debating theology with someone Think again, think again. Every single science of this deen has prerequisites you have not met. You just haven’t met them If you’re serious about learning, be serious about learning. If you’re only learning to debate with others, check yourself. Because you can hide that from everybody else, [but] you can’t hide your arrogance from Allah. Somebody selling a liquor in a liquor store, and they’re doing haram And their haram is open and manifested, and we don’t agree with it. But you have arrogance inside your heart and that is also unacceptable to Allah in the smallest bit, in the smallest bit. So you can look at that person who sales the liquors and say, how can you do that? How can you do such a disservice to Allah? How can you call themselves a Muslim? Well you look inside your self too. If you've got an ego problem and if that ego problem is making you intellectually arrogant, and you think you’re just learning this deen to argue and debate others and be condescending to others, check yourself, really watch yourself. I know I should stop now, but I can't help myself, one last comment: Don’t speak about other scholars. Don’t speak about them. If you disagree with something they said, the people of knowledge, they make do’a for them and then they disagree with them. That’s what they do. Because they don’t know, where they stand with Allah. They don’t know. You don’t know when you’re talking about a scholar who already passed away: what his rank is with Allah and what sins of his or mistakes of his. Genuine mistakes of his. Allah has already forgiven. and you don’t even have to have mistakes. You think they’re mistakes. You think they’re mistakes How dare you talk about someone like that? These are slaves of Allah. Allah wants us to be humble to other believers. [if] somebody says "salam" to you, that is enough for you to accept that they are a Muslim. (An-Nisa: 94) وَلَا تَقُولُوا لِمَنْ أَلْقَى إِلَيْكُمُ السَّلَامَ لَسْتَ مُؤْمِنًا Don't say to someone who comes to you and say salam that you are not a believer and today somebody says salam to you and "I don’t know this guy is probably deviant. I don’t even know if I should return his salam, if I should pray next to him, or respond to his supplications, or let him lead me in prayer because I don’t really know if he’s muslim or not." You’ve become that diluted. You’ve become that confused. May Allah azza wa jalla make us intellectually humble. May Allah azza wa jalla give us, our scholars the strength to teach that intellectual humility to the people. May Allah azza wajalla make us all sincere genuine, genuine students of knowledge and teach us when to shut our mouth, when to watch our tongue, and to to be humble to us, and more importantly to the deen of Islam. Barakallahuli wala kum. Wassalamualaykum warahmatullah

Video Details

Duration: 9 minutes and 21 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
Views: 235
Posted by: muslim.translators on Sep 10, 2011

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Nouman Ali Khan explains that gaining knowledge should lead to an increase in humility. He also gives an important warning about speaking on behalf of the Sunnah and other scholars. May Allah increase us in humility.

This video was taken from QuranWeekly:

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