Sunnah, Bid’ah and Arabic

ʿAbdullah b. Zayd Al-Numayrī reports that Al-Ḥasan Al-Baṣrī said:

They (the heretics) were destroyed by their inability in Arabic (al-‘ujmah).

Al-Bukhārī, Al-Tārīkh Al-Kabīr Vol.5 p99.

And Imām Al-Shāfi’ī said:

People didn’t become ignorant and didn’t differ amongst themselves except because they left Arabic and leaned towards the language of Aristotle.

Quoted by Al-Suyūṭī in Ṣawn Al-Manṭiq p15. He said on p22:

I have found Salaf before Al- Shāfi’ī indicate what he did: that the cause of heresy (al-ibtidā’) is ignorance of Arabic language.

A Sign of Knowledge and a Sign of Ignorance

Masrūq – Allah have mercy on him – said:

Sufficient as knowledge for a person is that he fears Allah, and sufficient as ignorance for a person is that he feels impressed with the knowledge he has.

Al-Ājurrī in Akhlāq Al-‘Ulamā’ no.40.

Masrūq was one of the major Tābi’īn, or students of the Companions. He accompanied Ibn Mas’ūd and was one of his students who became senior teachers and muftis after him. He reported from numerous other Sahābah. It is said that he was called Masrūq (literally: stolen) because he was kidnapped as a child but later recovered. He died in 62H or 63H.

Son, have you put it into practice?

‘Aṭā’ narrates that there used to be a young man who used to go to Mother of the Believers ‘Ā’ishah to ask her questions and she would narrate to him. One day, he came to her to ask her some questions. She said, “Son, have you put into practice what you hear from me yet?” He replied, “No mother, I have not.” So she said, “Son, why do you then seek to increase Allah’s proof against us and you?!”

Al-Khatīb Al-Baghdādī in Iqtidā’ Al-‘Ilm Al-‘Amal no. 92.

Loftier Goals in Life

Commenting on 2:201 of the Quran which states:

Our Lord! Give us the good of this world and the good of the hereafter…

Al-Hasan Al-Baṣrī – Allah have mercy on him – said:

The good of this world is knowledge and worship, and the good of the hereafter is Paradise.

Al-Ājurrī in Akhlāq Al-‘Ulamā’ no. 30 and Ibn Jarīr in his Tafsīr of this verse.

Scholars of tafsīr like Ibn Jarīr and Ibn Kathīr point out that ‘the good of this world’ is general and includes all those things which have been allowed for us to enjoy and which are considered useful by people for day-to-day living. And they point out that above this; the good of this world includes those things which will lead to success in the hereafter. This narration reminds us of these loftier things we should ask Allah for, and that the good of this life embraces what is required or recommended for a worshipper of Allah to acquire on this Earth, like knowledge of his religion and good deeds.

Worse than not knowing

Imām Muslim reports in the introduction to his Saḥīḥ that Yaḥya b. Saʿīd once said to Al-Qāsim b. ʿUbaydillāh:

“Abu Muḥammad! It feels horrible and grave that you should be asked a question about this religion and not have knowledge about it or a way to get out [and not look like you don’t know].” He replied, “And why is that?” Yaḥya replied, “Because you are the son of two great Imāms of Guidance, Abu Bakr and ʿUmar.” Al-Qāsim said, “Even more horrible than this – to those who understand what Allāh has taught us – is that I should say something without knowledge or report a narration from someone who is not reliable.”

Al-Qāsim b. ʿUbaydillāh was the great grandson of Abu Bakr Al-Ṣiddīq on his mother’s side and the great grandson of ʿUmar b. Al-Khaṭṭāb on his father’s side. His grandfather was ʿAbdullāh b. ʿUmar – Allāh be please with them all.