“A mind needs books as a sword needs a whetstone, if it is to keep its edge.” ― George R.R. Martin.
Our mind is a wonderful thing. It is one of the greatest creations by God Al Mighty. Some minds are able to work independently from emotions but some are too intertwine with feelings.
We often hear the phrase “think with your mind and not with your heart”. The reason being, is that, a mind that is controlled by emotions often makes rash decision that would cause regret later. We are, but a creation of emotion, hence it is not easy to separate the emotions from the mind. To be able to think rationally is something that would require a lot a practice.
For myself, I have been trained by my mentor to think without emotions when it came to work. I could not afford to get emotionally involved with my work otherwise I would end up murdering every lawyer or judge whom I think is unfair or bias! I can’t afford to lose sleep over cases that I was handling because I would end up not sleeping at all. My mentor taught me well. He always tells me to give it my best and after that leave it to the Hands of God. I clung to that piece of advice all through my career and it has helped sleep like a baby at night as my conscience was clear. Even if I lost the case, I knew it was not in power to change it but at least I gave it my best shot.
However, when it comes to religion, I couldn’t adopt the same stance. I am a very passionate (that’s another word for ‘fiery’!) person. Even during my ignorance period, I would not stand it if I feel Islam is under attack, whether from a non Muslim or even a Muslim. I would fight tooth and nail with whatever ammunition that I have to try to defend it. It is a feeble attempt then, as my knowledge on Islam was so very limited but I stuck to the principle of trying my best. Still, my ignorance is no excuse.
When I first met the Wise Old man and the Wise Owl, they piqued my interest about Islam. I think it was the way they spoke about the religion to me. It was with passion and love. The way they explained things to me, was like they were narrating the greatest love story and secret ever foretold. It was enchanting and captivating. That spurred me to me to look for books on Islam,; and to read up and learn more. My thirst for knowledge became insatiable.
"And say: My Lord increase me in knowledge."
(Qur'an, Ta-Ha 20:114)
There is however, the flip side of seeking for knowledge. There is a danger that lurks behind that we tend to be unaware of and fall for satan’s trap. There is some knowledge that we should not seek for such as sorcery, black magic and others that can be in danger of us committing shirk. Shirk is to establish partners with Allah SWT. We must also be careful of the books that we read because some books may contain inaccurate or misleading information. Always check with a scholar or someone who is knowledgeable before choosing your reading materials.
The Prophet also said: "Knowledge from which no benefit is derived is like a treasure out of which nothing is spent in the cause of God." - Al-Tirmidhi, Hadith 108
The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: "The seeking of knowledge is obligatory for every Muslim." - Al-Tirmidhi, Hadith 74
The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “One who treads a path in search of knowledge has his path to Paradise made easy by God…” - Riyadh us-Saleheen, 245
Having said that, it does not mean we can’t ask any questions about Islam. The reason we are highly encouraged to seek for knowledge is, for us to understand our religion better. A good teacher will always be able to answer patiently, any questions from his/her students, no matter how silly or provocative the questions are. Sometimes, it is the silly questions that provides us with the best answers. I am very lucky and not a single day goes by that I don’t thank God Al Mighty for sending me teachers, to answer all of my silly questions patiently.
For example, how you ever wondered why our beloved Prophet Muhammad SAW is the most beloved Prophet of God? I mean, Prophet Adam a.s. was the first man to be created but why isn’t he the most beloved? I know he committed a grave mistake that caused him Jannah but God is ever merciful and Prophet Adam a.s. was forgiven. As silly as it may sound, I thought God’s first man created would His favorite, that is Prophet Adam a.s. Satan was whispering in my ears saying God is being unfair and biased. I decided to put my mind at ease so I posed the question to the Wise Owl. He then directed me to a book written by the most knowledgeable and most wise scholar, Shaikh Abd Al-Qadir Al-Jilani. SubhanAllah!!! That book really opened my eyes. Did you know that Prophet Muhammad SAW was the first light (nur) or soul that was created by God Al Mighty. It was only after that Prophet Adam a.s. was created. Now, I understand that Prophet Adam a.s. was not the first creation but he was the first man created. Prophet Muhammad SAW is known as ‘Nur’, the divine Light.
“Indeed, there has come to you from Allah a light (Prophet Muhammad SAW ) and a plain Book (this Qur'an).
Surah Al-Maidah 5:15
Wonderful isn’t it, things that we can discover about our beautiful religion when we seek for it. Now my mind is at ease. Satan has stopped whispering in my ears. Every time Satan tries to whisper, I would always try to find the right answer so that I would not be mislead. The power of knowledge is so great and forceful, if only we knew.
The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: "A servant of God will remain standing on the Day of Judgment until he is questioned about his (time on earth) and how he used it; about his knowledge and how he utilized it; about his wealth and from where he acquired it and in what (activities) he spent it; and about his body and how he used it." - Al-Tirmidhi, Hadith 148
The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: "If anyone travels on a in search of knowledge, God will cause him to travel on one of the roads of Paradise. The angels will lower their wings in their great pleasure with one who seeks knowledge. The inhabitants of the heavens and the Earth and (even) the fish in the deep waters will ask forgiveness for the learned man. The superiority of the learned over the devout is like that of the moon, on the night when it is full, over the rest of the stars. The learned are the heirs of the Prophets, and the Prophets leave (no monetary inheritance), they leave only knowledge, and he who takes it takes an abundant portion. - Sunan of Abu-Dawood, Hadith 1631
Bottom line is, we must have a teacher to teach us about Islam. To me, Islam can’t be self-taught, for the sheer reason that there is a danger of getting the wrong info. Even Prophet Muhammad SAW had a teacher. His teacher was God Al Mighty, and he was taught through Angel Jibrail a.s.
Once we have the knowledge, we must share it with others.
If Muslims truly realise the importance Islam places on knowledge and its virtues, they will definitely be keen to learn and teach others. They would start with themselves and their families; then their neighbours and the community at large. Once Mu'awiyah Ibn Abi Sufyan (may Allah be pleased with her) gave a sermon in which he said, "I heard Allah's Messenger saying, "If Allah wants to do good to a person, he makes him very knowledgeable in the Deen." (Related by Bukhari and Muslim) If Muslims truly realise the importance Islam places on knowledge and its virtues, they will definitely be keen to learn and teach others. They would start with themselves and their families; then their neighbours and the community at large. Once Mu'awiyah Ibn Abi Sufyan (may Allah be pleased with her) gave a sermon in which he said, "I heard Allah's Messenger saying, "If Allah wants to do good to a person, he makes him very knowledgeable in the Deen." (Related by Bukhari and Muslim)
The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: "God, His angels and all those in Heavens and on Earth, even ants in their hills and fish in the water, call down blessings on those who instruct others in beneficial knowledge." - Al-Tirmidhi, Hadith 422
So, the tool to sharpen our mind is knowledge. With knowledge, we would be fooled by others and satan. With knowledge, we are able to appreciate and love our religion better. With knowledge, We are able to defend our sacred deen from attack. In Shaa Allah.