Name: Hassan Title: al-Mujtaba Kunya: Abu Muhammad Father: Ali ibn Abu Talib (Peace be upon…
One day, Imam Hassan (p) called his sons and nephews and said to them, “Today you are the children of society and it is hoped that tomorrow you will be the distinguished people of society. You should make efforts to acquire knowledge. Those of you who are not able to narrate it, should write and keep it in their house.”1
Imam Hassan (p) is advising his family members on how to be distinguished members of society. Notice that he does not start suddenly when they are older. Instead, he told them while they were still children. He advised them that to be illustrious and respected people in society, they should acquire knowledge and wisdom from a young age.
We can also learn a general lesson from this narration, that seeking knowledge and wisdom can pave the way for people to become distinguished and reputable.
Why is it so important to seek knowledge?
The Messenger of God (pbuh&hp) has said, “Seeking knowledge is obligatory for every Muslim. (People should) know that God loves those who seek knowledge.”2
So, we see that seeking knowledge about our religion is not something to take lightly. The Prophet of God (pbuh&hp) put great emphasis on this matter. One should always strive to learn more, as knowledge and attaining a good level of understanding will bring one closer to God.
Imam al-Sajjad (p) said “If people knew what (brilliant result) lies in seeking knowledge they would have definitely sought it even by shedding the blood of their hearts and plunging into the depth of oceans.”3
Our fourth Imam (p) is saying that people would risk their lives and go through great hardships to gain knowledge if they knew the merits of doing so. Yet, we have the knowledge readily accessible to us and choose to be negligent. Our books are collecting dust on the shelves until the month of Ramadhan and we waste our free time on insignificant things. Let us not be like this, but make a conscious decision to gain knowledge every day even if it is just one verse or one narration a day.
What are some of the benefits of seeking knowledge?
The Prophet (pbuh&hp) said, “O Ali, two units of prayer of the knowledgeable person is better than one thousand units of prayer of the (unknowing) worshipper.”4
One might wonder why he says this because both are acts of worship and should thus be equal. However, one act involves praying while ignorant while the other involves praying with the recognition of God and a proper understanding of religion.
The Prophet (pbuh&hp) even said, “O Ali, the sleep of the knowledgeable person is better than the rituals of the (unknowing) worshipper.”5
Imam al-Baqir (p) emphasizes seeking knowledge when he said, “Try to learn knowledge because learning is a good action and study is itself a worship.”6
So, studying and reading books about Islam is not just our reading time, but it counts as if we are worshipping God.
Imam al-Baqir (p) also said, “Verily, every creature of the heaven and the earth asks forgiveness for the seeker of knowledge, even the fish in the sea.”7
We can see from these hadith that the one who seeks knowledge is truly a distinguished member of society since even their sleep is worship, their prayers hold more rewards, the time they spend seeking knowledge counts as worship, and since all the creatures of the sky and the sea pray for them and seek forgiveness on their behalf. One does not need to join an Islamic seminary to learn this. Instead, one can learn all of this by just taking the time to pick up a book from the shelf, dust it off, and begin the quest for success by gaining knowledge one page at a time.
For those who acquire knowledge and in turn teach it to others, Imam al-Baqir (p) has said, “The scholar whose knowledge is made use of and benefitted from is worthier and more virtuous than seventy thousand worshippers and adorers.”8
Why should we start teaching our children from such a young age and not wait until they are older and understand better?
Children are absorbing things when they are at a young age. They are looking to their parents and their society to learn about life. We need to be active in encouraging them to learn the proper tools that will guide them throughout this life. We need to lead by example and demonstrate to them the importance of seeking knowledge. We cannot leave them to navigate this life without a road map. Our road map as Muslims is what the Prophet of God (pbuh&hp) has instructed us to follow: the Quran and his purified Household (pbut).
It is imperative that we take an active role in guiding our children and instilling the love of seeking knowledge in them from a young age. We see the importance of this in the following saying of Imam al-Sadiq (p): “Take action in teaching traditions (of Ahl al-Bayt) to your children before the corrupted persons precede in corrupting them.”9
Our children are a trust given to us by God, so let us honor this trust by taking care of them, to the best of our ability, by sharing with them and encouraging them to learn the precious knowledge passed down to us from the Holy Prophet and the Imams (pbut).
1. Tarik Alyaquby, vol.1, p. 227.
2. Bihar al-Anwar, vol.1, p. 185.
3. Bihar al-Anwar, vol.1, p.185.
4. Makarimu al-akhlaq, p.441.
5. Shaykh Saduq, al-Mawaaizh.
6. Shaykh Saduq, al-Mawaaizh.
7. Usul al-Kafi.
8. Tuhful Aqool, p. 294.
9. Tuhful Aqool, p. 294.