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Travelling to Seek Knowledge – Part 4

Aug 11, 2021

عَنْ بْنِ عَبَّاسٍ قَالَ سَمِعْتُ أُبَىَّ بْنَ كَعْبٍ يَقُولُ سَمِعْتُ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم يَقُولُ ‏”‏ قَامَ مُوسَى خَطِيبًا فِي بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ فَسُئِلَ أَىُّ النَّاسِ أَعْلَمُ فَقَالَ أَنَا أَعْلَمُ ‏.‏ فَعَتَبَ اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ إِذْ لَمْ يَرُدَّ الْعِلْمَ إِلَيْهِ فَأَوْحَى اللَّهُ إِلَيْهِ أَنَّ عَبْدًا مِنْ عِبَادِي بِمَجْمَعِ الْبَحْرَيْنِ هُوَ أَعْلَمُ مِنْكَ قَالَ مُوسَى أَىْ رَبِّ فَكَيْفَ لِي بِهِ فَقَالَ لَهُ احْمِلْ حُوتًا فِي مِكْتَلٍ فَحَيْثُ تَفْقِدُ الْحُوتَ فَهُوَ ثَمَّ
Hadhrat Abdullah Ibn Abbas (RA) narrates that he heard Hadhrat Ubayy bin Ka’b (RA) saying: “I heard the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) say ‘Musa stood to deliver a Khutbah to the children of Isra’il. He was asked: “Who is the most knowledgeable among the people?” He said: “I am the most knowledgeable.” So Allah admonished him, since he did not refer the knowledge back to Him. Allah revealed to him: “A slave, among My slaves at the junction of the two seas, is more knowledgeable than you.” So Musa said: “O Allah! How can I meet him?” He said to him: “Carry a fish in a basket, wherever you lose the fish, then he is there.”

A student must keep in mind the greatness of his undertaking.
Ibn Mughal (rahimahullah) was a renowned writer in Islamic History. He kept travelling for 28 years in his search for knowledge. Hafiz Abul Qasim Sulaiman ibn Ahmed Tabarani (rahimahullah) spent 33 years of his life in the pursuit of collecting and verifying Hadith. In that period of time, he met and acquired knowledge from one thousand scholars. Ibn Maqarri (rahimahullah) once undertook a journey of eight hundred and forty miles for a copy of a valuable book that he needed.

Hasan al-Basri (rahimahullah) said “Nothing which Allah has created is greater, in terms of its reward, than seeking knowledge, neither Hajj nor Umrah [Lesser Pilgrimage], nor Jihad, nor Zakat, nor emancipating slaves. If knowledge had a physical image it would be more beautiful than the sun, the moon, the stars, the sky, and a magnificent throne.” [The Heirs of the Prophets, Ibn Rajab Al-Hanbali, The Starlatch Press p. 35]

Upon being told that there is someone with more knowledge than him, Musa عليه السلام set out to find this person so he may learn from him. From this, we learn the virtues of travelling to acquire knowledge. When Musaعليه السلام heard someone has more knowledge than him, he quickly went out to search for that knowledge. When one goes out to seek knowledge, for every step taken, it is recorded in his or her book of good deeds.

Also from the benefits of Musa عليه السلامtravelling to seek knowledge, we learn that a person should be keen on acquiring knowledge from the scholars. They are the ones whom knowledge should be taken from. Musa عليه السلامwas Prophet of Allah and the Kalim of Al-Rahman but despite that, when he heard Khidr had some knowledge that he did not, he immediately went out to seek that knowledge.

The story also gives an indication of the virtues of the scholars. Musa عليه السلامstrove for that knowledge that Khidr had and Khidr is from the scholars. There are many texts that highlight the virtues of the scholar. Allah says: “Say to them, are they equal? Those who know and those who don’t?” and Allah has commanded us to refer back to the scholars when He says: “Ask the people of knowledge if you do not know.”


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