‘For Allah’s Sake Alone’ – Is it really?
Seeking knowledge is one of the best of deeds; indeed it is a kind of jihaad for the sake of Allaah, especially in these modern times when bid’ahs have begun to appear in Muslim societies and are becoming widespread, and ignorance is common among those who issue fatwas without knowledge, and people have started to argue a great deal. These three issues all make it essential that young people be keen to seek knowledge.
1 – Bid’ahs whose evil is apparent
2 – People who issue fatwas without knowledge
3 – Extensive arguing about issues which may be clear to the scholars but there are people who argue about them without knowledge.
But, seeking knowledge is one such thing which needs a constant check of our intentions. But unfortunately, for knowledge seekers, this is one of the most neglected aspect. We miss to check and re-check our intentions in our pursuit of knowledge.
Leave apart gaining knowledge, how many of us think of our intentions in our daily life ,when doing something good to someone or performing an act of worship. Do we often ask ourselves,why am I doing this? Do I do this for people or do I do this for the sake of Allah?
Imaam Sufyaan ath-Thawree (rahimahullaah) related that as a youth, when he first began to attend formal Islamic classes, his mother advised him, “If you write down 10 words and your faith hasn’t improved, check your intentions.“
Glory be to Allaah ! Indeed, we need to remind ourselves with this advice time and again.
Adhere to purity of intention in what you do. Let your aim be to seek the Face of Allaah (i.e., the pleasure of Allaah) and the Home of the Hereafter. Beware of showing off and the love of making oneself appear to be superior to one’s peers. The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whoever seeks knowledge in order to compete with the scholars or to prove himself superior to the ignorant or to make the people look up to him, Allaah will cause him to enter Hell.”
[Narrated by al-Nasaa’i, 2654; classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Nasaa’i]
Now let us have a look at an excerpt from the work of Imaam Ibn Taymiyyah (rahimahullaah)
Ibn Taymiyyah (rahimahullaah) said:
حكي أن أبا حامد الغزالي بلغه أن من أخلص لله أربعين يوما تفجرت ينابيع الحكمة من قلبه على لسانه
قال: فأخلصت أربعين يوما فلم يتفجر شيء فذكرت ذلك لبعض العارفين فقال لي: إنك إنما أخلصت للحكمة ولم تخلص لله تعالى
”… News reached Abu Hamid al-Ghazali that whoever proves sincere to Allah for forty days, wisdom springs from his heart and is established upon his tongue.
He (al-Ghazali) said, ‘So I became sincere to Allah for forty days but nothing happened so I mentioned this to a righteous person and he said to me, ‘You were not sincere for the sake of Allah, rather you were sincere for the sake of attaining wisdom.”
Ibn Taymiyyah (rahimahullaah) then says:
وذلك لأن الإنسان قد يكون مقصوده نيل العلم والحكمة أو نيل المكاشفات والتأثيرات أو نيل تعظيم الناس له ومدحهم إياه أو غير ذلك من المطالب وقد عرف أن ذلك يحصل بالإخلاص لله وإرادة وجهه, فإذا قصد أن يطلب ذلك بالإخلاص لله وإرادة وجهه كان متناقضا, لأن من أراد شيئا لغيره فالثاني هو المراد المقصود بذاته, والأول يراد لكونه وسيلة إليه
فإذا قصد أن يخلص لله ليصير عالما أو عارفا أو ذا حكمة أو صاحب مكاشفات وتصرفات ونحو ذلك, فهو هنا لم يرد الله بل جعل الله وسيلة له إلى ذلك المطلوب الأدنى
“And that is because a person’s intention becomes (solely) the attainment of knowledge or wisdom, or to seek out hidden matters, or to gain popularity with the people and gain their praise etc. He knows that he can only achieve all that by being sincere to Allah and seeking His Face. So if he seeks these things (praise, gaining knowledge etc) by the token of sincerity to Allah and seeking His Face, then such a person contradicts himself because whoever seeks something (e.g. being sincere to Allah) for the sake of something else (e.g. gain understanding/knowledge), then the latter becomes his real goal and the first is just a means to that.
So if a person intends to be sincere to Allah so that he may become a scholar, or pious, or one endowed with wisdom, or one who discovers hidden realities etc, then such a person does not intend Allah, rather he has made Allah a means for him to gain that inferior matter…”
Source: From the book “درء تعارض المنقول مع صريح المعقول” by Ibn Taymiyyah (rahimahullaah).
– Incredible. It’s such a subtle difference in intention (although not always blameworthy) but it really makes one appreciate and realise the reasons why the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) feared Riyaa’ for this Ummah so much.
Ibn Taymiyyah’s (rahimahullaah) statement above is not really rebuking people who take such a route, but it’s highlighting the great difference between doing something for the Sake of Allah Alone and doing it in order to attain something specific (even though it may be praiseworthy and permissible). This difference is what brings out the true Mukhliseen (sincere) from the Salihin (righteous).