Knowledge is a Parent and Action is its Offspring

The Shaikh, the Imaam Abu Bakr Ahmad bin ‘Alee bin Thaabit, better known as al-Khateeb al-Baghdaadee, mentioned in the introduction to his treatise “Iqtidaa-ul-‘Ilm al-‘Amal”:

إِنِّي مُوصِيكَ يَا طَالِبَ الْعِلْمِ بِإِخْلَاصِ النِّيَّةِ فِي طَلَبِهِ، وَإِجْهَادِ النَّفْسِ عَلَى الْعَمَلِ بِمُوجَبِهِ، فَإِنَّ الْعِلْمَ شَجَرَةٌ وَالْعَمَلَ ثَمَرَةٌ، وَلَيْسَ يُعَدُّ عَالِمًا مَنْ لَمْ يَكُنْ بِعِلْمِهِ عَامِلًا، 

I advice you O seeker of knowledge to have a sincere and pure intention in your search for knowledge, and that you exert yourself in acting upon what it mandates (from action). This is since knowledge is a tree and action is its fruit. And one can never be considered knowledgeable so long as he doesn’t act upon what he knows.

وَقِيلَ: الْعِلْمُ وَالِدٌ وَالْعَمَلُ مَوْلُودٌ، وَالْعِلْمُ مَعَ الْعَمَلِ، وَالرِّوَايَةُ مَعَ الدِّرَايَةِ

فَلَا تَأْنَسْ بِالْعَمَلِ مَا دُمْتَ مُسْتَوْحِشًا مِنَ الْعِلْمِ، وَلَا تَأْنَسْ بِالْعِلْمِ مَا كُنْتَ مُقَصِّرًا فِي الْعَمَلِ وَلَكِنِ اجْمَعْ بَيْنَهُمَا، وَإِنْ قَلَّ نَصِيبُكَ مِنْهُمَا،

It has also been stated: “Knowledge is a parent and action is its offspring” and ‘Knowledge comes with action, while narrating comes with investigating.”

So do not feel satisfied with actions so long as you are lacking in knowledge, nor feel satisfied with knowledge so long as you fall short in producing actions. Rather, combine between them both, even if your share two is small.

وَمَا شَيْءٌ أَضْعَفُ مِنْ عَالِمٍ تَرَكَ النَّاسُ عِلْمَهُ لِفَسَادِ طَرِيقَتِهِ، وَجَاهِلٍ أَخَذَ النَّاسُ بِجَهْلِهِ لِنَظَرِهِمْ إِلَى عِبَادَتِهِ

وَالْقَلِيلُ مِنْ هَذَا مَعَ الْقَلِيلِ مِنْ هَذَا أَنْجَى فِي الْعَاقِبَةِ إِذَا تَفَضَّلَ اللَّهُ بِالرَّحْمَةِ، وَتَمَّمَ عَلَى عَبْدِهِ النِّعْمَةَ، فَأَمَّا الْمُدَافَعَةُ وَالْإِهْمَالُ وَحُبُّ الْهُوَيْنَى وَالِاسْتِرْسَالُ، وَإِيثَارُ الْخَفْضِ وَالدَّعَةِ وَالْمَيْلِ مَعَ الرَّاحَةِ وَالسَّعَةِ، فَإِنَّ خَوَاتِمَ هَذِهِ الْخِصَالِ ذَمِيمَةٌ، وَعُقْبَاهَا كَرِيهَةٌ وَخِيمَةٌ،

وَالْعِلْمُ يُرَادُ لِلْعَمَلِ كَمَا الْعَمَلُ يُرَادُ لِلنَّجَاةِ، فَإِذَا كَانَ الْعَمَلُ قَاصِرًا عَنِ الْعِلْمِ، كَانَ الْعِلْمُ كَلًّا عَلَى الْعَالِمِ، وَنَعُوذُ بِاللَّهِ مِنْ عِلْمٍ عَادَ كَلًّا، وَأَوْرَثَ ذُلًّا، وَصَارَ فِي رَقَبَةِ صَاحِبِهِ غَلًّا،

And there is nothing worse than a scholar whose knowledge the people abandon because of the corruption of his ways, or an ignorant person whose ignorance the people accept because of what they see from his worship.

So a little of this (knowledge) along with a little of that (action) is what is most likely to save you in the end, when Allaah bestows His mercy upon His servant and completes His favour upon him. But as for laziness and negligence, love for ease and comfort, preferring the easy life, showing indifference, and inclining towards leisure and relaxation, then the results of these characteristics are blameworthy, detestable and disastrous.

Knowledge leads to action, just as action leads to salvation. So if the action falls short of the knowledge, then the knowledge becomes a burden upon the one who possesses it. And we seek refuge in Allaah from knowledge that turns into a burden, brings about humiliation, and becomes a shackle on the neck of the one who possesses it.

قَالَ بَعْضُ الْحُكَمَاءِ: الْعِلْمُ خَادِمُ الْعَمَلِ، وَالْعَمَلُ غَايَةُ الْعِلْمِ، فَلَوْلَا الْعَمَلُ لَمْ يُطْلَبْ عِلْمٌ وَلَوْلَا الْعِلْمُ لَمْ يُطْلَبْ عَمَلٌ، وَلَأَنْ أَدَعَ الْحَقَّ جَهْلًا بِهِ أَحَبُّ إِلَيَّ مِنْ أَنْ أَدَعَهُ زُهْدًا فِيهِ، وَقَالَ سَهْلُ بْنُ مُزَاحِمٍ: الْأَمْرُ أَضْيَقُ عَلَى الْعَالِمِ مِنْ عَقْدِ التِّسْعِينَ، مَعَ أَنَّ الْجَاهِلَ لَا يُعْذَرُ بِجَهَالَتِهِ، لَكِنَّ الْعَالِمَ أَشَدُّ عَذَابًا إِذَا تَرَكَ مَا عَلِمَ فَلَمْ يَعْمَلْ بِهِ،

Some of the wise people have said: “Knowledge is the servant of action” and “Action is the main objective of knowledge – so if it were not for action, knowledge would not be sought, and if it were not for knowledge, action would not be sought. And if I were to not follow the truth out of ignorance of it, that would be more beloved to me than if I were to not follow it out of intentionally abstaining from it.”

Sahl bin Muzaahim, may Allaah have mercy on him, said: “The matter is tighter upon a scholar than when one clenches his fist. Even though an ignorant person is not excused because of his ignorance, a scholar will still receive a greater punishment if he abandons what he has knowledge of and doesn’t act upon it.”

قَالَ الشَّيْخُ: وَهَلْ أَدْرَكَ مِنَ السَّلَفِ الْمَاضِينَ الدَّرَجَاتِ الْعُلَى إِلَّا بِإِخْلَاصِ الْمُعْتَقَدِ، وَالْعَمَلِ الصَّالِحِ ، وَالزُّهْدِ الْغَالِبِ فِي كُلِّ مَا رَاقَ مِنَ الدُّنْيَا. وَهَلْ وَصَلَ الْحُكَمَاءُ إِلَى السَّعَادَةِ الْعُظْمَى إِلَّا بِالتَّشْمِيرِ فِي السَّعْيِ، وَالرِّضَى بِالْمَيْسُورِ، وَبَذْلِ مَا فَضَلَ عَنِ الْحَاجَةِ لِلسَّائِلِ وَالْمَحْرُومِ؟

وَهَلْ جَامِعُ كُتُبِ الْعِلْمِ إِلَّا كَجَامِعِ الْفِضَّةِ وَالذَّهَبِ؟ وَهَلِ الْمَنْهُومُ بِهَا إِلَّا كَالْحَرِيصِ الْجَشِعِ عَلَيْهِمَا؟ وَهَلِ الْمُغْرَمُ بِحُبِّهَا إِلَّا كَكَانِزِهُمَا؟

So did those of our Salaf (predecessors) from the past reach the high levels that they did except through sincerity in Creed (Beliefs), righteous actions and overwhelming abstinence of the attractive features of this worldly life? And did the wise people reach the greatest level of success (that they did) except by working hard in their efforts, being pleased with little sustenance, and giving away any of their excess provisions to the poor and needy?

Is not the one who collects books of knowledge just like the one who collects gold and silver? Is not the one who has an intense craving for them just like the one who yearns and longs for gold and silver? Is not the one who is deeply in love with them just like the one who treasures gold and silver?

وَكَمَا لَا تَنْفَعُ الْأَمْوَالُ إِلَّا بِإِنْفَاقِهَا، كَذَلِكَ لَا تَنْفَعُ الْعُلُومُ إِلَّا لِمَنْ عَمِلَ بِهَا، وَرَاعَى وَاجِبَاتِهَا فَلْيَنْظُرِ امْرُؤٌ لِنَفْسِهِ، وَلْيَغْتَنِمْ وَقْتَهُ، فَإِنَّ الثَّوَاءَ قَلِيلٌ وَالرَّحِيلَ قَرِيبٌ، وَالطَّرِيقَ مَخُوفٌ، وَالِاغْتِرَارَ غَالِبٌ، وَالْخَطَرَ عَظِيمٌ، وَالنَّاقِدَ بَصِيرٌ، وَاللَّهُ تَعَالَى بِالْمِرْصَادِ، وَإِلَيْهِ الْمَرْجِعُ وَالْمَعَادُ {فَمَنْ يَعْمَلْ مِثْقَالَ ذَرَّةٍ خَيْرًا يَرَهُ، وَمَنْ يَعْمَلْ مِثْقَالَ ذَرَّةٍ شَرًّا يَرَهُ} [الزلزلة: 7-8]

So just as there is no benefit in wealth unless it is spent, then likewise, there is no benefit in knowledge unless it is acted upon and its obligations carried out.

Therefore, let each individual examine himself and take advantage of his time, for indeed the resting place (i.e. this world) is short, the (time for) departure is near, the road is hazardous, deviating from it is common, the danger is great, the one who takes himself to account has insight, Allaah, the Most High, is watching, and to Him is the (final) recourse and return.

“And whosoever does an atom’s weight of good, shall see it. And whosoever does an atom’s weight of evil, shall see it.” [Surah az-Zalzalah (99): 7-8]

Source: Iqtidaa-ul-‘Ilm al-‘Amal of al-Khateeb al-Baghdaadee, pages 14-16

Author: Islamic Treasure

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