By Shaykh Sa’d bin Naasir ash-Shithree [May Allaah Preserve him]
If the student of knowledge reflects on some of the final Surah’s of the Quraan he will find great benefits and lessons on the methodology that the student of knowledge must adopt when trying to seek knowledge and how one can be turned away from gaining knowledge. One of these Surah’s is Surah al-Jumu’ah.
1. Whatsoever is in the heavens and whatsoever is on the earth glorifies Allah, the King (of everything), the Holy, the All-Mighty, the All-Wise.
The Surah begins with Praise and Glorification of Allaah, the Exalted and the Glorified. Regardless of the situation of man, Allaah, the Exalted and the Glorified, remains free from any imperfection and the opposite of imperfect, which is perfection, is affirmed for Him, and this is the meaning of Tasbeeh in the beginning of the Surah.
The Surah then goes on to state:
2. He it is Who sent among the unlettered ones a Messenger (Muhammad ) from among themselves, reciting to them His Verses, purifying them (from the filth of disbelief and polytheism), and teaching them the Book (this Qur’an, Islamic laws and Islamic jurisprudence) and Al-Hikmah (As-Sunnah: legal ways, orders, acts of worship, etc. of Prophet Muhammad ). And verily, they had been before in mainfest error;
Meaning, we were all misguided until Allaah, the Exalted and the Glorified, sent to us a Messenger teaching us and giving us knowledge. Therefore, the student of knowledge must pay attention to this point, we are all ignorant and giving thanks to Allaah, the Exalted and the Glorified, for teaching us is extremely important, and acting upon the knowledge we learn, otherwise we will fall into the way of those who came before us who didn’t appreciate this favour.
The Messenger of Allaah [Peace and Blessings of Allaah be Upon him] was sent to the believers, he raised their status, but those who have knowledge from them are even more elevated because of the virtue of having knowledge. So the next Aayah says…
3. And He has sent him (Prophet Muhammad) also to others among them (Muslims) who have not yet joined them (but they will come). And He (Allaah) is the All-Mighty, the All-Wise.
4. That is the Grace of Allaah, which He bestows on whom He wills. And Allaah is the Owner of Mighty Grace.
Meaning, knowledge is a Favour and Blessing from Allaah, the Exalted and the Glorified, and we don’t know anything except by His Will and Favour upon us.
5. The likeness of those who were entrusted with the (obligation of the) Taurat (Torah) (i.e. to obey its commandments and to practise its legal laws), but who subsequently failed in those (obligations), is as the likeness of a donkey who carries huge burdens of books (but understands nothing from them). How bad is the example (or the likeness) of people who deny the Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, signs, revelations, etc.) of Allaah. And Allaah guides not the people who are Zalimun (polytheists, wrong-doers, disbelievers, etc.).
Then Allaah, the Exalted and the Glorified, goes on to describe those who came before us and didn’t give thanks for the blessings of knowledge. They were given knowledge and they disrespected it, or they mocked the rulings that Allaah, the Exalted and the Glorified, commanded them with, or they sought loop-holes in what they were prohibited with, or they failed to act upon the knowledge that they were given or they failed to enjoin good or forbid evil by it. All in all, they didn’t give thanks to Allaah, the Exalted and the Glorified, for teaching them thus they became like the parable of a donkey carrying books, therefore they didn’t benefit from having knowledge.
6. Say (O Muhammad ): “O you Jews! If you pretend that you are friends of Allaah, to the exclusion of (all) other mankind, then long for death if you are truthful.”
Meaning, Allaah, the Exalted and the Glorified, is challenging those who sought knowledge but without any sincerity for Allaah nor did they act upon it, so when death comes, their knowledge will not benefit them as they lacked in their level of Tawheed and sincerity to Allaah and they had no deeds to back up their knowledge.
7. But they will never long for it (death), because of what (deeds) their hands have sent before them! And Allaah knows well the Zalimun (polytheists, wrong-doers, disbelievers, etc.).
8. Say (to them): “Verily, the death from which you flee will surely meet you, then you will be sent back to (Allaah), the All-Knower of the unseen and the seen, and He will tell you what you used to do.”
Meaning, they will never ask for death as they were not sincere. As for the student of knowledge, he seeks knowledge for the sake of Allaah, the Exalted and the Glorified, and he seeks His Reward by it, by acting upon it and staying away from His Punishments and what He has Prohibited us from doing. Therefore, the student of knowledge is sincere, humble and active and not insincere, ungrateful to his Lord, proud and lazy.
9. O you who believe (Muslims)! When the call is proclaimed for the Salat (prayer) on the day of Friday(Jumu’ah prayer), come to the remembrance of Allaah [Jumu’ah religious talk (Khutbah) and Salat (prayer)] and leave off business (and every other thing), that is better for you if you did but know!
Now the attention is turned to the student of knowledge. Allaah, the Exalted and the Glorified, has explained how He has sent a Messenger as a favour upon us and the negligence of the people before us when Allaah, the Exalted and the Glorified, sent to them a Messenger and a book to teach them. So in this Aayah, the student of knowledge is directly addressed.
Oh you who believe, oh you student of knowledge, when the call is made, leave off your worldly activities and come to the remembrance of Allaah, and remembrance in this Aayah refers to the Khutbah of Jumu’ah. So the student of knowledge is not heavily busied with the Dunya and his time is proportioned for seeking knowledge.
Therefore, this day, the day of Friday has become day of seeking knowledge for everyone, whether they are a student of knowledge or not. So when the call is made, come to the Masjid and listen to the Khutbah attentively, without talking and paying attention.
10. Then when the (Jumu’ah) Salat (prayer) is finished, you may disperse through the land, and seek the Bounty of Allaah (by working, etc.), and remember Allaah much, that you may be successful.
Meaning, the student of knowledge must be sincere in the time he seeks knowledge and the time when he is away from his studies. So when he disperses throughout the land, he seeks the bounty of Allaah, the Exalted and the Glorified, in the various ways it may come. Either he seeks food and drink which will help him gain strength to gain more knowledge or he disperses through the land benefitting others with the knowledge he has learned.
11. And when they see some merchandise or some amusement [beating of Tambur (drum) etc.] they disperse headlong to it, and leave you (Muhammad ) standing [while delivering Jumu’ah’s religious talk (Khutbah)]. Say “That which Allaah has is better than any amusement or merchandise! And Allaah is the Best of providers.”
This Surah finishes with a warning for the student of knowledge, meaning, if he is not sincere in the knowledge he learns then he could be considered as one of those who leave the Messenger standing. Therefore, be sincere in seeking knowledge and then Allaah will teach you, as He is the best of Providers.
Also in this Aayah is a lesson for the student of knowledge to pay attention to what he does with time and leave what doesn’t benefit him.
[Taken from lecture, ‘Naseehah li at-Tulaab al-‘Ilm, 27/9/1433]