If it changes the entire building becomes different, the aim changes, the goal becomes different. A person whose intention is not pure keeps traveling towards Madinah all his life but his life come to an end in London or Paris. A good-intentioned man passes his entire life in kafiristan but when his days come to an end the kalimah is upon his lips, the light of emaan in his heart. Believe me it’s a fact that many people come out of the wash-room clean and ‘paak’ while others leave even Bait ullah in the same unclean, ‘na-paak’ state they went in. There was Hazrat Asiya who did not let the light of emaan die even though she was living with Fir‘oun himself, while the wife of Hazrat Nuh (Noah) `alayhissalaam was not blessed with emaan though she lived her entire life with a prophet. What else can be more ironical and unfortunate than that a man is blessed with the company of good people, with a favourable environment yet he does not take advantage of it? In the book ‘Qushairiyyah’ it is mentioned that Abu `Usman Khairi (rahimahullah) asked Muhammad Bin Fazal (rahimahullah), ‘who is the most wretched of all people’? There are three persons he answered. ‘A person who is given knowledge yet he is deprived of the power of acting upon it; a person who is given the power of acting upon his knowledge but is deprived of sincerity and a person who is blessed with the company of pious people yet he does not hold them in deep respect’.
Two words learnt with good intention are better than a thousand words learnt when the intention is not good. The person who acquires the knowledge of religion just to earn wealth or to impress the illiterate people or to challenge the `ulama to debates or ‘munazaras’, he shall on the Day of Qiyamah not even go near Jannah let alone enter it.
O seekers of Knowledge! Remember who you are. You are a continuation of the search and yearning, the thirst of knowledge of the Ashaab-i-Suffah. The Ashaab-i-Suffah, the most exalted of students the world has ever seen. Food was never cooked for them in any ‘madrasah’. Their state was such that they ate whatever left-overs they could find and sometimes they found not even those. The prayer sufficed for them “O Rabb of ours, grant us”. Orchard-owners used to hang bunches of ripe, unripe dates near their place of study and these dates were their only food. They didn’t’ have any kitchens, nor grand houses, nor lofty educational centers, nor an army of servants, nor a team of instructors. They had neither beds nor pillows, neither desks nor books. There was just a raised platform which served them for a hostel, as well as a classroom. There was only one compassionate teacher and a few true seekers of knowledge. The light burned bright on this side as well as on the other.
Their intention (niyyah) was pure, their yearning unallowed. Their resolve was to change their own selves as well as the times; to ignite a restlessness in their own hearts as well as in the hearts of others; and to disperse the knowledge they had acquired far and wide. The light enkindled in their hearts, their pure resolve, sincere intention, their deep yearning at last bore fruit and in a very short time, lamps of the true knowledge began burning from the East to the West. Darkness receded.
Just imagine. What kind of a place of learning it must have been, what teachers, that their attention gave to the world mighty rulers, judges, army-leaders, famous `ulama, and jurisprudents, successful traders, world-famous personalities! Yet they did not have any of the facilities students have to-day. All that they had was a pure intense yearning to acquire knowledge and a strong system of education and training. There did exist students whose memory was not exceptional but there existed none whose deeds were not matchless. Were we to inculcate these things in ourselves then even the cave of a mountain a dark corner of a forest or a straw hut can be a madrasah, a Jami`ah, a khanqah for us. But if we don’t possess these qualities, yet have a spacious hostel, rows of classes, heaps of books, enticing scholarships. Then beware! This is not a madrasah but a shop. It is nothing but hypocrisy, outward show, a mirage, an illusion.
There is an uproar, an outcry to-day, and it is a justifiable one, that madaris are not producing great men; that every year thousands of ulama are coming out of madaris but there is no sign of a change in society; in fact, the behaviour and character of the students seems to becoming worse, day by day. The main reason for this is that instead of paying attention to building human beings to building character, the focus is upon constructing buildings. More effort is being made to beautify the outward appearance rather than to correct the inner self. Instead of transferring knowledge, it is being considered sufficient to transfer words and letters only. Importance is being given more to acquiring a degree rather than acquiring ability and competence. There is no dearth of such talabah too to whom scholarships and facilities are more important than a literary environment. So when importance is given to the means of attaining the goal instead of the goal itself, when the good-will of the people is sought instead of the Creator’s then how can the knowledge acquired be fruitful, be blessed? The lessons learnt would just be puerile, a pastime of idiots.
You must have heard the name of Mulla Mubarak Nagpuri. He was the father of Faizi who has written an explanation of the meanings of the Quran in Urdu in words without dots. He was the founder of a great university in Agra. Maulana Manazir Ahsan Gilani has written that he was a student, of a teacher’s teacher, of Hafiz Ibne Hajar Asqalani (rahimahullah). Mulla Mubarak was a very learned man but his heart was empty of fear and awe, of sincerity. He passed his entire life in toadying to the rulers. When he left this world, let alone strangers, his own students had nothing good to say about him. One of his eminent students, Mulla Abdul Qadir Badayuni, the author of a famous history book, addressed his teacher in these words: ‘What defect did you see in the Quran and Sunnah that you chose the dish and plate as your religion? Instead of Allah and His Rasool (sallallahu `alaihe wasallam) you started following the irreligious people?’
So you see, on the one hand are people who served Deen with complete sincerity and devotion with the result that even their enemies attested to the pureness of their character while on the other are those sole aim was acquiring this world and as a result not even their friends had a good word to say about them.
O heirs of prophet hood! This is the time to succeed or fail. What you shall sow to-day, you shall reap tomorrow. If you plant thorns it is stupidity to expect roses to bloom forth. If you pass your time in neglecting your studies and in sleeping, how can you even dream of gracing exalted posts of learning? Education, Knowledge demands your full attention. It is like a jealous mistress. It cannot tolerate for its aspirant, its lover to pay attention to anyone else.
The slightest bit of faithlessness is enough to send it running away in search of a true aspirant. Our ancestors were such that when he left home to study, Hazrat Makhdoom Bihari (rahimahullah) left practically everything behind him. When he received letters from home he used to put them in an empty pitcher. Years later when he completed his education he sat down to read the heap of letters. As he read, sometimes he smiled, sometimes he shed tears.
( by Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani Sahib)