The 3 States and Categories of Knowledge by the Shehu Uthman Dan Fodio from his book Iqtibaasul Ilm.


Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim,
Thumma Salatu wa Sallam ala Ashrafil Ambiyai al Mursaleen, wa Ala Aalihi wa Shabihi Ajmaeen, Ameen!

The Shehu Uthman Dan Fodio {Rahimahullah} said concerning Knowledge and its states!

Realize that in regards to seeking knowledge people are divided into three states.

1} The man who seeks knowledge in order to take it as a provision his final destiny. He does not intend in that anything except seeking the face of Allah the Mighty and the Next Life. This person will be among those who will attain bliss.

2} The man who seeks knowledge as a vehicle, which assists him in his livelihood and in order to obtain standing among men and wealth. This person by means of that reveals the lowliness of the state of his heart and the vileness of his intention. This one will be among those who will be lost. If his appointed time rushes upon him before he makes repentance, it is then feared for him an evil ending. The remaining years of his life continues in a very precarious state under the Divine Will of Allah. However, if repentance occurs for him before his appointed time comes and he connects his knowledge to sound action and behavior in order to attain what his errors had caused him to miss – he then will be counted among those who will attain bliss. This is because the one who repents from sins is like the one who has no sins.

3} The third man is one whom Satan has seized. He takes his knowledge as a pretext for increasing in wealth. He takes his knowledge as a cause for boasting of his rank and status. He takes his knowledge as a motivation for strengthening his many followers. By his knowledge he enters every place hoping to swoop down upon something of this world and its beauties. Further, he thinks in the deep recesses of his soul that he has a place with Allah due to the fact that in his dress and words he is characterized with the characteristics of the scholars and is described with their description. All the time he is outwardly and inwardly greedy for the things of this world. This one will be among those who are destroyed and among the stupidest of those who are deceived. His sense of false hope cuts him off completely from repenting to Allah, due to the fact that he considers that he is among the doers of good.

In reality he is among those about whom the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace said, “Verily I am not among the charlatans (dujaal) and there is nothing more I fear than my fear for you regarding the lying charlatans.” It was said. “Who are they O Messenger of Allah?” He said, “The evil scholars” This is because the Dajaal has attained the furthest extent of error. The likeness of such a scholar is that he diverts mankind from this world by his tongue and teachings, but he invites them to it by his corrupt actions and vile spiritual state. Realize that the tongue of one’s spiritual state is more eloquent than the tongue of one’s words. The nature of man inclines more to be encouraged by one’s behavior than they are to following one’s words. For who can be more corrupt than such a self deceived one who deceives with his actions more than what he corrects with his words? This is so since the ignorant ones are not insolent in yearning after this world except by means of the insolence of the evil scholars in their greed for this world.

The knowledge of such a one has become only a pretext for encouraging the slaves of Allah in their disobedience. Actually his soul is ignorant along with the fact that he indulges in the false hope and thinks that he is better than many of the slaves of Allah.

Therefore, O seeker of knowledge, be among the first group and beware of being among the second group. How many there are who procrastinate and his appointed time rushes upon him before he is able to make repentance. He thus becomes among the losers. However, never be among the third group for you will be destroyed with devastation in which there is no hope of your redemption nor expectation of your correction.

If you were to say, “Then what is the beginning of guidance so that my soul may rehearse it”? Realize that the beginning and outward of guidance is fearful awareness (taqwa). Likewise the end and inward of guidance is fearful awareness of Allah. There is no guidance except for those who have fearful awareness. Fearful awareness is an expression, which is tantamount to following the commands of Allah and avoiding His prohibitions. Following the commands and avoiding the prohibitions are divided into two divisions. Here I will indicate in a concise and general fashion what is apparent in the meaning of the two divisions.

1} The first division is obedience.

Realize that the commands of Allah are either obligations
(faraa’id) or superogatory acts (nawaafil). The obligations are like the capital and by means of these one arrives at the root of salvation. The superogatory acts are like profits and by means of these one attains exalted ranks. The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace said, “Allah the Exalted says, ‘Those brought near do not draw near to Me more than the like of them performing what I have obligated upon them. My slave continues to draw near to me by means of the superogatory acts until I love him. When I love him, I become the hearing by which he hears, the sight by which he see, the tongue by which he speaks.’

2} The second division is that as a student of knowledge you cannot attain the station of performing the obligations of Allah the Exalted except by means of the constant vigilance (muraaqaba) of your heart and limbs in all movements and breadths; from your morning until you evenings. Realize that Allah the Exalted is totally aware of your inner cores. He oversees your outer and inner natures and completely encompasses all of your expressions, glances, steps, still-nesses, and movements During all of your mixing with people and solitude your are turning between His hands. No tranquil thing is still nor does a moving entity stir in the manifest kingdom (mulk) or hidden kingdom (malakuut) except that the Compeller of the heavens and the earth observes it.

wa Sallallahu Ala Nabbiyina Muhammad wa Ala Aalihi wa Sahbihi a sallama Tasleeman!

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