The Pleasure and Enthusiasm of Seeking Knowledge

By Mawlānā Muhammad Salīm Dhorāt
Translated by Mawlānā Mahomed Mahomedy

‛Allāmah Zamakhsharī rahimahullāh says:

سَهَرِيْ لِتَنْقِيْحِ الْعُلُوْمِ أَلَذُّ لِيْ – مِنْ وَصْلِ غَانِيَةٍ وَطِيْبِ عِنَاقِ وَتَمَايُلِيْ طَرَبًا لحَِلِّ عُوَيْصَةٍ – أَشْهٰى وَأَحْلٰى مِنْ مُدَامَةِ سَاقِ

Remaining awake at night to research and investigate the different sciences is more enjoyable to me than meeting a beautiful singer and her sweet embrace. My swaying from side to side out of joy for having solved a difficulty is more desirable to me and sweeter than the drink which is offered by a waiter.

وَصَرِيْرُ أَقْلَامِيْ عَلٰى أَوْرَاقِهَا – أَحْلٰى مِنَ الدَّوْكَاءِ وَالْعشَُّاقِ وَأَلَذُّ مِنْ نَقْرِ الْفَتَاةِ لِدُفِّهَا – نقَْرِيْ لِأَلْقَى الرَّمَلَ عَنْ أَوْرَاقِيْ(صفحات من صبر العلماء، ص ١٣)

The sound made by my pen as it writes across the page is sweeter to me than daukā’ and ‛ushshāq. The sound of dusting off the dust from the pages of my books is more enjoyable to me than the sound made by a young girl as she is playing her tambourine.

Hadrat Imām Muhammad rahimahullāh said:

لَذَّاتُ الْأَفْكَارِ خَيْرٌ مِنْ لَذَّاتِ الْأَبْكَارِ (حدائق الحنفية، ص ١٥)

To ponder and reflect over academic issues is more enjoyable than the pleasure which is provided by a virgin woman.

In other words, when I sit with the Qur’ān and the Ahādīth of Rasūlullāh sallallāhu ‛alayhi wasallam and ponder and reflect over the extraction of rules and regulations, then the pleasure which I experience at doing this is better than the joy which is experienced at taking pleasure from a virgin woman.

Someone asked Hadrat Imām Shāfi‛ī rahimahullāh: “Hadrat! How much joy do you experience when you hear an academic point for the first time?” Imām Shāfi‛ī rahimahullāh replied: “When any new academic point falls in my ears for the first time, I experience such joy and pleasure that I hope – at that time – that my entire body was an ear.” (حاشية قيمة الزمن عند العلماء، ص ٢)

My dear brothers! We ought to experience this joy when acquiring knowledge. Once we start experiencing this joy and pleasure, we will never experience rest without studying and reading.

The Academic Enthusiasm of ‛Allāmah Binnaurī

This was also the condition of our elders and pious predecessors. Listen to the condition of one of our elders of the recent past, viz. Hadrat ‛Allāmah Muhammad Yūsuf Binnāurī rahimahullāh. When the Majlis-e-‛Ilmī was established in Dhābel, Hadrat ‛Allāmah Binnāurī rahimahullāh was offered an academic post to undertake research work. The first task which was given to him was to research and reference the book al-‛Arf ash-Shadhī, a book written by his beloved teacher, Hadrat ‛Allāmah Anwar Shāh Kashmīrī rahimahullāh. ‛Allāmah Binnaurī rahimahullāh had to check and cross reference all the references which were mentioned by ‛Allāmah Kashmīrī rahimahullāh and note them down. Hadrat ‛Allāmah Binnaurī rahimahullāh says: “There were times when I had to read thousands of pages just for one reference.”

‛Allāmah Binnaurī rahimahullāh mentions similar examples in this regard. I would like to make reference to just one astounding example. He relates: “While reading al-‛Arf ash-Shadhī, I came to a point where Hadrat Kashmīrī rahimahullāh explained a principle of the Muhaddithūn with regard to the application of conflicting narrations. After explaining the principle, Hadrat Kashmīrī rahimahullāh said that it is a very important principle but unfortunately, the compilers of the definitions of Hadīth (mustalahul Hadīth) did not make mention of it in their writings. Yes, Hāfiz Ibn Hajar ‛Asqalānī rahimahullāh did make mention of it in several places in Fath al-Bārī. I began reading Fath al-Bārī from the start, and while reading it, I came across what Hadrat Kashmīrī rahimahullāh was referring to. However, Hadrat Kashmīrī rahimahullāh had said that Hāfiz Ibn Hajar rahimahullāh mentions it in several places. So I wanted to see how many times he mentions, and where. In order to ascertain just this one principle, I read Fath al-Bārī word for word from beginning to end.” (بينات، إشاعت خاص، بيادِ محدث العصر حضرت مولانا سيد محمد يوسف بنوري، ص ١٤)

May Allāh ta‛ālā endow us with an academic disposition of this nature and an attachment with our books. If one wants to progress academically, he has to have a bond with books, an academic disposition and an academic temperament. A student cannot be a true student without this enthusiasm.

Who is an ‛Ālim-e-Rabbānī?, p. 36-39

(Courtesy: Al-Qamr Publications)

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