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The Virtues of Knowledge and People of Knowledge

Allah's statement,

﴿ يَرۡفَعِ ٱللَّهُ ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ مِنكُمۡ وَٱلَّذِينَ أُوتُواْ ٱلۡعِلۡمَ دَرَجَـٰتٍ۬‌ۚ وَٱللَّهُ بِمَا تَعۡمَلُونَ خَبِيرٌ۬

(Allah will exalt in degrees those of you who believe, and those who have been granted knowledge. And Allah is Well-Acquainted with what you do.) means, do not think that if one of you makes room for his brother, or rises up when he is commanded to do so, that this will diminish his right or honor. Rather, this will increase his virtue and status with Allah, and Allah the Exalted will never make his good deed be lost. To the contrary, He will reward him for it in this life and the Hereafter. Surely, he who humbles himself by and before the command of his Lord, then Allah will elevate his status and make him known by his good behavior. the statement of Allah the Exalted,

﴿ يَرۡفَعِ ٱللَّهُ ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ مِنكُمۡ وَٱلَّذِينَ أُوتُواْ ٱلۡعِلۡمَ دَرَجَـٰتٍ۬‌ۚ وَٱللَّهُ بِمَا تَعۡمَلُونَ خَبِيرٌ۬

(Allah will exalt in degree those of you who believe, and those who have been granted knowledge. And Allah is Well-Acquainted with what you do.) meaning, surely, Allah is Aware of those who deserve this reward and those who are not worthy of it. Imam Ahmad recorded that Abu At-Tufayl `Amir bin Wathilah said that Nafi` bin `Abdul-Harith met `Umar bin Al-Khattab in the area of `Usfan. `Umar appointed Abu At-Tufayl to be the governor of Makkah. `Umar asked him, "Whom did you appoint as your deputy for the valley people (that is, Makkah).'' `Amir said, "I appointed Ibn Abza, one of our freed slaves, as my deputy.'' `Umar said, "You made a freed slave their governor in your absence'' He said, "O Leader of the faithful! He has memorized Allah's Book and has knowledge of regulations of inheritance, along with being a proficient judge.'' `Umar said, "Surely, your Prophet has said,

« إِنَّ اللهَ يَرْفَعُ بِهذَا الْكِتَابِ قَوْمًا وَيَضَعُ بِهِ آخَرِين »

(Verily, Allah elevates some people and degrades others, on account of this Book.)'' Muslim collected this Hadith.

﴿ يَـٰٓأَيُّہَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوٓاْ إِذَا نَـٰجَيۡتُمُ ٱلرَّسُولَ فَقَدِّمُواْ بَيۡنَ يَدَىۡ نَجۡوَٮٰكُمۡ صَدَقَةً۬‌ۚ ذَٲلِكَ خَيۡرٌ۬ لَّكُمۡ وَأَطۡهَرُ‌ۚ فَإِن لَّمۡ تَجِدُواْ فَإِنَّ ٱللَّهَ غَفُورٌ۬ رَّحِيمٌ ءَأَشۡفَقۡتُمۡ أَن تُقَدِّمُواْ بَيۡنَ يَدَىۡ نَجۡوَٮٰكُمۡ صَدَقَـٰتٍ۬‌ۚ فَإِذۡ لَمۡ تَفۡعَلُواْ وَتَابَ ٱللَّهُ عَلَيۡكُمۡ فَأَقِيمُواْ ٱلصَّلَوٰةَ وَءَاتُواْ ٱلزَّكَوٰةَ وَأَطِيعُواْ ٱللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ ۥ‌ۚ وَٱللَّهُ خَبِيرُۢ بِمَا تَعۡمَلُونَ

(12. O you who believe! When you (want to) consult the Messenger in private, spend something in charity before your private consultation. That will be better and purer for you. But if you find not (the means for it), then verily, Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.) (13. Are you afraid of spending in charity before your private consultation (with him) If then you do it not, and Allah has forgiven you, then perform Salah and give Zakah and obey Allah and His Messenger. And Allah is All-Aware of what you do.)

The Order to give Charity before One speaks to the Prophet in private

Allah commanded His believing servants, when any of them wanted to speak with Allah's Messenger in secret, to give away charity beforehand so that his charity cleanses and purifies him and makes him worthy of having a private counsel with the Prophet . This is why Allah the Exalted said,

﴿ ذَٲلِكَ خَيۡرٌ۬ لَّكُمۡ وَأَطۡهَرُ‌ۚ

(That will be better and purer for you.) then He said,

﴿ فَإِن لَّمۡ تَجِدُواْ

(But if you find not.) meaning, if he is unable to do so due to poverty,

﴿ فَإِنَّ ٱللَّهَ غَفُورٌ۬ رَّحِيمٌ

(then verily, Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.) He only commanded those who are financially able to give this type of charity. Allah the Exalted said,

﴿ ءَأَشۡفَقۡتُمۡ أَن تُقَدِّمُواْ بَيۡنَ يَدَىۡ نَجۡوَٮٰكُمۡ صَدَقَـٰتٍ۬‌ۚ

(Are you afraid of spending in charity before your private consultation) meaning, are you afraid that the order to give charity before speaking privately to the Prophet remains in effect forever

﴿ فَإِذۡ لَمۡ تَفۡعَلُواْ وَتَابَ ٱللَّهُ عَلَيۡكُمۡ فَأَقِيمُواْ ٱلصَّلَوٰةَ وَءَاتُواْ ٱلزَّكَوٰةَ وَأَطِيعُواْ ٱللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ ۥ‌ۚ وَٱللَّهُ خَبِيرُۢ بِمَا تَعۡمَلُونَ

(If then you do it not, and Allah has forgiven you, then perform Salah and give Zakah and obey Allah and His Messenger. And Allah is All-Aware of what you do.) Therefore, Allah abrogated the obligation of giving this charity. It was said that none has implemented this command before except its abrogation, `Ali bin Abi Talib. `Ali bin Abi Talhah reported from Ibn `Abbas:

﴿ فَقَدِّمُواْ بَيۡنَ يَدَىۡ نَجۡوَٮٰكُمۡ صَدَقَةً۬‌ۚ

(spend something in charity before your private consultation.) "The Muslims kept asking Allah's Messenger questions until it became difficult on him. Allah wanted to lighten the burden from His Prophet , upon him be peace. So when He said this, many Muslims were afraid to pay this charity and stopped asking. Afterwards, Allah sent down this Ayah,

﴿ ءَأَشۡفَقۡتُمۡ أَن تُقَدِّمُواْ بَيۡنَ يَدَىۡ نَجۡوَٮٰكُمۡ صَدَقَـٰتٍ۬‌ۚ فَإِذۡ لَمۡ تَفۡعَلُواْ وَتَابَ ٱللَّهُ عَلَيۡكُمۡ فَأَقِيمُواْ ٱلصَّلَوٰةَ وَءَاتُواْ ٱلزَّكَوٰةَ

(Are you afraid of spending in charity before your private consultation If then you do it not, and Allah has forgiven you, then perform Salah and give Zakah) Thus Allah made things easy and lenient for them.'' `Ikrimah and Al-Hasan Al-Basri commented on Allah's statement:

﴿ فَقَدِّمُواْ بَيۡنَ يَدَىۡ نَجۡوَٮٰكُمۡ صَدَقَةً۬‌ۚ

(spend something in charity before your private consultation.) "This was abrogated by the next Ayah:

﴿ ءَأَشۡفَقۡتُمۡ أَن تُقَدِّمُواْ بَيۡنَ يَدَىۡ نَجۡوَٮٰكُمۡ صَدَقَـٰتٍ۬‌ۚ

(Are you afraid of spending in charity before your private consultation...).'' Sa`id bin Abi `Arubah reported from Qatadah and Muqatil bin Hayyan, "People kept questioning Allah's Messenger until they made things difficult for him. Allah provided a way to stop their behavior by this Ayah. One of them would need to speak to Allah's Prophet about a real matter, but could not do so until he gave in charity. This became hard on people and Allah sent down relief from this requirement afterwards,

﴿ فَإِن لَّمۡ تَجِدُواْ فَإِنَّ ٱللَّهَ غَفُورٌ۬ رَّحِيمٌ

(But if you find not, then verily, Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful).'' Ma`mar reported from Qatadah that the Ayah,

﴿ إِذَا نَـٰجَيۡتُمُ ٱلرَّسُولَ فَقَدِّمُواْ بَيۡنَ يَدَىۡ نَجۡوَٮٰكُمۡ صَدَقَةً۬‌ۚ

(When you (want to) consult the Messenger in private, spend something in charity before your private consultation.) was abrogated after being in effect for only one hour of a day. `Abdur-Razzaq recorded that Mujahid said that `Ali said, "No one except me implemented this Ayah, until it was abrogated,'' and he was reported to have said that it remained in effect for merely an hour.

﴿ أَلَمۡ تَرَ إِلَى ٱلَّذِينَ تَوَلَّوۡاْ قَوۡمًا غَضِبَ ٱللَّهُ عَلَيۡہِم مَّا هُم مِّنكُمۡ وَلَا مِنۡہُمۡ وَيَحۡلِفُونَ عَلَى ٱلۡكَذِبِ وَهُمۡ يَعۡلَمُونَ أَعَدَّ ٱللَّهُ لَهُمۡ عَذَابً۬ا شَدِيدًا‌ۖ إِنَّهُمۡ سَآءَ مَا كَانُواْ يَعۡمَلُونَ ٱتَّخَذُوٓاْ أَيۡمَـٰنَہُمۡ جُنَّةً۬ فَصَدُّواْ عَن سَبِيلِ ٱللَّهِ فَلَهُمۡ عَذَابٌ۬ مُّهِينٌ۬ لَّن تُغۡنِىَ عَنۡہُمۡ أَمۡوَٲلُهُمۡ وَلَآ أَوۡلَـٰدُهُم مِّنَ ٱللَّهِ شَيۡـًٔا‌ۚ أُوْلَـٰٓٮِٕكَ أَصۡحَـٰبُ ٱلنَّارِ‌ۖ هُمۡ فِيہَا خَـٰلِدُونَ يَوۡمَ يَبۡعَثُہُمُ ٱللَّهُ جَمِيعً۬ا فَيَحۡلِفُونَ لَهُ ۥ كَمَا يَحۡلِفُونَ لَكُمۡ‌ۖ وَيَحۡسَبُونَ أَنَّہُمۡ عَلَىٰ شَىۡءٍ‌ۚ أَلَآ إِنَّہُمۡ هُمُ ٱلۡكَـٰذِبُونَ ٱسۡتَحۡوَذَ عَلَيۡهِمُ ٱلشَّيۡطَـٰنُ فَأَنسَٮٰهُمۡ ذِكۡرَ ٱللَّهِ‌ۚ أُوْلَـٰٓٮِٕكَ حِزۡبُ ٱلشَّيۡطَـٰنِ‌ۚ أَلَآ إِنَّ حِزۡبَ ٱلشَّيۡطَـٰنِ هُمُ ٱلۡخَـٰسِرُونَ

(14. Have you not seen those who take as friends a people upon whom is the wrath of Allah They are neither of you nor of them, and they swear to a lie while they know.) (15. Allah has prepared for them a severe torment. Evil indeed is that which they used to do.) (16. They have made their oaths a screen. Thus they hinder (others) from the path of Allah, so they shall have a humiliating torment.) (17. Their children and their wealth will avail them nothing against Allah. They will be the dwellers of the Fire to dwell therein forever.) (18. On the Day when Allah will resurrect them all together; then they will swear to Him as they swear to you. And they think that they have something. Verily, they are liars!) (19. The Shaytan has overpowered them. So he has made them forget the remembrance of Allah. They are the party of Shaytan. Verily, it is the party of Shaytan that will be the losers!).

Chastising the Hypocrites

Allah chastises the hypocrites for secretly aiding and supporting the disbelievers even though, in reality, they were neither with the disbelievers nor with the Muslims. Allah the Exalted said in another Ayah,

﴿ مُّذَبۡذَبِينَ بَيۡنَ ذَٲلِكَ لَآ إِلَىٰ هَـٰٓؤُلَآءِ وَلَآ إِلَىٰ هَـٰٓؤُلَآءِ‌ۚ وَمَن يُضۡلِلِ ٱللَّهُ فَلَن تَجِدَ لَهُ ۥ سَبِيلاً۬

((They are) swaying between this and that, belonging neither to these nor to those; and he whom Allah sends astray, you will not find for him a way.)(4:143) Allah said here,

﴿ أَلَمۡ تَرَ إِلَى ٱلَّذِينَ تَوَلَّوۡاْ قَوۡمًا غَضِبَ ٱللَّهُ عَلَيۡہِم

(Have you not seen those who take as friends a people upon whom is the wrath of Allah) referring to the Jews with whom the hypocrites were allies in secret. Allah said,

﴿ مَّا هُم مِّنكُمۡ وَلَا مِنۡہُمۡ

(They are neither of you nor of them,) meaning, that these hypocrites are neither with the believers, nor with their allies the Jews,

﴿ وَيَحۡلِفُونَ عَلَى ٱلۡكَذِبِ وَهُمۡ يَعۡلَمُونَ

(and they swear to a lie while they know.) meaning, the hypocrites lie when they vow, knowing that they are lying, which is called the vow of Al-Ghamus. We seek refuge with Allah from their ways. When the hypocrites met the believers they said that they believed and when they went to the Messenger, they swore to him by Allah that they were believers. They knew that they were lying in their vow, and they knew that they did not declare their true creed. This is why Allah witnessed here that they lie in their vows and know that they are lying, even though their statement (about the Prophet being Allah's Prophet) is true in essence. Allah the Exalted said,

﴿ أَعَدَّ ٱللَّهُ لَهُمۡ عَذَابً۬ا شَدِيدًا‌ۖ إِنَّهُمۡ سَآءَ مَا كَانُواْ يَعۡمَلُونَ

(Allah has prepared for them a severe torment. Evil indeed is that which they used to do.) meaning, Allah has prepared a painful torment for the hypocrites on account of their evil deeds, their aid and support of the disbelievers and their deceit and betrayal of the believers. The statement of Allah the Exalted,

﴿ ٱتَّخَذُوٓاْ أَيۡمَـٰنَہُمۡ جُنَّةً۬ فَصَدُّواْ عَن سَبِيلِ ٱللَّهِ

(They have made their oaths a screen. Thus they hinder (others) from the path of Allah,) meaning, the hypocrites pretended to be believers and concealed disbelief under the shield of their false oaths. Many were unaware of their true stance and were thus deceived by their oaths. Because of this, some people were hindered from the Path of Allah

﴿ فَلَهُمۡ عَذَابٌ۬ مُّهِينٌ۬

(so they shall have a humiliating torment.) meaning, as recompense for belittling the significance of swearing by the Mighty Name of Allah, while lying and concealing betrayal. Allah the Exalted said,

﴿ لَن تُغۡنِىَ عَنۡهُمۡ أَمۡوَٲلُهُمۡ وَلَآ أَوۡلَـٰدُهُم مِّنَ ٱللَّهِ شَيۡـًٔ۬ا‌ۖ

(Their children and their wealth will avail them nothing against Allah.) meaning, none of their possessions can avert the affliction when it is sent their way,

﴿ وَأُوْلَـٰٓٮِٕكَ أَصۡحَـٰبُ ٱلنَّارِ‌ۖ هُمۡ فِيهَا خَـٰلِدُونَ

(They will be the dwellers of the Fire to dwell therein forever.) Allah the Exalted said,

﴿ يَوۡمَ يَبۡعَثُهُمُ ٱللَّهُ جَمِيعً۬ا

(On the Day when Allah will resurrect them all together;) referring to the Day of Resurrection when He will gather them all together and leave none of them out,

﴿ فَيَحۡلِفُونَ لَهُ ۥ كَمَا يَحۡلِفُونَ لَكُمۡ‌ۖ وَيَحۡسَبُونَ أَنَّہُمۡ عَلَىٰ شَىۡءٍ‌ۚ

(then they will swear to Him as they swear to you. And they think that they have something.) meaning, they will swear to Allah the Exalted and Most Honored that they were following the guidance and the correct path, just as they used to swear to the believers in this worldly life. Verily, those who live following on a certain path will most likely die while on it. Thus, they will be resurrected upon their path. The hypocrites will think that their vows will help them with Allah, just as they helped with the people, who were obliged to treat them as they pretended to be, Muslim. This is why Allah said,

﴿ وَيَحۡسَبُونَ أَنَّہُمۡ عَلَىٰ شَىۡءٍ‌ۚ

(And they think that they have something) meaning, on account of swearing to their Lord (that they used to be believers). Allah rebukes this idea of theirs;

﴿ أَلَآ إِنَّہُمۡ هُمُ ٱلۡكَـٰذِبُونَ

(Verily, they are liars!) stressing that they are lying, Allah then said;

﴿ ٱسۡتَحۡوَذَ عَلَيۡهِمُ ٱلشَّيۡطَـٰنُ فَأَنسَٮٰهُمۡ ذِكۡرَ ٱللَّهِ‌ۚ

(The Shaytan has overpowered them. So he has made them forget the remembrance of Allah.) meaning, Shaytan has taken over their hearts to the point that he made them forget Allah the Exalted and Most Honored. This is what the devil does to those whom he controls. Abu Dawud recorded that Abu Ad-Darda' said that he heard the Messenger of Allah say,

« مَا مِنْ ثَلَاثَةٍ فِي قَرْيَةٍ وَلَا بَدْوٍ، لَا تُقَامُ فِيهِمُ الصَّلَاةُ إِلَّا قَدِ اسْتَحْوَذَ عَلَيْهِمُ الشَّيْطَانُ، فَعَلَيْكَ بِالْجَمَاعَةِ، فَإِنَّمَا يَأْكُلُ الذِّئْبُ الْقَاصِيَة »

(Any three in a village or desert among whom the Salah is not called for, will have the Shaytan control them. Therefore, adhere to the Jama`ah, for the wolf eats from the strayed sheep.) Za'idah added that As-Sa'ib said that Jama`ah, refers to, "Praying in congregation.'' Allah the Exalted said,

﴿ أُوْلَـٰٓٮِٕكَ حِزۡبُ ٱلشَّيۡطَـٰنِ‌ۚ

(They are the party of Shaytan.) referring to those who are controlled by the devil and, as a result, forgot the remembrance of Allah,

﴿ أَلَآ إِنَّ حِزۡبَ ٱلشَّيۡطَـٰنِ هُمُ ٱلۡخَـٰسِرُونَ

(Verily, it is the party of Shaytan that will be the losers!)

﴿ إِنَّ ٱلَّذِينَ يُحَآدُّونَ ٱللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ ۥۤ أُوْلَـٰٓٮِٕكَ فِى ٱلۡأَذَلِّينَ ڪَتَبَ ٱللَّهُ لَأَغۡلِبَنَّ أَنَا۟ وَرُسُلِىٓ‌ۚ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ قَوِىٌّ عَزِيزٌ۬ لَّا تَجِدُ قَوۡمً۬ا يُؤۡمِنُونَ بِٱللَّهِ وَٱلۡيَوۡمِ ٱلۡأَخِرِ يُوَآدُّونَ مَنۡ حَآدَّ ٱللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ ۥ وَلَوۡ ڪَانُوٓاْ ءَابَآءَهُمۡ أَوۡ أَبۡنَآءَهُمۡ أَوۡ إِخۡوَٲنَهُمۡ أَوۡ عَشِيرَتَہُمۡ‌ۚ أُوْلَـٰٓٮِٕكَ ڪَتَبَ فِى قُلُوبِہِمُ ٱلۡإِيمَـٰنَ وَأَيَّدَهُم بِرُوحٍ۬ مِّنۡهُ‌ۖ وَيُدۡخِلُهُمۡ جَنَّـٰتٍ۬ تَجۡرِى مِن تَحۡتِہَا ٱلۡأَنۡهَـٰرُ خَـٰلِدِينَ فِيهَا‌ۚ رَضِىَ ٱللَّهُ عَنۡہُمۡ وَرَضُواْ عَنۡهُ‌ۚ أُوْلَـٰٓٮِٕكَ حِزۡبُ ٱللَّهِ‌ۚ أَلَآ إِنَّ حِزۡبَ ٱللَّهِ هُمُ ٱلۡمُفۡلِحُونَ

(20. Those who oppose Allah and His Messenger, they will be among those most humiliated.) (21. Allah has decreed: "Verily, I and My Messengers shall be the victorious.'' Verily, Allah is All-Powerful, Almighty.) (22. You will not find any people who believe in Allah and the Last Day, making friendship with those who oppose Allah and His Messenger, even though they were their fathers or their sons or their brothers or their kindred. For such He has written faith in their hearts, and strengthened them with Ruh from Himself. And He will admit them to Gardens under which rivers flow, to dwell therein (forever). Allah is well pleased with them, and they are well pleased with Him. They are the party of Allah. Verily, the party of Allah will be the successful.)