Seeking Knowledge

Knowledge and action based upon that knowledge are twins whose mother has high aspirations. O youth, the essence of your soul lies in seeking knowledge, and the adornment of your soul is acting upon what you have learnt.

Whoever does not act upon his knowledge will never recognise the value of what he possesses; he will be like a person carrying musk perfume but he is unable to smell it because he has the flu. The vast ocean of the learned person’s knowledge throws onto the shore of utterance words that are like pearls, which are picked up by the hands of understanding.

By Allah, the learned one acquainted with sacred knowledge is a ring on the index finger of time. The learned are strangers in this world as they are a few, among the multitude of ignorant people. The written work that learned person authors and complies is indeed his immortal child, and his flag of honour.

O teacher, hearten and uplift the novice in his path for seeking knowledge, “and measure the links thereof” (Saba 34:11) For the learned is firmly planted whereas the learner is in a state of anxiety. O you seeker of knowledge, humble yourself while seeking knowledge, and know that when sand humbly accepted creatures stepping on it with their feet, Allah made it pure enough for a person to wipe his face with in tayammum. Do not fall into despair as to whether you would ever be strong so long as you continue doing good, because sands shall turn into stones and rocks over time. Endure the nights of hardship, because if you look through the eye of patience you shall see the dawn of reward. Indeed, the lofty ranks can be attained only by undergoing hardship! Did you not notice the thorns growing beside the roses?

O novice, be gentle on yourself – coping with ignorance is difficult, therefore you should move from the basement of concessions to the roof of noble acts requiring determination and strong will. This demands that you never give up striving to achieve your goal, for rain starts with the pitter-patter of drops before it turns into a torrent.

Persist in attending the assemblies of knowledge, for an infant needs to be breastfed time and again, so that he is strong enough to be weaned when he grows up. Indeed, even drops of water that drip on a rock should leave a mark on it when such drops are continual. O you who is parched with the thirst of desires in the desert of youth, change your course to the road of knowledge, for through knowledge you will come across many a water fountain that shall help you in your journey through the desert.

The road to virtues is paved with hardships and trials; those whose resolve is feeble will turn back from it. When the determined suffers a hardship or encounters a calamity whose taste is bitter, he instantly thinks of the sweetness of the final outcome, upon which he brushes away the dirt from the deep-seated high purpose in his heart. A judicious person endures hardships patiently, because he is aware of how close at hand ease is, whereas the ignorant is his exact opposite. This is similar to how the wood of the olive plant burns without producing smoke, unlike the wood of liquorice that produces smoke as it burns. Indeed, man’s nature is like a small child, whereas his intellect is like an adult.

Seeds of Admonishment and Reform by Imam ibn Jawzi Pages 121-123