English translation of Maktubat Imam Rabbani (selective 100) | Mujaddid Alf sani | Sheikh Ahmad sirhindi
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This letter, written to Molla Hajji Muhammad Lahori, describes the harm of the wicked men of knowledge who love the world and who barter knowledge for the world, and praises those savants who are not fond of the world.
Savants' loving the world and being fond of it is like a black stain on their beautiful faces. Though such men of knowledge are useful to people, they are not useful to themselves. The honor of strengthening the din and spreading the Shariat belongs to them, yet sometimes a disbeliever or a fasiq also does this job. As a matter of fact, the Master of Prophets "alaihi wa 'ala alihissalawatu wattaslimat' indicated that evil people also will strengthen the din, saying, "Allahu ta'ala certainly strengthens this din through fajir persons, too." They are like flintstones. There is energy in a flint. Men start fires with the power in this flint, thus making use of it. But the flint itself does not gain an advantage. Likewise, these people do not benefit from their own knowledge. In fact, their knowledge harms them. For, on the Day of Judgement they will not be able to say, "We did not know. If we had known that it was a sin we would not have done it." It is declared in a hadith: "On the day of Judgement, the person who will be tormented most is the savant whom Allahu ta'ala did not enable to benefit from his own knowledge." Certainly, knowledge, which Allahu ta'ala esteems and which is honored above all, will be harmful to those who make it a means for seizing property and rank, for coming to the fore. In fact, being fond of the world is something which Allahu ta'ala does not like at all. Therefore, it is a very loathsome deed to spend knowledge, which Allahu ta'ala esteems, in a way which He resents. It means to abhor what He esteems and to esteem, exalt what He resents. To be more clear, it means to stand against Allahu ta'ala. Giving lectures, preaching, issuing religious articles, books and magazines are useful only when they are for Allah's sake, not for gaining a rank, property and fame. And the symptom of such pious and pure thought is not to be fond of the world. Those men of din who have incurred this bane, who are fond of the world, are in fact worldly men. These are evil savants; these are the basest of people; these are the thieves of faith and iman. However, they think of themselves and represent themselves as men of din, as men of the next world, and as the best of people. Mujadala Sura purports about them, "They think of themselves as Muslims. They are liars. The devil has seized them. They do not remember Allahu ta'ala, nor do they mention His name. They have adapted themselves to the devil and have become devils. Be it known that those who followed the devil suffered loss. Abandoning the endless bliss, they threw themselves down into endless torment." One of our superiors saw the devil sitting idly, not trying to deceive people, and asked him why. The devil answered. "The evil savants of today who pass for men of the din help me so much that there is no need for me to do this important job." As a matter of fact, the recent slackness in doing the commands of the Shariat and men's turning away from the din are all because of the words said and articles written by false religious men and because of these men's ill will. [There are three kinds of religious men: Owners of wisdom, owners of 'ilm (knowledge), owners of din (faith). Any man of din (religion) who possesses these three attributes is called a savant of din. If one of his attributes is lacking, his word is not dependable. To be an owner of knowledge, it is necessary to be specialized in religious and scientific knowledge.]
Those savants of din who have not allowed their hearts to be seized by the world and who are not ambitious about gaining property, rank, fame or coming to the fore, are men of the Hereafter. They are the inheritors, the representatives of Prophets "alaihimussalam". They are the best of people. On the day of Last Judgement, their ink will be weighed with the blood of martyrs, who gave their lives for the sake of Allahu ta'ala, and the ink will weigh heavier. These are the people who are praised in the hadith, "Savants' sleep is worship." These are the people who understand the beauty of infinite blessings in the next world, who see the ugliness, the evil of the world, and who know that the next world is eternal but the world is transient and exhaustible. For this reason, not looking at the things that are not staying but changing and perishing, they hold fast to what is permanent, to the beauties which do not deteriorate or perish. Understanding the greatness of the next world is possible by seeing the infinite greatness of Allahu ta'ala. And he who understands the greatness of the next world does not care for the world. For, this world and the next world are polar opposites. If you please one of them, the other will become hurt. He who esteems the world offends the next world. And he who dislikes the world has esteemed the next world. It is impossible to esteem or abhor both of them. Two opposite things cannot be put at the same place together. [Fire and water cannot be kept together in the same place.]
Some great men of tasawwuf, after forgetting about themselves and the world altogether, pretend to be worldly men for many reasons and benefits. They are thought of as loving and demanding the world. However, there is no worldly love or desire in them. As it is purported in Nur sura, "Their trading, buying and selling do not ever prevent them from remembering Allahu ta'ala." They seem to be attached to the world, but they have no such attachment. Khwaja Bahaaddin-i Naqshiband Bukhari "quddisa sirruh" says, "At the bazzar of Mina in Mecca, a young merchant was purchasing some goods which were worth about fifty thousand gold coins. At the same time, his heart did not forget about Allahu ta'ala even for a moment."