11 — FIRST VOLUME, 33rd LETTER
This letter, written to Molla Hadji Muhammad Lâhôrî, describes the harm of the wicked men of knowledge who love the world and who barter knowledge for the world, and praises 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. Although such men of knowledge are useful to people, they are not useful to themselves. The honour of strengthening the religion and spreading Islam belongs to them, yet sometimes a disbeliever or a fâsiq also does this job. As a matter of fact, the Master of Prophets ‘’alaihi wa ’alâ âlihissalawâtu wa-t-teslîmât’ indicated that evil people also will strengthen Islam, saying, “Allâhu ta’âlâ certainly strengthens this religion through fâjir people, 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 Judgment 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 stated in a hadîth: “On the day of Judgment, the person who will be tormented most is the savant whom Allâhu ta’âlâ did not enable to benefit from his own knowledge.” Certainly, knowledge, which Allâhu ta’âlâ esteems and which is honoured above all, will be harmful to those who make it a means for seizing property and position, for coming to the fore. In fact, being fond of the world is something which Allâhu ta’âlâ does not like at all. Therefore, it is a very loathsome deed to spend knowledge, which Allâhu ta’âlâ esteems, in a way which He resents. It means to abhor what He esteems and to esteem and promote what He resents. To be more clear, it means to stand against Allâhu ta’âlâ. Giving lectures, preaching, issuing religious articles, books and magazines are useful only when they are for Allah’s grace, not for gaining a rank, property and fame. And the symptom of such a pious and pure thought is not to be fond of the world. Those men of religion who have incurred this bane and who are fond of the world, are in fact worldly men. They are evil savants; they are the basest of people; they are the thieves of faith and îmân. However, they think of themselves and represent themselves as men of religion, as men of the next world, and as the best of people. Müjâdala Sûra purports about them: “They think of themselves as Muslims. They are liars. The devil has seized them. They do not remember Allâhu ta’âlâ, nor do they mention His Name. They have adapted themselves to the devil and have become devils. You should know 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 religion help me so much that there is no need for me to do this important job.” As a matter of fact, the recent slacknesses in performing the commandments of Islam and men’s turning away from Islam are all because of the statements made 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 religion. Any man of religion who possesses these three attributes is called a savant of religion. 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.]
Savants of religion 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 ‘’alaihimussalâm’. They are the best of people. On the day of Last Judgment, their ink will be weighed against the blood of martyrs, who gave their lives for the sake of Allâhu ta’âlâ, and the ink will weigh heavier. They are the people who are praised in the hadîth, “Savants’ sleep is worship.” They 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 turning away from 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 Allâhu ta’âlâ. 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 one 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. An âyat-i-kerîma which purports: “Their trading, buying and selling do not ever prevent them from remembering Allâhu ta’âlâ,” in the Nûr Sûra, means these people. They seem to be attached to the world, but they have no such attachment. Khwâja Bahâeddin-i Naqshiband Bukhârî ‘quddisa sirruh’ says: “At the bazzar of Minâ in Mekka, 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 Allâhu ta’âlâ even for a moment.”