Salam. My friend from the Reunion Islands who gifted me a copy of the ‘Awjaz al-Masalik’ is still slowly making preparations for his journey to Tarim (Hadramawt) to further his studies. Thus far in addition to Tarim he has been fortunate enough to study in Jordan and South Africa, aswell as his native Reunion Islands. He has requested peoples prayers for the final hurdles to be negotiated with tawfiq and taysir.
In relation to his plans the following is some commentary from the Awjaz regarding the seeking of knowledge which is relevant to this brothers upcoming journey, those who find it of use are once again reminded to remember this brother in their supplications. I remember mentioning the contents of this commentary to him several years ago before he left for study in Tarim for a second time, but only now have had the opportunity to present what we briefly discussed several years ago in an organised way.
The text of the hadith in the ‘Muwatta’ of Imam Malik is as follows:
1827- He narrated to me from Malik that it reached him that Luqman al-Hakim counselled his son and said:, “My son! Sit with the learned men and keep close to them. Indeed Allah gives life to the hearts with the light of wisdom as Allah gives life to the dead earth with the abundant rain of the sky.”
The author of the ‘Awjaz al-Masalik’, Mawlana Zakariyyah al-Kandehlawi mentions in his commentary the following (17/620-623):
That Which is Related Regarding the Seeking Of Knowledge
There are numerous verses related in the Quran al-Azim, and well known narrations in the books of hadith regarding the virtue of knowledge, but the Imam did not mention anything from them but rather cited the words of Luqman the Wise. This is a subtle indication to the shortest route and easiest for seeking (knowledge). For knowledge just as it increases by sitting with the scholars, discussing and researching with them, is not attained by the perusing of books nor their study. As the virtues were well known in the Quran and Hadith the author pointed out to the shortest of routes for their attainment.
Malik that it reached him– its being connected (to the Prophet Allah bless him and give him peace) is at the end of the hadith- that Luqman al-Hakim– the well known, some of whose counsels are mentioned in the Quran al- Majid- counselled his son,-al-Suhaili said: His names is Baran…and it is said it has a ‘d’ at its beginning, and it is said his name is: Anam, and it is said: Shakur, and it is said: Babuli as in ‘al-Fath’. Al-Zarqani mentioned its like from ‘al-Fath’ and mentioned in it Bar instead of Baran, and Aslam in place of Babuli- and said:, “My son! Sit with the learned men and keep close to them.- With the imperative form in both instances…al- Baji said: He means proximity to them by sitting with them until he takes them by their hands and learns from their wisdom, and that he does not miss from their words that what he would miss when being at a distance from them, even though he may be sitting with them.
He said in ‘al-Mustakhrijah’ with a report with the wording: ‘Keep close to them’: Perhaps mercy descends upon them, and reaches you along with them. Do not sit with the evil doers (fujjar) in case that displeasure (sakhtah) descends upon them and afflicts you along with them. Al-Baji said: The sitting with the scholars if it is an act of worship (qurbah) then it will be in two ways: The first of them is one who is unable to learn knowledge, for he sits with them seeking blessings by their company, inclining towards them and out of love of them. And perhaps there occurs in there speech that which he is in need of, so his need of it makes him reflect over it and preserve it and consider it carefully until he understands it. Perhaps he asks them regarding an issue which he must know, and he takes it from them. As for the one whom is able to learn knowledge, and is blessed with help for it and desire for its study, then he sits with them to take from them and learn from their knowledge.
– Indeed Allah– Blessed and Most High- gives life to the hearts with the light of wisdom– it is the realisation of knowledge and precision in action. It is reported from Qatadah regarding His (Most High’s) words: ‘And we gave Luqman wisdom’ He said: Understanding in the religion. And al -Nawawi said: There are many opinions regading it, the most obvious of them is that it is knowledge consisting of gnosis of Allah (Most High) along with penetrating insight, refinement of the self, verification of the truth for action and avoiding (kaff) of its opposite. The wise one (Hakim) possesses these as in ‘al-Zarqani’.
Al-Hafidh said regarding His (Allah bless him and give him peace) prayer for Ibn Abbas: ‘O Allah teach him wisdom’: The commentators have differed over what is meant by it here: It is said: the Quran, it is said: acting upon it, it is said: the sunnah, it is said: being correct in view, it is said: fear, it is said: understanding of Allah, it is said: intellect, it is said: that which the intellect deems to be correct, it is said: light which differentiates between inspiration (ilham) and whispering, and it is said: promptness of reply along with correctness. Some of these views were metioned by the people of Tafsir in the explanation of os His words ‘And we gave Luqman wisdom’. Al-Baji said: his words: Allah (Most High) gives life means its being given life by faith, humility (khushu) and obedience to Allah (عز و جل)…
as Allah -Blessed and Most High – gives life to the dead earth – description of the earth- with the abundant rain of the sky.” – in the Indian editions the word sky is not present, but it is meant, as the rain is from it…
Al-Zarqani said: It (wabil) is the light rain. And in ‘al-Muhalla’: rain with large drops, al-Raghib said: Wabal and Wabil: Rain with heavy drops…
Al-Baji said: He means that the light of wisdom makes the heart full of life after it was dead because of disobedience. Just as the rain from the heavens which is plentiful, its drops bring the earth to life with vegetation and lushness after its barreness (lit.death).
Al-Zarqani said: This report (balagh) was reported by al-Tabarani in ‘al-Kabir’ from Abu Umamah who said: The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace): ‘Luqman said to his son: My son, sit with the scholars! and listen to the words of the wise. For indeed Allah (Most High) gives life to the dead heart with the light of wisdom, just as He gives life to the dead earth with the rain’. Al-Mundhiri said: al-Tirmidhi graded this chain as Hasan other than this hadith, and perhaps it is Mawquf.
And from al-Tabarani and al-Askari from Abu Juhayfah is its raised version: ‘Sit with the scholars, ask the seniors (al-Kubara) and mix with the wise’. And from Ibn Abbas it is said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, who should we sit with? or it was said: Which of our companions are best? He replied: The one who reminds you of Allah when you see him, his speech increases you in knowledge, and his action reminds you of the hereafter’.
And from Ibn Uyaynah it was said to Isa (Upon him be peace): ‘O spirit of Allah who should we sit with? He replied: The one whose speech increases you in knowledge, and seeing him reminds you of Allah, and his action encourages you towards to the next world.’ both of them were reported by al-Askari.
And in ‘al-Dur’: Abdullah narrates in his ‘Zawaid’ from Abd al-Wahab bin Bakht al-Makki said, Luqman said to his son: ‘My son, sit with the scholars, and keep close to them, for indeed Allah gives life to the dead hearts with the light of wisdom, just as he give life to the dead earth with the rain from the heavens’.