Ilm and Zikr and its Importance
IN THE PRINCIPLES and activities of the movement of Tableegh, the words "zikr' (Rememberance of Allah) and 'ilm' (seeking knowledge) are appearing again and again. This was the common topic of Hazrat Maulana's (Ilyas) invitation to the Muslims. Since this is an important section of Hazrat Maulana's work of Da'wat and reformation, it needs a separate and detailed treatment.
In India, and in all over the Islamic world as well, two typical terms of zikr and ilm are widely useed; and there are two conventional (and established) methods for their learning. For zikr, there are defined methods of recitation and sets of prayers; and for ilm, there is a typical system of madrasahs where one needs to spend a number of years.
Gradually, Zikr and the getting of ilm have been restricted to these two boundaries in such a way that people have started thinking that without adopting these methods and this system, getting these things is impossible and unusual.
In Hazrat Maulana's (Ilyas) view, these two methods and systems (Madarsahs & Khanqah) are of great importance, and are the means of great blessings (Khair o Barkat) .However, this is the stage of specialization and completion from which only some selected and courageous people of the ummah can get to completion and progress and perfection. This is not the common way for the common people as a whole, and the majority of the Ummat and busy people cannot enjoy the fruits and blessings of zikr and ilm and cannot get the objectives of these in a short period of time.
The actual and the natural way of getting zikr and ilm is only that which was current in the early days of Islam. Hazrat Maulana had very deeply studied the way of living of the Muslims of the early period of Islam. Bringing their way of living and their method of getting zikr and ilm to life was his actual pain with which his heart ached.
To him, zikr was that: "Unmindfulness (Ghaflat) is haraam; but zikr is not limited to the motion of tongue or the recitation of some words. Doing works and being busy with different engagements and activities of life while keeping in view the commands about all these engagements and activities, is zikr. By doing this, the entire way of living and all the aspects of life can change into zikr; and in this connection bringing to life the attribute of iman and ihtisab is the actual and the biggest work, because, in the Muslims there is not as much shortage of practice and deeds as is of iman and ihtisab.
Merging the zikr of tongue and nafl zikr with the struggle and moving about for deen was very much needed in Hazrat Maulana's view. This was the structure of the life-style of the sah'aba Raziallahu Anhum. They always added zikr in all their struggle for spreading deen and in the work of da'wat and jihad. Hazrat Maulana maintained that this should be done now as well.
In a letter Hazrat Maulana wrote: .Zikr and du'aa are the wheels of this work, and are its soul..."
In another letter he wrote:"... Keep your privacies filled with zikr; and the time in which you are with the people, keep yourself busy in giving da'wat and calling to the Good with sincerity, keeping the greatness of Allah in mind... " .
Attainment of Ilm (Knowledge) by common maas
About ilm, Hazrat Maulana's research was that limiting the teaching and learning of the knowledge of deen to mere words and impressions of books and the boundaries of madrasahs (Islamic Religious Schools/Darul Ulooms/lslamic University) is the method of the later period, and this method is not able to reach to a major part of the Ummat with the wealth of deen. By this method, a very small part of the Ummat gets the benefits of the knowledge of deen.
All Inclusive common and natural method
The common and natural method of the teaching and learning of deen, by which millions of people can get not only the 'knowledge of deen' but 'nafs of deen' (i.e., deen itself in practical life) in a short time, and without any physical equipment and material expense, is:
(1) The meeting and mixing with and remaining in the company of the people of knowledge and practice;
(2) Joining oneself with these people in their struggle and activities; and
(3) Leaving one's environment for this purpose (i.e., migration).
As the language and civilization are at the best adopted only by meeting with and remaining in the company of civilized people and the masters of the mother-tongue, and this is the best way of their learning, similarly, the correct knowledge of deen can be had 'by constantly meeting, mixing and associating oneself with the possessors of deen; and this is the natural way of learning deen. This is because there are many sections of the knowledge and practice of deen which are beyond the grip of pen.
Deen is a living and active thing, whereas the printed words of books are the impressions and producing a living thing from a dead substance goes against the law of Nature.
A certain part of deen is related with the parts of body; this part can only be taken by the movement of the parts of body.
A certain part of deen is connected to the heart: this can be transferred only from one heart to the other.
A' certain part of deen is related with the mind; this can, no doubt, be taken from the pages of books.
Once Hazrat Maulana expressed this subject in a talk, saying: . "Every part of human body is specific to perform a particular work. The work of 'seeing' is taken from eye, and the eye is bound to do this work; one cannot take the work of 'listening' from eye.
Realising the external environment is the work of heart; and what the heart realises, the work of mind is to give it shape. Mind is subordinate to heart, whereas the realisation comes to heart through the environment. The name of the 'shaping' of mind is 'knowledge'. Mind will correctly shape, i.e. get knowledge, only when the heart's realisation is correct; and the (correct) realisation cannot be acquired by keeping the company of only the dead books it will become only with action.
I do not say that madrasahs is not useful. Madrasahs are of great importance and of very critical value but these are for the specialisation-stage of the education, and not very suitable for early-stages of the education."
In respect of knowledge and education, this speech is so well-reasoned, argumentative deep and contains such a revolutionary educational theory that the people of knowledge should have made it the topic of their serious research work, and should have made it the racecourse of their debates and discussions.
They should have remodeled the conventional system of religious education in the light of this educational theory, but, sad to say, this part of Hazrat Maulana's work has been given least attention and consideration.
(To be continued in subsequent Parts........)
(Taken from Hazrat Maulana's urdu biography 'Hazrat Maulana Muhammad Ilyas and the Revival of Da'wat, written by Maulana Syed Abul Hasan Ali Nadvi Rahmatullah Alaihi.last pages )