So I have been MIA and have been travelling for a month and am finally back home, feeling wiser, and hoping to have found more clarity. My trip reminded me of a famous hadith (saying) of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) where he said, “Seek Knowledge even as far as China”. Sometimes books cannot teach you what observance of other cultures and countries can teach you. Though I have never been to China but I love this hadith because it humbles the Muslim and encourages him to go forth and seek knowledge no matter how far one has to go.
Muslims often feel that if they are not seeking religious knowledge then they are not true seekers. This well –known hadith, in my opinion does not drive us to only seek sacred knowledge; it in fact is asking us to broaden our horizons and to learn from what others have done. What we often miss is the lesson derived from what is learned. If we come back richer in our knowledge of determining right from wrong then this in fact becomes sacred. In essence you are seeking sacred knowledge.
Knowledge is the key that sets people apart from the masses. The more knowledge one has the more their rank in the eyes of the world and in the Divine eyes of Allah (God) are raised. However, accumulation of knowledge is not the ultimate goal, it’s the wisdom and lessons that we derive from the knowledge which is what should be attained ultimately. Seeking knowledge helps to distinguish right from wrong and allows us to think critically in order for us to determine the outcome of those who chose another path.
Allah Almighty says in the Quran (30:19) Chapter Al-Rum (The Romans) “Do they not travel in the land, and see what was the end of those before them? They were superior to them in strength, and they tilled the earth and populated it in greater numbers than these (pagans) have done, and there came to them their Messengers with clear proofs. Surely, Allâh wronged them not, but they used to wrong themselves.”
Allah gives countless parables and stories in the Quran that encourage us to go and see what others have done in other lands. It is a constant reminder for us to check ourselves and to adopt and learn the good from others. This is the true message of seeking beneficial knowledge. Remember to adopt the good and drop the bad!
The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) gave glad tidings to anyone who undertakes the task of seeking knowledge. Abu Hurayrah relates that the Prophet (pbuh) said, “For him who embarks on the path of seeking knowledge, Allah will ease for him the way to paradise.” (Related by Muslim) If no other saying (Hadith) on the importance of knowledge besides this one had ever been uttered by the Prophet, it would have been enough for Muslims. Yet the Prophet did more than that. He also stated “A learned one is as much above an (ordinary) worshiper as I am above the least of you; and he added: Allah, His angels and all those in the heavens and in the earth, even the ants in their holes and the fish in the water, call down blessings on those who instruct people in beneficial knowledge.” (Related by Tirmithi).
I feel blessed in my recent journey to have come across people that carried within them true, good knowledge. Not only do they carry true knowledge but they carry within their souls a light that illuminates their heart that manifests in everything they do. I have truly witnessed Divine illumination in those who run towards God in doing good. I am inspired! I pray to God for granting me along with those who are seeking Him a piece of that Divine Light ameen. You don’t have to go to China, you just have to go!