6 Qualities for Seeking ‘Ilm

Sheikh Uthman shared this GEM with us in class last week, in order to emphasize that seeking knowledge requires long term commitment. A fellow classmate then found the poem of Imam Shafie that contains the GEM.

Diwaan al-Shafi’ee

By the Great Imaam, Muhammad ibn Idrees al-Shafi’ee rahimahullahu ta’ala on ‘ilm from his collection of poems, entitled Diwaan al-Shafi’ee.
إن لله عبــادا فـــطنا طلقوا الدنيا وخافـوا الفتنا

نظــروا فيهـا فلما علموا أنها ليـست للـحي وطنا

جــعلوها لجــة واتخذوا صالح الأعمـال فيها سفنا

Verily to Allah belong slaves with intellect — They divorced [left off] this dunyah and were afraid of fitnah

They looked into it [i.e this world] and upon realizing — That indeed it is not an abode for the living [i.e everyone will come to die]

So they perceived it as a stormy ocean [that would bring destruction] and they took —Their good deeds as ships therein [in order to survive]


أخي لن تنال العلم إلا بستة

سأنبيك عن تفصيلها ببـيان

ذكاء وحرص واجتهاد وبلغة

وصحبة أستاذ وطول زمان

O my Brother you will never gain knowledge without [possessing] six [qualities]

I will inform you of these in detail and with clarity

1)Sharpness [of the mind] 2) eagerness [to learn]

3)Sacrifice [in terms of time etc] and 4) means [i.e wealth]

5) And the company of a teacher and 6) length of time!

The Etiquettes of Learning

اصبر على مر الجفا من معلم *** فإن رسوب العلم في نفراته

Be patient over the teacher’s strictness and harshness For the stores of knowledge are present in his harshness

ومن لم يذق ذل التعلم ساعة *** تجرع ذل الجهل طول حياته

Whoever does not taste the humility of learning, even for an hour Will drink the humility of ignorance for the rest of his life

ومن فاته التعليم وقت شبابه *** فكبر عليه أربعا لوفاته

For him who misses out on learning in his youth, Then announce four takbirs over him for his death is due

حياة الفتى – والله – بالعلم والتقى *** إذا لم يكونا لا اعتبار لذاته

By Allah, the life of a youth is by knowledge and piety If they are not present, then nothing can express his existence

– – –

إن الفقيه هو الفقيه بفعله — ليس الفقيه بنطقه و مقاله

Verily the scholar is a scholar through his actions — A scholar is not a scholar because of his speech or quotes

وكذا الرئيس هوالرئيس بخلقه — ليس الرئيس بقومه ورجاله

Similarly, the leader is a leader due to his character — A leader is not a leader because of his tribe or his men

وكذا الغني هوالغني بحاله — ليس الغني بملكه و بماله

Similarly, the wealthy man is wealthy due to his self content — The wealthy man is not wealthy due to his possessions and his wealth


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