The Necessity of Adab

Part 1

The main idea of this khutbah is to set the scene and the context of how knowledge is sought through the example that we learn from the Umm al-Hadith, Hadith Jibreel, that was narrated by Umar Ibn Al-Khattab (RA). This is the Hadith we will use to embark on the journey of discovery to uncover the truth of what is this Deen we call al-Islam. The Hadith is divided into two parts, the scene/ context part and the questions part.

The scene is full of lessons to be learned. Every single element of the Hadith is instructive, i.e., every part of it tells us what we need on the journey to discovery of what is Deen.

Many different hadiths/ ayat relate to the adab of seeking knowledge.

I - Seeking Knowledge
  • Knowledge is often associated with factual and informational knowledge- but that is nothing compared to the actual knowledge that needs to be sought;
  • Knowledge being sought is knowledge of the Ultimate Truth that benefits the seeker in the Hereafter;
II - Scene/ Context of Hadith
  • The scene or context of Hadith Jibreel produced a multitude of essential elements that must be embodied on the journey of seeking truth to discover what is our Deen;
  • The most important element is having adab- proper decorum, etiquette, internally and externally;
    • This adab has more to do with the beautification of the heart, soul and mind rather than just in being coy; Adab is defined as:
    • Being Excellent
    • Pursuing things in the best possible way
    • Beautifying the Soul
    • Beautifying the Heart
    • Ridding the Intellect from all the impediments to learning.
  • Knowledge through a Prophetic compass is enveloped in adab;
    • The Prophet (saws) underwent 40 years of development of his adab before bearing the knowledge of the Message of Allah (swt).
    • This preparation of someone intrinsically before they receive knowledge assures the purity of the vessel into which knowledge will be poured
    • It is within the context of the Prophet’s (saw) excellent Adab that Revelation came.
    • The Prophet (saw) himself says, “ It is my Lord Who is the One who gave me my Adab” meaning my decorum, my etiquette, my character traits. He is the One Who fashioned me, and He was Most Excellent in my development.
    • Initial scene of the Hadith produced an entire genre of adab that has to do with the proper etiquettes and decorum of how one seeks knowledge; how interactions between scholar and student should be about which many volumes have been written
    • This leads to how we think about our masajid, schools, and organizations and how our interactions with them needs to be from a point of adab
III - Types of Adab
  1. Adab of Humility
    • Scene of companions sitting on floor in presence of Prophet (saws) How stranger approaches and sits with Prophet (saws)How questions were asked and answered.
    • How quietly and humbly the companions witnessed the interaction
    • How the companions did not ask about the identity or purpose of the Stranger’s visit
    • We are reminded of the scene of how Prophet Musa (AS) sought knowledge from Al-Khidr at the junction of the two seas using utmost humility in his request of knowledge:
      قَالَ لَهُ ۥ مُوسَىٰ هَلۡ أَتَّبِعُكَ عَلَىٰٓ أَن تُعَلِّمَنِ مِمَّا عُلِّمۡتَ رُشۡدً۬ا..(May I follow you, to the end that thou may teach me right conduct of that which you have been taught?)
    • Prophet (saws) said that if a person humbles themselves to Allah (and he motioned with his hands down low), then Allah (swt) in His infinite grace will raise the person (and he motioned with his hands up high)
    • Umar (RA) would say: Learn your knowledge and for that you need to learn tranquility and forbearance, while having humility with those you are learning from.
    • The greatest impediment to knowledge is arrogance
    • Our collective knowledge in comparison to the knowledge of Almighty Allah (swt) is the like of a drop of water that was pecked from the beak of a bird from the ocean in comparison to the entire ocean. This example was given by Al-Khidr to Prophet Musa (AS) as he sought knowledge from Al- Khidr.
  2. The Adab of Questioning
    • One of the profound traits of Hadith Jibreel (AS) is the questioning Ibn Abbas (RA) said that he has been blessed with a tongue that questions and a reflective heart and mind.
    • Scholars said that half of knowledge is asking proper questions
    • Often times, it is not about having all the answers, but rather about knowing how to ask the right questions;
    • Questioner always positions themselves at the bottom of the mountain of flowing waters of knowledge to attain the most benefit
    • Remedy to illness of body, mind or heart is asking questions
    • The ability to ask questions is the gateway to knowing
  3. Ask Only Relevant Questions
    • Feeding your curiosity is not beneficial
    • Questions that are answered are beneficial ones
    • Despite the oddity of the incident of Hadith Jibreel from the optics of the situation, no one from the Companions asked about clarifying the situation as this was non-beneficial following the sunnah of: من حسن إسلام المرء ترك ما لا يعنيه - from the perfection of a person’s Islamic trait is to keep away from that which doesn’t benefit him
    • Questions that should be asked are those that lead to actions of the heart and actions of the limbs. Only those that benefit the heart or external state will lead to goodness in the Akhirah (hereafter).
  4. Dealing with the Stranger
    • The way that the Prophet and the Companions dealt with the “Stranger” who came was with utter respect, care and tenderness despite the scene of the Stranger’s knees being pushed against the Prophet (saws’) knees; and having his hands placed on the Prophet’s thighs
    • Stranger was not made to feel as an outsider
    • This is a lesson in how we as a community deal with and treat outsiders
    • That the gatherings we have are those of mercy and beauty, not ones of gossip or self affirmation
  5. Concept of Communal Learning
    • Following the teachings of the Quran: ...وَٱعۡتَصِمُواْ بِحَبۡلِ ٱللَّهِ جَمِيعً۬ا وَلَا تَفَرَّقُواْ‌ۚ... And hold fast, all of you together, to the cable of Allah, and do not separate.
    • When we pray or make duaa’ to always speak in the communal/ collective sense- as evident in the ayat of surat Al-Fatiha
    • Remedy for the fitna we go through:
      وَٱصۡبِرۡ نَفۡسَكَ مَعَ ٱلَّذِينَ يَدۡعُونَ رَبَّہُم بِٱلۡغَدَوٰةِ وَٱلۡعَشِىِّ يُرِيدُونَ وَجۡهَهُ ۥ‌ۖ وَلَا تَعۡدُ عَيۡنَاكَ عَنۡہُمۡ تُرِيدُ زِينَةَ ٱلۡحَيَوٰةِ ٱلدُّنۡيَا‌ۖ وَلَا تُطِعۡ مَنۡ أَغۡفَلۡنَا قَلۡبَهُ ۥ عَن ذِكۡرِنَا وَٱتَّبَعَ هَوَٮٰهُ وَكَانَ أَمۡرُهُ ۥ فُرُطً۬ا-
      And keep yourself patient [by being] with those who call upon their Lord in the morning and the evening, seeking His countenance. And let not your eyes pass beyond them, desiring adornments of the worldly life, and do not obey one whose heart We have made heedless of Our remembrance and who follows his desire and whose affair is ever [in] neglect.
    • While learning from electronic tools may be valuable, a person must always seek gatherings of knowledge.
    • Gatherings of knowledge are surrounded by angels that come down to attend them
    • Only metric for attending the gatherings of knowledge is that when there are any, people need to attend them to highlight their significance
  6. How we come to knowledge gatherings
    • From this point, the scholars extrapolated: الله جميل يحب الجمال - Allah is Beautiful and loves beauty.
    • When we come to Houses of Allah (swt) to attend and seek knowledge, we need to come in a clean and pleasant state outwardly and inwardly
    • We need to ensure the beauty of our spaces, especially the Houses of Allah (swt)
  • Re-Read the Hadith Jibreel and try to identify 8 types of Adab modeled in that scene.