The Disease of Seeking Fame & Status - by Shaykh Muhammad al-Imaam

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An unfortunate disease that has plagued many of the Muslims today is that of seeking to obtain fame and status through the knowledge one has acquired or the desire to be put in the spotlight or in a leadership position.

The Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) gave us a stern warning against this dangerous ambition.

He, (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam), said “If anyone acquires knowledge of things by which Allaah’s good pleasure is sought, but acquires it only to get some worldly advantage, he will not experience the arf i.e. the odour of Paradise.” [Reported by Ahmad (2/338), Abu Daawood (3664), and others from Abu Hurayrah radiAllaahu ‘anhu. Authenticated by Shaykh al-Albaanee in Saheehul-Jaami (6159)]

In another narration the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) warned us by saying: “Do not learn the knowledge to amaze/stupefy by it the scholars, nor to delight against the foolish by it, nor to possess the gatherings by it. Whosoever does so, then the Fire, the fire.” [Reported by Abu Hurayrah in al-Faqeeh wal-Mutafaqqih of Khateeb al-Baghdaadee (2/88).]

And in yet another severe warning, the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said “…So the first to be summoned will be a man who learned knowledge and taught it and read the Qur’an. He will come with it and favours to him will be made known to him and he will recognise it. It will be said: What have you done by it? ‘He will say: ‘I studied the knowledge and taught it and recited for You the Qur’an. It will be said:

‘You have lied. Rather you studied the knowledge so that it would be said of you: ‘a scholar’ and you recited the Qur’an so it would be said of you: ‘a reciter.’ And that was said. Then he will be commanded and would be dragged on his face until he is thrown into the Fire… [Narrated by Muslim, an-Nasaaee (6/23-24), Ahmad (2/322) and others, from Abu Hurayrah.]

From the sayings of the salaf, it is reported that there was a young man who was from the people of knowledge who used to put himself forward, speak and behave haughtily with his knowledge in front of those older than him. This angered Sufyân [Ath-Thawrî] and he said, “The Salaf were never like this; they never used to claim leadership, or sit at the head of the gathering until they had sought this knowledge for thirty years, and you act haughty in front of those who are older than you. Get up, I never want to see you even come close to my circle.” [Al-Bayhaqi, Al-Madkhal ila Al-Sunan Al-Kubra 2:74.]

These narrations vividly illustrate the catastrophic outcome of insincerity in seeking knowledge and the dislike of seeking to be known and putting oneself forward.

Our Shaykh Muhammad al Imaam (hafidhahullaah) will delve into the issue of this disease of seeking fame and status which is of extreme importance to familiarize ourselves with so that we may safeguard ourselves from it.

We ask Allaah to unite us upon the haqq and to call to its pure teachings and save us from the differing and discord amongst ourselves.

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