How Does Taqwá Lead to Knowledge From Allāh?
Shaykh Rabī‘ ibn Hādī Al-Madkhalī
Categorized under: Deviant Individuals & Groups, Seeking Knowledge, Sufism, Taqwá
What’s the meaning of His, the All-High’s, statement:
وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ ۖ وَيُعَلِّمُكُمُ اللَّهُ ۗ
And protect yourselves from [the punishment of] Allāh [by fulfilling His commands and avoiding what He has prohibited]; Allāh will increase you in knowledge. (Al-Baqarah, 282)
[Shaikh Rabīʿ ibn Hādī Al-Madkhalī, may Allāh protect him, replied:]
This means that Allāh illuminates the deep insights and perceptions of the people of taqwá,¹ and then He gives them understanding of the religion [of Islam]. “Whomever Allāh wants good for, He gives him understanding of the religion.” So it’s through taqwá that Allāh prepares a person to have good understanding and good comprehension, after which he [can] understand the meanings of the Qurʾān and the meanings of the Sunnah—of course, he refers back to the Sunnah. Allāh, Great is He and All-High, shows him and opens the way for him to take from the Sunnah and to gain understanding of it and to reflect over the Qurʾān:
أَفَلَا يَتَدَبَّرُونَ الْقُرْآنَ أَمْ عَلَىٰ قُلُوبٍ أَقْفَالُهَا
Do they not reflect over the Qurʾān, or, [as is the case], are there locks on [their] hearts [so that they are closed off from its meanings]? (Muḥammad, 24)
And whomever Allāh does not want good for, will not gain understanding [of the religion] and will not reach this [understanding that the people of taqwá reach]. This [type of person] has no taqwá of Allāh, Almighty and Majestic. So there’s a difference between those who have taqwá and the miserable, wretched ones who are arrogant and stubbornly oppose [the truth]. These [people] don’t understand [the religion] and don’t gain any benefits:
وَمَنْ لَمْ يَجْعَلِ اللَّهُ لَهُ نُورًا فَمَا لَهُ مِنْ نُورٍ
And one for whom Allāh has not provided light [from His Book and the Sunnah of His Prophet ﷺ] will not then have any light [to guide him]. (Al-Nūr, 40)
This [person of taqwá], Allāh has put light in his heart:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَآمِنُوا بِرَسُولِهِ يُؤْتِكُمْ كِفْلَيْنِ مِنْ رَحْمَتِهِ وَيَجْعَلْ لَكُمْ نُورًا تَمْشُونَ بِهِ وَيَغْفِرْ لَكُمْ ۚ
O you who have come to be upon faith [in your hearts, speech, and actions], fear Allāh duly [by fulfilling His commands and keeping away from what He has prohibited] and believe in His Messenger—He will then grant you His mercy twofold and make a light for you by which you can walk [rightly guided], and He will forgive you [your sins]. (Al-Ḥadīd, 28)
So Allāh gives the person of truth, the one who has taqwá—He gives him deep insight, perception, and understanding:
قُلْ هَٰذِهِ سَبِيلِي أَدْعُو إِلَى اللَّهِ ۚ عَلَىٰ بَصِيرَةٍ
Say: This is my way: I call to [worshipping] Allāh [alone] based on deep understanding, [certainty, and evidence]. (Yūsuf, 108)
So it becomes easy for him to understand the religion and grasp the meanings of the texts. That is, he gets that through ways that are legislated [in Islam], not by way of [direct, personal, divine] inspiration or [divine] outflow as the Sufis say, and they use this verse [from Al-Baqarah, the verse being asked about in this question] as evidence for [the existence] of divine outflows [upon creation] and there being knowledge [that people] can get from the Lawḥ Al-Maḥfūẓ [the Safeguarded Tablet]. This is rejection of Islam.
As for the [true] meaning of the [Al-Baqarah] verse, then it’s this: that Allāh shows and opens up the right way for this person [of taqwá], supports him, helps him, and opens up the right understanding for him; he [then] understands the Qurʾān, understands the Sunnah, memorizes the Qurʾān, memorizes the Sunnah. He takes the means, and Allāh puts him in the direction of the things that lead to good. So he benefits from this taqwá. It’s not as the Sufis say, that [one with taqwá] takes [knowledge directly] from the Safeguarded Tablet. Have you understood [now], O one who was asking?
Sufis drag people into error with regard to the meaning of this verse, so they [themselves] go astray and they lead others astray, so [some] people [end up] thinking that [the Sufis] have with them personal revelations, the Safeguarded Tablet, and demonic outflows [of inspired knowledge].
¹Protecting oneself from Allāh’s punishment by fulfilling His commands and avoiding what He has prohibited (Tr.)
Source: Fatawá fī Al-ʿAqīdah wa-l-Manhaj, 2.
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