While discussing the state of Islamic knowledge in the world currently, My Honourable Teacher; Al-‘Allamatul Muhaddith, Shaykh Muhammad ‘Awwamah (hafizahullah) mentioned a very important issue which I will paraphrase in the following paragraphs.
These are the concerns of a veteran in the field of knowledge.
The weight of these concerns should be gauged from the fact that Shaykh (hafizahullah) has spent over half a century in the field of Islamic knowledge. He has therefore physically seen the slump in the level of academics in this times.
Further, I penned these while on a previous visit to Shaykh in Istanbul, six months ago. Currently Shaykh (hafizahullah) is unwell. While on his hospital bed, he brought up this topic with me again, in a very passionate and imploring tone. This in itself illustrates the seriousness of the matter.
His plea is addressed to two segments of our society; the ‘Ulama, as well as the well-wishers and supporters of ‘Ulama.
Kindly read through the following paragraphs, and take these words to heart.
May Allah Ta’ala open the hearts of those capable to fulfill this pressing need of the Ummah. Amin.
Shaykh’s heartfelt concern:
It is essential for people of position and wealth to understand the need for continuous support for students of Islamic knowledge.
Alhamdulillah by and large, people understand the need to support other charities, like orphanages, providing basic food and water for the poor etc. This is excellent, and may there be many more such projects. Similarly, people understand the reward and great need to support students of knowledge in general whilst they are in their madrasahs and schools. However, it is also extremely crucial for people to understand what I am trying to advocate. I am referring to continuous support for talented students and ‘Ulama to be adequately prepared for the leadership of the Ummah.
Understanding the need
Firstly, to put this in proper perspective, one should understand that in the event of the non existence of a compatible, specialist ‘Alim of any field, that field will suffer.
As Muslims, it is our duty to protect every branch of Islamic knowledge (‘ilm).
We need to plan for the future.
Currently there is such a frightening vacuum in the specialised fields, what will be the case in another ten to fifteen years?
If we do not act now, the situation will become much worse.
Therefore, what I propose is two fold:
1. The current senior ‘Ulama and teachers, should keep an eye out for the smartly talented students that pass through their classrooms. These students should be given all sort of support; morally, intellectually and financially.
They should be cared for throughout their study life (which should extend years beyond the basic ‘Alim course years). Thereafter when the need for marriage arrives, further support should be provided.
His monthly needs in addition to his accommodation must also be attended to.
If he needs to purchase additional books (which is a necessity for a student of such a caliber) the finance should be provided. If the need to travel abroad to visit other Scholars, or attend seminars and conferences arises, that should also be supported.
A serious student of din who is blessed with such support, will -insha Allah- become a globally renowned, distinguished Scholar in a span of ten years.
Investing in tomorrow’s leaders
However, I am aware that all of this is not easily achievable without substantial financial backing.
That is what brings me to the second part.
2. Those who support him should consider this an investment towards actually ‘purchasing a leader for the Ummah’.
People of wealth, should pool together and formulate waqf projects that could sustain the above proposal.
The system of waqf in Islam is ancient and well documented.
For example, a property or two can be purchased, which can generate a substantial income. The waqf deed must stipulate the beneficiaries being selected people of knowledge with a specified task.
(Although waqf can be used to serve a wide array of avenues, Shaykh’s point of focus is on the topic at hand)
Waqf is designed for ongoing support. In Islamic history, there are countless examples of such projects that enabled the smooth running of institutions, and continuous support for the Scholars. It is time now to revive this to the extent of our means. This will be of immense benefit for the donor in this world and the next, as well be an extremely valuable asset for the Ummah at large, insha Allah.
Shaykh (hafizahullah) then said that the incident of ‘the soldiers of the night’ should be shared. This is just one of many inspiring such anecdotes. Read it here and take a lesson.
While on his hospital bed yesterday (5.7.19), Shaykh (hafizahullah) also cited the example of Moulana ‘Abdul Hay Laknawi (rahimahullah), who despite living a short life of barely forty years, became a globally renowned Scholar of the Muslim world. He authored over one hundred books, many of which are still coveted till this day.
Shaykh quoted from Moulana ‘Ashiq Ilahi (rahimahullah) that he once told Shaykh, do you know why ‘Allamah Laknawi (rahimahullah) is so popular even in the Arab world?
Moulana ‘Ashiq saheb (rahimahullah) then mentioned that in his childhood, his own family of a few individuals would suffice with four rupees a month. ‘Allamah Laknawi, in addition to his genius and outstanding talent, he was blessed with better financial support. When his rare brilliance was discovered by the governor of Luknow, he began to support him with a monthly amount of four thousand rupees! [This was much earlier in time than the childhood of Moulana ‘Ashiq Ilahi (rahimahullah)].
Shaykh added: ‘Allamah Laknawi (rahimahullah) was well supported and backed by the governor, which enabled him to purchase rare books and be completely free and dedicated for knowledge.
May Allah Ta’ala open our eyes to the reality of affairs and may He enable us to revive this system of support for the people of Din. Amin. The feeling I got yesterday while with him, was that after spending his entire life for Islamic knowledge, this was the biggest concern he had for those who will survive him…
May Allah Ta’ala preserve Shaykh for many many more years with complete health and ‘afiyah.
In the absence of a properly designed system of waqf, we can implement these heart felt wishes of a luminary of our era on a private sponsorship scale, until we get to the ideal of formulating a sustainable waqf system, insha Allah. With proper collaboration between the senior ‘Ulama and the supporting public, this can easily be achieved. May Allah Ta’ala open the hearts of those who are capable of attending to this pressing need of the Ummah. Amin.