Accounts of the predecessors travelling in search of knowledge

Dear Islamic brothers! The precious treasure of knowledge did not reach us without effort. Rather, our pious predecessors رَحِمَهُمُ الـلّٰـه undertook many struggles, faced many problems and withstood many difficulties in order to gather this knowledge and transmit it to us. They left their hometowns and families, and they travelled far and wide by foot and by horseback for many days and months.

Allāh Almighty has encouraged us to travel for the sake of seeking knowledge in the Qurān; He Almighty states:

فَلَوْ لَا نَفَرَ مِنْ كُلِّ فِرْقَةٍ مِّنْهُمْ طَآىٕفَةٌ لِّیَتَفَقَّهُوْا فِی الدِّیْنِ وَ لِیُنْذِرُوْا قَوْمَهُمْ اِذَا رَجَعُوْۤا اِلَیْهِمْ لَعَلَّهُمْ یَحْذَرُوْنَ۠(۱۲۲)

So, why should it not be that a group from each community goes out, that they may gain the understanding of religion, and upon returning, warn their people in the hope that they may refrain (what is necessary to be refrained)?

[Kanz-ul-Īmān (translation of the Qur’ān)] (Part 11, Sūrahal-Tawbah, Verse 122)

It is stated in Tafsīr Kabīr under this verse: Beneficial knowledge can only be acquired through travelling. (Tafsīr Kabīr, vol. 6, p. 171 under this Verse)

It is stated in Tafsīr Rūh-ul-Bayān: A person cannot attain mastery in knowledge as long he does not travel in order to acquire it. (Tafsīr Rūh-ul-Bayān, Sūrahal-Tawbah, Verse 122, vol. 3, p. 537)

Sayyiduna Abū Dardā رَضِیَ اللہُ تَعَالٰی عَنْہُ  has narrated that the Beloved Prophet صَلَّی اللہُ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ وَاٰلِہٖ وَسَلَّم  said: The one who travels on a path in order to seek knowledge, Allāh Almighty will make the path to Paradise easy for him. (Tirmidhī, vol. 4, p. 294, Hadīth 2655)

Sayyiduna Safwān Ibn‘Assāl رَضِیَ اللہُ تَعَالٰی عَنْہُ  narrates that the Beloved Prophet صَلَّی اللہُ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ وَاٰلِہٖ وَسَلَّم  has stated: The one who leaves his home in search of knowledge, the angels spread out their wings for his contentment. (Jāmi’ Bayān al-‘Ilm wa Fadlih, p. 51, Hadīth 149)

Besides this, there are many blessed Hadīths that mention the virtues and importance of travelling for the sake of seeking knowledge. Despite the many difficulties of travelling and even in the face of poverty, our pious predecessors رَحِمَهُمُ الـلّٰـه still undertook long journeys in the pursuit of knowledge and continued to gather a great wealth of knowledge and understanding.

Dear Islamic brothers! We will mention some great personalities who had made travelling for the sake of seeking and spreading knowledge a part of their life.

   *A Companion of the Beloved Messenger, Sayyiduna Jābir Ibn‘Abdullāh رَضِیَ اللہُ تَعَالٰی عَنْہُ  travelled from Madīnah Munawwarah to Egypt in order to listen to one Hadīth. This journey was at a distance of one month’s travel; when he arrived there, he heard this Hadīth from Sayyidunaa ‘Abdullāh Ibn Unays Ansārī رَضِیَ اللہُ تَعَالٰی عَنْہُ . (Ithāf al-Sādah al-Muttaqīn, vol. 7, p. 425)

   *A Companion of the Beloved Prophet, Sayyiduna Abū Ayyūb Ansārī رَضِیَ اللہُ تَعَالٰی عَنْہُ  travelled to Egypt so that he could listen to a Hadīth from Sayyiduna ‘Uqbah Ibn‘Āmir رَضِیَ اللہُ تَعَالٰی عَنْہُ . (Tā’rīkh Ibn‘Asākir, vol. 58, p. 55)

   *A great Tabi’ī, Sayyiduna Sa’īd Ibn Musayyab رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَلَيْه states: I would travel for many days in order to hear one Hadīth. (Ihyā al-‘Ulūm, vol. 2, p. 306)

   *After acquiring foundational knowledge, Imām e A’zam Abū Hanīfah رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَلَيْه would attend the circles of the jurist of his time, Sayyiduna Hammād رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَلَيْه where he acquired knowledge of Jurisprudence, Hadīth and Quranic exegesis. He رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَلَيْه also undertook many journeys to Makkah Mukarramah, Madīnah Munawwarah and Basrah in search of knowledge, and stayed for a great deal of time in Haramayn Sharīfayn زادھمَا الـلّٰـه شرفاً وَّ تعظیماً. (Muhaddithīn ‘Izām Hayāt-o-Khidmāt, p. 52, summarised)

   *After acquiring foundational knowledge, Sayyiduna Imām Ahmad Ibn Hanbal رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَلَيْه devoted himself to the science of Hadīth and travelled for the first time at the age of fifteen to Baghdad in 179AH in order to listen to Hadīth (Hilyah al-Awliyā, vol. 9, p. 173; Tazkirah Muhaddithīn, p. 119). He رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَلَيْه bore the difficulties of travel and continued to seek knowledge; despite this, his thirst for seeking knowledge remained with him for his entire life, to such an extent that even when he became famous and well-known, he continued to frequent the courts of the senior scholars as a student of knowledge (Muhaddithīn ‘Izhām Hayāt-o-Khidmāt, p. 290, summarised). He رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَلَيْه spent his initial three years studying with Imām Abū Yūsuf رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَلَيْه and then, spurred by his great passion for acquiring knowledge, travelled to Kūfah (Kufa), Basrah, Shām (Syria), Yemen and the Haramayn Sharīfayn (two blessed sanctuaries) زادھمَا الـلّٰـه شرفاً وَّ تعظیماً. Imām Ahmad Ibn Hanbal رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَلَيْه also undertook a journey by sea for the purpose of seeking knowledge. Sayyiduna Ya’qūb Ibn Is-hāq رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَلَيْه states: My father and Imām Ahmad Ibn Hanbal undertook a journey by sea in the pursuit of knowledge. During the journey, their ship was damaged so they stopped at an island. His son, ‘Abdullāh Ibn Ahmad رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَلَيْه says: My father travelled by foot to Tartūs. (Muhaddithīn ‘Izhām Hayāt-o-Khidmāt, pp. 289-290, summarised)

   *Imām Ahmad Ibn Hanbal رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَلَيْه states: During the time of ‘Abdullāh Ibn Mubārak, I did not come across anyone who sought knowledge more than him (Tazkirah al-Huffāzh, vol. 1, p. 202). ‘Abdullāh Ibn Mubārak رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَلَيْه travelled to Yemen, Hijāz, Egypt, Shām (Syria), Kūfah and Basrah, etc. (Ibid, p. 270)

   *Imām Abū Dāwūd Tayālisī رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَلَيْه was born in Basrah, which itself was a great centre of learning, and in order to gain more knowledge, he travelled to Baghdad, Isfahan and other great centres of learning. He رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَلَيْه states: I have written Hadīths from one thousand Shaykhs. (Derived from Muhaddithīn, ‘Izhām Hayāt-o-Khidmāt, p. 240; Tahzīb al-Tahzīb, vol. 3, p. 471)

   *After attaining his initial studies, Sayyiduna Yahyā Ibn Ma’īn رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَلَيْه spent 1.05 million Dirhams of his father’s inheritance in the pursuit of the science of Hadīth. He رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَلَيْه did not suffice in seeking knowledge by just remaining in Baghdad; rather, he travelled to ‘Irāq, Hijāz (Hejaz), Shām (Syria), Egypt and Yemen, etc. (Derived from Muhaddithīn Hayāt-o-Khidmāt, p. 262; Tahzīb al-Tahzīb, vol. 9, p. 298)

To be continued in next months issue…

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