The Muslim and His Own Self

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The Muslim should be proficient in his speciality

Besides this, the Muslim turns to his own speciality and gives it all of his energy and pays a great deal of attention to it. He approaches it like a Muslim who believes that it is a religious obligation to work in his field of specialization, whether it is in Shariah or in another area of religious knowledge, or in another field such as mathematics, physics, chemistry, engineering, astronomy, medicine, industry, commerce, etc. Therefore he should become proficient in whatever field he has specialized in, and should spare no effort to read whatever has been written about it, both in his own language and in others if he is able to. He should keep abreast of developments in his field through continual reading and study of all its aspects. This is because, in these times, the smart Muslim is the one who achieves great academic success, which will raise his status in the eyes of other people. This in turn will enhance his da'wah, so long as he presents it sincerely and earnestly, and in accordance with the spirit of Islam and its teachings about knowledge.

Islam has made knowledge a duty, whereby the one who seeks it draws closer to Allah and adopts it as a means of earning His pleasure. So we see that the scholars of the early generation used to emphasize these sublime principles in their introductions to their books, because through the knowledge that they spent their lives spreading, they were seeking to earn the pleasure of Allah, and they presented the results of their study purely for His sake.

The Muslim exposes himself to information about other fields

The smart Muslim does not restrict himself to his own field, but is open to learning about other areas too. So he reads books and academic, literary and cultural journals about various useful branches of knowledge, especially those that are related to his own field. In this way, he gains a little knowledge about many things, which enriches his mind and broadens his horizons.

The Muslim is proficient in a foreign language

He does not forget to pay attention to foreign languages, because these days, learning a foreign language is one of the most important tasks required of the active Muslim who understands the demands of contemporary Islamic life.

His religion gives the attentive Muslim a great incentive to learn foreign languages. Fifteen centuries ago, the Prophet (s) encouraged the study of foreign languages so that the Muslims would always be able to communicate with various nations and races, and convey to them the message of truth that Allah has entrusted to them to proclaim throughout the world. We see evidence of this in the hadith narrated by Zayd ibn Thabit (r), in which he says that the Prophet (s) told him:

´'O Zayd, learn the writing of the Jews, for by Allah I do not trust the Jews to write anything down for me.' (Zayd) said: So I learnt it, and it only took me a month to become proficient in it. Then I used to take down whatever letters the Prophet (s) wanted to send to them, and I would read for him the letters that they sent him.'

In another report he said: ´The Messenger of Allah (s) asked me, 'Do you know Syriac" I have received a letter in this language.' I said, 'No.' He said, 'Then learn it.' So I learnt it.' 9

Note: 9. Reported by al-Tirmidhi, who said it is a hasan sahih hadith.

Similarly, Ibn al-Zubayr (r) was proficient in a number of languages, but learning them did not distract him from his religion or preparing for the Hereafter. He had a hundred (male) slaves, each of whom spoke a different language, and he used to speak to each slave in his own language. If you were to see this man when he was dealing with worldly affairs, you would think that he was a man who did not give a second's thought to the Hereafter, and if you saw him dealing with religious matters, you would think that he was a man who did not give a second's thought to this world.10

Note: 10. Reported by al-Hakim in al-Mustadrak 3/549, and Ibn Na'im in al-hilyahh, 1/334.

Nowadays, more than ever before, the Muslim needs to be proficient in foreign languages so that he may know what is going on around him, both positive and negative, and so that he may understand what has been written about his Ummah and its heritage in languages other than his own, and thus be able to defend his Ummah from evil and speak up for its well-being.

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