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Are you a true winner?

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With Ramadan swiftly approaching, our hearts are inclined towards deepening our understanding of our faith and its teachings. Whether you are studying the fiqh of fasting, delving into the depths of the tafsir of the Qur’an or engaging with hadiths, let us remind ourselves of the profound importance of intention and the diverse motivations that drive seekers of knowledge.

Imam Ghazali delineates three distinct classes of individuals who seek knowledge in his timeless work, “The Beginning of Guidance”, each with their own intentions and outcomes.

Take a moment to reflect, which category do you find yourself in?

The first class comprises those noble souls who pursue knowledge solely for the sake of Allah, seeking to adorn their hearts with the light of wisdom and righteousness. Their aim is none other than the pleasure of Allah Most High and the rewards of the Hereafter. They are the true winners, blessed with sincerity and steadfastness in their quest for divine wisdom.

In contrast, the second class consists of individuals whose pursuit of knowledge is tainted by worldly aspirations. They seek knowledge to elevate their status, amass wealth, or gain recognition in society. Despite their awareness of their misguided intentions, they remain ensnared by the allure of worldly desires. Yet, there remains hope for repentance and redemption for those who sincerely turn back to Allah, seeking forgiveness and striving to rectify their intentions. “For truly, one who repents from a sin is like one who has no sin” (Ibn Maja).

The third class, however, represents a perilous path of spiritual ruin. These individuals, consumed by greed and vanity, exploit their knowledge for personal gain and self-aggrandisement. Their actions serve only to lead others astray, as they succumb to the temptations of the world, despite adorning themselves with the semblance of piety. Their hearts are veiled from the truth, and their fate is one of utter loss, devoid of hope for salvation. 

Imam Ghazali's words serve as a stark reminder of the importance of purifying our intentions and seeking knowledge with sincerity and humility. As we immerse ourselves in deepening our connection with the teachings of our faith, let us strive to emulate the virtues of the first class of seekers – those whose hearts are firmly set on the Hereafter and whose actions are guided by a sincere devotion to Allah. Let us not be swayed by the allure of worldly gains or fall prey to the pitfalls of ego and arrogance.

Ramadan presents us with a unique opportunity to seek knowledge that elevates our souls and draws us closer to our Creator. Let us seize this blessed month as a time for introspection, self-improvement, and spiritual renewal. May our pursuit of knowledge be a means of drawing nearer to Allah, and may He grant us the wisdom to tread the path of righteousness.

In the words of Imam Ghazali, "O seeker, be among the first class of seekers. Dare not to be of the second class, for how many a procrastinator dies before he repents and forfeits everything. Above all, beware not to allow yourself by any means to be of the third class, and end your life wretchedly, utterly bereft of hope for success or salvation." 


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