Thursday, September 17, 2009

Wasted knowledge and rhyming prayers

Ibn ‘Abbâs – Allâh be pleased with him – said, “Address the people once a week, and if you must do so more often, then twice; and if you have to do even more, then three times; and do not make people tired or bored with the Quran. Let me not find you coming to the people to exhort them and tell them stories while they are speaking amongst themselves, thus interrupting their conversation and tiring them. Instead, listen, and when they tell you, address them when they desire to listen to your speech. And beware of making your supplications rhyme, stay away from this, for I found Allâh’s Messenger – peace and praise of Allâh be upon him – and his Companions doing nothing but [staying away from this].”

Al-Bukhârî, Al-Sahîh ‘What is hated about making supplications rhyme.’


In this narration, the illustrious Companion ‘Abdullâh b. ‘Abbâs gives some guidelines about being wise and aware of people’s condition when teaching them and calling them to Allâh. He advised that a person should not address the people and give talks to them too often, lest they become bored or fed up of hearing the Quran. This consideration is taken from the Sunnah of the Prophet – Allâh’s praise and peace be upon him – as related by Ibn Mas’ûd.

This tradition also expresses the dislike of trying to disseminate knowledge in a way that might be detrimental to its purpose. We are discouraged from spreading knowledge to those who do not desire it or those who are not enthusiastic to receive it and interrupting people while they are speaking. We are encouraged to teach knowledge to those who express their desire for it, because all this means it is more likely that the recipient will benefit from this knowledge.

The narration also warns against the practice of trying to make du’â (supplication) rhyme. This is because occupying oneself with putting together rhyming prayers conflicts with the state of being humble and imploring Allâh, which is how a person should be when supplicating. There is no contradiction between this disliked behavior and the fact that some of the Prophetic supplications and statements rhyme, because the Prophet never used to have to try and make them rhyme, but was effortlessly eloquent and at the same time fully humbled in front of Allâh.

Adapted from Ibn Hajr, Fath Al-Bârî.

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