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Hadrat ‘Abdullah bin Abbas [r] was the young cousin of the Noble Prophet Muhammad [s]. He is famous as being one of the most learned scholars of Islam and became known all over the land as Hibr al-Ummah, ‘The Most Learned Man of Islam’. Wherever he went people would call out, “Here comes Bahr al-Ulum, ‘The Ocean of Knowledge’,” for when he spoke it seemed that he had so much knowledge as would fill an entire ocean. People would rush to sit at his feet and learn from him about the teachings of the Holy Qur’an and the life of the beloved Prophet [s] of Allah. But how did he acquire such great knowledge. Well, here is the story that ‘Abdullah himself tells.

After the passing away of the Holy Prophet [s], I said to an Ansari friend of mine who lived in Madinah. “The Prophet [s] is not with us anymore and we have not heard everything that he has taught. But a large number of his Companions [r] are still alive. They were the ones who heard his every word and who learnt directly from him. Let us go to them and learn more about Islam.”

My friend was hesitant because of the difficulty he knew we would have to go through. At that time the Companions [r] of the Holy Prophet [s] had spread all over the vast lands of Islam and were living in cities and towns that were hundreds of kilometers apart. I too knew that it would require long, difficult journeys from one city to the next to meet all the Companions [r] and learn from them, but I was not discouraged. I set out at once and over the years of travelling that passed I met every person who was supposed to have heard something from the Prophet [s].

Sometimes, it so happened that when I arrived at the house of a Companion [r] of the Prophet [s] I found him asleep. So I spread my shawl at the gate and sat waiting. Often I would wait for such a long time that my face and body would get covered with dust, but I kept sitting till they awoke. Some of the Companions [r] would say to me, “But ‘Abdullah, you are the beloved cousin of the Prophet [s]! You could have sent for us! Why did you take the trouble of travelling for so many days.”

I said to them, “I must come to you, for I am a student and you are my teachers.”

Then some of them would ask me how long I had been waiting at their doorstep and I would reply that I had been sitting there for a very long time.

They would say, “What a pity! You could have awakened us from our sleep,” but I would reply again, saying, “I do not like to disturb you for my own sake. A student should not cause his teacher any inconvenience.”

And so I continued travelling all over, from one city to the next and from one teacher to the next, till a time came when people began to flock to me to learn about Islam and the life of the Noble Prophet Muhammad [s].

My Ansari friend realised at the end that he had made a terrible mistake by not joining me. He would say, “‘Abdullah has surely proved himself to be much wiser than me.”

And so ‘Abdullah [r] spent his entire life teaching Islam to all the people of the world for Allah had given him great knowledge. But this was so because of his patience and perseverance and especially his great respect for his many teachers. Allah gives the knowledge of Islam only to those who are willing to sacrifice everything else for it and are especially respectful to their teachers.

The knowledge of Islam is a guiding light and pride and disrespect are evil darknesses. And where there is darkness there can never be light.





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