Praise be to Allaah.
The faqeeh is the mujtahid who derives shar’i rulings,
explains the principles of sharee’ah and teaches people the rulings of their
religion. The focus of his specialty is the aims and goals of sharee’ah, the
clear verses of the Qur’aan and achieving sound understanding of what Allaah
wants from His slaves.
This is something that can be done by only a few individuals,
because it requires extensive study of the texts, lengthy study and
examination of the words of the scholars, and intelligence in studying real
life situations and applying the rulings of sharee’ah to them.
As for the narrator of hadeeth, he transmits what he hears of
the Sunnah of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him),
and he delivers what he receives with honesty and sincerity. His main
concern is to convey the hadeeth as he heard it by any possible means, but
he does not concern himself with explaining the meaning of the hadeeth or
deriving shar’i rulings from it, or knowledge of what abrogates and what is
abrogated, or what is general and what is specific. Rather his role is
limited to simply transmitting and narrating.
This task requires precision and care in transmission, but it
does not require knowledge of fiqh or the basic principles (usool) of fiqh.
Imam al-A’mash (may Allaah have mercy on him) described the
work of both the faqeeh and the narrator of hadeeth in detail. He said:
“O fuqaha’, you are the doctors and we are the pharmacists.”
Naseehah Ahl al-hadeeth li’l-Khateeb al-Baghdadi
It is no secret that the roles of the doctor and pharmacist
are complementary; they cannot do without one another. Both of them are good
and their influence is important. Islam also confirms that both the faqeeh
and the hadeeth narrator are good and will be rewarded by Allaah, but the
faqeeh (the doctor) is of a higher standing, as he pays attention to
understanding and deriving rulings.
Some scholars derived this meaning from the words of the
Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him): “May Allaah bless
a man who hears a hadeeth from us and memorizes it so that he can convey it
to others, for perhaps he is conveying it to one who will understand it
better than him, and perhaps the one who conveys knowledge does not
understand it himself.” Narrated by Abu Dawood (3660).
Al-Ramahramzi (d. 360 AH) said: The Prophet (peace and
blessings of Allaah be upon him) differentiated between the one who narrates
the Sunnah and the one who understands it, and he indicated that the one who
understands it is superior, by saying “for perhaps he is conveying it to one
who will understand it better than him, and perhaps the one who conveys
knowledge does not understand it himself.” By affirming the virtue of one,
the virtue of the other is automatically affirmed. For example: Maalik ibn
Anas and ‘Ubayd-Allaah al-‘Umari, or between al-Shaafa’i and ‘Abd al-Rahmaan
ibn Mahdi, or between Abu Thawr and Ibn Abi Shaybah. Fair-mindedness leads
you to determine that both are people of knowledge and virtue; this is the
attitude of fair-minded people that is reached by those who have knowledge
of the truth. End quote.
As for the one who combines both qualities, who understands
the words of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him)
and memorizes what he brought of knowledge, and understands the meanings,
and benefits himself and others thereby, these are the best of all types of
It was narrated from Abu Moosa al-Ash’ari (may Allaah be
pleased with him) that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be
upon him) said: “The likeness of the guidance and knowledge with which
Allaah has sent me is that of rain falling upon the earth. Some of it is
good ground which receives the water and brings forth a great deal of
herbage and grass. Some of it is hard but it retains the water, and Allaah
benefits people by it, and they drink it and give it to their animals to
drink and use it for irrigation and grazing. And another part of it is
barren, it does not retain the water or produce herbage. That is the
likeness of one who gains an understanding of the religion of Allaah, and
Allaah benefits him by that with which Allaah has sent me, and he learns and
teaches others; and the likeness of a man who pays no attention to that, and
does not accept the guidance of Allaah with which I have been sent.”
Imam al-Nawawi (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:
As for the meaning of the hadeeth, it is likening the
guidance that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him)
brought to rain. It says that land is of three types, and the same is true
The first type of land benefits from the rain and comes back
to life after having been dead, and it brings forth herbage from which
people, animals and plants benefit. This is like the first type of people
whom guidance and knowledge reach: such a person memorizes it and his heart
is brought back to life; he acts upon it and teaches others, so he benefits
from it and benefits others.
The second type of land does not benefit from the rain
itself, but it does something good with it, namely holding the water for
others, so people and animals benefit from it. This is like the second type
of people; they have good memories but they do not have deep understanding
or deep insight by means of which they could derive meanings and rulings,
and they do not strive hard in worship. They memorize it and preserve it
until there comes along one who needs it and thirsts for the knowledge that
they have, a scholar who is able to benefit from it. So he takes it and
benefits others by means of that which they conveyed to him.
The third type of land is the barren land that does not
produce any herbage and the like, and does not benefit itself from the
water, and does not retain it so that others may benefit from it. This is
like the third type of people; they do not have good memories or
understanding or insight. If they hear knowledge they do not benefit from it
or preserve it so that others may benefit. End quote.
Sharh Muslim (15/47-48).
Ibn al-Qayyim (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him)
likened the knowledge and guidance that he brought to rain, because of what
each of them bring of life, benefit, nourishment, medicine and all things
that are in people’s interests. This is true of both knowledge and rain.
And he likened people’s hearts to the different types of land
on which rain may fall, because the land is the place that retains the rain,
and all kinds of beneficial plants grow, just as the heart understands
knowledge and bears fruit and manifests blessings and benefits.
Then he divided people into three categories, according to
their readiness to memorize and understand its meanings and derive rulings
People with good memories and
good understanding, who understand and comprehend the meanings, and derive
different rulings, wisdom and benefits from it. They are like the land that
absorbs the water, which is the likeness of the memory, and brings forth a
great deal of herbage and grain, which is the likeness of understanding,
knowledge and derivation of rulings. This is the likeness of the one who is
both a haafiz and a faqeeh, the people who both narrate and understand the
People who are able to memorize
and classify reports, but they are not able to understand the meanings or
derive different types of rulings and benefits from them. They are like
those who read and memorize the Qur’aan, paying attention to the letters and
pronunciation, but they are not able to develop a proper understanding of
Allaah, as ‘Ali ibn Abi Taalib said: “Except an understanding that Allaah
grants to His slave concerning His Book.” People vary greatly in their
understanding of the texts of the Qur’aan and Sunnah. Perhaps one person may
understand one or two rulings from the text, whereas another may understand
one hundred or two hundred. They are like the land that retains the water
for people so that they may benefit from it, drinking it or giving it to
others to drink or irrigating crops with it.
These two types are blessed, although the former are of
higher status. This is the bounty of Allaah which He gives as He wills, and
Allaah is the Owner of great bounty.
Those who have no share of it,
who neither memorize it nor understand it, who neither memorize nor
comprehend it. Rather they are like the land that is barren and dry, which
neither produces herbage nor retains the water.
They are the ones who are doomed. The first two categories
share the qualities of learning and teaching, each according to what it has
accepted as sound and what has reached it. One may know and memorize the
phrases of the Qur’aan, whilst another knows its meanings, rulings and
sciences, but the third category does not know or teach. They are the ones
who neither benefited from the guidance of Allaah or accepted it. They are
worse off than cattle, and they are the fuel of Hell.
This hadeeth also points to the honourable status and lofty
position of knowledge and teaching, and the wretchedness of those who have
no share of it; it mentions different categories of the sons of Adam with
regard to it – who is doomed and who is blessed; and it further divides the
blessed into those who are the foremost (in faith) and those who are among
“those on the Right Hand” (cf. al-Waaqi’ah 56:8).
This indicates that the people’s need for knowledge is like
their need for rain, or even greater. If they lose knowledge then they are
akin to the land that is lacking rain.
Imam Ahmad said: People need knowledge more than they need
food and drink, because they need food and drink once or twice a day, but
they need knowledge with every breath they take. End quote.
Miftaah Daar al-Sa’aadah
So how do you stand with regard to all this? What type of
land are you? Are you the type that will benefit itself and others, so that
you memorize and understand, act upon it and teach it to others? Or are you
one who will preserve it for others so that they may benefit, and the one
who points others towards a good deed will be like the one who does it (in
terms of reward)?
We pray that Allaah will protect you. We think that you are
far above being like the barren land which never holds any water or produces
any vegetation, never memorizing or understanding, but appointing yourself
as judge to decide between the two groups!
Look at your aims and goals; strive hard and set high goals
for yourself. Make yourself memorize and understand, and if you are not able
to do some of it, then at least be one who points others towards good deeds,
and does that which is enjoined upon him.
And Allaah knows best.