The Book of Excellence of Knowledge
From: Usul al-Kafi, Traditions 28 to 156
The duty and obligation of attainment of knowledge
28 Prophet Muhammad (p): Attaining knowledge is the duty of every Muslim. Lo! God loves those who have a yearning for knowledge.
29 Imam Jafar as-Sadiq (p): Acquiring knowledge is obligatory.
30 Imam Musa al-Kazim (p) was asked: Is it permissible for men to avoid seeking (religious) knowledge that they need?
The Imam (p): No.
31 Imam Ali (p): O you people, you must know that perfection in learning the real values of religion, lies in seeking knowledge and acting according to it. Beware that acquiring knowledge is much more essential for you than seeking wealth. Wealth, the means of your sustenance in this physical life, is earmarked and guaranteed for you by the One who is Just (God), and it is bound to reach you. But, seek knowledge from those who possess it.
32 Imam Jafar as-Sadiq (p) quoted the Prophet Muhammad (p): Seeking knowledge is essential.
According to another tradition, Imam Jafar as-Sadiq (p) quoted the Prophet Muhammad (p): Acquiring knowledge is incumbent upon each and every Muslim. Beware; God loves those who strive to acquire it.
33 Imam Jafar as-Sadiq (p): Learn religious jurisprudence. Any one among you who does not become proficient in religious jurisprudence is an ignorant. God said: “Why do not certain people from each group of believers go forth, that they may acquire knowledge of religion and guide their group when they return, so that they will have fear of Allah” (Q, 9:122).
34 Imam Jafar as-Sadiq (p): It is incumbent upon you to learn the jurisprudence of the religion of God. You should not be like the Bedouin Arabs. On the Day of Judgment God will not even look at the person who does not acquire the knowledge of jurisprudence of the religion, nor will He sanctify his deeds.
35 Imam Jafar as-Sadiq (p): in order to stress the absolute necessity of acquiring knowledge stated: I would rather like my companions to be flogged, so that they may acquire religious knowledge.
Excellence of knowledge and eminence of scholars
36 Imam Musa al-Kazim (p): Once while entering a mosque, Prophet Muhammad (p) saw a person surrounded by a huge crowd.
Prophet Muhammad (p): Who is this person?
The Prophet (p) was told: This person is an ‘Allamah’ (a scholar).
The Prophet (p): What is that?
The Prophet (p) was told: He is an expert in genealogy, chronology and the historical events of the pre-Islamic era and poetry of Arabs.
The Prophet (p): Not possessing this kind of knowledge will not discredit anyone and will not be profitable to anyone who possesses it. True knowledge is of three kinds:
1. Knowledge of the fundamental verses (of the Noble Quran),
2. Knowledge of the requirements of equity and moderation, and
3. Knowledge of the Islamic code (as-Sunnah). The rest is additional excellence.
37 Imam Jafar as-Sadiq (p): When God wants to favour any of His servant, He bestows upon him the knowledge of religious jurisprudence.
38 Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (p): Excellence, nay super-excellence, lies in the knowledge of religious jurisprudence, patience in adversity and regulation of expenses.
39 Imam Jafar as-Sadiq (p): Learned men are the custodians (of religious knowledge), the pious ones are the fortresses (who safeguard against invasions) and the vicegerents (of the prophets) are the leaders (of the believers).
40 Imam Jafar as-Sadiq (p) addressing Basheer, a believer: O Basheer, remember that those of our community who does not attain the knowledge of religious jurisprudence, will not gain any merit. Because, the one who has no knowledge of religious jurisprudence, will have to depend on others (in this field) and the one who depends on others, will be led by them through the gates of ignorance, and the members of our community will remain unaware of this misguidance.
41 Prophet Muhammad (p): There is no good in life except for two categories of people; the scholar who is obeyed and the listener who listens attentively.
42 Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (p): A learned person who avails himself of his knowledge is far better than seventy thousand worshippers of God.
43 Imam Jafar as-Sadiq (p) was asked to describe a person who had made it a habit to quote the traditions, exhortations and sayings of the Imams (p) to people, and instill this in their hearts, and the hearts of the followers of the Imams (p), and other devoted worshippers of God who do not follow this example.
The Imam (p): The narrator who makes an impact on the people is better than a thousand devotees.
Categories of people
44 Imam Ali (p): After the demise of Prophet Muhammad (p), people chose three types of persons as their religious leaders and guides. First, the scholar who is divinely guided, and is not dependent upon another person’s knowledge. Second, an ignorant person who claims to be knowledgeable and is proud of what he possesses, is misled and misleads people. Third, one who obtains his knowledge from someone who is divinely guided, will obtain salvation. Whoever made a false claim of knowledge will perish.
45 Imam Jafar as-Sadiq (p): There are three kinds of people: the Scholars, the Seekers of Knowledge, and the Scum of Humanity.
46 Imam Jafar as-Sadiq (p): Be either a learned person or a student, or be in affinity with the learned people, and never join any fourth category, otherwise you will perish.
Divine rewards for the learned and the students
47 Prophet Muhammad (p): One who travels in search of knowledge, God paves his way towards Paradise, and the angels spread their wings for him to express their pleasure and appreciation. Verily, all those in heaven and on earth, even the fish in the ocean pray for his redemption. The superiority of the learned person over the (mere) worshipper, is like the brilliance of the full moon among the stars during a moonlit night.
48 Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (p): If anyone of you imparts some knowledge to someone else, his reward will be equivalent to the reward of the students (to whom he has imparted the Knowledge) and he will earn the respect of the students. Attain knowledge, therefore, from those who are the custodians of knowledge, and impart this knowledge to your brothers like the learned scholars have imparted it to you.
49 Imam Jafar as-Sadiq (p): One who encourages anyone to attain righteousness will be rewarded as if he himself had acted on it.
Elaborating this idea, the Imam (p) said, that one who has been taught by someone, in turn teaches someone else, then he and the original teacher will both be rewarded, and if the teacher dies he will continue to be rewarded for the good deeds of his disciples.
50 Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (p): Anyone who teaches a chapter (from the Noble Quran) will get a reward equivalent to that of one who acts according to that guidance, and there will be no reduction in the reward of anyone of them.
51 Imam Zainul Abideen (p): If people knew the worth of acquiring knowledge, they would have done so even at the cost of a bleeding heart, and by diving in stormy waves. Verily, God, the Glorious and the Elevated One, revealed to Prophet Daniyal (Daniel) (p): The most detestable of My servants is the ignorant one, who underrates the learned men and ceases to follow their footsteps. The most beloved among my servants is the one who wards off evil by seeking My maximum rewards, remains in contact with the learned men, follows the forbearing and accepts the advice of the sages.
52 Imam Jafar as-Sadiq (p): He who acquires knowledge and acts on it, and imparts it to others, is proclaimed in Heavens as the ‘Great One’, and it is said about him that he acquired knowledge in the way of God, acted upon it and disseminated it for the sake of God.