Arabic is a very important language which ought to be learnt. It is not possible to understand Sharīah in its entirety without knowing Arabic; but in case one is unable to learn this Shar’ī knowledge in entirety then this should not be a reason to abandon some form of lower category of Islamic learning (e.g. basic understanding of Islam in Urdu language) as well.
ما لا يدرك كله لا يترك كله
One who cannot attain all of it
should not abandon all of it.
The laymen masses erred in this aspect that (while they could not learn the Arabic and complete shar’ī studies) they did not even seek to learn shar’ī studies in Urdu as well. Ulamā on the other hand having learned Arabic (and other dīnī studies) erred by indulging in non beneficial studies. Allah cautions us about both these mistakes in the following verse:
وَيَتَعَلَّمُونَ مَا يَضُرُّهُمْ وَلَا يَنْفَعُهُمْ وَلَقَدْ عَلِمُوا لَمَنِ اشْتَرَاهُ مَا لَهُ فِي الْآَخِرَةِ مِنْ خَلَاقٍ وَلَبِئْسَ مَا شَرَوْا بِهِ أَنْفُسَهُمْ لَوْ كَانُوا يَعْلَمُونَ )البقرة/102(
… And they learn that which harms them and profits them not. And surely they do know that he who transacts therein will have no (happy) portion in the Hereafter; and surely evil is the price for which they sell their souls, if they but knew.
There is a subtle point in this Āyah. On the one hand Allah says that the Jews knew that the person who opts for non-beneficial knowledge will have no part in the hereafter (in lieu of that knowledge), but on the other hand at the end the āyah Allah says, “if they but knew”. One could say that how can the Jews know of this aspect and yet be cautioned about it? The subtle point is that Allah has cautioned that a knowledge which is not acted upon is actually in the category of ignorance. This is why the Jews having knowledge of this fact is same as not knowing it at all. As for the future, the āyah cautions that it would still benefit them should they realize it even now.
Here, I wish to inform you all of another mistake that is commonly observed. We learn from this Āyah that the beneficial knowledge is only that which will benefit us in the Ākhirah. The knowledge talked about in the āyah is not general. Nowadays many people mention the āyah and Ahādīth on the virtue of knowledge and then say that Shariah has emphasised such importance to learning. After saying all this, they infer the secular knowledge onto these āyah and Ahādīth. This way they try to establish the need of learning this worldly education. The result of this is that people start to think that they will gain all those virtues even through attaining the worldly education.
Understand very well that these people are in great deception. All the virtues of knowledge that has been mentioned in Shariah are solely for that knowledge which will benefit in hereafter, i.e. study of Shariah and Fiqh. It does not mean secular education. However if the pattern of secular studies is used for understanding the religious knowledge then it will be just like reading Urdu religious magazines, but the condition for this is that the translator must not be a mere English Linguist, rather he should either be a qualified scholar or some qualified scholar should have approved his translations.
It should not be like that translation which some Linguist did for a book and published it by the name of “Shara’ Muhammadi”. In this book the translator mentioned one mas’ala that there is no Talāq in the state of “confusion”. I came to find out about this issue when we were faced with an incident of talāq. The relatives of the husband became worried and started to find some loop-whole to nullify this talāq. Hence they saw many books and finally came across this one. It said that if the husband gives the talāq in such and such state, then the talāq will not occur. For example, if one day the wife beautified herself, contrary to her normal habit, and upon seeing the husband became confused or bewildered and in such state said out loud, “you have three talāqs”. Now this English mufti states that there will be no talāq because the husband gave it out of confusion.
When this book was brought to me, I looked this mas’ala up and found it to be absolutely incorrect and completely without any basis. The original ruling in it was that Talāq of a person, who is in state of temporary insanity. The ruling is in regards to an Arabic word “مدهوش” which means “one who looses his intellect”. This is like one who gets angry and in his anger reaches to such a level that he looses his sanity, and starts to do such acts as well, like hitting his head against the wall or cuts his hand etc. Such a person will be regarded as insane and his talāq will not take place.
The English translator read the Arabic word but translated it using its normal Urdu connotation. In Urdu “مدهوش” is also referred to a person who is confused, surprised or perplexed. Perhaps the translator took this meaning as “متحيّر” and then translated it as confusion, or who knows what he was thinking when he mistranslated it as such. Thereafter when these people seeking to nullify the talāq read this ruling in English, re-translated into Urdu to understand it and in doing so turned it into something else. It is just like the incident of “the crooked pudding”.
You might not have heard of the anecdote of “the crooked pudding”. One youngster had an old uncle who was blind. One day this youngster invited the elderly person over for food.
Uncle: What will you give me to eat?
Boy: Rice Pudding.
Uncle: What is that? (since he had never seen)
Boy: You take some rice and you put some sweet in it.
Uncle: How is that?
Boy: It’s white
The blind old man did not know what is white and what is black.
Uncle: And how is this White?
Boy: Like a swan
The blind uncle hadn’t seen any swan as well.
Uncle: And how is this swan?
Boy: Like this (he made a swan with his forearm)
The blind uncle sensed the whole arm with his hand and thought that perhaps the pudding is also like this, hence he replied, “This is a very crooked pudding, it will not even go beyond my throat!”
So now you see how the issue started and simply due to lack of understanding, it ended into a completely different thing. This is what happened to the ruling of “مدهوش”, simply through translations upon translation from one language to another the Linguist declared that talāq does not take place in “surprise”. Moreover, this book is used as a legislative reference book. Who knows how many divorce issues have been ruled out using these books. Such are the translators and the books which they have provided to be used for legislations. They are void of any understanding of Shariāh and are becoming the similitude of a blind leading the blind.
Khutbāt Hakimul Ummat, vol. 2, pg. 220-227
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