الحمد لله رب العالمين، والصلاة والسلام على أشرف الأنبياء والمرسلين، نبينا محمد وعلى آله وصحبه أجمعين أما بعد
Shaikh Muhammad bin Saalih Al-‘Uthaimeen (rahimahullaah) said:
“There is nothing in the legislation that is unknown to every individual, due to His saying:
يُرِيدُ اللَّهُ لِيُبَيِّنَ لَكُمْ
((Allaah wishes to make clear to you [the lawful from the unlawful])) (An-Nisaa: 26)
Therefore it cannot be possible that the legislation should be hidden from everyone. However, it can be hidden from an individual due to reasons, either due to a scarcity of knowledge or due to deficient understanding, or due to shortcoming in pursuit, or due to bad intention. So these four things are reasons for the legislative ruling to be hidden from a person.
A scarcity of knowledge – is like a person who is to be found who does not look up information nor does he inquire and he doesn’t comprehend the books of the scholars, so this individual has the legislative rulings hidden from him – due to his lack of knowledge.
A deficiency in understanding – he may have extensive knowledge, however he does not understand, this one likewise will have many of the legislative rulings elude him.
A shortcoming in pursuit – is a person who falls short, he has knowledge with him and he has understanding, however he does not endeavour upon investigating the issues and to review them and to compile them, thus a great deal will elude him.
Due to bad intention – in that he does not desire except only to assist his opinion, this – and Allaah’s refuge is sought – debars good, and debars what is correct.
What is the remedy for these ailments and epidemics?
The First: A scarcity of knowledge – its remedy is an abundance of knowledge, in that the person looks up information and that he inquires into the books of the scholars as well as the books of hadeeth and Tafseer.
The Second: A deficiency in understanding – this is problematic, because it is natural impulse, however with practice, an individual can gain strength in understanding. I will give an example; if a person was to examine the books of Shaikh ul Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah (rahimahullaah), then at the onset when he examines them he will say: this has in it the barrier of Gog and Magog – so it is not possible to understand it. However; with practice upon it, he will understand it.
Therefore understanding/comprehension requires practice, and from the training practices of the understanding/comprehension is discussion with the people, because often something from knowledge will be hidden from you, and so by way of discussion many things become clear to you.
The Third: A shortcoming in pursuit – its remedy is diligence and striving hard, so strive hard and do not have negligence.
Furthermore, a shortcoming in pursuit does not mean a scarcity of pursuit, rather it comprises a lack of organization in pursuit, this also is detrimental to the person and thus it diminishes his knowledge. For example some of the people, if one of them intends to examine an issue in the books that are more extensive, he will review the index, so he finds a point of discussion (other than his intended one) and then researches into it – and he forgets the initial objective – and this is a mistake, and it is that which disrupts the periods of time upon you into that of fragmentation. So for as long as you need to investigate an issue, then close your eyes to anything other than it, otherwise you will be like the one who attempts to collect locust from a ground that is without vegetation – you do not attain anything.
Suppose you need to examine an issue in the topic of purification, and so you review the index and there passes you an issue other than the one you need to examine, so you say: ‘This is a good field of investigation, so I’ll see what the author says.’ So it causes time to pass you by, this is from shortcoming in pursuit, it is not a quantitative shortcoming, but is an operational shortcoming.
The Fourth: A bad intention – and a bad intention requires sincerity to Allaah, The Mighty and Majestic, so if the person intends to make preservation of the legislation and to benefit the creation and to take inheritance from the Prophets, then good intent will be made easy upon him, because when it is known that a person – if he seeks knowledge for other than Allaah, then he is deprived of good and upon him is the threat, and that Allaah takes away from him the blessing of knowledge. He did not endeavour to ensure that his intent was one that was good.
These four affairs, they are that which deprive the person – on account of them the ability to perceive the regulations of the legislation.”
(Taken from: Tafseer Al-Qur’aan Al-Kareem – Soorah An-Nisaa, vol 1 p.240-242)