Characteristics of Useful Knowledge
The Forgotten Thing in Seeking for Knowledge  We’ve spent years sparing our time in seeking for knowledge. We’ve passed through ups and downs. Reminiscing our past sometimes made us smile, laugh, and cry. This is the life that we’ve must endure. A life as a knowledge seeker. But probably, we often forget about whether the knowledge that we’ve got is the useful one, or vice versa? I remembered a hadith narrated by a companion named Zayd Ibn Arqam -may Allah be pleased with him- that the Messenger of Allah -peace and prayer of Allah be upon him- once said, ,
(اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّى أَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنْ عِلْمٍ لاَ يَنْفَعُ وَمِنْ قَلْبٍ لاَ يَخْشَعُ وَمِنْ نَفْسٍ لاَ تَشْبَعُ وَمِنْ دَعْوَةٍ لاَ يُسْتَجَابُ لَهَا )
“O Allah,verily, I seek Your protection from the useless knowledge, the restless heart, the never-satisfied soul, and rejected prayer.” (Narrated by Muslim, no. 6906, and others with resemblant redaction). Even the Messenger of Allah -peace and prayer of Allah be upon him- who have had received the guarantee of Allah to be the leader of the sons of Adam later in the Hereafter, frequently repeated this supplication, then what about us, who have done uncountable mistakes? Surely, we should always recite it. Knowing the characteristics of the useful and useless knowledge is very important. Therefore, I’ll mention below about several characteristics of the useful and useless knowledge, taken from the work of Al-Hafiz Ibn Rajab Al-Hanbali titled “Bayan Fadhli ‘ilmissalaf ‘ala ‘ilmilkhalaf”. Characteristics of the useful knowledge within a person:
- It yields fear and love to Allah
- It makes his heart subject to, or being solemn to Allah and feel humiliated in front of Him, and makes him always be modest.
- It creates asceticism towards the world.
- His prayer will always be heard.
- The knowledge always stays in his heart.
- He’ll consider that he doesn’t have anything or any position in front of men.
- It makes him hate the praise and flattery.
- He’ll always hopes for the Hereafter.
- It shows him to avoid the worldly matters. The most lucrative of the world is leadership, fame and praise.
- He’ll never say that he has knowledge and he’ll never say that other people are fools, unless they disagree with sunnah and the ahl sunnah. And he said it because of Allah’s rights, not of his own interest.
- He’ll think good of the scholars of the past times and think bad of himself.
- He’ll acknowledge the excellences of the predecessors in knowledge and feel that he’ll never be able to compete with them.
- He’ll speak a little, due to his fear of mistakes and he wont speak but with knowledge. Indeed, the small number of sayings quoted from the predecessors is not because they were unable to speak, but because they were very cautious and they feared Allah the Exalted.
As for the characteristics of the useless knowledge within a person are:
- The knowledge only stays in his tongue, and not his heart.
- It doesn’t yield the fear of Allah.
- The owner is never satisfied with the worldly matters, even he’ll be more eager to pursue it.
- His prayer will not be granted.
- It doesn’t distance him from the matters that enrage Allah.
- It makes him more cocky and arrogant.
- He’ll pursue the high position in this world and compete to seize it.
- He’ll try to compete with the scholars and he’ll love to debate the fools.
- Refuse to accept the truth, or being arrogant to people who tell him the truth or pretend to right his wrong fearing that people will leave him and show that he has returned to the right path.
- Telling others fools, forgetful, negligence, and always feel that himself is the right one with everything he has.
- Always think bad of the predecessors.
- Speak a lot and can’t control his words.
Al-Hafiz Ibn Rajab Al-Hanbali said, “In this time, men might choose whether he’ll be pleased to be said as a scholar in Allah’s side, or he wont be pleased until he is dubbed as a scholar by people of his time. Whoever pleased with the first one then he’ll feel enough with that… Whoever displeased but to be named as a scholar in front of human being, then he’ll fell into the threat of the Messenger of Allah -peace and prayer of Allah be upon him- :
(من طلب العلم ليباهي به العلماء أو يماري به السفهاء أو يصرف وجوه الناس إليه فليتبوأ مقعده من النار)
“Whoever seeks knowledge to compete with the scholars, debate the fools, or turn people’s faces to him, then he is preparing his own seat from the Hellfire.”  Author: Ustadz Abu Ahmad Said Yai, Lc. MA References:
- “Bayan Fadhli ‘Ilmissalaf “ala ‘Ilmilkhalaf”, by Al-Hafiz Ibn Rajab Al-Hanbali, Publisher :Dar Al-Basya’ir Al-Islamiah
- “Shahih Muslim”, Published: Dar As-Salam
- “Sunan At-Tirmidzi”, Publisher: Maktabah Al-Ma’arif
“O Allah, indeed, I ask from You useful knowledge, good sustenance, and accepted deed. Amin”.  An advice that was given in “Al Bashirah”, 28th edition, and in www.muslim.or.id  I (the author) have never found the valid narration for this redaction. But there is a similar redaction with it in “Sunan At Tirmidhi” No. 2653 with a good narration, that is: (من طلب العلم ليجاري به العلماء أو ليماري به السفهاء أو يصرف به وجوه الناس إليه أدخله الله النار) Article of www.WhatisQuran.com