Here’s two sides of the same coin for the Qur’an.
Recently I met a remarkable character called Aydarus al-Habshi. For someone who didn’t study long at the same school as I, he seem to have quite a reputation. At school and in Singapore.
To keep it simpler, Aydarus is not one of those who studied the high level books. Yet since he came back to Singapore, he’s done great at being of service to people – which he simply calls, buat kawan.
Making friends. As simple as that. He emphasises.
I’ll expand more on him later. But here’s one story he told me at our meet. And it shows how lowly he put himself despite what he’s done. It resonates with the previous posts I’ve written about the attitude of the scholars of #Tareem and its tradition, which comes from the philosophy within the concept of learning in Islam.
He teaches one man how to read the Qur’an. From scratch they sat together. As they eventually reach page 603, the second last page – the man kept on flipping to the last page and flipping back. Over and over again, looking a little distracted.
Finally Aydarus asks. Why? What’s going on? The man cried and said, this is the first time in life that I’m completing the Qur’an. Thank you. I am grateful.
Then Aydarus cried. He thought, I complete the Qur’an many times before but have taken it for granted. I treat it like nothing. I don’t have what this man has.
It is instilling this approach towards knowledge that is missing in the education philosophy nowadays. This allows for the duality of things to constantly exist. In this case, the teacher also being the student.
The people of ma’rifah.
It one arabic class it was explained to me, that ma’rifah means the one who knows. He just does. Different than those who learned or were taught. Some can learn about God but won’t know.
It was then that I realized that to understand depths of Islam, Arabic is necessary. Distinctions like these don’t exist and are not taught in the English medium or discussed. Therefore for some, it doesn’t exist.
اشرب شراب أهل الصفا، (الله الله) ترى العجائب
مع رجال المعرفة، (الله الله) والخمر طائب
Professor Syed Muhammad Naquib al-Attas once explained in a lecture as well. Society may look down on the fisherman. You may learn many things. But the fisherman, he knows. And this is from God’s decree.