Maulana Shaykh Nazim’s Snippets of Advice
Higher education doesn’t always lead you higher
16th December 2010, Thursday
A’uzubillah himinash shaitan nirrajeem
Bismillah-hir Rahman-nir Raheem
Assalamu’alaikum wrh wbkt
- Thousands of students are graduating from University nowadays, and they are awaiting good jobs, by virtue of having completed a high level of study; yet many are still jobless. So many graduates are simply studying ‘book-knowledge’; they simply know stuff. There is no real benefit in merely knowing some facts. And there is no tangible benefit to the society either. Because graduates have this ‘paper knowledge’, they now feel entitled to a high-paying job, they wish for a desk-bound job, they push a pen, and they expect to be paid a generous remuneration. There are endless opportunities of employment for those skilled with the hands, such as manual workers, repairmen, plumbers, electricians etc, yet people shun these jobs because they are less glamorous.
- Maulana was given a thousand page book to read, it detailed the various kinds of manual jobs and employment available for people in blue-collar fields. There are only a few professions for those who graduate from university – they are either going to become doctors, lawyers, architects or engineers. But there are a thousand avenues of employment for those who are humble enough to use their hands! Everyone wants the high-end jobs, no one wants to work the jobs at the lower end of the scale, where there is an actual demand for their services. That is one of the reasons for this economic crisis – people seek jobs with status (that have low demand), instead of jobs with real and sustained demand (but of a so-called lower status level). For example, instead of opening a restaurant (when they have the skills and finances), they say, “No, I am from the University,” as if cooking was a shameful and degrading form of employment! See how pride creeps into the hearts of tertiary students nowadays. They carry their degrees on their heads with arrogance, “We are from Oxford! We are from Cambridge! We are from MIT!”
- Maulana candidly suggested to jobless graduates, to make three copies of their Degrees and to frame them up. Hang the first copy above their front doors, so that they could look at and admire it, each time they leave their homes. Maulana says that, despite being jobless, graduates can say, “I have no job, but Alhamdulillah, I have a degree!” The second copy, hang it where they can see it as they lay down to sleep, so that they can say, “Alhamdulillah, I am a graduate from (say the name of the famous American University that you had attended),” until they fall asleep. As for the last copy, it should be placed in the kitchen, and when they are hungry, boil some water, and dip the Degree into the water (Maulana made a stirring motion with the Degree certificate), and drink the water, saying, “I have graduated from (name your famous University), and I am drinking the water of my own Degree. Thanks to Allah, for giving me strength and energy, after I have drunk the water of my own Degree Certificate. Such a tasty drink.” (Maulana’s humour is truly hilarious!)
- Why are they still being a burden to their parents, asking them for money, even after graduation? Why aren’t they able to find work with all the ‘knowledge’ that they have acquired? The world is full of such graduates, who learnt nothing of real value while in University. Yet, parents are always so proud to boast of their children, “My daughter is in University, she is studying overseas right now,” they flaunt smugly to relatives and friends, oblivious to the fact that she may be learning nothing of value.
- So many mothers come to Maulana, complaining about their unwed daughters. Maulana recounted one mother who came to see him. She said, “Oh Shaykh, my daughter may be a victim of black magic.” When Maulana asked her, why she believed that there was black magic involved, she replied, “Someone has ‘tied’ her up, preventing her from getting married. I don’t know who has done so, you are the Shaykh, so you tell me.” When Maulana asked how old her daughter was, she replied, “30.” (Maulana said with a twinkle in his eye, that the mother was lying, her daughter was actually 35 years old). “Why did she delay marriage till now? What was she doing before this?” Maulana asked. “She was ‘seeking knowledge’, she was a student. Each time someone came to ask for her hand, my daughter turned him away, as she wanted to continue ‘seeking knowledge’, that is why she has reached this age without marrying,” the mother replied. See what happens to those who keep studying aimlessly, they have lost their chance to get married, and to top it all, they don’t even have a job in the end! The girl has wasted her chance, she was desirable to men at a young age, but not now at this age. Hundreds of thousands of girls end up like this, jobless and husband-less, they live in hardship, and die in that condition.
- Maulana says that he is not against the education of women. But there must be priorities! Marriage and family life are the primary reasons Allah created the sexes, so abandoning marriage in favour of further education means that this Divine purpose is not fulfilled, which then brings misery to humans. Similarly, marriage is a beautiful experience, and when parents are bestowed with children, it is an even more fulfilling, exhilarating and satisfying journey. Instead, today, parents elect to remain childless, they both go out to work, to make ends meet and to pay the mortgage on the house and car. And even if they had kids, they would dump them at a nursery/day-care centre/child-care centre, or with a maid, and go out in search of money. Is that the Divine purpose of marriage? No. So Man’s lives fall deeper and deeper into a abysmal pit of internal and spiritual suffering. Life on earth, is reaching its breaking point, its limit.
- Maulana lamented that he was ‘talking to the wall’, as no one understands and obeys the advice he is giving daily i.e parents are still insisting that their children must continue seeking higher education. Maulana says, the door to theoretical knowledge is now closed. Instead, pursue practical (hands on) knowledge. We are saturated with graduates, why are parents still pushing their children to get degrees? They should be encouraging them to acquire practical and useful knowledge, not theoretical and useless facts. Parents are to be blamed for this crisis today.
- Rasulullah (saw) says, “Four fifths of wealth are found in the hands of those who trade, who do their own businesses.” He encourages us to be courageous, to be entrepreneurs. University is nothing. Parents can help provide capital to their children, and they must provide encouragement to build their children’s courage, for if courage is not there, they would have already failed. But start small, do not seek to start with millions, for one will not know how to handle so much at the beginning. A small business can grow bigger, so start with a modest capital and progress. When you start big, it is likely you will fall.
- People who reject Maulana’s advice, claim that he is already senile. “I am not senile,” says Maulana, “my grandmother lived beyond 80, she was already blind in one eye at that age, yet she worked for a living by sewing ornaments at the edge of scarves!” Maulana recounted a story of a Sudanese woman who lived near him, she was in her 90s, and Maulana, who was then a ten-year old boy, used to take food from his mother to this lady. Despite her advanced age, she never begged for food, she wove cotton into cloth, and sold them! Both Maulana’s grandmother and this Sudanese lady, were earning a living, working their own hands, right up to a ripe old age.
- Maulana is not against education at all, he is against the fact that almost every parent wants his/her child to go to University, not because they will acquire relevant knowledge, but because, it is a sign of honour and status.
- We should realise, that the purpose of education is very simple. The Prophet (saw) said, “He who desires a good life in this world, must seek the knowledge of this world. He who desires a good life in the hereafter, must seek the knowledge of the hereafter.” So one should seek both these knowledges. Knowledge of dunia, is not one that brings a degree, fame or honour – it must be knowledge that can put food on the dinner table. There is no dishonour in working as a farmer or mechanic, just as there is no honour in being a lawyer or doctor. Much pride is attached to the latter, but that very pride destroys their lives in both worlds. A Companion once came to see the Prophet (saw), he was a blacksmith, his hands were blackened by his work, and the Prophet (saw) kissed the Companion’s hands and said, “Blessed are those who work with their hands for an honest living.” Even Sayyidina Daud (as) made chain-mail armour for a living (despite being a King and Prophet of the Bani Israel) and Sayyidina Sulaiman (as), the richest Prophet, himself weaved baskets for an honest living, never taking anything from Baitulmal (the state coffers). The Prophet (saw) was asked about pure and halal sustenance, and he replied, “That is the sustenance of the Prophets, you must ask Allah to give you sustenance (rizq) for which you will not be punished.”
- The line has blurred now, people have lost sight of the purpose of education. They no longer see it as a means to acquire halal rizqi, but as a status symbol and source of pride. Parents are always gushing praises about their children studying abroad in some tertiary institution, even if the children are learning nothing of value. I had a relative who was in University, he was studying Arts and Social Sciences, majoring in History. He was studying about the French Kings before the French revolution, he had to learn their names, policies and their politics. I asked him, “Of what use is such knowledge? How will this help you at your job in future?” He shrugged off my questions, saying that he could get a job as a teacher, to teach this same knowledge to others. So people study useless knowledge, in order to get employed, to teach this same crap to others! I was mystified. Anyway, after graduation, he remained jobless for 3 years, and re-enrolled to study Accountancy by distance learning. He graduated with flying colours, and now draws an impressive salary as a fully certified Accountant. But those 4 years wasted studying the French revolution, is a loss of a lifetime.
- So study practical knowledge or learn a skill, in a field which has demand, not one which you deem glamorous. And make sure its halal, so many people are working in non-halal areas, there are no blessings in such an income. Lounge waitresses, croupiers, gambling operators, bartenders – these are just some of the jobs that should be avoided at all costs. The knowledge in such fields should also be completely avoided e.g how to mix alcoholic drinks, how to deal a hand at Black Jack etc. Rasulullah (saw) said, “The halal is clear, and the haram is clear.” Some people give the excuse that they are caught in a web of difficulties, and that this haram means is the only means of income they can find. That is not true. Ask from Him sincerely, He will open a way for you.
وَمَن يَتَّقِ ٱللَّهَ يَجۡعَل لَّهُ ۥ مَخۡرَجً۬ا (٢) وَيَرۡزُقۡهُ مِنۡ حَيۡثُ لَا يَحۡتَسِبُۚ وَمَن يَتَوَكَّلۡ عَلَى ٱللَّهِ فَهُوَ حَسۡبُهُ ۥۤۚ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ بَـٰلِغُ أَمۡرِهِۦۚ قَدۡ جَعَلَ ٱللَّهُ لِكُلِّ شَىۡءٍ۬ قَدۡرً۬ا (٣) وَٱلَّـٰٓـِٔى يَٮِٕسۡنَ مِنَ ٱلۡمَحِيضِ مِن نِّسَآٮِٕكُمۡ إِنِ ٱرۡتَبۡتُمۡ فَعِدَّتُہُنَّ ثَلَـٰثَةُ أَشۡهُرٍ۬ وَٱلَّـٰٓـِٔى لَمۡ يَحِضۡنَۚ وَأُوْلَـٰتُ ٱلۡأَحۡمَالِ أَجَلُهُنَّ أَن يَضَعۡنَ حَمۡلَهُنَّۚ وَمَن يَتَّقِ ٱللَّهَ يَجۡعَل لَّهُ ۥ مِنۡ أَمۡرِهِۦ يُسۡرً۬ا (٤) ذَٲلِكَ أَمۡرُ ٱللَّهِ أَنزَلَهُ ۥۤ إِلَيۡكُمۡۚ وَمَن يَتَّقِ ٱللَّهَ يُكَفِّرۡ عَنۡهُ سَيِّـَٔاتِهِۦ وَيُعۡظِمۡ لَهُ ۥۤ أَجۡرً
And for those who fear Allah, He (ever) prepares a way out (2) And He provides for him from (sources) he never could imagine. And if anyone puts his trust in Allah, sufficient is (Allah) for him. For Allah will surely accomplish His purpose: verily, for all things has Allah appointed a due proportion. (3) (Surah At-Talaaq 65:2-3)
Also known as the ‘Verse of a Thousand Dinars’, Allah says in this verse, that those who fear Him, He will provide for them sustenance from sources they could never imagine. And for those who trust in Him, He is sufficient for them. (Maulana has been exhorting us to recite Hasbunallah, Rabbunallah daily). Hence there is no need to sell your bodies, or to sell alcohol, in order to make a living. The Prophet (saw) said: “If you were to put your trust in Allah as He deserves, He would surely provide for you, just as He provides for the birds; they set out in the morning with empty stomachs and return at the end of the day, full.”
- We must ensure that the job we do, is not part of any haram food-chain too. Rasulullah (saw) cursed ten people in connection with wine, “The wine-presser, the one who has it pressed, the one who drinks it, the one who conveys it, the one to whom it is conveyed, the one who serves it, the one who sells it, the one who benefits from the price paid for it, the one who buys it, and the one for whom it is bought.” So if you are growing cannabis, and selling the plant, you are part of the marijuana food-chain, and it is as if you are also selling drugs. Just as one gets the reward of good when others learn from you, you also share in the sin when you help promote evil, even indirectly.
- The saddest part of today’s education system is this; that instead of growing in faith and piety, good conduct and taqwa, people are becoming more God-less and evil. Attributing all of Science’s miracles to ‘nature’ instead of to Allah, the abandoning of the of study of good conduct and behaviour, as well as the propagation of free-mixing between sexes in schools – all these have contributed to the formation of a generation living on pride, desires and egos. The end product of education, according to the hadees quoted at the beginning of this Commentary, has been lost and forgotten. See how everything in our lives is meant to be a worship to Allah, but shaitan always twists it around, making it about pride and ego.