On every Wednesday, I will share a part of the translation of the book Kitab Al-Kasb (the book of Earning a Livelihood) written by Muhammad Ibn Al-Hasan Al-Shaybani.
Part 22: The Obligatoriness of Conveying Knowledge and Delivering It to People.
And Imam Muhammad Ibn Al-Hasan Al-Shaybani says, “Just as the quest for knowledge is obligatory, the conveying of knowledge is also obligatory, for the occupation of the person of knowledge with practising it is fair, while practising contrary to it is repugnant; hence teaching is enjoining what is fair and forbidding what is repugnant, and this is obligatory on this Community (ummah).” Allah says, “You are the best community brought out for humankind; you enjoin what is fair and forbid the repugnant” [Al-Quran, Surah Ali-‘Imran, verse 110].
They differ concerning a section, which is that if a person only knows a ruling or two, is it obligatory or not on him to explain it to someone who does not know? According to some of our teachers, it is obligatory on him. However, most of them are of the view that it is not obligatory on him, but only on those who are renowned for their learning from among those whose views are relied on by people. He (Imam Muhammad) has indicated in this book to the two views, while the statement mentioned here entails the general purport.
And thereafter Imam Muhammad says, “It is dutybound on the insightful of the scholars to explain to people the way of jurisprudence.” This shows that the obligatoriness on those renowned for learning is specific.
The reasoning of the argument for the first view is based on the statement of Allah, “As for those who conceal the evidences and the guidance We have sent down” [Al-Quran, Surah al-Baqarah, verse 159], and the statement of Allah, “And Allah took the promise of those to whom scripture was given: ‘Be sure to expand it to people, and not keep it hidden,’ but they threw it behind their backs and sold it for a petty price; and wretched indeed is their trade” [Al-Quran, Surah Ali-Imran, verse 187]. It is clear from these two verses that concealment of knowledge is prohibited, and that its opposite, which is disclosure is mandatory. This (ruling) applies to everyone who had knowledge conveyed to them, for it is conceivable for them to conceal what has been conveyed to them, hence it is obligatory for them to disclose.
The Prophet says, “Whosoever conceal a piece of knowledge with him shall be bridled with the bridle of fire” [Narrated by Abu Dawud, al-Tirmidhi ibn Majah, al-Hakim and Ibn Hibban]. The Prophet, says, “When you see the last of this Community condemning the first of it, then whoever has knowledge should disclose it, for the concealer of knowledge on that day will be like concealer of what has been revealed to Muhammad” [Narrated by Ibn Majah and al-Khatib].
Furthermore, the teaching of knowledge is of the station of giving the obligatory alms (zakat), and it is mandatory for everyone to give the zakat from his minimum due. In this regard, the one of minimum due and the one of minimum dues (nisab) are alike with respect to the obligation to give.
The manner of argument of the second view is that the scholars in every era are the successors of the Messengers, blessing and peace be on them, as stated by the Prophet, “The scholars are the inheritors of the Prophets” [Narrated by Abu Dawud, al-Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah, Ibn Hibban and Ahmad].
It is known that in the of the Messenger, he used to be the expounder to people of what they needed to know concerning the matter of their religion, for indeed Allah described him so, “so that you may expound to people what has been revealed to them” [Al-Quran, Surah Al-Nahl, verse 44]. It was not obligatory on anyone besides him to expound on anything of that while he was present, and so likewise in every occasion and situation, for it is only obligatory on those renowned for their knowledge to convey the knowledge instead of others.
Moreover, people normally only rely on the word of those renowned for knowledge, and rarely do they rely on the word of others, and some of them may deem light what they hear from one who is not renowned for knowledge. Hence due to this fact, expounding is especially incumbent on the renowned.
It has been narrated from al-Hasan al-Basri, that he said, “I met seventy Badris (badriyyan i.e., veterans of the battle of Badr), all of whom had secluded themselves and did not occupy themselves with teaching people, for they were not needed to teach.” Likewise, the scholars of the Followers, some of them were occupied with giving legal rulings and teaching; and some of them abstained from doing so and withdrew themselves, for they knew that no harm would arise out of their abstention and that the objective of conveying knowledge was being attained through others.
This is so because knowledge has two fruits: practising it, and teaching it. Among people, there are those who are able to attain to these two fruits for themselves, and so they combine practising with teaching. Among them are those who are not able to combine both, and so they suffice with practising it, and we know that that is something extensive and that the objective is attained through the renowned of the people of knowledge.