‘Aaizullah bin Idrees Al-Khawlaani (rahimahullah) said: “I can very clearly picture that occasion and that scene. It was a Thursday when ‘Abdullah bin Mas‘ood (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) was standing on the staircase. He addressed the people and said:
O people! Acquire knowledge before it is taken away, as it is taken away by the passing away of the learned scholars of deen.”
In this advice we are shown the procedure of acquiring the knowledge of deen. It is to be acquired from the learned men of knowledge. The fear of ‘Abdullah bin Mas‘ood (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) was not the loss of books, as they will always remain. In fact, there is always an increase in the number of books and works that are being published. The actual fear he had was the loss of the men of knowledge and understanding, the loss of those men who can understand and explain to others the content matter that is found in books. Without them we will all fail to understand and acquire the true knowledge of deen. It can never be acquired by us going directly to books and adopting the self-study approach. We require the guidance and the understanding of the men of knowledge.
Thereafter, ‘Abdullah bin Mas‘ood (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) gave some pre-cautionary measures and some important advice regarding the acquisition of knowledge. He said:
“Stay away from newly innovated methods and from delving too deep beyond your reach, and hold firm onto the old, orthodox, traditional methodology and school of thought.”
Let people label us as coming from the camel age, as being non-progressive, but the advice he gives us is to hold firm onto the old ways, the ways of our pious predecessors.
He further warned us: “Stay away from all these new methods.” Many a time we find new ways, some new attractive seminars and courses that are being offered, or some new online courses being advertised, but these things have not been sanctioned by senior and experienced learned people.
Thereafter ‘Abdullah bin Mas‘ood (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) said:
“Remember! Close to Qiyaamah you will find people claiming to be following the Quraan (and hadeeth), but in reality they have thrown the teachings of the Quraan (and hadeeth) behind their backs (and haven’t even smelt the true understanding of the Quraan and hadeeth).” (Taareekh Ibni ‘Asaakir vol. 33, pg. 52)
This is exactly the scenario today, where people are only following their whims and fancies, and trying to use the Quraan and hadeeth to support their desires. If they wish to speak to women openly they will use the Quraan and hadeeth to try to back it up, completely misunderstanding and misquoting verses and incidents out of context.
[Extracted from our detailed book on the life of ‘Abdullah bin Mas’ood (radhiyallahu ‘anhu), The Classic Resemblance of Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam)]