This eye-opening hadith in Tirmidhi and Riyadh as-Saliheen struck me recently:
Narrated Jubair bin Nufair:from Abu Ad-Darda who said: “We were with the Prophet (ﷺ) when he raised his sight to the sky, then he said: ‘This is the time when knowledge is to be taken from the people, until what remains of it shall not amount to anything.” So Ziyad bin Labid Al-Ansari said: ‘How will it be taken from us while we recite the Qur’an. By Allah we recite it, and our women and children recite it?’ He (ﷺ) said: ‘May you be bereaved of your mother O Ziyad! I used to consider you among the Fuqaha of the people of Al-Madinah. The Tawrah and Injil are with the Jews and Christians, but what do they avail of them?'” Jubair said: “So I met ‘Ubadah bin As-Samit and said to him: ‘Have you not heard what your brother Abu Ad-Darda said?’ Then I informed him of what Abu Ad-Darda said. He said: ‘Abu Ad-Darda spoke the truth. If you wish, we shall narrated to you about the first knowledge to be removed from the people: It is Khushu’, soon you will enter the congregational Masjid, but not see any man in it with Khushu’.'”
We see the Jews and Christians before us who have their versions of scripture, but they don’t act upon it. Likewise, we may have the Qur’an and recite it, but do we act upon it? Does it enter our hearts?
And this is what is so astonishing to me is the ending. Ubadah bin as-Samit then relates the first knowledge to be removed from the people: khushu’. This is very significant. Why?
What is khushu’? Look at imam Ghazali’s works, such as his famous ihya’ and bidayat al-hidaya. They teach you fiqh, the outward knowledge, combined with the inward knowledge of how to get your heart right in worship. He combined the outward and the inward. Before him, there were ulema’ teaching fiqh and ulema’ teaching tasawwuf, and you had to go obtain the fiqh from the fuqaha’ and then obtain the knowledge of the heart separately. But Ghazali combined the two in one teaching.
Now look at the attacks on tasawwuf we’ve seen over the past 1-2 centuries. In part due to the abuses of charlatans, yes, but you don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. This brings me back to the hadith Jibril (ﷺ) with regards to Islam, Iman, and Ihsan. You build your din upwards as such, and it will collapse downwards likewise. Fiqh pertains to Islam, aqida pertains to Iman, and tasawwuf pertains to Ihsan. These three sciences have been known and studied in every generation. And when corruption and heresy infects us, it collapses in reverse: the first to go is Ihsan and tasawwuf, then comes our aqida, and finally our fiqh.
Have we not observed this? Orthodoxy has collapsed. But insha’Allah ta’ala it will revive again…