This is the third book in the Classical Knowledge Series which is a collection of works written by the scholars of the past on the virtues, etiquettes and aspects of knowledge. This particular book written by the great scholar, Al-Haafidh Ibn Rajab, is one of the well known works authored on the subject.
In spite of its small size, the treatise brings to light many amazing and intricate points of benefit with regard to knowledge and discerning between which of its types are beneficial and non-beneficial. Indeed, the Prophet praised some forms of knowledge while condemning others. And at times he would ask Allaah to grant him beneficial knowledge while at other times he would seek refuge in Him from non-beneficial knowledge.
It is for this reason that the author took on the task of clarifying the various types, characteristics, signs and consequences of both beneficial knowledge and non-beneficial knowledge in this short treatise, as well as affirming the superiority of the knowledge of the predecessors (Salaf) over the knowledge of those who succeeded them (Khalaf).
Altogether, this is a splendid and remarkable book loaded with reminders and admonitions and designed to assist and guide any sincere Muslim in his quest for seeking knowledge.
Three publications of the book were used for this present translation. The main publication that was relied on was the Dar-ul-Imaam Ahmad, Egypt 2005 Edition with verification of narrations based on the works of Imaam Muhammad Naasir-ud-Deen Al-Albaanee. It is important to note that all section headings were added by that publisher not by the author or translator in order to assist the reader.
Verification and referencing of narrations not covered by the Dar-ul-Imaam Ahmad edition were taken from the Dar-ul-Bashaair-ul-Islaamiyyah edition from the footnotes of Muhammad bin Naasir Al-Ajamee and noted with an [A] for [Al-Ajamee] at the end of the footnote to distinguish this source from the previous one.
Furthermore, all biographical accounts of the Salaf (excluding the Sahaabah) found in this book were taken from the footnotes of the Dar-ul-Hadeeth, Egypt 1989 edition with the notes of Muhammad Abdul-Hakeem Al-Qaadee. No indications were made to distinguish his words as it is evident the biographical accounts are his notes.
Therefore, this work is a combination of the above sources and employs footnotes from all three of these works so as to make this English publication as beneficial and resourceful as possible.
Finally, the last part of the book contains another treatise from Al-Haafidh Ibn Rajab called Dhamm Qaswat-il-Qalb or A Condemnation of the Hardening of the Heart. This small treatise was added as a supplement since the author touches upon this subject in the last part of his treatise Fadlu Ilm-is-Salaf alaa Ilm-il-Khalaf (The Superiority of the Knowledge of the Predecessors over the Knowledge of the Successors).
The source used for the translation of this short treatise was the one found in the Maktabah Awlaad-ush-Shaikh Lit-Turaath edition which is a compilation of several of Imaam Ibn Rajabs treatises in two volumes with notes and verifications by Naasir An-Najjaar. It is a complete translation of the treatise with the exception of some poetic lines written by the author.
We hope that this publication serves as a benefit for the Muslims and an encouragement and inspiration for them to seek knowledge and abide by its proper etiquettes.
About the Author:
Al-Haafidh Ibn Rajab Al-Hanbalee was one of the great scholars of the 8th century. He is well known today for the legacy of monumental works that he left behind him such as his explanation of Saheeh Al-Bukhaaree, his explanation of An-Nawawees Forty Hadeeth and scores of other treatises, including this one which reveals his pure Creed, upright methodology and sound knowledge.