Abu Musa (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "The example of guidance and knowledge with which Allah has sent me is like abundant rain falling on the earth, some of which was fertile soil that absorbed rain water and brought forth vegetation and grass in abundance.(And) another portion of it was hard and held the rain water and Allah benefited the people with it and they utilized it for drinking, making their animals drink from it and for irrigation of the land for cultivation. (And) a portion of it was barren which could neither hold the water nor bring forth vegetation (then that land gave no benefits).The first is the example of the person who comprehends Allah's religion and gets benefit (from the knowledge) which Allah has revealed through me (the Prophet) and learns and then teaches others. The last example is that of a person who does not care for it and does not take Allah's guidance revealed through me (He is like that barren land.)" (1)

Explanation of vocabulary (2):

(Guidance) which leads to the required [i.e., Paradise].

(Knowledge) means the Shari`ah knowledge.

(Vegetation) includes the fresh and dried plants.

(Grass) only means the fresh.

(Hard land) is the land which does not produce vegetation.

Al Khattaby said: It is the land which holds water so that it will not evaporate. (Irrigation of the land for cultivation) as reported by Muslim, An-Nasa'i, and others. Abu Kurayb added in his narration: "and tender animals." An-Nawawy said: Both are correct.

Explanation of the Hadith:

Imam An-Nawawy (may Allah bestow mercy on his soul) said: The meaning of the Hadith is comparing the guidance which the Prophet (peace be upon him) came with to rain. Thus, the meaning is: Lands are of three types exactly as people are. The first kind utilize rain by growing plants and benefitting people, animals, and others likewise the first kind of people which receives guidance and knowledge then memorizes it, acts accordingly, and teaches it to others. The second type of lands does not benefit from water but it contains another benefit which is holding water for people and animals likewise the second kind of people which has got good memory but they do not have deep understanding by which they extract the meaning and rulings. Moreover, they do not have diligence in obedience and actions, so they memorize it until a knowledge seeker comes to extract from their knowledge, then they take that knowledge to benefit others; thus they do not benefit from the knowledge they have but they benefit others. The third kind of lands is that which do not grow plants, so it does not benefit from rain nor benefit others likewise the third kind of people who do not have good memory nor deep understandings, so when they hear the knowledge, they do not benefit from and do not memorize it to benefit others. And Allah knows the best. (3)

Ibn Hajar siad: Al Qurtuby and others said: The Prophet (peace be upon him) set an example to the religion which he brought with the rain which comes when the people need it, likewise was the condition of people before the advent of Islam. As rain revives the dead land, Shari`ah sciences revive dead hearts. Then the Prophet (peace be upon him) compared those who listen to him to different types of lands which receive rain, some of them are the scholars who act according to their knowledge. Such people are like the fertile land which drank and benefited itself as well as others.

Of those people are those who collect knowledge, however they do not act according to it or do not understand all the knowledge they have, but they deliver it to others, so they are like the land which holds water without benefiting from it. The previous meaning was mentioned clearly in the Hadith which says: "May Allah brighten a man who hears a tradition from us, gets it by heart and passes it on to others."

Of those people are those who listen to knowledge but do not memorize it, act according to it, nor transmit it to others, so they are like a barren land or the land which do not hold water but rather spoils it. The Prophet (peace be upon him) combined the first two kinds because of their benefits and singled the third because it has no benefit. And Allah knows best! (4)

Benefits gained from the Hadith:

1- The excellence of Shari`ah knowledge where the Prophet (peace be upon him) likened it with rain and the point of similarity in rain is reviving the earth, animals, and man likewise the knowledge of the Shari`ah which contains life for the hearts because they know their lord and the Straight Path which leads to His Pleasure, so there is no way for the people but to hold with it.

2- The excellence of the people who memorize and understand knowledge, extract benefits there from, and act accordingly; those are the best of people.

3- The excellence of those who memorize the texts of the Qur'an and the Sunnah and deliver them as they had received them and act accordingly. However, they do not understand it and cannot extract rulings and benefits from it; such people are good but in a lower degree than the previous kind.

4- The most evil of people are those who turn away from knowledge, do not learn, understand, act accordingly, nor teach it to others.



(1) Sahih Al Bukhari No. (79) with his own wordings, and Sahih Muslim No. (2282).

(2) See: Fathul-Bary of Ibn Hajar 1/176 - 177, and the commentary of An-Nawawy on Sahih Muslim, 15/46 - 47.

(3) The Commentary of An-Nawawy on Sahih Muslim, 15/47 - 48.

(4) Fathul-Bary 1/130.

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