Shaykh Muhammad ibn Saalih al Uthaymeen, rahimahullaah, said:
“The foundation of knowledge is khashyah (fear and awe) of Allaah, the Most High”. And this statement of Imaam Ahmad is correct: the foundation of knowledge is khashyah of Allaah.
And khashyah of Allaah is fear of Allaah which is built upon knowledge and glorification (of Him). And for this reason, Allaah the Most High, said:
It is only the people of knowledge from amongst His servants who have khashyah of Allaah. [Soorah Faatir (35) aayah 28]
So if a person has true knowledge of Allaah, the Mighty and Majestic, and if he has true awareness and knowledge of Him, then khashyah of Allaah will inevitably be established in his heart. (This is) because if he has knowledge of that, having knowledge of a Lord who is ‘Adheem (Tremendous), of a Lord who is Qawee (Perfect in strength), of a Lord who is Qaahir (Invincible Subduer), of a Lord who is All Knowing of that which the person keeps secret and hidden, then you will find him (that person) establishing obedience to Allaah, the Mighty and Majestic in a complete manner.
It is only the people of knowledge from amongst His servants who have khashyah of Allaah. The scholars have said: The distinction between khashyah (fear and awe) and khawf (fear) is that khashyah occurs due to tremendous greatness of the one being feared – and khawf occurs due to the weakness of the one who has the fear, even if the one being feared (with khawf) is not tremendous and great… So in summary, khashyah is more tremendous than khawf – but sometimes it is said, ‘have khawf of Allaah’. He, the Most High, said:
So do not have khawf of them, but rather have khawf of Me if you truly believe. [Soorah aale ‘Imraan (3) aayah 175]
And this is (being said) in direct opposition to the action of those who have khawf of the people.
(Sharh hilyah taalib il ‘ilm p23 of Shaykh Muhammad ibn Saalih al ‘Uthaymeen rahimahullaah, translator Nasser ibn Najam, checked by Abu Talhah Dawood Burbank)
Do you know someone who prays and fasts, but is not sure whether salafeeah is the right way? Do they become annoyed when they are told that there is only one path that is correct in Islaam? They like to hear eemaan-building narrations but hate all criticism, even of the most deviant groups amongst the Muslims. They feel that it is wrong to criticise any Muslim group and become annoyed when you restrict the Truth to a single group of Muslims.
Why not go through with them a book written by one of the giants of our salaf? A book written in the early times of Islaam?
One such book written about the basics of our religion is that of Imaam Ahmad bin Hanbal, called Foundations of the Sunnah, known in Arabic as Usool us Sunnah. This tremendous book contains what he considered to be the basics of the religion that the early Muslims agreed on. A book that teaches us that there is only correct path in Islaam and what that correct path is. The path which, if the Muslims were to follow it, would lead to unity amongst us.
I have a study guide on this book, checked by Abu Talhah a few years ago while he was alive. It is available on this website on this page. I know sisters who have used this study guide. It is not only for those who are unsure about the correct manhaj; it can benefit us all to run through the main points of aqeedah again and in doing so, pick up some new points too. The Study Guide is only short (9 weeks if you study it for 45 minutes a week) in Multiple Choice format. Additional quotes from scholars have been included, mostly from books that are available in English.
May Allaah help us all in sticking to the straight way.
And Imaam Ahmad said: Al ‘ilm (knowledge) – nothing is equal to it, for the person who makes his niyyah correct.
They said: How is the niyyah made correct, O Aboo ‘Abdillaah?
He said: (The person) has as his intention removing ignorance from himself and from other than himself.
(Sharh hilyah taalib il ‘ilm p13 of Shaykh Muhammad ibn Saalih al ‘Uthaymeen rahimahullaah, translated by Nasser ibn Najam)