بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
Ibn ‘Abbas رضي الله عنه was asked, “How did you gain all of this knowledge?” He replied:
بقلب عقول ولسان سؤول
“With a discerning heart and an insistent tongue.“
Discernment reflects an intellect and ability to judge well, while insistence upon asking questions and seeking clarification reflects a genuine and sincere thirst for knowledge.
‘Umar ibn Al-Khattab رضي الله عنه attested to both of these qualities belonging to Ibn’ Abbas while in his youth. [See, ‘Tareekh Jarjan’, #722]
Yet there was far more to his ingenuity as Ibn Taymiyyah forthwith said, relating a particular distinction of ibn Abbas:
وقد سمعوا ما سمع وحفظوا القرآن كما حفظه، ولكن أرضه كانت من أطيب الأراضي، وأقبلها للزرع، فبذر فيها النصوص
“They (the people) heard what he heard and memorised the Qur’an as he memorised it, however, his land (i.e. Madinah) was from the best of lands, and he settled there to cultivate and sow therein, the (legal) texts.” [‘Majmu’ al-Fatawa’, 4/93]
He was therefore, shaped by his geography, while learning from the best of people – attaining a broad array of knowledge that not only specialised in tafseer, but enveloped fiqh and hadeeth – leaving a theological legacy and legal jurisprudence of his own, which the Ummah continues to appeal to in understanding fields of knowledge.
Same is also the case for another Companion who achieved a lofty status in knowledge, even as a youth. Ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyyah said in his prized ‘I’lam al-Muwaqqi’een’ (1/24):
قال ابن جرير: لم يكن في الصحابة أحدٌ له أصحاٌب معروفون حرّروا فتياه ومذهبَه في الفقه غيرَ ابنِ مسعود
Ibn Jareer (al-Tabari) said, “There was none among the Sahabah known in his youth to have freedom in (forming and choosing matters of) jurisprudence, other than Ibn Mas’ood.”
May Allah make them the best of examples for our own youth to emulate. Ameen.