Will you explain whether the statement "Seek knowledge (ilm) even if it is in China" is a hadith or not? There are some people who say this statement is fabricated. What do you say?

The Details of the Question
Will you explain whether the statement "Seek knowledge (ilm) even if it is in China" is a hadith or not? There are some people who say this statement is fabricated. What do you say?
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

Some scholars like Ibn Hibban and Ibn Jawzi say this narration is fabricated but scholars like Bayhaqi, Khatib al-Baghdadi, Ibn Abdil-Barr and Daylami reported it as a hadith. However, they attracted attention to the fact that it was weak. (see Ajluni, Kashful-Khafa, I/138)

As a matter of fact, Bayhaqi included this hadith in his book and stated that it was weak. (Bayhaqi, Shuabul- Iman, II/254)

Jalaluddin Suyuti, the great Islamic scholar, included it as two different narrations in his book:

“Seek knowledge (ilm) even if it is in China because it is fard to learn knowledge for every Muslim. Angels lay their wings on the ground for the students of knowledge because they like what they do.” (Jamius-Saghir, 1/310)

However, that a hadith is weak does not prevent acting in accordance with it in terms of encouraging and avoiding. It is permissible to act in accordance with these narrations since they encourage knowledge. Besides, there are some scholars who say this narration reached us through various ways and that some of them can be "sahih (sound)" and "hasan". (see Munawi, Faydul-Qadir, 1/542-543)

It is possible to deduce the following decrees and results from this hadith:

1.Knowledge is universal. Useful knowledge is not the property of a certain nation and it can be found anywhere. In other words, true knowledge has no nationality. Man needs to seek true knowledge even if it is in China and obtain it.

2. Allah gives useful knowledge to the person who wants it.Anyone who wants, tries very hard, works for its sake and prays with the tongue of talent be helped by Allah to reach useful knowledge and can obtain useful knowledge with the help of Allah whether he is a Muslim or not. Whoever uses the tongue of talent and asks knowledge from Allah, Allah will give it to him. As a matter of fact, Badiuzzaman Said Nursi states that the sultanate of mankind that is dominant on earth, the technology and the civilization that has been reached has not been obtained by pride and struggle like Qarun (Croesus), that this civilization  is the product of the knowledge about matter given under the control of humanity due to its weakness, that he was helped by Allah to reach this knowledge, that the doors of learning the right and useful knowledge were opened, and that the right knowledge was inspired to man by Allah, who created the mind and consciousness. (Nursi, Sözler, p. 296)

3. Allah has equipped humanity with the ability and equipment to learn the true knowledge. It is a sign of being the caliph on earth. Whether he is a Muslim or not is a different issue. Doubtlessly, a Muslim should pursue true knowledge more.  However, today the true knowledge about matter is in the hands of non-Muslims. We should accept it. For, they want it and they seek it. They pray with the tongue of talent. And Allah gives it to them.

When it comes to Muslims who have numerous orders in their hands to obtain the true knowledge, they are behind non-Muslims regarding the issue. They suffer the consequences by being underdeveloped countries and serving the developed countries. Today, there is no other reason for the sufferings of the Islamic world.

It was not like that in the past. In the past, Muslims were the masters of civilization, true knowledge and development. However, after a while, they stopped seeking knowledge. They generously gave the knowledge that was sought and obtained by their predecessors to the West, which was seeking knowledge. There was no mistake that the West received knowledge from the Muslims. However, it was a terrible mistake that the Muslims remained away from knowledge and did not follow their predecessors. The Islamic world has not been able to overcome this stagnation yet. Today, the prayer caps our hajjis bring from Makkah are made in China and dhikr counters are made in Japan.

4. It is fard for every Muslim to learn the true knowledge related to the field he is interested in and he is talented about. It is sunnah to present what they learn as service to humanity.

5. Angels pray for learners of knowledge and they protect them against dangers by Allah's permission and order.

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