The Man with Too Much Tea

Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem, Alhamdulillahi Wasolatu Wasalaamu ‘ala Rasulillah…

A scholar of great knowledge once visited a Sufi Sage. He was very pleased to be visiting the Sage and, started talking and talking to show how much knowledge he had.

Finally the Sage said, “Let me pour you some tea,” and began pouring tea for his guest out of a teapot. He kept pouring until the teapot was full, and began to overflow onto the table.

The scholar was surprised. “What are you doing?” he asked. “You are as full as this teacup,” said the Sage. “How can I put anything in it, when it is overflowing already?”

One must therefore visit a Sufi sage with an empty heart, with a humility that is receptive to whatever the sage may choose to put in there. If one’s heart is already full – of pride, of worldly concerns- one can receive nothing. The scholar in this story was obviously a person with too much tea in him.


The following is an excerpt from Bidayah al-Hidayah by Imam Ghazali r.a. may Allah make it easy for us to practice these adabs. Amin

The Proper Conduct for a Student

  1. Greeting the Teacher/Guide/Guru with a Salutation of Peace (Salam)
  2. Limiting conversation in his presence.
  3. Not to talk unless told to by the Teacher.
  4. Not to ask anything before being permitted to.
  5. Do not go against him by saying, “So-and-so said something different than what you mentioned.”
  6. Do not mention a different view than his, such that one sees himself as knowing better than the teacher.
  7. Do not ask a question to a friend who sits together in the teacher’s class.
  8. Do not twist and turn your head during the lesson but sit serenely, head bowed as if in prayer.
  9. Do not ask too many questions especially when the teacher is not in a good mood.
  10. Stand up when the teacher stands up as a show of reverence.
  11. Do not harbor bad thoughts of him if one sees something wrong in his external acts. One has to recall the stroy of Nabi Musa a.s. and  Nabi Khidr a.s. from surah al-Kahfi of the Quran. One does not know the inner state of the guru, and upon what his actions are based.


‘Ilm – Knowledge

Bismillahir Rahmanir  Raheem, Allahumasolli ‘ala Sayidina Muhammadin wa aalihi wasohbihi wasalim…


Beneficial Knowledge

Beneficial knowledge here refers to that knowledge which brings good both to our life in this world and the hereafter.

Beneficial knowledge as stated by Imam Ghazali radiaAllahuanhu is knowledge which:

  1. increases our fear of Allah ta’ala.
  2. increases our introspection of our faults, makes us inspect ourselves for any bad character traits, insincerity etc.
  3. increases our knowledge on matters pertaining to ‘ibadah i.e. divine service
  4. decreases our desire for the world
  5. increases our focus/desire for the hereafter – increases certainty
  6. enlighten us on different spiritual ailments (e.g. show, envy etc.) until we are able to avoid them
  7. enlighten us on the subtle satanic deceptions

These are the most important types of knowledge that must be sought for anyone who desires salvation. He/She must then practice the knowledge with utmost sincerity and spread the knowledge. It is said by Prohpet Isa alaihisalaam that anyone who learns, practices and then teaches will be a called a “V.I.P”/big shot/great figure in the kingdom of heaven. Wallahu ‘alam.


There is a saying that goes, “Seek knowledge in your youth and then retreat (khalwa/uzlah) later.” Our youth is the perfect time for seeking knowledge especially when our sight, hearing and other faculties are at its peak. It is said, “One faqih (i.e. a person who is deeply versed in the religious knowledge) is better that a thousand ‘abid. (a person who spents most of his time in ‘ibadah). The virtuos predecessors have said, “To learn a verse of the Qur’an is more beloved to me than to pray a hundred raka’ahs.

It is related by Shaykh Ibn ‘Arabi radaiAllahuanhu that once there was an ‘abid who spends most of his time praying, fasting etc. One day he bought a donkey and he tied it at his house. People were curious as to what he used the donkey for as he doesn’t seem to have a need for it, as he spend his time mostly in ‘ibadah. He answered them as such, “Oh this donkey, I use it to guard my private part from sinning.” The people of the village were taken aback by this, reprimanded him, telling him to repent. This story illustrates an extreme case of how ignorance can nullify our good acts. May Allah increase us in beneficial knowledge, Amin.


O Friend, know that the more esteemed the object that is sought, the more difficult/cumbersome and trouble it takes to find it. Such is knowledge.

It is related that Imam Asy-Syafi’i grew up as an orphan under the care of his mother. They were very poor and as a boy he spent his time with scholars, writing whatever he gain from them on pieces of bones as he could not afford paper.

It is also related that, Sayid Muhammad bin Alwi would revise his studies at night till most of the night and it is said that his turban caught fire about thirteen times from the lamp during his nightly studying vigils. Sidi Muhammad Sa’id Al-Linggi was so absorbed in his studies from night till dawn that his eyes was said to have bled. He continued to become one of the greatest scholars in SouthEast Asia mastering over 70 sciences.

There are many other stories about the vigour of past ‘ulamas, but what we have stated above would suffice, inshaAllah. “…and Fear/be wary of Allah and Allah will teach you” [2:282]

May Allah plant in us love for beneficial ‘ilm and the people of ‘ilm who practices what they preach. Amin

1.- Excerpt from Bidayah al-Hidayah, 2. & 3. Excerpt from Tariqah Alawiyah (malay)