إذا رمت العلوم بغير شيخٍ ** ضللت عن الصراط المستقيم
وتلتبس الأمور عليك حتّى ** تصير أضلّ من توما الحكيم
The novice thinks that a book guides ** He connects as brothers quick-wit and obtainment of knowledge
And the ignorant does not understand that in it ** Are obscurities perplexing the mind of the even the sagacious
When you aim for the sciences without a Shaykh ** You stray from the straight path;
And matters become dubious to you until ** You become more astray than Tuumaa ‘the Wise’.
Shaykh Aymen Souid [hafidhahullah] narrates:
“Touma the ‘wise’ was a man who used to practice medicine by merely learning the theory from books, without the assistance of a qualified person.
He once read the hadith about the black seed “The black seed is a cure for every disease” as “The black snake is a cure to every disease”.
This mistake was a result of a little dirt mark that was in his book under the word حبة (seed) which he read as حية (snake).
Touma then put this into practice and started to treat his patients with black snakes (by grounding them into drinks) which killed his patients.”
Lessons from the story:
1) Allah swt raises people in status through knowledge and He swt can also lower their status through knowledge.
This can result from:
a. Lack of sincerity or
b. Arrogance whereby the person doesn’t feel the need to refer back to someone more knowledgeable than themselves.
None of which are qualities that befit or benefit the student of knowledge.
2) Misreading a hadith led to the death of a number of people. Imagine those who misinterpret the Quran and Sunnah due to their ignorance and thus cause generations to go astray? And by Allah death is easier than this!
Remember that Allah swt did not reveal the Qur’an except that He selected the best of mankind, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, to teach it.