عَنْ مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ مُسْلِمٍ قَالَ قُلْتُ لِاَبِي عَبْدِ اللّهِؑ كَلَامٌ قَدْ سَمِعْتُهُ مِنْ اَبِي الْخَطَّابِ فَقَالَ اعْرِضْهُ عَلَيَّ فَقُلْتُ يَقُولُ اِنَّكُمْ تَعْلَمُونَ الْحَلَالَ وَ الْحَرَامَ وَ فَصْلَ مَا بَيْنَ النَّاسِ فَسَكَتَ فَلَمَّا اَرَدْتُ الْقِيَامَ اَخَذَ بِيَدِي فَقَالَ يَا مُحَمَّدُ عِلْمُ الْحَلَالِ وَ الْحَرَامِ يَسِيرٌ فِي جَنْبِ الْعِلْمِ الَّذِي يَحْدُثُ فِي اللَّيْلِ وَ النَّهَارِ
Muhammad Ibn Muslim (r.a.) reports, “I said to Imam Abu Abdillah al-Sadeq (peace be upon him) that I have heard some talk from Abu al-Khattaab.” He (peace be upon him) replied, “Tell me about it.” I informed, “He says that surely you know the permissible and the prohibited and the judgments among the people.” He (peace be upon him) kept quiet. When I intended to get up, he (peace be upon him) held my hand and said,
“O Muhammad! The knowledge of the permissible and the prohibited is insignificant in front of the knowledge which occurs in the night and the day.”
Abu al-Khattaab was a narrator from the infallible guides (peace be upon him) but later deviated from the right path. The infallible Imams (peace be upon them) denounced him and informed the people about their distancing from him. They even cursed him. After the Imams (peace be upon them) deprecated him, informed the people about it and cursed him, people who had heard traditions from him came to the Imams (peace be upon them) to verify the veracity of what he had said so that false traditions don’t permeate in the Shiite literature.
The Imams (peace be upon them) knew the unseen and it was not difficult for them to know it.
The knowledge of the Imams (peace be upon them) is in a state of constant upgradation by Allah, day and night, in this world as well as the hereafter.
Insignificant here means that the knowledge of the permissible and prohibited may be difficult for the ordinary scholars whose knowledge is acquired but for the Imams (peace be upon them), whose knowledge is divine, it is not difficult at all. The ordinary scholars have to strive to derive edicts from the texts. Jurisprudence is great but when compared to the knowledge of the Imams (peace be upon them), it is truly insignificant.
1. Behaar al-Anwaar, vol. 23, p. 192, H. 15
2. Al-Ikhtesaas of Shaikh Muhammad Ibn Muhammad Ibn Noman famous as al-Mufeed (r.a.)