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In The name of Allah,The Most Merciful,The Most gracious

Top Ten Things Every Student of Knowledge Should Know.

Many times young Muslims decide they want to become scholars and embark on the path of knowledge with little knowledge of what to expect. I was such a youngster who signed up for an “‘alim” course with no idea what an ‘alim is or where it would lead me.

In order to help my fellow Muslims prepare themselves psychologically and not repeat the mistakes I made, I present to you ten things I feel every student of knowledge must know (in no particular order):

1.  A few years of study does not make one a scholar:

Too often, young Muslims study a few books or for a few years and then develop a “scholar” complex. They begin to force their opinions on others as if they can’t be wrong. They become intolerant to other views, and they write anybody off who disagrees with them as deviant.

We need to realize, before we even begin our journey of knowledge, that the sciences of Islam are many and deep; the variety of opinions in fiqh are multiple, and the chances of always being right are slim. I advise all of my fellow young Muslims to tread carefully, keep egos in check, approach differences with the possibility of being wrong, and never forget to say “Allah knows best”.

2. Manners come first:

In the past, most scholars would train their students in good manners before teaching them Islamic knowledge. Parents, too, would encourage their children to learn manners before the Islamic sciences.

Sadly, today many institutes do not teach good manners to their students, expecting them to automatically gain them through their study of Islam. This leads to Islamic teachers with bad manners, which in turn chases people away from Islam.

In this regard, anybody who is studying or teaching Islam must learn the proper manners of dealing with people, mercy, tolerance, and being non-judgmental and must possess a personality that attracts people; otherwise, we might do more harm than good.

3. Studying Islam does not make one immune to sin:

Some people have the misconception that if they study Islam, they will reach a level of piety from which they can’t slip. The reality is that Shaytan tries even harder to lead people of knowledge astray as it has a more detrimental effect on the community as a whole.

So instead of temptations growing less, they are more likely to increase and intensify as Shaytan tries to use every means at his disposal to lead us astray. We need to realize this, prepare for it, and never let our guard down as the Shayateen try very hard to make a knowledgeable Muslim fall astray.

4. People will judge you:

While we should not be judgmental to people as Islamic teachers, the reality is that people will still judge you. Many people are intimidated by practicing Muslims. When they see a practicing Muslim, they see their own flaws and deficiencies and so they search for fault in that individual. We should not be surprised if people judge our clothing, mannerisms or weaknesses; it is their way to try and console themselves or justify their sins. We need to always keep this in mind and be able to respond appropriately.

5. You represent your Faith:

When a person chooses to study Islam, especially once they earn a title, they automatically become a representation of the deen. When people see an Imam or a Shaykh, they expect to see a living example of Islam. If people see such a person sinning, they will either lose respect for him and become disillusioned about Islam, or they will take it as proof that it can’t be that big a sin. Either way, for an Islamic teacher, our lives represent our deen, so we should always be careful not to give a wrong impression of Islam.

6. You will be tested:

Undoubtedly, life is a test and every human is being tested all the time in different ways. However, one should not think that because one is studying Islam and teaching it, Allah will grant a life of ease and comfort. Rather, history proves that those closest to Allah are the most severely tested. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “The most severely tested people are the prophets, then those closest to them in piety then those closest to them.”

Be prepared to be tested and take it as a sign that Allah loves you and wants to test your love for Him. Remember that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said,

“Whoever embarks on a path to study Islam has embarked on the path towards Paradise.”

It is not the information alone that takes a person to Paradise; it is his fulfillment of its rights by understanding, practicing and preaching it to others and dealing with all the problems that go along with this that ultimately leads to Paradise.

7. Studying should not be an end; rather it should be a step to a higher goal:

I have met many Moulanas, Imams and Shaykhs with no goals or aspirations. Despite the ummah having so many issues that need dealing with, these men don’t seem to care. Upon further analysis, I realized that they set out to study with one of the following goals:  to please their parents, to get a title, or to get the knowledge. Once they obtained the knowledge, they did not know or care about what to do next, so they carried along with their lives like donkeys carrying books.

Any person who studies Islam should be introspective and find a good motivation to study. Perhaps you would like to become a da’ee and a means of guidance for non-Muslims. Perhaps you would like to establish an Islamic centre in an area that needs one. Perhaps you would like become a mujtahid in a field that is lacking many quality scholars. Whatever you decide, it should be something noble that you wish to do for the sake of Allah after completing your studies. In short, studying should not be a goal but a means to help accomplish higher goals.

8. You can’t change everyone:

In life, we do not always get what we want. Similarly, in Islamic work things don’t always go our way. Remember that not everybody you meet will agree with you, listen to you or accept your message. Rather, there will always be people who will disagree with you or flat out reject you. This is reality and we have to be prepared for this by realizing guidance is only in Allah’s Hands, and we are only responsible for conveying the message.

9.  You will make mistakes:

Many of us study Islam to make up for the sins of our past. Yet, being humans, we are never free from sins and mistakes and so some people become depressed and give up Islamic work when they realize that they are now knowledgeable but still occasionally fall into sin.

The truth is that the Shaytan wants us to quit and by doing so we are just playing into his hands, but Allah is Most Forgiving to those who repent. Every time you fall down and make a mistake, pick yourself back up, turn to Allah in repentance and try again to be a good Muslim, and never EVER allow your sins or mistakes stop you from doing Islamic work. Rather, it should motivate us to do more Islamic work so that our good deeds outweigh our sins on the Last Day.

10. The reward for studying and teaching Islam is worth it:

While most of the above make it seem like Islamic Work is a difficult field, that is not the purpose of this article. The purpose was solely to prepare for the many challenges and responsibilities we face while trying to serve Allah.

The reality is that the reward of dealing with all of the above is truly worth it, whether it is the rewards in this world or in the akhirah. As far as the akhirah goes, we know that the path of knowledge leads to Paradise but additional to that is the fact that insha’Allah you will get the rewards for the good deeds of those you teach or inspire to do good.

In this sense, it is one of the only good deeds we can do where the reward keeps multiplying. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “When a person dies, all their deeds end except three: charity which continues to benefit, knowledge he left behind which people benefit from, and righteous children who pray for him.”

As far as this world goes, the greatest reward an Islamic worker can receive in this world is seeing the fruits of his efforts. When a person tells you they changed and became a better Muslim because of your influence or when a person takes their shahadah at your hands, there is no feeling equal to it, and any sacrifice you have being through for the deen feels worth it.

So, my beloved brothers and sisters, let us study Islam, seeking its rewards yet knowing the responsibilities and trials that go along with it. I wrote this firstly as a reminder to myself as well as to anybody else involved in the field of Islamic Studies. May Allah keep us all steadfast on His deen.  Ameen.

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In The name of Allah,The Most Merciful,The Most gracious

How to Purify the Intention when Seeking Knowledge

With regards to how to attain ikhlaas(having purity of intention and sincerity) in your seeking knowledge, Shaykh Muhammad ibn Saalih al ‘Uthaymeen rahimahullaah states:

So if someone says to you: How does ikhlaas in seeking knowledge come about? It comes about through a (number) of matters:

1 – It is that in doing that (seeking of knowledge), you have as your intention that you are complying with Allaah’s command because Allaah, the Most High, commanded with that (seeking of knowledge).
So He said:
Have knowledge that none has the right to be worshipped except Allaah. And seek forgiveness for your sin.
Soorah Muhammad (47) aayah 19 And he sall Allaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam encouraged (us) upon knowledge; and encouraging upon a matter necessitates loving it and being pleased with it and commanding with it.

2 – It is that in doing that, you intend to preserve the Sharee’ah of Allaah, because preserving the Sharee’ah of Allaah occurs through learning, and it comes about through preserving (it) in the chests (of people), and it comes about through writing down, writing down the books.

3 – It is that in doing that, you intend to protect the Sharee’ah and defend it, because were it not for the people of knowledge, then the Sharee’ah would not have been protected and no one would have defended it. And therefore you find, for example, Shaykh ul Islaam ibn Taymiyyah and other than him from the people of knowledge who resisted and blocked the people of innovation and clarified the false and futile nature of their innovations, we see that they (these people of knowledge) attained a great deal of good.

4 – It is that in doing that, your intention is to be following the Sharee’ah of Muhammad sall Allaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam because you are not able to follow his Sharee’ah until you have knowledge of this Sharee’ah.

The author (Imaam Al-Barbahaaree) rahimahullaah said:

And know, may Allaah have mercy upon you that knowledge is not in being able to narrate much and in having many books, rather the scholar is the one who follows the knowledge and the sunnahs (in some versions: the Book and the Sunnah) even if his knowledge and his books are limited and whoever opposes the Book and the Sunnah then he is a person of innovation, even if he narrates much and has many books.

Shaykh Saalih Al-Fowzaan hafizahullaah said in explanation of this point

His saying:

And know, may Allaah have mercy upon you, that knowledge is not in being able to narrate much and in having many books.

`Ilm (knowledge) is not in knowing many things and reading much and having many books. Knowledge is only through having fiqh (knowledge and understanding) and through ittibaa’ (following) and in ‘amal (action upon it), even if the person has only a little knowledge. So a small amount of knowledge along with righteous action and with correct understanding of the religion is something that is much. Whereas having a lot of knowledge with little action and without following, there is no benefit in it.

So the Jews have amongst them people of knowledge, they have rabbis and yet despite this their knowledge does not benefit them and they became those upon whom there is anger because they disobeyed Allaah upon knowledge and insight, so what is intended is not to have a large amount of knowledge and to have read many things, what is intended is action. This is what is intended by knowledge and this is the path of those upon whom Allaah has bestowed his favour. Just as He the Most High said (the explanation of which is),

‘Guide us upon the straight path, the path of those upon whom You have bestowed Your favour’ and they are the people of knowledge and action. ‘Not the path of those whom You are angry with’ and they are those who possess knowledge without action. ‘Nor the path of those who are astray’ [Sooratul-Faatihah, verses 6-7] and they are those who act without knowledge.

So therefore knowledge will not benefit unless it is with action and action will not benefit unless it is along with knowledge. So knowledge and action must be combined and this is the path of those who have favour bestowed upon them.

His saying: And rather the scholar is just the one who follows (applies) the knowledge and the sunnahs even if he only has a small amount of knowledge and of books. The scholar is only the one who follows the Book and the sunnahs even if he has only acquired a small amount of knowledge, contrary to the case of someone who has acquired a great deal of knowledge or who has many and various books, however he does not act, then this there is no benefit in it. Knowledge becomes much and it increases and it grows along with righteous deeds. As for knowledge without action then it is stripped of blessing and it will not remain.

And the people of knowledge are of two categories:

The first one: those who are scholars with the tongue only

The second one: those who are scholars with the tongue and with the heart and they are the people of al-khashyah (fear of Allaah). He the Most High said (the explanation of which is),

‘It is only those who have knowledge amongst His servants who fear Allaah’ [Soorah Faatir, verse 28].

So having knowledge and fear (of Allaah), these two are al-`ilmus-saheeh, correct knowledge. As for just knowledge of the tongue without fear of Allaah then this is the knowledge of the hypocrites, we ask Allaah for safety and security…

…Allaah the Most High said with regard to the Jews (the explanation of which is),

‘The example of those who were given the duty of acting upon the Tawraat and then they did not act upon it is just like the example of a donkey carrying volumes of books.’ [Sooratul-Jumu’ah, verse 5].

So the person who has a huge library but he abandons action or he is an innovator, his example is that of a donkey which carries books and does not benefit from them.

Taken from Shaykh Saalih Al-Fawzaan’s explanation of Sharhus-Sunnah of Imaam Al-Barbahaaree, translated by Aboo Talhah Daawood Burbank on 28th February 2011 during his Monday ‘aqeedah lesson.

With regards to the students of knowledge leaving off argumentation and accepting the Truth when it comes to them, Shaykh Muhammad ibn Saalih al ‘Uthaymeen rahimahullaah states:

And likewise (from the most important of matters) also is abandonment of argumentation and disputing because argumentation and disputing are a door to blocking the correct path.

For argumentation and disputing incite a person to speak and try to support himself only; even if the Truth is made clear to him, you will find him either rejecting it or else twisting it in a detestable manner, seeking to support himself and trying to force his opponent to take his statement.

So if you see argumentation and disputing from your brother, in that the Truth (in that matter) is something clear but he does not follow it, then flee from him as you would flee from a lion. And say, “I don’t have anything except this (information which I have told you)” and leave him…

So from those matters of importance for the student of knowledge is that he leave off argumentation and disputing and that he leave off those ideas which come to his mind; leave these matters and don’t be obstinate. Make your knowledge be something simple and easy – meaning (like) the Arab who came, he came upon his camel and asked the Prophet sall Allaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam about matters of the Religion, then he (the Arab) departed without arguing because he had nothing with him except tasleem (submission).

As for arguing and disputing and quarreling then this is something that harms the person.

And Allah knows best!

(Sharh hilyah taalib il ‘ilm p19 to 20 of Shaykh Muhammad ibn Saalih al ‘Uthaymeen rahimahullaah )

Translated by Aboo ‘Abdir-Rahmaan Naasir ibn Najam

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