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al-Rahmaan ibn Abi Haatim al-Raazi, the author of the great book al-Jarh
wa’l-Ta’deel, was famous for staying close to his father and learning
a great deal from him. He used to say, “He would be eating, and I would read
to him, or walking and I would read to him, or on his way to the washroom and I
would read to him, or going home to get something and I would read to him.” (Siyar
A’laam al-Nubalaa’, 13/251).
is one of the important means of gaining different kinds of knowledge and of
benefitting from the achievements and experiences of others, earlier and later
scholars. It is something vital which the person who wants to learn can hardly
do without. It is an essential need which is hardly less important that food and
drink. Individuals – let alone cultures and civilizations – cannot advance
without reading, for reading brings minds to life, enlightens hearts and sets
readers – usually – form an enlightened elite which plays an influential
role in forming the intellectual and cultural ethos of the Ummah. Hence by
taking care of reading we take care of the heart and soul of the Ummah which is
then able to give and contribute.
is a skill and an art; not everyone can be good at it. How many people there are
who devote a lot of time to reading, yet despite that they gain only a little
will mention – by the help of Allaah – some of the problems which some
readers could have, especially at the beginning of their efforts.
having much patience when reading and studying.
is an old problem which has become more common in our times, especially when
there are so many other distractions. Many readers are not able to persevere
with their reading, and they need to take their time and be patient. No one has
the patience to study and research and read books and the treasures of knowledge
in depth; when a reader starts to look at a book, he soon puts it aside and
becomes busy with something else.
intellectual field these days is suffering from obvious shortcomings in reading
skills. You see many people who would be included among those who are regarded
as educated, who have university degrees and even graduate degrees, but you
would be surprised to learn that many of them would not be able to complete one
book outside his specialty!
are suffering a severe crisis whereby many educated people – let alone the
ordinary rank-and-file – have given up reading and researching. This is one of
the reasons that have led to confusion in people’s way of thinking, extreme
shallowness in many people’s opinions, and a lack of proper insight.
oneself and forcing oneself to read is one of the most successful ways of
developing this noble quality, especially when one is young and at the beginning
of one's quest for knowledge. One may feel incapable at the beginning, or get
bored, but by being patient and persevering, he will – by Allaah’s leave –
develop this skill to the point where it will become second nature to him and he
will not be able to give it up. Hence the Messenger of Allaah (peace
and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Knowledge comes by learning
(making the effort to learn).” (al-Silsilah
al-Saheehah, 1/605). Forming
this habit and implanting it is one of the most important things which readers
and educators must pay attention to.
do not know how we daa’iyahs can seek power and glory, and hope to alter the
course of history, when we do not make the effort to focus on books of
knowledge, and we are content with a few scattered bits of information that we
have picked up here and there…!
at the great advantage which our forbears gained. For example, al-Hasan al-Lu’lu’i
said: “I spent forty years during which I never stood up or slept but there
was a book on my chest.” (Jaami’ Bayaan
al-‘Ilm wa Fadlihi, 2/1231).
al-Qayyim said: “I know someone who, if he is stricken with a headache or a
fever, he still keeps a book by his head. When he comes round, he will read, and
when his sickness overwhelms him again he will put the book aside.” (Rawdat
al-Muhibbeen, p. 70).
being able to focus.
readers read only with their eyes, not with their minds, and they do not focus
their minds and make an effort to understand and research. The reader may let
his mind wander all over the place, thinking of all kinds of worries and other
business, then suddenly notice that a long time has passed and he has not
learned anything worth remembering.
readers start off with interest and focus, but after reading a few pages they
start to get bored gradually, until they lose track of what they are reading.
Then they wake up suddenly after wandering in the vast world of their own
thoughts that have nothing to do with the book. Taha Hussein said: “Often we
read just to pass the time, not to nourish our minds and hearts. Often we read
to help ourselves fall asleep, not to keep ourselves awake.” (Khisaam
wa Naqd, p. 6).
lack of focus may sometimes lead us to getting mixed-up or gaining confused
information, which has the opposite effect, i.e., the results are harmful to the
reader instead of being beneficial. This may also go beyond him and harm others.
one possesses the ability to focus, then one has the ability to learn a subject
inside-out, and this is the primary means of gaining understanding and a full
grasp of a topic. The required level of concentration varies according to the
nature and level of the book being read, and also the intellectual level of the
reader himself and what he hopes to gain from his reading. The concentration
needed to read a specialized academic book is different from that required to
read a novel or a book written at a general level.
brings us to the division of reading into two types:
first type: skimming or flipping through the pages.
is the kind of reading which the reader does when he wants to see what the book
is about and its main topics, when he wants to form a general impression of the
book’s chapters and how the author has dealt with his subject. This method is
fine as an introduction to reading, as it lets the reader decide whether it is
worth reading the book in a more focused manner, or whether quickly skimming
through it is sufficient. This is sufficient for gaining some general
information, but it is not a proper basis for solid, in-depth knowledge.
second type: scientific reading.
is the kind of focused reading in which the reader responds to the contents of
the book and interacts with it, analyzing its points and aims. He may even enter
into a positive debate with it. This kind of reading is the correct way to build
a solid basis of knowledge and make facts stick in one's mind. Because of the
book’s worth, the reader may go back and read the book again, several times,
in order to retain the information that he has gleaned from it, and perhaps to
pick up more information that he missed the first time around. We have the
example of Dhu’l-Mazani, who read Imaam al-Shaafa’i’s book al-Risaalah
five hundred times! (Muqaddimat al-Risaalah,
mistake that many people make is flipping through a detailed academic book,
reading it as one reads a newspaper, where one’s only aim is to finish the
book. You can imagine how little a reader gains when this is his only method of
and educators have described many things that help the reader to focus, such as
choosing a suitable time and place, free of distractions; being mentally
focused; being mentally and psychologically prepared to muster one’s
intellectual abilities… and other suggestions, which would take too long to
describe here. But they may be summed up in one phrase as being serious and
keen, with a sincere intention. Whoever possesses this keenness will overcome
all the obstacles in his path.
by: Abdulrahman Al-Suwyyan
al-Bayaan, no. 148; p. 74
Why should I study Islam?
Many years ago in Uzbekistan, a baby boy was born blind. His mother,
the strong Mu'minah that she was, did not lose sight of He who had the
Power to cure him. She prayed and prayed for her sons sight. And
a few years the boy regained his eyes.
Imam Suyuti authored his first book, Tafseer Bismillaah Ar-Rahman Ar-Raheeem, when he was in grade 2!
Dear brothers and sisters, why should we try to follow in the footsteps of these many other stars of Islam? The information that we shall in law of Allah and the inheritance of the Prophets. It is our duty to preserve and protect the estate of Rasul Allah (pbuh), something that cannot happen without there being serious and sincere brothers and sisters spending long days and nights reading, reflecting, and teaching others.
Every Islamic revival that takes place is built on something. Some revivals are built on emotions, others on politics. Do you know which shall remain firm when the wind of woe blows? It shall be the one was built on sound knowledge of the words of Allah and the Sunnah of Rasul Allah.
A sincere man once stood on the beach shore watching, to his dismay, the waves thrashing a fish up and down, left and right. The man concluded that he must save the fish. He thrashed into the water and grabbed the fish by the tail. He then thrashed back to shore and threw the fish on the beach, satisfied that he had saved it from the water!
Dear brothers and sisters, when we work for the sake of Allah without knowledge of what the path of Allah is, many times we do as that man did. We are living in an age of information. We have lights in every corner of the house when only yesterday our ancestors read by the light of moon. We have publishing houses when only yesterday our ancestors the books they owned with their own hands. We have CD's to search Hadith archives when our scholars spent days upon days searching proof and evidence in their libraries. Shouldn't the knowledge increase with all this ease? It should. But it has not.
Dear brothers and sisters, we know that when a prize is great, the responsibility, and the work required for that prize shall also be great. And because of this, we see the enormous reward promised to those scholars and students of Islam due to the heavy work required.
The Prophet (pbuh) said, "Whoever seeks out a path to acquire knowledge (of the deen), Allah makes easy a path for them to Jannah!" – Muslim
Shaykh Abdur-Rahman As-Sa'dee said, "Thus any path a person
takes, whether physical or otherwise, something that will help them in
acquiring knowledge of the Deen, they enter in the words of the
Prophet, "Whoever seeks out a path to acquire knowledge (of the
Rasul Allah told us that when a person seeks out a path to learn about Islam, this is a sign that Allah loves them and that He wants good for them in this life and the next.
From Mu'aawiyah ibn Abi Sufyan, the Prophet (pbuh) said, "Whoever Allah wishes good for, he grants them Fiqh (understading) of the Deen." And Rasul Allah told us that the sincere scholars have a place with Allah that no one else can reach, and that they are the inheritors of the Prophet's estate in passing it on to the world.
Rasul Allah said, "The virtue of the scholar to a worshipper (Aabid) is similar to the virtue of the moon when it is full to the rest of the stars. And verily the scholars are the inheritors of the Prophets. Verily the Prophets did not leave behind dirhams and deenars, but rather they left behind knowledge. Thus whoever takes it, takes it as a bountiful share." – Authentic, narrated by Abu Dawood, Tirmidhi, and Ibn Majah.
The position of the people of Islamic knowledge reached such a level that Allah (Jalla Thanaa'uhu wa taqaddasat Asmaa'uhu) and the Angels pray for them!
From Abu Umaamah: Rasul Allah said, "Verily Allah and His angels, even the ant in its hole and the fish in the sea, verily (they all) pray for he who teaches people good." – authentic, narrated by Tabraanee.
Rasul Allah prayed for them also. He said, as narrated by Zayd ibn Thabit, "May Allah grant light (and happiness and beauty in the face) of someone who hears a hadith from us and memorizes it until he passes it on to others!" – authentic, narrated by Tirmidhi.
One of the hadith scholars that Imam Bukhari took from, Hisham ibn Ammar narrates a story that happened to him when he was 8 years old. He says, "My father sold a house of his for 20 Deenaars so that I could go for Hajj (and study Islam). When I arrived in Madinah, I went to the circle of Imam Maalik. He was sitting amongst his students like a king. People would ask him questions and he would answer. When I entered the crowd and my turn came up I said, `Haddithnee (recite to me)!' He said, `Rather you read.' I said, `No, you haddithnee!' Imam Maalik said, `No you read!' When I talked back and argued, he got angry and said to another student, go with this boy outside and smack him 15 times!' That student took me outside and smacked me 15 times with a stick and then brought me back to Imam Maalik. I said, `you have Dhulm (wronged) me! My father sold his house so that I could come to you and be honored by listening to your teaching and seek knowledge from you. And you smacked me 15 times without any crime on my part, I shall not forgive you!' Imam Maalik then said, `What is the expiation for this Dhulm (wronging)?' I said, `You have to recite 15 hadiths to me, that is the expiation.' So Imam Maalik began reciting the hadith to me until he completed 15. When he ended I told him, `beat me more and read more hadith to me." Imam Maalik laughed and said, `be off.' – From the book Ma'rifat Al-Qurraa' al-Kibaar by Imam Adh-Dhahabi.
From the beginning of time, there has been a race between the doers of good and the doers of evil. Adam and Iblees, Musa and Fir'own, Muhammad and Abu Jahl. Today that race has not ended. Think: How hard are the doers of evil working and how hard are we?
Umar once said, "I seek Allah's protection from Jalad (the strength and enthusiasm) of the sinner, and the laziness of the God-fearer." SubhaanAllah, it is as if he is contemplating the time that we are now living in.
How can one of us be too lazy to pray 2 raka'at at night, when the people of the Dunya spend the entire night watching movies, some of which they have to read the translation on the bottom of the screen?
How can we be too lazy to read for 2 hours, when the people of the Dunya – those who just want more money to continue their sin – spend days upon days of all-nighters studying for their exams? Why do we cringe at paying 6 dollars for an Islamic book, when the people of the Dunya spend hundreds, rather thousands in pursuit of their sin?
What's wrong? What has happened to us?
Listen to those who came before us. Some Fuqahaa' said, "For years I desired to eat Hareesah (a sweet dish) and I wasn't able to because it was only sold during class time." Imam Su'bah said, "If I ever saw someone running in the streets of the village I would only think one of two things: He was either crazy or a student of Hadith!"
And Ibn Al-Jowzee said, "I haven't seen a flaw more sad in the community than those who stop working even though they have the ability to continue."
How do we correct the situation dear brothers and sisters? Let us
reflect on the following:
Do you know the first Hadith in Sahih Bukhari, and in many many other Hadith books? It is not a coincidence that the first hadith is:
Actions are (judged) by their intentions…" The scholars are
reminding us from the very beginning of our path to learning, from page one,
that it must be for the sake of Allah.
Allah ordered us to be sincere to Him in what we do: [. And they
have been commanded no more than this: to worship Allah, offering Him
sincere devotion, being true (in faith)…
Rasul Allah said, "Whoever studies that which is meant for the sake of Allah, desiring only a piece of the Dunya, he shall not smell the frangrance of Jannah on the Day of Judgement." – authentic, narrated by Ahmad, and Tirmidhi. Ibn Abbas said, "Verily a man shall be protected (by Allah) in proportion to his niyyah (intention for doing what it is he is doing)." And this issue of intention is not an easy matter. Sufyan ath-Thowree said, "I have never nursed something more rebellious than my intentions." – from the book, Al-Ja'mi' li akhlaaq al-Raawee, by Al-Khateeb al-Baghdaadi.
Listen to the advice of Imam Ibn Jamaa'ah if you want to know what it takes to correct your intention, "A proper and sincere intention when studying Islam is to intend to win the pleasure of Allah by what you are doing. You should intend to practice what you learn, to resurrect the Shariah, hoping that this knowledge will shine light on your heart, cleanse your soul, and bring you closer to Allah on the day of Judgement. Your intention for studying Islam should not be to win any worldly commodity, like leadership or fame or riches. It should not be learnt so that you can show off to your colleagues or so that people will revere you and sit you in a chief position in their gatherings, and so on…" – from Imam Ibn Jamaa'ah's book, Tadhkirat as-Saami' wal Mutakallim.
Secondly: We should understand that we are in a continuous war with Shaytaan, and he does not want us to succeed in this studying. Allah ta'aala says, [When thou does read the Qur-an, seek Allah's protection from Satan the Rejected One. (An-Nahl, 98)
The Shaytaan shall sit in the face of every good thing that you try
to do. Rasul Allah told us, "The Shaytaan sits in the path (of
every goodness) that the son of Aadam (may try to take). He sat in front
of him when he took the path to Islam and told him, `how could you
leave the religion of your fathers and your fore-fathers?' But he
disobeyed him and became Muslim. Then Shaytaan sat in front of him in his
path to Hijrah and said, `How could you leave your land and your sky?'
But he disobeyed him and migrated (from Makkah). Then he sat in front
of him in his path of Jihaad and said, `Why should you do Jihad? It
will only exhaust your wealth and body. You'll be killed, your wife will
marry someone else, and your wealth will be divided (to others).'
How will the Shaytaan sit in your face: He will tell you to study tomorrow, and when tomorrow comes, study tomorrow. Procrastination is from the Shaytaan! ; Shaytaan will tell you that you are busy now and that later in your life you shall take the time out to study Islam. After marriage, after graduation, after you get a job. Life shall pass and the 'after' shall live forever.
Shaytaan will tell you that the situation of the Ummah is lost and that you studying will not help anything, so don't waste your time. Combat this with what you've seen from the Jihad of knowledge and teaching that Rasul Allah and those that came before us did. Shaytaan will tell you that there are enough scholars, they don't need you. Combat this with the fact that scholars shall die, and if the knowledge is not passed on to the next generation, it shall die in the community. There are 1.4 billion Muslims and the problem that always comes up is that there are not enough teachers and scholars.
Everyone is a shepherd and everyone shall be responsible for his or her flock!
Thirdly: We should never forget to pray to Allah to bless us with
His Mercy in succeeding in our intentions to learn Islam for His sake.
Allah ta'aala says [When My servants ask thee concerning Me, I am
close (to them): I listen to the prayer of every suppliant when he calleth on Me…]
Let us pray to Allah now to make this effort we are doing to learn His Deen, to learn His Shariah,
sincere for His sake. And that He blesses us
by His Mercy to succeed in what we intend. Verily, he has the Power to
do anything. Ameen.
Al-Hasan Al-Basree (ra) said: "Whoever learns something in the name of Allah, seeking that which is with Him, he will win. And whoever learns something for other than Allah, he will not reach the goal, nor will his acquired knowledge knowledge bring him closer to Allah" (Related by Ibn Al-Jawzee)
For example the companions used all 3 methods of learning;
In later days, as knowledge of ahadith spread all over the Muslim world, gathering of knowledge or collection of hadith required much more extensive traveling. New methods of learning had to be developed.
‘The first thing to
start with when educating the Caliph’s children is to improve
our own manners because their reigns are fastened to your mouth. So
to them will be that which you prefer and ‘bad’ which you avoid.
[Ibn Abd Rabbih al
Andulusi: al Ihd al Farid Egypt (1321/1903) Vol 1 p 225] Tarikh Baghdad