Question:

We Hope to open this meeting O virtuous Shaykh with a question from one of the brothers who says: “Shaykh Sālih with what do you direct the students of knowledge or similarly the beginning students of knowledge and those who have begun and what are the books you advise they begin with, in their quest for knowledge and what is the reward for acquiring Islāmic knowledge?”

Answer:

With the Name of Allāh, Ar-Rahmān Ar-Rahīm, and all praises are for Allāh the Lord of everything that exist may the salāt and salām be upon our Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم, his family and all of his Companions.

This an important question and it is how one should seek knowledge and how the student of knowledge should begin and who knowledge should be sought from and what are the books one should begin with and what is the important type of knowledge from all the (different) studies of knowledge.

So I say, and with Allāh is the success, without doubt seeking knowledge is an important affair. Allāh جل وعلا says: “Know! That none has the right to be worshipped except Allāh, and ask for forgiveness of your sins and for the male and female believers” (47:19)

Imām al-Bukhārī (May Allāh have mercy on him) said in his chapter “Knowledge proceeds speech and action”  then he mentioned this verse.

This is because if actions are not based upon knowledge, founded upon knowledge, then it is misguidance and tiring without benefit.Because the affair is like this it’s an obligation upon the Muslim to seek knowledge.

And this (knowledge) is categorized into two categories.

This first category ofKnowledge:

That which the Muslims religion will not be established except by way of it and this is an individual obligation upon every Muslim, male and female.That he learns that which his religion will be established by it. His Belief, his Prayer, his Zakāt, his Fasting, his Hajj, the five pillars of Islām. It is a must that he learns them, how he performs them. What are the requirements of every action, what are the conditions for them to be accepted by Allāh سبحانه و تعالى (as the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said):

“Actions are only by the intentions” Having sincere intentions “And every person will have that which he intends”

This is what is obligatory upon every Muslim, an individual obligation upon (every) male and female and everyone who has reached the age of puberty, it is obligatory upon him that he begins with this.

Particularly with the affair of Creed, because it the foundation in which his actions are built upon. Action without knowledge is not accepted and actions (not built upon a sound) Creed are false actions and it will not benefit its doer, so if he begins with anything he begins with the Creed

(Allāh says) : “Know! That none has the right to be worshipped except Allāh” (47:19). This is Creed (mentioned in this verse) so he starts with knowledge of Creed.

Then after this he learns the rulings of the prayer which are compulsory upon him day and night, five times (a day) he knows its conditions, its pillars and its obligations and how he performs it, until (it is performed) in its legislative manner, so that Allāh will accept it from him (along) with him having a sincere intention.

Then he learns how to perform (pay) the Zakāt what are its conditions and what type of wealth which are obligatory (to be paid) regarding it and what is the amount obligatory (to be paid) on it, who are the one who it should be distributed to until it is performed in the manner demanded, because it coupled (paired together) with the Prayer.

Then he learns how he should fast during the month of Ramadhān and what the conditions of fasting are, what nullifies it and what makes it defective.

Then he learns how to make Hajj to the house al-Atīq and how he performs Hajj and Umrah.

So it is a must that he learns these affairs with details even if (he learns them) small portions (at a time) because all forms of worship has its small portions (in learning them). An individual beginning in his (studies) learns (these issues) with what is easy (while) returning to the people of knowledge.

This Second category of Knowledge:

Then he learns (that) which will aid him, he learns the rulings of transactions and this is from the second category of knowledge. This is what is obligatory upon some (but not every individual).

So whoever has the ability to learn it then he does so to benefit himself and the Muslims. Also this is what relates to the study of transactions, judgments and inheritance, wills and endowments, the book of marriage and divorce, the book of crimes and punishments, the book of qadā (etc.) All these are collective obligations, where one establishes it in what suffices himself and the Muslims, then this remains a right for the Muslims (in general) a recommended act (of seeking this knowledge) an affirmed recommended act.

So it is a must seek knowledge upon its known way, with the people of knowledge which Allāh has designed and His Messenger صلى الله عليه وسلم. So one does not seek knowledge except from its people, those known for it, he does not take knowledge from someone who claims [ المتعاال ] it or ignorant person الجاهال or the people of misguidance and deviation اهال الضالال و اننحافا but rather he takes knowledge from the people of knowledge who remain upright upon obedience (to Allāh) and worship and like this one take knowledge.

Either in schools with a system of study, or centers or colleges, or at the hands of the scholars in the Masājid. These are the places for seeking knowledge.

Also he learns that which will aid him in fiqh and the remaining sciences (of knowledge) as what is called knowledge of علاء such as Arabic grammar, Arabic language, or balāgha and this is something necessary for a person to learn that which is from the sciences of Arabic language. That from grammar and the Arabic language, that which the Qur’ān al-Karīm was revealed in and this regulates his recitation of Qur’ān and he doesn’t make mistakes in (its recitation) and this is not possible except by learning (Arabic) grammar.

Also he learns knowledge of measuring that which is distributed from inheritance, (knowledge) of how categorize in issues and how to give everyone who has a right, his rights as Allāh legislated and this is what is called knowledge of hisāb (measuring). So he gains understanding in transactions and other than that.

And this without doubt requires from the individual two affairs:

First affair: Patience upon the length (of time) in learning and patience upon the difficulties in learning.

Second affair: to act by what Allāh has taught him (what He has caused him to learn). There is a must that he works by what Allāh has taught him.

And a third affair: that he teaches the people (as Allāh says): “To obtain understanding in the religion and warn their people when they return to them that they might be cautious” (9:122)  So he learns and then he teaches.

As for the misguided group, who says we are not in need of learning knowledge as it hinders you from actions, and what is intended is actions and they strive hard in worship and they leave knowledge which is its guide and guidance. These people are misguided people and their actions are misguided. And this is mentioned in surah al-Fātihah which we read in every raka’ah “Guide us to the straight path – the path of those upon whom You have bestowed Your Favour, not of those who have evoked [Your] Anger or of those who went astray.” (1:6-7) Those who (Allāh’s) favour has been placed upon them are those who combine between beneficial knowledge and righteous actions. They don’t just take knowledge only without action and they don’t take action without knowledge. And those who have earned (Allāh’s) anger are those who took knowledge and abandoned action as the Jews. And those who are astray are those who took action and they abandoned knowledge. Those who are acquainted with this are the Christians, those who worship Allāh upon ignorance and misguidance. In every unit of prayer you read this great ayah. “Guide us to the straight path – the path of those upon whom You have bestowed Your Favour, not of those who have evoked [Your] Anger or of those who went astray.” (1:6-7)

So contemplate it and work by it! And do not pay attention to those who abstain from seeking knowledge and are firm upon that.Do not pay attention to those who meet knowledge with ignorance without knowing its guidelines and regulations and causes people to go astray.

These affairs are from principles in seeking knowledge and it is a must that the Muslim knows them.

And that which is the foundation is the intention, you seek knowledge with a good intention (i.e. for Allāh only) because seeking knowledge is worship and it is a must that the worship have an intention as the prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said, “Actions are only by the intentions and every individual will have that which he intends”

Translated by: Abu Anas Atif Hasan
Taken from: فتاوى على الهواء 1

Posted with Permission from : Al-Binaa Publishing | Durham NC

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