آداب طلب العلم الإسلاميEtiquettes of (students) Seeking Islamic Knowledge Abdullah Hasan A introductory lesson delivered to the students of London East Academy (sixth form) during the Fiqh semester 24/02/06
Etiquettes of Seeking Islamic Knowledge • Five categories: 1-Etiquettes Pertaining to the Student’s Relationship with His Lord 2-Etiquettes Pertaining to the Student’s Attitude towards the Scholars 3-Etiquettes Pertaining to the Student’s Relationship with His Teachers 4-Etiquettes Pertaining to the Student’s Relationship with His Classmates 5-Etiquettes Pertaining to the Student’s Personal Conduct
Etiquettes Pertaining to the Student’s Relationship with His Lord • B-The student should not transgress the limits set by Allah. Allah says: “And so amongst men and crawling creatures and cattle, are they of various colors. Those truly fear Allah, among His Servants, who have knowledge: for surely Allah is Exalted in Might, Oft-Forgiving.” [SûrahFâtir: 28] The more a person grows in knowledge, the more humble he becomes before his Lord. A-The student should be sincere to Allah in his intentions for seeking knowledge. He should not seek Islamic knowledge for fame or status. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Do not acquire knowledge in order to vie with scholars or dispute with the ignorant or turn people’s glances your way. Whoever does that is in the Fire.” [Sunan Ibn Mâjah (259) – declared a good (hasan) hadîth by al-Albânî]
Etiquettes Pertaining to the Student’s Relationship with His Lord • D-The student should accept what Allah has set forth in the scriptures of religious rulings and teachings. He should not give his personal opinions preference over the clear dictates of the Qur’ân and Sunnah. Allah says: “O you who believe! Put not yourselves forward before Allah and His Messenger; but fear Allah: for Allah is He Who hears and knows all things.” [Sûrah al-Hujurât: C-A student of religious knowledge should feel strongly about the teachings of his faith. He should feel enough concern to enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Religion is Sincerity.” We asked: “To whom, O Messenger of Allah?” He said: “To Allah, His Book, His Messenger, and the leaders of the Muslims and to the common Muslim.” [Sahîh Muslim (82)]
Etiquettes Pertaining to the Student’s Attitude towards the Scholars • C-The student should always assume the best about the scholars. He should never disparage any of them on account of an opinion that he might have held A-The student should show respect and deference to the scholars, and he should beseech Allah’s mercy and forgiveness upon them in his prayers. B-The student should focus on the scholars’ strengths and overlook their shortcomings.
Etiquettes Pertaining to the Student’s Relationship with His Teachers • B-The student should behave humbly in his teachers’ presence and should show them respect. `Ubâdah b. al-Sâmit relates that Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said: “Whoever fails to show honor to our elders, mercy to our children, and due deference to our scholars is not one of us.” [Musnad Ahmad (21693) – Al-Haythamî declares its chain of transmission to be good (hasan) in Majma` al-Zawâ’id (1/127)] A-The student should take as much care as he can to select teachers known for their piety, humility, and religious commitment. Ibn Sîrîn was among the many scholars who said: “This knowledge is of the religion. Be careful who you take your religion from.” Al-Khatîb al-Baghdâdî said: “A student should seek out a legal scholar who is known for being religious, who has a reputation for good conduct as well as proficiency.”
Etiquettes Pertaining to the Student’s Relationship with His Teachers D-The student should sit in the presence of his teachers attentively. He should not let his mind wander. Allah says: “Allah has not assigned to any man two hearts within his body.” [Sûrah al-Ahzâb: 4] E-The student should bear patiently any harsh treatment or sternness that his teachers might sometimes exhibit. He should find some excuse for their behavior. C-A student should remain under his teachers’ tutelage in order to benefit from their conduct and their practice. He should seek to emulate their good manners and behaviors. He should avoid behaving contrarily. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Whoever emulates a people is from among them.” [Sunan Abî Dâwûd (4031)]
Etiquettes Pertaining to the Student’s Relationship with His Teachers G-The student should be attentive, even when the topic is one that he is already well versed in. This is one of the best manners a student of knowledge can exhibit. `Atâ’ b. Rabâh said: “If I hear a youngster relate a hadîth, I listen as if I have no knowledge of it at all.” F- The student should be considerate and polite in asking his teachers questions. Indeed, one of the best approaches to seeking knowledge is to ask questions in the right way. If the teacher remains silent, the student should not press him to answer. Ibn `Abbâs was once asked: “How did you acquire this knowledge that you have?” He replied: “With a questioning tongue and a discerning heart.”
Etiquettes Pertaining to the Student’s Relationship with His Classmates • B-A student should work with his classmates in improving their knowledge together. He should benefit them with whatever he may have learned, and he should not be too proud to learn from them as well. Al-Khalîl b. Ahmad was asked how he came to acquire all the knowledge the he had. He replied: “Whenever I met a scholar, I would take knowledge from him and impart knowledge to him.” A-A student of religious knowledge should show humility when he is among his classmates. He should never behave arrogantly. He should never set himself above them. If he has a stronger memory or a quicker grasp of things, he should know that it is Allah’s blessing upon him and he should be thankful.
Etiquettes Pertaining to the Student’s Relationship with His Classmates C-The student should desire for his peers the same success that he desires for himself. He should encourage and help his classmates as much as he can. D-A student should not joke around too much with his fellows. He should never belittle any of them or envy them.
Etiquettes Pertaining to the Student’s Personal Conduct • B- The student should inculcate good conduct in his personality as he learns it from his teachers. Mâlik said: “My mother used to put my turban on and say: ‘Go to Rabî`ah and learn good manners from him before learning from his knowledge’.” `Abd Allah b. al-Mubârak said: “They used to learn good manners before acquiring knowledge.” A- A student of religious knowledge should put what he learns into practice. He should not let the following verse apply to him: “The likeness of those who were entrusted with the Torah, but who did not apply it, is as the likeness of a donkey carrying books.” [Sûrah al-Jumu`ah: 5]
Etiquettes Pertaining to the Student’s Personal Conduct • D- The student should approach the task of learning one step at a time. This is a general rule for learning. A student who seeks to learn everything at one’s loses everything. He can learn one or two hadîth at a time. This may be one of the reasons why Allah sent the Qur’ân down gradually over the whole time of the Prophet’s mission. C-The student should be diligent and patient in his studies. Yahyâ b. Abîkathîr said: “Knowledge does not come without physical effort.” He should not procrastinate and put off his acquisition of knowledge until he has free time. His motto should be the following prayer: “O my Lord! Increase me in knowledge.”
Etiquettes Pertaining to the Student’s Personal Conduct F- The student must pay the dues that his knowledge requires of him. This is for him to impart it to others. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Convey form me if but a single verse.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî (3461)] E- The student should strive to acquaint himself with as much of the knowledge of his day as he can. He should be acquainted with all fields. Al-Ghazâlî writes in Ihyâ’ `Ulûm al-Dîn (1/55): A student should not neglect any respectable discipline or branch of knowledge. He should at least be acquainted with its general subject and its objectives. If his lifetime permits, he should make a detailed study of it all. Otherwise, he should prioritize, dealing exhaustively with what is most important and a making an overview of the rest.
Learning from Books • “Who learns Fiqh directly from books will lose correct understanding of religious rulings.” (Al-Imam Ash-Shafi`ie) • “My people! Make your intention, in knowledge, getting the satisfaction of Allah, for I have never been into a gathering with the intention of being humble in it, unless I leave it victorious. And I have never joined a gathering with the intention of being victorious, unless I leave it while being disgraced.” (Al-Imam Abu Yusuf) • “I wished that people could learn this knowledge without having to ascribe any letter of it to me. And I have never debated with anyone with the intention of winning the debate. Whenever I debated somebody, I always wished that Allah shows the truth at his hands. I have never spoken with someone except wishing that he may be guided and helped to get the truth and be enshrouded in the protection and the care of Allah.” (Al-Imam Ash-Shafie(
جزاكم الله خيراونفعنا الله وإياكم بما علمنا Compiled from an article by ShaykhSalman al Awdah (www.islamtoday.com)