There is no doubt that seeking knowledge is from the most virtuous acts of worship. And it is from the causes that bring about the success of Paradise and honor for those who act on it.
There is a certain amount of etiquette for seeking knowledge which the seeker of knowledge should follow.
1 – Purity of intention in action
Adhere to purity of intention in what you do. Let your aim be to seek the pleasure of Allah and the Home of the Hereafter. Beware of showing off and the love of making oneself appear to be superior to one’s peers. The Messenger of Allaah ﷺ said: “Whoever seeks knowledge in order to compete with the scholars or to prove himself superior to the ignorant or to make the people look up to him, Allaah will cause him to enter Hell.”(narrated by al-Nasaa’i, 2654; classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Nasaa’i).
So we advise every student of knowledge and every Muslim to have sincerity with Allaah in all of their actions, acting on the words of Allaah: “So whoever hopes for meeting his Lord, then let him do righteous deeds and not mix anyone (or thing) with the worship of His Lord.”[Surah Al-Kahf: 110]
2 – Patience
My dear brothers & sisters, seeking knowledge (Islamic) is one of the highest of pursuits, and heights cannot be scaled except by working hard and striving, hence we need to do so with patience and perseverance. The same applies for worldly knowledge where one is seeking it for the Sake of Allah.
3 – Acting upon what you know
Know that acting upon what you know is the fruit of knowledge. Details we were studied in yesterday’s class. And worldly knowledge also says the same if one reads about what ishealthy for us then he/she should try and implement it in life. We will study more about this in the upcoming classes.
4 – Have Taqwa of Allah
You must always be aware that Allaah is watching you, in secret and in the open. Your attitude towards your Lord must always be balanced between fear and hope, which for the Muslims are like the two wings of a bird. Turn to Allaah wholeheartedly and let your heart be filled with love for Him, your tongue with remembrance of Him (dhikr). Be happy and rejoice in His rulings and His wisdom.
Always call upon Allaah (du’aa’) in every sujood, asking Him to bless you and grant you beneficial knowledge, for if you are sincere towards Allaah, He will support you and help you, and will cause you to attain the level of the righteous scholars.
“The pinnacle of knowledge is fear of Allaah.” ‘Abdullaah Ibn Mas’ood (radyAllaahu ‘anhu) said: “It is sufficient as knowledge that one fear Allaah. And it is sufficient as ignorance that one is deceived about this.” And some of the Salaf said: “Whoever is the most knowledgeable about Allaah, he is the most fearing of Him.” What indicates the correctness of this understanding is the saying of the Prophet ﷺ“As for me, by Allaah, I am the most fearing of Allaah amongst you and the most dutiful (having Taqwaa) to Him amongst you.” (Bukhari & Muslim)
5 – Make the best use of time
Make the most of your youth and your whole life by learning. Do not be deceived by procrastination and wishful thinking about the future. Every hour of your life that passes cannot be replaced. Do away with whatever you can of distractions and obstacles which prevent you from striving your utmost to attain knowledge.
6 – Be cautious when choosing the source of knowledge
Both in the search of worldly and Islamic knowledge one should be careful as to where he/she is taking it from, when choosing a school or university we try to check if there are Muslims around and would it be easy to perform our obligations like prayers etc. And about seeking Islamic knowledge look for scholars who are upon the understanding of the Sahaba and are specialist in the particular field you are studying as we would do for any worldly studies – we go to specialists. (We will study more about this in the upcoming classes).
7 – Practice what you learn in your daily life
Continually repeat what you learn and try to use it or discuss about it in your daily life each day. This helps one remember.
8 – Studying books
Strive to read books about your subject of interest and about the great works of the scholars. A book is summary of years of experience of the scholar into one book. Reading books gives more insight and helps us understand things in different ways. Reading books is a habit that we should try and instill in our kids from the time they are young.
List of Books recommended by Scholars for the Seekers of Knowledge: https://islamqa.info/en/answers/14082/important-books-for-the-seeker-of-islamic-knowledge
9 – Choosing companions
Strive to choose righteous friends who are preoccupied with seeking knowledge and are of a good nature, who can help you in achieving your aim, add to the benefits you have already gained, encourage you to seek more knowledge and stop you from feeling bored and tired; friends who are religiously-committed, trustworthy and of good character, who are sincere towards Allaah and who are not merely messing about.
10 – Good manners towards the Teachers & asking the right Questions
Knowledge cannot be gained only from books; you must also have teachers (shaikhs for Islamic knowledge) whom you trust to open the door to knowledge and keep you from making mistakes. So you must have good manners towards them, for this is the way to success, learning and strength. So you must honour, respect and be polite to the shaykhs/teachers. Observe the utmost standards of etiquette when you sit with your shaykhs/teachers and speak with them. Ask questions in a proper manner and listen attentively. If you think that the shaykh/teacher has made a mistake, do not let that make him lose respect in your eyes, because that will deprive you of his knowledge. Who is there who is entirely free from error?
11 – Seeking Knowledge in Due Amounts
Allâh, the Most High – said: “And this is a Qur‘ân which We have divided into parts, in order that you recite it to men at intervals. And we have sent it down in stages.”(Sûrah al-Isrâ 17:106)
The Prophet ﷺ said to ’Abdullâh ibn ’Amr ibn al-’Âs radiallâhu ’anhumâ: “Read the Qur‘ân in every month.” I said: I find that I have more strength than that. “Recite it in every twenty nights.” I said: I find that I have more strength than that. “Then recite it in every seven days and do not increase upon that.” (Bukhari & Muslim).
The above Hadeeth also indicates that it is Mustahab to complete recitation of the full Quran once a month.
’Abdullâh ibn ’Amr ibn al-’Âs radiallâhu ’anhumâ also related from the Prophet ﷺ that he said: “He does not understand the Qur‘ân who recites it in less than three days.” (Abu Dawood, authenticated by Albani)
Al-Khatîb al-Baghdâdî said: “It is fitting that he take care in acquiring knowledge and that he should not take too much in one go. Rather, he should take a little at a time, such that he can bear it, memorize it and be able to understand it. Because Allâh – the Most High – says: “And those who disbelieve say: Why is the Qur‘ân not sent down to him all at once? Thus (is it sent down in parts) that We may strengthen your heart thereby. And We have revealed it to you gradually, in stages.” (Sûrah al-Furqân 25:32)
Finally asking Allah to grant us of Beneficial Knowledge
Shaykh ul-Islaam Ibn Taymeeyah (d.728 A.H.) -Rahimullaah- said: ‘The reality of the issue is that a slave of Allaah is in dire need of asking someone for knowledge and guidance, seeking and asking, then he remembers Allaah and of his dire need of Allaah, then Allaah guides and shows him. Just as Allaah said: O My worshippers! All of you are astray except the one whom I have guided, so seek guidance from Me and I will guide you.’ [Collected by Muslim]
Below we study some Duas from the The Quran & Sunnah asking for increase in knowledge.
The way in which Muslim should begin to seek knowledge is by starting with the most important matters. The seeker of knowledge should be keen to have a sound beginning, so that he can remain steadfast in seeking knowledge and not waste his time and effort.
The aim in seeking knowledge is so that the Muslim can rectify himself and others. So the seeker should begin with matters that are important for himself first of all, then for those around him.
Start with the Quran
The seeker of knowledge should begin by attaining some general knowledge of the texts of revelation, because they are the main source for the religion of Allah, may He be exalted. So he should begin by memorising the Holy Qur’an, as much as his energy and free time allow, and he should be keen to understand what he memorises. For this purpose we advise him to study the Tafseer of Shaykh ‘Abd ar-Rahmaan as-Sa‘di (may Allah have mercy on him), because this author is one of those who are well-known for sound belief, and his tafseer is written in straightforward language and easy to read.
Al-Maymûnî said: I asked Imâm Ahmad which is more beloved to you, that I should begin teaching my son the Qur‘ân or the Hadîth? He said: “No! The Qur‘ân.” I said: Shall I teach him all of it? He replied: “Unless that is difficult, in which case teach him some of it.” Then he said to me: “If he begins reciting first, then he will learn correct recitation and will persevere in it.”
It is fitting for a student that he begins with the memorization of the Book of Allâh – the Mighty and Majestic. Since it is the greatest of the branches of knowledge and that which should be placed first and given precedence.
While memorizing and understanding the Quran, at the same time, the seeker should strive hard to study the basics of ‘aqeedah (belief) and basic fiqh; he cannot delay that because the seeker has a need for that for himself, and so that he can advise and guide the people around him.
After you have built a solid foundation in Quran, Aqeedah & Fiqh and gained an understanding of the most important issues, you can prepare yourself for deeper study of the laws of Allah and how the rulings are derived and the sources etc.
Beware of being preoccupied in the beginning with the disputes among the scholars, or among people in general, because this confuses the mind. (We will study about this an upcoming class).
‘Rabbi Zidni Ilma’
O my Lord increase me in knowledge
2 – Umm Salma –Radhi Allaahu anha– said, the Messenger of Allaah ﷺ used to say in the supplication in the morning prayer: [Collected by Tayalisee, Tabraani & regarded Hasan by Hafidh Ibn Hajr]
‘Allaahumma innee assaluka ilman nafia, wa rizzqan tayyeebun, wa amalan mutaqabilan,.’
‘O Allaah indeed I ask You for beneficial knowledge, and a good Halal provision, and actions which are accepted.’
Knowledge that is of Benefit, the best knowledge is that of the deen, but the worldly knowledge can also be beneficial depending on the intention.
3 – From Anas bin Malik – Radi Allaahu anhu – that he heard the Messenger of Allaah ﷺ supplicating:
اللهم انفعني بما علمتني وعلمني ما ينفعني وارزقني علما تنفعني به
Allahumman fa’nee bi-maa ‘allam-ta-nee wa ‘allim-nee maa yanfa’u-nee war zuq-nee ‘ilman yanfa’u-nee
‘O Allaah benefit me with what You have taught me, and teach me that which will benefit me, and grant me knowledge which will benefit me.’
[Collected by al-Hakim, Bayhaqi, Tabraani & authenticated by Albaani in Silsilah No. 3151]
رَبَّنَآ ءَاتِنَا فِي ٱلدُّنۡيَا حَسَنَةٗ وَفِي ٱلۡأٓخِرَةِ حَسَنَةٗ وَقِنَا عَذَابَ ٱلنَّارِ
Rabbana atina fid dunya hasanatan wa fil Aakhirati hasanatan waqina ‘adhaban-nar
O our Lord give us good in this Dunyaa, and good in the Hereafter and save us from the punishment of the fire [2:201]
Al-Hasan said: ‘al-Hasana (good) in the Dunyaa is knowledge and worship, and in the Hereafter it is Paradise.’
Sufyan said: ‘al-Hasana (good) in the Dunyaa is knowledge and good provision, and in the Hereafter Paradise.’
5 – Abu Bakr Muhammad bin Jafar said: ‘I heard Ibn Khuzaimah while he was asked: ‘Where did you get this knowledge from?’
He answered: ‘The Messenger of Allaah ﷺ said: ‘Zam Zam water is what it is drank for.’
So, when I would drink Zam Zam water I would ask Allaah for beneficial knowledge.’ [From: ‘Tadhkiratul Huffadh’ 2/721]
Al-Hakim said: ‘I drank Zam Zam water and I asked Allaah that he grant me the ability to compile works of books in a good way.’ [From: ‘Tadhkiratul Huffadh’ 3/1044]