Knowledge

Is Studying Islam Deeply Obligatory for Every Individual?

Answered by Shaykh Yusuf Weltch

Question

I want to be a doctor, and my parents wish the same for me. However, after a few days, I felt like being a scholar was better, but I was not interested in that field. I study Quran and hadith at home as much as I can.

Am I sinful for choosing to be a doctor against a scholar of Islam? Do I have to accountable to Allah for this?

Is studying Islam deeply obligatory for every individual?

Am I only serving Dunya by being a good doctor who helps people?

For teenagers, what should an ideal daily routine be like?

Answer

In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate

It is not personally obligatory for every Muslim to become a scholar of Islam. There is an obligatory level of knowledge that is obligatory on every Muslim. This amount of knowledge is what is meant in the following Prophetic narration:

The Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Seeking (religious) knowledge is obligatory on each Muslim.” [Ibn Maja]

Imam Abu Hanifa (Allah be pleased with him) defined this level of knowledge as “knowledge of one’s current situation.”

What this means is to know what is religiously required of one in each situation and how to act accordingly. The following are examples:

General Circumstances

How to perform obligatory ritual worships, such as prayer and fasting. Note that zakat and Hajj are obligatory but only for those financially and/or physically able.

How to fulfill the rights of others, such as a parent. If one is married and/or has children, they are also required to learn of their spouse’s and child’s rights.

Special Circumstances

How to make a sound business transaction if one is involved in buying and selling.

Beyond this obligatory level of knowledge, further knowledge is only obligatory communally, such that someone in each community must fulfill this need. If someone does fulfill the communal need, the responsibility falls on the others, although it is still encouraged even then.

The Second Best Knowledge

Aside from the Sacred knowledge of the religion, whether obligatory or recommended, the next best science to study is medicine. The excellent Imam al-Shafi’i is quoted saying: “(True) knowledge is of two types: religious knowledge and medicine.” Religious knowledge is for the soul and salvation in the Hereafter. Medicine is for the body in this world.”

The Importance of Intentions

Seeing that knowledge of medicine is beneficial, it is not deemed wrong to study, nor are you considered a ‘worldy’ person for pursuing it.

Even though religious knowledge is more virtuous, seeking knowledge of medicine can also be an act of worship using righteous intentions.

To intend by learning medicine that one can be a means of helping people, treating and caring for the sick, and learning about the system that Allah has created in the Human being to increase in faith and reverence for Allah’s greatness.

Daily Routine for Teenagers

Teenagers are unique because they are generally more motivated, physically able, and have more free time than older people. Due to this, teenagers must capitalize on their time.

Below I will summarize some principles regarding scheduling one’s time, although it may need to be adjusted according to each specific situation. For a more profound and conclusive schedule, please read the book Beginning of Guidance by Imam al-Ghazali.

Prayers First

Schedule your time around the prayers, don’t schedule the prayers around your time. Nothing in one’s day is more important than performing the obligatory prayers on time and well. For this reason, we will base this schedule on the five prayers.

Pre-Fajr

The most blessed time of the day is just preceding the Fajr prayer. Strive to wake up just before the Fajr prayer enters and devote yourself to a few units of prayer and a few minutes of supplication.

Fajr Prayer

Try to take 20 to 30 minutes after Fajr to recite some Qur’an and to read some of the Prophetic invocations for the morning and evening. See this link for a short compilation of Prophetic supplications.

Al-wird al-Latif

As you recite the Qur’an, reflect on the meanings as you go. An authentic translation and a concise commentary will add a layer of understanding and appreciation of the Quran.

If you have work or school, you can schedule your daily portion of recitation for another time. If you can follow along with an audio recording of the supplications, you should seek to do this consistently every day.

Zuhr Prayer

Try to perform the Zuhr prayer on time with its emphasized Sunna prayers before it and after. Most prayers have Sunna prayers before it or after them. After becoming consistent on the obligatory prayers, strive to add these as you go along. See this link:

What Are the Confirmed Sunna and Non-Confirmed Sunna Prayers Associated With the Obligatory Prayers?

Asr Prayer

Pray Asr prayer as you have the previous prayers. This would be when you relax, do work around the house, etc…

Maghrib to Isha

After praying Maghrib, use this time to recite some Qur’an, read the Prophetic biography, or sit and remember Allah for some time. This is a blessed time of the day as well.

Isha and Witr

After praying Isha, its Sunna prayers, and the Witr prayer, it is best to go to sleep early so that you can wake up before Fajr.

The Beginning of Guidance by Imam Ghazali will give you more detail and nuance.

Hope this helps
Allah knows best

[Shaykh] Yusuf Weltch
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Yusuf Weltch is a teacher of Arabic, Islamic law, and spirituality. After accepting Islam in 2008, he then completed four years at the Darul Uloom seminary in New York where he studied Arabic and the traditional sciences. He then traveled to Tarim, Yemen, where he stayed for three years studying in Dar Al-Mustafa under some of the greatest scholars of our time, including Habib Umar Bin Hafiz, Habib Kadhim al-Saqqaf, and Shaykh Umar al-Khatib. In Tarim, Shaykh Yusuf completed the memorization of the Qur’an and studied beliefs, legal methodology, hadith methodology, Qur’anic exegesis, Islamic history, and a number of texts on spirituality. He joined the SeekersGuidance faculty in the summer of 2019.