Why Learn From A Teacher?

Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Question: What’s the significance of studying fiqh with scholars rather than just reading the text yourself, especially if the text is written by or commented on by reliable scholars? What can one get from a living teacher that he couldnt from these reliable texts?

Answer: In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

Walaikum assalam wa rahmatullah,

1. Sound understanding: the chances of falling into error without a teacher to guide one’s understanding and learning is far greater. Since religious knowledge is such a serious matter, one cannot rely on an individual whose knowledge is taken merely from books. A teacher is able to tests one’s understanding, and picks up on one’s errors; a student is able to ask questions and to verify wether they have understood the material correctly.

2. Correct understanding: books, even the best books, sometimes contain weak positions, mistakes, incorrect arguments, lack of details, unmentioned conditions or implications, special terminological usages, and so forth. Without a teacher explaining how texts are unpacked and interpreted, one can and almost certain will fall into gross errors.

3. Correct progress: if you don’t know, you are likely to have little knowledge or practical ability on how to gain knowledge effectively. A teacher guides a person in his path of learning, and focuses the students endeavors so he can gain knowledge effectively..

4. Understanding context, wisdom, and how to apply the theoretical knowledge. Not everything can be applied literally…

5. Learning adab and humility, by submitting one’s presumed understanding and deferring to the understanding of an inheritor of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace).

6. Following the sunna of the Prophets, who didn’t simply print a ‘book of guidance’ and distribute it to the people: they taught, and their companions learned and followed.

7. The baraka of this teacher-student relationship. There are great secrets in it. The Prophets themselves were ‘students’ of Jibril (peace and blessings be upon him).

8. Benefiting from the way of the scholars; their manners, character, and habits.

Faraz Rabbani