What Are the Conditions of Self-Study?
Answered by Shaykh Yusuf Weltch
What are the conditions of self-study? Could you list some essential things to ensure the best understanding?
In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate
The Sacred Knowledge of Islam, the inheritance of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and give him peace) has been preserved and passed down from scholar to student since the time of the Prophet until now.
Transmission of Sacred Knowledge
This transmission, although books were later introduced, was by sitting at the foot of a teacher, as they say, “heart to heart”.
Allah Most High says, “But this ˹Quran˺ is ˹a set of˺ clear revelations ˹preserved˺ in the hearts of those gifted with knowledge. And none denies Our revelations except the ˹stubborn˺ wrongdoers.” [Quran; 29:49]
The preservation of the Sacred Knowledge of Islam is not merely in the letter of the rulings. That can be taken directly from books. However, it also includes the correct understanding of those words, verified by one’s teacher, so as to affirm that one understands the text the way it has always been understood back to the earliest community.
One May Ask, “But what if I…”
Some of our blessed teachers in the Yemeni tradition from the city of Tarim mentioned to us a story.
A student asked his shaykh (teacher) permission to read some higher level books on his own. The student said, “Whatever I understand I will implement, and whatever I don’t understand, I will leave.” The teacher replied, “I am not afraid for you regarding what you don’t understand. I fear for you regarding what you thought you understood, but didn’t really understand it correctly.”
To What Extent Can One Self-Study
There are somethings that one can read/study unsupervised. This would include a very basic text of the Prophetic biography, a commoner’s level commentary of the Qur’an, or the like. However, if one is faced with something about which they are not sure whether their understanding is sound, they must ask.
In earlier times, finding a teacher was a lot more challenging. Today, there is really no excuse to risk self-study, when authentic scholarship can be accessed for free online, if a local teacher is not available. Consider taking the Steps Program here at SeekersGuidance.
See this link for many articles on seeking Sacred knowledge. There are many advices therein that you may find beneficial.
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 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 several texts on spirituality. He joined the SeekersGuidance faculty in the summer of 2019.