SeekersHub Global Student Assembly Term 1 2014:
“The Way of the Seeker”
How to discern sound scholarship, choose a teacher and the role locality plays in this, Shaykha Zaynab Ansari:
[How do we know if it’s sound scholarship?]
We have the tools to discern what makes sound scholarship.
That is, the Sanad – a direct line of transmission from teacher to teacher, that can be traced all the way back to the Prophet (Peace be upon him).
What that means is that person is not teaching out of a vacuum, but teaching upon a very particular methodology, philosophy and epistemology. Their teaching is informed by the tradition of Ahlus Sunnah wal Jama’ah. As far as transmission of knowledge goes, it’s not just the text/info itself but it is the approach and paradigms, and the way we internalise and interpret it.
As far as scholarship is concerned, it should not contravene with the Shariah. If it does, it is not sound.
The teacher of that science should have proper regard for the sources of Law – Qur’an, Sunnah, Ijma’a, and so on.
The scholarship should not set up barriers between schools of Law, and it should embrace the diversity.
It should be non-sectarian and pointless debates should be avoided.
There is a recognition in the tradition of Ahlus Sunnah wal Jama’ah that there is difference of opinion and diversity, and different ways scholars have come to arrive at certain decisions.
[Choosing a teacher]
When it comes to choosing a teacher, the number one thing you must do is to pray and ask Allah (Mighty and Majestic).
Secondly, you must make sure that you are not isolated, and that you have contact with local teachers and the community, e.g. set up a SeekersCircle, participate in Halaqat at Masajid, and so on.
Thirdly, ask yourself what you want to know and what you need to know.
Do not pile too much on yourself, and be very patient.
Fourthly, sit and wait and observe the teacher to the extent that you need to benefit from their knowledge and wisdom. It is really important to be patient and to persevere.
Understand that everybody has their own personality – some teachers are more strict than others, and have that attention span. Focus to the extent possible on one topic at a time.
The topic you should choose should be essential to your situation.
Finally, focus first on essential knowledge – Aqidah, Fiqh, Tajweed, before you take on other Islamic sciences.
Seeking guidance and treading the path of benefit:
By Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
[Seeking our Beloved]
It is a tremendous blessing of Allah (exalted be He) that we have been given the means of seeking Him in our lives, we have been gifted with the tremendous gift of Iman [faith] and the tremendous gift of Hidayah [guidance].
On the path of guidance, it is tremendous that Allah (exalted be He) has shown us the ways of guidance [through Ibadah] so that we become from mere believers, to righteous and virtuous believers.
With the grace and facilitation of Allah (exalted be He), we strive to become of the Sabiqeen – the foremost of Allah’s (exalted be He) servants, the ones who have been drawn close [to Him] as He tells us in Surat al Wa’qiah.
[How to seek God]
Knowledge shows things as they are, which is why it has been described in the Qur’an, and by the Prophet (Peace be upon him), and by the inheritors [scholars], as Noor [light]: “Al ‘ilm an Noor”. Light is that which shows us things as they are, so that you can see reality as it truly is. And higher levels of knowledge show you how to behold Allah (exalted be He) through His creation.
Higher levels of consciousness show us things as being a sign of Allah (exalted be He). True knowledge makes one really literate.
It makes one see the reality of things, and not merely just the forms.
Beyond the fruit, one sees that this is the creating of Allah, the great mercy, wisdom, marvel, beauty and majesty of Allah’s creating and of the Creator Himself. Those signs, signify meanings of Divine Oneness. But of course this [higher levels of consciousness] requires striving, and that striving is the path of seeking guidance. Which is why we keep asking Allah (exalted be He) for guidance despite being on the straight path, because the levels of consciousness and guidance are without limit.
In order to seek that closeness, we need to strive in the right way, because not all those who strive, attain.
We don’t just ask Allah (exalted be He) to guide us to path, but to THE straight path, “Ihdinas Sirat al Mustaqeem” (1:6). Not whatever path one finds, but the path of those whom Allah had blessed before us, “an ‘amta” (1:7).
This is significant, because if we want to succeed in seeking guidance, we must do so in the footsteps of those who have come before us. Seek guidance on a trodden and clear path, and then seek guidance so that you can fulfill the meanings and potential of guided-ness in your life.
In an individualistic age like ours, we can simply just follow [the basics] and do our Salat, fasting and so on. This is not bad, but it isn’t good either. Allah (exalted be He) tells us, “I swear by the Time, Man is in a state of loss, indeed. Except those who believed and did righteous deeds and exhorted each other to follow the Truth and exhorted each other to observe patience.” (103:1-3).
The seeking of knowledge has to be not only for our personal benefit but we must also have concern to benefit others. And this is particularly necessary in our times. People don’t know guidance and the Prophet (Peace be upon him). They are seeking light. Therefore, it is imperative upon us to seek knowledge to benefit ourselves and have concern to benefit others also.
Things do list:
* Commit to studying: study with excellence and seriousness. Uphold the Adab of studying.
* Have the right intention: for the sake of Allah (exalted be He).
* Serve: generally spreading awareness of the ways of this benefit.
* Convey and encourage others to be on this path of learning.
* Volunteer and support: help spread the transmission of knowledge with your time, supplications and Sadaqa.
* Come together: gather with other believers to spread benefit. It is very important to come together on the ways of benefit, as Allah (exalted be He) tells us in Surat al Asr.
God Willing, if one stays consistent on this path, this is the way to Divine mercy. The two great rivers of Divine mercy and blessing are teaching and learning. They are the means to quench the thirst. Strive to be on that path for this is the path of the beloved of Allah (exalted be He). Paraphrased and summarised. All mistakes/misinterpretations are from me.