Reflections on Seeking Knowledge: A Student at Seekers

Reflections on Seeking Knowledge: A Student at Seekers

Zain Ali

In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful, Most Compassionate

 

The Beginning 

Let’s take it back maybe ten years. If you were to tap me on the shoulder and ask me, “what do you want to do when you’re older Zain?” I’d give you the same answer I gave everyone at that young age not yet a teen; “Islamic studies.”

 

Now, the answer to the question was not because I understood the weight of that bold answer, nor because I deserved it, but rather, because of what was instilled in me from a young age.

 

Since those young days, one of my favourite verses (aya) from the Qur’an was (and is) Allah’s saying, I did not create jinn and humans except to worship Me” (Quran, 51:56), partly because it was one of the only verses (if not the only verse) in the Qur’an that I knew the meaning for, and partly because it had such a straightforward, logical, black and white meaning; my job on this earth is to worship God, how can I do it? 

 

What is the best way? What would make God most pleased with me? I found my answer with my Qur’an teacher, he would always encourage us to study Islam because that was the greatest thing we could do for our afterlife.

 

Thus my wanting to study islam was not because of who I was or anything great about me, rather it was the wisdom of my teachers Allah bless them and enable them all.

 

Fast forward some years: It was a pleasant Monday night, 7:30 pm July 17, 2017, I came into SeekerGuidance for my first class. I sat on the lush pillowy carpet ready to listen and take notes in my notebook. 

 

Shaykh Faraz Rabbani started the lesson, I had never taken a law (fiqh) class in my life, all I knew about the rulings of prayer and worship was taught to me informally. Shaykh Faraz was teaching Nur al-Idah, an intermediate book on the laws (fiqh) of worship (way above my level) and he was reading the chapter of “The Conditions of Prayer.” I remember taking notes and thinking to myself, “wow, I’ve never even thought of so many possibilities in this scenario!” Just sitting in that class was such a benefit because it was answering thoughts and questions I had that I didn’t ever bother to ask. 

 

From that day onwards, I never looked at the subject of law (fiqh) in the same way and it quickly became one of my favourite things to read and think about. 

 

I finished school and started attending full time at Seekers, and it was and is to this day truly life-changing. My attendance at Seekers has been nothing but a blessing to me to this day. I had no idea what I was truly entering into, I just really wanted to do something that would bring me closer to my Lord and I pray that he accepts it from me. 

 

The Weight of Seeking Knowledge

Seeking knowledge is in no way all easy, fun and games or a “shoot in the breeze” as commonly thought by many people. Many peoples idea of islamic studies is like weekend madrasa, come in, read some Qur’an, mess around and go home. I even remember someone I knew saying, “if I don’t get into a good university program I’ll just take a year off and do some islamic program or something.” We want our teachers to be the most brilliant, smartest and best of people. Sacred knowledge is of the greatest of things one could seek! 

 

Shaykh Faraz once mentioned to us that a scholar from the early predecessors (salaf) said, “If the kings knew the pleasure we have (in seeking knowledge), they would fight us for it.” And I remember hearing Shaykh Hasan al-Hindi say in one of his lectures on Tadhkirat al-Sam’i fi Adab al-’Alim wal-Mut’alim; a book on the etiquettes of seeking knowledge, “All that increases you in honour increases you in responsibility,” (كل ما تزداد شرفا تزداد تكليفا). I remember the first time Shaykh Faraz mentioned that a true student has to minimally be studying ten hours a day, I thought he was joking! 

 

I had the blessing at this time to be around Ustadh Amr Hashim and Ustadh Sufyan Qufi, two of our instructors at SeekersGuidance and both amazing personalities and examples to be around. One, the epitome of balance, patience and overall; amazing character. The other the pinnacle of striving and hard work. Both of these men had a deep impact on me in my early time at SeekersGuidance before they both moved abroad for their studies. 

 

A Humbling Experience

I used to carpool with Ustadh Sufyan, and if there was one thing I learned from him it was his drive and love for seeking knowledge. He would be studying any time I was with him to the point that even in our drives to classes he would be listening to the khutbas of Shaykh Sa’id Ramadan al-Buti (Allah have mercy on him) and be taking notes. There was nothing that seemed to be able to deter him from seeking knowledge. I once saw him go through what I would consider hardship and when I asked him about it he told me, “I don’t care, nothing can prevent me from seeking knowledge.” I observed the value and importance of time at his example and the embodiment of hard work. 

Ustadh Amr taught me more purely through his character than his words. I cannot remember a single time when he told me “no,” or “why did you do that?” 

 

Even though he was much more senior to me in knowledge, wisdom and age. I was younger than I am today and definitely less mature, yet he always turned a blind eye to my faults. Whenever I asked him for advice he would never say “no, don’t do that,” or “why would you do that?” But rather always suggested a better thing to do without chastising or telling me what I did was wrong. 

 

I remember the first week or two of my studies as a full-time student at Seekers, there was a new Arabic class and Ustadh Amr and I were both attending the class. After the first class, we had some homework, I barely knew any Arabic whatsoever and didn’t really understand how to do the homework. I came to class and Ustadh Amr asked me, “did you do the homework?” “I tried but I don’t really know what I was supposed to do,” he then proceeded to ask me to help him. 

 

I tried to refuse but he pushed me to advise him how to do the Arabic homework. He didn’t tell me he knew Arabic nor that he was Arab, I found out several weeks later when I heard him talking in Arabic. And that was the first time I tried to teach an Arab how to do morphology of Arabic words. Such was his humbleness. I observed good character, humility and patience at his hands.

 

Achieving Excellence and Mastery 

When I first started at Seekers, I wasn’t fully cognizant of what I had been blessed to enter into. SeekersGuidance embodies a traditional method of teaching with taking modern means. 

 

The program at SeekersGuidance expects mastery in your studies, and mastery requires diligence and hard work. If someone in university or high school wanted to pass their course, the only thing they needed to make sure was that they got 50% of their questions right on their tests and exams. 

 

It was after starting my studies at Seekers that I realized that there was no option for someone studying the Islamic sciences to get short of 100% in anything related to their studies. If someone were to ask me a question and I made a mistake in my answer, I would have indirectly claimed that the ruling of Allah was A when it was actually B. As Shaykh Faraz says, “you either know the subject matter or you don’t, there’s no in-between.” Would you allow a surgeon to do surgery on you when you knew he wasn’t completely sure how to do a surgery? No, nobody would! 

 

The scholars of this religion are God’s doctors whose job is to treat you and I, to teach us to be better servants of God most High. 

 

This is what I’ve observed from the example of Shaykh Faraz and this is the way of the great scholars of our religion, Allah bless them all. The method of the scholars is very unlike many modern ways of schooling. 

 

A student has to master a science before he can even be considered as knowing the subject matter, let alone a teacher in that science. Students repeat study of each science several times, at a basic foundational level, then studying that foundation a second time while building upon it with some derivative discussions, then studying it again but with a focus now on the reasoning or the “why,” and “how.” 

 

There are levels of study and mastery in the way of our great scholars and teachers, something that appears to be fading into the background here in the west but SeekersGuidance is striving to uphold that standard.

 

If you were to ask me what is one thing I’ve realized whilst studying with SeekersGuidance, I’d say the intense blessing there is for someone to be able to study islam. It’s a great blessing and we should all try to take advantage of it. It’s not a light matter either, it’s crucial to the lives of all people, without knowledge we are blinded; bumping, stumbling and tripping yet without knowing! May Allah protect us all. 

 

SeekersGuidance is like a well in the middle of the desert, you have an opportunity today which was never available in history. Wherever you are, whatever state you are in, you can access absolutely free life giving water in your state of thirst. You can drink ten buckets of water or take one sip, do not let this opportunity go to waste!

 

Our communities need people who have drunk from this well today more than ever, they are in need of guidance and help, you can help by seeking knowledge – completely free of charge!

 

Sidi Zain Ali

 

 


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Articles

“From knowing nothing to becoming a student of knowledge” by Ustadha Shireen Ahmed

The Importance of Seeking Knowledge – Shaykh Salih al Gursi

Counsels for Students of Knowledge – Shaykh Salih Al Gursi

Seeker’s Expectations – How to Seek Knowledge

Steps to Success on the Way to the Light of Knowledge – Nur Sacred Sciences

The Aim, Purpose, and Consequence of Consistent Spiritual Routines – Imam al-Haddad, with Commentary from Faraz Rabbani

The Intentions for Seeking Knowledge – Imam Abdullah al-Haddad

The Way of The Seeker: How To Seek Islamic Knowledge Successfully
Student Assembly: The Way of the Seeker – Student Notes by Sr. Haleema

The Struggles and Concerns of Sincere Seekers – Video and Notes from the Student Assembly

Why Learn From a Teacher? – Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Studying Tips for SeekersGuidance’s Student

The Importance of Study in One’s Spiritual Development – Imam al-Ghazzali

Embracing Knowledge, an Introduction to Ustadh Abdullatif Al-Amin – Seekers Highlight

The Intentions for Seeking Knowledge by Imam Abdullah al Haddad

Ten Adab of Seekers of Knowledge by Ayaz Siddiqui

Five Counsels for Seekers of Islamic Knowledge from Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Seek, Act and Strive – Advice From Habib Ali al Jifri For Seekers of Knowledge

Calling to Allah – The Virtues and Forms of Dawah

Calling to Allah – The Virtues and Forms of Dawah

by Shaykh Abdurragmaan Khan

This is the ninth part of a series of articles that are based on al-Fawa’id al-Mukhtarah, one of the seminal works of the great scholar al-Habib Zayn bin Sumayt. The book focuses on a range of topics relevant to daily life and modern challenges for Muslims living in the West. This article is a summary of the ninth episode of the podcast The Masters and Millennials by Shaykh Abdurragmaan Khan.


In the name of Allah,  the Most Merciful, the Most Compassionate

Introduction

What should a believer know about calling to Allah, or dawah, in Islam? Many of us will recognize that talking about Islam with those outside the faith is dawah, and we might recognize that giving Islamic lectures, reminding many Muslims about Islam, is also a form of dawah. We will also know that giving dawah is clearly a good deed, but in this article, we would like to remind ourselves of the great virtues dawah has and of the many forms dawah actually takes so that we would be encouraged and empowered to give dawah in our daily lives and get closer to Allah.

 

Virtues of Dawah

There are various prophetic traditions and statements from the scholars that speak to the virtues of calling others to Allah and that single out dawah as a weighty deed that a believer should strive to engage in.

The greatest charity

The Prophet (may Allah bless him and give him peace) said the greatest form of charity is when a believer who has studied and received sacred knowledge conveys this knowledge to his Muslim brother.

Better than much wealth that people collect

When the Prophet (may Allah bless him and give him peace) sent Mu‘adh ibn Jabal to Yemen, he told him that Allah guiding one disbeliever to Islam through him is better than receiving a large number of red camels (the equivalent to a fleet of red ferraris today).

Dawah brings happiness to the heart of the Prophet

Habib ‘Ali al-Habshi said there is nothing that brings more happiness to the heart of the Prophet than spreading knowledge and acting on it. He also said, “indeed, calling to Allah is the strongest foundation that connects one to the Prophet (may Allah bless him and give him peace).”

The Prophet is proud of those calling to Allah

Habib Ahmad al-‘Attas spoke about a scholar from Madinah, Shaykh ‘Abdullah bin ‘Abd al-Baqi, who often met the Prophet. Whenever the scholar met people from Hadramawt he would ask whether they knew Habib Ahmad bin ‘Umar bin Sumayt. They asked him why he was so interested in this man. He said that whenever he met the Prophet he heard him praising this man, and he wanted to know what he does that makes the Prophet so proud of him. They said he calls people to Allah every day.

 

Forms of Dawah

Dawah takes many shapes and forms. Teaching is one form, but perhaps the most effective means of giving dawah is our state – our interactions, our smile, our giving support. The scholar Habib Umar would often say, “the dawah of one’s state (ḥāl) is more effective than the dawah that comes out of one’s mouth (lisān).” For this reason, we should not imagine dawah to be something we cannot engage in in daily life. We are always having interactions with family, friends, neighbors, co-workers and others. These are opportunities for us to present how Islam is lived and the good example Islam teaches.

 

Dawah is also in our homes

Dawah is also not an outside-the-home-only activity. It is also very important to call our families to Allah, and to do so with wisdom without looking down on anyone. One way of giving dawah to one’s family is to pray in congregation with them. Another is to teach our family. Sayyid al-Habib ‘Umar spends two hours every day teaching his own children. He also teaches his grandchildren. 

We should also try to do good deeds together in the home. For instance, we can recite the Qur’an together; we can recite the Wird al-Latif together; we can recite the Ratib al-Haddad together. Doing things of this nature strengthens family ties so that when things return to normal after this pandemic we will have brought our families closer together, and we will have established practices like reading the Qur’an together.

Dawah during the COVID-19 lockdown

The question for us during this time of lockdown is how to call people to Allah most effectively. There are many online classes. We can benefit from these classes and encourage others to follow them. For those who have some knowledge, we should not see this as an opportunity to start teaching online classes ourselves; rather, it would be better for us to encourage others to join our teachers’ classes.

Another question is how, as Muslims, we can be of benefit and give dawah to others? It is narrated that the practice of the ‘Asharis, an Arab tribe, was that when their provisions ran short with some having very little and others having nothing at all, they would collect all the provisions and distribute them amongst themselves so that everyone’s needs could be fulfilled. The Prophet (may Allah bless him and give him peace) said that “the ‘Asharis are from me and I am from them.” He used the same language about his grandson Sayyidina Hussain, saying “Hussain is from me and I am from Hussain”. The Prophet’s use of the same language indicates how moved he was by the ‘Asharis showing care for the less fortunate. In a similar way, Muslims can be a means of support to those around us who are struggling in this time of lockdown, and this will be a means of giving dawah.


Author’s Biography

Al-Habib Zayn bin Sumayt is a member of the Prophet’s family. His lineage goes through many pious forebears, such as al-Faqīh al-Muqqadam and al-Imām Aḥmad bin ʻIsa al-Muhājir, through Sayyidina Ḥusayn to the Prophet Muḥammad. He is an authority on Shāfi’i fiqh and taṣawwuf. From a young age, he sat in the company of the pious and studied with various scholars and institutes. His most senior teacher was Ḥabīb ‘Alawi bin ‘Abd Allah bin ‘Aydarūs bin Shihāb. He was also taught by Ḥabīb Ja‘far bin Aḥmad al-‘Aydarūs and Ḥabīb Muḥammad bin Sālim bin Ḥafīẓ. Ḥabīb Zayn taught the Islamic sciences in Bayḍa’ for thirty years. Thereafter he moved to Madīnah and opened a ribāṭ that attracted many students before it was forced to close. He was very attached to his wife, as our beloved Prophet was to Sayyidah Khadījah (Allah be pleased with her), and was saddened when she passed away a few years ago.

Guidance for the Concerned Muslim by Shaykh Salih al-Ghursi

Four: Guidance for the Concerned Muslim: Attaining Taqwa

by Shaykh Salih al-Ghursi

The following article presents the fourth set out of four counsels. These were recorded by the esteemed Shaykh Salih al-Ghursi for SeekersGuidance. They have been translated and transcribed with subtitles.

Shaykh Salih al-Ghursi is a senior theologian and scholar of the rational sciences based in Konya, Turkey. He delivers a class for Dar al Fuqaha Seminary in Istanbul.


In the Name of Allah, the Encompassingly Merciful, the Particularly Merciful. All praise belongs to Allah. May the best of blessings and most perfect of peace be upon our master Muhammad ibn Abdullah, and upon his followers, his companions, and all guided by his teachings.

 

Allah’s Counsel to Believers

Allah Most High has counseled all believers in His Noble Book, by His saying: “Surely the most honored of you in the sight of Allah is the one most mindful of Him” (Quran, 49:13). The most important thing for the Muslim to embody whilst counseling fellow believers is mindfulness (taqwa) and to pay close attention to it, then to devote one’s concern to the means of taqwa.

Allah Most High emphasized taqwa by His saying “Surely the most honored of you in the sight of Allah is the one most mindful of Him.” He made it the scale to evaluate a person’s having honor in the sight of Allah. This is because taqwa refers to protecting oneself from God’s punishment and wrath. This is achieved by full adherence to His commands and staying away completely from His prohibitions.

When a person has children, who will be the most honored in their sight? It will be the most obedient and deferential of the children. But here we are talking not about a parent, but about the Creator—the Creator and Provider of everything one has. And the most honored of you in the sight of Allah is the one with the most taqwa.

 

Taqwa—and the Means to Attaining It

Allah Most High says, “Provide well for yourselves: the best provision is to be mindful of God (taqwa)” (Quran, 2:197). He follows this with a command—and when Allah Most High gives a command, particularly when it is of great importance, He usually clarifies the means to fulfill it. Thus, Allah says, “You who believe, be mindful of God, and seek ways to come closer to Him.”

The pronoun can refer to God: “seek ways to come closer to Him.” Or it could be read as referring to having mindfulness of God: “seek ways to come closer to it.” Meaning that one is to be mindful of God, but also to seek the means to taqwa in order to attain it. This is a general command, in which Allah Most High ordered us to seek ways to come closer to taqwa in order for us to become realized and characterized with taqwa.

 

Be with the People of  Taqwa

Allah Most High also says, showing one of the means of taqwa, “You who believe, be mindful of Allah and be with those who are true” (Quran, 9:119). In this verse, Allah Most High commands us to have mindfulness or taqwa—that is, to protect ourselves from Allah’s wrath and punishment. He also highlights one of the most important ways to come closer to taqwa, which is to constantly be with the people of taqwa: being with those who are true with Allah, who are true to themselves, who are true to the believers and to all people. “Be with those who are true.” So if we are with those who are true, and constantly adhere to them, we shall attain taqwa.

Of course, this topic is one to be discussed in a matter of minutes, nor of hours, nor of days. It is a topic discussed in lengthy works and volumes. It is the subject of The Revival of the Religious Sciences and other works. But we will summarize this discussion with the utmost brevity.

 

  1. Keeping good company

In the most concise of hadiths, the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “A person will be with the one whom they love.” He also said, in another hadith which is of the most concise statements on the topic, “A person is upon the way of their close companion. So let each of you look carefully as to whose close company you keep.”

The scholars of spirituality have explained that the first way to attain taqwa, the vigilance of Allah, and constant awareness of His presence is by keeping the company of people with these character traits, or of a scholar with these traits.

 

  1. Self-accounting

Allah Most High also says in His Great Book, “You who believe! Be mindful of Allah, and let every soul consider carefully what it sends ahead for tomorrow” (Quran, 59:18). In this verse, Allah Most High commanded us to be mindful, then showed one of the means to taqwa. What is this means? It is self-accounting (muhasaba). Self-accounting is one of the most important means to taqwa. “Let every soul consider carefully what it sends ahead for tomorrow”: this is referring to self-accounting.

Allah then follows this by saying, “Be mindful of Allah.” Here, He commands to have taqwa, and hence shows the means to attain it, and shows the result of that means. And the result of self-accounting is having mindfulness of Allah.

The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “The smart person is the one who takes themself to account, and then acts for that which comes after death. And the incapacitated one is the one who allows their self to follow its desires.” This is the second of the primary means to attain taqwa.

 

  1. Remembrance of Allah (Dhikr)

The third way is giving attention to the remembrance of Allah. Allah Most High has emphasized having attention for His remembrance in a number of verses. Of the most concise of them is His saying, “Truly, it is by the remembrance of Allah that hearts find rest” (Quran, 13.28). This weighty statement begins with “Truly,” then “It is by the remembrance of Allah that hearts find rest.” 

Allah says, “Whoever turns away from the remembrance of the Lord of Mercy, We assign a devil as a comrade who deters people from the right path, even though they may think they are well guided.” (Quran, 43:36). Allah is our refuge! One who inclines away from the remembrance of Allah will constantly be with the Devil and on his way. They will not be aware of this nor refrain and imagine they are well guided.

The Prophet (Allah Most High bless him and give him peace) says in a concise statement from among his comprehensive words, “The difference between the one who remembers Allah and the one who does not remember Him is like the difference between the living and the dead.”

 

  1. Reciting the Quran with reflection

The fourth of the most important means to taqwa is to recite the Book of Allah Most High, with reflection, so that one may take reminder. As Allah Most High says, “This is a blessed Scripture which We sent down to you, for people to contemplate its verses and for those with understanding to take heed” (Quran, 38:29). This is because the Book of Allah is a healing for what is in the hearts, and guidance and mercy.

The most important of the means of taqwa, the most important means to fulfill God’s command to have taqwa, is that we give attention to these four matters, which are the most important ways to seek taqwa.

 

May Allah make us and you among those who carry out Allah’s commands, those who are realized in their meanings, those who seek ways to come closer to Allah and to become mindful of Him.

And peace be upon you, and Allah’s mercy and blessings.

 

 


 Shaykh Salih al-Ghursi and Dar al Fuqaha

It is an honor to have Shaykh Salih teach within the Dar al Fuqaha seminary in Istanbul. Read about him here. 

The Place of Knowledge in Islam

The Virtues and Necessity of Knowledge

This is the second part of a series of articles that are based on al-Fawa’id al-Mukhtarah, one of the seminal works of the great scholar al-Habib Zayn bin Sumayt. The book focuses on a range of topics relevant to daily life and modern challenges for Muslims living in the West.

This article is a summary of the second episode of the podcast The Masters and Millennials by Shaykh Abdurragmaan Khan.


In the name of Allah, Most Merciful and Most Compassionate

Seeking knowledge is beloved to Allah

Knowledge is very important. It has a prominent place in Islam. Allah Most High said to His beloved (peace and blessings be upon him): “Qul Rabbī zidnī ‘ilmā” (Say: my Lord, increase me in knowledge) (Qur’an 20:114). When Allah commands His beloved to do something, that thing is beloved to Him. He instructed the Prophet to ask for an increase in knowledge because it is one of the noblest and honorable possessions. So we should ask Allah as often as possible to increase us in knowledge.

 

Knowledge is the Prophet’s legacy

Abu Hurayrah once announced in the marketplace: “O people, what is preventing you from taking your share of the Prophet’s inheritance? It is being distributed.” They asked where it was being distributed, so he answered, “in the mosque”. They went to the mosque and returned, saying, “O Abū Hurayrah, you said the Prophet’s legacy is being distributed in the mosque, but we found nothing except people praying, reciting the Qur’an and revising knowledge – the fiqh of ḥalāl and ḥarām.” Abu Hurayrah said, “Woe to you, the inheritance of the Prophet is in the gathering of knowledge.” He quoted the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace): “Indeed, prophets did not leave wealth as an inheritance. They only left knowledge as an inheritance.”

 

Seeking knowledge sincerely betters the state of Islam

The Prophet also said to his companions: “You are living in a time when the jurists are many and the teachers are few, those who ask are few and those who give are many, and action is better than knowledge. But a time will come when the jurists are few and the teachers are many.” This statement is very apt in our time. Many people study merely so they can deliver talks. The Prophet referred to this as a bad development. People are not focused on knowledge, but on how well they are able to speak. He went on to say: “A time will come when many will ask and few will give, and knowledge will be better than action.”

 

Knowledge is more splendid than the sun and worldly gains and is food

Ḥasan al-Baṣri said that had knowledge taken a form, it would have been more splendid than the sun, the moon, the stars and the sky. Imam Shāfi’i said whoever desires this world or the next should seek knowledge because he is in need of knowledge in this life and the next. Allah Most High gives worldly things to those He loves as well as to those He does not love, but He only gives knowledge to those He loves.

Ḥabīb ‘Aydarūs bin ‘Umar al-Ḥabshi said knowledge is food for the heart. Therefore he would make the du’a that is made after eating at the end of every gathering of knowledge.

 

Correct worship requires knowledge

Without knowledge, we are not able to worship Allah truly. A man may worship Allah the way angels do, but if he does so without knowledge he will be one of the losers.

‘Umar bin ‘Abd al-‘Azīz said that the one who acts and does good without having knowledge spreads more bad than good. Sayyidina ‘Umar bin al-Khaṭāb (Allah be pleased with him) said that someone who has not studied is not allowed to buy and sell in the marketplace. One who does not study the law of commercial transactions ends up consuming ribā unknowingly.

Consider the following telling example: A man from Morocco was known to exert himself in worship. One day he purchased a female donkey that he did not use for anything. Someone asked him why he was keeping it if he was not using it. He replied that it was there to keep him chaste. He was engaging in bestiality not knowing it is ḥarām. 

It is really important to participate in classes of knowledge. Learning is a cycle that should never end. Imam Ghazāli said one should attend a class every day. We should start by attending at least one a week, and then increase our attendance slowly until we are able to attend a class every day.

 

Author’s Biography

al-Habib Zayn bin Sumayt is a member of the Prophet’s family. His lineage goes through many pious forebears, such as al-Faqīh al-Muqqadam and al-Imām Aḥmad bin ʻIsa al-Muhājir, through Sayyidina Ḥusayn to the Prophet Muḥammad. He is an authority on Shāfi’i fiqh and taṣawwuf. From a young age, he sat in the company of the pious and studied with various scholars and institutes. His most senior teacher was Ḥabīb ‘Alawi bin ‘Abd Allah bin ‘Aydarūs bin Shihāb. He was also taught by Ḥabīb Ja‘far bin Aḥmad al-‘Aydarūs and Ḥabīb Muḥammad bin Sālim bin Ḥafīẓ. Ḥabīb Zayn taught the Islamic sciences in Bayḍa’ for thirty years. Thereafter he moved to Madīnah and opened a ribāṭ that attracted many students before it was forced to close. He was very attached to his wife, as our beloved Prophet was to Sayyidah Khadījah (Allah be pleased with her), and was saddened when she passed away a few years ago.

The Key Instrumental Sciences by Shaykh Salih al-Ghursi

Three: The Key Instrumental Sciences

by Shaykh Salih al-Ghursi

The following article presents the third set out of four counsels. These were recorded by the esteemed Shaykh Salih al-Ghursi for SeekersGuidance. They have been translated and transcribed with subtitles.

Shaykh Salih al-Ghursi is a senior theologian and scholar of the rational sciences based in Konya, Turkey. He delivers a class for Dar al Fuqaha Seminary in Istanbul.


In the Name of Allah, the Encompassingly Merciful, the Particularly Merciful. All praise belongs to Allah. May the best of blessings and most perfect of peace be upon our master Muhammad ibn Abdullah, and upon his followers, his companions, and all guided by his teachings.

Our topic of discussion is the key instrumental sciences. The instrumental sciences are many. The sciences themselves are divided into instrumental and core sciences. The core (ma’ali) sciences are those which are sought in and of themselves, while the instrumental sciences are those which are means to understand the [core] sciences or to derive them from the Quran and Sunna.

Here, we will mention some—not all—of the instrumental sciences, discussing the most important, then ordering them in order of importance as instrumental sciences, on the basis of our opinion and informed judgment.

 

  1. Grammar (nahw).

This is the most important of the instrumental sciences. This is because the instrumental sciences are the sciences which are means to understanding of Islam, deriving Islamic rulings from the Quran and Sunna, understanding the Quran and Sunna correctly and deriving rulings from them.

Beyond this, they are also means to understanding the works written by the earlier Muslims regarding the various aspects of Islam—ranging from creed, law, ethics, and other topics. Without grammar, these matters will not be realized.

 

  1. Arabic morphology (sarf).

This comes after grammar in importance. Hence, scholars have said: “Grammar is the mother of the sciences, and morphology is their father” or vice versa. This is because both of them relate to language itself, its structure, vocabulary, and sentences.

 

  1. Rhetoric (balagha).

This is because it is as if rhetoric is a philosophy of grammar, and it is akin to being a cause for grammar.  We won’t say that it is the one cause, but it may be included among the causes of grammar from one angle.

 

  1. Hadith terminology (mustalah al-hadith).

Hadith terminology does not directly relate to the Arabic language. Only the first three sciences directly relate to the Arabic language. Rather, hadith terminology is an instrumental science because it is a means to verify hadiths narrated from the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace), to know which are rigorously authenticated (sahih), well-authenticated (hasan), weak (da‘if), and fabricated (mawdu‘).

Hence, it falls under the category of instrumental sciences, as it is a means towards the hadiths of the Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace). It does not apply to the Quran, as the Quran was brought to us through decisive mass transmission (tawatur), whereas hadith terminology relates to the narration.

Muslim scholars have laid out principles related to the narration which they were the first to come up with and which had not occurred to anyone in human history before. Nothing even comes close to it, nor can take its place, to know about reports related from individuals we have not met. The soundest method to critically analyze these historical narrations—and to analyze history— are through the principles of the science of hadith terminology, and the principles of critically analyzing chains of transmission and the narration itself.

Hadith terminology also counts as an instrumental science, because it is a means for analyzing hadith transmissions and distinguishing the rigorously authenticated (sahih) from the well-authenticated (hasan), the well-authenticated from the weak (da‘if), and the weak from the fabricated (mawdu‘) narration.

Without this, fabricated and weak narrations would be gathered with the sound, and this would be a cause of great distress for the Muslims. However, the scholars laid down this science and then applied it upon the hadith in a comprehensive manner. They did it comprehensively because it relates to the religion, religion’s very foundation, and to the second source of guidance in the religion—namely, the Sunna.

 

  1. Legal methodology (usul al-fiqh).

This comes next in importance. Legal methodology, too, is an instrumental science. It is a means to understand the Quran and Sunna and a means to derive rulings from the Quran and Sunna.

We have placed it after the sciences previously mentioned because it is contingent on them, and because most of them are components of it and it is made up of them. It is considered to be made up of them, some of them to a greater extent and others to a lesser extent. Because of this, we have mentioned it last.

We will suffice with this extent, and peace be upon you, and Allah’s Mercy and Blessings.

 

Shaykh Salih al-Ghursi and Dar al Fuqaha

It is an honor to have Shaykh Salih teach within the Dar al Fuqaha seminary in Istanbul. Read about him here. 

The Importance of Seeking Knowledge by Shaykh Salih al-Ghursi

 

Two: The Importance of Seeking Knowledge

by Shaykh Salih al-Ghursi

The following article presents the second set out of four counsels. These were recorded by the esteemed Shaykh Salih al-Ghursi for SeekersGuidance. They have been translated and transcribed with subtitles – the video can be found here.

Shaykh Salih al-Ghursi is a senior theologian and scholar of the rational sciences based in Konya, Turkey. He delivers a class for Dar al Fuqaha Seminary in Istanbul.


 

In the Name of Allah, the Encompassingly Merciful, the Particularly Merciful.

All praise belongs to Allah. Blessings and peace be upon the Messenger of Allah, and upon his followers, his companions, and those who follow them.

 

One of the distinguishing characteristics of sacred knowledge, or the Islamic sciences, is that it is the inheritance of the prophets (upon them be blessings and peace). On the other hand, wealth and power are the inheritance of other than the prophets. This is the greatest of merits of sacred knowledge: that it is the inheritance of the prophets. The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said,  “Prophets do not leave behind dinar or dirham, but they leave behind religious knowledge, so whoever takes it has taken a great share.”

The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) also said,  “Whomever Allah wishes well for, He grants deep understanding of the religion.” Thus, of the distinguishing merits of these sciences is that they are a sign that Allah wishes well for the one who seeks them.

Another merit of the Islamic sciences is that its scholars are the inheritors of the prophets due to it. There is no humanly conceivable role greater than the role of the inheritors of the prophets. The one role that is higher than that of the prophetic inheritors is that of prophethood. And the role of prophethood was concluded with our master Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace), the Seal of Prophets. The highest role attainable by human beings after the Seal of Prophethood is being an inheritor of the prophets. And the inheritors of the prophets are the scholars of Islam. A student of knowledge is in preparation to be an inheritor of the prophets. A student of knowledge should always be aware of this matter, keenly aware that they are being trained to be an inheritor of the prophets. This awareness will lead the student to observe Islamic character & etiquette and lead them towards striving and struggling towards what they are seeking from knowledge, which is the inheritance of the prophets. Thus, the student’s striving will be intense and persistent to attain the rank of the inheritors of the prophets.

In addition, the student of knowledge is being trained to lead the Prophetic community (ummah), leading the Prophetic community and driving it towards preeminence and leadership in the world. In Islam, prophethood was sealed by our master Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace). Those after him who assume this leadership are the scholars and students of knowledge. The Prophet (Allah Most High bless him and grant him peace), says in the noble hadith: “The Children of Israel used to be presided over by prophets: Whenever a prophet died, another prophet would take over his place.” As for the nation of Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace), it has first presided over the Messenger of God (Allah bless him and give him peace). After him, the scholars have presided over it; and they will preside over it until the Final Hour. As is stated in another hadith—which, though its narration is weak, is sound in meaning—“The scholars of my community are like the prophets of the Children of Israel.” Just as the prophets of the Children of Israel were the ones who presided over the Children of Israel, the Prophetic community is presided over by the scholars.

The true leadership of the Ummah consists of the scholars of the community. As for political leadership—caliphs, emirs, and monarchs—their rule is but on the outward aspect of people,

in addition to the external protection of the boundaries of the state. On the other hand, the scholars are always those who have taken on rectifying the Ummah – protecting its religion, creed, faith, character, and understanding. They are the ones who lead it towards awareness regarding struggle in the way of God, and spending one’s self & wealth in the path of spreading Islam, and making God’s word the highest. Thus, those who truly preside over the Muslims are the scholars of the Umma. And the true leaders are the scholars of the Umma. Those who stand guard over the structure of the Umma are the scholars of the Umma, and they are the ones who move forth with it. This is because this community has been placed by God as a leader to the world, pre-eminent and giving instruction; and this is not realized except with the guidance from the scholars, their leadership, and their directing of the Ummah towards these virtues.

And peace be upon you, and Allah’s mercy and blessings.

 

 Shaykh Salih al-Ghursi and Dar al Fuqaha

It is an honour to have Shaykh Salih teach within the Dar al Fuqaha seminary in Istanbul. Read about him here. 

Another Term Completed at the Dar al Fuqaha Seminary – Courses Coming Soon!

In the midst of all the challenges brought forth by the new realities facing us during this global pandemic, the SeekersGuidance Istanbul Team has been working tirelessly to continue bringing life-changing knowledge to students from around the world.

Last week, The SeekersGuidance Istanbul Team finished the second term of lessons at the Dar al Fuqaha Seminary. With the help of technology, we were able to keep students connected to their lessons and teachers, while maintaining best practices during the pandemic. For the safety of our students, term two was held exclusively held online.  Scholars recorded lessons from an empty lecture hall, as students tuned in from home.

 

 

 

 

 

This term, senior scholars including Shaykh Usama Rifai, Shaykh Ismail Majzoob and Dr Mahmoud Masri taught various Islamic sciences including: Fiqh, Hadith, Aqeeda and more!

Keep an eye on our newsletter and social media feeds as we will be releasing the courses online, completely free, for thousands more to benefit shortly.

Interested in registering for a course now? Take a look at our course catalog for over a hundred beneficial courses: seekersguidance.org/courses

A final word — all this is made possible with the help of generous donors like you. Support The Dar al-Fuqaha Seminary and other important projects brought to you by SeekersGuidance. Click here and Donate Today.

The SeekersGuidance Summer 2020 Intensive: Reflections and Testimonials

The SeekersGuidance Summer 2020 Intensive offered three programs of study to serve Muslims with varying needs and concerns. Programs included an Islamic Foundations Program, and Arabic Ijaza Program, as well as a Youth Program.The intensive, originally planned to be held in Istanbul before the pandemic, was adjusted and moved online in order to serve Muslims around the world in this difficult time. With the help of streaming and collaborative technology, we were able to hold daily live lessons with teachers from various countries, while giving students an interactive and immersive learning experience.

Teachers included:

  • Dr. Mahmoud Masri (Turkey)
  • Shaykh Talal Azam (UK)
  • Dr. Abdurrahman Idrissi (Turkey)
  • Shaykh Walead Mosaad (USA)
  • Dr. Faysal Hafian (Egypt)
  • Dr. Nuri Friedlander (USA)
  • Shaykh Yusuf Welch (Canada)
  • and more!

Like all our programs, all this was provided completely free. The response spoke for itself, with over 500 registrations, here’s what some of our students had to say:

“It was a beautiful learning experience. The live sessions allowed for far more interaction with the teachers than expected”

“This is the briefest and probably the most worthwhile experience I have had since Ramadan. It was intensive!”

“I am severely sight impaired and the courses at Seekers Guidance are like light in my life”

“It was insightful to say the least. I enjoyed the program and it taught me many things I didn’t know before”

“Connecting with Scholars from all over the world is in itself a great and life-changing experience”

“Living in Italy, I never had the opportunity or the means to even get a basic Islamic education before, so now I have a much stronger foundation. I also still cannot believe everything is free and state-of-the-art quality. I would urge people to support SeekersGuidance financially, and to make dua for them”

If you missed the summer intensive, don’t worry. Courses will be made available on our website in the coming week!

Meanwhile checkout other great free courses by leading scholars by visiting: seekersguidance.org/course-catalog/

Saving Our Souls Series | Part 7: 38 Sins of the Tongue – Shaykh Yusuf Weltch

Every word we utter, whether good or bad, is recorded.  Every statement we make has a witness. Allah says:

“He (i.e. man) does not utter a single word without an ever-present watcher.” (Qur’an, 50:18)

The two most difficult body parts to protect and avert from sin are the tongue and the private parts – so much so that our beloved Prophet – Allah bless him and give him peace – said:

“Whosoever gives me a guarantee to safeguard what is between his jaws and what is between his legs, I shall guarantee him Jannah.” (Bukhari)

What is between his jaw refers to the tongue; both what it expresses and what it consumes. What is between the legs refers to the private parts (the sins of which will be addressed in its own article soon).

When the believer protects his tongue from the following list of sins the reward is nothing but paradise.

What we utter, but by extension what we type online as well.

From the sins of the tongue are the following:

  1. Backbiting
    • To mention something about your fellow Muslims, in their absence, which they dislike, even if it is true.
  2. Tale-telling
    • To convey the statement of someone to another intending to cause corruption.
  3. Instigating harm without right
    • To instigate the harming of another without conveying another’s statement. This applies even if between animals.
  4. Lying intentionally
    • To say that which is contrary to reality
  5. False oaths
    • To swear by Allah or one of His attributes upon a matter that the one swearing knows is false.
      • If one swears knowingly lying about a past matter it is called an immersing oath (al-yamin al-ghamus). It is called that because it immerses the one who commits it into sin or the Hell-Fire. It is of the major sins because swearing by Allah upon that which is contrary to reality is a manifest violation of the sanctity of the Religion. Repentance and expiation are therefore due.
      • As for the one who swears to leave a permitted thing then does that thing they must do an expiation but they are not sinful. For example, if one says, “I swear by Allah I will not drink tea” then they drink it.
      • Likewise if one swears to do a permitted thing then does not do it they must perform an expiation but are not sinful. For example, if someone says, “I swear by Allah I will drink tea today” then the day passes and they did not drink tea.
  6. Words of accusation of fornication
    • These are many. In summary, every word which ascribes any human or relative to the act of fornication. This is an accusation of the one being ascribed to fornication. That is whether it is a general clear accusation or an indirect accusation with the intention of accusing.  The free accuser is punished with 80 lashes and the slave with half of that.
  7. Insulting any single one of the Companions of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and give him peace) or His family. As for insulting all of them together, this is disbelief.
  8. False testimony
  9. Breaking of promises
    • To break a promise after having made it while harboring the intention not to fulfill it.
  10. The delaying of an able person to fulfill their debts
    • For the able person to procrastinate and delay in the fulfillment of a debt which the one owed seeks fulfillment of.
  11. To verbally abuse, insult, or curse with no right to do so
  12. Belittling a Muslim
  13. Addressing any Muslim with harmful words
  14. Lying against Allah Most High or His Messenger (may Allah bless him and give him peace). This could even be tantamount to disbelief.
  15. Making false claims to the judge or any other.
  16. Effecting an innovative divorce.
    • The innovative divorce is that which is affected during a period of menstruation; or in a state of purity in which intercourse was made; or if intercourse was made during the period of menstruation which preceded the divorce.
  17. Zihar
    • Zihar is to claim a resemblance in impermissibility between one’s spouse and a non-marriageable family member or even one of their limbs. Its meaning entails an explicit declaration that he will never have intercourse with her. If one does not immediately affect an actual divorce after the zihar they must perform an expiation.
    • The expiation for zihar is the freeing of a believing slave. If one is unable to do so they must fast two consecutive months. If they are unable to do that they must feed (i.e. transfer ownership of food to) sixty poor persons each getting a ‘Mudd’ of any type of food which is valid to give for Zakat al-Fitr.
  18. Intentionally making a mistake in the Qur’an
    • This applies to changing the vowel signs even if it does not disturb the meaning.
  19. For one who has sufficient wealth or means of earning to beg
  20. A vow made with the intention of depriving an inheritor their inheritance
    • A vow means to impose upon one’s self the obligation of performing an act of worship which is not inherently obligatory. This is done by saying, ‘Obligatory on me, for the sake of Allah, is that I will give such and such amount of money to the poor.’ By doing this it is obligatory for him to give the mentioned amount to the poor. However, if this is done so that one does not leave behind wealth for his inheritors it is strictly prohibited.
  21. To neglect to leave instructions to fulfill a debt or return an item that no one other than him knows of.
  22. To attribute a lineage to other than one’s real father or former masters.
  23. To put forth a proposal despite the proposal of one’s fellow Muslim
  24. To give a legal Islamic ruling without the prerequisite knowledge, even if it is correct.
  25. To teach or to learn a harmful science without a religiously sanctioned reason.
    • For example, magic.
  26. To judge by other than the ruling of Allah Most High
  27. Excessive mourning and wailing over the deceased.
  28. Any speech which encourages the prohibited or makes others lax regarding an obligation.
  29. Any insult of the religion, any one of the Prophets, the scholars, sacred Islamic knowledge, the sacred law, the Qur’an, or any of the symbols of Allah Most High.
    • Doing so is disbelief.
  30. Whistling in a way that resembles musical instruments.
  31. Being silent from commanding the good and prohibiting the wrong without excuse.
  32. Concealing obligatory religious knowledge when it is sought.
    • This applies if there is no one else who can teach them.
  33. Laughing when another passes wind.
  34. Laughing at a Muslim out of belittlement.
  35. Concealing testimony, when called to testify or without being called when testifying becomes obligatory on them.
  36. Forgetting the Qur’an.
    • Some have explained this to mean not acting upon the Qur’an.
  37. Not replying to Salam which is obligatory upon one.
  38. Desire arousing kissing (such as the kissing between two spouses with desire) for one in a state of Ihram; or the fasting person if there is fear of ejaculation; or kissing anyone who is impermissible to kiss.

May Allah forgive us the sins we have uttered.

Saving Our Souls Series

Our teacher, Shaykh Yusuf Weltch, guides us through a journey, a path that ultimately leads to true happiness; the love of Allah.  Join us as we take this trip.  Keep an eye on this page for updates to new articles and podcasts.

Part 1: Introduction | Click here

  • An article on the heart and the need to take care of it

Part 2: Obligations of the Heart | Click here

  • We’ve heard of bodily obligations, but what are the obligations of the heart?

Part 3: A Precious Counsel from a Revered Scholar | Click here

  • The believer’s state

Part 4: 22 Sins of the Heart | Click here

  • Yes, even the heart can sin, which are the worst of sins

Part 5: 12 Sins of the Stomach | Click here

  • Everything we digest has an impact on the heart

Part 6: 12 Sins of the Eyes | Click here

  • Seeing eye to eye with the legislation

Part 7: 38 Sins of the Tongue | Click here

  • Do you want Paradise guaranteed for you?

Part 8: The Sins of the Ears

Part 9: The Sins of the Hand

Part 10: The Sins of the Private Parts

Part 11: The Sins of the Feet

Part 12: The Sins of the Body