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How to Seek Forgiveness from Teachers?

Answered by Ustadh Salman Younas

Question: In my early teens I was disrespectful towards my Qur’an teacher. Now I have realized the grave mistake of disrespecting him. I have repented and tried to make amends by buying my teacher gifts. However I have not asked for his forgiveness as I am shy. AlhamduliLlah he accepted my gift. What I should do?

Answer: Assalam alaykum

Teachers occupy a very important place in our tradition. While this is true of any individual instructing us in beneficial knowledge, it is particularly true of those who are our religious teachers. There is an extensive literature among scholars dedicated to the adab of a student towards a teacher, such as the famous work al-Ta‘lim wa al-Muta‘allim of al-Zarnuji, which is available in English.

As for your specific case, the best way to make amends is to continue respecting and holding your teacher in high-esteem. If you do wish to seek forgiveness for a specific past breach, you may do so in a general manner, such as by asking your teacher to forgive you for any wrong you may have done.

With that, some of the actions you have taken, such as buying gifts for your teacher, already indicate that you feel remorse about what you did and are taking steps to rectify past mistakes. You should continue doing this and also supplicate for your teachers, asking God to benefit you with what they have taught you. Additionally, express your appreciation for the time and energy he gave you. As the Prophet (God bless him) said, “He who does not give thanks to people does not give thanks to God.” [Abu Dawud] These are among the most important of things you can do.

[Ustadh] Salman Younas

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadh Salman Younas graduated from Stony Brook University with a degree in Political Science and Religious Studies. After studying the Islamic sciences online and with local scholars in New York, Ustadh Salman moved to Amman. There he studies Islamic law, legal methodology, belief, hadith methodology, logic, Arabic, and tafsir.

Should I Keep Studying Fiqh With a Teacher Who Doesn’t Follow One Single School of Law?

Answered by Shaykh Shuaib Ally

Question: Assalam alaykum,

I really like my teacher who is a learned person who has studied in Al Azhar but in teaching Fiqh he sometimes mix the opinions of different schools. Should I continue to study with him even if he doesn’t follow one school?

Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullah,

Studying with a Teacher who does not follow a Single School of Law

It is better to stick with a teacher one trusts, even if this teacher does not necessarily follow a single school of thought in all legal issues. Normally, a layperson would simply do this, as they likely would not have the tools (or time) to adequately assess this teacher’s rationale for choosing an opinion.

Choosing Opinions from without one’s Chosen School

It is, generally speaking, permissible to prefer non-authoritative positions from within one’s own school, or valid positions based on sound scholarship from other schools.
A scholar might do so for any number of academic or personal reasons. He might feel, for example, that another opinion more closely accords to modern or situational circumstances; or that it is truer to the available evidence; or that another’s legal methodology on a certain matter is sounder. Alternatively, he might simply find it easier to implement.

Studying one School before Delving into Others

A student of knowledge would normally seek grounding in one school of thought before branching out into others. This prevents one from getting confused between schools and conflicting opinions, and allows one to reasonably ensure that their practice is logically sound and internally consistent. It is not uncommon, however, for a person to come across other opinions during one’s course of study, and it is not, generally speaking, blameworthy to follow them.

Shuaib Ally

Can I Prepare My Hajj by Watching Videos Online and Reading Books?

Answered by Ustadh Shuaib Ally

Question: As salam alaikum,

Recently, I have been on a rather short umrah trip. After some time, I realised that I made the umrah by just reading it from an article and some conversation with friends.

I have an opportunity to be performing the Hajj this year but I am afraid that i will not be trained properly. I can do my own reading and watching videos in the internet, does this count?

Answer: wa `alaykum assalam

May your ‘umrah be accepted, and may your upcoming hajj be facilitated for you.

Validity of Actions

Most of the rites we have to perform are fairly basic, and a large segment of the population does get their knowledge in a manner similar to how you went about your ‘umrah, such as personal research or conversation with others. Validity, however, remains intrinsic to the actions themselves, and is not contingent upon how one came about this information. That is to say that by the grace and mercy of Allah, if actions are sound, they do count, so to speak.

Studying with Local Teachers

It is nevertheless highly recommended that one study with local teachers. You should be able to find local Shafi’i teachers that can provide you with information about performing the hajj, in addition to the information you can find on the internet.

You’ve mentioned some of the benefits of studying with a teacher; please see this as well, in which Shaykh Faraz Rabbani notes additional benefits:
Why Learn From a Teacher?

You can also take a look at some of the answers here, related to following a school of law:
A Reader on Following Schools of Thought (Madhabs)

Shuaib Ally

Taking Rulings Directly From Imam Muhammad’s Six Books (kutub dhahir al-riwaya)

Answered by Sidi Waseem Hussain

Question: Is it permissible for a non scholar muslim to follow directly a ruling ,issued in one of the six Kutub zâhir al-riwâya, by Imam Abu Hanifa,Imam Abu Yusuf and Imam As Shaybani on an issue they have all three agreed upon and in the meantime doing this without consulting other authorities(such as a living qualified hanafi scholar or a more comprehensive book such as  Ibn Abidin’s Hashiyat)?

Answer: Assalamu Alaykum Warahmatullah,

Islam is a living tradition passed down from generation to generation until the time of the Tabieen, who learned the religion from the Sahaba, who learned it from the Prophet (May Allahs peace and blessings be upon Him).

As such, our knowledge of the religion comes from the hands of scholars and not just from books.

The 6 books of “zahir al-riwaya” (*) are not like other fiqh-texts such as Nur al-Idah, Quduri or others that we can look into for a fiqh-ruling. Therefore it is not advisable for non-scholars to make the 6 books into ones main source of Hanafi-fiqh. Even books like Nur al-Idah or Quduri are not to be accessed without teaching and guidance from living scholars.

As students then, going back to the early books of the Hanafi-madhab like the 6 books to follow the rulings mentioned in them is not something we indulge ourselves in. Rather, we seek to learn our religion at the hands of living scholars who teach us, guide us and help us in understanding the easier books first.

And Allah knows best,
Waseem Hussain

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

(*) The 6 books in question are the books written by Imam Muhammad that consitute the backbone of the Hanafi-madhab and serve as a basis of the later books of the Hanafi-madhab.

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.

Wassalam,
Faraz Rabbani