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The Art of Reading – Shaykh Ahmed Hussein El Azhary

The Art of Reading by Shaykh Ahmed Hussein El Azhary

 

In this new podcast series, Shaykh Ahmed Hussein El Azhary will discuss why the art of reading is critical for students of knowledge to master. One of the greatest barriers in mastering a science is the inability to read with structure and comprehension. In this series, Shaykh Ahmed will provide students with a detailed approach to rectifying this problem.

In addition to offering practical tips and guidance in improving one’s reading and learning skills, Shaykh Ahmed will also elaborate on the development of the instrumental (foundational) sciences within the Islamic tradition and how they compare to medieval and modern theories of literary comprehension.

In episode 1, Dr. Yusuf Patel asks Shaykh Ahmed Hussein El Azhary why many students of knowledge are not able to read and master texts that they have studied. Furthermore, Shaykh Ahmed discusses the various phases of mastery that students should attain during their studies, and how the science of learning developed in the classical Islamic period and in modern times.

Click here to listen to Episode 1 of The Art of Reading.


Biography of Shaykh Ahmed Hussein El Azhary:

Shaykh Ahmed El Azhary is a researcher in Islamic intellectual history and a teacher of Islamic traditional sciences. He’s currently a teacher of Hadith, Usūl, Logic and Kalam at Rawdatul-Na`īm under the supervision of Habib `Ali al-Jifrī; and at Madyafat Shaykh Ismaīl Sadiq al-`Adawī (RA), a prominent learning center by al-Azhar Mosque in Cairo.

Formerly, Shaykh Ahmed worked as a Lead Researcher at Tabah Foundation. He was appointed by Habib `Ali al-Jifrī to architect the philosophical framework of Suaal initiative – an initiative concerned with modelling an Islamic philosophical response to contemporary existential questions, supervised by Shaykh `Ali Jumu`ah, Habib `Umar and Shaykh Usama al-Azhary. Shaykh Ahmed continues to participate in Suaal initiative through essays, public lectures and workshops.

His previous experiences include: participating as a teaching assistant and then as a mentor at “Learning How to Learn,” the most popular course of all time on Coursera provided by University of California – San Diego; and working as a high school teacher of business, economics and psychology courses as well as supervising character development programs at Green Heights International School.

Shaykh Ahmed studied Anthropology at American University in Cairo and received his training in Leadership Communication from Tulane University and The University of Alabama at Birmingham. He is also a life-long learner. He holds a diversified portfolio of almost 50 certificates in a variety of subjects – extending from Teaching Character and Clinical Psychology of Children and Young People to Complexity Theory, Model Thinking and Conflict Analysis.

Shaykh Ahmed began his journey of studying traditional sciences about 20 years ago. In addition to studying with scholars from al-Azhar, he had the privilege of studying with visiting scholars from Algeria and India in a one-on-one format, and was thus given an exceptional opportunity to study and discuss advanced-level texts of different sorts and over a long period of time. Shaykh Ahmed has more than 70 Ijazas from scholars from all over the Muslim world.

Having read hundreds of books and conducted countless hours in research and study, Shaykh Ahmed has contributed to academic scholarship through four printed publications that help us understand the post-classical scholarly community in the Islamicate world. One of which is al-Matali` fī Adāb al-Mutali`, a compendium of seven edited treatises in the art of deep reading. He’s currently working on a second compendium that will include another three treatises in the same subject.

Beside a number of edited works about to be released in Islamic pedagogy, linguistics and Hanafi Usūl, Shaykh Ahmed has authored Rūh al-`Ilm – a treatise in the art of scientific investigation, based on a survey of roughly 200 traditional Islamic texts, and has been endorsed by Dr. Jamāl Fārūq, the Dean of Islamic Da`wah College at al-Azhar University and Dr. Ahmed Mamdūh, the Chair of Research Division at Dar al-Iftaa’ al-Masrīyah. Rūh al-`Ilm will be published by Tabah Foundation in the early of summer of 2019.

 

 

Shaykh Faraz Rabbani on Seeking Beneficial Knowledge

In this series of five videos, Shaykh Faraz Rabbani answers some common questions people ask about seeking knowledge.

 

1. Why study Islam?
2. Don’t I know enough already?
3. What should I prioritize in my study?
4. Who should I study with?
5. When reconnecting or considering Islam, where do I begin?

Resources for Seekers

The Blessed Experience of Seeking Knowledge, by Shaykh Faiz Qureshy
Ten Adab of Seekers of Knowledge
Importance of Intention in Seeking Knowledge
10 Steps to Firm-Footedness in Seeking Knowledge of Fiqh

10 Steps to Firm-Footedness in Seeking Knowledge of Fiqh

In this brief podcast, Shaykh Faraz Rabbani provides 10 genuinely useful tips on gaining and retaining a firm grasp of your knowledge of fiqh.

See also:

“From knowing nothing to becoming a student of knowledge”
Advice from Habib Ali Al-Jifri for Seekers of Knowledge
The Etiquette of Seeking Knowledge

Habib Umar’s Advice to the Seekers of Sacred Knowledge
Shaykh Áwwamah’s advice for Students of Sacred Knowledge
Importance of Intention in Seeking Knowledge

 

The Blessing of Knowledge, by Shaykh Faid Muhammad Said

Allah has promised that He will facilitate the path to Jannah for anyone who embarks on the journey to seeking knowledge. Imagine being in the company of the “pious ones” in the Eternal Garden. Can you afford to lose out on this opportunity? Listen to Shaykh Faid Muhammad Said explain how clear and easy Allah has made this choice for us and start today by taking a free course with SeekersHub from the comfort of your own home.

What a Second-Degree Burn Taught Me About Focus, by Chloe Idris

Chloe Idris writes about losing focus and the searing pain of regret.

I’m writing this right now as I sit in bed, with my leg elevated and wrapped, nursing a second-degree burn. This is in fact my second second-degree burn since I left my home country to seek sacred knowledge, which seems oddly poetic – my first burn was in Jordan (where I was studying Arabic), and now my second has happened in Egypt (where I am studying the Islamic sciences). And although they’ve both been extremely painful, it’s clear that sometimes our most important life lessons come from that which hurts the most (and there’s nothing like sharp, searing pain to really drive a lesson home).

For this to make sense, I’ll have to tell you the story of how I got this latest burn. Since living in the Middle East, my husband and I have always had troubles with our kitchens and bathrooms. Blown fuses and exploding light fixtures that don’t get fixed for months, periods of no running water, periods of no hot water (always fun in the middle of a cold Jordanian winter)… I could go on. At the moment, we’ve been lucky enough to get the bathroom lighting repaired and the water running again, but the hot water seems to be gone for now. We’ve learned to take things in our stride and just have fun with it (it is an adventure, after all).

Which brings me to tonight, when we were doing the washing together – my husband was pouring the hot water (which had been boiled on the stove) and I was pouring the cold water into a single container to use. Of course everyone knows that any time boiling hot water is involved, you have to pay full attention. And we were paying attention, that is until the fifth round of water-pouring.

It was late, we were tired and joking around as we normally do, so it’s no surprise what happened next: something got bumped, the boiling water that was supposed to be pouring into the container was now pouring down my leg, and I was crying in pain.

My husband, being the quick thinker that he is, had me bundled straight into the bathtub and had cold water running over the burn in no time. And I know at this point you’re probably thinking ‘well that sounds painful Chloe, but I’m not really sure what you getting burned has to do with life lessons and seeking sacred knowledge.’

When You Least Expect It

We were discussing later how it had happened, because even though it was an accident, my husband felt terrible for even having accidentally caused me pain. And the reality is, it happened because we both stopped focusing. We took our eyes off the task at hand, and became distracted. We had nearly finished up with the washing, we felt like we were all done, so we stopped paying attention. And then I got burned.

As I was laying down later that night nursing my wound, I reflected over this incident. I believe everything always happens for a reason, that God has planned our lives perfectly, and that in hardships there are always lessons to be learned. And I realised, what if my distraction that lead to my burn, was really a reflection of my current state in life?

I mentioned earlier that I’m currently studying the Islamic sciences in Egypt, and I have exams just around the corner. But the process is being delayed and dragged out, and I could feel myself losing focus. It’s hard to maintain the same level of discipline and focus over a long period of time, whether it’s a university degree you’re working towards, your own private Islamic studies, or even just your personal ibadah (worship) that you are wanting to improve in.

Eyes On The Prize

So here’s the lesson: if you have a goal that you’re working towards, it’s essential that you keep your eyes on that goal, especially when you’re close to the finish line. It’s easy when you’re close to achieving your goal to start slowing down, to relax a bit more, to start looking around at what else is going on. But the final stretch isn’t the time to lose focus; that’s the time to renew your intention, fix your eyes firmly on your goal, and double down on the work that will get you there.

If you need to take the breaks, take them. If you need to recharge, do it. Do what you need in your daily life to keep yourself healthy and well, and then get back to work with focus and intention.

Because I can tell you from experience, there’s nothing like the sharp pain of regret (or a second-degree burn…) to make you wish you had paid more attention when it really mattered.

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Vulnerability as the Pathway to Virtue – Dr. Ingrid Mattson

Join the conversation regarding sacred wisdom and pathways to non-violence at the 2016 Festival of Faith conference in Louisville, Kentucky with Dr. Ingrid Mattson  as she profoundly connects the viewer and listener to the nature of need as the true human experience and Vulnerability as its gateway.

It seems that all aspects of life stem down to the notion of power or the lack thereof.  Suffering is real; evil occurs and is experienced. What then is  our response? How do we understand and connect?

Dr. Ingrid’s response is real and compelling: “everyone will do what they will do and  my job is to learn in that situation; my job is to see the  opportunity for me to express my reliance and awareness of God’s Power ; to understand what it means to be in need of mercy, to be in need of compassion, and to be in need of justice.”
Vulnerability allows us to have the courage to go forward and try to exemplify prophetic virtues into action for the sake of all of those whose peace is being disturbed.

We are grateful to the Festival of Faith for the video. Cover photo by Bhatti Mashooque

 

Resources for the Seekers:

How To Avoid Being A "Know-It-All", by Shaykh Shuaib Ally

You should be involved in Islamic learning, argues Shaykh Shuaib Ally. A large reason for that involves a trait that, when lacking, cripples a person’s ability to develop their knowledge base: intellectual humility.

A lack of intellectual humility manifests itself, in discussions related to the Islamic sciences, in various forms. A common expression is for me to arrive at a certain opinion, say, related to a legal matter. I then imagine that I alone understand what the ruling ought to be, and that none others hold a correct view.
However, it is unlikely that my opinion finds no precedent whatsoever in an academic history that spans over 1400 odd years and large swathes of the globe. Such a belief instead derives from my misguided belief in the unique and special nature of my own outlook.
It would be bad enough if this were the lone result of this form of intellectual arrogance. Worse is the nefarious corollary of such a belief, my belief that the fact this unique understanding is not being currently championed must be due to one of two reasons.
One is that the vast majority of scholars are being academically dishonest and are hiding what is the correct opinion for their own ends. The other is that it really is the fact that the understanding I have arrived at has no precedent whatsoever in the inherited tradition. I then take this to be demonstrative of the fact that established scholarship has nothing serious to offer.
This is, of course, wrongheaded.
It is unlikely that there is some sort of conspiracy to cover up aspects of scholarship in Islamic history; in fact, scholarly works are quite good at recording non-mainstream opinions, if for no other reason than academic curiosity. It is simply more likely that scholars have chosen another opinion for other reasons, and that is the one that people are most familiar with.
Moreover, my being unaware of a certain opinion within a body of scholarship hardly indicates that the community of scholarship itself is somehow compromised. More often than not, it simply reflects a gap in my own knowledge base. That is, it says more about me than about the discipline I am considering defective.
In this regard, the late 3rd C Shāfiʿī jurist poet, Mansūr b. Ismāʿīl al-Tamīmī, recited:

Those of diminished intellect critique the study of law
Yet their blame does not affect it in the least
The morning sun rising in the horizon remains unharmed
By those without sight remaining oblivious to its light

Let me give you an example. Imagine I believe that astronomical calculations should be used in lieu of naked eye sightings to determine the beginning and end of months in the lunar calendar. I could have very good reasons for arguing this. Classical scholars, I might argue, worked in a medieval period in which the sciences were not as developed, and therefore did not consider astronomical calculations as possible. I might go on to argue that in the modern age, we have precise methods of measurement, and that this should allow for the formulation of new rulings.
This would be an example of intellectual arrogance because classical works do consider astronomical calculations being used for this purpose; these discussions are alluded to in even fairly elementary works of law. When I make such a claim, I am arrogantly making claims about the absence of a discussion in a certain literature, betraying my lack of knowledge of preceding discussion.
My viewing scholars at large with suspicion, and believing them to be unwilling to entertain this discussion, would likewise be intellectually arrogant. This is because they are skirting an issue; they have simply chosen another opinion for other reasons.
The intellectual arrogance here is born out of a misguided sense of my own academic breadth. This arrogance is criticized famously by Abu Nuwas, the 2nd C Abbasid poet famous for the licentious content of his work, who recited:

Say to one who claims a special understanding:
You have gathered a little bit, but even more escapes you!

This lack of knowledge is therefore exacerbated by my lack of intellectual humility. Had I bothered to engage in the disciplines that purport to deal with the subject matter under consideration, I might have found at the very least a suitable starting point for their research.
However, rejecting at the outset anything a scholarly class busies itself with as having little intellectual worth has necessarily restricted me from benefiting from it. Due diligence demands being thorough in researching my claims prior to making them, but my preconceived notions about the undeveloped nature of the Islamic disciplines have led me to bypass that.
These preconceived notions are often coupled by an actual inability to access scholarly discussions on a given subject. That is, intellectual arrogance has blocked me from acquiring the requisite knowledge of the Islamic disciplines, primary or supporting, such that I can actually engage the textual tradition on the issues I purports to have special knowledge of. Indeed, there is often a correlation between lack of learning and intellectual arrogance.


A lack of intellectual humility can also express itself in my conception of others and their practice. Part of intellectual humility is understanding that while I believe and act in a certain manner, others may have good reason for doing or believing something that is at odds with this. Intellectual humility demands coming to terms with this, even if I do not understand the reason for others choosing another course, or even if I have never come across the rationale underlying their chosen course.
When I am intellectually arrogant, however, I am unable to do this. Instead, I presumptuously think that knowledge begins and ends only with what I myself has come across and understand.This allows me to pompously insist on my own position at all costs, assuming it to be the only correct position. It also allows me to judge others, believing their positions to be inadequate without having actually assessed their merit, and rejecting from the outset anything they could have to say in response as having intellectual worth.
Rejecting something simply because it is unfamiliar is, however, behaviour the Qurʾan criticizes as unbecoming. Imam al- Qurtubī, the famous 7th C Andalusian exegete, mentions that al-Husayn b. al-Fadl, a 3rd C Nishapuri exegete, was asked, Does the Qur’an contain the idea that whoever is ignorant of something opposes it? He said: Yes, in two places: They disbelieve in anything their own knowledge does not encompass (10:39); and If they have not been guided to something, they say, this is an ancient lie (46:11).


Another form of intellectual arrogance can manifest itself when I have acquired some knowledge, and suddenly consider myself intellectually superior to all others, even those who are far above me in their level of scholarship, including my own teachers. Al-Jāhiz, the 3rd C Abbasid polymath, recited these famous lines from the perspective of a teacher complaining of such a situation:

How curious, the one I reared from childhood; I would feed with the tips of my fingers
I taught him to shoot; when his arms became strong, he fired at me
How often I trained him in verse; when he began to recite, he attacked me
I taught him manliness, daily; when his mustache began to grow, he abandoned me
When I act in such a manner, I become the instantiation of the warning that a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing, as it has contributed to my inflated sense of worth, instead of increasing my humility.

 


The good news is that the cure to intellectual arrogance is fairly straightforward. It is to actually engage in sincere learning. This is why I think you should engage in Islamic learning.
The bad news is that doing so isn’t particularly easy, in that it is much easier to simply be pompous. Acquiring real knowledge takes work.
There is an indication of this difficulty in that the Prophet Muhammad – peace and blessings of God be upon him – said that whoever embarks upon a path of knowledge, God facilitates for them a path to Paradise.
He does this, scholars say, in two ways. One is worldly, in that he makes it easy for them to do good, and difficult for them to do otherwise. The second is a reference to the afterlife, in that he facilitates for them their crossing of the bridge to Paradise, a task otherwise fraught with difficulty.
There is a general principle when it comes to how reward and punishment is meted out for a specific action; it tends to be commensurate, or similar in kind, to a person’s action, good or bad. This is encapsulated in the maxim: actions are rewarded in kind.
In the case of our knowledge seeker, he has undertaken what is actually an onerous task – knowledge seeking can require, beyond cost, countless hours of attending classes, listening to lectures, recording and reviewing notes, and putting up with teachers with different personalities and teaching methodologies that may not accord with his own.
All of this is near impossible for the intellectually arrogant, as he cannot see why he needs to humiliate himself before knowledge in this manner. But for one who does take it upon himself to traverse this difficult path, they are rewarded in kind, in that God facilitates for them what would have otherwise been an intractable journey.


It has been said that whoever has not tasted the humility of learning for a short time, tastes the bitterness of ignorance for a lifetime. That is, humbling oneself to a sincere knowledge quest can serve to quell many of the pitfalls that come with being intellectually arrogant.
One who does so sincerely will become aware of the kinds of discussions that scholars are engaged in, their range and extent, and the methods they employ to reach their conclusions. A large part of this is because engaging sincerely will provide one with the tools to properly participate in scholarly discussions.
Being apprised of this intellectual heritage protects one from thinking that an entire tradition is undeveloped in that it has little to offer. This awareness also prevents one from viewing the scholarly community with disdain or suspicion, even if one disagrees with their conclusions.
The knowledge that one gains will allow one to develop their intellectual humility in other ways too. At the personal level, it allows one to realize the contours of their own knowledge base; that is, an awareness of what they know and how that roughly fits into the available body of knowledge. For the vast majority of people, this is a humbling experience, as one realizes the limited nature of their grasp, even after years of study.
At a larger level, this humility forces a certain level of tolerance for others’ beliefs and practice, as one no longer pompously believes themselves to have an exclusive grasp of truth in the Islamic tradition. Such a person no longer has the internal urge to object to what others are doing or saying, as he knows that there can be schools of thought or credible scholarship that holds as such. This is why many scholars say: the more one’s knowledge grows, the more his objections diminish.


This is – to finally get to the point – why I think you should be involved in Islamic learning. Aside from the normal reasons for pursuing what is generally considered ‘religious’ knowledge – which are themselves good enough – doing so will allow one to pursue this special knowledge related virtue, that of cultivating intellectual humility.
A community that demonstrates knowledge related virtues, premier among them being a healthy dose of intellectual humility, is the kind of knowledge community we want to build. This is the kind of community that, aside from simply being engaged with knowledge, can build a native tradition of scholarship.
This is because its collective intellectual humility and academic integrity has allowed for the raising of intellectual discourse across the community, beyond the clamor of theories divorced from preceding scholarship and the vague insinuations that often pose as informed comment in popular discourse today.
I want you to be part of this building process, even if in a small way.
It is difficult to approach a knowledge quest sincerely. Yet I encourage you to approach it as sincerely as you can, and pray that your sincerity, even if somehow currently compromised, is perfected over time. Some past scholars used to say, musing on their intentions becoming corrected over time: we started out seeking knowledge for reasons other than God, yet it refused in the end to be for any cause other than God.
The method for participating in this process is up to you; it can and should involve a number of different options. These include attending classes on the ground with those who do embody intellectual humility; taking online courses (such as those offered through Seekershub), listening to lectures, and reading widely.
We don’t lack for resources in learning. We do lack for commitment to learning, a problem that derives largely from arrogance of the intellect.
This is why, in a roundabout way, I think you should involve yourself in sincere Islamic learning.

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Building Communities of Learning and Mercy, Shaykh Yahya Rhodus and Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Building communities anchored in learning and mercy is imperative in our times

Shaykh Yahya Rhodus and Shaykh Faraz Rabbani speak on the importance of such communities and supporting them. Shaykh Yahya also describes the goals and background of Al-Maqasid in Allentown, Pennsylvania.  Please consider supporting Al-Maqasid by clicking here.

Photo Credit: Jason Jacobs

My Journey To Light, by Ibrahim J Long

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When Ibrahim J. Long first converted to Islam there were few opportunities to learn Islam directly from scholars. Mostly, he gathered what information he could from reading articles from various Islamic websites, watching YouTube videos and downloading lectures.

IbrahimJLongI read as much as I could. Though, looking back now I realize just how much I was in need of direction in what I should be reading, learning, and focusing my attention on.
Thankfully, I did have a few people around me who were able to provide me with some direction. However, their recommendations and answers to questions sometimes conflicted with one another; leaving me confused and with more questions than answers. Often when I reflect back on this time in my life, I think about the conversations I had with others about whether wiping over cotton socks is permitted and under what circumstances. This topic often came up while making wudu in my university’s bathroom and often generated more frustration than certainty for me. Those who presented to me their positions were rather adamant that their position was clearly correct; though they often contradicted others who felt just as adamant about their contradicting position.
Interestingly enough, it is for the sake of my socks that I decided to adopt a madhhab. Only a few of my Muslim friends at the time followed a madhhab. Most of my friends followed what they read online from sources they trusted, but I did not find these same sources satisfactory. After learning about the Traditional madhhabs (i.e., Maliki, Hanafi, Shafi’i, and Hanbali) through lectures by various scholars and preachers, I became convinced that the only way I would feel confident in my wudu was to ensure that I was acting in accordance with one of these madhhabs that have been followed by scholars and laymen alike for centuries.
This, of course, was a difficult task as there was very little available at that time on Traditional Islam and the madhhabs in particular. Moreover, the books that were available in English were primarily written for children; which made it a struggle for my learning and my nafs.
Though I continued to take classes that were available in my community, I continued to look elsewhere for more traditional learning. The road to more advanced learning seemed blocked. It appeared as if the only place to pursue a deeper understanding of Islam was overseas, but I was not financially capable of traveling nor did I even know how to go about it.
It was difficult to find scholars trained in a traditional madhhab, and of those who I knew of, I did not know how to reach out to. Eventually I came across an online institute (at that time called SunniPath) that provided courses in Hanafi fiqh. I did not know that much about the institute except that a few students at my university had taken some of their online classes and spoke highly of Sh. Faraz Rabbani. To be honest, despite my interest I had become torn by this point over whether or not I should attend any of his classes. By this time, I had developed some strong friendships with fellow Muslims at my university and there was a general culture amongst them and within our MSA that devalued Traditional approaches to Islam in favor of other approaches. I was also still new to Islam and struggled with the thought of going down what felt like a different path of Islamic learning than my new Muslim friends. I had just experienced the loss of old friends after my conversion, and I was concerned that I might be ostracized by my new Muslim friends for not adopting the approach they follow. Nevertheless, a desire for a deeper understanding of Islam remained. So, I decided to write Sh. Faraz.
I forget if there was anything in particular that finally prompted me to write. Perhaps I was just reaching out to anyone who could provide me with some sound guidance. I don’t know. However, I was impressed with Sh. Faraz’s thoughtful responses and piety and decided to attend his introductory course on Hanafi fiqh.
Over the years I continued to follow Sh. Faraz, paying attention to his Hanafi Fiqh email list at the time, as well as reading his answers to various questions online. After Sh. Faraz established what we now call the SeekersHub, I continued my learning with him; though I consider myself one of his poorest students.
Sh. Faraz has always treated me with a care that stirs a love for deen and knowledge in my heart, and though I have more often been a student of his from a distance, he has always felt within reach. When I was invited back in 2011 to join in the initial formation of the SeekersCircles, I jumped at the opportunity. Volunteering for the Hub was an amazing honor and brought with it amazing blessings. I was able to spend more time with Sh. Faraz and I was invited to serve as a teaching assistant, and it is also through volunteering that I meet my wife (who was also volunteering at the time).
Sh. Faraz, his fellow teachers and SeekersHub’s volunteers have been a shining beacon of light in my life. For me, SeekersHub has been a manifestation of the prophetic concern for others to know their Lord. Not only do they aspire to provide seekers of knowledge with the treasures which they seek; they also nourish the hearts of others to become seekers as well. Like the story of the unknown man in Surah Ya-Sin who came to his people running and said, “O my people, follow the messengers” (Q36:20), SeekersHub is sprinting across the globe to call others to follow the inheritors of the Beloved of God ﷺ.   
I am proud to call Sh. Faraz my teacher. I am inspired by his efforts, and the efforts of those who work together with him in providing a link for me and thousands of others to the teachings and prophetic character that demonstrate the beauty of our deen.
May Allah, the Exalted, preserve and raise in rank our teachers. And, may He bless us through them. Ameen.

All knowledge is sacred knowledge – Shaykh Ramadan Bouti

Wise words from the late Shaykh Ramadan Bouti, may Allah have mercy on him. Translated by Ustadh Torab Torabi.

“It is of utmost importance, that ifyou want to direct yourself toward knowledge, whichever type of knowledge it maybe, to make your intention to draw nearer to Allah.
“All knowledge is sacred knowledge. And I have mentioned it before and written about it as well, the words of my father. The words that have never left me since I was 15 or 16 years old. When he took me by the hand and enrolled me in my first Islamic schooling.”
“He said to me: “Had I found out that arriving to Allah would be through picking up garbage off the streets, I would have made you a garbage man. But I have reflected and found that the path to reaching Allah is knowledge. And for this reason I have directed you down this path.  Now I ask from you to not study this Deen for a job, not for a degree, not for wealth, but rather to study it for Allah’s contentment and pleasure.””
“If a person intends Allah pleasure, even if he studies medicine it will draw him near to Allah. Even if he studies chemistry, physics, mathematics, engineering, astronomy, etc.. All forms of knowledge for that matter, because what does knowledge do? It (knowledge) unveils reality of Truth. And what is the only true Reality of creation? Allah! The Truth of all Truths. And there is no doubt about that.”