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Seeking Sacred Knowledge

Launch of SeekersGuidance Arabiyya

Question: I am 25 years of age and many of the Islamic institutes have an age limit where should I go to begin my study of Sacred knowledge?

Answer:

In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate

Seeking Sacred knowledge is of the highest intentions one can make in the Religion and one’s desire to seek it is a sign of Allah’s favor upon them.

The Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Whoever Allah intends good by He gives them a deep understanding of the Religion” [Muslim].

Who to Seek Knowledge From

Seeking Sacred knowledge does not need to be through a formalized seminary; although such institutes have great benefits. One should focus their initial efforts on finding true ‘People of Knowledge’ (Ahl al-Ilm).

Imam Muslim, in the preface of his Sahih collection, brings the narration of Muhammad bin Sirin (Allah’s mercy be upon them both), “Indeed this knowledge is the Religion. So be careful who you take your religion from” [Muslim; Muqadima Sahih Muslim].

With the advent of easy modes of transportation and the internet, one can easily gain access to a plethora of sources. There are numerous orators and teachers, countless classes and lectures available, all at one’s fingertips. However, it is of the utmost importance that one seeks out authentic scholarship.

The Chain of Transmission

The Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “The scholars are the inheritors of the Prophets. The Prophets did not leave behind gold or silver; they merely left behind knowledge. So whoever takes of it takes a large share” [Tirmidhi].

The idea of inheritance is important. Inheritance indicates a bond. A relationship of sorts. A chain. The Prophetic legacy is not merely a passed down compendium of rulings, rather revelation containing transformative guidance that must, first and foremost, be lived.

It is by this implementation, that a true inheritor of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and give him peace) be distinguished from a mere memorizer of rulings.

What to look for

When looking for a teacher, look for the following qualities:

(1) A firm grasp and understanding of the Religion taken from authentic scholars
(2) Mindfulness (Taqwa)
(3) Humility (Tawadu’)
(4) A great sense of responsibility
(5) Importance of following the Sunna
(6) Preferring the Hereafter over worldliness

[Ghazali; Ihya ‘Ulum al-Din]

What to watch out for

The Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and give him peace) sought refuge from knowledge that does not benefit and warned his community from evil scholars.

Be cautious when seeing the following signs:

(1) Excessive argumentation
(2) Worldliness
(3) Self-Praise
(4) Bad etiquettes with the Imams and righteousness of the Religion
(5) Corrupt behavior and character
(6) Arrogance

[Ibid.]

Advice

I would advise starting your journey to seek Sacred knowledge by looking in your area for authentic scholars who meet the above characteristics. In the meantime, SeekersGuidance.org has a large variety of courses on many levels from authentic scholars of great character and humility.

Although studying online can never be a substitute for sitting at the feet of a scholar and studying in-person, it does prove as a great start. I would recommend the Islamic Studies Curriculum.

Most importantly, make sincere intention and ask Allah Most High to increase you in beneficial knowledge – Allah Most High will connect you to the true inheritors.

Hope this helps.

Allah knows best
Yusuf Weltch

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Yusuf Weltch is a graduate from Tarim; a student of Habib Umar and other luminaries; and authorized teachers of the Qur’an and the Islamic sciences

Choice of Schooling For My Child

Question: Where I live, I have a number of schools that I could send my young child to: an Islamic school, a public school and a Catholic school. I could even do homeschooling. Which should I choose?

Answer:

Wa alaykum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

Dear questioner,

Thank you for your important question.

I completely understand your predicament. Many Muslims in the West face this same issue.

You really just have to rule out that which is unquestionably haram, weigh up the pros and cons, ask others who have done the same thing, and be an active part of your children’s lives.

Allowing one’s children to be active in religious activities of other religions is categorically forbidden, and therefore untenable. This does not completely rule out Christian or Jewish faith schools, however, since it is possible to avoid these things with the cooperation of parents and staff.

Another error would be to look solely at the expected academic results, be it in Math, English, or even memorizing the Qur’an. The priority is education (leading children down a good path). In our paradigm that is a holistic path that includes the Next Life, love of Allah and the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace), morals, social skills, academic achievements, and ultimately to be able to function proactively in this world as a religious Muslim. Being the winning the spelling bee, or being a hafidh for that matter, does not necessarily mean you fit this paradigm.

The default would of course be to send our children to Islamic schools. But some Islamic schools are far from ideal, and other faith schools are sometimes safer. Some parents have also found homeschooling a possible third option. But it does have its pros and cons.

https://seekersguidance.org/answers/general-counsel/deal-free-mixing-public-schools/
https://seekersguidance.org/articles/knowledge/10-successful-strategies-for-raising-children/
https://seekersguidance.org/articles/prophetic-guidance/the-powerful-dua-of-a-parent-2/
https://seekersguidance.org/articles/featured-articles/advice-about-high-school/

I pray this helps.

[Ustadh] Farid

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadh Farid Dingle has completed extensive years of study in the sciences of the Arabic language and the various Islamic Sciences. During his studies, he also earned a CIFE Certificate in Islamic Finance. Over the years he has developed a masterful ability to craft lessons that help non-Arabic speakers gain a deep understanding of the language. He currently teaches courses in the Arabic Language

 

Sins Committed In Ignorance

Question: When are we excused for sins we commit out of ignorance?

Answer:

Wa alaykum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

Dear questioner,

Thank you for your important question.

Allah does not ask us to do things that we cannot do. Therefore, Allah has not taken us to task for things we do out of pure ignorance (Jam al Jawami, Subki).

That said, taking other people’s rights out of ignorance or pure ignorance that leads to the damage of other people’s property is not overlooked. One is not sinful for causing the damage or depriving the right, but the financial or material repercussions still apply (Al Ashbah wa al Nadhair, Suyuti).

Furthermore, the scholars of fiqh differentiate between genuine and innocent ignorance and ignorance that could have reasonably been avoided. When one commits a sin that one could have easily known about if one had the least concern about one’s religion, then one is considered sinful.

For example, if a new Muslim drinks water in Ramadan and he genuinely did not know that drinking breaks the fast, it would be overlooked and the fast would be valid (Minhaj al Talibin, Nawawi).  However, a Muslim who grew up around Muslims would know that, and so wouldn’t be given that dispensation.

I pray this helps.

[Ustadh] Farid

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadh Farid Dingle has completed extensive years of study in the sciences of the Arabic language and the various Islamic Sciences. During his studies, he also earned a CIFE Certificate in Islamic Finance. Over the years he has developed a masterful ability to craft lessons that help non-Arabic speakers gain a deep understanding of the language. He currently teaches courses in the Arabic Language

Determining What Is Halal and Haram

Question: If one is well-read in Islam, does one have the right to come to their own conclusions about what is halal and haram?

Answer:

Wa alaykum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

Dear questioner,

Thank you for your important question.

Everyone has the right and liberty to read and contemplate on the final revelation brought to mankind. No primary or secondary sources are off-limits for anyone.

That said, in order to have a proper insight into the revelation as a whole, one must have studied to tradition thoroughly in order to make one’s own independent judgments.

One should be very, very strong in the Arabic language and literature, have a comprehensive familiarity with all the hadith collections (far more than just the Six Books), one should have been trained in at least one of the Four Schools of Sunni jurisprudence (fiqh), have studied legal theory (usul al fiqh wa al qawaid al fiqhiyya), and have studied hadith criticism and Quranic exegesis.

The door is practically and theologically open to anyone, but very few actually reach that level of scholarship.

I pray this helps.

[Ustadh] Farid

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadh Farid Dingle has completed extensive years of study in the sciences of the Arabic language and the various Islamic Sciences. During his studies, he also earned a CIFE Certificate in Islamic Finance. Over the years he has developed a masterful ability to craft lessons that help non-Arabic speakers gain a deep understanding of the language. He currently teaches courses in the Arabic Language

 

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. 

Can You Recommend Books in English for a Non-Scholar in the Following Subjects?

Question: Can you recommend books in English for a non-scholar in the following subjects?

Answer: In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate

Regarding the following subject these are my recommendations:

Aqida (Islamic Beliefs)

The Creed of Imam al-Tahawi by Imam al-Tahawi – translated by Shaykh Hamza Yusuf

Hadith and Sunna

The Gardens of the Righteous by Imam al-Nawawi

Tafsir

Tafsir al-Jalalayn: Great Commentaries of the Holy Qur’an

Sira (Prophetic Biography) and History of the Companions

Muhammad: The Messenger of Allah by Martin Lings
Hayatus Sahabah (The Lives of the Sahabah) by Shaykh Muhammad Kandhlawi

Fiqh

Ascent to Felicity by Imam al-Shurunbulali – translated by Sh. Faraz Khan

Tasawwuf

Beginning of Guidance by Imam al-Ghazali
The Etiquettes of the Seeker by Imam al-Haddad
The Book of Assistance by Imam al-Haddad

Personal Advice

These books are great works of Islamic knowledge and contain great benefits for anyone who reads them with sincerity and an intention to practice. With that being said one should not suffice with mere self-study. Our tradition has been preserved by sincere students sitting at the feet of righteous scholars.

Please consider coupling your reading of the above books with classes. Many of the above books have been taught or are currently being offered at seekersguidance.org

May Allah bless your journey in seeking sacred knowledge

Hope this helps
Allah knows best

[Shaykh] Yusuf Weltch

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Yusuf Weltch is a graduate from Tarim; a student of Habib Umar and other luminaries; and authorized teachers of the Qur’an and the Islamic sciences.

Dr Umar Faruq Abdullah: A Quest for Truth

 

Dr. Umar F. Abd-Allah Wymann-Landgraf, author of Malik and Medina, beautifully weaves a story in the podcast Diffused Congruence, spanning several decades and countless nations including Spain, Morocco, Pakistan, Canada and Saudi Arabia, inspiring both laughter and spiritual aspiration. Along the way he builds an essential reading list for any seeker of truth and knowledge.  The interview is part an intellectual biography, part social commentary on the later 20th century and part lessons learned over a life spent in seeking knowledge and service to others. We cannot recall a finer personal, oral narrative and warn you that you may not be able to listen only once.

The Seeker:

Dr. Umar begins with his early childhood upbringing in Columbus, Nebraska, near the Platte River. By all means a quintessential all American boy, growing up on a farm, and tending to the needs of country living, he describes how much of the values and character traits he learned during this formative period informs much of the person he is today. Dr. Umar also describes in much detail his early religious upbringing, being christened a Protestant in the Congregationalist, Presbyterian and Lutheran traditions.

As a very young teenager and in the most unexpected of circumstances, Dr. Umar’s belief in the doctrine of the Trinity, is shaken.

The Learner:

Dr. Umar goes on to describe his quest for truth and meaning, particularly during his time at university while at Cornell. His exposer to African-American literature by the likes of W. E. B. DuBois, Jean Toomer, ultimately led him to the autobiography of  Malcolm X who Dr. Umar credits with bringing him to Islam. It was in this period that Dr. Umar gained an emphasis, integrity, beauty, and an assertion of the humanity of Black people during the Civil Rights era. We also learn of how Dr. Umar dabbled with left wing revolutionary politics during the Vietnam War by being a conscientious objector.

The Teacher; perpetual student:

Dr. Umar, “our tradition is a beautiful tradition, one of the richest in the history of human kind, that has all the treasures and wealth in it that is necessary to make sense of the modern/ post-modern world”

Dr. Umar ends by sharing his love for reading and teaching, for in teaching he sees in himself the perpetual student, one that is always learning from his students. Dr. Umar describes that his current work is centred on theology, with respect to studying, researching and understanding modernism, post-modernism, the truth and fallacies of scientism, and in finding the solid ground of first principles, so that it can be properly incorporated into Islamic theology, towards bringing tradition back to life once again – “theology is the foundation of our world view”.

Dr. Umar’s works, especially those published through the Nawawi foundation, are a must read for academics, activists, students of history and seekers of Sacred Knowledge alike. His scholarship focuses on indigenizing Islam and contemporary muslims into the fabric of American history and culture, towards muslims making a first effective settlement.

Above all, in this interview, Dr. Umar is an example of a life lived through conviction, a love for the Scholars (some older, but many younger than him), a love for ordinary Muslims, and a love for the Truth in all its glory.

Based on Diffused Congruence Podcast

Should I Study Islam or Start My Post-Graduate Degree?

Question: I am graduating but I doubt my decision to study veterinary medicine for six years. I really want to study Islam, which I know shamefully little of. There’s no place here in the UK to study Islam and my dad won’t let me travel alone. What should I do?
Answer: 
Assalamu alaykum,
Thank you for your question.Sister, I commend you for your devotion and desire to fulfill Allah’s commands. Learning Islamic knowledge and teaching it is a communal obligation on both men and women, and there are not enough women filling this void. May Allah reward you for your intention whether you get to study or not.Options

Studying Islam is possible in a variety of ways. 1) Studying online at SeekersGuidance.org is the easiest, most accessible, most flexible, cheapest, and most eco-friendly option. It also provides  reliable traditional scholarship. 2) Studying overseas is difficult on the ego, finances, comfort of living, and twice as hard on a woman alone. However, the immersion in the culture, language, and religion is very rich.  3) Studying somewhere in the UK. You might find that you can study abroad within your country, in another city where I am certain that Islamic knowledge is rampant. Of course, your father’s permission would be needed to travel.

Plan it out

First, pray istikhara about studying abroad or not.

1) Ask others who have done it and get a general idea about the different places to study.
2) See if you can find someone to travel with, as there are many women who travel abroad with their mahram (i.e. father, brother) who help them set up to stay abroad.
3) Consider getting married before you go, especially with someone who has similar interests, or marry a student who is already studying abroad.
4) See if you can delay your vet study for a year or two. You will be surprised how much Arabic, tajweed, and basics you can pick up in just two years.

If all else fails, there are more options

Consider studying after your vet degree, there is certainly no time limit here. You have until you are in the grave to study knowledge. The Prophet, may Allah bless him and give him peace, said, “Whoever goes out seeking knowledge, then he is in Allah’s cause until he returns.“  Studying vet medicine is also a form of worship because you are seeking a halal livelihood and helping Allah’s creatures through it. You can also study online as I stated earlier. And last but not least, start reading, memorizing, and understanding the Qur`an every day. My teacher once told me that everyone wants to come to the Middle East to study, but no one is reading enough Qur`an every day.

If you study medicine

If you end up studying medicine first, do it with ihsan (excellence). Trust that Allah has put you in the situation that is best for you and be grateful for it. Allah increases those who are thankful. Take courses during your holidays and make the Qur`an your best friend. Save money to able to study later.

May Allah give you the best. Ask Him to send you what is good for you, at the right time, and ask Him to help you fulfill your obligations towards Him  and to the ummah. See the links below.

The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and give him peace, said, “He who follows a path in quest of knowledge, Allah will make the path of Paradise easy to him. The angels lower their wings over the seeker of knowledge, being pleased with what he does. The inhabitants of the heavens and the earth and even the fish in the depth of the oceans seek forgiveness for him. The superiority of the learned man over the devout worshipper is like that of the full moon to the rest of the stars (i.e., in brightness). The learned are the heirs of the Prophets who bequeath neither dinar nor dirham but only that of knowledge; and he who acquires it, has in fact acquired an abundant portion.“ [Abu Dawud and Tirmidhi]

I Want to Study Islam Abroad But Parents Insist on Me Staying at Home
Reflections from the SeekersHub Retreat: “I Want to Study to be an Islamic Scholar”

[Ustadha] Shazia Ahmad

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadha Shazia Ahmad lived in Damascus, Syria for two years where she studied aqidah, fiqh, tajweed, tafseer, and Arabic. She then attended the University of Texas at Austin, where she completed her Masters in Arabic. Afterward, she moved to Amman, Jordan where she studied fiqh, Arabic, and other sciences. She recently moved back to Mississauga, Canada, where she lives with her family.

Is it Permissible to Download Books of Great Scholars from the Internet?

Question: Is the page internet archive, where you can download books from great scholars permissible? Can one download the books, even though they are for sale on other pages?
 Answer:
 Assalamu Alaykum
It is important to note that copyright rules are binding in the shariah. Thus, it is not permissible to publish, copy, or reproduce the work of another protected by copyright without their consent and permission.
 There are some works, such as very old texts, that lack copyright, or whose copyright is no longer binding. These books are permissible to download and use. Other works that are no longer in print or on-sale, can be obtained through copying. There is an allowance for this, as well. There is also the concept of “fair use”, which allows limited use of copyright material without permission for purposes such as news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. However, such material must have been obtained lawfully and cannot be used for commercial use.Another thing to consider is the implicit permission of the copyright holder. Sometimes, particular material is subject to copyright but it is customarily accepted that the work will be shared on specific platforms and the copyright holder does not seek legal remedies to prevent this. In this case, there may be some allowance for the personal use of the item, though, again, one cannot use it commercially to profit, nor should one actively proliferate such material.It is optimal in cases of doubt to exercise caution and simply purchase the book because this is a matter that concerns the rights of another person. For more, please see:
Are Copyrights Valid As It Relates to Islamic Content That Benefits Muslims, or Can We Freely Download and Share It?
[Ustadh] Salman Younas
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Ustadh Salman Younas was born and raised in New York and 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. Ustadh Salman’s personal interests include research into the fields of law/legal methodology, hadith, theology, as well as political theory, government, media, and ethics. He is also an avid traveler and book collector. He currently resides in Amman with his wife.

Translation as an infringement upon copyright laws

Question: Is a translation made with the permission of the author considered an infringement upon copyright laws?

Answer:

Wa alaykum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

Dear questioner,

Thank you for your important question.

This issue goes back to international standards/laws on copyright. From what I have read, translations that genuinely bring something new and original to the translated work are not considered infringements of copyright.

However, if they are just straight translations, they would require the permission of the author. Otherwise, they would not be halal and one could not benefit financially from them.

Please see:
https://seekersguidance.org/answers/hanafi-fiqh/are-copyrights-valid-as-it-relates-to-islamic-content-that-benefits-muslims-or-can-we-freely-download-and-share-it/

I pray this helps.

Farid

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadh Farid Dingle has completed extensive years of study in the sciences of the Arabic language and the various Islamic Sciences. During his studies, he also earned a CIFE Certificate in Islamic Finance. Over the years he has developed a masterful ability to craft lessons that help non-Arabic speakers gain a deep understanding of the language. He currently teaches courses in the Arabic Language