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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

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.

Is It Permissible to Study Finance?

Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Question: Assalamu alaykum

Is it permissible to study finance?

Answer:  Wa’leykum Salam,

Here is a video answer by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani to this question:

Shaykh Faraz Rabbani is a scholar and researcher of Islamic law and Executive Director of SeekersHub Global After ten years overseas, Shaykh Faraz returned to Canada in the Summer of 2007. In May 2008 he founded SeekersHub Global to deal with the urgent need to spread Islamic knowledge—both online and on the ground—in a reliable, relevant, inspiring, and accessible manner. He has been repeatedly listed as one of the world’s 500 most influential Muslims (The Muslim500).

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.

[cwa id=’cta’]

Ramadan is Over, Now What?

Ramadan is over but now what?

You’ve worked hard all month to get exactly where you are but now the real challenge begins, the one where you have to keep building on what you’ve attained.

SeekersHub is here to make things easy.

By offering you over 30 free courses taught by qualified teachers in numerous disciplines across various levels, you’re on your path to not only maintain but exceed your existing knowledge of the Islamic sciences.

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER NOW

Commit to at least one class a week.

Shaykh Faraz Rabbani highly encourages everyone to commit to at least one gathering of knowledge and one gathering of remembrance a week.
This usually proves difficult for those who may not have access to a physical location wherein sacred knowledge is taught but that’s where SeekersHub fills the gap, giving you access to learn right from the comfort of your home. 

Suggested courses to choose from.

LIVING RELIGION: Courses in Marriage, Parenting, New Muslim, and Youth issues.
PROPHETIC GUIDANCE: Courses in Seerah and Hadith studies.
ISLAMIC LAW & LEGAL METHODOLOGY: Start with beginners or more advanced courses in the Hanafi and Shafi’i madhab.
SPIRITUALITY: Shaykh Yahya Rhodus and Shaykh Faraz Khan both offer enlightening courses in Islamic spirituality.
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said,

Whoever Allah wishes well for, He grants understanding of religion”. [Bukhari and Muslim]

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER NOW

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.”

Study the life of the Prophet – Free online courses

Prophet Muhammad ﷺ  – A mercy to mankind

muhammad-calligraphySeekersHub offers many opportunities to study the life of the Prophet (peace be upon him). We offer courses in Hadith, Prophetic conduct, and the blessed biography. The Seerah (biography of the Prophet) is offered in two parts, covering his life in Mecca in one course and his life in Medina in another course.
It is said that there are some specific benefits of studying the biography of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him).
Here are just a few examples:

  • It helps us to increase our love for the Beloved (peace be upon him and his folk)
  • Seerah helps us to better understand the Quran
  • It can be source of optimism in our own lives
  • Learn the miracle of the Seerah
  • It can be seen as a method for the revival of the Ummah
  • It is an obligation upon all of us

Meccan Dawn Life of the ProphetWe pray that you gain benefit and closeness to the beloved of Allah by learning with us.
If you don’t have time for a course, you may also find benefit from the numerous articles that can be found on SeekersHub about Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).
SeekersHub Global provides reliable and relevant online Islamic guidance, courses, and answers–completely free.
Learn more about our Seekers Zakat fund, too.

What is Required in Order to Become a Teacher in Islam?

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam
Question: Assalaamu ‘alaykum
What does it take to be an Ustadh? I am interested in teaching Islamic classes one day inshallah.
Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,
I pray this finds you in the best of health and faith, insha’Allah.
Titles are irrelevant. What matters is ​gaining ​mastery over the material, taking it with complete understanding, and then passing it on as you received it​, with sincerity, humility, proper manners, and gratitude. ​
Knowledge is a light and sustenance granted by Allah​, and its primary purpose is to fix your relationship with your Creator.
​​The true scholar knows that the next life is better, weightier, and of far greater importance than this life. ​​The one who truly knows is the person who acts according to his knowledge.
Ghazali said, “the reality of deep understanding is what falls upon the heart, then manifests upon the tongue, which leads to action bequeathing awe (khashya) and Godfearingness (taqwa).”
As such, make Allah your point, begin with the knowledge which is personally obligatory (fard `ayn) upon you to know, and build from there, seeking counsel and guidance from living heirs of the Holy Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace).
The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Allah does not look at your forms and wealth, rather He looks at your hearts and actions.” [Muslim]
Allah looks to hearts to see what is in them of certainty, genuineness, sincerity, and all praiseworthy traits.
And Ibn `Ata’illah al-Iskandari, one of the masters of the inward sciences, wrote, “Knowledge, if coupled with reverential awe, is for you; otherwise it is against you.” ​
Please see: Can I Become a Scholar By Studying With SeekersGuidance? and: Advice Regarding Being a Student of Knowledge and Taking Notes
And Allah alone gives success.
wassalam,
Tabraze Azam
Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.

How to Deal with Baseless Misgivings and How to Study at SeekersGuidance

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam
Question: Asalaamu Alaikum
I have 2 questions in regards to courses offered at SeekersGuidance.
1. I am currently enrolled in the Islamic Law for Seekers Course part -1. I have a tendency to have waswasa (baseless misgivings) when it comes to matters of cleanliness in istinja, wudu, ghusl etc. Through gaining knowledge from reading the answers on qiblah answers and your website, and consulting with my local Imam, Alhemdulilah I have been able to overcome waswasa to a great extent. However, I am prone to being meticulous when it comes to cleanliness. Based on my situation, would it still be beneficial for me to take this course as it covers the topics of purification, impure water etc? Will it help me in fighting my remaining waswasa or could it lead me into getting into more waswasa regarding these matters?
2. This is the very first time, I have signed up on seekers guidance and I do not know what the course load will be like. I still want to enrol in “The Marvels of the Heart” course, but I am not sure if I’ll be able to handle it. Typically how long are lectures? And can you please tell me when is the next time this course will be offered? This way I can decide if I should enrol in it now or wait until the next one.
Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullah,
I pray this reaches you in the best of health and faith, insha’Allah.
(1) Knowledge empowers when taken and subsequently applied in the right way. You’ll benefit from the class if you listen attentively, ask any relevant questions, and then act on the knowledge as instructed. The sunna in matters of purification is to leave caution– but this understanding is learnt from Prophetic inheritors, not simply applied as per one’s whims.
(2) Do what you can reasonably sustain. Study step by step; a little taken and absorbed is far superior to much ignored. The sunna is to be gradual and consistent.
May Allah grant you every success in this world and the Next.
And Allah alone gives success.
wassalam,
Tabraze Azam
Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

Seek Knowledge with our FREE Online Courses

Take one of our FREE online courses this term with SeekersHub

Seeking knowledge is one of the surest best ways of drawing closer to Allah, and finding Divine assistance in one’s life & religion. The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Whomever Allah wishes well for, He grants deep understanding of religion.” [Bukhari & Muslim]
free online coursesHelp us Spread the Word
1. Encourage friends and family to take the courses. Email them, and try to give a personalized recommendation. Please share this blog on social media.
2. Become a SeekersHub Online Ambassador on Facebook: SeekersHub Online Ambassadors.
The goal of this group is to educate our peers about SeekersHub events through social media. Members are encouraged to share more ideas to get the word out with everyone else in the group.
“Whoever points to the good has the reward of those who act on it,” said the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace).
free online coursesWhy are our courses FREE?
Our course are free due to ”Knowledge Without Barriers”. This is an expression of our commitment to spread the light of Prophetic guidance as far & wide as we can–without barriers. Knowledge without Barriers is a direct response to the contemporary challenge Muslims are facing globally regarding access to authoritative and sound knowledge in Sacred Sciences.
With SeekersHub you can learn directly from quality teachers, who are highly qualified.
Teachers such as Ustadh Abdul Latif Al-Amin who has been nurtured by SeekersHub from student to teacher. We also have some excellent up and coming scholars who will, God-willing, be the leaders of the future.
Which Courses Should You Take?
All our courses focus on topics that are “beneficial knowledge,” but we would recommend:
1. If you’re starting on the path of knowledge I suggest:
The Absolute Essentials: Beliefs, Prayer, and Spirituality
Taught by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani & Ustadh Abdullah Misra
The 40 Foundations of Religion (by Imam Ghazali): Excellence in Faith and Actions
Taught by Shaykh Faraz A. Khan
2. If you want to learn about life of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace), and to acquire Prophetic character & conduct:
Meccan Dawn: The Life of the Beloved Prophet Muhammad
Taught by Ustadh Abdullah Misra
Prophetic Conduct: Islamic Manners in Everyday Life
Taught by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani & Ustadh Abdul Latif Al-Amin
Gardens of the Righteous: the Sunnah of the Sunnah
Taught by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani & Ustadh Abdul Latif Al-Amin
3. If you are a seeker of knowledge:
SeekersSteps: We highly recommend that you join the SeekersSteps Curriculum if you want a clear path towards learning. We currently offer three courses in the curriculum, which should be taken in order at your own pace for maximum benefit. Please see the website for more information on this groundbreaking initiative.
4. If you are seeking spiritual guidance and to improve your relationship with Allah:
The Marvels of the Heart
Taught by Shaykh Yahya Rhodus
5. For clarity on key life concerns:
Islamic Parenting: Raising Upright Children
Taught by Faraz Rabbani and Ustadha Shireen Ahmed
Money Matters: Islamic Finance in Everyday Life
Taught by Faraz Rabbani
… and more. See the full list of courses at courses.seekershub.org and join other keen seekers on the path of knowledge guidance.