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

Why Learn From a Teacher?

Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

 

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Question: What’s the significance of studying fiqh with scholars rather than just reading the text yourself, if it’s a reliable text. The texts have commentaries and are written by scholars, so you would still be getting your knowledge from scholars in a way. So what would you get from a sheikh that you wouldn’t find in texts?

Answer:

In the Name of Allah, the Benevolent, the Merciful

 

The benefits of studying with a teacher include:

 

1. Sound understanding: the chance of erring without a teacher to guide one in one’s understanding and learning is far greater. Given how serious religious knowledge is, one cannot rely on someone whose knowledge is taken only from books. A teacher “tests” one’s understanding, and picks up on one’s errors; a student is able to ask questions and to verify where they have understood.

2. Correct understanding: books, even the best books, sometimes contain weak positions, errors, false arguments, missing details, unmentioned conditions or implications, special terminological usages… 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 understanding of how to gain knowledge. A teacher directs one’s path of learning, and focuses one’s endeavors.

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 to the established understanding of an inheritor of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace).

6. Following the sunna of the Prophets, who didn’t just print a ‘book of guidance’ and distribute it: they taught, and their companions learned.

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 manners, character, and habits of one’s teacher.

And Allah alone gives success.

Wassalam,

Faraz Rabbani

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

The Importance of Study in One’s Spiritual Development

Imam al-Ghazzali

“The Prophet (may God bless him and grant him peace) said, “The heart of the believer is more unsteady than a cooking pot as it boils. He also said, “The heart of the believer is between two of the fingers of the Merciful.” During such strenuous effort the physical constitution may be disordered, the intellect confused, and the body diseased.

If progress in the discipline and improvement of the soul is not made by means of the realities of the sciences, then the heart is ensnared with corrupt imaginings in which the soul trusts for a long time before they come to an end; and one may live out his appointed time without succeeding.

Many a Sufi has travelled this way and still has continued to hold a certain fancy for twenty years, whereas if he had studied science thoroughly beforehand, the point of confusion in his fancy (khayal) would have opened up to him at once. So to busy one’s self in the path of learning is a surer and easier means of attaining the aim.

They claim that it is as though a man left off the study of jurisprudence (fiqh), asserting, “The Prophet did not study it, and he became one who understood the divine law by means of prophetic and general inspiration without any repetition or application, and perhaps discipline of the soul will bring me finally to that goal.”

Whoever thinks this wrong himself and wastes his life. Nay rather, he is like the one who gives up the way of gain through farming, hoping to chance upon some treasure. The latter is indeed possible, but extremely unlikely. So too in the matter  of gaining knowledge.”

(p. 77 of “The Marvels of the Heart” by Imam al-Ghazzali)

Related Course: “The Marvels of the Heart” taught by Shaykh Yahya Rhodus