A Different Approach to Studying Books

Some teachers have an interesting way of teaching: they teach few books, depending on the science, but go through it in two or three different ways; beginner, intermediate and advanced. This saves the student going through many different books.

A mistake many students make is going through loads and loads of books and not actually mastering them. Meaning, they complete the book, move on and don’t research masaa’il or refine their notes.

This then becomes a question of ikhlaas: why does a person want to cover so many books? To show the people what and how much he has studied or to teach the people?

We can definitely benefit from this approach in Uloom al ‘alaa (the secondary sciences) which are used to master other main sciences from them; Nahw, Usool and so on.

For example, in Nahw one could do al-Ajrumiyyah on two or three levels and then move straight to al-Fiyya if they have mastered al-Ajrumiyyah.

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Studying Knowledge Systematically

If someone wants to study all the different madhabs at once what do we say?

Why is there a methodology in seeking knowledge? Why don’t we learn Arabic straight away?

Because this is the way of the scholars.

Start with basic knowledge then intermediate and then advanced.

We don’t need to learn Arabic to learn fiqhi issues and it’s not a priority at the beginning because there are more important things to learn.

One can be fluent in Arabic but not have adab (manners) with elders, knowledge and so on.

Why A Student of Knowledge Fails In Seeking Ilm

A scholar of the past mentions two reasons why students fail to progress in seeking Ilm:

  1. Due to intellectual incapability. This person asks Allah for help.
  2. Due to a poor methodology of studying.

This is the main reason people don’t get far as they jump from book to book, teacher to teacher and don’t settle or take a teacher as a guide, especially when first seeking Ilm.

A scholar of the past mastered a lot of the Islamic sciences in only 6 years!

Knowledge Is Not Just About Studying

A person doesn’t become a giant in the Islamic sciences just by studying books. It must be combined with:

  • Action. Meaning a large amount of ibaadah
  • Good character
  • Patience
  • Yaqeen
  • Mastering the books
  • Having a good methodology
  • Spending a lot of time
  • Spending money

An example is a sheikh who read Bukhaari everyday and finished it in ten days. That is 7,300 narrations. He is living now in our times! Another sheikh memorised the Qur’an in 8 months. Another sheikh from Morocco memorised 10,000 narrations by the age of 15.

They are all alive right now and all are tested in some way and have good character and so on.

We ask Allah for sincerity and acceptance.

What can we understand and implement from the above?

That gaining knowledge is not just about reading books but is also about implementing what you have learnt and turning it into action. It takes patience and doesn’t happen overnight.

That you can’t learn on your own. You need experienced teachers. You need guidance as any lay person can pick a book up and read but to extract the gems within you need someone who knows.

Failing To Seek Knowledge

A famous scholar from Shaam, mentions two reasons why students fail to progress in seeking Ilm:

  1. Due to intellectual incapability. This person asks Allah for help.
  2. Due to a poor methodology of studying.

This is the main reason people don’t get far. They jump from book to book, teacher to teacher and don’t settle or take a teacher as a guide, especially when first seeking ilm.