Category Archives: Knowledge and Education

Insight about the Rites of Hajj

With the upcoming Hajj, and the large number of books related to it, we hoped to provide some books that will help the Muslim get closer to his Lord. As such, here is a translation of the book “Tabseer an Naasik” (Insight about the Rites of Hajj) by Shaykh Abdul Muhsin al Abbad, may Allah preserve him, translated by our fellow student, Aboo Shaybah, may Allah preserve him.

Link: https://qaryah.files.wordpress.com/2008/09/abbaad-insight-about-rites-of-hajj-1435.pdf

Academic Tools

Bismillah ar rahman ar raheem, alhamdulillahi rabil alameen, wa salatu wa salam ala nabiyyina Muhammad, wa ala alahi wa ashabihi ajmaeen, ama b’ad;

A lack of respect toward scholars and students of knowledge is usually due to a lack of respect or knowledge of what such individuals studied. Most tools that these people of knowledge utilize, aren’t seen by the general masses, and as such, being unable to see and recognize the intricacies involved in giving dawah, or issuing a religious ruling, people think, “well I knew that”. Just, because your answer might agree with that of someone of more knowledge, it doesn’t mean that we arrived at the ruling or dawah effort in a correct manner.

Similarly, many people know how to drive a car, but few are able to analyze or troubleshoot any issues that may arise. They may even be able to point out some problems, but not the way a mechanic will understand or troubleshoot the same issue.

As such, I would like to present a quick synopsis of some of the major sciences taught at most Islamic universities and institutes in order for the reader to get a better appreciation for what is taught and the product (i.e. the students) of these institutions.

  1. Aqeedah – a science involved about not just learning about Allah, but differentiating between references that can be utilized or rejected to justify our belief in Him and His religion. Additionally, students of this science learn about the major scholars in this science, study about sects within Islam, and those that claim Islam but have nothing to do with it (such as the Bahai and other than them). Students also study comparative religions, namely religions that have a divine source, such as Christianity and Judaism, and man made religions, such as Bhuddism and Hinduism. The tools a student acquires from this science includes ascertaining what is part of the religion, the elements of belief, and how to believe in Allah and the correct way to arrive at that belief.
  2. Tafseer – a science revolving around the book of Allah and it’s explanations. There are two main sciences that comprise the greater science, the sciences of the Quran, which involve determining the correct way to interpret and understand the Quran, and the actual science of tafseer, which is the interpretation itself. A student will be able to recognize the different verses, in their generality, or limited actualization, their abrogation, their apparent or intended meaning, whether they (either the verse or the chapter) were revealed in Makkah or Madina, the relationship between the different verses and chapters, and the different interpretations of the verses and chapters based on the linguistic and shar’e (religious) meanings.
  3. Hadith – a science revolved around the Prophetic narrations. Students focus on two branches of this science: textual studies (actual books of collections of ahadith and their types, which is over 5 types) and studies related to hadith terminology (again a large number and variety). The tools a student gain from this science is grading chains of narrations to make a ruling on the accepting or rejecting of the hadith and looking into and knowing the books of narrators, the ability to reference correctly, determining what is a correct and incorrect hadith source, and the ability to compare texts in order to understand a hadith or multiple hadith in their entirety.
  4. Fiqh and usool al Fiqh – sciences that revolves around the ascertaining and understanding the rulings derived from the revealed texts (the Quran and the Sunnah). These sciences are divided into usool (foundations) and fiqh (jurisprudence). As for usool, then this science is concerned with determining what can be used as a proof in a religious ruling and the tools needed to extract the ruling from that proof, including what related rulings can be drawn from it. The science of fiqh is the actual application of the texts into a form of a religious ruling, and knowing the different understandings that have come about from the preceding texts, commonly known as the rulings of the 4 madhahib, and comparative fiqh. A student of this science will be able to determine what can be used as a proof concerning religious rulings and how to make a ruling based on that proof, in light of the different foundations in the religion, and the most applicable one to the situation.

This is just an extremely brief viewpoint of what different students of different sciences learn, and we have left out students of the language (which includes a study of eloquence, which IS the main miracle of the Quran), students of history, students of Islamic economics, students of Dawah, and the other Islamic sciences for brevity, possibly added at a later time.

 

And Allah knows best.

 

Abu Sahl Farhan ibn Irfan Siddiqi

Makkah al Mukarramah

15/3/1434 H

Academic Education

Bismillah ar rahman ar raheem, alhamdulillahi rabil alameen, wa salatu wa salam ala nabiyyina Muhammad, wa ala alahi wa ashabihi ajmaeen, ama b’ad;

Many brothers and sisters have began to post and distribute statements of the scholars and their own personal implications concerning those that graduated with both/either a worldly degree and/or a degree in a science from the sciences in Islam.

Concerning the worldly degree, most speech is about how it is impermissible to freely mix with those of the opposite gender. Considering this (i.e. free-mixing) is not limited to educational institutes, but to most work places, why limit the impermissibility to just these institutes, why not expand it to work places as well? Because the answer will be that an individual has to earn to provide for his family.

Similarly, a person who wants an education (and our speech is mainly geared toward men), he also wants to provide for his family, the WAY he wants to provide, and as some of the scholars (from them Sh ibn Jibreen and Sh Abdul Muhsin al Abbad), have allowed this due to the free mixing situation he is already in.

If a person has a base understanding of the Islamic belief including how to fulfill the five pillars of Islam, and getting a degree will help his Muslim community specifically, and the greater Muslim community as a whole, and he already lives in a mixed environment, then yes, he should study.

Concerning a degree in one of the many Islamic sciences, we feel that an attack has been launched against these brothers (the ones who hold Islamic degrees) for a number of reasons:

  1. Ignorance – such individuals tend not to be educated themselves Islamically, yet feel the need to use a measuring stick (which they do not possess), to judge graduates
  2. Jealousy – and this is from a lack of sincerity, as some of these brothers should have stepped down from their positions to make way for those who are more knowledgeable, yet we find them tenaciously holding on
  3. Peer pressure – stemming from a pre-Islamic or pre-practicing stage of ignorance where a person needs to fit into support his clique or “gang”, not allowing others to enter their “turf”. Commonly known as hizbiyyah or partisanship

Is it possible a person who does not hold a degree holds more knowledge than one who does? Absolutely, BUT this is usually NOT the case, and for it to be the case, the person needs to actually have studied for more than 6 months to 2 years in order to allow for some of his knowledge to “gel”.

To help visualize this, most eastern university programs offer a 2 year Arabic curriculum, that allow a student, after finishing to have a general grasp of the Arabic language. It takes an average student another 2 years to get a STRONG command of the language, and at that point he has 2 years remaining to get a grasp on the material he’s been studying and begin refining and applying the academic tools he’s required. This is IF he limited his studies to the university only, but walihil hamd, we find students expanding outside their course material and studying regularly with many teachers and educators.

So, in light of the picture that many brothers are trying to portray, the reality is otherwise. The universities are, for the most part, producing serious and dedicated students who are helping different communities across the Islamic world, versus most of those without a formal education, due to whose ignorance, are destroying communities throughout the Muslim world, and with Allah do we seek help and refuge.

Secondly, there are very limited means by which students can study the religion. Unfortunately, gone are the days where you could be taken as an apprentice to one of the many mashayikh, and study and learn from him. One of the only means to come to the Eastern lands (legally) and study Islam, is to come on a student visa, which in many countries, provides a number of benefits, including subsidization and health benefits.

The remaining ways of going to study, involve some type of business, work, or visitor visas. The problem with business and work visas is that most of your time will not be dedicated to studying, as in order to maintain your status you will have to work or show business revenue. The issue with visitor visas is the time constraints and pressure of renewal involved, which prohibits a continuous study plan. There are those who are able to find a balance, and whoever strives sincerely for Allah he will make a way, inshallah.

And with Allah is success and He knows best.

 

Abu Sahl Farhan ibn Irfan Siddiqi

Makkah al Mukarramah

13/3/1434 H

“Academia” and Islam

Bismillah ar rahman ar raheem, alhamdulillahi rabil alameen, wa salatu wa salam ala nabiyyina Muhammad, wa ala alahi wa ashabihi ajmaeen, ama b’ad;

With the rise of universities, especially in the Eastern world, Islam has begun to be approached in a more objective manner and treated more as a science than as a religion. Alhamdulillah, many of our scholars and teachers have been able to purify their intentions and avoid this infiltrated need to be “academic”.Most academic institutions will encourage a student to study objectively, and not be biased in his analyses, as mentioned in the World English Dictionary:

Objective: existing independently of perception or an individual’s conceptions.

Subjective: existing in the mind; belonging to the thinking subject rather than to the object of thought.

Now, based on these definitions we cannot apply both absolutely to Islam. Yes, there are points of research that require objective views, such as fiqh (jurisprudence) rulings, or rulings on narrators, or grammar rulings on a sentence, but we have to look at other issues as well.

This religion is not just as science, or information, it’s “Ilm”. And “ilm” is defined, as mentioned by Shaykh bin Uthaymeen (raheemahullah), as that which Allah sent down to His messenger (salalahu alaihi wa salam), [whether it be in the form of] evidences or guidance. Other scholars defined it as knowing. Either definition is clear enough to show that this ability to know, or these evidences, or the guidance that was sent, was revealed to an individual, one who was a thinking subject, one salalahu alaihi wa salam who also encouraged us to think and understand.

This religion is also more than that, it is a way of life. By treating it as information, we take on a form of a being who is outside the religion looking in, and the reality is, if you have not internalized the religion, then there is an even bigger issue that needs to be addressed, and that is a lack of belief, or a weakness in eeman. This is because, if you feel the need to be on the outside, then that shows a lack of comfort in the religion, or feeling that you may be biased toward things that reflect the religion.

Dealing with deviant groups is where we find this “objective” and “academic” viewpoint the most harmful, as you are willing to give the deviant party more leniency than they are due, or may even come to legitimize their existence, which is even more perilous. It is not upon us to always be objective, or always subjective, there is a calling for both, and being from Ahlus Sunnah, we must take the middle way, and utilize both when necessary, When do we utilize an objective viewpoint, and when do we utilize a subjective one? This is where hikmah (wisdom) comes in, and this only comes with seeking knowledge [of the religion] and tawfeeq from Allah.

And Allah knows best.

 

Abu Sahl Farhan ibn Irfan Siddiqi

Makkah al Mukarramah

1/3/1434 H

The Types of Knowledge

Bismillah ar rahman ar raheem, alhamdulillhi rabil alameen, was salatu was salam ala nabiyina Muhammad, wa ala alihi wa ashabihi ajmaeen wa b’ad:

Knowledge is of two types, knowledge that is related to the worldly affairs and knowledge of the religion. Both are important and are needed in this ummah but they are never to be equated, as the superiority of the knowledge of religion is by far more beneficial than worldly knowledge.

As for worldly knowledge, and from it is the art of watch repair, plumbing, welding, medicine, journalism and other than that. Then this is what can be a collective obligation on the Muslim ummah if there is a need for a particular skill set or science, and this can vary from time and place, so it’s obligation may or may not be in effect.

This does not negate the fact that these sciences or skills may be learned as they are all mubah (have a general permissibility) as long as it does not lead to that which is impermissible, or impermissible in itself, such as studying the science of fermentation in order to produce alcohols and/or liquors.

Knowledge of the religion, which is what is intended by the verses of the Quran and many ahadith in the Prophetic Sunnah, is of two types, the type that is obligatory upon every Muslim, and the type that is a collective obligation.

As for individual obligation then it is related to the five pillars of Islam and that involves:

1. Knowing Allah and His messenger salalahu alaihi wa salam and how to obey them

2. Knowing to perform the Salah

3. Knowing how to pay Zakah

4. Knowing how and when to fast for Ramadan

5. Knowing how to make Hajj

And from these are obligations that if he does not know them, he will be held accountable because he did not make an effort to learn these compulsory deeds.

Concerning the collective obligation (if a group of the ummah do it, then the obligation is lifted from the remaining), then these are sciences that delve into a deeper understanding of the religion and comprehension of the book of Allah and the sunnah of His messenger salalahu alaihi wa salam.

This last type of knowledge is what we find mentioned time and again in the book of Allah and the narrations of the Prophet salalahu alaihi wa salam.

And it is this knowledge that ennobled the companions of the Prophet salalahu alaihi wa salam. It was this knowledge that causes such names to be remembered from Islamic history. How many people can name more than 5 of the khulafa after the rightly guided khalifas? How many people can name more than 5 scholars of Islam?

The only difference between a man who was known from one end of the Islamic nation to the other for a period of time, versus a teacher in a masjid, is knowledge of Allah’s religion, and we ask Allah to increase us all in knowledge.

And Allah knows best.

 

Abu Sahl Farhan ibn Irfan Siddiqi

Makkah al Mukarramah

27/2/1434 H

Instructing the Student on How to Open the Gates of Knowledge and Comprehension

“Instructing the Student on How to Open the Gates of Knowledge and Comprehension” by Muhammad ibn ‘Alee ibn Aadam al-Ityoobee, may Allah preserve him. Translated by our fellow student, Aboo Shaybah, may Allah preserve him.

Link: http://qaryah.files.wordpress.com/2008/09/open_gates_en_arb.pdf

Seven Reasons Why Scholars May Differ

Bismillah
This is a translation of an article “Seven reasons why scholars may differ” by Shaykh Al Allamah Muhammad Salih Al-Uthaimeen:

The first reason: The evidence has not reached the scholar who has given his verdict upon error.
Second reason: The evidence has reached this scholar but he doesn’t trust the chain of narration. He views the chain of narration to be in opposition to what he knows to be stronger.
Third reason: The evidence has reached him but he has forgotten.
Forth reason: The evidence has reached him, and he misunderstands it.
Fifth reason: The hadeeth (Prophetic narration) has reached the scholar, but this hadeeth has been abrogated. The scholar does not know of its abrogation, nor does he know what abrogated it. The hadeeth is authentic, and the understanding of the hadeeth is clear, but it has been abrogated. This scholar will remain pardoned because the of the Islaamic principal; that the origin of a verse of the Quraan, or Hadeeth is that it has not been abrogated.
Sixth reason: The scholar believes that the evidence (Hadeeth/Quraanic verse) is in opposition to a stronger Islaamic text, or the consensus of the Salaf.Meaning: The evidence has reached the researcher, but he sees it to be in opposition to that which is stronger by way Islaamic text or the consensus of the salaf. This is the cause of most of the difference between the Islaamic scholars, and mostly what we hear from those who transmit the consensus, but when we examine the statement we find that there is no consensus at all.
Seventh reason: The scholar uses a hadeeth that is unauthentic.

Translator’s note: Although a scholar may fall into error; what must be understood is that when a scholar falls into error we do not backbite them, nor do we belittle them nor there verdicts. We respect the scholars due to their love for Islaam and their desire to spread Islaamic knowledge. They are the inheritors of the Prophets of Allaah. Falling into error is a human characteristic that all humans share, no one man is exempt from falling into error except the Messenger of Allaah, for this reason we, the youth, should refrain from speaking about any of the differing that may transpire between the scholars.
Sadly, today it has become very common to hear the most ignorant of the Muslims slandering the Islaamic scholars. In addition scholars from Ahlul Sunnah (People of the Sunnah) that fall short in their religious verdicts after striving hard to reach correctness receive a reward from Allaah. This is based on the statement of the Messenger of Allaah:
إذا حكم الحاكم فاجتهد ثم أصاب فله أجران, و إذا حكم فاجتهد ثم أخطأ فله أجر
If a scholar gives a verdict after striving hard in research and he is correct he will receive two rewards, and if he after striving hard in research is incorrect then he will receive one reward. (Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim)
This proves that the scholar who strives hard in research, whether correct or incorrect in his verdict, will receive at least one reward.
After understanding that even the scholar who has fallen into error after researching receives a reward, one must ask himself who am I to speak about such illustrious people?

Muhammad Abu Essa
Makkah, KSA
30/9/2013 CE

A Recomended Way to Study History

Bismillah ar rahman ar raheem, alhamdulillahi rabil alameen, wa salatu wa salam ala nabiyyina Muhammad, wa ala alahi wa ashabihi ajmaeen, ama b’ad;
A rather neglected subject, but one that is of great importance nonetheless, is that of our noble history, and how the ummah has reached its’ current state of affairs. As such, we thought it appropriate to recommend an approach and methodology for an individual to delve into this vast science.
An individual should start with books of the pure Islamic Aqeedah, as they talk mainly about what the Prophet salalahu alaihi wa salam and his companions were on and the principles they taught.
This will help a student sift through some of the later books he will start to read that concern history.
The next set of books a student should study and read are books that discuss the different sects that arose in Islam (like the Khawarij, the Shia, the Qadaris, the Murji’, the Philosophers, etc.). This is important because they started creeping into the Muslim nation, as did their narrations. So when you get an idea that a certain sect was around or dominant in a certain time period, or when their ideas started spreading, you can start looking at historical accounts with the knowledge of certain groups and sects being popular or dominant at certain times, as every group will have had propaganda to support their individual agendas. This will help you “sift” through many of the narrations.
Then, we’d move into smaller works, like “The History of Islam” by Akbar Shah Najeebabadi (with Sh Safi ur Rahman’s checking) (if limited to English) and similar to it as these will give you a general idea of the progression of the ummah through the ages, and with your now basic background in aqeedah and firaq (sects) you’ll be able to sieve through the information much better.
The final stage involves going into the much larger and voluminous works, such as “The History of Baghdad” by Khateeb al Baghdadi, “A History of Messengers and Kingdoms” by Imam at Tabari, “A History of Damascus” by ibn Asakir, “A History of Islam” by Imam adh Dhahabee, “The Beginning and the End” by Imam ibn Katheer, and “A Long Gaze at Righteous Personalities who Lived after the Seventh Century” by Imam ash Shawkaani (he basically picks up where ibn Katheer leaves off).
This science is one that is very vast, and we hope future students take more interest in it than the current Western students studying in Eastern universities did.

And with Allah is all success.

Abu Sahl Farhan ibn Irfan Siddiqi

Makkah al Mukarramah

19/9/1434 H