Category Archives: The Etiquette of Seeking Knowledge

The student of knowledge feels no envy of people who are learning and he does everything he can to help them, not hinder them

With regards to the student of knowledge being pleased with and helping the Muslim who is learning and not having any envy of him, the Shaykh Muhammad ibn Saalih al ‘Uthaymeen rahimahullaah comments:

And from that which is befitting for the student of knowledge with regards to his colleagues is that he does not have jealousy of them regarding that which Allaah has bestowed upon them, by way of memorization or understanding or knowledge.

And that he does not have jealousy of them in that by which he may benefit them, by way of supporting (them) and helping (them) – be that in (giving them) a booklet or (sharing) research or other than that.

This is because for some of the students, Shaytaan speaks to him saying to him, “If you help your companion, he will become better than you.” And this is an error.

Rather we say, just as the Prophet sall Allaahu ‘alaihi wa ‘alaa aalihi wa sallam said:

Allaah is in the aid of the servant whilst the servant is in the aid of his brother.”

And it does not automatically follow on that if your companion is someone who is coming for the forefront (due to his knowledge) or someone who is attaining knowledge which he did not attain except with your (help), it is does not necessitate that he has got ahead of you.

So (by helping him) you are benefitting yourself and you are not harming your own self at all.

Quoted in Wasaayaa wa tawjeehaat li tullaab il ‘ilm page 82, translated by Nasser ibn Najam

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The student of knowledge takes seriously any blameworthy characteristics he finds in himself

With regards to the student of knowledge not having repugnant behaviour towards others and instead having beautiful manners, the Shaykh ‘Abdul ‘Azeez ibn Baaz rahimahullaah advises:

This is the akhlaaq (manners) of the believing men and believing women; these are their characteristics.

And the believing men and the believing women; they are awliyaa to each other.

Soorah at Tawbah (9) aayah 71

They are not enemies, they are not opponents; and rather they are awliyaa (allies) and ones who love each other – this is their description. Ones who love each other in that which occurs between them, advising each other, counselling each other to the Truth.

There is no malice between them nor hatred nor falsehood nor deceptiveness nor betrayal. Rather there is friendship and love and helping and counselling each other to the Truth.

The believing men and believing women are like this. So if you find malice in yourself towards your brother, or falsehood and oppression, then know that you have rendered your eemaan deficient and you have harmed your eemaan and you have weakened your eemaan with this blameworthy behaviour which you found in yourself, by way of betrayal or deceptiveness or backbiting or tale carrying or telling lies and oppression.

He sall Allaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam said:

Every Muslim is inviolable for (another) Muslim – his blood and his wealth and his honour.[1]

Quoted in Wasaayaa wa tawjeehaat li tullaab il ‘ilm page 21 , translated by Nasser ibn Najam


[1] Reported by Muslim (2564) from the hadeeth of Aboo Hurayrah radiy Allaahu ‘anhu.

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The student of knowledge’s memorisation is good because he leaves off sins

With regards to the effects of sins upon the ability of the student of knowledge to memorise, ‘Abdus Salaam ibn Burjis (d. 1425 AH) rahimahullaah said:

Disobeying Allaah, the Most High, is an obstacle to attaining Sharee’ah knowledge – because it (Sharee’ah knowledge) is a noor (light) from Allaah which He casts into the hearts of whomever He wishes from His servants.

And noor (light) and dhulmah (darkness) do not come together in a heart.

Therefore ibn Mas’ood radi Allaahu ‘anhu said:

Indeed I consider that a man (might) forget knowledge which he has already learned because of a sin which he does.

And may Allaah have mercy upon ash Shaafi’ee who said:

I complained to Wakee’ about my memorisation being bad

So he directed me to leave off sins

And he informed me that knowledge is a noor (light)

And the light from Allaah is not bestowed upon a person who is sinful

Quoted in ‘Awaa-iq ut talab of ‘Abdus Salaam ibn Burjiss rahimahullaah page 38, translated by Nasser ibn Najam

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ibn Qutaybah’s advice about taking knowledge from the sighaar

With regards to the quote from ibn Mas`ood radi Allaahu ‘anhu about seeking knowledge from the senior scholars as opposed to the sighaar (the lesser ones), `Abdus Salaam ibn Burjis (d.1425AH) rahimahullaah comments:

And ibn Qutyabah[1] rahimahullaahu ta’aala held the opinion that the sighaar (lesser ones) were the ones who were lesser in age. So he said about the narration of ibn Mas’ood mentioned above:

He (ibn Mas’ood) intended – that the people will not cease to be upon good as long as their scholars are the elders, and their scholars are not the youthful ones, because for the old man, the pleasure of youthfulness, and its self containment and its foolishness have disappeared from him. And he has taken on experience and knowledge as his companions.

So doubt does not come upon him in his knowledge; nor does desire get the better of him; nor does greed make him turn away and nor does Shaytan make him slip up with the errors of the young person. Thus with age there is dignity and honour and reverence.

And it may be these matters– matters which the old person is secure from – enter upon the youth; so when they enter upon him, and he gives fataawaa (Islamic rulings), he is destroyed and he destroys (others).

(to the end of his statement) [2]

(Awaa-iq ut talab of ‘Abdus Salaam ibn Burjiss rahimahullaah pages 24, translated by Nasser ibn Najam)


[1] Died 276AH

[2]Naseehah ahl il hadeeth’ page 16

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Taking knowledge from our elders i.e. from the senior scholars

With regards to people seeking knowledge from the youngsters at the expense of seeking it from the senior scholars, `Abdus Salaam ibn Burjis (d.1425AH)  rahimahullaah comments:

And indeed the phenomenon of taking knowledge from the younger ones amongst the students of knowledge has become widespread in this era.

And in reality this phenomenon is a chronic disease, an enduring sickness, preventing the (true) student from what he intends and something by which he twists away from the correct path which would lead to knowledge.

And that is because taking knowledge from the younger people – those whose feet have not become firmly grounded in knowledge and whose beards have not become white in it (seeking knowledge), despite the presence of a person who is greater than them in age and one whose feet are more firmly grounded – then this weakens the foundation of the beginner and prevents him from taking benefit from the knowledge of the senior scholars, and from acquiring their manners which knowledge and time have made good – and other than that from the justifications that are suggested by the narration of ibn Mas`ood radi Allaahu `anhu when he said:

“The people will not cease to be upon good as long as they take knowledge from their senior ones and from their trustworthy ones and from their scholars.

So if they take it from their younger ones and their evil ones, they will be destroyed.”

Quoted in ‘Awaa-iq ut talab of ‘Abdus Salaam ibn Burjiss rahimahullaah page 23, translated by Nasser ibn Najam

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Let the student of knowledge beware of not acting on his knowledge

‘Alee radi Allaahu ‘anhu said:

Knowledge calls out for action, so either it is responded to or else it departs.

And Sufyaan ath Thawree rahimahullaah said:

Knowledge is only to be learned in order for Allaah to be feared and obeyed by it.

And Fudayl ibn ‘Iyaad rahimahullaah said:

The person of knowledge does not stop being jaahil (ignorant) of what he knows until he acts on it. So when he acts on it, he is an ‘aalim (person of knowledge).

And ibn al Jawzee rahimahullaah said:

The true miskeen (impoverished person) is the one whose lifetime is lost in knowledge that he does not act upon. So he has missed out on the delights of the dunyaa and the treasures of the Hereafter.
Thus he will come (on the Last Day) as a bankrupt person, along with having a strong proof against himself.

Quoted in ‘Awaa-iq ut talab of ‘Abdus Salaam ibn Burjiss rahimahullaah pages 17 to 19, translated by Nasser ibn Najam

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Imam ibn al Mubaarak on the seeking of knowledge

The renowned scholar of hadeeth, ‘Abdullaah ibn al Mubaarak  (died 181 AH) rahimahullaah said:

“The beginning of al ‘ilm (knowledge) is the intention,

then listening carefully,

then understanding,

then memorising,

then action,

then propagating.”

And he rahimahullaah also said:

“There is nothing more excellent than seeking knowledge for the sake of Allaah.

And there is nothing more hateful to Allaah than seeking knowledge for other than Allaah.”

Quoted in ‘Awaa-iq ut talab of ‘Abdus Salaam ibn Burjiss rahimahullaah pages 11 to 12, translated by Nasser ibn Najam

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The student of knowledge has a pure intention in his seeking knowledge

With regards to the virtue of seeking knowledge with a pure intention, the Shaykh Muhammad ibn Saalih al ‘Uthaymeen rahimahullaah comments:

Rather some of the scholars say that seeking knowledge with a pure and sincere intention is more excellent than fighting in the Path of Allaah because fighting in the Path of Allaah contains only blocking the enemies and fighting against them such that there is no fitnah and that the Religion is entirely for Allaah.

However seeking knowledge is something that the whole ummah (Muslim nation) is in need of, such that they can worship Allaah upon clear-sightedness; and (even) the people who fight (in the Path of Allaah) are in need of it such that they know how they should fight and how they deal with the war booty and how they advance and how they retreat.

So the ummah is in need of knowledge, in every situation and at every moment.

Therefore I urge you, O young people, to turn towards and have diligence upon seeking Sharee’ah knowledge, and to have purity and sincerity of intention in that – in that you intend by it seeking closeness to Allaah, the Perfect and Most High, by obeying His command; and that you intend protection of the Islaamic Sharee’ah and defending it and spreading it among the servants (of Allaah).

Then you attest to the truthfulness of this intention through your actions, in worship and manners and dealings (with other people).

Quoted in Wasaayaa wa tawjeehaat li tullaab il ‘ilm pages 341, translated by Nasser ibn Najam

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The student of knowledge is in need of a teacher

With regards to the student of knowledge needing to have a teacher, the Shaykh Muhammad ibn Saalih al ‘Uthaymeen rahimahullaah comments:

And there is no doubt that the teachers will be questioned about the students because they are their shepherds; and every person is a shepherd and will be questioned about his flock.

The students are in need of the teachers and the scholars with regards to direction and guidance because the scholars have gained experience from matters which the students have not. And with them are (aspects) of knowledge which the students do not have.

Therefore the student is in need of the teacher from the aspect of knowledge and the aspect of actions (which bring about) experience.

Thus it is binding upon him to have the utmost eagerness to select the teachers who are known for knowledge and who are known for trustworthiness and religion, and known for their sound methodology and for their tending (to matters) in a correct way such that he can take from their knowledge firstly, then from their manhaj secondly.

Quoted in Wasaayaa wa tawjeehaat li tullaab il ‘ilm pages 199-200 by Nasser ibn Najam

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The student of knowledge is careful when answering questions posed to him

With regards to the student of knowledge having the humility to tell the people that he does not know the answer to their question, Shaykh Muhammad ibn Saalih al ‘Uthaymeen rahimahullaah comments:

And know for certain that if you open up the arena (when sitting with the people), then questions will come one after the other to you.

However you should beware of answering with that which you do not have knowledge of. Don’t be deceived by the people turning towards you and beginning to ask you (questions), then you reply with that which you do not have knowledge of!

This is a serious issue because Allaah, the Most High, said:

Say (O Muhammad): My Lord has made forbidden al fawaahish (filthy deeds), whether done openly or secretly, sins, transgression without due right, and that you ascribe partners to Allaah for which He has sent down no authority and that you say about Allaah that which you have no knowledge of.

Soorah al A’raaf (7) aayah 33

Do not say about Allaah that which you do not have knowledge of. If you are asked about a matter and you do not know about it, then say to him, “Wait, I will ask about it and I will (then) tell you,” or “I will look it up in the books and (then) I will tell you.”

And do not say that about which you have no knowledge. Indeed the hearing, the sight and the heart – each of these will be questioned by Allaah.

Soorah al Israa- (17) aayah 36

Quoted in Wasaayaa wa tawjeehaat li tullaab il ‘ilm pages 260, translated by Nasser ibn Najam


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