Category Archives: The Etiquette of Seeking Knowledge

The student of knowledge is careful to not accustom himself to comfort and luxury

With regards to the student of knowledge not chasing after the luxuries and comforts of this world,  Shaykh Muhammad ibn Saalih al ‘Uthaymeen rahimahullaah comments:

(The author’s advice), “do not accustom yourself to comfort and luxury”.

This is advice to be said to the student of knowledge and (also) to other than the student of knowledge – because accustoming oneself to that is contrary to the guidance of the Prophet sall Allaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam. For indeed he used to forbid from an abundance of luxuriousness and he would command with walking barefoot sometimes.

And a person who has become accustomed to a luxurious life will find it difficult when he encounters (certain) matters – because sometimes there will come to him matters in a form where he is not able to have the luxury (he is used to) along with him.

And let us strike an example, with the example which we have mentioned in the hadeeth: he would command with walking barefoot sometimes. Some people do not walk barefoot – always there is a sock upon him, and upon it a leather sock, and upon it a shoe. You will not find him walking, this man, if a temporary impediment were to occur to him and he were to be told to walk 500 metres without any protection for the foot; you would find that extremely difficult upon him. And sometimes his foot would bleed from the contact with the ground.

However if he were to accustom himself to a roughness and to leaving off always having comfort, then he would attain much good.

So if the (person’s) body is not accustomed to the like of these matters (of forsaking luxury), then he will have no manaa’ah (strength and toughness). You will find him feeling pain from anything from that (affair which is difficult).

However if he has manaa’ah then he will not be bothered by it.

(Sharh hilyah taalib il ‘ilm p43 of Shaykh Muhammad ibn Saalih al ‘Uthaymeen rahimahullaah, translated by Nasser ibn Najam)

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The student of knowledge trains himself upon fine manners

With regards to the student of knowledge working hard to acquire al muroo-ah (fine and honourable manners), Shaykh Muhammad ibn Saalih al ‘Uthaymeen rahimahullaah comments:

So if a person were to try to gain those (correct manners), and his inherent nature were not (naturally) like that, then he would encounter difficulty.

However with practice, he can improve his condition.

And this is something shown by experience. For we have heard of a person who was far removed from al ‘ilm (knowledge) and from seeking knowledge, having evil manners.

Then when Allaah bestowed upon him the blessing of knowledge and guidance, his manners became good because he trained himself upon these manners until they became just as if they were from his inherent nature and his natural disposition.

(Sharh hilyah taalib il ‘ilm p40 of Shaykh Muhammad ibn Saalih al ‘Uthaymeen rahimahullaah, translated by Nasser ibn Najam)

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The student of knowledge is known for his fine and honourable behaviour

With regards to the student of knowledge adorning himself with muroo-ah (honourable and fine behaviour), Shaykh Muhammad ibn Saalih al ‘Uthaymeen rahimahullaah comments:
And what is muroo-ah?
The scholars of fiqh – may Allaah have mercy upon them – have established what it is in the Book of shahaadaat (bearing witness).
They said:  it is doing that which beautifies him and adorns him and avoiding of that which would dishonour him and disgrace him.
And this is an expression which is general (in its nature) – everything which will beautify you in the eyes of the people, and adorn you and which will be a cause for your being praised, then this is muroo-ah, even if it is not from the acts of worship.
And everything which is opposite (to this), then it is something that opposes muroo-ah.
Then (the author) strikes an example for this, by saying that (from muroo-ah) is having noble manners. So what are noble manners? They are that the person is always forbearing, that he is forbearing when it is the occasion for forbearance; and that he acts with firm resolve when it is the occasion for firm resolve.
And therefore the Islaamic Religion has come being justly balanced between forbearance – by which rights may be lost – and acting with firm resolve, which may sometimes lead to oppression.
(Sharh hilyah taalib il ‘ilm p36 of Shaykh Muhammad ibn Saalih al ‘Uthaymeen rahimahullaah, translated by Nasser ibn Najam)

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Knowledge slips away from the person who does not strive in studying

The noble scholar Muhammad ibn Saalih al ‘Uthaymeen rahimahullaah said, addressing students at the Imam Muhammad ibn Sa’ood Islamic University at al Qaseem on 25th Jumaada al Oolaa, 1417AH:

At this moment you are in this place at (your) differing levels – from them the high (levels) and from them lesser than that.

However regardless of where the person reaches in knowledge, then he is (still) in need of knowledge – as per the statement of Allaah, the Blessed and Most High:

But over all those endowed with knowledge is the All Knowing One (Allaah).

Soorah Yoosuf (12) aayah 76

Therefore I urge you to have a general eagerness in pursuing (your) studies; and that you know with certain knowledge that the person who does not strive with all his efforts in attaining knowledge, then knowledge in its entirety will slip away from him.

And therefore it is said: indeed knowledge is the most miserly thing there is! For if you give it your all, you will attain (only) some of it; and if you give it only some (of your all), then it will elude you entirely.

And therefore I urge you, O young people, to have a complete eagerness for knowledge.

(Quoted in Wasaayaa wa tawjeehaat li tullaab il ‘ilm pp 139 to 140, translated by Nasser ibn Najam)

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The student of knowledge does not have al hasad; rather he loves that knowledge be spread by himself and by other than himself

The noble scholar Shaykh Muhammad ibn Saalih al Uthaymeen rahimahullaah commented:

And if you were asked about (the meaning) of al hasad (envy), then the answer would be:

That from the scholars are those who said:

Al hasad is to wish for Allaah’s blessing upon someone to come to an end.

This is how most of the scholars have explained it.

And Shaykh ul Islaam ibn Taymiyyah rahimahullaah said:

Al hasad is that he hates that which Allaah has blessed someone else with, even if (the one with hasad) does not wish that (blessing) to come to an end.

So if a person hates that which Allaah has blessed someone else with, by way of knowledge or status or wealth or offspring or family, then this is al hasad, this is al hasad  – that you hate that which Allaah has blessed someone other than you with.

If you wish that you should have this blessing – meaning that you have the like of that which Allaah has blessed someone other than you with, then listen carefully to the reply:

Allaah,the Most High, said:

And do not wish for that with which Allaah has blessed some of you over others. For the men is the reward of that which they have earned, and (likewise) for women is the reward for that which they have earned. And ask Allaah of His Bounty.

Soorah an Nisaa (4) aayah 32

This is the solution. That with which Allaah has blessed some of us with over others, then we should not wish that we have it to the exclusion of people other than us – nor should we hate that which Allaah has blessed (that other person) with.

But rather ask Allaah of His Bounty – the One who gave to someone other than you has Full Ability to give the like of that to you (as well).

So if you see that Allaah has given knowledge to a person then do not hate that, especially if that is knowledge of the Sharee’ah  – because if Allaah has bestowed the blessing of Sharee’ah knowledge upon a servant and he fulfils that which is obligatory upon him by way of spreading the knowledge and calling people to goodness, then this is from Allaah’s blessing upon you yourself.

This is because you (also) love that the Sharee’ah of Allaah should be propagated amongst the servants of Allaah – is this not the case?

So if it is propagated by you or by other than you, then this is (all) good –so why should you hate it?

But if Allaah has favoured him over you with knowledge and calling to goodness,then ask Allaah from His Bounty.

(Quoted in Wasaayaawa tawjeehaat li tullaab il ilm p48 – 49 of Shaykh Muhammad ibn Saalih al ‘Uthaymeen rahimahullaah, translated by Nasser ibn Najam)

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The student of knowledge is known for being cheerful and plentiful in smiling

The noble scholar, Shaykh Muhammad ibn Saalih al ‘Uthaymeen rahimahullaah stated:

And it is befitting for the student of knowledge that he be a person of beautiful manners and temperament, constantly (a person) of happiness, constantly (a person) of relaxedness – because (this) was from the characteristics of the Prophet sall Allaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam which Allaah created to be in his natural disposition and with which He blessed him.

And He said about him:

And indeed you (Muhammad) are of exalted manners, the manners of the Qur-aan.[1]

Soorah al Qalam (68) aayah 4

From his characteristics was that he was constantly (a person) of joy, plentiful in smiling – may Allaah’s salaat and salaam be upon him.

And there is no doubt that if a person is always joyful and plentiful in smiling then the person who meets him will feel happiness from (meeting) him.

But if you were to meet a man, frowning and gloomy, would you be happy due to meeting him? No. Therefore my brother, be always happy, plentiful in smiling, with a bright and cheerful face.

And therefore from the characteristics of Eemaan is that you meet your brother with a cheerful face. And know with the knowledge of certainty that if you possess this characteristic, you will be a person who is calm and relaxed, (both when) standing or sitting, in your house and in the market. And be constantly happy with your brothers, with a cheerful face and plentiful in smiling.

(Quoted in Wasaayaa wa tawjeehaat li tullaab il ilm p49 of Shaykh Muhammad ibn Saalih al ‘Uthaymeen rahimahullaah, translated by Nasser ibn Najam)


[1] Refer to Tafseer at Tabaree

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The student of knowledge is known for his remembrance of Allaah

The noble scholar, Shaykh Muhammad ibn Saalih al ‘Uthaymeen rahimahullaah stated:

It is binding upon the student of knowledge that he makes apparent the effect of seeking knowledge upon himself in worship and in methodology and in interactions with other people – so that he is known for abundance of acts of worship and turning in recourse to Allaah, the Most High, and reverence and humility in front of Him and perseverance in making remembrance of Him, He the Most High… So let him make manifest the effect of knowledge upon himself in the worship of Allah, the Mighty and Majestic, and turning in recourse to Him and turning repentantly to Him.

And that his heart does not become neglectful of the remembrance of Allaah, for indeed the heart becoming neglectful of the remembrance of Allaah is a cause of disappointment and loss of time and lack of success.

And listen carefully to the statement of Allaah, the Most High:

And do not obey the one whose heart We have made heedless of Our Remembrance and who follows his desires. And his affair has been lost.

Soorah al Kahf (18) aayah 28

 

“his affair” – meaning his affair in its entirety – is “lost” – there is no blessing in it.

However if a person is constant in remembrance of Allaah, the Mighty and Majestic, with the tongue and the heart and the limbs, then there occurs in his lifespan blessing and the goodness is plentiful.

And read the statement of Allaah, the Most High:

Indeed in the creation of the heavens and the earth and the alternation of the night and the day there are signs for the people of understanding.

Soorah aale ‘Imraan (3) aayah 190

Meaning – for the people who possess intellect.

Those who remember Allaah standing, sitting and lying down on their sides and who ponder over the creation of the heavens and the earth.

Meaning they say:

Our Lord, You have not created this without purpose. How free and far removed are you from doing anything without purpose.[1] Then save us from the punishment of the Fire.

Soorah aale ‘Imraan (3) aayah 191

(Quoted in Wasaayaa wa tawjeehaat li tullaab il ilm p46 to 47 of Shaykh Muhammad ibn Saalih al ‘Uthaymeen rahimahullaah, translated by Nasser ibn Najam)


[1] Refer to the Tafseer of at Tabaree rahimahullaah

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Be humble to people who benefit you

Shaykh Muhammad ibn Saalih al ‘Uthaymeen rahimahullaah comments:

Beware of the disease of the tyrants – and it is kibr (pride). And the Prophet sall Allaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam explained it in the best manner, and it was that pride is arrogance towards the Truth and belittling the people – meaning looking down upon them and having disdain for them…

(And know that) your behaving in an insolent manner towards your teacher is pride. And this behaving in an insolent manner might be upon the tongue and it might be also through being irritable and agitated. A person may be walking along with his teacher whilst strutting in a cocky manner, saying “I did such-and such and I did such-and-such.”

And likewise pride is having aversion towards the person who benefits you from those people who are lesser than you; and this also occurs from some of the students when someone lesser than them in knowledge informs them of something, they have an aversion (to this) and they do not accept it.

(Sharh hilyah taalib il ‘ilm p28 – 29 of Shaykh Muhammad ibn Saalih al ‘Uthaymeen rahimahullaah, translated by Nasser ibn Najam )

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Stay away from meetings where there is harmful and non-beneficial speech

WIth regards to the student of knowledge staying away from gatherings of laghw, Shaykh al ‘Uthaymeen rahimahullaah commented:

As for his (the author’s) statement: turning away from gatherings of futile speech…

Then laghw (futile speech) is of two types:

i) laghw which contains no benefit and no harm

And ii) laghw which contains harm

As for the first type – then it is not befitting for a person who has intellect to allow his time to disappear in this because it is (nothing but) loss.

As for the second type – this is something evil; it is forbidden for him to spend his time in this because it is evil and forbidden.

And it is as if the author was taking the interpretation (of this word) upon the second meaning – which is the forbidden laghw. And without doubt, the person is not allowed to sit at gatherings which contain that which is forbidden because Allaah, the Most High, says:

And it has been revealed to you in the Book that if you when you hear the aayaat of Allaah being denied and mocked, then do not sit with them (those people) until engage in speech other than that.

(If you were to stay with them) then you would be just like them.

Soorah an Nisaa (4) aayah 140

So it is obligatory upon whoever sits in a gathering of munkar (evil) to forbid that evil. Then if the situation is rectified, that is what is desired. And if it is not rectified and they (the people) continue upon their evil, then it is obligatory upon him to leave (them).

This is in contrast to what some of the common people falsely believe, saying:

“Indeed Allaah’s Messenger sall Allaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam said: Then if he is not able (to change the evil with his tongue or hand) then let him (hate it) with his heart.” And I hate this evil in my heart.”

And (yet) he is sitting with its people.

So it is said to him:

If you truly were someone who hated it, you would not sit with them – because it is not possible that a person sits in a gathering whilst hating those people in it.

As for something which you hate and (yet) you sit (there) through your own choice, then your claim of hating it is not correct and true.

(Sharh hilyah taalib il ‘ilm p47- 48 of Shaykh Muhammad ibn Saalih al ‘Uthaymeen rahimahullaah, translated by Nasser ibn Najam

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Not acting upon knowledge leads to difficulty in remembering it

With regards to the student of knowledge acting upon his knowledge, Shaykh Muhammad ibn Saalih al ‘Uthaymeen rahimahullaah comments:

Therefore it is a must that (he) act upon what he has knowledge of – because if he does not act upon his knowledge he becomes from the first of those who will be burned by the Fire on the Day of Resurrection:

The scholar who does not act upon his knowledge                          

Will be punished before the worshippers of idols

This is one aspect – if he does not act upon his knowledge, it will result in disappointment regarding the knowledge, and no barakah (blessing), and nisyaan (forgetfulness) of the knowledge…  And therefore it was reported from Imaam ‘Alee radi Allaahu ‘anhu that he said: Knowledge calls out for action, so either it is responded to or else it departs…

So what is it that departs? Knowledge, and this is something clear – because if you act upon (your) knowledge, you will remember it each time you act.

And I will strike an example for you – that of a man who knows the description of the salaat (prayer) from the Sunnah. So he begins to act upon it whenever he prays. Will he forget what he has learned? He will not forget because he keeps on repeating it. However, if he were to leave off acting upon it, he would forget. And this is an evidence which can be perceived (by us) – that acting upon knowledge necessitates firmness upon (that) knowledge, and that (the person) does not forget it.

(Sharh hilyah taalib il ‘ilm p24-25 of Shaykh Muhammad ibn Saalih al ‘Uthaymeen rahimahullaah, translated by Nasser ibn Najam)

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