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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The student of knowledge is known for his attention to memorising and understanding the Qur-aan

With regards to the books that the student of knowledge must work hard to memorise and understand, the Shaykh Muhammad ibn Saalih al ‘Uthaymeen rahimahullaah comments in response to the question :

What are the books which you advise (us) to read and memorise, and what are the books you advise (us) to not read and have a grasp of?

The answer:

This cannot be said except by a person who has read all the books in the world, and knows what is (to be) read and what is not (to be) read. And this is not within my capability.

However I will say that the most important book which a person memorises and reflects on and of which he knows the meaning is: the Book of Allaah, the Mighty and Majestic.

Upon you is the Book of Allaah, memorising and understanding and acting (upon it) and in terms of manners.

Indeed the character of the Prophet sall Allaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam was the Qur-aan; and the Qur-aan was sent down to the people so that they might reflect upon its aayaat and so that the men of understanding might remember– just as Allaah, the Blessed and Most High, said:

A Book which We have sent down to you, full of blessings, so that they may ponder over its aayaat and so that men of understanding may remember.[1]

And the Companions did not used to go beyond ten aayaat until they had learned them and what they contained by way of knowledge and action.They said, “So we learned the Qur-aan, knowledge and action together.”

Upon you is the Book of Allaah, then the authentic Sunnah of His Messenger sall Allaahu ‘alaihi wa ‘alaa aalihi wa sallam.

And it is known that there is ascribed to the Sunnah that which is not authentic, but Allaah has sent scholars – and all praise is for Allaah – to clarify what is authentic from it from that which is not authentic.

So perhaps you could memorise Umdat ul ahkaam or Buloogh ul maraam, so that you have a portion of the Prophetic Sunnah with you. Then (also) the books of creed and belief, such as al ‘Aqeedah al waasitiyyah of Shaykh ul Islaam ibn Taymiyyah, and the books of Tawheed such as Kitaab ut Tawheed of Shaykh ul Islaam Muhammad ibn ‘Abdil Wahhaab, and so on.

And it is a must that the student of knowledge has with him a scholar to whom he can read so that he (the scholar) can guide him to that which he sees to be best.

Quoted in Wasaayaa wa tawjeehaat li tullaab il ‘ilm pages 265 – 266, translated by Nasser ibn Najam


[1] Soorah Saad (38) aayah 29

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The student of knowledge acts on his knowledge

With regards to the student of knowledge having the least excuse for not acting upon his knowledge, Shaykh Muhammad ibn Saalih al ‘Uthaymeen rahimahullaah comments :

So what is the fruit of knowledge?

The fruit of knowledge is: acting upon it and calling to it.

Therefore the obligation to act upon knowledge for the student of knowledge is greater than what is obligatory on other than him – because the ignorant person is not an imaam (leader). So he is not taken as a role model, not in his action nor in his statements.

However the student of knowledge is taken as a role model. Therefore, upon the student of knowledge is to act on his knowledge because the student of knowledge carries his weapon – either it will be against him or it will be for him, just as the Prophet sall Allaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam said:

The Qur-aan is a proof for you or against you. [1]

And there is no third category here, such that the Qur-aan would be neither for you nor against you. It is either for you or against you, so when will it be for you?

The answer: It will be for you if you act upon it, and if you are a righteous role model in directing the creation towards goodness.

And it will be against you if you neglect it and turn away from it and relinquish it.

Therefore it is obligatory upon us to act upon knowledge and that we be righteous role models and that we be imaams for our Islamic nations in whichever place (we are in) – because if a person acts upon what he knows, he becomes an imaam; Allaah, the Most High, will bequeath to him knowledge which he did not know of before.

Pay attention to this point: if you act upon what you know you will become an imaam and the people will copy you and you will become a role model, then Allaah, the Most High, will increase you in knowledge and he will bequeath to you knowledge of a matter which you did not know beforehand.

And read the statement of Allaah, the Most High:

And as for those who accept guidance, then He increases them in guidance…[2]

Meaning: in knowledge.

…and He bestows upon them their taqwaa (fear and dutifulness to Him).[3]

Meaning: action.

Upon you is action on knowledge.

If you know that Allaah has made obligatory such-and-such upon you, then hasten to (do) it. You know that Allaah has made such-and-such forbidden for you, then distance yourself from it.

And if not, then you have missed out on the fruit of knowledge, you have completely missed out on it.

Therefore the fruit of knowledge and the intent behind it is acting (upon it).

Quoted in Wasaayaa wa tawjeehaat li tullaab il ‘ilm pages 258 to 260, translated by Nasser ibn Najam


[1] Reported by Muslim (223) from the hadeeth of Abu Maalik al Ash’aree

[2] Soorah Muhammad (47) aayah 17

[3] Soorah Muhammad (47) aayah 17

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The student of knowledge is the furthest from chasing after money

With regards to the student of knowledge knowing the true status of money, Shaykh Muhammad ibn Saalih al ‘Uthaymeen rahimahullaah comments:

Then indeed I say to you – if you were to say to your brother asSalaamu alaikum how much (reward) would you attain? Ten good deeds – along with friendship and love and affection and an opening up of the chest and a smile on the face.

What is your opinion about if it were said to one of you, “If you give salaam to your brother, we will give you one dirham?” Would you give the salaam?

The answer: yes, you would give the salaam and maybe you would pause a little while in order to give salaam a second time – for the sake of (another) one dirham. Yet what is its (the money’s) end destination?

Indeed its end destination is the toilet – for the greatest pleasure which the person takes delight in is food and drink. And what is the end destination of the food and drink? The toilet.

Therefore Shaykh ul Islaam ibn Taymiyyah rahimahullaah said:

It is befitting for the person who has intellect that he deems wealth to have the station of a donkey which he rides on or the station of the toilet in which he answers his call of nature.

And this is the position (adopted) by those who have awareness and knowledge.

Quoted in Wasaayaa wa tawjeehaat li tullaab il ‘ilm pages 183 to 184, translated by Nasser ibn Najam

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The student of knowledge acts towards his teacher in a manner that honours him

With regards to the student of knowledge honouring his teacher and the consequences of not doing so, the Noble Shaykh Muhammad ibn Saalih al Uthaymeen rahimahullaah stated:

And I advise you likewise to honour your teachers because the teacher – if he is a teacher in the true sense, one who sincerely advises – has two virtues over the students:

·       The first virtue – that of teaching (them)

·       The second virtue – that of giving guidance and of correctly nurturing

So the one who is a teacher in reality disseminates knowledge amongst the students and loves that his guidance and his direction be disseminated. So if he establishes this then he becomes one who is deserving of being honoured and respected.

And know that if you honour the teacher in the way that is befitting then you will take benefit from this teacher.

As for if he perceives that you attach little importance to him, then you will lose out on him and lose out on his guidance to you.

Quoted in Wasaayaa wa tawjeehaat li tullaab il ‘ilm pages 145 to 146,translated by Nasser ibn Najam

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The student of knowledge is from the people who spread salaam the most

With regards to the student of knowledge not holding back from giving salaam, Shaykh Muhammad ibn Saalih al ‘Uthaymeen rahimahullaah comments:

Therefore I enjoin on you the spreading the salaam amongst yourselves such that you attain friendship and love and brotherhood and cheerfulness upon the face and happiness in the heart – along with abundant reward with Allaah, the Majestic and Most High.

As for nowadays, the people meet each other in the environment of the university, then, with great regret, you will not find giving salaam to each other.

And it may be that some of them say: the people are many in number – if I were to initiate the salaam with everyone I meet – and I were to meet, for example, one hundred men when walking around – then do I give salaam one hundred times?

We say: fear Allaah and obey Him as much as you are able to – just as we say, for example, commanding the good and forbidding the evil is something obligatory. However, if we were to walk in the marketplace we would find this person has his garment hanging too low (below his ankles), and this one is smoking and this one trims his beard, and the like of that, is it obligatory that we stop at each one and we advise him?

This (would be) difficult and would contain hardship; however we fear Allaah and obey Him as much as we are able to.

And I say: the spreading of salaam occurs (only) a little amongst the students at the University (and) other than the students at the University – such that nowadays, only a few of the students at the masaajid will spread the salaam. And all of this is either (a result) of ignorance or of being negligent.

So upon us, O brothers, is that we mould ourselves to have the manners of Islaam, seeking the reward of Allaah, the Majestic and Most High, (seeking) the rectification of our community.

(Quoted in Wasaayaa wa tawjeehaat li tullaab il ‘ilm pages 184 to 185, translated by Nasser ibn Najam)

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The student of knowledge does not act deceptively and if he does, despite being advised, he is informed on

With regards to the student of knowledge not behaving deceptively, and what to do if he persists upon this despite being advised, the Noble Shaykh Muhammad ibn Saalih al Uthaymeen rahimahullaah stated:

And I advise you also to stay away from behaving deceptively in the duroos (lessons), especially at the times of examinations. For indeed, behaving deceptively is from the characteristics of the hypocrites, and Allaah forbade it in His statement:

O you who believe, do not betray Allaahand the Messenger and do not knowingly betray your trusts. And know that your possessions and your children are but a trial and that with Allaah there surely is a tremendous reward.

Soorah al Anfaal (8)aayaat 27 to 28

So if you know of someone that they carry out this repulsive action, then it is upon you to advise him. So if he desists from it, then this is what is desired. If not then you tell on him. And this is from sincerity and sincere advice to him before every single thing – with the proof that the Messenger sall Allaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam said:

Help your brother, be he the oppressor or the oppressed. They said: O Messenger of Allaah,this is (regarding) the oppressed one, but how do we help the oppressor? He said: You prevent him from the oppression, so that is your help for him.

Reported by al Bukhaaree (2443, 2444, 6952) from the hadeeth of Anas

Quoted in Wasaayaa wa tawjeehaat li tullaab il ‘ilm pages 144 to 145, translated by Nasser ibn Najam

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