With regards to the importance of the student of knowledge gaining knowledge in the correct stepwise manner, `Abdus Salaam ibn Burjis (d.1425AH) rahimahullaah comments:
So the first (stage) of knowledge is: memorization of the Book of Allaah, the Majestic and Mighty, and working to gain understanding of it.
And everything that helps in understanding it, then it is is waajib (obligatory) to seek after that.
And I am not saying that memorizing all of it is fard but rather I do say that indeed that is obligatory, binding upon who loves to become an ‘aalim (scholar), but not by way of being fard (on every Muslim).
So whoever memorises it before his reaching maturity, then devotes himself to that which he will use to help him understand it – from the Arabic language, then that will be an enormous help for him in that which he wants from it – and from the sunnahs of the Messenger of Allaah sall Allaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam.
Then he looks to the abrogating (aayaat) of the Qur-aan and its (aayaat) which are abrogated and its rulings; and he stops at the differing of the scholars and their agreement in that; and it is a matter which is easily understood for the one whom Allaah grants ease in understanding it to.
Then he looks to the Sunnahs which are authentically transmitted from the Messenger of Allaah sall Allaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam. So through these, the student arrives at that which Allaah, the Majestic and Mighty, intended in His Book. And these will open up for him the rulings of the Qur-aan.
And in the life of the Messenger of Allaah sall Allaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam there is information which draws attention to many of the abrogating and abrogated issues in the Sunnah.
Quoted in ‘Awaa-iq ut talab of ‘Abdus Salaam ibn Burjiss rahimahullaah pages 30-31, translated by Nasser ibn Najam
Shaykh Saalih al Fawzaan hafidhahullaah said:
And the scholars give importance to these brief works, authoring them and exerting themselves in keeping them to shorten them and refine them; then they would encourage their students to memorise them so that they should remain fundamental assets for them and a store of provision for them from which they can derive benefit, and through which they bring benefit to others by means of them.
And beginning with these shorter works is the foundation for the students of knowledge, so the student of knowledge should begin by learning little by little, taking from the initial points of knowledge and its fundamentals and then proceeding in stages through it.
So these brief works are the path leading on to the longer works. So it is not possible for the longer works to be understood exept after the brief works have been understood and then the person has preceded on from them in stages. And therefore they said about the meaning of His saying, He the Most High:
But rather be rabbaaniyyoon (wise scholars who cultivate the people) by your teaching them the Book and your studying it. [Soorah Aale Imraan aayah 79]
The word rabbaaniyyoon – they are those who begin with the small matters of knowledge before the greater ones. They cultivate themselves and their students beginning with the smaller matters and moving onto the larger matters, and this is something natural, because all things begin from their roots and their foundations and then they grow bigger and larger after that.
As for the person who pounces upon knowledge from its top, then this person will just tire himself out and not attain anything. Whereas the one who begins with the fundamentals and proceeds in stages, this is the person who, by the permission of Allaah, will be proceeding in the correct way and with sound direction.
(From the introduction to Sharh Usoolith Thalaathah by Shaykh Saalih al Fawzaan, translator Abu Talhah Dawood, taken from www.ittibaa.com)
The easiest study guides on this website (so far) are:
Each of these should take between 2 and 4 months to complete, inshaa Allaah. Each one is slightly different so there is something for everyone. The first two have been written by me (Aalia bint Ehsanullah) and checked by Abu Talhah Dawood. The third has been written by a friend of mine, Umm Umar Najma.
If you wish to study in more depth, these questions and answer sets each take about a year to go through:
These three have been written by Nasser ibn Najam, checked by Abu Talhah Dawood Burbank rahimahullaah and can be used with a full set of audio lectures (over 50 hours each) available on www.ittibaa.com. Finally, the question and answer set below is not the longest, but it needs some background knowledge of tawheed and shirk before even attempting it:
In the “Various Bits & Bobs” section of this website are some shorter items that are quick and easy to go through if all the above are too long. We have some materials that are awaiting completion inshaa Allaah that will be uploaded when ready inshaa Allaah.
People who are new to Islaam are encouraged to begin at an even more basic level than the materials on this website. I have something that may be suitable for them. You can contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.