A “Qualified” Student of Knowledge

In the name of Allah — The Most Gracious, The Bestower of Mercy. All praise is due to Allah — Lord of The Worlds. I send prayers and salutations upon our messenger Muhammad, upon his family, and all of his companions.

We find many speakers rising amongst the ranks of the people discussing issues of the religion that they may or may not be ready for, to the extent that the value of a person is not held in what he says, but how he says it. Basically, his knowledge is not the point of benefit or value, but the way he speaks. This goes against the pure Islamic teachings, as Allah mentions the people who have the most awareness of him are the scholars [of the religion], and that they are the ones who we are commanded to turn to in times of trials and tribulations and our questions, and they are the ones who are praised in the Quran and in many ahadith of the Prophetic Sunnah salalahu alaihi wa salam. The reality is that knowledge is acquired, while speaking is a gift, and the Prophet salalahu alaihi wa salam described it as a type of magic, and unfortunately we have seen its effect, to the point they’ve fallen into another warning from him salalahu alaiihi wa salam about taking the ignorant as their leaders, be it in their masjid, concerning their religious affairs, giving fatwa, or other than that.

The question then arises: who are the people of knowledge and how do I connect myself to them?

As for who they are, then there are books written about the characteristics of the scholar and his etiquettes, but these books help us recognize a scholar, not proclaim scholarship for an individual. In essence, the scholars are recognized by scholars. The same way a person, when he is ill, asks his friends for a good doctor, they will direct him to who they feel is most knowledgeable concerning medicine. When this individual reaches that recommended doctor, he will in turn direct him to a specialist. Why? Because a professional in a field knows his peers, so how much more a person who has dealt with other teachers and educators in Islam?

Is there a set curriculum an individual has to go to, in order to ascertain scholarship? Not necessarily, but scholarship is usually attained in two ways, after tawfeeq from Allah:

1. Academically, by going through a curriculum focused in different Islamic sciences, focusing on a particular science, be it Fiqh, Hadeeth, Aqeedah or other than that.

2. Apprenticeship, in which an individual accompanies a scholar for a long period of time taking most of the sciences from that particular scholar.

In our time, the first is what is most prevalent, and a combination of the two also take place (which is the best), but in times before the establishment of universities and learning institutions most scholars became such via the second way.

This is not so strange, as in previous generations, and even in some parts of the world today, including certain fields in the West, apprenticeship has and still takes place. Before universities, if a man wanted to become a blacksmith, he would go to a blacksmith and be his apprentice and learn the trade from him, similar to medicine, masons, carpenters, and other than them. So why is it so backwards if it’s done concerning Islamic sciences?

Similarly, just as a scholar is known by other scholars, these scholars also know the students of knowledge, who in turn know other students of knowledge. So if an individual claiming to be a student comes up to your community, there is no harm in asking for his credentials and his recommendations either from his teachers and/or peers, just as you would in any other science, actually this is even important than that because this is about your religion!!

Concerning connecting yourself with these individuals, be they scholars or students, then it is upon the Muslim to keep righteous company, as the Messenger of Allah salalalhu alaihi wa salam said a person is on the religion of his close friend, so what better friend to make except from the scholars and their students?! As for how it’s done, then we have to realize they are humans just as we are, so you will find some easier to approach than others, but Allah has given them the tawfeeq of learning and preserving His religion, so it is upon us, no matter how friendly we are, to respect and honor them and to keep boundaries concerning them, similar to our relationships with our parents, granted the boundaries are different but still there. So it not upon us to venerate them to the point of perfection, or pure innocence, but at the same time we do not bring them down to our levels, as Ahlus Sunnah, we keep our affairs on the middle path, and Allah knows best.

Abu Sahl Farhan ibn Irfan Siddiqi

Makkah al Mukarramah

23/2/1434 H


About Abdul-Malik Merchant
Muslim. Husband. Father. Associate Imam @ISBCC. UQU grad. Boston resident. DC native. Biker. Goofy. Straight up.

5 Responses to A “Qualified” Student of Knowledge

  1. Ibrahim Aziz says:

    Subhannallah, this is an excellent article. Yes, too often we confuse the two (being a good speaker and having knowledge). I especially enjoyed the break down of the methods that are taken to become a scholar (apprenticeship and studying a curriculum).
    May Allah reward you all for this article.

  2. Aminah says:

    Bismillaah, Assalaamu alaykum.
    JazakAllaahu khayran for this article, may Allaah bless you.
    Quick question, is ‘The Bestowed of Mercy’ not supposed to be ‘The Bestower of Mercy’? As in, Allaah is the One who Bestows Mercy, not the One Whom Mercy is bestowed upon?
    Assalaamu alaykum

  3. islamsfinest says:

    بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

    It needs to be added also that you can not qualified your self. For I hear some brothers saying we have to Qualified our selves meaning you memorizing books and quran on your own before you go out to be a Daee or Student of knowledge this is also incorrect. The scholars from the past and present said:
    من كان كتابه دليله او شيخه كان اخطائه اكثر من صوابه
    “He who his books is his proof or his shaykh for his mistakes are more than he is correct .”

    We also have a lot of these brothers around claiming to be students of knowledge and Daee and I can even name some that known in the West. And many of us flock to them as they have many mistakes with them and in their calling people to Allah rather calling people to their mistakes.

    As many of the scholars from past and present like Shaykh Fawzan in his lecture manners of the students of knowledge take knowledge from the Ulimaaa who inherit from the Prophet sallahu wa alhi wa salam. Meaning their learn from the Ulimaa who learn from the Ulimaa. Not from the Mutalimeen those who are learning, as Shayh Fawzan says they the Mutalimeen have no understanding even if their memorize the text they do not understand it.

    • I messaged the author and this was his response:

      Barakallahu feek akhi.

      There a few points I didn’t address—hoping what wasn’t mentioned would be understood—but since you mentioned it (may Allah reward you), I’ll make it a point to address an aspect that I didn’t delve into at all, which is the subject of tools.

      Concerning a student of knowledge, then there are a number of tools that he has available to him, and from them:
      1. Tapes (or any recorded material)
      2. Books
      3. Computer Programs
      4. Writing Utensils

      These tools are meant to be utilized in order to take that student to what he is trying to achieve, which is Paradise, by the way of seeking knowledge. They will help raise his understanding, informational level, and level of implementation. But, as you mentioned, these tools can only be utilized by someone who has been taught how to use them. This is very similar to a man given nails, a hammer and some carpet, and then told to put it down. Just because you possess a number of tools, does not mean you will appreciate, nor know how to utilize them in a befitting manner. It is extremely rare to find someone who is able to learn merely by being presented with tools (and we have yet to find someone like this, as even the one who sat least with the scholars still sat with someone).
      And with Allah is all success.

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